Beijing’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian accused the US government of bullying and abusing its political and judicial systems to destabilise the Venezuelan power structure. Venezuela remains China’s fourth largest oil importer and is also a public supporter of China’s Belt and Road Initiative. During the COVID-19 pandemic China sent Venezuela much needed assistance.
The European Union will launch “Global Gateway” as a scheme to compete with China’s Belt and Road Initiative — the massive, geopolitically influential network of infrastructure and transport investments that Beijing uses to link its exporters to western markets. The priority would be for the EU to discuss connectivity projects with Africa during a regional summit in February. China has been criticized by the West for extending its strategic reach and creating debt dependence through its multibillion-dollar infrastructure and investment scheme.
China inaugurated a new trade route via ship, road and rail running through Myanmar in keeping with Beijing’s dogged building spree across the Southeast Asian country to reach the Indian Ocean and points west. Analysts say it is one more strand in the ever-expanding web of transportation channels pulling China and Southeast Asia closer under the banner of Beijing’s sprawling Belt and Road Initiative while boosting China’s sway across the region.
CHINA has expressed hope to extend its multi-billion-dollar Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) into Afghanistan. With the Taliban in control of Afghanistan and the complete withdrawal of the US troops, China appears to be chalking out plans to extend its BRI to Afghanistan besides investments to exploit the rich minerals and highly lucrative rare-earth mines in Afghanistan. Rare-earth metals, which are key components for a host of advanced technologies like iPhones and hi-tech missile guidance systems, were estimated to be worth anywhere between $1 trillion (£720 bn) and $3 trillion (£ 2.1 trillion) in 2020 in Afghanistan.
Pakistan has replaced the chief of Belt and Road projects in an attempt to lure China as the appointed energy expert is close to Beijing. The CPEC multi-billion-dollar economic cooperation had not been able to complete the projects over the last three years and to maintain the impetus that delivered a series of power plants and other infrastructure projects in the first phase of the CPEC implementation.
Is Foreign Meddling In Ethiopia Actually A Proxy War Against China?
5 JULY 2021
The US, its Western allies, and the Arab League must stop meddling in Ethiopia’s internal affairs and the GERD issue should be resolved via African Union-led talks, not the UNSC.
Africa’s second most populous country of Ethiopia has recently experienced a surge in foreign meddling over the past year. This former kingdom, which was among the world’s oldest prior to its 1974 revolution, has always proudly defended its independence. Emperor Menelik II defeated the Italians in 1896 and secured his compatriots’ independence during the height of European colonialism. One of his successors, Emperor Haile Selassie, promoted the Ethiopian cause at the League of Nations after Italy’s fascist invasion in the run-up to World War II. His efforts generated global sympathy for Ethiopia and etched its struggle in the minds of many.
In the present day, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed is following in the tradition of his predecessors by standing firm against the latest foreign meddling campaigns that once again threaten Ethiopia’s independence. The most pressing is the American-led Western pressure against him following his decision to commence a law enforcement operation in the rebellious Tirgray Region last November. To oversimplify a complex situation, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) – previously the most powerful member of Ethiopia’s former ruling coalition – broke with PM Abiy, launched a separatist campaign, and was designated a terrorist group.
The TPLF was upset at the pace and scope and PM Abiy’s ambitious socio-economic reforms. They were also reportedly very unhappy with his success in ending Ethiopia’s nearly two-decade-long conflict with neighboring Eritrea which separated from the former in 1993 following a three-decade-long struggle. PM Abiy was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2019 for ending this war. Although he began his rule by implying a vision of broader decentralization, PM Abiy ultimately had to recalibrate his policies due to the inadvertently centrifugal consequences thereof. This generated dissent among some of its diverse people that the TPLF then exploited.
The lingering conflict there has prompted US-led Western accusations of war crimes against the Ethiopian National Defense Force (ENDF), which in turn were the pretext for Washington to impose sanctions against several individuals allegedly linked to them. America is also leading the charge in warning about a supposedly impending famine in the Tigray Province that its perception managers strongly imply would be solely due to the ENDF. Furthermore, an airstrike in the region last month is reported to have caused many civilian casualties, thus leading to more US pressure. Addis Ababa described all of this as an “orchestrated attack” against Ethiopia.
