George Friedman, the head of the ‘private CIA’ firm Stratfor, issued a report on March 5th, “After Hanoi: North Korea, the US and Japan”, and it said:
The strategy since World War II, built on the assumption that U.S. conventional forces can defeat any foe and pacify the country, is being abandoned. And in the case of the Hanoi talks, the U.S. is following a new strategy of diplomatic deadlock without recourse to the insertion of force. …
The U.S. has decided to accept that North Korea is a nuclear state, so long as none of its nuclear weapons can reach the U.S. mainland. This completely destabilizes Japan’s strategy. Under that strategy, first imposed by the U.S. and happily embraced by Japan, the U.S. guarantees Japanese national security. The U.S., in exchange, has been able to use Japan as a base from which to project force across the Korean Peninsula, threaten China and block Russia’s Vladivostok fleet from accessing the Pacific Ocean. Japan, unencumbered by defense expenditures and any responsibility in American wars, could focus on the monumental task of its dramatic post-World War II recovery. Most important, the U.S. nuclear umbrella has guaranteed that any nation that might attack Japan with nuclear weapons would face retaliation from the United States. …
The Hanoi talks subtly shift that guarantee. The new U.S. position is that it cannot accept a North Korean nuclear program that threatens the United States. Implicit in that position is that it can tolerate one that threatens Japan.
His last sentence there is false, because it excludes the following important possibility, which now actually needs to become the reality, especially after this “deadlock” that he referred to: The U.S. and North Korea can meet together in an entirely different discussion, of whether, in return for North Korea’s verifiable commitment never to possess or station any missile that can reach the United States, the U.S. will do the following three things:
1: Guarantee to Japan, and to South Korea, that any nuclear attack against Japan and/or against South Korea, will be met by a U.S. nuclear attack against the attacker (regardless of whom that attacking nation might be). The U.S. would then be taking Japan (as well as South Korea) entirely under its nuclear umbrella, so that an attack against Japan or against South Korea would be equivalent to an attack against the United States itself. No troops would need to be stationed in Japan (or South Korea) in order to be able to do this. America’s real nuclear umbrella for those two countries is precisely this (the nuclear intercontinental U.S. arsenal outside of Japan and South Korea, including the missiles at sea and including in mainland U.S.), and no stationing of either troops or weapons from the United States, inside either of those two countries, is necessary, at all, in order to achieve this. That’s the reality, notwithstanding George Friedman’s false assumption, to the exact contrary: that “Implicit in that position [“that it [[the U.S.]] cannot accept a North Korean nuclear program that threatens the United States”] is that it can tolerate one that threatens Japan.” Not at all is that presumption (America’s needing to station troops in Japan in order to protect Japan) by Friedman true. American troops there are superfluous for the protection of Japan — and also of South Korea. U.S. Troops aren’t needed in either country, for the protection of either country’s inhabitants.
2: Withdraw all U.S. troops from both Japan and South Korea. Those troops are there only for possible uses against Russia and China (as Friedman himself acknowledges by saying “The U.S. … has been able to use Japan as a base from which to project force across the Korean Peninsula, threaten China and block Russia’s Vladivostok fleet from accessing the Pacific Ocean”). The U.S. has secretly continued the old “Cold War” after the Soviet Union’s end, though no longer on an ideological basis (since Russia is no longer communist). It’s been doing this secretly ever since 24 February 1990, purely with the aim of ultimately conquering the entire world. That, too (though secret), is the reality: America has been, and is, secretly trying to take over the entire world.
3: End all sanctions against North Korea. Under the stated conditions, there would be no realistic future possibility that that country could pose a national-security threat to the United States. North Korea’s nuclear weapons would then pose no more of a national-security threat to the U.S. than do Israel’s nuclear weapons (since those are only local threats). Any further aggression (including sanctions) by the U.S. against North Korea would therefore violate Article 2 of the U.N. Charter, because North Korea would no longer even prospectively constitute a threat to America. North Korea would, of course, expect the U.S. to end all sanctions against it if North Korea would no longer be able to pose a threat to the U.S., and it wouldn’t sign the deal otherwise.
This arrangement that’s proposed here between the United States and North Korea would end the Korean War, and it would end the major international tensions which have prevailed in the Asia-Pacific region since the end of World War II. It would bring security to North Korea, U.S., South Korea, and Japan.
This deal would be an authentic quid-pro-quo between the United States and North Korea, which would greatly benefit the economies of the United States, Japan, and South Korea (removing the unnecessary financial burden of maintaining and arming those occupying U.S. troops — troops which are superfluous to everyone except America’s billionaires, who want to impose their corporate wills upon every nation — including upon Russia and China). It wouldn’t benefit merely North Korea (though it also would do that). It would also set the foundation upon which, ultimately, the two Koreas might finally agree to become again one nation, much as did East and West Germany; and, it would also protect both Japan and South Korea — and block any threat from North Korea against the U.S. itself. Consequently, this would also greatly serve the interests of the American people. It would serve EVERYONE’s interests (except approximately 2,153 people, as will subsequently be explained here).
