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08 April 2018

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Jose

IMHO, Xi is a pragmatist:

Trump does not understand without Pakistan, you can not control Afghanistan (Logistics).

The last thing Xi wants is unified, democratic Korea along its border which is what will happen after the USA defeats the North.

Pride and greed are no enough to risk an all-out trade war with the USA. China is a house of cards (debt) and only one market to sell.

Putin is impressive, an alliance with Syria and Iran = Iraq.

Babak Makkinejad

There is no traty of alliance between the Russian Federation and the Islamic Republic of Iran.

On the subject of Pakistan; her leaders - unlike American leaders - do not think on such a grand scale. If they did, they would have occupied those oil wells with flags some time ago.

EEngineer

I think you have your logic backwards.

North Korea is even more firmly in the grip of the Chinese. China recent reiterated its commitment to defend NK if it is attacked, but not if it attacks first. All the rest is theater.

Xi's moves signals readiness. If a war between the US and China, trade or kinetic, happens it will be because the US (Neocons) forces the issue. An outside aggressor always rallies a population. Remember the US left no stone standing in NK by the end of the Korea war. They still would not surrender. Neither did the North Vietnamese. Neither would the Chinese.

From an economic standpoint, a conflict of any kind would have huge effects due to the intertwined nature of today's supply chains. On that front the Chinese are far more resilient. Their capitalism system is just a veneer over their command economy. It could revert to that quickly. The US economy is like herding cats. Works great if the goal is just to let them run about, but marshaling it would take a lot of time and effort. A skill long since lost. Besides, with so much critical manufacturing outsourced to China over the last two decades and so little inventory on hand, there would be little to marshal. In a few weeks a large fraction of US manufacturing capacity would be "line down". Really. That's my life.

Treaty? Okie-dokie... That would be the SCO circling the wagons...

Adrestia

I'm not that convinced that Russia and China are opponents. Often Russia is under attack from the west, China gives support to Russia by politicians or military exercises.

The naval port in Pakistan is also a logical follow-up of the Chinese naval base in Djibouti near LeMonnier (where btw also Japanese Orion patrol aircraft are based). This also part of One Belt One Road.

China also participated in Turkey's large agitprop exercise to show the might of the OtomanTurkish armed forces: Anatolian Eagle which usually includes a substantial number non-participating non-operational Turkish aircraft.

A.I.Schmelzer

Russia and China are competitors, but this competition is tempered by the following features:

1: There exists an informal ruleset for what goes and what does not go during their squabbles for influence in f.e. Kirgistan. As I understand, this ruleset goes like this:
A) Work with established parties and internal actors, do not grow new actors out a "democracy promotion tube".
B) Do not attempt to completely expell the other party from some area. Do not attempt to do irreversible things.
C) The primary goal is to create wins for yourself, not losses for your opponent (much of these competition is not zero zum).
D) attempt to cooperate against third parties who do not follow these rules.

In addition, the Chinese do not view Russia as threatening, while the Russians sense of threat is limited due to the fact that China has many other neighbours, and that an expansive China that is ballsy enough to go after Russia would still go for softer targets first, giving Russia time to prepare for such an eventuality.

Perhaps the best frame of reference for todays Russian Chinese relationship is France and the UK immidiatly prior to WW1 (I would argue that Sino Russian relations are actually better then that, although no formal military alliance exists).

Fatima Manoubia

The Chinese just have a much respectfull approach to the nations they are interested in having some business with, the thing is to cooperate to achieve mututal benefit instead of trying to always take the biggest part of the cake...

After all, what did you expect from the Pakistanis when you accused them in front of all nations of supporting terrorism....On funding terrorism, that who is free of sin to throw the first stone...And then, that behavior by your defense attaché...too bad...

You have really to change there in the US....I wonder whether that is possible without a cataclysmic catalyzer...

FB Ali

I would suggest that the first thing you need to do to "understand" is to empty your "inquiring mind" of the prejudices it has. Most of them implanted by the US media.

Apart from this blog, I would suggest frequent visits to the blog of Patrick Armstrong (eg, https://patrickarmstrong.ca/2018/04/05/russian-federation-sitrep-5-april-2018/)

BraveNewWorld

>"Why has Putin signed a treaty alliance with Syria and Iran, if not to protect Russia against China entering the Mideast?"

Seriously?

