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Thread: Eurasia Topics

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    Eurasia Topics

    How Astana is leading the way in Central Asia

    "Kazakhstan, which lies at the center of Eurasian integration, is a mix of privatization and protectionism, where the state welfare fund is trying to cut state domination in some industries and protect others

    Kazakhstan sits at the heartland of the Great Game of the 21st century, which is all about Eurasia interconnectivity and integration. Astana is a member of both the China-driven New Silk Roads, or Belt and Road Initiative, and the Russia-led Eurasia Economic Union.
    Kazakhstan, the “snow leopard economy” as branded by President Nursultan Nazarbayev over the past decade, could not be more quintessentially Eurasian, its landlocked steppes crisscrossed by 60% of China to Europe rail cargo.


    The country also functions as a sort of massive power station for the New Silk Roads, overflowing with oil and gas but also significantly investing in solar, wind and nuclear power.

    Astana happens to be the only financial hub between Moscow and Beijing, boasting the Astana International Financial Centre, where the Shanghai Stock Exchange is a major investor and Chinese banks and businesses are listed.
    A fascinating mix of privatization and protectionism is also in play.

    Samruk Kazyna, the Kazakh national welfare fund, is seeking to reduce the government’s share of the economy, which ranges from energy to banking, from 90% to 20%, even as Astana has made it clear that some strategic commodities and industries are closed to foreign, especially Chinese, investment.

    With all that as background, it’s more than natural that Kazakhstan’s unique Eurasian crossroads status has been discussed in detail at the Astana Club.

    Its 2018 report, ‘Toward a Greater Eurasia: How to Build a Common Future?’, focuses on everything from geoeconomics and the Central Asian renaissance to geopolitical and security risks. Of particular interest is a new report on the global risks ahead for Eurasia.





    The Eurasian Davos

    There’s near universal consensus across the Global South, including key Eurasian latitudes, that in a new, emerging, extremely complex geopolitical matrix, globalization as we knew it is “no longer a universal good”, given how states are grappling mightily with the rise of protectionism. There’s also plenty of debate on how the dwindling “Western liberal order” will be remixed, side by side with the consolidation of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

    These concerns are discussed not only by the jaded Western elites who gathered at Davos this week. It has been a recurrent theme studied by the Institute of World Economics and Politics in Astana, which operates under President Nazarbayev.

    Assisted by the International Strategy Partners Group, the Institute conducted a survey among 1,000 executives in 60 countries plus 30 international experts to find out how Eurasia may be able to anticipate the New Great Game’s extreme challenges, such as the US-China trade war, the US-Russia geopolitical and nuclear impasse, the shifting chessboard in Southwest Asia – what the West calls the Middle East, the rise of ethnic and religious conflicts, the inexorable march of high-end technology, and the appalling degradation of the environment.

    Under the survey, the number one risk for Eurasia was considered to be the escalation of US-China military and political confrontation, closely followed by confrontation between Russia and the West. The conflict most likely to be exacerbated was seen to be the US and Iran. Meanwhile, protectionism was the key concern for 56% of respondents.

    Serious questions may be posed about the relevance of some of the experts featured in the final report. Still, there’s some sound analysis. Evgeny Buzhinsky, vice-president of the Russia International Affairs Council, ominously stressed how further escalation of the US-Russia high-stakes game could “lead to armed confrontation not only with the use of conventional means of destruction, but also to a nuclear conflict”.

    Buzhinsky also sought to make it clear that his country won’t initiate an arms race, saying Russia firmly adheres to the principle of “reasonable sufficiency”.

    The multi-vector way

    The Astana report does show in some detail the “first symptoms of a crisis of global institutions”. Yet, in parallel, there’s a tendency in some Western latitudes to interpret the crisis as an outcome stemming from the rise of what could be described as Asiatic imperialism.
    Turks with a passion for the Ottoman Empire, such as former Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, may have dreamed of tying up again with citizens from “Sarajevo to Damascus, Benghazi to Erzurum”, but not so much in the spirit of a recent, lovely travel book revisiting imperial latitudes.

    The Syria debacle has proved that President Erdogan’s expansion project will have to be substantially tamed, as it must fit with the geopolitical reach of another former empire, Russia, as well as a backlash from the Arab world. There’s no neo-Ottoman way when Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and the UAE, among others, are now in favor of patching up their formerly fractured relationship with Damascus.

    A case can be made that Erdogan may be aiming towards a new brand of Eurasianism, just as Russian intellectuals have evolved the concept of Greater Eurasia, where the notion of Russkii Mir (the Russian World) is expanded in an inclusive, geoeconomic and geopolitical way, and not as a form of domination.

    Russia is, after all, a de facto supranational civilization, not a mere nation-state, just as China is a de facto “civilization-state”. Russian culture reigns all across Central Asia, where Russian, also crucially in social media, is the lingua franca.

