MORE SPACE NEWS: RUSSIA & CHINA AGREE TO COOPERATE ON US ...May 27, 2014
Mr. V.T., a regular reader here, sent the first article that I want to talk about in this blog, and Mr. S.D. and some others sent versions of the second. Here are the two articles, and I am sure, once you read their titles, you will gain an inkling of what I am thinking:
First, consider the final three paragraphs of the first article:
"Stratfor Global Intelligence reported that China will sign a memorandum of understanding with Russia on a 30-year natural gas supply deal. But China also intends to start negotiations on the financing and feasibility of various Crimean projects, including, building a bridge across the Kerch Strait to connect the Crimea and Russian mainland, expanding Crimean ports, constructing solar power facilities, and creating special economic zones for manufacturing. Russia will portray the investments as demonstration of solidarity with the Chinese and as international acceptance of Russia’s right to annex the Crimea.
"President Putin said after his first day of negotiations with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping that the two countries have agreed to coordinate foreign policy steps more closely. “We have common priorities both on the global and regional scale.” Adding that Russia and China see eye-to-eye on most issues, have lots of plans and are determined to put them into practice.
"By combining China’s financial strength with Russia’s military strength, both nations can demonstrate to the world that they cannot easily contained by the United States and its allies. The initiative leverages China’s capability to make aggressive moves against the interests of nearby countries -- much like Russia is doing in Ukraine."
Of course, I do not buy for a moment that Russia was the aggressor in the Ukraine nor in the Crimea. I lay that whole fiasco squarely at the feet of the increasingly insane and totally obsolete Russophobe Zbgnw Brzznsk and his ilk in the national insecurity complex and their crazy unipolar encirclement views which would seem more appropriate to 1942 Berlin than 2014 Washington. But I digress. The real points to consider here are the long term implications of the pattern implied in Moscow's and Beijing's talks: Russian energy for Chinese investment in and construction of Russian infrastructure. A bridge across the Kerch peninsula also makes good strategic, as well as commercial, sense, for it enables rapid communication between cities such as Krasnodar and Novorossisk in the transcaucasian region on the one hand, and Kerch, Simferopol, and of course,, Sevastopol in the Crimea.
We need also to bear in mind that the word "containment" in the geopolitical context connotes the fourfold post-war long term American strategic plan for the Communist bloc: containment, then rollback. For Russia and China to be conceiving their geopolitical goal as that of containment implies, in this context, an eventual rollback component, a stage which will be very easy to achieve if the USA does not change its hamfisted foreign and domestic policy course. As the USA itself demonstrated with the USSR, it is relatively easy to roll back an unpopular power, once the initial public displays of disaffection get started. China has an uphill battle here, to be sure, especially since Tianamin Square, but it can be done with the requisite reforms and a genuine popular voice for Chinese people.
But the real hint given in the article is that this is all about energy, and notwithstanding the thirty-year deal, it seems clear from the second article that Moscow and Beijing are 'up to something' regarding space. Consider the strange tone of the admissions in The Moscow Times:
"Federal Space Agency chief Oleg Ostapanko wants to allow "Chinese colleagues participate in some of the most interesting projects that can replace the ISS," Rogozin said, adding that they would also discuss "projects such as cooperation in the field of rocket engine development," and cooperation in the growing market of space applications services — which primarily applies to the development of the Chinese Beidou satellite navigation system and Russia's Glonass navigation system, both rivals to the U.S.' GPS.
"However, analysts doubted Russia's ability to be a reliable and fruitful partner to China beyond 2020, as Russian capabilities in space have drastically withered in the 20 years since the collapse of the Soviet Union, and the Russian space program lacks clear direction or goals." (Emphasis added)
The tone is repeated, almost gloatingly, a little later, with what seems like a contradictory admission that "Russia has nothing to give and everything to gain" and yet "everything to offer and nothing to gain", an "admission" that strains credibility:
"The purpose of any cooperation between states in space is to minimize the costs of complex projects and the development of science and technology," Pavel Luzin, a researcher at the Russian Academy of Science's Institute for World Economy and International Relations told the Moscow Times Monday.
"By this measure, Luzin sees little point in a Russia-China space partnership. China needs Russia only for "technologies they have not yet developed," and Russia lacks both a long-term vision for its space program and an industry capable of supporting it.
"Aside from the failed Phobos-Grunt scientific mission to one of the Martian moons in 2011, the history of Russian-Chinese cooperation in space amounts to little more than technology transfer."
So what. really, are we looking at here with these two articles? What is the context suggesting about this Russo-Chinese space cooperation.
There is first the obvious point that both powers view America as the principal geopolitical target and adversary, and hence, the only way to combat American hegemony is to provide a serious competitor to it in space, which, as we have argued before, is now the essential key in global communications, including international financial clearing. If the BRICSA nations are to provide their own independent system of international clearing - as I've suggested is one of their ultimate hidden goals- then space assets and capabilities cannot be allowed to atrophy; they must be developed, and of the BRICSA nations, China and Russia are in the best immediate position to do something about it.
There is, however, another context, one suggested by my blog yesterday about Japanese plans to create orbital solar-microwave power stations as a long-term strategic goal to reposition its energy supplies and dependency on fossil fuels. Any step away from fossil fuels for Japan is, geopolitically, a step away from its status as a Western-US satrapy and back to full independence and sovereignty.
This fact cannot be lost on Moscow's or Beijing's strategic planners either. As I indicated yesterday, eventually, and probably sooner rather than later, the world's energy supplies will have to move to alternative renewable energy sources, fusion, solar, and so on, and solar power works most efficiently if space-based. With the new technologies coming on line, it is beginning to be feasible in a large, macro-scale way. So I suspect that what we are not being told is that both Russia and China's space concerns are similarly strategic in nature, and have not only the goal of containment of the USA, but also of the development of similar capabilities as the Japanese are talking about. This will mean, inevitably, that the space race of the 1950s and 1960s is going to look like child's play, as space will become crucial not just for mining and collateralization, but for financial clearing, and for energy. And this means, whether we like it or not, that all major powers will militarize and weaponize space in order to protect their assets. Energy, and strategic defense(and offense) space based capabilties are, I suspect, the story that Moscow and Beijing are not telling us about.
As I quipped yesterday, can you say "Type II civilization?"
See you on the flip side.