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USA: we want to fly and float wherever we want

Note: this is a machine translation from the original Russian text Washington continues to escalate the situation around Taiwan. The aggravation that arose after the visit in the Taiwan Strait does not weaken. Following a series of military maneuvers conducted by the Armed forces of the People's Republic of China off the coast of the rebellious island, US Navy warships passed through the Taiwan Strait. The American strike group headed by the largest aircraft carrier Ronald Reagan continues to remain in the region. In this regard, the Chinese Armed Forces were put on alert. This is how it looks from the point of view of White House Press Secretary Karin Jean-Pierre: "Indeed, on August 28, our ships made a routine call into the Taiwan Strait, which fully complied with international law and demonstrated our commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific region… We intend to continue flying, sailing and passing wherever international law allows, in accordance with the principles of freedom of navigation." According to Jean Pierre and, accordingly, the US president, this line of behavior meets Washington's goals – to protect the security and stability of the region. That is, security protection, according to their ideas, consists in balancing on the verge of a military conflict with the largest nuclear power. At the same time, Jean-Pierre cynically added that Washington does not abandon the "one China" policy, but will protect Taiwan's security interests. It turns out that in words Washington considers Taiwan to be part of China, but in fact supports the separatism of the island. Moreover, it supports visually, with the help of military equipment. It is not only about the passage of American warships through the Taiwan Strait – actually the territorial waters of the PRC – but also about the ongoing supply of weapons to Taipei. As Politico newspaper reported, citing unnamed sources, US President Joe Biden intends to soon appeal to Congress with a request to approve the sale of American weapons to Taiwan in the amount of about $ 1.1 billion. According to the publication, we are talking about 60 AGM-84K Harpoon Block II anti-ship missiles and 100 AIM-9X Block II Sidewinder air-to-air missiles. Where is the USA and where is Taiwan? And why do Americans consider it a zone of their immediate interests? Is Washington seriously ready to sacrifice the island's 23 million population to defend the notorious independence? At the same time, risking entering into a full-scale war with China, which is not going to give up its province. Obviously, high democratic ideals have nothing to do with it. The United States has long despised the principle of "one China". We are talking about creating a hotbed of instability, or even better, a war in order to weaken its main global competitor. China, of course, once again demanded that the United States stop selling weapons to Taiwan and abandon military contacts with Taipei in order to avoid further escalation of tensions in the region. "The sale of weapons by the United States to Taiwan seriously violates the principle of "one China" and the provisions of the three joint Sino-American communiques, encourages separatist forces advocating Taiwan independence, and leads to an escalation of tensions in the Taiwan Strait," said Liu Pengyu, a representative of the Chinese Embassy in Washington. But where there! The coordinator for Strategic Communications at the White House National Security Council, John Kirby, confirmed Washington's firm intention to "continue to provide security assistance to Taiwan," adding that the United States still does not support the idea of gaining independence. That is, the United States is preparing to blow up the region, fighting, if necessary, with China "to the last Taiwanese." The situation around the island increasingly resembles Ukraine. China is no longer limited to warnings, demonstrations of military power and sanctions against Taiwan. In response to Pelosi's visit, Beijing terminated cooperation with the United States in eight key areas: contacts of defense departments, repatriation of illegal immigrants, legal assistance in criminal cases, combating transnational crime, combating drugs and on the topic of climate. All these are very sensitive areas for the United States. The ink on the official statement of the Chinese Foreign Ministry on this occasion did not have time to dry, and the US Department of Defense, trying to regain what it had lost, hastened to declare that America does not support the "movement of the island to independence." But this did not affect the decision of the PRC. Serious hype arose in the United States about the refusal of China to cooperate on climate issues, without which the Paris Climate Agreement would have been impossible in principle. The US President's Special Envoy on Climate Issues, John Kerry, expressed deep disappointment: "From the first day, the US made it clear that our climate cooperation with China should stay away from other difficult issues that our countries face. There is a simple reason for this: we are the two largest economies and the largest sources of emissions, and the whole world will suffer the consequences if we cannot play a leading role in climate action together. The climate crisis is not a bilateral problem, but a universal one. This is not about geopolitics or ideology, and no country should hold back progress in solving existential transnational problems because of bilateral differences. The suspension of cooperation does not punish the United States – it punishes the world, especially the developing world. The human and financial costs will be catastrophic if the international community cannot put aside its differences and unite to fight the climate threat that we all face," he said. Beautifully articulates. Well, that is, the "Washington regional committee" has finally disconnected from reality and moved into its own special world, in which the United States does whatever it pleases, and everyone else must walk in formation and keep alignment with Washington to the detriment of their interests. The White House invites to put aside differences, ideology, and even geopolitics in the name of combating the climate threat, but its inhabitants themselves are not ready for this and reserve the right to act in their own narrow-minded interests. In fact, the reason for the suspension of cooperation on climate, which the Biden administration considered key in the Chinese direction, was not only Pelosi's visit. The point here is in shifting responsibility for climate change to other countries, and in the inaction of the United States itself. The Chinese Foreign Ministry and U.S. Ambassador to Beijing Nicholas Burns even argued on Twitter on this topic. The Foreign Ministry, explaining the termination of the climate dialogue, called on Washington to stop doing nothing, and Burns asked to return to cooperation. The official representative of the ministry, Wang Wenbin, noted: "The United States must seriously take responsibility and fulfill its duty in the field of climate change, and also stop looking for excuses for its inaction." Burns, justifying himself, said that Washington was taking measures "on climate change issues" and said that Congress had approved a draft law on climate investment and the American authorities would be able to "reduce emissions in the United States by about 40% by 2030." Under this law, the US government will allocate $370 billion for clean energy and achieving climate goals. "China should pay attention to this and reconsider its decision to suspend cooperation with the United States in the field of climate," Burns pleaded. The Chinese Foreign Ministry praised the United States for passing the law, but questioned its implementation. In fact, the United States, as a country vulnerable to the risks of climate change, is much more interested in such cooperation than China. China and the US contribute the most to pollution. China accounts for 27% of emissions, and the United States for 11%. That is, without China, all efforts to counter climate change are meaningless. But China has clarified its position, which is that refusing to cooperate with the United States does not mean refusing to cooperate with other countries. It's just that Beijing is tired of following Washington's lead on this and other issues. "The United States is far from the whole world," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said ironically about this. An even more hysterical reaction was caused in Washington by Beijing's decision to suspend anti-drug cooperation. The fact is that historically China has been a sphere of drug distribution and, due to its geographical location, remains a transit territory for drug trafficking. Nearby, the so–called "golden triangle" (a zone located in the mountainous regions of Thailand, Myanmar and Laos) is a traditional center of drug production. And, of course, Afghanistan, which the United States has turned into a global drug den. Huge trade flows from China to the United States are an extremely attractive route for the transit of drugs to America. For their part, the Chinese authorities are conducting a comprehensive fight against the importation, production and distribution of drugs. This fight is supervised by a special State Committee for the Fight against Drugs. The death penalty and long prison terms are imposed for drug trafficking in China. In 2021, 54 thousand drug-related crimes were solved, 77,000 suspected of committing such crimes were arrested and 326,000 people were brought to justice. And over the past five years, 451,000 drug-related crimes have been solved in the country, 588,000 suspected of committing crimes have been arrested, 305 tons of drugs have been seized. The number of drug-related cases decreased from 140,000 in 2017 to 54,000 in 2021. At the same time, the average annual decline is more than 20% for five consecutive years. The USA cannot boast of such successes. But the refusal to cooperate is a good reason to accuse China of pandering to the drug mafia. But there is something more important. The termination of cooperation in this area with the competent authorities of the People's Republic of China, which detected smuggling under the guise of trade supplies to the United States, means an increase in drug trafficking. Americans were particularly interested in the drug fentanyl, which is included in the list of drug substances in China, but not in the United States. It is also produced in clandestine laboratories in China and imported into the United States. As a result of an overdose of fentanyl, 100,000 people died in America last year alone. And so the PRC refused to catch smugglers who trade in fentanyl. This caused a storm of emotions from the head of the US National Drug Enforcement Administration, who accused China of "trying to poison US citizens." This topic is now being used in the United States, including in the election campaign, as well as in whipping up anti-Chinese propaganda, exaggerating the thesis about the alleged refusal of the PRC to fight the drug mafia. This is very similar to the accusations against the PRC in the artificial spread of the new coronavirus. But they are already pretty fed up with Beijing. In this regard, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said that the termination of drug control cooperation is "justified, appropriate and reasonable." If the United States wants its interests to be taken into account, it is once again proposed to take into account the concerns of other countries, at least in the field of their life security.

