Posts Tagged ‘One Belt One Road’

Free and Open Indo-Pacific Remains U.S. Goal

December 14, 2017
Updated: Dec 13, 2017, 03.39 PM IST
The Economic Times

WASHINGTON: The US has elevated its engagement with India as part of its effort of a free and open Indo-Pacific, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has said amid China’s increasing assertiveness in the region.

The US for long has been favouring a larger role for India in the Indo-Pacific region to pursue common interests in the strategically key area.

“As part of the free and open Indo-Pacific, we have elevated our engagement with India,” Tillerson said.

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Rex Tillerson


“We’ve long had a trilateral relationship in the Indo- Pacific between Japan, Australia, and the US, and we’re now working towards whether this will become a quad relationship to include India because of the importance of India’s rising economy as well and I think shared national security concerns that we have with India,” he said.


On America’s relationship with China, he said the administration now have a very active mechanism in which it can put complex issues on the table.


“And we have differences, such as the South China Sea and China’s building of structures, militarisation of these structures, and how that affects our allies in the region as well in terms of free and open trade,” he said.


China claims almost all of the South China Sea but Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan have counter claims over the waterway.


The Indo-Pacific includes South Asia and the Indian Ocean.
“As we’ve said to the Chinese, we hope we can find a way to freeze this particular activity. Whether we can reverse, it remains to seen. But it is not acceptable to us that these islands continue to be developed, and certainly not for military purposes,” Tillerson said.
“In Southeast Asia, we put forth a policy here not too long ago of a free and open Indo-Pacific, and this was built on the back of some of our views about China’s One Belt, One Road policy. China’s One Belt, One Road, we understand, is a policy they have to continue their economic development, and our policies do not seek to contain China’s economic development,” Tillerson said.
Tillerson said the US is paying a close attention to Beijing’s ‘One Belt, One Road’ (OBOR) initiative, but sought to clarify that the Trump administration does not intend to contain China’s economic growth.
“But China’s economic development, in our view, should take place in the system of international rules and norms, and One Belt, One Road seems to want to define its own rules and norms,” he added.
The Secretary of State borrowed a quote from Defence Secretary Jim Mattis: “China has One Belt, One Road; the United States and the global economy has many belts and many roads, and no one country gets to choose the belt or the road.

Tillerson said that a free and open Indo-Pacific means all countries have access to continue their economic development and free access for trade through the region.


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China says it has sovereignty over all the South China Sea north of its “nine dash line.” On July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration  in The Hague said this claim by China was not valid. But China and the Philippine government then chose to ignore international law.


A communist win in the Nepal elections is bad news for India (but great for China)

December 14, 2017

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A man casts his vote during the parliamentary and provincial elections in Bhaktapur, Nepal, on December 7. | Navesh Chitrakar / Reuters

By Shoaib Daniyal
December 13, 2017

The final results of Nepal’s first parliamentary elections held ince 1999 are expected some time in mid-December. But on Saturday, the country’s election commission announced that a coalition of the Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist and the Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist Centre had won more than three-fourths of the seats in the federal assembly. This is not good news for India, which has long exerted an influence on the mountain-country’s politics and economy. The Left coalition, which will now take office, is likely to lean far more towards China than the incumbent Nepali Congress, the grand old party of Nepali politics.
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In 2006, with the end of the Nepalese civil war between the government and Maoists opposed to the constitutional monarchy, India took a commanding role in events in the Himalayan state. In 2015, it was first off the block in helping Nepal recover from a devastating earthquake that left close to 9,000 people dead. A year before that, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had made a much-publicised trip to Nepal.

But the India-Nepal relationship hit a hurdle in September 2015 when Kathmandu announced a new Constitution that gave less than adequate powers to ethnic groups such as the Madhesis in the country’s Terai region. The Madhesis speak Maithili, Bajika and Bhojpuri and share close ties with Matihili, Bajika and Bhojpuri groups across the border in the Indian states of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.

In response, a Madhesi border blockade stopped all essential supplies from India from reaching the hills of Nepal – a pressure tactic reportedly supported by New Delhi. The five-month blockade had a devastating effect on Nepal, which depends on India for almost all of its supplies. The country experienced severe shortages of petrol, medicines and even food.

China card

Angered by India’s big brother stance, Nepal looked to China to balance New Delhi’s immense power over Kathmandu. In 2016, Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli travelled to China and signed a transit agreement. This would give Nepal access to Chinese ports and connect the countries by rail. The two sides also discussed the possibility of China selling petroleum to Nepal – which, if achieved, would greatly reduce New Delhi’s leverage over Kathmandu.

This year, Nepal signed on to Beijing’s One Belt, One Road plan – an ambitious project to connect the Eurasian landmass with China at its engine. The agreement would further cement Nepal-China communication links. In August, Chinese Vice-Premier Wang Yang visited Nepal, making sure to visit leaders from the Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist and the Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist Centre. China even played up its Buddhist links with Nepal, countering New Delhi’s Hindu card.

Oli’s use of the China card worked. The Modi government stepped back from its support of the Madhesis, encouraging them instead to take part in the elections.

The Madhesis’ participation in the polls is a big boost for Nepal. The country saw years of civil war and turmoil that ended just a little over a decade ago. Its new republican Constitution moves Nepal away from a unitary system to a federal state – even if the minorities in the Terai still feel short-changed in the new system. In a throwback to India’s own tumultuous decade of state formation in the 1940s, the largest Madhesi party, the Rastriya Janata Party, has called Nepal a multi-nation polity in its elections manifesto, inviting charges of separatism from Nepal’s hill elite.

Left out

The Left’s big win would in all probability mean that KP Oli will become prime minister. This is bad news for India. Oli had reached out to China in 2016. The 2017 campaign also saw Oli call for Chinese investment in Nepal. In November, the ruling Nepali Congress scrapped a major Chinese hydropower project that the Communist alliance has promised to bring back if it comes to power.

