Tag Archives: Iran

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.

But for Soleimani’s war on Terror European capitals would be in great danger: Hassan Rouhani

Iran has been the leading sponsor of terrorism: Donald Trump

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Tehran/Washington: Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in a message on Wednesday, 8 January 2019, stressed will be the final answer to assassinating the Iranian commander General Soleimani.

Rouhani underscored in his Twitter account that Soleimani fought heroically against ISIS, Al Nusra, Al Qaeda, et al. “If it weren’t for his war on terror, European capitals would be in great danger now,” he added.

“Our final answer to his assassination will be to kick all US forces out of the region, he observed.

Rouhani, in a telephone conversation with President of the European Council Charles Michel on 9 January, Thursday, said that the European Union should not allow Iran to become completely disappointed with Europe. He especially called on Europe to take stances independent of Washington.

Soleimani and the acting commander of the Iraqi Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) – known as the Hashd al-Shaabi – Abu Mahdi Al-Mohandis, leaving Baghdad airport in two separate cars were targeted and assassinated on Friday on the instruction of the US President Donald Trump.

On Wednesday, Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) of Iran on Wednesday morning hit the big US airbase of Ain al-Assad in Anbar province in western Iraq. The attacks came in response to the assassination of Soleimani by the US forces in Iraq.

In the meanwhile, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi condemned NATO secretary general’s remarks in justifying assassination of Lieutenant General Soleimani stating it was against international law.

Mousavi noted that justifying the US government’s move to assassinate Soleimani is tantamount to closing eyes to the commander’s role in the determining fight against terrorists and destruction of Daesh and warding off the threats to the region and beyond borders of Europe.

Donald Trump’s Assertion

As long as I am President of the United States, Iran will never be allowed to have a nuclear weapon – Donald Trump

The American people should be extremely grateful and happy no Americans were harmed in last night’s attack by the Iranian regime. We suffered no casualties, all of our soldiers are safe, and only minimal damage was sustained at our military bases.

Our great American forces are prepared for anything. Iran appears to be standing down, which is a good thing for all parties concerned and a very good thing for the world.

For far too long — all the way back to 1979, to be exact — nations have tolerated Iran’s destructive and destabilizing behavior in the Middle East and beyond. Those days are over. Iran has been the leading sponsor of terrorism, and their pursuit of nuclear weapons threatens the civilized world. We will never let that happen.

He trained terrorist armies, including Hezbollah, launched terrorist strikes against civilian targets. He fueled bloody civil wars all across the region. He viciously wounded and murdered thousands of U.S. troops, including the planting of roadside bombs that maim and dismember their victims.

Then, Iran went on a terror spree, funded by the money from the deal, and created hell in Yemen, Syria, Lebanon, Afghanistan, and Iraq. The missiles fired last night at us and our allies were paid for with the funds made available by the last administration. The regime also greatly tightened the reins on their own country, even recently killing 1,500 people at the many protests that are taking place all throughout Iran.”

US Secretary of State Michael R Pompeo earlier said in a press briefing in Washington DC that the Islamic Republic of Iran has refused to join the regional and international consensus for peace and is actively working to undermine the peace process by continuing its long global efforts to support militant groups in Afghanistan.

Most people know about Iran’s proxy networks in the Arab world, but the regime also has a relationship with the Taliban and related groups, such as the Haqqanis, the Tora Bora, and the Mullah Dadullah group. The Taliban’s entanglement in Iran’s dirty work will only harm the Afghanistan peace process, Pompeo went on to point out

On the strike that killed General Soleimani, Pompeo said not only had Soleimani done all of the things including the massacre of hundreds of thousands in Syria, enormous destruction of countries like Lebanon and Iraq, where they’ve denied them sovereignty, and the Iranians have really denied people in those two countries what it is they want, right, sovereignty, independence and freedom. This is all Soleimani’s handiwork. And then we’d watch as he was continuing the terror campaign in the region. We know what happened at the end of last year, in December, ultimately leading to the death of an American. So if you’re looking for imminence, you need to look no further than the days that led up to the strike that was taken against Soleimani.

Pompeo said that Soleimani was continuing efforts to build out a network of campaign activities that were going to lead potentially to the death of many more Americans.

Reacting to the observation by a journalist that Iran’s Foreign Affairs Minister Zarif granted an interview saying that Soleimani was on a diplomatic visit to Iraq, that the U.S. strike to take him out was state terrorism, that President Trump was prepared to commit war crimes, and that Iranians are enraged and also Trump’s indication that Iran’s cultural sites could be targeted, Pompeo said: “he was not there on a diplomatic mission trying to resolve a problem. I know there’s been some story that he was there representing a Saudi peace deal. I’ve spoken to my Saudi counterparts at great length. I’ll leave to them what the contents of their messages may be. But I can assure you that they will share my view, that he was not there representing some kind of agreement that was going to reduce risk or reduce the risks to the lives of Americans when he was on that trip.”

About cultural sites, the US Secretary of State said – “every target that’s being reviewed, every effort that’s being made will always be conducted inside the international laws of war.”

