Showing posts with label China. Show all posts
Showing posts with label China. Show all posts

Friday, 18 July 2014

China, the US and the Prospect of Resource Wars.

'China's removal of the oil rig was also welcomed by Washington, which last week accused Beijing of "gluttonous, naked aggression" in the South China Sea, and had encouraged all parties to engage in a peaceful resolution to the crisis'. (Despite oil rig removal, China and Vietnam row still simmers , The Guardian Friday 17 July 2014 )
China's decision to go back on its provocative move to position their largest deepwater drilling rig, the HD-981, in waters claimed by Vietnam does not mean an end to the Middle Kingdom's quest for energy security through exploiting the oil reserves of the South China Sea.

In June 2014, the China National Offshore Oil Corporation dispatched its second largest oil rig to waters near the mouth of the Gulf of Tonkin. As China industrialises at rapid speed, the need for oil in areas it could assert control over has become seen as increasingly vital.

One reason is the US geostrategy of containing China since 2011 has made it all the more determined to avoid being overdependent upon oil coming from the Middle East and Africa which could be cut off from Malacca and Lombok/Makassar straits in Southeast Asia.

China imports 60% of its oil through these strategic 'chokepoints' and the US Pivot To Asia has involved trying to forge closer bilateral economic and military ties with both Malaysia and Indonesia, especially through naval cooperation. Malaysia which fears Chinese ambitions

In February 2014 Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN) chief Admiral Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Jaafar received US Navy chief Admiral Jonathan W. Greenert and talked about potential cooperation in submarine operations and an incident where a Chinese vessel was alleged to be involved in a shooting incident.

The US is involved in trying to back its oil interests in East Asia no less than China. US energy giants such as Chevron, ConocoPhillips, and ExxonMobil have struck deals with the state-owned oil companies of Malaysia, Vietnam, and the Philippines to explore the oil of the South China Sea.

More broadly, the Pivot to Asia is concerned with compensating for the US's economic decline after the 2008 financial crisis by ramping up its military presence in the Asia-Pacific theatre so as to be able to check China by being in a position to throttle its economy by reducing its oil supply.

The US strategy of engaging with Asian nations as a counterbalancing force to China could bring benefits. The danger, though, is that by building up a coalition of nations it would take only one of those energy hungry states to be emboldened against China in an oil dispute to trigger off a dangerous conflict.

As Michael Klare writes, the region could become a "powder keg' due to the emergence of an arms race and rising nationalism interacting with pathological struggles over oil and gas. Vietnam is a potential flashpoint due to the history of conflict between it and China as recently as 1974 and 1979.

The assertion of Chinese oil interests and sovereignty over the South China Sea against Vietnam is particulary dangerous because Hanoi had improved relations with China by 2013. The imposition of the oil rig could now lead Vietnam to move closer to the US for arms and naval technology.

On July 15, 2014 the WSJ carried a report advocating what a number of assertive US nationalists have wanted for a while-the lifting of the ban on the sale of lethal weapons to Vietnam, as was argued for by President Obama's U.S. ambassador to Vietnam nominee Ted Osius.

Since 2007 the 'normalisation' of relations between Vietnam and the US has occured following on from the Bush administration's decision to allow non lethal defence products to be sold. How Beijing would react to that move remains to be seen but more provocative would be closer military and political cooperation.

Indeed, the oil rig crisis is not the only reason for a reapprochement between the US and Vietnam. It is a vital part of the entire Pivot To Asia strategy, as seen in the formation of a “comprehensive partnership” in 2013, the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

The creation of this vast free trade block is designed as an economic counterweight to China ( though China has been invited to participate ) and to underscore the global economic hegemony of the US and its economic model and values in a world in which China could be the next global power.

Yet conflicts over resources in East Asia could well destroy the idea of a permanent and uninterrupted period of economic growth whereby China and the US interests would dovetail as opposed to drifting apart. An oil price shock from the Middle East could trigger off economic chaos, intensified nationalism and conflict over the South China Sea.

