Archive for ‘GeoPolitics’

15/12/2014

China Breaks India Monopoly on Nepal Economy as Investment Grows – Businessweek

In the dusty outskirts of Kathmandu, south of the Himalayan mountain range that holds the world’s highest peaks, Chinese engineers in orange hard hats oversee construction of Nepal’s first eight-lane highway.

Highway Construction

The $45 million upgrade of a road circling the Nepalese capital is one of dozens of projects helping China challenge India’s dominance in a country that is sandwiched between them. Until recently, the Himalayas served as a natural barrier that prompted Nepal to trade more across its flat border with India.

“China is growing in importance,” Ram Sharan Mahat, Nepal’s Finance Minister, said in a Dec. 4 interview in Kathmandu. “Because of new trade horizons and the cheap pricing of Chinese goods, Chinese trade vis-a-vis Nepal is growing.”

via China Breaks India Monopoly on Nepal Economy as Investment Grows – Businessweek.

14/12/2014

Set aside hate, China’s Xi says on Nanjing Massacre anniversary | Reuters

China and Japan should set aside hatred and not allow the minority who led Japan to war to affect relations now, Chinese President Xi Jinping said on Saturday, as the country marked its first national memorial day for the Nanjing Massacre.

Chinese President Xi Jinping (C) and other leaders attend a memorial ceremony at the Nanjing Massacre Museum in Nanjing, Jiangsu province December 13, 2014. REUTERS/Aly Song

China and Japan have long sparred over their painful history. China consistently reminds its people of the 1937 massacre in which it says Japanese troops killed 300,000 people in its then capital.

A postwar Allied tribunal put the death toll at 142,000, but some conservative Japanese politicians and scholars deny a massacre took place at all.

Ties had deteriorated sharply over the past year following Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe‘s visit to the Yasukuni Shrine honoring war criminals among Japan’s war dead. The two are also involved in a spat over islets in the East China Sea.

But both countries, mindful of the economic stakes, reached agreement last month to try to reset ties during an ice-breaking meeting between Xi and Abe in Beijing.

Speaking at a memorial in the eastern city of Nanjing, a somber Xi said that while history must never be forgotten, the future was just as important.

“The reason we are having a memorial for the Nanjing Massacre victims is to recall that all good-hearted people yearn for and hold fast to peace, not to prolong hatred,” Xi said, in comments carried live on state television.

“The people of China and Japan should pass on friendship from generation to generation,” he added.

“Forgetting history is a betrayal, and denying a crime is to repeat a crime. We should not hate a people just because a small minority of militarists set off an invasion and war.

“… but nobody at any time should forget the severe crimes of the invaders.”

Doves to signify peace flew overhead once Xi, wearing a white flower on his lapel to signify mourning, finished speaking.

Next year is the 70th anniversary of the end of World War Two, and China has already promised memorials, offering the potential for further Sino-Japanese friction.

In recent days, China has released heart-rending accounts of the violence from its archives.

“With the issue of history having become an unavoidable hurdle in Japan’s relations with neighbors, the best way for the island nation to proceed is sincere acknowledgement and repentance of its war-time past, rather than futile attempts to reject it,” the official Xinhua news agency said in a commentary.

via Set aside hate, China’s Xi says on Nanjing Massacre anniversary | Reuters.

12/12/2014

Modi Gets International Yoga Day – India Real Time – WSJ

It’s probably not a stretch to say that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi just scored a win at the United Nations.

The international body Thursday declared June 21 the International Day of Yoga, something Mr. Modi called for in September in his maiden address to the U.N. General Assembly in New York.

”By changing our lifestyle and creating consciousness, it can help us deal with climate change,” he told the group of nations at the time. ”Let us work towards adopting an International Yoga Day.”  On Thursday, 177 countries co-sponsored the resolution to establish an international day of yoga, Pakistan, India’s neighbor and long-time rival did not join in doing so. Malaysia is also not sponsoring the event. Islamic clerics sparked controversy in 2008 after issuing a fatwa against yoga, because of its association with Hinduism.

via Modi Gets International Yoga Day – India Real Time – WSJ.

12/12/2014

China, Vietnam clash again over South China Sea claims | Reuters

China and Vietnam have clashed again over competing claims in the South China Sea, after Vietnam submitted its position to an arbitration tribunal initiated by the Philippines over the festering dispute that involves several countries.

