The Conundrum of China’s New Silk Road Plan


Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni (who will attend New Silk Road summit) talks to the media at Chigi Palace in Rome, Italy April 7, 2017. REUTERS/Remo Casilli

In its report yesterday titled “China to gather friends for biggest summit of year on New Silk Road”, Reuters says, “While China has portrayed the New Silk Road as a genuine effort to share the bounty of China’s economic development and to fund infrastructure gaps, many Western countries are concerned about a lack of detail and transparency in the project and are suspicious about China’s broader political intents.”

China certainly is not so generous as to contribute billions of dollars to its New Silk Road projects for nothing in return. The sharing of bounty is but propaganda. China is simply not rich enough to do so. It has to first eliminate poverty at home and raise its own people’s living standards to a level similar to Western developed countries. To achieve those goals, China still has a long way to go.

Therefore, it helps other countries build infrastructures first of all for its own benefits, i.e. to provide alternative routes for import and export, which will facilitate not only its trade but also national security.

The most important are pipelines for import of oil and gas from Russia, Central Asia and the Middle East. The shipping route to the Middle East and Europe through Indian Ocean can easily be cut by powerful US navy. Russia and Central Asia offer alternative land routes, but the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor will be even better.

The roads, railways and pipelines to be built and expanded through the corridor will provide China with connections to the Middle East, Europe and Africa as there is military protection by Iran and Russia of the sea route from Pakistan’s Gwadar Port that China has been building. That trade route will facilitate the economic development not only in Pakistan but also China’s vast west.

In addition, China may move its labor-intensive industries to Pakistan to exploit the cheap labor there.

The New Silk Road projects are first of all for China’s own security and economic growth while enabling other countries along the road to become rich through win-win cooperation. Leaders of Western developed countries will not attend the New Silk Road summit as they do not think that their countries will be much benefited by the road. Only Italian Prime Minister will attend the summit as the sea route from Gwadar Port may connect to land route through Italy to Europe.

However, can China’s good relations with those small and poor nations along the New Silk Road in Asia enable China to replace the US as world leader? I don’t think Western leaders have such rich imagination as Reuters points out in its report.

Comment by Chan Kai Yee on Reuters’ report, full text of which can be viewed at http://www.reuters.com/article/us-china-silkroad-summit-idUSKBN17K0FL.


China blocks India’s request for U.N. to blacklist militant chief


Maulana Masood Azhar, head of Pakistan's militant Jaish-e-Mohammad party, attends a pro-Taliban conference organised by the Afghan Defence Council in Islamabad August 26, 2001. Azhar, who was freed by India in exchange for the release of an Indian aircraft hijacked to Afghanistan in 1999, said that U.N. monitors should not be placed in Pakistan and that his followers would lay down their lives to force them out.

Maulana Masood Azhar, head of Pakistan’s militant Jaish-e-Mohammad party, attends a pro-Taliban conference organised by the Afghan Defence Council in Islamabad August 26, 2001. Azhar, who was freed by India in exchange for the release of an Indian aircraft hijacked to Afghanistan in 1999, said that U.N. monitors should not be placed in Pakistan and that his followers would lay down their lives to force them out.

China has blocked India’s request to add the head of the Pakistan-based militant group Jaish-e-Mohammad to a U.N. Security Council blacklist of groups linked to al Qaeda, India said on Friday.

India has accused Jaish-e-Mohammad and its top leader, Maulana Masood Azhar, of masterminding several attacks, including a deadly assault on an Indian air base in January.

Pakistani security officials interrogated Azhar and his associates after the attack, and said they found no evidence linking him to it.

Jaish-e-Mohammad has already been blacklisted by the 15-nation Security Council, but not Azhar, an Islamist hardliner and long-time foe of India.

Foreign ministry spokesman Vikas Swarup said that India had requested that Azhar be added to the list nine months ago and had received strong backing from all other members of the council.

But China, which put a hold on the move in April, had now blocked it, he said.

