On Saturday January 21, Britain’s Stop the War Coalition organised its first-ever trade union conference.
Speakers included former Leader of the Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn MP; President of the RMT rail workers union Alex Gordon; Deputy President of the PCS civil service union Martin Cavanagh; Alex Kenny from the National Education Union; Liz Wheatley of public service union Unison; Ricardo de la Torre of the Fire Brigades Union (FBU); Daniel Zahedi of the junior doctors section of the British Medical Association (BMA); striking ambulance worker George Solomou; José Nivoi from the Autonomous Collective of Dockworkers in Genoa, Italy, who have repeatedly prevented arms shipments from being sent to conflict zones in the Middle East; Deputy President of Stop the War Andrew Murray; Stop the War Convenor Lindsey German; and veteran anti-war campaigner Salma Yaqoob.
China specialist Dr Jenny Clegg, who is a member of the Friends of Socialist China advisory group, introduced and led a well-attended session on the AUKUS pact between Britain, Australia and the United States, and on the ‘coming war on China’. She was joined on the panel by Dr. Kate Hudson, General Secretary of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND), and Warren Smith of the Australian Maritime Union.
We reproduce Jenny’s opening remarks below, which present an admirable and concise summary of the regional situation. Their cogency and urgency are only underlined by the subsequent visit of NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg to Japan and South Korea.
The Ukraine war, Russia, and NATO, have been demanding the attention of the anti-war movement, but there is also a whole other dimension to Global Britain that is unfolding in the Asia Pacific.
Some might say that the US and NATO want to weaken Russia before moving on to China in the future – in fact war preparations are accelerating right now in the East.
Progress on AUKUS
The announcement of AUKUS in September 2021 was a surprise, made with no democratic debate. It came as the new Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier was engaging in multiple joint military exercises in the South China Sea – flying the flag for Johnson’s Global Britain, demonstrating the new Indo Pacific tilt, but the F35 fighter jets it carried actually belonged to the USAF.
The key feature of the AUKUS pact was seen to be the US and UK agreement to assist Australia in acquiring nuclear powered submarines. BAE systems declared itself ready to support production. However, over the last year, as the US and UK have tried to wangle their way around the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) without apparent success, the deal has struggled and it is not certain that the US and UK can take on the building work given their own nuclear submarines programme commitments.
However, AUKUS is more than just the submarines: it is about Australian militarisation, about advancing military technologies and military industrial cooperation. BAE systems, Rolls Royce and MBDA have long had subsidiaries in Australia helping to supply its armed forces.
This important article by Jenny Clegg, academic and campaigner with CND and Stop the War Coalition (and member of the Friends of Socialist China advisory group), analyses the foreign policy of the current British government, led by Prime Minister Liz Truss. Jenny notes that Truss is known for her “extreme hawkishness and a highly ideological world view” and has adopted an aggressively anti-China stance, viewing China as a threat to the so-called rules-based international order.
However, Truss and her team are also facing an extremely difficult and complex economic situation, and “questions will surely be raised from the business community as to the wisdom of jeopardising economic ties with the world’s second largest economy.” Jenny writes that at least 150,000 British jobs are connected to economic links with China, and hence it would be prudent for the government to reconsider its alignment with the US-led New Cold War. Certainly ordinary people in Britain have nothing to gain from this adventurism. Jenny concludes that the people of Britain should exert pressure on their government to adopt a sane policy in relation to China: “No way should we allow these extreme reactionaries to march us into a US-led war with China, a war bringing two nuclear-armed states into face-to-face combat.”
Liz Truss, in her first international speech as prime minister at the UN, called on the G7 and “like-minded countries” to join together to limit the influence of “authoritarian aggressors.” Meeting with President Joe Biden later, she clarified her plans “to ensure Britain is fully equipped to tackle the evolving challenge from countries like China and Russia.”
Truss talks of “refreshing” the Integrated Review, which outlines British priorities in diplomacy and defence over the coming decade, to elevate the designation of China in particular from “systemic competitor” to an “acute threat” on a par with Russia.
It is clear she brings to her new role as head of government an extreme hawkishness and a highly ideological world view.
She believes in a “strong and outward-reaching Global Britain,” proposing to boost defence spending from 2 to 3 per cent of GDP by 2030 to back this. She has vowed “to push Russia out of the whole of Ukraine” and has called for Nato to “go global” to tackle “worldwide threats.”
In her previous posts as international trade secretary and then foreign secretary, she advanced Britain’s Indo-Pacific tilt promoting military and military-industrial links with the region, and indeed it was she who signed the Aukus pact to supply Australia with the technology to build nuclear submarines aimed at containing China.