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Thailand 2014 : The Year of Living Dangerously.

The vocal condemnation of the Thai army coup by the West could be a diplomatic mistake as might the US decision to suspend about one third of the aid provided to Thailand. None of it can affect events in Thailand nor determine the outcome of the power struggle for control after King Bhumibol Adulyadej dies.

The willingness of Washington to make a principled stand against a military coup reflects the fact that since 2011, the year of Yingluck Shinawatra's election, the Obama administration has pursued its Pivot To Asia strategy in which Thailand is considered a key regional partner in the quest to contain China.

General Prayuth, the head of the army and leading figure in the 2006 coup, is part of Thailand's 'monarchy-military nexus' which has felt pushed out of influence with the rise of Thaksin's party as it keeps winning elections and has been tacitly supported by the US since 2011

The reason for that is the authoritarian government of Abhisit Vejjajiva, the PM from 2008 to 2011, one backed on the streets by the Yellow Shirts, had not proved as pro-US as Washington had hoped after the 2006 coup and raised the prospect of Thailand turning closer to China as a regional partner.

With the dispute between Vietnam and China over the oil and fish of the South China Sea reaching crisis point, Beijing could be posed to exploit the growing rift between the US and the interim coup government to step in to offer arms deals and military aid to the beleaguered monarchy-military nexus.

An authoritarian government in Bangkok dominated by former members of the Democrat Party would be far more congenial to China which has been attempting to cultivate its 'soft power' ties with Bangkok's Sino-Thai business and political elite as a means of rivalling the US for influence.

China has no interest in watching Thailand become closer to Cambodia and Myanmar as part of a coalition of states hostile to China's claims to dominate the South China Sea within the nine dash line just as Thailand and Cambodia have no oil interests at stake in these maritime waters.

By contrast with Washington, Beijing has been mute in response to the coup. Being far more pragmatic, diplomats in Beijing realise that the Thai elites, whether supporters of Thaksin's party or the opposition, would not take kindly to lectures or direct meddling from the West.

The dilemma for Washington now is if tried using punitive sanctions stronger than those after 2006 it could end up pushing whichever faction wrests control after the 2014 coup closer towards Beijing and, in effect, lose a military alliance it has had since the height of the Cold War in the 1950s.

As Ernie Bower of the Center for Strategic and International Studies made plain, “You could lose an alliance and if you don’t lose an alliance, you could in effect lose the primacy of a friendship with one of ASEAN’s anchor countries". Having Myanmar is the US orbit would hardly be compensation.

2014 is going to be a year of living dangerously. Thailand is the second-largest economy in Southeast Asia. But the impact of higher fuel and food prices in an oil import dependent economy is widening social divisions and creating political polarisation between the old elites and the rural masses and urban wage earners.

With the US and China vying for influence, it could be that an authoritarian regime emerging from out of the military coup would be backed by either Great Power, more likely China, and that this, and the reactionary stance of the Sino-Thai elites backing the Yellow Shirts,  could add ethnic enmities to class resentments.

Monday, 19 May 2014

China and Vietnam: The South China Sea China Dispute and the Asian Arms Race.

For Hanoi the riots spiralled out of control in that the targets for Vietnamese ultra nationalists quickly became not only China but also Japanese and Taiwanese businesses. Stoking up nationalism is one means an authoritarian communist government has of diverting discontent away from the leading role of the party.

Vietnam is modernising rapidly and yet social inequality has increased with conflicts over land compensation, wages for labourers and soaring food prices threatening to develop into challenges to the authoritarian government in Hanoi which wants to keep wages low to encourage investment.

Global investors such as DDK Group, Foxconn and Formosa Plastics Group, require stability and cheap labour to make their goods profitable. Any activity that threatens stability would mean Taiwan withdrawing from Vietnam and workers losing their jobs as made plain by its Chamber of Commerce.

China, for its part, wants to warn of future instability to deter nations that are not only trading competitors such as Taiwan but also political rivals forming part of a network of regional partnerships under US auspices and seeking to draw Vietnam towards closer to their military and political orbit.

