CHINA and the US Conflicts of Interest: Reports and Discussions.

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  • J. Abizeid

    J. Abizeid

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    With strong US criticism, standoff over China's island-building shows few signs of abating


    Published May 30, 2015


    SINGAPORE – China vigorously defended its South China Sea land reclamation projects in the face of persistent criticism from U.S. leaders at an international security summit Saturday as the standoff in the Asia-Pacific region shows few signs of abating.

    U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter and other officials sharply condemned the artificial island-building, but provided no details on what steps the U.S. may take to press China into diplomatic talks.

    Carter said China's land reclamation was out of step with international rules, and that turning underwater land into airfields would not expand its sovereignty.

    He and others said the U.S. opposes "any further militarization" of the disputed lands. That was a reference to two large motorized artillery vehicles that officials said China had placed on one of the artificial islands.

    Chinese officials, in public statements and a private meeting, defended the construction and slammed the U.S. for interfering.

    Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said the U.S. was "making absurd remarks about China's long-established sovereignty and rights, stirring up trouble and slinging accusations regarding China's appropriate and rational construction activities on its islands. China resolutely opposes this."

    David Shear, the assistant U.S. defense secretary for Asian issues, told reporters that a private meeting with Chinese Rear Adm. Guan Youfei, the chief of foreign affairs at the defense ministry, was "spirited and candid."

    "There aren't any silver bullets to resolving this," said Shear. "It's going to take time, and it's going to take some determined diplomacy by us and with our partners."

    At the conference, U.S. senators and officials from other Pacific nations questioned whether the U.S. would take action.

    Carter and other officials, including Adm. Harry Harris, who just took over U.S. Pacific Command, declined to talk about what diplomatic or military steps the U.S. would be willing to take.

    U.S. Sen. John McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said the U.S. should not invite China to a major military exercise in the Pacific in 2016. But Harris said China has already been invited, and that the two countries must engage if they are to build a better relationship and lessen the chances for misunderstandings.

    But, he said, "we always have the option of changing our approach."

    He also said he was concerned by the artillery weapons, which were discovered at least several weeks ago. Two U.S. officials who are familiar with intelligence about the vehicles say they have been removed. The officials weren't authorized to discuss the intelligence and spoke only on condition of anonymity.

    The Pentagon would not release any photos to support its contention that the vehicles were there.

    China's assertive behavior in the South China Sea has become an increasingly sore point in relations with the United States, even as President Barack Obama and China's President Xi Jinping have tried to deepen cooperation in other areas, such as climate change.

    "Turning an underwater rock into an airfield simply does not afford the rights of sovereignty or permit restrictions on international air or maritime transit," Carter told the audience at the International Institute for Strategic Studies summit.

    China's actions have been "reasonable and justified," said Senior Col. Zhao Xiaozhuo, deputy director of the Center on China-America Defense Relations at the People's Liberation Army's Academy of Military Science.

    Zhao challenged Carter, asking whether America's criticism of China and its military reconnaissance activities in the South China Sea "help to resolve the disputes" and maintain peace and stability in the region.

    Carter responded that China's expanding land reclamation projects are unprecedented in scale. He said the U.S. has been flying and operating ships in the region for decades and has no intention of stopping.

    While Carter's criticism was aimed largely at China, he made it clear that other nations who are doing smaller land reclamation projects also must stop.

    One of those countries is Vietnam, which Carter is scheduled to visit during this 11-day trip across Asia. Others are Malaysia, the Philippines and Taiwan.

    Carter said the U.S. will continue to sail, fly and operate in the region, and warned that the Pentagon will be sending its "best platforms and people" to the Asia-Pacific. Those would include, he said, new high-tech submarines, surveillance aircraft, the stealth destroyer and new aircraft carrier-based early-warning aircraft.

    One senior U.S. defense official has said the U.S. was considering more military flights and patrols closer to the projects in the South China Sea, to emphasize reclaimed lands are not China's territorial waters.

    Officials also are looking at ways to adjust the military exercises in the region to increase U.S. presence if needed. That official was not authorized to discuss the options publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.

    One possibility would be for U.S. ships to travel within 12 miles of the artificial islands, to further make the point that they are not sovereign Chinese land.
    With strong US criticism, standoff over China's island-building shows few signs of abating | Fox News
     
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    By the Time Washington wakes up to China’s Eurasian Strategy will it be too Late?

    By Alfred W. McCoy | (Tomdispatch.com) | – –

    For even the greatest of empires, geography is often destiny. You wouldn’t know it in Washington, though. America’s political, national security, and foreign policy elites continue to ignore the basics of geopolitics that have shaped the fate of world empires for the past 500 years. Consequently, they have missed the significance of the rapid global changes in Eurasia that are in the process of undermining the grand strategy for world dominion that Washington has pursued these past seven decades.


    A glance at what passes for insider “wisdom” in Washington these days reveals a worldview of stunning insularity. Take Harvard political scientist Joseph Nye, Jr., known for his concept of “soft power,” as an example. Offering a simple list of ways in which he believes U.S. military, economic, and cultural power remains singular and superior, herecently argued that there was no force, internal or global, capable of eclipsing America’s future as the world’s premier power.

    For those pointing to Beijing’s surging economy and proclaiming this “the Chinese century,” Nye offered up a roster of negatives: China’s per capita income “will take decades to catch up (if ever)” with America’s; it has myopically “focused its policies primarily on its region”; and it has “not developed any significant capabilities for global force projection.” Above all, Nye claimed, China suffers “geopolitical disadvantages in the internal Asian balance of power, compared to America.”

    Or put it this way (and in this Nye is typical of a whole world of Washington thinking): with more allies, ships, fighters, missiles, money, patents, and blockbuster movies than any other power, Washington wins hands down.