Unfortunately, the world isn’t so democratic internationally, nor within the United States, for the security and welfare of the public anywhere to be actually a high priority of international policy-makers — especially not in the United States, which serves only the interests of its billionaires and extracts as much as it possibly can from its own public and from every other country on the planet. U.S. President Barack Obama even was so arrogant as to assert publicly — and he said it many times — that “The United States is and remains the one indispensable nation,” which was Obama’s version of Hitler’s “Deutschland über alles,” and means (like Hitler’s German version did) that every other nation in the world is “dispensable” — only the imperial nation is not. Any other nation which allies itself with a nation such as this, is being headed by a regime that has no patriotism, no national self-respect at all — it’s a mere vassal-nation, enslaved (in this case) to the tyrannical U.S. regime: “the one indispensable nation.”
If the United States really had ended its side of the Cold war after the 1991 termination of the USSR, and of its communism, and of its Warsaw Pact military alliance that had mirrored America’s NATO alliance, then the arrangement which has been described here would have been instituted long ago, in 1991, when the other side ended the Cold War, and NATO itself would simultaneously have been dissolved when the Warsaw Pact was, instead of being expanded right up to Russia’s borders (as it since has done), but the U.S. regime in 1990 secretly ordered its allies to continue the Cold War on America’s side, and that one-sided aggression continues by the U.S. and its allies, until now.
And that’s the real problem — America’s continuation of the (originally ideological) Cold War, now purely for aggressive purposes: global conquest. It’s permanent war, for permanent ‘peace’ and ‘justice’ and ‘democracy’ and ‘human rights’, and other brazen lies, now against Venezuela and so many other countries.
Just a few years after the 1991 supposed end of the Cold War (when East and West Germany merged), Spokane Washington’s Spokesman-Review newspaper headlined on 2 November 1995, “U.S. Won’t Reduce Troops in Japan”, and opened: “Defense Secretary William J. Perry said here [in Tokyo] Wednesday that the United States has no plans to reduce the number of U.S. troops in Japan, despite a groundswell of local opposition” in Japan.
And as was reported, on 5 March 2006, from “Asahi,” by the U.S. Embassy in Japan, to the CIA, and to the Joint Chiefs, and to all top U.S. national-security officials, “Japan can expect to reduce the number of US troops in Japan and to alleviate the burden of base-hosting localities while maintaining deterrent capabilities against China and North Korea. Meanwhile, the United States can swing its reduced troops around the world with Japan’s backing. The two countries’ expectations coincided.” But it didn’t actually happen — the U.S. occupation still continues. The U.S. Government is dedicated to militarily occupying as many countries as it can. Getting rid of those occupying troops is strongly opposed by the occupying power, which continues its voraciousness to control Russia and China.
As of 2017, the U.S. had 38,818 troops in Japan, and 24,189 in South Korea. The U.S. military-industrial complex (MIC) refuses to end such military occupations in foreign countries, but the only real beneficiaries from this are the MIC itself, which controls the U.S. Government. Firms such as Lockheed Martin are 100% dependent upon the U.S. Government and its allied governments (especially the Saud family) for their sales, and selling more weapons is essential to their cancerous growth. Americans pay in taxes and many other ways, and so do the local foreign governments pay, where America’s troops are stationed. This is one of the reasons for the extreme inequality of wealth in today’s world: that inequality is enforced, by the U.S. international regime. The U.S. military enforces it around the world, in all of America’s vassal-nations. It’s supporting the local aristocracy there, but also (and above all) America’s aristocracy. The U.S. has over a thousand military bases worldwide, the vast majority of which are in foreign countries. It benefits only the billionaires, but the billionaires control the governments, and so this continues and even gets worse. George Friedman ignores that crucial fact. He needs to retain his customers, and they benefit from this barbaric status-quo. He’s not actually a free man. He (like millions of others) speaks for the billionaires; he’s one of their millions of agents. He’s a bought man, so he says “The new U.S. position is that it cannot accept a North Korean nuclear program that threatens the United States. Implicit in that position is that it can tolerate one that threatens Japan.” If this statement from him is not clearly and publicly rejected by the American Government, then all Japanese (except Japan’s billionaires, who depend so much upon America’s) must recognize that the U.S. Government is their enemy, and that Japan needs to find authentic friends, elsewhere — and kick out its existing regime.
