Americas, Analysis, Asia, Central Asia, Middle East, Side Feature, South Asia, syria

Views on the News 13/02/2021

• COVID-19: Vaccine Nationalism, High Prices and Supply Chain Issues Slowing Worldwide Coronavirus Inoculation
• No Change in US Policy on Kashmir, says US State Department
• US-China Competition: A Bipolar Technology Order
• After Two Hour China Phone Call, Biden says China will ‘Eat our Lunch’
• US Military in the Middle East, Libya, Illegal Jewish entity

COVID-19: Vaccine Nationalism, High Prices and Supply Chain Issues Slowing Worldwide Coronavirus Inoculation

Vaccine nationalism, high prices and supply chain issues are standing in the way of the world getting inoculated, according to scientists writing about the coronavirus pandemic in The Lancet. More than two thirds of the world’s doses have been secured by governments representing just one sixth of the world’s population. In an article penned by seven experts in fields including vaccines, health policy and infectious diseases, they outline the steps needed to be taken to ensure as many people as possible get jabs against COVID-19. Lead author Dr Olivier Wouters, from the London School of Economics and Political Science, said: “Several manufacturers have successfully developed COVID-19 vaccines in under 12 months, an extraordinary achievement. “But the stark reality is that the world now needs more doses of COVID-19 vaccines than any other vaccine in history in order to immunise enough people to achieve global vaccine immunity. “Unless vaccines are distributed more equitably, it could be years before the coronavirus is brought under control at a global level. “The questions now are when these vaccines will become available, and at what price.” There is also concern about the pricing of vaccines. Jabs like the Oxford/AstraZeneca one have been offered for as little as $5 (£3.60) for a course, while at the top end some China-developed vaccines are being offered for $62 (£44.80) per course. The article’s co-author Professor Mark Jit, from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, warned that richer countries overordering is putting others at risk. He said: “Securing large quantities of vaccines in this way amounts to countries placing widespread vaccination of their own populations ahead of the vaccination of healthcare workers and high-risk populations in poorer countries. “Based on known deals, governments in high-income countries representing 16% of the global population have secured at least 70% of doses available in 2021 from five leading vaccine candidates.” [Source: Sky News]

Security competition between rich nations is fueling vaccine nationalism. This threatens to undermine the fight against Covid-19. For vaccinations to be effective about 80% of the world’s population must be inoculated, and this requires equitable distribution of vaccine shots for the poorer countries. Failure to do so means that new variants will break out, and compromise the effectiveness of existing vaccines thereby delaying prospects to bring the virus under control.

No Change in US Policy on Kashmir, says US State Department

The United States State Department has clarified that there has been no change in America’s Kashmir policy and Washington still considers both Jammu and Kashmir as a territory disputed between India and Pakistan. The clarification, given at a news briefing on Wednesday afternoon, followed a string of statements by US President Joe Biden and senior officials of his administration, outlining their policies towards the South and Central Asian regions. The region includes India, Pakistan, Afghanistan and China and the policy outlines indicate a gradual change of emphasis from Pakistan and Afghanistan to China. The statements also show a greater US reliance on India to help counter China’s growing influence in the region. But the clarification on the Kashmir issue shows that the Biden administration is not insensitive to Pakistan’s concerns either. “I want to be very clear, there has been no change in US policy in the region,” said State Department spokesperson Ned Price when reminded at a briefing that a tweet the department posted earlier on Wednesday did not mention the region’s disputed status. “Is this a change in policy? Does the State no longer recognise this (Jammu and Kashmir) as a disputed territory? Is there some sort of change in position that we need to know?” asked a journalist while referring to the tweet. The tweet in question welcomed India’s decision to restore access to 4G mobile internet in the disputed region but identified the area as “India’s Jammu and Kashmir”. “This marks an important step for local residents, and we look forward to continuing political & economic progress to restore normalcy in J&K,” the State Department had commented. The journalists attending the briefing noticed this omission and asked the spokesperson to clarify the department’s position who said the US still considered Jammu and Kashmir a disputed region. Pakistan, however, said it was “disappointed” by the reference to Jammu and Kashmir by the US State Department. “We are disappointed to note the reference to Jammu and Kashmir in the US Department of State’s tweet regarding the resumption of 4G mobile internet in [IoK],” the Foreign Office spokesperson said when asked about the tweet. He said “the reference is inconsistent with the disputed status of Jammu and Kashmir as recognised by numerous United Nations Security Council resolutions and the international community.” The FO noted in a statement that Jammu and Kashmir was one of the oldest items on the agenda of the UNSC, which remained unresolved because of “India’s intransigence and unwillingness to implement the relevant UNSC resolutions and its own solemn commitments made to Pakistan, the Kashmiris and the international community” [Source: Dawn]

At this moment in time, America is not interested in resolving the Kashmir dispute, as it needs India to counterbalance China. The Pakistani leadership needs to move on and prepare all means for liberating Kashmir and ending Hindu domination of the Kashmiris.