    Erdogan could do worse than invest in a similar, inclusive notion incorporating all Turkic-speaking peoples across Central Asia.
    In a nutshell, comparisons with the eve of WWI, as far as Eurasia is concerned, are premature. The discussions in Astana show that the way ahead is multi-vector, multi-cultural, and multi-polar.

    How Astana is leading the way in Central Asia - Asia Times
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    A tray full of GOLD is not worth a moment in time.

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    Why are you always sucking up to dictators Ohoh, you fawning sycophant?

    Is Kazakhstan's President a Dictator? You Decide.


    Like many leaders who might more or less match the description, 76-year-old Kazakh president Nursultan Nazarbayev is uncomfortable with suggestions that he is a dictator. In a recent and revealing
    discussion with hand-picked journalists in the oil-rich country, he returned to a favoured theme: explaining why, in his opinion, Asian societies aren't always suited to the trials and tribulations of democracy.


    Nazarbayev held court on March 16 at his residence in the capital Astana, a city of a million that he transformed from a provincial backwater, and one that looks increasingly destined to take his name. According to him, a strong presidential republic such as the one he has ruled over since before the collapse of the Soviet Union offers numerous benefits.


    “The most important thing is people’s economic well-being. How can you do politics on an empty stomach? There is no political culture in Kazakhstan for the development of full democracy yet,” he declared during the discussion.

    Not for the first time, Nazarbayev referred to his late friend and role model, the former Singaporean leader Lee Kuan Yew, who served as the country's prime minister for three decades. “Everyone criticized him, calling him a dictator, and look at Singapore now and what economic prosperity it has achieved,” Nazarbayev said.


    “Adopting a new Constitution in 1995 that gave me more power as a president. That was a necessary step in order to ensure faster economic development of the country, by adopting faster reforms without consulting the public and the Parliament, which was slowing down economic development.”


    “But that doesn’t make me a dictator,” added Nazarbayev. “Look at Europe, a traditionally open and democratic society and how it is dealing with the refugee crisis. Why are they not letting refugees in? Because leaders realise that you have to consider national interests and the interests of your own people.”


    At one point during the discussion, which was broadcast on state television, Nazarbayev gestured outside the window behind him to the view of glitzy Astana, where billions of profits from oil revenues have been invested in buildings designed by international architects.

    “Look out the window and see how Kazakhstan looked in the early 1990s compared with how it looks now,” he told the journalists.

    But there is a problem with Nazarbayev's depiction of Kazakhstan: it is a facade.


    For drop-in journalists and delegates at peace talks on Syria that took place there in January, Astana may indeed appear impressive. But it is not representative of Kazakhstan, where the norm remains bumpy roads, school shortages and endemic corruption. Nor do its summits and expos offer much for ordinary people suffering amid an oil-price-linked economic crisis, with high inflation and even higher unemployment.


    While Nazarbayev underplays his dictator credentials, opposition activists are forced to flee the country in the face of persecution, unlawful trial and imprisonment. In one recent case, blogger Zhanara Akhmet escaped to Ukraine, declaring that her freedom to openly oppose the present political regime was at risk.

    During his discussion with the journalists, Nazarbayev also stressed
    recent constitutional changes that have seen powers devolved from the presidency to the parliament and the government. But to whom, exactly, have they been devolved?


    A speech earlier this month (see video below) in the lower house by an MP from Nazarbayev's dominant Nur Otan party called for the capital, its airport and other important symbols of state to be named after the ageing leader, prompting rebellious social media users in the country to make comparisons not with Singapore, but North Korea.


    Elections, meanwhile, are a sham. The 95.22% turnout claimed in a vote Nazarbayev won with a 97.7% margin of victory at a time of profound economic crisis, was widely seen as yet more evidence that Kazakhstan's political system has lost touch with even the faintest trace of reality.
    Unfortunately, the strongest sources of resistance to one-man rule in Kazakhstan have all been broken. Opposition media has been suppressed in Kazakhstan, with fabricated court cases and heavy penalties, and some of the country's strongest anti-government media, including the newspaper Respublika, have been shut down. Independent online media is regularly blocked.


    Protesting, even by individuals, is mostly illegal in Kazakhstan, since Kazakh laws require obtaining permission from local authorities 10 days in advance, a request which is most of the time denied. In May 2016, applications to hold protests across the nation to vent frustration at controversial land code amendments proposed by the government were rejected, and hundreds of protesters were detained across the country. Rights activists Max Bokayev and Talgat Ayan, who played a role in organising the protests, are currently serving five-year prison terms for “inciting social discord”.

