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China celebrates 90 years of the People’s Liberation Army while sending a strong message to the world

China is speaking volumes to the world although many, particularly in the United States and India, pretend not to hear.

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China has held a large parade honouring the 90th anniversary of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). In addition to displays of cutting edge, never before seen weapons, China’s President Xi Jinping clarified the purpose of a large, modern and highly trained PLA in the 21st century.

Speaking at a ceremony after the parade, Xi stated,

“The Chinese people love peace. We will never seek aggression or expansion, but we have the confidence to defeat all invasions.

We will never allow any people, organisation or political party to split any part of Chinese territory out of the country at any time, in any form. No one should expect us to swallow the bitter fruit that is harmful to our sovereignty, security or development interests”.

Xi went on to praise the PLA’s 5 year plan for modernisation which has seen an increased focus on air and naval power while still boasting the world’s largest army.

China’s message is clear, but who is it directed to?

1. The United States 

The US has and continues to engage in aggressive policies towards China through the projection of both overt provocations, through geo-strategic meddling and through proxy wars around the world designed to retard the progress of China’s One Belt–One Road global trade, infrastructure and commerce initiative.

a. Direct Provocations 

The United States continues to infringe on China’s territorial rights in the South China Sea as well as the East China Sea. What the United States deceivingly calls ‘freedom of navigation’ is merely an attempt to internationalise territorial waters claimed by China.

The US has often co-opted south east Asian nations into an aggressive stance against China in the South China Sea, but this strategy has hit something of a brick wall ever since the 2016 election of Rodrigo Duterte as President of Philippines. Duterte has pledged to work cooperatively with China over the dispute and dismissed all calls for violence as foolhardy and suicidal.

While the US continues to provoke China in Chinese maritime territory, the particular way in which the Trump administration has approached the North Korean issue is more about Beijing than it is about Pyongyang.

China is North Korea’s neighbour, and since the illegal collapse of the Soviet Union, China has been North Korea’s primary window to the wider world although North Korea’s economy is increasingly self-sufficient and looks set to continue along this trajectory.

North Korea is a sovereign state and China and Russia both respect and acknowledge this, it is only the United States which constantly treats the North Korean issue as though it is an issue of a Chinese protectorate. In this sense, North Korea is far more remote from China than is Chinese Taipei, also known as Taiwan. If the US has direct talks with the generally pro-western government of Chinese Taipei, surely on the sheer principles of sovereign foreign relations, the US ought to talk to North Korea which unlike Chinese Taipei is an unambiguously sovereign state as recognised by the United Nations.

By suggesting otherwise, the United States is insulting China, something which under Donald Trump has become increasingly par for the course.

In this sense, by attempting to draw China into the North Korean issue from the view that North Korea is somehow a protectorate of China, while the US continues to sell weapons to Chinese Taipei (aka Taiwan) which China regards as part of its indivisible sovereign territory, the US is accomplishing both a two-pronged insult as well as a two-pronged challenge to China, one which China has responded to sternly in recent days.

READ MORE: China REFUSES to be drawn on Trump’s North Korea threats

b. Military and geo-strategic meddling along One Belt–One Road 

China has laid out the preliminary map of the manifold routes which will comprise its One Belt–One Road land and sea super-highways.

It is no coincidence that since this announcement was made in 2013, the United States has stepped up military action and geo-political meddling in key spots along the road.

As I recently wrote in The Duran,

“NATO’s recent land and sea exercises in eastern and southern Europe as well as the Black Sea frontiers of Eurasia are at face value, provocations designed to anger and intimidate Russia. Likewise, America’s presence in Iraq and Syria are at face value, provocations designed to angry and intimidate Iran. But they are also something else: they are provocations designed to anger and intimidate China.

The key element here lies in understanding the geography of China’s massive trade/commerce project, One Belt–One Road, also referred to as the New Silk Road.

A map of the likely final routes of the land and sea trade corridors which China is working to build in cooperation with local nations along the route goes a long way in explaining why the United States is conducting troop exercises, engaging in military conflicts and threatening new military conflicts in key spots along the New Silk Road.

The following map shows the routes of China’s New Silk Road. Each number corresponds to an area where US troops or their allies are either active in a conflict zone or have recently engaged in military exercises.

