Xi’s Sliding-Doors Moment in History: China’s War with Ukraine and the Status of the Cold War with the United States
The Western allies have come to view themselves as being in direct competition with both of the other nuclear powers in the world faster than anyone could have imagined. He believes Russia is the more manageable of the two.
Until recent years, most European nations have been muted in their public critiques of Beijing and its ambitions, because trade with China became critical to growth, especially for Germany. The United States imposed sanctions on the Chinese company, making it impossible for them to provide 5G equipment to Britain.
There are domestic discontents with how he has stuck with “zero Covid” policies, mismanaged the economy and has alienated the West. Mr. Xi can point to the perceived U.S.-led attempts to contain China’s growth as an example of how his appeal to Chinese nationalism can win domestic debates and sideline dissent. Many Chinese who are unhappy with how Mr. Xi has ruled still share his view that U.S. pressure and sanctions are intended to undermine China’s development and preserve U.S. primacy.
Mr. Fleming said that in the case of China, this could be “the sliding-doors moment in history,” in which the United States and its allies may soon discover that they are too far behind in a series of critical technologies to maintain a military or technological edge over Beijing.
He also cautioned Beijing against providing “material support” to Russia’s war in Ukraine, a prospect he later suggested China was now “strongly” considering.
The document states that Russia is endangering the free and open international system because of it’s brutal war of aggression against Ukraine. China has both the intent to remake the international order and the economic power to do so.
The Chairman of the Joint chiefs of staff Mark Milley said Friday that China has become more aggressive in its rhetoric and activity, according to a Defense Department transcript.
“The volume, the number of Chinese intercepts at sea and in the air have increased significantly over five years,” Milley said, though he offered no further details on the figure.
calls for change in the U.S. policy are likely to increase the likelihood of a Chinese attack on Taiwan. The United States should be prepared to demonstrate its own willingness to limit steps that do more to symbolize U.S. support than to strengthen Taiwan’s welfare and capacity to resist coercion. This would include public statements and official visits that would appear to restore an alliance with Taiwan, or at the very least treat it differently from the rest of the world. Taiwan should be helped by Biden’s administration to strengthen its defense as well as to forward with trade and investment agreements that will strengthen economic ties.
Biden suggested that the military thinks a trip by Pelosi and other lawmakers would pose a security risk. The Pentagon has declined to say if officials have directly briefed the California Democrat, but officials say worries include China establishing a no-fly zone or increasing unsafe intercepts of US and allied ships and aircraft in the Pacific region.
Officials tell CNN that the goal is to have a steady look at any changes in patterns of Chinese military activity. Interactions between the two militaries are so sensitive that incidents are often not made public. For example, in June, a US C-130 transport plane being operated by US special forces had some type of encounter with Chinese aircraft, but the Pentagon has yet to publicly acknowledge the incident.
In one of the most serious recent incidents, the Australian government said in February that a Chinese warship allegedly used a laser to “illuminate” an Australian Air Force jet in what Canberra called a “serious safety incident.”
“Acts like this have the potential to endanger lives,” the Australian Defence Force said in a statement at the time, adding it strongly condemns the “unprofessional and unsafe military conduct.” Pilots targeted by laser attacks in the past have reported disorienting flashes, pain, spasms and spots in their vision and even temporary blindness.
The United States of America Embraces the Challenges of Globalization and Covid-19: A Keynote Address to the Asia-Pacific Defense Conference
“Indo-Pacific countries shouldn’t face political intimidation, economic coercion, or harassment by maritime militias,” Austin said in a keynote speech to the Shangri-La Dialogue, Asia’s premier defense conference.
“The development of China’s national defense aims to meet its rightful security needs and contribute to the growth of the world’s peaceful forces,” the country’s 2019 defense white paper said. “China will never threaten any other country or seek any sphere of influence.”
The US 7th Fleet said in a statement that the US Navy challenged Chinese claims to disputed islands in the South China Sea.
The document is required by Congress when Biden is in office. The broad contours of the strategy have been in evidence over the course of the President’s tenure, including a focus on rebuilding global partnerships and countering China and Russia.
“Around the world, the need for American leadership is as great as it has ever been. We are in the midst of a strategic competition to shape the future of the international order,” Biden writes in the introduction to the strategy.
“We will not leave our future vulnerable to the whims of those who do not share our vision for a world that is free, open, prosperous, and secure,” he goes on. The United States of America is in a better position to lead with strength and purpose now than it has been in the past.
The world’s leading autocrats, Putin and Xi, looked unstoppable even. Meanwhile, Western democracies appeared unsettled, roiled by sometimes violent protests against Covid-19 restrictions. Putin was getting ready for the win. Xi was hosting the Olympics, basking in attention, and preparing to solidify his control of China.
