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Expansionist China and the Economic War

Lalit Shastri

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif signed the Iran-China strategic partnership pact, Saturday 27 March 2021

The die has been cast. The World is getting divided. There are enough signs of a no-holds barred economic war between nations wedded to democracy on one side and expansionist China with countries inextricably tied to it due to the economic stranglehold on the other. After the Indian Army pushed back China in the Galwan Valley and banned its money spinning apps, and challenged both its military might and sway in digital technologies, trade and commerce, we now have a scenario where China is against the wall due to so many factors. And this, despite its position as world’s leading economic power. China is now hyper active on the world stage to counter the Quad.

At the Quad meeting between the US, India, Japan and Australia, earlier this month, US President Joe Biden renewed commitment to ensure that the Indo-Pacific region is governed by international law, committed to upholding universal values, free from coercion and also announced the launch of an “ambitious new joint partnership” to boost vaccine manufacturing, for the global benefit and strengthen vaccinations to benefit the entire Indo-Pacific region. He also underscored the Quad is going to be a vital arena for cooperation in the Indo-Pacific.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi stamped the moment by reiterating that the Quad will now remain an important pillar of stability in the region.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison joined the discussion by asserting that together the Quad nations will create a different future. It is the Indo-Pacific that will now shape the destiny of our world in the 21st century, he asserted.

The Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga echoed the same sentiment by stating that Japan-Australia-India-U.S. leaders working together will help in realizing a free and open Indo-Pacific.

Days later, addressing his first press conference after his swearing-in, the US president had underscored “a stiff competition with China, while pointing to China’s overall goal to become the leading country in the world, the wealthiest country in the world, and the most powerful country in the world. Biden also used this important interaction with the media to categorically drive home the message that it is not going to happen during his presidency and the United States are going to continue to grow and expand.

Picking China in no uncertain terms, Biden also informed media-persons at this press meet that he has already told Jinping in straight terms: “as long as you and your country continues to so blatantly violate human rights, we’re going to continue, in an unrelenting way, to call to the attention of the world and make it clear what’s happening to the Uighurs, what’s happening in Hong Kong”.

Besides the message delivered through the Quad, China also has been facing the heat on the issue of forced labour in China’s Xinjiang region and the call for boycott of goods produced through blatant violation of human rights.

Expansionist China
Expansionist China, which has a long standing territorial dispute with India and Japan, is also locked in South China Sea disputes over maritime and island claims with Taiwan, Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei, Indonesia and Malaysia. The strategic importance of South China Sea can be gauged from the fact that a third of the global maritime trade and close to 40 per cent of China’s total trade passes through the South China Sea shipping lanes.

To ensure strategic balance in the South China Sea, U.S. warships and aircraft have frequently been moving into that area in a “show of force” and carrying out exercises in the disputed waters.

Then there is the Belt and Road Initiative, a global infrastructure development strategy, a brainchild of Chinese President Xi Jinping adopted in 2013 to invest in close to 70 countries to build economic land and rail transportation routes through Central Asia. China describes the Belt and Road Initiative, which has 2049 as the deadline for completion, as “a bid to enhance regional connectivity and embrace a brighter future.”

Significantly, India, a major regional power, has refused to join China’s Belt and Road project. India has point blank declined to join the BRI because the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which is integral to the BRI, passes through Pak occupied Kashmir (PoK).

Notwithstanding the fact that China is Australia’s largest trading partner and also their interdependence economically – China needs raw matrial from Australia, while Australia ships almost a quarter of its exports to China – the situation has reached such a pass that Australia is now thinking in terms of diverting much of its shipment to other countries.

China-Iran: Comprehensive Partnership
During Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s six-nation tour to Iran, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Oman, Bahrain and the UAE, China and Iran on Saturday 27 March 2021 signed what has been described by a section of the media as a 25-year “Political Strategic and Economic Treaty”.

The treaty was signed by Wang Yi and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. From China’s point of view, the pact with Iran is significant especially due to the Belt and Road Initiative in the region.

During his meeting with Iranian President Hassan Rouhan, who has hailed the Iran-China strategic partnership as ‘major step’, the Chinese Foreign Minister reiterated that China’s willingness to develop the China-Iran relations will not change.

In Riyadh Wang batted for a five-point initiative to achieve security and stability in the Middle East. The fine-tuning of the objectives of Wang’s West Asia tour obviously points to an attempt by China to counter the takeaway and the deep message conveyed to the entire world by Biden, Modi, Morrison and Suga when they went on a virtual platform for the Quad Summit.

Wang spoke of mutual respect, upholding equity and justice, achieving non-proliferation, collective security, and accelerating development cooperation in Riyadh.