    If Professor Nye paints power by the numbers, former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger’s latest tome, modestly titled World Order and hailed in reviews as nothing less than a revelation, adopts a Nietzschean perspective. The ageless Kissinger portrays global politics as plastic and so highly susceptible to shaping by great leaders with a will to power. By this measure, in the tradition of master European diplomats Charles de Talleyrand and Prince Metternich, President Theodore Roosevelt was a bold visionary who launched “an American role in managing the Asia-Pacific equilibrium.” On the other hand, Woodrow Wilson’s idealistic dream of national self-determination rendered him geopolitically inept and Franklin Roosevelt was blind to Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin’s steely “global strategy.” Harry Truman, in contrast, overcame national ambivalence to commit “America to the shaping of a new international order,” a policy wisely followed by the next 12 presidents.

    Among the most “courageous” of them, Kissinger insists, was that leader of “courage, dignity, and conviction,” George W. Bush, whose resolute bid for the “transformation of Iraq from among the Middle East’s most repressive states to a multiparty democracy” would have succeeded, had it not been for the “ruthless” subversion of his work by Syria and Iran. In such a view, geopolitics has no place; only the bold vision of “statesmen” and kings really matters.

    And perhaps that’s a comforting perspective in Washington at a moment when America’s hegemony is visibly crumbling amid a tectonic shift in global power.

    With Washington’s anointed seers strikingly obtuse on the subject of geopolitical power, perhaps it’s time to get back to basics. That means returning to the foundational text of modern geopolitics, which remains an indispensible guide even though it was published in an obscure British geography journal well over a century ago.

    Sir Halford Invents Geopolitics

    On a cold London evening in January 1904, Sir Halford Mackinder, the director of the London School of Economics, “entranced” an audience at the Royal Geographical Society on Savile Row with a paper boldly titled“The Geographical Pivot of History.” This presentation evinced, said the society’s president, “a brilliancy of description… we have seldom had equaled in this room.”

    Mackinder argued that the future of global power lay not, as most British then imagined, in controlling the global sea lanes, but in controlling a vast land mass he called “Euro-Asia.” By turning the globe away from America to place central Asia at the planet’s epicenter, and then tilting the Earth’s axis northward just a bit beyond Mercator’s equatorial projection, Mackinder redrew and thus reconceptualized the world map.

    His new map showed Africa, Asia, and Europe not as three separate continents, but as a unitary land mass, a veritable “world island.” Its broad, deep “heartland” — 4,000 miles from the Persian Gulf to the Siberian Sea — was so enormous that it could only be controlled from its “rimlands” in Eastern Europe or what he called its maritime “marginal” in the surrounding seas.

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    Mackinder’s Concept of the World Island, From The Geographical Journal (1904)

    The “discovery of the Cape road to the Indies” in the sixteenth century, Mackinder wrote, “endowed Christendom with the widest possible mobility of power… wrapping her influence round the Euro-Asiatic land-power which had hitherto threatened her very existence.” This greater mobility, he later explained, gave Europe’s seamen “superiority for some four centuries over the landsmen of Africa and Asia.”

    Yet the “heartland” of this vast landmass, a “pivot area” stretching from the Persian Gulf to China’s Yangtze River, remained nothing less than the Archimedean fulcrum for future world power. “Who rules the Heartland commands the World-Island,” went Mackinder’s later summary of the situation. “Who rules the World-Island commands the world.” Beyond the vast mass of that world island, which made up nearly 60% of the Earth’s land area, lay a less consequential hemisphere covered with broad oceans and a few outlying “smaller islands.” He meant, of course, Australia and the Americas.

    For an earlier generation, the opening of the Suez Canal and the advent of steam shipping had “increased the mobility of sea-power [relative] to land power.” But future railways could “work the greater wonder in the steppe,” Mackinder claimed, undercutting the cost of sea transport and shifting the locus of geopolitical power inland. In the fullness of time, the “pivot state” of Russia might, in alliance with another power like Germany, expand “over the marginal lands of Euro-Asia,” allowing “the use of vast continental resources for fleet-building, and the empire of the world would be in sight.”

    For the next two hours, as he read through a text thick with the convoluted syntax and classical references expected of a former Oxford don, his audience knew that they were privy to something extraordinary. Several stayed after to offer extended commentaries. For instance, the renowned military analyst Spenser Wilkinson, the first to hold a chair in military history at Oxford, pronounced himself unconvinced about “the modern expansion of Russia,” insisting that British and Japanese naval power would continue the historic function of holding “the balance between the divided forces… on the continental area.”

    Pressed by his learned listeners to consider other facts or factors, including “air as a means of locomotion,” Mackinder responded: “My aim is not to predict a great future for this or that country, but to make a geographical formula into which you could fit any political balance.” Instead of specific events, Mackinder was reaching for a general theory about the causal connection between geography and global power. “The future of the world,” he insisted, “depends on the maintenance of [a] balance of power” between sea powers such as Britain or Japan operating from the maritime marginal and “the expansive internal forces” within the Euro-Asian heartland they were intent on containing.

    Not only did Mackinder give voice to a worldview that would influence Britain’s foreign policy for several decades, but he had, in that moment,created the modern science of “geopolitics” — the study of how geography can, under certain circumstances, shape the destiny of whole peoples, nations, and empires.

    That night in London was, of course, more than a long time ago. It was another age. England was still mourning the death of Queen Victoria. Teddy Roosevelt was president. Henry Ford had just opened a small auto plant in Detroit to make his Model-A, an automobile with a top speed of 28 miles per hour. Only a month earlier, the Wright brothers’ “Flyer” had taken to the air for the first time — 120 feet of air, to be exact.

    Yet, for the next 110 years, Sir Halford Mackinder’s words would offer a prism of exceptional precision when it came to understanding the often obscure geopolitics driving the world’s major conflicts — two world wars, a Cold War, America’s Asian wars (Korea and Vietnam), two Persian Gulf wars, and even the endless pacification of Afghanistan. The question today is: How can Sir Halford help us understand not only centuries past, but the half-century still to come?