The sudden uptick in China’s fortunes in Nepal mirrors Maldives, where China-backed Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom had defeated the candidate supported by India in the 2013 presidential elections, sharply reducing New Delhi’s influence in the country.

China has also developed close links with Sri Lanka, which has joined the One Belt, One Road plan. Another close Indian ally, Bangladesh, has signed on to the project as well. In response to India’s $2-billion credit line to Bangladesh, China offered it $24 billion in credit in 2016, making it the country’s biggest foreign credit line. China also sold Dhaka its first two submarines in 2017.

India and China are seeing a contest even in Bhutan, which is currently practically under Indian military protection and does not have formal diplomatic relations with China.

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Nepal China Nepal-India Ties Nepal Elections


The World Has Taken Trump’s Measure

December 6, 2017

From Asia to Europe, he has squandered America’s influence and moral authority.

President Donald Trump walks towards Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House, Dec. 4.
President Donald Trump walks towards Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House, Dec. 4. PHOTO: SUSAN WALSH/ASSOCIATED PRESS

Donald Trump campaigned on a pledge to make America great again. As president he is doing the opposite: He is making America smaller than at any time in the past 100 years.

By pulling the U.S. out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, Mr. Trump has ceded economic leadership in Asia and beyond to China, whose president touts the Chinese model to other countries that want the blessings of prosperity without the inconveniences of liberty. To back up this offer, China is investing huge sums in its “One Belt, One Road” plan and in the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.

These moves are having the intended effect. Myanmar, which had long been dominated by anti-Chinese sentiment, is now accepting China’s blandishments. The country’s leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, went to Beijing last week for a conference hosted by the Communist Party.

Vietnam, which has looked to the U.S. as a counterweight against its historical enemy to the north, now wonders whether it must accept Beijing’s economic leadership and yield to its claims in the South China Sea. Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has made noises about abandoning his country’s alliance with the U.S. in favor of China. Even Australia, one of our closest allies, is openly debating how to deal with American decline.

In the Middle East, the Trump administration is busy giving ground to Russia. Vladimir Putin is conducting Syrian peace talks while America languishes on the sidelines. Turkey, a member of NATO since 1952, is endorsing the Kremlin’s leading role. Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan recently met with Mr. Putin and Iran’s Hassan Rouhani to support negotiations on the future structure of the Syrian government and state.

Egypt was another long-term linchpin of American diplomacy, and Mr. Trump has lavished praise on its autocratic leader. Yet Cairo has just struck a deal allowing the largest Russian military presence on its soil and in its airspace since 1973. The U.S. doesn’t even have an ambassador in Egypt, let alone a coherent policy to deal with this pivotal country.

Even in Europe, America has been diminished. Mr. Trump’s early ambivalence toward NATO, which gave way to a grudging expression of support, have left a residue of doubt about the credibility of American guarantees. He has driven a wedge between the U.S. and Germany, long our closest ally on the Continent. The “special relationship” with the United Kingdom may not survive his repeated gaffes, capped by his impulsive decision to retweet discredited anti-Muslim videos from a British fringe group.

Close to home, Mr. Trump’s brand of leadership is sorely trying Canadians’ patience: 93% view him as arrogant, 78% as intolerant, and 72% as dangerous. Mexico’s people have also been united against the U.S., by Mr. Trump’s ham-handed immigration policies and heedless negotiations to revise the North American Free Trade Agreement. This may well lead Mexicans to elect an anti-American left-wing populist as their president next year. That Mr. Trump has no discernible policy toward Central and South America is probably a good thing.

Squandering America’s economic and political influence is bad enough. Far worse has been the way Mr. Trump has dissipated our moral authority. Yes, the U.S. has struck deals with unsavory regimes, especially during the Cold War, and has sometimes failed to respect the outcomes of free and fair elections. In the main, however, America has pushed for free societies and democratic governments around the world, while speaking against repression in all its forms.

Until now. The Trump administration has all but abandoned democracy promotion. In practice, an “America First” foreign policy means being indifferent to the character of the regimes with which the U.S. does business.

I wish I could say that President Trump shares this indifference. In fact, he prefers autocrats to elected leaders. He admires their “strength.” He envies their ability to get their way without the pesky opposition of legislatures and courts. He probably wishes he had their power to shut down critical news organizations. In his ideal world, everyone would fall in line behind his goals, and his will would be law.

The world has taken President Trump’s measure. In a 2017 survey of 37 countries, 64% of people expressed confidence in Barack Obama’s ability to do the right thing in international affairs, compared with 22% for Mr. Trump. The current president’s figures were 11% in Germany, 14% in France, and 22% in the U.K. The principal exception was Russia, where Mr. Trump enjoyed 53% approval, compared with 11% for Mr. Obama.

In 1776, at the threshold of American independence, the Founding Fathers espoused a “decent respect to the opinions of mankind.” Today, citizens of countries around the world regard the U.S. as morally diminished under Mr. Trump’s leadership. He shows no signs of caring, and he probably doesn’t.

Appeared in the December 6, 2017, print edition.


Australia Foreign Policy White Paper hits China’s activities in South China Sea — SCS is a “major fault line” in regional order.

December 6, 2017
In this April 21, 2017, file photo, Chinese structures and an airstrip on the man-made Subi Reef at the Spratly group of islands in the South China Sea are seen from a Philippine Air Force C-130. CSIS AMTI via DigitalGlobe, File

MANILA, Philippines — Expressing concern over the scale of China’s activities in the disputed South China Sea, Australia urged all claimants to clarify the full nature of their claims in accordance with international law.

In its 2017 Foreign Policy White Paper released a few weeks ago, Australia stressed its position that the UN-backed tribunal’s ruling on the Philippines’ arbitration case against China is “final and binding on both parties.”

Clarifying that they are not taking sides in the competing claims, Australia considers the South China Sea as a “major fault line” in the regional order.

