Chinese premier calls for closer SCO cooperation in security, trade, regional connectivity

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang attends the 16th meeting of the Council of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Heads of Government (Prime Ministers) in Sochi, Russia, Dec. 1, 2017

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on Friday urged the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) member countries to enhance cooperation in security, trade liberalization and inter-connectivity, so as to maintain stability and promote growth in the region.

Addressing the prime ministers’ meeting in Russia’s coastal city of Sochi, Li proposed that the SCO member countries should approve an anti-extremism treaty at an early date to better safeguard the region.

“The SCO members should speed up the process in their respective countries to have the document approved and taken effect as soon as possible,” Li said.

The SCO anti-extremism treaty was signed by eight member countries in June’s Astana summit in Kazakhstan, but it will come into force with approvals in the member countries, namely China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, India and Pakistan.

Security is the basic foundation for development, Li said, calling for further regional security cooperation under the common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security concept.

In order to prevent the backflow of terror groups, the SCO members should promote security cooperative mechanism, and deepen cooperation in the fields of information exchanges, training and security protection in large-scale events, Li said.

He also suggested the establishment of a regional center to address security challenges and threats, and to augment cooperation in drug control and fighting cross-border crimes.

The two-day SCO meeting among heads of government is the first of its kind after the organisation’s membership expansion in June to include India and Pakistan.

In the face of an improving world economic and global trade, Li proposed that the SCO members should further promote trade liberalization and facilitation.

China “proposes to accelerate consultations on signing a SCO agreement on trade facilitation, conduct a feasibility study of the SCO Free Trade Area in due course, and gradually establish institutional arrangements for regional economic cooperation,” Li said.

The premier called on the SCO members to support cross-border e-commerce development and strengthen service trade among themselves.

Meanwhile, Li called for better and faster strategic alignments among the SCO members, saying China is willing to jointly handle challenges and promote regional stability and prosperity with other countries.

From theory and planning to practical implementations, cooperation in strategic alignments between China and other SCO members has come to a new stage, Li said.

Development is regarded as an effective way to settle regional conflicts and instability, Li said, adding that the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative is a platform for practical cooperation instead of a geopolitical tool.

Besides, Li called for joint efforts to accelerate the process of regional connectivity by promoting integration in planning and technical standard systems to raise efficiency in transportation industry.

He urged the members to advance regional infrastructure construction in such fields as transportation, energy, information and communication networks.

Li also proposed to boost cooperation in industrial production capacity, investment facilitation, and between the SCO members in the industries of clean energy, green economy, geoscience and aerospace.

Furthermore, Li encouraged the member countries to consolidate people-to-people exchanges and continuously promote communications and cooperation in education, culture, science and technology, healthcare, environmental protection, tourism and the younger generations.

Prime ministers and government representatives from the SCO member countries also participated in the conference. They spoke highly of the good momentum and great potential for development of the organization.

They said regional security and economic development are in line with the common interests of all member countries.

Under the “Shanghai Spirit” featuring mutual trust, mutual benefit, equality, consultation, respect for cultural diversity and pursuit of common development, the SCO members should strengthen strategic alignments, and push forward inter-connectivity and regional trade integration, they said.

They pledged to offer supportive policies to enterprises and help them participate in regional economic cooperation.

 

Source: Xinhua Editor: Han Jing

China not happy with Australian foreign policy white paper

@ascorrespondent

CHINA’s foreign ministry has publicly rebuked “irresponsible remarks” regarding the South China Sea in an Australian white paper released this week, a document which warned of China’s rising regional influence and highlighted the need to bolster ties with “like-minded” partners.

The 115-page 2017 Foreign Policy White Paper argued that a more insular United States would be detrimental to a global “rules-based order”

“Australia believes that international challenges can only be tackled effectively when the world’s wealthiest, most innovative and most powerful country is engaged in solving them,” read the paper, which is a guide for Australian diplomacy.

“Powerful drivers are converging in a way that is reshaping the international order and challenging Australia’s interests,” it said – seemingly a thinly veiled allusion to the rise of China.

The Asian hegemon is Australia’s largest trading partner, however the country has remained concerned about the political influence of the Chinese Communist Party. China, meanwhile, is suspicious of Australia’s close military relationship with the United States.

Australia warned in the paper of risks it faces, particularly in the “Indo-Pacific region” due to a shift in the balance of power.

