Archive for ‘GeoPolitics’

19/04/2014

In His First Year, China’s Xi Puts Unprecedented Focus on Africa – Businessweek

A little over a year ago, Xi Jinping embarked on his first foreign trip as China’s president, making stops in Russia and Africa. Over the past 13 months, his administration has focused unprecedented attention on strengthening economic and political ties in Africa, according to a new policy briefing by Brookings Institution scholar Yun Sun.

Chinese President Xi Jinping shakes hands with Namibian Prime Minister Hage Geingob on April 8 in Beijing

While China’s People’s Liberation Army has long maintained what Sun calls a “tacit operating principle of ‘no troops on foreign soil,’” last spring Beijing sent 170 combat troops from the PLA Special Force to accompany the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Mali. In the past, only Chinese engineers and medical personnel had ever been dispatched to foreign soils under a UN mandate.

“China’s choosing Africa to dispatch combat troops for the first time does suggest Beijing’s rising interests,” writes Sun, as well “enhanced commitment and [a] direct role in maintaining [the] peace and security of Africa.” China has also “dispatched a total of 16 fleets and escorted more than 5,300 ships and vessels” around the Gulf of Aden, in effect taking responsibility for maintaining the security of key shipping lanes.

via In His First Year, China’s Xi Puts Unprecedented Focus on Africa – Businessweek.

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30/03/2014

Americans Must Adjust to a World Dominated by China – Fed’s Bullard – China Real Time Report – WSJ

This post originally appeared on Real Time Economics.

It won’t be long until the U.S. is eclipsed economically by China—and Americans need to start thinking about how to adjust to such a world.

That’s according to Federal Reserve Board of St. Louis President James Bullard, who spoke to the Wall Street Journal on the sidelines of a conference during a recent visit to Hong Kong.

“Attitudes in the U.S. are going to have to change, because the U.S. will not permanently be the global leader,” Mr. Bullard said.

China is already the largest economy in the world after the United States, and is growing much faster than the U.S. Not too far in the future — estimates range from as soon as 2016 to as “distant” as 2028 — it will surpass the American economy in size.

Most likely, China will eventually match the U.S. in per capita income terms as well. With a population about four times as large as America’s, that would imply a massive shift in the global balance of power.

In that case, “the U.S. would be playing a role to China similar to the role the U.K. plays to the U.S. today,” Mr. Bullard said. “People think it’s 50-75 years away but it’s probably only 25 or 20 years away, something like that.”

China’s economy currently is a little more than half the size of America’s, IMF data show, clocking in at $8.9 trillion in 2013 versus $16.7 trillion for the U.S.

But China’s economy is growing much more quickly, targeting growth of about 7.5% this year. In contrast, the U.S. economy will be lucky to grow by 3%.

Then there’s India, another economy of a billion-plus people that’s also growing quickly. Eventually, Mr. Bullard said, he can foresee a tri-polar world in which China and India are the major economic powers, counterbalanced by a bloc of the United States, Europe and Japan, whose populations together will total about one billion people.

“We’ve said the U.S. is a superpower, an economic superpower. But these are giants, they’re bigger than a superpower,” he said. “What would that world be like, both economically and politically? I think that’s really hard to understand. How much would the Western bloc be willing to cooperate politically to be a counterbalance to China and India?”

Mr. Bullard offered few specifics of what such a world would look like, but did acknowledge that it might require some adjustment on the part of ordinary Americans like those he serves in the heartland.

via Americans Must Adjust to a World Dominated by China – Fed’s Bullard – China Real Time Report – WSJ.

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29/03/2014

This is why Germany doesn’t want China anywhere near Berlin’s holocaust memorial

Originally posted on China Daily Mail:

Chinese President Xi Jinping talks to students during the welcoming ceremony by German President Joachim Gauck at Bellevue palace in Berlin

Chinese President Xi Jinping talks to students during the welcoming ceremony by German President Joachim Gauck at Bellevue palace in Berlin

Chinese President Xi Jinping is in Germany for the next two days, meeting with Chancellor Angela Merkel and other German officials. It’s the third leg of Xi’s European Union trip, and an important one – as Deutsche Welle notes, Germany is China’s most important trade partner in Europe.

There is, however, once place that Xi isn’t wanted during his time in Germany: Berlin‘s famous Holocaust memorial. Der Spiegel reported this month that German authorities had refused a request from Xi’s entourage for an official visit to the site. While the Chinese president may visit the site on his own, it will not be a part of the official itinerary and Merkel will not accompany him.

