Archive for ‘GeoPolitics’

21/03/2015

Top South Korea, Japan, China envoys agree to work for a summit soon | Reuters

The foreign ministers of South Korea, Japan and China agreed on Saturday that a summit meeting of their leaders, on hold for nearly three years because of tensions over history and territory, should be held soon to mend the countries’ ties.

(L-R) Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida, South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi make a toast during a banquet at the South Korean Foreign Minister's residence in Seoul March 21, 2015. REUTERS-Kim Hong-Ji

The ministers were meeting, also for the first time in three years, in a bid to restore what had been a regular forum to discuss cooperation until it collapsed over what Seoul and Beijing saw as Japan’s reluctance to own up to its wartime past.

“Based on the accomplishments achieved through this meeting, the three ministers decided to continue their efforts to hold the trilateral summit at the earliest convenient time for the three countries,” a joint statement after the meeting said.

via Top South Korea, Japan, China envoys agree to work for a summit soon | Reuters.

13/03/2015

India seeks edge over China as Modi visits Sri Lanka | Reuters

When Sri Lanka’s President Maithripala Sirisena received India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi at an ocean-front colonial building on Friday, the two looked out over a $1.4 billion Chinese real estate project halted days ago after criticism from New Delhi.

India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi (L) talks to Sri Lanka's President Maithripala Sirisena at the Presidential Secretariat in Colombo March 13, 2015. REUTERS/Dinuka Liyanawatte

The vista will have pleased Modi, whose government strongly opposed the land reclamation project inaugurated by China’s President Xi Jinping last year under a deal that gives China ownership of a patch of land overlooking a strategic port.

Modi’s was the first bilateral visit by an Indian premier in 28 years, a sign of a friendship that has warmed rapidly since a January election ousted a leader whose close ties with China had left Sri Lanka’s larger neighbour feeling unloved.

India and China are increasingly jostling for influence in South Asia and the Indian Ocean and former Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa‘s decision to let Chinese submarines dock in Colombo port and the real estate deal were very worrying for New Delhi.

via India seeks edge over China as Modi visits Sri Lanka | Reuters.

13/03/2015

India in pacts to develop infrastructure in Mauritius, Seychelles | Reuters

Curious: India not known for its own infrastructure is offering to help its neighbours!

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has secured agreements to develop islands in Mauritius and Seychelles in an early success for his drive to wrest back influence in the Indian Ocean from China.

India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks at the inaugural session of Re-Invest 2015, the first Renewable Energy Global Investors Meet & Expo, in New Delhi, February 15, 2015.  REUTERS/Adnan Abidi

China has invested millions of dollars in recent years building seaports and highways in countries stretching from the Maldives to Sri Lanka that lie on vital shipping lanes through which much of its energy supplies and trade passes.

India, alarmed at the prospect of China building a network of friendly ports in a “String of Pearls” across the Indian Ocean, has stepped up its diplomacy, offering a range of civil and military assistance.

On Wednesday, as Modi toured Mauritius, officials signed an agreement to upgrade sea and air links on the remote Agalega islands, offering India a foothold in an area hundreds of miles from its coast.”

via India in pacts to develop infrastructure in Mauritius, Seychelles | Reuters.

09/03/2015

China hints Japan to be invited to war memorial parade | Reuters

China will welcome all national leaders to a military parade marking the 70th anniversary of the end of World War Two, the foreign minister said on Sunday, the strongest sign yet that it could invite wartime enemy Japan.

Sino-Japan relations have long been poisoned by what China sees as Japan’s failure to atone for its occupation of parts of the country before and during the war, and it rarely misses an opportunity to remind its people and the world of this.

In the last two years, ties have also deteriorated sharply because of a dispute over a chain of uninhabited islets in the East China Sea, though Chinese and Japanese leaders met last year in Beijing to try to reset relations.

But the remarks by Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi come as the two countries plan to hold their first security talks in four years in Tokyo on March 19, an indication of a possible improvement in strained ties.

“Our goal is to remember history, commemorate the martyrs, cherish peace and look to the future,” Wang said of the parade at a briefing on the sidelines of China’s annual meeting of parliament.

“We will extend the invitation to the leaders of all relevant countries and international organizations. No matter who it is, as long as they come in sincerity, we welcome them,” Wang said in response to a question about whether Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe would be invited.

via China hints Japan to be invited to war memorial parade | Reuters.

06/03/2015

PM Narendra Modi heads to Seychelles, Mauritius, Lanka; tour begins on March 10 – The Times of India

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will leave on March 10 on a three-nation visit — Seychelles, Mauritius and Sri Lanka — the external affairs ministry announced on Friday with no mention, however, of the Maldives, which was being considered earlier.

On his first trip abroad in 2015, the Prime Minister will be visiting the three countries from March 10 to 14, the ministry said.

On March 11, in Seychelles, Modi will hold bilateral discussions with President James Alexis Michel to strengthen bilateral maritime ties and enhance development cooperation.