    Britannia Rules the Waves

    In the age of sea power that lasted just over 400 years — from 1602 to the Washington Disarmament Conference of 1922 — the great powers competed to control the Eurasian world island via the surrounding sea lanes that stretched for 15,000 miles from London to Tokyo. The instrument of power was, of course, the ship — first men-o’-war, then battleships, submarines, and aircraft carriers. While land armies slogged through the mud of Manchuria or France in battles with mind-numbing casualties, imperial navies skimmed over the seas, maneuvering for the control of whole coasts and continents.

    At the peak of its imperial power circa 1900, Great Britain ruled the waves with a fleet of 300 capital ships and 30 naval bastions, bases that ringed the world island from the North Atlantic at Scapa Flow through the Mediterranean at Malta and Suez to Bombay, Singapore, and Hong Kong. Just as the Roman Empire enclosed the Mediterranean, making itMare Nostrum (“Our Sea”), British power would make the Indian Ocean its own “closed sea,” securing its flanks with army forces on India’s Northwest Frontier and barring both Persians and Ottomans from building naval bases on the Persian Gulf.

    By that maneuver, Britain also secured control over Arabia and Mesopotamia, strategic terrain that Mackinder had termed “the passage-land from Europe to the Indies” and the gateway to the world island’s “heartland.” From this geopolitical perspective, the nineteenth century was, at heart, a strategic rivalry, often called “the Great Game,” between Russia “in command of nearly the whole of the Heartland… knocking at the landward gates of the Indies,” and Britain “advancing inland from the sea gates of India to meet the menace from the northwest.” In other words, Mackinder concluded, “the final Geographical Realities” of the modern age were sea power versus land power or “the World-Island and the Heartland.”

    Intense rivalries, first between England and France, then England and Germany, helped drive a relentless European naval arms race that raised the price of sea power to unsustainable levels. In 1805, Admiral Nelson’s flagship, the HMS Victory, with its oaken hull weighing just 3,500 tons, sailed into the battle of Trafalgar against Napoleon’s navy at nine knots, its 100 smooth-bore cannon firing 42-pound balls at a range of no more than 400 yards.

    In 1906, just a century later, Britain launched the world’s first modern battleship, the HMS Dreadnought, its foot-thick steel hull weighing 20,000 tons, its steam turbines allowing speeds of 21 knots, and its mechanized 12-inch guns rapid-firing 850-pound shells up to 12 miles. The cost for this leviathan was £1.8 million, equivalent to nearly $300 million today. Within a decade, half-a-dozen powers had emptied their treasuries to build whole fleets of these lethal, lavishly expensive battleships.

    Thanks to a combination of technological superiority, global reach, and naval alliances with the U.S. and Japan, a Pax Britannica would last a full century, 1815 to 1914. In the end, however, this global system was marked by an accelerating naval arms race, volatile great-power diplomacy, and a bitter competition for overseas empire that imploded into the mindless slaughter of World War I, leaving 16 million dead by 1918.

    Mackinder’s Century

    As the eminent imperial historian Paul Kennedy once observed, “the rest of the twentieth century bore witness to Mackinder’s thesis,” with two world wars fought over his “rimlands” running from Eastern Europe through the Middle East to East Asia. Indeed, World War I was, as Mackinder himself later observed, “a straight duel between land-power and sea-power.” At war’s end in 1918, the sea powers — Britain, America, and Japan — sent naval expeditions to Archangel, the Black Sea, and Siberia to contain Russia’s revolution inside its “heartland.”

    Reflecting Mackinder’s influence on geopolitical thinking in Germany, Adolf Hitler would risk his Reich in a misbegotten effort to capture the Russian heartland as Lebensraum, or living space, for his “master race.” Sir Halford’s work helped shape the ideas of German geographer Karl Haushofer, founder of the journal Zeitschrift für Geopolitik, proponent of the concept of Lebensraum, and adviser to Adolf Hitler and his deputy führer, Rudolf Hess. In 1942, the Führer dispatched a million men, 10,000 artillery pieces, and 500 tanks to breach the Volga River at Stalingrad. In the end, his forces suffered 850,000 wounded, killed, and captured in a vain attempt to break through the East European rimland into the world island’s pivotal region.

    A century after Mackinder’s seminal treatise, another British scholar, imperial historian John Darwin, argued in his magisterial survey After Tamerlane that the United States had achieved its “colossal Imperium… on an unprecedented scale” in the wake of World War II by becoming the first power in history to control the strategic axial points “at both ends of Eurasia” (his rendering of Mackinder’s “Euro-Asia”). With fears of Chinese and Russian expansion serving as the “catalyst for collaboration,” the U.S. won imperial bastions in both Western Europe and Japan. With these axial points as anchors, Washington then built an arc of military bases that followed Britain’s maritime template and were visibly meant to encircle the world island.

    America’s Axial Geopolitics

    Having seized the axial ends of the world island from Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan in 1945, for the next 70 years the United States relied on ever-thickening layers of military power to contain China and Russia inside that Eurasian heartland. Stripped of its ideological foliage, Washington’s grand strategy of Cold War-era anticommunist “containment” was little more than a process of imperial succession. A hollowed-out Britain was replaced astride the maritime “marginal,” but the strategic realities remained essentially the same.

    Indeed, in 1943, two years before World War II ended, an aging Mackinder published his last article, “The Round World and the Winning of the Peace,” in the influential U.S. journal Foreign Affairs. In it, he reminded Americans aspiring to a “grand strategy” for an unprecedented version of planetary hegemony that even their “dream of a global air power” would not change geopolitical basics. “If the Soviet Union emerges from this war as conqueror of Germany,” he warned, “she must rank as the greatest land power on the globe,” controlling the “greatest natural fortress on earth.”

    When it came to the establishment of a new post-war Pax Americana, first and foundational for the containment of Soviet land power would be the U.S. Navy. Its fleets would come to surround the Eurasian continent, supplementing and then supplanting the British navy: the Sixth Fleet was based at Naples in 1946 for control of the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea; the Seventh Fleet at Subic Bay, Philippines, in 1947, for the Western Pacific; and the Fifth Fleet at Bahrain in the Persian Gulf since 1995.

