BY ZEYNEP GURCANLI
The tension between the U.S., Russia, and China has shifted from bickering between governments to the humanitarian and economic levels.
The humanitarian issue hovers around the American journalist arrested in Russia. After the arrest of Ivan Gershkovich, the Wall Street Journal reporter in Moscow, Washington’s response was to call on all American citizens to leave Russia. The agenda of the next week in international relations seems to be this new humanitarian phase of the Moscow-Washington tension, which has been going on in Ukraine so far.
On the security side, there is a full-blown nuclear escalation. The possibility of the UK supplying depleted uranium-containing ammunition to Ukraine was the development that sparked the tension. Depleted uranium was used in armor-piercing munitions to be used against Soviet tanks during the Cold War. The fact that depleted uranium is a by-product of the nuclear process for nuclear weapons has also shifted the discussion in this direction.
Russia’s move against this was the decision to place the Iskander missiles, which can carry nuclear warheads in Moscow, Belarus. Thus, Russian nuclear weapons moved one step closer to Europe through Belarus.
CURRENCY MOVE BY CHINA
The revenge of the U.S. against China is based on the economy. Chinese state energy company CNOOC inked a critical deal last week. The agreement includes trading liquefied natural gas (LNG) with the French energy company Total in Chinese Yuan. This is the second major step from Beijing after the agreement on the usage of the Yuan in China’s trade with Brazil. Moreover, the fact that the agreement was made with a company from a European Union (EU) country was perceived as a serious blow to the dominance of the American dollar in international trade in global markets.
The dominant currency in international trade has been the American dollar by far since World War II. Although the Euro, the common currency of the EU, is a serious competitor, it has not displaced the American dollar. The Chinese currency, the yuan, is on the rise. Although the yuan still accounts for only 7% of global foreign exchange (FX) transactions, it stands out as the fifth-largest payment currency in the world and the third-largest in trade deals. Moreover, the fact that this rise has taken place in the last 10 years makes the situation even more critical for the U.S.
Both Russia, which conflicts with the U.S. in every field, and the AK Party government in Turkey, which has been in constant conflict with the West, especially recently, and even Arab states of the Gulf that perceive some of the policies of the Washington administration (as in the Khashoggi case) as an insult to them, have tended to use Yuan in trade with China. So much so that Russian Leader Putin, who hosted Chinese President Xi Jinping in Moscow last month, went as far as calling on all African, Asian, and South American countries to use the Yuan in trade.
SANCTIONS ON CHINESE COMPANIES: COUNTER MANOEUVRE BY THE U.S.
Washington was not late to make a courter maneuver when China started to trade in yuan first with Brazil and then with the French company Total. The President Biden administration in the U.S. announced that it has imposed sanctions on five Chinese companies, using China’s policy of repression against the Uighurs as an excuse. Five giant technology companies that have been sanctioned manufacture the cameras that the Chinese government uses in public to monitor the Uighurs. The reaction from China was to reject the repression policy against the Uyghurs and to declare that an appropriate response will be given to the U.S.
EVERYONE IN TURKEY IS WAITING FOR THE ELECTIONS
It is not difficult to predict that the great competition and tension which has started to show itself not only in the field of security but also in humanitarian and economic issues, will put Turkey at a crossroads in the global arena.
For now, everyone is waiting for the elections in Turkey. However, there will be serious pressure from both the West and China-Russia against the new government that will take office after the election is over. The result of the ballot box in Turkey seems to be critical in terms of where Ankara will head for.