Russia-China Relations and the Downing of Russia’s Jet
The downing of a Russian jet fighter over Syria’s airspace was undertaken by Turkey in consultation with Washington and Brussels. Turkey did not take this decision without getting the green light from the Pentagon. Is this an act of revenge against Russia for bombing the US-sponsored Islamic State in Syria? The unspoken truth is that Russia is undermining US-NATO’s ground operations inside Syria. The latter are made up of various Al Qaeda affiliated formations which de facto constitute the foot-soldiers of the Western alliance. These ISIS and Al Nusrah rebel forces are in turn led by intelligence operatives and Western special forces, many of whom are deployed by private mercenary companies on contract to US-NATO. The downing of Russia’s plane by Turkey is a clear act of provocation. What is its broader intent? How will backlash at the diplomatic level? Is military escalation contemplated by Washington? A covert war of stealth is currently unfolding which could evolve towards direct military confrontation between US-NATO and Russia. The Role of China From a strategic and military standpoint of view, Russia’s main ally is China, which until recently has been the object of military threats in the South China sea under Obama’s pivot to Asia. What has been Beijing’s response to the downing of Russia’s aircraft by Turkey? What future role would China play in a scenario of military confrontation and escalation directed against the Russian Federation? US-China Military Relations In the course of the last few months, both the US and Britain have been playing a game of friendly diplomacy and economic cooperation with China’s president Xi Jinping. Is the West attempting to Co-opt China? What bearing do these developments have on China and its strategic alliance with Russia? According to US analysts, relations between the U.S. military and the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) are said to have “improved” in recent years “amid growing tensions between the United States and China” in the South China Sea. The two countries have held frequent joint military exercises (theoretically limited to humanitarian assistance/disaster relief). In June 2015, a China-US army dialogue mechanism was signed with a view to “boosting army cooperation” Central Military Commission Vice-Chairman Fan Changlong, who has just completed a visit to the US, urged Washington to reduce its military activities both in the air and in the waters of the South China Sea when meeting US government and military leaders. Fan and US army Chief of Staff Raymond Odierno witnessed the signing of the dialogue mechanism at the National Defense University in Washington on June 15 2015. This is the first cooperation document to be signed by the two armies in recent years. Guan Youfei, director of the Foreign Affairs Office of the Ministry of National Defense, said afterward that the two armies could hold joint exercises on land next year. Guan said the two sides discussed mutual trust mechanisms for reporting major military operations and the code of conduct on military encounters in the air and at sea, both signed last year. (China Daily, June 15, 2015, emphasis added) In August 2015, China and Russia launched major war games entitled ‘Joint Sea 2015 II,’ described it as an “unprecedented show of military cooperation,” (See RT, August 30, 2015). The drills involved the deployment of “a total of 22 ships, 20 aircraft, 40 armored vehicles, and 500 marines from the two countries, including the Varyag missile cruiser, flagship of the Russian Pacific fleet; and the Shenyang destroyer, the Chinese flagship, participated in the active phase of the exercises”(RT, August 30, 2015) US-China Joint Navy Exercise The conduct of major China-Russia war games in late August did not foreclose China’s decision to the holding of military drills some three months later (November 16-21) with the United States. This time the US Navy Pacific Fleet and the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) conducted a “friendly” joint US-China military exercise off the coast of Shanghai in the East China Sea. According to the U.S. Navy, the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Stethem (DDG 63) arrived in Shanghai on the 16th of November with a mission to promote “maritime cooperation and reinforce a positive naval relationship with the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) East Sea Fleet.” (The Diplomat, November 18, 2015) While U.S. sailors stood at attention when entering the port, around 70 Chinese sailors held up a bilingual sign that said “Welcome US Navy Destroyer USS Stethem to Shanghai.” This was a friendly military exercise coupled with social events. The scale was by no means comparable to that of the August Sino-Russian Joint Sea 2015 II held off the coast of Vladivostok in August. Nonetheless, in the course of this 5 days mission, the commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, Admiral Scott Swift held consultations with his Chinese counterpart commander of the China’s East Sea Fleet, Admiral Su Zhiqian: After the port visit, the USS Stethem will hold naval drills with the People’s Liberation Army Navy, including a joint rescue operation with Chinese warships near the estuary of the Yangtze River, as well as communications exercises involving the Code for Unplanned Encounters at Sea (CUES). In a bitter irony, these joint exercises took place following the dispatch of “the USS Lassen, another Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, within 12 nautical miles of China’s man-made islands”. These US maneuvers in the South China Sea were considered by Beijing as an act of provocation instigated by the US Navy. In turn, the US has mobilized a military alliance of several Southeast Asian countries against the People’s Republic of China (PRC), not to mention the establishment of the US sponsored […]
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