Security Disorder: Is There a Way Out?

Herbert Wulf
Photo: Collected

Photo: Collected

  • Font increase
  • Font Decrease

Putin's war against Ukraine has not only damaged the cooperative security architecture but destroyed it permanently. The Helsinki Act of 1975, the Paris Charter of 1990 and the NATO-Russia Founding Act of 1997 created a basis for security cooperation in Europe – even "a new era of democracy, peace and unity" as the Paris Charter titled euphorically. At least that's how state leaders saw it at the decade after the end of the Cold War.

Today, the war in Ukraine casts a long shadow over European security. Cooperation has been replaced by military confrontation. Economic cooperation has been destroyed, fear of dependence in the energy sector has led to a turning point, and the concept of the positive effects of economic interdependence has not only proven to be a misperception in the case of Russia, but also does not work in the relationship between the US and its Asian and European allies vis-a-vis China. On the contrary, the shift towards confrontational, essentially military-based, defence policy is felt globally.

Global military spending is at its highest level ever at over $2 trillion ($2,000,000,000,000). Considering the budget announcements for the next few years, this sum will continue to rise rapidly year after year. Nuclear weapons have come back into focus – both their modernization as well as an expanded nuclear sharing of non-nuclear states and the possible use of nuclear weapons. After Russia's surprise attack, which most experts did not consider possible, it is understandable that now—as a first reflex—most countries are rearming, economic dependencies are being reduced and that there are concerns about critical infrastructure. Nor is it just about traditional military threats. The boundaries between war and peace are blurred. Hybrid warfare, deployment of mercenaries, cyberwarfare, destruction of critical infrastructure, undermining social cohesion with disinformation campaigns and election interference, sanctions and other measures of economic warfare have become standard measures of international confrontation.

Is there a way out of the constant political, economic and, above all, military escalation? Despite the seeming hopelessness of an end to the power struggle with Putin, despite the escalating situation in East Asia, despite the many wars and conflicts in Yemen, Syria, Mali etc. that are now less noticed but nevertheless characterized by brutality – it is necessary to think about the possibilities for ending these wars. In my opinion, this should happen in parallel at three levels: security, political/diplomatic and economic.

With all due understanding for the now hectic procurement of new weapons, it must be borne in mind that security policy is more than defence with weapons. Even if there is currently no obvious way in sight for a negotiated solution to the Ukrainian war, it nevertheless needs attention. Ultimately, this war can only be ended by agreements at the negotiating table. To this end, it is necessary to consider the interests of the warring parties. Even if Russia has launched the Ukraine war in violation of international law and is obviously committing war crimes, in the long term there will be no security in Europe without Russia and certainly not against Russia. The consideration of Russian security interests is a prerequisite for de-escalation, for serious negotiations, as difficult as this is facing Russia’s aggression and Putin’s image of a future Russia.

Politically/diplomatically, it is necessary to question the current geopolitical orientation in the concert of powers. Many countries rely on a military-based geostrategic foreign policy. China's assertive military, foreign and economic policies are rightly viewed with concern. But the EU also wants to become militarily autonomous. The US is trying to find partners for its policy of rivalling with China. Other powers such as Australia, Japan and India are also positioning themselves in the competition with China.

Instead, it is necessary to focus on values (democracy, human rights) and binding rules (international law), even though Putin has blatantly violated international law and democracy is a foreign word in China. It is necessary to radically change the narrative. The "West", which rigorously demands the rule of law and democracy, has all too often emphasised these values and principles in a know-it-all manner. ("The West against the rest"). It often applied double standards and ignores these values themself, as in the so-called War on Terror and the Iraq war. If these principles and projects pro-democracy and against autocracy are to be convincing, then the concept of the "West" must be completely abandoned and instead a partnership and not Euro-centric (or "Western-centric") relations with democratic countries must be maintained. In short, geopolitics that maximises only one's own advantages leads to a dangerous dead end; the clash is inevitable.

Is the sole answer of the "West" really to use military means to prevail in geopolitical competition? Economically, it makes sense to reduce dependencies and diversify supply chains. This cannot be done by radical decoupling but must happen gradually. Apparently, the shock of the pandemic, but above all Russia's ability to blackmail by stopping energy supplies, has changed priorities somewhat. But by no means all priorities. Never since the early 1990s has the military burden on global income been as high as it is today, well over two percent with a trend towards further increases.

