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China is investing ever more in Pakistan, particularly with regard to Gwadar in Balochistan. What the benefits for Pakistan are unclear, other than the general boost to the local economy, since most of the cash is going towards Chinese self-interest.
Asia Times Online :: South Asia news - China's growing stake in Pakistan
Under the FTA signed last week, Pakistan will gain access to the vast Chinese market, while China will sell Pakistan more and more goods, as well as get cheap raw materials and the use of Pakistani ports for the onward export of its goods to world destinations at reduced freight rates.
The biggest chunk of Chinese investment in Pakistan is being spent on development projects in the country's largest province, strategically located Balochistan. The most important projects being launched with Chinese assistance in Pakistan include construction of the Gwadar deepsea port in Mekran, the Saindak copper and gold project in Chaghm, and the lead-zinc-mining project in Balochistan's Lasbela district.
The Chinese have invested about $230 million in the Gwadar port and the Saindak copper project, which is more than 50% of their total investment in the country.
Can't see it happening - it would be too much of a loss of face for Musharraf, not to mention a potentially destabilising force for Pakistan's fragile sovereignty.
The News - International
WASHINGTON: UN inspectors, including weapons specialists, scientists, engineers and analysts, are ready to be despatched to Balochistan, if President Musharraf allows them to monitor the Pakistan-Afghanistan border areas, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) said in a commentary.
Referring to the conflicting claims by Pakistan and Afghanistan regarding presence and support to Taliban, the WSJ said an independent evaluation of the facts was necessary. “The only system in the world that can do this is the UN’s Monitoring, Verification, and Inspection Committee (Unmovic). With over 300 experts, it can conduct a comprehensive fact-finding mission in Balochistan immediately.”
Written by Miss Ashley Bommer, who worked at the US Mission to the UN during the Clinton administration, it said the UN inspectors can determine if the Taliban command hubs do exist. They will report back to the international community truthfully. Unmovic’s record of independence speaks for itself.
The article said: “Hamid Karzai and Pervez Musharraf are arguing about the Pakistani province of Balochistan. Intelligence sources — and President Karzai — say that the Taliban’s kingpin, Mulla Omar, is operating out of Quetta, Balochistan’s capital. And he is sending arms and fighters into south-west Afghanistan. No wonder President Karzai is upset. The frontline of the Taliban and al Qaeda insurgency has a backline in Pakistan. But US troops cannot go into Pakistan — precisely where al-Qaeda and the Taliban are. So there is a simple next step: Gen Musharraf should agree to UN inspectors.
Well, it would suit Saudi fine. No unwelcome criticism of its human rights record; no irritating demands from Indian and Pakistani workers; just a customer willing to pay high prices for the product. Win-win, apart from the loss of the US security umbrella - but that in itself is a provocation to the Islamist element and arguably makes the Middle East more unsafe.
New Saudi alignment with China could challenge U.S|In Depth|Reuters.com
Chietigj Bajpaee, research associate at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C., said China risks being seen as trying to "lock up" Saudi oil at the expense of Washington, or India, another Asian tiger economy with a billion-plus population and a voracious appetite for oil.
"(China and the United States) have an increasingly symbiotic relationship," Bajpaee said. "This has led to fears in the United States that China is encroaching into its 'sphere of influence' and undermining relations with its traditional allies."
Hu Jintao's visit to India and Pakistan raises interesting questions. The much-vaunted Pakistan-China nuclear deal has so far failed to materialise, presumably either due to pressure from manmohan Singh, or a realisation by Beijing that to encourage Pakistan too much would create an uneasy balance of power along nuclear superpower axes (US-India and China-Pakistan).
Even trickier for China is the fact that its growing economic and political strength means that it can no longer sit back and mumble its non-intervention mantra. It has to play a part in global affairs, like it or not, and it's in South Asia that it perhaps faces its sternest test. Undoubtedly, China is becoming ever more locked in to the world environment it for so long sought to avoid.
BBC NEWS | South Asia | Pakistan - China: Is it really all smiles?
