‘UK to send largest Carrier Strike Group since Falklands/Malvinas war to South China Sea’, Robert Stevens, 29 April 2021, wsws.org (w/ permission; my bolds):
“The NATO-backed mission is being led by the UK’s new £3.2 billion aircraft carrier, HMS Queen Elizabeth, on its first operational deployment. The carrier, the navy’s largest and most powerful warship ever, was launched in October 2017 and has been involved in sea trials and operational training since. It is described by the Navy as being “able to strike from the sea at a time and place of our choosing…”
No Royal Navy force has been mobilised on such a scale since the 1982 Falklands/Malvinas war. The Ministry of Defence (MoD) said it would be the ‘largest concentration of maritime and air power to leave the UK in a generation. The Spectator noted the significance of the Royal Navy sending a “battle fleet to Asia for the first time since the start of the Korean War in 1950.” With the end of the Cold War, Britain’s Royal Navy surface fleet of frigates and destroyers was scaled down and now contains just 19 vessels. But spending is being hiked up again by tens of billions of pounds across all the armed forces as part of the MoD’s “Defence in a Competitive Age” review.
The Indo-Pacific mission enlists much of the current strength of the entire navy. The aircraft carrier will have 18 F-35B stealth fighters on board and be backed by the Type 45 destroyers, HMS Defender and HMS Diamond; Type 23 anti-submarine frigates, HMS Kent and HMS Richmond; and the Royal Fleet Auxiliary’s logistics ships, Fort Victoria and Tidespring. These will be backed by a latest Astute-class nuclear submarine armed with Tomahawk Cruise missiles. Also participating will be 14 naval helicopters, eight RAF fast jets and a company of Royal Marines.
The carrier group will visit more than 40 countries over 28 weeks covering 26,000 nautical miles. It will take part in 70 engagements, including exercises with NATO and non-NATO partners when sailing through the Mediterranean to the Suez Canal. The US is participating with a destroyer, USS The Sullivans, and a squadron of 10 US Marine Corps F-35B Lightning II aircraft.
The Royal Navy strike group will stop for a week at Duqm, the UK’s Joint Logistics Support Base in Oman. It will then conduct Indian Ocean operations with the Indian navy as well as joint exercises with South Korea and Singapore. Operations will be completed with up to two weeks of joint exercises with American and Japanese armed forces. The flotilla will carry out its provocative sailing of the South China Sea.
The UK’s Integrated Review, “Global Britain in a Competitive Age,” and the Defence Review both identified China and Russia as major adversaries and economic threats. The Integration Review describes China as “a systemic competitor. China’s increasing power and international assertiveness is likely to be the most significant geopolitical factor of the 2020s”. It stated, “the UK will deepen our engagement in the Indo-Pacific…establishing a greater and more persistent presence than any other European country. The region is already critical to our economy and security; is a focal point for the negotiation of international laws, rules and norms; and will become more important to UK prosperity over the next decade.”
In line with US imperialism’s designs on the region, with the UK acting as a junior partner, the MoD said the mission was “part of the UK’s tilt towards the Indo-Pacific region… it will help achieve the UK’s goal for deeper engagement in the Indo-Pacific region in support of shared prosperity and regional stability”.
The mission was described by Defence Minister Ben Wallace as part of post-Brexit’s Britain’s strategy to secure markets: “When our carrier strike group sets sail next month, it will be flying the flag for Global Britain, projecting our influence, signalling our power, engaging with our friends and reaffirming our commitment to addressing the security challenges of today and tomorrow…” The deployment showed that Britain was ready to “play an active role in shaping the international system of the 21st century”.
Last week, after an extended campaign by leading warmongers within the political establishment, MPs voted, based on unsubstantiated claims, that China is carrying out “genocide” against Uyghur Muslims. Britain joins the US government and just three other legislatures, in Belgium, the Netherlands and Canada in accusing Beijing of genocide.
The House of Commons passed unanimously a non-binding motion put forward by Tory MP Nusrat Ghani, stating, “Uyghurs and other ethnic and religious minorities in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region are suffering Crimes Against Humanity and Genocide; and calls on the Government to act to fulfil its obligations under the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide and all relevant instruments of international law to bring it to an end.”