Visits to the Holocaust memorial, officially known as the Memorial to the Murdered Jews…

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26/03/2014

Putin’s Shame: Russia Is Becoming China’s Junior Partner – Businessweek

Russian President Vladimir Putin professes not to care about being ejected—temporarily, at least—from the Group of Eight community over his country’s seizure of Crimea. He says Russia has plenty of other friends in the world. One of them is China, the world’s emerging Communist superpower. Diplomatic and trade relations between Russia and China have strengthened notably over the last couple of decades. Bloomberg News reports today that the “Crimean crisis is poised to reshape the politics of oil by accelerating Russia’s drive to send more barrels to China, leaving Europe with pricier imports and boosting U.S. dependence on fuel from the Middle East.”

From left: Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Chinese President Xi Jinping, and South African President Jacob Zuma at the G-20 Summit in St. Petersburg, Russia, on Sept. 5, 2013

Notice, though, that what Russia is selling to China is oil—not, say, high-tech machinery. In what must be a source of great embarrassment to Putin, Russia has gone from being China’s tutor and guide to being a junior partner whose main value is as a source for raw materials. Look at these two charts, which I put together today using data from the United Nations’ Comtrade database.

The first shows Russian exports to China in 2000. Exports of what the UN calls mineral fuels, oils, distillation products, etc.—mainly oil—constituted 7 percent of total Chinese exports to Russia.

via Putin’s Shame: Russia Is Becoming China’s Junior Partner – Businessweek.

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26/03/2014

China says supports international financial aid for Ukraine | Reuters

Ukrainian Finance Minister Oleksander Shlapak says he is negotiating with the International Monetary Fund for a loan package of $15 billion to $20 billion because the economy had been severely weakened by months of political turmoil and mismanagement.

Civilians entering Ukraine (L) have their passports checked as Ukrainian border guards (R) stand at a Russian-Ukrainian border crossing near the village of Uspenka, in eastern Ukraine March 25, 2014. REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis

U.S. President Barack Obama has also urged the IMF to reach agreement swiftly on a financial support package for Kiev, which would unlock additional aid from the European Union and Washington.

Asked about aid for Ukraine, China, whose President Xi Jinping discussed Ukraine with Obama on Monday, said that the government “upholds the maintaining of Ukraine’s financial stability”.

“International financial organizations ought to get down to dealing with this, to ensure Ukraine’s financial and economic stability,” foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei told a daily news briefing.

He did not elaborate, instead repeating that China had proposed setting up an international coordination mechanism to look for a political solution to the crisis over Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula.

China, he said, hoped all parties in the international community would take no actions to worsen the situation.

China has adopted a cautious, low-key response to the crisis, not wanting either to alienate key ally Russia or comment directly on the referendum in which Crimea voted overwhelmingly to join Russia, lest it set a precedent for its own restive regions, like Tibet.

via China says supports international financial aid for Ukraine | Reuters.

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21/03/2014

Michelle Obama starts landmark trip[1]- Chinadaily.com.cn

After a long journey from Washington, US first lady Michelle Obama landed in Beijing on Thursday evening, starting her long-awaited trip to China with a big smile and a wave.

Michelle Obama starts landmark trip

When Obama, in an elegant black dress, stepped out of the plane with her mother and two teenager daughters, dozens of reporters that had waited in the airport for hours incessantly clicked their camera shutters.

Though nobody from the delegation spoke to the media, the first lady’s brief debut spread quickly on Chinese media and micro blogs, where users discussed what she would wear and eat, and how she will interact with Chinese first lady Peng Liyuan.

“It is another innovation in the history of Chinese diplomacy” and helps both sides’ leaders strengthen their personal relations, said Ruan Zongze, vice-president of the China Institute of International Studies.

Ruan was referring to the latest “creative” laid-back meeting between President Xi Jinping and his US counterpart, Barack Obama, at the Sunnylands resort in California last June, soon after Xi assumed office.

Peng, Xi’s wife, accompanied her husband on the Sunnylands visit but did not meet Michelle Obama, who was in Washington. Her absence left some Chinese disappointed and more excited about the “make-up” meeting.

On Friday, Michelle Obama, a Harvard-educated lawyer, is to spend almost the whole day with Peng. The two first ladies will visit a high school in Beijing, stroll inside the Forbidden City, eat Peking duck and watch a performance together.

“The meeting of the two first ladies shows that China is more open and is getting more involved with the international community,” Ruan said.

via Michelle Obama starts landmark trip[1]- Chinadaily.com.cn.

