China Prepares in Central Asia to Withstand Any Western Isolation Efforts

Green berets are reportedly now present on the Taiwanese island of Kinmen a mere three miles off the coast of mainland China, and tensions continue to increase between Beijing and Taipei.

The US is possibly downgrading its attempt to isolate Russia (opting instead for “containment”) and turning its full attention towards China. There have been think tank missives arguing for this for years, at least some have read the departure of Project Ukraine leader “Toria” Nuland from the State Department and the installation of more China hawks as evidence that this shift is finally underway.

Judging from Washington think tank world, the plan for China is essentially a rehash of the effort to isolate Russia. Goad China into a US proxy war over Taiwan and/or the South China Sea, and then enact the isolation efforts. The fact this strategy failed against Russia did not work does not seem to be causing any serious rethink in Washington. In fact, the Ukraine fiasco is presented as the first step in the coming conflict with China. A team of analysts from the influential Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) mention this in a recent piece for Foreign Affairs: 

A U.S. containment strategy toward Russia would pay additional dividends in Asia. Russia’s unprovoked war has been a quagmire. Washington’s continued support of Ukraine impedes Russia’s military ambitions and dilutes its potential to support Chinese aggression in the future.

Translated, terms like “unprovoked war” and “aggression” simply mean the ability to withstand Western pressure, but we can see the Washington hive mind at work here. Maybe it would have made sense to knock off Russia first, thereby eliminating a key supplier of fossil fuels and raw materials to China and allowing the West to push into Central Asia disrupting China’s land supply chains and hypothetically blockade it on all sides. The idea of isolating China is so far-fetched it is perhaps understandable that the West would undertake the gambit to defeat Russia and extend its control there and into central Asia. The problem is it not only didn’t work, but the opposite happened.

It isolated Russia from Europe, but forced Moscow to forge stronger ties with the rest of the world, especially China. And if it didn’t work against Russia, how should it be expected to work against a much larger and globally interconnected economy like China? The answer from CSIS:

Still, the United States and its allies have leverage with China. Whereas Chinese-Russian trade stood at $240 billion in 2023, China’s trade with the EU amounted to about $800 billion, and China’s trade with the United States was more than $660 billion. China has more at stake in its economic relationships with the United States and the EU than it does with Russia.

Yes, but what do the US and EU have at stake? Just to mention the obvious, an attempt to isolate China would mean circles of hell pain in the West, which could shatter their economies and societies. As the Chinese President Xi Jinping said in the April 2 phone call with Biden, Beijing “is not going to sit back and watch” is the US keeps pushing. If the preferred method of warfare from the US is a proxy war coupled with an economic war, the contest is an attritional one to see whose system cracks first. And we can see that so far, the European vassals are the biggest losers. (Although I can’t help but think the Ursulas and company of the EU see this as an opportunity to grab more power while capital gets to feast on the underfunded and collapsing welfare states).

Who knows, maybe the West believes it can destabilize China before its own structures crumble. Either way, the aristocrats appear doomed to try. And their strategy is only getting more difficult as China gets to watch and learn from the West’s efforts to “isolate” Russia.

China’s Preparations in Central Asia 

China has already broken the US chip blockade. It now prepares to do the same with whatever other efforts emerge from the West. The same CSIS arguing for the US to take on China also admits the following:

China’s defense industrial base is operating on a wartime footing, while the U.S. defense industrial base is largely operating on a peacetime footing. Overall, the U.S. defense industrial ecosystem lacks the capacity, responsiveness, flexibility, and surge capability to meet the U.S. military’s production and warfighting needs. Unless there are urgent changes, the United States risks weakening deterrence and undermining its warfighting capabilities. China is heavily investing in munitions and acquiring high-end weapons systems and equipment five to six times faster than the United States. China is also the world’s largest shipbuilder and has a shipbuilding capacity that is roughly 230 times larger than the United States. One of China’s large shipyards, such as Jiangnan Shipyard, has more capacity than all U.S. shipyards combined.

Let’s take a look at energy. Foreign Policy Research Institute notes that “for China a war over Taiwan would cause a severe economic disruption for Beijing, and the country would need to turn to Central Asia for energy and to keep important supply chains open.”

Well, that is exactly what Beijing is doing well in advance. Russian energy supplies to China have gone through the roof. Russia is now China’s top oil supplier, sending a record 107.02 million metric tons of crude oil to China in 2023, far more than other major oil exporters such as Saudi Arabia and Iraq.