Ghani was one of five UK MPs sanctioned by China last month, along with several anti-China front groups such as China Research and the Conservative Human Rights Commission. This was in response to co-ordinated sanctions by the UK, European Union, US and Canada against Chinese officials designed to escalate geopolitical tensions.
On behalf of the opposition Labour Party, Shadow Foreign Office minister Stephen Kinnock said the party backed the motion as ‘genocide can never be met with indifference or inaction’.
The vote marks a new ascendency of anti-China hawks, led by former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith. They have tried without success to introduce a Bill that would empower the UK’s High Court with the right to decide whether a country is committing genocide. In March, Smith failed for the third time to secure an amendment to the Trade Bill, with the aim of using it to escalate sanctions and other measures against China based on the “genocide” claims. Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s has tried to balance between Washington and Beijing.
Indicative of the escalating war fever among the imperialist powers, with China and Russia in their cross hairs, was the bellicose response of leading Tory MPs—with close connections to the military—who insisted that May’s mission to the South China Sea was not provocative enough. Chiming in with recent statements from the Biden administration and US Pacific Fleet commander, Adm. John Aquilino, that Taiwan was “the most significant flashpoint now that could lead to a large-scale war” between the US and China, the MPs insisted that the strike group also enter the Taiwan Strait as part of the onward voyage up to Japan.
Duncan Smith told the Telegraph, “I’m pleased the Aircraft Carrier is deploying in the South China Sea but they need to complete this process by letting the Chinese know that they disapprove of their very aggressive actions against their neighbours by sailing through the Taiwan Strait.”
He was backed by Tobias Ellwood, chairman of the Defence Select Committee, who said the Indo-Pacific mission had been “rolled out as such an important statement of intent” but was worried it could be “diminished” over “fear of offence”. Avoiding the Taiwan Strait defeated the operation’s “purpose”, which “is to stand up to the authoritarianism of China”.
Such comments offer insight into the unhinged thinking in sections of ruling circles and among the military top brass, who are contemplating armed conflict with nuclear powers.
Following the UK’s Defence Review, the Telegraph published a “special report” by senior foreign correspondent Roland Oliphant, “China and Russia’s military arsenals are terrifying in scale—but how would they perform in combat?”
It describes China’s navy as “already the largest in the world with approx 350 ships and submarines, including over 130 major surface combatants. It is expected to have five aircraft carriers afloat by 2030 and is rapidly expanding its fleet of destroyers. It has developed long-range precision cruise and ballistic missiles, early warning radars and air defence systems to allow it to dominate airspace far into the Pacific.” Moreover, “it recently unveiled hypersonic weapons designed to take on US carrier groups.”
All this was no big deal, he added, as “the People’s Liberation Army [active personnel over 2 million and reserve personnel over 1 million] is not necessarily invincible. The military faces major personnel challenges, struggling to recruit, train and retain professional soldiers and facing down a morale problem fuelled by perceived corruption. And it has not fought a war in more than 40 years.”
From the comments: ‘Russia, China and Iran should hold military naval drills in the English Channel .’
‘The Washington Post’s phony campaign on Uyghur “genocide”, Peter Symonds, 20 April 2021, wsws.org (w/permission; Symonds connects the dots excellently)
“It is just three months since former US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, during his final day in office, branded China’s actions against the Muslim Uyghur minority in western Xinjiang as genocide. He provided no evidence for the accusation and made no attempt to justify the use of the term “genocide” which implies a deliberate policy of extermination applied to Uyghurs.
Indeed, as Foreign Policy reported in February, lawyers involved in a US State Department review during the final weeks of the Trump administration concluded that there was insufficient evidence to designate the Chinese Communist Party’s measures in Xinjiang as genocide. The lawyers warned that “wielding the g-word without a solid legal basis also carries the risk of politicising and eroding the power of the designation,” given its application to the worst cases of mass killings including of millions of Jews murdered in Nazi concentration camps.
All of these objections were rapidly swept aside by Pompeo, then the Biden administration as it came to office. Indeed, during the presidential election, Biden attacked Trump for being too soft on China, including on so-called human rights. His campaign team issued a statement in August 2020, concluding that the unsubstantiated claims of mass internment of Uyghurs constituted “genocide”—a designation subsequently confirmed by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
With astonishing speed, the US media has swung into action churning out a growing deluge of propaganda with lurid horror stories of life in the detention camps in Xinjiang, calls for the US to boycott the Winter Olympics in Beijing, and demands for tougher measures against the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) regime. The hue and cry about Uyghur “genocide” is aimed at stampeding public opinion behind the Biden administration’s escalating confrontation with China and its military build-up for war.
