Archive for ‘GeoPolitics’

18/05/2015

Narendra Modi arrives in South Korea on final leg of tri-nation tour – The Hindu

Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived in Seoul on Monday on the last leg of his three-nation visit during which he will hold talks with the South Korean leadership aiming to give a fillip to economic and trade cooperation.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the Seoul National Cemetery. Photo: PIB

A slew of agreements are expected to be signed during the visit including one on Double Taxation Avoidance Convention, cooperation in shipping and logistics, audiovisual co-production, transport, highways and electric power development in new energy industries.

The Prime Minister, who flew in from Mongolia after his three-day visit to China, will hold talks on the entire gamut of bilateral, regional and global issues with President Park Geun-hye and explore ways to upgrade cooperation in diversified areas.

He will have a hectic schedule that will start with a wreath—laying ceremony at the Seoul National Cemetery.

Mr. Modi will address a community reception where about 1,500 members of the Indian community are expected to attend before getting into talks with the Korean President.

Mr. Modi, who is keen to woo Korean investments in India, will address India—Republic of Korea CEOs Forum, which would also be attended by the Korean President.

The Prime Minister will follow this up with meetings with some of the heads of Korean companies that are willing to invest in India or have already invested in India.

He will also visit the Hyundai Heavy Industries shipyard in the backdrop of shipbuilding emerging as an important area of cooperation between the two countries.

via Narendra Modi arrives in South Korea on final leg of tri-nation tour – The Hindu.

17/05/2015

India to open $1 billion credit line to finance infrastructure in Mongolia | Reuters

India will open a $1 billion credit line to bolster Mongolia‘s “economic capacity and infrastructure”, the Mongolian and Indian prime ministers announced on Sunday.

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Mongolia is seeking investment in infrastructure for the transport of its minerals as well as in generating energy. Money has been tight for the Mongolian government since the coal market in China weakened and growth has slowed.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he hoped his visit would bring closer economic relations that could lead to cooperation in Mongolia’s minerals sector. India has no investments in Mongolia’s mines, although Indian companies have expressed interest in its coal.

Modi said economic relations between the two countries had been modest though that would change as India grew.

“As the Indian economy adds strength to our region and the world, it will also benefit Mongolia,” he said.

Modi began a three-nation Asian tour on Thursday with a focus on economic ties.

Before Ulan Bator, Modi visited the Chinese cities of Shanghai and Beijing. He is next scheduled to go to South Korea.

Mongolian Prime Minister Chimed Saikhanbileg said India would be opening a $1 billion credit line that could be used for expanding the landlocked nation’s railway system.

Mongolia is building a rail link from its coal mines in the Gobi desert to overcome bottlenecks in deliveries to China, but it is seeking funding to finish the job.

Saikhanbileg also mentioned establishing a “joint investment fund” but he did not elaborate.

Indian and Mongolian officials signed 14 agreements in areas such as renewable energy, cyber security and dairy production.

Modi’s visit to Ulan Bator was the first by an Indian prime minister although India was the first country to open diplomatic relations with the north Asian country outside of the Soviet bloc, in 1955.

Modi said India and Mongolia shared friendly connections, recalling how millennia ago, Indians helped bring Buddhism.

“We have a strong convergence of views,” Modi said, adding: “We are starting a new era in our partnership.”

via India to open $1 billion credit line to finance infrastructure in Mongolia | Reuters.

12/05/2015

Optics as well as substance important as India’s Modi visits China | Reuters

When Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrives in the ancient city of Xian on Thursday at the start of a visit to China, he will be met by Chinese President Xi Jinping, in an unusual departure from normal protocol.

India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi (R) and China's President Xi Jinping shake hands during a photo opportunity ahead of their meeting at Hyderabad House in New Delhi September 18, 2014. REUTERS/Ahmad Masood

Top Chinese leaders almost never travel outside Beijing to meet senior foreign guests on bilateral visits, and Xi’s appearance in Xian, located in Xi’s home province of Shaanxi, underscores China’s determination to set aside past rancor between the world’s two most populous nations, experts said.