It highlighted the South China Sea as a “major fault line in the regional order”, and said it was “particularly concerned by the unprecedented pace and scale” of China’s land reclamation and construction activities in the disputed waters.

Responding to the white paper on Thursday, Chinese foreign ministry official Lu Kang said that “Australia is not a claimant state of the South China Sea issue and has repeatedly stated that the country does not have any stance on issues of sovereignty disputes.”

Lu urged Australia to keep its promise and stop making “irresponsible remarks” on the issue, reported the Chinese English-language daily Global Times.

An opinion piece also published on Thursday in the Global Times – the international mouthpiece of the Chinese Communist Party –criticised the white paper, stating that it “reveals Australia’s anxiety”.

“Australia is geographically distant from China, but it has been trying to get involved in the disputes that China has with its neighboyring countries. It has called on the US to play a balancing role and incited China’s neighbours to adopt a tough attitude toward China,” said the article.

While the Australian government recognised the economic benefits from China’s rise, it was also trying to “wish China away”, said Jane Golley, deputy director at the Australian Centre on China in the World, Australian National University.

“To actually drop the word ‘Asia’ from ‘Asia-Pacific’ undoes three decades of diplomatic effort,” Golley said, referring to the use of the phrase “Indo-Pacific” which came up 120 times in the paper. “Asia-Pacific” was not used once.

The United States and some of its allies have recently been talking up their vision of the “Indo-Pacific”, instead of the “Asia-Pacific”, in a play on words aimed at undermining the influence of China.

“There is a small reference to China’s geo-economic strategy in the paper but the emphasis is on the tensions that could create, rather than the economic benefits,” Golley said.

Relations between Australia and China sank to a low point this year after Australia rejected high-profile Chinese investments, citing “national interest”.

Australia has also shown little enthusiasm for China’s ambitious Belt and Road initiative, which aims to connect China to Europe and beyond with infrastructure projects. The initiative was mentioned just once in the paper.

“We are not embracing the future,” Golley said. “We are holding on to the past and reaching on to the life jacket rather than thinking of building a whole new ship.”
Source: https://asiancorrespondent.com/2017/11/china-not-happy-australian-foreign-policy-white-paper/#2aZFHdl3JuQHAJTL.97

Why communist China’s first foreign military base? Location, Location, Location

By John J. Metzler

UNITED NATIONS — Nearly six hundred years ago, huge Chinese fleets plied the Indian Ocean sailing as far as Arabia and the East African coast.

The epic seaborne expeditions carried out between 1405 and 1432 under Adm. Cheng Ho and during the glorious Ming Dynasty were larger and far more encompassing than subsequent Portuguese and Dutch voyages almost a century later. China’s Imperial Court sought trade, tribute, and exotic treasures, not formal colonization nor religious conversion.

A decade ago, sleek modern vessels of the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN), China’s maritime military arm, joined American, British, and Dutch vessels on UN sanctioned anti-piracy missions off the Somali coast. Modern day Somali pirates, linked to criminal and terrorist networks were attacking merchant shipping. The ongoing anti-piracy efforts have largely stopped the source of piracy.

Now the Beijing government has set up a formal military base on the African continent; the first of its kind by the People’s Republic of China. The base in Djibouti under construction is officially dubbed as a logistics center.

Why Djibouti? Well look at the map.

It’s the geographic Pivot point along the Maritime Silk Road linking the Indian Ocean with Africa and the Middle East. It equally anchors the PRC military’s “string of pearls” bases in Burma, Sri Lanka and Pakistan which seek both to outflank India and to protect China’s petroleum lifeline.

This tiny former French colony sits astride the Bar Al Mandeb, a vital shipping channel connecting Suez in the North with the Red Sea and Indian Ocean in the south.

Djibouti’s geostrategic position is all about location, location, location. Think of Gibraltar or Singapore without the prosperity. Significantly, 80 percent of the world petroleum transits the Indian Ocean via a series of maritime “choke points.” Thus, China’s proximity to the southern reaches of the Red Sea is not coincidental.

Djibouti is a poor country on the Horn of Africa dependent on leasing military base facilities to the United States and France and now China. The Chinese base under construction stands only three miles from a U.S. facility Camp Lemonnier, which hosts 4,000 American military personnel. China is equally investing $185 million in Djibouti’s commercial seaport.
Currently there are one million Chinese civilians working on infrastructural projects in Africa
such as railroads, roads and ports in Kenya and Ethiopia. There’s also a spate of small commercial enterprises. In 2015 when Yemen fell into civil war, Chinese navy ships evacuated Chinese citizens who were marooned in Aden and brought them to safety in Djibouti.