    President Nursultan Nazarbayev, meanwhile, is immune from prosecution for the rest of his life, and his status as Leader of the Nation, a title created in 2010, also allows him to influence government policy after retirement. Among democratically elected rulers, such stipulations might seem somewhat irregular.



    https://globalvoices.org/2017/03/23/...or-you-decide/

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    Afghan peace comes two steps at a time

    "Dramatic news is filtering in from Qatar where the United States Special Representative for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad and his delegation were huddled together with the representatives of the Taliban for four consecutive days since Monday. The duration of the talks unmistakably signifies that complex negotiations have taken place. Things are moving almost entirely in the direction I had indicated in my earlier blog US officials converge on Pakistan seeking peace.

    What comes to mind for a longtime observer and interlocutor in Afghan affairs will be the lines from T.S. Eliot’s poem Four Quartets, “Footfalls echo in the memory, down the passage we did not take, towards the door we never opened, into the rose garden.” The ‘foot falls in the memory’ go as far back as the forenoon of April 15, 1992 when the then Representative of Secretary-General on Settlement of Situation Relating to Afghanistan, Benon Sevan appeared in the compound of the Indian High Commission in Islamabad straight from a meeting of top Pakistani officials under way chaired by then Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to transmit a tantalizing idea to New Delhi as to whether Dr. Najibullah who was stepping down from the office of president of Afghanistan within a day could live in exile in India. (The positive reply from PM Narasimha Rao came on phone within two hours.)




    Prof. Ahmad Hasan Dani (1920-2009), Pakistani historian, archaeologist and linguist

    Or, at the very least, the footfalls in memory would go back to a chance meeting circa end-2013 or early 1994 with late Professor Ahmad Hasan Dani, the great Pakistani archaeologist, historian and Sanskrit scholar (above all a humanist and a very dear friend (originally from India and a product of Banares Hindu University.) It was from Dani that I heard for the first time about the strange happenings going on in the Pakistani madrassahs, on the raising of an army of Talibs to be assigned in a near future to Afghanistan. Dani spoke with a profound sense of foreboding that momentous events were about to unfold in Afghanistan.

    As it turned out, both in 1992 and in 1996, an orderly transition in Kabul enjoying international legitimacy was not possible to be attained. However, in this third attempt going on in Doha, prospects look distinctly good. The tidings from Doha suggest that two crucial areas of consensus have emerged between the US and the Taliban – a road map for the withdrawal of foreign troops in Afghanistan and a guarantee by the Taliban that Afghan soil will not be used to threaten international security.
    The two templates are of course inter-linked. It is unclear whether there will be a total US withdrawal from Afghanistan and a shutting down of the American bases or whether the Taliban is agreeable to a reduced US presence in a near term. Considering the robust opposition of Russia and Iran to any US military presence in their border regions, it seems improbable that Pentagon can keep its bases and the CIA its listening posts in Afghanistan.

    However, Taliban’s security assurance is important in as much as it also guarantees, from the Taliban perspective, continued involvement by the international community to assist in Afghanistan’s reconstruction. Put differently, Taliban is ensuring that the international community (read Americans) will no longer ostracize it as a ruling elite. In retrospect, it was the dogged refusal of the US to recognize the Taliban regime in the late 1990s or provide it with any form of international assistance that finally prompted the latter for want of an alternative to accept the offer of financial help from Osama bin Laden.
    According to the reports from Doha, a ceasefire is under discussion as well, followed by inter-Afghan talks. If so, the constitution of an interim government also becomes a real possibility. The crucial difference between 1992 and 1996 and now lies in the shift in the Pakistani position. The happenings of the past few days or weeks suggest three things:

    One, Pakistan is not seeking a Taliban takeover by force in Afghanistan (even assuming that it has the capability to do so.) Two, Pakistan seems open to a broad-based government in Afghanistan (which includes Taliban or is led by Taliban.) And, three, Pakistan wants the US to remain engaged and committed to post-war Afghanistan.

    However, the bottom line is that Pakistan realises that the US is making unprecedented concessions and an optimal point is at hand to close the deal. The US special representative on Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad too cannot be unaware that President Trump would relish making a big announcement on Afghanistan as a crowning foreign policy success in his annual State of the Union address before the Congress in Washington.

    Significantly, at the operational level, there are growing signs that Pakistan is marginalizing or eliminating the hardline elements within the Taliban. Iran’s official news agency IRNA reported last week somewhat cryptically that Mullah Yaghoub, son of Taliban’s founder late Mullah Omar and a member of the so-called Quetta Shura, has been killed in Peshawar following differences. Yaghoub is known to be a hardliner who even aspired to inherit his father’s mantle. The IRNA further reported, “Earlier, Afghan media reported that a number of Taliban leaders in Pakistan have been arrested after their meeting with Pakistan army commanders.”

    The impression becomes unavoidable from various reports that some sort of “spring cleaning” is under way within the Taliban and, importantly, Pakistan is leveraging its influence to consolidate a Taliban leadership of “moderates”. All in all, Pakistan is helping the Taliban to prepare for “homecoming.” To be sure, Pakistan is acutely conscious that many spy agencies have established direct dealings with the Taliban and apprehends (and rightly so) that some of those countries may act as “spoilers” due to geopolitical considerations.





