China Parades Closer Ties in Moscow

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On display: an upgraded military relationship that could complicate U.S. strategy

BEIJINGJeremy Page reports: When a Chinese honor guard joins a military parade in Russia’s capital this weekend, watched by China’s President Xi Jinping, it will mark more than just a symbolic recognition of the two countries’ contributions to the Allied victory in 1945.

China’s participation also reflects an upgrade of its military ties with Russia, including joint naval exercises and a revival of arms purchases, that could complicate U.S.-led efforts to counter both nations’ expanding military activities, analysts and diplomats say.

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“They’ve basically come to a consensus that despite their differences over some national interests, they really face the same common enemy.”

The 102 Chinese troops who will join the Victory Day parade in Moscow on Saturday were seen during a rehearsal this week marching through streets near Red Square singing the Russian wartime ballad “Katyusha”, according to video footage posted online.

The only other foreign countries with troops in the parade are India, Mongolia, Serbia and six former Soviet states.

Three Chinese navy ships also made a rare foray into the Black Sea on their way to join commemorations in Russia’s southern port of Novorossiysk on Saturday.

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“I think they’re both sending a message that their relationship is stronger than outsiders generally expect and if others put pressure on either in their own arenas, the two will stand together.”

— Gilbert Rozman,an expert on China-Russia relations at Princeton University

The Chinese ships—two missile destroyers and a supply vessel — will then take part in joint exercises with the Russian navy in the Mediterranean Sea for the first time, according to Chinese and Russian authorities.Xi-tall-Jinping-HT

Both sides say the drills aren’t directed at other countries, but the timing, after Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea, and the location, on NATO’s southern flank, have compounded Western concerns about an emerging Moscow-Beijing axis.

[Read the full text here, at WSJ]

“The main significance is that the two countries’ navies are learning how to jointly project power into the other regions of the world,” said Vasily Kashin, an expert on China’s military at Moscow’s Centre for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies.

The Chinese ships’ visit to Novorossiysk could be seen as a response to NATO ships holding exercises in the Black Sea in March, he said, the message being: “Russia has allies too.”

On Wednesday, Russia’s government unveiled a draft cybersecurity deal with China under which both countries agree not to conduct cyberattacks against each other and to counteract technology that might disrupt their internal politics.

The rapprochement between Moscow and Beijing has been driven in large part by Western sanctions which have forced Russia to seek new markets for its oil and gas and new sources of investment.

Mr. Xi also appears to share a personal affinity with Russian President Vladimir Putin who is seen by many in China as a strong, patriotic leader.

The relationship, though well short of a formal alliance, is now developing a more substantial military dimension as Russia ramps up air and naval patrols around Europe and China seeks to challenge U.S. military dominance in Asia. Read the rest of this entry »


Xiao Shu: Yang Zili and the Paranoid Regime

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A journalist’s plight demonstrates the depth of China’s present illness

Xiao Shu writes: Chinese journalist Yang Zili first appeared in international headlines in 2001 after being arrested in Beijing and charged with “subverting state authority.” His crime was starting the “New Youth Society,” a salon with the stated mission of “seeking a road for social reform.” Mr. Yang eventually served eight years in prison for his involvement.

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“We had no idea how quickly the tide would turn. Mr. Yang is now in hiding.”

Once released from prison, Mr. Yang joined the Transition Institute. Unlike many other nongovernmental organizations in China, the Transition Institute isn’t engaged in direct social action but rather focuses on research work as a think tank. While there, Mr. Yang studied Chinese social issues and proved to be a prolific writer. Much of his work was on equal access to education and migrant-worker rights. His friends applauded his return to the public sphere within a profession that still allowed him to promote social change.

“Mr. Yang is now in hiding. Chinese authorities last year detained three leaders of the Transition Institute and six people indirectly involved, including the lawyer Xia Lin. The organization remains paralyzed.”

We had no idea how quickly the tide would turn. Mr. Yang is now in hiding. Chinese authorities last year detained three leaders of the Transition Institute and six people indirectly involved, including the lawyer Xia Lin. The organization remains paralyzed. It suffered this fate despite having a far more nuanced understanding of political struggle than did the New Youth Society in 2001.

Chinese former president Jiang Zemin - WANG ZHAO/AFP/Getty Images

Chinese former president Jiang Zemin – WANG ZHAO/AFP/Getty Images

“The decisive factor in the case against Mr. Yang was a set of written instructions from Jiang Zemin , China’s president at the time. ‘Because instructions had come down from heaven,’ Mr. Yang recalled years later, ‘every material fact was forcibly crushed.’ And so was the process of justice.”

The similarities and differences between these two cases reflect the deep uncertainty that all Chinese citizens face when confronted with contemporary “socialist rule of law.”

The New Youth Society focused on hot-button social issues like government corruption, unemployment among workers from state-owned enterprises, and rural development. Members were at first split over what to do with their activities. Either they could operate in secret, attempting to disguise their group from the authorities, or they could be entirely open, affirming their discussions in hopes of avoiding the impression they were being covert. Mr. Yang and others compromised: They didn’t actively promote their ideas, nor did they conceal them. Read the rest of this entry »