“We had expected China would have been more understanding of the danger posed to all by terrorism,” he said in a statement.

Swarup added that the inability of the international community to take the step showed the “prevalence of double standards in the fight against terrorism”.

China’s foreign ministry said there were different views about the case, so China had put forward a “technical shelving” to give more time for consultation, but that regretfully no consensus had been reached.

China’s aim is to maintain the authority and effectiveness of name listing by the committee discussing the case, which accords with Security Council resolutions and is the responsible thing to do, it said in a statement sent to Reuters.

China will continue to maintain communication with all parties, it added.

India has long accused its neighbour and rival Pakistan of using Jaish-e-Mohammad as a proxy to mount attacks on Indian soil, including in the disputed Kashmir region, and earlier gave what it called “actionable intelligence” to Pakistan, including telephone intercepts.

Pakistan denies giving any aid to Kashmir-based militants.

If Azhar was blacklisted by the U.N. Security Council, he would face a global travel ban and asset freeze.

(Reporting by Paritosh Bansal in NEW DELHI and Ben Blanchard in BEIJING; editing by Mike Collett-White and Jason Neely)

Source: Reuters “China blocks India’s request for U.N. to blacklist militant chief”

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


China’s Trade Lifeline to Middle East, Africa Ensured through Pakistan


In this April photo, Pakistan Navy personnel patrol Gwadar port. Pakistan's top leaders opened a new international trade route on Sunday from the newly built port. Photo: AP

In this April photo, Pakistan Navy personnel patrol Gwadar port. Pakistan’s top leaders opened a new international trade route on Sunday from the newly built port. Photo: AP

The newly built Gwadar port will be used for international trade. Photo: AP

The newly built Gwadar port will be used for international trade. Photo: AP

SCMP says in its report on November 13 titled “Chinese ship opens new international trade route via Pakistani port” that Pakistani civil and military leaders went to Gwadar Port to see off a Chinese ship that exported goods to the Middle East from the port that has been newly built with Chinese investment.

SCMP says, “Pakistani army has created a special force to guard port and new trade routes”.

That marked the beginning of China’s Silk Road economic belt in Pakistan called the “China-Pakistan Economic Corridor” where China is building a network of roads and power plants to facilitate shipping of Chinese goods through the corridor to the Middle East and Africa. The Corridor will also make great contributions to Pakistan’s economic growth.

China has developed its J-20 to have air superiority in the area around it to prevent attack by the US, but its trade lifelines through the oceans, especially the Indian Ocean may be cut by powerful US navy.

According to SCMP, “Gwadar port is located on the Arabian Sea and occupies a strategic location between South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East. The port is also located at the mouth of the Persian Gulf, just outside the Straits of Hormuz.”

The port is therefore the key to China’s 21st century maritime Silk Road. As the sea route from Gwadar to the Middle East is protected by Pakistani and Iranian air forces, China now has a safe trade route through its Southwest China and Pakistan on land and the Persian Gulf and Strait of Hormuz along Pakistani and Iranian coast instead of the Indian Ocean that may be cut by US or even Indian navy.

Comment by Chan Kai Yee on SCMP’s report, full text of which can be found at http://www.scmp.com/news/china/diplomacy-defence/article/2045579/chinese-ship-opens-new-international-trade-route.


China joins Afghanistan, Pakistan, Tajikistan in security alliance


China is to set up an anti-terrorism alliance with Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Tajikistan, state media said on Thursday, as it seeks to boost coordination with neighbors to tackle what it says is a growing domestic militant threat.

Fang Fenghui, a member of the powerful Central Military Commission which controls China’s armed forces, hosted a meeting with his counterparts on Wednesday in Urumqi, capital of the western Xinjiang region, where officials say they are battling Islamist militants.

The four countries recognized the serious threat of terrorism and extremism to regional stability, the official Xinhua news agency said, and they agreed to set up a “four-country mechanism” for intelligence sharing and training.

“All parties reaffirmed they will cooperate to respond to these forces, and safeguard all member countries’ peace and stability,” Xinhua said.