US-China Competition: A Bipolar Technology Order

A new report authored by China scholars and influential voices from the U.S. tech industry, including former Google CEO Eric Schmidt, has raised eyebrows after calling for “bifurcation” between the U.S. and China tech sectors. The report, leaked by Axios, wrote that there is “no returning to the pre-Trump ‘status quo,’” and argued in favor of “some degree of technological bifurcation” between the two countries. Its release comes at a moment when observers in the U.S. and China are keenly watching the Biden administration for clues as to the extent to which it plans to reverse or continue hawkish policies introduced under former president Donald Trump, which included a slew of sanctions, bans, and export restrictions on Chinese tech companies. Observers suggest that the report’s authorship, including experts with close ties to the Democratic Party and figures in the new administration, indicate that U.S.-China technology competition is likely here to stay. But the report was clear in criticizing the Trump administration’s approach to tech competition, writing that “the Trump administration’s policies have done little to arrest America’s eroding technological advantage.” A key point of disagreement was with the previous administration’s policies on immigration, with the report’s authors calling for a significant expansion of schemes to welcome highly skilled immigrants. Notably, the authors argued that “most scientists & engineers strongly prefer to live here over China,” pointing to the high rate of retention of Chinese-born STEM PhDs in the U.S. But officials in the Trump administration may have eroded those preferences, amid an initiative by the FBI to scrutinize academics of Chinese descent’s affiliations with Chinese government institutions. Most recently, the arrest of MIT professor Gang Chen in the final days of the previous administration spurred outrage in the academic community, with MIT speaking out vocally in his defense and pledging to cover his legal fees. The report’s authors also laid out a menu of options short of a ban that could constrain the reach of Chinese apps in Western markets, while leaving the door open for total bans as a measure of last resort. Recommended measures include some policies that were adopted by the Trump administration, such as restrictions on U.S. high tech exports targeting individual Chinese companies. Other recommendations include requiring that Chinese companies adhere to certain technical requirements such as end-to-end encryption, open sourcing and code audits, and data localization. “Biden is most likely, on the technology front, going to keep things the way the Trump administration has made them,” said Abishur Prakash, a geopolitics expert at the Center for Innovating the Future. “Whether it’s regarding Alipay, whether it’s regarding TikTok, whether it’s regarding Chinese STEM students — across the board holistically, there’s not a lot of space for change.” […] The Biden approach to Chinese technology issues will be different than Trump’s in at least one key area: Biden officials have said they plan to work with other Western democracies to create a united front against China’s influence. “Whether the techno democracies or the techno autocracies are the ones that get to define how technology is used — the technology that dominates all of our lives — I think is going to go a long way to shaping the next decades,” Anthony Blinken, who was confirmed Tuesday as secretary of state, said last week. [Source: China Digital Times]

It is very clear that America is apprehensive of China’s technological prowess in digital technologies and the capacity of Beijing to spread its technological infrastructure across the globe. Therefore, it is not surprising for the authors of the report to sacrifice openness of free trade under globalization for a bipolar technology order.

After Two Hour China Phone Call, Biden says China will ‘Eat our Lunch’

Joe Biden this week had a lot to discuss with Chinese President Xi Jinping during his first phone call after becoming US President, which lasted two hours, a remarkably lengthy time for an American president. Biden talks about knowing him well from his time as Vice President under President Obama but much has happened since then; China has been one of America’s foremost challenges in this past decade.

From the time of China’s reopening to the world, initiated in Mao Zedong’s final years but properly established by his successor Deng Xiaoping, America had been following a consistent policy towards China, essential similar to its post-war treatment of its German and Japanese opponents, which was to connect China economically with the Unites States. Following this policy, Germany and Japan both became economic giants but established on an export model instead of indigenous requirements. China too became the factory of the world, making what others need but not what it requires itself. However, in Germany and Japan, this economic programme was accompanied by direct American military presence, as an occupying power, along with political control of the government, whereas in China, the political leadership remained intact and its military unfettered. Thus, it was only a matter of time before China realised the trap that America had set for it and turned its attention to its own indigenous economic needs including strategic industries and military production, while at the same time accelerating the build-up and modernisation of its armed forces and the projection of its power into the South China Sea and beyond, thus directly threatening American national security, which considers the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans to be its private waters.

America realised the need to change its China policy by the early years of the 21st century but at that time had fallen into calamitous wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, wars that America had foolishly thought it could easily win. Then came the revolutions of the Arab Spring that almost fully consumed the energies of the American foreign policy establishment, particularly the uprising in Syria that Kissinger described as having the potential to unravel the entire Westphalian nation-state system. Obama did undertake important steps to reposition America’s China policy, but it was Trump that radically changed the tone of US-Chinese relations, reversing decades of economic engagement by firing up a brutal trade war. But by the end of Trump’s term it became clear that a trade war would not be sufficient to block China’s ascendancy; moreover, the US economy has become fundamentally weakened by decades of dependency on Chinese production. Hence Biden’s discussion of massive domestic stimulus spending. Imploring US Senators the day after his call with China, Biden said, “If we don’t get moving they’re going to each our lunch”. Further, describing China, he said, “They’re investing billions of dollars dealing with a whole range of issues that relate to transportation, the environment and a whole range of other things. We just have to step up.”

