MORE GEOPOLITICAL FALLOUT FROM COVID? RUSSIA RECONSIDERING ONE BELT ...September 2, 2020
Today's blogging focal point is an article that was spotted by E.G., to whom a big thank you for passing is along, because the article tends to confirm some speculations and predictions I've been making over the last few weeks regarding China, India, Russia, Japan, and the fall-out from the planscamdemic, or if you prefer, the scamplandemic.
To put this article in a bit of context, I've been arguing in some blogs and on various News and Views from the Nefarium, that covid has put China into a delicate geopolitical position, and that's being considerate. The reality is that China seems to be in a world of hurt. A brief review of the situation:
1) Much of world opinion blames the Chinese government for the outbreak, and then for not immediately coming clean with the rest of the world. Regardless of the degree of of guilt of the Chinese government or lack thereof, the perception of China's mishandling of the affair is widespread, as is the suspicion that covid may have been a biowarfare project, and some speculate its release was not accidental. These suspicions have been elevated due to the connections of both arrested Harvard chemistry professor and nano-technology expert Dr. Charles Lieber, who allegedly had connections with the Wuhan laboratory, and by the alleged connections of Dr. Anthony Fauci to the same.
2) As a result of this perception, many countries, including Australia, various Western Pacific nations including Vietnam, Japan, and finally the United States, are pulling more industry out of China, and are attempting to secure their supply lines of essentials, particularly pharmaceuticals. In short, covid and its implications including reliance on Chinese pharmaceuticals is increasingly seen as a national security issue. In effect, covid has accelerated the reshoring of industry from China to North America, Australia, and elsewhere.
3) This all comes on top of indicators of internal factional tensions within the Communist Chinese Party. Depending on the analyst one reads or consults, Xi Jinping is either attempting to weed out the last strong internal opposition within the top echelons of the party, or is facing strong challenges to his leadership, or both.
4) These internal party tensions have been further exacerbated by unprecedented flooding of the Yangste River, where several dams, including the massive Three Gorges Dam upstream of Wuhan, are under severe pressure. I've entertained the speculation that this may be weather warfare, and I still entertain that speculation. Internet rumors of leaks and even water over-topping the Three Gorges are rampant on the internet, but I've found no solid substantiation of these claims. But in any case, the flooding has all but ruined this year's harvest for China, and it must now turn to even more foreign imports. The flooding has crippled China's economy at a time when many countries are moving their industry out of China, as noted above, and at a time when world opinion has turned solidly against the current Chinese government. The timing of China's weather difficulties strongly suggest weather warfare to me.
5) Add to this China's apparent increasing bellicosity. The border clash with India in recent weeks did not apparently go well for China's People's Liberation Army as indicators are that India's military gave the PLA a bloody nose. At the same time, China made noises about reclaiming Vladivostok, as Russia stalled deliveries of its S400 missile and air defense system to China, while not-too-subtly delivering the same system to India. India, in turn, extended a large line of credit to Russia, and I've even entertained a high octane speculation that some of this money may even have come from the USA, with a nod and a wink to India to pass it along, thus publicly avoiding American economic sanctions on Russia. India further participated in joint naval exercises with the USA, and has now welcomed American troops in the area of the recent border clash. In neither Russia's nor India's case are the messages "sutble." They're very direct, and to underscore the point, Mr. Putin recently moved more missile batteries into Siberia.
6) All of this has led to my speculation that the growth of China, and its bellicosity, coupled with the structural weaknesses of its economy and regime, make it an unreliable partner, which, coupled with its stated goal to dominate the world economically, are leading to the formation of a "quadruple entente," consisting of India, Japan, Russia, and the United States; not an alliance, but an "understanding" of the nature of the common threat, and a willingness to cooperate with respect to it as far as mutual interests will allow.
With all this in mind, I've been arguing that Russia's always delicate partnership with China in the one belt one road initiative could come under 'reevaluation', as an increasingly desperate China might lash out - as it has been doing in India - at Russia. Russia, like everyone else, has had its sensitive technologies stolen by the Chinese government. Russia has its own pressing reasons to want to build out its own version of the silk road in resource-rich but population-poor Siberia with a vast expansion of roads and high-speed railroad. China's burgeoning population and close proximity to Siberia make it a tempting target, regardless of the official rhetoric of friendliness with Moscow. But Russia does not need China's expertise (or capital) to fulfill its own "northern silk road" dreams: Japan has both, and both countries have good reason to reach some economic and technological understandings, and this is what we've seen them doing.