1. The border between Iraq and Iran. 

Kurdish areas in northern Iraq are set to vote in an independence referendum in September of 2017. While it is not clear if the US will officially support the results of the vote which due to a declared boycott of the referendum by the area’s non-Kudish residents will almost certainly be won by nationalists, the US has developed very close ties to Iraqi Kurds over the last decades. The US has likewise supported Iraqi Kurds in their fight against ISIS in northern Iraq.

Iran is staunchly opposed to Kurdish separatism in neighbouring Iraq and has taken Turkey’s side in opposing Kurdish separatism throughout the region. Syria of course also opposes local Kurdish separatists.

Many in Iran are growing increasingly suspicious that the US and Israel plan to use their Kurdish allies as a means of waging a proxy war against Iran and its allies. America seems willing to throw out its historically good relationship with Turkey in order to do just that.

2. North Eastern Syria

The next US hotspot along China’s New Silk Road is in north-eastern Syria. This is also an area in which Syrian Kurds are growing increasingly vocal about independence.

Should America support Kurdish nationalists in northern Iraq and north eastern Syria, this could create two decidedly pro-American entities along the New Silk Road.

Should Syrian and/or Iraqi Kurdish nationalists decide to link up with the Kurdish nationalist PKK in Turkey, the New Silk Road’s journey into Turkey could also be threatened.

Just as Syria and China forge new economic ties, America continues to increase its presence in Syria.

3. Western Balkans 

The New Silk Road’s maritime route into Europe is through Greece where it eventually hugs the western Balkans on its route northwards.

This will see the New Silk Road passing by Albania and Montenegro via the Ionian and Adriatic Seas. The western Balkans has become a big hotspot of US mischief for several reasons.

America has been fomenting Albanian extremism in Macedonia (aka Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia) in an attempt to weaken the position of the sovereignty minded President Gjorge Ivanov. The threats of Albanian nationalists to Skopje threaten the entire statehood of the small Balkan country.

Furthermore, America has been deeply supportive of the Greater Albania project which would see Albanians annex not only parts of Macedonia but also parts of Serbia, Montenegro and Greece. Montenegro’s recent, deeply controversial ascension to NATO could only exacerbate the problem as a fraternal nation to Serbia is now NATO’s newest and smallest member.

All of the sudden, The New Silk Road’s path into southern Europe becomes perilous and highly unstable.

4. Romania 

Thousands of NATO troops are currently participating in military exercises in Romania. This comes after the US sold a $3.9 billion Patriot Missile system to the poor European country.

All of the sudden Romania’s seemingly easy route into Europe along the New Silk Road just became dotted with US military hardware and the presence of many NATO troops who will soon be back for more.

5. The Black Sea 

The US has recently conducted its biggest ever Black Sea naval exercises with fellow NATO members along with Ukrainian ships.

This further augments America’s presence along the coasts of Romanian, Russia, Ukraine while also being quite close to Turkey’s shores on the southern sands of the Black Sea.

6. Ukraine 

At present, the post-coup regime which rules Ukraine is ardently pro-America. China and Russia’s close alliance could spur the pro-western regime in Kiev into making life deeply difficult for the New Silk Road, even though such moves would be to their own economic detriment.

The Ukrainian regime is well known for making politicised moves which have hurt its own economic interests, severing economic ties with both Russia and the Donbass Republics being two such examples.

In the coming years, many will ask if the fact that the Ukrainian coup of February 2014 and the formal announcement of One Belt–One Road in the Autumn of 2013 were coincidental events in respect of their proximity in time, not least because Ukraine’s President Viktor Yanukovych visited China in December of 2013 where he met with Chinese President Xi Jinping. During the meetings which were uniquely successful for Ukraine, China agreed to invest $8 billion into the Ukrainian economy. A few months later a western orchestrated coup removed Yanukovych from power.

7. Poland 

NATO troops continue to pour into Poland where they have been largely welcomed by the Polish government. Can masses of NATO troops coexist with Chinese commerce along the New Silk Road? It certainly does not bode well.

8. Bab-el-Mandeb Strait

Ships on the maritime New Silk Road are set to pass through the Bab-el-Mandeb Strait which links the Gulf of Aden to the Red Sea. Currently, the Strait is under naval blockade from America’s ally Saudi Arabia. The results which have meant a humanitarian disaster for Yemen which is the subject of the Saudi blockade, could also threaten China’s shipping routes to the Red Sea.

9. Suez Canal/Sinai Peninsula

The Suez Canal borders the Sinai Peninsula. Much of Sinai is currently home to ISIS troops that the Egyptian armed forces have had difficulty in ridding from their territory.

