[This interview was made for the Unz Review]
I recently received a copy of a most interesting book, A.B. Abrams’ “Power and Primacy: the history of western intervention in Asia” and as soon as I started reading it I decided that I wanted to interview the author and ask him about what is taking place in Asia in our times. This was especially interesting to me since Putin has embarked on the Russian version of Obama’s “pivot to Asia“, with the big difference that Putin’s pivot has already proven to be a fantastic success, whereas Obama’s was a dismal failure. I am most grateful to A.B. Abrams for his time and expertise.
The Saker: Please introduce yourself and your past and present political activities (books, articles, memberships, etc.)
A.B. Abrams: I am an expert on the international relations, recent history and geopolitics of the Asia-Pacific region. I have published widely on defense and politics related subjects under various pseudonyms. I am proficient in Chinese, Korean and other regional languages.
I wrote this book with the purpose of elucidating the nature of Western intervention in the region over the past 75 years, and analyzing prominent trends in the West’s involvement in the Asia-Pacific from the Pacific War with Imperial Japan to the current conflicts with China and North Korea. I attempt to show that Western conduct towards populations in the region, the designs of the Western powers for the region, and the means by which these have been pursued, have remained consistent over these past decades. This context is critical to understanding the present and future nature of Western intervention in the Asia-Pacific.
The Saker: You have recently published a most interesting book “Power and Primacy: the history of western interventions in Asia” (https://www.peterlang.com/view/title/68124) which is a “must read” for anybody interested in Asia-western relations. You included a chapter on “The Russian Factor in the Asia-Pacific”. Historically, there is no doubt that pre-1917 Russia was seen in Asia as a “Western” power. But is that still true today? Many observers speak of a Russian “pivot” to Asia. What is your take on that? Is Russia still perceived as a “Western power” in Asia or is that changing?
A.B. Abrams: In the introduction to this work I highlight that a fundamental shift in world order was facilitated by the modernization and industrialization of two Eastern nations – Japan under the Meiji Restoration and the USSR under the Stalinist industrialization program. Before these two events the West had retained an effective monopoly on the modern industrial economy and on modern military force. Russia’s image is still affected by the legacy of the Soviet Union – in particular the way Soviet proliferation of both modern industries and modern weapons across much of the region was key to containing Western ambitions in the Cold War. Post-Soviet Russia has a somewhat unique position – with a cultural heritage influenced by Mongolia and Central Asia as well as by Europe. Politically Russia remains distinct from the Western Bloc, and perceptions of the country in East Asia have been heavily influenced by this. Perhaps today one the greatest distinctions is Russia’s supporting of the principle of sovereignty under international law and its adherence to a non-interventionist foreign policy. Where for example the U.S., Europe and Canada will attempt to intervene in the internal affairs of other parties – whether by cutting off parts for armaments, imposing economic sanctions or even launching military interventions under humanitarian pretexts – Russia lacks a history of such behavior which has made it a welcome presence even for traditionally Western aligned nations such as the Philippines, Indonesia and South Korea.
While the Western Bloc attempted to isolate the USSR from East and Southeast Asia by supporting the spread of anticommunist thought, this pretext for shunning Russia collapsed in 1991. Today the West has had to resort to other means to attempt to contain and demonize the country – whether labelling it a human rights abuser or threatening its economic and defense partners with sanctions and other repercussions. The success of these measures in the Asia-Pacific has varied – but as regional economies have come to rely less on the West for trade and grown increasingly interdependent Western leverage over them and their foreign policies has diminished.
Even when considered as a Western nation, the type of conservative Western civilization which Russia may be seen to represent today differs starkly from that of Western Europe and North America. Regarding a Russia Pivot to Asia, support for such a plan appears to have increased from 2014 when relations with the Western Bloc effectively broke down. Indeed, the Russia’s future as a pacific power could be a very bright one – and as part of the up and coming northeast Asian region it borders many of the economies which appear set to dominate in the 21st century – namely China, Japan and the Koreas. Peter the Great is known to have issued in a new era of Russian prosperity by recognizing the importance of Europe’s rise and redefining Russia as a European power – moving the capital to St Petersburg. Today a similar though perhaps less extreme pivot Eastwards towards friendlier and more prosperous nations may be key to Russia’s future.
The Saker: We hear many observers speak of an informal but very profound and even game-changing partnership between Putin’s Russia and Xi’s China. The Chinese even speak of a “strategic comprehensive partnership of coordination for the new era“. How would you characterize the current relationship between these two countries and what prospects do you see for a future Russian-Chinese partnership?
A.B. Abrams: A Sino-Russian alliance has long been seen in both the U.S. and in Europe as one of the greatest threats to the West’s global primacy and to Western-led world order. As early as 1951 U.S. negotiators meeting with Chinese delegations to end the Korean War were instructed to focus on the differences in the positions of Moscow and Beijing in an attempt to form a rift between the two. Close Sino-Soviet cooperation seriously stifled Western designs for the Korean Peninsula and the wider region during that period, and it was repeatedly emphasized that the key to a Western victory was to bring about a Sino-Soviet split. Achieving this goal by the early 1960s and bringing the two powers very near to a total conflict significantly increased prospects for a Western victory in the Cold War, with the end of the previously united front seriously undermining nationalist and leftist movements opposing Western designs from Africa and the Middle East to Vietnam and Korea. Both states learned the true consequences of this in the late 1980s and early 1990s when there was a real risk of total collapse under Western pressure. Attempts to bring an end to China’s national revolution through destabilization failed in 1989, although the USSR was less fortunate and the results for the Russian population in the following decade were grave indeed.
