December 14, 2022

The World Must Put The Dragon Back To Sleep


The Dragon's Turban: China Aims To Bring Afghanistan Into Its New Empire.

An excerpt from, "Robert Kaplan: Grand Strategy and the Return of Marco Polo's World" by Robert Kaplan, CNAS, March 14, 2018:

Now, why does China go to sea in the first place?  Because for the first time in its history, it's almost completely secure on land. China actually has very little of naval maritime tradition. Except for the voyages of Admiral Cheng Ho in the early 15th century—the early part of the Ming Dynasty—China does not have a seafaring tradition, because it was never secure on land.  Now that it is secure, China has the luxury to go to sea.  

Why is it more secure on land?  Let's talk for a minute or so about One Belt, One Road -- the Belt and Road Initiatives is the new acronym, as it's called.  What is it, really, in geopolitical terms?

Number one, it's a branding operation for what China has already constructed in terms of roads, railways, and pipelines across central Asia over the last 15 years; a branding operation that brings Chinese transport and infrastructure all the way to Iran.  And Iran is the real key to Belt and Road because Iran plus China is an unbeatable combination, which ultimately relegates Russia.  But we'll get to that in a moment.

The Chinese are prospecting for minerals in Iran, they are investing heavily in the Iranian economy.  They're helping the Iranians build railroads.  Iran is the real goal and hub of China's Belt and Road strategy.  And that's because Iran, with its large and highly educated population and geographical location, is the very organizing principle of the greater Middle East and Central Asia. 

Iran fronts not just one hydrocarbon-rich zone in the Persian Gulf, but two—the Caspian Sea area. Iran is as much a Central Asian country as it is a Middle Eastern country. 

And then, finally, Belt and Road helps China solve its internal demons, particularly its number one ethnic challenge, the Turkish Uighur Muslims in Western China.  By developing transport and economic links with fellow Turkish, former Soviet, and Central Asians, China surrounds the Uighur Turks inside its borders, makes sure they will never have a real base from which to operate, and at the same time lifts them up economically—all because of these Belts and Roads investments. 

So, we see a system coming into play that challenges the United States.  It's a system with a vision.  It's dynamic, and goes along very well with Chinese history.  It's a Belts and Roads pathway, which replicates a pathway such as Tang and Yuan dynasties of the medieval era, the same path that Marco Polo traveled along. 

An excerpt from, "Pipelineistan's New Silk Road" By Pepe Escobar, Outlook India, February 3, 2022:

From Beijing’s point of view, the title of the movie version of the intractable U.S. v. Iran conflict and a simmering U.S. v. China strategic competition in Pipelineistan could be: “Escape from Hormuz and Malacca.”

The Strait of Hormuz is the definition of a potential strategic bottleneck. It is, after all, the only entryway to the Persian Gulf and through it now flow roughly 20% of China’s oil imports. At its narrowest, it is only 36 kilometers wide, with Iran to the north and Oman to the south. China’s leaders fret about the constant presence of U.S. aircraft carrier battle groups on station and patrolling nearby.

With Singapore to the North and Indonesia to the south, the Strait of Malacca is another potential bottleneck if ever there was one -- and through it flow as much as 80% of China’s oil imports. At its narrowest, it is only 54 kilometers wide and like the Strait of Hormuz, its security is also of the made-in-USA variety. In a future face-off with Washington, both straits could quickly be closed or controlled by the U.S. Navy.

Hence, China’s increasing emphasis on developing a land-based Central Asian energy strategy could be summed up as: bye-bye, Hormuz! Bye-bye, Malacca! And a hearty welcome to a pipeline-driven new Silk Road from the Caspian Sea to China’s Far West in Xinjiang.

An excerpt from, "How China Is Attempting To Control Middle East Oil Chokepoints" By Simon Watkins,, May 17, 2022:

The final, tangential, part of this Iranian push is not directly to do with Iran but rather with China. More specifically, it springs from Beijing’s strategic ambition to control all of the major crude oil shipping route chokepoints from the Middle East into Europe and the West that avoid the more expensive and more nautically challenging Cape of Good Hope route around South Africa. The Strait of Hormuz, which allows oil to be shipped out from whichever Middle Eastern countries want to use it, is already effectively controlled by China through its relationship with Iran, cemented in the all-encompassing 25-year deal agreed in 2019. The Bab al-Mandab Strait, through which crude oil is shipped upwards towards the Suez Canal before moving into the Mediterranean and then westwards, lies between Yemen (which is being disrupted by Iran-backed Houthis, just as China wants) and Djibouti (over which China has established a stranglehold, as highlighted by

There are other key crude oil infrastructure areas in and around the Middle East and China is already working on securing control over those if it has not already done so: most notably Iran’s Guriyeh-Jask route, some of the UAE’s coastal facilities (the UAE seeks to portray its relationship with China and Russia as part of a ‘balanced’ foreign policy approach but this is not the way either China, Russia, or the U.S. sees it), and Saudi Arabia (also keen to portray the same ‘balanced’ approach as the UAE). It is apposite to note in this context that both Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, recently refused to take an urgent telephone call from U.S. President Joe Biden on the subject of high oil prices and the economic damage being done to developed economies. This brief analysis does not cover all of the other inroads being made in the Middle East by the China-Russia axis at the U.S.’s expense but they are covered in many of my articles for and in even more depth in my new book on the global oil markets.

An excerpt from, "China threatens the democratic world order—and Canada can’t be a weak link" By J. Michael Cole, Maclean's, November 12, 2018:

For many years, experts warned that China would threaten the system and values that define Western civilization. Analysts in Taiwan, Hong Kong and a handful of democracies on China’s peripheries, as well as a number of intelligence agencies worldwide, saw signs—especially after Chinese President Xi Jinping came to power—that China’s longstanding strategy of “lying low” was coming to an end. Beijing was now keen to challenge the rules of the game.

Indeed, China was already at it, using various techniques that are now making headlines in the West. Xi himself, in addressing the Party Congress, has put much greater emphasis on, and markedly increased the capabilities of, the United Front to facilitate China’s expansionist, and now nearly global, ambitions. But we were being Cassandras, critics countered. The popular view was that engagement and, indeed, willful ignorance of the Chinese Communist Party’s starkly different worldview would eventually make China become more like us—liberal, rule-abiding, and perhaps democratic. Worse, our cautions were ascribed to a Cold War mentality, or we were being “anti-China”—racist, even.

Even as the Canadian government ignores many of the warnings and recommendations made by its intelligence analysts and allies, China continues to acquire Canadian firms involved in sensitive sectors. Perceptions that Ottawa isn’t paying sufficient attention to these, and to China’s “sharp power” in general, risk undermining trust in Canada’s reliability as a member of the “Five Eyes” intelligence grouping; the same threat has faced New Zealand, another member, in the past year. We should not forget that breaking the bonds that unite us is also part of Beijing’s strategy, all with the aim of weakening the U.S.-led liberal-democratic world order.

Video Title: Robert D. Kaplan: China's Geographical Dilemmas. Source: Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs. Date Published: February 14, 2013.

Video Title: China's weakness: the Malacca Strait. Source: Kamome. Date Published: June 8, 2021.

Video Title: Gravitas: Can the US cut off China's oil supply during war? Source: WION. Date Published: August 18, 2022.