    Next, American diplomats added layers of encircling military alliances — the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (1949), the Middle East Treaty Organization (1955), the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (1954), and the U.S.-Japan Security Treaty (1951).

    By 1955, the U.S. also had a global network of 450 military bases in 36 countries aimed, in large part, at containing the Sino-Soviet bloc behind an Iron Curtain that coincided to a surprising degree with Mackinder’s “rimlands” around the Eurasian landmass. By the Cold War’s end in 1990, the encirclement of communist China and Russia required 700 overseas bases, an air force of 1,763 jet fighters, a vast nuclear arsenal, more than 1,000 ballistic missiles, and a navy of 600 ships, including 15 nuclear carrier battle groups — all linked by the world’s only global system of communications satellites.

    As the fulcrum for Washington’s strategic perimeter around the world island, the Persian Gulf region has for nearly 40 years been the site of constant American intervention, overt and covert. The 1979 revolution in Iran meant the loss of a keystone country in the arch of U.S. power around the Gulf and left Washington struggling to rebuild its presence in the region. To that end, it would simultaneously back Saddam Hussein’s Iraq in its war against revolutionary Iran and arm the most extreme of the Afghan mujahedeen against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan.

    It was in this context that Zbigniew Brzezinski, national security adviser to President Jimmy Carter, unleashed his strategy for the defeat of the Soviet Union with a sheer geopolitical agility still little understood even today. In 1979, Brzezinski, a déclassé Polish aristocrat uniquely attuned to his native continent’s geopolitical realities, persuaded Carter tolaunch Operation Cyclone with massive funding that reached $500 million annually by the late 1980s. Its goal: to mobilize Muslim militants to attack the Soviet Union’s soft Central Asian underbelly and drive a wedge of radical Islam deep into the Soviet heartland. It was to simultaneously inflict a demoralizing defeat on the Red Army in Afghanistan and cut Eastern Europe’s “rimland” free from Moscow’s orbit. “We didn’t push the Russians to intervene [in Afghanistan],” Brzezinski said in 1998, explaining his geopolitical masterstroke in this Cold War edition of the Great Game, “but we knowingly increased the probability that they would… That secret operation was an excellent idea. Its effect was to draw the Russians into the Afghan trap.”

    Asked about this operation’s legacy when it came to creating a militant Islam hostile to the U.S., Brzezinski, who studied and frequently cited Mackinder, was coolly unapologetic. “What is most important to the history of the world?” he asked. “The Taliban or the collapse of the Soviet empire? Some stirred-up Moslems or the liberation of Central Europe and the end of the Cold War?”

    Yet even America’s stunning victory in the Cold War with the implosion of the Soviet Union would not transform the geopolitical fundamentals of the world island. As a result, after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, Washington’s first foreign foray in the new era would involve an attempt to reestablish its dominant position in the Persian Gulf, using Saddam Hussein’s occupation of Kuwait as a pretext.

    In 2003, when the U.S. invaded Iraq, imperial historian Paul Kennedy returned to Mackinder’s century-old treatise to explain this seemingly inexplicable misadventure. “Right now, with hundreds of thousands of U.S. troops in the Eurasian rimlands,” Kennedy wrote in the Guardian, “it looks as if Washington is taking seriously Mackinder’s injunction to ensure control of ‘the geographical pivot of history.’” If we interpret these remarks expansively, the sudden proliferation of U.S. bases across Afghanistan and Iraq should be seen as yet another imperial bid for a pivotal position at the edge of the Eurasian heartland, akin to those old British colonial forts along India’s Northwest Frontier.

    In the ensuing years, Washington attempted to replace some of its ineffective boots on the ground with drones in the air. By 2011, the Air Force and the CIA had ringed the Eurasian landmass with 60 bases for its armada of drones. By then, its workhorse Reaper, armed with Hellfire missiles and GBU-30 bombs, had a range of 1,150 miles, which meant that from those bases it could strike targets almost anywhere in Africa and Asia.

    Significantly, drone bases now dot the maritime margins around the world island — from Sigonella, Sicily, to Icerlik, Turkey; Djibouti on the Red Sea; Qatar and Abu Dhabi on the Persian Gulf; the Seychelles Islands in the Indian Ocean; Jalalabad, Khost, Kandahar, and Shindand inAfghanistan; and in the Pacific, Zamboanga in the Philippines and Andersen Air Base on the island of Guam, among other places. To patrol this sweeping periphery, the Pentagon is spending $10 billion to build an armada of 99 Global Hawk drones equipped with high-resolution cameras capable of surveilling all terrain within a hundred-mile radius, electronic sensors that can sweep up communications, and efficient engines capable of 35 hours of continuous flight and a range of 8,700 miles.

    China’s Strategy

    Washington’s moves, in other words, represent something old, even if on a previously unimaginable scale. But the rise of China as the world’s largest economy, inconceivable a century ago, represents something new and so threatens to overturn the maritime geopolitics that have shaped world power for the past 400 years. Instead of focusing purely on building a blue-water navy like the British or a global aerospace armada akin to America’s, China is reaching deep within the world island in an attempt to thoroughly reshape the geopolitical fundamentals of global power. It is using a subtle strategy that has so far eluded Washington’s power elites.

    After decades of quiet preparation, Beijing has recently begun revealing its grand strategy for global power, move by careful move. Its two-step plan is designed to build a transcontinental infrastructure for the economic integration of the world island from within, while mobilizing military forces to surgically slice through Washington’s encircling containment.

    The initial step has involved a breathtaking project to put in place an infrastructure for the continent’s economic integration. By laying down an elaborate and enormously expensive network of high-speed, high-volume railroads as well as oil and natural gas pipelines across the vast breadth of Eurasia, China may realize Mackinder’s vision in a new way. 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.