“It definitely indicates the significance our president puts on Mr. Modi’s visit,” said Li Li, an India expert at the government-backed China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations.

“From the Chinese side, we were very impressed by the hospitality extended by Mr. Modi during Xi Jinping’s visit to India,” he added, referring to Modi greeting Xi in his home state of Gujarat when Xi visited India last year.

Modi will visit a Xian pagoda connected to Xuanzang, also known as Tripitaka, the monk who bought the Buddhist sutras to China from India thousands of years ago, according to people briefed on the trip.

“It is sending a very important message,” Li said of Xi’s going to Xian to greet Modi, a place closely connected to the deep historical links between China and India.

Still, the list of problems both countries face are considerable, ranging from a festering border dispute to China’s support for India’s arch-rival Pakistan.

Mistrust runs deep, something Xi will be keenly aware of despite the bonhomie and billions of dollars in deals likely to be signed.

Modi’s new account on Chinese social media site Weibo, China’s version of Twitter, was filled with messages soon after launching this month asking him to return what China calls South Tibet, otherwise known as the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh.

“This is the great, great pressure the Chinese government is facing,” said Mao Siwei, a former senior Chinese diplomat who was based in India and Pakistan, talking about the need to manage Chinese public concern about the disputed area.

China claims more than 90,000 sq km (35,000 sq miles) disputed by New Delhi in the eastern sector of the Himalayas.

India says China occupies 38,000 square km (14,600 sq miles) of its territory on the Aksai Chin plateau in the west.

In September, the two armies faced off in the Ladakh sector in the western Himalayas just as Xi was visiting India for the first summit talks with Modi. This time, the border has been quiet ahead of Modi’s arrival.

While chances of a breakthrough on the border look distant, the exchange of visits by Modi and Xi so soon after both took office is a positive sign, said Ram Madhav, a senior leader of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, a hardline Hindu nationalist organization that has close ties to Modi’s BJP.

“There is an earnest eagerness to connect with the Indian leadership,” Madhav told a forum in Beijing.

“Prime Minister Modi has chosen to come in his first year (of office) to China. It shows that the leaders on both sides are seriously attempting to … bridge the most important challenge between the two countries – the trust deficit.”

via Optics as well as substance important as India’s Modi visits China | Reuters.

11/05/2015

U.S. Congressman says engagement with China has diminished under Xi | Reuters

A United States Congressman told reporters that China’s engagement with U.S. lawmakers has diminished under President Xi Jinping in a marked change from the policy of his predecessors.

Chinese President Xi Jinping speaks with U.S. State Secretary John Kerry (R) during a lunch banquet in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing November 12, 2014.     REUTERS/Greg Baker/Pool

He also said that Chinese and Hong Kong officials were looking for a scapegoat when they blamed last years’ pro-democracy protests on “foreign forces”.

“I think it has diminished,” Congressman Matt Salmon said of China’s engagement with U.S. lawmakers under President Xi. “This president has a whole different philosophy. In fact I think if anything, this president is moving in the other direction, (away) from constructive engagement from the past two presidents.”

Salmon is chairman of the subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific under the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. The Republican representative from Arizona is in the middle of his fifth term in Congress.

Salmon was in Hong Kong as the head of a U.S. Congressional delegation, which also visited Vietnam and discussed political, trade and economic issues.

Salmon said he had not been contacted by anyone from the Chinese Embassy since he became chairman of the Asia Pacific subcommittee.

“It’s kind of strange because every other embassy in the region has reached out to me, and their ambassadors have asked for an audience with me, every one of them except for China,” he said.

The United States and China are the world’s two biggest economies. Chinese President Xi is scheduled to make his first state visit to the United States in September as the countries seek to ease tensions over issues ranging from trade and human rights to Internet hacking and theft.