The presence of ISIS in the Sinai has led many to worry that Israel could invade and occupy Sinai as Israel did between 1967 and 1982.

It is wise to remember that Israel is not on the New Silk Road while Iran, Iraq and Syria are. This reality will not be lost on the leaders in Tel Aviv.

This does not make for smooth sailing along the maritime New Silk Road”.

2. India 

Of all the major states along One Belt–One Road, India under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been the most obstinate in respect of cooperating with China.

India’s moves to provoke China in the disputed Donglang/Doklam border area at the intersection of India, China and Bhutan combined with overtures to Japan which have little economic benefit to India but fulfil the Modi geo-strategic narrative of projecting Indian power against China, are both symptomatic of an Indian government that is keen to challenge rather than cooperate with China, even though this runs contrary to the short, medium and almost certainly the long term economic interests of India. It is a dangerous game of using and abusing geo-political interactions for the sake of propaganda designed for domestic consumption among Modi’s Hindutva base.

READ MORE: Narendra Modi’s version of Non-Alignment is fooling no one and is bad for India

Additionally, India’s purchase of costly American weapons is a further rebuke to China. India could purchase equally effective but much less expensive weapons from both China and Russia. In getting into bed with the US military-industrial complex at a great expensive to the Indian treasury, India is attempting to essentially buy American favour in any major future disputes with China, a plan that will almost certainly not work as America is pursuing China according to America’s own geo-strategic interests and not those of the anti-Chinese factions in India.

Modi’s fanatical approach to China will only draw China closer to Pakistan and the only loser in such a scenario is India which could have stood to gain greatly from Sino-Indian cooperation without sacrificing India’s historical friendship with Russia, nor at the expense of China’s historically good and presently expanding relationship with Islamabad.

China’s message is clear, India can either work with China and win or antagonise China and lose. It is a concept so simple that Modi and his ministers seem to have internalised it and reached the totally opposite conclusion to what logic ought to dictate.

READ MORE: China sends STRONG message to US and India

3. Russia and Pakistan 

China’s display of military strength is simultaneously an offer to Russia and a reassurance to Pakistan. While China is at times less vocal about its geo-strategic partnerships than fellow super-power Russia, its meaning is equally clear.

Russia and China’s alliance is the most important in Asia and Eurasia, respectively. With two of the three global super-powers in what amounts to a formal alliance in all but name (and occasionally in name based on a number of bilateral agreements), the weight of the world’s aggregate military might is clearly set against anyone who seeks to challenge the Russo-Chinese alliance.

Secondly, although the timing is largely coincidental, China seeks to assure Pakistan that in spite of the recent ouster of Nawaz Sharif, that Beijing and Islamabad’s cooperative endeavours, namely the China Pakistan Economic Corridor, are safe in spite of the internal situation in Pakistan that is currently being handled in a deeply professional way based not only on Pakistani but global standards.

CONCLUSION: 

The more America engages in aggressive acts along One Belt–One Road and the more India pushes back against the inevitable inertia of China’s economic and geo-political progress, the more China will subtly but steadfastly push back.

The size and scope of the recent military displays by China in addition to the stern words of President Xi are merely one small but poignant indication of just how serious China takes the challenges that others are unnecessarily sending its way.

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BREAKING: Explosion in Crimea, Russia kills many, injuring dozens, terrorism suspected

According to preliminary information, the incident was caused by a gas explosion at a college facility in Kerch, Crimea.

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“We are clarifying the information at the moment. Preliminary figures are 50 injured and 10 dead. Eight ambulance crews are working at the site and air medical services are involved,” the press-service for the Crimean Ministry of Health stated.

Medics announced that at least 50 people were injured in the explosion in Kerch and 25 have already been taken to local hospital with moderate wounds, according to Sputnik.

Local news outlets reported that earlier in the day, students at the college heard a blast and windows of the building were shattered.

Putin Orders that Assistance Be Provided to Victims of Blast in Kerch – Kremlin Spokesman

“The president has instructed the Ministry of Health and the rescue services to take emergency measures to assist victims of this explosion, if necessary, to ensure the urgent transportation of seriously wounded patients to leading medical institutions of Russia, whether in Moscow or other cities,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitriy Peskov said.

The president also expressed his condolences to all those affected by the tragic incident.