Gas through the Power of Siberia pipeline reached roughly 22 billion cubic meters (bcm) last year and is likely to hit its capacity of 38 bcm/year next year. The Power of Siberia 2 pipeline has hit a snag as China tries to take advantage of its dominant buyer position and Russia’s limited seller options. Still, according to the China Natural Gas Development Report 2023 published by the National Energy Administration, pipeline gas imports from Russia saw a remarkable 54 percent increase in 2022.

Last year, China began to speed up the building of the final leg of the Central Asia-China pipeline, which will transport natural gas from Central Asian countries – primarily Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan – into China. Turkmenistan is already China’s top supplier, and the Central Asia Gas PipelineChina is the biggest supplier of China’s imported gas. Total capacity through the pipelines once line D is completed will be 85 bcm – the equivalent of nearly two Nordstreams.

The Central Asian nations have in recent years been forced to reduce exports to meet surging domestic demand, however, especially during the winter. In response, Beijing is considering Russia’s plan to supply gas to Central Asian countries to meet domestic demand, leaving them with enough to supply China and even carry Russian gas to China.

Russia and China are also both working to solidify friendly governments in Central Asia, thereby securing and rapidly expanding land supply chains through the region. This includes Afghanistan. From Indian Punchline:

Moscow estimated that Taliban rule has stabilised the Afghan situation significantly and it is in Russian interests to help the Kabul administration to effectively counter the extremist elements in the country (especially the Islamic State, which is known to be a legacy of the US occupation of Afghanistan.) Russia leveraged its influence with the Central Asian states to ensure that western-backed anti-Taliban ‘resistance’ forces did not get sanctuaries.

Of course, the strategic objective is that the western intelligence will not be able to manipulate free-wheeling Afghan elements to destabilise the Central Asian region or the Caucasus all over again.

Taliban has been most receptive to the Russian overtures aimed at strengthening the Afghan statehood. Recently, Taliban went to the extent of boycotting a UN-sponsored conference on Afghanistan on February 18-19 in Qatar, which was, in reality, an invidious attempt by the US to re-engage the Taliban on the pretext of promoting “intra-Afghan dialogue” (which essentially meant the return of the West’s Afghan proxies living in exile in Europe and America.)

Should that development continue, it could become a key piece of the Eurasia rail network. Beijing, too, hopes that its incoming aid, including the building of a wide range of infrastructure, will help stabilize Afghanistan and the region.

Russia, China, and Kazakhstan also just announced an initiative to improve their transport and logistics infrastructure, including a direct transport link connecting Xi’an with Moscow.

The Southern Transport Corridor is an example of a plan to hedge against any efforts of “deterrence” by the West. The route, which will connect Russia, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, and China via the Caspian Sea, could be viewed as a contingency plan in case the shorter Kazakhstan connection is disrupted.

China’s trade with the Central Asian states (Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, and Kyrgyzstan) hit $89.4 billion in 2023, a 27 percent increase over 2022. That puts the central Asian states collectively in 10th place on the list of China’s top trading partners and has them poised to overtake the Netherlands and Germany, with whom trade is rapidly declining.

China is also working towards fortifying sanction-proof supply chains in Africa. But the threat of sea trade issues stemming from western isolation efforts remains.

Reuters reports recently how oil tankers from the Middle East crossing the Indian Ocean, as well as other shipments headed to China from Africa and Brazil, would “lack protection in a naval theatre dominated by the U.S.” How dominant the US really is in that theater is a question, but more from Reuters::

  A dozen military attaches and scholars say that vulnerability is now being scrutinised as Western military and academic strategists discreetly game scenarios about how a conflict with China over Taiwan, or elsewhere in East Asia, could evolve or escalate.

In a major war, Chinese oil tankers in the Indian Ocean “would find themselves very vulnerable”, said David Brewster, a security scholar at the Australian National University…Four envoys and eight analysts familiar with discussions in Western and Asian capitals, some speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive topic, said this enduring weakness gives China’s adversaries a ladder of escalatory options, especially in a drawn-out conflict, like Russia’s war on Ukraine. These scenarios range from harassment and interdiction operations against Chinese shipping that could divert Chinese naval vessels to the region, up to a blockade and beyond.

If telegraphing such plans – whether an attempt in the high seas or at the Strait of Malacca – and providing a case study with the efforts to isolate Russia weren’t enough to prepare China, the West added even more incentive with the Red Sea fiasco.

