« January 2007 |
| March 2007 »
Asia Times Online :: China Business News - China aims to diversify oil sources
What has worried Chinese oil-security strategists in recent years is that most of the imported oil comes from the Middle East. Despite China's efforts to diversify sources of imports, it still relies heavily on Middle Eastern oil. In 2005, China's imports of crude oil from the Middle East accounted for 61.1% of its total crude-oil imports, making it the most import link in the country's oil-supply chain.
This amounts to putting most, if not all, the eggs in one basket, which is too fraught with risks for such a big country like China, analysts in Beijing say. If the supply of oil from the Middle East were interrupted, for any reason, the outcome for China would be disastrous beyond imagination.
Not quite as catchy as the 'Silk Road'
Asia Times Online :: China News, China Business News, Taiwan and Hong Kong News and Business.
China's ever expanding pipeline network has the potential to bring about a significant strategic realignment of Xinjiang and the adjacent region. Central Asia, with its huge reserves of oil, gas and minerals, has already seen some sharp rivalry among the United States, Europe and Japan. All of the major powers, in conjunction with multinational corporations, are seeking to secure alliances, concessions and possible pipeline routes in the area.
Oil and gas pipelines to China from Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan could easily be extended to link into the pipeline networks of both Russia and Iran. This model has been dubbed the "Pan Asian Global Energy Bridge" - a Eurasian network of pipelines linking energy resources in the Middle East, Central Asia and Russia through to China's Pacific coast. A major part of the old Silk Route is inexorably turning into the "Black Gold Route" of the new millennium.
Asia Times Online :: South Asia news : China-Pakistan rail link on horizon
Beijing's involvement in several rail projects in Pakistan is motivated primarily by commercial considerations, but it also sees distinct advantages for its improved transportation and access to Central Asia and the Persian Gulf states. A reliable network of road and rail links can only ensure China's access to energy-rich central Asia, serving it both commercially and strategically.
Terrorism, as always, has a political motivation and today's attack was obviously intended to derail peace talks between India and Pakistan. Thus the leaders should be applauded for their restraint and unity in condemning it on the one hand without jumping to conclusions on the other.
If the two countries can get an agreement on Kashmir together, it would be a landmark achievement - but there are many vested interests who would rather see them fail. Expect attacks like this to increase over the next months, especially as Pakistan heads towards a watershed election.
Terrorism in India | Murder on the Friendship Express | Economist.com
After three days of talks, they are likely to sign several agreements, including one to reduce the risk of an accidental nuclear war. They will also continue negotiations to resolve two smaller territorial disputes: Sir Creek, a briny stream that should set the two countries’ maritime border; and the Siachen glacier, on the eastern edge of Kashmir. The peace process, says Commodore Uday Bhaskar, of the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses in Delhi, is “becoming blast-proof”.
Given the rivals’ history of war and slaughter, that is no trifle. Yet it is one thing for the process to survive under fire, and another for it actually to succeed. Dolefully, with every blast, peace looks more distant.
Two incidents last week, both relatively minor, but perhaps evidence that the militants in Greater Balochistan (both Baloch nationalists and Islamic extremists) are on the move.
First in Iran, then in Quetta.
Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Burma - not to mention Pakistan. Countries can choose their friends―but not, as Manmohan Singh, India’s prime minister, has noted, their neighbours.
Asia.view | Trouble with the neighbours | Economist.com
In its present buoyant mood, India may think that it can cope readily enough with living in a low-rent, violent district. Fine―until something big goes wrong. India's rising international prestige and economic allure could both be put in jeopardy if the country is sucked into some headline-grabbing regional conflict. The best way to reduce that risk will be to find ways of helping the neighbours with a bit of gentrification here and there whenever the opportunity arises, however grudging they may be in their response.
The author does make a bit of a leap in his logic, but his assessment does sound plausible at least.