Manhunt Underway in Kerch as FSB Specialists Investigate Site of Explosion – National Anti-Terrorist Committee

The site of the blast that rocked a city college in Kerch is being examined by FSB bomb disposal experts and law enforcement agencies are searching for clues that might lead to the arrest of the perpetrators, the National Anti Terrorism Committee said in a statement.

“Acting on orders from the head of the NAC’s local headquarters, FSB, Interior Ministry, Russian Guards and Emergency Ministry units have arrived at the site. The territory around the college has been cordoned off and the people inside the building evacuated… Mine-disposal experts are working at the site and law enforcement specialists are investigating,” the statement said.

Terrorist Act Considered as Possible Cause of Blast in Kerch – Kremlin Spokesman

“The tragic news that comes from Kerch. Explosion. The president was informed … The data on those killed and the number of injured is constantly updated,” Peskov told reporters.

“[The version of a terrorist attack] is being considered,” he said.

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10 percent of American F-22 fighter jets damaged by Hurricane Michael

Part of the reason the F-22’s were left in the path of the storm is that they were broken and too expensive to fix or fly.

Seraphim Hanisch

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Note to the wise: When a hurricane comes, move your planes out of the way. Especially your really expensive F-22 fighter planes. After all, those babies are $339 mil apiece. Got the message?

Apparently the US Air Force didn’t get this message. Or, did they find themselves unable to follow the message?

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The Washington Times reported Tuesday that between 17 and 20 of these top-of-the-line fighter jets were damaged, some beyond the point of repair, when Hurricane Michael slammed ashore on Mexico Beach, Florida, not far from the Tyndall Air Force Base in the same state. The Times reports that more than a dozen of the F-22 Raptor stealth fighter jets were damaged after being left in the path of the extremely fierce storm:

President Trump’s tour Monday of devastation wrought by Hurricane Michael took him close to Florida’s Tyndall Air Force Base, where more than a dozen F-22 Raptor stealth fighter jets were damaged after being left in the path of the powerful storm.

The pricey fighter jets — some possibly damaged beyond repair — were caught in the widespread destruction that took at least 18 lives, flattened homes, downed trees and buckled roads from Florida to Virginia.

The decision to leave roughly $7.5 billion in aircraft in the path of a hurricane raised eyebrows, including among defense analysts who say the Pentagon’s entire high-tech strategy continues to make its fighter jets vulnerable to weather and other mishaps when they are grounded for repairs.

“This becomes sort of a self-defeating cycle where we have $400 million aircraft that can’t fly precisely because they are $400 million aircraft,” said Dan Grazier, a defense fellow at Project on Government Oversight. “If we were buying simpler aircraft then it would be a whole lot easier for the base commander to get these aircraft up and in working order, at least more of them.”

This is quite a statement. The F-22 is held to be the tip of the American air defense sword. A superb airplane (when it works), it can do things no other plane in the world can do. It boasts a radar profile the size of a marble, making it virtually undetectable by enemy radars. It is highly maneuverable with thrust-vectoring built into its engines.

However, to see a report like this is simply stunning. After all, one would expect that the best military equipment ought to be the most reliable as well. 

It appears that Hurricane Michael figuratively and physically blew the lid off any efforts to conceal a problem with these planes, and indeed with the hyper-technological basis for the US air fighting forcesThe Times continues:

Reports on the number of aircraft damaged ranged from 17 to 22 or about 10 percent of the Air Force’s F-22 fleet of 187.

The Air Force stopped buying F-22s, considered the world’s most advanced fighter jets, in 2012. The aircraft is being replaced by the F-35, another high-tech but slightly less-expensive aircraft.

Later in the tour, at an emergency command center in Georgia, Mr. Trump said the damage to the F-22s couldn’t be avoided because the aircraft were grounded and the storm moved quickly.

“We’re going to have a full report. There was some damage, not nearly as bad as we first heard,” he said when asked about the F-22s, which cost about $339 million each.

“I’m always concerned about cost. I don’t like it,” Mr. Trump said.

Still, the president remains a fan of the high-tech fighter jet.

“The F-22 is one of my all-time favorites. It is the most beautiful fighter jet in the world. One of the best,” he said.

The Air Force managed to fly 33 of the F-22s to safety, but maintenance and repair issues kept 22 of the notoriously finicky aircraft on the ground when the powerful storm hit the base.

About 49 percent of the F-22s are out of action at any given time, according to an Air Force report this year.