Yemen’s blockade due to the West’s backing of Israel forced China to increase its attention to Central Asia even more. With commercial shipping forced companies to circumnavigate Africa to preserve trade links between Asia and Europe, it highlighted the importance of Central Asia as a secondary route between China and Europe.

In response, Beijing recently  committed to expediting the China-Kyrgyzstan-Uzbekistan (CKU) railway project. According to the Foreign Policy Research Institute, immediately after Russia started its war on Ukraine, the incidence of Chinese cargo trains opting to bypass Russia by going through Kazakhstan (then to Azerbaijan via ferry on the Caspian Sea) increased six times. Those routes continue to develop and increase transit levels. While not as attractive as sea routes, a 2021 report from China Railway describes such routes as important “emergency measures” should unexpected events affect sea-based trade.

Of course, all of these links with Central Asia go through China’s westernmost province of Xinjiang. Without getting into the weeds on the particulars of the debate over Xinjiang, it’s probably safe to say that the West would like nothing more than to use the province as a destabilizing force inside China while Beijing is eager to not see that happen.

From China’s perspective, building up its sanction- and blockade-proof supply chains is killing two birds with one stone. Not only does it help ensure the free flow of goods in case of difficulties with maritime routes, but it is also an effort to stabilize Xinjiang province (should the economic benefits flow to the region’s Uyghurs).

Xinjiang Efforts

Beijing is working rapidly to link Central Asian economies into a China-centered trading network that runs through Xinjiang and are turning the US-sanctioned region into an export gateway to Central Asia with free-trade hubs revealed late last year.

“There will be more support to Xinjiang in undertaking what used to be the country’s eastern region’s focus in exports, especially labour-intensive industries,” a statement from the state council said.

Electric vehicles, lithium batteries and solar cells have replaced electromechanical products, apparel, shoes and hats as Xinjiang’s main exports in recent years, and Beijing’s added focus on Xinjiang will likely only accelerate that trend.

Beijing is also planning to increasingly use the yuan for cross-border trade between Xinjiang and Central Asia.

China’s policies in Xinjiang and how they are viewed in Central Asia, plays a role in Beijing’s ability to sustain ties. While elites in Central Asia are likely to follow the money, the wider populations might be more likely to express sympathy with Xinjiang uyghurs if they feel they are being mistreated by Beijing.

Put simply, China cannot have an ethnic rebellion in its west while facing potential supply chain issues on the seas from a conflict with the US/NATO.

What the US is Doing in Central Asia

The US, of course, realizes the importance of Central Asia as well, but what can the Americans really offer? Even RAND admits that “the United States is unlikely to outspend China or even Russia” in Central Asia. Case in point: last year Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan and announced that the Biden administration would add $20 million to the Economic Resilience Initiative in Central Asia (ERICEN). That brought the total funding up to $50 million since it was launched in September 2022. [1] The total value for Chinese projects in Central Asia is more than $63 billion. Russia, too, plays a major role in the Central Asian economies, including the construction of nuclear power plants, thermal and hydropower plants, as well as the export of oil, gas, electricity, and wheat.

Western analysts seem to think they can emphasize Moscow’s alleged imperial ambitions and stir up fear in Central Asia that Russia will soon turn its attention to regaining its Soviet territory to its south, but does anyone outside the West buy this?

Similarly, the US will likely point to the threat an increasingly powerful China poses, but what does that mean aside from Beijing driving a hard bargain on, say, the price it’s willing to pay for imported natural gas from Turkmenistan?

Any elected official in Central Asia looking out for their country’s best interest is going to try to maintain strong economic ties with Russia and China, as well as a good relationship with the US for whatever benefits that could provide. The trouble is, as always, the US’ with-us-or-against-us stance in such cases.

And impatience typically leads to Washington’s preferred military solutions. RAND notes that “another avenue where the United States can provide greater assistance is counterterrorism. Deploying large numbers of U.S. forces could antagonize Russia or China.”

To what end?

Notes

[1] RAND claims the US private sector has invested over $31 billion in commercial ventures throughout the region but doesn’t provide adequate sourcing. If that number is accurate, much of it is likely made up of ExxonMobil and Chevron operations in Kazakhstan and their status as the largest shareholders in the Caspian Pipeline Consortium (CPC), which carries oil from Kazakhstan to the Russian Black Sea port of Novorossiysk and  onto the global market. Moscow briefly shut down the CPC terminal in 2022. The majority of the CPC exports go to Europe and have historically provided about six percent of the EU’s total crude imports.

