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The US-China Trade War is more than just a ‘War for Trade’

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The US-China trade war is assumed to be a feud between the two nations to bag better trade concessions. However, the US-China trade war is much more than that! While trade concessions may be the tip of the iceberg, the US-China trade war is really about the US trying to bring about a change in the industrial and economic policies and approach in China, as reported by the South China Morning Post.

The US-China trade war has been the front page news for weeks and it seems that only now the media realises the actual root of it. The US-China trade war is not about trade or even about President Trump; it’s a much greater and deeper issue. Observers believed that the ‘war’ was aimed at taking out the trade concessions that reduced the deficit from China, as an attempt to appeal to Trump’s voters.

Will the China-India Trade Potential Bridge the Political Gap?

The US-China Trade War is a Politically Motivated Change

The Department of Commerce in the US has recently banned US-based companies from selling parts to ZTE, a Chinese state-owned phone company. The ban has been put for a period of 7 years. The Department stated a non-compliance of terms as the reason behind the ban. As a retaliation, China extended its scrutiny over Qualcomm, a US-based chip manufacturer, stating problems in market competition. Both companies say that the government of both the nations are only following due protocol and the US-China trade war and rising economic rifts were not causing the changes.

However, experts believe that these moves, including previous such actions, are all politically motivated. All initial assumptions leading up to the US-China trade war thus seem inconsequential.

US-China Trade War Impacts Global Economies, Hits Russia

The US-China Trade War Demands a Change

US administrators have often complained about China’s over-protection of the domestic market and heavy barriers making entry into the Chinese market a difficult task. Initially, China claimed these policies were necessary for a developing nation but as the country has grown to become the 2nd largest economy in the world, this basis doesn’t stand true anymore. This fact has perturbed the US which believes that China cannot carry on such mercantile policies.

Thus, the US-China trade war is much more than the trade concessions and focuses on bringing about an economic and industrial change in the policies that China is operating trade upon. While this could lead to China further working on it’s Made in China 2025 import program or the US may be successful in pressurising China to abide by policies followed by other nations. The US is intensifying the pressure on China to take up international market best practices.

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US outraged with India for acquiring Russian jets over American F-21s

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India recently signed a 2.43-billion deal with Russia for the acquisition of MiG-29s and Sukhoi Su-30MKIs while overlooking American fighter jets including F-21s that the US claimed was a lethal combination of stealth F-35 and F-22 jets.

Why Is India Buying More Russian Jets Instead Of ‘Highly-Competent’ Rafale Aircraft?

Earlier, as EurAsian Times reported, US aerospace giant Lockheed Martin also said that it will not sell its newly rolled out F-21 fighter jet to any other country if India places an order for 114 planes, an offer aimed to counter other US, European or Russian jets.

Recently, amid escalating border tensions between India and China, New Delhi approved to spend billions to purchase Russian fighter jets. Moscow will sell New Delhi 33 new fighter aircraft including 12 Su-30MKIs and 21 MiG-29s along with up-gradation of 59 MiG-29s.

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The MiG 29 procurement and up-gradation from Russia is estimated to cost Rs 7418 cr, the Su-30 MKI will be procured from HAL at an estimated cost of Rs 10,730 cr.

Rahul Bedi a senior journalist and defence analyst write – the piddling issue of the US potentially sanctioning India under CAATSA for acquiring Russian military hardware including fighter jets to meet its urgent needs simply refuses to go away.

Should India Buy American F-21 Jets – A Lethal Combination Of F-35 and F-22 Raptors?

In a statement to the UK’s Jane’s Defence Weekly after India declared its intent to procure Russian fighter jets, a senior US State Department official ominously announced that India was not ‘safeguarded’ from penalties under CAATSA.

Bedi quotes the US defence official – We urge all of our allies and partners to forego (defence) deals with Russia that risk triggering sanctions under CAATSA.

He further added that though the US could not “prejudge whether a specific transaction would result in sanctions, it was important to note that CAATSA did not have any blanket or country-specific waiver provision.

Trump Would Not Have Supported India In A Possible War Against China – US NSA

There are stringent guidelines for considering a waiver, and each deal is assessed on a case-by-case basis,” Jane’s quoted the US official as saying. US Secretary of State (Mike Pompeo) has not made any judgment regarding the significance of any deal (with Russia) involving India, he added, but did not elaborate.

Bedi writes that the veiled CAATSA threat by the US, targeted at India for purchasing Russian fighter jets seems to be more a commercial bludgeon than a lawful effort to punish a politically intrusive Russia.

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Accordingly, it also leads to the clear picture that the CAATSA stems largely from US’ resentment with the Indian government for not acquiring US fighters like Lockheed Martin’s F-21 and instead opting for Russian Su-30MKIs and 21 MiG-29s.

The US has long been craving to sell the customized F-21s to India which was unveiled at Aero India 2019 in Bangalore.

Bedia writes that little more than a re-branded F-16 that dates back to the mid-1970s, it makes great economic sense from the US perspective to ‘sell’ India to licence-build this fighter for the IAF to meet its requirement for an additional 114 combat aircraft to make up for the depleted fighter squadrons.

Africa emerges as a new battle ground for India and China for trade, commerce war

With F-16s being phased out of the US Air Force, and their plant at Fort Worth in Texas closing down, moving the ageing fighters’ manufacturing unit to India, would keep the line going for few more years, while also providing employment opportunities in the US under Donald Trump’s ‘America First’ drive.