According to Dr Rizvi, China has realised that if it is to play a dominant role in the region, it must first establish its credentials as an "ambassador of peace" in the region.
This could be the toughest bit for Pakistan to swallow.
In essence, it means China may no longer be prepared to be a silent spectator to the many conflicts that Pakistan is involved in.
Nor can it be seen to be lending Pakistan any form of moral, political or material support for its policy of maintaining "low-intensity conflict" with its troubled neighbours.
China may also become more sensitive towards local insurgencies such as the one in Balochistan where it is helping Pakistan build an alternative port that is billed as the gateway to Central Asia.
If the world were a democracy, 'Chindia' would have the casting vote for sure. But it's not, and the relationship between the Asian giants is a complex one, without doubt.
The Economist is swift to point out the theory:
The appealing notion here is that India and China have complementary economies. China, through its burgeoning factories, is the world’s workshop. India, with its fast-growing IT and outsourcing firms, is becoming the world's back office. With Chinese hardware providing the orchestra and Indian software writing the score, surely they can make beautiful music together?
But it does not gloss over the reality:
The current complementarity in Chindian economic ties, such as it is, looks rather old-fashioned, even colonial. India exports raw materials to China, especially iron ore, and imports cheap Chinese manufactures in exchange.
In future, fierce competition is more likely than closer co-operation. Efforts to join forces in a global search for energy security are unlikely to overcome deeply ingrained Indian suspicions of China. The mistrust dates back to India’s humiliating defeat in the India-China war of 1962, and is fed by China's ties to Pakistan. It still impedes trade and investment. Chinese firms find it hard to secure visas for their staff in India, and are excluded from some projects, such as running ports.
In IR terms, India is the periphery to China's semi-peripheral zone, and the core remains, as always, the West.
Liberalization or no liberalization, so many poor people ain't going to get rich that quick, especially in India where the insane economic policies of the 'license Raj' have never fully dissipated. And in realist thinking, the balance of power - both strategic and economic - remains at the forefront of minds in New Delhi and Beijing.
But in summary, despite the differences, their destinies may becoming ever more intertwined. So easy to lump them together; but so hard to pull them apart. Sooner or later, the chumminess will fade.
Article reproduced below.
Continue reading "The Myth of Chindia" »
If this doesn't look like an omen of impending disaster in China, then what does? Despite the lip service to the environment, the fact that this kind of thing can, and often does, happen is an indication of laissez faire of the worst kind. Expect a plague of locusts, frogs and the death of first-born little emperors some day soon.
Almost everything you needed to know about Balochistan, but were afraid to ask, neatly summed up here. The only aspect which is not dealt with is the presence of the US in Afghanistan and its uneasy influence over Pakistan, and also India. One couldn't ask for a situation where so many rival powers were so interdependent and intermeshed.
Note also that India is building a rival port in Iran at Chabahar - that I did not know, and it only makes the situation more volatile.
The Geostrategic Implications of the Baloch Insurgency
Balochistan's strategic significance and natural endowment makes it a critical province for Pakistan. Strategically, Balochistan bridges Central, South, Southeast and East Asia on one end, and Central Asia, the Persian Gulf and the Middle East on the other. Regional states, especially India, cannot reach the energy and trade markets of the Caspian Sea region without transit through Balochistan, which Pakistan denies to India despite repeated pleas on New Delhi's behalf by Washington. India absorbs punitive freight costs by routing its trade goods through the Persian Gulf and the Middle East, even for shipments to Afghanistan. Since 2001, New Delhi has made great strides in reaching out to Baloch leaders, whose National Jirga has now made it a party to the arbitration of their "Accession to Pakistan Pact" in the ICJ (The Nation, November 13).
