Viktor KUZNETSOV – Independent analyst and researcher
Western political analysts often describe international politics using a “chess” model. Chinese people estimate political situation and actions of political forces as a game of chess played by three and more players. From this perspective, the main chess match on the global political arena is now being played by the US (white) and China (black). The two players are fighting for control over natural resources of the planet (chessboard), of which significant part is located on the territory of Russia… For China, as the global factory of the 21st century, the main recourses are oil and gas.
The white player’s task is not to let the black player occupy the squares of the “Great chessboard” with oil and gas reserves. Destabilization of the situation in Sudan and its division in two states ruined China’s long-term plans to get Sudanese oil. Destabilization and the military coup in Libya forced China out of North Africa. In response the black player slightly shook global financial markets controlled by the US.
These general assumptions can be easy illustrated by the facts. As we know, China has been active in Africa for more than 20 years. Over this time it has become one of the main partners of Libya, Niger, Angola and other African states. China is trying to strengthen positions in Africa by making investments in local production of strategically important resources (oil, uranium etc). Developing local production facilities in Africa China is also exporting its “world model” to that continent. Kidnapping of Chinese diplomats, military coups in the African states, intensively cooperating with China and some other actions against Chinese companies became an “asymmetrical” response to China’s activities.
Let me give you few examples. In February 2010, a military coup shook Niger, which happened almost right after Niger had begun to export uranium to China and signed an agreement on developing an oil field in the country’s north. The new government cancelled part of the agreements earlier signed with China. Once China began oil production in Sudan that country saw the aggravation of tension between tribes which ended with the division of the country. After an Angolan subsidiary of the Chinese state oil company launched oil production on the shelf of the Ivory Coast, a color revolution of “African type” broke out there (in November 2010). The political crisis grew into an armed confrontation. Everything ended with the intervention of the UN and a number of “peacekeeping” attacks at the residence of president Gbagbo, after which pro-Western president Ouattara came to power.
According to analysts’ forecasts, in the near future the share of the US’ oil import from Africa may significantly increase and reach 25%. That is why America is getting ready to protect its interests in Africa by means of weapon. For this purpose in 2008 the HQ U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) was set up. Alongside with “peacekeeping” operations on maintenance of order and suppression of military clashes, destabilizing the situation in the regions, where American companies are operating, this organization is in also in charge of hampering China’s economic expansion in Africa.
As for the US-China confrontation in Asia, Americans are first of all trying to block routes of energy resources transportation to China. This concerns the Iran-Pakistan-India-China oil pipeline and transportation roads linking China with the ports on the coast of the Indian Ocean (China receive Middle Eastern oil via these ports). Most of these routes go through Pakistan. Such China’s projects as the construction of a port in the Pakistani city of Gwadar for large crude carriers and deployment of its Navy base there make Washington nervous. It even came to the point that Americans demanded that China should report (?) to them about plans to add the Varyag aircraft carrier to its fleet.
China’s stronger presence in Pakistan was one of the main factors, which prompted the US to switch to the AfPak strategy and to redirect its efforts on fighting Taliban to Pakistan. In the result the situation in Pakistan is getting more complicated day by day. Air strikes of the US aviation kill many peaceful citizens, while insurgents intensify their activities against Pakistani army. All this brings up the rightful issue on the agenda: nuclear weapon in that troubled region poses great danger to the global community because it may become accessible for terrorists. At the same time this forms the premises for the deployment of a campaign to justify the US’ interference into the Pakistani affairs. Beijing has an adequate point of view on what is going on. In May 2011, China said that Pakistan is its strategic partner and any steps aimed against Pakistan will be regarded as a challenge to China.
Very similar things are going on in Sri-Lanka, Bangladesh, Myanmar and other Asian states where Chinese projects are being implemented. When in 2010 the construction of gas and oil pipelines between China and ports of Myanmar began, such a non-governmental organization as Freedom House (with headquarters in Washington) intensified its activities. The budget of this organization is 70-80% financed by the US government. Freedom House gave Myanmar a top position on the list of violators of human rights (next to North Korea) and a number of global mass media began to spread negative information about “criminal junta”, which is trying to get its own nuclear weapon.
But the central key strand of the US’ counterwork against China is to maintain the Indian-Chinese conflict in demonstrational stage (close to a “hot” stage) of standoff, to get southern neighbors of China under its influence, to gain full control over Strait of Malacca, which is the main route for supplies of Middle Eastern oil to China.
The US government does not even try to camouflage its confrontational policy, aimed at standoff with China and generating threats to its energy security. Though America still needs China as its “s industrial workshop”, too rapid development of the Chinese economy accompanied by strengthening of the national military potential scares the US. China’s rapid development even in official documents is regarded as a serious threat to the US national security. The US military doctrine contains a clause saying that the scale and strategic goals of the upgrade of the Chinese defense sector, activities in the Yellow Sea and in the East China Sea and South China Sea worry America. This defines the US’ plans on more intensive security cooperation with China’s southern neighbors – Vietnam, Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia.
As for Russia, the US is trying to convince it of the presence of the growing Chinese threat. Washington sees Russia as an important tool in its anti-China policy and is creating conditions to redirect possible leap of the “Chinese tiger” to the north. Do we (in Russia) need it?
