Right now, global rivalry is all that occupies global media. Such is the scenario that any news that is not linked to Sino-US rivalry and potential conflict can get binned. So the news that's fit to print means exactly that. And it's not just in the economics or defense columns but in all the spaces.

While Afghanistan was a hot spot and a place from which the US beat a hasty and disorganized retreat, other spots are opening up. Of course the most significant one is Taiwan over which "war" preparations - both long and short term - are on and most eyes are trained on triggers. Many analysts think that if the next war does break out, it will be on that island as China and the US really seem to match brass knuckles with the same. But are they all speculations and hype?

When Afghanistan was overrun by the Taliban, it was China who made the loudest noise over the debacle. But China was not interested in chortling over the US mess in Kabul. It told Taiwan, look at your protector? How can you trust them? See how they run just as soon as commitment hits the wallet?"

Money and guns in Taiwan

China's message and strategy appears to be simple. Win in economics and not go for any international adventure. It certainly has limited capacity in that area and little experience either. Many analysts point out that China has no history of international ambitions so it will not seek such goals. But it can't be that China will not risk them if it serves their long term objectives.

China has tried it several times in the military sphere including once in Vietnam and it paid a ruddy price. It would seem that China just doesn't want to play the military game. It can't afford to and knows that. Maybe none can anymore.

Taiwan however doesn't qualify as a military adventure because to China's its part of its flag. It sees the current scenario as an occupied territory scene and to China taking over Taiwan would be liberation not invasion. So the game is very different. The difference however is that China understands the strategy to do that can be many and cost is a factor as Afghanistan shows.

So China will probably wait rather than hurry as the US economy and the China mall gets closer. That will help the US understand that it may be better to give up claims on Taiwan and settle for an honourable exit/retreat, something they failed to do in Afghanistan. Foreign policy is all about domestic gain and if keeping Taiwan hurts the US more in terms of trade wars, a peaceful takeover will be possible. A takeover is inevitable so one can only hope for one without international violence.

Bangladesh and the US

The recent sanctions by the US against RAB and several individuals have been read as expressions of a new US policy of the current Presidency based on democracy and human rights. It's true that RAB has been accused of violation of human rights since birth and the situation in many rights sectors is very disturbing. However, the US does sanction for its own gain and influence and not for the benefit of that country facing sanctions. And what the US can gain from putting pressure on Bangladesh is not clear. Unless one assumes that the US is full of nobility of purpose -some do- most would be more puzzled than worried.

Bangladesh rulers may be worried but as yet the sanctions against RAB have not been a serious obstacle yet. The decline of extra-judicial killings which happened after the Sinha murder has recently started to go up after a gap. If that declines due to sanctions it will be a positive result indeed. But how that affects the China status here is not clear?

China is hardly interested in the HR condition here and will go along with whatever suits its economic policies. It plays the "support the ruling party policy" everywhere, not any particular party. It made the BNP unhappy after its positive remarks on the current government. That could be linked to say that any anti-China/pro-US stance may be popular with the Opposition. It has been heralded by "civil society" groups at home and anti-government elements abroad but how far the actual political impact is, one is not yet sure yet.

Speculation is on that all this is keeping the 2023 elections in mind but even if the ruling party loses whole sale the Chinese will simply shift its support and as the trader number one, it's no problem. So what will be the US gain if China continues to be supporter number one to whoever is in power?

Unless we go back to the old idea that the West is noble and the East is cruel binary, one can't be sure what the US sanctions were really intended to achieve. Something yes but the conventional analyses doesn't explain much as yet. Perhaps more is to come.

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