Afghan army chief of general staff, General Qadam Shah Shaheem, Pakistani army chief General Raheel Sharif, and the Chief of General Staff of the Tajikistan armed forces, Major General E. A. Cobidrzoda, took part in the talks, the news agency said.

The meeting comes after China’s defense minister this week thanked Afghanistan’s Shaheem for support in fighting the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) an Islamist group that China says wants to set up a separate state in Xinjiang.

China did not elaborate on the help it got.

China has long been concerned that instability in Afghanistan will spill over into violence-prone Xinjiang, home to the Muslim Uighur people, where hundreds of people have died in recent years in unrest Beijing blames on extremists.

The United States and the United Nations have listed ETIM as a terrorist group, though some experts have questioned its cohesiveness and say China’s policies in Xinjiang have contributed to unrest.

China denies that its policies stoke tension in Xinjiang or motivate Uighurs to join Islamic State militants, though it acknowledges some have gone to Syria and Iraq to join the group.

China is also working with Pakistan and the United States to broker peace talks to end a Taliban insurgency that has raged for 15 years in Afghanistan.

That effort never got beyond exploratory talks and appeared to break down completely when Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansour was killed in a U.S. drone strike in Pakistan in May.

Sources in the Taliban told Reuters that a Taliban delegation visited China in July, though Chinese officials have not confirmed it.

(Reporting by Michael Martina; Editing by Robert Birsel)

Source: Reuters “China joins Afghanistan, Pakistan, Tajikistan in security alliance”

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


China-Russia Cold War Camp against US, the SCO, Expanding Fast


Photo of a drone hitting a target in SCO military drill. Credit: Chinese air force

Photo of a drone hitting a target in SCO military drill. Credit: Chinese air force

In its report “5 countries want to join SCO- Secretary General” on June 14, Russian media Russia Beyond The Headline (RBTH) says that according to Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Secretary General Rashid Alimov, five countries including one Southeast Asian, three Middle Eastern and one Eastern European ones have applied to join SCO as dialogue partners while at the coming Tashkent summit in June, India and Pakistan that have already been accepted as SCO members will sign over 30 documents adopted by the SCO over the last 15 years to formally become SCO full members.

SCO was set up with the goal to counter the US, but due to lack of mutual trust between China and Russia, it did not expand for more than a decade in the 15 years since its establishment.

Now, as China and Russia have built up their mutual trust and become de facto allies, SCO has begun to expand with a vengeance. It has taken India and Pakistan as full members. In addition, according to Chinese official military forum mil.huanqiu.com, Iran and Afghanistan have formally applied for full membership; Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Syria have applied to be SCO observer states; and Ukraine, Maldives, Egypt and Israel have applied to join SCO as dialogue partners. If the five more applicants for dialogue partnership are taken into account, there are now nine applicants for dialogue partners.

It is indeed time for the US to return to Asia as China and Russia have taken most Asian countries into their camp. Even ASEAN, a long-term US ally, refuses to take side between China and the US. What is worse for the US, RBTH says in its report, “Alimov said more applications to join the SCO could be received soon, as another Southeast Asian nation showed interest at the Russia-ASEAN summit in Sochi in May.”

Not only China but also Russia is improving ties with Southeast Asian countries. The US has to enhance its efforts to return to Asia.

Cheer up, the US!

Source: mil.huanqiu.com “Five more countries apply to be SCO partner states” (summary by Chan Kai Yee based on the report in Chinese)

Source: Russia Beyond The Headline “5 countries want to join SCO- Secretary General”, full text of which can be viewed below:

5 countries want to join SCO- Secretary General
June 14, 2016 Interfax

General Rashid Alimov says three Middle Eastern nations have applied

Five countries have applied to join the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), its Secretary General Rashid Alimov said on June 13.

An Eastern European country, three Middle Eastern countries and a Southeast Asian country have sent applications to join the SCO as dialogue partners, Alimov said, without mentioning the names of the countries as “the issue is still at the developmental stage.”

