Russia and China after the SCO summit: No „crumbling“ of the Sino-Russian axis

Russia and China after the SCO summit: No „crumbling“ of the Sino-Russian axis

The SCO is often badly overestimated when there is talk of an anti-Western alliance, even an anti-NATO. On the one hand it is not a military alliance, on the other hand it is quite heterogeneous, albeit under strong Chinese-Russian influence. This is the title of an article by Raja C. Raja Mohan visiting research professor at the Institute of South Asian Studies, National University of Singapore and a senior fellow at the Asia Society Policy Institute, Delhi. in the Strait Times:

“SCO and the elusive anti-American coalition- Russia and China want to build a united front against the US in Eurasia, but the Shanghai Cooperation Organization is not a credible vehicle for it.(…) That brings us to the final paradox: The origins of the SCO lay in the Sino-Russian effort to limit US power in Eurasia, but Russia’s avoidable confrontation with Europe and China’s premature assertion against the US might end up reinforcing the West globally and within Eurasia itself. The Chinese and Russians do seek to build an anti-American front, but it is unlikely that the SCO will be a credible part of it.”

In addition to the above-mentioned differences and border disputes between the observer states Azerbaijan and Armenia, smaller members, such as between Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan or Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan, there are also considerable tensions between India and China and India and Pakistan. Iran has now applied for membership. But that wasn’t worth a big headline in either the Global Times or the Tehran Times. After all, China wants good relations with Iran, Saudi Arabia and Israel, and this balancing act is not easy to achieve, especially given Iran’s expansionist aggression and its nuclear bomb program (see article below), and the Sino-American conflict. Ahead of the SCO summit, a rumor was spread that Xi would meet Saudi Arabia or Putin first, which turned out to be false. Kazakhstan was his first target as it is the most important among Central Asians, but Putin claims it is part of the „Russian world“. The limited Russian intervention during the mass protests in Kazakhstan, which stabilized the country, was welcomed by the new leadership in Kazakhstan, especially since this also took place within the OVSK, but the Kazakhs are skeptical about Russia with the war in Ukraine and that Putin announced that Kazakhstan was part of the “Russian world”. It will be interesting to see whether they also revive the NATO „Partnership for Peace“ programs, especially since Kazakhstan has now joined the US sanctions against Russia, as former Putin adviser Dr. Rahr announced. The fact that Samarkand could become the „Stalingrad“ of Russia, as Rahr feared, and that the Chinese-Russian alliance „is crumbling,“ according to Focus, is probably wrong.

At the same time, Kazakhstan’s distancing from Russia inspires further fantasies of Western transatlanticists such as ex-General Domröse: „I hadn’t seen Kazakhstan’s role like this before. Interesting. If Putin walks away from this HUGE COUNTRY, it will affect others as well. Belarus will soon be the next domino. Or?“

Probably not. Unlike Kazakhstan, Belarus under Lukachenko can no longer play the Western card and is very dependent on Putin. Especially when it comes to energy supply. At best, neutrality in the Ukraine war would be expected, but since Lukachenkov has so committed himself to Putin and has turned his country into a deployment area and as a hinterland and supply base for Putin’s Ukraine war and against the Baltic States and Poland and he always shines with his own offenses against the West , moreover, could be threatened by a domestic political revolution, this is no longer reversible under him, unless he is toppled by internal Belarusian forces, be they from Lukachenkov’s remaining nomenklatura or the democratic opposition, in which case the question is how Putin will react then.

At this SCO summit, China clearly promised Putin support for “core interests”, sees NATO as responsible for the „Ukraine conflict”, is represented for the first time at Vostok 2022 with all arms, is buying Russian oil and gas, albeit cheaply and at extorted dumping prices, and has demonstratively held joint naval maneuvers with Russia in the Pacific during the SCO summit. It is true that China is not supplying weapons and technology to Putin for fear of US sanctions and an escalation of the Sino-American trade war as the Chinese economy is damaged by Xi’s no-Covid lockdown strategy. But that does not mean “crumbling”y et, especially as the Taiwan crisis continues to swell and Putin gives Xi diplomatic support on the Taiwan question and on the multipolar New World Order, although it is now clear that Russia has become the junior partner in the SCO and in relations with China. A problem could arise if Putin should escalate and use nuclear weapons or weapons of mass destruction, as the EU parliamentarian Alexander Lambsdorf thinks. Furthermore, China now increasingly wants to get involved in global power projection. The most visible expression of this is that it has now developed its Y-20 large-capacity transporter, which can also transport troops and is designed for worldwide operations, which is why the Y20 have been flown from China to Serbia as a weapon transporter for anti-aircraft missiles and to Austria for the air show. Furthermore, in addition to the Pacific, Sino-Russian naval maneuvers in the Mediterranean, the Baltic Sea and Artic, although not yet on the part of China not in Zheng He dimensions, since Taiwan and the Indo-Pacific remain the focus for the time being. However, Russia must be careful that he does not become the state Wagner for China. It is too early to talk about the “crumbling” of the Sino-Russian axis, although a shift in power in favor of China is constant. It also seems wishful thinking that Xi Jinping would drop Putin at the 20th party congress due to internal party criticism of his Russia policy, or that he would distance himself noticeably from him or even take on the role of mediator.

