The PRC Silk Road Economic Belt initiative that aims to establish the network of land and sea routes that will link the western regions of China with the main markets of Central Asia and Europe. The Silk Road Economic Belt project and the Eurasian Economic Union led by Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus can become the main driving forces transforming Central Eurasia into a zone of joint development.
This initiative is addressing internal and external challenges. The policy that China has pursued since the late 1970s has allowed the country to increase its impact on the world stage and improve the domestic economic situation. This is China’s largest foreign trade project and its implementation will allow for the strengthening of economic ties between China and the Central Asian countries; the increase in the volume of trade with Europe is considered to be less of a priority.
This Chinese initiative is for economic, geopolitical and security reasons. It is a combined land sea project. The Northern route is supposed to go through the territory of Kazakhstan and the Trans-Siberian Railway. The sea routes will involve the Kazakh port of Aktau, and the ports of the Caspian Sea (Makhachkala, Baku) that provide access to the Caucasus region, Turkey and the Black Sea basin. The Southern routes go through the territory of Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Iran, thus providing access to the Indian Ocean in the Persian Gulf.
The Eurasian Economic Union that commenced on 1st January 2015,brings together Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Russia, lays the foundation for a framework of legal conditions for the joint breakthrough and creates an effective tool for the prevention and resolution of international disputes. The union ensures free movement of goods, services, capital and labor, as well as working on the coordination and synchronization of economic policies in various sectors and there will be only one customs border between China & the E.E.U.
The E.E.U is in many ways a unique association because in addition to the purely economic component, it also includes cooperation in the defense sector – the C..S.TO. The E.E.U. projects and the Silk Road Economic Belt compliment each other and will create a new opportunities.
The first group (the Northern Route) includes the routes that run across the territories of China, Kazakhstan and Russia: Urumqi – Dostyk – Omsk – Moscow – EU countries. The second group (the Sea Route) includes the routes that run across the territory of Kazakhstan and use the Caspian Sea ports for transit. The third group (the Southern Route) includes the routes that bypass the territory of Russia. The Urumqi – Aktau – Baku – Poti – Constanta (the second option is: Urumqi – Dostyk – Almaty – Shymkent – Tashkent – Ashgabat – Tehran – Istanbul route).
The most advanced version of the route is the Western China – Western Europe transport corridor, which runs through the cities of Lianyungang, Zhengzhou, Lanzhou, Urumqi, Khorgos, Almaty, Kyzylorda, Aktobe, Orenburg, Kazan, Nizhny Novgorod, Moscow and St. Petersburg, with further access to the Baltic Sea ports.
All this sets the scene for the revival of the Silk Road in its original capacity as the continental belt of trade and economic and cultural interaction among the adjoining states, allowing them to achieve wealth and prosperity.
Beijing issued its first white paper on military strategy, ushering in greater military transparency by giving details of the direction of its military buildup to other nations. The document of about 9,000 Chinese characters revealed a list of new expressions that have never before appeared in Chinese white papers.
In the preface it reaffirmed China’s adherence to peaceful development and its “active defense” military strategy. It interpreted the policy as “We will not attack unless we are attacked, but we will surely counterattack if attacked”. “China will never seek hegemony or expansion,” it added.
On China’s security environment, it mentioned increasing security challenges brought by certain countries, citing the growing US military presence in Asia and Japan’s major adjustment in its security policies.
For the first time, the paper noted that “some offshore neighbors take provocative actions and reinforce their military presence on China’s reefs and islands that they have illegally occupied”. “It is thus a long-standing task for China to safeguard its maritime rights and interests.”
Vietnam and the Philippines have kept building on some of China’s islands in the South China Sea. Accordingly, the paper said the navy of the People’s Liberation Army will “gradually shift its focus from ‘offshore waters defense’ to a combination of ‘offshore waters defense’ and ‘open seas protection'”.
China’s air force will soon commission the J-10B fighter jet, the most advanced military aircraft the country has ever developed on its own.
[Photo provided to China Daily]
It also mentioned an adjustment in preparations for military struggle. Following the guideline set in 2004 in order to win “informationized local wars”, the new expression highlighted maritime military struggle.
Regarding outer space, the paper reaffirmed China’s opposition to the weaponization of outer space and its disapproval of an arms race in outer space.
As for cyber space, it said “China will expedite the development of a cyber force” and enhance its capabilities in cyber situation awareness and cyber defense.
The paper also noted that as Chinese national interests stretch further abroad, it will “strengthen international security cooperation in areas crucially related to China’s overseas interests”.
It said the PLA will engage in extensive regional and international security affairs, and promote the establishment of the mechanisms of emergency notification, military risk precaution, crisis management and conflict control.
The paper highlighted future cooperation with Russian armed forces, saying the PLA will foster a comprehensive, diverse and sustainable framework to promote military relations.
On cooperation with the US, China intends to build a “new model of military relationships” that conforms to the two nations’ new model of major-country relations.
It will strengthen defense dialogues, exchanges and cooperation with the US military, and improve the mechanism for the notification of major military activities as well as the rule of behavior for safety of air and maritime encounters.
Zhao Weibin, a researcher on China-US military relations with the PLA Academy of Military Sciences, said though the paper named the US, Japan and some neighbors which pose security challenges, it is not written to counter them.
