Evaluate enemies and friends


Friends_Enemies

Illustration: Liu Rui/GTChina must evaluate friends and enemies

Since 2013, China has been engaging in “major power” diplomacy. In the past, the term “major powers” referred to countries such as the US, Japan, Russia, the UK and Brazil, while now the major power is China itself.

The shift in China’s diplomatic status means the country’s diplomatic approaches face a new challenge: Does diplomacy have to distinguish between enemies and friends?

Before China’s non-alignment policy was raised in the report to the 12th CPC National Congress in 1982, China’s diplomacy distinguished between enemies and friends.

In the 1950s, based on the different social systems, China categorized other countries into imperialist states, capitalist states, nationalist states and socialist ones.

In the following two decades, these countries were divided into the superpowers, developed countries and developing ones, given the international status of different countries.

These two categorizations differ in standards, but reflected the then diplomatic notion of distinguishing between enemies and friends.

The report to the 12th CPC National Congress also said that “the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence are applicable to our relations with all countries, including socialist countries.”

From then, China began to discard the “enemies-or-friends” concept and focus on economic cooperation with all the countries based on an equal footing.

There have been some variations in China’s diplomacy, particularly in relation to how it categorized other countries after the Tiananmen incident in 1989.

One means adopted in 1997 classified the countries into neighboring, developing and developed ones. In 2002, the sequence was changed into developed, neighboring and developing countries.

Such categorization adds flexibility to diplomatic principles and, as some believed, fits the globalization era and discards the Cold War mentality that stuck to the old way of distinguishing between enemies and friends.

However, such categorization and sequence also have their flaws. When a principle is too flexible, its guiding role is weakened.

For instance, both Cambodia and the Philippines are China’s neighboring countries and belong to developing countries, but the latter can sometimes pose diplomatic trouble for China.

Similarly, Russia and Japan belong to the same category, but we can enhance strategic cooperation with Russia while isolating Japan politically.

In the following decade, the overall national strength of China will remain greater than that of all the other countries except the US. China has to shoulder more international responsibilities and maintain international order by providing public benefit, so as to maintain its own interests.

But if China doesn’t distinguish between enemies and friends, it will find it difficult to do so.

Only when China is clear about which country it can hold responsible on certain occasions, or which country can enjoy more public benefits, can it make the right decision.

Any big country, when helping shape international order, will protect its friends rather than enemy countries. It will raise proposals beneficial for its partners rather than competitors, and provide public benefit for those playing by the rules rather than breaking the rules.

If we don’t distinguish between enemies and friends, it will also be difficult for us to adopt the diplomatic principle of amity, sincerity, mutual benefit and inclusiveness.

For example, politically we can get close to Russia and Cambodia but not Japan’s Abe government or the Philippines’ Aquino III government, because otherwise the latter two may dare to adopt even more hostile policies toward China.

Diplomatically, we can stick to the principle of credibility only with countries that we have established diplomatic ties with, but not with those who don’t admit China’s sovereignty or support the so-called “Taiwan independence.” Economically, China can take the initiative to help developing countries rather than the US which has already entered the developed phase.

To build up an international environment that best works for China’s rejuvenation, China’s categorization of foreign countries can be based on interests.

We can classify all the countries into friendly, cooperative, ordinary or conflicting ones.

To friendly countries, China should lend a helping hand; to cooperative ones, it can offer some preferential policies. We should work on an equal footing with ordinary countries, while taking countermeasures to conflicting ones.

The US is the only country that is more powerful than China. We may consider listing China’s relationship with it in a single category as “a new type of major power relationship.”

It is a relationship between a rising country and a dominant one, and as the US is more powerful than China, the two should stay equal and be mutually beneficial, which is more favorable to the US. Therefore, this also reflects tolerance of China’s foreign policies.

Since the Opium Wars in the 19th century, China has accumulated rich diplomatic experience to counter countries stronger than itself. But in modern times, it lacks the experience of dealing with countries weaker than itself. It tests China’s diplomatic wisdom as whether or not to distinguish between enemies and friends.