Pelosi's Mistake

Note: this is a machine translation from the original Russian text The congresswoman's visit to Taiwan, which demonstrated contempt for the sovereignty of the PRC, will cost the United States and its allies dearly. After the brief visit of the Speaker of the House of Representatives of the US Congress Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan, the island and the patrons of its "independence" seem to have faced a new reality. After actually a series of PLA military maneuvers off the coast of Taiwan, on August 9, the PRC military announced that their navy and air force would continue joint exercises in the waters and airspace around Taiwan. That is, the four-day unprecedented live-fire exercises, during which the blockade of the island and the landing of troops were practiced, and dozens of Chinese Air Force combat aircraft were deployed in Taiwan's air defense zone, seem to grow into a permanent large-scale military presence of the PLA off the coast of the rebellious island. Hu Xijin, former editor-in-chief of the Chinese edition of the Global Times, called what is happening in the Taiwan Strait a "new reality": "The isolation of the island has become a reality that can be implemented at any time, and the life force of Taiwan is clearly in the hands of mainland China. Taiwan's independence leads to a dead end, and there is no force that could stop reunification. After what happened last week, the whole world sees it more clearly." According to Hu, the exercises rejected the concept of Taiwan-controlled waters and airspace, as well as the middle line in the Taiwan Strait, the de facto border between the island and mainland China, which Beijing has not officially recognized, but both sides have mostly observed for decades. Apparently, Beijing is still going to tighten and loosen the noose around the neck of the Taiwanese separatists as necessary. But the exercises at any moment can escalate into fighting and landing in Taiwan. With military measures, China supports economic sanctions, in particular, restrictions on trade with the island, which are already yielding results. That is, Pelosi's ill-considered visit to Taiwan launched the process of Taiwan's accelerated return "to the bosom of the motherland" and unleashed Beijing's hands in terms of the use of forceful methods of influence. Counting on the immediate deployment of the PRC's military operations against Taiwan, the United States received an asymmetric response. Now Washington and Taipei will be in a state of constant tension and the need to save the "sinking" island. "I am concerned that they are moving with the force with which they are moving. But I don't think they're going to do anything else," is how President Biden reacted to China's actions. Whether China will "do something else" depends on Washington's further provocations and Taipei's reaction. So far, the Americans prefer to keep their carrier groups, which were aimed at this region, away from the Taiwan Strait. Meanwhile, opponents of Taiwan's peaceful reunification with the mainland are beginning to realize the consequences of Beijing's already imposed sanctions and are preparing for new ones. "The increase in tension in the Taiwan Strait may lead to a complication of the situation on the global semiconductor market," Taiwan's official representative in France Francois Chin Chun Wu said on August 8. "The semiconductor production chain is a complex process; if any conflict affects the production of at least one component of this technologically complex product, the entire system will cease to function. This will be a big problem for the entire global market," said Chin Chun Wu. He hints first of all at the ban imposed by the PRC on supplying fossil sand to Taiwan – raw materials for the manufacture of quartz and semiconductors. First of all, Beijing's anger is dangerous for Taiwan, for which China is the main trading partner. Taiwan sells $ 150 billion worth of microchips and semiconductors to China alone and buys $ 23 billion worth of them. The situation around Taiwan will affect the entire region, including US allies. Japan has already been shocked by the refusal of Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi from the planned talks with his Japanese counterpart because of the country's position on Taiwan. And this is only a minor signal, which can be followed by real steps. And Japan's trade turnover with China is huge. China may also break off normal relations with other countries that reject the "one China" policy or align themselves with Washington on this issue. "A storm is gathering around us," Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Xianlong said. – Relations between the US and China are deteriorating: unsolvable problems, deep suspicions and limited interaction. The situation is unlikely to improve in the near future. Moreover, miscalculations or overlays can easily aggravate the situation." Lee said that "Singapore's prospects have significantly clouded" and promised to take additional measures in the coming months to help people cope with rising prices. We can also say that the United States provoked the beginning of a gradual rupture of the entire system of Sino-American relations. On August 5, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People's Republic of China announced eight countermeasures in response to the visit of the Speaker of the US House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan. So far, they concern bilateral cooperation in the political sphere, but they give a signal not only to Washington, but also to its allies, as well as sympathizers. Countermeasures include the suspension of bilateral cooperation in the field of repatriation of illegal immigrants, legal assistance in criminal cases, as well as cooperation in combating transnational crime and in the fight against drugs. Cooperation between the military departments of the two countries is sharply limited. The US Department of Defense hastened to declare that it does not support the "movement of the island towards independence." But this did not affect the decision of the PRC. We are also talking about the suspension of cooperation on the climate issue, a key topic of bilateral relations, without which the Paris Climate Agreement would have been impossible. Huang Jin, deputy head of the Law Society of China, explained Beijing's actions as follows: "Pelosi's visit to Taiwan undermined the foundations of Sino-American cooperation in these areas, which hindered its further development. The suspension of cooperation is justified on the basis of the protection of China's national sovereignty." We are talking about a gap in the most sensitive areas for the United States, in which Americans are primarily interested. But this is just the beginning. Since last year, China has reduced its investments in American debt obligations from 1.1 trillion US dollars to 900 billion, and the process continues, threatening to bring down the entire American financial system based on debt and printing dollars. At the same time, China is reducing its foreign exchange reserves in US dollars. This process began after the announcement of the trade war unleashed against China by the Trump administration, but accelerated after the freezing of Russia's foreign exchange assets in the West. Other countries are also following this trend. Even Japanese investments in the US Federal Reserve's IOUS have fallen to a historic low of $1.2 trillion. In addition to China and Japan, Saudi Arabia and Brazil are reducing investments in American debt. Experts note that foreign investments in the US national debt have been declining as rapidly over the past six months as after the election of Donald Trump in 2016 and since the beginning of the pandemic. And next up is China's gigantic trade turnover with the United States, which reached $ 750 billion last year. Depending on Washington's behavior and the speed of the implementation of the "double circulation" policy in China (reliance on the domestic market), China will refuse to trade with the United States with an increasingly wide range of goods, ruining American farmers and leaving consumers in the United States without cheap Chinese consumer goods. As they say, the jokes are over. China has used some pre-conceived strategic plans that confuse the cards of opponents. Following the rules of the "Art of War" of the great Sun Tzu, Beijing is leading the case to seize the initiative, to victory without battles. And if the West believes that China will be afraid of retaliatory sanctions, it is cruelly mistaken. Chinese society, hardened by many crises and experiments, is much more resistant to temporary inconveniences than Western society. Trust in the ruling class in China is much higher than in the West. Disrespect for the sovereignty of the People's Republic of China, interference in China's internal affairs, demonstrated by Washington, will cost the United States and its allies dearly, literally and figuratively.

