Iran Vital to China’s Trade Lifelines to Europe, Africa, Middle East


In my post “The US Is Pushing Iran into China’s, Russia’s Arms” the day before yesterday, I asked: Does the US really need so many enemies?

According to my judgment, US President Trump wants to be China’s and Russia’s friends. He wants to exploit the friendship with them for US interests. So far his friendship with China has worked well. China has helped him solve the North Korean problem and promised to reduce US trade deficit by USD70 billion through purchase of more US goods.

Other US politicians and US media do not think so. They want Trump to be very hard on China as they regard China as America’s no. 1 enemy, an enemy trying to replace the US as the dominant world hegemon.

Trump’s withdraw from Iran nuclear deal aims at warning North Korea that if it fails to perform the agreement it has signed, he will take hard measures on it. Iran is his example for North Korea.

It is strange that US politicians and media are so arrogant that they advocate enmity against not only China but also Russia and Iran. Do they believe that the US is now strong enough to deal with the alliance of China, Russia and Iran.

The troubles that the US has in Ukraine, Syria and the South China Sea due to their the de facto alliance between China and Russia have not wakened up them from their arrogant dream.

Now, China will be much benefited by its close ties with Iran due to US pressure on Iran.

On June 10 Bloomberg published Hal Brands’ demonizing article “China’s Master Plan: A Global Military Threat” that shows how deep some Americans have fallen deep into Thucydides Trap. Brands says in the article “Chinese strategists have become acutely aware of the ‘Malacca Dilemma’ — the prospect that the U.S. could severely constrain China’s imports of oil and other critical commodities by interdicting shipping at a few crucial maritime chokepoints.

China’s Belt and Road initiative aims first of all at secure connection to Europe, Africa and especially the Middle East. China has set up rail links with the Middle East and Europe, but the rail transport is of small capacity and much more expensive.

China’s China-Pakistan Economic Corridor provides link with Iran. The pipelines between China’s west and Iran through Pakistan will be a shortcut to replace the shipping from Iran to China’s east through Malacca Strait.

However the shipping from Pakistani port to the Middle East, Europe and Africa may be cut by US Navy. China needs Iran’s air force to protect the shipping. As Iran also needs the smooth shipping for its trade to Europe and Africa and as it regards the US as its dead enemy, Iran will gladly protect Chinese shipping along its coast and through the Suez. China will provide Iran with advanced weapons. Russia will also do so as it has common interests with Iran in the Middle East.

With the Russia, China and Iran iron triangle that the US has helped to establish, there will be no “Malacca dilemma” for China.

Comment by Chan Kai Yee on Bloomberg’s article, full text of which can be viewed at http://www.scmp.com/news/china/diplomacy-defence/article/2149991/xi-jinping-vladimir-putin-hail-all-time-high-ties-sign.

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Iran says it has offered Pakistan and China participation in India’s Chabahar project


Shailaja Neelakantan
Updated: Mar 13, 2018, 15:28 IST

NEW DELHI: In what may come as a shock to India, Iran said yesterday it offered Pakistan and China participation in the Chabahar project, a port that is being built by India for the express purpose of bypassing Pakistan.

Pakistan’s Dawn newspaper reported today that Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif yesterday invited Pakistan to participate in Chabahar seaport project + and in the development of its link with the Gwadar Port “as he sought to allay concerns here (in Pakistan) over Indian involvement in the Iranian port.”

“We offered to participate in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). We have also offered Pakistan and China to participate in Chabahar,” said Zarif, who is on a three-day visit to Pakistan, while delivering a lecture at the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad, said Dawn.

Chabahar is said to be becoming a success story in the India-Iran relationship. The first phase of the Chabahar port in south-east Iran, which India is developing, was inaugurated in December last year. The port opened a new strategic transit route between India, Iran and Afghanistan that bypassed Pakistan. It is expected to cut transport costs/time for Indian goods by a third and likely to ramp up trade among India, Afghanistan and Iran in the wake of Pakistan denying transit access to New Delhi for trade with the two countries.

Given this context, India’s not likely to be pleased with the Iranian foreign minister’s comments. It’s possible though that Zarif was merely making conciliatory remarks. That’s because he went out of his way to assure Pakistan that its ties with India are not in conflict with Islamabad.