Today the Sino-Russian partnership has become truly comprehensive, and while Western experts from Henry Kissinger to the late Zbigniew Brzezinski among others have emphasized the importance of bringing about a new split in this partnership this strategy remains unlikely to work a second time. Both Beijing and Moscow learned from the dark period of the post-Cold War years that the closer they are together the safer they will be, and that any rift between them will only provide their adversaries with the key to bringing about their downfall. It is difficult to comprehend the importance of the Sino-Russian partnership for the security of both states without understanding the enormity of the Western threat – with maximum pressure being exerted on multiple fronts from finance and information to military and cyberspace. Where in the early 1950s it was only the Soviet nuclear deterrent which kept both states safe from very real Western plans for massive nuclear attacks, so too today is the synergy in the respective strengths of China and Russia key to protecting the sovereignty and security of the two nations from a very real and imminent threat. A few examples of the nature of this threat include growing investments in social engineering through social media – the results of have been seen in Hong Kong, Taiwan and Ukraine, a lowering threshold for nuclear weapons use by the United States – which it currently trains Western allies outside the NPT to deploy, and even reports from Russian and Korean sources of investments in biological warfare – reportedly being tested in Georgia, Eastern Europe and South Korea.
The partnership between Russia and China has become truly comprehensive, and is perhaps best exemplified by their military relations. From 2016 joint military exercises have involved the sharing of extremely sensitive information on missile and early warning systems – one of the most well kept defense secrets of any nuclear power which even NATO powers do not share with one another. Russia’s defense sector has played a key role in the modernization of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army, while Chinese investment has been essential to allowing Russia to continue research and development on next generation systems needed to retain parity with the United States. There is reportedly cooperation between the two in developing next generation weapons technologies for systems such as hypersonic cruise and anti aircraft missiles and new strategic bombers and fighter jets which both states plan to field by the mid-2020s. With the combined defense spending of both states a small fraction of that of the Western powers, which themselves cooperate closely in next generation defense projects, it is logical that the two should pool their resources and research and development efforts to most efficiently advance their own security.
Cooperation in political affairs has also been considerable, and the two parties have effectively presented a united front against the designs of the Western Bloc. In 2017 both issued strong warnings to the United States and its allies that they would not tolerate an invasion of North Korea – which was followed by the deployment of advanced air defense systems by both states near the Korean border with coverage of much of the peninsula’s airspace. Following Pyongyang’s testing of its first nuclear delivery system capable of reaching the United States, and renewed American threats against the East Asian country, China and Russia staged near simultaneous exercises near the peninsula using naval and marine units in a clear warning to the U.S. against military intervention. China’s Navy has on several occasions deployed to the Mediterranean for joint drills with Russian forces – each time following a period of high tension with the Western Bloc over Syria.
In April 2018, a period of particularly high tensions between Russia and the Western Bloc over Western threats both to take military action against the Syrian government and to retaliate for an alleged but unproven Russian chemical weapons attack on British soil, the Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe traveled to Russia and more explicitly stated that the Sino-Russian partnership was aimed at countering Western designs. Referring to the Sino-Russian defense partnership as “as stable as Mount Tai” he stated: “the Chinese side has come to show Americans the close ties between the Armed Forces of China and Russia, especially in this situation. We have come to support you.” A week later China announced large-scale live fire naval drills in the Taiwan Strait – which according to several analysts were scheduled to coincide with a buildup of Western forces near Syria. Presenting a potential second front was key to deterring the Western powers from taking further action against Russia or its ally Syria. These are but a few examples Sino-Russian cooperation, which is set to grow only closer with time.
The Saker: The USA remains the most formidable military power in Asia, but this military power is being eroded as a result of severe miscalculations of the US political leadership. How serious a crisis do you think the US is now facing in Asia and how do you assess the risks of a military confrontation between the USA and the various Asian powers (China, the Philippines, the DPRK, etc,).
A.B. Abrams: Firstly I would dispute that the United States is the most formidable military power in the region, as while it does retain a massive arsenal there are several indicators that it lost this position to China during the 2010s. Looking at combat readiness levels, the average age of weapons in their inventories, morale both publicly and in the armed forces, and most importantly the correlation of their forces, China appears to have an advantage should war break out in the Asia-Pacific. It is important to remember that the for the Untied States and its European allies in particular wars aren’t fought on a chessboard. Only a small fraction of their military might can be deployed to the Asia-Pacific within a month of a conflict breaking out, while over 95% of Chinese forces are already on the region and are trained and armed almost exclusively for war in the conditions of the Asia-Pacific. In real terms the balance of military power regionally is in China’s favor, and although the U.S. has tried to counter this with a military ‘Pivot to Asia’ initiative from 2011 this has ultimately failed due to both the drag from defense commitments elsewhere and the unexpected and pace at which China has expanded and modernized its armed forces.
For the time being the risk of direct military confrontation remains low, and while there was a risk in 2017 of American and allied action against the DPRK Pyongyang has effectively taken this option off the table with the development of a viable and growing arsenal of thermonuclear weapons and associated delivery systems alongside the modernization of its conventional capabilities. While the U.S. may have attempted to call a Chinese and Russian bluff by launching a limited strike – which seriously risked spiraling into something much larger – it is for the benefit of all regional parties including South Korea that the DPRK now has the ability to deter the United States without relying on external support. This was a historically unprecedented event, and as military technology has evolved it has allowed a small power for the first time to deter a superpower without relying on allied intervention. Changes in military technology such as the proliferation of the nuclear tipped ICBM make a shooting war less likely, but also alters the nature of warfare to place greater emphasis on information war, economic war and other new fields which will increasingly decide the global balance of power. Where America’s answer to the resistance of China and North Korea in the 1950s to douse them with napalm, today winning over their populations through soft power, promoting internal dissent, placing pressure on their living standards and ensuring continued Western dominance of key technologies has become the new means of fighting.