The Island of bad Luck

Note: this is a machine translation from the original Russian text The visit of the Speaker of the US House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan may be a turning point in Sino-American relations So, Pelosi went to Taiwan. Now many commentators are puzzling over why this visit was needed. As it turns out, there is no use from him to Taiwan: no additional weapons, no money, only moral support for the so-called "independence". At first glance, the visit was intended primarily for domestic consumption: on the eve of the midterm congressional elections, to correct the image of the Democratic Party. Also– to show the allies, and the whole world, that the United States is still "doing what they want", despite the risks, warnings and persuasions. A kind of gesture of a decrepit ruler, striving to retain power by any means. Of course, Washington would very much like to provoke China into a war with its blood brothers on the other side of the Taiwan Strait, which would undermine the image of the PRC as a peacemaker offering the world a negotiated solution to problems and the concept of a "common destiny of mankind." However, it is unlikely that the US secret services, the defense department and analysts have weakened so much that they do not calculate that China will not succumb to provocation. The Americans cannot fail to calculate how sensitive the Taiwan issue is for the Chinese and what a slap in the face they are inflicting on the leadership of the PRC, with whom, as follows from official statements, they would like to maintain stable, business relations. But, apparently, this staged provocation has much more far-reaching plans. Washington's childish references to the separation of powers should not be taken seriously: the visit was long and carefully planned with the participation of President Biden, who, as Commander-in-chief, of course, could have stopped it. Apparently, the White House and the surrounding area decided that it was time for more decisive action in the Chinese direction. Judging by Beijing's first reaction, it can be assumed that the visit will be a watershed in Sino-American relations: before and after. Actually, it was clear before that the separation of these two superpowers is inevitable and will precede their clash in one form or another. There was only one question– when? All of Beijing's policies and official statements were aimed at at least delaying this process, and at most – to carry out as much as possible with the least possible losses. And Americans see their interest in the opposite. For them, conflicts are a way to maintain their global dominance, and a conflict involving China also allows them to create problems for their main competitor. Ideally, another "proxy war". But if it doesn't work out, then there is a global divorce and a hybrid war in all directions. And where the curve of confrontation will steer. A hot war will also do, because, from Washington's point of view, we are talking about world domination, including an American-centric system of peace built on the power of the dollar and American bayonets. Putting a billion or two lives on the line is worth it. According to the idea of the United States, if there is a conflict, the sooner the better, until China has turned into such a dragon that even American superheroes cannot cope with. And so Biden decided to start first. Strictly speaking, the first was Trump, who unleashed a trade and economic war with China. Biden transferred it to the military-political and ideological plane. Judging by the signals from Beijing, there are no illusions left about Washington's sincerity and the correspondence of his words and real policy. This is evidenced by the consistency of the statements of various Chinese departments and their tone. "This is a serious violation of the one-China principle and the provisions of the three Sino-American joint communiques, a serious undermining of the political foundation of Sino-American relations, a gross encroachment on China's sovereignty and territorial integrity, which will harm peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait area, sends a purely erroneous signal to separatist forces advocating the so-called "Taiwan independence", – said the Chinese Foreign Ministry. And here is what is said in the official statement of the Office for International Affairs of the CPC Central Committee: "The attempt of separatist forces to achieve "Taiwan independence" is the biggest obstacle to the reunification of the Motherland and a serious potential danger to the revival of the Chinese nation. The administration of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) stubbornly defends the erroneous position aimed at "Taiwan independence", voluntarily serves as an instrument of anti-Chinese forces in the United States to contain China and even more brazenly commits provocations in an effort to achieve "independence". This is an absolutely incorrect judgment about the situation and a miscalculation in its relation. In its selfish interests, this administration stubbornly defies the "one China" principle, refuses to recognize the 1992 Consensus, foments confrontation between both sides of the Taiwan Strait, fixating on achieving so-called "independence" based on the United States. The actions of the DPP administration aimed at achieving "Taiwan independence" and its collusion with the United States, betraying China's national interests, will only plunge Taiwan into the abyss of disasters and bring deep suffering to Taiwanese compatriots. The reunification of the Motherland and the great revival of the Chinese nation have entered an irreversible historical process. The motherland must be and will certainly be reunited." Just a few days before Pelosi's visit, Biden once again swore to Xi Jinping in a telephone conversation that he was committed to the "one China" policy. But the visit itself showed the opposite. In fact, Pelosi visited one of the provinces of China without Beijing's knowledge, and this is about the same as if Vladimir Putin, without Washington's consent, came to the American Indians demanding the return of their ancestral lands. Now the Taiwanese are not to be envied. They and their desire for American democracy will become a bargaining chip and a starting point in this disengagement. It is on them that Beijing's anger will be primarily directed. "The People's Liberation Army of China, being on high alert, will take a number of targeted military actions to counteract this, will resolutely defend state sovereignty and territorial integrity, resolutely prevent interference by external forces and attempts by separatist forces advocating "Taiwan independence," the official representative of the Ministry of Defense of China said. Since August 3, a large-scale battle has unfolded around Taiwan, so far a training one: the People's Liberation Army of China is conducting maneuvers, the scenario of which is very similar to a naval and air blockade. Chinese warships, including aircraft carriers, practice combat maneuvers near the Taiwanese coast, and combat aircraft patrol in Taiwan's air defense zone. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi canceled scheduled talks with his Japanese counterpart because of Japan's position on Taiwan. And these are just the first flashes of this battle. Against this background, hardly anyone paid serious attention to the message that, as a first step of influencing separatist forces in Taiwan, the PRC banned the supply of ordinary fossil sand to the rebellious island. Despite its apparent simplicity, this news shows how serious the consequences of the visit are and how firm Beijing's intentions are. After all, 90% of the sand, without which the entire construction industry will stand up, is supplied to Taiwan, as well as to Hong Kong and Macau, from mainland China. There is no concrete without sand, and without concrete you cannot build high-rise buildings that prevail on an island with a population of 23 million people, an area equal to one of our small regions. But this is not as painful as the possible shutdown of the famous Taiwanese semiconductor industry, which provides almost half the world with its products. After all, the basis of semiconductors is silicon, which is also extracted from ordinary sand. And fiber optic cables and many other things that can not do without silicon. Of course, sand can be brought, for example, from the USA, if there is no blockade of the island. But then the sand will become golden, and semiconductors are even more expensive… And this is just the beginning. The total trade turnover of China with Taiwan is about 380 million US dollars, twice as much as with Russia. There are thousands of Taiwanese companies operating in China, using cheaper Chinese labor and China's simplified tax regimes. For many years, China has been building close economic ties with the island, hoping thus to return Taiwan "to the bosom of the motherland." But now that it has become clear that, despite all the warnings, Taipei likes American democracy, which, in fact, offers nothing but war with the mainland, the Taiwanese will have to overestimate the benefits of ties with the PRC, and perhaps find out their real cost. Author: Mikhail Morozov, columnist of the newspaper "Trud"

At the Taiwanese line

Note: this is a machine translation from the original Russian text The last days have become the point of the highest tension between China and the United States since, perhaps, the Korean War. Beijing responded to the intention of the Speaker of the US House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi to pay a visit to Taiwan extremely harshly, showing that in this way Washington crosses the red line. The Chinese Foreign Ministry said that in the event of Pelosi's visit to Taiwan, Beijing will take all measures to protect the state sovereignty and integrity of the country. The classic phrase preceding the use of force was deciphered by the official speaker of the Foreign Ministry, Zhao Lijian: "China has recently repeatedly expressed serious concern to the United States and stated its firm position, which is that Beijing strongly opposes the visit of Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan." "The responsibility for all the serious consequences arising from this will be fully borne by the United States," the diplomat stressed. The Ministry of Defense of the People's Republic of China promised to fight separatism on the island "by all means" and "not to sit idly by" if the trip takes place. According to the representative of the Chinese defense ministry Tan Kefei, Pelosi's visit will seriously violate the principle of "one China" and the provisions of the three joint Sino-American communiques. Despite this, a US Navy carrier strike group led by the aircraft carrier Ronald Reagan, armed with 90 aircraft and helicopters, entered the South China Sea, and China began military exercises with live firing in nearby areas. Missile units were additionally deployed to Fujian Province. For greater clarity, the Chinese conducted a demonstration launch of a DF-17 ballistic missile with a hypersonic warhead. The fact that the post "Preparing for war" in the account of the 80th army of the PLA, responsible for the defense of this region, caused a strong approving reaction in Chinese social networks speaks about the intensity of passions: "PLA soldiers, fight! We support you guys!". And army veterans in social networks have massively stated that they are ready to return to service if the Motherland demands it. Chinese military experts predicted the introduction of a no-fly zone over Taiwan to prevent the visit. This development, according to CNN, was also seen by Biden's closest advisers in the White House. And the former editor-in-chief of the Chinese English-language Global Times, Hu Xijin, known for radical views, in his account even suggested shooting down a plane with Pelosi on approach to Taiwan, as an aircraft that violated the state border. All this took place against the background of preparations for the celebration of the 95th anniversary of the People's Liberation Army of China. At a solemn meeting of the CPC Central Committee, Chinese President Xi Jinping paraphrased a catch phrase from Confucius: only those who are ready to fight can stop the battle, and those who are ready for war should not start it. And he called for strenuously continuing the modernization of the PLA in accordance with the international situation. In this very environment, Pelosi classified the program of her tour. With reference to anonymous sources, there were reports about the cancellation of a trip to Taiwan. Then it came from Taiwan: Pelosi is still coming. Sources in Beijing are inclined to believe that the visit to Taiwan will still be canceled. The stakes are too high and the risk is too high. It remains to wait a few days, and we will find out how events will unfold. Let's hope that it won't come to an armed conflict. But there are plenty of signs that the American provocation was prepared in advance and that such things will be repeated until the goal is achieved – to force China to start hostilities against its blood brothers on the other side of the Taiwan Strait, actually against the province belonging to the PRC. Firstly, Pelosi's visit was originally planned for April and did not take place due to her illness, read - the beginning of a special operation in Ukraine, when all Washington's attention was switched to anti–Russian sanctions and assistance to Kiev. Despite the fact that Beijing warned Washington through all possible channels that this time the matter could go very far, the Americans did not stop preparing for a provocation. At the same time, Biden personally tried to reduce the heat or show that he was not ready for war. "The military thinks it's not a good idea right now," he said last week about the possibility of Pelosi's visit to Taiwan. Even when Pelosi's visit was announced, Chinese President Xi Jinping and US President Biden had a telephone conversation. "We strongly oppose separatism – "Taiwan independence", as well as interference by external forces, and we will never leave room for Taiwan independence forces in any form. The position of the Chinese Government and the Chinese people on the "Taiwan issue" has been consistent and more than 1.4 billion Chinese are determined to resolutely defend China's national sovereignty and territorial integrity. You can't go against public opinion. Playing with fire, you will set yourself on fire," China Central Television CCTV quoted the President of the People's Republic of China. As reported by CCTV, President Biden, in turn, said during the conversation that today's world is in a critical period, and cooperation between the United States and China is beneficial not only to them, but also to the peoples of other countries. The United States hopes to maintain dialogue with China, strengthen mutual understanding, seek cooperation in areas where interests coincide, and properly resolve differences. "I would like to repeat that the US 'one China policy' has not changed and will not change, and the US does not support the 'independence' of Taiwan," Biden vowed once again. Despite this, the probing of Beijing's red lines continued. It seems that the White House is finding out whether Beijing is really "teetering on the brink of war", seeking to cancel Pelosi's trip, and what he really intends to do. On the battlefield, the enemy's air defense system is provoked in such a way that a preemptive strike is launched at the moment of the outbreak of hostilities. Dave Butler, a representative of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that the military informs decision-makers in Washington about possible risks. "We warn what the enemy can do, discuss logistics, military plans and readiness." And on the eve of the assistant to the US President for National Security, Jake Sullivan, avoided answering a direct question whether the US would be ready to defend Taiwan militarily if necessary. "Our policy has not changed. We maintain strategic uncertainty," Sullivan traditionally responded. "As part of this policy of creative tension, we have been maintaining peace and stability around the Taiwan Strait for decades." By the way, the former US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper (2019-2020), who made his way to Taiwan as part of the American NGO Atlantic Council, criticized this uncertainty on the eve: "In my personal opinion, the policy based on the "one China principle" has outlived itself, it is time to move away from strategic ambiguity." According to Esper, it is China that poses the greatest challenge for Western countries. However, the problem with the American policy of "strategic uncertainty", in his opinion, is that the United States does not directly say whether they will be ready to defend Taiwan in the event of a Chinese attack. That is, it is proposed to make it clear unequivocally: the United States will defend Taiwan by all means. And then Europe, which is usually restrained in relation to Taiwan, gave its voice. "In the event of a military invasion, we have made it very clear that the EU, together with the United States and its allies, will introduce similar or even more extensive measures than we have now taken against Russia," said EU Ambassador to China Jorge Toledo. And the UK offered to jointly arm the Taiwanese regime. What is in the dry residue? Convinced of the futility of the strategy of "color revolutions" to defeat China, the United States found another Achilles heel of Beijing and shifted the center of gravity to Taiwan. The Taiwan problem is the most acute from the point of view of the Chinese leadership. His official plans are to return the island to the bosom of his homeland, but preferably peacefully. A military solution to this issue is the most extreme and undesirable option for the PRC. Especially on the eve of the twentieth Congress of the CPC (congresses are held every five years), at which the issue of extending Xi Jinping's stay at the head of state and the party will be resolved. In addition, the outbreak of hostilities at one point would change the world image of the PRC, its foreign policy, built on solving problems "peacefully and diplomatically." Taiwan has been a hotbed of intense tension more than once. But now the situation is critical. Washington is forcing Xi Jinping to make difficult choices and abandon many plans. And the Chinese leader has no right to slack off. Author: Mikhail Morozov, columnist of the newspaper "Trud"