Modi will be in Mauritius on March 11 and 12 where he will have extensive meetings with his Mauritian counterpart, Sir Anerood Jugnauth, to further enhance the special and unique relations.

The Indian Prime Minister will also be the chief guest at Mauritius’s National Day celebrations.

via PM Narendra Modi heads to Seychelles, Mauritius, Lanka; tour begins on March 10 – The Times of India.

05/03/2015

Modi to ramp up help for Indian Ocean nations to counter China influence | Reuters

(Reuters) – Prime Minister Narendra Modi will offer island nations in the Indian Ocean a broad range of military and civilian assistance next week in a bid to wrest back some of the influence China has gained by spending billions of dollars in the region.

Sri Lanka's President Mithripala Sirisena (C) shakes hands with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi (R) as his wife Jayanthi Sirisena looks on during Sirisena's ceremonial reception at the forecourt of India's Rashtrapati Bhavan presidential palace in New Delhi February 16, 2015. Sirisena is on a four-day state visit to India. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi

Modi will make the pledges during a visit to Sri Lanka, the Maldives, Mauritius and Seychelles after decades of neglect by successive Indian governments. His trip to Sri Lanka will be the first in 28 years by an Indian prime minister.

China has built seaports, power plants and highways across the small island nations. Its navy has also made forays into the Indian Ocean, including when submarines docked last year in Sri Lanka, rattling New Delhi, which has an uneasy relationship with Beijing.

New Delhi is hoping to tie the islands into a closer security embrace, Indian officials said.

“India has a role as a net security provider in the Indian Ocean region,” said a defence official involved in preparations for Modi’s trip, which begins on March 10. “We are providing patrol ships, surveillance radars and ocean mapping for the island states.”

At the top of Modi’s agenda is Sri Lanka, the tear-shaped island off the southern coast of India where a new government, concerned at Beijing’s growing influence, is reviewing infrastructure contracts the previous administration awarded to China. It has also ruled out additional Chinese submarine visits in the near future.

Modi is expected to tighten defence and security cooperation and push for final approval for a 500 MW power plant to be built by India’s state-run National Thermal Power Corporation under a 2012 agreement in Trincomalee, a strategic port in eastern Sri Lanka, Indian officials said.

The two sides were also in talks to upgrade military training, a Sri Lankan government official said.

via Modi to ramp up help for Indian Ocean nations to counter China influence | Reuters.

03/03/2015

Sri Lankan doubts on loans, submarines seen as rebuff to Beijing | Reuters

If last week’s visit to Beijing by Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera was meant to allay fears that the island nation’s new government was distancing itself from China, it failed.

China's Premier Li Keqiang (R) speaks with Sri Lanka's Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera during their meeting at the Zhongnanhai Leadership Compound in Beijing, February 27, 2015. REUTERS/Wu Hong/Pool

If anything, Samaraweera’s comments on the prospect of Chinese submarines using Sri Lanka as a stopover on long-distance westward missions and of bankrolling it through big loans underlined Colombo’s hardening position, experts said.

That would be welcomed by India, which, as Sri Lanka’s neighbour and traditional protector, had grown alarmed at its lurch towards China under the leadership of former president Mahinda Rajapaksa, ousted in a shock election defeat in January.

“Some people say the (Sri Lankan) government had put too many eggs in the China basket,” said Sinderpal Singh, an India expert at the National University of Singapore.

“It’s a symbol to say ‘we would like to recalibrate our policy to one equidistant between India and China’.”

During his trip, Samaraweera said he did not envisage any more visits by Chinese submarines in the near future.

India voiced concern in November when Rajapaksa’s government allowed a Chinese submarine and warship to dock in Colombo, seven weeks after another submarine called at the same port.

One of the submarine dockings coincided with a state visit by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, himself wary of China’s increasingly assertive projection of naval power.

“…We will ensure that such incidents, from whatever quarters, do not happen during our tenure,” Samaraweera said of the potential diplomatic embarrassment.

Samaraweera made the remarks to the press and did not discuss warships or submarines during talks with Chinese officials, according to a member of the Sri Lankan delegation.

And while his comments do not preclude the future use of Sri Lankan facilities by Chinese submarines, they pointed to greater caution both in economic and military relations.

via Sri Lankan doubts on loans, submarines seen as rebuff to Beijing | Reuters.

20/02/2015

Sri Lanka reviews land transfer to China as port deal draws scrutiny | Reuters

Sri Lanka is reconsidering the outright transfer of a parcel of land to China under a $1.5 billion port city deal signed by a previous government, the energy minister said, amid concerns it could be used for Chinese naval activity.

China’s port and other infrastructure investments in Sri Lanka are under the scanner ever since former president Mahinda Rajapaksa lost power in an election last month. He had pursued close ties with Beijing, drawing neighboring India’s ire.