A commentary published on Monday in the Washington Post entitled “China is intensifying the third phase of its genocide denial” exposes the lack of substance to the US allegations. After dismissing out of hand Beijing’s denials, the Post baldly asserts, without a shred of evidence, the litany of claims: one million in brutal camps, mosques destroyed, women sterilized, Uyghur children sent to state institutions. “The Chinese Communists are attempting to wipe out a culture, a way of life, a people,” it declared.
Undoubtedly, the CCP regime in Beijing uses police state measures to suppress opposition in Xinjiang, as it does throughout China, particularly against the working class. For two decades, it has carried out its own “war on terrorism” against Uyghur separatists who have perpetrated violent attacks inside China. Beijing did so with the support of Washington, initially by the Bush administration, which was looking for international support for its own criminal activities under the banner of the “global war on terror.”
No one, however, should give any credence to US claims to be concerned about the democratic rights of the Uyghurs, or anyone else for that matter. Washington has a long history of turning on and turning off “human rights” to fit the strategic interests of US imperialism. With the support of the Bush administration, the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM), a Uyghur separatist group, was designated as a terrorist organization. Last year, as the Trump administration ramped up its propaganda on “Uyghur rights,” the State Department quietly removed the ETIM from its terrorist list.
What then is the basis for the Washington Post’s list of atrocities? “We know this thanks to Radio Free Asia reporter Gulchehra Hoja and her colleagues, to a few dogged academics and to dozens of survivors and exiles who have bravely given testimony,” it declared. Nothing else. No evidence is provided. Nothing is substantiated. The remainder of the article is devoted to the glorification of Hoja, who, it claims, has been designated “a terrorist” and whose family in China has suffered as a result of her activities.
Hoja is clearly trusted, and feted, at the highest levels of the US state apparatus. In March 2019, she was the hand-picked Uyghur exile who met with Secretary of State Pompeo as a representative of those whose family members are detained in Xinjiang camps. In November 2019, she was given the Magnitsky Human Rights Award for her reporting on “the human rights crisis” in Xinjiang and has been included in Jordan’s list of the world’s 500 most influential Muslims.
What is Radio Free Asia? RFA was set up and funded in the 1950s by the CIA to beam American propaganda throughout Asia. The same essential function is played by RFA today, even though with the exposure of the CIA’s dirty operations around the world, it was placed under the State Department and while nominally “independent” is funded and supervised by the US Congress.
The RFA and Hoja operate in close collaboration with the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) established in 1983 as a means of continuing activities vital to US imperialism that had been tarnished by the CIA’s notoriety. The NED quickly developed a notoriety of its own for funding right-wing, pro-US outfits around the world and for engineering the so-called “colour revolutions” in the former Soviet republics.
The NED has funnelled millions of dollars into the World Uyghur Congress since its inception in 2004 and the American Uyghur Association established in 1998. Both are part of an interconnected network of Uyghur exile organisations in the US, Europe and Asia backed by Washington and its allies aimed against China. A significant base of operations is Turkey, with which the Turkic-speaking Uyghurs have a historic affinity. The AUA reportedly has connections to Turkey’s fascistic National Movement Party (MHP) and its Grey Wolves paramilitaries, which espouse a pan-Turkic nationalism that encompasses the Turkic-speaking ethnic groups of Central Asia,
It is this fetid, right-wing milieu in which Gulchehra Hoja operates and functions as a useful tool for US imperialism. Significantly, even as the Washington Post holds up Hoja as “proof” of China’s “genocide” and oppression of the Uyghurs, it is forced to acknowledge that Chinese officials earlier this month released a video of her mother and brother showing they were free, not detained. The Post, however, does not miss a beat, dismissing the video as propaganda, and declaring that no one can doubt the hell in which Uyghurs suffer in the Xinjiang detention camps—citing as proof another lurid account by a Kazak exile in the New Yorker .