“Like other non-claimant states, however, we have a substantial interest in the stability of this crucial international waterway, and in the norms and laws that govern it,” the Foreign Policy White Paper read.

Australia noted that they have urged all claimants to refrain from actions that would increase tension in the region. They have also called for a halt on Beijing’s land reclamation and construction activities.

Resolving dispute should be based on international law, in accordance with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), Australia said in its foreign policy paper.

“Australia opposes the use of disputed features and artificial structures in the South China Sea for military purposes,” the white paper read.

The Australian government vowed to ensure international law, particularly UNCLOS, will be respected and implemented to protect freedom of navigation in the region.

Meanwhile, China criticized Australia for its “irresponsible comments” on the South China Sea.

Chinese Defense Ministry spokesperson Wu Qian stressed that Australia is not in a position to make comments on the contested waters as they are not a claimant country.

“It has been proven by facts that interference from countries outside the region can only complicate the South China Sea issue and will be of no help to regional peace and stability,” Wu said in a press briefing.

Earlier this year, Beijing also slammed US Secretary Rex Tillerson for his comment that China is using its economic powers to buy its way out of problems.

“China is a significant economic and trading power, and we desire a productive relationship, but we cannot allow China to use its economic power to buy its way out of other problems, whether it’s militarizing islands in the South China Sea or failure to put appropriate pressure on North Korea,” Tillerson said in Sydney last June.

Beijing had been insisting that the situation in the South China Sea has “cooled down” following direct consultations and dialogues with claimant states.

RELATED: China assures Philippines: No military force in South China Sea


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China says it has sovereignty over all the South China Sea north of its “nine dash line.” On July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration  in The Hague said this claim by China was not valid. But China and the Philippine government then chose to ignore international law.

How will Trump’s Asian diplomacy play out?

December 5, 2017

The Yomiuri Shimbun

Akihiko Tanaka, left, and Ryozo Kato

The Yomiuri Shimbun

U.S. President Donald Trump has completed his first Asian tour since being inaugurated. With the Asia-Pacific region facing problems, including the threat of North Korea’s continued nuclear and missile development and the conflict between China and its neighbors as China’s economic and military strength fuels increased maritime expansion, what was the outcome of Trump’s “America First” diplomacy? What are its future tasks? We asked experts for their thoughts.


Time to assess North Korea sanctions

Akihiko Tanaka

President of the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies

Trump safely passed the diplomacy test. He was able to maintain the deterrence power against North Korea and to deliver the message of reinforcing sanctions. On this point, he received a degree of commitment even from slightly worried South Korean President Moon Jae In and Chinese President Xi Jinping. It was also significant that Southeast Asian countries have expressed the idea of implementing economic sanctions against North Korea.

Now is the time to assess the effect of sanctions. We can see North Korea’s attitude and decide whether to hold talks with them. If it continues its nuclear and missile development, there is no point in talking.

The United States has adopted an offensive military stance to ensure that deterrence is effective. The question is whether the United States will start a preemptive war to destroy nuclear and missile facilities even if there is no indication of a nuclear attack by North Korea. That would violate international law and is difficult to imagine, since it is unknown whether a North Korean counterattack could be 100 percent contained.

The United States would lose authority in the event of massive casualties among the South Korean people and American citizens in South Korea.

However, I think there is little possibility of North Korea abandoning its nuclear weapons and missiles due to strengthened sanctions. Solving the issue in one or two years is unrealistic. It may take five, 10 or 20 years. Even if North Korea threatens Japan or South Korea with nuclear weapons, we don’t have to submit to it.

Nevertheless, there are concerns of an outbreak caused by a miscalculation or mistake, so it is important for Japan to develop ballistic missile defenses.

Japan and the United States agreed on a common diplomatic strategy of a “free and open Indo-Pacific.” I myself have insisted on the concept of emphasizing the Indo-Pacific region, so I think it’s fine.

However, it is a mistake to think of this as a strategy to create a network encircling China. The region is important because it is expected to see high growth in the future. I think China would find the strategy acceptable because it coincides with the “one road” element of its “One Belt, One Road” [initiative], which can be regarded as a maritime silk road for the 21st century.

The important point is to reduce the threat of war as much as possible in this region. A range of conflict zones exist in the northern inland area, and stable growth will not happen unless the threat of terrorism or civil war is reduced. In the South China Sea, where the Pacific and Indian oceans connect, we need to watch how China acts. It is imperative that it is not allowed to proceed with the construction of more bases.

Finally, a broad agreement by the 11 countries participating in the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement showed Japanese diplomacy is a force to be reckoned with. I don’t think the United States will return to the TPP under the Trump administration, but mainstream U.S. experts in international relations and economics want their country to understand the disadvantages of not joining the multilateral agreement. Though unusual in terms of Japan’s diplomacy, the country must steadily build a framework without the United States, while being willing to welcome the United States if it returns.

Tanaka is an expert in international politics. He served as a professor at the University of Tokyo, vice president of the university, and president of the Japan International Cooperation Agency before assuming his current position in April. His major publications include “Word Politics” and “The Post-Crisis World.” He is 63.

(This interview was conducted by Yomiuri Shimbun Senior Writer Haruki Sasamori.)


Japan, U.S. should align views on China

Ryozo Kato

Former Japanese Ambassador to the United States

Trump’s Asia tour was a kind of debut performance, and he deployed his brand of omnidirectional foreign policy. Although he was absent from the East Asia Summit at the end of his itinerary, I think his emphasis was ultimately on bilateral meetings.

The tour was of major significance in terms of U.S. involvement in Asia. The United States’ two security priorities are Russia, which opposes it on the Ukraine issue, and the Middle East. I’d hesitate to say that Asia is an urgent issue. Because of this, it was important that the tour offered Trump and his aides the chance to feel for themselves the future importance of Asia.

In Japan, Trump first visited the U.S. Yokota Air Base.