Boycott illusion

Note: this is a machine translation from the original Russian text The meeting of foreign ministers of the G-20 countries held in Bali can be considered as a rehearsal for the November summit of the heads of state of this organization. Without forcing the current chairman of the "Big Twenty" Indonesia not to invite Russian representatives at all, Western countries tried to organize a boycott of Russia already in the process.  Well, or, at least, turn the G-20 platform – originally an economic forum – into a place of flagellation of our country and lamentations about Ukraine. But again it turned out that only half of the members are ready to follow the instructions of the "Washington regional committee". And the rest not only do not support Western aspirations, but are also perplexed about the fact that the world economy, which is not in the best position, is being replaced by pure politics, and frankly self-serving and one-sided. Western countries tried to compensate for diplomatic failures at the forum with media scandals. As the official representative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Maria Zakharova testified, at the command of the White House press service, Western journalists were thrown into counting the time that certain delegates were absent from the meeting room, and they tried to pass it off as a boycott of the Russian delegation. The technique is not new, such attempts have already been made at other international venues, for example at the meeting of financial authorities and the annual meeting of the IMF and the World Bank in Washington. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov used the summit to hold bilateral meetings with colleagues from friendly countries and did not worry about the hysteria of Westerners. "The Indonesian side organized a welcome reception with a concert. Western colleagues did not come there. This is their desire, understanding of the protocol and the rules of ethics," the Russian Foreign Minister commented on the behavior of his opponents. And in his official speech, he emphasized multilateral cooperation and the non-use of force in international affairs. And it is not his "merit" that the West has long been listening to no one but itself. For the same reason, the summit ended in vain: without a final communique, without a collective photo. The main result is that the meeting took place despite attempts to boycott. In principle, the alignment of forces was known before. But Westerners, who cherish illusions about prolonging the life of the American-centric world, apparently expected a change in the position of the largest countries, primarily India and China. But nothing like that happened. Accordingly, the rest of the "non-aligned" and those who did not take the "right side of history" also did not join the boycott attempts. It is characteristic that one of the main bilateral meetings in Bali – between Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Secretary of State Blinkin – took place after the official speech of the head of Chinese diplomacy at the summit. That is, the Chinese representative first repeated the initial, fundamental points for a conversation with his American counterpart, and then went to a personal meeting with him. For example, opposing the Americans acting "according to the rules," Wang Yi recalled that "there is only one system in the world, and this is the international system, at the center of which is the UN." In his speech, the Chinese Foreign Minister, in defiance of Westerners, focused on purely economic problems. He once again called for the main attention to be paid to economic growth and for this not to destroy, but to strengthen free trade and supply chains, to abandon trade sanctions and discrimination. These topics, as well as the fight against poverty and the pandemic, green development, which Wang Yi spoke about, probably caused an attack of boredom among Western colleagues. They would like to hear from the head of Chinese diplomacy something new about Ukraine. But they heard again what, as eyewitnesses say, made the muscles of the members of the American delegation play harder than ever. The Chinese minister reiterated that the PRC is against escalation, stands for a ceasefire and a settlement of the conflict at the negotiating table. "If we put our security above the security of other countries and strengthen military blocs, it will only split the international community, weakening our protection," Wang Yi said. And again he spoke in favor of a "serious and comprehensive dialogue" between Russia and Europe to create a "balanced, effective and sustainable European security architecture." That is, 100 percent supported Russia, which is seeking the same thing. It was against this background that the meeting of the heads of Chinese American diplomacy took place. Judging by the duration – more than 5 hours – it was not easy. Comparing the statements and reports on the negotiations of the two sides, it can be concluded that attempts to put pressure on China and force it to stand "on the right side of history" have failed again. Apparently, Wang Yi, as has happened before in such negotiations, was patiently silent when Secretary Blinken tried to call his Chinese counterpart "to order" and refuse to support Russia. There is reason to assume that the United States mistakenly believes that China is capable of influencing Russia on the Ukrainian issue. But Beijing at the very top has repeatedly drawn attention to the fact that Russian-Chinese relations are not influenced by third parties and are relations of sovereign powers.  For his part, Wang Yi pointed to the fundamental misunderstanding of China on the part of the United States and urged the interlocutor to "stop slandering the PRC, attacking its political system and giving signals of support for Taiwan's independence." On the latter issue, the US diplomatic positions look particularly pale. The Biden administration has repeatedly reaffirmed its commitment to the "one China" principle enshrined in the fundamental Sino-American documents. But the practical policy of the United States with this principle is increasingly diverging. And Wang Yi does not miss the opportunity to slap the Americans on the cheeks every time, pointing out their support for separatism in Taiwan and the supply of weapons there. According to Chinese sources, the topic of Taiwan occupied a considerable part of the bilateral conversation. But the parties, apparently, did not come to a common denominator. The United States does not intend to abandon its provocative policy towards Taiwan in order to have leverage over China and the ability to manage the situation in this region. Washington's other negotiating positions are equally weak. After all, in order to get something from the Chinese, you have to offer them something.  And what? Now the United States is increasingly dependent on the supply of Chinese products. To abandon Chinese imports means to further accelerate inflation, which has already reached record levels. The trade duties imposed by the Trump administration exacerbate the problem. Biden would be happy to reduce or cancel them, but he doesn't know how. As you know, not so long ago he instructed his advisers to study this issue and submit a plan to reduce duties that would allow Washington to save face and improve the economic situation on the eve of the midterm elections to Congress and the Senate. As a result, Wang Yi put forward, as stated in the official message of the Chinese Foreign Ministry, "four lists: a list of requests to the United States to correct its erroneous policies, words and actions regarding China, a list of key cases of concern to the Chinese side, a list of China-related bills of key concern to the Chinese side, and a list of cooperation in eight areas between China and the United States." One of the issues that may have been discussed during the Sino-American talks was the likely meeting of the Chinese President and the US president at the G-20 summit of heads of state in November this year. What the result is is still unknown. But we can assume that the situation that developed at the meeting of foreign ministers will be repeated in the autumn. There will be negotiations, but there is no result.