Friedman says, approvingly, that the U.S. “has been able to use Japan as a base from which to project force across the Korean Peninsula, threaten China and block Russia’s Vladivostok fleet from accessing the Pacific Ocean.” All of those — against North Korea, and against China, and against Russia; and implicitly against Japan itself as an American stooge-regime — are, in fact, international-war crimes, aggressions by the U.S. military. Regardless of which country (Japan or any other) allows occupying troops, as part of some “deal” between those two nations, neither of those two nations is allowed legally to do any of those things against any third nation (such as against China, Russia, North Korea, or any other). If two people agree to threaten or rob a third person, then no matter how much both of them say it’s a ‘legal’ agreement and only a matter between themselves, it’s not. It still remains a criminal arrangement, and it’s an illegal threat to their intended victim-nations. Of course, if the U.S. is an international gangster-nation, a country that ignores any international laws (except ones that it can cite against weaker nations, such as the U.S. and its allies routinely do do, as mere PR ‘justifying’ their many coups and invasions) — if the U.S. ignores international laws simply because no entity will enforce them — then, the U.N. has already been destroyed, effectively nullified, by the U.S. gangster-regime. But in that case no argument could even possibly be made that the U.S. is a democracy. No nation can be both a dictator abroad, and a democracy in domestic (or intra-national) matters. To presume to the contrary is simply to lie — even if only to oneself.
The U.N. Charter says: “All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations.” The American regime has been violating that with impunity, ever since the end of World War II (such as in its infamous 1953 coup against Iran — a coup which enjoyed the support of Iran’s mullahs). Most recently, it did so in Yemen, Syria, Libya, Iraq, Ukraine, and a number of other countries, which it and its allies have destroyed, all in the name of advancing things such as ‘democracy’ and ‘human rights’, so as to cover over their authentic, actually vile, motivations, which are insatiable greed, and a craving for even more power than they already possess. All of this is barbaric, and they cover over that reality by kind-sounding words, in order to fool the rubes, who, thus — via their irresponsibility by trusting those serial international invaders and coup-perpetrators — accept the rightfulness of what those international invaders and coup-perpetrators have been doing, such as invading Iraq in 2003 on the basis of sheer lies, etc.
RT — a reliable news-source, but one which America’s very unreliable major ‘news’-media instead call a source of ‘fake news’ because it reports truths they hide — reported on March 5th:
Washington is leading a “revolution against international law and against international order,” with its calls for regime change and efforts to oust President Nicolas Maduro in favor of pro-US opposition leader Juan Guaido, former UN rapporteur to Venezuela and professor of law Alfred de Zayas told RT.
Secretary General of the United Nations Antonio Gutierrez should “remind” the Lima Group of Western Hemisphere countries that US actions in Venezuela violate “articles 3, 19 and 20 of the Charter of the Organization of American States” (OAS) and that the charter should be “rigorously observed,” De Zayas said.
The OAS charter holds that no state has a right to intervene “directly or indirectly, for any reason whatever, in the internal or external affairs of any other State.” Neither can any member state “encourage the use of coercive measures of an economic or political character in order to force the sovereign will of another State.”
The violation of the charter has been “so crass and so obvious that you wouldn’t think that you would have to remind the Lima Group of it, but they seem to be caught in their own web,” de Zayas said.
Throughout the world, the reality is: peace, and equality of economic opportunity, are tied together and cannot survive apart from one-another, and both of them are resisted by the people in power, the few billionaires, who fund all of the real contenders for the U.S. Presidency and for Congress. And equality of economic opportunity can exist only where wealth is approximately equally distributed and where the necessities of life (such as education, adequate food, essential health care, and a safe environment) are supplied by the government equally to all, regardless of personal wealth. (The billionaires can pay extra if they want, but such basics need to be equally available to all, in order to have the most productive type of economy — one which takes the fullest advantage of each individual’s actual potential.) Making access to any of those basic things dependent upon how much wealth one already has is like pouring hydrochloric acid onto even merely the barest hope for equality of economic opportunity. The result of doing that is always a putrid mockery of ‘justice’, and any honest person would call that a dictatorship, no democracy, at all. (It certainly is a dictatorship against the less-wealthy 90%, or even — such as in Saudi Arabia — dictatorship against the less-wealthy 99%, of the entire population.) If this corrupt aristocratic system which determines power isn’t soon replaced (stripping all billionaires of any and all types of political — i.e., governmental — influence and power that’s connected to their grossly excessive wealth), then things can (and will) only continue to go from bad to worse, throughout the world, in every way. This is out-of-control and racing inequality, but it can get even worse than it now is. The solution isn’t to have an international gangster-nation imposing its ‘democracy’ on the nations it targets for conquest. The solution is the exact opposite: a global public repudiation and rejection of that lying gangster-regime.