Salmon said he and his delegation had met Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying and told him the United States had not played any role in last year’s pro-democracy protests, in which tens of thousands of people occupied major highways for two and a half months to demand open nominations in the city’s next chief executive election.

Chinese and Hong Kong officials have blamed “foreign forces” for instigating the unrest, which Salmon said was “a convenient way to scapegoat someone else”.

via U.S. Congressman says engagement with China has diminished under Xi | Reuters.

08/05/2015

China Parades Closer Ties in Moscow – China Real Time Report – WSJ

When a Chinese honor guard joins a military parade in Russia’s capital this weekend, watched by China’s President Xi Jinping, it will mark more than just a symbolic recognition of the two countries’ contributions to the Allied victory in 1945. As the WSJ’s Jeremy Page reports:

China’s participation also reflects an upgrade of its military ties with Russia, including joint naval exercises and a revival of arms purchases, that could complicate U.S.-led efforts to counter both nations’ expanding military activities, analysts and diplomats say.

The 102 Chinese troops who will join the Victory Day parade in Moscow on Saturday were seen during a rehearsal this week marching through streets near Red Square singing the Russian wartime ballad “Katyusha”, according to video footage posted online.

The only other foreign countries with troops in the parade are India, Mongolia, Serbia and six former Soviet states.

Three Chinese navy ships also made a rare foray into the Black Sea on their way to join commemorations in Russia’s southern port of Novorossiysk on Saturday.

The Chinese ships—two missile destroyers and a supply vessel — will then take part in joint exercises with the Russian navy in the Mediterranean Sea for the first time, according to Chinese and Russian authorities.

Both sides say the drills aren’t directed at other countries, but the timing, after Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea, and the location, on NATO’s southern flank, have compounded Western concerns about an emerging Moscow-Beijing axis.

via China Parades Closer Ties in Moscow – China Real Time Report – WSJ.

27/04/2015

China offers 20 mln yuan in humanitarian aid to quake-hit Nepal – Xinhua | English.news.cn

The Chinese government has decided to provide 20 million yuan (3.3 million U.S. dollars) in humanitarian aid to Nepal following the massive earthquake, according to the Ministry of Commerce on Sunday.

The aid, including supplies of tents, blankets and generators, will be delivered to Nepal by chartered planes, the ministry said, adding China will offer further support according to Nepal’s demands.

A massive 8.1-magnitude quake shook Nepal at 2:11 p.m. (Beijing Time), killing more than 2,000 people in the country.

A 62-member China International Search and Rescue Team (CISAR) arrived in Nepal’s capital Katmandu at Sunday noon and started quake-relief work, according to the China Earthquake Administration.

via China offers 20 mln yuan in humanitarian aid to quake-hit Nepal – Xinhua | English.news.cn.

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20/04/2015

Chinese president to launch economic corridor link in Pakistan | Reuters

Chinese President Xi Jinping arrived in Pakistan on Monday to launch $46 billion in projects linking the allies, a figure that would far exceed U.S. spending in Pakistan and underscores China’s economic ambitions in Asia and beyond.

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The infrastructure and energy projects are aimed at establishing a Pakistan-China Economic Corridor between Pakistan’s southern Gwadar port on the Arabian Sea and China’s western Xinjiang region.

The plan is part of China’s aim to forge “Silk Road” land and sea ties to markets in the Middle East and Europe and reflects a shift of economic power in the region to China, said Mushahid Hussain Sayed, chairman of the Pakistani parliament‘s defense committee.

“Pakistan, for China, is now of pivotal importance. This has to succeed and be seen to succeed,” he said.

The corridor, a network of roads, railways and pipelines, will pass through Pakistan’s poor Baluchistan province where a long-running separatist insurgency, which the army has again vowed to crush, will raise doubts about the feasibility of the plan.

The security of Chinese workers will be a prime concern for Xi. In his talks with Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and military leaders, Xi is also likely to raise China’s fears that Muslim separatists from Xinjiang are teaming up with Pakistani militants.