By Yan Xuetong Viewpoint, Source: Global Times Published: 2014-8-27 18:58:02
The author is director of the Institute of Modern International Relations, Tsinghua University. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn

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Contradiction blots Obama’s legacy with outdated Cold War mindset


Obama insurance conference call providers Russia and the U.S. are sending rather contradictory signals about their relationship.

US President Barack Obama belittled Russia as a nation that “doesn’t make anything” in an interview with the Economist on Sunday. He also said that the West must be “pretty firm” with China, as the latter will “push as hard as they can until they meet resistance.”

Obama downplayed Russia’s role in the international community by saying Moscow is unable to attract quality immigrants and Russia’s population is shrinking and aging. He described US tensions with China as “manageable,” but stressed that the West should be tough with China when China “breaches international norms,” and show China “the potential benefits over the long term.”

Condescending to China and Russia, Obama treats both nations separately. He wants to draw more Western attention to China, so there could be more efforts to contain China. Obama paying close attention to China resulted in his “rebalancing to Asia” strategy.

He hasn’t shown much belligerence to China and Russia since he took office, but apparently, he lacks strategic insight and the power to control his government and be a good decision-maker. His advocacy is always ambiguous and easily misguided by some emergency issues. Diplomacy will not be a proud part of his legacy.

In the Middle East, the US withdrawal from Iraq under his leadership has not helped sort out the mess in the region. He won’t be given a medal for the current situation.

In its relationship with Russia, the US wrongfully kept its momentum to squeeze Russia’s strategic space and caused Moscow’s intense countermeasures.

Washington and Moscow are now engaged in Cold-War-level tensions, and they will cost the US much resource and attention.

In US-China relations, Obama has also found it hard to fully achieve his “rebalancing to Asia” goals. When the new Chinese leadership proposed the concept of a new type of major power relationship, the Obama administration accepted the general idea, but hasn’t accepted the connotations.

Obama has not made constructive contributions to China-US relationships. He cannot make landmark progress if he still clings to an outdated Cold War mindset.

In the next two years before his last term ends, Obama could make himself remembered by making breakthroughs in the Sino-US relationship.

He could work with his Chinese counterparts to work out a framework for both countries, which would influence the entire picture of international relations.

In the early years of Obama’s administration, people were impressed by his less strident posture toward international affairs, and this is also why he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. But now he has become more self-contradictory.

Perhaps that’s how the most powerful man plays his role, held back by many different forces. It seems that only recklessness and strident talk can make the US presidency function well, while forward thinking won’t get anywhere.

Source: Global Times

Who stands to gain from MH17, USA?


The general public should always ask this question to prevent ourselves from being deceived by ‘false flags’

THE Russian military has released military monitoring data which challenge allegations circulating in the media pertaining to the MH17 crash in the Donetsk Region of Eastern Ukraine on July 17, 2014. Questions have been raised about Kiev military jets tracking MH17, Ukrainian air traffic controllers and the deployment of Buk missile systems. Kiev should also release military data on the circumstances leading to the crash. So should the Pentagon which reportedly has relevant intelligence and satellite data.

Since military data is hardcore information, Kiev and Washington should be persuaded to be transparent and accountable. The UN Secretary-General can play a role in this since there is a specialised agency within the UN, the ICAO, dedicated to international civil aviation.

Military data from Moscow, Kiev and Washington should be scrutinised by the independent international panel that is supposed to probe the MH17 catastrophe.

Such data carries much more weight than videos purportedly revealing the role of the pro-Russian rebels and the Russian government in the crash. One such video showing a Buk system being moved from Ukraine to Russia is a fabrication. The billboard in the background establishes that it was shot in a town – Krasnoarmeisk – that has been under the control of the Ukrainian military since May 11. Similarly, a YouTube video showing a Russian General and Ukrainian rebels discussing their role in mistakenly downing a civilian aircraft was, from various tell-tale signs, produced before the event.

