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Will The “Taiwan Question” Give Rise To A World War III Scenario?

Taiwan and the US are reportedly pushing ahead with their plans to repel any alleged Chinese invasion, with military drills set for the end of November.

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Authored by Darius Shahtamasebi, op-ed via RT.com:


The United States and China are set to go head-to-head over disputes in relation to Taiwan and the South China Sea, with deadly consequences on the immediate horizon.

You wouldn’t know it with all the media hype over the US mid-term elections, but the US and China are on a deadly collision path in the South China Sea and Taiwan Strait. In the last two months, the US military has flown B-52 bombers and carried out its so-called “freedom of navigation” operations in the South China Sea. There have also been instances of US warships sailing through the Taiwan Strait in support of Taiwan, an island which China considers to be a rogue part of Chinese territory.

On a side note, it is amazing to say the least that the US believes it should have the “freedom to navigate” in the South China Sea, yet seems to get up in arms when Iranian ships expect the same kind of freedom in the Persian Gulf.

Near-collisions in the South China Sea

Last September, US and Chinese warships almost collided when sailing near an islet claimed by Beijing in the Spratly Islands. Reportedly, the Chinese warship threatened the US Destroyer that it would “suffer consequences” if it did not move, as it sailed within 45 yards of the American vessel.

In a last-ditch effort to avert this collision course, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Secretary of Defence James Mattis will host their Chinese counterparts Yang Jiechi and China’s Defence Minister Wei Fenghe this Friday for talks on reducing tensions. However, I think we can say with some confidence that these talks will be absolutely meaningless. Firstly, China already canceled the first round of talks set for September due to their frustration over US-enforced sanctions. Secondly, Chief of US Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson just recently, and quite openly stated that the US and China “will meet each other more and more on the high seas”; with Jim “Mad Dog” Mattis saying in Mid-October that the US and its allies would “continue to fly, sail, and operate wherever international law allows and our national interests demand.”

And of course we know how much the US loves to travel even well beyond the realms of international law, so we can expect to take Mattis at his word quite literally.

Barely a few days ago, Pompeo for his part also warned China that it should “behave like a normal nation on commerce and with respect to the rules of international law” – whatever that means.

The Taiwan question

Since the near-collision in September, a US Navy research ship has also visited Taiwan and two US warships have sailed through the Taiwan Strait. According to Stratfor, the US is possibly attempting to standardize patrols in the area, even potentially paving the way for an aircraft carrier group to transit through.

At the end of October, China strengthened its resolve to protect its interests in Taiwan, vowing to never give up an inch of its territory. Incidentally, it was Wei Fenghe who stated that “if someone tries to separate Taiwan from China, the Chinese armed forces will take action at any price.” He also vowed the same regarding China’s interests in the South China Sea, where it has heavily fortified at least seven islands or reefs, loading them with military bases, airfields, and advanced weapons systems.

Wei’s remarks echoed the Chinese President Xi Jinping’s comments in a speech to the 19th Party Congress last year, when he said that “we have firm will, full confidence, and sufficient capability to defeat any form of Taiwan independence secession plot” adding that China “will never allow any person, any organization or any political party to split any part of the Chinese territory from China at any time or in any form.”

Supposedly, China intends to be ready to carry out a full-scale resumption of hostilities against Taiwan by 2020. Naturally, such hostilities will likely draw in some other notable players on the world stage. At the end of October, retired Lieutenant-General Ben Hodges warned that it was likely the US and China will be at war within 15 years.

Speaking about the near collisions referred to above, Hodges made the remarks, stating that: “you’re going to see us … permanently assign forces for the eventuality that in 10 or 15 years we’re going to be having to fight in the Pacific.”

In similar fashion, the Chinese president recently told the military region responsible for monitoring the South China Sea and Taiwan to “prepare for war.”

Just this week, Taiwanese Defense Minister Yen Teh-fa told legislators that his government was considering allowing the US Navy access to Taiping Island if Washington requested such access for humanitarian or regional security operations, but only if Washington’s interests were aligned with Taiwan’s. Taiping Island bears incredible strategic importance thanks to its location and resources. Allowing the US access to Taiping would give the US the mobility in the South China Sea that it has been hoping for, as well as giving Washington greater leverage over countries like Vietnam and the Philippines who incidentally, also find themselves in a territorial dispute with Beijing.