China maintains a close commercial partnership with both Angola and Sudan. It’s largely about oil exports to fuel China’s economy. The new Djibouti base is near the southern reaches of the Red Sea guarding the sea route from Port Sudan. China is Africa’s largest trading partner with over $160 billion in commerce.

Beijing’s growing footprint on the African continent comes in parallel to China’s widening commitment to UN Peacekeeping operations. While the PRC’s attitude towards peacekeeping was once ambivalent, in the past decade, China has become a significant financial donor and troop contributor to the UN’s far-flung peacekeeping operations.

Currently China has over 2,500 forces in the field in South Sudan and Mali among others. Most of the troops are engineering units. China is now the largest Peacekeeping contributor of the UN Security Council’s powerful five permanent members, Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States.

The state run China Daily newspaper stresses the logistical role of the new Djibouti base but adds tellingly the facility shall “fuel its expanding naval presence in the world that is for the purpose of safeguarding its expanded overseas interests and world peace.” In other words provide logistical support for Beijing’s expanding military mission in the Indian Ocean.

China’s ambitious Maritime Silk Route is developing in parallel with her military’s growing capacity for force projection. Djibouti is one of those pieces that fits into the larger puzzle of the PRC’s geo-strategic chess game.

John J. Metzler is a United Nations correspondent covering diplomatic and defense issues. He is the author of Divided Dynamism the Diplomacy of Separated Nations: Germany, Korea, China (2014). [See pre-2011 Archives]

Source: http://www.worldtribune.com/why-communist-chinas-first-foreign-military-base-location-location-location/

Education – China Heads New Alliance of Asian Universities

 

China has organized an alliance of Asian universities to compete with western educational institutions. The alliance will share resources and increase exchanges of students and teachers.

The new organization is called the Asian University Alliance (AUA). It was launched in late April at Tsinghua University in Beijing. The Chinese university was elected as chair of the group that includes a total of 15 universities from 14 countries and areas.

A goal of increasing ‘Asian wisdom’

China’s Vice Premier Liu Yandong spoke at opening ceremonies at of the AUA on Saturday in Beijing. She said the new organization was important to China.

Liu said the educational alliance will provide “Asian wisdom to resolve regional and global problems. She added that the group will combine “outstanding global talents with an international perspective and to serve regional development.”

Other universities included in the alliance are Peking University, the University of Tokyo, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, the National University of Singapore, and Seoul National University in South Korea.

The Indian Institute of Technology in Mumbai, King Saudi University in Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates University, Malaysia’s University of Malaya and the University of Indonesia are also in the group.

Others members of the alliance are the University of Yangon in Myanmar, the University of Colombo in Sri Lanka, Chulalongkorn University of Thailand, and Nazarbayev University of Kazakhstan.

People who attended the first board meeting of the AUA confirmed that Tsinghua University has offered to fund the organization with $1.5 million dollars. Members currently pay a fee of $5,000.

Rankings and research seen as very important

The goal of the group is to help Asian schools rise in the world rankings. The top universities in the world are mainly in western developed nations like the United States and Britain.

High rankings are important to attract research money from private business and international organizations. Rankings also help in attracting the best teachers and students from around the world.

Tan Eng Chye is Deputy President and Provost of the National University of Singapore. He said, “Ranking is invariably based more on research because, if you look at educational outcomes, it is harder to gauge.”

He also said research spending is important. “And if you pool in a lot of money into research, then, I think, you will go up quite quickly (in the rankings).”

Tan said that governments should play an important part in funding research. Only five percent of the research has an immediate application, he said. So industry often does not want to support the other 95 percent that does not lead to new products immediately.

The desire to pool research and develop a greater exchange of students and teachers caused several Asian universities to join the AUA.

“This alliance will help us refocus on Asian universities in a lot of areas like student mobility, faculty exchange, and joint research,” said Prasanna M. Mujumdar, director of IIT, Bombay.

China could gain from reducing its dependence on western institutions for high technology and it is looking towards Asian universities.

Some observers compare the move to China’s creation of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank in 2014. The bank has increased China’s leadership position in Asia and expanded its international influence.

I’m Mario Ritter.

Saibal Dasgupta reported this story for VOA News. Mario Ritter adapted it for VOA Learning English. Hai Do was the editor.