The prospect threatens Beijing because of the disputed islands and maritime territory of the South China Sea which is believed to contain a huge amount of oil that China needs to fuel its rapid industrialisation. Vietnam could do with the oil to reduce imported fuel costs for a restless population.

Obama's Pivot to Asia geostrategy since 2010 has meant Washington attempting to extend energy ties and naval cooperation with Hanoi as a means of building up regional partnerships across the Asia-Pacific region sufficient to control the main sea routes to China from the Middle East and Africa.

The reason for this strategy is to contain China and retain the ability to cut off vital oil supplies to it via tanker ships. With China's ascendency to economic superpower status given impetus by the 2008 financial crash and the military costs of engagement in the Middle East, the US has refocused on Asia.

The Chinese oil rig has moved into an exploration block first drilled for by ExxonMobil in October 2011 in partnership with PetroVietnam. Soon after the Pivot to Asia was affirmed in November 2011 by the stationing of marines in northern Australia and a declaration strenthening military ties with allies.

Just prior to the riots and subsequent stand off between Vietnam and China, the annual Naval Engagement Activity (NEA) between the US and Vietnam saw the port of Da Nang welcome USS John S. McCain (DDG 56). In 2012, the possibility of a US naval presence in Cam Ranh Bay was discussed publicly.

Closer naval and business ties would benefit the US, not least as it could open the way for the US to compete with Russia for the market for arms that Russia has dominated from the times of the Soviet Union and for the influence in Hanoi that gives Russian energy giants such as Gazprom.

One consequence of Sino-Vietnamese hostilities is that President Obama is under pressure from domestic opponents and regional allies in the Asia-Pacific region, in particular Japan, to stand firm against China and to take stronger measure that strategic dialogues to prevent Vietnam being victimised

The second major consequence could be the ratcheting up of the arms race in Asia as expenditure and investment in armaments rises amidst mutual fears and hostilities. Vietnam has already pledged to buying six new submarines in response to Chinese designs in the South China Sea.

The cost of such expenditure is bound to be questioned in nations such as Vietnam where it increased by 83% between 2003 and 2012 and where social inequality and fuel costs mean the Communist government is all the more determined to assert its oil claims against hostile Chinese moves.

The New Great Game in South East Asia is unfolding with Vietnam one of the the arenas for intense competition between India, the US, China and Japan ( and Russia ) for energy interests, arms sales and global power that could lead to competition and distrust similar to the Great Powers in the run up to 1914

The US, Vietnam and the New Great Game in Asia.

With China sending a flotilla of vessels to evacuate Chinese nationals from Vietnam after days of rioting left two Chinese dead, the state-run China Daily newspaper has started to mention the possibility of their being an impact on regional trade and investment in the country.

Conflict between Vietnam and China over Beijings's unilateral assertion of its sovereignty over disputed waters near the Paracel Islands, where China has moved an oil rig, has been made worse by accusations that Hanoi tacitly allowed nationalist attacks on Chinese businesses.

In turn, Beijing officials and generals have used Vietnam's closer business ties and naval cooperations with the USA since 2011 and Washington's line that China's recent actions were 'provocative' as evidence it was not  taking 'an objective position' in the words of General Fang Fangshui.

China's reaction is concerned with the Pivot to Asia geostrategy which is not so much about asserting the interests of US energy giants in the South China Sea so much as working with regional partners to guarantee their energy independence and have the power to block off vital energy supplies to China.

This is a geopolitical strategy designed to keep China in check and preserve US global political and military hegemony against the undoubted and increasingly rapid economic ascendancy of China to superpower status, especially since the financial crash of 2008 and the costly and disastrous US involvement in Iraq.

Even so, despite the talk of energy independence in the US, the shale oil 'revolution' has actually emboldened Washington to take a more risky and messianic strategy to retain its global supremacy as compensationfor its relative economic decline in relation to the US, one accounted for in detail in Martin Jacques When China Rules the World.

