Is a Russia-China-Iran Axis in the offing?

By Perry Diaz

Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin drink a toast to the signing of the gas mega-deal.

Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin drink a toast to the signing of the gas mega-deal.

What happens if Russia and China joined forces? They would be a formidable economic and military power at par with the United States. Last May 21, 2014, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping signed a $400-billion mega-deal wherein Russia would supply Siberian gas to China for 30 years. That would put into action the “strategic partnership” that Putin and Xi had envisioned at their first summit a year ago in Moscow.

Historically distrustful of each other, they had to put aside any differences they had – including border issues — to pursue their own interests. In all appearances, their alliance was a “marriage of convenience.” As Lord Palmerston, a former British Prime Minister, once said, “We have no permanent allies, we have no permanent enemies, we only have permanent interests.”

If there is one thing that is common to Russia and China, it’s their penchant for grabbing land. Russia had been grabbing land and extending her domain since the time of the czars. When the communists took over the Russian Empire in 1922, they formed the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), which unified 15 republics including the Russian, Transcaucasian, Ukrainian, and Byelorussian republics.

Old glory

Catherine the Great of the Russian Empire.

Catherine the Great of the Russian Empire.

Lately, Putin declared that Mother Russia has a right to defend or come to the assistance of ethnic Russians or Russian-speaking people in the “near abroad” – that is, the Eastern European countries that were formerly associated with or part of the dismembered USSR. Because of this policy – called Putinism – pro-Russians in the erstwhile Ukrainian province of Crimea were emboldened to secede from Ukraine and offered to join Russia, which Putin gladly accepted.

With the specter of Russian intervention in Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, and others in the “near abroad,” the U.S. and her NATO allies have been sending troops and military assets to their beleaguered allies.

In his annual state of the nation address to the Russian parliament in 2006, Putin said, “First and foremost it is worth acknowledging that the demise of the Soviet Union was the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the century. As for the Russian people, it became a genuine tragedy. Tens of millions of our fellow citizens and countrymen found themselves beyond the fringes of Russian territory.” His recent expansionist adventure manifests his fervent desire to restore the old glory of Imperial Russia.

Imperial China

Emperor Yung Lo of the Ming Dynasty.

Emperor Yung Lo of the Ming Dynasty.

In the case of China, her history of land-grabbing dates back to 221 BC when the Qin dynasty conquered and unified the “seven warring states” under the Han kingdom. Over the next two millennia, China invaded, conquered, and annexed other nations. In 1274 and 1281, China, under Kublai Khan, invaded Japan but failed.

In 1405, during the reign of the Ming Dynasty in China, Emperor Yung Lo claimed the island of Luzon and placed it under his empire. When Yung Lo died in 1424, the new Emperor Hongxi, Yung Lo’s son, lost interest in the colony and the colonial government was dissolved.

In 1691, the Qing Dynasty conquered and annexed the land of the Zunghar Mongols (Inner Mongolia). Next was Xinjiang in 1759. More followed.

When the communists took over China in 1949, Chinese leader Mao Zedong outlined his global goal: “We must conquer the globe where we will create a powerful state.” In 1951, the first country to fall was Tibet. Consequently, China annexed and declared Tibet as a “core national interest.”

Territorial disputes

China-and-neighbors-mapCurrently, China has territorial disputes with 22 neighboring countries, to wit: Japan, Vietnam, India, Indonesia, Nepal, North Korea, the Philippines, South Korea, Bhutan, Burma (Myanmar), Taiwan, Thailand, Singapore, Kazakhstan, Laos, Brunei, Tajikistan, Cambodia, Kyrgyzstan, Malaysia, Mongolia, and Afghanistan. She also claims about 90% of the entire South China Sea including the more than 300 islands that extend farther to the East China and Yellow Seas. Mao asserted that these territories were lost due to the fall of the Qing Empire. And now, Xi wants them back.

Today, under Xi’s leadership, China has intensified her claims in the South and East China Seas, particularly in disputed territories with Japan, the Philippines, and Vietnam.

Xi and Putin shake hands at their first summit in Moscow on March 22, 2013.

Xi and Putin shake hands at their first summit in Moscow on March 22, 2013.

In my article, “New World Disorder” (March 26, 2013), I wrote: “Upon his ascension to the presidency, Xi’s first venture outside China was to visit his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin. At their summit in Kremlin last March 22, the two leaders agreed to form a ‘strategic partnership’ to advance their countries’ interests. They affirmed their mutual support for each country’s geostrategic and territorial interests, which include territorial disputes. With more than 20 territorial disputes that China is embroiled with various countries — including Japan, Philippines, India, Malaysia, Taiwan, Vietnam — this could put Russia squarely on the paths of conflict, which could involve the United States who has mutual defense treaties with at least four of China’s adversaries.