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16/03/2014

China to bypass Malacca Strait by Kra Isthmus Canal in Thailand

Originally posted on China Daily Mail:

Map showing proposed Kra Isthmus Canal location in Thailand

Map showing proposed Kra Isthmus Canal location in Thailand

The following article was translated from Chinese media:

The trade route to the Indian Ocean through the Malacca Strait has the problems of pirates, shipwrecks, haze, sediment and shoals.

Its rate of accidents is twice as high as the Suez Canal and four times higher than the Panama Canal.

An alternative shorter route is to build a canal at Kra Isthmus, Thailand. It will save shipment costs and time as the route is shortened by 1,000 km.

Due to close trade relations between China and ASEAN for years, their bilateral trade rose from $54.8 billion in 2002 to $443.6 billion in 2013. In the same period, mutual investment grew four times to an accumulated total of $100 billion.

The close relations and accumulated wealth due to economic and trade growth make people believe that the construction of Kra…

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12/03/2014

China tries a new role in the missing plane saga—Asia’s policeman – Quartz

In the aftermath of the March 8 disappearance of a Malaysia Airlines plane with 239 people on board, 153 of them Chinese nationals, Beijing is flexing its muscles. The Chinese government has dispatched two warships, 10 satellites, over 50 marines to the South China Sea, and—although the Malaysian government didn’t formally invite them—a 13-member delegation to advise search and rescue efforts from Kuala Lumpur.

The assertive response marks a new stage in China’s ascension as a regional superpower, a role the country hasn’t fully embraced despite its expanding military and trade power in East Asia. While China has made claims over disputed territory (in the air, the sea, and in passports), it has rarely deployed its military and officials in such a public way.

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On March 10, Chinese officials said they had “a responsibility to demand and urge the Malaysia side to step up search efforts…and provide relevant information to China correctly and in a timely manner.” In response, the Malaysian government re-issued its pledge to fly Chinese relatives of the passengers on board to Malaysia.

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China’s show of strength may simply be an effort to show angry Chinese families that their government is actively pushing for answers and participating in, if not leading, search operations. Chinese officials have already been pelted with water bottles thrown by the frustrated relatives of passengers. But the crisis is also an occasion for Beijing to continue what has been a decade-long expansion (pdf) of militarily and diplomatic engagement in Southeast Asia, a region that’s traditionally been part of the United States’ realm of influence.

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Some observers have hailed the last few days of cooperation between the countries more accustomed to arguing over islands and shoals as a hopeful sign for future negotiations. But it’s not likely that China’s stance toward its neighbors has softened much over that time.

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Just last week, Chinese officials said that peace in the region could only be “maintained by strength.” Part of that strength, it seems, involves an aggressive Chinese response when disaster strikes.

via China tries a new role in the missing plane saga—Asia’s policeman – Quartz.

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07/03/2014

China, ASEAN to have talks on South China Sea – Xinhua | English.news.cn

China is willing to work with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to formulate a code of conduct (COC) for the South China Sea, Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said on Friday.

Flag of ASEAN

Flag of ASEAN (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Qin’s comment came ahead of the 10th joint working group meeting between China and ASEAN on the implementation of the declaration on the conduct (DOC) of parties in the South China Sea. The meeting will be held on March 18 in Singapore.

“China is ready to work with ASEAN for comprehensive and effective implementation of DOC and steadily push forward consultations on COC,” Qin said.

Practical maritime cooperation will also be touched upon during the meeting, Qin said.

Qin called for favorable conditions for the implementation of DOC and formulation of COC to maintain peace and stability on the South China Sea.

China and ASEAN officials met last September in Suzhou, in east China’s Jiangsu Province, for the 6th China-ASEAN senior officials’ meeting and the 9th joint working group meeting on the implementation of DOC.

via China, ASEAN to have talks on South China Sea – Xinhua | English.news.cn.

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04/03/2014

Singh to Neighbors: To Boost Trade, Build More Highways to India – India Real Time – WSJ

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh addressed state leaders from South and South East Asia in Myanmar today to emphasize the need to improve trade ties by building highways connecting India and its neighbors.

Mr. Singh is on a two-day visit to the neighboring country for an economic meeting called the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation [BIMSTEC] Summit.

Addressing an audience including the leaders of Myanmar, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Nepal and Thailand, Mr. Singh said he would like to “improve physical connectivity” with a highway that will connect India to Myanmar and Thailand and with more maritime links with Myanmar. “And even as we develop physical infrastructure, we should simultaneously start developing the supporting architecture of rules and regulations to facilitate cross-country movements,” he said. He arrived yesterday in Myanmar’s capital, Nay Pyi Taw.

via Singh to Neighbors: To Boost Trade, Build More Highways to India – India Real Time – WSJ.

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