There is much for aware Muslims to learn from these developments. America may well be the global superpower but it is deeply flawed as a result of the Capitalist ideology that it has embraced along with the rest of the Western world. Western prosperity is not built on the success of its Capitalist economic system, which has actually failed, but on the strength of its continued imperialistic foreign policy, which makes the West dependent on the exploitation of the resources and economies of others. China, too, is in the initial phase of implementing the Capitalist economic system; this initial phase brings phenomenal growth built on exploitation of the domestic workforce, which in China’s case is massive. But China is already exhausting its internal supply of cheap labour, and has begun efforts to exploit others in its region. This all stands in contrast to Islam, which builds a vigorous domestic economy through establishing just and productive economic relations between its people, and actively working for an equitable distribution of wealth within society. Furthermore, economic relations are supported by powerful social relations centred on the family that provide a sound basis for entrepreneurship and risk-taking, backed up by a solid safety net from the state. It was the implementation of Islam for over a thousand years by the Islamic Khilafah (Caliphate) State that brought peace, harmony and prosperity not only to Muslims but also to both the West and to China, which greatly benefited from their interconnectivity to the Muslim world, for example through the Silk Route passing through Muslim lands. Capitalism destroyed all that. But with Allah’s permission, the Muslim Ummah is now rising again and will soon re-establish the Islamic Khilafah State on the method of the Prophet (saw) that shall unify all Muslim lands, entering almost from its inception, the ranks of the great powers because of its size, strength, population, resources, geopolitical location and Islamic ideology.

US Military in the Middle East, Libya, Illegal Jewish entity

Incoming US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin is said to be “comfortable” with the US military presence across the Middle East, according to an article in Al-Monitor quoting his press secretary. Lloyd Austin is a retired military officer who under President Obama headed the US Central Command, responsible for US military operations in most of the Muslim world. His choice as Secretary of Defence points to the considerable remaining challenges for the Biden administration in managing America’s engagement with Muslim countries. America owns the most powerful military force on the planet but American strength is dramatically limited in Muslim countries because of its having to project power across oceans from the other side of the world. Additionally, the American disbelieving soldier is in reality no match for the sincere Muslim mujahid. This has led America to abandon the idea of deploying its own forces in Muslim lands and instead depend on building a type of local balance of power by driving Muslim countries against each other. Meanwhile the Muslim Ummah is as yet unaware of its full strength; not recognising that the weakness of Muslim governments is only because they are led by agent rulers that have sold themselves to the West.

The United States continues to make progress in Libya, after having introduced Turkey and Russia to the country, two countries that previously covertly cooperated in executing the American plan against the Syrian revolution. Libya’s new unitary governing team includes Abdul Hameed Dbeibah as prime minister, with family business links to Turkey, and who said last Saturday, “We will have great solidarity with the Turkish people and state. Turkey is our ally, friend and brother. Also, Turkey has big capabilities to support Libyans to reach their real targets. Turkey is a real partner for us.” America has been working for almost a decade to wrest Libya away from British control. The Arab Spring was a genuine expression of Islamic uprising but, without sincere, indigenous, capable leadership committed to Islam, the Arab Spring turned into yet another opportunity for Western powers to unseat each other’s agents and attempt to impose their own agents instead. The Muslim Ummah shall not be rid of the interference of the disbelieving imperialist Western powers until they depose its agent rulers and instead takes charge of their own affairs, pledging themselves once more to a Khalifa (Caliph) who shall be a sincere servant to the believers and owe loyalty to no one except Allah and His Messenger (saw).

Three weeks into his presidency and Joe Biden has still not called Benjamin Netanyahu, the Prime Minister of the illegal Jewish entity, someone whom both Presidents Obama and Trump reached out to in their first two days in office. Nevertheless, Muslims should not be misled into thinking that Biden is in any way averse to the Zionist agenda. Biden has made clear that he will not reverse any of the policies undertaken by Trump in favour of the illegal entity. Biden is only expressing momentary American displeasure with Netanyahu personally, who attempted to use his personal relationship with the family of Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law, to gain additional benefits for the illegal entity. Netanyahu typifies the ‘spoilt child’ mentality of Jewish leaders in the illegal entity that America has long chosen to tolerate. As a solid member of the American establishment, Biden is fully committed to supporting this foreign illegal presence, which represents a second Crusader state in the heart of the Muslim world a millennium after the first was defeated by Muslim armies under the command of Salahuddin Ayyubi. But at that time, the Islamic Khilafah State existed and fully supported the liberation of Palestine, whereas today Muslim countries are in the hands of agent rulers that work to protect the foreign presence in Muslim lands, whether in Palestine, or Kashmir, or Afghanistan, or elsewhere. With Allah’s permission, Muslims shall soon overthrow these agents and re-establish the Islamic Khilafah State on the method of the Prophet (saw) that shall unify Muslim lands under a single leadership, liberate all occupied territories, restore the Islamic way of life, and carry the light of Islam to the entire world.