    (Mullah Baradar Akhund, co-founder of the Taliban)

    Without doubt, the elevation of Mullah Baradar in the leadership hierarchy can be seen in this light. It is useful to recall the speculation eight years ago that one of the things that apparently irked Islamabad and prompted it to crack down on Baradar in 2010 (while in Karachi) might have been his direct dealings with then Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

    With his appointment as the head of the Qatar office of the Taliban and his new titular position as deputy to the Taliban head Mullah Akhundzada, Baradar has become the de facto point person for Khalilzad to engage with from the Taliban side. Conceivably, Baradar is the man to watch. He is poised to be a future political figure in the Kabul power structure. His credentials are impeccable having been a co-founder of the Taliban movement along with Mullah Omar who is not only trusted by Pakistan but also is a “moderate” who is acceptable to the Americans and is savvy enough to navigate the politics of intra-Afghan consensus.

    Baradar was recently released after nearly 8 years of detention by the Pakistani security agencies at the behest of Khalilzad. By the way, it was not as if Pakistan had scores to settle with Baradar. Through his detention, Pakistan probably ensured greater control over any nascent peace process. Besides, it was important for Pakistan that he remained physically safe and “groomed” to take up a future leadership role when the time became ripe. In the Pakistani (and US) judgment, the time has come to end Baradar’s protective custody and to launch this experienced politician as the charioteer of the tumultuous journey ahead."

    https://indianpunchline.com/afghan-p...eps-at-a-time/
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    Bit of a Vietnam War again, isn't it?

    They'll leave with a "Peace Agreement", the Taliban will take over and it will all have been a titanic waste of lives and money.

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    ^Victory will be claimed by all. Others will judge where the legitimate claims sit.

    One can only hope that, whoever becomes the new government of Afghanistan, the fighting stops and the people's lives take a turn for the better.

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    Quote Originally Posted by OhOh View Post
    ^Victory will be claimed by all. Others will judge where the legitimate claims sit.

    One can only hope that, whoever becomes the new government of Afghanistan, the fighting stops and the people's lives take a turn for the better.
    Oh I'm sure the fighting will stop.

    And the public executions, acid baths for schoolgirls, etc., will resume.

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    Quote Originally Posted by harrybarracuda View Post
    Bit of a Vietnam War again, isn't it?

    They'll leave with a "Peace Agreement", the Taliban will take over and it will all have been a titanic waste of lives and money.
    Takes a while, our glorious leaders still don't realise the country is a no-go zone.

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    Quote Originally Posted by OhOh View Post
    ^Victory will be claimed by all. Others will judge where the legitimate claims sit.

    One can only hope that, whoever becomes the new government of Afghanistan, the fighting stops and the people's lives take a turn for the better.
    Sad to say but dream on!

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    Shuttered at home, cement plants bloom along China's new Silk Road


    “We need oil-well cement for the oil and uranium industries,” said Yevgeniy Kim, deputy governor of the Kyzylorda region where the plant is located.

    “This plant should have been built much earlier. If it is needed, we will expand it,” he told Reuters on the sidelines of its opening ceremony in December, which was live-broadcast to the Kazakh capital Astana, where a nationwide event to present some of the country’s newest projects to President Nursultan Nazarbayev was being held.

    Built jointly by Gezhouba Group and Kazakh firm Corporation DANAKE, the plant is an illustration of how China is using its “Belt and Road” initiative to redraw its manufacturing footprint well beyond its own borders, reshaping industries in the process.
    But amid increased scrutiny of Belt and Road - a sprawling infrastructure plan meant to foster trade along a new “Silk Road” linking Asia with Europe, the Middle East and beyond - others say China is using the initiative to export industrial overcapacity, especially in heavy polluting industries.

    While the drive has encouraged China’s corporate giants to seek overseas business, some worry the trend could distort regional economies and increase their dependency on Chinese money.

    DRIVEN OUT

    China says the four-year-old Belt and Road initiative, a signature policy of President Xi Jinping, is a “win-win” opportunity that helps other countries upgrade their transport and infrastructure links while boosting its own trade.

    Chinese authorities have also suggested it as a possible solution

    to its industrial overcapacity woes, a legacy of the billions of dollars it poured into infrastructure projects to weather the 2008/09 global financial crisis, allowing firms to shift to areas where demand could still grow.
    That idea has been acted upon by companies in sectors ranging from steel to cement to coal, industry executives and analysts say, shaking up global production maps.

    “Every week there’s news about a new cement plant in the Commonwealth of Independent States area or Asia area that is being built by (the Chinese),” said Raluca Cercel, an associate at consultancy CW Group, which analyses the cement market.
    Hundreds of cement plants have been shuttered in China under the pollution crackdown, according to state media, and the China Cement Association says that the country aims to eliminate about 400 million tonnes of capacity - about one-tenth of the total - by 2020.