Alimov said more applications to join the SCO could be received soon, as another Southeast Asian nation showed interest at the Russia-ASEAN summit in Sochi in May.

India-Pakistan conflicts not to affect SCO

Controversies between India and Pakistan will not be brought to the format of the SCO, Alimov added.

“We see no risk of controversies between India and Pakistan going to the SCO,” he said.

After 20 years Russia makes first inroads into ASEAN

Consultations with India and Pakistan have lasted for more than a year and both countries have been SCO observers for 11 years and know the organization’s rules well, Alimov said.

A document on the accession of India and Pakistan to the SCO should be signed at the Tashkent summit in June.

This will be the “beginning of a new stage” in the transition of India and Pakistan from SCO observers to fully-fledged members. India and Pakistan are due to sign over 30 documents adopted by the SCO over the last 15 years.

Alimov met with a group of journalists from 18 countries that are either observers or dialogue partners of the SCO at the organization’s headquarters in Beijing. The Chinese committee for good neighborliness, friendship and cooperation organized the journalists’ visit on the occasion of the SCO’s 15th anniversary.


US-Indian, Vietnamese Military Ties Nightmares for Russia but Benefit China


U.S. President Barack Obama and his Vietnamese counterpart Tran Dai Quang review the guard of honour during welcoming ceremony at the Presidential Palace in Hanoi, Vietnam May 23, 2016. REUTERS/Hoang Dinh Nam/Pool

U.S. President Barack Obama and his Vietnamese counterpart Tran Dai Quang review the guard of honour during welcoming ceremony at the Presidential Palace in Hanoi, Vietnam May 23, 2016. REUTERS/Hoang Dinh Nam/Pool

Reuters says in its report today titled “U.S.-Vietnam ties should not put Asia stability at risk: China’s Xinhua” that Chinese government’s mouthpiece Xinhua expressed its anger at the US in strengthening US ties with Vietnam to help Vietnam in its maritime territorial disputes with China.

It seems that China will suffer if according to Reuters report, the US will lift its arms embargo on Vietnam and begin to supply advanced weapons to Vietnam.

In fact, Russia instead of China will suffer as Russia is Vietnam’s major weapon supplier and has been providing Vietnam with warplanes and submarines as good as it provides China with.

Russia has signed contract with China to provide China with its best Su-35 fighter jets. It is certainly willing to provide Vietnam with Su-35 but US F-35 is better. Even if the US is willing to sell and Vietnam can afford (perhaps with partial US funding), F-35 stealth fighter jets do not constitute a major threat as Vietnamese airports are well within Chin’s short- and medium-range ballistic missiles. Some even within the range of China’s rocket artillery.

US certainly is not willing to sell Vietnam its attack nuclear submarines nor can Vietnam afford buying them.

There is speculation that the US will develop advanced conventional submarine, which it may sell Vietnam. However, China will not suffer as it has to have the system to deal with the large number of most advanced US submarines. Some Vietnamese ones do not mean too much more trouble. In fact, the Kilo-class submarines Russia has been providing Vietnam with are quite advanced and Russia will be willing to provide Vietnam with better ones to compete with the US.

Both fighter jets and submarines mean huge profit and foreign exchange income for Russia, which Russia may lose due to US-Vietnamese military ties.

Compared with Russia’s loss in weapon export, US supply of weapons to Vietnam means nothing to China. It will bring China only a little more trouble but a huge trouble to Russia, a nightmare if we use Reuters’ wording.

Vietnam purchases advanced weapons for defense to prevent China from taking the islands occupied by Vietnam but claimed by China or exploiting the resources in the waters claimed by both China and Vietnam.

If China does not take the islands in dispute or tries to exploit the resources jointly with Vietnam, Vietnam will not help the US in a conflict between the US and China as it fears invasion by China’s huge army.

In the final analysis, the US gets nothing from its close military ties with Vietnam but makes Russian-Chinese alliance closer as such ties are Russia’s nightmare instead of China’s.