He must have recognized the strong presence of the Japan-based U.S. military in East Asia and the firmness of the Japan-U.S. alliance. With North Korea’s nuclear warheads and intercontinental ballistic missiles approaching actual deployment capability, it is obvious but also very significant that he and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe mutually recognized that the situation is approaching the stage where maximum pressure is required to really bring [development] to a halt.

For the United States, I think Japan plays a role similar to that of Britain in Europe, and China is like the former Soviet Union.

However, one aspect is different: While the Soviet Union prioritized the military, China is a major power both economically and militarily. It is not an easy opponent. Chinese President Xi Jinping’s invitation to Trump to visit the Forbidden City was reminiscent of the behavior of an emperor. Trump may not agree with Xi’s values, but it is possible he was impressed by his style of governance.

Traveling through Japan, China and South Korea, Trump likely saw that the position of each country differs even on the single issue of North Korea, and that the issue is not easy to address. It is impossible to formulate and implement a plan to deal with the Korean Peninsula problem without considering China’s strategy.

In a press announcement after the U.S.-China summit, Xi said, “The Pacific is large enough to accommodate both the United States and China,” and raised the possibility of a “G-2 concept” that includes the United States and China. Although this was a natural statement for China to make, steadily implementing such a strategy would diminish the prestige of the United States in the Asia-Pacific region and also harm U.S. national interests.

It must be acknowledged that the Trump administration’s Indo-Pacific strategy is still short on specifics. I would like the United States to first review future changes in the military balance and trends in China before coming up with its Asia policy.

Japan should strengthen talks with the United States on China to develop a shared view on the country. Additionally, Japan must take the necessary steps to ensure the stability of the Asia-Pacific region and that the United States play its role properly.

To increase the deterrence power of the Japan-U.S. alliance, Japan must raise its defense budget that, in turn, requires open domestic discussions about such matters as constitutional amendments, the nuclear issue, energy and cyber issues.


Kato joined the Foreign Ministry in 1965. After working as director general of the Asian Affairs Bureau, senior deputy minister and other posts, he served as the ambassador to the United States from October 2001 to June 2008. After retirement, he served as a commissioner of the Nippon Professional Baseball Organization. He is 76.

(This interview was conducted by Yomiuri Shimbun Senior Writer Tatsuya Fukumoto.)

Editorial: China Interfering in Internal Affairs — Almost Always Gets What It Wants

November 26, 2017

China often rebuffs criticism from the U.S, EU and others, by scolding that China refuses to accept others meddling in Chinese affairs…..


Taipei Times
November 26, 2017

China’s actions toward two of this nation’s diplomatic allies, the Vatican and Palau, this week sparked concern, amid reports that Beijing is using a tactic it has tried against Taiwan: restricting or barring tour groups from visiting.

Such a move is clearly aimed at influencing the two states to shift diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing, but using a stick rather than a carrot is a counterintuitive way to make friends.

Chinese tourist visits to the Vatican and Palau have soared over the past few years, even though neither is on the China National Tourism Administration’s list of places approved for Chinese tour groups, but the campaign is likely to affect the Pacific Ocean nation more, given that its economy is far more reliant on tourism than the Holy See.

Analysts have said that the directive against Palau also comes amid heightened US-China tensions over the South China Sea and the Pentagon’s efforts to reinforce its defense relationship with Palau and secure access to airfields in the western Pacific Ocean.

Such actions are part and parcel of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s (習近平) strident foreign policy.

Beijing, which has long criticized the US, UK, EU and others for “interfering” in other nations’ domestic issues, has been doing the same thing for a long time — most recently with regard to Cambodia, Myanmar, Zimbabwe and even the US.

On Monday, Chinese Minister of Foreign Affairs Wang Yi (王毅) told his Cambodian counterpart, Prak Sohhon, that Beijing is backing Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen’s efforts to eliminate rivals ahead of next year’s general elections, although he did not couch it in those terms.

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Often times, when the Chinese Foreign Ministry has something to say, it is interfering in the internal workings of others….

He was quoted as saying that China supported Cambodia’s “efforts to protect political stability” — just days after the last serious opposition force in Cambodia was judicially dissolved

Of course, Beijing’s money and support have kept the regime in power for three decades.

On Thursday, a top Chinese general told the commander-in-chief of the Myanmar Armed Forces that Beijing wanted closer ties between their militaries to “help protect regional peace and security,” especially along the border between the two nations.

His visitor in turn thanked China for its support in helping Myanmar ensure domestic stability.

The generals’ meeting in Beijing came just days after China announced a three-stage plan to solve the Rohingya crisis, which is costing Myanmar diplomatic support amid worldwide criticism of its ethnic cleansing campaign in Rakhine State.

Zimbabwe’s “coup in everything but name” appears to have been green-lit by Beijing, which has invested heavily in the nation, helping to prop up former Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe’s regime.

Zimbabwe Defence Forces commander General Constantino Chiwenga and then-ousted Zimbabwean vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa flew to Beijing to meet with government officials just days before the military placed Mugabe under house arrest last week.

The men have old ties to China, having studied at the Nanjing Military School, and have been involved in many deals with Chinese investors and government bodies.

Chinese Ambassador to the US Cui Tiankai (崔天凱) in August sent a letter to senior US lawmakers that warned of “severe consequences” if legislation was passed to strengthen US-Taiwan ties, which was labeled inappropriate and counterproductive.

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Cui Tiankai

Counterproductive and counterintuitive could be used to describe many of Xi’s actions.

China has long used a divide and conquer strategy to counter any effort by other nations to collectively oppose its ambitions, whether by supporting Taiwan, halting its expansion in the South China Sea or supporting Chinese striving to build a more civil society.

It is time to stop thinking of China’s actions in a piecemeal fashion — Bejing certainly does not.