“In this chapter on the security environment, we just objectively assessed China’s situation.”
Wen Bing, a researcher on defense policies with the academy, said China has become one of the few countries that have published white papers to clarify military strategy. According to him, the US, Russia and Britain have issued similar reports.
“That is indeed a big step in China’s military transparency.”
Wen suggested the readers of the report examine every word of it, as “there are so many new expressions and ideas, through which you can better understand today’s PLA.”
Further to this white paper, The General Political Department of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has compiled Chinese President Xi Jinping’s speeches and writings on national defense for release in the military system.
The book, compiled and released under the approval of the Central Military Commission, includes major strategic thinkings, theories and policies reflected in 36 key articles by Xi between Dec. 2012 and March 2015.
The PLA General Political Department urged soldiers and officers to study the book to improve the army, with guided sessions to explain key theories and deepen the reader’s understanding.
China said on Wednesday that it was deeply shocked and dissatisfied with the Philippine president’s remarks likening China to Nazi Germany, warning Manila to stop provoking Beijing on the South China Sea issue.
Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said that the Philippines has tried to occupy Chinese islands for decades and has kept “colluding with countries outside the region to stir up trouble and sling mud at China”.
“I once more seriously warn certain people in the Philippines to cast aside their illusions and repent, stop provocations and instigations, and return to the correct path of using bilateral channels to talk and resolve this dispute,” she said.
During a speech in Japan on Wednesday, Philippine President Benigno Aquino compared China’s actions to Nazi Germany’s territorial expansion before the outbreak of World War II.
Tensions have risen recently as the Philippines, as well as the United States and Japan — two nations that are not directly involved in the issue — repeatedly criticize China over its construction on some of its islands in the South China Sea.
China has said its projects mainly aim to provide a civilian service that will benefit other countries.
US President Barack Obama conceded on Monday that “it may be that some of their (China’s) claims are legitimate”, but he urged China to stop construction on the islands. The US has sent reconnaissance planes over Chinese islands with reporters on board.
Chinese Ambassador to the US Cui Tiankai told The Wall Street Journal it was “very surprising to us that the US has overreacted to the situation and is escalating the situation.”
He said China is more concerned than anybody about the safety and freedom of navigation in the region, given China’s huge trade volume going through the South China Sea.
“If somebody wants to see escalation of tension, then that could be used as an excuse for advancing their military deployment, for setting up Cold War-type alliances and for setting up new missile defense systems,” he said.
During Aquino’s visit, Tokyo and Manila are likely to agree to start talks on a framework for the transfer of defense equipment and technology. Japan last year eased restrictions on arms exports set after World War II.
“As a major victim of Japan during the war, it is really cynical for the Philippines to unite with Japan and link China to Nazi Germany,” said Chen Qinghong, a Southeast Asian studies researcher at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations.
“Manila wants Tokyo to help press Beijing on the South China Sea issue. And Japan — which is under great international pressure for its attitude on history as the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II approaches in August — seeks to transfer the regional focus.”
Now this is different.
So I made a video with some thoughts I had during my recent work-trip to Uganda.
I have a knot in my stomach putting this kind of shit online. Another white guy, in another African country, broadcasting another set of un-earned conclusions. The whole point I’m trying to make in the video is that I have no idea what I’m talking about, but maybe that means I should have just not talked at all.
Anyway, now it’s out there, embarrassing but irrevocable, just like the rest of the internet. Next time, I’ll try making one of these I don’t feel the need to apologize for.
Red Dragon Rising
Prior to trying to formulate an informed opinion on China’s role in the first half of the 21st Century, a brief review of the make up of the current leadership of the P.R.C. related to global strategic defence, specifically the South China Seas region would assist the reader. The P.R.C. President and Premier are Xi Jinping and Li Keqiang. Their roles are head of state and head of government and the leadership is commonly referred to as the Xi Li team. The Minister for Defence is Chang Wanquan. These three men will be responsible for the continued global positioning of the P.R.C. during Q1 of the 21st Century.
Xi Jinping is one of the three wise men (Mao & Deng are the other two) and he is focused upon positioning China for Q2 of the 21st Century with domestic and international foundations that have been constructed or are being constructed by China. With his quasi-Maoist values he is changing China. He has gained more power than his predecessors with a strong power base in the P.L.A. He is the key figure of the Fifth-Generation leadership in this renaissance period or golden age of the P.R.C.
Xi is changing the growth mode and improving quality and efficiency at the center, the economy will be driven by consumption, investment and exports instead of only by investment and exports. China will shift from relying on secondary industries alone to reliance on the primary, secondary and tertiary industries, turning away from resource consumption and toward technological progress through innovation. With the 13th five year plan (2016 – 2020) Xi is driving the industrialisation, informatisation, urbanisation and agricultural modernisation. The weakest link is agriculture which Xi is transforming agricultural development with agricultural technology innovation.
Li Keqiang is the driving force behind China’s positive efforts to promote political reforms such as decentralization of government and the positioning of government to be efficient and streamlined to meet the needs during this transitional phase stage two of China’s global dominance, stage one being the one that Deng Xiaoping implemented. China’s economic development is now in the transitional period from export driven to domestic demand and makes up the other component of the Li leadership, and that is of development.
