The situation in China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region is shifting toward the center of the propaganda attacks being waged against it by the United States, along with some of its European allies. At the same time, other national autonomous regions in the PRC (primarily Tibet), Hong Kong, and the issue of Taiwan are anything but forgotten.
The recent involvement of Europeans in Washington’s anti-Chinese attacks cannot come as anything but a surprise. The EU as a whole, and certain individual European countries in particular, have certain complaints about China that still stem from the areas of commerce and trade. They have been the subject of negotiations for many years, and should not have provoked some of the anti-Chinese actions in areas that have no visible relation to that.
Meanwhile, Brussels and the main European capitals are increasingly expressing concerns about the military and political situation in the maritime zone adjacent to the PRC coast, and especially in the South China Sea. This means in a region located on the other side of the globe in relation to Europe.
For the EU, that union of ten countries in Southeast Asia called ASEAN is its fourth-largest trading partner (after the United States, China, and Russia). But there are no signs that any threats are emerging from the PRC for the trade and economic ties that Europeans have with the region in question.
Nonetheless, some of them are either already holding military demonstrations there, or have those slated for the near future. This does not only mean France, a country for which Southeast Asia can elicit a certain nostalgia. The UK and Germany also announced that they would dispatch some naval forces there.
One of the main motives for taking these kinds of (extremely ridiculous) actions can be attributed to fulfilling the duties borne by the allies within the framework of NATO, which long ago declared its intention to expand its footprint beyond Atlantic Europe. With regard to NATO itself, the author would like to again use the image of a dinosaur whose lifetime in this world expired a long time ago. It is rotting alive, poisoning the political atmosphere around it and forcing the Europeans to take completely counterproductive actions.
On the path to transforming into those same parasites on the body of Europe are the EU and all the other trans-European organizations that initially played a positive role in fostering its development as an autonomous (to some extent) player on the world stage. But with the end of the Cold War, the EU began to turn into a conduit for the global project of “overturning the ideas” launched by some, while continuing to call “European” the values opposed to the genuinely European values of the former brand. And this where the particular insidiousness of this undertaking lies.
And in the name of these “values” the Europeans are ruining their relations with the second world power, which does not pose a threat to them in any way. Or in virtually no way, if one does not forget about the tension that crops up almost daily in trade and commerce, while it is worth reiterating that solving that has nothing to do with demonstrative military actions and propaganda attacks launched on far-fetched grounds.
However, the possibility cannot be ruled out that in fact someone is trying to divert the European population’s attention from its growing (like an avalanche) domestic problems. For example, when it comes to combating the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, which is becoming a disaster on the continent. Which, together with some other factors turning into reality (in particular, historical ones), may well open the doors of those closets where (traditional) European skeletons have already started rattling their bones.
In the UK, against the backdrop of the problem of separatism that is looming increasingly clearly (threatening to turn the very official definition of the country “United Kingdom” into a mockery), a document is being released in which China is identified as the main source of challenges to the UK’s national interests. Which (interests) are again “tilting” toward the Indo-Pacific region. Apparently, Britain’s sole aircraft carrier, the Queen Elizabeth, will be “integrated” into this “tilting” process. It should be noted that British experts’ estimates of the cost-effectiveness parameter to design and build that evoke associations with a certain stage in the history of the Soviet Union, when the initiators and main executors of these kinds of projects were sentenced to “ten years in prison without the right to correspond with anyone.”
Therefore, it is quite possible that everything seems exactly the opposite, and namely: the foreign policy of one of the leading (so far) world powers is being “attached” to this rather expensive ship, which the current prime minister once said would be “the size of Westminster Palace” (apparently, this is all that B. Johnson knows about aircraft carriers). According to the latest reports, “sometime around May” a group of British Navy ships led by the Queen Elizabeth is supposed to appear in the waters near the PRC, where it will be “at risk from Chinese underwater drones.”
Generally speaking, nothing new at all can be observed: those who are incapable of running their domestic policy will take charge of foreign policy. Meanwhile, the latter is merely a continuation of the former, and the failure to achieve anything in that cannot be compensated for by the “political technologies” that stem from propaganda, symbolic saber-rattling, and spectacular diplomatic posturing.
However, the question cannot help but spring up: in the UK, which has always been set apart by statesmen with cool, level-headed, and very flexible minds, is there at least someone who can stop this whole insane asylum about “tilting toward the Indo-Pacific region with the Queen Elizabeth in charge”?
Equally strange is the impression that the Europeans are joining the US propaganda attacks on the PRC in connection with the “genocide of the Uighurs.” Previously, NEO already reported on this topic, which had to do with attempts that were made to organize a boycott of the next Winter Olympic Games, to be held in China early next year. Until recently, everything was limited to the issue of certain documents and high-profile statements about the situation in the XUAR in general, and specifically about the position the Uighurs are holding in there.
But on March 22, the EU imposed sanctions on 14 Chinese officials due to “flagrant violations of the rights of the Uighurs” who, among other things, “are forced to work in the cotton fields.” Two weeks earlier, the President of the European Council Charles Michel spoke out harshly about the “vaccine diplomacy” allegedly carried out by the PRC and the Russian Federation, which were indicated as “regimes that do not share our values.”
Brussels, apparently, was prepared to gain pleasure yet again listening to a response (this time from Beijing) whose main content constituted another helping of complaints about “double-triple standards” and “the unwillingness to hold a dialogue on an equal footing.” Along with hints at the possibility of stopping playing games with it, and even turning the evil offender “into dust.”
It seems, however, that the “capital of Europe” did not understand with whom it was dealing this time. Without any fanfare, Beijing an hour afterwards simple imposed its own sanctions on 14 European parliamentarians and EU functionaries.
This turned out to be an obvious shock for Brussels, because it could come up with nothing better in response than to delay ratifying the China-EU Comprehensive Agreement on Investment, signed at the very end of last year – after years of difficult negotiations. Signing the CAI was seen as an important event against the backdrop of exacerbated relations between both of its participating entities and the United States.
The problems with enacting the CAI are not good for both sides. But in “realpolitik” it is not uncommon for a situation to arise when it must be remembered that interstate relations do not entirely boil down to the area of tangible benefits.
As the saying goes, “silently and online” Beijing traded sanctions with the UK and Canada. Moreover, it indicates the possibility that sanctions will continue against both these countries, EU officials, and the United States.
However, a prompt, tough response to attacks by opponents does not at all mean that Beijing is “burning bridges” in its relations with them. It was announced at a press conference on March 26 held by the PRC Foreign Ministry that the time has come to put “an end to the Xinjiang-Uyghur drama.”
It seems fitting to note that the obvious hypocrisy of China’s “Western partners” concerning the topic of “human rights” topic is spinning into a boomerang effect (one that is apparently unexpected even for its leadership) involving decreased popularity of the “West” as such (which is, in actuality, a made-up category) in the eyes of younger generations of Chinese. Until recently, this problem was a source of major headaches for Beijing.
As far as the position taken by Russia regarding the propaganda attacks on the PRC over the “Uighur” topic is concerned, it has expressed its firm, unequivocal support for Beijing. Taking into account that regardless of the real situation the Uighurs in the XUAR are in (one obviously described by Western “well-wishers” very one-sidedly), it merely serves as another reason for information (and not only) warfare against a geopolitical opponent.
Russia’s experience with this also makes that abundantly clear. Both countries should help each other in times that are difficult for each of them. Various “Western partners” must not be allowed to succeed in their tactics of periodically changing the focus of propaganda “artillery strikes.”
For, as is well known, “only together are we strong.”
Vladimir Terekhov, expert on the issues of the Asia-Pacific region, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.