China is exporting authoritarianism globally, and the West is losing the old tools to stop it

November 22, 2017

Xi Jinping’s recent speech was of vast importance to the future of world power  CREDIT: ANDY WONG/AFP

By William Hague
The Telegraph
20 NOVEMBER 2017 • 9:30PM

In Zimbabwe and beyond, our best hope is to reform our own politics to set an example worth following

One of the minor successes of my time as Foreign Secretary was that I managed never to meet Robert Mugabe, despite having to sit only feet away from him at the UN General Assembly. A predecessor, Jack Straw, was severely embarrassed after shaking his hand and was reduced to the much-derided excuse that it had happened in a darkened room.

Since I was required to meet many of the world’s despotic, power-crazed autocrats, giving Mugabe a miss was a relief. He has demonstrated once again the truth that while the power of government to do good is limited, its ability to cause harm is infinite, bringing poverty and hyper-inflation to a country rich in natural resources and human talent.

A predecessor, Jack Straw, was severely embarrassed after shaking his hand and was reduced to the much-derided excuse that it had happened in a darkened room.

Since I was required to meet many of the world’s despotic, power-crazed autocrats, giving Mugabe a miss was a relief.

He demonstrated once again the truth that while the power of government to do good is limited, its ability to cause harm is infinite, bringing poverty and hyper-inflation to a country rich in natural resources and human talent.

Resignation of Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe read out to cheers
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The main players in Zimbabwe’s political crisis


For now Zimbabwe celebrates, but questions remain.


For now Zimbabwe celebrates, but questions remain.


Now he has finally been dragged from the presidency, Zimbabweans will be entitled to a moment of hope – that their country can be led in a different way, consistent with democracy, freedom and prosperity.

Many of the bravest of them have struggled for that for decades. The UK and the rest of the Western World can help them.

We have long had ready a worked out plan to give major aid once the country is free of corruption, embezzlement and tyranny.

Yet we have to recognise that our own efforts to support a more democratic Zimbabwe will be based on hopes rather than decisive influence, and that there, and in many other countries, there are powerful forces who either tolerate authoritarian leadership or seek it.

Former British Foreign Secretary William Hague.


Former British Foreign Secretary William Hague.


Mugabe’s successor, Emmerson Mnangagwa, has played a full part in the incompetent and blood-soaked story of the last 37 years.

Significantly, before the military chiefs ordered the tanks to roll last week, it was from Beijing that they apparently sought a green light, rather than London or Washington.

Zimbabweans are thrilled to see Mugabe gone. There are fears, however, about the man who is set to replace the dictator.

If so, the Chinese leadership gave the right answer, but it is a sign that external power over African affairs is steadily moving in their direction and away from the West.

All over Africa, there are foreign ministries, presidential palaces and infrastructure built with help from China.

There is nothing wrong with that in principle, except that such aid comes with few qualms about poor governance, absence of democracy and serious violations of human rights.

The US doesn't seem to care as much about spreading democracy under President Donald Trump. REUTERS/Thomas Peter


The US doesn’t seem to care as much about spreading democracy under President Donald Trump. REUTERS/Thomas Peter

The age in which we westerners could assume that more countries would naturally adopt systems of government similar to our own is over, and the age in which we could require some of them to do so is coming to an end as well.

Turkey is a key example of this, moving in just a few years from seeking to demonstrate the standards of a European democracy to caring little about the remonstrations of the West as authoritarianism takes hold.

And after Iraq and Afghanistan, there is little chance of the United States invading many other places to build a freely governed nation from scratch.

The man considered most likely to replace Robert Mugabe as Zimbabwe’s next president.


In Britain, we all take comfort in Churchill’s maxim that “democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others”, and we share a lazy confidence that others will always find this to be so.

But for the first time since the end of the Cold War, some of the most powerful figures in the world are prepared to challenge this thinking.

The military asking China for permission to overthrow Mugabe marks a turning point in the world order.


The military asking China for permission to overthrow Mugabe marks a turning point in the world order.

The speech of Chinese president Xi Jinping last month to the Communist Party Congress was of vast importance to the future of ideas and power in the 21st Century.

Not only did he declare that China would be ready to take “centre stage” in world affairs by the middle of the century, with “world-class” armed forces, he also argued that “socialism with Chinese characteristics… offers a new option for other countries and nations who want to speed up their development while preserving their independence”.

In other words, the Chinese model of one-party state-led capitalism, with tight ideological control and the use of the new digital economy to enforce citizens’ loyalty, is ready for export to other nations.

After nearly 40 years with an iron grip on power over Zimbabwe, 93-year-old president Robert Mugabe has resigned. Correspondent in Harare Aislinn Laing describes the scenes on the streets there.

What is more, those nations can avail themselves of it without having to bow to the lectures of westerners about governance, rights and debt repayments.

The way will be open to dictators breathing more easily.

In a quarter of a century we will have gone from US presidents being messianic about spreading democracy, to a re-born communism ready to grow again and a US president not exactly motivated by the march of freedom.

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson hails Robert Mugabe’s resignation as a chance for Zimbabwe to push for free and fair elections next year.


This does not mean that all is lost. There are African nations that have entrenched their democratic habits and even insisted on them among their neighbours, as the intervention of west African countries in The Gambia showed.

But as more power passes to the East, the ability of what we used to call the “free world” to bully tyrants with sanctions, embargoes or the threat of invasion is receding.

And battered by globalisation and populism, with Russia highly active in fomenting discord within western electorates, our trust even in our own democratic institutions is diminishing.

So what do we do? Of course, we have to strengthen our ability to protect ourselves from both military and cyber attack.

Crucially, however, a reduced ability to lead by muscle and force means we have to lead all the more by the power of example.

If you can’t make people do what you want, you have to rely even more heavily on inspiring them to do it anyway.

That means that if others reduce their standards of respect for human rights, we must refuse to do so.

Most importantly, we have to renew the health of our own democracies.