Chang Wanquan was born 1949 in Nanyang City, Henan Province,
home of ancient strategist, Zhuge Liang. Rise to power possible from President Hu Jintao (2003-2013) and anit-terrorism background. Writings and speeches demonstrate support for President Hu’s “scientific development” effort, Confucian in nature, and a heavy emphasis on training. Partly due to his leadership background in military technology, including the manned space program, Chang has been a strong advocate of rapid modernization in PLA military equipment and of the integration of a combined operations supreme command, with an emphasis on better operational coordination among the army, navy, land forces, and missile forces in warfare.
Chang has had direct influence in the continued pursuit of China’s space programe via the Second Artillery Corps which is the strategic ballistic missile force of the PLA, and it maintains China’s nuclear arsenal. The ultimate end goal is to move away from the S.A.C. control of the space progame, have an independent organization that will still have a collaborative role with the military. Hainan Island (space programe and a Deep Blue for the Navy and physical location of GhostNet) is a critical geographical location for both military and space operations.
Whilst a single decision-maker does not decide upon military strategies, policies, and weapons development, Chang is part of the apex in the decision making process. Chang is diverse in his roles and is involved in various military and space related activities. He was the commander of the manned space mission named Shenzhou VII. Chang advocates certain strategies such as the importance of Shih in Chinese military strategy. “Instead of using military force to subjugate another society or to defeat an enemy’s army, Shih operates to convince an opponent to yield without battle.
Whilst Chang is Minister for defence and the P.R.C. military strength is increasing along with a space programe, Chinese preference for psychological warfare over weaponry and firepower, victory without fighting, nonviolent stratagems, and deception still exists in the 21st Century. China’s ancient and modern history has demonstrations of great violence; however, Chinese rhetoric today promotes peace in the world and a defensive posture. Chang has made statements that whilst pursuing peace the P.R.C. will defend it’s assets with force.
Chang’s birthplace Henan Province is historically significant because it is the “cradle” of Chinese civilization due to its proximity to the Yellow River.However, maybe more importantly, many in Nanyang City consider it the home to the greatest military strategist and public official during the Three Kingdoms Period, Zhuge Liang (181-234 AD). Zhuge Liang often quoted Confucius and reflected an undercurrent of Taoist thought in his attitudes toward life and work, and stressed the importance of military preparedness, training, and the need for strong allies as consultants.
Chang joined the P.L.A. in 1968 and has risen through the ranks with various roles such as and not limited to: Chief-of-Staff of the 140th Division, 47th Field Army, Division Commander of the 61st Division of the 21st Group Army, Director of the General Armament Department, Director of the Campaign Teaching and Research Office at the National Defense University. Chang’s credentials are not technical; instead, he is a trainer. His role is likely not the technical management of the latest weapon systems in the PLA arsenal, but instead, is to make the P.L.A. qualified to operate in an “informationalized” environment with high-technology equipment.
Chang’s rhetoric often is close to that of Zhuge. In his published article “Ancient Thought of Military Management in China and Its Inspiration” is said to be a work designed to revitalize Confucian teachings and thinking. Chang understands why the P.R.C. has used force against its neighbors at least 12 times since 1949 and why in 1950, Mao committed his people to fight the United States, not because of any threat to China’s survival but to resist U.S. expansion on China’s periphery. China’s culture developed its own world order and attitudes toward warfare over nearly three millennia and through its history of survival, evolution, domestic conflicts, and defenses against foreign aggressions, China’s distinctive culture has shaped and limited strategic choices and profoundly influenced China’s interactions with other states.
Chang may not fully understand the complex nature of China’s strategic rival, the U.S.A. but he has much to draw upon to drive the military and space programes, and protect the P.R.C. through the 21st Century. He is a vital part of the P.R.C. triangle, Xi – Li – Chang.
China’s long history has seen evidence of both a defensive and offensive culture. Additionally, the writings of Sun Tzu and others offer a method of statecraft that is secretive and deceptive.
Many analysts do not understand the motivations, priorities, and perspectives of Chinese decision-makers, especially regarding China’s space programe. The programe has a duality – it is for defence as much as it is for economics.
China’s strategic culture has converged around Tao three additional
important ideas that emerged from prehistoric Confucian thought and belief:
Shih, Hsing, and Li. Any analysis of China’s strategic culture and uses of force must begin with an understanding of these four faces of Chinese
Shih-strategy. The defining theme in Sun Tzu’s The Art of Warfare, the essence of Shih was the dynamic power that emerged in the combination of men’s hearts, military weapons, and natural conditions.
Shih-strategy, which converged Shih along three broad dimensions of warfare: the people, the context, and the enemy. Shih-strategy concentrated the power of the people in the soldiers and their weapons. The power of context appeared in opportunity, timing, and logistics. The enemy’s power lay in the relative skill, competence, and will of the opposing force.
Hsing as a military term is described as the deployment and employment of forces. Hsing is explicitly the tangible, visible, and determinate shape of physical strength and Hsing is static.
Li refers to self-interest or material gain and carries a definite priority for the present. arising from materialistic thought and theory, Li-strategy does not recognize intangible human factors as important elements of power. Instead it focuses on visible, material assets and enemy forces
Sun Tzu’s famous metaphor is a strategic message that the method of draining the water was more important than the amount of water behind the dam.
