– Red China Intensifies Military Contacts with “Ex”-Communist Poland, Communist Cuba, Left-Nationalist Peru, and Insurgency-Wracked Colombia
– Cash-Flush PRC Props Up European Financial Stability Facility with Undisclosed Sum, EFSF Chief Executive Heads Cap in Hand to Beijing; Chinese “Generosity” Follows US$1 Billion Loan for Belarus
– Russian DM Serdyukov: Russian-Belarusian Integrated Air Defense System Prototype for Network that Will Protect All Collective Security Treaty Organization Members
– Russia “Complies” with New START, Resumes ICBM Tests from Baikonur Cosmodrome after Two-Year Moratorium; Kazakhstan Spaceport Oldest Such Facility in World
Pictured above: Cuban President Raul Castro confers with Guo Boxiong, Vice Chairman of China’s Central Military Commission, in Havana, on October 27, 2011.
On October 11, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, followed by a 160-member entourage of businessmen and bureaucrats, arrived in Beijing, making this his first foreign trip since he announced his intention to run for the Russian presidency in March 2012. On the agenda were US$7 billion worth of bilateral deals ready to be signed, as well as negotiations for a US$1 trillion project to export natural gas from Siberia to northwest China.
Zhang Jianrong, a professor at the Shanghai Academy of Social Science, a government think tank, noted that Putin would have the opportunity to meet Xi Jinping and Li Keqiang, the two high-ranking communists who are likely to take over as Red China’s president and premier in 2012. “This is a special visit,” Zhang said. “He should be able to have a good talk with China’s next generation of leaders and begin to build a private relationship. This is quite important for both countries.”
The warming of political ties between “post”-communist Russia and the People’s Republic of China began in 1996 and was sealed five years later with the Treaty of Good-Neighborliness and Friendly Cooperation. The latter ended the disengenuous “Sino-Soviet split” of the Cold War. This development, unforeseen by most Western analysts, was actually predicted in 1984 by KGB defector Anatoliy Golitsyn, who referred to a future Moscow-Beijing alliance as world communism’s “one clenched fist.”
The Moscow-Beijing Axis is undergirded by a significant increase in trade, especially in raw materials and natural resources. In 2010, there was a 41 per cent rise in Sino-Russian trade to US$55.45 billion. This figure is expected to rise again to US$70 billion this year and US$200 billion by 2021.
“By the end of the decade, Russia could account for a third of China’s natural gas supplies,” commented Lin Boqiang, professor of energy and economics at Xiamen University. “Of course, there are also downsides. Russia used to shut off its gas supply to Europe, for example.”
On the geopolitical front, Red China’s state media feted Putin’s arrival as a “step towards building a more multipolar world” which, in commiespeak, means a world where the sole superpower, the USA, has been knocked down a peg or two, or three. “With Russia and China united,” suggested Xinhua, “global politics would be more balanced.” In reality, global politics would be balanced in favor of the Communist Bloc.
“The official propaganda arm of the Chinese government,” reports the UK’s Telegraph, “praised Russia for standing together with China to ‘thwart several attempts’ by the West to meddle in other countries’ ‘internal affairs.’” Both Moscow and Beijing, are “deeply suspicious” of the Arab Spring—populist/Islamist movements that have toppled corrupt regimes in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya and threaten to overthrow Syria’s Ba’athist dictatorship—and worry that Washington is “feeding” the protest movements to advance its own interests. Not surprisingly, opines The Telegraph, Moscow and Beijing are “nervous of losing influence” in the Arab world and are determined to oppose efforts to use the United Nations to sanction regime change.
Kevin Rudd, Australia’s foreign minister, has denounced the Sino-Russian collaboration behind the veto of an October 4 UN Security Council resolution that would have demanded regime change in Damascus. “China and Russia now bear a particular responsibility for persuading Syria to end the violence,” wrote Rudd in an opinion piece in the Sydney Morning Herald.
One week after Putin’s trip to Red China, Nikolai Patrushev, Russian Security Council Secretary and past chief of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB/KGB), attended the sixth round of the China-Russia Strategic Security Talks. There, in Beijing, State Councilor Dai Bingguo and Patrushev agreed to “comprehensively implement” the agreement Russia and China reached when President Hu Jintao visited Moscow earlier this year. Patrushev also conferred with the PRC’s Minister of Public Security Meng Jianzhu. Together, they agreed to “increase personnel exchanges, strengthen security cooperation on large-scale events and promote professional law-enforcement training.”
On October 19 and 20, the General Staffs of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army and the Russian Federation Armed Forces held their 14th round of “strategic consultations.” The consultation was co-chaired by Ma Xiaotian, deputy chief of general staff of the PLA, and Zarudniski, deputy chief of general staff of the Russian armed forces and director of the Operation Department of the General Staff Headquarters (GSH). “The two sides,” reports the PLA Daily, “had an in-depth exchange of views and reached broad consensus on such issues as the current regional and international security situation and the cooperation between the two militaries of China and Russia.”
This high-level military consultation between the two communist powers follows PLA Chief of the General Staff Chen Bingde’s official visit to Moscow in August. “China stands ready to work with Russia to further advance military ties, which will help promote strategic cooperation and is conducive to peace and stability in the region and the world,” Chen said during a meeting with Russian Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov.