Truss views China as a threat to the “rules-based international order,” and calls for the G7 to form an “economic Nato” so as to play an even a greater role in rule-making.
The following article, published recently in People’s Daily (one of the most important, longstanding and widely-read newspapers in China), responds to NATO’s recently-issued Strategic Concept document, which describes China as a ‘systemic challenge’ and outlines NATO’s role in confronting this purported challenge. The article points out that – unlike the US or NATO – China’s record is one of consistently pursuing peace, multilateralism, non-interference and mutual benefit in international relations. The author calls on NATO to drop its anti-China aggression, put an end to New Cold War activity, and orient itself towards global peace.
The so-called new “Strategic Concept” document issued at the just-concluded 2022 NATO Summit distorts China’s domestic and foreign policies. It claims that China challenges NATO’s “interests, security and values,” and NATO will jointly respond to such “systemic challenge” posed by China.
NATO’s efforts to make and spread lies about China and hype the so-called “China threat” are driven by the organization’s reemerging Cold War mentality and ideological bias. It is just an awkward show staged by the U.S. to extend NATO’s reach to the Asia-Pacific region.
NATO’s practice encourages confrontation and threatens global security. Regional countries and the international society must stay alert to it.
China follows an independent foreign policy of peace and is always a staunch force for global peace and prosperity. The country has never initiated a war or conflict and never taken an inch of foreign land, nor has it interfered in other countries domestic affairs or exported ideology. It never engages itself in long-arm jurisdiction, unilateral sanctions, or economic coercion.
China is firmly committed to upholding multilateralism, supporting the international system with the United Nations at its core and the international order based on the Charter of the UN, international law and the universally recognized basic norms governing international relations.
Pursuing a peaceful development path, China is actively building a society with a shared future for mankind and advancing the high-quality construction of the Belt and Road Initiative. It has proposed and been implementing the Global Development Initiative and the Global Security Initiative, and offered a number of public products to help the international community deal with major issues on peace and development.
China presents valuable opportunities for world peace and development. It does not pose “systemic challenges”, as wrongly purported by NATO. NATO has disregarded facts and confounded black with white when making groundless accusations, smears and attacks against China. However, it will never change the fact or the international society’s positive evaluation on China.
NATO is a Cold War product that is gradually becoming a tool for the U.S. to maintain its hegemony and instigate a new “Cold War.” The first-ever mentioning of China in NATO’s so-called “Strategic Concept” document is closely related to U.S. coercion.
The incumbent U.S. administration inherits the wrong practices of its predecessor and keeps seeing China as a strategic competitor. It has formed cliques to oppress China.
The NATO Summit this year has not only hyped the so-called “China threat,” but also invited some Asia-Pacific allies of the U.S. It exactly exposed the strategic scheme of the U.S. to make NATO’s foray into the Asia-Pacific.
China has to pay a high attention and make a systematic response to NATO’s so-called “systemic challenge” rhetoric. Any attempt to hurt China’s legitimate interests will be met with strong reactions. The country has a firm resolution to safeguard its sovereignty, security and development interests. The U.S., emboldening itself by involving a few of its allies, will only see its plot fail at the end.
NATO has always been haunted by the Cold War mentality though the geopolitical tension has already ended for some 30 years. It has never stopped making enemies out of nothing. Indeed, NATO is a “systemic challenge” for global security.
NATO, or North Atlantic Treaty Organization, always poses as a regional defensive organization. However, it has never stopped geographical expansion. It has started and been involved in a big number of wars, killing innocent civilians, hurting world peace and creating humanitarian disasters.
To seek its own absolute security, NATO constantly moved its borders eastward, which led to the bitter fruit of the Ukraine crisis that seriously impacted the peaceful development of Europe and even the world at large.
NATO”s previous expansions and disruptive practices were all under the disguise of “consolidating democracy” and “extending stability, promoting common values.” Today, it is once again playing the same old trick, calling its conspiracy to disrupt the Asia-Pacific region a move to protect “international order” and safeguard its values. Even former NATO Secretary General Javier Solana warned that a “global NATO” or “NATO plus” could divide the world into adversarial blocs.
The outdated Cold War script must not be repeated in the Asia-Pacific, neither shall the disorder and conflict currently taking place in Europe be duplicated in the region.
We sternly warn NATO that it must immediately stop its groundless accusation and provocative remarks on China, abandon its outworn Cold War mentality and zero-sum game, and halt its dangerous practice of disordering Europe and the Asia-Pacific region.
Any attempt to reverse the trend of history is doomed to fail.