The Asian Century
The most prudent way of looking at the future of the human race is to look back at our history. The fiscal year is divided by quarters and this is how the last century will be divided for historical purposes and for this brief review of where we have been, where we are at and where we are going as a global village in the 21st Century. The 20th Century began with some issues that were left over from the previous century and had influence upon the political tensions within Europe. The world population was approximately 1.6 billion in 1900 and would almost double in sixty years (just over three billion in 1960) and would double again in fifty years (over six billion in 2010).
Over thousands of years the human race has been involved in conflict and it is but human nature to create or to destroy. One of the most appropriate people to quote here is Thomas Hobbes who states – The condition of man… is a condition of war of everyone against everyone. And so one must understand the human condition being one that is best explained as the welfare of man is in a state of eternal conflict. It would be advisable for the reader to give serious consideration to reading the following works.
The Social Contract – (Du contrat social ou Principes du droit politique; 1762) written by Jean Jacques Rousseau and Thomas Hobbes’ Leviathan (1651) to obtain insight into this century.
The reader will be influenced by specific data that is external to this information. To endeavour to formulate an independent unbiased and informed opinion on the 21st Century, merely look at the facts that have been presented.
20th Century Conflict
The last century had four quarters of conflict and is known as one hundred years of war. The First World War was in Q1 and the Second World War in Q2. The third quarter (Q3) was the Korean War and then the Vietnam War and finally in Q4 the world experienced The Gulf War. Below is a more detailed account of our human history and war in the 20th Century.
1898-1901 Boxer Rebellion
1899-1902 Boer War
1904-1905 Russo-Japanese War
1910-1920 Mexican Revolution
1912-1913 First and Second Balkan Wars
1914-1918 World War I
1915-1918 Armenian Genocide
1917 Russian Revolution
1918-1921 Russian Civil War
1919-1921 Irish War of Independence
1927-1937 Chinese Civil War
1935-1936 Second Italo-Abyssinian War (also known as the Second Italo-Ethiopian War or the Abyssinian War)
1936-1939 Spanish Civil War
1939-1945 World War II
1945-1990 Cold War
1946-1949 Chinese Civil War resumes
1946-1954 First Indochina War (also known as the French Indochina War)
1948 Israel War of Independence (also known as the Arab-Israeli War)
1950-1953 Korean War
1954-1962 French-Algerian War
1955-1972 First Sudanese Civil War
1956 Suez Crisis
1959 Cuban Revolution
1959-1973 Vietnam War
1967 Six-Day War
1979-1989 Soviet-Afghan War
1980-1988 Iran-Iraq War
1990-1991 Persian Gulf War
1991-1995 Third Balkan War
1994 Rwandan Genocide
The current world population is just over 7.3 billion and there are various implications that are associated with this figure. The world population has never doubled in such a short period – (1960 – 3 billion to 2010 – 6.75 billion) and there are environmental, social, economic and political consequences from the increasing global population. There are two ways that an individual will react to threat, fight or flight and humans embrace gradual change with comfort and immediate change with discomfort. The current world dynamics are very complex and complicated with no easy quick fix solution to the challenges that we face during this century. It would be naive for the reader to assume that the human race will find peace and love this century.
There are three sources of global tension which are economic, political and religious. The economic tensions could be as simple as internal sovereign debt related issues, unemployment, lack of natural resources or as complex as climate change or the percentage of debt to gross domestic product and the servicing of that debt. The political tension could be due to lack of resources, climate change or one of various other economic related issues. The religious tension between groups such as Jews, Muslims, Christians or Muslims and even Muslims amongst themselves
(Sunni, Shia or Alawite Muslims) creates challenges that effect both regional and global stability.
Global conflict is surrounded by certain factors such as and no limited to extreme weather events; failure of national governance; state collapse or crisis; unemployment or underemployment; natural catastrophes; failure of climate change adaptation; water crises; data fraud or theft; and cyber-attacks. Other factors to consider when evaluating possible conflict are the following – water crises; the spread of infectious diseases; weapons of mass destruction; interstate conflict; failure of climate-change adaptation; energy price shocks; a breakdown in critical information infrastructure; fiscal crises; unemployment or underemployment; and biodiversity loss and ecosystem collapse.
Along with foreign policy mistakes the USA has made other mistakes since the end of the Cold War such as underestimating China.
There are several reasons why the East China and South China Seas are of concern to the West and the East. The ongoing tensions between China, Japan, Malaysia, Philippines, United States and Vietnam has political and economic challenges that requires a solution.
China has been drilling for oil and gas for several years in an area of sea with known reserves (the newly discovered gas field, dubbed Lingshui 17-2, is located 150 kilometers south of Hainan Island).
China’s rapidly growing interest in deepwater drilling represents a convergence of two of China’s major strategic interests: protecting its claims to much of the South China Sea and reducing China’s growing reliance on imported energy.
Another interesting aspect to the tension in the South China Seas is the progress that China has made with its space program on what is referred to as China’s Hawaii (Hainan Island). The space launch centre is completed and the fourth of such facilities. The island also has military capability with naval resources. China has stated that they expect to have a man on the moon by 2017 and Mars by 2021 both of which are possible achievements. China has been on the moon since 2013 (China’s Chang’e 3 moon lander and its Yutu rover touched down on the moon Saturday (Dec. 14) at about 8:11 a.m. EST (1311 GMT). It is the first soft-landing on the moon by any spacecraft in 37 years.