In moving away from dependence upon the Middle East, the US has shown more interest in the oil of the South China Sea under President Obama. While the Pivot to Asia is mostly concerned with a strategy of containing China through controlling oil tanker routes US energy companies do have interests.

Exxon Mobil back in March 2014 was reported to be investing $20 billion dollars in a gas-fired power complex with PetroVietnam. The US would join the top four foreign investors in Vietnam along with Japan, South Korea and Taiwan and start to edge out China as the main trading partner.

The oil sectors 118 and 119 mapped out by Vietnam, and where the Chinese rig has been placed, were discovered by Exxon Mobil in October 2011 in partnership with PetroVietnam. In response, Chinese ships have continually attempted to disrupt oil and gas prospecting in the area.

The Pivot To Asia began in 2010 and was confirmed by President Obama on November 17th 2011. For three years after the policy shift,  the US has sought to bolster its naval presence in the South China Sea, advance the interests of its energy companies and profess this is not aimed at China or use the word 'containment'.

Hanoi, for its part, has been playing off Washington against Moscow as Russia and Gazprom have sought to gain favour with Vietnam through arms deals. With Russia reasserting its global power, Washington is bound to respond in the Far East with counter moves to bring tie with Vietnam closer.

With the US building its naval forces in the Asia-Pacific from 50% to 60% of its total global presence and forging naval ties with the Philippines and Malaysia that patrol in waters claimed by China according to the 'nine dash line', these allies are going to be emboldened in their claim to oil and gas in the South China Sea.

Just prior to the riots breaking out in Vietnam, the annual Naval Engagement Activity (NEA) saw the port of Da Nang welcome USS John S. McCain (DDG 56) . In reaction to this and the riots, China's Global Times stated,“Many people believe that a forced war would convince some countries of China’s sincerely peaceful intentions,”

One reason for the Washington moving closer to Hanoi is that there is a race on between Russia and the US for influence and oil and gas concessions. Hanoi wants that so it can get the best arms deals and retain independence in trade and energy. The danger is this buttresses the power of an authoritarian regime.

Vietnam remains a communist regime trying to modernise rapidly and retain power. Russian military hardware accounts for 90% of Vietnam's purchases since 2002. Russia has offered Vietnam a potential free trade agreement that would connect it with Belarus and Kazakhstan.

The US has, therefore, sought in 2013 to rival Russia in providing assistance with nuclear technology, though attempting to guarantee this would not be used for uranium enrichment and use for nuclear weapons. China is bound to see the joint impact of these moves by Russia and now the US as threatening its sphere of interest.

It remains to be seen what the US response is going to be over China's attempt to grab the oil off the Paracel Islands. The perception of some regional allies is that Obama is not backing them forcibly enough against China. The US's regional partners, especially Japan, have been wary of China's unilateralist threats since 2012.

With a nationalist government of the Nahrenda Modi's BJP coming to power in New Delhi, there is a danger that the US try to bolster military ties with India as a counterweight superpower to China. Even if Obama's administration is restrained,there is an election coming up in 2016 and Republicans are crtiticising his 'weakness'.

Saturday, 17 May 2014

The New Great Game in the Far East: The Pivot to Asia and China's Reaction.

'China has castigated Vietnam over an outbreak of deadly protests against a Chinese oil rig in a disputed maritime zone – the worst clashes between the two countries in more than three decades. Joe Biden, the US vice-president, has said the US is "seriously concerned" about China's "dangerous" actions in the region'. ( China warns Vietnam over deadly protests in territorial dispute. The Guardian May 16 2014 )
China has been concerned about Washington's strategy of containment and Vietnam moving ever closer to the US as part of Obama's Pivot to Asia strategy. Beijing is increasingly concerned about US attempts to build up a regional power bloc to threaten vital energy supplies via the South China Sea.