The public should be wary of fabricated “evidence” of this sort, after what we have witnessed in the last so many years. Have we forgotten the monstrous lies and massive distortions that accompanied the reckless allegation that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction (WMD) which led eventually to the invasion of that country in 2003 and the death of more than a million people? What about the Gulf of Tonkin episode of 1964 which again was a fabrication that paved the way for US aggression against Vietnam that resulted in the death of more than three million Vietnamese?

MH17-coffins

The “babies in incubators” incident in Kuwait in 1990 was yet another manufactured lie that aroused the anger of the people and served to justify the US assault on Iraq. Just last year we saw how an attempt was made by some parties to pin the blame for a sarin gas attack in Ghouta, Syria upon the Assad government when subsequent investigations have revealed that it was the work of some rebel group.

From Tonkin to Ghouta there is a discernible pattern when it comes to the fabrication of evidence to justify some nefarious agenda or other. As soon as the event occurs before any proper investigation has begun, blame is apportioned upon the targeted party. This is done wilfully to divert attention from the real culprit whose act of evil remains concealed and camouflaged.

The colluding media then begins to spin the “correct” version with the help of its reporters and columnists who concoct “fact” out of fiction. Any other explanation or interpretation of the event is discredited and dismissed derisively to ensure that the “credibility” of the dominant narrative remains intact.

As the narrative unfolds, the target often embodied in a certain personality is demonised to such a degree that he arouses the ire of the public and becomes an object of venom.

The pattern described here is typical of what is known as a “false flag” operation in which blame for some dastardly deed is consciously transferred to one’s adversary. It has happened right through history and many contemporary nation-states – and not just the United States – are guilty of flying false flags.

To protect ourselves from being deceived by such operations, the general public should always ask: who stands to gain from a particular episode? Cui Bono is in fact an important principle in the investigation of a crime. In the case of the MH17 carnage, the pro-Russian rebels do not benefit in any way from downing a civilian airliner. Their goal is independence from the Kiev government which is why they are fighting Kiev through sometimes violent means including shooting down its military planes. Massacring 298 passengers in a flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur does not serve their cause. Moscow which backs the rebels to an extent also gains nothing from involving itself in such a diabolical carnage.

10 days after the carnage, it is now clear who is trying to reap benefits from that terrible tragedy in the skies. The demonisation of the Russian President, Vladimir Putin, orchestrated from various Western capitals, including Kiev, after Crimea voted to join the Russian Federation, thus thwarting one of the primary strategic goals of Nato’s eastward expansion, has now reached its pinnacle.

MH17 has helped the elite in Washington in yet another sense. It has strengthened its push for tougher sanctions against Russia which began after the Crimea vote.

It is obvious that those who seek to punish Russia and the pro-Russian rebels, namely, the elite in Washington and Kiev, are poised to gain the most from the MH17 episode. Does it imply that they would have had a role in the episode itself? Only a truly independent and impartial international inquiry would be able to provide the answer.

In this regard, we must admit that while elites in Kiev and Washington may stand to gain from MH17, those who actually pulled the trigger may be some other group or individual with links to the powerful in the two capitals. It is quite conceivable that a certain well-heeled individual equipped with the appropriate military apparatus and with access to air-control authorities in the region may have executed the act of evil itself.

MH17 down

Because of who he is, and where his loyalties lie, that individual may have also decided to target Malaysia. Was he giving vent to his anger over our principled stand on the question of justice for the Palestinians? Was he also attempting to divert public attention from Israel’s ground offensive against Gaza which time-wise coincided with the downing of the Malaysian airliner?

As we explore MH17 from this angle, would we be able to connect the dots between MH17 and MH370, between July 17 and March 8, 2014? We should not rest till the whole truth is known and the evil behind these two colossal catastrophes punished severely.

We owe this to every soul who perished on those fateful flights.

This article is dedicated to the cherished memory of all those on MH17 – especially the 80 children who were on board.

By comment: Dr Chandra Muzaffar

Dr Chandra Muzaffar is the President of the International Movement for a Just World (JUST).

