RAY MCGOVERN – Fourteen years ago today, when then-ambassador to Russia William Burns, in an IMMEDIATE cable titled “Nyet Means Nyet: Russiaâ€™s NATO Enlargement Redlines,” reported Moscowâ€™s warning that NATO membership for Ukraine would cross a red line, the Russians could do little more than grouse. Enter from left stage Chinese President Xi Jinping last year with the shot of adrenalin Putin needed to make “Nyet” stick. Under-Secretary of State Victoria Nuland and her protÃ©gÃ© Antony Blinken seem to be in the dark about the close ties between Russia and China represented by such give and take between the two countries.
KOOHAN PAIK-MANDER – President Joe Biden called President Xi Jinping of China on September 9, 2021, to work toward rapprochement as tensions in the western Pacific had reached a fever pitch. The very next day, Bidenâ€™s call was undermined by inflammatory information provided on September 10 to the Financial Times by anonymous officials from his own administration. It drew immediate ire from Beijing.
MEL GURTOV – As had been widely expected, the Permanent Court of Arbitration under the UN Convention on he Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) ruled on July 12 in favor of the Philippinesâ€™ suit to declare Chinese territorial claims in the South China Sea (SCS) illegal. On every particular, the court found that Chinaâ€™s claimsâ€”defined by the so-called â€œnine-dash lineâ€â€” to an expansive maritime zone and its undersea resources are illegal, and therefore that its land reclamation and construction projects in the islands encroach on the Philippinesâ€™ exclusive economic zone. Though the ruling did not extend to the issue of sovereignty over the SCS islands, it clarified the boundary dispute. The ruling also found China guilty of harming the marine environment by building artificial islands, of illegally interfering with Filipinosâ€™ fishing and oil exploration, and â€œaggravatingâ€ the dispute with the Philippines by its construction activities.