    “Trans-continental railways are now transmuting the conditions of land power,” wrote Mackinder back in 1904 as the “precarious” single track of the Trans-Siberian Railway, the world’s longest, reached across the continent for 5,700 miles from Moscow toward Vladivostok. “But the century will not be old before all Asia is covered with railways,” he added. “The spaces within the Russian Empire and Mongolia are so vast, and their potentialities in… fuel and metals so incalculably great that a vast economic world, more or less apart, will there develop inaccessible to oceanic commerce.”

    Mackinder was a bit premature in his prediction. The Russian revolution of 1917, the Chinese revolution of 1949, and the subsequent 40 years of the Cold War slowed any real development for decades. In this way, the Euro-Asian “heartland” was denied economic growth and integration, thanks in part to artificial ideological barriers — the Iron Curtain and then the Sino-Soviet split — that stalled any infrastructure construction across the vast Eurasian land mass. No longer.

    Only a few years after the Cold War ended, former National Security Adviser Brzezinski, by then a contrarian sharply critical of the global views of both Republican and Democratic policy elites, began raisingwarning flags about Washington’s inept style of geopolitics. “Ever since the continents started interacting politically, some five hundred years ago,” he wrote in 1998, essentially paraphrasing Mackinder, “Eurasia has been the center of world power. A power that dominates ‘Eurasia’ would control two of the world’s three most advanced and economically productive regions… rendering the Western Hemisphere and Oceania geopolitically peripheral to the world’s central continent.”

    While such a geopolitical logic has eluded Washington, it’s been well understood in Beijing. Indeed, in the last decade China has launched the world’s largest burst of infrastructure investment, already a trillion dollars and counting, since Washington started the U.S. Interstate Highway System back in the 1950s. The numbers for the rails and pipelines it’s been building are mind numbing. Between 2007 and 2014, China criss-crossed its countryside with 9,000 miles of new high-speed rail, more than the rest of the world combined. The system now carries2.5 million passengers daily at top speeds of 240 miles per hour. By the time the system is complete in 2030, it will have added up to 16,000 miles of high-speed track at a cost of $300 billion, linking all of China’s major cities.

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    China-Central Asia Infrastructure Integrates the World Island (Source: Stratfor)

    Simultaneously, China’s leadership began collaborating with surrounding states on a massive project to integrate the country’s national rail network into a transcontinental grid. Starting in 2008, the Germans and Russians joined with the Chinese in launching the “Eurasian Land Bridge.” Two east-west routes, the old Trans-Siberian in the north and a new southern route along the ancient Silk Road through Kazakhstan are meant to bind all of Eurasia together. On the quicker southern route, containers of high-value manufactured goods, computers, and auto parts started travelling 6,700 miles from Leipzig, Germany, to Chongqing, China, in just 20 days, about half the 35 days such goods now take via ship.

    In 2013, Deutsche Bahn AG (German Rail) began preparing a third route between Hamburg and Zhengzhou that has now cut travel time to just 15 days, while Kazakh Rail opened a Chongqing-Duisburg link with similar times. In October 2014, China announced plans for the construction of the world’s longest high-speed rail line at a cost of $230 billion. According to plans, trains will traverse the 4,300 miles between Beijing and Moscow in just two days.

    In addition, China is building two spur lines running southwest and due south toward the world island’s maritime “marginal.” In April, President Xi Jinping signed an agreement with Pakistan to spend $46 billion on a China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. Highway, rail links, and pipelines will stretch nearly 2,000 miles from Kashgar in Xinjiang, China’s westernmost province, to a joint port facility at Gwadar, Pakistan, opened back in 2007. China has invested more than $200 billion in the building of this strategic port at Gwadar on the Arabian Sea, just 370 miles from the Persian Gulf. Starting in 2011, China also beganextending its rail lines through Laos into Southeast Asia at an initial cost of $6.2 billion. In the end, a high-speed line is expected to take passengers and goods on a trip of just 10 hours from Kunming to Singapore.

    In this same dynamic decade, China has constructed a comprehensive network of trans-continental gas and oil pipelines to import fuels from the whole of Eurasia for its population centers — in the north, center, and southeast. In 2009, after a decade of construction, the state-owned China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) opened the final stage of the Kazakhstan-China Oil Pipeline. It stretches 1,400 miles from the Caspian Sea to Xinjiang.

    Simultaneously, CNPC collaborated with Turkmenistan to inauguratethe Central Asia-China gas pipeline. Running for 1,200 miles largely parallel to the Kazakhstan-China Oil Pipeline, it is the first to bring the region’s natural gas to China. To bypass the Straits of Malacca controlled by the U.S Navy, CNPC opened a Sino-Myanmar pipeline in 2013 to carry both Middle Eastern oil and Burmese natural gas 1,500 miles from the Bay of Bengal to China’s remote southwestern region. In May 2014, the company signed a $400 billion, 30-year deal with the privatized Russian energy giant Gazprom to deliver 38 billion cubic meters of natural gas annually by 2018 via a still-to-be-completed northern network of pipelines across Siberia and into Manchuria.

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    Sino-Myanmar Oil Pipeline Evades the U.S. Navy in the Straits of Malacca (Source: Stratfor)

    Though massive, these projects are just part of an ongoing construction boom that, over the past five years, has woven a cat’s cradle of oil and gas lines across Central Asia and south into Iran and Pakistan. The result will soon be an integrated inland energy infrastructure, including Russia’s own vast network of pipelines, extending across the whole of Eurasia, from the Atlantic to the South China Sea.

    To capitalize such staggering regional growth plans, in October 2014 Beijing announced the establishment of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. China’s leadership sees this institution as a future regional and, in the end, Eurasian alternative to the U.S.-dominated World Bank. So far, despite pressure from Washington not to join, 14 key countries, including close U.S. allies like Germany, Great Britain, Australia, and South Korea, have signed on. Simultaneously, China has begun building long-term trade relations with resource-rich areas of Africa, as well as with Australia and Southeast Asia, as part of its plan to economically integrate the world island.