George Friedman happens to be part of that corrupt and rotten system, but he didn’t create it. He exploits it, instead of attacks it, but the system is the problem, and no solution to it can be achieved without replacing that entire system — replacing it by one that no billionaire wants, and that all billionaires will employ every subterfuge in order to prevent authentic democracy from coming into existence.
As regards Japanese national security: relying upon the United States’ military occupation is complicity in a crime not only against the public in Japan, but also against the publics in North Korea, South Korea, China, Russia — and every nation. Only billionaires and their retinues benefit from it. Heeding the advices of the billionaires’ agents (such as Friedman) will advance it, instead of end it and replace it with an improved world. Only the billionaires and their retinues benefit from the prevailing system. Money is power, and they have enough of it to control the governments. That desperately needs to change.
There is a very fundamental conflict-of-interests between the billionaires and all the rest of humanity; and the billionaires definitely control the United States and its allies. The reality is that there is no way in which billionaires, who have come to control not only their own countries but other nations, will tolerate a world which is more peaceful, more productive, more equalitarian, healthier, happier, and less polluting — a world that’s far better for the public. That wouldn’t be the type of world they control, and in which they possess obscene wealth. They not only cling to their billions but they demand to become even more obscenely wealthy. As Warren Buffett, of the U.S. aristocracy’s liberal (meaning hypocritical) wing, was quoted in the 26 November 2006 New York Times, “There’s class warfare, all right, but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning.” And the statement is true. (Buffet’s condemnations of that class-warfare are the hypocritical part.) And it’s even more true now than it was in 2006. It needs to become false, but it becomes truer each year that passes. Here is how true it is, on a global scale, as reflected in the
Credit Suisse “Global Wealth Report 2018″:
“Figure 1: The global wealth pyramid 2018”
Wealth%, Wealth$, %/World, Wealth-range
8.7%=$124.7T=39.3%=$100,000 — $1M
26.6%=$44.2T=14.0%=$10,000 — $100,000
For example: The poorest 63.9% own $6.2 trillion, which is 1.9% of the total, and this is the wealth of everyone whose net worth is below $10,000.
The richest 0.8% own $142 trillion, which is 44.8% of the total, and this is the wealth of everyone whose net worth is above $1,000,000.
The richest 0.8% own 23 times more than the poorest 63.9% do.
On 5 March 2019, Forbes came out with their 2019 list of 2,153 billionaires in the world during 2018, and their combined wealth is $8.7 trillion, which is 40% more than the combined wealth of the poorest 63.9% of people in the world in 2018 as shown in the recently released Credit Suisse “Global Wealth Report 2018″. The richest 9.5% had 84.1% of the total wealth. So, since money is power, democracy can’t possibly exist, and so if you aren’t among the richest 10%, the government’s doing what you want it to do is practically impossible to achieve. This is what is meant by saying that it’s an aristocratic, not a democratic, world we live in.
And that’s why this is a world of permanent war for perpetual ‘peace’ and (in)’justice’. That’s (those lies are) the problem (both nationally and internationally), and it can’t be solved without conquering economic inequality — by ending obscene personal wealth, and by placing government under the control of the entire public, no longer under the control (if billionaires control it now) of only the richest 2,153 people divided by the current world population of 7.6 billion, or 0.000000283 of the world’s population, or in percentage terms, of only 0.0000283% of today’s population. That’s not democracy. It is aristocracy. It’s even an extreme case of that. Democracy would instead represent the other 7,599,997,847 people, the other 0.999999716 or 99.99997%. To pretend otherwise than this reality is to serve only that 0.0000283%, and to try to fool the remaining 99.99997%. It’s theft by lying. It is force that’s used against the mind (deceit), instead of force that’s used against the body (violence). Theft (either type) has enormous costs, especially when it’s the actual system, instead of violations of the actual system. And, now, it is the actual system. It’s the system itself. And that’s the real problem.
Rightfully, there is universal condemnation of bigotry — prejudice — against ethnic minorities, but there is no similar public outrage against bigotry against the poorer 99.99997%, who are the vast majority of the world’s people. This is sick, and is sustained only by constant deceits. It is a system that’s built upon deceit. Anyone who wants to know how this system functions within the U.S. itself can see that here.
Author’s note: first posted at strategic-culture.org
Russia and the end of North Korea’s Tong-mi bong-nam strategy
North Korea’s decades old strategy of ‘Tong-mi bong-nam’ (Engage the United States, Block South Korea) and its rare variant ( ‘Tong-nam bong-mi’ or Engage South Korea, Block the US) of breaking the Washington-Seoul axis by alternatively cooperating with one in order to isolate the other so as to manoeuvre its way through it has seen a shift recently as Pyongyang moves closer to Russia.