On 1 July, our co-editors Danny Haiphong and Carlos Martinez had a detailed discussion on Danny’s Left Lens YouTube show about the crisis in Ukraine, NATO’s escalation against both Russia and China, the comparison between the recent BRICS and NATO Summits, and the foreign policy continuity from Trump to Biden. Watch below.
The three Chinese journalists who were murdered when the US-led NATO forces bombed the Chinese embassy in Belgrade, in violation of all norms of international law, during the vicious war against Yugoslavia in 1999, were remembered by Serbian and Chinese officials on May 7th.
Speaking at the ceremony, Serbian Interior Minister Aleksandar Vulin, said: “Chinese citizens that laid their lives here, didn’t even need to be here, but they chose to do so, in order to share the most difficult and saddest moments with us… Serbia will never stop asking for responsibility for crimes conducted by NATO during their aggression… Those (Western powers) which now ask from us to align with their policies should remember their statements from 1999.”
The following report was originally published by Xinhua.
Laying wreaths at memorial plaques here dedicated to the three Chinese journalists killed in the NATO bombing of the former Chinese embassy in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in 1999, representatives of Serbia and China on Saturday commemorated the Chinese martyrs and condemned NATO’s “barbaric act.”
Among the officials present at the commemoration were Serbian Interior Minister Aleksandar Vulin, Minister of Labor, Employment, Veteran and Social Affairs Darija Kisic Tepavcevic, and Tian Yishu, Charge d’affaires of the Chinese embassy in Serbia.
“Chinese citizens that laid their lives here, didn’t even need to be here, but they chose to do so, in order to share the most difficult and saddest moments with us,” Vulin said.
“Serbia will never stop asking for responsibility for crimes conducted by NATO during their aggression,” Vulin said. “Those (Western powers) which now ask from us to align with their policies should remember their statements from 1999.”
He noted that Serbia and China “have a friendship made of steel, forged in the most difficult of times.”
Tian said that “China-Serbia friendship of steel is now playing a vital role in the peace and economic recovery of this region.”
“We wish to continue comprehensive cooperation with all peace-loving countries, both in fields of economic cooperation and security,” he said.
Svetozar Parezanin, a retired colonel of the Serbian Army who came here with a local citizen association, held a banner with photographs of the three killed journalists — Shao Yunhuan of Xinhua News Agency, and Xu Xinghu and his wife Zhu Ying of the Guangming Daily newspaper.
“We remember that day very well, and we will never forget it. We come here every year to show our feeling of respect towards brotherly Chinese people,” Parezanin said.
In this recent presentation to the International Manifesto Group webinar, The Case Against NATO, Dr Jenny Clegg traces the makings of an Asian NATO via such mechanisms as AUKUS and the Quad whose fundamental purposes are to contain and confront a rising China. She further draws attention to the extension of NATO influence into the Asia Pacific through its Partnerships for Peace for example with Japan, South Korea and Australia; and also considers the impact of the Ukraine crisis in relation to these developments with the increase of tensions, divisions and militarisation in the region
NATO serves as the nuclear-armed fortress that helps to elevate the West above the ‘Rest’; it anchors Europe to its western orientation, severing it from its Eurasian geography.
But NATO members are also Pacific powers – the US, Canada, but also France and Britain, which maintain possession of a few islands and hence some considerable maritime territory.
In this Pacific presence can be seen the makings of an Asian NATO as a counter to the growing Eurasian dimension.
Whilst the world’s focus is on Russia in the Ukraine, for the US, China is the ‘pacing challenge’, and from this perspective, the Ukraine crisis can be seen as the first phase in the US’s last-ditch battle to retain its world supremacy, a battle pitting ‘democracies against autocracies’ in which NATO is to serve as the armed vanguard against the so-called Russia-China alliance.
The world before NATO was to be a new world of the UN Charter which, in the coordination of the wartime allies – the US, UK, Soviet Union and China – and in its commitment to national sovereignty, held the promise of a multipolar world.
It was this new world of the equality of nations that the US set out to smash in driving the first Cold War.
From Cold War to thaw back to Cold War in the Asia Pacific
The Cold War in the Pacific divided China and Korea and involved two hot wars – in Korea and Indochina – at the cost of countless lives and countless war crimes.
The US sought to set up an Asian NATO – however Australia lacked trust in Japan after WW2; Japan’s military was constrained under Article 9 of its constitution; and many South East Asian states, having fought to gain independence, chose non-alignment over subordination in a military alliance.
SEATO – Southeast Asia Treaty Organization – was set up in 1955 to block the ‘communist domino effect’ but it lacked unity and folded in 1977. The US instead relied on bilateral alliances and a spread of some 400 military bases to encircle China.
