Tryst of Tyrannies
The New York Times is calling it an alliance of autocracies. ChinaDiction is calling it a tryst of tyrannies because 'alliance' is far too august a word to own a spot in the lexicons of Putin and Xi.
Even the Times admits that, well, the Russia-PRC relationship is not all rainbows, daffodils and picnics on manicured lawns:
China and Russia do still have major points of tension. For decades, they have competed for influence in Asia. That competition continues today, with China now in the more powerful role, and many Russians, across political ideologies, fear a future of Chinese hegemony.
Even their joint statement — which stopped short of being a formal alliance — had to elide some tensions. It did not mention Ukraine by name, partly because China has economic interests that an invasion would threaten. The two countries are also competing for influence in the melting waters of the Arctic. And China is nervous about Russia’s moves to control Kazakhstan, where many people are descended from modern-day China.
Let’s also not forget that in 1961 the PRC formally denounced Soviet Communism as the work of “revisionist traitors.” That’s not the kind of breakup the family forgets about 60 years later.
Zero covid may be better than zero supplies
Bloomberg warns that a massive wave of infections and deaths in China could stall global supply and send inflation higher.
It’s not as if nobody has been discussing this issue – they have – but Bloomberg have comprehensively packaged it for general consumption.
If consumers and businesses want to continue to buy goods made in China without having to endure shortages and further price hikes, they should want China to stick with its “Covid-zero” policy, as President Xi Jinping does …
[China jumps with harsh alacrity on outbreaks of covid]: As the past two years have demonstrated, temporary and isolated shutdowns don’t mean manufacturers and exporters stop working and goods don’t get onto ships. So the longer China sticks with Covid zero, the better it’ll be for the rest of the world.
Thankfully, nobody can flatline covid fatalities like the PRC:
A quick word: ‘hypersonic’
Could Apple build a slicker weapon of mass destruction?
Anyway, everyone – or everyone in the China-watching world – is talking about hypersonic weapon technology. It’s suddenly like, everyone wants a piece of the action: the US, China, and Russia, they’re all at it, and even North Korea claims it successfully went hypersonic on January 5 this year – its second reported test.
Why? Basically, it’s cool shit. Think about it: long-distance attacking devices that evade radar and missile defense systems because they can travel at more than 3,850 miles per hour (we’re talking missile-carrying hardware that can fly long distances at five times the speed of sound, or faster than Mach 5).
But, points out Foreign Policy, there are problems:
The stress of traveling at more than five times the speed of sound (the going tempo for hypersonics) gives them a higher risk of failure: Hypersonic missiles may have to cut through turbulent air and searing 4,000-degree heat, all while losing energy by making maneuvers during the flight.
That makes the margin for error pretty small; one unexpected air particle could damage the airframe. Experts think that bumpy ride could give the U.S. Defense Department a better chance to shoot down Beijing and Moscow’s superweapons –which have leaped ahead of the Pentagon’s arsenal.
The US-based Arms Control Association said that, according to US Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall, it would appear that Beijing is developing capabilities that may allow for ‘the potential for global strikes, strikes from space. He added: “People have been interpreting my remarks as telegraphing something … [but] the point I was trying to make, I think, was there are a lot of things that are in the realms of feasibility, and … we need to worry about that.”
Hypersonic: in short, it’s here, but it’s far more difficult to bring into play than many reports are letting on. Global annihilation is not quite yet around the corner – at least not at five times the speed of sound.
What was initially reported to be a “mysterious drone” over Taiwan’s Dongyin Island by the Taiwan News, was, as it turned out, a a “civilian fixed wing twin-engine turboprop aircraft,” – in other words manned – from the PRC.
It’s being considered a serious act of provocation in Taiwan, because in the past all Chinese air incursions have been over Taiwan's Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ).
In more Taiwan news, a contractor bought discounted missile components on the internet from a Chinese manufacturer:
Nobody should have to say this, but don’t buy your military hardware on Alibaba.
China has a tendency to lean on its land borders, but a Nepalese report leaked to the BBC claims that China has built buildings on the Nepalese side of the border in the district of Humla, which is not far from Tibet’s Mount Kailash.
The report suggests Chinese security forces had restricted religious activities on the Nepalese side of the border and that China has been limiting grazing by Nepalese farmers.
We know, ChinaDiction is supposed to be ignoring the Olympics, but the Skeleton Race is too good to omit. As the Wall Street Journal puts it,
In Canada, a Canadian won. In Russia, a Russian won. In Korea, a Korean won,” said [Martin] Dukurs, a six-time world champion seeking his first Olympic title in Beijing.”
Martins Dukurs is a two-time silver medalist and is regarded as the greatest male skeleton racer of all time. He has never won gold, reports the Journal, because the Olympics have never been held in Latvia.
Background: Skeleton involves riding a small sled (or sleigh) down a frozen track face down and head-first, and unlike, say, luge, you’re on your own.
The problem in Beijing:
In no modern Olympics has … [the] advantage been greater. China’s strict pandemic restrictions made the Yanqing National Sliding Center inaccessible to foreigners until a training camp a few months ago. Dukurs has had about 40 practice runs here. Andrew Blaser, an American racer who missed that camp, will have only about 10 practice attempts, all in the past week, before racing began.
Chinese competitors Yan Wengang and Yin Zheng have already slid down the course several hundred times … ‘They basically spent the whole season sliding on this track. They’ve got a huge home-field advantage,’ said Jack Thomas, who coached the Chinese team from 2019 to 2021
Medals are yet to emerge from the Skeleton competitions.
Last month, according to DW, a Chinese spacecraft was spotted tossing a dead satellite away into a “graveyard” orbit. The report is unconfirmed by Chinese officials. As DW puts it, “There’s nothing wrong with throwing out the trash — many other countries have launched or are currently developing technologies to clear space junk.”
In its 2021 counterspace report, the Secure World Foundation said that there is strong evidence that both China and Russia are working to develop technology with “counterspace capabilities” — the ability to destruct space systems.
However, the report said, Chinese official statements have remained “consistently aligned to the peaceful purposes of outer space” and there is no proof that they have facilitated any destructive or counterspace operations.
China is undoubtedly just doing some tidying up out in the void, just as it regularly sends teams to countries worldwide to clean up beaches and help out with the disposal of household waste.