That being said, there is a major threat of conflict in the Asia-Pacific of a different nature. Several organizations including the United Nations and the defense ministries of Russia, Singapore and Indonesia among others have warned of the dangers posed by Islamic terrorism to stability in the region. Radical Islamism, as most recently attested to by Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, played a key role in allowing the Western Bloc to cement its dominance over the Middle East and North Africa – undermining Russian and Soviet aligned governments including Algeria, Libya, Egypt and Syria – in most cases with direct Western support. CIA Deputy Director Graham Fuller in this respect referred to the agency’s “policy of guiding the evolution of Islam and of helping them against our adversaries.” Several officials, from the higher brass of the Russian, Syrian and Iranian militaries to the former President of Afghanistan and the President of Turkey, have all alleged Western support for radical terror groups including the Islamic State for the sake of destabilizing their adversaries. As the Asia-Pacific has increasingly slipped out of the Western sphere of influence, it is likely that this asset will increasingly be put into play. The consequences of the spread of jihadism from the Middle East have been relatively limited until now, but growing signs of danger can be seen in Xinjiang, Myanmar, the Philippines and Indonesia. It is this less direct means of waging war which arguably poses the greatest threat.
The Saker: Do you think that we will see the day when US forces will have to leave South Korean, Japan or Taiwan?
A.B. Abrams: Other than a limited contingent of Marines recently deployed to guard the American Institute, U.S. forces are not currently stationed in Taiwan. The massive force deployed there in the 1950s was scaled down and American nuclear weapons removed in 1974 in response to China’s acceptance of an alliance with the United States against the Soviet Union. Taiwan’s military situation is highly precarious and the disparity in its strength relative to the Chinese mainland grows considerably by the year. Even a large American military presence is unlikely to change this – and just 130km from the Chinese mainland they would be extremely vulnerable and could be quickly isolated from external support in the event of a cross straits war. We could, however, see a small American contingent deployed as a ‘trigger wire’ – which will effectively send a signal to Beijing that the territory is under American protection and that an attempt to recapture Taiwan will involve the United States. Given trends in public opinion in Taiwan, and the very considerable pro-Western sentiments among the younger generations in particular, it is likely that Taipei will look to a greater rather than a lesser Western military presence on its soil in future.
Japan and particularly South Korea see more nuanced public opinion towards the U.S., and negative perceptions of an American military presence may well grow in future – though for different reasons in each country. Elected officials alone, however, are insufficient to move the American presence – as best demonstrated by the short tenure of Prime Minister Hatoyama in Japan and the frustration of President Moon’s efforts to restrict American deployments of THAAD missile systems in his first year. It would take a massive mobilization of public opinion – backed by business interests and perhaps the military – to force such a change. This remains possible however, particularly as both economies grow increasingly reliant on China for trade and as the U.S. is seen to have acted increasingly erratically in response to challenges from Beijing and Pyongyang which has undermined its credibility. As to a voluntary withdrawal by the United States, this remains extremely unlikely. President Donald Trump ran as one of the most non-interventionist candidates in recent history, but even under him and with considerable public support prospects for a significant reduction in the American presence, much less a complete withdrawal, have remained slim.
The Saker: Some circles in Russia are trying very hard to frighten the Russian public opinion against China alleging things like “China want to loot (or even conquer!) Siberia”, “China will built up its military and attack Russia” or “China with its huge economy will simply absorb small Russia”. In your opinion are any of these fears founded and, if yes, which ones and why?
A.B. Abrams: A growth in Sinophobic sentiment in Russia only serves to weaken the nation and empower its adversaries by potentially threatening its relations with its most critical strategic partner. The same is applicable vice-versa regarding Russophobia in China. Given the somewhat Europhilic nature of the Russian state in a number of periods, including in the 1990s, and the considerable European soft influences in modern Russia, there are grounds for building up of such sentiment. Indeed Radio Free Europe, a U.S. government funded nonprofit broadcasting corporation with the stated purpose of “advancing the goals of U.S. foreign policy,” notably published sinophobic content aimed at depicting the Russian people as victims of Chinese business interests to coincide with the Putin-XI summit in June 2019. However, an understanding of the modern Chinese state and its interests indicates that it does not pose a threat to Russia – and to the contrary is vital to Russia’s national security interests. While Russia historically has cultural ties to the Western nations, the West has shown Russian considerable hostility throughout its recent history – as perhaps is most evident in the 1990s when Russia briefly submitted itself and sought to become part of the Western led order with terrible consequences. China by contrast has historically conducted statecraft based on the concept of a civilization state – under which its strength is not measured by the weakness and subjugation of others but by its internal achievements. A powerful and independent Russia capable of protecting a genuine rules based world order and holding lawless actors in check is strongly in the Chinese interest. It is clear that in Russia such an understanding exists on a state level, although there is no doubt that there will be efforts by external parties to turn public opinion against China to the detriment of the interests of both states.
The idea that China would seek to economically subjugate Russia, much less invade it, is ludicrous. It was from Europe were the major invasions of Russian territory came – vast European coalitions led by France and Germany respectively with a third American led attack planned and prepared for but stalled by the Soviet acquisition of a nuclear deterrent. More recently from the West came sanctions, the austerity program of the 1990s, the militarization of Eastern Europe, and the demonization of the Russian nation – all intended to subjugate and if possible shatter it. Even at the height of its power, China did not colonize the Koreans, Vietnamese or Japanese nor did it seek to conquer Central Asia. Assuming China will have the same goals and interests as a Western state would if they were in a similar position of strength is to ignore the lessons of history, and the nature of the Chinese national character and national interest.