Militarising Balochistan : outlookindia.com
The following details of this project have since become available from an article titled Militarisation of Balochistan" written by columnist Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur in the Post of February 1, 2007:
* The Chinese will be building the airport 26 km away to the north-east of the existing airport towards Pasni.
* Disregarding the normal procedure, a sum of Rs.1.05 billion for the acquisition of 6,500 acres of land has been released to the Military Estate Officer in Quetta instead of to the Civil Aviation Authority. The land for the airport has already been acquired by the Military Land and Cantonments Department. The JFK airport in New York, one of the largest in the world, covers an area of only 4,930 acres. The land on which the proposed new Gwadar airport will be located is much more than the land on which the JFK airport is located and twice the size of the land on which London's Heathrow airport is located (2,965 acres). In Heathrow, one plane lands or takes off every 46 seconds. Such heavy commercial traffic is never visualied in any airport of Pakistan even in the medium and long terms. Such a huge airport near Gwadar would, therefore, have other objectives. It will serve as a mammoth airbase.
It's all about supply, demand and transit. At best the IPI is a potential solution to the Kashmir issue. But at worst it's yet another point of friction.
Asia Times Online :: Middle East News - Gas: Iran turns up the heat
Putin paid special attention to cooperation "in building facilities for gas production and transportation in India and the adjacent region" (emphasis added). This is a reference to the highly politicized US$7 billion project for a 2,100-kilometer Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline.
Putin's visit to Delhi came closely on the heels of the latest round of negotiations over the price of gas for the Iran pipeline project. According to a new formula proposed by Iran, the cost of gas will translate at the Pakistan-India border as $4.93 per million British thermal units (mBtu), plus $1.5 per mBtu that India would have to pay to Pakistan as a transit fee. Indian officials have since expressed optimism that the signing of India's $145 billion gas mega-deal with Iran might take place by June.
In geopolitical terms, it could be the focal point of a new power-sharing axis, perhaps under the auspices of the SCO:
In other words, we're talking seriously for the first time about the prospect of a gas market uniting Turkmenistan, Iran, Pakistan, India and China. This is where a breakthrough in the protracted negotiations over the Iran-Pakistan-India pipeline project could become a defining moment for energy politics in Eurasia.
Russia is not in competition with Iran in tapping the South Asian market for gas. It is expedient for Russia if Iran gets deeply engaged in the Asian market (which includes two energy guzzlers - China and India) and, that, too, with Russian equity participation in the actual construction of Iran's pipeline to South Asia. That could lead to Gazprom's participation in the highly lucrative distribution and retailing of Iranian gas in Pakistan, India and China.
The grand opening swiftly aproaches, and writers are beginning to consider the deeper geostrategic significance of Gwadar. yet we still don't really know that much about it.
Asia Times Online :: South Asia news, business and economy from India and Pakistan
It is expected that with Gwadar port operational, Pakistan will become a key player in the Persian Gulf region and serve as an energy corridor for Central Asia, South Asia and western China. With the exception of Chahbahar port in Iran, Gwadar will be the only free port between Dubai and Colombo providing container storage and warehousing facilities...
Pakistan plans to spend $7 billion in the next eight years to improve the country's road infrastructure, completing a network linking China and South Asia through Gwadar by 2014.
Because of its geo-strategic location, Gwadar has the potential to become a regional maritime hub. The 14.5-meter draft of the port will be able to accommodate up to "fifth-generation" ships, including Panamax and mother vessels.
Islamabad firmly believes that the Gwadar port is a key entry point for energy supplies for Central and South Asia, as well as western China. It will allow the expansion of oil trade in the region, as it provides the shortest possible route to landlocked, oil-rich Central Asian states.
Who said democracies never go to war with each other? If this escalates, and Lebanon is extremely shaky at the moment, it's goodbye and good riddance to Immanuel Kant.
BBC NEWS | Middle East | Clashes on Israel-Lebanese border
Israeli and Lebanese forces have exchanged fire on the border between the two countries, reports say.