G20: boycott failed

Note: this is a machine translation from the original Russian text The collective West has once again drowned in impotent anger. On the Indonesian island of Bali, where the meeting of the G20 foreign ministers took place, there was a Zugzwang (German: Zugzwang, coercion to move. – Auth.). Initially, this term was used in checkers and chess to denote a situation when any move of a player leads to a deterioration of his position. But then he moved into politics. So, the leaders of the "Big Seven" (G7), having inhaled on the eve of the Alpine air at their party in the Bavarian castle of Elmau, set an algorithm for total international counteraction to Russia on all world platforms. US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken saluted and decided to organize a conspiracy with his comrades against the head of the Russian Foreign Ministry Sergey Lavrov at the Indonesian Foreign Ministry. And in a very childish way - we go, they say, to another sandbox. And this, by the way, instead of discussing the most important international topics – energy, food and financial security on the verge of collapse, the inexorably impending recession, the Ukrainian crisis. And here, without Russia, of course, you will not get far. As a result of the "efforts" of the collective West in relation to Moscow, there was a split between the members of the "twenty": the camp of conspirators – the G7 countries plus Australia, South Korea and the EU represented by its foreign minister Josep Borrel (10 participants in total), and the camp of dissenters – the BRICS+ countries, Argentina and Saudi Arabia (also 10). Neither here nor there. The cart got stuck... Already at the very beginning of the event, on July 7, the G7 representatives did not come to the welcome dinner together, thereby demonstrating that they did not want to sit at the same table with Lavrov. By the way, the envoy of South Korea still checked in at the dinner and even talked on his own initiative with Sergey Viktorovich about something "on his feet". In the diplomatic lexicon there is such a term – "on your feet." This is when not "at the table". So - 9.5 to 10.5 in our favor! And when the meeting ended, the "others" refused to take pictures together, again because of their unwillingness to perpetuate themselves on a card with the Russian minister. The organizers had to exclude the traditional photo from the agenda altogether. However, by this time the Russian delegation had already left the forum. The excuse is weighty: there are a lot of things to do at home, they say. At the same time, representatives of the "conspirators' camp" proudly declared that "Lavrov literally flew out of the summit." The official representative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Maria Zakharova, retorted that Secretary Blinken was making up tall tales, talking about the isolation of the Russian Foreign Minister in Bali. "It was you, Mr. Blinken, who drove yourself into self-isolation by manking a number of forum events, where the majority did not even remember about you. And now, in order to justify your own failure, you compose tall tales. We were told how you personally ask everyone to "isolate" Russia. And everyone you ask is laughing at your back, knowing that the current administration is doomed to an inglorious end," Zakharova wrote in her Telegram channel. In fact, Lavrov, as confirmed by Western sources, held about 10 meetings with his colleagues on the sidelines of the meeting. It is known for certain about his business contacts with the foreign Ministers of China, Turkey, India, Brazil, Argentina and Indonesia. Weighty? I would also like to note that not a single Western minister boycotted the speech of our Foreign Minister at the summit. Even the notorious Blinken was present in the hall. Lavrov, by the way, nobly refused the "mirror boycott" and also decided not to ignore the speeches of colleagues from the "conspirators' camp". "It was interesting for me to hear what the West is doing now," the minister admitted. Perhaps the only one he didn't listen to was the German Annalena Berbock. Not because he does not respect women and her in particular, but because the plane was already waiting for him "in pairs". But let's return to Lavrov's speech at the forum. In particular, he said: "Classical diplomacy is giving way to methods of blackmail and pressure on independent states." And he called for remembering the principles of solidarity laid down in the foundation of the G20, created in 2008 as a joint response to the global financial crisis. Later, at a bilateral meeting with his Brazilian counterpart Carlos Franca, our Minister stressed that he appreciates the position of most countries in Asia, Latin America, and Africa. "No matter what anyone thinks about any of us, we should not undermine multilateral formats," he said. Detail: there are really a lot of benefits from such contacts. The representative of the States, for example, "on the sidelines" of the G20, on his own initiative, held talks with Chinese Minister Wang Yi. Which is important in the context of growing tensions in bilateral relations. And the Chinese Foreign Minister – with a colleague from Australia. For the first time in three years, what can be considered a big breakthrough in relations between Beijing and Canberra. Actually, it's not a sin to remind that the G20 ministers gathered in Bali not to arrange irrelevant showdowns (we are talking about some), but to prepare for the G20 summit meeting to be held in Indonesia in November. On July 6, Moscow previously notified the organizers of President Vladimir Putin's intention to take part in the summit. However, the Foreign Ministry stipulated that the format of his participation "is subject to clarification due to the epidemic situation in the region and the situation in the world." (Diplomats know how to circumvent sharp corners!). In fact, there are several options for the presence (or still not presence) of the Kremlin leader at the upcoming November meeting. Let's analyze the most obvious ones. The first. Ignore. Personally, I exclude him. The format of the "twenty" in the current conditions is important for Russia. Second. The collective West continues to "inflate its cheeks" and, due to the possible arrival of the Russian leader, lowers the level of its representation. That is, not the first persons will sit, but G7 politicians with a lower rank. In fact, Putin should not be offended: he will have a sufficient number of worthy partners for negotiations. But the "conspirators" of the highest rank will lose the opportunity to meet face to face with the leaders of the same China, India, the leading countries of South America. That will obviously go to them "in the negative". Third. Putin may decide to participate in the event at a remote location, which he successfully practices both on the domestic political floor and at the international level. Example: a recent video conference with BRICS leaders. This option is likely, especially after demarches at the last SMID, but personal communication ("eye to eye") still preferable. Fourth. All the powerful of this world come to the "ball" (or a gala dinner). That's where it will be necessary to observe how the cards will eventually fall. Will the elderly Biden and sporty Scholz run away from Putin? In favor of this option is the fact that until November, read for five months!, "a lot of water will leak". We are talking about the same Russian special operation in Ukraine. Will the "war continue to the last Ukrainian" or will it be time to sit down at the negotiating table? In any case, the Kremlin now has a more preferable position. Putin can choose and build his approach based on Russian interests. And the collective West will be drowning in impotent anger all this time.