Concurrent with this is another meddling campaign led by Egypt through the Arab League. Cairo accuses Addis Ababa of weaponizing the Nile River due to its plans to fill the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD). The North African state recently succeeded in getting the Arab League to call on the UNSC to intervene in this dispute. Ethiopia, meanwhile, believes that only an African Union-led resolution is acceptable. China also supports this proposal, and Foreign Minister Wang Yi said earlier this month that his country opposes foreign interference in Ethiopia’s internal affairs.
The recent surge in foreign meddling there might be part of a proxy war against Chinese interests in Africa. Ethiopia’s developmental paradigm was powerfully influenced by China’s after the end of the former’s civil war in 1991. China is Ethiopia’s top trade and investment partner. The People’s Republic also helped construct the Addis Ababa-Djibouti Railway, which serves as the Belt & Road Initiative’s (BRI) flagship project in the Horn of Africa. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Ethiopia was Africa’s fastest-growing economy. The Chinese-Ethiopian Strategic Partnership is mutually beneficial and serves as a shining example of South-South cooperation.
Foreign meddling aims to undermine this partnership and could potentially result in Ethiopia’s disastrous “Balkanization” in the worst-case scenario. This makes Ethiopia the latest victim of HybridWar, and the stakes couldn’t be higher considering that it’s Africa’s second most populous country. Nevertheless, just as it’s historically done, Ethiopia is standing strong against the latest foreign pressure. The US, its Western allies, and the Arab League must stop meddling in Ethiopia’s internal affairs and the GERD issue should be resolved via African Union-led talks, not the UNSC. No matter what happens, Ethiopia can always count on China’s support.
The Build Back Better World initiative, or (B3W), a plan by the Group of Seven nations to counter Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative has been welcomed by countries in China’s immediate orbit of influence but will need to overcome doubts about Western commitment to emerging market projects. The challenge for B3W will be matching the speed at which China has been able to engage developing economies in the region.
How Serious Are Poland’s Grand Strategic Disagreements With The US?
15 JUNE 2021
Few could have expected that one of America’s top allies anywhere in the world would so seriously disagree with its patron, but that’s exactly what happened after Polish officials publicly expressed deep concern over the US’ recent recalibration of relations with Russia, prompting observers to wonder exactly how far everything will go and towards what ultimate ends.
Poland is widely regarded as one of America’s top allies anywhere in the world and with good reason considering that it’s marched in lockstep with its patron ever since the end of communism in 1989 with only a single exception. That was the Obama-era “Reset” with Russia, which Poland regarded as a betrayal of its national security interests even though that policy eventually failed. History is once again repeating itself, however, after Polish officials publicly expressed deep concern over the Biden Administration’s recent recalibration of relations with Russia which some fear might be even more disastrous for their country’s national security than Obama’s plans to change the nature of the US’ missile defense shield in this geostrategically positioned Central & Eastern European (CEE) country.
Poland was surprised by the Biden Administration’s decision to waive most Nord Stream II sanctions last month, with different officials describing this move as a “threat” to energy security and even a “gas bomb placed under European integration”. Prime Minister Morawiecki very loudly condemned what he called the US’ “180-degree change of policy” towards Russia in an exclusive interview that he recently gave to Newsweek, which was followed by his Foreign Minister expressing deep “regret” over Biden’s refusal to meet with CEE leaders ahead of his summit with President Putin. The end result is that Poland is presently in a very serious geostrategic predicament after proverbially putting all of its eggs into the basket of Trump’s re-election. This was the culmination of a series of counterproductive policy calculations that I elaborated upon earlier in the month.