    Finally, Beijing has only recently revealed a deftly designed strategy for neutralizing the military forces Washington has arrayed around the continent’s perimeter. In April, President Xi Jinping announced construction of that massive road-rail-pipeline corridor direct from western China to its new port at Gwadar, Pakistan, creating the logistics for future naval deployments in the energy-rich Arabian Sea.

    In May, Beijing escalated its claim to exclusive control over the South China Sea, expanding Longpo Naval Base on Hainan Island for the region’s first nuclear submarine facility, accelerating its dredging to create three new atolls that could become military airfields in the disputed Spratley Islands, and formally warning off U.S. Navy overflights. By building the infrastructure for military bases in the South China and Arabian seas, Beijing is forging the future capacity to surgically and strategically impair U.S. military containment.

    At the same time, Beijing is developing plans to challenge Washington’s dominion over space and cyberspace. It expects, for instance, tocomplete its own global satellite system by 2020, offering the first challenge to Washington’s dominion over space since the U.S. launchedits system of 26 defense communication satellites back in 1967. Simultaneously, Beijing is building a formidable capacity for cyber warfare.

    In a decade or two, should the need arise, China will be ready to surgically slice through Washington’s continental encirclement at a few strategic points without having to confront the full global might of the U.S. military, potentially rendering the vast American armada of carriers, cruisers, drones, fighters, and submarines redundant.

    Lacking the geopolitical vision of Mackinder and his generation of British imperialists, America’s current leadership has failed to grasp the significance of a radical global change underway inside the Eurasian land mass. If China succeeds in linking its rising industries to the vast natural resources of the Eurasian heartland, then quite possibly, as Sir Halford Mackinder predicted on that cold London night in 1904, “the empire of the world would be in sight.”

    Alfred W. McCoy, a TomDispatch regular, holds the Harrington Chair in History at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is the editor of Endless Empire: Spain’s Retreat, Europe’s Eclipse, America’s Decline and the author of Policing America’s Empire: The United States, the Philippines, and the Rise of the Surveillance State, among other works.

    Follow TomDispatch on Twitter and join us on Facebook. Check out the newest Dispatch Book, Nick Turse’s Tomorrow’s Battlefield: U.S. Proxy Wars and Secret Ops in Africa, and Tom Engelhardt’s latest book, Shadow Government: Surveillance, Secret Wars, and a Global Security State in a Single-Superpower World.

    Copyright 2015 Alfred McCoy

    Via Tomdispatch.com
     
    J. Abizeid

    J. Abizeid

    Well-Known Member

    ‘China V-Day parade sending multiple messages to Asia and West’ - Pepe Escobar
     
    J. Abizeid

    J. Abizeid

    Well-Known Member
    U.S. warship sails within 12 miles of Chinese-built island in South China Sea - The Washington Post

    U.S. warship sails within 12 miles of Chinese-built island in South China Sea


    A satellite image of what is claimed to be an under-construction airstrip in the Spratly Islands in the disputed South China Sea. (Digitalglobe/AFP/Getty Images)

    BEIJING — A U.S. naval destroyer sailed early Tuesday within 12 nautical miles of an artificial island built by China in the South China Sea, a U.S. defense official said, in a direct challenge to China’s territorial claims.

    The USS Lassen, a guided-missile destroyer, was accompanied by Navy surveillance planes as it approached the Subi Reef in the Spratly Islands, the official said.

    The mission “was completed without incident,” said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

    The decision to go ahead with the mission follows months of deliberation in Washington and is certain to China, which said last month it would “never allow any country” to violate what it considers to be its territorial waters and airspace around the islands.

    Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi had said earlier that Beijing was trying to verify whether the U.S. vessel had entered the 12-mile zone.

    the Foreign Ministry quoted him as saying.

    China claims almost all of the South China Sea as its territory, including the main islands and reefs, and has argued that giving up that claim would “shame its ancestors.” The Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan also have overlapping claims, and several of them also occupy different islands, reefs and rocks.

    A massive Chinese program of land reclamation and construction on several islands has taken place since 2014, upsetting ties with the United States and several of those rival claimants.

    This week’s U.S. naval mission is also intended to test a pledge made by President Xi Jinping during his visit to Washington last month that Beijing would not militarize the islands, U.S. officials have said.

    Subi Reef, which lies close to the Philippines in the South China Sea, used to be submerged at high tide before China began a massive dredging project to turn it into an island. It is now big enough to potentially host an airstrip.

    Satellite images also show what looks like a surveillance tower and multiple satellite antennas on Subi reef, according to the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative, part of the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).

    Under the international law of the sea, turning such features into artificial islands does not imply any rights to territorial waters around them, something the U.S. mission is designed to underline, although countries can claim a “safety zone” of just 500 meters around previously submerged reefs.

    A Chinese airstrip is already under construction at Fiery Cross reef and experts say another could potentially soon be built at Mischief reef. China says the construction work is primarily designed for civilian use and will not affect freedom of navigation in the South China Sea.

    But the Chinese Embassy in Washington said that the concept of freedom of navigation should not be used as an excuse for muscle-flexing and that the United States should “refrain from saying or doing anything provocative and act responsibly in maintaining peace and regional stability,” Chinese state media reported.

    In Washington, experts backed the U.S. naval action.

    “This should have been done a long time ago,” said Bonnie Glaser, an expert on the Chinese military at CSIS. The Navy has wanted conduct such an operation for some time, but the Obama administration had prevented that until now, she said.

    While the exercise would probably not stop China from further construction or militarization of air strips on the reefs, Glaser said that there were still good reasons to go ahead.

    “Our aim in any freedom of navigation operation is not aimed at that kind of objective. It is simply to sail through waters that are subject to the law of the sea,” she said.