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“Meeting of Chinese, Russian leaders injects stability into a world of change and disorder: Global Times editorial

By Global Times Published: Sep 16, 2022 01:02 AM

On the afternoon of September 15 local time, Chinese President Xi Jinping held a bilateral meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, to exchange views on China-Russia relations and international and regional issues of shared interest. It has become a conventional practice for Chinese and Russian heads of state to have bilateral talks on the sidelines of the summits of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO). It is not only crucial for the stable development of bilateral relations that the two countries‘ heads of state to have regular in-person and in-depth exchanges of views, but it’s also very beneficial for regional peace and stability.

The atmosphere of the meeting was as positive and friendly as usual. President Xi noted that since the beginning of this year, China and Russia have maintained effective strategic communication, and that China will work with Russia to extend strong mutual support on issues concerning each other’s core interests, and deepen practical cooperation in trade, agriculture, connectivity and other areas. President Putin said that the world is undergoing multiple changes, yet the only thing that remains unchanged is the friendship and mutual trust between Russia and China, and the Russia-China comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination is as stable as mountains. As uncertainty significantly increases in today’s international landscape, the China-Russia comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination for a new era has always been on course and has not lost momentum.

China and Russia are each other’s largest neighbors, permanent members of the UN Security Council, and emerging powers. They also share a long border of more than 4,000 kilometers. The China-Russia comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination for a new era, which is based on the principles of „non-alliance, non-confrontation and non-targeting of any third party,“ has been subject to interference and provocation from third parties. Especially after the beginning of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, the US has stopped putting on a disguise. Instead, it has openly threatened and discredited the normal and legitimate cooperation between China and Russia. Such a scenario is rare in the history of international relations.

The good thing is that both China and Russia are countries with strong strategic determination and autonomy. Moreover, bilateral relations have a strong internal driving force. They have not and will not change their initial intentions and course due to drastic changes in the international pattern or pressure from third parties. They will always maintain their own logic and rhythm. In particular, the heads of state of China and Russia maintain close contacts and strategic communication in various ways, always leading the ties between the two countries in the right direction of development. The independent and autonomous value of China-Russia relations is both a summary of historical experience and innovation in international relations.

It is unlikely that China-Russia relations will go into rift or confrontation as expected and promoted by the US and the West. At the same time, China and Russia did not form the so-called anti-US alliance. China and Russia have united to resist the political virus of the US and the West while opposing hegemonism. These are the voices of justice from independent powers under the current international situation. It is entirely different from the „anti-US alliance“ with a bloc political nature in the Western opinion context. Out of dark psychology, the US and the West desperately try to „drive a wedge“ between China and Russia, hoping to defeat the two one by one; meanwhile, it forcibly „binds“ China and Russia together, hoping to target the two at once. But no matter how hard they try, China and Russia have firmly maintained the right direction of „building partnerships instead of alliances.“

Such a choice made by China and Russia has made peace and cooperation a powerful force of inertia that has global significance, particularly today. Those uneasy or even fearful about this should reflect on and ask themselves, rather than spending their energy and thoughts on smearing others. The international community can clearly see that the US in recent years has strengthened the Five Eyes alliance, peddled Quad, pieced together AUKUS, and tried to create an „Indo-Pacific version of NATO.“ All these are the most destructive force in the international system with the UN at the core. The outbreak of the Russia-Ukraine conflict is fundamentally the consequence of the failure of the Western military and political bloc in handling equal relations with a regional power properly.