India is also wary of the Sino-Pakistan naval port on the Arabian Sea, which has raised Beijing's profile in the Indian Ocean. India is even more concerned over Taliban-inspired "militant groups" who operate in Indian-administered Kashmir. As the Taliban are widely believed to have their operational bases in Balochistan, they equally worry India's allies in the region, especially Afghanistan and Iran. Afghanistan resents Pakistan's patronage of the Taliban, which have become the largest threat to its stability since their regrouping in 2003. Iran is also unhappy with Islamabad's policy toward the Taliban due to the group's anti-Shiite theology and the subversive operations of the Taliban's allies, such as Jandallah, in Iran's Sunni-dominated province of Sistan-Balochistan.
No, not Tiananmen, Tiawan, Tibet and torture (hope that doesn't get this website blocked). Now we're talking about the traingular relationships of China, India, Pakistan and the US. I might add Iran in there as well - see below.
Asia Times Online :: China News - The geometry of Sino-Indian ties
Hu's visit will be the crowning event to mark a decade of steady improvement in bilateral relations and serve as an impetus for further strengthening ties between Asia's two emerging powers. However, the substance and consolidation of the improving bilateral relationship will have to overcome what I term the four Ts - threat perceptions; territorial disputes; and the two triangulars, ie, China-India-US and China-India-Pakistan.
Despite progress in bilateral relations over the past few years, mutual suspicions remain. Partly this is due to the dynamics of security dilemma and structural conflicts between the two Asian giants. India has watched China's phenomenal growth in economic and military areas with both envy and alarm. The very fact that China continues to lead India on many indicators of power poses a greater threat than its military defeat 40 years ago.
Likewise, China is paying close attention to India's growing military power and its nuclear and missile developments. Beijing is wary of New Delhi's eastward strategy of developing greater economic and military ties with Japan and the countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
Just to really complicate matters, let's stick oil and and gas into the equation too. Then you have the Iran-US-China triangle over Iran's nuclear ambitions, and the Iran-Pakistan-India triangle relating to gas pipelines. No-one said this would be simple...
As always, it come down to economics in the end. But at the end of the day, 'One China' has to stop somewhere. Beijing cannot keep on claiming all areas on the edges of its current borders to be Chinese territory, for if it wins concessions on these, then it will only stake more claims elsewhere.
Last vestige of old Tibetan culture clings on in remote Indian state | The Guardian | Guardian Unlimited
Although many in Tawang have heard of breathtaking advances taking place in Tibet, symbolised by the world's highest railway connecting the Himalayan plateau with the rest of China, there are few takers for that kind of pell-mell rush to modernity.
"I do not understand this race to be modern. We have to be careful to strike a balance between economic growth and cultural erosion. We have to limit outside influences and control to some extent," said Tsona Gontse Rinpoche, a high-ranking lama who is also an elected local politician. "Our society can easily fall apart otherwise. In Tibet these things are happening. Buddhism is dying there."
Despite these concerns India is pressing ahead with its own plans to build dams in Arunachal Pradesh to generate hydropower for energy-starved India and blast tunnels through the Himalayas for a motorway network. This would be a step change for Arunachal Pradesh, which does not even have an airport.
Experts say that China covets the Tawang region not just for the picturesque monastery but for economic and strategic reasons. Many point out that China has plans to divert the Brahmaputra river, which begins in Tibet but passes through Arunachal Pradesh, to feed its arid northern and western regions and generate power.
It's been ten years since the last visit of a Chinese leader to India, and border disputes and trade will be high on the agenda. It'll be interesting to see the outcome of the discussions, if indeed such becomes public knowledge. China has some major issues over India's trade protectionism, not to mention the disputed territories. In fact, the most interesting question will be: "What has India got to gain?"
My guess would be that in retrun for a concession on Aksai Chin or the North Eastern border, India will make some concessions for Chinese companies. That'd be a win-win situation for both - but with China winning considerably more.
BBC NEWS | South Asia | Chinese leader begins India visit
Delhi is also suspicious of China's relationship with its long-time rival Pakistan.
And China is concerned about Delhi's growing ties with Washington, especially the landmark nuclear agreement between the two allowing India access to civilian nuclear technology.
The Tibetan government-in-exile, led by the Dalai Lama, is hosted by India and is based in Dharamsala in the country's north-western state of Himachal Pradesh.
