In Episode 189 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg notes that despite all the tankie pseudo-left enthusiasm for the BRICS summit in South Africa, the notion of a unified bloc against Western hegemony is illusory. The Johannesburg confab was immediately followed by a diplomatic spat between China and India, sparked by Beijing's release of an official map of the territory of the People's Republic—showing two Himalayan enclaves claimed by India as Chinese territory: Aksai Chin and Arunachal Pradesh, which have both been the scene of border skirmishes in recent years. The map also shows an island in the Amur River, by mutual agreement half controlled by Russia, as entirely Chinese. Moscow, depending on China's acquiescence in the Ukraine war, has lodged no protest over this. But the border disputes between nuclear-armed India and China have the potential to escalate to the unthinkable. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon.
The US Department of State has announced visa restrictions on Chinese officials linked to the systematic "forced assimilation" of over a million Tibetan children in state-operated boarding schools. This decision is part of a broader strategy by the Biden administration to address China's treatment of its ethnic minorities, with a particular focus on the Tibetan and Xinjiang Uighur regions.
In Episode 188 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg deconstructs the accusation of "red-baiting" employed by the tankie pseudo-left to deflect criticism of funding sources directly linked to Chinese and Russian state propaganda networks. Before such revelations made the New York Times, they were reported by bloggers and researchers themselves on the radical left. And some progressive voices and international socialists have repudiated the smear that any such examination of money networks linked to authoritarian regimes is "red-baiting." Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon.
Canada has launched an inquiry into accusations over use of Uyghur forced labor by Western corporations Nike and Dynasty Gold. Canadian Ombudsperson for Responsible Enterprise Sheri Meyerhoffer announced the inquiry July 11 as part of a broader initiative to evaluate grievances against corporations operating within Canada. Both Nike and Dynasty Gold are believed to have derived advantages from the utilization of coerced labor involving Uyghurs in the People's Republic of China. While the initial evaluation stipulates that Nike has not engaged in the direct use of such labor, the company's association with Chinese third-party entities does not absolve it of accountability. Nike contends that it has terminated relationships with Chinese third-party companies implicated in employing coerced labor.
At least 13 people, nine of them civilians, were killed in Russian air-strikes within the so-called "de-escalation zone" in northern Syria's Idlib province June 25. The raid struck the village of Basbat, west of Jisr al-Shughur, according to the White Helmets rescue group and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR). At least 30 people were also injured in the strike, with the death toll likely to rise. The three Russian warplanes took off from Khmeimim air base in Latakia province. Some of the strikes hit a crowded vegetable market.
Afghanistan's Taliban regime has agreed to sign a contract with a Chinese company to exploit oil in the Amu Darya basin in the country's north, the acting mining minister announced Jan. 5. The contract with the Xinjiang Central Asia Petroleum & Gas Co. (CAPEIC) is to be the first major resource extraction deal the regime has signed with a foreign company since taking power in 2021. "The Amu Darya oil contract is an important project between China and Afghanistan," China's ambassador, Wang Yu, told a joint press conference with Taliban officials in Kabul. Beijing has not formally recognized the Taliban government but has significant interests in Afghanistan, a country deemed critical for its Belt & Road Initiative.
Following weeks of sporadic protests against the recurrent draconian COVID-19 lockdowns in China, spontaneous demonstrations broke out in cities across the country Nov. 27. Street demos were reported from Shanghai, Nanjing, Chengdu and Wuhan as well as Beijing. In addition to slogans against the lockdowns and for freedom of speech and assembly, such verboten chants were heard as "Xi Jinping, step down" and "Communist Party, step down." Some called Xi a "dictator" and "traitor." Images have been circulating on social media despite the best efforts of authorities to contain them. Many images show demonstrators holding blank sheets of paper as an ironic protest against censorship.
In Episode 149 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg notes that the UN Human Rights Office determination that China may be guilty of "crimes against humanity" in its mass detention of Uyghurs in Xinjiang province is dismissed by the tankie-left ANSWER Coalition as "propagandistic." Meanwhile, it falls to Radio Free Asia, media arm of the US State Department, to aggressively cover the very real conditions of forced labor faced by the Uyghurs and other Turkic peoples of Xinjiang—and how Western corporations benefit from it. While the Western pseudo-left betrays the Uyghurs, US imperialism exploits their suffering for propaganda against a rising China in the Great Game for the Asia-Pacific region. Figures such as Australia's Kevin Rudd incorrectly portray a "Return of Red China," blaming the PRC's increasingly totalitarian direction on a supposed neo-Marxism. Fortunately, the new anthology Xinjiang Year Zero offers a corrective perspective, placing the industrial-detention complex and techno-security state in the context of global capitalism and settler colonialism.