Under such circumstances, imagine that if the international community does not have another powerful enough force to really intervene, balance, hedge, and even reverse the situation from the direction of maintaining world peace and stability and promoting multilateral cooperation. The future of this world may well be tragic – a complete resolution of the Russia-Ukraine conflict is nowhere in sight, and potential crises elsewhere will be detonated. This is something that many countries, including China, do not want to see and are trying to avoid. From a certain level, this is the significance of the meeting between the heads of state of China and Russia. As President Xi pointed out, China will work with Russia to fulfill their responsibilities as major countries and play a leading role in injecting stability into a world of change and disorder.

“China dispatches advanced main combat equipment to Russian Vostok-2022 drills

By Liu Xuanzun

Published: Sep 01, 2022 06:53 PM

China has sent some of its most powerful main combat equipment units of its army, navy and air force to the Russian Vostok-2022 exercises, whose maneuvering phase officially started on Thursday after an opening ceremony a day earlier. The participation of the equipment displayed the depth of China-Russia military cooperation, as the drills will deter uncertainties and contribute to peace and stability in the region, analysts said.

The Chinese troops participating in the drills are mainly from the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Northern Theater Command. They include about 2,000 personnel, more than 300 vehicles of various types, 21 fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters, and three warships, China Central Television (CCTV) reported on Thursday.

This is the first time the PLA has sent three of its forces, the Army, the Navy and the Air Force, to participate in a single Russian drill, observers said.

Type 99 main battle tanks, Type 04 infantry fighting vehicles and Z-19 reconnaissance and attack helicopters of the Army, the Type 055 large destroyer Nanchang of the Navy, and J-10C fighter jets of the Air Force were seen in the CCTV report.

A flotilla of Chinese naval vessels consisting of the Type 055 large destroyer Nanchang, the Type 054A guided missile frigate Yancheng and the Type 903A comprehensive supply ship Dongpinghu sailed through Tsushima Strait, from the East China Sea into the Sea of Japan on Tuesday, according to a press release on the day by the Japanese Ministry of Defense Joint Staff. With the Nanchang confirmed as a participant in the Vostok-2022 drills, the other two vessels are also likely part of the Russian exercise, observers said.

All the above-mentioned vehicles, aircraft and vessels are China’s main combat weaponry and equipment, particularly the Type 055 10,000 ton-class destroyer, which is considered one of the most powerful warships in the world, a Chinese military expert who requested anonymity told the Global Times on Thursday.

Their participation showed the breadth and depth of China-Russia military cooperation as well as mutual trust, the expert said.

The exercise will be carried out in four stages: troop assembly and deployment, joint campaign planning, implementation of plans, and troop withdrawal. The participants have jointly set up a directing department and a campaign command structure, CCTV reported, citing the Chinese joint campaign headquarter.

The navies of China and Russia will conduct anti-ship, anti-air and anti-submarine defense drills in the Sea of Japan. They will work out joint practical actions to defend sea lanes and areas of maritime economic activity, and to assist ground forces, according to a press release from the Russian Defense Ministry on Thursday.

While the drills are not aimed at a third party and are not related to current situations, they serve as a deterrent against uncertainties such as ill-intended external forces, hegemony and power politics, analysts said, noting that as two major military powers in the world, China and Russia’s military cooperation will contribute to peace and stability in the region.

The maneuvers of the Vostok-2022 are also seeing participation by Algeria, India, Belarus, Tajikistan and Mongolia, among other countries. The Vostok-2022 maneuvers will involve over 50,000 military personnel, more than 5,000 weapons and military equipment, including 140 aircraft, 60 warships, boats and support vessels, the Russian Defense Ministry said.

“China likely to start suborbital space travel in 2025, with ticket priced between 2-3 million yuan: senior rocket scientist

By Global Times Published: Sep 17, 2022 05:03 PM

China’s commercial space sector welcomes its best opportunity, and the country is expected to start suborbital space travel in 2025, with the price for a ticket likely to fall between 2-3 million yuan ($286,400-$429,600), said a senior rocket scientist.

Previously, Virgin Galactic announced to open space trips priced at $450,000 per seat, media reports said.

The sector in China has entered a 2.0 era driven by applications and market forces from a 1.0 era featured by basic manufacturing and research and development (R&D), and will likely catch up with the development level of the US within 10 years, Yang Yiqiang, a senior rocket scientist and founder of CAS Space, a Beijing-based rocket company, told the Global Times in a recent interview.