Tensions have been high on the Korean Peninsula since the election of the conservative President Yoon Seok-youl, who has adopted a “Kill Chain” strategy to preemptively target the Kim regime in the face of an imminent nuclear threat. Cooperation has been restricted to calls for reunion of families across the border along with disarmament linked “audacious” economic aid in order to denuclearise Pyongyang, which stands at the cusp of its worst economic crisis post the pandemic. However, surprisingly, North Korea has not only rejected the offer but has declared itself a nuclear state by adopting a law which rules out the possibility of denuclearisation by allowing Pyongyang to conduct preemptive strikes to protect itself. With a possible nuclear test on the cards, the Russian hand behind such bold moves cannot be overlooked.
Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine has emboldened North Korea in more ways than one: it has not only challenged the invincibility of the Western powers whom Pyongyang defines as “hostile” but has also created demands for North Korean weaponry for a sanction pressed Russia to continue the war, promising to fill Pyongyang’s coffers with much needed foreign reserves. While North Korea has denied these claims, its increased proximity with Moscow is too conspicuous to gloss over. The most significant consequence however has been a change in North Korea’s policy towards Seoul and Washington.
Efficiently using it to challenge Seoul’s participation in any peace negotiations since the Korean Armistice Agreement of 1953, the strategy of Tong-mi bong-nam was employed again in 1994 when faced with recurrent famines and massive food shortages, Pyongyang agreed to denuclearise under the Agreed Framework and eventually normalise its relationship with the US. The idea was to extract economic aid while isolating Seoul after tensions soared over the latter not sending official condolences on Kim il-Sung’s death.
The strategy was reversed in South’s favour when relations with Washington soured after it imposed a fresh series of sanctions against Pyongyang’s nuclear proliferation programme in April 1998 and North Korea positively responded to Kim Dae-Jung’s Sunshine Policy which resulted in the historic June 15 summit of 2000, where the the leaders of the two Koreas met for the first time post the division in 1945. President Bush’s “Axis of Evil” comment further worsened US-North Korean ties which led Pyongyang to not only break off contacts with both the US and South Korea but also withdraw from the NPT in January 2003. Although South Korean efforts and North Korea’s mounting economic crisis succeeded in bringing Pyongyang to the Six Party Talks where Seoul argued that North’s security concerns be taken into account before pushing for denuclearisation, Washington’s rigid stance that North Korea denuclearises first resulted in a stalemate. Pyongyang conducted its first nuclear test in 2006 inviting more stringent sanctions and eventually withdrew from the Six Party talks in 2009. After successive conservative governments which favoured a hard stance towards North Korea virtually stalled negotiations, President Moon Jae-in’s friendly approach resulted in a major breakthrough in Inter-Korean relations in the form of the 2018 Panmunjom Declaration which called for phased disarmament, at a time when Pyongyang’s economy was at its lowest in the past two decades and tensions with the Trump administration soared high. The breakdown of the 2019 Hanoi Summit between North Korea and the US finally ended cooperation.
The above cases illustrate how efficiently North Korea has used Tong-mi bong-nam as a manoeuvring tool where negotiations were undertaken only during times of economic crisis while nuclear proliferation continued to remain a priority to achieve reunification of the peninsula in a way favourable to Pyongyang. Moreover, Kim Jong-un has learnt from the case of Gadaffi’s Libya that engaging the West in denuclearisation would only provide limited respite while possession of nuclear weapons not only creates a strong deterrence against attacks by much powerful adversaries but also fuels nuclear nationalism thus reproducing regime legitimacy even at its weakest moments. Hence, he has nipped all chances of achieving complete denuclearisation in the bud. While China has so far played a major role in moderating Pyongyang’s aggression by prioritising regional stability considering its own geopolitical and economic interests over countering the US; Russia’s bold violation of UNSC sanctions by not only trading with Pyongyang but also demonstrating active interest in employing North Korean workers and labelling the bilateral relationship as being of “mutual interest” speaks volumes about the greater latitude it is willing to provide its anti-American ally in pressing forward with its agenda.
Though Tong-mi bong-nam has served North Korea’s interests by aiding it in extracting economic benefits while dodging commitments over complete denuclearisation, it has simultaneously acted as the only window for Seoul and Washington to negotiate with Pyongyang. As its raison d’être, namely North’s economic and diplomatic isolation, wanes with Moscow’s support; the hope for denuclearisation might be lost forever specifically as the US and South Korea continue to seek “overwhelming” military response to resolve the crisis which might lead to unimaginably dangerous consequences. The need of the hour is to multilaterally engage with both Russia and North Korea on disarmament and lift sanctions in a phased manner while ensuring that the two abide by their commitments.