Source:

http://learningenglish.voanews.com/a/china-heads-new-alliance-of-asian-universities/3838325.html

Kissinger – “Triangular Diplomacy” Mk 2?

US political scientist and former diplomat Henry Kissinger has endorsed Trump’s pragmatic approach toward Russia. However, there are questions as to what really lies behind Kissinger’s turn toward Moscow and whether the US establishment will lend its sympathetic ear to Kissinger’s advice or continue to throw sand in Trump’s gears

 

Henry Kissinger, former US Secretary of State and ex-Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs, believes that Washington and Moscow should turn towards each other and start a serious dialogue.

Speaking at the Davos Economic Forum Friday, the former American diplomat praised the “less confrontational and more political approach” toward Russia demonstrated by US President Donald Trump.

Russia Has ‘Secured the Equilibrium of the World’ Many Times

“President Trump has indicated that he would favor a less confrontational and more political approach [toward Russia]. I agree with the general attitude,” he pointed out.

“I think Russia is a country with a very special history, of eleven times zones, touching Asia, the Middle East and Europe. Its impact on all these areas is considerable. It has been the cause of many tensions but also securedthe equilibrium of the world in the face of challenges from Asia and from various countries in Europe,” Kissinger emphasized.

The US politician expressed hope that an effort will be made to achieve a serious dialogue in order to avoid “a drift towards confrontation.” He underscored that Europe, America and Russia need to come to some agreement “about the limits within which military pressure is carried out.”

“That is, what I think, one of the major tasks of the new administration,” Kissinger stressed.

In the past few years the former American diplomat has repeatedly advocated establishing working relations between the US and Russia, and with good reason.

As Kissinger noted in his op-ed for The National Interest, “in the emerging multipolar order, Russia should be perceived as an essential element of any new global equilibrium.”

In his recent Davos speech, Kissinger reiterated that the global order the US and EU were familiar with is fading away.

“One of the key problems of our period is that the international order with which we were familiar is disintegrating in some respects, and that new elements from Asia and the developing world are entering it,” Kissinger pointed out Friday.

In light of this, it is no surprise that Kissinger sees Trump’s approach toward Russia largely as a step in the right direction.

Kissinger as Trump’s ‘Informal Foreign Policy Adviser’

Furthermore, German newspaper Bild reported that the former American diplomat has taken on the role of Trump’s informal foreign policy adviser.

Citing information obtained by Western European intelligence from Trump’s transition team, the German newspaper  wrote in late December that Kissinger has repeatedly met with Trump in the past couple of months and that the White House is likely to go for “constructive cooperation” with the Kremlin.

In early January 2017, citing officials with Trump’s transition team, Eli Lake of Bloomberg disclosed that since the election, the veteran diplomat has been counselling incoming National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and his team, citing officials with Trump’s transition team.

But that’s half the story. According to Lake, it was Kissinger who urged Trump to nominate Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State and recommended his former assistant K.T. McFarland to be Flynn’s deputy.

“Kissinger is one of the few people in Trump’s orbit who can get him on the phone whenever he wants, according to one transition adviser,” Lake noted.

Possible US-Russian Thaw: A Positive Step or Part of Kissinger’s Broader Plan?

Vladimir Batyuk, a senior expert at the Institute for US and Canadian Studies at the Russian Academy of Sciences, believes that Kissinger’s involvement in shaping a potential détente between Moscow and Washington is very possible and that is good news.

“Kissinger could have been involved in the development of a new conception of US-Russia ties because he has already played the role of an unofficial mediator between Moscow and Washington. He is very well-respected in the US and Russia. And he deserves his reputation,” Batyuk told RIA Novosti.

“Such a classic of political realism could help overcome the deadlock in relations between the US and Russia,” he stressed.

However, Brazilian journalist Pepe Escobar argues that Kissinger’s plan is actually aimed at intervening in the Sino-Russian rapprochement, which he believes presents a major foreign policy dilemma for the US.

“I have argued that Trump’s foreign policy guru Henry Kissinger’s strategy to deal with the formidable Eurasia integration trio — Russia, China and Iran — is a remixed Divide and Rule; seduce Russia away from its strategic partnership with China, while continuing to harass the weakest link, Iran… In fact that’s how it’s already playing out,” Escobar emphasized in a recent op-ed for Sputnik.

It appears that Escobar’s concerns are not completely groundless, given the controversial role Kissinger played in driving the USSR and China apart in the 1970s. That strategy became known as “triangular diplomacy.”