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19 comments

  1. timbers

    Non elite Americans are going to feel the pain from Project China a lot more from this than they are from Project Russia. The tools of censorship and repression will need to be augmented.

    Reply
  2. ambrit

    This sounds like “The Revenge of Mackinder.”
    Curious how so many Western ‘power projections’ are having significant blowback today. First it was the Libya “Regime Change” action that, as shown in another post, has destabilized the entire Sahel region in Africa, with the result that locals are throwing the West’s forces out. Economic sanctions, initially aimed at Russia, but also increasingly against China, are reinforcing and strengthening the Eurasian heartland.
    Next up, the full estrangement of the Arab Middle East from the West? After that, will the Muslim Far East follow suit?
    Look at England now. That will be America in fifty years. Some will argue that America is much larger and better equipped to carry on than England ever was. However, the hollowing out of the American industrial base has left gaps that will take decades to rebuild. For instance, America has kept it’s supply of trained medical personnel adequate by poaching trained people from second world countries. When those same second world nations develop their own medical establishments to the point where a local will find it equally beneficial to stay home and work versus moving to the West to work, then watch out. As with all other enterprises that rely on trained work forces, there will be a significant time gap between the needs for trained workers becoming critical, and the time that adequate local trained personnel become available.
    In this regard, Commercial policies will have to be resubordinated to National policies.
    The One World Capitalism Project is failing under it’s own weight. Globalism is dying. All hail the return of Nationalism.

    Reply
    1. Keesa

      Nationalism never existed for the West, it had a brief appearance when USA tried to subjugate Europe and when Europe was fighting itself, but afterwards nationalism was relegated exclusively to the third world, and to the former USSR because nationalism is a way to force countries to be divided by outside forces. Just look at what Armenian nationalists – dashnaks – have done to Armenia, not only doing terrorism attacks in then Ottoman empire (like in Istanbul back then) with the explicit aim of causing a bloody retaliation against civilians, but also managing to give a casus belli to both Turkey and Azerbaijan today to remove Armenia from the map

      Reply
    2. Paris

      Hmmm. We get second rate doctors on the cheap, is that what you mean? There was an article on this website (if I’m not mistaken) that discussed why there are so few medical doctors graduating from American schools these days. We could reverse that, if we wanted to. Also, we have the most expensive health care in the world, and almost sure doctors are not really the issue here…

      Reply
  3. Froghole

    Thank you. The Islamic conquests of central Asia led to the evisceration of Chinese influence in the region (see Gibb 1923, Kennedy 2008, etc.). At Talas (751) T’ang armies were defeated comprehensively by the Abbasids, and the Chinese thereafter confined themselves to East Turkestan. The gradual permeation of Chinese commercial and, eventually, strategic influence in the region over the last generation has therefore been a truly revolutionary development. Whether this was the intention on the part of Beijing or not is moot: certainly this penetration into Central Asia has occurred whilst Russia has been distracted in the Caucasus, Syria and Ukraine. What is striking is how Russia has acquiesced in this penetration of its former backyard, helped no doubt the tact which China has shown towards Russia. Indeed, I wonder whether both China and Russia see Central Asia as a region for co-operation, which will have the effect of mutually reinforcing their wider strategic relationship. By extending the de facto Sino-Russian frontier by another 7,600km Russia knows that it has little choice but to acquiesce in the dilution of its former backyard and to bind itself to China. The former Central Asian SSRs presumably also realise that the affiance between China and Russia works to their advantage, at least to some extent and provided their sovereignty is respected.

    At any rate, the US is effectively nowhere in Central Asia, and if it cannot contain China along its western flank, or Russia along its southern flank, it means it cannot really contain either China or Russia at all. Moreover, this means Russia can concentrate its forces within Europe, whilst China can concentrate its forces in the East and South China seas, in each case against the US. Therefore: (i) containment #2 is DOA; and (ii) the US is at a permanent disadvantage, as it must operate in at least two major theatres, whereas China and Russia must operate in only one theatre each. The Sino-Russian understanding also creates an enormous strategic bloc, which will exert a gravitational pull well beyond Eurasia, perhaps proving Mackinder right.

