EU’s Von der Leyen to meet Biden to Discuss Jointly Addressing the Threat from China. Be Worried!
NATO is quietly ‘moving on’ from Ukraine -- towards Cold War with China while the US is cooking an ‘unprecedented’ sanctions-led Cold War on Beijing.
In a recent interview, Nicholas Burns, the US Ambassador to China, after labelling China the ‘threat’, bluntly said: “We're the leader in this [Indo-Pacific] region. [And We’re] staying”. The interviewer, US Congressman Mike Gallagher, described America’s new Cold War as no polite tennis match, but an existential struggle for life in the 21st century.
President Xi’s earlier attempt to reach a ‘new détente’ with the US during the November G20 at Bali -- effectively an attempt to explore whether a minimum modus vivendi with US were possible -- is over.
The hysteria over the Chinese balloon; the increasing evidence that Ukraine is descending to a débacle for the Biden Administration in the Bakhmut area; and the coarse threats of ‘consequences’ for China were it to support Russia militarily (and at the very moment when Washington was promising more weapons for Taiwan), were too much for Beijing.
Far from its earlier tentative essay at US détente, China has since moved in the opposite direction. It has ‘re-calibrated’.
Suddenly, China has moved away from US détente into ‘high gear’ motion towards Russia (and Belarus). NATO meanwhile, quietly is ‘moving on’ from Ukraine -- towards Cold War with China. And Washington is cooking an ‘unprecedented’ sanctions-led Cold War on China as it too switches emphasis from Russia to China.
What does this mean for the Middle East? Simply put, belligerent Cold War tactics are coming your way.
Do not imagine simply staying aloof, and even offering to mediate in the Ukraine conflict, will provide any immunity to what is coming. President Modi similarly had thought to triangulate Indian influence with the Global South versus the West on the one hand, and the Russia-China axis, on the other.
What happened? Well, the result was been the building ‘war’ on Modi from firstly, the New York Times criticism; to a hostile BBC documentary; then followed by the Hindenburg Report on the Adani Group conglomerate, (whose head happens to be a friend and major financial backer to Modi), and finally, as this ‘thread’ runs, to George Soros at the Munich Security Conference saying that Modi’s days ‘were numbered’ and that ‘he’s no democrat’ -- concluding with the oblique threat: “I may be naïve, but I expect a democratic revival in India”.
So now it’s clear: A while ago, Modi seemed to be tilting towards the US. But recently, he became friends with Putin (with India making buckets of money from Russian oil products and with ordinary trade between the two states exploding higher).
And so, Modi has been duly punished by the West -- both the G20 finance ministers, as well as the Foreign Ministers’ G20 meetings, were burned to ashes by western demands that nothing would be allowed to pass until the final communiqués unequivocally indicted Russia on Ukraine. Modi’s G20 triangulation was humiliated.
Of course, Gulf States too have a special relationship with the US. The latter however, is already warning Europeans that it is preparing to call on allies to impose ‘unprecedented sanctions’ on China, should it provide military support to Russia.
This is a contingency, which if implemented, would hit Germany where it hurts most (on its strong trade relations with China).
Yet (Politico reports), some in Scholz’s own Social Democratic Party already are signalling their openness to the potential move:
“Should China indeed decide to provide direct military support for Russia’s war of aggression, which is contrary to international law, we will consult and decide on the necessary responses in close coordination with our allies in the EU and G7… In fact, this would put China on the same level as Iran, against which the EU recently imposed sanctions, as a supplier of weapons”.
The cost to Europe of sanctioning both Russia and China (with India to come?) would represent a catastrophic loss to Europe. Europe’s sanguinity in the face of such prospect seems truly inexplicable.
In an interview with a Swiss Weekly however, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said that the most important realisation to emerge from the war in Ukraine is that:
“Europe has retired from the debate … In the decisions adopted in Brussels, I recognize American interests more frequently than European ones. In a war that is taking place in Europe, the Americans have the final word”.
The Middle East may look forward to hearing a lot more about China from its European colleagues in the near future. This Friday, Mrs von der Leyen will be in Washington for a meeting with Biden. A White House statement said Biden will discuss with von der Leyen, “our work together to address the challenges posed by the People’s Republic of China”.
No evidence of China supplying weapons? Will that count, when the war momentum gathers?
You are warned -- this is ‘no polite diplomatic ping pong’!