The Cold War never ended in the Pacific – China and Korea remain divided. Nevertheless, a degree of thaw in the 1990s allowed China to improve its relations in the region whilst ASEAN extended membership to the three communist-aligned Indochinese nations along with Myanmar. Regional economic growth entered a new phase.
But then, sending things into reverse, Obama embarked on his Asian pivot launching the freedom of navigation operations in the South China Sea. Following this, Trump declared China a strategic competitor, initiating the Quad to draw India into a new network with Australia, Japan and the US.
2020 saw the counter-hegemonic trend gather momentum with agreement on RCEP – the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, embracing large parts of East Asia and Oceania; the EU was also about to sign a major investment deal with China – these two developments recalling the coalition of Germany all the way across to China which Brzezinski foresaw in 1997, claiming this would be hostile to the US.
The US then prepared to strike back, launching the New Cold War, followed in September 2021 by AUKUS – a mini–Asian NATO, an intervention by the outside Anglosphere which started to sow disunity within the region, undermining its resolve for Asians to deal with Asian affairs.
NATO in the Pacific
NATO itself has been expanding into Asia since 2012 with its Partnerships for Peace programme drawing in Australia, Japan, New Zealand, Pakistan, and the Philippines.
By 2014, an equation was already being drawn between Russia and the Ukraine and China in the South China Sea.
At the 2019 NATO summit, Pompeo raised the issue of the China threat and, in 2021, the NATO 2030 document widened its focus to include the ‘IndoPacific’, making very clear a strategy of: Russia first then China.
Biden has advanced on Trump’s anti-China approach in two key ways, elevating the Quad and bringing the Taiwan issue more into view. But the Quad lacks military muscle – hence the announcement of AUKUS.
The US and UK are to equip Australia with nuclear-powered submarines, not only violating the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty but also subverting the nuclear weapons free zones of South East Asia and the South Pacific – both important advances of regional independence in the 1980s. These submarines will extend Australia’s naval reach much further into the South and East China Seas.
Australia is to be transformed into a forward base for the US military, providing the core of a regional ‘hybrid warfare’ network, with looser links bringing nations into various regional networks under US direction, covering diplomacy, intelligence sharing, media narratives, supply chains and so on.
The pact also represents a new level of cooperation in military technologies – in quantum computing and digital technologies – as exemplified in the recent announcement on the development of hypersonic weaponry.
Accompanying the promotion of arms sales and the implementation of sanctions, AUKUS then is designed to secure US dominance over East Asia’s future growth in its support of US competition at the cutting edge of new technologies.
The impact of the Ukraine crisis
Amidst the Ukraine crisis, fears have been raised of a Chinese military takeover of Taiwan – in a completely false parallel between Ukraine, a sovereign state and Taiwan, recognised by the UN as a part of China.
As in Europe, militarisation in East Asia is accelerating: Japan has just increased its military budget by $50bn; Australia has estimated the cost of AUKUS at an eye-watering $250bn. With the newly elected conservative president in South Korea, a North East Asian arc with Japan and the US, comes into view, and with both Japan and South Korea strengthening military links with Australia, there are possible ties here into AUKUS in the South.
AUKUS only received a lukewarm reception amongst regional powers with Indonesia and Malaysia most openly expressing their reservations. Again, as in Europe, pressure is being brought to bear to erode the long held stabilising positions of Japan’s peace clause and ASEAN’s non-aligned inclinations, using the threat of sanctions to splinter and subordinate the organisation so as to clear the obstacles to militarisation.
Rather than Ukraine-Taiwan, Ukraine-the South China Sea may offer a better parallel: whilst Russia insists on Ukraine’s neutrality, China has been seeking the neutrality of the South China Sea in negotiations on a code of conduct which limits permission for outside powers to set up naval bases.
The marker of the Cold War battle line of ‘democracies versus autocracies’ is being drawn by the US around the so-called democratic right of nations to choose their allies. This is also the meaning behind the ‘free and open IndoPacific’ – that is freedom to join in the making of an Asian NATO.
Why is it that the US is blocking peace negotiations on Ukraine’s neutrality? Why can’t it accept the legitimacy of Russia’s security concerns? Not least, because this would set a precedent for China over Taiwan and the South China Sea. And it is China that is seen as the real, comprehensive challenger.
Amidst false allegations that China is supplying arms to Russia and propping Russia up, NATO is strengthening its links with the Pacific 4 – Australia, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand. The upcoming summit this June will set the stage for an attempt to legitimise NATO’s increasing penetration into the IndoPacific region as the necessary opposition to the so-called ‘Russia-China alliance’.