    “Some parts of the administration believed this would make things even more difficult, that China would become even more obstreperous, more difficult to deal with,” she said, “and others thought this wasn’t something we should do before Xi Jinping came to Washington.”

    At the summit, President Obama told Xi that the United States would operate, fly or sail anywhere that international law allows. On Monday, White House spokesman Josh Earnest referred questions on specific operations to the Pentagon but reiterated that commitment to freedom of navigation.

    “This is a critically important principle, particularly in the South China Sea, because there are billions of dollars of commerce that flow through that region of the world every year, and maybe even more than that, Earnest said. “Ensuring the free flow of this commerce and that freedom of navigation of those vessels is protected is critically important to the global economy.”

    Additional patrols will follow in coming weeks, and could also be conducted around features that have been built up by Vietnam and the Philippines in the Spratlys, a U.S. defense official told the Reuters news agency.

    “This is something that will be a regular occurrence, not a one-off event,” the official said, also speaking on condition of anonymity. “It’s not something that’s unique to China.”

    State Department spokesman John Kirby said Monday the United States is not required to consult with other nations if it decides to conduct such operations.

    “The whole point of freedom of navigation in international waters is that it’s international waters. You don’t need to consult with anybody. That’s the idea,” he said.

    At the U.S. Naval War College in Newport, R.I., associate professor Andrew Erickson said the U.S action underscored its “commitment to maintaining an open global system with global commons that all are free to use to the maximum extent permitted by international law.”

    “As can be seen from the operation’s peaceful, unimpeded nature, China and the U.S. share an interest in keeping the vital sea lanes of the South China Sea stable and open,” he said.

    The USS Lassen, an Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer, operates out of its home port in Yokosuka, Japan — headquarters for the U.S. 7th Fleet.

    The Lassen has been deployed to the South China Sea since late May and has had several routine interactions at sea with Chinese naval vessels, according to U.S. Navy officials.
     
    JB81

    JB81

    Legendary Member
    China have been threatening it's neighbors for a while now. It's time to send messages not to cross it's boundaries
     
    J. Abizeid

    J. Abizeid

    Well-Known Member
    China Signs $17 Billion Deal to Buy 130 Airbus Planes - Bloomberg Business

    China Signs $17 Billion Deal to Buy 130 Airbus Planes

    China signed a deal to buy 130 planes from Airbus Group SE worth $17 billion, firming up purchase options announced earlier this year and intensifying the race to dominate what’s projected to become the world’s biggest aircraft market.

    The agreement for 30 twin-aisle A330 and 100 single-aisle A320 planes was signed Thursday during a Beijing meeting between Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Airbus said in a statement. The purchase was among a number of deals signed at the meeting.

    Airbus and Boeing Co. are competing to carve up the Chinese aircraft market, expected to become the world’s largest over the next two decades. China’s economic growth and the emergence of budget airlines are making air travel affordable to more people, prompting carriers such as Air China Ltd. and China Southern Airlines Co. to expand their fleets.


    “Chinese demand for travel is growing and China will need more planes to meet that demand,” said Shukor Yusof, founder of Endau Analytics consultancy in Singapore.

    Foreign Plants
    The 30 A330s firm up options taken in June, when China announced an order for 45 of the wide-body aircraft plus options for 30 more. The follow-on order will help Airbus bridge the gap as it moves from the existing A330 model to a variant with more fuel-efficient engines that will enter service in 2017.

    The planemaker announced plans last December to cut monthly production to six A330s a month by 2016, from 10 now, as it transitions to the newer model. An order for 30 more planes means five months of work for the A330 line.

    Airbus shares rose as much as 2.5 percent to 61.13 euros and were up 0.8 percent at 12:04 p.m. in Paris. The stock has surged 45 percent this year, valuing the company at 47.4 billion euros ($51.9 billion).


    China has encouraged foreign planemakers to expand their local footprints as its own fledging aerospace industry takes shape. Airbus assembles A320s, most of which go to the Chinese market, at a factory in Tianjin. The European planemaker said in July it was finalizing an agreement with Chinese authorities to build a completion center for A330s.

    Boeing won an order last month for 300 jets from Chinese carriers and lessors. The company said at the time it would soon open its first Chinese plant for 737 single-aisle planes.

    Booming Market
    Chinese airlines will need 6,330 new planes in the next 20 years, worth some $950 billion, according to a Boeing forecast.

    China’s growing demand also is attracting interest from Russia, which plans to work with China on a wide-body plane that would compete with Boeing and Airbus jets. Russia’s United Aircraft Corp. and Commercial Aircraft Corp. of China, known as Comac, are discussing a work plan building on a memorandum of understanding signed in May 2014, Russian Deputy Industry Minister Andrey Boginsky said earlier this year.

    China will become the world’s biggest air travel market by 2034, with one in five passengers traveling to, from or within the country, the International Air Transport Association said in April. About 70,000 flights -- some 10 percent of the world’s total -- operate to, from, or within mainland China every week, or according to IATA.

    By 2020, 13 Chinese airlines will have more than 100 planes in their fleets, up from six carriers as of November 2014, the CAPA Centre for Aviation said last year. China Southern is Asia’s biggest carrier by fleet size with over 400 planes, which moved more than 100 million passengers last year.
     
    vegojimbo

    vegojimbo

    Legendary Member
    China have been threatening it's neighbors for a while now. It's time to send messages not to cross it's boundaries
    Monumentally hypocritical for the message to come from the same country which bullies every other nation on earth, bombs whomever it likes and invades whatever country it feels like exploiting, don't u think?
     
    JB81

    JB81

    Legendary Member
    Monumentally hypocritical for the message to come from the same country which bullies every other nation on earth, bombs whomever it likes and invades whatever country it feels like exploiting, don't u think?
    Yes it is. But it doesn't mean that China is not a threat to its neighbors. If the neighbors want US assistance to contain China, who are we to say no?
     
    vegojimbo

    vegojimbo

    Legendary Member
    Yes it is. But it doesn't mean that China is not a threat to its neighbors. If the neighbors want US assistance to contain China, who are we to say no?
    Easy on the hypocrisy...again.
    Was this your same stance (as an american not as a lebanese) when Cuba went over to the Soviet Axis? it also felt threatened by its big bad US neighbor.
     
