China Never Forgets: “Paybacks can be HELL!”
by Seth Ferris on 23 May 2024 0 Comment

China’s visit to Belgrade on the 25th anniversary of the bombing of their embassy, when taken in conjunction with the cold shoulder given to the US Secretary of State on his arrival in China, should send a clear message to the US. Will the elites in Washington be clever enough to understand it is another question?


US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken arrived in China and, upon getting off the plane, was greeted without the traditional red carpet. At the top of the hierarchy of officials who met Blinken was Chen Jining, head of the Shanghai Party Committee and a member of the Politburo. As Blinken is the US Secretary of State, protocol would require him to be met by at least the Chinese Foreign minister, Wang Yi, who was notable by his absence.


It is also notable that the United States, and Blinken in particular, have been issuing threats of sanctions against China for their close relationship with Russia, something that will definitely not endear them to their Chinese counterparts, who consider any sanctions not authorized by the UN Security Council to be illegal.


The US has been raising the spectre of Chinese weapons supplies to Russia since the beginning of the Russian SMO in Ukraine, without any evidence of such. Now they appear to be taking aim at any and all Chinese exports under the blanket term “dual use”, which, given the track record of US sanctions, can mean pretty much anything.


The track record of such punitive sanctions is dire, especially when we look at the case of Iraq, where sanctions on “dual use” items such as medical supplies and food, are believed to have killed anywhere up to half a million children alone. Of course, the US tries to claim these numbers are “inflated” without any real evidence.


Further evidence of the real nature of such sanctions is evident in their application to Rhodesia, then its successor Zimbabwe, and well, as Iran and now Russia. They are a weapon of warfare, albeit economic, but one that is now starting to turn on its primary wielder.


Needless to say, I doubt the Chinese are going to change course any time soon, with the burgeoning trade with Russia, which in 2023 exceeded the target of US$200 billion by a massive US$ 40 billion, helping the Chinese economy to grow at a far better than expected rate, growing by 5.4% in the first quarter of 2024 alone.


China has happily grabbed the energy exports from Russia that the EU has foolishly rejected and banned, helping to fuel its ever-increasing industrial might. In return, the Chinese are covering gaps in imports to Russia caused by US and EU sanctions, providing machine tools, computer chips, and other manufactured goods to keep the Russian economy going.


In response to US threats of sanctions, China’s foreign ministry spokesperson, Wang Wenbin, restated China’s position, which is worth quoting in full:

“The United States keeps making groundless accusations over the normal trade and economic exchanges between China and Russia, while passing a bill providing a large amount of aid for Ukraine. This is just hypocritical and highly irresponsible. China firmly rejects this.


“On Ukraine, China’s position has been just and objective. We have worked actively to promote talks for peace and a political settlement. The government oversees the export of dual-use articles in accordance with the laws and regulations. China is neither the creator of the Ukraine crisis nor a party to it. We never fan the flames or seek selfish gains, and we will certainly not accept being the scapegoat.


“Let me stress again that China’s right to conduct normal trade and economic exchanges with Russia and other countries in the world on the basis of equality and mutual benefit should not be interfered with or disrupted. China’s legitimate and lawful rights and interests should not be infringed on.


“The US needs to know that to fan the flames or to smear others and shift the blame is no way to solve the Ukraine issue. Only by accommodating the legitimate security concerns of all parties and creating a balanced, effective, and sustainable European security architecture through dialogue and negotiation is the right way forward.”


The Chinese position is well-balanced and thoughtful, as one would expect from one of the oldest and greatest civilizations on Earth. The US government in general, and Anthony Blinken in particular, should remember that China was conducting diplomacy when their ancestors were still living in mud huts.


The Chinese also find it repulsive that the US and EU have committed billions in weapons to prolong the war, but demand others cease civil trade with Russia. One cannot blame them for their obvious disgust at Western hypocrisy on this matter.


Now to the matter of the 25th anniversary of the US bombing of the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade. The bombing of the Chinese Embassy on May 7th 1999 was a watershed event, although many did not consider it as such at the time. The strike killed three Chinese journalists (shocking at the time, but something that has become de jure in modern warfare as conducted by the US and its “greatest ally” Israel), and wounded a number of other Chinese citizens.


At the time, China had been expressing its opposition to the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia at the UN, by vetoing, along with Russia, a US-led measure authorizing an attack. The US later claimed that the bombing was “accidental” but it is highly likely that the US, at that time far more powerful than the People’s Republic of China, was sending a none-too-subtle message.


The bombing was followed by a mass protest outside the US embassy in Beijing, the first government-authorized protest in ten years. There is also evidence that the bombing spurred the Chinese to focus on a massive upgrading of their armed forces, as they realized that their policy of peaceful coexistence with the US was not only not being reciprocated, but was being actively abused by the US.


This policy, often called the “Rich Country – Strong Army” policy, has borne fruit over the last two decades, with China now able to produce its own stealth fighters, such as the J-20 and FC-31, and ballistic anti-shipping missiles (known also as “carrier killers”) such as the DF-21. All this backed up with a wide array of more conventional aircraft such as the already-proven Su-35 from Russia, and the rapidly growing and modernizing Chinese Navy, now the largest in the world.


The Chinese policy of creating island bases seems intent on creating “no-go” areas large enough to keep US carriers away from the Chinese mainland and vital shipping lanes during any future war, negating the US advantage in these platforms.


Poo-pooing Chinese-designed weapons


Needless to say, Western military commentators tend to poo-poo Chinese-designed weapons systems, assuming that their US counterparts are “significantly superior” without ever providing any real evidence. One would have thought that they would have learned from the debacle in Ukraine, where Western “wonder weapons” from the Javelin ATGM and Stinger MANPADs through the Leopard 2, Challenger 2, Abrams, Bradley AFVs, right through to the “war-winning” HIMARS, Patriot, Storm Shadow and the GLSDB (Ground Launched Small Diameter Bomb) have all failed to alter the course of the war, and in many cases have failed spectacularly.


To make matters worse, threats to sanction China, be it financially against banks, or against its major companies and exports are likely to backfire stupendously. China is the world’s workshop, providing the majority of everyday items that keep the world functioning, and not only in manufactured goods but in the vital rare earth minerals that our modern technological society needs to keep functioning, of which China controls 92% of the available supply.


Tides have turned


China is no longer the developing country that had no way to safely retaliate against the US bombing of its embassy in 1999. It is now a military and economic superpower, one that can retaliate in a number of ways to any US aggression, be it military, or the insane idea of unilateral sanctions.


Already we see the Chinese divesting themselves of holdings in the US dollar, particularly treasury bonds, and buying gold. A rapid and massive increase in this activity would rapidly accelerate the process of de-dollarization, which in turn would have severe impacts on the US ability to continue printing money.


Countersanctions against major US companies would also cause severe economic hardship, and a cutting off of the supply of rare earth metals would bring the US tech industry, especially that supporting the US military-industrial complex, to a sudden and grinding halt.


It really looks to me as if the US government, so used to being not the biggest kid on the block, but the only kid on the block, has completely failed to keep up with developments, and is about to find out what happens when the oft-bullied kid realizes he has grown bigger and stronger than his tormentor. Good luck with that, America, you have only yourself to blame!


Seth Ferris, investigative journalist and political scientist, expert on Middle Eastern affairs, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”. Courtesy 

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