A crewman from the Vietnamese coastguard ship 8003 looks out at sea as Chinese coastguard vessels give chase to Vietnamese ships that came close to the Haiyang Shiyou 981, known in Vietnam as HD-981, oil rig in the South China Sea July 15, 2014. REUTERS/Martin Petty

China has said repeatedly it will not participate in the case at the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague, branding it an underhand attempt to exert political pressure over territory which is inherently Chinese.

China’s foreign ministry, in a statement released late on Thursday, called on Vietnam to respect China’s sovereignty, which it said had historical basis.

China will not change its position of not taking part in the arbitration, the ministry said.

Vietnam’s foreign ministry said it had submitted its point of view to the court to ensure it pays attention to “our legal rights and interests”.

Vietnam has historical proof and the legal basis to support its claims, and rejects China’s “unilateral” claims, it added.

China has warned Vietnam before against getting involved in the arbitration case, the first time China has been subjected to international legal scrutiny over the waters.

Anti-Chinese violence flared in Vietnam in May after a $1 billion (£635.8 million) deepwater rig owned by China’s state-run CNOOC oil company was parked 240 km (150 miles) off the coast of Vietnam.

Since then, though, China has sought to make amends with Vietnam.

via China, Vietnam clash again over South China Sea claims | Reuters.

11/12/2014

The Vladimir Putin and Narendra Modi Agreements in Full – India Real Time – WSJ

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin announced that their countries had signed 20 bi-lateral agreements including memorandums of understanding and commercial contracts on Thursday.

View image on Twitter

During Mr. Putin’s visit to India’s capital, the Russian leader said in a news conference that the documents placed an emphasis on trade and economic issues.

Eight of the agreements signed relate to nuclear power and energy production including a roadmap for bilateral cooperation in the civil nuclear energy sector over the next 20 years. Russia also agreed to supply “major equipment” to the Kudankulam nuclear power plant in Tamil Nadu.

India agreed to identify a second site apart from Kudankulam for Russian-designed nuclear power plants.

Mr. Modi said that they had “outlined an ambitious vision for nuclear energy” and would have “the highest standards of safety in the world.”

A list of the agreements signed is below as provided by India’s Ministry of External Affairs.

via The Vladimir Putin and Narendra Modi Agreements in Full – India Real Time – WSJ.

27/11/2014

South Asia Summit Nearing Failure as India, Pakistan Bicker – Businessweek

South Asian leaders overseeing a quarter of the world’s people struggled to agree on how to ease trade barriers in the region as India and Pakistan continued a decades-long row over a disputed border.

Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was scheduled to meet every regional leader except Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for a one-on-one meeting during a gathering in Nepal starting today. Leaders of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation, or SAARC, last held a summit in 2011.

Failure to agree on cross-border travel and electricity supply would risk derailing Modi’s plan to turn the bloc into a regional force that can counter China’s growing influence. Chinese leaders have promised to invest part of a $40 billion Silk Road fund on infrastructure in South Asia.

via South Asia Summit Nearing Failure as India, Pakistan Bicker – Businessweek.

27/11/2014

China looms over South Asian summit in the Himalayas | Reuters

When eight South Asian leaders gather for a summit in Kathmandu on Wednesday, they will meet in a conference center donated by China to its cash-strapped Himalayan neighbor Nepal 27 years ago.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi watches a guard of honour upon his arrival for the 18th South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) summit in Kathmandu November 25, 2014. REUTERS/Navesh Chitrakar

In the decades since it built the modernist brick and glass hall, China has massively stepped up its presence in South Asia, supplying ports, power stations and weapons.

China’s advance has been aided by bickering between India and Pakistan that stymies almost all attempts at integration in a region that is home to a fifth of the world’s population but has barely any shared roads, fuel pipes or power lines.

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi has not welcomed Beijing’s renewed suggestion its status be raised from “observer” in the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), in which India is presently the only major power.

SAARC summits bring together leaders from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

Modi’s hope of using the group as a counterweight to China is unlikely to gain traction at the two-day Kathmandu meeting, with officials saying Pakistan is blocking deals to increase transport and energy connections.

Pakistan mooted the idea of upgrading China’s and South Korea’s status in the organization at a meeting of SAARC foreign ministers on Tuesday. It was quickly rebuffed by India.

via China looms over South Asian summit in the Himalayas | Reuters.