It will need a radical change to the regulation of social media, forbidding political advertising and foreign influence, and requiring greater balance and diversity in the news.

The persistent feeding of prejudices and prevalence of “fake news” are serious threats to free political choice.

The slow-motion fall of Mugabe, then, is not just a satisfying conclusion to an agony in a faraway country.

It will be another test of which ideas are gaining ground in a gathering struggle – one in which we will need to reform ourselves to win.

– The Daily Telegraph

China and Pakistan agree to push forward economic corridor plan after dam deal scrapped

November 22, 2017

Analysts say disputes over individual projects won’t get in the way as officials sign long-term plan for US$57 billion scheme

By Liu Zhen
South China Morning Post

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 21 November, 2017, 8:39pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 21 November, 2017, 10:00pm

As China and Pakistan agreed on Tuesday to push ahead with their huge economic and infrastructure scheme, analysts said disputes over individual projects would not have a significant impact on its progress.

Officials from both sides were finalising a long-term plan to 2030 for the US$57 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) on Tuesday as they wrapped up a Joint Coordination Committee meeting in Islamabad.

The CPEC is a flagship project under Beijing’s “Belt and Road Initiative” to open up trade along land and sea corridors from Asia to Africa to Europe. China is hoping to export its infrastructure and industrial capacity and expand economic ties and influence with countries involved in the initiative.

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The two nations on Monday agreed to begin the first phase of developing special economic zones, the World Tribune Pakistan reported.

But Pakistan rejected China’s demand to use the yuan in the Gwadar Free Zone, saying this would compromise its “economic sovereignty”, the Express Tribune reported.

Last week, Pakistan pulled the plug on a US$14 billion deal to build the Diamer-Bhasha Dam – excluding it from the CPEC – saying China’s conditions for funding the project were unacceptable and went against its interests.

However analysts said these were not significant setbacks given the breadth of the CPEC plan, which will connect China’s landlocked far western Xinjiang region with Gwadar Port near the Persian Gulf via road, rail, air and pipe – as well as a series of industrial zones.

Beijing and Islamabad regard themselves as “iron brothers” sharing an “all-weather friendship”.

“No matter how good the Sino-Pakistan relationship is, it is unavoidable that differences will occur in a programme of this scope,” said Du Youkang, head of Pakistan research at Fudan University. “We are talking about dozens of billion-dollar major projects and hundreds of smaller projects.”

He added that Islamabad was generally supportive of the CPEC plan as the government wanted to boost development in the country, including infrastructure, jobs and living standards.

“Chinese and Pakistanis – and also Pakistanis among themselves – have different ideas about so many issues,” he said. “It’s going to take a lot of discussion and consultation to reach agreement.”

The long-term plan follows an initial list released in 2014 of 33 infrastructure projects identified for the CPEC. Construction has already begun on 18 of those projects.

Of those on the initial list, 21 are energy-related, 16 involve power generation and transmission, eight are to do with the development of Gwadar Port, and four are transport projects.

The coordination committee has met twice a year to discuss the CPEC’s progress since it was set up in 2014. However it has been 11 months since its last meeting in Beijing in December.

On Monday at a strategic dialogue in Islamabad, China’s Assistant Foreign Minister Kong Xuanyou and Pakistan’s Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua agreed to positively promote the CPEC, according to Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang.

Pakistan Rejects China Dam Aid; Stuns China’s One Belt One Road Planners

November 16, 2017

File photo used for representational purpose

In a jolt to OBOR, Pakistan rejects China dam aid

Saibal Dasgupta | TNN | Updated: Nov 16, 2017, 11:33 IST

Pakistan has turned down China’s offer of assistance for the $14-billion Diamer-Bhasha Dam
Islamabad is learnt to have asked China to take the project out of the CPEC
The project is located in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK), which is claimed by India
File photo used for representational purposeFile photo used for representational purpose

BEIJING: Pakistan has turned down China’s offer of assistance for the $14-billion Diamer-Bhasha Dam+ , according to a leading Pakistan daily.

Image result for Diamer-Bhasha Dam, photos

Diamer-Bhasha Dam under construction

Moreover, Islamabad is learnt to have asked China to take the project out of the $60 billion China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), and allow it to build the dam on its own. The project is located in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK), which is claimed by India.

The Asian Development Bank had earlier refused+ to finance the project because it was to come up in a disputed territory. Express Tribune cited a top official saying Pakistan would prefer to self-finance the project instead of accepting extremely tough conditions set by Chinese companies.

Sources in Pakistan said international lenders were linking serious conditions with the provision of funding, and the project cost had reached $14 billion against the original estimates of $5 billion.

Express Tribune quoted chairman of Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda) Muzammil Hussain as saying, “Chinese conditions for financing the Diamer-Bhasha Dam were not doable and against our interests.”


Hussain said this while briefing the public accounts committee (PAC) of parliament, and added that Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi has approved a plan to finance the dam from the country’s own resources.

The report caused huge surprise to knowledgeable sources in Beijing, some of whom were in denial and said Pakistan was unlikely to spring a nasty surprise without first consulting Chinese authorities.

A Beijing-based Chinese expert said Pakistan would not risk turning down Beijing’s offer because it would impact the CPEC as a whole.

Diamer-Bhasha Dam is a gravity dam, in the preliminary stages of construction, on the River Indus in Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan

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‘Belt and Road’ project: China’s new vision and Turkey

November 15, 2017


By  Emel Parlar Dal

Does the Belt and Road project really have the potential to introduce a Chinese alternative to the established world order?


U.S. President Donald Trump’s 13-day Asia tour, which began on Nov. 5 with Japan and includes, first and foremost, China, South Korea, Vietnam, and the Philippines, is already signaling that the U.S. is drawing up a new Asian strategy.