The Saker: The Russian military is currently vastly more capable (even if numerically much smaller) than the Chinese. Does anybody in China see a military threat from Russia?
A.B. Abrams: There may be marginalized extreme nationalists in China who see a national security from almost everybody, but in mainstream discourse there are no such perceptions. To the contrary, Russia’s immense contribution to Chinese security is widely recognized – not only in terms of technological transfers but also in terms of the value of the joint front the two powers have formed. Russia not only lacks a history of annexing East Asian countries or projecting force against them, but it is also heavily reliant on China in particular both to keep its defense sector active and to undermine Western attempts to isolate it. Russian aggression against China is unthinkable for Moscow – even if China did not possess its current military strength and nuclear deterrence capabilities. This is something widely understood in China and elsewhere.
I would dispute that Russia’s military is vastly more capable than China’s own, as other than nuclear weapons there is a similar level of capabilities in most sectors in both countries. While Russia has a lead in many key technologies such as hypersonic missiles, air defenses and submarines to name a few prominent examples, China has been able to purchase and integrate many of these into its own armed forces alongside the products of its own defense sector. Russia’s most prominent fighter jet for example, the Flanker (in all derivatives from Su-27 to J-11D), is in fact fielded in larger numbers by China than by Russia itself – and those in Chinese service have access to both indigenous as well as Russian munitions and subsystems. Furthermore, there are some less critical but still significant sectors where China does appear to retain a lead – for example it deployed combat jets equipped with a new generation of active electronically scanned array radars and air to air missiles from 2017 (J-20 and in 2018 J-10C) – while Russia has only done so this in July 2019 with the induction of the MiG-35. Whether this is due to a Chinese technological advantage, or to a greater availability of funds to deploy its new technologies faster, remains uncertain. Russia’s ability to provide China with its most vital technologies, and China’s willingness to rely so heavily on Russian technology to comprise so much of its inventory, demonstrates the level of trust between the two countries
The Saker: Do you think that China could become a military threat to other countries in the region (especially Taiwan, India, Vietnam, the Philippines, etc.)?
A.B. Abrams: I would direct you to a quote by Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Bin Mohamed from March this year. He stated: “we always say, we have had China as a neighbor for 2,000 years, we were never conquered by them. But the Europeans came in 1509, in two years, they conquered Malaysia.” This coming from a nationalist leader considered one of the most sinophobic in Southeast Asia, whose country has an ongoing territorial dispute with China in the South China Sea, bears testament to the nature of claims of a Chinese threat. It is critical not to make the mistake of imposing Western norms when trying to understand Chinese statecraft. Unlike the European states, China is not and has never been dependent on conquering others to enrich itself – but rather was a civilization state which measured its wealth by what it could its own people could produce. A harmonious relationship with India, Vietnam, the Philippines and others in which all states’ sovereign and territorial integrity is respected is in the Chinese interest.
A second aspect which must be considered, and which bears testament to China’s intentions, is the orientation of the country’s armed forces. While the militaries of the United States and European powers such as Britain, the Netherlands, Belgium and France among others are heavily skewed to prioritize power projection overseas, China’s military has made disproportionately small investments in power projection and is overwhelmingly tailored to territorial defense. While the United States has over 300 tanker aircraft deigned to refuel its combat jets midair and attack faraway lands, China has just three purpose-built tankers – less than Malaysia, Chile or Pakistan. The ratio of logistical to combat units further indicates that China’s armed forces, in stark contrast to the Western powers, are heavily oriented towards defense and fighting near their borders.
This all being said, China does pose an imminent threat to the government in Taipei – although I would disagree with your categorization of Taiwan as a country. Officially the Republic of China (ROC- as opposed to the Beijing based People’s Republic of China), Taipei has not declared itself a separate country but rather the rightful government of the entire Chinese nation. Taipei remains technically at war with the mainland, a conflict would have ended in 1950 if the U.S. had not placed the ROC under its protection. The fast growing strength of the mainland has shifted the balance of power dramatically should the conflict again break out into open hostilities. China has only to gain from playing the long game with Taiwan however – providing scholarships and jobs for its people to live on the mainland and thus undermining the demonization of the country and hostility towards a peaceful reunification. Taiwan’s economic reliance on the mainland has also grown considerably, and these softer methods of bridging the gaps between the ROC and the mainland are key to facilitating unification. Meanwhile the military balance in the Taiwan Strait only grows more favorable for Beijing by the year – meaning there is no urgency to take military action. While China will insist on unification, it will seek to avoid doing so violently unless provoked.
The Saker: In conclusion: where in Asia do you see the next major conflict take place and why?
A.B. Abrams: The conflict in the Asia-Pacific is ongoing, but the nature of conflict has changed. We see an ongoing and so far highly successful de-radicalization effort in Xinjiang – which was taken in direct response to Western attempts to turn the province into ‘China’s Syria or China’s Libya,’ in the words of Chinese state media, using similar means. We see a harsh Western response to the Made in China 2025 initiative under which the country has sought to compete in key technological fields formerly monopolized by the Western Bloc and Japan – and the result of this will have a considerable impact on the balance of economic power in the coming years. We see direct economic warfare and technological competition between China and the United States – although the latter has so far refrained from escalating too far due to the potentially devastating impact reprisals could have. We further see an information war in full swing, with Sinophobic stories often citing ‘anonymous sources’ being propagated by Western media to target not only their own populations – but also to influence public opinion in Southeast Asia and elsewhere. Influence over third parties remains vital to isolating China and cementing the Western sphere of influence. Use of social media and social engineering, as the events of the past decade have demonstrated from the Middle East in 2011 to Hong Kong today, remains key and will only grow in its potency in the coming years. We also see a major arms race, with the Western Bloc investing heavily in an all new generation of weapons designed to leave existing Chinese and allied defenses obsolete – from laser air defenses to neutralize China’s nuclear deterrent to sixth generation stealth fighters, new heavy bombers, new applications of artificial intelligence technologies and new hypersonic missiles.
