The Chinese Dragon Awakens
The operations in Eastern Africa, the Middle East, the Baltic Sea and Oceania show that the Chinese dragon has deployed its wings—and they are fully operational
We are witnessing the awakening of the Chinese dragon with a more assertive (or should we say spectacular?) foreign policy which is a clear demonstration of the new normal in geopolitics:
- First, Beijing has recently opened up its first military overseas base in Djibouti, within the super-strategic Mandeb Strait in the horn of Africa; this will help secure the passage of China's exports to Europe and imports of oil from the Middle East through the Red Sea and the Suez Canal. With wars currently under way in Yemen and Somalia and with Djibouti's and Eritrea's territorial disputes over the Dumeira region, where Ethiopia could be dragged in, the strategic importance of this base cannot be overstated; China is now better prepared to ensure its vital trade routes remain open to navigation.
- The Chinese base is now one of the six military bases regional and global powers have in the country (US, France, Italy, Japan and Saudi Arabia). This is not a coincidence. It's not just the Chinese who realize what's at stake!
- The military base complements Beijing's position as a major investor in Africa, where China is now Africa's largest trading partner since 2009—bypassing the USA.
- Second, China's role as mediator between Qatar on one side and Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain and Egypt on the other, together with the Chinese efforts to mediate between the Israeli-Palestine conflict via a two state solution, is catapulting Beijing into a power position in the Middle East. Palestine president Mohamoud Abbas visit to Beijing last week is proof of that.
- Third, China's decision to join Russian naval drills held on NATO's front lawn in the Baltic Sea, for the first time in history, coupled with Russia's participation in Chinese naval drills on the South China Sea (SCS) last September, will be a geopolitical game changer if this military cooperation is strengthened and maintained.
- Fourth, the sighting of Chinese spy boat within Australia's exclusive economic zone during Aussi-American military drills, although legal, is not common.
All this together, from the setting up of an overseas military base in East Africa, the launching of diplomatic efforts in the ME, the military presence of Chinese military vessels joining Russia in the Baltic Sea for the first time, and the spotting of a spy boat on Australian waters, are characteristics of a superpower that is beginning to flex its muscles more. The operations in Eastern Africa, the Middle East, the Baltic Sea and Oceania all took place in a single week; the dragon has awoken and has deployed its wings, and they are fully operational.
European Russia and Oriental China will likely be inseparable for decades to come. While the western world is suffering a clash of civilizations, Russia and China complement each other.
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