    Chinese majors such Gezhouba, Anhui Conch Cement and Shangfeng Cement in 2018 announced investments in at least 18 plants across Africa, Asia and South America with total annual capacity of more than 20 million tonnes - larger than the output of most European countries - according to industry publication Global Cement.





    GRAPHIC-China's concrete plans - tmsnrt.rs/2RywR1U


    They are also building more plants on behalf of Western cement makers such as LafargeHolcim and HeidelbergCement, said David Perilli, an editor at Global Cement.
    These Chinese firms had no such overseas footprint a decade ago, executives said.

    Gezhouba is keen to embrace the new opportunities, said Li Jinqing, general manager at the Chinese firm’s Shieli subsidiary.


    https://www.reuters.com/article/us-c...-idUSKCN1PO35T
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    What they should have said:

    China says the four-year-old Belt and Road initiative, a signature policy of President Xi Jinping, is a “lose-win” opportunity that helps other countries pay to upgrade China's transport and infrastructure links.

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    Fortunately 'arry when the BAR is built it connects many currently lily pad cities and communities. That fact along allows those living in the lily pads to improve their lifestyles in-situ and forsake any trek to another rainbows end.

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    China won’t mix Russia with US ties


    "The Russian daily Nezavisimaya Gazeta carried a thoughtful commentary on Tuesday titled Russia becomes China’s raw material storeroom. The argument runs like this: There has been a phenomenal shift in the structure of Sino-Russian trade through the past two decades. The share of Russian supplies of machinery and equipment to China in the export basket has dramatically shrunk to a mere tenth of what it used to be just twenty years ago. Instead, “most primitive commodities” have surged. On the other hand, China has become a supplier to Russia of “complex high value-added products.” China’s exports to Russia are today principally machinery and equipment. The Russian studies suggest that through the next two decades, this trend will only accelerate and “the structure of Russian exports to China will become more raw and primitive.”

    The Russian experts attribute this trend to “development features”. That is to say, as the Chinese economy rapidly grew and expanded through the past two-decade period, all sectors were evolving alongside and the country began producing a wide range of high value-added products that are in demand abroad. Whereas, the Russian story ran in an opposite direction. In the Russian economy, the main growth sector turned out to be the oil and gas sector and the country’s exports today are mainly out of the energy sector.




    (Power of Siberia gas pipeline to China: Delivery to begin late 2019)


    The head of the Veta expert group in Moscow Dmitry Zharsky drew some profound conclusions out of all this. He said, “China is a country with economic development dictated by the lack of potential for developing commodity exports, which creates the pre-requisites for the development of the manufacturing sector.” According to Zharsky, investment in technology and intellectual capital shaped up the Chinese economy into its present mode and Russia is lacking here. He added, “In order to diversify exports to China in the future, it is necessary to start producing something that China would be interested in besides oil and timber.” For this to happen, Russia needs to invest money in the development of the manufacturing industry.

    Indeed, the Russia-China trade is doing splendidly. Trade increased by 20.8% during the last two-year period, touching a record figure of $107.06 billion. It is a success story and trade balance is in Russia’s favour — exports to China worth $59.08 billion as against imports of $47.98 billion.

    The big question is whether a similar trend awaits the US’ trade with China. The point is, President Trump is so much focused on the US’ trade deficit with China that Beijing is compelled to seriously explore opportunities to import more from America. The catch is that in the process, the US may end up as an important supplier of raw materials for China. Indeed, China is at present the biggest importer of oil and soybeans in the world and a potential buyer of bulk commodities like LNG.

    The US on the other hand, is shaping up as one of the world’s top exporters of crude oil and natural gas, following the technological innovations known as the shale gas revolution. Simply put, bulk commodities are likely to be thrust areas in the US’ exports to China. A commentary in the Global Times argues, China will retain its status as a “major manufacturing power with the world’s most complete industrial chain”, and China’s manufacturing industry will no doubt be a huge guzzler of bulk commodities.

    But then, what the GT says is not the whole story about China-US trade. Arguably, it is not even a fraction of the story. Thus, Alibaba co-founder Joseph Tsai was quoted by US-based financial network CNBC as saying on Wednesday that the US trade deficit with China will reverse in the long term. He explained how this may happen. According to him, Chinese economy is very much driven by consumption and China’s middle class consumers who are the growth drivers today already number 300 million (by world standards) and this number is expected to increase to a staggering 850 billion in a little over a decade, by 2030. To quote Joseph Tsai,

    “With regards to the trade war (with US), I would say this: the — if you look at the long term, the trade deficit itself will reverse. You know, I have talked about this 300 million middle class consumers that would continue to buy more from over the world. The government has made a commitment to import $30 trillion of goods and $10 trillion of services over the next 15 years.”