Arms control is currently not on the agenda. The United Nations and other arms control forums are side-lined. Politically ambitious powers such as China, India, Turkey and Saudi Arabia must be involved in arms control efforts. The G20 summits offer themselves almost "naturally" as the appropriate forum. The G20 initially focused its talks primarily on macro-economic issues, but have now also negotiated sustainable development, energy, the environment, and climate change, but not seriously on global security policy. However, the 19 G20 member states and the EU, which is also a member, are responsible for 82 percent of global military spending. Almost all arms exports are accounted for by the G20 and 98 percent of nuclear warheads are stored in their arsenals. Today's military-based defence efforts are concentrated in the G20.

Climate change and armaments policy are interconnected – most clearly reflected in the wars and violent conflicts of recent decades, refugee movements, migrant flows, and corresponding counter-reactions. If our societies are to become more resilient and ecologically sustainable, then priorities must be changed. Such a large proportion of resources cannot be permanently invested into the military without the prospect of de-escalation.

Although the risks of climate change and armament are known, there is currently no reversal of the trend in sight. The two crises are heading for a seemingly irrefutable catastrophe, reminiscent of the image of lemmings and their fall into the abyss. After the old world order with a halfway functioning multilateralism, with compromises and give-and-take, was replaced by nationalist aspirations—which then led to the violation of international law in the case of Russia, by emphasising nuclear weapons and the ruthless pursuit of supposed self-interests—climate agreements are being called into question and even terminated, arms control forums and corresponding treaties are being scrapped.

The members of this exclusive club are the main perpetrators of climate change. The climate change deniers can also be found here. The G20 members bear the main responsibility for the current disastrous trends. Thus, it is time to remind them of their responsibilities and urge them to reverse their policies.

[ Herbert Wulf is a Professor of International Relations and former Director of the Bonn International Center for Conflict Studies (BICC). He is presently a Senior Fellow at BICC, an Adjunct Senior Researcher at the Institute for Development and Peace, University of Duisburg/Essen, Germany, and a Research Affiliate at the National Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, University of Otago, New Zealand. He serves on the Scientific Councils of SIPRI and the Centre for Conflict Studies of the University of Marburg, Germany. ]

This article was first published by Toda Peace Institute on 21 December 2022 and is reproduced with permission.

`‌India, China don't want war and confrontation, have wisdom to resolve dispute'

news desk,
Photo: Collected

Photo: Collected

  • Font increase
  • Font Decrease

China has said that the border dispute with India is a bilateral issue and foreign interference will not help solve the problems, Chinese Charge d'Affaires Ma Jia said while speaking to reporters in New Delhi. Speaking to reporters, Ma Jia said, "Border issue between India and China is a bilateral issue, both countries have the wisdom to resolve the issue, we can handle that, we don't invite any other, especially from other regions to interfere in this bilateral dispute, and whether foreign interference is helpful to resolve the issue, anytime you see there is interference in bilateral dispute, on the contrary, it will not help the two sides to solve the problems."

Commenting on External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar's remarks that the situation at the India-China border is fragile, the Chinese envoy said, "Jaishankar says that situation now is fragile, that's what we are talking about, that's what senior commander and diplomats are talking and discussing about, there are difficulties, we have to face it." The Chinese envoy's remarks came after Jaishankar in India Today Conclave on March 18 made a comment on the India-China border issue and said, "The situation, to my mind, remains very fragile because there are places where our deployments are very close, and in military assessment, actually quite dangerous," the minister told the gathering.

Further, Ma Jia added, "China and India don't want a war, neither of us wants a war, neither of us wants a confrontation along the border areas so I think as long as we have these kinds of intentions, understanding of each other, we can find a way out, we have some difficulties, the border issue is very complicated it has a leftover of history for many years so it is not easy to reach an agreement, we have to face the problem, we have to talk, the intention of the two sides is to improve the situation, our two leaders have consensus on that, we can find a way out." Expressing her views on reports of China building huge infrastructure along the border, the Chinese envoy said that as a government it is their responsibility to build infrastructure for civil and military purposes and countries must have mutual trust and there are channels to build this trust. He also said the Indian side is also building huge infrastructure in the past few years.

Chinese Charge Charge d'Affaires Ma Jia called mutual trust a "crucial thing". The envoy said, "Crucial thing is mutual trust, if we have diplomatic and military channels to keep the channels smooth and explain to each other about what is the intention of that would be helpful to increase the mutual trust between the two sides, especially between the two militaries." "I think that is very crucial, we have already solved some problems through these channels, we finished some disengagement in some points, we can gradually solve these problems. We have to understand as a government, we have a responsibility to build infra to be used for civil and military purposes," she added.

Speaking on the growing ties among Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad) nations comprising of Japan, Australia, India and the US, the Chinese envoy said that Beijing does not oppose any kind of regional or international cooperation if it is in the interest of the people and the country in the region. Commenting on the growing partnership among the Quad nations, the Chinese envoy said, "We don't oppose any kind of regional or international cooperation if it is in the interest of people and country in this region but we oppose those small circles composed for the purpose of geopolitical intentions for the containment of China, so we are hopeful all the cooperation are helpful to the world and the region."