Zarif drew a comparison with Pakistan’s ties with Saudi Arabia and said that just like that relationship does not tarnish Islamabad’s ties with Tehran, India’s and Iran’s relationship isn’t going to affect Pakistan negatively, reported Mehr News, an Iranian news agency. He added that the Gwadar port city in Pakistan and Chabahar transit agreement between India, Iran and Afghanistan are “complementary” and not “competitive”.

Source: TIMESOFINDIA.COM “Iran says it has offered Pakistan and China participation in India’s Chabahar project”

Note: This is TIMESOFINDIA.COM’s report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.


The Conundrum of the Importance China Attaches to Afghanistan


Afghnistan is not needed for China’s Belt and Road for connections to Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The connections through Central Asia are better. Why does China want to include Afghanistan in its major Belt and Road project the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor?

In CCP General Secretary Xi Jinping’s 19th congress speech on Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era, he says, “As socialism with Chinese characteristics has entered a new era, the principal contradiction facing Chinese society has evolved. What we now face is the contradiction between unbalanced and inadequate development and the people’s ever-growing needs for a better life. Only when China has resolved that principal contradiction can it attain the goals of building China into a great modern socialist country that is prosperous, strong, democratic, culturally advanced, harmonious, and beautiful by the middle of the century.”

How can China attain that goal? It has to make its development balanced and adequate. Where is its development unbalanced and inadequate? It is its vast west.

China’s vast Xinjiang has an area of 1.6 million square kilometers but has only a population of over 20 million with the population density of 13 per square kilometer. Jiangsu, a very small province of 104,000 square kilometers in China’s eastern coast, however, has a population of more than 55 million with a population density of 526 per square kilometer. Though very small compared with Xinjiang, Jiangsu’s GDP of nearly $700 billion is much bigger than Xinjiang’s $150b in spite of Xinjiang’s rich natural resources.

Xinjiang’s problem is its large deserts. There is the Tarim River in its vast Taklamakan desert of 330,000 square kilometers, but the river cannot provide enough water for farming and people’s livelihood there. However, in history the Tarim River made the Kingdom of Loulan in the now desert area prosperous. Loulan was extinct when it had used up the river’s water. We still can see the good irrigation system in the relics of the Kingdom.

That gives China the idea that if it brings water from Tibet’s Yarlung Zangbo River to Taklamakan desert to greatly increase the water in the Tarim, it can turn the desert soon into habitable farmland and urban areas. People and industries will soon move there to make Xinjiang as prosperous as coastal China.

China’s coastal areas quickly become prosperous due to their access to overseas markets and resources. With express ways, railways and oil and gas pipes through China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and Pakistan’s port of Gwadar, Xinjiang will have better access to the markets and resources in Europe, the Middle East and Africa than China’s coastal areas.

Therefore, for balanced and adequate development in China’s west, Pakistan and Afghanistan are very important in preventing the spread of Islamic extremism to Xinjiang. That is why China has tried hard to improve the relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan in order that they can better tackle the violence in their respective countries. In addition, China has been making efforts to broker peace talks between Afghan government and Taliban militants. For China’s such efforts, including Afghanistan in China-Pakistan Economic Corridor will certainly help as Afghanistan is very poor and needs Chinese investment to help its development.

Article by Chan Kai Yee


Why China and Pakistan Want to Include Afghanistan in China-Pakistan Economic Corridor?


(L to R) Afghan Foreign Minister Salahuddin Rabbani, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Pakistani Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif attend a joint news conference after the 1st China-Afghanistan-Pakistan Foreign Ministers’ Dialogue in Beijing, China, December 26, 2017. REUTERS/Jason Lee

Afghanistan is not needed for China’s connection to the Middle East and Europe. Why then do China and Pakistan want to include it in their CPEC?

China, Afghanistan and Pakistan held their first tripartite dialogue in Beijing on December 26, 2017. The three foreign ministers’ joint press release says, “The three sides reaffirmed their commitment to improving their relations, deepening mutually beneficial cooperation, advancing connectivity under the Belt and Road Initiative, and fighting terrorism in all its forms and manifestations without any distinction. The three Foreign Ministers agreed to jointly work together on political mutual trust and reconciliation, development cooperation and connectivity, security cooperation and counter-terrorism as three topics of the trilateral cooperation.”