    (A container terminal in Shanghai)


    Joseph Tsai’s interview gives a fantastic insight into the level of Sino-American matrix. The following passages are so revealing:

    “Well, I think there’s a very symbiotic relationship of Chinese businesses and U.S. businesses doing business in each other’s countries. And we hope – we are hopeful that this relationship will be maintained. I think there are some specific circumstances on some of the Chinese companies and they will have to work through their issues with the regulators…”

    “Well, I think it’s not quite right to pit China against the United States when it comes to AI or any kind of technology. The fact of the matter is everything is symbiotic. So specific to AI, if you look at the applications of AI, we’re applying that to agriculture, to manufacturing, to health care. So, for example, there’s just an article this morning about Chinese hospitals develop new ways using AI to detect diseases. And if the benefits of AI can be shared globally with all the different country that will be great. But right now, I think there’s kind of a knee jerk tendency to say, ‘Oh, we’re competitors,’ and parallel universes are being created. I think that’s the wrong approach. The fact of the matter is there are scientists from China here in the United States working on AI. Lots of American companies that are very, very good in AI that want to get into China. I think that — I think having a more symbiotic relationship and working together on AI is really the way to move forward.”

    Quite obviously, Beijing will never mix its respective relationships with Russia and the US, especially by teaming up with Moscow to challenge Washington. The US remains the most important partnership for China. Equally, the same can be said for Moscow as well — although from a different perspective of security and strategic stability.

    Indian analysts often draw simplistic geopolitical conclusions while exaggerating the dimensions of the Russian-Chinese partnership or underestimating the profound matrix of interdependency that exists in the relations between China and the US. Read the transcript of Joseph Tsai’s exclusive interview with the CNBC — Alibaba Co-Founder Joe Tsai Speaks with CNBC’s Leslie Picker Today.


    https://indianpunchline.com/china-wont-mix-russia-with-us-ties/


    Interview available here:

    https://www.cnbc.com/2019/02/12/cnbc-exclusive-cnbc-transcript-alibaba-co-founder-joe-tsai-speaks-with-cnbcs-leslie-picker-today.html

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    China wants oil, Russia has oil.

    Russia wants tat, China makes tat.

    I'm surprised it took you so long to work that shit out.

    It's pretty fucking obvious to anyone with half a brain cell.

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    Quote Originally Posted by OhOh View Post
    Fortunately 'arry when the BAR is built it connects many currently lily pad cities and communities. That fact along allows those controlling the lily pads to improve their lifestyles in-situ and forsake any trek to another rainbows end.
    FTFY.

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    If the foreign "controllers" aren't interfering with the lily pad's political leaders and restrict themselves only with winning commercial success, using international norms, only the lily pad's citizens can control the lily pads and there own destiny.

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    Quote Originally Posted by OhOh View Post
    If the foreign "controllers" aren't interfering with the lily pad's political leaders and restrict themselves only with winning commercial success, using international norms, only the lily pad's citizens can control the lily pads and there own destiny.

    Of course they are interfering.

    Do you really think they could destroy communities in foreign countries without paying massive bribes?

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    Quote Originally Posted by harrybarracuda View Post
    Do you really
    You are suggesting China "controls" other countries and destroys lily pad communities, care to quote examples and your sources?

    The "bribes"they utilise come from their citizens, legally accrued, financial reserves. They are investments, accepted by foreign governments of their own free will after their own internal processes, for the donors and recipients own citizens future wealth.

    Similar to Norway's own Investment Fund.

    There is no incentive to destroy the lily pad communities, just the opposite. Happy and content lily pad citizens don't trek to new pastures or go to war. A win/win solution.

    Unfortunately, proven, historical facts, show that western SOP is to subjugate local democracy and instigate a dependency culture. Leading to a quick rape of the resources, the formation of vassal systems and ultimately the timorous withdrawal. Lose/lose except for the 0.01% classes. Examples occur around the world, South American and Caribbean "problems" make convoys of foreign citizens demanding access to the controlling countries. Similar in the Middle East, Africa and to a lesser extent, Asia. The ASEAN countries have already opened up their borders to people, investments and opportunities to it's members. Successfully IMHO. The connecting of the various blocs are expanding, ongoing and not being dismantled.As is happening to the old empires daily, politically, financially and militarily.
    Last edited by OhOh; 17-02-2019 at 12:39 PM.

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    Reshaping the Middle East: why the West should stop its Interventions (2)




    By Elijah J. Magnier: @ejmalrai


    "Foreign intervention has pushed many Middle Eastern populations into poverty, at the same time making them more determined to confront and reject the global domination sought by the USA. The number of Middle Eastern countries and non-state actors opposed to the US coalition is relatively small and weak by comparison with the opposite camp, but they have nevertheless shaken the richer and strongest superpower together with its oil-rich Middle Eastern allies who were the investors and the instigators of recent wars. They have coalesced as a Resistance movement attracting global support, even in the face of unprecedented propaganda warfare in the mass media. The soft power of the US coalition has been undermined domestically and abroad from the blatant deceit intrinsic in the project of supporting jihadist takfiri gangs to terrorize, rape and kill Christian, Sunni, secular, and other civilian populations while allegedly fighting a global war on Islamic terrorism.