John Pomfret of the Washington Post has called attention to the fact that 45 years ago Kissinger had managed to pit Moscow and Beijing one against the other by placing an emphasis on closer cooperation with the Chinese. The journalist asked whether Trump will adopt a similar strategy, this time “making a ‘pivot’ toward Moscow, and away from Beijing.”

Interestingly enough, less honey-tongued and more frank US geostrategist Zbigniew Brzezinski openly speaks about the necessity to drive a wedge between China and Russia.

“The US must be wary of the great danger that China and Russia could form a strategic alliance, generated in part by their own internal, political, and ideological momentum, and in part by the poorly thought out policies of the United States,” Brzezinski said in his speech at the Nobel Peace Prize Forum in Oslo, Norway, in December 2016.

“Nothing is more dangerous to the US than such a close connection,” Brzezinski highlighted.

Source:

The Eurasian Century Is NOW Unstoppable

The transfer of the geopolitical center of gravity to Eurasia is something the West will have to get used to

 

William Engdahl is strategic risk consultant and lecturer, he holds a degree in politics from Princeton University and is a best-selling author on oil and geopolitics, “New Eastern Outlook


I recently returned from a fascinating two week speaking tour in China. The occasion was the international premier of my newest book, One Belt, One Road–China and the New Eurasian Century.

In the course of my visit I was invited by China’s Northwest University in Xi’an to give a lecture and seminar on the present global political and economic situation in the context of China’s New Economic Silk Road as the One Belt, One Road project is often called.

What I’ve seen in my many visits to China, and have studied about the entirety of this enormously impressive international infrastructure project convinces me that a Eurasian Century at this point is unstoppable.

The idiotic wars of the Washington war-hawks and their military industry–in Syria, in Ukraine, Libya, Iraq and now the South China Sea provocations against China–are not going to stop what is now clearly the most impressive and economically altering project in more than a century.

The term “American Century” was triumphantly proclaimed in a famous editorial in Life magazine in 1941 in the early phase of World War II, before the United States had even entered the war, to describe the system publisher Henry Luce saw dominating the postwar world after the fall of the rival British Empire.

The American Century has lasted a mere seven decades if we date from the end of the war. Its record has been one of dismal failure on balance. The industrial base of the United States, the predominant leading industrial nation and leading scientific innovator, today is a hollowed, rotted shell with once-booming cities like Detroit or Philadelphia or Los Angeles now burned-out ghettos of unemployed and homeless.

The Federal Debt of the United States, owing to the endless wars its Presidents engage in, as well as the fruitless bailouts of Wall Street banks and Government Sponsored Enterprises like Fannie Mae, is well over 103% of GDP at an astonishing $19.5 trillion, or more than $163,000 per taxpaying American and Washington is adding to the debt this year at near $600 billion. Countries like China and Russia are moving away from subsidizing that debt at a record pace.

America’s economic basic infrastructure–bridges, sewer and water treatment plants, electric grid, railways, highways–have been neglected for more than four decades for a variety of reasons.

The American Society of Civil Engineers recently estimated that gross domestic product will be reduced by $4 trillion between 2016 and 2025 because of lost business sales, rising costs and reduced incomes if the country continues to underinvest in its infrastructure. That is on top of the fact that they estimate the country at present urgently requires new infrastructure investment of $3.3 trillion by the coming decade just to renew.

Yet US states and cities are not able to finance such an investment in the future in the present debt situation, nor is the debt-choked Federal Government, so long as a cartel of corrupt brain-dead Wall Street banks and financial funds hold America to ransom.

This is the sunset for the American Century, a poorly disguised imperial experiment in hubris and arrogance by a gaggle of boring old patriarchs like David Rockefeller and his friends on Wall Street and in the military industry. It is the starkest contrast to what is going on to the east, across all Eurasia today.

Flowing the Thought to Transform

The Eurasian Century is the name I give to the economic emergence of the countries contiguous from China across Central Asia, Russia, Belarus, Iran and potentially Turkey. They are being integrally linked through the largest public infrastructure projects in modern history, in fact the most ambitious ever, largely concentrated on the 2013 initiative by Chinese President Xi Jinping called the One Belt, One Road initiative or OBOR.

The project and its implications for Europe and the rest of the world economy have been so far greeted in the west with a stone silence that defies explanation.

It’s been now three years that have transpired since then-new Chinese President Xi Jinping made one of his first foreign visits to Kazakhstan where he discussed the idea of building a vast, modern network of high-speed train lines crossing the vast Eurasian land space from the Pacific coast of China and Russia through Central Asia into Iran, into the states of the Eurasian Economic Union, principally Russia and potentially on to the select states of the European Union.