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MH17 black boxes handovered to Malaysia to be passed to AAIB UK via Dutch investigators


Malaysian experts hand over MH17 black boxes to Dutch investigators
MH17 black Boxes

THE HAGUE, July 22 — The black boxes from the crashed flight MH17 have been handed over to Dutch investigators in Ukraine, the Dutch Foreign Ministry announced late Tuesday.

“The black boxes from flight MH17 have been handed over by Malaysian experts to the Dutch Safety Board (OVV) that is leading the international investigation,” the ministry said.

According to local media, the black boxes will be sent to Farnborough in Britain, where experts can read the data stored in the black boxes and try to find the exact cause of the crash.

The ministry said, the experts from the Dutch safety board will travel with other experts from several countries together, to send the black boxes to Farnborough.

For now, the Dutch side is in charge of the investigation of the crash, which caused 193 Dutch citizens’ lives.

The Boeing 777 en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur crashed near the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk Thursday, killing all 298 people on board.

The Dutch government announced early Tuesday that a flight with the first victims’ bodies will arrive in Eindhoven, the Netherlands on Wednesday.   Xinhua

Malaysian official: MH17’s black boxes to be passed to AAIB

Malaysian Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai said Wednesday in a statement that the international investigation team, led by the Netherlands, had decided to pass the black boxes to the UK Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) for forensic analysis.

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MH17 probe must steer clear of politics


MH17 Carton

The whirling aftermath of the crash of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 is now upon us, with Western-led international opinion turning the spotlight on Russia. We believe that the entire case must be investigated fairly and thoroughly. The United Nations or the International Civil Aviation Organization must play a leading role, and all sides must coordinate without preconditions or preconceptions.

US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russia Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov have agreed that all evidence from the downed plane should be made available for international investigation, and that experts should be given access to the site.

This is good news. Moscow must take a proactive stance toward this investigation.

The West has fingered Russia as the main suspect in the tragedy. Under such circumstances, any hesitation on Russia’s part will provoke more blame from the West. If there is no result to the investigation, Russia will, by default, be named the perpetrator. Therefore, letting the facts of the case speak suits Russia’s interests.

The Western rush to judge Russia is not based on evidence or logic. Russia had no motive to bring down MH17; doing so would only narrow its political and moral space to operate in the Ukrainian crisis. The tragedy has no political benefit for Ukrainian rebel forces, either.

Russia has been back-footed, forced into a passive stance by Western reaction. It is yet another example of the power of Western opinion as a political tool.

Politically speaking, shooting down a passenger jet would be ridiculous. It could have been an error, the precondition for which is the chaos within Ukraine.

The truth is the most persuasive tool of all. As the targeting of civilian air traffic is a mortal threat to all air passengers, a fair investigation is in the interest of all sides. The investigation process must steer clear of any political interference. The truth must be made public once it is found out.

Without a doubt, we live in a highly politicized world. Political zealotry has always been part and parcel of revolutionary passions.

The West has successfully put itself in a position to dictate “political correctness” in international discourse. Those unwilling to work with Western interests will often find themselves in a tough position.

The crash of MH17 is a tragedy of immense proportions. But the discussion swirling around this event has centered around three positions: shock at and condemnation of the event itself, quibbling over the Ukrainian crisis, and defining the opposition between Russia and the West. The first seems to be overwhelmed by the latter two, disrupting any investigation into the tragedy.

We sincerely hope the investigation will stick to factual and technological questions. People need the truth rather than another geopolitical rivalry.

Source:Global Times Published: 2014-7-21 0:13:01

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WW2 D-Day remembered in Normandy France; China praises Germany, slams Japan for denial of its brutal history


China praises Germany, slams Japan

(Reuters) – China used the 70th anniversary of World War Two’s D-Day landings on Friday to praise Germany for its contrition over its wartime past and slam Japan for what Beijing views as Tokyo’s continued denial of its brutal history.

China has increasingly contrasted Germany and its public remorse for the Nazi regime to Japan, where repeated official apologies for wartime suffering are sometimes undercut by contradictory comments by conservative politicians.

Ties between the two Asian rivals worsened on Dec. 26 when Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited Tokyo’s Yasukuni Shrine, which China sees as a symbol of Tokyo’s past militarism because it honors war criminals along with millions of war dead.