“In the economic front, the new China-Russia strategic partnership would bind the two countries in jointly developing Russia’s most strategic economic resources — oil, gas, and coal — to meet China’s massive current and future energy requirements.

“One of the summit’s immediate results was an agreement for Russia to triple her oil supplies to China in exchange for a $2-billion loan. In addition, the two countries agreed on a preliminary deal to build a gas pipeline. Indeed, with Russia as one of the world’s largest energy producers and China the world’s number one energy consumer, one can say that Xi got a ‘sweetheart deal’ he couldn’t resist.”

Russia-China-Iran Axis

21st Century triumvirs?

21st Century triumvirs?

On the day Xi and Putin signed the gas deal in Shanghai, Xi hosted the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA) summit, which was attended by leaders from 26 countries. Putin attended the summit as well as Iran’s supreme leader, Hassan Rouhani, whose country is one of the biggest suppliers of oil to China.

These three authoritarian dictators appear to pursue a common goal, which brings to mind the Germany-Japan-Italy Axis 75 years ago. As we all know, the German-Japan-Italy Axis was an evil enterprise designed to subjugate and plunder the world.

Is a Russia-China-Iran Axis in the offing? History has an uncanny way of repeating itself. And just like the old Axis, the new Axis will fail, too. Can’t these dictators ever learn from history?


5 Responses. Have your say.

  1. pat Talens says:

    An enormously formidable alliance indeed against the United States and allies. Imagine three powerful countries of conflicting cultures, philosophies, governments, and beliefs in God—yet can find common grounds bent and rooted from marginalizing and humiliating the West, especially the United States of America. But, my fingers crossed as this will be just history repeating itself, as Perry asserts.

  2. Bobby Bagos says:

    Pat, the Nazi’s and the Japanese empire thought that they will have the entire world by the balls and both paid a terrible price for it. The USSR thought of the same thing and they too crumbled in front of the whole world. These axis of evil will fail and I guarantee you that good old Uncle Sam will be leading the rest of the free world to defeat these over ambitious nimrods.

    • pat talens says:

      Perry and Bobby, I am making far-fetched remarks off Perry’s article to make way for a loud cry to command attention to the deepening silence of misguided priorities and criminal incompetence and mishandling of reliefs and monetary donations in disaster-ravaged areas in the Visayas. Why is it that to date, victims of Yolanda still continue to live in subhuman conditions? Why is it many ravaged areas still do not give semblance of that minimum threshold of human habitability, where dirt and garbage abound, and people get sick and die because of government-provided shelters unfit and insulting for human living? Why is it necessary infrastructures, especially many schools remain uninhabitable denying children anxious to learn those places of learning to equip them with necessary education to become responsible citizens?

      Why is it the Rehabilitazion Czar Panfilo Lacson has time to immerse himself in Napoles scandals, yet his own rehabilitation efforts and agenda have a lot to be desired and deserve investigation for criminal mismanagement, as condition and environment of people remain dismal and unacceptable???

      Considering the massive infusion of monetary donations by people, organizations, and foreign governments in rebuilding the ravaged areas, why and why the places continue to remain in blighted and sorry state?

      Just for my insight, front and center to this seeming failings in rehabilitation undertakings is the misguided priority of the government in the rebuilding of the core communities. As I stated in previous postings, individual families should have been handed financial assistance (may be 25,000 pesos each family, and additional 10,000 pesos for each family killed as consoling money)so that they can rebuild their destroyed houses according to what they want. This instead of the government spending almost the same or much more and providing them with uncomfortable and only fit for subhuman living shelters. After handing out financial assistance to families of affected communities, Laczon and his rehabilitation advisors’ other compelling priorities should have been in repairing roads, power grids, and schools and universities.

      In the seeming failings of rehabilitation undertakings, the government must be held to account. This is a perfect time and ground for the people to call upon the infamous Senate Blue Ribbon Committee to conduct investigations to uncover criminal mismanagement and wrongdoings in this historic rehabilitation efforts.

      Perry and Bobby, for the time I believe this scandal is in the same length and breath of the Napoles scandal, and much more than the Russia-China-Iran devil axis in the offing.

    • Don Azarias says:

      A great analogy, Bobby.

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