China is busy making global access easier for itself. And a bit harder for others.
They are busy building sand islands in the South China Sea. Eventually to claim the waters around them, and then to be able to “watch over” anyone wanting to ship through “their” waters.
Satellite images show rapid construction on various coral reefs and rocks controlled by China within the disputed Spratly Islands, including harbors, piers, helipads, buildings and potentially at least one airstrip, experts say. Last month, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki expressed concerns that the program was an attempt to “militarize outposts on disputed land features.”
Includes lots of nice photos too… and a pretty good discussion of the potential geopolitical issues involved.
Then, here in the Americas, they are busy building their own bypass to the Panama Canal.
The New Nicaragua Canal: China Barges In
A proposed canal in Nicaragua, built by China, is a tangible signal that the United States can’t set the terms of the world economy forever.
By Arnie Saiki, November 20, 2013
Nicaragua and China have come to an agreement allowing the construction of a new inter-oceanic canal in Nicaragua, connecting China with the Caribbean and its Atlantic-American trade partners. This won’t just increase the flow of goods between China and the Americas. It will also usher China into the region as a major political force—something that is likely to raise alarm in Washington, which will regard any Nicaragua-China alliance as a destabilizing influence in the hemisphere.
China’s role in the development of this canal is partly about expanding its global trade. But it’s also a way for China to push back against Washington’s militarized “Pacific Pivot,” as well as the U.S. drive to establish a Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership (commonly shortened to Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP) that seeks to contain China’s global economic growth.
What BRICS offers is a new reserve currency that helps stabilize economies in developing markets, thereby providing greater access for development and trade, as well as a less draconian debt structure, compared to Wall Street investments.
Of course these competing systems are not mutually exclusive—after all, China and the United States have a symbiotic and integrated economic relationship with each other. However, the TPP and the BRICS economies are competing over the trade and investment rules for the 21st century—and the neoliberal model no longer gets the last word.
That article has more on how the competition is heating up and who’s picking which sides. Such as:
As we unpeel the geographical layer of the TPP, we find that the TPP countries form an integrated wall separating the Mercosur and ALBA economies under Brazil’s economic influence from the Asia-Pacific economies under China’s regional influence—in effect turning the west coast of South America into a barrier between two of the BRICS charter members. A Nicaraguan canal not only provides the maritime access that streamlines the supply chain between China and Brazil, but it also provides new trade advantages to the Global South.
This does not necessarily alienate the United States, but it does have the potential impact of reducing U.S. economic and military hegemony in the region.
A China-led Nicaragua Canal challenges Washington’s 150-year-old claim of military and economic hegemony in the Western Hemisphere as outlined in the Monroe Doctrine. The rise of the trans-global BRICS economy, coupled with a new inter-oceanic canal that the United States has no jurisdiction over, means that the United States has been, at this moment, out-maneuvered by China.
An interesting side note is that Al Jazeera is not so keen on the canal and points out the downsides for the locals as the deal, apparently, gives China a free hand in picking out the route and what dirt to acquire along the way…
The $40bn canal project dividing Nicaragua
Supporters say it could lift country out of poverty, but opponents point to potential for environment and rights abuses.
Lindsay Fendt | 14 Apr 2015 12:32 GMT | Poverty & Development, Politics, Environment, Latin America
La Junta will be one of the first towns demolished to make way for a 300km transoceanic canal that will bisect Nicaragua.
The project’s backer, Chinese telecommunications mogul Wang Jing, expects to complete the $40bn project within five years.
Canal supporters claim that the project could lift Nicaragua – the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere after Haiti – out of poverty, but opponents point to the potential for environmental and human rights abuses.
Though La Junta and nearby towns have been surveyed for construction, no one has come to tell the residents where they will go when the canal comes.
The people in La Junta say they woke up one day to a fleet of police and Chinese engineers in their backyards.
Nicaragua’s Law 840, passed in June 2013, grants HKND the right to expropriate land anywhere in Nicaragua.
The company is required to compensate residents the tax-assessed value of their land, but residents say this is usually lower than the market price.
There’s more at that article. I’ve also noticed a guy who was a former NPR reporter now works for them and is doing a hit piece in support of Global Warming, and that A.J. has definitely drunk the Green Kool-Aid. Then again, maybe the Arab Oil Money knows that crushing coal and nukes only leaves oil to power the world…
Then there is the way that China is paving the Money Road…
RBES ASIA 3/23/2015 @ 3:33AM 6,952 views
China’s Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank Upsets U.S., Lures U.S. Allies, Including Korea
China’s foreign minister, Wang Yi, in Seoul last weekend for a trilateral meeting with Korea’s foreign minister, Yun Byung-se, and Japan’s foreign minister, Fumio Kishida, lobbied hard for Korean and Japanese membership. His pitch was basic: It’s an Asian venture, he told them. “We can cooperate together.”
The display of easy-going friendship among the three foreign ministers provided still more evidence of what is turning into an humiliating experience for the United States — that is, defiance by America’s closest friends and allies of U.S. pleas to boycott China’s invitations to join AIIB.
