By Mohamad Mazhari

China plans to form alliance with Iran, Pakistan, and Turkey to undermine U.S. hegemony: professor

July 6, 2021 - 17:18

TEHRAN – An Egyptian expert in Chinese politics says that Beijing is going to build an alliance with Tehran, Islamabad and Ankara to counter U.S. influence in Asia.

“In conjunction with all this, it seems that Chinese military analysts also support building new alliances related to the Middle East (West Asia), including, for example, the formation of a (Turkish-Iranian-Pakistani) alliance, in their desire to discourage India from cooperating with the "Quartet" sponsored by Washington to contain China,” Nadia Helmy tells the Tehran Times.
According to the professor of political science at Beni Suef University, China wants to send a “clear signal to Washington that Beijing does not intend in the future to be satisfied with playing an economic and commercial role only, but rather has the ambition to turn into a geopolitical and military actor. It has a worthy place in the international balance of power.”
Following is the text of the interview:

Q: How do you assess the China-U.S. agreement? Do you predict China will economically surpass the U.S. in near future?

 A: This agreement comes against the backdrop of a (new cold war) between China and the United States, and efforts by both sides to rally allies and friends in a united front to confront the other party, especially with the efforts of the new U.S. administration of President Biden, like his predecessors Trump and Obama, to shift the focus of his country's attention to the Asia-Pacific region to contain China’s accelerating progress, and slow down its plans to lead the world economically, politically and militarily during the next few years.
It was clearly evident from the first virtual summit held by President Biden, which brought him together with the leaders of Japan, India and Australia, in what is known as the (Asian NATO or the Quartet), to discuss various available ways to deal with the Chinese Dragon.
As it was clear from the meetings of the National Security Adviser and the U.S. secretaries of state and defense with their counterparts in Japan, South Korea, India, Australia and China, during the past two months, the high priority that the new U.S. administration attaches to exercising the strategy of "maximum pressure" on Beijing in order to constrain its military and economic rise in the world.

In conjunction with all this, it seems that Chinese military analysts also support building new alliances related to the Middle East (West Asia), including, for example, the formation of a (Turkish-Iranian-Pakistani) alliance, in their desire to discourage India from cooperating with the "Quartet" sponsored by Washington to contain China. This Quartet, which a number of observers describe as an "Asian NATO", includes the United States, Japan, India and Australia). In this context, a consortium of Chinese banks recently expressed its willingness to lend Turkey 3 billion dollars to finance several stalled projects in Istanbul, the largest financial support provided by China to the Turks in modern history.

Beijing's growing interest in the Middle East (West Asia), the latest of which was the (Sino-Iranian agreement), coincides with the faltering of the new Biden administration in its first approaches towards most countries in the region, especially (Iran, Turkey and Israel).
The Biden administration is still "recalibrating" its relations with those countries. Its efforts with Tehran to renew negotiations on the Iranian nuclear program are still facing obstacles, despite the indirect talks that are taking place.
However, the (Sino-Iranian agreement) is a very important development because it comes after decades of reluctance in Beijing to challenge Washington in the Middle East (West Asia). This agreement also represents a clear indication of the strong emergence of Beijing on the Middle Eastern (West Asian) scene, and of the unmistakable Chinese desire to gain a foothold in the Middle East (West Asia), and the waterways straits in the region.

Q: Do you think China can lead the global economy in near future? Do you expect emerging Asian powers like India and Turkey to form a coalition with China?
  A: Here, I can analyze that the (project of a Chinese-Russian alliance against Washington) is Beijing's most powerful tool in this American confrontation.

 The new U.S. administration, led by Joe Biden, seems almost bewildered about the right approach to confronting the growing Chinese advance. The tactics of Barack Obama's era when Biden was his vice president have no effect after Beijing made strides during the past few years in a fierce race towards the cockpit of the world in the coming decades. If not only years. This situation prompted the U.S. President to awaken the leaders of the alliance of "democratic" countries, in order to confront the non-democratic countries led by China and Russia.
 The levels of confrontation between Washington and Beijing have not gone beyond the limits of a war of words, which means that the new president's policy towards China is still being prepared and formulated, including how to deal with tariffs on Chinese goods set by former President Donald Trump.

The basis of the American attack, so far, is apparently wrapped in the values ??of democracy and human rights with a deep sense of fear, calling for vigilance by escalating the confrontation, so that "Beijing does not eat our lunch", according to the statements of President Biden.

But China at the time of Obama has changed, as China began to face the USA administration and President Biden today.

Until recently, Beijing's plan was based on avoiding a direct collision with American and European policies. 

Therefore, it has tended to ensure the collective nature of managing its international relations, in the Arab world with the (League of Arab States), in Africa with the (African Union), and in the (Persian) Gulf with the (‘Persian’ Gulf Cooperation Council).
 While the basis for managing today’s, relations is bilateral with countries, without the slightest concern with the state's ties, and its position within the axes and alliances.