-----

""I am visiting Russia as the new defense minister of China to show the world the high level of development of our bilateral relations and firm determination of our armed forces to strengthen strategic cooperation," Wei told his Russian counterpart, Sergey Shoigu. "
--
"The Chinese side has come to let the Americans know about the close ties between the Russian and Chinese armed forces of China and Russia, especially in this situation,” he said. “We’ve come to support you.""


https://www.rt.com/op-ed/423324-russia-china-military-trade-war/

et Al

The BBC (!) had a decent discussion about Xi a week or so ago.

Basically, Xi has a project to set China on a solid path towards the future.

There is still plenty of work to be done and it does not coincide with term limits.

Xi is 'trusted' (as incumbent and on track record) to put the plan in to place.

President for Life does not literally he will be.

He'll clock out when he's done which could be as much earlier as it could be later.

That is understood.

The rest of it ('for life') is projection by the usual suspects who are soothsaying, i.e. giving an opinion. Nothing more.

jsn

The problem with the "we're debtors to China" position has always been that Treasuries can only be sold for dollars and once you have the dollars you have to purchase something else in the dollar economy with them or exchange them with someone else who wants to do so. If you do that at any meaningful scale, it will cause the dollar to drop relative to the currencies its being sold for or it will inflate the foreign purchase value of those things the US does export.

The second possibility has little meaning for China as there's no where near enough American stuff for them to buy to wind down their treasury position. But the first possibility is fundamental to them: they purchase Treasuries in order to re-cycle the dollars they earn through their exports to us back into the US economy. Cash goes out to China, earned from sale of China's exports, the Chinese purchase Treasuries which repatriates the cash back to the US system. For the Treasuries to exist, the Fed Govt must have previously spent the cash into existence through its expenditures, but the Treasuries China purchases can be bought from whoever currently has them.

Thus China is not funding our debt, rather it's purchasing it in order to re-cycle its cash in order to recharge the US economy with cash for the selfish purpose of sustaining demand for its exports. They hold our debt because it benefits them, to sell it would be to destroy their own export market. They won't until the figure out how to replace that market internally or elsewhere. Until then Trump has the upper hand in the "trade war". http://carnegieendowment.org/chinafinancialmarkets/75248

jsn

I would add the "trade wars" hurt export led economies much more than they hurt importing economies so long as importers can feed themselves (this point is a real Brexit risk the UK Brexiteers apparently haven't thought through).

Smoot Hawley hurt the US in the Great Depression because we were in a position then analogous to where China is now: we were exporters to the world and running big trade surpluses.

Holding our Treasuries makes China weak in a trade war, not strong: dumping them makes our currency weak and their exports unaffordable.

Finally, thank you PL for re-enabling comments, I'll try to behave!

JohnsonR

1 "Trump has taken North Korea out of China’s pocket with his allure towards relations with North Korea/de-escalation of North Korean nukes."
Really? Doesn't look that way to me. NK has always been somewhat bolshy about its inevitably one-sided relationship with China, but Kim Jong Un's recent trip to Beijing suggests if anything that recent events have pushed him somewhat closer to Beijing, after the mistrust that seems to have characterised his initial steps in power. If the NKs are really going to give up their nukes, most likely it was China (especially) and Russia signing up to the recent UN sanctions resolutions against NK that pushed them to it. You could say that Trump's belligerence maybe was key in pushing China to taking that step, but that's about it, and rather speculative.

2 "Why has Putin signed a treaty alliance with Syria and Iran, if not to protect Russia against China entering the Mideast?"
The obvious reason for Russia to tie itself to Syria and to Iran is to resist US aggression in the region and the world (Kosovo, Iraq, missile "defences", NATO expansion, "color revolutions", "democracy promotion", Libya, Ukraine, Syria, etc). Why would anyone need to look for any more sophisticated, secret reason for it, when that obvious one is staring us all in the face?

Amir

Please ignore the first line of the above post.

One of the strategic goals of Romanov’s Russian Empire, USSR and now the Russian Federation, always has been to ensure a warm water port.

They achieved that aim partially through military intervention specifically in Crimea twice, in 1853 & 2014, against the Anglo-French and Anglo-American opponents.

The relations with Russia, in the more recent Iranian history, began in the year 1553, when Ivan the Terrible cofounded with Edward VI the Moscow Trading Company and started trading with the Safavid Empire that eventually lead to an alliance with Shah Abbas I of Safavid against the Ottomans Empire to the West of Iran and South of Russia.