The Asia Times neatly throws structural realist theory straight out of the window. Also known as neo-realism, this Cold War theory rests on the idea of a balance of power between two giants (then the US and USSR); with equal military capabilities, the peace held for 50 years.
However, with information warfare and nuclear proliferation on the rise, and several examples in recent history of how a small, clever enemy can defeat the conventional military forces of a superpower (think Vietnam, Aghanistan I, 9/11, Afghanistan II, Iraq), it seems that asymmetric warfare is well and truly in. Sheer strength is irrelevant, as long as there is a David who knows how to topple the Goliath.
Asia Times Online :: Asian News, Business and Economy.
a conventional confrontation between the US and the comparatively smaller, less powerful Russia-China axis would quickly result in a catastrophe for the East. In fact, the rising East has intentionally kept its relations with the West as friendly as possible in order to avoid the terrible costs of a direct, conventional confrontation. This policy has facilitated, without needless interruption, the ongoing and massive transfer of wealth from the West to the emerging (rising) economies of the East. It is a very smart and pragmatic policy for the East.
Nevertheless, simultaneous with that policy another one is being actively pursued. The rising East is not content to merely assume that the US colossus will treat, or will learn to treat the globe's lesser powers in a fair and equitable manner, taking proper account of their legitimate views and interests.
Unilateralist, overly muscular and mostly self-serving US policies and actions since the 1991 collapse of the roughly balanced bipolar order of the two superpowers demonstrate that nothing can be taken for granted in that regard. Prudently, the rising multifarious East has been learning ever deeper and wider multilateral cooperation within itself in the energy, economic, diplomatic, political and military spheres aimed at developing and putting in place potent asymmetric leverages in all those same spheres.
The bigger they come, the harder they fall.
One to note for my forthcoming paper on the value of European pressure on China's environmental policy.
How charities can help China's social and economic development | Society | SocietyGuardian.co.uk
The last two decades of China's growth were based on quantity. Now this needs to switch to growth based on quality. Western expertise and solidarity has a big role to play. One government official I spoke to expressed it rather well. He said: "The Chinese government is shining a torch on its development needs but there are areas of darkness. Organisations like ActionAid can help us light up some of these dark places."
The last few weeks - which have seen China tighten its grip over Africa and Asia, and the Republicans lose their grip in the Capitol and rethink their whole strategy - has generated a slew of articles over at Asia Times Online.
One author speaks of a new East-West Cold War style conflict developing, though I'm not so sure how stable or even feasible a China-Russia-India alliance would be:
It isn't yet fashionable to speak openly of a world subdividing itself again into two camps - those aligned with the US and those aligned with the Russia-China axis at the core of a new rising, multifarious yet coherent pole of the East - with the dividing line between the two camps consisting of the contest for control over global strategic resources.
Despite all the relevant signs pointing precisely in that direction:
# The deepening accord in all key spheres between Russia, China, India, the other rising powers of the East and the key resource-rich regimes of the world.
# Steadily rising East-West tensions, the ever-more divergent interests between East and West.
# The increasingly incompatible approaches to global issues and problems resulting in an ever-widening chasm between East and West.
Far too long to analyse in full, but worth looking at at a later date.
Another writer re-examines the China-India relationship:
Professor Ma Jiali, a veteran South Asia expert at the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations (CICIR), says India's recent economic performance combined with its growing importance in international affairs has led to a rethink in Beijing of India as zhong he guoli, a Mandarin term that translates roughly as a "comprehensive national power".
For Beijing, relations with India are now considered the highest priority, according to Professor Ma, given that India is what he calls a "four-in-one" country. "India falls into each of the four major categories of countries that China wants to focus its diplomatic energies on," he explained. The four categories are: Developing countries, neighboring countries, rising powers, and influential actors on the international stage.
Another still looks at China and Russia, and finally we have the four horsemen of America, Pakistan, Iran and North Korea.