The U.S. claims the bank will undermine the authority of the International Monetary Fund, the Asian Development Bank and other organizations and also detract from TPP, the Trans-Pacific Partnership that Washington is promoting in a bid to cut through trade barriers. The response to U.S. entreaties to avoid the AIIB like the plague, however, is turning into an embarrassment at the highest levels.
How could U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, the most outspoken foe of AIIB, think otherwise after Christine Legarde, the IMF managing director, assured a forum in Beijing last weekend that certainly the IMF would cooperate? So too, she seemed confident, would the World Bank.
If Legarde was just putting on a show of politesse for the benefit of her Chinese hosts, others are pledging serious substantive support. To Washington’s dismay, Germany, France and Italy quickly signed on after Britain, surely one of America’s strongest, oldest friends and allies, decided that trade and investment with China took priority over Washington’s qualms about the bank’s transparency and governance.
Then there’s the NY Times take on things. Even they had to admit that the Obama leadership got singed on this one…
Washington basically undermined itself by failing to allow a bigger voice for China in the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, said David Daokui Li, a former adviser to the People’s Bank of China who has a Ph.D. in economics from Harvard.
“The Americans got nervous, saying to its allies, ‘You guys can’t join, they are not dependable,’ ” Mr. Li said. “But in the end, all of America’s best allies ended up joining. We should be the ones most surprised, not the Americans.”
Washington had warned some major allies not to join. And President Obama took a hard-line stance against China’s attempts to exert power in the region in his State of the Union address this year, said Bonnie Glaser, senior Asia adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.
“He said China should not be able to write the rules — the United States should write the rules,” Ms. Glaser said.
Now that the United States has lost the battle, it has softened its position, saying that it will encourage the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank to cooperate with the new bank, provided projects meet certain standards.
And we have the BRICS setting up their own Internet Backbone link bypassing US authorities and snooping.
That has a nice global map showing a mostly underwater cable connecting the BRICS. (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa). Then with a different color cable on to a landing point in Miami for any traffic they have destined for the USA…
In light of revelations that the National Security Agency hacked German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s phone, in addition to recording information about 124 billion phone calls during a 30-day period earlier this year, the fallout against the NSA has accelerated.
Brazil is set to finalize a 34,000-kilometre undersea fiber-optic cable by 2015 that will run from Vladivostok, Russia to Fortaleza, Brazil, via Shantou, China, Chennai, India and Cape Town, South Africa.
According to the Hindu, the project will create, “a network free of US eavesdropping,” which via legislative mandates will also force the likes of Google, Facebook and Yahoo to store all data generated by BRICS nations locally, shielding it from NSA snooping.
Now that, alone, is an interesting pattern and picture. China bypassing US power, control, and checkpoints. Finding plenty of ways to just ignore the USA. So, when the time comes to say “Pay up on all that debt”, the USA will have little leverage to say anything other than “Oh, um, er, would you like hundreds?”…
But, IMHO, the more interesting bit is the Pakistani angle. China is building a new Silk Road out the back door of China and down the spine of Pakistan to the sea. This deal is well thought out, and has a LOT of angles to it. I’d not be surprised if there are similar such thoughts and angles in the works on some of the other deals. But first, a word about Go.
It is one of my favorite games. It makes chess look like a game for kids and checkers look like something to keep the baby busy. The basic notion is that you place a ‘stone’ (like a small white or black M&M candy) and then try to build added structures around it so that it can not be captured. If a structure has two holes in it such that a stone placed in either hole gets captured, it is not possible to capture that structure as it takes two stones and that can never happen. You might own a large expanse of the board, but without “two eyes”, it can all fall. There are times when a single small stone placed in an important place is later shown to be a critical anchor that a run of stone reaches, and the opponent is now one stone ahead of you and can capture the space. Sadly, I’ve not had time to play it in many years, but I still have my board and stones (somewhere…).
What can be clearly seen in all this is a Global Go Strategy. China carefully placing stones, some small and some large, and when they all connect, it will have many ‘eyes’ and be very secure. The US State Department really needs to hire some Go players with strategic skills… Right now they are playing checkers, at best.
It looks like there are also online Go providers now…
No idea if that site is safe and no vetting done, so use at your own discretion. Me, I like the tactile process of putting stones on wood…
Two stories in two days (but different pictures even if the text is similar) leads me to think they find this an important deal…
CHINA-PAKISTAN-LI KEQIANG-HUSSAIN-MEETING (CN)
BEIJING, Feb. 20 (Xinhua) — China and Pakistan have provided further details on their planned economic corridor project, signaling the two nations’ commitment for stronger ties.
Leaders of the two states agreed to accelerate the building of the economic corridor, which will focus on energy cooperation, transportation infrastructure construction and industrial parks.
During a meeting with visiting Pakistani President Mamnoon Hussain on Thursday in Beijing, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang emphasized the strategic significance of building an economic corridor.