In short, I've been arguing to watch for signs from Russia that its attitude to China is changing.
Wee, as I said at the beginning of this blog, E.G. shared the following article, which tends to confirm my predictions to some degree that this process is already under way in Moscow:
Note firstly that the analysis of the Russian Academy of Sciences' Institute of Far Eastern Studies appears to be suggesting the same thing as I've suggested, by seeking an expanded relationship with India:
These are the critical assessment of BRI last month by the influential Director of the Russian Academy of Sciences' Institute of Far Eastern Studies and India's eagerness all summer to court the Eurasian Great Power into joining its so-called “Indo-Pacific” projects.
Secondly, the article notes that the perception many in the West have that Russia is a part of China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is mistaken:
About the first of these two developments, Alexey Maslov's Russian-language interview to Interfax should be Google Translated and read in full by anyone interested in learning more about Russia's evolving views towards BRI. He was surprisingly candid for a Russian expert of his caliber in discussing the challenges inherent to this global series of megaprojects, as well as China's grand strategic motivation in pursuing them in the first place. Maslov also implied some criticisms of it when sharing his assessment that China basically wants to take control of the global economy through these means, which also includes the use of so-called “debt traps”. Even more interestingly, he claimed that Russia isn't a part of BRI contrary to conventional belief, but nevertheless seeks to pragmatically cooperate with it.
Thirdly, the article notes India's role as a catalyst in attempting to broker, if not a quadruple, then at least a triple entente of mutual economic and geopolitical interests:
The second development is less surprising since it's been tracked for a while now, and that's India's eagerness to court Russia into joining its so-called “Indo-Pacific” projects. What was unexpected, however, was the spree of proposals that were made all summer. The first move came during the joint online conference between the Russian International Affairs Council and the Indian Council of World Affairs in mid-July. The Indian Ambassador to Russia encouraged his host country to work more closely with his homeland in this trans-oceanic sphere, provocatively drawing particular attention to safeguarding “international rules and law” in the South China Sea where both have invested in Vietnamese offshore energy deposits contested by China. A suggestion was also made to undertake joint projects in Asia and Africa, which hints at Russia joining the Indo-Japanese “Asia-Africa Growth Corridor” (AAGC) like the author previously proposed....India's envisioned “Indo-Pacific” partnership with Russia isn't just economic, but also carries with it very important military and diplomatic dimensions. The Economic Times reported in late July that the two countries might sign a LEMOA-like military logistics pact by the end of the year, the possible implications of which the author analyzed in December 2018 in his piece about how “A Russian-Indian LEMOA Could Lead To Logistics Pacts With Other Littoral States”. The other related development was Indian Foreign Secretary Harsh Shringla officially discussing “the proposal for a Russia-India-Japan trilateral mechanism with the Russian Deputy Foreign Minister, Igor Morgulov, on August 4.” While the official purpose of such a structure would likely be presented as advancing Russia's possible participation in the AAGC, there's no doubt that it would be perceived in practice as a “passively aggressive” move by China considering the context of its ongoing rivalry with those two Asian Great Powers. (Emphasis added)
To translate: that means Russia will not openly antagonize China, and is unlikely to enter into such formal arrangements all at once, but by a series of coordinated steps, taking advantage of any opportunities as may arise, including Chinese provocations, which would include further territorial claims on Russia, or more espionage and theft of Russian technology. Russia can afford to play that game, as there's little chance that China will change its behavior, and Tokyo and New Delhi well know Russia's difficult position, and that such a step-by-step process will have to be the name of the game in the short term. In the meantime, Russia will certainly participate in "informal discussions" and may even sign the occasional "memorandum of understanding" or two. Indeed, the article mentions at some length Russia's careful "balance of power" diplomacy with respect to India and China.
Balance Russia will continue to have to do for the short term. But the fact remains, that it's the Chinese regime itself and the way it views its role in the world as a power intending to dominate it, that will eventually force Russia to make those arrangements with India and Japan. The prize is Siberia, and China wants it, one way or another. Russia cannot afford to let it go, and for that matter, neither can Japan, India, or the USA.
And that's why I think, in the long term, a "quadruple entente" with respect to China is an inevitability.
See you on the flip side...