All these are fronts of the major conflict currently underway, and the Obama and Trump administrations have stepped up their offensives to bring about a new ‘end of history’ much like that of the 1990s – only this time it is likely to be permanent. To prevail, China and Russia will need to cooperate at least as closely if not more so as the Western powers do among themselves.
The Saker: thank you very much for your time and answers!
Thank you Saker for this interview. Long time ago I have been waiting for something like this. Information is the most powerful tool to dismiss the corporate western media that go around between us.
Yes. This was a tour de force.
I’d like to know what Abrams says about Chinese war planning in the area of first-strike stategic conflict with the USG. I understand that the Chinese high command have a strong contingent aiming for an encounter with Uncle Smuel on a narrow path where one will pass and the other will die.
It’s really quite simple. China will not instigate a war with the USA. China will not attack the US ‘Homeland’. And it is China surrounded by US military bases, not the USA by Chinese. And the USA is the greatest aggressor state in history, while China has attacked no-one since 1949, save for Deng’s mad war on Vietnam. A war that inflicted very few casualties on the Vietnamese in contrast to the genocide of several million Indochinese murdered by the US regime.
Wow, this is a beautiful interview and point of view of A.B. Adams!! I shall try to read more of his writings. It is crucial for people – like me – who live in Western countries to understand that other nations function in a different way than Western countries. Chinese military is essentially defensive, not offensive. China can be strong without attacking other countries. Iran’s leadership has a true moral codex.
Most interesting, I find in particular A.B. Adams’ view that North Korea has achieved something which is extraordinary: to defend itsself without relying on extern powers.
Concerning the fight against terrorism: I think that Afghanistan becomes more and more important; it seems to me that this was an important subject in the last summit of the SCO.
I am very sorry, I wrote wrong the name which is A.B. Abrams.
re:” China always comes in peace ” theme in this interview. I do not intend to be oppositional but there is the history of Chinese-India border military fire exchanges and an actual invasion of Vietnam in 1979 in which a great many people were killed. The Vietnamese remain touchy about Chinese encroachments on their territory, land and sea, to this day even as political times have changed.
It is true that China had conflicts with India and Vietnam, but not only was this in a very ideological period but it was not intended to subjugate them. The Indian conflict was intended to reclaim lands given to India by the British from China and ensure the strategic location could not be used to launch a Soviet attack. Neither side escalated or used their Air Force and the aim was never to destroy or control India. The attack on Vietnam was intended to divert troops from the invasion of Cambodia, a Chinese ally, to the northern border. This could end the invasion. It wasn’t intended to control or subjugate the Vietnamese.
The 1962 war was launched by India, and when the Chinese handed the Indians’ backsides to them, the Chinese returned to the Line of Control. All very embarrassing for the Indians.
Today the issue with Vietnam is more of the Chinese population along the border. With the shortage of brides, its common everyday for Vietnamese teen girls to be kidnapped and disappear far into the border, but again these are civilian, and not gov actions.
I see massive investment in Laos, Thailand, and Myanmar ( of course Vietnam too, because Vietnamese are Chinese ). Especially Laos with major dams being built along the Mekong, and a new super highway from Kunming (YUNAN) all the way to Bangkok. Casino’s everywhere are being built, just like “Macao”, China seems to not want their own people to gamble, but have no problem locating the facility’s near border towns, might add that they’re the largest and most profitable casino’s on earth operated by the Chinese.
Most people in North Vietnam are closer to Chinese culture, than to say Buddhist culture which is more common in SE Asia. Eating habits ( think dog ) are almost identical in Vietnam and China; My point is that Vietnam & China have much more in common, than in conflict.
But in general like the the PM of Malaysia say’s the Chinese have no history of invading their neighbors, and most people in Malay or Singapore, or Thailand for that matter, are quite happy for their daughter to marry a ‘rich’ Chinese guy.
Biggest problem is USA people don’t travel, I find that China today is like “Tomorrow-land” at Disneyland 1960’s USA, with high-speed super-trains and all electric vehicle city’s, when I return to USA I see homeless and feces everywhere on the sidewalks of most westcoast citys. Most of China has already done the ‘middle class’ thing, in fact the BIGGEST problem in China is that every mother wants her daughter to marry a CEO, who makes $1M USD/year, and owns his own house; These things are very hard for the normal guy, thus its a major endeavor for everybody to be ‘rich’. On the other hand in USA, I see absolute squalor, and the highlight of the day is begging to get a $5 does of METH.
30 years ago most large Chinese city’s were a swarm of bicycles and gridlock 24/7, today most city’s are clean, with modern subway’s ( best in the world IMHO ), and new road systems that keep traffic around the city’s and not through them.
My biggest complaint about China is that its plain dangerous to walk at night, you can’t hear or see the motorcycles coming&going, because they don’t make any sound and the ‘clever’ Chinese turn off the light’s to get more distance from their batterys :(
Lastly, let’s not forget that a large area of SE Asia say Cambodia/Laos are un-inhabitable do to the USA laying millions of land-mines, the Chinese did no such thing to valuable AG-Land, and remember this is/was the best AG-LAND ( for growing rice ) on earth that the USA essentially destroyed for all time. Sort of a SAMSON-OPTION was taken by USA-ISRAEL back in the day “If we can’t control it own it, then nobody can or will, forever”.