A World War III scenario

According to Foreign Policy’s T. Greer, a recent study by political scientist Michael Beckley and another one by Ian Easton, a fellow at the Project 2049 Institute showed that any war with China and Taiwan, even without US involvement, would be nothing short of a long, drawn-out catastrophe. A Chinese invasion would require the largest amphibious operation in human history with tens of thousands of vessels, incessant rocket and missile attacks, and at least one million Chinese troops. If a Chinese victory does not occur swiftly, it will have some 2.5 million Taiwan reservists to contend with, not to mention the likely pending Japanese and/or American counter-attack.

Despite this grim reality, a recent poll found that the majority of Taiwanese people think its military cannot defend against a Chinese invasion, with less than half of respondents confident that the US would send troops to help defend Taiwan.

A 2018 report by the US Department of Defense argued that China now possessed “the world’s largest and most capable maritime militia.” The Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) has over 300 surface combatants, submarines, amphibious ships, patrol craft and specialized types, making it the largest navy force in the Indo-Pacific region (comparatively, the US has some 282 deployable battle force ships).

Regardless, Taiwan and the US are reportedly pushing ahead with their plans to repel any alleged Chinese invasion, with military drills set for the end of November between the two already in the works. Funnily enough, the drills will most likely take place in the area around Taiping Island. Taiwan’s military is also hoping to purchase MQ-8 Fire Scout uncrewed helicopters and MK-62 Quickstrike mines from the US. Taiwan may also seek to lay these mines in its waters close to Taipei as well as other key ports and bases, a plan which eerily echoes that of Greer’s report in Foreign Policy above.

People don’t need to be well-versed in international politics to see and feel the warning signs. A recent Military Times poll of active-duty troops showed that 46 percent of US troops believe the US will be drawn into a major war soon, with a focus on Russia and China in particular. Only 5 percent said the same thing in a similar poll conducted approximately a year ago.

In September, the Pentagon released a 146-page document entitled “Assessing and Strengthening the Manufacturing and Defense Industrial Base and Supply Chain Resiliency of the United States” which appeared to show that the US is preparing for a large, long-term war effort against Russia and China.

All the signs are there, and some countries are taking the issue more seriously than others. At the end of last month, Australia walked away from plans for a free trade agreement with Taiwan after China warned of repercussions between Canberra and Beijing. The fact that Australia was prepared to walk away should be quite telling of how important the Taiwan question is to China, with very few countries willing to challenge China on this position.

One can only hope that cooler heads will prevail but for those of us who understand what’s at stake, eventually, someone will have to back down in order for there to be any chance of averting a third world war scenario. When one of those countries is the United States, the likelihood of that nation backing down and pursuing a peaceful path of diplomacy instead grows thinner and thinner.

As American socialist Eugene V. Debs once said: “sooner or later every war of trade becomes a war of blood.”

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Tom Welsh
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Tom Welsh

If Taiwan is not part of China, it might be interesting to glance at a map and wonder why Alaska and Hawaii should be part of the USA. Or, indeed, why the “Falkland Islands” (Islas Malvinas) should be owned by the UK, when they are 8,000 miles away from it – that is a full one third of the Earth’s circumference.

john vieira
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They are all full of it. What the hell is China still doing in Tibet…and happily flooding the country with Han Chinese to displace and eventually outnumber the local population….and since when it is against some international law to secede from a country that you do not share a common perspective???

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Peace on Korean Peninsula within reach, if only Trump can remove Pompeo & Bolton (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 152.

Alex Christoforou

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RT CrossTalk host Peter Lavelle and The Duran’s Alex Christoforou discuss the results of the Putin-Kim summit in Vladivostok, Russia, aimed at boosting bilateral ties between the two neighboring countries, as well as working to contribute to a final peace settlement on the Korean peninsula.

Putin’s meeting with Kim may prove to be a pivotal diplomatic moment, as North Korea continues to work towards normalizing ties with the U.S. amidst ongoing denuclearization talks with the Trump White House.

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Via the BBC…

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said North Korean leader Kim Jong-un needs international security guarantees if he is to end his nuclear programme.

Such guarantees would need to be offered within a multinational framework, he added, following talks near Vladivostok in Russia’s far east.

Mr Kim praised the summit as a “very meaningful one-on-one exchange”.

Mr Putin said North Korea’s leader was “fairly open” and had “talked freely on all issues that were on the agenda”.

The meeting followed the breakdown of talks between the US and North Korea in February, when Mr Kim met US President Donald Trump in the Vietnamese capital Hanoi.

Those talks reportedly stalled over North Korea’s demand for full economic sanctions relief in return for some denuclearisation commitments – a deal the US was not willing to make.