That initial proposal was unveiled in detail last year by the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), China’s economic planning organization, and the ministries of Foreign Affairs and Commerce.

It’s a useful point to look now more closely at what has transpired to date. It reveals most impressive developments, more because the development process is creative and organic. The great project is no simple blueprint made by the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China and then simply imposed, top down, across the so-far 60 countries of Eurasia and South East Asia.

An international conference was recently held in Xi’an, origin of the ancient version of One Belt, One Road, namely the Silk Road. The purpose of the international gathering was to review what has so far taken place.

It’s fascinating, notably, in the care that’s being taken by China to do it in a different way, as indications so far are, different from the way American Robber Barons like Cornelius Vanderbilt, E.H. Harriman, Jay Gould or Russell Sage built rail monopolies and deluded and defrauded investors with railroad monopolies more than a century ago.

The seminar, titled the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI): Shared Memory and Common Development, on September 26th, brought together over 400 participants from more than 30 countries including government officials, universities, corporations, think tanks and media.

A key role is being played by Renmin University of China’s Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies to identify progress and problems of the OBOR project. Their report in Xi’an presented principles underlying the OBOR international project: It adheres to the principles of the UN Charter; it is completely open for new participant nations to cooperate; it will follow market rules and seek mutual benefit of participating countries.

Those are noble words. What’s more interesting is the flow process underway to realize such words and to build the mammoth game-changing infrastructure.

Notably, China’s Xi Jinping decided to encourage input from sources other than the state central planning agency or the Communist Party for the complex OBOR. He encouraged creation of private and independent think-tanks to become a source of new creative ideas and approaches.

Today there is a Chinese Think Tank Cooperation Alliance group coordinating efforts around OBOR headed by the dean of the Renmin University. In turn they partner with think tanks along the OBOR route including think tanks in Iran, Turkey, India, Nepal, Kazakhstan and other countries.

There will be two main routes of the OBOR. On land there are several routes or corridors in work. The Initiative will focus on jointly building what is being called a new Eurasian Land Bridge from China via Kazakhstan on to Rotterdam. Other OBOR land rail corridors include developing China-Mongolia-Russia, China-Central Asia-West Asia, China-Pakistan, Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar, and China-Indochina Peninsula economic corridors.vThis is huge.

It will build on international transport routes, relying on core cities along the OBOR route and using key economic industrial parks as “cooperation platforms.”

At sea, the Initiative will focus on jointly building smooth, secure and efficient transport routes connecting major sea ports along the “Belt and Road” including modern upgraded super port construction that will link present China ports at Haikou and Fujian with Kuala Lumpur’s port in Malaysia at the Malacca Strait passage, Calcutta in India, Nairobi in Kenya and via the Suez Canal to Athens and beyond. Crucial is that land and sea parts of OBOR are seen as one whole circulatory system or flow of trade.

The OBOR Initiative will link key Eurasian ports with interior rail and pipeline infrastructure in a way not before seen

To date China has signed memoranda of understanding with 56 countries and regional organizations regarding OBOR. Since his initial proposal in 2013, President Xi Jinping has personally visited 37 countries to discuss implementation of OBOR. China Railway Group and China Communications Construction Company have signed contracts for key routes and ports in 26 countries.

Power plants, electricity transmission facilities and oil and gas pipelines, covering 19 countries along the “Belt and Road” in some 40 energy projects have begun. China Unicom, China Telecom and China Mobile are speeding up cross-border transmission projects in countries along the “Belt and Road” to expand international telecommunication infrastructure.

Already, taking the full sea and land routes of OBOR, some $3 trillion of China trade since June 2013 has flowed over the route, more than a quarter of China’s total trade volume.

To date China has also invested more than $51 billion in the countries along the present OBOR route. The new land rail routes will greatly reduce transportation costs across Eurasia, enable formerly isolated regions to connect efficiently to sea and land markets and ignite tremendous new economic growth across Eurasia.

The effects of the OBOR are already beginning to appear. Earlier this year an Iranian container ship arrived at Qinzhou Port in China with 978 containers from several countries along the 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road opening the first shipping route linking the Middle East and the Beibu Gulf or Gulf of Tonkin in Vietnamese.

In February 2016 a container train with Chinese goods took only 14 days to complete the 5,900 mile (9,500km) journey from China’s eastern Zhejiang province through Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan.

