West wary of China WWII military parade

(Deutsche Welle) For the first time, China will commemorate the Allied victory in WWII with a military parade. The major Western leaders are not attending. Beijing accuses them of failing to recognize its role in winning the war.

Russian President Vladimir Putin will be the only head of state from the old Allied powers to attend China’s commemoration on Thursday of their victory in World War Two.

The leaders of the United States, Great Britain and France will be conspicuously absent from the ceremony. London has dispatched Kenneth Clarke, a leading conservative politician who’s held numerous cabinet-level positions. Paris has sent Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius. Washington will be represented by its ambassador, Max Baucus.

This lukewarm response to China stands in stark contrast to how the West commemorates its own contribution to the war. The leader of every major Allied nation attended the 70th-anniversary commemoration of the landings at Normandy last year.

US President Barack Obama, British Prime Minister David Cameron, the Queen of England, Russian President Vladimir Putin, and, of course, French President Francois Hollande were all present to honor the sacrifice of Western troops.

In a press conference in June, China’s deputy propaganda minister, Wang Shiming, criticized Western nations for lacking “an objective and just recognition of China’s position and role in the world anti-fascist war,” as Beijing refers to World War Two. According to British historian Rana Mitter, Chinese criticisms are largely accurate.

“Both in terms of sacrifice and achievement, China’s role during the war does need to be more acknowledged in the West,” Mitter, author of “Forgotten Ally: China’s WWII,” told DW. “In terms of what it did, 14 million Chinese or more were killed during the war. Nearly 100 million became refugees.”

Continue reading

China seeks strategic advantage in Afghanistan

(By Deutsche Welle) China has staked its economic future on deeper integration with Central Asia. But as the US withdraws from Afghanistan, Beijing is concerned that a renewed civil war there could thwart regional development.

As the US prepares to scale back its military presence in Afghanistan this year, China has begun to contemplate a geopolitical “march westwards”. Beijing hopes to trigger an economic boom in its restive western Xinjiang province by re-vitalizing the ancient Silk Road, which runs through its Central and South Asian neighbors.

Beijing has largely taken a low-profile and cautious approach toward the conflict in neighboring Afghanistan since the overthrow of the Taliban in 2001. But there is growing concern among the Chinese leadership that NATO could leave behind a security vacuum in Afghanistan, which would potentially jeopardize China’s economic investments in the broader region.

“If they remain in a civil war, we can’t make any money there,” Jin Canrong, an expert on China’s foreign policy at Rinmin University in Beijing, told DW. “China’s stance is very simple: China would like to see a capable central government and wants to see a stable Afghanistan, open to the world market.”

Continue reading

Turkey’s planned China arms deal ruffles feathers

(By Deutsche Welle) NATO member Turkey has agreed to enter negotiations with China over the delivery of a missile defense system, upsetting the United States and leading to a swift reaction from Washington.

The Turkish government’s preliminary decision to opt for a Chinese-made missile defense system over EU and US alternatives has angered Washington, with the State Department warning that Chinese technology cannot be integrated into NATO’s defense infrastructure.

Ankara has agreed to begin negotiations with Beijing over the delivery of 12 FD-2000 missile defense batteries, worth an estimated $3.4 billion (2.4 billion euros). Although the deal has not yet been signed, the Turkish Defense Ministry has openly said it prefers the Chinese offer, citing the cheap price and Beijing’s willingness to transfer the FD-2000’s technology to Ankara.

“We had asked for joint production and technology transfer,” Turkish Defense Minister Ismet Yilmaz told the Vatan newspaper. “If other countries cannot guarantee us that, then we will turn to ones that can.”

But the Chinese company handling the deal has also been sanctioned by the United States as a result of its previous exports. The China Precision Machinery Import-Export Corporation (CPMIEC) has allegedly transferred arms to Iran, North Korea and Syria.

“We have conveyed our serious concerns about the Turkish government’s contract discussions with the US-sanctioned company for a missile defense system that will not be inter-operable with NATO systems or collective defense capabilities,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told a daily briefing for reporters.

According to Turkish foreign policy expert Sinan Ülgen, Ankara is not seeking to send any sort of political message to its NATO allies by opting for a system produced by a US-blacklisted company. Instead, Beijing’s offer was simply better than those made by the US companies Raytheon and Lockheed Martin as well as the Franco-Italian firm Eurosam.