Speaking after the talks on Thursday, Mr Putin said he wanted to see full denuclearisation on the Korean peninsula.

But he said this could only be achieved through respect for international law.

“We need to restore the power of international law, to return to a state where international law, not the law of the strongest, determines the situation in the world,” he said.

Mr Kim greeted Russian officials warmly when he arrived in Russia on Wednesday.

The North Korean leader was entertained by a brass band in Vladivostok before he got inside a car flanked by bodyguards, who – in now familiar scenes – jogged alongside the vehicle as it departed.

What do we know about the summit?

According to the Russian presidential spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, the Kremlin believes the six-party talks on North Korea, which are currently stalled, are the only efficient way of addressing the issue of nuclear weapons on the peninsula.

Those talks, which began in 2003, involve the two Koreas as well as China, Japan, Russia and the US.

“There are no other efficient international mechanisms at the moment,” Mr Peskov told reporters on Wednesday.

“But, on the other hand, efforts are being made by other countries. Here all efforts merit support as long as they really aim at de-nuclearisation and resolving the problem of the two Koreas.”

What do both sides want?

This visit is being widely viewed as an opportunity for North Korea to show it has powerful allies following the breakdown of the talks with the US in February.

The country has blamed US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for the collapse of the Hanoi summit. Earlier this month North Korea demanded that Mr Pompeo be removed from nuclear talks, accusing him of “talking nonsense” and asking for someone “more careful” to replace him.

The summit is also an opportunity for Pyongyang to show that its economic future does not depend solely on the US. Mr Kim may try to put pressure on Moscow to ease sanctions.

Analysts say the summit is an opportunity for Russia to show that it is an important player on the Korean peninsula.

President Putin has been eager to meet the North Korean leader for quite some time. Yet amid the two Trump-Kim summits, the Kremlin has been somewhat sidelined.

Russia, like the US and China, is uncomfortable with North Korea being a nuclear state.

How close are Russia and North Korea?

During the Cold War, the Soviet Union (of which Russia is the main successor state) maintained close military and trade links with its communist ally, North Korea, for ideological and strategic reasons.

After the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, trade links with post-communist Russia shrank and North Korea leaned towards China as its main ally.

Under President Putin, Russia recovered economically and in 2014 he wrote off most of North Korea’s Soviet-era debt in a major goodwill gesture.

While it is arguable how much leverage Russia has with the North today, the communist state still regards it as one of the least hostile foreign powers.

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Putin meets Kim for the first time (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 151.

Alex Christoforou

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris take a look at the historic meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in the city of Vladivostok in the Russian Far East.

The meeting marks the first ever summit between the two leaders.

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Follow The Duran Audio Podcast on Soundcloud.

Via RT…

Leaders of Russia and North Korea sat down for a historic summit in Vladivostok, expressing hope it will revive the peace process in the Korean Peninsula and talks on normalizing relations with the US.

The summit on Russky Island, just off Vladivostok, started a little late because President Vladimir Putin’s flight was delayed. North Korean leader Kim Jong-un had made the trip by train, arriving on Wednesday.

In brief public remarks before the talks, the two leaders expressed hope the summit will help move forward the reconciliation process in the Korean Peninsula. Putin welcomed Kim’s contributions to “normalizing relations” with the US and opening a dialogue with South Korea.

Kim said he hoped the Vladivostok summit would be a “milestone” in the talks about denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula, but also build upon “traditionally friendly ties” between Russia and North Korea.

The North Korean leader also made a point of thanking Putin for flying all the way to Vladivostok for the meeting. The Far East Russian city is only 129 kilometers from the border with North Korea.

The historic summit takes place less than two months after Kim’s second summit with US President Donald Trump in Hanoi fell apart without a breakthrough on denuclearization. The US rejected North Korea’s request for partial sanctions relief in return for moves to dismantle nuclear and missile programs; Washington insists on full disarmament before any sanctions are removed.

Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula is the main subject of the Kim-Putin summit, but there will also be talks about bilateral relations, trade, and humanitarian aid. The first one-on-one meeting is scheduled to last about an hour, followed by further consultations involving other government officials.

Following the summit, Putin is scheduled to visit China.

 

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Kim And Putin: Changing The State Of The Board In Korea

The future of Korea could be decided by these two men today.

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Authored by Tom Luongo:


Today is a big day for Korea. The first face-to-face summit of Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korean Leader Kim Jong-un takes place.

At the same time the 2nd annual Belt and Road Forum kicks off in Beijing.