That was 30 days shorter than the sea voyage from Shanghai to the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas, according to the head of the Iranian railway company. China and Iran, now formally part of the OBOR, have targeted bilateral trade, none in US dollars by the way, to exceed $600 billion in the coming decade.

China is presently in negotiations with 28 countries China is in talks with 28 countries including Russia, on high-speed rail projects, China’s train maker, China CNR reports.

It includes a major joint China-Russia $15 billion high-speed Kazan to Moscow line. The 770 kilometers of track between Moscow and Russia’s Tatarstan capital, Kazan, will cut time for the journey from 12 hours now to just 3.5 hours. China has agreed to invest $6 billion in the project which would become a part of a $100 billion high-speed railway between Moscow and Beijing.

Notably, for the new high-speed track being laid, China is developing a new generation of trains capable of reaching speeds of 400 kilometers per hour. And the new trains will solve the costly rail gauge switching problem between China rails and Russian.

Trains in Russia run on a 1520mm track, compared to the narrower 1435mm track used in Europe and China. Jia Limin, the head of China’s high-speed rail innovation program told China Daily that, “The train… will have wheels that can be adjusted to fit various gauges on other countries’ tracks, compared with trains now that need to have their wheels changed before entering foreign systems.”

Given its strategy of building thousands of kilometers of high-speed railways and developing its domestic Chinese rail sock manufacture as well as other rail technology, China today is the world’s leading producer of rail technology.


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Why the New Silk Roads Terrify Washington

Global Research, October 12, 2016
RT News 7 October 2016

Almost six years ago, President Putin proposed to Germany ‘the creation of a harmonious economic community stretching from Lisbon to Vladivostok.’

This idea represented an immense trade emporium uniting Russia and the EU, or, in Putin’s words, “a unified continental market with a capacity worth trillions of dollars.”

In a nutshell: Eurasia integration.

Washington panicked. The record shows how Putin’s vision – although extremely seductive to German industrialists – was eventually derailed by Washington’s controlled demolition of Ukraine.

Three years ago, in Kazakhstan and then Indonesia, President Xi Jinping expanded on Putin’s vision, proposing One Belt, One Road (OBOR), a.k.a. the New Silk Roads, enhancing the geoeconomic integration of Asia-Pacific via a vast network of highways, high-speed rail, pipelines, ports and fiber-optic cables.

In a nutshell: an even more ambitious version of Eurasia integration, benefiting two-thirds of the world population, economy and trade. The difference is that it now comes with immense financial muscle backing it up, via a Silk Road Fund, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), the BRICS’s New Development Bank (NDB), and an all-out commercial offensive all across Eurasia, and the official entry of the yuan in the IMF’s Special Drawing Rights; that is, the christening of the yuan as a key currency worth holding by every single emerging market central bank.

At the recent G20 in Huangzhou, President Xi clearly demonstrated how OBOR is absolutely central to the Chinese vision of how globalization should proceed. Beijing is betting that the overwhelming majority of nations across Eurasia would rather invest in, and profit from, a “win-win” economic development project than be bogged down in a lose-lose strategic game between the US and China.

And that, for the Empire of Chaos, is absolute anathema. How to possibly accept that China is winning the 21st century / New Great Game in Eurasia by building the New Silk Roads?

And don’t forget the Silk Road in Syria

Few in the West have noticed, as reported by RT, that the G20 was preceded by an Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok. Essentially, that was yet another de facto celebration of Eurasia integration, featuring Russia, China, Japan and South Korea.

And that integration plank will soon merge with the Russia-led Eurasia Economic Union – which in itself is a sort of Russian New Silk Road.

All these roads lead to total connectivity. Take for instance cargo trains that are now regularly linking Guangzhou, the key hub in southeast China, to the logistics center in  Vorsino industrial park near Kaluga. The trip now takes just two weeks – saving no less than a full month if compared with shipping, and around 80 percent of the cost if compared with air cargo.

That’s yet another New Silk Road-style connection between China and Europe via Russia. Still another, vastly more ambitious, will be the high-speed rail expansion of the Transiberian; the Siberian Silk Road.

Then take the closer integration of China and Kazakhstan – which is also a member of the EEU. The duty-free Trans-Eurasia railway is already in effect, from Chongqing in Sichuan across Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus and Poland all the way to Duisburg in Germany. Beijing and Astana are developing a joint free trade zone at Horgos. And in parallel, a $135 million China-Mongolia Cross-Border Economic Cooperation Zone started to be built last month.