In addition, it says, “The three sides agreed to conduct win-win trilateral economic cooperation, with an incremental approach, starting from the easier initiatives to the more difficult ones. The three sides agreed to continue economic development cooperation in areas of mutual interest, and expressed willingness to strengthen people-to-people contacts.”

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said after the first trilateral meeting that China and Pakistan would look at extending their $57 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) to Afghanistan and that he hoped CPEC could benefit the whole region and act as an impetus for development.

Pakistani Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif make it clearer by saying, “The successful implementation of CPEC projects will serve as a model for enhancing connectivity and cooperation through similar projects with neighboring countries, including Afghanistan, Iran and with central and west Asia.”

Iran and central and west Asia are what China wants to include in its Belt and Road initiative. Chinese trade will go through CPEC to Iran on land and go through sea route from Pakistani port of Gwadar along coast of Iran to the Arabian Peninsula and then cross the Red Sea, the Suez Canal and the Mediterranean to Europe.

Moreover, extending CPEC to Afghanistan is very important to prevent the spread of Islamist terrorism from Pakistan and Afghanistan to China’s underdeveloped western region of Xinjiang.

Article by Chan Kai Yee


China, Pakistan to look at including Afghanistan in $57 billion economic corridor


(L to R) Afghan Foreign Minister Salahuddin Rabbani, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Pakistani Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif attend a joint news conference after the 1st China-Afghanistan-Pakistan Foreign Ministers’ Dialogue in Beijing, China, December 26, 2017. REUTERS/Jason Lee

Ben Blanchard December 26, 2017

BEIJING (Reuters) – China and Pakistan will look at extending their $57 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor to Afghanistan, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Tuesday, part of China’s ambitious Belt and Road plan linking China with Asia, Europe and beyond.

China has tried to position itself as a helpful party to promote talks between Pakistan and Afghanistan, both uneasy neighbors ever since Pakistan’s independence in 1947.

Their ties have been poisoned in recent years by Afghan accusations that Pakistan is supporting Taliban insurgents fighting the U.S.-backed Kabul in order to limit the influence of its old rival, India, in Afghanistan.

Pakistan denies that and says it wants to see a peaceful, stable Afghanistan.

Speaking after the first trilateral meeting between the foreign ministers of China, Pakistan and Afghanistan, Wang said China hoped the economic corridor could benefit the whole region and act as an impetus for development.

Afghanistan has urgent need to develop and improve people’s lives and hopes it can join inter-connectivity initiatives, Wang told reporters, as he announced that Pakistan and Afghanistan had agreed to mend their strained relations.

“So China and Pakistan are willing to look at with Afghanistan, on the basis of win-win, mutually beneficial principles, using an appropriate means to extend the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor to Afghanistan,” he added.

How that could happen needs the three countries to reach a gradual consensus, tackling easier, smaller projects first, Wang said, without giving details.

Pakistani Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif said his country and China were “iron brothers”, but did not directly mention the prospect of Afghanistan joining the corridor.

“The successful implementation of CPEC (China-Pakistan Economic Corridor) projects will serve as a model for enhancing connectivity and cooperation through similar projects with neighboring countries, including Afghanistan, Iran and with central and west Asia,” he said.

India has looked askance at the project as parts of it run through Pakistan-administered Kashmir that India considers its own territory, though Wang said the plan had nothing to do with territorial disputes.

China has sought to bring Kabul and Islamabad together partly due to Chinese fears about the spread of Islamist militancy from Pakistan and Afghanistan to the unrest-prone far western Chinese region of Xinjiang.

As such, China has pushed for Pakistan and Afghanistan to improve their own ties so they can better tackle the violence in their respective countries, and has also tried to broker peace talks with Afghan Taliban militants, to limited effect.

A tentative talks process collapsed in 2015.

Wang said China fully supported peace talks between the Afghan government and Taliban and would continue to provide “necessary facilitation”.

The Belt and Road infrastructure drive aims to build a modern-day “Silk Road” connecting China to economies in Southeast and Central Asia by land and the Middle East and Europe by sea.

Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Nick Macfie

Source: Reuters “China, Pakistan to look at including Afghanistan in $57 billion economic corridor”

Note: This is Reuters’ report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.