Not only are there territorial disputes over the Paracel Islands with Vietnam, the US in 2012 sought to promote the possible use of Vietnamese deep water ports such as Cam Ranh Bay in return for the sale of US weapons to Hanoi. The US navy would require such ports to patrol the sea lanes against China.

As US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta made plain in a visit to Vietnam aboard USNS Byrd in 2012, “it is very important that we be able to protect key maritime rights for all nations in the South China Sea and elsewhere”. That 'defence' in practice means an offesive strategy to contain China.

Concerned at China's growth as an economic and potential military superpower, the US 'Pivot to Asia' is essentially about trying to assert US naval primacy over the South China Sea and have to power to cut off China's vital oil supplies from the the Middle East and Africa.

The Memorandum of Understanding on Advancing Bilateral Defense Cooperation, signed on September 19, 2011, and U.S.-Vietnam Joint Statement of July 25, 2013 set out cooperation on maritime security, search and rescue, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief and peacekeeping. 

The humanitarian aims of US involvement in Vietnam mean aid in cleaning up the legacy of the Vietnam War ( the poisoning effects of Agent Orange an unexploded munitions ). Little has been done on that as the main purpose is to work with the Vietnamese on building up naval cooperation.

With Washington distracted by the Ukrainian Crisis and the stand off with Russia, China wants to reassert its energy interests in the South China Sea before rival regional powers allied to the US, such as Japan, cooperate with Vietnam in providing patrol boats which could be used against Chinese vessels

As the Paracel Islands are contested only between China and Vietnam, with China asserting sovereignty after a war in 1974, the attempt to unilaterally assert the rights to the oil has far greater chances of success than in the Spratly Islands which claimed by many different powers ( the Philippines, Taiwan, Malaysia).

Hanoi, in response, has every interest in allowing nationalist tensions in response to China's move to boil over as it could then have the pretext to strengthen its security forces with US or Japanese help, not least as Beijing is blaming 'US influence behind the scenes' for the clash.

Top Chinese military commander, General Fang Fenghui, made it clear he tought Obama's Pivot to Asia strategy was at fault for rising tensions “Certain countries are attempting to gain their own interest because they believe China is now developing its economy and the US is adopting this Asia-Pacific rebalancing strategy”

While China is clearly attempting to grab any discovered oil against Vietnamese rival claims, Beijing's actions are part of the global New Great Game to secure access to oil, one in which the US is raising the stakes by trying to use control over China's energy supply as a tool of power politics.

As Michael Klare puts it, the strategy of the Pivot to Asia ' for China spells potential strategic impairment...By securing naval dominance of the South China Sea and adjacent waters, the Obama administration evidently aims to acquire the twenty-first century energy equivalent of twentieth-century nuclear blackmail'.

Friday, 16 May 2014

The Pivot To Asia: China, Vietnam and the New Cold War.

'China's provocative decision to station a $1bn (£600m) deep-sea oil drilling rig in disputed waters 120 miles off Vietnam – well within Hanoi's 200-mile exclusive economic zone, in clear breach of a 2011 bilateral maritime pact and in defiance of regional and international agreements' ( Simon Tisdall, Vietnam's fury at China's expansionism can be traced to a troubled history, Guardian May 15 2014 )
The anti-Chinese riots across Vietnam reflect the upsurge in nationalism in the Far East created by the pathological quest for control over the oil and gas in the South China Sea and China's bid for regional economic and military hegemony in opposition to US designs to thwart these ambitions by .

China has been prepared to back up the CNOOC's drilling off the Paracel Islands with 80 ships to protect the oil rig on its journey against Vietnamese vessels which were rammed and blasted with water cannon. This follows on from tensions in May 2011 when PetroVietnam's oil exploration vessels were harassed.

With the race to control the energy rich South China Sea on, Washington has been moving ever closer to Vietnam and even Burma where since 2013 both the US and Britain have been seeking to strengthen military ties and strike lucrative arms deals. This is termed by some as "Investing in Strategic Alignment"

The US is not, as Simon Tisadall claims, 'wary of closer ties' with  Vietnam as it 'must first improve its human rights record'. This is only important in what is known as 'public diplomacy': where vital interests and checking Chinese energy ambitions are concerned human rights are not considered important.