“This decisive decade is critical both for defining the terms of competition, particular with the (People’s Republic of China), and for getting ahead of massive challenges that if we lose the time this decade we will not be able to keep pace with,” he said.
These controls are designed to stop Beijing from producing advanced semiconductors, which are of vital military as well as economic importance. This is a very aggressive move on the part of the United States.
But it needs to be put in context. The sunny view of globalization was undermined by recent events. It is evident that despite global integration, there are still dangerous bad actors out there. But it also gives good actors ways to limit bad actors’ ability to do harm. The Biden administration is learning from the mistakes of the past.
It wasn’t supposed to be this way. The post-war world trade system was a result of the belief that trade promoted peace. This was the firm belief of Cordell Hull, F.D.R.’s secretary of state, arguably the father of that system. The European Union grew out of the 1951 Coal and Steel Community, established with the explicit goal of making war impossible by binding European industry together.
The Rise and Impact of China on the World – As The President Wins His Third Terms in Washington, D.C., May 2022
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The new leaders are being tasked with overseeing operations that are known in the U.S. as military operations other than war.
But as Russia’s faltering invasion of Ukraine shows, even the largest, most formidable seeming militaries have Achilles heels that can be exploited by smaller, savvier forces.
As he prepares to secure an expected third term as both party leader and supreme commander of the Chinese military at the party congress, what should be even more worrying is that analysts see parallels between the problems dogging Moscow in Ukraine and the potential weaknesses in the military.
The rejuvenation of the Chinese nation and the wheels of history are moving in that direction. The Congress roared with applause as the President told them that complete reunification of the country was needed.
Under the policy, the US acknowledges that Taiwan is part of China, but it has never formally recognized the Communist Party’s claim to the self-governing island. The US provides Taiwan with defensive weapons but has remained intentionally ambiguous on whether it would intervene militarily in the event of a Chinese attack.
Analysts say that would require hundreds of thousands of soldiers in what would be the largest amphibious operation since the Allies stormed ashore at Normandy in German-occupied France in World War II.
While the PLA Navy has been churning out ships – including a new aircraft carrier launched this year and numerous Type 055 destroyers, seen by some as the world’s most powerful surface ships – doing so has been expensive.
And as Phillips O’Brien, professor of strategic studies at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, points out, Taiwan has a relatively cheap way of countering them – by investing in the sort of small, land-based anti-ship missiles that Ukraine has been using to great success against Russia.
China also faces a significant challenge in making sure all the different parts of its now formidable fighting forces pull in the same direction – another issue that has dogged Russia in Ukraine.
It’s still in the early stages of creating unified command structures in which naval, air, army and rocket units work together to execute a plan.
The command system for joint operations need to be improved and the PLA must have better systems for early warning, strikes and battlefield support according to the work report.
There was a blockade on Taiwan by the PLA in the days following the visit and the air force flew jets into the zone multiple times.
Beijing’s actions on the Taiwan Strait haven’t changed: The Xi decision may be different for the U.S. and China
A senior research fellow at the Center for the Study of Chinese Military Affairs says that a few of the top officers in China are being replaced as Xi heads into his third term.
What’s more, the four departing officers were in charge of the PLA’s actual fighting forces, while the two remaining ones come from the military’s political ranks, Wuthnow wrote for the Jamestown Foundation’s China Brief last month.
Analysts have warned that language could be a smokescreen for something more sinister – likening it to how Russian President Vladimir Putin refers to his invasion of Ukraine as a “special military operation.”
The Chinese People’s Liberation Army’s rocket force launched a missile into the sky on August 4, 2022, targeting designated maritime areas to the east of Taiwan.
Chinese media tried to play down the order saying it could cover actions like providing disaster relief or participating in international peacekeeping operations.
“The outlines aim to prevent and neutralize risks and challenges, handle emergencies, protect people and property, and safeguard national sovereignty, security and development interests, and world peace and regional stability,” the Xinhua news service reported.
Given the deep distrust on both sides, coordinated, unilateral steps back from the brink — voluntary bounds on behavior rather than limits on new capabilities — could give both the United States and China breathing room to get through acute domestic challenges and navigate a particularly perilous period.
The long-term risk is that uncontrolled competition will fuel overextension abroad, where the impulse to counter every potential threat or challenge by the other makes it difficult to focus resources and attention on achieving positive priorities and outcomes. In the United States, escalated competition could exacerbate domestic divisions and undermine democracy. Already, increased xenophobia and anti-Asian violence in America, along with ramped-up efforts to protect research security, have led more than 60 percent of Chinese-born scientists working in the United States — including naturalized citizens and permanent residents — to consider leaving the country.