By the first decade of the 17th century, the Brits gained more influence, after British East India Company established a mutually beneficial trade routes for silk though Strait of Hormuz and (💷).

But by the beginning of the 19th century, competing with the Portuguese and the Dutch, in Persian Gulf, the Sea of Oman and the Arabian Gulf, the British relationship with Iran had become unequal, in favor of the latter. However the latter dropped the ball against the Russians dominance in the North of Iran. By the end of that century, the incompetent and bankrupted Qadjar dynasty lost half the Iranian territories to Russia as well as defacto surrendered it’s industrial policy and foreign affairs into the hands of Perfidious Albion and the Luke’s of Baron Reuter and Lord Curzon, allowing the Royal Navy to block the Russians southward advance.

Thanks to Bush, Obamba and Trump, President Putin is almost achieving what The Romanovs and USSR, utilizing military force, were unsuccessful, namely ensuring a complete access to the oceans; through Iran.

The British, since mid-nineteenth- (the middle of Qajar Dynasty’s rule) till the middle of Pahlavis’ rule) start of the 20th century, fought successful proxy battles in Afghanistan and Iran, against the Russians with support of different factions in Persian palace intrigues and dynastic successions, thus blocking that coveted access. After WWII, the role (well known to all) of the Brits was taken over by USA, culminating in Truman’s treat of use of atomic weapons to get Stalin out of the Northern half of Iran.

For the first time, Putin The Great (he will be known as a true successor of his forebears, Peter and Catharina) and the Russian federation, have almost managed to gain that coveted full access through Iran by means of diplomacy and collaboration.
A contributing factor is the the multiple buffer states between Iran and Russia ensure “Doori va doosti” (freely translated as “ensuring friendship by maintaining bounties”)

IMHO as a mid-school level scholar of Iranian history, Putin’s focus is to gain advantage for Russia against a major opposing superpower, USAG.
Russia will not benefit from and is incapable of reversing a pre-existing (since Putin was high school) fully developed cordial economical and political relationship, between two of his allies, China and Iran.

China and Iran have, to date, minimal military collaboration. This will likely change with USAG trumpeting it’s intention to continue Brzezinski’s path, in transforming Afghanistan into a fortress. China & Russia will not accept a sanctuary for Jihadi Liver-Eater, endangering their respective Western and Southern Islamist flanks.

A new proxy war between Russian-Chinese Axis and the (mini)Anglo-US, in Northern Syria and North-Eastern Afghanistan, is in the make.

http://poli.vub.ac.be/publi/ContBorders/eng/ch0601.htm

Fatima Manoubia

As I see it, the Chinese have a Taoist approach...thye behave like the bambu, doubling in a flexible way when the wind blows very hard, to later recover the position as part of an harmonic approach. I do not think they are looking to eliminate any competitor, because from their philosophy, we are all part of the universal reality, they accept good and evil as part of all of us ....We would say that they practice Tai-Chi...

https://youtu.be/eHnlSYBQtE0?t=821

Then, we have the Russians, much more passionate, who prefer to dance tango, a dance amongst equal and different....but... it takes two to Tango....They have said it many times already...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3vNZwGO9aFc

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kU8QZRBFdEw

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kdhTodxH7Gw

Babak Makkinejad

Do not forget the Spaniards, with their Paso Doble.

Babak Makkinejad

These wars include the entire Western Fortress. It is not just Anglo-Americans.

MGS

China is attempting to secure a land corridor for oil shipments through Pakistan to China. The US is trying to prevent this by any means necessary, even perhaps starting a nuclear war between India and Pakistan. As long as China's oil is shipped by sea it is vulnerable, they know it, the US knows it and the Russians know this. They also have a hand in keeping China on a leash. The Russians know diversity of supply limits their ability to control Chinese behavior. I don't think you can discount Russian interests here either.

Bandit

FB, thanks for the reference.

Charles

Ice breaking technology has done away with the need for a warm water ( read open all year ) port. Sevastopol is a doubly choked port, first at the Dardanelles and Bosporus and then, as is all the Mediterranean, at the Gates of Hercules. All of Russia's ports can operate year round, unfortunately for Russia, all of the sea routes to those ports are easily interdicted at the various choke points, except for the new coast hugging artic route to China.

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