India going with Russia and French fighter jets has exasperated the US and could well be the motive behind its veiled threat of invoking CAATSA against India.

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US threatens Russia with consequences for paying bounties to Taliban in Afghanistan

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The US has threatened to respond if the Pentagon confirms reports of Russian bounties to kill US soldiers in Afghanistan. While Russia denies its involvement in any such operation, US-Russia relations could further deteriorate if the reports are confirmed.

The Pentagon is investigating reports of Russian bounties to kill US soldiers in Afghanistan and if found to be true, the US has promised to retaliate. Moscow on the hand has denied involvement in any such operation.

Speaking in front of the House armed services committee, General Mark Milley, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff said that the Pentagon was committed to discovering whether Russian military intelligence had paid the Taliban for attacks on American soldiers in Afghanistan.

“We’re going to get to the bottom of this bounty thing. If there are bounties, I’m an outraged general, just like every one of us in uniform is,” Milley said. “That’s a real big deal. We don’t have that level of fidelity yet, but we’re still looking.”

Despite vowing to retaliate, Milley suggested that the US may not be responding to the reports as robustly as necessary in non-military ways. The 62-year old admitted that the US was perhaps not doing enough.

The issue is at the strategic level,” he said. “Is there diplomatic, and informational and economic … sanctions, are there démarches, are there phone calls, is there pressure, those sorts of things. And I can tell you that some of that is done.’’

Mark Esper, the defence secretary, was also testifying to the House armed services committee. Esper said that the reports did not come from any of the nine of the total of 17 US intelligence agencies under Pentagon’s authority, implying the information leaked to the press in recent weeks came from the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) or another civilian agency.

The reports first came to notice in January and were ignored because they lacked credibility. It was only in February that Gen Kenneth McKenzie and the defence secretary became aware of them in February.

Milley confirmed that the investigation is not over and promised to get to the bottom of the situation. President Donald Trump has insisted he was not briefed on the Russian bounties.

Russia Denies Involvement

While American intelligence agencies work to confirm reports, Russia denies the existence or its involvement in any such operation. Moscow says the U.S. is trying to portray Moscow as an all-purpose bogeyman.

“I would like to say officially that these allegations, distributed by the media, are downright lies. No concrete evidence has been presented,” Russia’s ambassador to the U.S., Anatoly Antonov, said this week in an online forum with the Center for the National Interest.

Other Russian officials point out that Moscow would have little incentive to establish such a program given the high risk of getting caught.

According to NPR, the Russian military intelligence known as the GRU is believed to be behind the suspected Russian bounty program in Afghanistan. The GRU has an aggressive and high-risk culture and is hence preferred by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The New York Times was the media outlet to report about Russia secretly offering money to the Taliban in exchange for killing American soldiers in Afghanistan.

If confirmed, it would be the first time the Russian spy unit was known to have orchestrated attacks on Western troops and could have a severe impact on Washington-Moscow relations.

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Trump Would Not Have Supported India In A Possible War Against China – US NSA

Now that India-China border clash has been somewhat deflated, former US NSA said – I’m not sure how much he (Donald Trump) understands the significance of the (India-China) border clash.

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As India has been aggressively confronting China with the hope of finding support from Washington, former US national security advisor (NSA) – John Bolton in an exclusive interview said there is no guarantee that Trump administration would have backed New Delhi in a possible India-China border clash.

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In an exclusive interview with Wion News, Bolton said – I’m not sure how much he (Donald Trump) understands the significance of the (India-China) border clash. I don’t think he (Trump) knows anything about the history of these clashes over the decades between India and China. He (Trump) may have been briefed on it, but history doesn’t really stick with him.”

 

 

Bolton further said – I don’t know which way he would go and I don’t think he knows either. I think Trump views the geostrategic ties with China for instance exclusively through the prism of trade. And trade is important because China has lifted intellectual property from the US and other nations, engaged in powerful technology transfers and it forms a major part of their economic success and therefore military power. And that’s really how far it goes.”

I don’t know what Donald Trump will do after the US presidential elections once the guard rail is removed. He’ll be back. He won’t be criticising China for putting Uyghurs in concentration camps or repressing Hong Kong. He will be back to the big China trade deal. So, if issues were to worsen between India and China, I’m not sure where he would come down,” he added.

On being questioned – if things were to escalate between India and China there is no guarantee that Donald Trump will back India against China?” Bolton said – that is correct.” I think his instinct for the next four months (till the elections) is to do anything that could hinder his election campaign. So what he would want is quiet along the border whether it benefits China or India.

Earlier, as EurAsian Times reported citing a Chinese expert for the Global Times – China has no plan to squeeze India’s strategic space and rather aims to explore ways for peaceful co-existence.  However, the author claims that this is endangered by the strategic objectives of some Indians who want to contain China with the help of the US.

He blames the Indian media for fanning the flames between India and China. Tensions are provoked by this pressure and hence there is relentless support for India to join the US, Australia and Japan to contain China, wrote the author.

The author blames the US for destabilizing the India-China ties and claims that the US has dangerously interfered in China-India relations, such as labelling India “the world’s biggest democracy,” talking up the “Mumbai model,” and unscrupulously showing partiality towards New Delhi amid the border dispute.

The US, in particular, is fascinating India to counterbalance China and the idea of the Indo-Pacific Strategy is turning into a reality. He says that Indian elites are keen towards working with the US because they believe that by joining the US camp to contain China, they are now a world power on equal footing.

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