NATO expansion is the root cause of the war in Europe; through its links into the Asia Pacific, it is equally intent to divide and destabilise a region now forecast to overtake Europe as the centre of the world economy by 2030.
Russia first, China next, NATO is bringing on a new world order – it’s called the jungle.
If China has not criticised Russia, at least one reason is because it looks to the long term – to a new security plan not just for Europe but one which restores its Eurasian orientation, a new Eurasian Security Order
China, in taking its stand on the indivisibility of security, on security for all – not of one at the expense of another – is keeping alive the spirit of the UN Charter.
China’s Ambassador to the US, Qin Gang, is making persistent efforts to explain to the American public his country’s real position regarding the conflict in Ukraine and to counter disinformation. Below is his article, published on April 18 by The National Interest, a leading US conservative bimonthly International Relations magazine, founded in 1985.
Ambassador Qin notes that: “To end this unwanted conflict as soon as possible is more important than anything else.” He notes that Europe is the focus of the current crisis and the continent needs not only an end to the fighting but also a fundamental answer to the question of securing lasting peace and stability and a balanced and effective security architecture.
Qin Gang contrasts the eastward expansion of NATO, which contributed in no small measure to today’s tragic situation, with the development of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, in which framework China has amicably settled all its historic border disputes with Russia and the countries of Central Asia, both of which may be traced to 1996, and notes: “Different choices lead to different outcomes.”
The Ukraine crisis is agonizing. One more minute the conflict lasts means one more hardship for the 43 million Ukrainian people. To end this unwanted conflict as soon as possible is more important than everything else.
China loves peace and opposes war. It advocates upholding international law and universally recognized norms governing international relations and respecting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries, including Ukraine. China supports all efforts that can deliver a ceasefire and relieve the humanitarian crisis on the ground, and will continue to play a constructive role toward this end.
Lessons must be learned. While working to end this conflict, we must also give some serious thought to the changes brought by the crisis and the path forward in its aftermath.
The postwar international system is coming under the heaviest pressure since the Cold War. The once-in-a-century pandemic, the Ukraine crisis and the unparalleled sanctions, the spiraling inflation and a looming recession, all these have sounded the alarm for the “boiler” of the international system. It is high time for us to reduce the pressure, not the other way round, for our shared world.
We are pleased to present the following fact sheet about China’s position on the situation in Ukraine, sent to us by the International Department of the Communist Party of China.
The fact sheet debunks the US State Department’s allegations and insinuations that China is fomenting or taking sides in the Ukraine crisis. China consistently works toward peace and stands for negotiated solutions to problems between countries. Furthermore, as the largest trading partner of Russia, Ukraine and the European Union, China’s basic interests demand peace.
China has refused to support the US-led unilateral sanctions against Russia, on the basis that these sanctions are illegal and only serve to increase tensions and prolong the conflict. Meanwhile they are having a serious economic impact on countries around the world, particularly in the Global South, where the rise in prices for food and energy is seriously impacting wellbeing.
The fact sheet points out: “An enduring solution would be for major countries to respect each other, reject the Cold War mentality, refrain from bloc confrontation, and build step by step a balanced, effective and sustainable security architecture for the region and for the world. China has been doing its best for peace and will continue to play a constructive role.”
Speaking at the Ministry of Foreign Affair’s press conference on March 25, 2022, Spokesperson Wang Wenbin commented on NATO’s attack on Yugoslavia (which was launched 23 years ago) and NATO’s record as an aggressive alliance and product of Cold War.
On March 24 1999, US-led NATO forces blatantly bypassed the UN Security Council and began the 78-day incessant bombing of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, a sovereign country, in grave violation of relevant international conventions and basic norms governing international relations. In 12,000 strikes, over 10,000 tonnes of explosives were dropped and more than 3,000 missiles fired, targeting everything from medical facilities to ancient cultural relics, residential buildings and schools. Thousands of innocent civilians including three Chinese journalists were killed. During the bombing campaign, NATO even used depleted uranium bombs prohibited by international conventions, causing long-term damage to Serbia’s environment and people’s health. The people of Serbia will not forget NATO’s aggression, nor will the people of China and the rest of the world.
NATO is convening a summit on Ukraine on the 23rd anniversary of its bombing of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. I wonder if the US and other NATO members have asked themselves: What is the root cause of the Ukraine crisis? What responsibility should the US and NATO assume? Before reflecting on their crimes against the people in countries like Serbia, Iraq and Afghanistan, the US and NATO have neither right nor authority to judge others. Born out of the Cold War, NATO serves no other purpose than war. It has never contributed to peace and security of our world and will never do so. All those who truly love peace and are committed to advancing peace will resolutely reject NATO’s continued expansion.