Xi has linked economic cooperation with security.

“Our cooperation in the security and economic fields reinforce each other, and they must be advanced simultaneously,” he said in a statement to media on the eve of his two-day visit.

Xi is expected to call for greater efforts to bring peace to Afghanistan, where Pakistan is keen to restrict the influence of is rival India.

via Chinese president to launch economic corridor link in Pakistan | Reuters.

16/04/2015

The Statesman: Roadmap for India-Canada free trade pact by Sept: Modi

India and Canada on Wednesday expressed commitment to have a free trade pact, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi saying a roadmap will be laid for the market opening agreement by September.

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Modi said the Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (BIPPA) will also be concluded soon.

“I am confident that we can conclude the Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement very soon.

“We will also implement the roadmap to conclude the Comprehensive Economic Co-operation Agreement by September 2015,” he said at a joint press conference with his Canadian counterpart Stephen Harper.

He said Canada has the potential to partner India’s economic transformation and “it exists in a new environment in India which is open, predictable, stable and easy to do business in”.

Prime Minister Harper and I are absolutely committed to establishing a new framework for economic partnership. I am pleased that we have made rapid progress on long-pending agreements,” Modi said.

On the free trade pact, Harper said there are many issues in this to be resolved, but “we are committed to see it through”.

Harper further said there was no reason why Canada should not have a free trade pact with India which “is a vibrant democracy. Nothing precludes that”.

The Canadian Prime Minister said while the trade between the two countries has increased, “it is still not as much as it should be”.

He expressed confidence that nuclear agreement signed today with India will raise the bilateral trade volume further.

The bilateral trade increased to USD 5.18 billion in 2013-14 from USD 4.83 billion in previous year.

via The Statesman: Roadmap for India-Canada free trade pact by Sept: Modi.

10/04/2015

Banyan: Where all Silk Roads lead | The Economist

NOT content with both purifying the Chinese Communist Party which he heads and with reforming his country, China’s president, Xi Jinping, also wants to reshape the economic and political order in Asia. With the flair that Chinese leaders share for pithy but rather bewildering encapsulations, his vision for the continent is summed up in official jargon as “One Belt, One Road”. As Mr Xi describes it, most recently last month at the Boao Forum, China’s tropical-beach imitation of Davos’s ski slopes, the belt-road concept will “answer the call of our time for regional and global co-operation”. Not everybody is convinced. Some see it as no more than an empty slogan; others as a thinly disguised Chinese plot to supplant America as Asia’s predominant power. Both criticisms seem misplaced. Mr Xi is serious about the idea. And it is less a “plot” than a public manifesto.

Mr Xi first floated the idea in 2013, in Kazakhstan. He mooted a “a Silk Road economic belt” of improved infrastructure along the main strands of what, centuries ago, was the network of overland routes used by silk traders and others to carry merchandise to and from China through Central Asia and Russia to northern Europe and Venice on the Adriatic. In Indonesia, Mr Xi proposed “a 21st-century maritime Silk Road”, reaching Europe by sea from cities on China’s south-eastern seaboard via Vietnam, Indonesia itself, India, Sri Lanka, east Africa and the Suez Canal. At the time, the proposals sounded rather fluffy—the sort of thing travelling leaders often trot out, harking back to a distant past of supposedly harmonious exchanges.

In the past few months, however, the idea has been given a real push. China has gone further toward putting its money where Mr Xi’s mouth is. It has promised $50 billion to its new Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, which despite American opposition has sparked a race in which 47 countries have applied to join as founding shareholders. China has earmarked a further $40 billion for a “Silk Road fund”, to invest in infrastructure along the land belt and the maritime road. One motive for this splurge is self-interest. Chinese firms hope to win many of the engineering projects—roads, railways, ports and pipelines—that the new “connectivity” will demand. Improved transport links will benefit Chinese exporters. And helping its neighbours’ development will create new markets. That China seems to have realised this has led to comparisons with the Marshall Plan, America’s aid to help western Europe rebuild after the second world war.