    The small countries targeted by the US coalition are theoretically and strategically important due to their vicinity to Israel. Notwithstanding the scarcity of their resources and their relatively small number of allies in comparison with the opposite camp, they have rejected any reconciliation on the terms offered by Israel.

    Israel itself is progressively revealing more overt reconciliation and ties with oil-rich Arab countries: we see Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu strolling in Warsaw, discussing and shaking hands with Arab leaders. These are obviously not first meetings: recent years have shown a progressively warming rapport and openness between Israel and many Arab leaders.

    These Middle East countries have long been supportive of Israel’s aggression against Lebanon and its inhabitants. And in the last decade, this support expanded to include a plot against the Palestinians, Syria and Iraq.
    The US has exerted huge pressure on Syria since 2003, following the invasion of Iraq. During Secretary of State Colin Powell’s visit to Damascus in March 2003 he offered long-lasting governance to President Bashar al-Assad in exchange for submission: Assad was asked to sell out Hamas and Hezbollah, and thus join the road map for the “new Middle East”.

    When Powell’s intimidation failed, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, the US’s main Arab allies and the countries responsible for cash pay-outs to help the US establishment achieve its goals (and those of Israel), promised to inject untold gold and wealth into Syria.

    Assad was not willing to comply with this US-Saudi influence and pressure. The influence belonged to the US; Saudi Arabia and Qatar stood behind, holding the moneybags. A war against the Syrian state became essential, and its objectives and prospective benefits immense.

    In a few paragraphs, this is what the seven years of war in Syria were about:

    The Palestinian cause was pushed to the periphery by the mushrooming of ISIS, a group that terrorised the Middle East and participated in the destruction of the region’s infrastructure, killing thousands of its people and draining its wealth. It was also responsible for numerous attacks around the globe, extending from the Middle East into Europe. ISIS didn’t attack Israel even though it was based on its borders under the name of “Jayesh Khaled Bin al-Waleed.” Nor did al-Qaeda attack Israel, although it also bordered Israel for years, enjoying Israeli intelligence support–and even medical care!

    All this was done in order to destroy Syria: dividing the state into zones of influence, with Turkey taking a big chunk (Aleppo, Afrin, Idlib); the Kurds realising their dream by taking over Arab and Assyrian lands in the northeast to create a land of Rojava linked with Iraqi Kurdistan; Israel taking the Golan Heights permanently and creating a buffer zone by grabbing more territory in Quneitra; creating a failed state where jihadist and mercenary groups would fight each other endlessly for dominance; gathering all jihadists into their favourite and most sacred destination (Bilad al-Sham – The Levant) and sealing them into “Islamic Emirates”.

    It also involved, strategically, stopping the flow of weapons from Iran through Damascus to Hezbollah in Lebanon; weakening the Iranian-Syrian-Iraqi-Lebanese “Axis of Resistance” by removing Syria from it; preparing for another war against Lebanon once Syria was wiped off the map; stealing Syria’s oil and gas resources on land and in the Mediterranean; building a gas pipeline from Qatar to Europe to cripple Russia’s economy; and finally removing Russia from the Levant together with its naval base on the coast.

    At no point in the Syrian war was a single leader proposed to rule the country and replace Bashar al-Assad. The plan was to establish a zone of anarchy with no ruler; Syria was expected to become the jungle of the Middle East.
    It was a plan bigger than Assad and much bigger than the Syrians. Hundreds of billions of dollars were invested by Middle Eastern countries – Saudi Arabia and Qatar – to kill Syrians, destroy their country and accomplish the above objectives. It was a crime against an entire population with the watchful complicity of the modern and “democratic” world.

    Many pretexts were given for the Syrian war. It was not only about regime change. It was about creating a jungle state. Think tanks, journalists, academics, ambassadors all joined the fiesta by collaborating in the slaughter of Syrians. Crocodile tears were shed over “humanitarian catastrophes” in Syria even as the poorest country in the Middle East, the Yemen, was and still is being slaughtered while the same mainstream media avert their gaze and conceal the nature of the conflict from the general public.

    Anyone who understood the game, or even part of it, was called “Assadist”, a designation meant as an insult. The savage irony? This epithet “Assadist” was freely wielded by the US chattering class- who themselves have evidently never publicly counted and acknowledged the millions killed by the US political establishment over the centuries.

    So, what has this global intervention brought about?