On the contrary, US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta has lauded the '“tremendous potential” for bilateral defence cooperation, especially between the Vietnamese and US navies with US access to Cam Ranh Bay ,a deepwater port , needed to patrol the sea lanes essential for China's import of oil and gas.

In fact, it is Vietnam that is wary of allowing the US navy full access to its naval facilities. Washington has only refrained from going ahead with full on arms deals because Vietnam has feared that by giving the US Navy full military use of Vietnamese ports, the US could interfere in its domestic affairs.

Cam Ranh Bay was used by the US during the Vietnam War in its struggle against the Vietnamese communists. Hanoi has also had to consider that moving closer to Washington too quickly could precipitate a hostile reaction from its neighbour, an emerging global economic and military superpower.

Vietnam is regarded by Washington as an essential partner in the Asia-Pacific region because of the 'pivot to Asia' strategy. With shale oil giving the US more energy independence from the Middle East, Obama's administration has been able to devise a new strategy for holding China over the barrel as regards oil.

By exercising regional control over the South East China Sea, the US could also block the flow of energy supplies to Chinese economy, one that depends on oil imports from Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Oman and Angola. This threat has been countered by the build up of China's navy and quest for oil security.

As Michael Klare puts it,'the Obama administration evidently aims to acquire the twenty-first century energy equivalent of twentieth-century nuclear blackmail'. With China, Brazil and India rapidly industrialising and the age of easy oil ending, the race is on to control what's left of global fossil fuels.

Klare has referred to a global New Cold War in which military ties and access to energy ( and blocking off the access by other Great Powers ) has triggered off an arms race in Asia that has led to greater tensions, a risk of naval clashes and 'inadvertent escalation', making the region a 'powder keg' waiting to explode.

Across the Asia-Pacific region, the US has attempted to encircle China by building up a neo-imperial alliance with Australia, the Philippines, Vietnam, Japan, Singapore and Thailand to contain China and retain its global hegemony no matter the costs or the risks.

Thursday, 17 April 2014

The Race for Resoures : The Reality Behind the Battle for Ukraine.

'Vladimir Putin has more admirers around the world than you might expect for someone using a neo-Soviet combination of violence and the big lie to dismember a neighbouring sovereign state'.(Putin has more admirers than the west might think, Guardian, Thursday 17 April 2014 )
By Putin's admirers, Garton Ash means India and China and their resentment of 'western imperialism'. Garton Ash's weakness is that he views rival powers and global diplomacy as though it were mostly only about pride, power and 'attitudes' towards the West. Never the hard realities of the race for resources.

For a historian and journalist of Timothy Garton's Ash's calibre, this is an appalling oversimplification. Events in Ukraine are far more complicated than Russia playing the part of an evil neo-imperial power manipulating pro-Russian separatists and the EuroMaidan protesters being mostly staunch liberal democrats.

For a start Russia is hardly the only power with a stake in diverting the course of events in Ukraine to its advantage. For over a decade, the EU and EU powers have been meddling and 'promoting democracy' by backing venal oligarchs such as Tymoshenko going back to the Orange Revolution of 2003.

Anatol Lieven, a historian and jounalist with similar talents to Mr Garton Ash, has produced a far more nuanced perspective on the geopolitical tug of war between west and east over Ukraine and how China stands to benefit from any conflict in this borderland territory.