The samurai spirit has awakened in Japan

Note: this is a machine translation from the original Russian text The new Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, forgetting about political restraint, threatens Russia, China, Belarus and two Koreas at once. The Japan–EU summit was held in mid-May. As a result of the meeting, a statement was issued that strikes with samurai frenzy. In an ultimatum form, it calls for the immediate "withdrawal of Russian troops from the territory of Ukraine", as well as "stop aggression". The Belarusian authorities, led by its leader Alexander Lukashenko, were called a "regime" and condemned for supporting Moscow. China also got it. Japan and the EU have stated that they will seek peace in the Indo-Pacific region, where the degree of Japanese-Chinese confrontation is growing. In particular, in the area of the disputed Diaoyu Islands, which the Japanese call Senkaku. North Korea was condemned "for constant missile provocations." South Korea also got it, but for a different reason. The intrigue is that in 2020, at the request of the association of South Koreans living in Germany, a "Statue of Peace" was installed in the Mitte district of Berlin. The monument is dedicated to the victims of sexual slavery to which South Korean women were subjected by the Japanese military during World War II. The US Marines also sinned in the same way, but a little later, when they brought the Land of the Rising Sun to its knees. Korean and Chinese women were called "comfort women" or "comfort women" by the Japanese military, forcing them to engage in prostitution. Historians' estimates vary: from 200 to 400 thousand women, including minors, became sex slaves of Japanese and then American soldiers. Official Tokyo believes that this is a clear exaggeration, everything happened, they say, on a voluntary basis. So: 64-year-old Fumio Kishida held a personal meeting with Chancellor Olaf Scholz and demanded (let's focus on the modality! – Auth.) to dismantle the monument. Scholz, of course, assured the prime minister of the importance of friendship with Japan, but refused to demolish the monument. This, they say, is under German law not in his competence, but in the jurisdiction of the authorities of the Mitte district. You should talk to them. In social networks of South Korea, Kishida was branded as an illiterate politician on this occasion. He was reminded that "a country that forgets about the past has no future." In Russia, it is not widely known about this disgusting page of Japanese militarism during the occupation of Korea, China and World War II. It makes sense to reveal the details. The reason for the creation of a network of military brothels for the needs of the Japanese army since 1938 was the desire of the command to limit the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, as well as to prevent mass rapes in the occupied territories. Until the end of the war, about 200 thousand sex slaves, mostly Korean women, passed through the "consolation stations", according to Seoul. The "consolation stations" were first called "niguichi", which translates to "29 to 1". This was how the daily "norm" for serving soldiers was designated. During the war, the administrative "bar" was officially raised to 40 people. The first soldier's brothel was opened in Shanghai. The service staff were women who volunteered for this job in Japan. Then the "consolation stations" began to open en masse. It soon became clear that Japanese "priestesses of love" are sorely lacking. The occupation authorities tried to lure women from the occupied territories, but there were few willing ones. Then, as an experiment, "live goods" began to be brought from internment camps, forcing concubines to engage in prostitution by force. But this measure did not cover the deficit either. Then, by the decision of the Japanese command, a hunt for potential sex slaves was launched: special teams began to operate on the territory of Korea to catch women. The Sonderkommando could grab young Korean women right on the street, throw them into trucks, send them to train stations or ports for transportation to "comfort stations", which were often thousands of kilometers away from their homes and families. In 1942, a network of brothels covered the entire occupied territory. There were 100 "comfort stations" in Northern China, 140 in Central China, 40 in South China, 100 in Southeast Asia, 10 in the South Seas, 10 on Sakhalin. And in total, 400 brothels appeared in military reports, in which women from Korea, China, the Philippines, Indonesia and other Asian countries "worked". Until 1944, with the assistance of the occupation authorities, the recruitment of women to brothels was carried out not only by sonderkommandos, but also by private recruiters. Sometimes they simply bought daughters from their parents, and sometimes they seduced young women to work as "nurses of a special type at the front." In August 1944, the Japanese authorities in Korea began conscripting unmarried girls and women aged 12 to 40 years into "voluntary labor detachments." Officially, it was about working in the weaving factories of Japan, civilian positions in the armed forces. In total, about 200 thousand people were recruited. In reality, several tens of thousands of Korean women conscripted in this way were made military prostitutes – by violence, threats and deception. According to the decision of the military authorities, Japanese women were intended mainly for officers, and Korean and Chinese women – for soldiers. The military brothels were divided into three groups. One was under the direct control of the Japanese military command. The second, the most numerous, formally belonged to civilians, but was de facto controlled by the military. The third group was also in private hands, but both military and ordinary Japanese were allowed there. Newcomers to brothels were brutally raped, after which they were placed in small rooms, where they conducted a "reception" of soldiers lining up. Those who resisted or decided to escape were severely beaten. If the offense was recognized as "particularly grave", then the woman's head was cut off! Weekly sex slaves were examined for sexually transmitted diseases. In case of infection, they were injected with "drug 606" – a remedy for syphilis salvarsan. It was also intended for pregnant women in order to provoke a miscarriage. "Drug 606" has an undesirable side effect, which subsequently excludes the possibility of giving birth to healthy children or giving birth at all. There were frequent cases of suicide among the employees of the "consolation stations". In general, the conditions of detention were such that only a quarter of the sex slaves survived until the end of the war and liberation. If we ignore this tragic story, then in general, the outcome of Fumio Kishida's European tour cannot be called constructive in any way. Japan seems to be coming out of diplomatic shores. The new prime minister, who recklessly drew a samurai sword, should have learned first: who does not appreciate good-neighborly relations, sooner or later will have to pay for the consequences.

Coup in Pakistan: causes, risks, prospects

Note: this is a machine translation from the original Russian text On April 3, the Parliament of Pakistan was dissolved just moments before a decision was to be taken on a vote of no confidence in the country's Prime Minister Imran Khan. However, such a radical measure did not save him – the Supreme Court restored the National Assembly. Khan's Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party has lost support in parliament from coalition allies, and the former prime minister himself, apparently, has lost the support of the armed forces - one of the key forces in the country. As a result, Imran Khan was dismissed, and PTI resigned from parliament shortly before the scheduled election of a new prime minister. On April 11, Parliament elected a new prime minister – Shahbaz Sharif, the younger brother of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who is known for being sentenced to ten years in prison on corruption charges in 2017. However, now the punishment is likely to be reviewed. Apparently, Sharif will serve as prime minister until the next elections, which are scheduled for August 2023. All this shows that there is a deep political crisis in Pakistan, which has been brewing for a long time. During almost the entire term of Khan's tenure, double-digit inflation was observed in the country, and the decision to lower domestic prices for fuel and electricity only increased the budget deficit and exacerbated problems with the balance of payments. The rupee has fallen to a historic low. Moreover, in the future, the Pakistani rupee will face further devaluation pressure. Moreover, if the new government fails to resume the country's participation in the IMF program, which provides for expanded financing and ensure the remaining payments, this may lead to the termination of external financing. In addition, if the US Federal Reserve tightens its monetary policy even more than markets expect, this could increase the volatility of the already weakened rupee. Pakistan's GDP per capita is very low and stands at about US$ 1,500 as of fiscal year 2021. Income inequality is high both vertically (that is, between different segments of society) and horizontally (at the regional level, between different provinces). The illiteracy rate of the population is very high, especially in rural areas and among women, and, accordingly, the level of education is extremely low. As for the foreign policy vector, Islamabad under Khan significantly distanced itself from Washington. The attempt to establish a neutral foreign policy and the recent negotiations with Moscow probably became the last straw for the United States and the pro-American elites in Pakistan itself. Experts of the Institute of the Middle East (IBV) believe that despite the fact that Prime Minister Khan's trip to Moscow met with approval from the military, it did not become an important argument in their attitude towards Khan. Disagreements between the Prime Minister and the military have worsened against the background of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the controversial appointment in October 2021 of the former commander of the Baloch Border Regiment and army headquarters in Karachi, Lieutenant General Nadim Anjum, to the post of head of the Interdepartmental Intelligence of the Armed Forces (ISI). On March 27, Khan showed a letter claiming that the United States had sent a diplomatic warning to Pakistan about his removal from the post of prime minister. However, such a loud accusation did not help. For example, retired Major General Atar Abbas said that "the reaction [in the armed forces - ed.] to the question of whether his [letter – ed.] use to intervene in a situation with a vote of no confidence, ambiguous." The military also accused Khan of discrediting the image of the army in society during his reign. Many experts note that regardless of whether the United States is taking part in the political crisis in Pakistan or not, the economic situation in the country will continue to deteriorate, which in turn may provoke new large-scale protests. With the escalation of the confrontation, the likelihood that the military will still intervene increases. And given the fact that the opposition parties seem to have abandoned anti-war rhetoric in their criticism of Khan, most likely they no longer perceive the security forces as supporters of the former leader of the country. This means that the military will not intervene to ensure Khan's political survival. However, American analysts from IHS Global Insight emphasize that there are real risks that the military may go for a direct seizure of power in order to maintain shaky stability in the country until the next early elections. However, this is not the most likely scenario for today. It is much more likely that the opposition, which has gained power, will try to keep it until the next elections in order to further legitimize its rule. There is another risk that is not being actively considered today. The Pakistan Institute for Peace Studies (PIPS) reported that in the coming months, Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP, a terrorist organization banned in the Russian Federation) is likely to intensify attacks on the Pakistani military. On March 30, TTP announced a new offensive against the country's security forces during Ramadan after claiming responsibility for an attack on a military complex that killed at least six Pakistani soldiers. Speaking about the long-term prospects for Pakistan, we note that the unfolding political crisis may last for years, including due to problems in the economic and security spheres. The situation with the clan structure of the political life of the country is also getting worse. Although the main parties have ideological differences, they are mostly dominated by individuals or families, which has led to accusations of nepotism, patronage and corruption and is also a reason for protests and riots. American analysts emphasize in their reports that the best scenario for Pakistan will be the preservation of civilian power, provided that the military bloc continues to restrain radicalization and Islamist militancy. At the same time, it is noted that the country must maintain its pro-Western course, which confirms, if not direct, then indirect US participation in the overthrow of Khan. Especially considering that in their forecasts they regularly use the words "separatism", "democracy", "values", etc. Americans consider the coming to power of a radical Islamist regime that has no sympathy for the United States to be an unfavorable scenario. At the same time, Washington's ability to put pressure on Islamabad will be significantly limited by the presence of the latter's nuclear weapons. However, experts also state that there is no leader in Pakistan today who is similar in level to the Iranian leader of the Islamic Revolution, Khomeini, or his closest ally, the Great Ayatollah Khamenei. For Moscow, the events in Pakistan pose risks mainly from the point of view of the implementation of major projects between the two countries. First of all, this is the "Pakistani Stream". Despite the fact that its capacity is relatively small, only 12.4 billion cubic meters of gas per year (for comparison, the capacity of the Turkish Stream is 31.5 billion cubic meters per year) in conditions when it is necessary to redirect blue fuel to the east, any pipelines are important. So it is not surprising that during Khan's visit to Moscow, the "Pakistani Stream" was expected to become one of the key topics of negotiations.