A good place to start would be military operations around Taiwan, including the reduction of Chinese maneuvers across the “median line,” an unofficial buffer line, of the Taiwan Strait. Beijing’s actions have undermined the credibility of its assurances that it prefers to resolve differences across the Taiwan Strait peacefully. In his speech on Sunday, Mr. Xi broke little new ground on Taiwan, affirming that China would “continue to strive for peaceful reunification” and warning against “interference by outside forces.”
Biden said after the talks that he didn’t find Xi “more confrontational or more conciliatory. I found him to be straightforward and direct. … We were very blunt with one another about places where we disagreed or where we were uncertain of each other’s position.”
For his part, the Chinese leader likes warning the US president about overstepping, like he did in July, when he told Biden that those who played with fire would die.
It was the fourth time he’d made such a remark since taking office. He was in Tokyo earlier this year where he said that the US would use military force to prevent Taiwan from being taken by China. And he told a CNN town hall in 2021 that the US would protect the island in the event of a Chinese attack.
We agree with what we’ve been told for a long time. And that there’s ‘one China’ policy, and Taiwan makes their own judgments about their independence. We are not moving – we’re not encouraging their being independent. … He said that it was their decision.
The World’s Most Powerful Leaders: Beijing, China, Russia, and the Panetta Dialogue in Bosnia and Herzegovina
The summit in Indonesia yielded two important outcomes, according to the US: A joint position that Russia must not use a nuclear weapon in Ukraine and an expected resumption of talks on climate between American and Chinese negotiators, a boost for the COP 27 global climate conference in Egypt.
The US statement that Xi and Biden “reiterated their agreement that a nuclear war should never be fought and can never be won and underscored their opposition to the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons in Ukraine” was also important.
The world is suffering when the world’s two most powerful leaders do not address these issues together in recent months.
Panetta is a former White House chief of staff, defense secretary and CIA chief who has dealt with US-China relations for decades.
“If the result of this meeting is to put the relationship back on a more diplomatic plane, in which instead of beating each other up they can begin a dialogue on the kind of issues that need to be dealt with, I think this meeting could very well be pivotal,” Panetta told CNN’s John King on “Inside Politics.”
Officials said the US is seeing China publicly trying to present itself as a proponent of peace – Wang said in Munich on Saturday that Beijing would be introducing a “peace plan” for Ukraine and Russia – and maintain relationships with Europe, while at the same time quietly aiding Russia’s war effort and considering the provision of lethal aid.
The US and China want to be Asia’s leading power, while the Americans want to be the world’s leading power.
Both sides should not try to remold the other in one’s own image, or subvert the other’s system, according to the Chinese Foreign Ministry.
The talks were apparently productive. The Chinese called them frank and constructive. Biden said, “We were very blunt with one another” but agreed to try to avoid a new Cold War. The President said that it wasn’t “Kumbaya” but the two sides are less likely to start a war.
It means keeping Russia from winning in Ukraine, tearing apart Moscow and Beijing, and counteracting China’s efforts to forge stronger bonds with Iran.
If Putin’s conflict with Ukraine had turned into a swift Russian victory, the alliance of autocracies would have made huge strides. Moscow’s slow progress is due to its stumbling. Wendy Sherman thought that Russia could become an albatross for Beijing.
U.S. President Biden and the China-Russia war on economic and political issues: What happened at the G20 summit in Cambodia?
A former CNN producer and correspondent is a world affairs columnist. She is also a columnist for The Washington Post and a columnist for World Politics Review. The opinions expressed are of her own. View more opinion on CNN.
Judging by the statements from the White House and the Chinese government, that’s precisely what happened. The two sides discussed sources of disagreement, including Taiwan’s autonomy, the war in Ukraine and China’s human rights record. And they broached areas of potential cooperation, such as climate change, global health and economic stability.
A well-functioning democratic process in the US is likely disappointing to Xi and other autocrats hoping that deep divisions not only continue to weaken the country from within but also prove that democracy is chaotic and ineffective, inferior to their autocratic systems, as they like to claim. The American President was given a stronger hand to play by the mid-terms.
This is a perfect time for this meeting to take place because of the United States and Democracy, as well as the fact that the House of Representatives and the Senate are not in control.
As Biden and Xi were meeting, the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky made an emotional return to the devastated Kherson, the provincial capital that was taken by the Russians.
Russia has accused Western nations of turning the conflict into a proxy war before. Iran admitted to providing military drones to Russia.
The adventure of Putin turned to disaster when the Ukrainians defended their country and as Biden rallied his friends to support them.
The G20 summit in Indonesia was Putin’s last chance to impress the world as he becomes a pariah on the global stage.
Xi, Putin and the Ukraine: A War on the War in Kyiv, the United States, Russia and Zelensky
To be sure, Biden is not the only leader with a strong hand. Now that he has just secured a third term as China’s leader, Xi can effectively rule for as long as he wants. He doesn’t have to worry about elections, a critical press or a vociferous opposition party. He is the ruler of a country for many years to come.