This meeting between Putin and Kim has been in the works for a while but rumors of it only surfaced last week. But don’t let the idea that this was put together at the last minute fool you.

It wasn’t.

The future of Korea could be decided by these two men today.

I know that sounds bold. But hear me out.

And while no one seems to think this meeting is important or that anything of substance will come from it I do. It is exactly the kind of surprise that Putin loves to spring on the world without notice and by doing so change the board state of geopolitics.

  • Russia’s entrance into Syria in 2015, two days after Putin’s historic speech at the U.N. General Assembly
  • 2018’s State of the Union address where he announced hypersonic missiles, embarrassing the U.S. Militiary-Industrial Complex which accelerated the Bolton Doctrine of subjugating the world
  • Flying 2 TU-160 nuclear-armed bombers to Venezuela, creating panic in D.C. leading to the ham-fisted regime change operations there.
  • Nationalization of Yukos.
  • The operation to secure Crimea from U.S. invasion by marines aboard the U.S.S Donald Cook during the Ukrainian uprising against Viktor Yanukovich.

Both Putin and Chinese Premier Xi Jinping are angry at the breakdown of the talks in Hanoi back in February. It was clear that everyone expected that meeting to be a rubber stamp on a deal already agreed to by all parties involved.

In fact the two meetings between Kim and Trump were only possible because Trump convinced them of his sincerity to resolve the ‘denuclearization’ of North Korea which would clear a path to rapid reunification.

It’s why they went along with the U.S.’s increased sanctions on North Korea as administered through the U.N. in 2017.

That John Bolton and Mike Pompeo destroyed those talks and Trump was unwilling or unable (who cares at this point, frankly, useless piece of crap that he is) to stop them embarrassed and betrayed them.

They are now done with Trump.

He’ll get nothing from either of them or Kim until Trump can prove he’s in charge of his administration, which he, clearly, is not.

And they will be moving forward with their own agenda for security and Asian economic integration. So I don’t think the timing of this meeting with that of the Belt and Road Forum is an accident.

And that means moving forward on solving the Korea problem without Trump.

It is clear from the rhetoric of Putin’s top diplomat, the irreplaceable Sergei Lavrov, that Russia’s patience is over. They are no longer interested in what Trump wants and they will now treat the U.S. as a threat, having upped their military stance towards the U.S. to that of “Threat.”

If Bolton wants anything from Russia at this point he best be prepared to start a war or piss off.

This is also why Russia took the gloves off with Ukraine in the run up to the Presidential elections, cutting off energy and machinery exports with Ukraine.

To put paid Putin’s growing impatience with U.S. policies, he just issued the order to allow residents of Lugansk and Donetsk People’s Republics to apply for Russian passports.

This will send Bolton into apoplexy. Angela Merkel of Germany will be none too pleased either. Putin is now playing hardball after years of unfailing politeness.

It’s also why Lavrov finalized arms and port deals all over the Middle East in recent weeks, including those with Lebanon, Egypt, Turkey and India.

Bolton, Pompeo and Pence are ideologues. Trump is a typical Baby Boomer, who lives in a bubble of his own design and believes in an America that never existed.

None of them truly understand the fires they are stoking and simply believe in the Manifest Destiny of the U.S. to rule the world over a dim and barbaric world.

Putin, Xi, Rouhani in Iran and Kim in North Korea are pragmatic men. They understand the realities they live in. This is why I see Putin willing tomorrow to sit down with Kim and flaunt the U.N. sanctions and begin the investment process into North Korea that should have begun last year.

Putin would not be making these moves if he didn’t feel that Bolton was all bark and no bite when it came to actual war with Russia. He also knows that Germany needs him more than he needs Germany so despite the feet-dragging and rhetoric Nordstream 2 will go forward.

Trade is expanding between them despite the continued sanctions.

Putin may be willing to cut a deal with President-elect Zelensky on gas transit later in the year but only if the shelling of the LPR and DPR stops and he guarantees no more incidents in the Sea of Azov. This would also mollify Merkel a bit and make it easier for her politically to get Nordstream 2 over the finish line.

There are moments in history when people go too far. Bolton and Pompeo went too far in Hanoi. He will pay the price now. Putin and Kim will likely agree to something in Vladivostok that no one is expecting and won’t look like much at first.

But the reality is this summit itself marks a turning point in this story that will end with the U.S. being, in Trump’s transactional parlance, a “price taker” since it has so thoroughly failed at being a “price maker.”

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