So are US-Indian military ties. Russia is providing India with aircraft carriers to earn lots of foreign exchange and profits. Now, the US will provide India with aircraft carrier technology. Who will suffer? Russia instead of China.

I reblogged Reuter’s report yesterday on US-Indian military ties being a nightmare for China. True, US-Indian treaty in sharing the use of bases in the Indian Ocean may frustrate China’s efforts in establishing a maritime Silk Road through the Indian Ocean.

However, as India is a peace-loving non-alliance country, it is never a threat to Indian Ocean nations such as Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Iran, but due to US history of sending troops to invade other nations, Indian Ocean nations would rather regard enhanced US presence in Indian Ocean as a threat. As a result, they will prefer closer cooperation with China in China’s Silk Road belt initiative.

The US-Indian military alliance seems aiming at China but it is impossible for India to invade China across its border with China even with US help; therefore it is not even a threat to China let alone nightmare.

As for maritime Silk Road, US navy alone is more than powerful to cut China’s trade lifelines through the Indian Ocean. The help India can provide the US with its small navy means nothing for the US.

However, US-Indian military alliance in the Indian Ocean is a serious threat to Iran and Pakistan. It is their nightmare.

As a result, Pakistan will be more enthusiastic in developing China-Pakistan economic corridor to provide China land access to the Middle East. Iran will be even more enthusiastic as the US is its bitter enemy. China will have sweet dream instead of nightmare as it will be greatly benefited from US-Indian military alliance in closer alliance with Russia and successful establishment of a land trade lifeline to the Middle East, Africa and Europe through Pakistan and Iran.

That is all economic and has nothing to do with the military. At least militarily China will suffer by US-Indian military ties, some people may argue.

However, we Chinese act according to our gifted strategist Sun Tze’s teaching: Subdue the enemy without fighting is the best of best. The US-Indian ties help China subdue US ability to block China’s trade lifeline without fighting. Is that not marvelous?

Moreover, let’s talk about economics. India has joined Russia- and China-led Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) to be benefited economically with its relations with SCO countries while the US is setting up its TPP to create barriers for Indian export, especially export of Indian pharmaceutical products, to TPP members.

Vietnam, though a TPP member, will find it difficult to meet stringent TPP standards, while as an ASEAN member it enjoys great benefits from ASEAN’s free trade area relations with China.

The military ties do not affect the economic relations while the economic relations may make the military ties unstable!

Comments by Chan Kai Yee on Reuters reports. Chan has already provided full text of Reuters’ report on US-Indian ties in his post yesterday. Full text of Reuters’ report today on US-Vietnamese ties can be viewed below:

U.S.-Vietnam ties should not put Asia stability at risk: China’s Xinhua

Improving ties between the United States and Vietnam should not put peace and stability in Asia at risk, China’s state news agency said, as U.S. President Barack Obama began his first visit to Vietnam, which hopes Washington will scrap its arms embargo.

Obama’s three-day stay in the country underscores the importance he places on expanding relations with Hanoi as part of his strategic “rebalance” towards Asia to counter China’s growing strength in the region.

Lifting the arms embargo on Vietnam, one of the last major vestiges of the Vietnam War era, would anger Beijing, which resents U.S. efforts to forge stronger military bonds with its neighbors amid rising tensions in the disputed South China Sea.

“It is welcome that Vietnam improves its ties with any other country, including the United States. However, such rapprochement should not be used by the United States as a tool to threaten or even damage the strategic interests of a third country,” the official Xinhua news agency said in a commentary late on Sunday.

Vietnam has said it would welcome the United States “accelerating” the lifting of a lethal arms embargo, and U.S. officials were finalizing a decision on the issue.

China claims almost all of the energy-rich South China Sea, through which more than $5 trillion of maritime trade passes each year. The Philippines, Brunei, Vietnam, Malaysia and Taiwan have overlapping claims.