“Germany’s sincere remorse has won the confidence of the world,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said at a daily news briefing, when asked about the D-Day anniversary.

“But in Asia on the Asian battlefield, the leaders of Japan, which caused harm and which lost the war, are to this day still trying to reverse the course of history and deny their history of invasion,” Hong added.

“What Japanese leaders are doing has been widely condemned in the international community. We again urge Japan’s leaders to face up to and deeply reflect on the history of invasion and take real steps to correct their mistakes to win the trust of its neighbors in Asia and in the international community.”

Japan’s government and Abe himself have repeatedly said that Japan has faced up to its past sincerely.

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Nick Macfie)

Japan urged to correct mistakes as D-Day remembered

BEIJING, June 6 (Xinhua) — China on Friday urged Japan to reflect on its aggression past and correct mistakes with practical actions, as international D-Day commemorations were held.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said at a daily press briefing, “We again urge Japanese leaders to face up to and remember its aggression past, correct mistakes with tangible actions and win the trust of Asian neighbors and the international community.”

Among international commemorations of the 70th anniversary of D-Day being held, one was in Normandy, France.

Hong said as far as the Second World War is concerned, Europe has turned over a new page. Quoting an old Chinese saying, he said, “Past experience, if not forgotten, is a guide for the future.”

Hong said, “Germany has won world respect by sincerely apologizing for its wrong-doing.

“Yet leaders of Japan, a defeated country in World War II, are still attempting to deny its past and challenge the post-war international order, thus their acts are widely condemned by the international community.”

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WWII veterons attend a Drumhead Service on Southsea Common in commemoration of the D-Day landings on June 5, 2014 in Portsmouth, England.
WWII veterons attend a Drumhead Service on Southsea Common in commemoration of the D-Day landings on June 5, 2014 in Portsmouth, England.

In the southern English naval base of Portsmouth, which was the departure point for troops heading to Sword Beach, one of the main landing points, British Royal Marines acted out military exercises for thousands of veterans who gathered on Thursday to make the crossing for the commemorations.

While over in northern France, 300 soldiers from the US, UK, Canada and France parachuted in tandem over the village of Ranville, and World War II planes flew over Utah Beach. Thousands of Allied troops flew or parachuted onto the German-occupied French soil during the early hours of June 6th, in 1944, catching the German army by surprise. But the price was high, nearly 4,500 were dead by the end of the day.

With many D-Day veterans now in their 90s, this year could be the last time that many of those who took part in the battle, will be able to make the long journey back to Normandy and tell their stories. The main D-Day ceremony will be held in Ouistreham, a small port that was the site of a strategic battle on D-Day. Some 18 heads of state are expected to attend the commemorations.

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Asians can and must think strategically, not to be dominated by the West


Can Asians think?

CAN Asian Think is a provocative book written in 1998 by the dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore, Kishore Mahbubani, a prolific and brilliant thinker.

The book is a combative rebuttal of the idea that the dominant Western (read American) ideas are universalist, arguing that the Rest (of the World) has a lot to teach the West.

Re-reading it after more than 16 years, the questions raised by Mahbubani are as relevant as ever. Personally, I found the title rather condescending – of course Asians can think! The real issue is whether Asians can think strategically in their own interest, or whether they think that the dominant Western philosophy and values are so comfortable and relevant that they simply accept that the West is best.

The intellectual tide is going full circle. Since 1998, we have experienced two full-scale crises – the Asian financial crisis of 1998-1999 in which some Western polemicists gloated over Asian hubris, and the Great Recession of 2007-2009, when even Western intellectuals questioned whether unfettered capitalism was a dead end.

As one Asian leader said, when our teacher stumbles, what does the student do? This strategic question has not been completely answered, or at least the answers are different for different Asian countries.

Now that the West has begun to recover, we are going through a reversal of fortunes. Emerging economies are going to bear the brunt of global adjustment. At least three Asian economies are counted among the Fragile Five (India, Indonesia, Turkey, Brazil and South Africa), and there is considerable worry that China may be going through a hard landing.