Ma Jia said that China supports India's G20 Presidency and Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) and expressed hope for positive outcomes. Notably, India assumed the G20 Presidency on December 1. She stressed that India has been trying very hard to bring everyone together but the job is very tough. Speaking on why there was no consensus reached during G20 foreign ministers meeting, the envoy said, "I have personally attended the G20 foreign affairs meeting, I can see that everybody from the US and western countries talking about Ukraine they don't have time to talk about other G20 agenda so like this is overwhelming."

She further said, "At the Bali summit, we already had a similar thing but finally they reached some kind of accommodation in a joint statement. Nowadays, the situation has intensified so it becomes more difficult to reach accommodation so you are out of the track of discussing prominent security issues in the economic and financial platform. "It's very difficult to reach consensus ... it's not that China and Russia stand together. We are having a very strong believe that G20 should talk about economic and financial problems and that we have to face that is very serious we can see that G20 has shouldered the responsibility to do something, it's not just Ukraine and I think India has played a very crucial role and India has been trying very hard to bring everyone together but the job is very tough we support India's presidency, we also hope G20 and SCO have fruitful outcome this year."

While speaking to reporters regarding Chinese President Xi Jinping's participation at G20 and SCO in India, Ma Jia said, "We have already received an invitation. I don't have too much information right now because it is still several months, and the date is still under discussion so that is why I don't have very specific information right now to tell you Chinese leader will come or not, we will keep you informed." 

Source: ANI


Li replaces Li as China’s no 2 but with or without power?

Photo: Collected

Photo: Collected

  • Font increase
  • Font Decrease

Xi Jinping’s close associate Li Qiang has become the new Chinese Premier, but the question is whether he will wield any influence at all as his superior is busy consolidating all power in his hands.

The flip side, however, is that given their close relations, Li may have more freedom than expected at least in the field of economics.

Still, the new Li would be wary of what happened to his predecessor, the older Li Keqiang, who was weakened and sidelined during his tenure.

Li’s task for this year is already cut out by lifting the economy from the doldrums it is in thanks largely to the Zero-Covid policy that both he and Xi forced down the people’s throats for over six months.

But Li played a leading role in freeing China from zero-Covid and refocusing the government on economic growth, according to people familiar with the matter. Those moves have kindled cautious optimism among entrepreneurs, investors and political analysts that he may be able to exert a moderating influence on his boss, Xi.

Internally, consumer demand has not bounced back as expected after the Covid restrictions were lifted. That is attributed to large-scale joblessness, the inability of young graduates to find jobs, price rise and other demographic issues.

Facing low business confidence, lacklustre consumer demand, a trembling property sector, a debt crisis among cash-strapped local governments and escalating geopolitical tensions with the United States, the biggest challenge for both Xi and Li remains ensuring the economic recovery stays on track, according to observers.

According to a media report, Wu Qiang, an independent political analyst based in Beijing, said Li’s appointment essentially put an end to more than 40 years of China’s two-headed governance system – often called the rivalry between southern and northern Zhongnanhai, in a reference to the president and premier’s respective quarters within the Beijing complex that houses Communist Party and state leadership.

China observers insist Li should study how his predecessor Li Keqiang survived in the post if he has to have any chance at doing what he plans to do to the Chinese economy.

The new Premier faces a 5 per cent target of economic growth for China this year, indicating a shift in priorities away from raw economic expansion. It may be a conservative target comparatively, largely due to strict Covid restrictions and a crackdown on the private sector.

Li’s challenge is all the more severe as he has no experience of overseeing the economy at this level. He has never held office at the national level before his promotion last fall to the party’s top leadership. That lack of experience and a close relationship with Xi dating back to the early 2000s have led many political observers to speculate that he may be nothing more than a yes-man.

Having said that, Li did show exceptional talent in taking leaders of diverse opinion along with him when he was handling the Covid pandemic. He brought the same skill to bear in trying to revive the Chinese economy, observers say.

He is not alone either. On broader economic policy, Li enlisted the help of He Lifeng, the head of China’s top economic planning agency, who joined the party’s 24-member Politburo in October. Together, they led the drafting of a plan to pivot away from regulation toward encouraging economic growth.

Chinese officials are preparing for Li to attend the Bo’ao Forum, a Chinese government-backed political and business conference, in late March, where he could boost his international profile by meeting foreign leaders, including from Singapore, Malaysia and Nepal, according to people briefed on the matter.