Lieven mentions the facts that Garton Ash routinely omits with regards Western foreign policy and the far right in Western Ukraine and in the government in Kiev without succumbing to the mere propaganda line that what is happening in Ukraine is all Putin's fault.
'..while Moscow is lying in describing the overthrow of Yanukovych as a “neo-fascist coup” rather than a popular uprising (albeit against a democratically elected president), Washington is no less mendacious in claiming that “far-right ultranationalist groups are not represented in the Rada [the Ukrainian parliament]” and have no influence over the new government. 
This is a grotesque claim, given that the ultra-nationalist and savagely Russophobe Svoboda (“Freedom” party) in fact has 38 seats in parliament and four ministers in the government including Minister of Justice and Deputy Prime Minister. Svoboda’s founder, Andriy Parubiy, has become secretary of the National Security and Defence Council, with his ally Dmytro Yarosh, leader of the neo-fascist Right Sector group, as his deputy'.
Compare Garton Ash with Lieven here too,
'It should be clear therefore that while Moscow has grossly exaggerated the immediate physical threat to Russians in Ukraine as justification for its military moves in Crimea, Russians and Russian-speakers do have good reasons to fear for their rights under the new Ukrainian government; and the EU and its member states were premature in recognizing that government and promising it massive aid without first insisting on changes in its composition and firm guarantees of minority rights. Russia has violated international law. The West has violated its own principles and interests'.
I recommend reading the rest of Lieven's article as it is the sort of balanced journalism informed by a deep historical perspective that Garton Ash used to write before he bought into the sort of simplistic propaganda tropes about a New Cold War pumped out by Edward Lucas.
'If war begins, Russia would almost certainly win it (since the USA and Britain, despite their attempts to bring Ukraine into Nato, have no intention of fighting to defend the country), but would suffer colossal damage in the process. In the short term there would be a shattering economic crisis. In the longer term, Russia would face a collapse of economic and cultural ties with the west that would drive it inexorably towards the status of a satellite of China—a prospect, by the way, that terrifies liberal and nationalist Russians alike'.
Garton Ash does not even mention the EU and the economic impact that an economic conflict between Russia and Europe may have on the global economy. This is one reason China is concerned that events do not spin out of control in Ukraine, even if Western sanctions could be welcome in driving Russia towards it.

There is no mention by Garton Ash of the geopolitical importance of oil and gas pipelines and Ukraine's vital position in this regard or Western ambitions to put Ukraine on a course towards NATO despite the fact a great majority of Ukrainians never wanted to be forced to choose between east and west.

Garton Ash is still trapped in a Cold War mentality. Russia is not a 'neo-Soviet power'. It acts as a Great Power just as it did before the Russian Revolution, much shrunken from the empire of the Tsars but competiting with the EU and US for control over the oil and gas of Eurasia.

The fact that Garton Ash cannot bring himself to mention the strategic importance of resources and empire, preferring to view post Cold War politics in eastern Europe wholly through the lens of moral causes and imperatives, is reason enough to disregard much of what Garton Ash has to say.

What was appropriate during the Cold War and with the contest between the Free World and Soviet Communism and totalitarianism is simply not good enough when it comes to the twenty first century. Garton Ash needs to move on and grapple with a world no so dissimilar from that preceding 1914.

Lieven also mentions the consequences for the West in economic terms, one not dealt with Garton Ash who has a sort of mental bloc on mentioning resources ( oil and gas ) , perhaps because it would appear to tie in with a more cynical vision of realpolitik and economic conflict on a  global scale predominating.
'The damage to the west would also be considerable. If the west introduced economic sanctions and Russia responded with a massive rise in its gas prices (or if gas supplies to western Europe across Ukraine were cut off by conflict), the result could very easily be a new European and global recession. China would benefit greatly from the acquisition of Russia as an unconditional ally, and from the sheer distraction of US attention that war would bring'.
Garton Ash deals with China's benefitting from the US being diverted by the Ukrainian Crisis. Yet there is no mention of the geopolitics of oil and gas nor the extent to which the Western powers and NATO have become deeply concerned with energy security in the post Cold War period.

Indeed, Garton Ash's analysis seems as though footling prattle by comparison with Lieven when he writes about,
'...resistance to North Americans and Europeans telling them what is good for them, and a certain instinctive glee, or schadenfreude, at seeing Uncle Sam (not to mention little John Bull) being poked in the eye by that pugnacious Russian. Viva Putinismo!'
Nowhere does Garton Ash consider the fact the invasion of Iraq in 2003 was essentially a failed and counter productive attempt to control Iraqi oil. As regards Syria and Venezuela, there is no mention of the geopolitics of pipeline routes or competition to control oil supplies.