Biden leaves Afghanistan without money

Note: this is a machine translation from the original Russian text On February 11, US President Joe Biden signed an order according to which the assets of the Central Bank of Afghanistan – about seven billion dollars - will be seized. At the same time, about half of these funds, or rather $3.5 billion, are planned to be spent on providing humanitarian assistance to the Afghan people, and the remaining funds will be sent as compensation to the families of the victims of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack. It is assumed that after the blocking of all assets of the Afghan Central Bank, the money will be transferred to the accounts of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Thus, the Americans intend to actually deprive the Taliban ruling in Afghanistan today (a terrorist organization banned in the Russian Federation) of any financial reserves. The US administration reported: "The United States has imposed sanctions against the Taliban and the Haqqani Network (a terrorist organization banned in the Russian Federation), including for actions that threaten the security of Americans, such as taking our citizens hostage." Recall that the previous Afghan authorities placed more than $ 7 billion in foreign currency, gold and bonds in the Federal Reserve Bank of New York even before the Taliban came to power in August 2021 after the flight of the US military from the country. At the same time, about $9 billion in Afghan international reserves were initially stored in Western financial structures (mainly in the United States) and have been frozen until now, given the countries' refusal to de jure recognize the Taliban government. The blocking of finances by the United States is not the first such precedent, it is worth remembering at least how in 2019 the Americans imposed sanctions against the state-owned Venezuelan company PdVSA, prohibiting American firms from transferring funds to its accounts. Then, according to Washington's estimates, Venezuela also had to lose about $ 7 billion, and in the future, as a result of the loss of the market, another $ 11 billion annually. Experts of the British analytical center Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) believe that Biden's decision is aimed at trying to find a solution to the humanitarian catastrophe that broke out in Afghanistan due to the collapse of the banking system, the lack of flows of foreign aid and investment, which previously made up most of the annual financial budget. At the same time, the Americans, as analysts note, do not intend to deal with the Taliban today. However, today it is still very early to say that the initiative of "sleepy Joe" is close to implementation. To begin with, such a decision in American realities will have to overcome a long legal quagmire, since the right of the US government to seize the reserve assets of another country in this way will be the subject of litigation. And this is at least months, or even more. However, it is worth noting here that the first "round" of judicial delays has already been won, when 150 US citizens, relatives of the victims of the September 11 terrorist attack, said that the government owed them about $ 7 billion, and a federal judge approved such withdrawal of funds against this background. The decision to allocate 3.5 billion US dollars – which for a moment is about 17-18% of Afghanistan's GDP in 2019 – to compensate for the 2001 attacks is highly controversial. Former Afghan President Hamid Karzai called it an "atrocity" against the Afghan people. Afghan groups living in the United States described it as "theft of public funds." At the same time, the EIU expresses doubt that the seized funds, as well as the money collected for Afghans by various organizations, will be used in a timely manner to help the population in a difficult winter. However, some of this money can be used to support agriculture later this year, which will help to stabilize the situation to some extent. At the same time, it is expected that the EIU does not notice that the United States initially became the reason for the Taliban coming to power, and today the administration's refusal to have at least some contacts with the radicals, as well as blocking the funds of the previous Afghan authorities, primarily hits ordinary residents of this state, and not the leadership of the terrorist group. Against the background of the non-recognition of the Taliban government, further delaying and postponing aid to Afghanistan means that food shortages in the country will only worsen, and millions of people will be on the verge of starvation. The Institute of the Middle East (IBB), in turn, notes that most of the money of the Central Bank of Afghanistan consists of receipts from various foreign exchange funds during the period when the United States controlled the situation in the country and tried to stimulate the economy with various payments. As a result, although the funds formally belong to Kabul, but it must pay them to commercial banks. About half a billion dollars more is the savings of ordinary Afghans. As a result, there may be a situation in which money was taken from Afghanistan, but debts remained, and commercial organizations are unlikely to write them off of their own free will. Especially considering the fact that the Taliban have repeatedly stated that they claim the money of the former authorities of the country. Withdrawing money from Kabul, the United States at the same time notes that American taxpayers and private companies have already spent more than 516 million dollars, only since August 2021, and in January 2022 announced the allocation of another 308 million to help Afghanistan. Moreover, a whole network of various organizations has already been created to support the Afghans, which is used to distribute humanitarian donations – from water and food to health and sanitation services. We should add that after the Taliban came to power, the Afghan economy, according to various estimates, has already lost about 30%, and there is no one to restore it – engineers, officials, experts, economists and a lot of other specialists simply fled the country in the summer of 2021. As a result, the UN reports that about half of the total population, that is, about 19 million people, faced the problem of food shortages. The Taliban even officially stated that if large-scale humanitarian assistance is not provided to Afghanistan, most likely many will decide to leave the country, creating a new migration crisis in the world. However, as IBV analysts note, referring to a number of American experts, even if the United States unfreezes all $7 billion of the past Afghan authorities, this will not help the country cope with deep structural problems and contradictions.

A queue of Middle Eastern ministers lined up in China (machine translation)