Currently the Helium 3 (3He) reserves on the moon are estimated to be 2469000 tons – http://www.lpi.usra.edu/meetings/lpsc2007/pdf/2175.pdf .
The current estimate is that one ton has a potential worth of 3 billion dollars. Approximately 25tons could power the USA for one year. Helium 3 could be used in future fusion power plants (currently we use fission power plants).
The current trajectory that the human race is on is one that has challenges that we have not experienced before, and whilst that can be argued regarding our history and that we have had great challenges before, these future challenges are most serious in complexity and in the outcome. This fist quarter of the twenty first century is merely one where the foundations are being laid in the transition between the West and the East. China could well be mining Helium 3 in the early part of Q2 of the 21st Century and positioning itself to be the dominant political and economic leader for the second half of the century.
The USA is most concerned about REE – Rare Earth Elements or rare earth metals and alloys that contain them are used in many devices that people use every day such as computer memory, DVDs, rechargeable batteries, cell phones, catalytic converters, magnets, fluorescent lighting and much more. During the past twenty years, there has been an explosion in demand for many items that require rare earth metals. Twenty years ago there were very few cell phones in use, but the number has risen to over 7 billion in use today. The use of rare earth elements in computers has grown almost as fast as cell phones.
Rare earth elements play an essential role in our national defense. The military uses night-vision goggles, precision-guided weapons, communications equipment, GPS equipment, batteries and other defense electronics. These give the United States military an enormous advantage. Rare earth metals are key ingredients for making the very hard alloys used in armored vehicles and projectiles that shatter upon impact. Substitutes can be used for rare earth elements in some defense applications; however, those substitutes are usually not as effective and that diminishes military superiority.
China began producing notable amounts of rare earth oxides in the early 1980s and became the world’s leading producer in the early 1990s. Through the 1990s and early 2000s, China steadily strengthened its hold on the world’s rare earth oxide market. They were selling rare earths at such low prices that the Mountain Pass Mine and many others throughout the world were unable to compete and stopped operation.
Chinese companies have been purchasing rare earth resources in other countries. In 2009 China Non-Ferrous Metal Mining Company bought a majority stake in Lynas Corporation, an Australian company that has one of the highest outputs of rare earth elements outside of China. They also purchased the Baluba Mine in Zambia. Mines in Australia began producing rare earth oxides in 2011. In 2012 and 2013 they were supplying about 2% to 3% of world production. In 2012, the Mountain Pass Mine came back into production and the United States produced about 4% of the world’s rare earth elements in 2013. India has been producing about 3% of the world’s supply for the past decade. Indonesia, Russia, Nigeria, North Korea, Malaysia, and Vietnam are minor producers.
If a single country controls almost all of the production and makes a firm decision not to export, then the entire supply of a commodity can be quickly cut off. That is a dangerous situation when new sources of supply take so long to develop. The demand for REE will remain as the middle class require consumer products that contain these elements. The global demand for automobiles, consumer electronics, energy-efficient lighting, and catalysts is expected to rise rapidly over the next decade. Rare earth magnet demand is expected to increase, as is the demand for rechargeable batteries. New developments in medical technology are expected to increase the use of surgical lasers, magnetic resonance imaging, and positron emission tomography scintillation detectors.
From the information presented regarding REE the reader can make the assumption that there will be economic pressure placed upon certain countries that could exacerbate tensions between the West & the East. Never before has the human race experienced the challenges that we are facing today that will remain throughout the rest of the 21st Century. China has had three men of great significance and we shall call them the three wise men. They are 1) Mao Zedong 2) Deng Xiaoping 3) Xi Jinping – and these three men are why China is what it is today. Mao set about creating foundations which Deng then built upon and where Xi is transforming China today and preparing it for tomorrow.
There are other men that have had an influence on China such as and not limited to the following – Qin Shi Huang (221-210 B.C.) – Kublai Khan (1279-1294) – Sun Yat-sen (1912) and two great tacticians and strategists – Zhuge Liang (181–234) and Sun Tzu (544–496 BC). The Republic of China began on January 1, 1912 and in 1949 Mao proclaimed the People’s Republic of China.
The reader can make their own conclusions about the future from this information.
Russia and China are frenemies both in Central Asia and globally
May 18, 2015
While there are greater outward signs of cooperation between Russia and China, especially in Central Asia, the reality is that Russia and China still view each other as rivals in their economic and geopolitical ambitions.
“China may see itself having a partnership with Russia in the region, but it believes it, and not Russia, is the leader.” Pictured: Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, and President of the People’s Republic of China Xi Jinping. Photo: RIA Novosti
Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s visit to Russia and the former Soviet republics of Central Asia in early May was warmly received by the Russian media as a sign of close collaboration between the two countries. In line with President Vladimir Putin’s disengagement with Europe and pivot to elsewhere in the world (typified by the emphasis on the strange bedfellows of the BRICS), it is widely believed that Russia and China represent a counterbalance to the perceived monolith known as “the West.”
it is more accurate to think of Russia and China as “frenemies,” apparent friends due to their disagreements with other countries but in reality rivals with very different ideas on how the neighborhood should be run
With tensions between Washington and Beijing also rising due to Chinese activities in the South China Sea, some have even giddily commented that a new “G2” of Russia and China could supplant the current one of the U.S. and China. However, the tensions that have long existed between the two neighbors are hardwired to their geopolitical and economic interests and will not dissipate because of one trip. Indeed, it is more accurate to think of Russia and China as “frenemies,” apparent friends due to their disagreements with other countries but in reality rivals with very different ideas on how the neighborhood should be run.