“This [Chinese] company happened to fulfill the criteria Turkey had set for itself in terms of price, in terms of performance and in terms of technology transfer,” Ülgen , with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, told DW.

“And Turkey’s own national objectives were more important than the fact that this company happened to sanctioned by the US,” Ülgen said.

Continue reading

China urges ‘de-Americanized’ new world order

(By Deutsche Welle) In the response to the debt ceiling battle in the US, Beijing has called for the world to become more independent of Washington. But the emerging global powers have no vision for what a post-American order should be.

In an editorial published by China’s state news agency Xinhua, Beijing has lambasted US global leadership, calling for emerging economies to forge a new world order that is less dependent on the volatilities of American domestic politics.

China, the largest single-holder of American Treasury securities, has a particularly strong national interest in how the US reacts in the wake of the resolution of the shutdown and the decision to raise the debt ceiling, albeit temporarily. A US default could have devalued the billions of Treasuries that Beijing holds.

The Chinese government has used the opportunity to question the legitimacy of US global leadership, saying that “it is perhaps a good time for the befuddled world to start considering building a de-Americanized world.”

“Such alarming days when the destinies of others are in the hands of a hypocritical nation have to be terminated, and a new world order should be put in place, according to which all nations, big or small, poor or rich, can have their key interests respected and protected on an equal footing,” Xinhua author Liu Chang wrote.

But according to foreign policy expert Charles Kupchan, China’s response to the political crisis in Washington is largely a rhetorical one.

“China is taking advantage of the troubles in Washington to advance its desire to create an international order that diminishes the influence of the United States,” Kupchan, with the Council on Foreign Relations, told DW.

Continue reading

China denies US allegations of cyber espionage

(By Deutsche Welle) For the first time, Washington has directly accused Beijing of conducting cyber espionage against the Pentagon. The attacks were allegedly aimed at gathering intelligence on US defense programs.

Beijing has denied US allegations that the Chinese military was conducting cyber espionage against the Pentagon, claiming instead that Washington was trying to sensationalize China’s military buildup as a national security threat.

“The Chinese government and armed forces have never sanctioned hacking activities,” Senior Colonel Wang Xinjun, a researcher at the Academy of Military Sciences in Beijing, told the official Xinhau news agency. The academy is a high-level research institute affiliated with the People’s Liberation Army (PLA).

In its annual report on China’s ongoing military buildup, the US Defense Department had claimed on Monday that some recent breaches of American government-owned computer networks were “attributable directly to the Chinese government and military.”

“These intrusions were focused on exfiltrating information,” The Pentagon said in its report. “China is using its computer network exploitation (CNE) capability to support intelligence collection against the U.S. diplomatic, economic, and defense industrial base sectors that support US national defense programs.”

China’s Foreign Ministry, for its part, called the US allegations of cyber espionage “irresponsible,” saying that China’s defense buildup was “legitimate and normal.”

“China is committed to a path of peaceful development and pursues a defensive defense policy,” said Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hu Chunying, adding that Beijing “resolutely oppose[s] any form of hacking attacks.”

Continue reading

Taming the Arctic: How to govern the spoils of climate change

 (By Deutsche Welle) A small clique of northern countries currently governs the Arctic Circle. But as the Polar Ice Cap melts, external powers have expressed an interest in the energy-rich region, raising eyebrows among the Arctic nations.

As the Arctic Circle undergoes its perennial summer thaw, a series of expeditions have set sail for the High North. Russia recently sent its largest expedition in a decade while the US and Canada are conducting a joint mission in the Beaufort Sea.

These expeditions often wear a facade of scientific inquiry, but their findings could have sweeping political implications. The Arctic powers are mapping the seabed so they can back up their competing territorial claims in the region.

Territory is not the only thing at stake. Abundant resources also lie in the depths of the Arctic Ocean. As the globe warms and Arctic ice melts, a fortune in oil and gas could become accessible. The US Geological Survey has reported that 13 percent of the world’s undiscovered oil and 30 percent of its undiscovered natural gas sits in the Arctic Ocean.

Global warming means new trade routes are also opening in the High North. The Northwest Passage, which connects the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans via Arctic Canada, became navigable in 2007. And the Northeast Passage, which connects Europe to Asia across northern Russia, has also become easier to traverse.

As a result, governance in the Arctic has become more than a regional power game. It has far-reaching political and economic implications for a globalized world, and non-Arctic nations are beginning to take note.

Continue reading