 We can as well analyze the Chinese moves in the Middle East (West Asia), the representative of Chinese diplomacy, Minister of Foreign affairs Wang Yi toured the Middle East (West Asia), focusing on the pivotal countries in the region, thus sending a clear signal to Washington that Beijing does not intend in the future to be satisfied with playing an economic and commercial role only, but rather has the ambition to turn into a geopolitical and military actor. It has a worthy place in the international balance of power.

 Beijing has benefited from the continuing tension within many (Latin American countries), and has supported governments there in exchange for exceptional economic concessions, similar to what happened and is currently happening in Venezuela led by Nicolas Maduro. The state pays Beijing with "oil to repay the debt" that it granted it, and China has become the largest trading partner for Brazil, the giant of Latin America, and Chile are the most advanced country in the region. It is currently one of the main partners of the Inter-American Development Bank. 

Thus, Central and South America, Washington's backyard, turned, inadvertently, into China's largest trading partner.

 It is noteworthy that the Chinese success in penetrating the (back garden of Washington), cost the Trump administration an American loan of 3,500 million dollars, at an interest rate not exceeding 2.48 percent, in order to enable Ecuador to settle all of its debts with China. The country, with U.S. guarantees, obtained a loan of $6,500 million from the (International Monetary Fund), in exchange for Ecuador's remaining in the "clean grid", an agreement that companies and governments signatories to agree to prevent Chinese companies from entering certain sectors, especially in the field of " Fifth generational technology". 

 The American head of the Financial Development Corporation, the U.S. public body overseeing the mentioned process, said at the moment of the signing of the agreement, that:

"This is not a Republican or a Democratic priority. It is a priority for the United States".

 Republican Senator Ben Sassi did not deviate from the same position, as he recently confirmed that:

"I have many political differences with the Biden administration, but all Americans must unite against the tyrants of Beijing."

 Between the last appearance of China on the world stage, in the middle of the last century, within the Non-Aligned Movement, and efforts to search for a position in the global political scene, China quickly climbed the lists of global rankings, until it became a major global power, representing the world's largest population, largest trade power, and the second-largest economic power, the third most important military power, and the owner of the largest fiscal surplus. 

  The Chinese economy was able to conquer the Coronavirus pandemic, achieving positive growth last year of 1% percent, at a time when the economies of Western countries succumbed to the invasion of the red color, recording declines and negative rates.

 The Chinese dragon is betting for leadership, from the position of the attacker, as revealed by the confrontational style, as it has gone beyond the limits of winning the countries in dispute between the two major powers, towards penetrating the countries affiliated with the American alliance. 

  Lebanon, for example, received an offer from China to finance and implement development projects, worth $12 billion, that would save the state from political and economic collapse, but the internal conflict thermometer prevented it from being accepted.

 The visit of the Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Yi, during the period from March 24 to 30, 2021, to the Middle East (West Asia), and the signing of cooperation agreements with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman and Turkey, and Riyadh’s request to sponsor an (Arab-Chinese summit), is a Chinese massage that announces undermining the hegemony and unipolar system by the USA towards multi-Polar Union, which was launched at the beginning of the last decade of the last century, after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

 The project of a (Chinese-Russian alliance in the face of the United States) remains Beijing's strongest tool in this confrontation.

 Opening up to Russia, which is eagerly awaited by the Russian President, to respond to his description as a "killer" by Joe Biden, will mix many cards in Washington, and there is a crack in the front of democratic countries under the auspices of the American President.

 Many of the interests of the members of this alliance are in the hands of Moscow, such as the “Nord Stream 2” gas pipeline file between Russia and Germany, which threatens the idea of a joint U.S.-European alliance to confront the Sino-Russian duo.

 The Coronavirus pandemic revealed that the time estimate set in the early forties, for China to reach world leadership, had been reduced by several years, after the Chinese economy succeeded in withstanding the collapse, at a time when the American economy declined by about 10 percent, which means that China won five years.  from economic conflict. 

 This numbers game is simple in theory, but extremely complex in practice. The shift of the command center from Washington to Beijing is more than just numbers in the economy, or alliances in politics, or a tactic in geopolitics.

Q: How do you evaluate the .S.-China trade war? Is the U.S. capable to contain China?

A:   The current confrontation between the United States and China is drawing the features of a new global cold war, covering the areas of trade, diplomacy, culture, education, finance, technology, industry and armaments. But what is new in the Cold War this time is that it is not just a war between two regimes, one of which wants to survive at the expense of the other, but rather a war on the part of the United States against (China, Russia, Iran, North Korea), and others, in order to ensure the continued leadership of the United States of the world order. In order to achieve this goal, the U.S. former President Trump has demonstrated that he is willing to impose retaliatory measures even against his allies, such as: (Germany, France, Canada, Japan and Mexico), in order to ensure adherence to the leadership in the world.