There's really far too much to read here, but the implication is clear - the world is shaking into what looks like being its new order for quite a while. I personally will suggest that the US will remain one major pole, with China its key rival and Europe, Russia, India and Iran as second-tier powers that either ally with the gig pair or stand their distance. Both a multipolar and a bipolar environment at the same time - twice as nasty, twice as unpredictable.
Which implies that there are considerations and unpleasant things going on to ignore.
PakRealEstate.com :: News Details
The Chinese envoy, who flew to Gwadar for attending the conference, said that with the passage of time economic and business relations between Pakistan and China would assume new heights and his country would extend maximum help and cooperation to Balochistan for making it an important strategic business and trade hub in the region. He was optimistic about the high-profile economic potential of Gwadar.
Speaking about the future of the new port city, he said that ignoring all security apprehensions the Chinese companies were improving their commercial investment in Balochistan.
However, what this report fails to note is pointed out on an Indian website:
Chinese engineers and workers at the port have been attacked and some killed by Baloch separatists when work on the port was underway.
Analysts say Gwadar's location has great strategic value - both from the military and energy stand points. The gas pipeline from Central Asia would pass from Gwadar and there is competition from many countries including Iran that is also offering facilities to Central Asian states from Chah Bahar in Iran.
Separatist Baloch organisations have opposed the port's development and have targeted 'settlers' from Punjab who have purchased land cheap in Gwadar in anticipation of investment and fast-paced development, causing a spurt in land prices.
The Faith and the State lecture series closed with a general debate held at the ISHSS in Amsterdam. Moderated by Maarten Huygen of NRC Handelsblad newspaper, the speakers were chosen to embody as best as possible the different strands of the discussions over the last two months.
In the right corner was atheist philosopher Prof Herman Philipse; ranged against him were the Labour party Mayor of Amsterdam, Job Cohen, and Professor Hakan Yilmaz of Bogazici University, Istanbul. Also present was Cornell historian Professor Laurence Moore, representing the American dimension of the debate. Their main statements are detailed further elsewhere: what follows is a summary of the public forum itself.
Read on below.
Continue reading "Religion, Enlightenment and Democracy" »
Oh, irony of ironies. It's not been a good week for warmongering dictators. Heads had to roll for Iraq. First, almost literally, was Saddam's. It was kind of his fault in the first place. Now Rummie's out too: someone had to take the fall for the biggest foreign policy disaster since Vietnam.
But getting rid of either them isn't going to make the slightest bit of difference.
Looks like a new phrase has been coined to match the Washington consensus of market liberalism bandied about in the last decades. In the last couple of weeks, China has entertained a quarter of the world's leaders, The Economist points out - both Africa and ASEAN. Despite suspicions of China's honourable intentions, everyone looks like they're smiling too.
Asia.view | China lays on the charm | Economist.com
China is likely to care more about governance and human rights, for example, if and when its investments in Africa are threatened by political instability, and if the fall of a pro-China despot brings an anti-China government in its wake. And, by cosying up to nasty dictatorships such as those in Sudan and Zimbabwe, China may damage its relations with Western countries, whose markets will long remain of paramount importance for China's economic growth.
China, mindful of the West’s own history of coddling unsavoury regimes, shrugs at such concerns. But public opinion in America and Europe is unnerved already by China’s export prowess. Policymakers, particularly in America, fret about the growth of Chinese military power. China would hate to see these concerns lead to trade barriers against Chinese goods, or to a severe chill in relations with America. China wants African friends, but not ones that prove too much of liability.
Can't see it happening just yet - both China and India still have a long way to go before their economies are truly liberalised, though the PRC is perhaps a bit ahead. But at least the idea is out there, and aid'n'trade may be better than the niggly conflicts of the last 50 years.
China pushes India for free-trade pact- The Times of India
"Following reopening of the trade post on the Indian-Chinese border, our government is considering FTA talks with India," Chinese assistant minister of commerce Fu Ziying said at a recent meeting of the 2007 China Industrial Development Forum in Beijing. The two countries recently reopened cross-border trade at the Himalayan Nathu La Pass last July, 44 years after the trade ended in the wake of a short border war between them.