The relationship between China and Russia has been the subject of increasing interest over the past three years, as cooperation has appeared to intensify across a broad range of issues. The Chinese President’s attendance at the Victory Day celebrations in Moscow may have been the most ostentatious manifestation of this growing closeness, but more concrete measures such as the joint Russian-Chinese naval exercises in the Mediterranean last week are more telling for where the relationship might go. China has also been a willing (and the largest) backer of the new “BRICS Bank,” a brainchild of Russia that has been seen as a way to “chip away” at America’s financial hegemony
Moreover, as the world’s fastest growing economy, China also has an intense and sustained need for energy. According to the U.S. Defense Department, China imported 60 percent of its oil in 2014 and is projected to import 80 percent by 2035. This reality that explains why Russia is an attractive partner for China, even as the Russian economy moves more and more towards being a mono-economy, dependent upon natural resources.
For a very different take, read “The real meaning of Xi Jinping’s visit to Moscow“
Russia has played up this aspect of the partnership, with energy concerns playing a central role during the visit of Xi Jinping to Moscow at the beginning of May. With markets in Europe seeking to break their dependence on Russian energy, it is vital for Russia to find new consumers elsewhere.
But perhaps the most important reason that Russia has looked to its eastern neighbor has been for support of its own territorial ambitions. With the heavy-handed Russian approach to Moldova and Georgia and the continuing slow-motion “invasion” of Ukraine (and the corresponding backlash from Europe), Putin has looked elsewhere for friends who would not be so judgmental.
the Chinese conquest and incorporation of Tibet pre-dates Russia’s re-establishment of control over Chechnya by 50 years, and Chinese territorial claims throughout the South China Sea mean Beijing is in no mood to counter Russia’s own regional aspirations
And China certainly has no reason to cast aspersions on Russia: the Chinese conquest and incorporation of Tibet pre-dates Russia’s re-establishment of control over Chechnya by 50 years, and Chinese territorial claims throughout the South China Sea mean Beijing is in no mood to counter Russia’s own regional aspirations. However, China is also conflicted by Russia’s actions in Ukraine, as the referendum in Crimea could set a dangerous precedent for Tibet or the Uighurs in Xinjiang to have their own secessionist vote and attempt to leave the People’s Republic.
Regardless of this tension, for the most part China has been somewhat supportive of Russia’s Ukrainian policy. Much has been made in the Russian media regarding China’s abstention in the UN vote condemning the Russian annexation of Crimea, with Putin himself taking this abstention as a clear sign of China’s support. More directly in support of Russia, China has been vocally against the imposition of sanctions by the EU, and state media has pointedly not criticized Russia’s military incursions.
However, ambiguity still remains on China’s true stance, with continuous “clarifications” from the Foreign Ministry and seemingly contradictory support for Russia’s interests while at the same time championing non-interference. The takeaway from the entire affair appears to be that China deplores the idea of the West telling anyone what to do, while not necessarily believing that Russia’s invasion is in and of itself a good idea.
Traveling the Silk Road together or alone?
While Ukraine may showcase common interests between Russia and China, there is a marked divergence of economic and geopolitical interests in relation to the landlocked and politically immature countries of Central Asia. Where broader sentiments against the West may converge far from China’s shores, there is more potential for friction between the two countries in each other’s backyards.
Moscow should rightly regard Beijing as a competitor in the Central Asia for several reasons, with the biggest one related to economics. The Russian (and in many cases, still the Soviet) economic model has failed the region for a century, spawning only backwardness and political repression.
With China’s vibrant economy and ready capital next door, and Russia’s economy in freefall after military conflict in Ukraine, the Chinese model of political centralization but economic decentralization may look much more attractive to the leaders of Uzbekistan or Tajikistan. And China has proven itself as more adept in penetrating these markets, becoming the region’s largest trading partner as of 2013.
Perhaps aware of this economic challenge to its moribund economy, Russia has not been making it easier for the countries of Central Asia to enjoy the benefits of proximity to China. The Moscow-led Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) has created extra barriers to trade and in-migration with Kazakhstan, a country that has benefited from China mightily over the past decade, and Kyrgyzstan’s recent acquiescence to the EEU means it too is likely to erect unnecessary barriers to life with China.
Thus far, Russia has ignored advice for the EEU to be more liberal in relation to China (and in general), although there has been some discussion on creating an EEU-China Free Trade Agreement. Such a move would be incredibly beneficial for consumers in the EEU, but is unlikely to bolster Russia’s political prospects any further, as China’s economic dominance in the region will likely increase.
