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Asia

Asian NATO Under A New Guise

Over the past couple of years there has been a flurry of activity linking NATO, and some of its constituent countries with the states of American East Asia, principally Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has been a frequent visitor, and in December 2023, the US embassy in Seoul arranged for senior representatives from eight NATO countries to visit South Korea to “engage in discussions on the security situation in the Indo-Pacific region and other pertinent issues”. Meanwhile back in Washington Representative Mike Lawler has introduced a bill in Congress aimed at “establishing [a] task force for NATO-like Indo-Pacific Alliance”.

Russia’s Turn From The West

Sergei Lavrov, Russia’s steady, able, intellectually quick foreign minister, last week held one of those wide-ranging press conferences he and his boss favor. Lavrov’s remarks are subtly delivered but of a significance we must not miss. Tass published a useful summary of them on Jan. 18. Here are a few of Lavrov’s pithier remarks. The first of these appeared under the subhead, “On friends of Russia.” I take the liberty of minorly cleaning up the English translation: “Relations between Russia and China currently experience the best period of their centuries-long history. Their relations are firmer, more reliable, and more advanced than a military union as we understood these in the previous Cold War-era. In all cases, the interests of Russia and China reach a common denominator after negotiation, and this is an example for resolution of any issues by any other participants in global communication.

World’s Economic Centre Of Gravity Is Returning To Asia

In October 2023, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) published its annual Trade and Development Report. Nothing in the report came as a major surprise. The growth of the global Gross Domestic Product (GDP) continues to decline with no sign of a rebound. Following a modest post-pandemic recovery of 6.1% in 2021, economic growth in 2023 fell to 2.4%, below pre-pandemic levels, and is projected to remain at 2.5% in 2024. The global economy, UNCTAD says, is ‘flying at “stall speed”’, with all conventional indicators showing that most of the world is experiencing a recession.

Activists Detail Frontline Struggles Against US Militarism In Asia

With the US President Joe Biden waging an all-out economic war against China and aggressively pursuing new forms of collective security alliances to reinforce the military encirclement of China, the Asia-Pacific region has once again become a hotspot in Washington’s new Cold War. From the expansion of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (US, Japan, India, and Australia) to include South Korea, New Zealand, and Vietnam in 2021, the launch of the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework in May 2022, the participation of Asian heads of state in NATO meetings in 2022 and 2023, and the cementing of the Japan-Korea-US trilateral alliance at Camp David this August, Biden’s Indo-Pacific Strategy has been dead set on forging a new anti-China Cold War bloc across the region.

Trilateral Missile Defense System A Step Towards Asian NATO

The United States, Japan, and South Korea will fully operationalize a missile warning system “by the end of December.” While justified as a means to counter North Korea’s missile launches, more worrisome, it escalates tensions in the region with China through the “NATOification” of all three countries, agreed upon in the “Spirit of Camp David” agreement. The agreement was hailed as a “new era of trilateral partnership” during the August 18 press conference following a meeting between the heads of state of all three countries. Western media echoed the sentiment, calling it “historic” and “unprecedented.” China, listed in the agreement as a regional concern, accused the United States of creating a “mini NATO in Asia.”

West Asian Governments Take Assertive Stances Against Israeli Occupation

The responses to Israel’s genocidal war in Gaza from some of the West Asian countries have set an interesting pattern. These responses defy a decades long trend of muted opposition and behind the curtain compromises. More importantly, this is yet another indication of growing assertion and independence of these countries from US hegemony. Since the 1980s, the US was able to use its military and economic power to create a complete hegemony over the ruling classes in the West Asian region. The countries which maintained their independence were exceptions, such as Syria and Iran.

‘Asian NATO’: Brought To You By South Korean Repression

While largely unnoticed by the US public, the trilateral summit between Japan, South Korea, and the US that took place at Camp David this August sent shockwaves throughout East Asia. US President Joe Biden, South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol, and Japanese Prime Minister Kishida Fumio punctuated the end of the three-day summit by releasing a joint declaration rife with the kinds of diplomatic ambiguities and appeals to vague principles typical of this sort of affair. The three leaders pledged their support for a “free and open Indo-Pacific,” for an international “rules-based order,” and for “peace and stability” around the world.

Preparing For War Is The Beginning: Early Warning For Northeast Asia

July 27 marked the 70th anniversary of the 1953 ceasefire to the Korean War. In the three years leading up to the anniversary, South Korean peace movements organized the international Korea Peace Appeal campaign to replace the armistice agreement with a peace treaty to conclude the 70-plus-year Korean War. The anniversary has come and gone, but, instead of peace, the Joe Biden, Yoon Suk Yeol, and Fumio Kishida administrations are stoking tensions in the Korean Peninsula as a smokescreen to build a NATO-level US-Japan-South Korea trilateral alliance against China. South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol has played his supporting role well.