Under the plan, 108 hectares of land next to the main commercial port of Colombo would be taken over by China Communications Construction Co Ltd, including 20 hectares on an outright basis and the rest on a 99-year lease.

The development would include shopping malls, water sports, golf, hotels, apartments and marinas.

“There is a new suggestion not to give freehold land and that land should be controlled and subjected to the Sri Lankan law,” Power and Energy Minister Champika Ranawaka told a Foreign Correspondents Association Forum.

India, which lost out to China in infrastructure development on the Indian Ocean island, was in particular worried about the security threat posed by Chinese ownership of land, aggravated by the docking of submarines in Colombo last year.

via Sri Lanka reviews land transfer to China as port deal draws scrutiny | Reuters.

18/02/2015

China maps out vision of future prosperity along a New Silk Road | The Times

About half an hour west of Kashgar, China’s westernmost city, a chic estate agent bristling with pamphlets presents a vision of the future. Buy a place here — a short hop from the Uzbek border — and soon the global economy will pivot around you.

Her pitch boasts an artist’s impression of the villa complex a buyer might expect: miniature European palaces nestled between crystal lakes, arcades of high-end boutiques and a pine forest.

It takes (to put it mildly) an imaginative leap to square this idyll with the blistering desert and sheer, barren mountain range just outside the showroom, not to mention stories of ethnic bloodshed in the villages near by.

Yet the large image on the wall is a show-stopper. Kashgar, normally shown on the far left-hand side of Chinese maps, is a red dot at the centre of the world. Around and through it, planned road and rail lines on an epic scale twine and lunge towards Calais and Rotterdam at one end and Guangzhou and Shanghai at the other. Spurs dart off to Karachi, Tashkent, Helsinki, Moscow and Tehran. Australia and Turkey are mentioned as eventual waypoints. This Kashgar villa project, the saleswoman says, will sit at nothing less than the heart of the New Silk Road, a project viewed by some as the most important piece of geo-economic engineering we will see in our lifetimes.

Cheerleaders of the New Silk Road story have plenty to back their optimism, not least the fact that the vision is the unambiguous focus of President Xi. Talk about the Silk Road will ride high on China’s domestic political agenda this year; the global trade implications will start to reverberate soon afterwards. In 2013, when Mr Xi first laid out his ambition of building a Silk Road economic belt and a maritime Silk Road to run in parallel, he did so with the glint of a nation that is getting better and better at turning expansive blueprints into reality.

Mr Xi’s rhetoric doesn’t feel empty. China has buckets of cash to invest and a rising sense that it is deploying those funds at an historically perfect juncture: Europe is light on leadership, Putin’s Russia is not a natural builder of partnership and American domestic politics are a long-term drag on Washington’s capacity to build cohesive global visions. All around it, Beijing sees countries that may be wary of China’s ambition but, at the very least, are underwhelmed by the alternatives.

Yesterday, China’s central bank officially opened its new Silk Road fund, a $40 billion wedge of cash that supposedly will be run like a private equity investor and will drive the construction of the rail and road infrastructure on which all of President Xi’s strategic vision depends.

The blossoming of the Silk Road vision marks an even greater inflection-point in China’s economic advance — the moment when its outward direct investments, as a percentage of global investment flow, outpace inflows. Its investments abroad rose from $45 billion to more than $600 billion between 2004 and 2013. Since 2010, its two largest state-owned development banks have annually lent more to developing countries than the World Bank and China is the predominant funder of the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank and the Brics Development Bank.

This all needs to be built into the way European leaders see the world, because at the moment, Mr Xi has a vision that could be internationalised or forever belong to China. While the initial stages of the Silk Road expansion will involve dreary-looking handshakes between China’s leaders and their various central Asian counterparts, the moment is fast arriving when the European economies have to work out the extent of their buy-in to Mr Xi’s dream.

via China maps out vision of future prosperity along a New Silk Road | The Times.

06/02/2015

Thailand boosts military ties with China amid U.S. spat | Reuters

China and Thailand agreed on Friday to boost military ties over the next five years, from increasing intelligence sharing to fighting transnational crime, as the ruling junta seeks to counterbalance the country’s alliance with Washington.

China's Defence Minister Chang Wanquan, accompanied by Thailand's Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwan (L), reviews a guard of honour during his visit to Thailand, at the Defence Ministry in Bangkok February 6, 2015. REUTERS/Chaiwat Subprasom

The agreement came during a two-day visit by China’s Defence Minister Chang Wanquan to Bangkok, and as Thailand’s military government looks to cultivate Beijing’s support amid Western unease over a delayed return to democracy.

“China has agreed to help Thailand increase protection of its own country and advise on technology to increase Thailand’s national security,” Thai Defence Minister General Prawit Wongsuwan told reporters.

“China will not intervene in Thailand’s politics but will give political support and help maintain relationships at all levels. This is China’s policy.”

via Thailand boosts military ties with China amid U.S. spat | Reuters.

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