China also is in an overdrive mode to counter sanctions over the “Xinjiang forced labour” narrative. In a latest move, the Chinese Foreign Ministry has responded to unilateral sanctions on Chinese officials over Xinjiang by announcing sanctions against two US individuals, one Canadian politician and entity on Saturday. China has also sanctioned nine UK individuals and four entities following what it has decried as “their provocative statements”.

The Chinese mouthpiece Global Times said in a report Sunday that the “West has forced companies including H&M, Nike to politicize the Xinjiang cotton supply chain issue and pushed them to offend Chinese consumers and the market. It is inevitable that they will be punished by the market”.

The Global Times report goes on add “Foreign brands may see their total enterprise value, in perspective of growth prospects, reduced by about 50 percent in five years, due to their groundless vilification over cotton…”

Chinese Minister of Defense Wei Fenghe, on Friday during a visit to the site of Chinese Embassy in former Yugoslavia, said: “The Chinese military will never allow history to repeat itself as China is capable and determined to defend its national interests,” Wei Fenghe was there to pay tribute to martyrs in Belgrade, where the Chinese Embassy in former Yugoslavia was bombed by NATO in 1999.

Chinese Foreign Ministry also said on Friday that the US-led NATO, owes a debt to the Chinese people, in the backdrop of the condemnation of NATO by Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and the Serbia’s nation-wide commemoration of the deaths of thousands of innocent people by NATO.

On March 25, China and Turkey kept the Quad Summit in perspective when they agreed to oppose what they described as “attempt by some countries to politicize the COVID-19 vaccine cooperation” and pledged to continue their cooperation in fighting the pandemic.

A day earlier, Hungarian President Janos Ader had also said that Hungary and China will continue to strengthen cooperation on anti-pandemic, economy, trade, tourism and military affairs, and would promote in-depth development of the Hungary-China comprehensive strategic partnership.

These are not merely utterances. In fact, the die has been cast. The world is getting divided and there are enough signs of a no-holds barred economic war between nations wedded to democracy on one side and expansionist China with countries inextricably tied to it due to the economic stranglehold on the other. After the Indian Army pushed back China in the Galwan Valley and banned its money spinning apps, and thereby challenged both its military prowess and sway in digital technologies, trade and commerce, we now have a scenario where China is against the wall due to so many factors. And this, despite its position as world’s leading economic power. China is now hyper active on the world stage to counter the Quad by embracing allies or by trying to build new alliances in West Asia, and with countries of Central and Eastern Europe to retain its stranglehold on national economies.

Kerry talks of effective diplomacy for potential solutions ahead of Camp David

Newsroom24x7 Desk

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir looks on as U.S. Secretary of State addresses reporters during a news conference at Riyadh Air Base in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on May 7, 2015, following meetings with King Salman bin Abdelaziz Al Saud, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, and the Foreign Minister.
Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir looks on as U.S. Secretary of State addresses reporters during a news conference at Riyadh Air Base in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on May 7, 2015, following meetings with King Salman bin Abdelaziz Al Saud, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, and the Foreign Minister.

Riyadh: Hectic discussions between the leaders of the five Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries — Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates — are continuing ahead of Camp David Summit next week.

After the Gulf Arab summit in Riyadh on May 5, the GCC foreign ministers are meeting in Paris today to draw the final agenda for next week’s GCC Summit at Camp David [†] being hosted by US President Barack Obama and also to to define the precise details and the date of the commencement of a proposed 5-day blanket ceasefire in Yemen.

The Riyadh Summit was also joined by French president Francois Hollande. France has been a tough negotiator during the ongoing talks for a nuclear deal. As a major arms supplier, France also has huge stakes as a supplier of arms to the Gulf states.

On May 6, US Secretary of State John Kerry was also engaged in bilateral talks with the the Saudi leadership. They discussed the threat to Saudi Arabia emanating from Yemen and about U.S. support for Saudi Arabia’s efforts to find a peaceful resolution to this crisis.

At the the Riyadh Air base last evening,addressing the media jointly with Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir,  the US Secretary of State told journalists that King Salman has announced a conference in Riyadh and all Yemeni parties were being invited for this crucial meeting. Extending support to this initiative, Kerry expressed the hope that it could lead to subsequent talks under the UN auspices, and the dialogue would be beneficial to find a political resolution to the (Yemen) crisis.

Praising Saudi Arabia and King Salman, for the decision to provide $274 million in humanitarian assistance to Yemen, Kerry also acknowledged in positive terms Salman’s announcement for a transition from the initial phase of the military campaign to a political and humanitarian phase.

Kerry, who met exiled Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi in Riyadh, said that the Houthi (rebels) did not choose to be part of the (peace) process. “Therefore, the conflict continued and forces on the ground continued to fight, and Saudi Arabia responded, Kerry went on to observe.