Kazakhstan is even flirting with the ambitious idea of a Eurasian Canal from the Caspian to the Black Sea and then further on to the Mediterranean. Sooner or later Chinese construction companies will come up with a feasibility study.

A virtually invisible Washington agenda in Syria – inbuilt in the Pentagon obsession to not allow any ceasefire to work, or to prevent the fall of its “moderate rebels” in Aleppo – is to break up yet another New Silk Road hub. China has been commercially connected to Syria since the original Silk Road, which snaked through Palmyra and Damascus. Before the Syrian “Arab Spring”, Syrian businessmen were a vital presence in Yiwu, south of Shanghai, the largest wholesale center for small-sized consumer goods in the world, where they would go to buy all sorts of products in bulk to resell in the Levant.

The “American lake”

Neocon/neoliberalcon Washington is totally paralyzed in terms of formulating a response – or at least a counter-proposal – to Eurasia integration. A few solid IQs at least may understand that China’s “threat” to the US is all about economic might. Take Washington’s deep hostility towards the China-driven AIIB (Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank). Yet no amount of hardcore US lobbying prevented allies such as Germany, Britain, Australia and South Korea from joining in.

Then we had the mad dash to approve TPP – the China-excluding, NATO-on-trade arm of the pivot to Asia that was meant to be the cherry of the mostly flat Obama global economic policy cake. Yet the TPP as it stands is practically dead.

What the current geopolitical juncture spells out is the US Navy willing to go no holds barred to stop China from strategically dominating the Pacific, while TPP is deployed as a weapon to stop China dominating Asia-Pacific economically.

With the pivot to Asia configured as a tool to “deter Chinese aggression”, exceptionalists have graphically demonstrated how they are incapable of admitting the whole game is about post-ideological supply chain geopolitics. The US does not need to contain China; what it needs, badly, is key industrial, financial, commercial connection to crucial nodes across Asia to (re)build its economy.

Those were the days, in March 1949, when MacArthur could gloat, “the Pacific is now an Anglo-Saxon lake”. Even after the end of the Cold War the Pacific was a de facto American lake; the US violated Chinese naval and aerial space at will.

Now instead we have the US Army War College and the whole Think Tankland losing sleep over sophisticated Chinese missiles capable of denying US Navy access to the South China Sea. An American lake? No more.

The heart of the matter is that China has made an outstanding bet on infrastructure building – which translates into first-class connectivity to everyone – as the real global 21st century commons, way more important than “security”. After all a large part of global infrastructure still needs to be built. While China turbo-charges its role as the top global infrastructure exporter – from high-speed rail to low-cost telecom – the “indispensable” nation is stuck with a “pivoting”, perplexed, bloated military obsessed with containment.

Divide and rule those “hostile” rivals

Well, things haven’t changed much since Dr. Zbig “Grand Chessboard” Brzezinski dreaming in the late 1990s of a Chinese fragmentation from within, all the way to Obama’s 2015 National Security Strategy, which is no more than futile rhetorical nostalgia about containing Russia, China and Iran.

Thus the basket of attached myths such as “freedom of navigation” – Washington’s euphemism for perennially controlling the sea lanes that constitute China’s supply chain – as well as an apotheosis of “China aggression” incessantly merging with “Russia aggression”;after all, the Eurasia integration-driven Beijing-Moscow strategic partnership must be severed at all costs.

Why? Because US global hegemony must always be perceived as an irremovable force of nature, like death and taxes (Apple in Ireland excluded).

Twenty-four years after the Pentagon’s Defense Planning Guide, the same mindset prevails; “Our first objective is to prevent the reemergence of a new rival…to prevent any hostile power from dominating a region whose resources would, under consolidated control, be sufficient to generate global power. These regions include Western Europe, East Asia, the territory of the former Soviet Union and southwest Asia”.

Oops. Now even Dr. Zbig “Grand Chessboard” Brzezinski is terrified. How to contain these bloody silky roads with Pentagon “existential threats” China and Russia right at the heart of the action? Divide and Rule – what else?

For a confused Brzezinski, the US should

“fashion a policy in which at least one of the two potentially threatening states becomes a partner in the quest for regional and then wider global stability, and thus in containing the least predictable but potentially the most likely rival to overreach. Currently, the more likely to overreach is Russia, but in the longer run it could be China.”

Have a pleasant nightmare.