Xi had previously staked his political legitimacy on zero-Covid. Now, as his costly strategy gets dismantled in an abrupt U-turn following nationwide protests against it, many are left questioning his wisdom. The protests, which in some places saw rare demands for Xi and the Communist Party to “step down,” may have ended, but the overriding sense of frustration has yet to dissipate.
Also crucial in the epochal competition between the two systems is showing that democracy works, defeating efforts of autocratic countries such as China and Russia to discredit it and proving that unprovoked wars of aggression, aimed at suppressing democracy and conquering territory, will not succeed.
Kyiv and its Western allies are “set for a long confrontation with Russia” following President Volodymyr Zelensky’s momentous visit to Washington, Moscow said as the war in Ukraine approaches 10 months.
Russia’s foreign ministry condemned what it called the “monstrous crimes” of the “regime in Kyiv,” after US President Joe Biden promised more military support to Ukraine during Zelensky’s summit at the White House on Wednesday.
Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said that no matter how much military support the West provides to the Ukrainian government, “they will achieve nothing.”
The tasks set within the framework of the special military operation will be done, taking into account the situation on the ground, and the actual realities, said Zakharova.
Zelensky spoke at the US Capitol and expressed gratitude for American aid in fighting Russian aggression.
The US announced a new $1.8 billion aid package to Ukraine, which included the “first-ever transfer to Ukraine of the Patriot Air and Missile Defense System, capable of bringing down cruise missiles, short-range ballistic missiles, and aircraft at a significantly higher ceiling than previously provided air defense systems.”
Peskov said there were no real calls for peace. But during his address to the US Congress on Wednesday, Zelensky did stress that “we need peace,” reiterating the 10-point plan devised by Ukraine.
He said there had been no calls for peace or signs of willingness to “listen to Russia’s concerns” during Zelenskyy’s visit, which he said proves that the U.S. is fighting a proxy war with Russia “to the last Ukrainian,” Reuters reports.
The Kremlin criticized the trip that the Ukrainian president took to Washington, D.C., where he secured billions of dollars in US aid.
On the 301st day since Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine, a Kremlin spokesman told reporters that there were no plans to bring the conflict to a close or stop Russia from achieving its goals.
The Kremlin has also been selling that line to the Russian public, who is largely buying it, says Sergey Radchenko, a Russian history professor at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.
Although the majority of Russians are weary of the war, they still see the conflict as a fight between Russia and the West.
Zelenskyy andUkraine want a “just peace,” and have made it clear that the United States is not doing enough to help the country with its defense against Russian aggression, according to Sloat.
Russia warned the U.S. to stop delivering missiles toUkraine last week because it would see it as another provocative move by the U.S.
At the time, Putin insisted his forces were embarking on a “special military operation” — a term suggesting a limited campaign that would be over in a matter of weeks.
War against Ukraine has left Russia isolated and struggling with more turbulent-ahedral-more-tumult: How much media has Russia left?
The invasion has led to the biggest land war in Europe since World War II, forcing millions of Ukrainians from their homes and killing thousands of civilians.
The war has ended Russia’s relations with the west, and also destroyed a period of democratic reforms following the fall of the Soviet Union.
The military has been affected by laws passed since February. Nearly 20,000 people have been detained for demonstrating against the war — 45% of them women — according to a leading independent monitoring group.
Lengthy prison sentences have been meted out to high profile opposition voices on charges of “discrediting” the Russian army by questioning its conduct or strategy.
Organizations and individuals are added to the growing list of “foreign agents” and “non-desirable” organizations intended to damage their reputation in Russia.
The Russian Memorial for Human Rights, a jewel in the crown of Russia’s human rights tradition, had to stop its activities due to violation of the foreign agents law.
Russia’s anti-LGBT laws have been vastly expanded by the state, as they argue that the conflict in Ukranian reflects a broader attack on traditional values.
For now, repressive laws remain in place. Some of the new laws are still unenforced. Should the moment arise, few doubt that the measures are intended to crush wider dissent.
Leading independent media outlets and a handful of vibrant, online investigative startups were forced to shut down or relocate abroad when confronted with new “fake news” laws that criminalized contradicting the official government line.
Restrictions extend to internet users as well. American social media giants such as Twitter and Facebook were banned in March. More than 100,000 websites have been blocked by the Kremlin’s internet regulator since the conflict began.
Technical workarounds such as VPNs and Telegram still offer access to Russians seeking independent sources of information. But state media propaganda now blankets the airwaves favored by older Russians, with angry TV talk shows spreading conspiracies.
Putin’s campaign against Russia in the era of the Cold War: The case of the Soviet army, Russia’s military campaign, and the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine
Many perceived government opponents left the war in the early days because of concerns of persecution.