In contrast, the other Li, Li Keqiang, had a quiet exit as Premier after serving as China’s number two leader for a decade. It is unclear if he is unhappy with the leadership for the manner in which his exit was planned.

Apparently, he told his staff, “While people work, heaven watches. Heaven has eyes.” Nobody knows if it is a cryptic message conveying his frustration to Xi Jinping.

According to a media report, “Li’s words betrays a deep sense of frustration over a decade in which he could have exerted his largely reformist agenda but was hamstrung by being in the shadow of a political strongman and other crises, according to Dr Wang Juntao, a friend of Li at the prestigious Peking University 40 years ago. ‘This is [the voice of] a defeated person … who hopes that the divinity would vindicate him,’ said Wang, a political dissident jailed in the 1989 Tiananmen democracy movement and now living in exile in the US.”

Li is considered “the weakest premier after the Chinese Communist party took power in 1949 despite his expertise in western legal traditions and a degree in law and a doctorate in economics. When he became premier in 2013, it was thought he would be a liberal reformer. But he was unable to make headway as his power was curbed by Xi, who placed his allies in key strategic positions over him. Over the years, Xi increasingly sidelined him.

According to media reports, analysts said Li would nonetheless be remembered for the moderating effect he had on Xi and his concern for ordinary people. Li promoted the private economy and foreign investment, in contrast to Xi’s focus on state ownership, and he relied on data from private industry to parse the state of China’s economy.
He once described China’s official GDP statistics as “man-made”, according to a US diplomatic cable released by WikiLeaks, and said he relied on data such as electricity consumption and rail cargo volumes to understand his own economy.

Source: Always First


10 Chinese planes, 2 naval ships detected around Taiwan

Photo: Collected

Photo: Collected

  • Font increase
  • Font Decrease

Taiwan on Tuesday tracked 10 Chinese military aircraft and 2 naval ships around the country, according to the Ministry of National Defense (MND), reported Taiwan News.

The military aircraft and naval vessels were tracked around Taiwan between 6 am on Monday (March 20) and 6 am on Tuesday.

Taiwan sent aircraft, and naval ships, and used land-based missiles to monitor PLA aircraft and vessels, reported Taiwan News.

Of the 10 People’s Liberation Army (PLA) aircraft, three were tracked in Taiwan’s air defence identification zone (ADIZ), according to the MND.

One Shaanxi Y-8 anti-submarine warfare plane and one Harbin BZK-005 reconnaissance drone entered the southwest corner of Taiwan’s ADIZ, while one Harbin Z-9 anti-submarine warfare helicopter was monitored in the southeast sector of the identification zone, reported Taiwan News.

No PLA aircraft crossed the Taiwan Strait median line during this time.

Last Wednesday, MND tracked 28 Chinese military aircraft and four naval vessels around Taiwan.

So far this month, Beijing has sent 292 military aircraft and 76 naval vessels around Taiwan. Since September 2020, China has increased its use of grey zone tactics by routinely sending aircraft into Taiwan’s ADIZ, reported Taiwan News.

Grey zone tactics are defined as “an effort or series of efforts beyond steady-state deterrence and assurance that attempts to achieve one’s security objectives without resort to direct and sizable use of force.”

China stepped up their military action in early August 2022 and held its live-fire drills in six locations around the country after the US White House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan on August 2-3, 2022. 

Source: ANI



`‌‌US Has Significant Concerns About China's Behaviour'

Photo: Collected

Photo: Collected

  • Font increase
  • Font Decrease

White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said that the US has in some cases, significant concerns about China's behaviour, particularly its coercive and aggressive behaviour in the South China Sea.

"In some cases, we have significant concerns about China's behaviour, particularly their coercive and aggressive behaviour for instance in the South China Sea in pursuing false maritime claims, concerns about intellectual theft and some trade practices," Kirby said in response to a question by Fox News reporter Peter Doocy on US' relationship with China.

Doocy had asked if President Biden thinks China is abiding by the international rules of the road.

The NCS further said: "There are other areas where we believe there is room for cooperation with China and we want to be able to pursue that, too, but in order to do that, you gotta keep those lines of communication open, you gotta have that ability to talk, particularly when things are intense like they are right now."

The US on Tuesday refused to confirm a news report citing that the country provided crucial intelligence to the Indian military last year that helped it successfully tackle the Chinese at the border.

Taking to the podium during the daily press briefing, National Security Council coordinator for Strategic Communications at the White House, John Kirby did not deny nor confirmed the story and said, "No, I can't confirm that," when pressed about the news report.

According to the U.S. News and World Report, the US government for the first time provided real-time details to its Indian counterparts of the Chinese positions and force strength in advance of incursions by the PLA in Arunachal Pradesh's Tawang Sector.

Source: NDTV