Iran’s Supreme leader warns of revenge on assassination of Qasem Soleimani

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Tehran/Baghdad: On the assassination of Iran’s key influence in the Middle-East and commander of IRGC’s Quds Forces Major General Qasem Soleimani, in Baghdad on Friday 3 January, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei said in a message that “harsh and severe revenge is awaiting those who are behind the criminal act”.

Qasem Soleimani was known as an Army commander who ran Iran’s policy in the Middle-East.

US State department said in a statement:

“At the direction of the President, the U.S. military has taken decisive defensive action to protect U.S. personnel abroad by killing Qasem Soleimani, the head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Quds Force, a U.S.-designated Foreign Terrorist Organization. 

General Soleimani was actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region. General Soleimani and his Quds Force were responsible for the deaths of hundreds of American and coalition service members and the wounding of thousands more. He had orchestrated attacks on coalition bases in Iraq over the last several months – including the attack on December 27th – culminating in the death and wounding of additional American and Iraqi personnel. General Soleimani also approved the attacks on the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad that took place this week.  

This strike was aimed at deterring future Iranian attack plans. The United States will continue to take all necessary action to protect our people and our interests wherever they are around the world.”

The US Department of State has issued a security alert stating that due to heightened tensions in Iraq and the region, U.S. citizens are urged to depart Iraq immediately. Due to Iranian-backed militia attacks at the U.S. Embassy compound, all consular operations are suspended. U.S. citizens should not approach the Embassy.”

After Friday’s attack, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo Spoke with Iraqi Speaker al-Halbousi and thanked him for condemning attacks by Iran and its proxies. The two agreed Iraq must uphold its responsibility to keep U.S. personnel safe and prevent further attacks. Also, they shared the view that building a sovereign and strong Iraq remains a shared priority.

Pompeo also spoke with Chinese Politburo Member Yang Jiechi to discuss the US President Donald Trump’s decision to eliminate Soleimani “in response to imminent threats to American lives”.

India said in a statement: “We have noted that a senior Iranian leader has been killed by the US. The increase in tension has alarmed the world. Peace, stability and security in this region is of utmost importance to India. It is vital that the situation does not escalate further. India has consistently advocated restraint and continues to do so.”

In a message published in his website the Iranian supreme leader Khamenei has said: “After years of sincere and courageous jihad against the devils and evil-doers of the world and after years of wishing for martyrdom in the path of God, alas, dear Soleymani attained this lofty station and his pure blood was spilled by the most vile of humans.”

IRNA (Islamic Republic New Agency) has reported that the IRGC commander and Al-Mohandes were separately leaving Baghdad airport in two cars early Friday morning when they were targeted and assassinated.

Iraqi media said the US helicopters targeted both cars.

In a statement, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) said “the glorious commander of Islamic forces was martyred in a US helicopter attack on Friday morning at the culmination of his lifelong efforts to promote the path of God.”

Iran talks of new power equation to combat warmongering

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Moscow: Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has drawn world attention to a new power equation by stating here on Monday that contrary to US, the Islamic Republic of Iran and Russia are determined to maintain peace and stability in the region.

Referring to Iran-Russia-China joint military drills, Zarif said it indicates the significant role and efforts of all parties in establishing peace in the region. On December 27, Iran, Russia and China started staging a four-day trilateral naval exercise in the north Indian Ocean and Sea of Oman to share experiences in fight against terrorism and piracy.

IRNA (Islamic Republic New Agency) reports, Zarif made the remarks in a meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. Zarif arrived in Moscow late on Sunday to hold talks with top Russian officials including his counterpart Sergei Lavrov on wide range of issues.

Zarif said the relation between Iran and Russia is in its best historic situation and Iranian officials are determined to consider Russia as a big and important neighboring state acting as a great international power, he said.

“In contrast to those who promote warmongering in the region, Iran and Russia have presented initiatives which are similar to each other aiming to maintain peace in the region”, Zarif said.

IRNA further reports: Referring to US recent attack on Iraqi forces, Zarif said this was just one example of US behavior.

The Iranian foreign minister described Iran-Russia cooperation in Astana format as a successful example of joint cooperation for bringing back peace to Syria. He also expressed the hope for dialogue on regional and international issues linked to Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq and went on to underscore that Russia follows peace initiative while Iran pursues Hormuz Peace Endeavor (HOPE) initiative.

It may be recalled, the Iranian president had presented the Hormuz Peace Endeavor HOPE initiative at the 74th UNGA session on 25 September 2019, calling for collective cooperation of the Persian Gulf coastal states to safeguard peace in the Persian Gulf, Sea of Oman and the Strait of Hormuz.

After that, the Iranian government had sent letters to the southern Arab states in the Persian Gulf to seize the opportunity to reduce tensions with Iran and provide free maritime navigation in the Strait of Hormuz.

The move shows how serious Iran is in ending differences with its neighbors, Zarif said, adding the presence of the US and its allies in the Middle East is the main source of tensions there like the events that are taking place in Iraq and Lebanon these days.

Meanwhile, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said on Monday that Javad Zarif will leave Moscow for Beijing in the second leg of his regional tour. In China, he will discuss bilateral issues including the July 2015 nuclear deal.