It is not the Cold War again, but the March winds in the war between Russia and the West have lowered the temperature in the two great areas of the increasingly global confrontation that also involves China: the war in Ukraine and the gigantic geopolitical scenario. of the Indo Pacific, where ships from the United States and China lead opposing naval maneuvers that increase tensions.
The postponement of Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s trip to Beijing, (the first major US visit since 2018) following the Chinese “weather” balloon incident on US soil, has sounded like an alarm bell , and when visiting President Putin in Moscow, Xi Jinping must make a convincing answer that China will impose its influence on Russia to prevent the European war in Ukraine from spiraling further out of control.
In his capacity as a fundamental ally of Moscow, the Chinese leader will show the Russian president that there is a possible world that forces him to set up a setup without further delay, to combine a ceasefire with the “promotion of peace talks”, as he announced. a spokesman for Beijing.
The strange Chinese balloon over Montana. Photo: Chase Doak/AFP
China is not willing to tolerate the destruction of the positive energies of the world economy by way of a new Cold War. Its great partners that underpin the future of the Chinese superpower in the world are the West and its allies. In 2021, exchanges reached 828 billion dollars with Europe, 756 thousand with the US, while Japan strengthened with 9.8% of the total and South Korea with 9.2%.
The numbers sing. The West and its main allies (it should be added Canada and Australia) are the main markets that justify the efforts of the new Silk Roads through which Chinese merchandise transits, which are already supported by a hundred ports acquired throughout the world. .
The Chinese want to “safeguard the stability of the industrial chain and deepen exchanges, promote cooperation.”
Joe Biden and Xi Jinping at the G20 summit in Indonesia. Photo: SAUL LOEB / AFP
This explains why they have not supported the Russian ally’s invasion of Ukraine and in their proposals they continue to defend the principle of the inviolability of territorial sovereignty and to avoid a Cold War climate of which there are already bursts.
With Russia, no matter how much the exchanges grow, the distances are astral. China produced in 2021 a national wealth of twenty trillion (million) dollars. Russia, with 1.5 billion, is economically smaller than Italy, with 1.7 billion, and just slightly higher than Brazil, with 1.4 billion. This disparity in dimensions weighs heavily in discussions with the Chinese ally. The Russians are a nuclear but not an economic superpower.
The interests at stake are of such magnitude that the Chinese become nervous when the Russians threaten to use nuclear devices that would set fire to the scenario where Beijing is projecting its levels of expansion in the world economy for the coming decades.
The Indo-Pacific front
The secretary general of the 30 countries of the Western military alliance, NATO, the Norwegian Jens Stoltenberg, traveled in January to Japan and South Korea, two of the main allies of the United States in the world’s largest geopolitical arena, the Indo-Pacific. There he connected the European front with the Eastern one. He stated that what is happening in Ukraine today could happen in Asia tomorrow, with China taking the role of Moscow in Europe.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. Photo: AP
The United States has worked intensively since Russia’s February 2022 invasion of Ukraine to compact and strengthen its alliances in the Indo-Pacific, which the Pentagon’s military considers the main challenge facing the United States in the world.
In addition to the similar process that the NATO countries are experiencing of an unprecedented increase in their military rearmament by expanding their defense budgets, in the Asian scenario in a few months there has been a tightening of ranks between the US and its military allies.
One of the main fruits is the increase in naval maneuvers. The United States, Canada, India, Japan and South Korea carry out joint anti-submarine warfare maneuvers, while the Japanese and South Korean leaders, after Stoltenberg’s visit that gave them the outlook according to NATO, have followed another round of consultations with the Americans .
Military maneuvers between a US aircraft carrier and a Japanese destroyer in the East China Sea. Photo: AFP/ ARCHIVE
Sea Dragon 23 exercises encompass 270 hours of follow-through flight training for a US 7th Fleet submarine.
The country that wins the mock competition gets the “Dragon Belt” as a trophy.
The seventh fleet operates in the area with 7 ships and submarines, 140 planes and 27,000 sailors and marines.
The gigantic Area includes the South China Sea, a highly difficult area because it sails and flies neighboring islands created and fortified by China, which considers practically the entire strategic region as its own.
To increase the drama of the “momentum”, also in the Gulf of Oman, China commanded naval maneuvers with the participation of warships from Russia and Iran. There were other presences such as ships from Pakistan, Oman and the United Arab Emirates.
The Spratly Islands, axis of maritime dispute. Photo: AFP
For China it was another moment of triumph after it was announced that thanks to the mediation of Beijing, Iran and Saudi Arabia had resumed their diplomatic relations.
An important reaction for the US in the Indo-Pacific theater was the trip of Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin to Manila, where he signed an agreement with the Philippines that guarantees free access to four new military bases that are added to the five already do they work.
The US also managed to re-project itself in the South Pacific Ocean by reopening its embassy in the Solomon Islands after 30 years, which last year had signed a security agreement with China.
Washington also expanded military agreements with the Federated States of Micronesia and Papua New Guinea.
The landscape of bilateral relations between China and the United States remains unstable. The incident involving the downing of the meteorological balloon, shot down after penetrating deep into North American territory, led to the postponement of Blinken’s visit without a date, in a kind of diplomatic ceasefire that was being negotiated.
The Chinese accepted that they had made an “unwanted mistake” with the flight of the balloon, which was considered a spy by the Americans.
Relations have deteriorated again. Qin Gang, China’s new foreign minister and former ambassador to the United States, accused Washington of drawing the two countries into the conflict. Some specialists argue that it is common in the “cold war” mentality.
John Kirby, the spokesman for the US National Security Council, said that the Biden administration’s policy has not changed: “We seek competition with China, but not conflict and we absolutely want to maintain this level.”