The SCO seeks for a new role in the post-Ukrainian crisis world
During the Samarkand summit which was held during September 15-16, the Council of Heads of State of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) signed the landmark Samarkand Declaration, advanced Iran’s accession, start the process for Belarus to become a full member, while approving Bahrain, Maldives, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates and Myanmar as dialogue partners. Additionally, the SCO issued groundbreaking statements and documents, marking the first time that member states have jointly spoken out on emerging issues, such as climate change, supply chain security and international energy security. All of these progresses verify that the SCO has come of the age over the past two decades. There is no question that the SCO is now the largest regional cooperation organization in the world. Over half of the world’s population lives in its member states, accounting for about 25% of the global GDP—and those states have a powerful intellectual and technological potential and a considerable part of the global natural resources.
As one of the two leading drivers of the SCO, Russia has played the tremendous role in its development and solidarity of all member states in principle and in reality as well. This year, despite the Ukrainian war drags on for over 200 days, Russia still acted influentially to promote Iran’s “earliest possible accession” to the SCO legally and Belarus’s beginning the accession process. As President Putin said during the summit, “There are many more countries that seek membership in or association with the SCO. All are welcomed because the SCO is a “non-bloc association and rather working with the whole world.” It is also true that in a very complicated international situation, the SCO is not “marking time,” but rather continuing to develop and build its role in addressing international and regional issues—maintaining peace and stability “throughout the vast Eurasian space.”
Echoing the coming changes in global politics and the economy which are about to undergo fundamental and irreversible changes, it is obvious that there are new “centers of power” emerging, and the interaction among them is inclusively based on universally recognized principles of the rule of international law and the UN Charter, namely, equal and indivisible security and respect for each other’s sovereignty, national values and interests. Given this, this article aims to argue what role the SCO would be able to play in the next twenty years?
The SCO holds tremendous potential for the future of international community and particularly in the fields of ensuring energy security and food security. Accordingly, the latest joint statement proposes to avoid excessive fluctuations in the prices of international bulk commodities in the energy sector, ensure the safety and stability of international food and energy resources’ transportation channels, and to smooth the international production and supply chain. To insure these ends, the statement also underlines adherence to the principle of technology neutrality as it is the key to encourage the research and application of various clean and low-carbon energy technologies. Given this, the Samarkand summit is a milestone both in the development of the SCO and building of a SCO community with shared future. Accordingly, the SCO will adhere to the principle of not targeting third parties as the Final Declaration states that the SCO seeks to ensure peace, security and stability. In reality, SCO members intend to jointly further develop cooperation in politics and security, trade, economy, finance and investments, cultural and humanitarian relations “in order to build a peaceful, safe, prosperous and environmentally friendly planet Earth.”
In the overall terms, China has played the significant role in joint promoting of the SCO as Russia admitted that in unison with the Chinese side, the existence of a unipolar world is impossible. Moscow and Beijing have agreed that it’s an impossible situation when the wealthy West is claiming the right to invent rules in economy, in politics and the right to impose its will on other countries. The foundation of the unipolar system has started to seriously creak and wobble. A new reality is emerging. Now it is more apparent that the obsolete unipolar model is being superseded by a new world order based on the fundamental principles of justice, equality, and the recognition of the right of each nation and state to its sovereign path of development. Put it more precisely, strong political and economic centers acting as a driving force of this irreversible process are being shaped in the Asia Pacific region.
Echoing the consensus among the SCO member states and their partners in the Eurasian domain, President Xi spoke at the summit that the successful experience of the SCO has been based on political trust, win-win cooperation, equality between nations, openness and inclusiveness, and equity and justice. They are not only the source of strength for the development of the SCO but also the fundamental guide that must be followed strictly in the years to come. Given that under the volatile world, the SCO, as an important constructive force in international and regional affairs, should keep itself well-positioned in the face of changing international dynamics, constantly enhance strategic independence, consolidate and deepen solidarity and cooperation, and build a closer SCO community with a shared future.
More specifically, China has not only presented the Global Development Initiative and the Global Security Initiative, but also carried out the initiatives with real actions. In addition, the SCO greets the new round of the largest expansion of the SCO membership has consolidated its status and influence as the most populous regional cooperation organization with the vastest territory in the world. The expansion fully demonstrates that the SCO is not a closed and exclusive “small clique” but an open, inclusive “big family”. As a new type of international organization comprising 26 countries, the SCO is increasingly showing strong vitality and bright prospects for development including that it will inject new impetus into peace and prosperity in Eurasia and beyond and play an exemplary role in building a new type of international relations and a community with a shared future for mankind.