Although it is suggested that the visit is outwardly based on the goal of creating a coordination and business alliance to take tougher measures against North Korea, this 13-day diplomacy tour by Trump, the longest Asian tour ever taken by a U.S. president since George H. W. Bush’s 12-day visit in 1991, is dropping major hints about the discomfort the U.S. is feeling towards the recent transformation in power balances in Asia.

One such hint is that the region, defined to date by Washington as “Asia-Pacific”, began to be conceptualized as the “Indo-Pacific region” starting from before this visit. We may say that the most important reason for this visit as well as the conceptual transformation accompanying it — beyond the ostentatious North Korean threat — directly relates to containing or controlling the rise of China, which is now following a global trajectory after its spread over Asia.

The aspect of this Chinese rise that will pose the greatest challenge to the U.S.’ position as a superpower is the Belt and Road project, which is China’s global strategic partnership vision with pragmatic foundations and a win-win strategy as opposed to the security-related tensions in the Asia-Pacific region.

Does the Belt and Road project really have the potential to introduce a Chinese alternative to the established world order? What countries, multilateral structures and regions constitute the main partners of the project?

And how important are Turkey and the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars (BTK) railroad project to this massive undertaking, considering that the current final destination of this project (Kars) is a Turkish province?

Image result for Baku-Tbilisi-Kars (BTK) railroad project, photos

Baku-Tbilisi-Kars (BTK) railroad project

Is Belt and Road main pillar of China’s new world vision?

At a time when the basic paradigms of the international order are being questioned once again, China is the focal point of almost every other analysis because of its position in the international hierarchy and because it is seen as possessed of the greatest potential to develop new alternatives.

Indeed, it would not be wrong to argue that China has in recent years been transforming its infrastructure-based activities and foreign aid-based activities, which it has independently carried out for many years, especially in the neighboring regions, into a formula for a new vision of the world.

What is currently on display in the showcase of this vision, being advertised in an increasingly audible and visible fashion since the 2000s, is — as it is called now — “Belt and Road”, which was originally called “One Belt, One Road” (OBOR) by Chinese President Xi Jinping when he first announced it in 2013.

As was stressed by Xi Jinping during his long speech at the 19th Communist Party Congress held in October, China is now seeking to shape its global strategy in search of a “new” order in a “new” era.

In this context, while consolidating its new geo-economic and geo-strategic stance in its foreign policy, China, with its new pragmatic approach of regionalism and inter-regionalism, is offering an inclusive model based on a win-win mentality as opposed to the Western-origin conditional/normative integration projects that are becoming less appealing by the day in the international system; an inclusive model that the countries the model is being offered to can accept and adopt more easily.

Through this project, which is trying to connect Asia, Europe and Africa together with land and sea routes and economic corridors, China takes interest in not only the infrastructure projects that would provide the said connections; it also considers steps towards policy cooperation, the joining together of activities, unimpeded trade, financial integration and establishing ties between peoples among the project’s goals; steps that will hopefully facilitate the efforts to keep these connections smooth and operational.

The project, which will connect the Chinese hinterland to Europe by road via Central Asia, will also be connecting Chinese ports to Europe by sea, calling at ports in South East Asia and Africa.

In addition to these, the project will incorporate the economic corridors of China-Mongolia-Russia, New Eurasia, China-Central Asia-Western Asia, China-Pakistan, Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar and China-the Indochina Peninsula.

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In addition to massive investment agreements signed to date, worth hundreds of billions of dollars, the Silk Road Fund and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, established by China to finance the project, provide significant clues about the holistic structure of the project.

Likewise, China’s emphasis on the safety of all roads and transit routes within the framework of the project is one of the important dimensions of this pragmatic approach regarding the sustainability of the project.

In fact, this project can be regarded as the locomotive of Xi Jinping’s vision of becoming an equal superpower alternative to the U.S.; a vision that took Jinping years to formulate; a vision that has been carrying China above and beyond being merely a regional hegemon in Asia.

One of the first balancing efforts of the U.S. under Trump in the face of such a possibility [of China becoming the new superpower] came in the form of steadily growing convergence with India and Japan.

By signaling that Australia could as well be invited to come onboard, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson gave the first signals of the steps they have planned to take against China’s grand vision or strategy.

Well, with this convergence taking place in Asia-Pacific through the American driving force, what countries and which multilateral groupings and regions does China prioritize?

Strategic partners of ‘Belt and Road’

China, as already mentioned, offers a global partnership strategy based on a win-win concept with the Belt and Road project, where each country can be a stakeholder regardless of normative conditions or loyalties.

The sheer number of the countries taking part in the project — 69 so far, including China — demonstrates the degree to which the Belt and Road project has been received favorably in such a short time in comparison to other infrastructure and strategic vision projects on the scene.

Another important point that needs to be emphasized here is that China has been trying to activate the Belt and Road project not only through the bilateral relations it has developed but through the regional and interregional multilateral structures, such as the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), ASEAN + China, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum (APEC), the Asia-Europe Summit, the Asia Cooperation Dialogue, the Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures, the Chinese-Arab Cooperation Forum, the China-Gulf Cooperation Council Strategic Dialogue, the Economic Partnership of Greater Mekong Sub-Region, and the Central Asian Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC).

The key strategic partners of the Belt and Road will be Central Asian countries through which the land links that will constitute the main pillar of the project pass, and of them, three countries stand out: Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan, which were participants of the Belt and Road Forum last May.

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Baku-Tbilisi-Kars Project Important for Europe

In the discussions at the Forum, the railway link between China-Kyrgyzstan-Uzbekistan had come to the forefront as the most important infrastructure project that the project promises for the future of Central Asia.

Outside of China, Pakistan and Indonesia particularly stand out among those countries home to a number of projects already launched as part of China’s massive initiative. China signed agreements with Indonesia, already one of the economic corridors of the project, for the financing of over 50 projects, especially in 2015.

Africa is the most important region that stands out in terms of the sea routes of the project. Djibouti, Ethiopia, Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, Egypt, Senegal, Tanzania, and Tunisia are among the areas where the project takes on the greatest intensity continent-wise.