U.S. engagement with Vietnam was stepped up rapidly during 2014, in what experts say was a calibrated move by the United States to seize on deteriorating ties between Vietnam and communist neighbor China over South China Sea claims.

Vietnam has been boosting its military deterrent as China intensifies its fortification of islands it controls.

U.S. actions have made some countries in the region more assertive and “fueled their delusions to continue to exploit illegal interests” in South China Sea, Xinhua said

Vietnam should be cautious in dealing with the United States, which “is motivated by an insincere agenda”, the news agency said.

“Given Vietnam’s industrial and military foundations, the United States has come to the belief that the Southeastern Asian nation could be suitable to help project Washington’s will over the South China Sea issue,” Xinhua said in a separate commentary.

(Story refiles to edit first paragraph.)

(Reporting by Michael Martina; Editing by Nick Macfie)


An Asia without US! China and Russia are winning over Japan for that


Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida (L) shakes hands with China's Premier Li Keqiang during a meeting at Zhongnanhai in Beijing, China, April 30, 2016. REUTERS/Jason Lee

Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida (L) shakes hands with China’s Premier Li Keqiang during a meeting at Zhongnanhai in Beijing, China, April 30, 2016. REUTERS/Jason Lee

When China’s Xi Jinping made great efforts to win over Russia as its ally to counter the US after US pivot to Asia, Russia though responded favorably but was making great efforts to improve ties with Japan because Russia is afraid that China may become a threat when it grows too strong. A Russian-Japanese alliance may be strong enough to counter China.

Chinese leaders have been clever enough to make Russia believe that China will be Russia’s friend instead of threat and has thus gradually built mutual trust with Russia.

The Chinese-Russian alliance have certainly been helped by the US due to US efforts to exclude Russia from Ukraine and the Middle East and interference with China’s disputes with its neighbors in the South China Sea. Japan’s participation in US sanctions against Russia has frustrated Russian President Putin’s efforts to improve ties with Japan.

Now, China and Russia have established a de facto Cold War camp against the US and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) controlled by China and Russia has now taken South Asia in addition to Central Asia as both India and Pakistan have joined SCO.

For the Chinese-Russian Cold War camp, its priority now is to take East Asia, i.e. Japan and South Korea. If it succeeds in doing so, the United States will be driven out of Asia.

For South Korea, it is very easy. If neither China nor Russia supports North Korea, North Korea’s Kim Dynasty will not be able to survive stringent sanctions initiated by the US. If Kim Dynasty has collapsed, South Korea will easily annex North Korea. Then there is no need for South Korea to depend on the US to resist the threat from North Korea.

For Japan, China can provide Japan with its huge market. The large number of Chinese tourists who traveled to Japan each year alone is attractive enough, let alone the ever growing Chinese middle class who covet Japanese quality goods with advanced technology. The US is the only formidable competitor with Japan for Chinese market of such goods; therefore, Japan will be greatly benefited if the US is driven out of the Chinese market.

Japan is now close to the US because of its fear of the rising China that may retaliate what it suffered from Japanese invasion in the past. China has to let bygone be bygone and try hard to make Japan believe it has no intention to be Japan’s enemy. Building up mutual trust is difficult, but Chinese leaders, if wise, shall make long-term great efforts to win Japan’s trust.

Judging by Reuters report “China, Japan more upbeat on ties but challenges remain” about Chinese Premier Li Keqiang’s warm reception of Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida, Chinese leaders are making efforts in that direction.

Russia on the other hand can offer Japan the opportunity to take part in Russia’s development of Siberia where there are rich natural resources indispensable for Japan. Russian President Putin and Japanese Prime Minister Abe are now making efforts to resume their negotiations to improve ties.

Neither, Japan, India, Korea nor Russia has to rely on the US for their security in Asia in the face of a rising China. If China has become a threat, Russia, Japan, India and Korea combined are strong enough to counter China. None of them needs to rely on the US.

Comment by Chan Kai Yee on Reuters report, full text of which can be viewed at http://www.reuters.com/article/us-china-japan-idUSKCN0XR02H