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Posts Tagged ‘Sino-Russian relations’

The “follies” of Russia’s pivot to China

October 2nd, 2015 1 comment

Recently, there has been no shortage of highly pessimistic commentaries published & republished, pointing out the supposed “follies” of Russia’s eastern pivot, by highlighting this year’s decline in Sino-Russian trade, China’s stock market volatility, and its supposed economic “weakness”. The conclusion implied by these articles is clear: “Russia’s economic pivot to China is failing, because increased economic cooperation has not mitigated Russia’s recent economic woes, or the effect of sanctions. China cannot save Russia, and the latter must continue depending on the West.”

This is essentially a straw-man conclusion. One thing should be plainly apparent through even a casual examination of Russia’s biggest recent commercial agreements with China: most of these arrangements with China were NEVER INTENDED to offset the impact of Russia’s current recession, but rather to position Russia’s economy for greater long-term diversification and upward mobility on the global economic value chain.

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Q&A with a Russian friend (see download links or attached PDF)

September 28th, 2015 2 comments

PDF attachment: Q&A with a Russian Friend

Sometimes it is helpful for the Hidden Harmonies audience to remember that China is not alone in being demonized by the mainstream western (primarily US) media. Any country that doesn’t “fit” neatly into the US “liberal-democratic” ideological dogma will naturally be painted as some kind of morally degenerate rogue state out to undermine “good” and “normal” countries. In fact, recently, no country is more demonized than Russia (not even the PRC).

That said, one of the major problems I see is that while we may recognize that we’re not alone, due to potential language/cultural barriers, lack of awareness, our Sino-centric mindset/attention span, and a host of other possible reasons, we often do not truly understand the perspectives of others (e.g. Russians) who are demonized. This is especially the case if our primary source of information about these other countries is the western media. I hope the contributors at Hidden Harmonies can begin to fix this problem, and I’ve taken a small step to start. Read more…

Is China a Real Victor of WWII?

August 7th, 2015 5 comments

In my recent article on Philippines’ ultimately absurd legal challenge to China’s claims in the S. China Sea, I noted how that conflict arose from the prevailing wind to diss China’s interests in the post WWII world.  The cause for that are many.  No doubt China’s relative weakness vis-a-vis the West and/or Soviet Union, its plunge into a major civil war in the aftermath of WWII, the alignment of the interests among the world’s most powerful – including both the West and the Soviets – to keep China from re-emerging as a major power all play a part.  But whatever the cause, I think it is major time for the world to revisit just how important a role China played in securing WWII’s victory against the Axis.

I have heard many Japanese say that even though China was technically a victor, China did not defeat Japan, only the U.S. did.  Some Americans say – what role could China have played when it was always teetering on the brink of national annihilation?  Both are way over simplifications of history.

Even if China could not have single-handedly defeat Japan, the world would not have been able to defeat Japan without China.  The defeat of the axis was a collaborative effort.  The U.S. and Soviet Union may have been the strongest military powers of the day, but the removal of any of the major four victors – China included – would have changed history irrevocably.  There are many reasons for the Axis to be defeated in WWII, and China is a key indispensable reason.

Consider, for example, that despite Japan’s many military victories in China throughout WWII, China was nevertheless able to, through its heroic resistance movement, lock down some 94% of Japan’s army throughout the war.  That is a huge deal.  Had China capitulated and freed Japan’s army, Japan could have opened with the Soviet Union a second front as Hitler had asked.  The course of WWII in Europe would have been irrevocably changed.

Alternatively – or perhaps simultaneously – the freed Japanese army could have rolled across S. East Asia, or India … or been used to invade Australia, Philippines and perhaps even India – securing the resources of much of Asia.  Does the U.S. really think it could have withstood an additional enforcement of Japan’s army by a factor of 15-16 throughout Asia???  Japan, I argue – would have been that much more difficult – if not impossible to defeat.

Some American exceptionalists might claim, but it was nuclear bombs that defeated the Japaneses.  That is patently false.  By the time the “bomb” was used, Americans already had control of Japanese skies and were carrying out firebomb raids with impunity.  Without that cover, the bomb could not have been deployed.

Strategically also, the bomb was used precisely because Japan was a defeated nation.  Had Japan had a fighting chance of survival, America would not have dared to try the bomb … for the simple reason that Japan would not easily go down, and would have had the resources to develop its own bomb  … and used it against America. The nuclear bomb did not end the war.  It was used to make a political statement … and to shorten – perhaps (tenuously) – the war. But make no mistake: the war was already  won.

