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Growing Russia-China relations pose increased threat to the West

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As Ukraine is launching a successful counter-offensive against Russia, even if Ukraine is ultimately victorious, Russia will still provide significant challenges to the West. The greatest of these challenges is the growing expansion of Russia’s relationship with China. This relationship is growing in several ways.

Military Cooperation

Russia and China have increased military cooperation. The two countries recently took part in a large-scale military exercise, called Vostok-2022, along with troops from fourteen other countries including several from the former Soviet Union, India, Mongolia, Nicaragua, Syria and Laos. China sent 2,000 people and over 300 vehicles to the exercise, which represented the second largest contribution. The British government believesthat a total of 15,000 military personnel took part in the drill. While this marked the fourth time China has participated in military drills with Russia, this was the first time that China had its air, ground and naval forces represented.

Chinese media was quick to downplay this exercise as harmless. For example, China Daily quoted both a Chinese expert and the Russian Deputy Defense minister as stating that Vostok-2022 was defensive and not targeting any specific state.

But the reality of the drills suggests otherwise. During the drills, China and Russia simulated submarine hunting in the Sea of Japan, which are disputed waters between Russia and Japan, and also participated in naval cooperation in the South China Sea, disputed waters between China, Taiwan and several other countries.

An additional development to watch is to what extent China is supporting Russia’s war effort in Ukraine. Li Zhanshu, the third in command in the Chinese Communist Party, met with members of Russia’s State Duma where he stated that “China understands and supports Russia on issues that represent its vital interests, in particular on the situation in Ukraine.” Li added that China “fully understand[s] the necessity of all the measures taken by Russia aimed at protecting its key interests. We are providing our assistance.” Russia has asked China for armed drones in February, shortly before it invaded Ukraine.

And China currently imports about 70 percent of its arms from Russia, with China being Russia’s second largest client for arms exports. But increased Chinese domestic production, and Russian suspicion of Chinese theft of its technology may hamstring Chinese purchases of Russian arms in the future.

Energy Cooperation

Russia and China are growing closer in energy cooperation as well. Russia’s Gazprom and China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) agreed to pay for Russian gas for China in rubles and yuan, rather than dollars, further throwing the future status of the dollar as the world’s reserve currency in doubt. Gazprom and CNPC also signed an agreement earlier this month regarding the Power of Siberia pipeline, but no details are public. Russia plans to export 38 billion cubic meters (bcms) of liquified natural gas to China in 2025 via the Power of Siberia pipeline, which is up from 1.6 bcms in 2021, and 5 bcms in 2019, the first year that the pipeline was operational. By 2021, China was the biggest importer of both Russia’s crude oil and condensate exports, and coal. And Russia became China’s biggest source of oil in June 2022. Expect greater Russia-China cooperation on energy in the future.

Trade and Infrastructure Cooperation

Trade between Russia and China had increased 36 percent in 2021 alone, and by April 2022 had increased to $146.9 billion. According to the Russian Economic Development Minister, bi-lateral trade should reach $170 billion by the end of 2022, and according to Putin, this trade will “soon” reach $200 billion. And according to Global Times, the biggest investor in Russia’s Far East region is China, with $14.7 billion in total trade investments involving 54 projects in sectors including energy, infrastructure, agriculture, and Artic shipping.  During the recent Eastern Economic Forum held in Vladivostock, Russia and China reportedly signed “over 150 deals worth 1.53 trillion rubles” [$2.38 billion]. While this statistic is from China’s state-run media and could not be independently verified, economic cooperation between Russia and China is poised to grow.

Russia and China are expanding their military, energy and economic ties. These two countries are positioning themselves to be a threat to the West, even beyond the conflicts with Ukraine and Taiwan.

You can follow Steve Postal on Twitter @HebraicMosaic

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China

REPORT: China uses psychiatric institutions to suppress dissent

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China has a vast network of psychiatric institutions that it uses to suppress dissent, according to a recent report by Safeguard Defenders, an NGO that focuses on human rights violations in China and other Asian countries. The report compiled data found on 99 victims involved in 144 instances on involuntary hospitalizations in 109 institutions from 2015 through 2021. Of the 99 victims in the report, 80 were petitioners [i.e., those who file complaints against officials] and 14 were activists.

But this is hardly a new phenomenon. “China’s regime has been torturing, maiming, and killing dissidents and others in psychiatric facilities for seven decades,” said Gordon G. Chang, author of The Coming Collapse of China and The Great U.S.-China Tech War. “The only way to end the horrific abuse is to end the rule of the Communist Party.”

The report detailed especially harsh treatments, which include: forced medication (in 77 percent of cases), physical restraints on the bed (60 percent), beatings by staff or other patients (25 percent) and electroshock therapy (14 percent). Otherwise normally healthy people were given anti-psychotic and psychotropic medications, causing severe side effects like memory loss, insomnia and tremors. Electroshock therapy was often administered to the victims as they were fully conscious, rather than under anesthesia in small doses as would be clinically appropriate for certain patients.  According to the report, “[Electroshock therapy] without anesthesia is not only unimaginably painful and frightening for the patient but carries serious side effects, including the risk of bone fractures, joint dislocation, muscle tears, disruption of the heart beat and lung damage.”

Family and friends are often used as weapons against the victims. They were not permitted to call or visit the victims in 76 percent of cases, which essentially makes these cases “enforced disappearances.” 11 percent of cases were committed with the assistance of family (either voluntarily or coerced by authorities). Family and friends who petition for the victim’s release are often faced with persecution, and involuntarily commitment themselves.

The peak of psychiatric detentions occurred from 2015 through 2016, which was around the same time as China’s “709 Crackdown” where the government persecuted hundreds of human rights lawyers.

Some of the detentions are rather draconian. As a petitioner who called for local authorities to investigate a robbery in his house, Zeng Jiping was detained for almost two years. For “live tweeting herself splashing paint over a portrait of Xi Jinping,” Dong Yaoqiong received 1 year, 4 months detention. Twenty-nine out of the 99 victims in the report were hospitalized more than once. In two-thirds of cases where data was known, the authorities did not perform a psychiatric evaluation, in direct violation of China’s Mental Health Law.

The report also gives the example of Andy Li, a member of the “Hong Kong 12” pro-democracy protestors, as falling victim to involuntary detention in Hong Kong’ Siu Lam Psychiatric Center in 2021. The report noted that, as Li’s family didn’t know about his detention, “Li’s cases appears to be a worrying sign that the political abuse of psychiatry practiced on the mainland is now being exported into Hong Kong…”

Those who are finally released from their involuntary committals face lasting physical and phycological pain, and stigma within their communities. People seeking damages for their treatment are often faced with doctors and attorneys who do not want to assist them for fear of retaliation from the government.

Conclusion

According to the report, China is using “peace and health asylums” and other healthcare institutions to “punish and remove activists and petitioners from society without the trouble of going through a trial.” While the report details various Chinese laws that are supposed to protect citizens from such involuntary hospitalizations, in reality Chinese authorities do not abide by these laws and the citizens are not protected. The policy of involuntary hospitalizations show the extent to which the Chinese Communist Party will go to suppress dissent.

You can follow Steve Postal on Twitter @HebraicMosaic

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