  On the other hand, China is trying to absorb the shock of trade wars and sanctions and keep rising by boosting internal demand in its huge market.  For this purpose, China has signed the largest free trade agreement in the world with the countries of East Asia and the Pacific, including Japan and South Korea. It is also continuing to strengthen its relations with Russia and dozens of other countries through its New Silk Road global project.

  The most obvious example of China's smart management of the trade war is its imposition of a 25% tariff on (American lobster) in July 2018, which reduced U.S. exports of lobster by 70%, at the same time Beijing reduced tariffs on (Canadian lobster) by 3%, which has doubled its exports to China, so the Chinese consumer is paying less for lobster.

   So, I suggest that the impact of the continuation of the U.S. trade war on China will be minimal, especially as its economy shifts from (intensive dependence on exports to dependence on consumption as a driver of economic growth).

  Thus, if the U.S. administration increases tariffs, this will not have a significant impact on the Chinese economy, in light of the diminishing role played by exports as an engine of Chinese growth.

Q: What are the main reasons for the Chinese economic rise and expectations for the future? 

A: China and the United States are closely related to each other, they are the largest trading partner, and therefore any attempt to separate the two economies will not only lead to serious consequences for both countries but will also cast a negative shadow on the global economy in terms of higher prices and slowing global economic growth. It is therefore in the interest of both countries to move away from zero-sum thinking, put an end to the trade war, and move towards removing any barriers to trade between them.

The facts have mentioned that the Chinese exports to the United States did not decrease, due to many factors; The first is that there are no alternatives goods for many American products, whereas the U.S. imports from China, such as the iPhone, so the American consumer is forced to absorb the higher prices of goods imported from China.

It is unlikely that the American companies will close factories that manufacture their products in China, because the manufacture of many products in the United States is associated with materials and parts that are found only in Beijing, and the best evidence for this is that in 2012 "American Apple company" has tried to move the manufacture of the Mac Pro developed from China to Texas city at the USA, but the difficulty of providing the small screws that hold the parts of the device together prevented transportation.

Underpinning the fact that the trade war did not achieve the results that the United States sought is that economists at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and elsewhere have found that increasing the U.S. tariffs did not force Chinese exporters to lower their prices, but rather charged the American consumer with higher tariffs by raising tariffs. The prices of their goods, and therefore the situation on the ground has become that the American consumer is the one who pays his government the increase approved by the American side on Chinese goods. Whereas Chinese consumers are not paying higher prices for U.S. imports.

Q: What are China’s challenges and opportunities for the Asian countries?

A: China is taking a new approach to the Asian region, which tends to favor bilateral relations or larger blocs, such as the indo-pacific agreement and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, as it finds increasing opportunities to expand its influence against the backdrop of the epidemic.

In addition to the new Chinese ways of dealing with Central Asia, which were recently revealed, whereas Beijing has achieved successes since the beginning of the pandemic by carrying out high-level humanitarian and medical missions, and has also enhanced its digital technologies as a means to limit the spread of the virus.

China has also used the Shanghai Cooperation Organization to help advance its defense about its response to the (COVID-19) and appears to see further integration into Eurasia through the Belt and Road Initiative, which aims to gain influence through infrastructure building and investment guidance.

China does not seek, as yet, global hegemony, but rather the creation of a (sub-system), in which it controls countries that can be docile in the Asian region. 

China's share in Asia could also grow as Russia - one of the largest players in the region - faces an economic slowdown caused by the epidemic and low energy prices.

On the other hand, the main Chinese challenges in the Asian region, especially (Pakistan, Afghanistan, Middle Asian countries) is China's main security challenges and interests in (South Asia) to prevent the (Islamization and radicalization of the Uighur minority) in the border region of Xinjiang, especially with the desire of Uighur fighters to return from Syria. 

In Afghanistan, Chinese officials fear that units of former fighters of the Turkistan (or East Turkestan) Islamic Movement are spreading among the ranks of the (Taliban jihadist movement), since the movement’s succeeded in controlling Badakhshan Province and the Wakhan Corridor located near the Chinese border in 2019.

China has been keen to include its fears of supporting Uyghur fighters in the "good neighborly" agreements that China signed with Central Asian countries, and in the (anti-terror protocol of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization).

 The rise of the Islamic State in eastern Afghanistan, within the province of "Khurasan", is also a source of Chinese concern, as the organization is considered a magnet for Uyghur fighters who defected from the ranks of the (Taliban movement). Despite the movement's attempt to bring the Islamic State under control, officials in Beijing fear that this will not last long after the withdrawal of U.S. forces.

We can refer here to the statements by Zhao Lijian, the spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, who expressed these concerns once Washington confirmed the date for the withdrawal, saying that "foreign forces stationed in Afghanistan should withdraw in a responsible and orderly manner to ensure a smooth transition in Afghanistan and avoid terrorist forces exploiting the chaos."

China's call for a "responsible and orderly" withdrawal has become a constant model in the statements of Chinese officials about the status of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, lest it leaves a vacuum whose results will appear quickly in Xinjiang.