Welcoming the new Saudi initiative to try to bring about a peaceful resolution through the announcement of their intent to establish a full, five-day renewable ceasefire and humanitarian pause, which would mean “no bombing, no shooting, no movement or repositioning of troops to achieve military advantage, understanding”, Kerry added there has to be an understanding that needs to be reached that neither party is going to exploit the humanitarian pause. So, Kerry, made a strong plea to the Houthis and also those who back them, not to miss this major opportunity to address the needs of the Yemeni people and find a peaceful way forward in Yemen. A ceasefire has been a longstanding goal of the international community, and we deeply respect the leadership in Saudi Arabia for stepping up, taking on this initiative, and saying to the world they’re prepared to meet the humanitarian needs of the people of Yemen, Kerry said.

Ahead of today’s Paris meet, Kerry said that there will be several days between today’s announcement (for a ceasefire in Yemen) and the actual start of the ceasefire in order to allow time for the international community to prepare the food, the medicine, and the other supplies for distribution so that it can be done in an orderly and efficient process once the ceasefire does take effect. All this would be possible only if the Houthi accept the conditions, he added.

Kerry categorically said that the United States remains deeply concerned about the situation on the ground in Yemen and fully support efforts to facilitate the unimpeded delivery of humanitarian aid. The international community and the United States will redouble efforts to stop arms flows into Yemen, consistent with the UN Security Council resolutions. So the bottom line is that all parties agree to the ceasefire before more lives are lost.

Kerry made an appeal to everyone, especially the Houthis – to cooperate with the UN’s new Special Envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed. This is a time for effective diplomacy for potential solutions.

During bilateral talks with Saudi leadership, Kerry also discussed the potential Iran nuclear deal and ways in which the United States and Saudi Arabia can cooperate to go forward. Kerry informed the media that throughout the P5+1 negotiating process, the US has been constantly consulting with Saudi Arabia. This matter will come up for further discussion in Paris today.

Kerry also spoke about “Iran’s destabilizing actions in the region”. We will continue to work with our friends and allies in the region to define America’s and the GCC’s security relationship going forward, he said asserting it is so important that Iran not be allowed to have a nuclear weapon.

Kerry said that he and his Saudi counterpart Foreign Minister Al-Jubeir also discussed the situation in Syria, and the progress in their shared fight against Daesh. He went on to affirm that Daesh’s forces are increasingly under strain, its leadership has been degraded, their communications have been interrupted, their manner of operating has been changed, and its hateful ideology is increasingly being discredited.

When asked by a journalist whether there was any guarantee that Iran would stop supporting terrorist activities in the region, Kerry said the United States is deeply concerned about Iran’s activities in the region and was enforcing the United Nations arms embargo requirements. The US is also raising the level of effort of the maritime initiative with respect to the Gulf. Most recently, the Theodore Roosevelt has also been moved in. One of the topics of conversation, in the context of Paris tomorrow and Camp David, will be the further steps that the US will be taking with its allies to prevent activities that are in contravention of many United Nations resolutions and also the norms of international behavior between countries. He emphasised the point that the US is very much concerned about those activities – in Iraq, with Hizballah, in Yemen, and elsewhere.

Responding to a query by another journalist, the Saudi Foreign Minister al-Jubeir said with regard to Iran that it should have no role in Yemen. Stating that Iranian role in Yemen has been a negative one, he pinned Iran on a numer of counts saying they have supported the Houthis financially, ideologically, as well as with weapons, and this is not helpful. They have tried to smuggle weapons into Yemen in the midst of this conflict, and we have been able to stop aircraft from landing in Sana’a airport. And the United States has been able to turn back a flotilla of Iranian ships, which we suspect were loaded with weapons that were intended to go to the Houthis.

With respect to Syria, Kerry said, nothing has changed in the United States position. President Assad has been engaged – barrel bombing innocent women and children, gassing his people, torturing people, engaging in starvation as a tactic of war where innocent civilians are trapped – there are so many different things that have happened that have torn this country apart, that has seen three quarters of the country displaced for a refugee status…it’s hard to imagine how anybody in that country could follow that person in the future or deem them to be a legitimate leader.”

We believe Assad has lost all legitimacy, and we also know that the only way to make peace ultimately is to take away the reason that people are at war. And the reason they are at war is because of Assad, Kerry stated.


[†] President Obama will welcome leaders from the Gulf Cooperation Council countries – Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates – to the White House on May 13 and to Camp David on May 14.

Mohan Kumar​ appointed as Ambassador of India to ​France

Newsroom24x7 Desk

ParisNew Delhi: Dr. Mohan Kumar, (IFS:1981), presently Ambassador of India to ​Bahrain​, has been appointed as the next Ambassador of India to ​France​.

H​e is expected to take up his assignment shortly