In regards to security issues, Russia and China also display some disagreements, although they have not been as pronounced as China has been fairly deferential to Russia’s position in the region (preferring to operate through the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, or SCO, rather than bilaterally). In particular, Russia and China are in agreement about the rise of Islamic terrorism in the region, but there is also some divergence on the strategies.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, gestures while speaking with Chinese President Xi Jinping, second left, watching the Victory Parade marking the 70th anniversary of the surrender of Nazi Germany in World War II, in Red Square, Moscow, on May 9. Photo: AP
China has less of a fear of American presence in Central Asia, while Russia believes it can take on the issues by itself (and has pressured the Central Asian countries, notably Kyrgyzstan, to close American bases in the country). Russia has ramped up its military presence in the region via a training exercise in Tajikistan this past weekend to demonstrate just this point, using as its vehicle the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO). With Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Kazakhstan on board (as well as Armenia and Belarus), Moscow hopes to utilize this organization to help keep the peace in the region.
Others in the region are not so sure, and both Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan has turned to China to upgrade their military, rather than Russia. Uzbekistan in particular has much to lose from increased terrorism, bordering Afghanistan to the north and having fought its own insurgency in the guise of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (which was defeated in part by the U.S. during its intervention in Afghanistan).
China has contributed $4.4 million worth of equipment for Uzbekistan’s border posts and sniper rifles for the military starting as early as 2000. Kazakhstan has also sought some assistance from China in military capacity building, famously mulling the purchase of Chinese drones (although, at time of writing, this had not yet happened). And even the latest member of the EEU, Kyrgyzstan, has conducted bilateral exercises with China (although in 2002), with more recent overtures including $16 million in military aid at the end of 2014.
China may see itself having a partnership with Russia in the region, but it believes it, and not Russia, is the leade
The final point regarding the incipient rivalry between the two countries in Central Asia is probably the one that may cause the most friction: China may see itself having a partnership with Russia in the region, but it believes it, and not Russia, is the leader. While China may have been deferential in the past, the undisputed divergence in economic fortunes, exacerbated by Western sanctions on Russia, may make it bolder and more persistent in its ambitions.
Such a desire could be behind the Chinese championing of a new “Silk Road,” an initiative it is vigorously promoting in order to link its producers with markets in Central Asia and in Europe. Even the joint naval exercises seen last week can be thought of, not as a show of solidarity with Russia, but as a vehicle to push this idea. In this view, Moscow is deluded if it feels that it is bringing China along to help do Russia’s bidding, when the exact opposite may be true.
China does what China wants
In reality, at least in reference to Central Asia (but likely on a host of other issues), China is returning to its Cold War strategy of triangulation between Moscow and Washington. This is clearly not based on some mystical solidarity with Russia or acquiescence to the U.S., but on a cold and hard calculation of China’s geopolitical position.
As Lord Palmerston noted in the 19th century, countries do not have “permanent allies, only permanent interests,” and China sees this more clearly than others. For the future, China will tack towards Russia when it feels it suits its interests, and it will collaborate with the U.S. when that suits itself better.
This means that, unfortunately, neither Moscow nor Washington have much leverage to persuade China conclusively to one side or the other. Russia, having displayed its disregard for international law, may have the upper hand is supporting China in its territorial disputes, as it is unbound by diplomatic niceties and pieties. But, as noted, Russia has its own ambitions in Central Asia that definitely do not converge with China.
Similarly, the U.S. is the only country with the logistical and financial ability to effectively combat Islamic terrorism in the Middle East and Central Asia (whether President Obama is serious about this is another question); and while the U.S. economy remains fragile under years of harmful policies, it still remains a formidable force on the world stage. But Washington has its own ideas about the way disputes should be resolved in the South China Sea, which put them into direct opposition to Beijing.
Trust as part of a world that only exists in stories and for some fortunate babies, for the adult world has lost it.
As Far as babies are concerned, they can be viewed from different angles and various aspects. The variations of experimentations performed on such humble human beings can be infinite but the results which they share converge to a single point Happiness.
Yes, to make sure that this happy doze is provided to them on a daily basis, many parents have now started to employ different Baby Games. The desire owing to the genetic reasons may differ from one baby to another, but they all seemed to be arguing for the attainment of quality entertainment. The crying habit of the babies is not at all difficult to apprehend. This can be easily acknowledged, when their crying appetites take into consideration. Not every time they are hurting voice are an indication of hunger, sleep or poo-poo, sometimes the baby cries at the top of his voice, demanding only an…
View original post 117 more words
Effective Solutions in Urbanization & Metropolitanization
Let us ask the question, what opportunities are being created for the citizens of South Africa to be part of the economic growth in Sub Saharan Africa between now and 2030. In 1994 there was real change that has slowly stalled and now the hopes and dreams of many millions of citizens have turned into the shattered reality of the current situation. According to a recent McKinsey report urbanization is confused with improved quality of life and that at least 72% of Africans live in cities, live in slums.
There has been a growing global trend for rural inhabitants to move away and into urban areas for various reasons such as and not limited to better access to employment, health and education services and an improved standard of living. If we are to see this trend in Africa, then surely it would be prudent for urban planners and other government departments to provide real solutions for the urban populations. Infrastructure development and the allocation today of a percentage of GDP towards education and health services, water and sanitation would be a start.
Let’s take agriculture as a case in point: According to the International Fund for Agricultural Development, there are 500 million smallholder farmers in the world. Smallholder farmers provide up to 80 percent of the food supply in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. And about two-thirds of the 1.2 billion people now surviving on US$1.25 a day or less live in rural areas that are largely dependent on small-scale agriculture. Can we improve the education of these farmers and lift their production rate without placing strain on the environment and the ecosystem and in doing so lift their standard of living through an increase in wages/income.