The two sides need to implement large-scale cooperation projects in electricity and new energy, promote the management of the port of Gwadar and advance connectivity schemes, Li noted.
The economic corridor project was proposed during Li’s visit to Pakistan in May 2013.
For China, the project with Pakistan links China’s strategy to develop its western region with Pakistan’s focus on developing its economy, Ma Jiali, researcher with China Institute of Contemporary International relations, told Xinhua.
Geographically, the economic corridor refers to the 2,000-kilometer road and rail link connecting Kashgar in west China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region to the southwestern Pakistani port of Gwadar.
However, the project is not confined to transportation infrastructure construction. In addition to road and railway construction, it includes energy cooperation and investment programs.
In the joint statement issued after Chinese President Xi Jinping’s meeting with Hussain, the Chinese side assured Pakistan of its full support in helping the latter to address its energy deficit, which is a major obstacle ahead of Pakistan’s socio-economic development.
China’s state-owned enterprises and private companies are being encouraged to invest in Pakistan’s conventional and renewable energy sectors.
In addition to hydropower, Ma Jiali predicted that China will also provide technical support for Pakistan to develop its wind, solar and nuclear energy.
Tang Mengsheng holds the view that the construction of the economic corridor will also help improve the security situation in some underdeveloped areas of Pakistan by reducing poverty and generating job opportunities.
Note that they don’t mention coal. No worries, that’s in a different deal…
I’ve bolded a couple of bits.
Government to develop 6,600 MW Gaddani energy park: Ahsan
Posted on September 6, 2013
ISLAMABAD, Sep 4 (APP): Minister for Planning and Development, Ahsan Iqbal has said that the government is planning to develop 6,600 MW coal based Gaddani energy park with the assistance of Chinese companies. Ahsan Iqbal said during his visit to a 900 Mega Watt Puttalam Coal Power Plant being set up by Chinese company in coastal of Colombo, Sri Lanka, according to a press statement received here on Wednesday. He was accompanied by senior officials of Water and Power and Foreign Ministries. He said the experience of Sri Lanka is very relevant in this regard.
“Pakistan wants to utilize more coal, hydel, and gas for power generation and move away from furnace oil based power generation as oil prices have increased many fold and enhanced per unit generation cost”, he added.
(Courtesy: Associated Press of Pakistan)
Guess we can add Pakistan to the list of countries not caring about Global Warming and coal… Go Pakistan!
So China is busy making a major highway down the center of Pakistan to the sea, enhancing port facilities (maybe a ‘base’? at least port rights), including a rail road line, pipelines (oil from nearby Iran?) and fiber optic cables (that private internet link?). Good luck getting a tap placed on China phone calls to Iran via fiber in Pakistan…
This will put China heavily into the Arabian sea, with a load of ships all over the major oil shipping route (I’m sure any ship that sinks in the mouth of a gulf during a time of tensions would be strictly accidental…) with port and base facilities, and a direct communications and shipping links home via rail and roads. Most likely a nice airport or two also. This is just a super huge collection of “stones” placed neatly with a dozen “eyes” in it, while essentially telling the Americans to go home. Decades of peeing on heads of State in “little countries” we wanted to bully, come home to roost.
Furthermore, this puts India in a pickle. It is now surrounded by China and Pakistan, who both have disputes with it. China to the north and south in the sea, Pakistan to the west. Only a tiny strip open to Burma. Bangladesh as formerly part of Pakistan is an interesting question mark, though being mostly irrelevant null space and swamp is more like a blockade than a strategic piece. So what’s the ‘state of play’ of Burma?
China has been a long-standing partner for Burma (Myanmar), providing important political, military and economic support. Burma’s reform process poses new questions and challenges for China. China’s interests in Burma are primarily economic-driven by its need for strategic resources and are highly controversial. This study argues that China’s approach to Burma’s development is determined by its own national economic interests. Beijing’s view is that this is a ‘win-win’ situation. This is a view under critical review in Burma as it seeks to re-balance its foreign relationships. This article details the critical point at which Sino–Burmese relations now stand, explains Burma’s current development profile, outlines Chinese involvement in Burma and explains China’s development approach to Burma in terms of China’s national economic, political and security interests.
So India is surrounded by a nuclear China and Pakistan… Watch for the Chinese Navy to eventually spread their presence into the Indian Ocean in a larger way as “protection” for their interests in Burma and Pakistan…
So tying this all together, we have China making it harder for folks in South Korea and Japan to ship to Europe or Africa without passing through waters that China claims, and is getting ready to control, or going way further out to sea, and even then needing to pass by a Chinese presence at key choke points. At the same time, China side steps US choke points and power centers, slips under more surveillance, gets better more secure access to oil, and has nice fat roads to move men and material if needed. I’d say the last stone to place will be large military fleet presence, then an unwillingness to loan more money to the USA just about the time we can’t build ships without it. Maybe about 10 to 15 years out. Possibly sooner.
You just have to admire a game so very well played. I just wish that Madam Hillary and His Highness Obama were even aware of the board…