This is a stunning statistic. This means that of the 187 planes in existence, 90 of them are not working. At their cost, that means that over thirty billion dollars worth of military equipment is sitting around, broken, just in airplanes alone.

As a point of comparison, the entire Russian military budget for 2017 was $61 billion, with that budget producing hypersonic missiles, superb fighter aircraft and tanks. Russian fighter planes are known for being able to take harsh landing and take-off conditions that would cripple the most modern American flying machines.

It would seem that Hurricane Michael exposed a serious problem with the state of readiness of American armed forces. Thankfully that problem did not arise in combat, but it is no less serious.

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Saudi Arabia trying to squirm free of Khashoggi murder (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 2.

Alex Christoforou

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RT CrossTalk host Peter Lavelle and The Duran’s Alex Christoforou take a quick look at Saudi Arabia’s possible admission to killing journalist Jamal Khashoggi…accidentally, while they were torturing the man inside the consulate in Istanbul.

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Via Zerohedge

Even before the publication of last night’s Saudi trial balloon hinting that the kingdom would soon acknowledge that the extrajudicial killing of Jamal Khashoggi – the insider-turned dissident journalist who walked into the Saudi consulate in Istanbul last week and never walked back out – was the result of a “botched” kidnapping attempt carried out by “rogue killers” (despite reports that the US intelligence community knew that Khashoggi was being “targeted”), two realities had become increasingly clear. One: That the Saudis would avoid responsibility for the killing by pinning it on some unfortunate underling, and two: that there would be few, if any, lasting diplomatic repercussions.

And as more media organizations confirmed reports about Saudi’s plans to spin Khashoggi’s murder as a botched interrogation (we can only imagine what was said in that room to justify the use of such extreme violence), CNN calculated the Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met with Saudi King Salman in Riyadh for approximately 15 minutes early Tuesday, following his 12-hour-plus flight to the kingdom.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s meeting with King Salman of Saudi Arabia lasted no more than 15 minutes, CNN estimates based on the time the top US diplomat’s motorcade arrived at the royal court and departed.

The motorcade arrived at the royal court at 11:42 a.m. (4:42 a.m. ET) and left 26 minutes later. There is a fair distance to walk from where the motorcade dropped Pompeo off to where he met the king.

While Trump said on Monday that Pompeo would travel to Turkey “if necessary”, the Saudi’s decision to “come clean” about Khashoggi’s death pretty much rendered Pompeo’s fact-finding mission unnecessary.More important are developments in Turkey, where the joint Saudi-Turkish “investigation” is turning its attention toward the home of the Saudi consul, where a black diplomatic van that departed the Saudi consulate just under two hours after Khashoggi entered was captured on camera disappearing into a garage. Some speculate that this is where the killers finished disposing of Khashoggi’s body. This comes after a “nine-hour” search of the Saudi consulate building that, according to leaks published in Al-Jazeera, turned up “evidence of tampering” by the Saudis. On Tuesday, Turkey’s foreign minister clarified that Saudi had yet to admit its role in Khashoggi’s disappearance and probable death.

Turkish investigators will carry out a search of the Saudi Consul General’s residence on Tuesday as the probe into the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi continues, according to a Turkish diplomatic source.

CCTV footage released to the media from the day the Washington Post writer vanished show movement of vehicles from the consulate building to the Consul General’s residence nearby.

As speculation mounts that the incident could unseat the increasingly authoritarian Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman (who has already marginalized or incapacitated nearly every threat to his rule), it’s looking more likely that neither the US nor the rest of the Western world will do much to punish the world’s most important oil exporter, which can “weaponize” the oil market seemingly on a whim.

Any punishment for this flagrant violation of human rights will need to come, therefore, from the private sector, which, according to Bloomberg, could sabotage MbS’s grand Vision 2030 plan, which aims to remake the Saudi economy via a flood of foreign direct investment:

The economic strategy of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, known as MBS, is to make investment the main engine of economic growth instead of government spending, but the disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi could frustrate these ambitions. Foreign direct investment, a key part of the plan to reinvent Saudi Arabia’s economy, declined sharply in 2017 and is unlikely to return to previous levels, leaving the government’s target for 2020 beyond reach, according to analysis by Bloomberg Economics. Increased policy uncertainty and, after the Khashoggi incident, the risk of reputational damage to foreign companies working in Saudi Arabia won’t help.

 

 

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