In commemorating the 70th anniversary of the end of WWII, I offer two articles.  The first,  China a Forgotten WWII Ally, from China.org, argues that China made uniquely important and significant contributions to securing Japan’s ultimate defeat and that its efforts have been too long been neglected in the West in the advent of the cold war.  The second, Did a forgotten Japanese journalist turn the tide of World War II?, from Asia Times tells the story of how Soviet knowledge of Japan’s decision not to open a second front decisively changed the course of WWII … and how a brave Japanese journalist named Hotsumi Ozaki heroically relayed that critical knowledge to Soviet leaders. Read more…

Creating Central Eurasia – a vision for collaboration between the Silk Road & Eurasian Union projects

June 9th, 2015 No comments
I want to share a GREAT analysis from the Valdai Club (see links below), outlining the opportunities for the PRC & Russia to jointly promote development and stability in Central Asia, by integrating the Silk Road Economic Belt (SREB) & Eurasian Union initiatives. I find it an insightful counter-narrative to the mainstream (mostly western) rhetoric of China & Russia “at each others’ throats” in a zero-sum competition for hegemony in Central Asia – such as this one. It illustrates the magnitude of the opportunity for collaboration, and recommends a framework for execution. To date, I think there is no better scholarship than this one, in terms of clearly articulating the Russian perspective on, and response to, the Chinese SREB project.
Enjoy the read.
NOTE: For those who are not familiar with the Valdai Club, I would roughly describe it as Russia’s version of the US Council on Foreign Relations.

A rebuke of Chinese russophobes from the PLA Daily

May 12th, 2015 6 comments

For those who read Chinese, here is a great article that calls on all Chinese to reject russophobia & get our strategic priorities straight.

http://military.china.com.cn/2015-05/12/content_35546603.htm

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The Myth of a Chinese takeover in Siberia – Continued

January 16th, 2015 19 comments

As an avid follower and enthusiast of modern trends in Sino-Russian relations (and media coverage thereof), I saw this “jewel” of an op-ed in the New York Times earlier this week, titled “Why China will Reclaim Siberia“. This type of Sinophobic fear-mongering is nothing new in the western media. With amusement, I read through it with the slight hope of finding some new, compelling arguments other than the same old rhetoric of “there are so many Chinese and so few Russians”. Unsurprisingly, there were none. I have written on this subject previously, and demonstrated why the so-called “invasion by mass migration” from China into the Russian Far East is a myth. Ethnic Chinese consists of 3% of the Russian Far East regional population, and most of that 3% are seasonal migrants with no intention of long-term settlement. Another noteworthy nuance is that these ethnic Chinese are concentrated largely in Russian urban centers where they have no chance of attaining a numerical majority. Reality aside, I understand that in the realm of propaganda and misinformation, facts and data-driven logic are optional conveniences.

Nevertheless, I will pose another question that few, if anyone, has asked in the discourse over this topic – is it actually in China’s strategic interests to seize sovereign control of the Russian Far East (RFE) or any part of Siberia? It seems like few, if anyone, has done any basic, high-level cost-benefit analysis from a Chinese strategic perspective. When we put forth even a casual effort to weigh the costs and benefits, the answer becomes quickly apparent – NO, it’s not. As usual, for those who do not want to read too much, the bolded text provides an adequate summary. Read more…

5 Popular Misconceptions about the Sino-Russian Gas Deal

June 1st, 2014 3 comments

The conclusion of a 30-year, 38 BCM/year Sino-Russian gas deal has gotten considerable attention in the media recently. Not surprisingly, much of the coverage – especially in the western media – was emotionally charged, given that Putin’s visit to China & the deal signing coincided with the unfolding crisis in Ukraine. There was no shortage of rhetoric about Putin “making Russia a resource appendage of China” for “good PR”, as if being a resource appendage of the West is so much better. The tirade of rhetoric against this deal reminds me of the type of propaganda we saw when China started boosting trade and investment in Africa. This post will address some of the biggest misconceptions being propagated in the western (& even Russian) mainstream media, and seek to draw conclusions based on facts, rather than anti-Chinese xenophobia. This is a lengthy post, so for those who are not interested in the details, the bold text will give you an adequate summary.
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A proper perspective on Sino-Russian relations

March 30th, 2013 6 comments

In light of President Xi’s latest visit to Russia, it would be appropriate to provide a nuanced perspective to the current state of Sino-Russian relations. It is understandably difficult for the western media to deliver this kind of nuance; this difficulty stems not only from western biases against both Russia and China that obstructs objective analysis, but also the complications inherent in bilateral relations. For the sake of brevity, I will make just two observations which is inadequately emphasized in modern-day discourse on the Sino-Russian bilateral relationship – incentives for cooperation and Russia’s true value as a “comprehensive” strategic partner. Read more…

The Myth of Chinese Mass Migration into Russia

August 14th, 2012 18 comments

I stumbled upon a rather entertaining Reuters article a few days ago, reporting Russia’s latest move to supposedly defend against a so-called “soft invasion” from China – in which massive yellow hordes from China’s over-populated Northeast will systematically migrate into and outnumber the dwindling Russian population in the Russian Far East (RFE), and eventually assume de facto control. This article includes some very comical anecdotes, including the not-so-subtle hint that Russia recently deployed two additional submarines to counter Chinese influence in the Russian Far East, while making no mention whatsoever of recent Russo-Japanese maritime territorial disputes over resource-rich islands in the Sea of Japan. If I were a five year old, I might be led to believe that submarines are far more useful in guarding sparsely-populated land against illegal migrants, than showing resolve in a maritime dispute… which would inevitably make me wonder why the US Navy does not deploy SSNs in the Rio Grande against illegal Mexican migrants. Read more…