Border clashes are not the same as wars. China has fifteen land neighbours and has worked out all territorial disputes with fourteen. Poor old India is the one hold out. It’s a sort of way for the Indian elites to signal their receptivity to the West. The 1979 war with Vietnam was a huge mistake, but killed very, very, few in contrast to the four million murdered by the US regime in its aggression.
Deeply appreciate your comments Mulga. And your passion in expressing your indispensable viewpoints. This is surely one of The Saker’s finest contributions, and we have seen many.
Check out some time my site, The Greanville Post, a fraternal site to The Saker’s network of blogs, as we share values, analyses and the desire to have truth insure humanity’s peace.
The Greanville Post
Thank you for your kind words, Patrice-I much admire your work, more substantial than my maunderings, as well.
Russia needs to proclaim itself officially as part of Eurasia. This would motivate the people of Russia to feel part of both of Europe and Asia on equal terms. The way it is now most of the world considers Russia to be a European country . This is only partially true. Most of the Russian land mass is in Asia and we obviously can’t label the the indigenous peoples of Eastern Russia as European when it is obvious they are Asian. It2s time for a new continent to emerge and that is Eurasia. I would also go as far to incorporate the Balkan regions as part of Eurasia too. Russia is neither wholly European or Asian but is a mixture of both – culturally and demographically. By making the people of Russia feel they are part of Eurasia rather than Europe or Asia will enhance their appreciation of this kaleidoscope and at the same time minimize any nonsensical ideas of partitioning the country which is a real possibility. The complex of European superiority that afflicts many Russians must be eliminated and the beauty and common sense of Eurasia must be encouraged and promoted. Also Asian countries and people will feel they have a commonality with a Eurasian concept rather than the more alien and distrustful European one. On a personal note, as someone of Balkan heritage I often feel I have more in common with many Asian cultures than I do with Anglo Germanic Europe though Iam proud of my Southern European roots too. Continent number eight – Eurasia.
You are half true. The idea is that labeling something European or Asian or eurasia implies cultural traits and not only geographical. Also the balkans have been cradle of the European cultural civilization as the byzantine empire and the Bulgarian kingdoms have been the proponents of Christian civilization throughout Central/Eastern Europe and 10th century Russia. Think more in the lines of officially allowing both west/east cultural heritages to mix in those regions as for a change to be everlasting and encompasating it should come from bottom to top, i.e. from the day to day interactions between normal/regular people.
Good perspective, and welcome since it’s hard to get beyond the propaganda fog of the corporate media. From where i’m sitting, time is not on the empire’s side and Russia and China are building goodwill as partners and the empire has almost none left.
Thank you, for this interview.
How much food for thought?—this, and the latest CAF discussion, are certainly eye-openers.
It seems, unarguably, that the core strength of China is, “harmony” of directed common purpose; which could become a hypothetical future-weakness, due to the hard-to-comprehend, and seemingly unlimited, scope of ambition. The question naturally arises, how will the Party maintain, into the (un)foreseeable future such a nouveau riche hodge-podge mega-nation?— Surely they must be planning for all the “easy money” to dry-up?
As the armchair historian, it would seem that the coming power-transition vacuum, must push China, for the sake of survival, toward the role of occupiers — that they are unwelcome in that role, though, is a different assumption.
Pure psychological projection of the Western supremacist and arrogant mentality onto the Chinese.
How come no discussion on DPRK?
Who, really, is this “larger power” that Korea’s nukes are dissuading? The US?—or China? Surely, China (and Russia) is the intended target; who can believe that North Korea is, or was, ever at risk of Western invasion?
Colour revolution machinary is deeply embedded in central asian media corps. The press is the enemy of the people.
The EGO is the enemy and the East has a longer tradition of success in overcoming that Satan…than the majority of the West has……….as the West is …by contrast….younger, more immature, more infatuated with itself…..and therefore (quite naturally!!!) more egotistical….less wise…..and far, far more potentially ULTIMATELY destructive.
One suggested edit, of this sentence, both here and at UNZ Review:
“Perhaps today one the greatest distinctions is Russia’s eschewing of the principle of sovereignty under international law and its adherence to a non-interventionist foreign policy.”
Replace “ESCHEW” with its antonym….unless you propound the notion that Russia AVOIDS the principle of sovereignty ………….which I confidently don’t suppose either Saker or A B Abrams believe:
Words are important.
You always do great interview, Saker!!!
Is there an audio version by any chance?
I have long thought that “sanctions” and “tariffs” are a American substitute for “hot war” in dealing with nuclear powers like Russia and China. This article points out that “color revolutions,” “MSM propaganda,” “social media manipulation” and the instigation of dissent (such as is being done in Xinjiang province) all fall into the same category – i.e. low level war.
This helps broaden the perspective as to what is going on in the world.
I greatly admire your writings and interviews and feel inspired to post comments, for I have issues of shared concern, issues I strongly feel need highlighting. https://www.ghostsofhistory.wordpress.com/
I agree the – and think the pattern of history supports it – that a ‘major conflict is underway’. I fear the signs do point to the end of history, but not the type optimistically forecast in the 1990s. Thank you for this thought provoking interview with A.B Abrams. Not all problems can be solved, but the one denied never can.
I would say two things about the so called “end of history”, one is do not hold your breath waiting for it to occur, and the second is that one mans ending, is another mans beginning. And both are true.