    The question is whether, in terms of ‘imperial ambitions’, either China or Russia will have any need to project imperial power, whether into Europe or the Pacific. Why do they need to do so? Eventually much of Europe and the rest of Asia (perhaps also Africa and even South America) might simply drift into the Sino-Russian orbit because the pull factors of China/Russia greatly outweigh those of the US. The European empires were, in part, empires of necessity: countries like Britain, France or the Netherlands needed to capture other parts of the world in order to extract discounted mineral resources for their domestic production and to furnish markets for that production. Although far better endowed with resources than Europe, the US has been the psychic legatee of that European dynamic. The need to capture land and resources appears to be much less of an imperative for a Sino-Russian bloc, although China has, of course, done much to secure supplies of critical inputs from other parts of the world. Yet, as it is fairly well-endowed itself, and as it now appears to have reliable supplies from a very well endowed Russia, the imperative is presumably far less existential than it was for 19th or early 20th century Europe.

    Reply
    1. LY

      Eh, more both the Tang and the Arabs stopped expanding after Talas. The Tang western territories in the Tarim basin were connected by a choke point, the Gansu corridor. This made it vulnerable to competing Tibetans, Mongolians and Turks. Only a few years later, Tang expansion ambitions were permanently crippled by the An Lushan rebellion. Chinese empires were then supplanted by Mongol/Turk empires until the Qing dynasty’s conquest of Mongolia. Further Qing territorial expansion was checked by European empires.

      Looking in to my crystal ball, I think the P.R.C influence in Central Asia will follow similar patterns to that in Myanmar (Mandalay), the Russian Far East, and Thailand.

      Reply
  4. JohnW

    China is winning. The US will try and provoke a conflict just as Israel is trying to provoke Iran. This is how the new imperialism works – you have to have the ‘new’ church (a propagandised media) on your side to give you ‘cover’. The worst of all enemies is war but capitalism loves it.

    Reply
  5. DJG, Reality Czar

    (Although I can’t help but think the Ursulas and company of the EU see this as an opportunity to grab more power while capital gets to feast on the underfunded and collapsing welfare states).

    That is not a parenthetical, Conor–it’s the current economic policy of the European Commission.

    Yet the article concludes with, To what end?

    Throughout this article, and as I read the news these days, I am wondering: What is the strategy? Do the knuckleheads in Washington and London think that they can reenact the Opium Wars, demand concessions like whole cities and regions, set up a fake independent Republic of Sichuan? To what end?

    As the immortal Country Joe and the Fish sang: One, two, three, what are we fighting for? Don’t ask me. I don’t give a damn. (Next stop is Vietnam.)

    How long is the populace to put up with this deadly scam and the ghoulish emanations from the pep club and the mean-girls clique?

    Reply
    1. dandyandy

      Talking of the Ursulas of this world, all the piggies are well hooked on the trough goodness and there is no way they will give up voluntarily. Remember, carbonified bugs for plebs and fillet steak for the Davos crowd. Now that ROW has woken up and is starting to slowly walk away from the Golden Billion (no sudden moves!!), our European Lebensraum will shrink hard under a two-direction attack. From the outside – American Garden using its European “allies” to feed on so to stave its own day of doom, and from the inside – an ever increasing number of piggies trampling over plebs for privileged access to the ever shrinking pie (trough rather). This is already visible in progressively reducing standards of living (high inflation, crapification, shrinkflation), and will be exacerbated with the increasingly oppressive governance with all the woke legislation, ideological poisoning of our kids’ minds, diminishing personal freedoms and so on.
      For example, the best Labour can offer here in UK is to undermine our already failed schooling by imposing 20% VAT on private school fees. So if you are not happy for your kids to waste their schooling lifes in first gear waiting for boat people classmates to learn English, you better shut up, unhappiness ist verboten. And if you think you can run away, here’s another 20% hit for ya.
      How does all this unfold? Not peacefully in any event methinks

      Reply
  6. Mikel

    “…And impatience typically leads to Washington’s preferred military solutions. RAND notes that “another avenue where the United States can provide greater assistance is counterterrorism. Deploying large numbers of U.S. forces could antagonize Russia or China…”

    The old trick: throw some snakes in someones house, then knock on their door and say you’ll get rid of the snakes.