    Russia has returned to the Levant after a long hibernation. Its essential role has been to stand against the US world hegemony without provoking, or even trying to provoke, a war with Washington. Moscow demonstrated its new weapons, opening markets for its military industry, and showed its military competence without falling into the many traps laid in the Levant during its active presence. It created the Astana agreement to bypass UN efforts to manipulate negotiations, and it isolated the war into several regions and compartments to deal with each part separately. Putin exhibited a shrewd military mind in dealing successfully with the “mother of all wars” in Syria. He ventured skilfully into US territory against its hegemonic goals, and he has created powerful and lasting strategic alliances with Turkey (a NATO member) and Iran.

    Iran found fertile ground in Syria to consolidate the “Axis of the Resistance” when the country’s inhabitants (Christian, Sunni, Druse, secular people and other minorities) realised that the survival of their families and their country were at stake. It managed to rebuild Syria’s arsenal and succeeded in supplying Hezbollah with the most sophisticated weapons needed for a classic guerrilla-style war to stop Israel from attacking Lebanon. Assad is grateful for the loyalty of these partners who took the side of Syria even as the world was conspiring to destroy it.
    Iran has adopted a new ideology: it is not an Islamic or a Christian ideology but a new one that emerged in the last seven years of war. It is the “Ideology of Resistance”, an ideology that goes beyond religion. This new ideology imposed itself even on clerical Iran and on Hezbollah who have abandoning any goal of exporting an Islamic Republic: instead they support any population ready to stand against the destructive US hegemony over the world.

    For Iran, it is no longer a question of spreading Shiism or converting secular people, Sunni or Christians. The goal is for all to identify the real enemy and to stand against it. That is what the West’s intervention in the Middle East is creating. It has certainly succeeded in impoverishing the region: but it has also elicited pushback from a powerful front. This new front appears stronger and more effective than the forces unleashed by the hundreds of billions spent by the opposing coalition for the purpose of spreading destruction in order to ensure US dominance."

    https://ejmagnier.com/2019/02/16/res...terventions-2/
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    Quote Originally Posted by OhOh View Post
    You are suggesting China "controls" other countries and destroys lily pad communities, care to quote examples and your sources?
    I see your selective memory is kicking in again.

    Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Zambia...

    Some judicious googling should remind you of what has been posted on TD many times, and which your confirmation bias prevents you from recalling.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ohoh View Post
    for iran, it is no longer a question of spreading shiism or converting secular people, sunni or christians.
    hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha hahaha.

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    Quote Originally Posted by harrybarracuda View Post
    Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Zambia...
    Any facts to support your claims? Or is the "Mr. and Mrs. Hearsay" site your goto source?



    Quote Originally Posted by harrybarracuda View Post
    hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha hahaha.
    A new keyboard seems to be in order.

    Or possible your missed counselling session needs prompt attention.

    Last edited by OhOh; 17-02-2019 at 08:57 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by OhOh View Post
    Any facts to support your claims? Or is the "Mr. and Mrs. Hearsay" site your goto source?
    Why ignore what I stated?

    Some judicious googling should remind you of what has been posted on TD many times
    I'm not going to keep reposting the same news because you refuse to accept it.

    You are just getting boring with the same old pattern of hoping no-one will notice that you have no answers and just the same, dull, repetitive questions.

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    However you can add Cameroon to the list.

    Cameroonian law only permits local artisanal miners to search for gold using pans and other rudimentary equipment. But in recent years, Chinese operators who practice semi-mechanized artisanal exploration — including mechanical shovels and loaders, machines and chemicals that wash the gravel and other approaches — have altered the landscape significantly.

    Local elites in Cameroon have partnered with the Chinese miners, according to the Center for Education, Training and Support for Development Initiatives in Cameroon, an NGO based in Yokadouma.

    "They [the elites] are collecting photocopies of ID cards from villagers on the pretext of wanting to bring in companies that will provide water, electricity and jobs to the village," said Victor Amougou, the center’s coordinator. "With 10 photocopies, this elite can obtain 40 artisanal mining authorizations equivalent to 40 hectares of land.”

    Once the local Cameroonian obtains permission to mine, Amougou said, he or she signs a contract with a Chinese operator to run the mine.
    The Chinese, in turn, bribe mining authorities and other officials so they can begin work.

    The law also states that mining operators must close their holes after completing their digs.
    Chinese companies usually abandon their giant pits, leaving behind dangerous areas where people and domestic animals might fall and drown. The Chinese companies also pollute rivers with their chemicals and mining runoff, said Moussa.
    https://www.pri.org/stories/2018-07-...ining-cameroon

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    Quote Originally Posted by harrybarracuda View Post
    The Chinese, in turn, bribe
    Quote Originally Posted by harrybarracuda View Post
    Chinese companies usually abandon
    Quote Originally Posted by harrybarracuda View Post
    The Chinese companies also pollute rivers
    Only the Chinese would do such a thing eh.

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    Quote Originally Posted by OhOh View Post
    Only the Chinese would do such a thing eh.
    On a global scale, yes.

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