Funny; I was going to write on the usage of “eschew” in the article, but Bro 93 beat me to it.
There is one elephant-in-the-room which is not mentioned: Tibet. That Chinese-occupied nation is not mentioned either in the article or in the comments thus far. Not once. I can only presume that the campaign to suppress awareness of the conquest and colonization of Tibet by China is still ongoing. Someone has to break through this “wall of silence,” so I guess it is my time…
It is only ‘your time’ to spread Imperial, Sinophobic, disinformation. Tibet has long been part and parcel of China-certainly centuries longer than south-western United States and California have been part of the USA, or Scotland part of the UK etc. I don’t doubt that you support secession for Xinjiang, Inner Mongolia, Taiwan, Hong Kong, ‘Manchuria’ etc, as well, like all other Imperial agit-proppers. As for a ‘wall of silence’ over Tibet-you are revealing a real talent for pure mendacity there.
To understand how the campaign, on the issue of Tibet, against China, works one must contemplate the Dalay Lama’s (lavishly funded) edutainment carrier.
An unfortunate byproduct of that, brought about by the comercial talent of the Western-addopted Buddhist Lama, has been the heavy contamination of our own culture by a Medieval ideology. As all those have been, it is based on a variant of the Natural Law concept, something the founding fathers of the US have fought by defending individual freedoms and enlightenment. This rebirth of Natural Law comes disguised as a fundamentalist cult of nature: an environmentalism of a fake variety, since it does not submit to reason and science, as it is understood in the (enlightened part of) the West.
As current education and MSM practices have been mangling enlightenment among the general population, and banks have by now reduced citizens to debt servs, I guess the “end of history” may as well plunge the West into a new medieval period of it’s own, as it is fast becoming the politically correct solution for the climate change and the other environmental challenges. Only this time the feudal Lord’s will be the lot of Wall Street folks that are to be converts to the green cult.
Btw Tibet was not Buddhist before and the original ppl on the land didn’t want anything to do with that religion when those bunch arrived from somewhere else …
Something bad happen… the locals were forced to change to continue to live…
“Abit like confess your sins to our gods and you may live” type of inquisition
And about Dalai LAMA – Dalai is his name and LAMA is his rank.
LAMA is more like front-desk greet and meet type of role – aka does not have access to the true teaching and secret teaching of the REAL thing.
If you have can get into their inner circle – you may hear something else about Dalai LAMA – the character, from the Tibet-higher-rank-monk’s perception and opinion.
The Tibet Buddhism for the west is so gift-wrapped, its like pay your money and you may escape from purgatory. Nothing more. Think about it, name me a westerner that would sit under a tree, in lotus position, for 3O-50 years, pondering… well… NOTHINGNESS. Its just not your thing! Most can’t even sit still in their fav comfy chair for 10 min these days…
Be Still and know you are GOD.
How would you describe a ‘genuine’ environmentalism?
The old canard of China’s takeover of Tibet is not even worth mentioning. If you read the interview, you should have at the very least been skeptical and investigated the truth behind yet another Western smear job. Anyone with knowledge of history can tell you that China and Tibet have close cultural and economic ties established through centuries of alliances and intermarriages dating back to the Tang Dynasty which finally led to Tibet being incorporated into China during the Yuan Dynasty in the 13th C.
Ahh, that is why the Dalai Lama was forced to flee into India and much of the Tibetan Buddhist culture was destroyed. Got it…
The Dalai fled in 1959 when his CIA masters'(he has been an ‘asset’ since the 50s)attempt to raise a rebellion using Tibetan brigands, failed. Tibetan Buddhist culture was badly affected during the Cultural Revolution, but has been greatly restored and re-invigorated since. The Tibetans are free to follow their culture, without the old serfdom, theocracy and cruel punishments, and may also join in the mainstream of Chinese life, but are not allowed to plot with the Dalai gang and its US Masters to split China asunder. If the Dalai was anything but a US puppet he could have returned home twenty years ago, at least, but he’d have to do it quickly, or his US Bosses would terminate his services ‘with extreme prejudice’.
Tibet is part of China for hundreds of years, and living standards there rise fast without discrimination. Much like Chechnya and the Far East are in Russia or Bavaria is in Germany or Wales is in UK or Anatolia is in Turkey. Just Western media makes a big deal of it.
Ahh, that is why the Dalai Lama was forced to flee into India and much of the Tibetan Buddhist culture was destroyed. Got it…
He wasn’t “forced” to “flee”. He “chose” to flee into the arms of the CIA in India.To say otherwise shows the person would have no knowledge of history.
Nope, you have it totally backwards. The CIA became involved after the Chinese invasion of Tibet. For some reason, the newly-formed CIA did not like the communists pushing Chiang Kai-shek back to Taiwan. The conquest and colonization of Tibet by China was seen as part of communist expansion. And it was…
I didn’t say he was working for the CIA in Tibet.Though it wouldn’t surprise me if he was.I said he “fled” into the CIA’s arms,which he did.As for Tibet’s relations with China. Tibet was a part of China off and on for more than a thousand years.The last time it temporarily separated from China was during the Chinese revolution shortly after the turn of the 20th Century.China never accepted that,and reclaimed Tibet after Mao’s revolution won the civil war.
Well at least you admit that the CIA was involved in Tibet from the start. They trained Tibetan terrorists in Colorado, to return to Tibet for sabotage efforts, but they were pretty ineffectual. I suppose you are also a fan of the Contras, and other Latin American, CIA-controlled, death-squads, and the Ukronazis, Kagame, Mobutu, Operation Condor, Operation Phoenix etc, and all the other US ‘freedom’ operations, that brought so much joy and happiness to humanity.