Now if our estimated global population growth trajectory is accurate the global population will be around nine billion by 2030 (estimated by others to be 2050) and Africa will double by 2050. There are benefits for government in taking a proactive stance in policy making and in planning for the tomorrow with effective solutions. In many cases, these farmers can double their productivity and output together with their income, through access to tools and technology available today within the private sector. More importantly, by improving smallholder farmer productivity and their access to markets by working with the private sector, incomes will be generated and will go a long way to solving poverty.
In a previous article I made mention of the South African National Development Plan and I would like to focus here again on this plan. If we look at independent data, the projected population by 2030 of South Africa will be 66,000,000. The current estimated population of South Africa is 52,900,000 and so there must be effective planning undertaken by the current and by successive governments if we are to see an improvement in the standard of living for the citizens of South Africa.
One example here to review is that of Gauteng, one of the nine provinces, that currently has a population of approximately 12,500,000 people and it is estimated that by 2050 that figure will rise to 23,100,000 people. This province has the highest density ranking and so I have highlighted it here as it will have the greatest demands in addressing the MDGs. Increasing the affordability and access to quality education is an effective solution to alleviating poverty and this must be a priority for government for this province.
Gauteng produces approximately 10% of the total GDP of Sub Saharan Africa and yet has 8.4% of residents aged 20 and over have received no schooling, 11.2% have had some primary, 5.5% have completed only primary school, 34.3% have had some high education, 28.0% have finished only high school, and 12.6% have an education higher than the high school level. Overall, 40.6% of residents have completed high school, 25.8% of the population aged 15–65 is unemployed.
From these figures one can see that the lack of education is evident and it is a belief, widely held by educational academics, that education is one way of alleviating poverty – median annual income of working adults aged 15–65 is R 23 539 ($3,483). Males have a median annual income of R 24 977 ($3,696) versus R 20 838 ($3,083) for females. I will use just one example below to highlight the point of the correlation between lack of education, poverty and the standard of living.
Alexandra, Gauteng, with a population of 166,000. However, some estimates place the number closer to 470,000 as the population has grown after the fall of apartheid and the rise of people seeking jobs as immigration from other parts of Africa is on the rise. Alexandra is located northeast of the Johannesburg city center situated on the Jukskei River and covers 8 square kilometers. Originally planned to be a vibrant community this area turned into low-income developments with 7,500 formal homes and roughly 20,000 shacks. The people and their plight is something we do not think of when simple things such as electricity and plumbing is common to us, but relatively uncommon to those who reside in the slums.
According to UN-Habitat, besides Johannesburg, Gauteng comprises Pretoria, Vereeniging, Benoni, Krugersdorp and their surrounding areas, with a total of 23 municipalities and is the headquarters for most of South Africa’s large corporations, banks and other financial and business activities. It is estimated that by 2020, Gauteng will be an urban region of 20 million people. It would make sense that government and non-government leaders huddle and make plans for the future, to bring about real and effective social change through the improvement and access to quality education for the citizens of this province.
Likewise, the other provinces could review and adopt the same or a similar model of providing this and other services, but for this article it is education which is the focus. In 2015, the urban slum population in Africa is likely to reach 332 million. There are other societal benefits for addressing population growth and the rural migration to urban areas and improving the standard of living through education, such as a stabilizing and or the reduction in the crime rate. South African homicide rates remain exceptionally high – higher than any other country that submits crime statistics to Interpol. A SAPS performance report reveals that over 21,400 cases of murder, nearly 540,000 cases of rape and over 116,700 cases of serious robbery were recorded in 2000/2001.
Increasing youth crime has serious implications, particularly in Africa where over two thirds of many cities’ populations are between the ages of 12 and 25. Most of these young people live in informal settlements without basic facilities, services and security. South Africa has one of the highest rates of violence against women in the world. Tackling these challenges will not be an easy task, and it will require good governance and transparency to bring about the required change. Corruption is pervasive in Africa and a previous article reviewed the KPMG report into South African fraud and corruption which is now systemic in government.
Equitable quality learning is one way to bring about this change. Skills are the key way in which education reduces poverty. Education makes it more likely for men and women not just to be employed, but to hold jobs that are more secure and provide good working conditions and decent pay. In so doing, education can not only help lift households out of poverty, but also guard against them falling – or falling back – into poverty. Low quality education reinforces this problem, as parents are less willing to bear those costs if they cannot see the benefits of education.
Demographic change has a profound impact on the direction of public policy and the development of a country. As the population increases nationally and or provincially, policymakers will be compelled to meet the service needs of a larger population in areas like healthcare, education, employment or basic infrastructure needs. The importance of aligning policy planning to cover all possibilities and contingencies cannot be overemphasized in the current context in South Africa.
Understanding the dynamics of population change and by government adopting and implementing policy that is proactive in its approach to the challenge of Urbanization & Metropolitanization, South Africa will move towards a better tomorrow for all of its citizens.
“Children of today are the leaders of tomorrow and education is a very important weapon to prepare children for their future roles as leaders of the community”. Nelson Mandela