The comment came as major economies are competing fiercely in the emerging space industry, with China and the US having developed some market size in this regard. On September 9, US Vice President Kamala Harris called on agencies to submit proposals for the authorization and supervision of „commercial space activities“ over the next six months to maintain its leading position in the sector, media reports said.

Thanks to a complete series of intellectual property rights China has and talent nurture system as well as the central government’s support, the market size of China’s commercial space industry posted an annual compound growth rate of 22.09 percent between 2015-20, Yang said. However, he said that domestic commercial space enterprises are still at the „accumulation“ stage, as their scale is comparatively small while few companies‘ rocket and satellite businesses yield profit.

The US started promoting the commercialization of the space sector in the 1980s, and the industry relatively matured when SpaceX was established in 2002. In comparison, China explicitly began encouraging private enterprises to develop the commercial space industry in 2015, but the industry has already taken shape after seven years of high-speed development, covering many fields such as rocket launches, satellite and ground equipment development, satellite operation and satellite application.

According to an industry report, there are more than 370 enterprises that focus on satellite manufacturing, rocket launching, and relevant downstream services based on orbiting satellite in 2021.

Looking ahead, Yang said that domestic commercial space industry should be boosted by market needs and technological innovations. „The key for the development of China’s commercial space sector is application rather than rockets or satellites,“ he said, noting that „We need to ensure that common people have access to the sector.“

In addition to developing reliable products and sound services, domestic private space companies need to build public experiment platforms and shoulder the responsibility of setting up international standards and servicing for the Belt and Road Initiative, as well as go global, according to Yang.

Given the current growth rate, China’s overall market for commercial aerospace could reach 100 billion yuan by 2030, Wang Yanan, chief editor of Beijing-based Aerospace Knowledge magazine, told the Global Times.

In terms of long-term development, it is crucial for the companies to enrich talent reserves, enhance their core technologies and keep improving the capacity of the rockets, including larger loading capacity and reusability, he said.

As of now, a dozen cities across the country including Shanghai, Shenzhen, South China’s Guangdong Province and Wuhan, Central China’s Hubei Province are racing to develop their own local space economies. 

In March, Wuhan announced it supported leading firms in the aerospace industry to set up R&D center, manufacturing and assembly facilities in the city to accelerate the development of national aerospace industrial base. The city is offering companies up to 50 million yuan in incentives for each project related to the production of satellites, rockets and spacecraft, according to a government notice.

Global Times“

“Iran nuclear program hasn’t crossed Israel’s red line yet – opinion

Iran is a threat, it is pursuing a nuclear capability, and continues to grow closer to its goal as time passes. However, Israel’s red line has moved over the years.


Published: SEPTEMBER 8, 2022 19:04

On Monday night, Mossad chief David Barnea boarded a plane from Israel to the US. His trip is part of Israeli efforts to scuttle a return to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal and Barnea, who came armed with Israel’s latest intelligence assessments, used it for meetings with administration and intelligence officials as well as members of Congress.

Fifteen years ago, at around the same time that Barnea’s plane left Ben-Gurion Airport, another group of Israelis took off for a destination abroad. They were four Israeli Air Force crews – pilots and navigators – who took off from northern Israel in their F-16Is and made their way to a target in northeastern Syria. There, just after midnight on September 6, they bombed and destroyed a nuclear reactor that North Korea was constructing for Bashar al-Assad.

In the 15 years that have passed, the Middle East has undergone a tremendous transformation. The Arab Spring, the American withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan, and the Abraham Accords. One constant throughout this time has been Iran, which like then and still today, continues to pursue a nuclear capability despite Israeli and international efforts to stop it.

And while Barnea likely appreciated the timing of his flight and the anniversary it fell on, the mission that he was sent on this week by Prime Minister Yair Lapid was far from anything like what the four pilots and four navigators embarked on back in 2007.

The history of Iran’s nuclear threat against Israel

Iran is a threat, it is pursuing a nuclear capability, and continues to grow closer to its goal as time passes. Nevertheless, the sword is not yet up against Israel’s neck, as Meir Dagan, Barnea’s predecessor at the Mossad, and the architect of Israel’s covert sabotage campaign against Iran, once said.

The reason is that although Iran is unconstrained today with some parts of its nuclear program, it is not yet building a bomb, and as long as that is the case, Israeli military action will likely wait.

This is a change in the definition of Israel’s red line for when it would need to act. Back in the Netanyahu era, the sense was that the red line for Israel was enrichment at military-grade levels. Netanyahu said as much during the famous speech he gave at the UN in 2012, when he drew a red line over 90% on the picture of a cartoon bomb.