Biden Announces Deal Connecting Europe And West And South Asia

US President Joe Biden announced a multinational rail and ports deal linking Europe, West Asia, and South Asia on 9 September at a gathering on the sidelines of the G20 summit in New Delhi. The deal, known as the India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor (IMEC), comes as the White House seeks to counter China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and Russia and Iran’s North-South Transportation Corridor (INSTC) by pitching Washington as an alternative partner and investor for developing countries. A memorandum of understanding for the deal was signed by the European Union, India, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, the US, and other G20 partners.

Global Hunger Remains Far Above Pre-Pandemic Levels

Anywhere between 691 million and 783 million people across the globe faced hunger in 2022, according to this year’s State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World report published by five specialized agencies of the UN on Wednesday, July 12. As per the report, even with the mid-range figure of 735 million, around “122 million more people faced hunger in 2022 than in 2019, before the pandemic,” despite the fact that “hunger is no longer on the rise at the global level.” The report records that 9.2% of the world’s population faced chronic hunger in 2022, compared to 7.9% in 2019. The figure is slightly better than 2021 when it stood at 9.3%.

SCO Denounces Confrontation And Protectionist Policies

The New Delhi Declaration was adopted on Tuesday, July 4, after a virtual meeting of the leaders of the nine-member states of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). The declaration underlined the need for stronger and more effective international regimes and vowed to work for a more “just, democratic and multipolar world order.” The 23rd meeting of the Council of Head of States was hosted by India virtually. Chinese President Xi Jinping, Russian President Vladimir Putin, and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi participated in the meeting along with leaders from Central Asian countries.

Pivot To Asia Ramping Up Ominously

A huge new U.S. Marine Corps base on the island of Guam was paid for, in part, by Japan. Why would Japan do this? I read that it was part of a deal during the Obama administration’s “pivot to Asia” to get Marines out of Okinawa. Locals there despise the presence of gaijin (foreigners) who rape and kill girls and women, and Okinawans have been struggling for decades to get rid of them. Why export the misery to Guam? The indigenous population of Okinawa understands all too well what it’s like to live under Japanese imperialism. And taxpayers in Japan are by no means on board with ramping up military spending and abandoning Article 9 as the U.S. is demanding. Demonstrations against Japan’s remilitarization are common in Tokyo and other Japanese cities these days — but don’t expect to read about it in the U.S. corporate media.

China’s Leadership Shines Bright In Asia’s Moment

Asia possesses many of the world's largest and fastest-growing economies. In this era of growing discord and crisis in the West, the majority of nations around the world are looking to Asia to set a different example. The region took center stage in the week of November 11 to 18 as the emerging economies of Cambodia, Indonesia, and Thailand hosted the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit, the G20, and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Economic Leaders' Meeting respectively. These important exchanges provided numerous opportunities for major countries to assert their leadership on the world stage. And in this regard, it was China that shined the brightest. One of the highlights was Chinese President Xi Jinping's meeting with U.S. President Joe Biden in Bali, Indonesia ahead of the convening of the G20 summit.

China’s Leadership Shines Bright In Asia’s Moment

Asia possesses many of the world’s largest and fastest-growing economies. In this era of growing discord and crisis in the West, the majority of nations around the world are looking to Asia to set a different example. The region took center stage in the week of November 11 to 18 as the emerging economies of Cambodia, Indonesia, and Thailand hosted the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit, the G20, and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Economic Leaders’ Meeting respectively. These important exchanges provided numerous opportunities for major countries to assert their leadership on the world stage. And in this regard, it was China that shined the brightest.

Michael Hudson: A Roadmap To Escape The West’s Stranglehold

It is impossible to track the geoeconomic turbulence inherent to the “birth pangs” of the multipolar world without the insights of Professor Michael Hudson at the University of Missouri, and author of the already seminal The Destiny of Civilization. In his latest essay, Professor Hudson digs deeper into Germany’s suicidal economic/financial policies; their effect on the already falling euro – and hints at some possibilities for fast integrating Eurasia and the Global South as a whole to try to break the Hegemon’s stranglehold. That led to a series of email exchanges, especially about the future role of the yuan, where Hudson remarked: “The Chinese whom I’ve talked to for years and years did not expect the dollar to weaken. They’re not crying about its rise, but they are concerned about flight capital from China as I think after the Party Congress [starting on October 16] there will be a crackdown on the Shanghai free-market advocacy. Pressure for the coming changes has been long building up.
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