While the West and Russia were sorting out their relations (and Russia was also saving Kazakhstan from the invasion of terrorists), China organized "open days" for guests from the Middle East. During the past week, the foreign Ministers of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman, Turkey, Iran, as well as the Secretary General of the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Persian Gulf (GCC) visited China. At the same time, the Chinese signed agreements with Syria and Morocco on the implementation of the "One Belt, One Road" initiative, and with Iraq – a contract for the construction of the largest oil refinery in the region. The Arabs of the Gulf were the first to be accepted in the Middle Kingdom. They spent five days here – from Monday to Friday. Which in itself is unusual: as a rule, foreign ministers do not leave their capitals for a long time, a day and a half is enough for them to negotiate. And here – almost a whole week away! Apparently, there were a lot of topics for very serious discussions… And who knows who they managed to see in the Chinese hinterland (they were received not in Beijing, but in the town of Wuxi – there are not even a million inhabitants in it – in Jiangsu province)… In the reports (rather stingy on details) about the negotiations, special emphasis was placed on the collective nature of the visit of the four Arab ministers and the Secretary General of the GCC, which was supposed to demonstrate the unity of this organization. This plan partially succeeded: a joint communique was adopted, which discussed the "need to establish strategic partnership relations" between the Gulf Council and the PRC, as well as the "early start of negotiations" on the creation of a free trade zone. However, this document was the result of bilateral negotiations between Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and GCC Secretary General Naif al-Najraf. Meetings with each of the four Arab ministers were held in the same separate mode. No joint meetings were reported, group photos were not published. There is reason to believe that this circumstance – as well as the absence of representatives of Qatar and the UAE in the Arab delegation – indicates the problems that persist in the ranks of the Gulf Council, despite the efforts that were made on the eve and during the recent 42nd summit of the organization (which we have already written about earlier). So, it seems that disagreements with Qatar have not been eliminated, and Doha is not ready to act on the same front with its brothers and neighbors in such a serious and responsible matter as establishing a strategic partnership with a new global power – the PRC. As for the Emirates, the situation is somewhat different here. Abu Dhabi prefers to pursue an increasingly independent policy without regard for its neighbors and especially for the traditional regional leader - Saudi Arabia. So with Beijing, the UAE has developed its own system of relations, perhaps the most advanced among the Arab states of the Gulf. But it was here that a very serious failure occurred. The fact is that the Chinese comrades received permission from the Emirati authorities to build a huge commercial port and immediately set to work. However, recently, American intelligence suddenly discovered that this port could well be used as a military base. Washington demanded to stop the construction, which the Emirates immediately complied with. The Chinese did not make a fuss (yet). But all the same, after such an embarrassment, it was inconvenient to go to visit them: I would have to hide my eyes, throw up my hands, sigh and mutter, they say, "we'll figure something out." Note along the way that the Americans have recently discovered that China seems to be helping Saudi Arabia to establish the production of ballistic missiles. What this story may lead to is not yet clear… Whatever it was, but the multi-day visit of the Arab ministerial delegation to the Celestial Empire demonstrated to the whole world that Beijing intends to take full advantage of the situation generated by the inability of the United States to maintain its hegemony in the Gulf and in the Middle East as a whole. At the same time, he can be sure that the Arabian monarchies need him much more than he needs them. For the main thing that he offers them is not only and not so much investment, technology or a free trade zone. And not even weapons or security guarantees. The main thing is the opportunity to integrate into a global strategy that could provide a new generation of sheikhs with a sense of existence, a conscious connection with the future. Half a century ago, America gave the founding fathers of the oil principalities a place and a role in its global strategy, the expiration date of which, apparently, is expiring. Today, Beijing is claiming Washington's place, having managed to formulate its own alternative truly global and truly strategic vision of the world and its development prospects. And in this he is ahead of the Anglo-Saxons, whose concept of the future is just beginning to take more or less clear outlines: the "green agenda", opposition to China (AUCUS) and Russia, the fight against the threat of new epidemics, minority rights… The Chinese proposal looks more practical and pragmatic, less politicized. But the Anglo–Saxon one comes from traditional patrons - patrons whose methods and interests are already familiar, understandable, familiar. As a result, the Arabs face a difficult choice. But the Chinese will not let them think for a long time. Firstly, on January 13, a memorandum on Syria's accession to the "One Belt, One Road" initiative was signed in Damascus. And a week before that, the same document was signed with Morocco. This clearly indicates the firmness and inevitability of China's intentions. And secondly, Beijing has clearly shown that in addition to the Arabs in the Middle East, there is someone to deal with: during the five days that the Arabian ministers visited China, their colleagues from Turkey and Iran visited the Celestial Empire. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu arrived in Usi on Wednesday, January 12. The main results of his talks with Wang Yi were the confirmation that Ankara does not intend to participate in the drawing of the "Uighur card" in Western relations with China. At the same time, the Chinese side expressed hope that Turkey will make efforts to ensure that other Islamic countries take a similar position on the Uighur issue. For its part, China promised to increase the volume of imports of Turkish goods (which is very important, given the problems that the Turkish economy is experiencing now). And on Friday (the last day of the Arabs' stay), Hossein Amir Abdollahian, the Iranian Foreign Minister, arrived for talks with Wang Yi. His visit was provided with special information support: his article was published in the Chinese press, where the relations of the PRC and Iran were considered as the relations of two of the world's oldest civilizations. At the same time, emphasis was placed on the prospects for the implementation of the Comprehensive Cooperation Agreement (Comprehensive Cooperation Plan) concluded by the two countries, designed for 25 years. This agreement was signed last year, but it was put into effect following the negotiations between Wang Yi and Hossein Abdollahian. Little is known about its content, except that it covers the areas of economic, trade, investment cooperation, as well as the areas of security, military and political interaction. In any case, it is clear that Iran is opening China a wide access to the Persian Gulf and the Arabian Sea region, which the countries of the Arab Gulf coast will have to reckon with. Other international players who have their stakes in the region will have to reckon with this, including the United States, Britain and Russia, which has made a lot of efforts to regain its position in the Middle East. In political and military terms, this has largely succeeded. The same cannot be said about the economy. It seems that China is going to get the main economic benefits from the change in the situation in the region, creating a solid foundation for its long-term presence here. Of course, Russian companies are also getting new opportunities, rediscovering the markets of Syria, Iraq, Egypt, expanding cooperation with Iran and exploring new horizons in the Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Qatar. But this is truly a drop in the ocean compared to what China is trying to achieve, which has not fired a single shot and has not sent a single soldier to the land of the Middle East. It seems that the time is coming to work on combining Chinese and Russian strategies in this region. Beijing should understand that the advantages of its position depend to a very large extent on the military-political role of Russia. Moscow has an equally developed and effective network of influence, and without taking into account its interests, it will be problematic to maintain stability and security here at the level necessary to build a bright future according to Chinese projects. But the first step is for Russia. It needs to clearly define and formulate its interests – in this case, primarily economic – in the Middle East and the Persian Gulf.

Japan and Australia have signed a major security agreement (machine translation)

On January 6, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and his Japanese counterpart Fumio Kishida signed the Mutual Access Agreement (RAA), a defense and security treaty aimed at strengthening the alliance between the two countries. As members of the US-led Quad group (along with India), both countries (Australia and Japan) already considered themselves allies in the region. So, back in 2007, Tokyo and Canberra signed a joint declaration on security cooperation, seeking to coordinate issues such as border security, counter-terrorism operations and defense missions abroad. Nevertheless, according to British experts from the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) analytical center, the RAA is aimed at developing these relations, allowing the armed forces of Australia and Japan to use each other's military bases without any problems and ensuring that the military of the two states will be able to conduct more complex exercises in the region. It can be stated that the RAA establishes a legislative framework to increase compatibility and capabilities between the Australian Defense Forces (ADF) and the Japan Self-Defense Forces (JSDF) during military exercises and disaster relief operations. After coming into force, the agreement will allow to increase the number and scale of bilateral exercises between Australia and Japan in the Asia-Pacific region, as well as facilitate Australia's participation in multilateral exercises, for example, in the annual naval exercises "Malabar", in which the United States, Japan and India participate. The Mutual Access Agreement became the second major defense document implying joint military access, which Japan signed after the country reached agreements with the United States (the Status of Forces Agreement with the United States), under which the Americans can keep warships, troops and weapons on the territory of the Asian state. At the same time, the EIU adds that Japan is still guided by its pacifist constitution, which sets strict restrictions on the development and deployment of its armed forces. However, it is worth noting here that such a constitution did not appear because of the peaceful views of Japanese politicians, but as a result of the defeat of the country in World War II and does not fully reflect the real intentions of the authorities in Tokyo. The desire to regain the Kuril Islands is a vivid example of this. Like Japan, Australia views the United States as its main security partner – a fact that was confirmed by the signing of the AUKUS agreement in 2021. Moreover, on January 7, Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi and Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi held a virtual 2+2 meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and Pentagon Chief Lloyd Austin to discuss regional security issues. "The Ministers expressed their concern that China's continued efforts to undermine the rules-based order are creating political, economic, military and technological challenges for the region and the world. They decided to work together to deter and, if necessary, respond to destabilizing activities in the region," the joint statement on the results of the meeting said. More importantly, even before the start of negotiations, Anthony Blinken said that the United States and Japan plan to conclude a new defense agreement and stressed that the alliance of Washington and Tokyo "should not only strengthen existing tools, but also develop new ones." However, back to the RAA. According to British analysts from the EIU, the impetus for this deal was "China's ambitions in the region." At the same time, the reason is called "Beijing's alleged aggression against Taiwan, as well as ongoing disputes with Asian countries in the South China Sea." Political ties between Australia and China have been deteriorating for several years, with the former criticizing the latter's policies in Hong Kong, as well as Beijing's "connection" with the COVID-19 pandemic. Meanwhile, Beijing says that Australian politicians are guilty of "abuse of authority." Together with the signing of AUKUS and the tightening of domestic legislation, including regulating foreign investment, Australia is laying the foundation for long-term distancing from its largest export market. In general, the British version is confirmed by American experts from IHS Global Insight, who state that although the RAA does not directly mention mainland China, Morrison and Kishida in a joint statement issued after the summit expressed "serious concern about the situation in the South China Sea", and also confirmed their "strong objection to illegal maritime claims and China's actions" As a result, the EIU states that the signing of the RAA confirms the existing forecasts of their analysts that anti-Chinese sentiment in Asia will grow in the coming years among countries loyal to the United States. In turn, Global Insight believes that in 2022, the Kishida administration will continue to strive to improve bilateral security cooperation with various partners and work on new interstate documents on the transfer of military equipment, as well as further agreements aimed at strengthening practical cooperation in the field of security. The RAA does not need the approval of the Australian Parliament, but is likely to receive the approval of the parliament in Japan during its regular session starting in mid-January 2022. And although the agreement itself is unlikely to trigger retaliatory actions by the Chinese government against Australia and Japan, but if the agreement is followed by increased participation of the two countries in issues that Beijing considers its "red lines", for example, increased presence in the South China Sea or joint military exercises with Taiwan, Beijing will be forced to take retaliatory actions. Most likely – economic, or rather – to introduce trade restrictions. The new agreement between Japan and Australia is undoubtedly aimed, among other things, at deepening Tokyo's integration with the new American alliance – AUKUS, which should be considered primarily as a counterweight to Chinese influence and military power in the region. It is no secret that currently the main priority of American foreign policy is the confrontation with the Middle Kingdom. For the sake of concentrating forces in this direction, Washington is weakening its presence in the Middle East, an example of which is the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan. Even the beginning of negotiations with Russia on security issues is considered by many experts precisely in the context of the American buildup of forces in the Chinese direction. The introduction of Tokyo into the AUKUS defense alliance and the signing of the RAA should be considered precisely in the context of the consolidation of US forces in the confrontation with Beijing. And the rhetoric of the participants during the negotiations on January 7, as well as after them, only confirms such a scenario.