    Reply
  7. The Rev Kev

    The US may be gunning for China but China has had a coupla years warning that this was going to be coming their way. And in the past two years they have witnessed what they have tried to do with Russia so have prepared accordingly. Will the US and it’s allies demand that Russia not help China when crunch time comes in promise for some future sanctions relief – maybe. I am sure that the Chinese have carefully studied all that they export to the US so when the time comes, they will be able to inflict economic pain on the US economy. I heard that two or three years ago that the US Navy was still getting major mechanical spare parts from China. I wonder if they still do?

    The article says ‘In a major war, Chinese oil tankers in the Indian Ocean “would find themselves very vulnerable” ‘ but I am not sure what that means. Will the US and its allies try to hijack those tankers like they have with Iranian tankers? Maybe try and blockade the Chinese coastline? Do they have the ships for that? Will they be able to do so under friendly skies? But what I expect to happen is for the US and it’s allies to set all the countries around China on fire and Pakistan is one such target. Arm and finance local radicals to targt the Chinese as this has been happening for years. Fortuitously Brian Berletic just dropped a video talking about this point-

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xFb5NxuLHdI (24:14 mins)

    Reply
  8. Al

    War will be painful for both sides. But moreso for the US. US can’t even make it’s own antibiotics. More people will be dying from sepsis from UTIs then any bombs or missiles. That is just one example. There are hundreds more.

    As for Taiwan, China will take over quickly if it goes the military route. They won’t be doing a D day type amphibious invasion. They’ll just bombard them into submission.

    And if Taiwan decides to do something foolish like attempt to break the Three Gorges, then they will become a modern day Atlantis and the Taiwan strait will no longer exist.

    Reply
  9. Adam1

    All of the US’s financial sanctions on Russia have proven to be not much more than a thorn in Russia’s side, but have had serious negative effects for it’s European vassals and has likely accelerated the south’s desire for a reserve currency other than the US dollar (and yes I am in full agreement with Yves that this is not a simple change and would take many, many years or decades to accomplish). I think there is a scenario here that at a minimum would really show many people that the emperor has no cloths.

    China owns trillions in US government debt. I’d suspect there are enough non-Ivy League trained Chinese economists and old guard for China to realize what all those US Treasuries really are… nothing more than future claims on US output or US taxes. Whereas many of the west/US elite see those treasuries as “money” the equivalent of a pot of gold.

    Let me be clear here… I do not see China as a “funder” of US government deficit spending, but that doesn’t mean that China can’t use its holdings to cause financial market chaos or to defrock the emperor.

    If China’s placed in a position where trading with the west is made almost impossible and that it’s trillions in US dollar reserve & treasury holdings are now functionally of no value… what prevents them from just dumping a ton or all of those treasuries on the market? I mean, if they realize those treasury bills are not a pot of gold, then what do they really have to lose, given the scenario assumed financial isolation, in watching the price of US Treasuries race to zero, at least temporarily? The level of financial panic that would ensue in the clueless western markets would be monumental.

    I’m not entirely convinced that the idiots running the west could really contain this level of financial panic even though it theoretically is 100% within their power. At a minimum you’d see the FED forced to announce it’s buying all necessary Treasuries to stabilize prices and I’d suspect Washington would announce the seizure of all Chinese currency reserves held in US Dollars and all remaining Chinese held US Treasuries on the grounds of economic warfare. This would pale in comparison to what we stole from Russia and that would be a message in and of itself.

    I do realize that many of China’s wealthy elite have assets held outside of China that would likely be massively impacted by this hypothetical strategy, but that doesn’t mean it couldn’t be done. It could even be used to cull the ranks of wayward billionaires and other wealthy troublesome folks.

    Reply
    1. Tom Pfotzer

      Adam1: nice, balanced, deliberate and well-thought-out work.

      There is, of course, other outcomes. Instead of “dumping” treasuries, or dollars. China could simply continue to (at a faster pace) use the dollars to buy assets. Mines, railways, factory equipment, food, steel, oil, construction equipment, and so forth.

      Just like Russia is beating sanctions by taking a haircut on oil sales in exchange for India’s brokering (refining and re-selling) Russia’s oil to the West, so would other countries be delighted to launder China’s massive dollar stocks for them. For a price, of course, but they’d do it.

      For me, there are two big questions in this game of bullying by the West:

      a. Does the West really have economic leverage over China? In what form(s), and for how long?
      b. Does the West have military leverage over China? In what form(s), and for how long?