Yet Putin’s order to mobilize 300,000 additional troops in September prompted the largest outflow: Hundreds of thousands of Russian men fled to border states including Kazakhstan, Mongolia and Georgia in an attempt to avoid the draft.
Putin thought it was a good idea to rid Russian society of traitors and spies. Russian officials have suggested stripping those who left the country of their passports. Russia may be able to thrive without many of its best and brightest.
Some countries that have absorbed the Russian exodus think their economies will grow even as the Russians remain a sensitive issue for former Soviet republics.
The Russian ruble currency fell in the first days of the invasion, and banking and trading markets looked shaky. Hundreds of global corporate brands, such as McDonald’s and ExxonMobil, reduced, suspended or closed their Russian operations entirely.
The West continues to try and crimp Russian energy profits, by capping the amount countries will pay for Russian oil and limiting seaborne oil imports. There are signs the efforts are already cutting into profits.
Ultimately, President Putin is betting that when it comes to sanctions, Europe will blink first — pulling back on its support to Ukraine as Europeans grow angry over soaring energy costs at home. He said oil exports to countries that do not abide by the price cap would be banned for five months.
The economic downturn has ended Putin’s reputation for providing “stability” that was a key reason for his support in the years after the fall of the USSR.
When it comes to Russia’s military campaign, there’s no outward change in the government’s tone. Russia’s Defense Ministry provides daily briefings recounting endless successes on the ground. Putin, too, repeatedly assures that everything is “going according to plan.”
Yet the sheer length of the war — with no immediate Russian victory in sight — suggests Russia vastly underestimated Ukrainians’ willingness to resist.
Russia launched a flurry of air strikes on civilian infrastructure in an effort to keep Ukraine from falling during the winter months. There are no signs of backing down from the bombing campaign, despite the miserable life in Ukraine.
Russia’s illegal annexation of four territories of Ukraine following unrecognized referendums in September has only underscored Moscow’s problems: it hasn’t been able to establish full control over the lands it now claims as its own.
The true number of Russian losses – officially at just under 6,000 men – remains a highly taboo subject at home. Western estimates place those figures much higher.
Russia’s ability to defend its strategic infrastructure has been put into question by a series of explosions that have happened along a key bridge.
NATO is set to expand towards Russia’s borders with the addition of long-neutral states; thus, Russia’s invasion backfired in its primary aims.
Russia’s actions are being criticized by longtime allies out of concern for their own sovereignty, which would have been unthinkable in Soviet times. India and China have been purchasing discounted Russian oil but haven’t given much support to Russia’s military campaign.
Chinese Prime Minister Xi Jinping’s State of the Nation Address: The End of Covid in China and a New Year’s Eve Outlook
A state of the nation address was supposed to be given in April, but was repeatedly delayed. Putin’s yearly “direct line”, a media event in which he fields questions from ordinary Russians, was canceled completely.
An annual December “big press conference” – a semi-staged affair that allows the Russian leader to handle fawning questions from mostly pro-Kremlin media – was similarly tabled until 2023.
The Kremlin didn’t give a reason for the delays. Many suspect that after 10 months of war the Russian leader has run out of good news to share.
The chaos unleashed by leader Xi Jinping’s abrupt and ill-prepared exit from zero-Covid is spilling over into the new year, as large swathes of the country face an unprecedented Covid wave.
Its tightly-sealed borders are gradually opening up, and Chinese tourists are eager to explore the world again, but some countries appear cautious to receive them, imposing new requirements for a negative Covid test before travel. And just how quickly – or keenly – global visitors will return to China is another question.
In a nationally televised New Year’s Eve speech, Xi said that they have entered a new phase of Covid response. “Everyone is holding on with great fortitude, and the light of hope is right in front of us. Let’s make an extra effort to pull through, as perseverance and solidarity mean victory.”
The sudden lifting of restrictions last month led to an explosion of cases, with little preparation in place to deal with the surging numbers of patients and deaths.
The country’s health system is in a state of crisis, hospitals are overwhelmed, doctors are stretched to the limit, and crematoriums are unable to keep up with the amount of bodies coming in.
And experts warn the worst is yet to come. While Beijing may have seen the peak of the outbreak, less developed cities and the rural hinterland are still bracing for more infections.
The outlook is not good. If China doesn’t roll out booster shots and drugs fast enough, it could kill a million people.
Many are hesitant to take the booster campaign due to the concern about side effects. Fighting vaccine hesitancy will require significant time and effort, when the country’s medical workers are already stretched thin.
China’s Emergence During the September 26 December Epidemic: Implications for the Status of the Inflationary Universe and the State of the Art
Any uptick in China’s growth will provide a vital boost to economies that rely on Chinese demand. The travel and production will be international. Rise in demand will lead to higher energy and raw materials prices, which will put upward pressure on global inflation.