President Obama’s trip to Asia was a belated personal confirmation of his “Pivot to East Asia” policy, first articulated in 2012 by then Secretary of State and Presidential wannabe Hillary Clinton. As the United States began to withdraw from Iraq and Afghanistan, and its discovery of shale oil making it less dependent on the Middle East, the Pivot strategy involved strengthening bilateral ties with allies in East Asia, and working relationships with emerging powers, such as China. The immediate unintended consequence of the Pivot policy was the eruption of the Ukraine crisis, whereby Russia took advantage of European weakness and diversion of US attention to effectively bring Crimea back to the Russian sphere of influence.

All of a sudden, the Cold War, defined as the struggle between Big Powers, re-emerged into the global risk equation.

Russian  Victory Day parade
Russian soldiers march at the Red Square in Moscow during a Victory Day parade. Thousands of Russian troops marched in Red Square to mark 69 years since victory in World War II in a show of military might amid tensions in Ukraine following Moscow’s annexation of Crimea. -AFP

The word “pivot” originally arose from a paper “The Geographical Pivot of History”, delivered exactly 110 years ago by Sir Halford Mackinder (1861-1947), then director of the London School of Economics. In his second book in 1919, Mackinder, considered the father of geopolitics and geostrategy theory, enscapsulated his theory of the Heartland in a dictum: “Who rules East Europe commands the Heartland; Who rules the Heartland commands the World Island; Who rules the World Island commands the World.”

The Heartland is of course Central Asia, previously part of the Soviet Union, and the World-Island is the largest landmass of Euroasia, from Atlantic Europe to the East Asian Pacific coast, which commands 50% of the world’s resources. Many of today’s areas of geopolitical risk are at the frontiers of the Heartland – Ukraine, Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran and the South China Sea.

Mackinder’s innovation was to examine national strategy on a global scale, recognising that the British empire must use geography and strategic policy to its advantage against competing great powers.

Former British colonies understood very well the British strategy of “divide and rule”, playing off one faction against the other, so that Britain could rule a subcontinent like India without expending too much resources. But Britain did not hesitate to apply gunboats or cannon to maintain the strategic balance. Similarly, Britain played off one European power against another, until weakened by two world wars, her former colony, the United States emerged as the global superpower.

Seen from the long lens of history, we are in the second Anglo-Saxon empire, with America being the new Rome. Just as the Roman empire shifted its capital from Rome to Constantinople (now Istanbul) in the 20th century, power shifted westward from London to Washington DC.

In the 20th century, two island economies, Britain and Japan, played leading roles in intervening in the continents of Europe and Asia through maritime power, but by the 21st century, air and technological power through size and scale changed the game in favour of the United States. The United States is a continental economy defended by two oceans, the Pacific Ocean and the Atlantic, without a military rival within the Americas.

In contrast, Asia has been historically riven by war and territorial disputes.

In his new book, the Revenge of Geography, geostrategist Robert Kaplan argued how politics and warfare were determined throughout history largely by geography.

Even though the arrival of air travel and Internet suggest that the world may become borderless, the reality is that the world is becoming more and more crowded.

When the First World War broke out in 1914, the global population was only 1.7 billion, with a death count of 16 million. By the Second World War, the death count reached as high as 85 million, when world population was only 2.3 billion.

The next World War will be fought over water and energy resources, because there are limits to natural resources even as the global population exceeds 7 billion, going towards 9 billion by 2030.

For the world to avoid global conflict will require great skills and mutual understanding, because the geopolitical risks of political miscalculation and accidents are extremely high in an age of rising tensions due to inequality, chauvinism, religious and ethnic polarisation. As an old African saying goes, when elephants fight, the grass gets trampled. In the next big fight between the nuclear powers, there will be no winners.

Now that is something that not just Asians must seriously think about.

- Contributed by Tan Sri Andrew Sheng

Tan Sri Andrew Sheng is Distinguished Fellow of the Fung Global Institute. The views expressed are entirely the writer’s own.

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