      The Shock and Awe Sanctions on Russia didn’t work. Worst – and I mean _worst_ of all – for the West, Russia showed how to do autarky, and in a hurry. There is now, and will be many more textbooks written and read about that story. Interior Asia, Africa, Saudi Arabia and other ME players … even South America. Avid readers.

      And .. the military stick. The “whatever it takes, Russia cannot be allowed to win” NATO support to Ukraine is a busted hand. EU is now reduced to scrambling around trying to claim some of the Ukraine carcass, whatever Russia is willing to leave for them. The West’s vaunted military mojo is … in question.

      Most important of all, while all this commotion – the warfare, the sanctions, the terrorism, the mid-East flare-up … while all that was going on, the economic and political integration of Russia and China proceeded apace. Those two countries know exactly what they’re doing, and will continue to do it.

      People say “but the West has no reverse gear! They’ll never back down! We’re all doomed to nukes for breakfast!”.

      The West is now backing down. They’ll turn to China, huff and puff, search about for weaknesses to exploit, and they’ll find none.

      At some point, in a galaxy far, far away, our Great Western Leaders will re-discover … the sanctity of work and the honor of being a constructive human being.

      Meantime, we Great Western Citizens, of which NC can count more than a few, we just keep on doing what we knew all along had to get done.

      Reply
      1. Adam1

        Tom, thanks for the kind words. Wished I had seen them sooner, but I posted my comment and then went on vacation (sort of, I went to DC with my son’s boys scout troop) and am only now catching up.

        I totally agree that China could use their US dollar holdings to buy real assets, but my given the hypothetical scenario, where are those assets? I’m not saying you are wrong, but if the end game is some kind of military or economic conflict with China, then thinking China can safely spend it dollars may be a fools bet as well. If those assets are in western countries, then they are probably only marginally more secure from confiscation than US Treasuries or US FED Reserve balances IF things got really bad. If those assets were in other non-western nations the risks of seizer loss would be much less; however, these sales only work if the other person outright needs US Dollars OR if they feel they need store of US Dollar reserves OR if they see them as a pot of gold. If they see it as a pot of gold, then by default you are ever increasing the leverage the US has over that country/individual/elite group and that eventually can or will translate in to increased risk of seizure of those physical assets in an OH-sh!t scenario!

        However to your point which I suspect I am in full agreement with… if a real push came to shove moment occurred between China and the US (and the west)… The west cannot remotely compete. I mean let’s look at WWII… the French weren’t prepared and basically gave up. If Churchill hadn’t magically found himself PM it is very conceivable the UK would have signed something not soon after. Don’t get me wrong, had the Nazi army not out preformed the allies, the French & British elite would have undoubtedly had their hands out for the spoils post the war, but the moment they were caught with their pants down it was about saving themselves because they didn’t actually want to give up power which would be required to mobilize a country into war on that scale. Is it even conceivable that a NON-New Deal administration in the USA would have been able to mobilize in 1942?

        Sadly those pulling the levers of government in the west are currently blinded by the thoughts of power and the sight of a pot of fake gold.

        Reply
  10. LawnDart

    …the Biden administration would add $20 million to the Economic Resilience Initiative in Central Asia (ERICEN). That brought the total funding up to $50 million since it was launched in September 2022. [1] The total value for Chinese projects in Central Asia is more than $63 billion.

    Crude, but can’t help but to mention, money talks and bullshit walks.

    Thank you for the informative post– I’ll be paying a lot more attention to the ‘stans going forward.

    Reply
  11. AntonioB

    Americans lack historical deepth and moreover don’t care about it, so they can’t mend themselves.
    Russians and central asians powers are interconnected since the 1240’s when Nevski sided with the Golden Horde against the Germanic-Scandinavian coalition, in the battle of Lake of Chuds. (Estonia).
    This despite the fact that russians principalties were beaten by the Mongol-Tatar alliance.
    Americans don’t care to read Giovanni di Plano Carpino reports about his travel to Karakorum and side travels to Nevski and how basically the russians told the Germanics and the Pope to go f*ck themselves and sided Eastward.
    Kazakstan and the minor neighbours are working at giving superficial satisfaction, more or less under financial blackmail, at the banking level, to the yanquis, while deepening on the side, ties with China and Russia. The role of central asian immigrants in Russia is comparable to the role of mexicans immigrants in USA. Obviously the core of white collar WASP who run the ideologic engine of USA have no damn idea of what are the contexts in Central Asia.
    They seem to treat China and Russia separetedly but reality is that Russia-China is a block.

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