The economy is expected to recover after March. In a recent research report, HSBC economists projected a 0.5% contraction in the first quarter, but 5% growth for 2023.
The partial reopening of the border after the end of the international arrivals period is being celebrated by Chinese citizens.
Though some residents voiced concern online about the rapid loosening of restrictions during the outbreak, many more are eagerly planning trips abroad – travel websites recorded massive spikes in traffic within minutes of the announcement on December 26.
Several Chinese nationals overseas told CNN they had been unable to return to China for a long time because of the lengthy isolation imposed after the Tiananmen Square massacre. Major life moments missed and spent apart: graduations, weddings, childbirths, deaths.
Foreign embassies and tourism departments in other countries have invited Chinese travelers to come back by posting invitations on Chinese social media sites. Many countries impose new testing requirements on travelers coming from China and its territories.
The targeted travel restrictions, which have been criticized by health experts as alarmist, and potentially inciting further racism, were pointed out by officials from these countries as a risk to new variant emerging from China’s outbreak.
As China emerges from its self-imposed isolation, all eyes are on whether it will be able to repair its reputation and relations that soured during the pandemic.
Donald Trump meets Vladimir Putin in Beijing: How will China respond to Russia, China, and the European Union after the Poroshenko war?
It was not helped by the lack of top-level face-to-face diplomacy and the freeze on in-person exchanges between policy advisers, business groups and the public.
On Saturday at the Munich conference, Mr. Wang had a meeting with Chancellor Scholz of Germany, and later a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said that China was prepared to resume exchanges with Germany and other European countries.
In the new year, tensions may again flare over Taiwan, technological containment, as well as China’s support for Russia – which Xi underlined during a virtual meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin on December 30.
According to Chinese state media Xinhua, both leaders said that the two countries should strengthen their strategic coordination, and that they should inject more stability into the world.
The state media of China has toned down its pro-Russia rhetoric following the military setbacks achieved by Russia in Poroshenko’s war against the Ukrainians.
The director of the Stimson Center said that the war has been a nuisance forChina and has affected their interest in Europe. “But the damage is not significant enough that China will abandon Russia.”
Notice that it was an open question. Many people believed that the better system would be autocracy. How many believe that today?
How many believe Russia, China or Iran offer a better model than an open society with all its foibles and challenges? How many believe the US would be better off with a more autocratic president?
In 2022, democracy fought back with astounding determination, conviction and, yes, idealism. The autocrats went on the defensive. Even populism started to sputter. At the moment, many of the positive trends – forged with great effort and through enormous human suffering – look promising.
With the headway democracy just made – a poor showing for election deniers in the US midterm elections, an exodus of Russians from their own autocratic country, an upsurge of support for embattled Ukraine – democratic leaders need to show they can navigate the economic challenges of the coming months. Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese leader Xi Jinping are ambitious autocrats who need to regain the upper hand.
The autocracy brothers wanted the world to think their system was superior, a message that would preemptively quiet any doubts at home. For 16 consecutive years, according to the non-partisan democracy monitor Freedom House, democracy was losing ground. Authoritarian leaders and illiberal forces were on the rise; only about 20% of the world’s population lived in what it calls “Free countries”, the organization’s research showed.
While the global strongmen were struggling, self-assured “geniuses” like Musk showed their own limitations and the population was fed up with decades of tyranny.
Putin has a lot of the credit for the plan to conquer neighboring Ukranian. Freedom used to be a vague ideal. The fight for democracy was no longer a metaphor. The war was a real one with missiles and carnage.
The invasion strengthened NATO, a democratic defense alliance, in a way nothing had in decades. Even Sweden and Finland – countries that had long cherished their neutrality – wanted to join.
Women, Life, Freedom, and the End of Democracy: How the Iranian regime responded to the revolt and what will the rest of the world do?
The theocracy put in place repressive rules that caused women in Iran to revolt. The regime – not coincidentally now supplying arms to Russia – responded with more violence, killing hundreds, according to human rights organizations.
No one expected the Women, Life, Freedom to defy the regime. How far will they go? How much will the regime try to wipe them out? What will the rest of the world do?
The U.S. and China Can Avoid a Military Contingency in the Light of Donald Trump’s Brexit Disagreement with China
Donald Trump is launching a new presidential campaign. It was what the British called a “damp squib,” a lead balloon. He’s becoming an increasingly isolated, rather pathetic figure after many of his top choices failed in the midterm elections and election deniers fared badly. Even his calls for Republicans to unite behind Kevin McCarthy as the new House Speaker seemed to do little to quell the rebellion this week. And while the struggle over the speakership may have seemed dysfunctional, it was democracy, in all its messy wrangling, on display. And of course, Trump’s legal troubles seem endless.