In sum, the SCO has gained greater significance with the outbreak of hostilities in Ukraine, where an economically weaker Russia is turning to East in general and China in particular as Beijing and Moscow vow to be a partner with no limits and leading coordination over the SCO. In addition, the comprehensive strategic partnership of China and Russia covers a bilateral agenda, multilateral trade and economic cooperation and shared security concerns of all concerned. In the face of outrageous Western sanctions, the SCO demonstrates stability, continues to develop progressively, and gains momentum. China is sure to play the constructive role of promoting their business to the global level, including strengthening the basis of economic cooperation among SCO member states, allowing the launch of free economic zones, and implementing large-scale infrastructure projects globally.
Factionalism in the Chinese Communist Party: From Mao to Now
With the crucial 20th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) set to commence on October 16, here’s a look at the different factions that have historically existed within the Party, otherwise considered a highly centralised and monolithic organisation.
Described by Lenin as “freedom of discussion, unity of action”, Democratic Centralism is a Marxist-Leninist theoretical concept which attempts to strike a balance between inner Party democracy and organisational unity as an assurance that decisions could be efficiently made without stifling ideological struggles within the Party which emerge in the form of dissent. It was first specifically adopted as the organising principle of a Marxist party in the Soviet Union by both Bolshevik and Menshevik factions of the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party (RSDLP) at their separate conferences in 1905 and was unanimously adopted at the Party Unity Congress in 1906. Initially seen to be compatible with the existence of factions, a more rigid idea of Democratic Centralism was adopted at the 10th Party Congress in 1921 when all factions were outlawed in the name of Party unity. While the intention was not to wipe out the democratic discourse altogether, ‘monolithic unity’ vertically imposed by the late 1920s supplanted all free debate.
The Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) at its 17th Congress in 1934 defined the four cardinal points of Democratic Centralism as follows:
election of all leading bodies of the Party; their periodic accountability to their respective organisations; strict party discipline & the subordination of the minority to the majority and decisions of higher bodies to be absolutely binding on lower bodies and on party members.
In other words, free debate and discussion would be allowed to exist within the ranks of the Party till a decision is taken by the higher body after which it must be faithfully followed and implemented by all lower ranks in the name of Party discipline without any collective attempts to block the decision. Factionalism thus, came to be seen as a serious offense of sabotaging Party unity. The Third Communist International (1919-43) called for Democratic Centralism to be strictly implemented by all fellow Communist parties across the world which continued even after its dissolution in 1943.
The Chinese Communist Party, through the slogan ‘Centralism based on Democracy and Democracy Under Centralist Guidance’ (《民主基础上的集中，集中知道下的民主》), describes its role as focused on the inclusion of popular opinion which is considered extremely important not just for the successful implementation of its policies but also as the raison d’être of its rule however concurrently, it considers them too vague to be implemented as they exist. The CCP thus sees itself as the central sieve through which mass opinions would be filtered off their vagueness and effective policies could be formulated as it is considered to be in best possession of both the knowledge of Marxism-Leninism and interests of the masses. Party cadres would go to the masses and raise their demands at the Party meetings followed by a debate, also known as the Mass Line approach. Once the decision is taken, there would be no further discussion and the cadres would faithfully implement the policies among the populace with iron discipline.
After a brief period of decentralisation post the 1978 Reform and Opening up, Centralism was reintroduced following the Tiananmen Square Movement of 1989 and more so after the fall of the USSR in 1991 in order to avert a possible legitimacy crisis. Since then streams of Centralism and Democracy have alternatively dominated leadership views. In his speech at the 17th Party Congress, Hu Jintao emphasised on the need to strengthen intra Party democracy as a part of Democratic Centralism. In contrast, Xi Jinping in 2016 emphasised on the need to integrate centralisation on a democratic basis while urging the members to display “pure and utmost” loyalty to the Party.
Though Articles 3(5) and 10 of the CCP Constitution prohibit factionalism within the Party in the name of Democratic Centralism, interest groups nevertheless exist through informal networks based on personal ties called Guanxi (关系). Guanxi has its roots in the Confucian tradition which emphasises on the feeling of belongingness among members of a family or an organisation. Such a nexus functions in a reciprocal way where the followers look for career security and advancement under the protection of a senior leader who ensures their interests are served in the upper rungs in exchange for their support, for instance, Hu Jintao was known to have led a group of his comrades from his Communist Youth League (CYL) days called Tuanpai (团派) in his entourage. While in itself testifying the presence of factionalism, this relationship often results in emergence of factions due to its unstable nature. All chosen successors to the General Secretary in the Party’s history have been purged by their own patrons (Mao and Deng) with the sole exception of Deng Xiaoping’s protégé, Jiang Zemin. Inconsistent leadership decision making, with opinions swinging between “Left adventurism” and “Right opportunism” under Mao and “Emancipation of Mind” and “Socialist Spiritual Civilisation” under Deng too has given rise to interest groups within the Party.
Other features of China’s political system which give rise to factionalism include power entrusted to individual leaders in a hierarchical context; the monopoly of the Communist Party over all legal channels of expression of diverse interests; absence of a formal structure of decision making and interference of the military in politics.