Tibetan Buddhist culture was not the Shangri La you seem to think it was. It was a fairly brutal feudal serfdom/theocracy. I don’t know if that means it should have been “destroyed” or not, but it does seem you have a romanticised view of it.
Nor was the alternative Cultural Revolution.
In any case all are machinations of Globo-Brahmins and their oh so devious schemes. People keep braying for a saviour but it will never come, on account of human nature. Chinese Capitalism is no less prone to excess and if Big Brother Sesame is any indication it will only get worse.
Elemental skepticism is always in order, lest you wanna get suckered again.
The difference is that in China the Government controls the capitalists and ensures that society works for the benefit of all, whereas in the neoliberal West, the capitalists control the Government, society, as Thatcher declared, does not exist, greed is the central operating mechanism for all relations, everything is commodified and the people are forced into a perpetual ‘war of all against all’ where the competitive processes are all rigged to favour the rich and their money power. Hence the differences in outcomes. In China poverty has almost been eliminated, in the USA it is growing like topsy. In China infrastructure, education, science and technology are all improving daily, whereas in the USA they are all disintegrating, save for military R & D.
No more than you have a romanticized view of the conquistadors (yes, I used that word intentionally) and colonizers.of Tibet. And book burners (scroll burners), just like their Spanish counterparts…
‘What did the Chinese ever do for us? Apart from the roads, railways, modern education, elimination of illiteracy, modern healthcare, the emancipation of women, the end of theocratic tyranny, the abolition of serfdom and grotesque punishments for serfs and the great reduction in poverty, what did the Chinese ever do for us?’
yes, you are right. It was an extremely cruel theocracy regime.
However, if British books can be found and read written during their occupation time in India: the British went several times to Tibet at their time of occupation. And they wrote some books about with original pictures taken.
Unfortunately I cannot name any book because I gave those to friends fifty years ago and they never returned to me.
Also yo tube had some original pictures running – however, as to my knowledge they cut it out and are no longe visible.s
The whole European people belief that Tibet was some sort of “Shangri La”. CIA did a perfect work that nobody did ever think how the real former ruling people in Tibet were. I had several discussions with some friends here in Europe – a hopeless case. CIA work brainwashed completely most Europeans. And the former Dalai Lama has been revered extremely !
I read everything you write (and I should contribute more often but that damned dollar is shrinking by the day despite banking endless hanky-panky to keep it propped up: that thing buys less and less!)
I do have a question and it comes from a very detached place after years of nail-biting: I don’t have young children, Anita Moorjani and all the NDEs took care of my Catholic fear of hell and… well… we seem to be in the mid-floors of the crumbling of the second Tower of Babel.
I sure as heck don’t want to land onto full-blown 5G and AI but you hardly ever talk about it and yet, it is a more sure thing than any US/Russia, US/China, US/anyone conflict: they are all on board with it. And they’ve all been on board with geoengineering for quite some time.
The pictures of Sochi are very telling: definitely onboard. Same for China.
Why fear conflict when what’s on the other side might be a whole lot worse?
The answer to the dollar buying less and less is the individual doing more and more (for themselves) so that they need to rely on others less and less.
This is where the human race is headed, a day where no amount of money can provide for ones needs b/c everyone is dependent solely on their own abilities for simple survival and cant provide the help needed to sustain others.
Survival of the fittest scene in a whole new light.
Presented without further comments.
That delicious oxymoron, ‘American Thinker’ says it all. Mind you, such deranged hate propaganda is de rigeur in Austfailia, where comparisons of China to Nazi Germany are increasingly common in the fakestream media nuthouses.
I am wondering what is happening at the G-20. Will Trump be using the carrot or the stick? He will likely be trying one way or another to weaken the relationship not only of Russia and China but also quell the rising rebellion he has caused with his European puppets.
Whether Trump offers the carrot or the stick, every nation would be wise to tell him to shove it!
Cooperation of Russia and China is good, but looking at the degenerate socioeconomic leadership of Russia, I’m more than pessimistic. The economic policy is firmly in neoliberal hands and all the promises Putin made in this sphere remain pipedreams (does anyone remember his 25 million high tech jobs hallucination?). Idiots like Nabiulina, Kudrin, Medvedev are doing an outstanding job in undermining Russia’s future and the population is slowly turning against Putin (as Saker also noted a few weeks ago with the pension “reform”). Russia is still a resource based economy and still clamoring to the 90s vassal paradigm. The United Russia party is very much hated and my worry is that they will move to place a new president of their ilk in the next election and this will be a new Yeltsin moment in Russia’s history.
Russia has a core of strength that Solzhenitsyn described perfectly and that Putin manifests to the extent possible. This core is deeply anti-Zionist. We must watch Russia carefully in the years to come. Russian soul and Chinese conscientiousness in combination may very well save the world from the menace of the Empire.
The Saker entrevista A.B. Abrams sobre desenvolvimentos geoestratégicos na Ásia (https://choldraboldra.blogspot.com/2019/07/the-saker-entrevista-ab-abrams-sobre.html)
I would appreciate a comment by Saker on the idea that Russian/Chinese war gamers undoubtedly have a plan for a major invasion by Eurasian forces of North America via the Bering Strait, Alaska, and Western Canada. Of course that’s how Asians came to the Western Hemisphere in the first place–and are still here, as “Native Americans.”
An invasion could possibly avoid a nuclear holocaust. It would strike at the Empire where it really matters–territory. And it would certainly get the Empire’s attention.
What do you think Saker? I’m not asking if you think it’s a good idea; rather whether you think military planners, perhaps on both sides, are already gaming it?