Jair Bolsonaro was Trump’s doppelganger and lost his reelection bid. Like Trump, he refused to admit defeat or attend the inauguration of the man who defeated him, President Luiz Inácio “Lula” da Silva. Bolsoniero chose to decamp to Florida.
In the UK, the populist Boris Johnson lost the premiership and after an embarrassing interlude with the hapless Liz Truss, the decidedly non-populist centrist, Rishi Sunak, became prime minister. Back when Johnson was leading his country out of the European Union, populists across Europe wanted their own versions of Brexit. We don’t hear that anymore. Marine Le Pen was defeated by a French president because she had to run from her record of being close to Putin.
Tensions between the United States and China over Taiwan have raised the prospect of a potential military conflict, but national security adviser Jake Sullivan believes such a scenario can be avoided.
It is possible that there could be conflict with respect to Taiwan, but I think we can prevent this from happening with responsible stewardship. And that is our responsibility,” he told Morning Edition host Steve Inskeep in an exclusive interview.
“The U.S. must take seriously China’s legitimate concerns, stop containing and suppressing China’s development, and particularly stop using salami tactics to constantly challenge China’s red line,” the Chinese Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
Sullivan’s comments about Taiwan are part of an interview that touched on a number of other national security concerns, including semiconductors, Ukraine and the Middle East.
I don’t want to get into hypotheticals about what a particular military contingency would look like. I will say that. When we entered office, more than 90% of the most advanced semiconductors were produced in Taiwan. The percentage was produced in the Republic of Korea. In the United States there was zero percent produced.
In the last two years the United States has done two things. First, we’ve said we are going to invest once again in the United States of America being a manufacturing powerhouse for semiconductors. The most advanced chips that are designed in the US will no longer be used in the weapons systems of our competitors, like the PRC.
There is no reason why the United States and China cannot work together to reduce the flow of precursor chemicals that go into fentanyl that is killing tens of thousands of Americans.
Even though we have differences with the PRC, we will not shy away from talking about those, whether it’s speaking out on human rights, pushing back against actions around Taiwan or the way the PRC uses Taiwan.
Semiconductors, Military Power and the War in the Middle East: What the U.S. Says About Israel and What the Arab States Have to Say
Semiconductors, as many people have now learned, actually just since the COVID-19 pandemic, are fundamental to the powering of our economy across the board, whether it’s our cars or our appliances or any of our high tech products, our iPhones, computers and so forth. Semiconductors are also central to military power. Semiconductor is in every part of a nuclear submarine, and that’s because it’s the one that powers the guidance systems for missiles.
The most important thrust of American policy is to provide the best chance of success for Ukraine on the battlefield. And eventually, if there comes to be a negotiating table that they choose, because it’s up to them, that they are in the best possible position at the negotiating table. Predicting exactly what the course of the war will be, how it will unfold, over what time period it will unfold, I will leave that to others.
The first thing that I intend to convey is the fact that […] the United States is absolutely committed to Israel’s security, and that’s not going to change. For as long as he has held public office, President Biden has supported the state of Israel. Second, we’re going to talk through the challenges and opportunities in the Middle East region. Iran has a threat that is significant. There are opportunities on the other hand which include what we’ve seen in Israel and some of the Arab states.
We continue to support the two state solution, and we will oppose policies and practices that undermine the viability of the two state solution or that cut hard against the historic status quo in Jerusalem. And I will be clear and direct on those points.
The Downed Balloon, China’s Nuclear Security, and the US-China Connection: Does China Want to Rethink its Nuclear Power?
The US Commerce Department has told some companies it won’t grant licenses for them to sell American technology to China, according to people familiar with the matter.
Huawei has vehemently denied such claims, and its founder and CEO has repeatedly said the company would never hand data over to the Chinese government. Western security experts, however, have said that China’s national security and intelligence laws require Chinese companies to comply with demands for information.
It was not immediately clear how Beijing would enforce the fines. While the United States prohibits the sale of weapons to China, some US defense contractors have ties to civilian sectors.
Both companies are also subject to fines “twice the amount” of their arms sales to Taiwan dating back to September 2020, and their senior executives will be prohibited from entering and working in China.
Thursday’s Chinese commerce ministry statement made no mention of the downed balloon, nor the US sanctions on Chinese entities. Instead, it cited “national sovereignty” as the catalyst for the penalties while highlighting both companies’ sales of arms to Taiwan.
China has been accused of overseeing an international aerial patrol program. Beijing has denied those claims and, in turn, this week accused the United States of “illegally” flying high-altitude balloons into its airspace more than 10 times since the start of 2022 — including over its western regions of Xinjiang and Tibet.
The incident resulted in the postponement of an expected visit by the US Secretary of State to China earlier this month. The trip was expected to help ease tension between the two powers following a meeting between US President Joe Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping during the G20 summit in Bali in November.