Chen also met Nikolai Makarov, chief of the Russian General Staff, who expressed hope in conducting joint navy drills with China in 2012. “Russia attaches great importance to communication and cooperation with the Chinese military,” enthused Makarov, adding: “The relationship with China is one of Russia’s top priorities.” According to state-run Voice of Russia, the PLA delegation inspected a motorized infantry brigade in a suburb of Moscow; the Russian Navy’s Northern Fleet, based in Murmansk, including Russia’s sole aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov, sister ship to the Soviet-era carrier Varyag, which the PLA Navy upgraded and recently commissioned as its first; and K-317 Pantera nuclear-powered submarine. China and Russia have held four “Peace Mission” exercises since 2005.
Meanwhile, the PLA is building alliances with armed forces in other countries, such as in Europe and various states in Latin America. On October 23, Guo Boxiong, Vice Chairman of China’s Central Military Commission began official goodwill visits to Cuba, Columbia and Peru. Guo was invited by the General Staff of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Cuba, Columbia’s Defense Ministry, and Peru’s Defense Ministry. Cuba, of course, is a single-party communist dictatorship, Peruvians recently elected a pro-Chavez/Castro left-nationalist to the presidency, while Colombia has been wracked by a Marxist insurgency since the 1960s.
The PRC is also enhancing military cooperation with the former People’s Republic of Poland, now ostensibly ruled by a center-right government with no obvious attachment to the old communist regime. On October 21, Chinese Defense Minister Liang Guanglie welcomed Zbigniew Glowienka, commander of the Land Forces of the Polish Armed Forces, to Beijing, pledging to “deepen exchanges and pragmatic cooperation with the Polish army.” Liang noted that the two countries have “experienced good momentum in the development of bilateral military relations,” referring to “frequent high-level visits, successful exchange programs and expanding professional communication and cooperation.”
This past summer 80 PLA Air Force paratroopers were deployed to Belarus, which is “next door” to Poland, for a joint “anti-terrorism drill” with their counterparts in that former Soviet republic. Belarus’ “ex”-communist dictator, President Alexander Lukashenko, has also gratefully received a US$1 billion loan from the PRC, a favour that Beijing is likewise extending to the cash-strapped European Union. The AFP news agency reports: “China has agreed to invest in Europe’s bail-out fund, two senior EU diplomats told AFP today. ‘China is in,’ said one of new plans to boost the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) with a spin-off investment vehicle to be used to prop up debt-laden nations.” The same source continues: “The diplomats gave no indication as to the scale of China’s likely investment, although an EU official said EFSF chief executive Klaus Regling would leave for Beijing on Thursday [October 27], after the [EU’s emergency financial] summit.”
It would seem that the Butchers of Beijing—with a grim nod toward the massacre in Tiananmen Square 22 years ago—are anxious to introduce both communist cash and PLA soldiers into debt-stricken Europe without raising any alarms.
In the light of the Soviet strategic deception plan, military cooperation between the former Soviet republics appears more and more like an attempt to resurrect some aspects of the unified command behind the Soviet Armed Forces. For example, following the Russian-Belarusian Union Shield 2011 exercise this past September, state-run Itar-Tass quoted Serdyukov as saying:
The military exercises at the Ashuluk firing range are unique [in] that a multilayer air defence system was created and tested. This air defence system is made up of modern combat systems: S-400, S-300, Tor, Pantsir and Buk. Under the scenario of the exercises, cruise missiles, airplanes and ballistic targets of the mockup enemy [meaning NATO] were seeking to break through this multilayer air defence system. Amid strong radioelectronic jams all attacks were rebuffed thanks to qualified actions of the combat teams. The air defence system created at the military exercises may turn into a prototype of a future joint CSTO air defence system.
Following Russia’s “agreement” to abide by the terms of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START), Kazakhstan’s “ex”-communist President Nursultan Nazarbayev has obediently lifted a moratorium on test launches of Russian intercontinental ballistic missiles from the Baikonur Cosmodrome. According to Vladimir Popovkin, chief of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, the ban was imposed in 2009 in line with the Kazakh government’s (ill-conceived?) plans to make Baikonur an entirely commercial space launch facility. “Now that the ban has been lifted we will [test] launch an ICBM [from Baikonur] in November,” Popovkin told Russia’s rubber-stamp lawmakers.
The Russian-Kazakh agreement, which was first signed in 1994 and then renewed in 2004, extends Russia’s use of the facilities at Baikonur, rented out an annual fee of US$115 million, to 2050. In addition to space launches, Russia frequently used Baikonur facilities to test performance characteristics and service life of its ballistic missiles. The last launch prior to the moratorium was carried out in October 2008 and involved an RS-18 (NATO designation SS-19 Stiletto) ICBM with a range exceeding 9,600 km (6,000 miles).
The US State Department reported this past week that Washington currently deploys 300 more ICBMs, SLBMs, and ALCMs than Russia. New START, which entered into force in February, commits the USA and Russia to reducing and limiting the number of deployed and non-deployed strategic offensive arms to agreed aggregate numbers.