There is every reason to doubt all aspects of the self-interested accounts of a small number of well-connected and often wealthy Uyghur exiles. A word should also be said about the Post’s “few dogged academics”—the most prominent being Adrian Zenz, a right-wing German commentator and born-again Christian, who has declared he has been “led by God” to his work on Chinese minorities. He is associated with a network of right-wing, anti-communist European and American think tanks including the far-right Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation.
Yet Zenz’s highly tendentious research forms a large component of the so-called evidence for allegations of Uyghur detentions, forced labour and sterilization of Uyghur women. His research is widely quoted, including in official US documents, he has given testimony in the US Congress, and is associated with right-wing Republicans and Uyghur exiles. When the Chinese government last month threatened legal action against him for damages to Chinese companies in Xinjiang, the Washington Post came to the defence of this “dogged academic” on whom the claim of Uyghur genocide largely stands or falls.
The rapidly escalating US-led campaign on “Uyghur genocide” recalls the “big lie” exploited by the US and its NATO allies to initiate the murderous bombing of Serbia in 1999. The Clinton administration justified its “humanitarian intervention” as a mission to prevent the massacre of Kosovo’s ethnic Albanian population by the new “Hitler”—Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic. A thoroughly pliant and corrupt American and international media immediately fell into line with sensational stories of Serbian atrocities.
Lurid claims that 100,000 ethnic Albanians had been slaughtered proved utterly false in the aftermath of the war. The actual death toll was around 2,000 and most of those killings were committed by the armed separatist group, the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA). Washington had previously branded the KLA as a terrorist organisation due to its ties with Al Qaeda, but rapidly reversed course, provided money and arms, and declared it to be the sole legitimate representative of Kosovo’s population. KLA head Hashim Thaçi, who became the head of the US-backed Kosovo mini-state, is currently facing charges of war crimes in the Hague.
The NATO war on Serbia was part of the efforts of US imperialism and its allies to take advantage of the break-up of Yugoslavia along ethnic and religious lines.
On a far broader scale, the US campaign on “Uyghur genocide” is aimed at weakening and breaking up China along ethnic lines as part of the determined efforts by American imperialism to prevent China from challenging US global dominion. In the past, Washington’s focus has been on the Dalai Lama and allegations of Chinese oppression of the Tibetan population. The switch to the Uyghurs has nothing to do with concern for their democratic rights, but rather is determined by the strategic position of Xinjiang—adjacent to Central Asia and its energy supplies and essential to China’s Belt and Road Initiative linking the Eurasian landmass with roads, rail, pipelines and telecommunications.
As in 1999, the media has fallen into line. It is as if an orchestral conductor tapped his baton, and all the instruments have sounded in turn. The White House has declared that what is happening in Xinjiang is “genocide” and the media across the political spectrum is blaring out the same allegations in lockstep, in a manner that closely resembles the Stalinist police state in Beijing they claim to be opposing.”
Related to some of the bolded above: ‘In 2018 the US Was at War With Uyghur Terrorists. Now It Claims They Don’t Even Exist; With China now in the U.S. crosshairs, the ETIM has moved from being an adversary to being a potential asset’, Alan Macleod, May 1, 2021, mintpressnews.com
My apologies, but even attempting to bring the most salient passages failed me, as my stomach had roiled and heaved trying to make sense of the text, acroyms, and the images. Given that Mintpress News is no longer Creative Commons in any event, I’ll feature MacLeod’s final passages:
“Ultimately, the drastic change in U.S. policy on the ETIM has nothing to do with the movement itself — which remains the same jihadist group linked to al-Qaeda, ISIS, and the Taliban — but rather to a changing American stance towards China. For years, the U.S. ignored human rights issues in Xinjiang, as China was seen as a useful workshop for American capitalism. But the PRC’s rapid rise has frightened many in Washington; hence the sudden fascination with the plight of the Uyghurs. The designation of the ETIM as a terrorist group was likely seen as getting in the way of longstanding U.S. attempts to provoke unrest in China. With China now in the crosshairs, the group has moved from being an adversary to being a potential asset. It appears that the government decided that insisting they no longer exist was an easier sell than pretending they are no longer a terrorist group.
While the change in status might seem inconsequential, it could be a harbinger of a dangerous future. The East Turkestan Islamic Movement was placed on the list because of the War on Terror. Now it has been taken off because of the coming war on China.”
(cross-posted at caucus99percent.com)