    J. Abizeid

    J. Abizeid

    Well-Known Member
    South China Sea Controversy: China Warns Japan PM Shinzo Abe To Stay Out Of Dispute With US

    South China Sea Controversy: China Warns Japan PM Shinzo Abe To Stay Out Of Dispute With US

    China expressed its displeasure Saturday with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s plan to discuss recent issues in the South China Sea during his upcoming talks with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, the Japan Times reported.

    “I wonder what Japan has to do with the South China Sea,” Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told reporters in Seoul one day before the two countries’ leaders were scheduled to meet as part of a summit with South Korean President Park Geun-hye.

    Japanese government officials told The Japan Times this week that Abe will raise concerns over China’s island-building in the hotly contested sea. Abe wants to urge China to respect international law and freedom of navigation in the area. The officials described China’s activities as “unilateral attempts to change the status quo,” according to the Japan Times.

    The meeting between Abe and Li comes as tensions have risen in the South China Sea after China objected to the presence of a United States warship in waters Beijing has claimed. The USS Lassen sailed Tuesday within 12 nautical miles of one of China’s man-made islands, prompting a rebuke and threat from Beijing.
    China’s naval commander Admiral Wu Shengli told the U.S. Friday that a minor incident in the area could lead to war if the U.S. did not stop its “provocative acts,” according to Reuters.

    "If the United States continues with these kinds of dangerous, provocative acts, there could well be a seriously pressing situation between frontline forces from both sides on the sea and in the air, or even a minor incident that sparks war," a statement paraphrased Wu as saying, Reuters reported.

    "(I) hope the U.S. side cherishes the good situation between the Chinese and U.S. navies that has not come easily and avoids these kinds of incidents from happening again," Wu added.

    Officials from both countries said their naval chiefs would maintain communication and follow previously established protocols to avoid future clashes. A spokesman for the U.S. Navy told Reuters Friday that U.S. freedom of navigation activities were designed to "protect the rights, freedoms and lawful uses of the sea and airspace guaranteed to all nations under international law."
     
    JB81

    JB81

    Legendary Member
    Easy on the hypocrisy...again.
    Was this your same stance (as an american not as a lebanese) when Cuba went over to the Soviet Axis? it also felt threatened by its big bad US neighbor.
    Where is the hypocrisy? I didn't say that the US does not bully others... my post was clear... Neither Russia or China are morally superior than the US. It is directed to those who are happy with China's bullying it's neighbors but shames the US if it did. I'm the one who is pointing out the hypocrisy of others here.

    Having said that, I always look at politics as politics as everyone is seeking their own interests. This is the case of all independent nations, on top the strongest ones. Some wants us to believe that Russia and China are mother Teresa fighting Lucifer US.
     
    Last edited:
    Dreaming in Red

    Dreaming in Red

    Active Member
    All these nations next to China move to U.S either by threat or economic need. Once China gets powerful though militarily and economically, and moves toward Mexico .... U.S will back off and sell them to China in return China leaves its hands off the Americas.
     
    Dreaming in Red

    Dreaming in Red

    Active Member
    Where is the hypocrisy? I didn't say that the US does not bully others... my post was clear... Neither Russia or China are morally superior than the US. It is directed to those who are happy with China's bullying it's neighbors but shames the US if it did. I'm the one who is pointing out the hypocrisy of others here.

    Having said that, I always look at politics as politics as everyone is seeking their own interests. This is the case of all independent nations, on top the strongest ones. Some wants us to believe that Russia and China are mother Teresa fighting Lucifer US.
    If America wasnt bullying people everywhere why would China or Russia try to protect their areas ?
     
    JB81

    JB81

    Legendary Member
    If America wasnt bullying people everywhere why would China or Russia try to protect their areas ?
    China building an island in a disputed area with its neighbors can hardly be said protecting it's areas... Japan believes that the sea in which China is building it's artificial islands belongs to them too. It is obvious who is the aggressor here. China is the aggressor and Japan is the victim.

    Again, this is politics. China is bullying it's neighbors. That's fine with me. They may have the means for it to do so. However, if their neighbors choose confrontation by using all their resources including their ally the US, don't blame them either.

    Politics is politics. China chose confrontation with its disputed artificial military islands. Let the strongest wins. Least I want to hear that the US is the villain while Russia and China are saints.
     
    Last edited:
    J. Abizeid

    J. Abizeid

    Well-Known Member
    If America wasnt bullying people everywhere why would China or Russia try to protect their areas ?
    As a matter if fact, if the US practiced what it preached, why would anyone look at China and Russia?
    Here is an example of the American aggression/arrogance where the abnormal becomes the norm: Who authorized John McCain to visit Syria and make deals with the rebels and who authorized the US today to send its mercenaries to Syria without the Syrian government approval?
    As a mentioned before, they create the snake and throw it in your living room so they can use it as an excuse to break in your house, kill, rape and vandalize your personal property...

    Syrian MP: US decision to send troops is an aggression | News , World | THE DAILY STAR
    Syrian MP: US decision to send troops is an aggression
    DAMASCUS: A Syrian member of parliament says the United States decision to send troops into to Syria is an aggression because it does not have the government's agreement.

    Sharif Shehadeh told The Associated Press on Saturday that the troops will have no effect on the ground, but Washington wants to say that it is present in Syria.

    American officials say up to 50 special operations troops will be sent to assist Kurdish and Arab forces in northern Syria.

    A U.S.-led coalition has been targeting ISIS with airstrikes since September 2014, killing 12,000 extremists without weakening the group.

    The decision to send U.S. troops to Syria comes a month after Russia began launching airstrikes against insurgents in the country.

    Russia's airstrikes were agreed upon with the Syrian government.
     
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