Russia’s natural gas is one of the main objects of the US-China standoff on the global chess board. China (“black”) wants Russia to implement strategic agreements on the construction of two gas pipelines from Siberia to China. The US (“white”) is trying to block both projects as well as a possible third route of gas supply to China from Russia’s Island of Sakhalin. It is not ruled out that the development of the project on construction of a pipeline from Sakhalin to South Korea also serves this goal. But because South Korea does not border Russia a “knight’s move” is impossible for Americans to slip over the agreement with North Korean leader.
Perhaps for these very talks North Korean leader Kim Jong-il came to Siberia. It is likely that one the main conditions of privileged gas supplies to North Korea from transit pipe leading to South Korea was scaling down of North Korean nuclear program (which is very relevant for the US). Anyway it is clear that when it comes to practical steps Kim Jong-Il will agree to accept conditions of “whites” in exchange for free gas to North Korea. Will Russia agree to build a transit gas pipeline in exchange for North Korea concession in nuclear affairs (despite previous negative experience with the transit of Russian gas through Ukraine)?
China’s reaction on the US steps remains moderate and by now it did not go further than soft anti-dollar measures. It seems that China is always trying to avoid direct confrontation with the US, while America uses any means to boost pressure on China. Russian experts note that under current circumstances China may switch from a “chess” model to a “card playing” model in confrontation with the US. In this case if the US wins in “chess” confrontation it will lose in “card” confrontation to the pair: China and the Financial International.
According to analysts from the Institute for Russia-China strategic interaction, China starts a “Bridge game” with two pairs of players sitting at the “card table of the history”. In the current deal it is the US, which orders the game. US plays in pair with the “Group of Eight” (G-8), which cards are exposed and which is playing into hands of the US. Other pair of players are China and Financial International. Their task is not to let the US and G8 to take tricks that were made. In this game the US declared military force as the “trump suit”. But Americans fail to play all the trumps. From the position of force the US has managed to take control over oil and gas but failed to control the situation with “global finances”. In this field all the tricks are slipping away from the US, which is proved by the recent visit of Vice President Joe Biden to Beijing.
But the US’ “the ace of trumps”, which is a big war, is still in store waiting for its turn and may be used when the US runs out of other strong cards.
We may assume that if the US loses the current “Bridge game” their partners on G8 will also lose. This defeat will first of all affect Russia because its natural resources will be used to cover the card debt.
Here it should be noted, that the US’ anti-Chinese policy was one of the main factors that inspired the formation of nationalist forces in China. These forces are getting stronger becoming an influential component of the Chinese elite. Unlike “Confucianists” the national oriented forces believe that China should act tougher in confrontation with the US. The manifesto of this new political group is the book mentioned in part 1 of this article: “Angry China. Great epoch, great goals, our internal and external troubles”.
Among others politics implies the answer to the question "who is our enemy?". In this book the answer is unambiguous: the enemy is the West and first of all – the US. From the viewpoint of the authors, the Communist Party of China and the whole population of the country should come to common vision of China’s great goals.
The authors put forward two great goals.
The first goal is to bring order in the world in general, to eliminate any possibility of use of violence by whoever.
The second goal is to guarantee China options to dispose of much bigger and more diverse natural resources than the resources China has now; and besides this – to bring happiness to the peoples of the world.
The authors advocate for the rise of China and see the way to achieve it by changing the current relations between China and the West. They believe that it should be a “grounded break up”, or “China’s separation with West on certain terms”. In other words, it implies the development of new conditions of co-existence of China and the West or new conditions of mutual adjustment of China and the West to each other.
According to the book, in the light of recent developments in the world China is facing the following question – Is it ready for a war? The authors demand that China should immediately start readjusting itself to be ready for possible economic and real wars. Only in this case the country will survive and will be able to get down to the settlement of economic and social problems.
As we see, the new social forces, urging changes in Beijing foreign policy and pointing at illusions of “Confucianists,” have made themselves known. Concerning foreign policy they suggest that China should abandon principles of deviation from direct confrontation. They say that China needs to be strong and when it is busy with economy and trade it should also firmly hold a sword in its hands and have courage to stand face-to-face with the West; it should drive away doubts and illusions from soul, which hamper actions.
Russia and the Islamic world, where the most of hydrocarbon resources are located, are becoming the theater of military actions in the financial-economic war for these resources. Some signs show that the US plans to hold back the economic growth of its rivals (China and Europe) by organizing a large regional military conflict in Central Asia with the following blockade of supplies of raw materials and fuel. North Africa was only a “detonator”, while the “land mine” may explode closer to China, Russia and Uzbekistan. The strike on Iran still has not been removed form Washington’s agenda as the main variant of actions. A subsidiary variant (more advantageous for Israel), which is able to cause a counter attack of Iran, is the initiation of the Indian-Pakistani military conflict (that is what the provocation in Mumbai was aimed at). The escalation of this conflict may lead even to the use nuclear weapon. A backup variant is a war in Central Asia. The weakest link there is Turkmenistan, which is not a member of any regional bloc and at the same time it is the main oil and gas storage facility in the Caspian region. From there the fire of some kind of “cotton revolution” will immediately spread over neighboring states and bloody consequences of this revolution won’t be comparable with the Andijan massacre in 2005. Will Russia, Uzbekistan and other Central Asian states need it? The answer is clear.