In summary, Poland’s practically pathological expression of “negative nationalism” vis-a-vis Russia was responsible for it obsessively doing everything in its power to undermine its Great Power neighbor in the contested “sphere of influence” between them in Belarus and Ukraine ever since 2013. This absolutely ruined relations with Russia and therefore made it impossible for Poland to take advantage of the opportunity to “balance” between East and West in pursuit of better deals from both of its neighbors. Instead, it eagerly submitted itself to the US’ regional strategic designs, only to have Biden pull the rug out from under its leaders’ feet in recent weeks as America once again pursued its own interests at Poland’s expense. I forecast the larger consequences of this for Eurasia in my latest analysis for the Russian International Affairs Council (RIAC).
It also deserves mentioning that the Polish leadership’s conservative-nationalist worldview is the ideological opposite of the present American’s liberal-globalist one, a point that was further emphasized in Morawiecki’s interview where he envisioned a “Europe of homelands” instead of the “United States of Europe” that the US is nowadays more in favor of. Although this prompted an RT contributor to wonder whether a “Polexit” might be in the cards sometime later this decade if the ideological contradiction between Warsaw and EU-leader Berlin isn’t resolved soon enough, it’s highly unlikely that anything of the sort will ever transpire because the CEE leader immensely benefits from the bloc’s free movement of goods, services, and people. Rather, it’s much more likely that Poland might seek to turn its “Three Seas Initiative” into less of a complement to the European project like Morawiecki told Newsweek that it is and more of an intra-organizational ideological competitor.
It’s too early to say whether that’ll happen, but it’s already undeniable that Poland has suddenly become much more isolated on the European stage due both to its deliberately counterproductive policies towards Russia as well as the bloc’s leading members like Germany supporting the US’ pragmatic recalibration of relations with Moscow. Morawiecki also mentioned in his earlier cited interview that while he’s concerned about some of China’s growing influence, he nevertheless “believe(s) that competition is good and some competition coming from China—not the sort that is subsidized or where there is price dumping or industrial output via slave labor, but outside those abuses, competition is not bad for us. And we are open for the Chinese investments strengthening our intelligence competitive capacities and our abilities to defend vis-à-vis their attacks.” This suggests a possible economic pivot towards China if relations with the US can’t be repaired.
That said, the US probably isn’t going to ever abandon Poland and thus open up the possibility of it economically pivoting towards the People’s Republic. Biden will probably retain his country’s recently bolstered military presence in Poland or at the very least ensure that some robust NATO presence remains in order to symbolically reassure its leadership that the US hasn’t “sold it out to Russia” like they increasingly fear. At the same time, however, American pressure on Poland might increase, including through more covert US support for the German Hybrid War on Poland that’s seen Berlin back a rolling Color Revolution over the past few years which aims to replace its target’s conservative-nationalist government with liberal-globalist puppets.
With any improvement of relations with Russia being politically impossible especially in light of recent so-called “spy scandals” (one of which is arguably paranoid persecution of a genuine human rights activist), the only realistic policy option for Poland in the event of worsening ties with America (or at the very least growing mistrust and associated suspicion of its “ally’s” grand strategic motives vis-a-vis Russia) is to focus on accelerating the comprehensive expansion of ties with China. Poland is already China’s top partner in CEE by virtue of its enormous population, strong economy, and geostrategic position, so it wouldn’t be difficult in principle for Warsaw to strategically partner with Beijing if the political will is present.
It should also be remembered that China is pioneering a high-speed railway from the Hungarian capital of Budapest to the Greek port of Pireaus which could even expand as far northwards as Warsaw and Helsinki by the end of the decade so the People’s Republic certainly has an interest in cultivating more strategic partnerships in CEE, especially with Poland. If Poland already believes (whether rightly or wrongly) that the US “sold it out to Russia” and that Washington might even soon throw more of its covert weight behind Berlin’s ongoing Hybrid War, then Warsaw wouldn’t really have anything to lose by at the very least beginning to seriously explore this policy proposal.
G7 leaders, who are meeting in England, have adopted a rival plan to oppose China’s Belt and Road Initiative by helping build infrastructure in poorer nations in a “values-driven, high-standard and transparent” partnership. The adoption of the US-inspired “Build Back Better World” (B3W) project came after President Joe Biden and leaders met to address “strategic competition with China “.