25/11/2014

India-Pakistan Sparring Opens Door for China in South Asia – Businessweek

For a senior Afghan diplomat sitting in India’s capital, it’s easy to explain how a region with a quarter of the world’s people can account for only five percent of global trade.

Narendra Modi and Xi Jinping

“India and Pakistan need to overcome their problems,” M. Ashraf Haidari, deputy chief of mission at Afghanistan’s embassy in New Delhi, said in an interview ahead of this week’s meeting of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation, or SAARC. “Summits happen, leaders come, there’s all this consensus and declarations announced. But unfortunately it doesn’t happen in reality.”

As leaders of eight SAARC countries meet in Nepal this week for the first time since 2011, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has more reasons than ever to turn the bloc into a regional force to counter China’s growing influence in South Asia. Doing so will require him to overcome differences with Pakistani leader Nawaz Sharif.

So far, things aren’t looking good. Modi’s government scrapped talks with Pakistan in August, which was followed by the worst border fighting between the countries in a decade. At the same time, China has promised SAARC nations part of a $40 billion Silk Road fund to finance infrastructure investments.

“SAARC won’t be able to counter China’s influence,” said Nishan de Mel, executive director and head of research at Colombo-based Verite Research Pvt., a policy research group. “China tends to have an approach that isn’t too demanding and isn’t politically difficult for the partner country and where the partner country will tend to see benefits quite quickly. India’s approach tends to be more hard-nosed.”

via India-Pakistan Sparring Opens Door for China in South Asia – Businessweek.

25/11/2014

China’s Railroad Ventures Abroad Project Soft Power – Businessweek

Last week state-owned China Railway Construction Corp. (CRCC) signed a lucrative contract with Nigeria to build an 870-mile coastal railroad from Lagos to Calabar, two of the West African nation’s leading cities. The price tag: $12 billion. That makes it the largest single overseas engineering contract awarded to any Chinese company, according to state-run Xinhua newswire.

Chinese and Venezuelan construction workers build an elevated platform at China Railway Engineering Corporation's (CREC) Tinaco-Anaco railway project in Los Dos Caminos, Venezuela in 2012

Beijing hopes many more deals will follow. In recent months, Chinese leaders on overseas missions have often bragged of the country’s prowess in building railroads, including high-speed bullet trains.

In May, Li Keqiang made his first diplomatic trip as China’s premier to Africa, visiting Ethiopia, Nigeria, Angola, and Kenya. At the headquarters of the African Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, he said he envisioned a bright future for the continent when African capitals would be connected by high-speed rail. And China, he added, according to Xinhua, could “help make this dream come true.”

In early November, a consortium of Chinese companies led by CRCC won a $3.7 billion contract to build a bullet train in Mexico; that contract was canceled a few days later due to suspected corruption on the Mexican side. But the aborted deal is still a sign of overseas demand for China’s rail technology.

Nor are rail deals limited to developing nations: In October, Boston’s transit authority signed a $567 million contract with China’s CNR Corp. to build 284 subway cars.

In addition to stimulating domestic manufacturing demand for steel and rail equipment exports, China’s leaders hope the flurry of railway deals will have soft power benefits as well. The Nigerian railroad will be “a mutually beneficial project,” as CRCC Chairman Meng Fengchao told Xinhua. He pledged to hire at least several thousand workers from Nigeria; in the past, Chinese companies have been criticized for bringing in Chinese workers to complete large engineering projects, thus denying work opportunities to local populations.

via China’s Railroad Ventures Abroad Project Soft Power – Businessweek.

22/11/2014

China commits $45.6 billion for economic corridor with Pakistan | Reuters

The Chinese government and banks will finance Chinese companies to build $45.6 billion worth of energy and infrastructure projects in Pakistan over the next six years, according to new details of the deal seen by Reuters on Friday. The Chinese companies will be able to operate the projects as profit-making entities, according to the deal signed by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif during a visit to China earlier this month.

At the time, officials provided few details of the projects or the financing for the deal, dubbed the China-Pak Economic Corridor (CPEC).

The deal further cements ties between Pakistan and China at a time when Pakistan is nervous about waning U.S. support as troops pull out of Afghanistan.

Pakistan and China, both nuclear-armed nations, consider each other close friends. Their ties are underpinned by common wariness of India and a desire to hedge against U.S. influence in South Asia.

via China commits $45.6 billion for economic corridor with Pakistan | Reuters.

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