The leaders of the nuclear powers promised to have a relationship without limits in a show of unity. It looked like a pivotal moment in a global realignment of power.
In addition to fortifying NATO and strengthening alliances, which President Joe Biden’s administration has accomplished with great success, the US must aim to forestall the creation of a credible, unified force of aggressive antidemocratic regimes.
The rule of the strongest does not work when you can’t win, which is how Russia’s plans began to fall apart and China had to rethink its commitment.
Are the two of them or out with each other? It seems that he wants it both ways. He wants the relationship with a country that has invaded its neighbor without provocation, but he’s trying to present himself as a responsible global leader; an alternative to the democratic Western model for other countries to follow.
According to US intelligence, Russia has bought artillery shells from North Korea, another notorious dictatorship, which denies its involvement in a war whose morality is beyond the pale.
Iranian drones have been one of the weapons of choice as Russia kills Ukrainian civilians and destroys Ukraine’s infrastructure. Tehran denied it was giving weapons to Russia.
Iran, whose repressive, interventionist regime has also turned it, like Russia, into a pariah to much of the world, now finds itself being courted by both Moscow and Beijing.
Iran’s president visited China for the first time in 20 years. The trip, at Xi’s invitation, ostensibly aims to implement an agreement for a 25-year strategic cooperation pact the two reached at a meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization in 2021.
The Beijing-Tehran ties have raised alarms among both Democrats and Republicans in Congress, who fear China’s support could help Tehran evade sanctions related to its nuclear and conventional weapons programs, support for terrorism and human rights abuses.
Beijing is ready to present its peace proposition for Ukraine, its top diplomat announced Saturday at the Munich Security Conference, in a rare remark that referred to the Ukraine conflict as a war.
Territorial and sovereignty integrity of all countries will be respected in China’s proposal, Wang said, adding that Beijing will continue to work for peace.
Some key context: Many European Union leaders in Munich remain wary of Beijing’s intentions, as Wang called on European countries to change their approach to the war.
European Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen told CNN on Saturday that more proof that China isn’t working with Russia is needed.
Putin conceded Beijing had concerns regarding the invasion in September of 2022, in a sign of diverging views on the war.
The Chinese official will visit Russia for the first time since the start of the war, according to the foreign ministry.
China has stepped up its stance on the world’s security crisis: warnings on lethal weapons systems from a high-energy European observatory
The officials would not describe in detail what intelligence the US has seen suggesting a recent shift in China’s posture, but said US officials have been concerned enough that they have shared the intelligence with allies and partners at the Munich Security Conference over the last several days.
The issue was raised with the Chinese counterpart by the Secretary of State, Wang Yi, on the sidelines of the conference.
“The Secretary was quite blunt in warning about the implications and consequences of China providing material support to Russia or assisting Russia with systematic sanctions evasion,” a senior State Department official told reporters.
“This warfare cannot continue to rage on. We need to think about what efforts we can make to bring this warfare to an end,” Wang said at the conference.
There are signs that China is considering it, and Biden administration officials are warning publicly and privately that the US is keeping a close eye on any violation of western sanctions against Russia.
“The concern that we have now is based on information we have that they’re considering providing lethal support. And we’ve made very clear to them that that would cause a serious problem for us and in our relationship,” he added.
That equipment has included items like flak jackets and helmets, multiple sources familiar with US and European intelligence told CNN. But China has stopped short of the more robust military assistance, like lethal weapons systems for use on the battlefield in Ukraine, that Russia has requested because it has not wanted to be seen as a pariah on the world stage, officials said.
The Munich Security Conference (M10): The U.S. response to the Beijing/China airborne event and the failure of de-escalation
It was up to the United States to take care of the damage caused by using force, according to an account from Mr. Wang.
While President Biden often talks of aspiring to a relationship in which the two nations are in vigorous competition but not conflict, many at the Munich Security Conference — an annual meeting of diplomatic, intelligence officials and lawmakers — expressed concerns that the handling of the balloon episode merely highlighted how the two countries had failed to de-escalate, even when no lives were lost.
The U.S. Navy and the Coast Guard have since recovered much of the balloon’s equipment — contained in a payload about the size of a small regional airliner — and American officials have said they intend to make public details about the sensors they found. The craft was seen by officials, despite China saying that it was a weather balloon.
The official statement states that Mr. Blinken emphasized the importance of keeping diplomatic relations open and the importance of avoiding conflict with the P.
That phrase was particularly notable given that Mr. Wang had said, during earlier remarks on Saturday at the conference, that “the Cold War mentality is back” in global affairs.
Danny Russel, a vice president at the Asia Society Policy Institute, an independent research organization, said that despite the pointed rhetoric, the fact that the meeting happened may help the two sides put the incident behind them.