Pakistan, China say economic partners till 2030


Ahsan Iqbal (L), Pakistan’s Minister of Planning and Development and Yao Jing, Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan attend the launching ceremoney of CPEC long-term cooperation plan in Islamabad, Pakistan December 18, 2017. REUTERS/Faisal Mahmood

Reuters Staff December 18, 2017

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) – Pakistan and China on Monday unveiled a long-term cooperation plan in economic development envisioning cooperation until at least 2030 in areas ranging from infrastructure to information technology.

It is the first time the two countries have announced how long they plan to work together on the project, known as the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

The long-term CPEC plan was made public in a ceremony in Islamabad attended by Pakistani Minister for Planning Ahsan Iqbal and Chinese Ambassador Yao Jing.

The document did not, however, give specific details on the projects, such as terms and conditions of investments and loans, nor did it provide details for Special Economic Zones, some of which are already underway in Pakistan.

The (CPEC), a flagship of Beijing’s Belt and Road initiative to build a new “Silk Road” of land and maritime trade routes across more than 60 countries in Asia, Europe and Africa, has committed a $57 billion investment in Pakistan.

The long term plan highlighted key cooperation areas between the two neighbors, which included connectivity with a road and rail infrastructure, information network infrastructure, energy, trade and industrial parks, agriculture, poverty alleviation and tourism.

Reporting by Asif Shahzad; Editing by Richard Balmforth

Source: Reuters “Pakistan, China say economic partners till 2030”

Note: This is Reuters’ report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.


US Indo-Pacific Quad Facilitates China’s Belt and Road


Obama’s pivot to Asia aimed at containing China but had the side effect of containing Russia. Before the pivot, the US had already been making hard efforts to reduce Russia’s influence in Eastern Europe and the Middle East; therefore, even though it was very clear that Obama was containing China especially creating trouble for China in the South China Sea, Russia felt threatened.

Seeing Russia’s predicament, China realized that due to the change in situation, it was possible for China to seek alliance with its long-term enemy Russia.

Now, China and Russia are de facto allies. Russia is now providing China with advanced weapons and cooperating with China in developing large airliners and heavy helicopters

Obama’s pivot has been a failure so that Trump has scrapped it, especially TPP the economic part of it.

Now, the US is wise in having quad to control both the Indian and Pacific Oceans. However, China sees the threat to its trade lifelines through the Oceans earlier and began earlier its Belt and Road initiative to establish alternative connections to Europe, the Middle East and further to Africa other than the connections through the Indian Ocean that may easily be cut by powerful US navy. For such connections, Russia, Central Asia and especially Pakistan are vital.

However, India as a key part of quad has long been Russia’s friend and major market of Russia’s export of weapons. According to mil.huanqiu.com’s report “Russia has been thoroughly kicked away? India’s new aircraft carrier will perhaps use F-18 carrier-based fighter jets”, as the US has promised India to help it develop aircraft carriers with better US technology, it is quite natural India will use US made carrier-based fighter jets.

However, Russia has developed and made 45 Mig-29K worth $2.2 billion specially for India’s new aircraft carrier. India’s participation in US quad will cause Russia to lose its major weapon market to the US. It will push Russia further closer to China and remove all possible obstacles to Belt and Road in Central Asia.

Central Asia countries were previously parts of the Soviet Union. Russia wants to establish an Eurasia Union to keep them as its satellite states or at least in Russia’s sphere of influence. China’s Belt and Road projects in Central Asia may very likely replace Russia’ influence with China’s. China needs to make great efforts to convince Russia that the projects are but economic with no political effect. However, it is impossible to separate economics from politics.

China and Russia has had an agreement to find a way accommodate Belt and Road with Eurasia Union without much progress. Fortunately, the US comes to their assistance. It resumes the quad of US, India, Japan and Australia with the obvious intention to contain China. US Secretary of State made that very clear in his speech at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies on October 18. In spite of that, Russia has been upset in losing India, its major weapon buyer.

Moreover, US arming India gravely scares Pakistan and thus further strengthened Pakistan’s iron brotherhood with China. As a result, the US has made it much easier for the two iron brothers to overcome their disagreements to China’s vital project of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.

Comment by Chan Kai Yee on mil.huanqiu.com’s report “Russia has been thoroughly kicked away? India’s new aircraft carrier will perhaps use F-18 carrier-based fighter jets”, full text of which in Chinese can be viewed at http://mil.huanqiu.com/world/2017-11/11388949.html.