The clash broke out after Israeli troops searched a border area for bombs, following the discovery of four explosives on Monday.
Lebanese troops fired on Israeli tanks inside the border zone, prompting retaliatory fire, Israeli reports said.
Israel and Lebanon's Hezbollah militia fought a 34-day war last year sparked by flare-ups on the tense border.
From the man who brought us the 'Beijing Consensus' comes this:
China's National Image
The report argues that China's national image is its greatest strategic threat. The misalignment between China's image of itself and how it is viewed by the rest of the world is China’s major challenge. The report argues that alongside its other reforms, China needs a 'fifth transition' if the trust and understanding necessary for the next stage of its development are to be achieved.
JOSHUA COOPER RAMO, author of Brand China says in the report:
“China’s greatest strategic threat today is its national image. The country is not, in the short term, likely to be invaded.
“China’s image of herself and other nations’ views of her are out of alignment. The world’s view of China is too often an unstable cocktail of out-of-date ideas, wild hopes and unshakeable prejudices and fears. China’s view of herself often teeters between self-confidence and insecurity, between caution and arrogance.
This is a very astute observation. I sometimes found teaching 'Western Culture' to students with a very fixed perception of China and the outside world a very perplexing task while I lived in Shanghai, and I'm sure those undergraduates were not unique.
States are not all alike, and China is more unequal than others. The way in which the state and its people perceive itself is fundamental to its behaviour in the international arena, yet this is an area that is often rarely discussed. Yet it is crucial to the way that we on the outside see China too, and is a critical tool in arriving at a better mutual understanding.
Speaking ahead of the launch of Brand China, FENG ZHANG, China Programme Manager at the Foreign Policy Centre said
“The phrase Peaceful Rise, which has been used by China’s image makers for several years, has often backfired. Rather than feeling reassured, China’s critics instead use the slogan to demonstrate China’s untrustworthiness. In the current climate, with China’s military buildup, and satellites being destroyed, the idea of a Peaceful Rise is not going to convince the rest of the world.”
More below, or download the report from the link above.
Continue reading "Brand China" »
One thing that continually irritates me about academics is their blind acceptance of the 'China-will-become-a-democracy-eventually' hypothesis, a beloved fantasy that here is dubbed the 'Soothing Scenario'. And, I must admit, that my own opinion that China could buckle under the pressures of nationalism and disenfranchisment has also been done to death.
However, a recent report looks in detail at an alternative (also seen at The Peking Duck)
The View from Taiwan: China expert's Testimony before US China Panel
What if China manages to continue on its current economic path and yet its political system does not change in any fundamental way? What if, twenty-five or thirty years from now, a wealthier, more powerful China continues to be run by a one-party regime that continues to repress organized political dissent much as it does today; and yet at the same time China is also open to the outside world and, indeed, is deeply intertwined with the rest of the world through trade, investment and other economic ties? Everyone assumes that the Chinese political system is going to open up – but what if it doesn't?...
In sum, I think the paradigm of inevitable change impairs America's thinking and its public discussion of China today. The paradigm prevents us from coming up with policies towards a China whose political may not change, in any fundamental way, for a long time. But I think the paradigm of inevitable change will endure -- that whenever American leaders talk in public about China, we will continue to hear some version or another of the Soothing Scenario.
A very good point indeed. And basically, the scenario is based on the CCP successfully doing what they are doing now - maintaining their own power and social stability at the same time. But you can't account for events - which have a habit of messing up ever single prediction ever made.
You don't say, India. About time too.
IndianExpress.com :: We don’t envy China, will rather emulate it, says FM
Recognising China’s prowess in attracting and implementing infrastructure projects, finance minister P. Chidambaram today said India needs to “emulate” China in infrastructure development.
Despite having a different political environment, he said India can learn from China about execution of projects on time. This according to the FM includes enforcing a disciplined on those leading project execution, along with a reward-punishment incentive structure.