Basically, the thinking then was that Israel and the world needed to stop Iran from even getting its hands on the ingredients for a bomb – fissionable material, advanced centrifuges and more. The red line was to stop the ingredients from being collected. 

For a time, that worked. Sabotage, sanctions and the 2015 Iran deal all contributed to slowing down the program. The fact is that from that speech in 2012 until now – almost a decade later – the Iranians still are not known to have military-grade uranium. For that reason, it made sense to keep the red line at the enrichment and ingredients level since if Iran were to enrich uranium to 90%, there is no other purpose except for nuclear weapons. 

The Iran nuclear red line has moved

BUT THAT has changed. Today, while such a move would be viewed as an act of war, it would not immediately provoke a military response. The reason is that Israel would instead prefer to wait and see what the world would do and only then determine its next steps.

This is because the red line has moved. Even with military-grade uranium, Iran would still need to take the gas and turn it into uranium metal, a highly complicated process that – together with assembling a warhead that could be installed on a ballistic missile that could reach Israel –  would take at least two years.

The reason for this shift is natural. Time has passed and Iran has managed to overcome the challenges that Israel placed in its path and, at the same time, master the technical know-how for the different components it requires. This was not always the case and, defense officials openly admit that without intervention, it is likely that Iran would have reached the stage it is at today, years earlier.

Which is why the bluster coming right now from Israel is a bit misplaced.

On the one hand, Lapid is right to publicly threaten Iran and to present it with a clear and credible military threat. Deterrence is critical. On the other hand, the Iranians know that Israel is not close to activating a kinetic military option, and that part of what is behind this talk is the upcoming Israeli election.

It is hard not to reach that conclusion after watching the Lapid-Netanyahu Twitter spat last week surrounding the security briefing Lapid was holding for the Likud leader. Lapid tweeted that he had offered the briefing so that when Netanyahu makes campaign movies he will know what he is talking about.

Netanyahu didn’t remain silent. He tweeted back at Lapid and said that he is looking forward to the meeting so he can teach the prime minister a thing or two about Iran.

Netanyahu received the briefing and was updated on Israel’s latest intelligence as well as the government’s efforts to thwart the bad deal. Nevertheless, when the meeting ended, the politicization of Iran continued.

Walking out of the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem, Netanyahu’s staff had arranged for the TV stations to be outside. He told the reporters that he left the meeting more concerned than he had gone in.

Let’s think about this for a minute: Does anyone really think that Lapid, Gantz or Netanyahu want Iran to become a nuclear power? Is there really any daylight between them? Based on a report in Thursday’s Jerusalem Post by Lahav Harkov, the Israeli pressure on the US seems to be working and the Biden administration might be delaying any progress on a deal until after the midterm elections in November.

If that is the case, then why fight about something everyone agrees on, especially when considering that the battle to stop Iran strikes at the core of Israel’s national security interests?

SADLY, WE know the answer. Everything is, unfortunately, kosher today in Israeli political discourse, even a potential existential threat like Iran.

If talk now is bluster, when would it not be? Israeli officials are not quick to lay down a clear red line. If there is one, it would likely be aligned with Iranian progress in building a bomb.

Looking back 15 years ago, then Israel set the activation of Syria’s al-Kibar reactor as the red line for attacking. At the time, the thinking was that if the reactor is activated and then attacked, radioactive material would disperse into the nearby Euphrates River and Israel would be responsible for the consequences.

It was able to set that red line because it had learned of the reactor before it was activated. Had Israel discovered the reactor after its activation, would it have not attacked? It likely would have, but it decided on an earlier red line because it had the opportunity.

With Iran, Israel’s red line has fluctuated, sometimes due to operational success, sometimes due to sanctions, and sometimes due to diplomacy. There was a period in the mid-2000s when Military Intelligence announced every year that that year was the point of no return, and here we are almost 20 years later.

When discussing red lines, there is one additional aspect that is important to point out: While the IDF has publicly said that it is working on a military option and that it hopes for it to be ready within the year, that is in reference to an ideal option, one that would be accurate, well planned and practiced.

But make no mistake: There is no prime minister in Israel who would sit in the Prime Minister’s Office, receive intelligence that Iran has started building a bomb and not order action, no matter the price, the risk and the lack of training.

This is a potential existential threat for Israel that needs to be stopped.

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