India has filed the largest number of patent violation cases against Chinese companies at the World Trade Organisation. Chinese leaders feel that the main reason for this is that New Delhi refuses to recognise China as a free market economy. However, most western countries have taken the same stand saying that China highly subsidies its exportable products and cannot be regarded as free market economy.
It's not about trade. It's not about aid. It's not even about oil. It's about world domination:
...this super-summit is about more than a single continent. It marks a new stage in China's re-emergence as a superpower.
The Guardian's Jonathan Watts correctly identifies the deeper significance behind this week's Africa summit. Political commentators continue to gibber on about today's 'multipolar' global structure, but when the chips are down we're back to the Cold War. Power is not just about military strength, it's also about economic and moral advantage. And when it comes to dealing with the unsavoury characters that still dominate much of the planet, China's pre-eminence is clear:
China is not just buying resources, it is selling a model of development. While the west focuses on political freedoms and universal rights, Beijing says the priority should be on improving living standards and national independence. The superiority of this approach, it argues, has been proved by success in lifting hundreds of millions of people out of poverty.
Where people once flocked to the shores of America in pursuit of wealth and happiness, China is selling its own dream to those who simply aspire to raise themselves out of poverty. In fact the West and the US are becoming increasingly irrelevant to the majority of the world's population, who understandably fear the motives of the former colonial powers. The appeal to dictators is even more obvious:
Robert Mugabe is now one of Africa's most enthusiastic sinophiles. "We have nothing to lose but our imperialist chains," he said before boarding a plane to Beijing.
African leaders are queueing up to sign new deals. Their eagerness to shake hands with President Hu Jintao has drawn comparison to the states that once came to pay tribute to the emperor.
Back in Africa there are a few dissenting voices, complaining that China is a pursuing a neo-colonialist policy, buying up cheap resources and selling higher-priced manufactured goods. But no such critical voices were to be heard among the VIP guests in Beijing.
Of course, only a fool would believe that China has Africa's interests at heart. Dictators love China because China leaves them alone to... dictate. Human rights and democracy couldn't be further from its mind. With the West's credibility walllowing in the quagmire of the Middle East, it looks like a new superpower has arisen.
We're back to a new frame of the Cold War - winner stays on. Soon it'll be the West versus the rest. But there's a lot more of them than us.
Continue reading "Selling the Chinese Dream" »
Well, nothing whatsoever to do with this blog's anniversary, but it seems that China can and does respond to international criticism. It isn't just one-way traffic.
Witness today's overturning of the verdict against Chen Guangcheng, the blind activist who exposed violations of China's One Child policy.
In the wake of some very negative reporting on organ harvesting, note also the decision to deny authority for the death penalty to all but the higher courts. Yes, it may be just a paperwork formality, but it may be China's way of saying to the West: "We hear you - there are some reforms we need to make."
Times can change, and they will, if only a little slowly. The question has to be, however, when will it be too late for progress to mean anything?
Continue reading "One Year On: the Winds of Change" »
The lack of genuine discussion on the EU's new policy paper on China does expose its effective irrelevance. The PRC, for one, is not going to be unduly concerned by it. The Asia Times does have a crack at analysing the issue, but like the Commission itself it has no real conclusions. It's all very well to say that the EU must encourage China to accept international norms, and that its policy must be based on values, not just trade, but how it is meant to go about this is not stated.
Asia Times Online :: China News - EU, China expanding relationship
Brussels still feels the need to draw together the strands of its policy on China into a coherent whole that responds to the rapidly changing Chinese reality and its impact on the world. The need for a clear formulation of policy is also stimulated by the fact that the EU and China are embarking on the negotiation of a new Partnership and Cooperation Agreement, which will provide the legal framework for their relationship and will replace their original Trade and Cooperation Agreement signed in 1985.
The change in title of the proposed new agreement, like the strategic partnership, indicates that both sides now see their relationship as being much broader than simply trading. This certainly reflects the reality that aside from trade and investment, official contacts and policy dialogues, educational exchanges and tourism are all growing rapidly.