China does not like that analogy, since it sees the Marshall Plan as part of America’s containment of the Soviet Union. It insists that its initiatives are for the benefit of all of humanity and are—favourite catchphrase—“win-win”. But it certainly hopes money and investment can win friends. Yan Xuetong, a prominent Chinese international-relations expert, has argued that the country needs to “purchase” friendly relationships with its neighbours.

In Central Asia, battered by low oil prices and plummeting remittances from migrant workers in Russia, the prospect of greater Chinese involvement is welcomed. Russia itself, though wary of China’s steady erosion of its influence in the former Soviet states of the region, is now too dependent on Chinese goodwill to do other than cheer. On the maritime route, however, suspicion of Chinese intentions is rife. Its arrogant behaviour in the South China Sea, where it is engaged in a construction spree to turn disputed rocks into disputed islands, has given the impression that it feels it can simply bully its smaller neighbours.

So the initial reaction in South-East Asia to the belt and road has been sceptical. In Malaysia, where the government’s usual response to a proposal from China is to applaud first and ask questions later, the defence minister, Hishamuddin Hussein, has said the maritime Silk Road has “raised questions” and that it must come across as a joint (that is, regional) initiative, rather than as a solely Chinese one. Indonesia’s president, Joko Widodo, who says he wants to turn his country into a “global maritime fulcrum”, was doubtful at first. But he now seems inclined to help—unsurprisingly since his own plan involves massive investment in ports and other infrastructure to which, he hopes, China will contribute. A visit to China last month yielded a joint statement promising a “maritime partnership” and describing his and Mr Xi’s visions as “complementary”. But Mr Joko had also made clear before arriving in Beijing that Indonesia did not accept China’s territorial claims in South-East Asian waters.

In India, another new leader, Narendra Modi, the prime minister, has his own approach to these issues. He visited Sri Lanka, Mauritius and the Seychelles last month, three Indian Ocean countries to which he promised greater co-operation and spelled out India’s own interests as a maritime power. This was not presented as a riposte to China’s plans. But in January Mr Modi and Barack Obama produced a joint “strategic vision”. Implicitly, India’s response to China’s maritime ambitions has been to reinvigorate ties with small neighbours and to cleave closer to America.

via Banyan: Where all Silk Roads lead | The Economist.

09/04/2015

China to Build Pipeline From Iran to Pakistan – China Real Time Report – WSJ

China will build a pipeline to bring natural gas from Iran to Pakistan to help address Pakistan’s acute energy shortage, under a deal to be signed during the Chinese president’s visit to Islamabad this month, Pakistani officials said. As the WSJ’s Saeed Shah reports:

The arrival of President Xi Jinping is expected to showcase China’s commitment to infrastructure development in ally Pakistan, at a time when few other countries are willing to make major investments in cash-strapped, terrorism-plagued, Pakistan.

The pipeline would amount to an early benefit for both Pakistan and Iran from the framework agreement reached earlier this month between Tehran and the U.S. and other world powers to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. The U.S. had previously threatened Pakistan with sanctions if it went ahead with the project.

Dubbed the “Peace Pipeline,” the project will further bolster improving ties between Pakistan and Iran, which had been uneasy neighbors for decades as a result of Pakistan’s ties to Iran’s long-term adversaries, Saudi Arabia and the U.S.

“We’re building it,” Pakistani Petroleum Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi told The Wall Street Journal, referring to the pipeline. “The process has started.”

The pipeline will bring much-needed gas to Pakistan, which suffers from a crippling electricity deficit because of a shortage of fuel for its power-generation plants. Pakistan has been negotiating for months behind the scenes for China to build the Pakistani portion of the pipeline, which will cost up to $2 billion.

via China to Build Pipeline From Iran to Pakistan – China Real Time Report – WSJ.

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