In the African leg of the project, Egypt stands out particularly, because China sees the Suez Canal as one of the most important transit points of the project and is already one of the biggest investors in the development of the canal.

In short, with the Belt and Road project, China is creating strategic partnerships in Central Asia, South East Asia, and Africa as the basis for its new foreign policy vision.

Where does Turkey stand in this partnership vision and what are Turkey’s main concerns?

What is Turkey’s position with regard to ‘Belt and Road’?

The “Belt and Road International Cooperation” forum, also known as the “Modern Silk Road”, held on May 14-15, 2017 in Beijing with the participation of the heads of states and governments of 29 countries, including Turkey, is an important cornerstone to understand the project’s expectations from Turkey, Turkey’s actual capacity as well as the current difficulties it has.

Unlike most European states, Turkey has high expectations from this mega trade and transportation project, considered the most important project of this century.

More than anything else, this project seems to overlap with Turkey’s own development goals and the new role it has designed for itself as well as the ideological infrastructure of this role in the changing post-western international system, in which power and competition are gradually shifting from the Global North to the Global South.

It is undoubtedly not a surprising development that Turkey has been seeking new alternatives and partnerships in international politics in this new era marked by ups and downs in its relations with the West, and following a strategy of convergence with China, the most powerful state of the Global South, because of a dwindling capital flow owing to these ups and downs.

Beyond the economic and commercial expectations — they are surely of the main reasons behind Turkey’s interest in the Belt and Road project — the growing closeness between Turkey and China will create a geopolitical and strategic impact on a regional and global scale.

We can additionally mention the positive contributions that may arise from the project to Turkey’s regional and global leverage, the roles it plays, and its international image.

Indeed, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s statement just before the Belt and Road Forum — “Our convergence with China will create a significant impact in the world” — illustrates the above observation.

In which leg of the project is Turkey situated and how does it contribute to it? We need to first mention the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway, whose construction began in 2007. It was inaugurated at the Port of Baku in Alat two weeks ago and is situated at the middle belt of the Iron Silk Road, which aims to establish an uninterrupted link between Beijing and London.

Another initiative is also worth mentioning: a high-speed train project, planned between Edirne and Kars [the northwestern-most and northeastern-most provinces of Turkey, respectively] as an extension to the BTK line. It will cost a total of $30 billion.

Turkey is making an important contribution to the Iron Silk Road, having completed the middle belt of the Beijing-London line with the Marmaray [the world’s first undersea railway] and the Yavuz Sultan Selim Bridge — the third on the Bosporus Strait — both of which had been designed as part of the Iron Silk Road.

The BTK railway has a total length of 838 kilometers, 76 kilometers of which passes through Turkey, 259 through Georgia and the rest 503 through Azerbaijan. It is envisaged that this line will be initially carrying one million passengers and 6.5 million tons of cargo annually.

It is planned that the BTK line, whose current capacity is expected to increase to 3 million passengers and 17 million tons of cargo annually, will be carrying Chinese merchandise to the Caspian Sea and Baku’s Alat Port by way of Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan, and eventually to Europe through Georgia and Turkey.

Another feature of the BTK is that it will shorten the China-Europe route by about 7,000 kilometers, given that all railways from China to Europe currently go through Russia. Thus, bypassing Russia will reduce the overall duration of this long route to 15 days.

In the same manner, with this new project, it is estimated that a significant portion of the freight traffic between China and Europe will shift from Russia to this particular route.

Turkey’s reservations, and expectations from China

Turkey, on the other hand, does have its concerns about China’s historic project. Despite acting less warily of the project than its European allies, Turkey is focusing on the possibility that the project might further widen the already yawning gap in the import-export balance of its trade with China.

According to the Turkish Statistical Institute’s (Turkstat) figures on 2016, Turkey’s imports from China stood at $25 billion whereas its exports to it were worth a mere $2.3 billion. What is striking here is, Turkey’s exports to China have gradually decreased since 2013 while its imports have remained around the same level.

Again, according to Turkstat data, Chinese exports have also seen a gradual decrease since 2013 whereas its imports have remained around the same levels. According to Turkish officials, this 10-fold difference between exports and imports is far from sustainable.

Therefore, Turkey must increase its exports to China to equal at least a half of its imports to strike a desirable balance, and the two countries must reach an agreement for China to offer Turkey greater access to its domestic market.

Likewise, we observe that Turkey, just like its European allies, is expecting China — an advocate of globalization and liberalization in economics — to lift the quotas and restrictions on foreign investors in its domestic market and to discard the rules that favor its own domestic companies with greater advantages.

All these concerns set aside, given the economic corridors in the Belt and Road project and the initiatives China has separately established with certain countries, it is clear that China is conferring an important role on Turkey, albeit not a primary or pivotal one.

In general, it can be assessed that Turkey’s role in the project is being shaped by how the Chinese-Russian competition is reflected on Central Asia, Caucasia and the Middle East, a region Turkey is a part of.

With this project, China is containing its two chief rivals Russia and India with secure alternative routes, through which it is creating itself new spheres of trade and security.

In the same way, it can be predicted that China will try and negate the Trans-Pacific Partnership (from which it has been excluded), whose infrastructure saw completion during the Obama era.

This partnership envisages that the U.S. can enjoy free trade with Southeast Asian and Oceania countries even though President Donald Trump claims that the U.S. will withdraw from it.

When assessing the Turkey leg of the project, we need to consider these geo-economic elements as well as all other dimensions, including security. Such a comprehensive assessment is very important if we do not wish for this win-win mentality — the primary reason for the project — to turn into a loss for Turkey.

Last but not least, the Belt and Road project might as well serve as an example of similar transportation and transit routes that Turkey may consider developing on its own initiative in the years to come and of the new initiatives of regionalism that it may help to shape.

*Opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Anadolu Agency.