Factions at a glance
The origins of Guanxi networks can be traced back to Shantou (山头）or “mountain top” alliances which date back to the Party’s early days. Facing a hostile Nationalist Party (国民党) and Japanese forces, the CCP was nurtured in independent and isolated rural basecamps which were often located in rugged hilly terrain. Thus, each Shantou became a locus of its leader’s power. The hostile and dangerous conditions necessitated a close bond between leaders and their followers which fragmented member’s loyalty towards the CCP as a Party as the primary allegiance was paid to the leader and not to the organisation.
Though Mao in his On Contradiction (1937) defined intra Party differences and discussions as a symbol of its vitality and liveliness, he was very strict about expression of dissent outside the Party apparatus which was seen as an attempt to break away from the Party and resulted almost always in purges. Even as Mao successfully established his line of thought as the single ideological core of the Party during the Yenan Rectification Campaign of 1942, ground realities built conditions for the existence of factions which continued as external channels of communication among political associates, outlets of their diverse interests and command system of their forces. Informal Factionalism continued to drive the Party’s inner politics even after the victory in the Civil War in 1949. While Mao could establish himself as the Chairman, his sole legitimacy to rule still faced challenges since all his associates had comparable experience and contribution to enlist. As a result, though working under Mao, leaders such as Zhou Enlai and Peng Dehuai continued to remain influential in a system where they were not expected to do so. Cautious of not upsetting Mao,these leaders often collaborated amongst themselves to weather any crisis which Mao read as a threat to his own power and hence, he launched the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976) as an anti-organisation movement so as to tie all strands of loyalty to himself and not the Party where other leaders still exercised influence.
Interestingly, a penchant for a similar policy did not always translate into unity among members, the classic example being the fallout between Liu Shaoqi and Mao Zedong who did not just share policy preferences on most issues but had also joined the Party at the same time and worked together. Similarly, both Lin Biao and the Gang of Four (四人帮) were on the same page in the trajectory of the revolution but it was the power struggle amongst them which ultimately led to Lin’s fall. During Deng’s regime, Chen Yun and Peng Zhen’s shared conservativeness did not prevent Chen from blocking Peng’s path to the Politburo Standing Committee. Both Hu Yaobang and Zhao Ziyang were reform minded but Zhao held his silence when Hu was ousted. Similarly, it was on the basis of personal networks that Deng Xiaoping and Chen Yun remained the most powerful leaders throughout their lives without holding any official position.
The economic reforms of the post Mao period further split internal unity into those who continued to stick with the Maoist line, demanding strict obedience to the socialist model of development and those who believed in inching closer to an open, market oriented economy. Economic interests thus play a major role in guiding factionalism, with the emergence of a ‘Petroleum faction’ within the CCP of those associated with the crude oil industry being a noticeable example.
Common political origins have also formed a ground for development of factions. Like Hu’s Tuanpai, Jiang Zemin was known to promote those who had worked for him previously in the Shanghai administration which led to the rise of a “Shanghai Clique” when he ascended the top position. Xi is similarly known to be leading a “Fujian Clique” as his ascension to power was soon followed by the promotion of his former associates Wang Xiaohong and Deng Weiping to senior positions. He has also promoted his protégés from his home province of Shaanxi. Xi is not only known to secure the interests of “Princelings” (太子党 or children of high ranking Communist leaders as himself) but to also further promote a “Tsinghua Faction” of his alma mater which is known to have existed since 2008 when 1 of the 7 members of the Politburo Standing Committee and 3 of the 25 members of the Politburo were alumni of the prestigious Tsinghua University. Xi Jinping has also actively promoted leaders such as Ma Xingrui and Zhang Qingwei from the Defense-Aerospace industry (军工航天系) to top civilian positions. Perhaps the starkest episode of factionalism within the CCP was the fall of Bo Xilai, Xi’s contender to the position of the General Secretary in 2012, which not just revealed the fault lines within the Party but also brought into question the fragmented loyalty of the military as many senior PLA officers closely associated with Bo such as Zhou Yongkang were found to have actively aided him in securing the most coveted position and were later tried and arrested for charges of corruption and abuse of power.
With speculations high that Xi is likely to evade the “seven up, eight down” (七上，八下) rule which restricts reappointments of senior leaders above the age of 68 and the retirement of Li Keqiang as the Premier, groups such as the CYL faction are likely to be further marginalised while the prominence of those close to Xi Jinping is bound to prevail at the upcoming Party Congress which might result in the likely promotion of leaders like Chen Min’er and Ding Xuexiang.
Factionalism within the CCP does not just stand as the testimony of the dynamics in Chinese politics but also provides a window into the otherwise opaque world of its functioning.
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