That's odd as the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars ( of which Garton Ash was a fellow ) certainly think that the race to control Ukraine as a strategic transit route for oil and gas makes it vital for Europe's energy security and NATO.

Thursday, 8 August 2013

General Sisi as the next Colonel Nasser.

'Sisi has pledged stability as a central plank of the military-led government he will shepherd towards elections in nine months' time, he has also tapped into themes that Nasser used to enshrine his legacy as one of modern Egypt's most celebrated figures.

"Despite 40 years of painting a bad portrait of Abdel Nasser, whenever there are bad times, people always conjure up his image," said a Nasserist activist and leader of a political bloc that champions his tenure. "Sisi has not got the same hold on the Egyptian consciousness. Not yet."

In his public appearances since the 3 July coup, Sisi has mirrored Nasser's key messages of nationalism, scepticism of western intentions, Arab dignity and strong leadership. The latter has been seized on by a broad swath of the Egyptian public that has struggled in the chaos of the revolution that brought down Hosni Mubarak's presidency in January 2011.'
General Sisi is trying to play on his image as another Colonel Nasser who is protecting the Egypt's national interest against the Muslim Brotherhood, a strongman who will resist Western demands and pursue economic policies that benefit 'the majority' of  'the people'.

One continuity is that Sisi follows Nasser in being product of the Military Academy set up by Egypt's first authoritarian reformer Mehemet Ali back in 1811 and which made the army the core of the Egyptian state. But that is, of course, as true of Anwar Sadat and Hosni Mubarak.

Another continuity with the Arab Spring of 2011 is that the 1952 Revolution was followed by two years of political turmoil and squabbling over who got the economic spoils and conflict with the Muslim Brotherhood which was made illegal in January 1954 just as it is being crushed again in 2013.

The big change in 2011-2013, of course, is that the Egyptian army does not contain an overt sympathisers with the Muslim Brotherhood and has not made a revolution whose goals its leaders are arguing over. The Egyptian army exists comfortably in co-existence with the old regime before 2011.

Even so, the 2011 uprising suceeded primarily in only removing Mubarak and in demands for a new constitution agreed by parliament and a president with proper checks on his power. All that has happened is yet another grubby post-revolutionary power feud with the Muslim Brotherhood.

The 1952 was a revolution in that it made Egypt independent of British control removed the monarchy and led Egypt between 1956 and 1970 to depend upon the USSR for aid and military and technical assistance. The complete failure to defeat Israel in the 1967 war only confirmed the failure of the experiment.

Ever since Anwar Sadat moved towards the USA and peace with Israel, the Egyptian army has never again sought to challenge Israel. The military was trained with US help and expertise, under Mubarak's rule too after 1981, to preserve Egypt from 'instability'.

Evidently, General Sisi follows in the footsteps of Sadat and Mubarak. However, despite the 1.3bn funding the US has given to the army since 1979, Egyptian generals have often argued that this is not such a great deal as it once was with increasing prices.

Throughout the 2000s Egypt has started to look towards other powers to provide arms such as Russia and China, leading to Washington upping its arms sales in order to retain its regional influence. Not least when Sino-Egyptian trade has risen throughout the period.

It is not inconceivable that Egypt under another military leader might not try to gain a measure of independence by playing off rival suitors such as the US and China against each other. As for the democracy promised by the Arab Spring, this looks likely to be sacrificed in the interests of  'stability' and security.

For neither the West nor the Gulf States or China are going to take the risk of going against the Egyptian army or what it deems is the proper course for the nation. There are too many lucrative arms deals to lose and none want instability in the largest oil producing regions to the east or disruption on the Suez Canal

Friday, 17 May 2013

On China and the Doublethink of Anti-Imperialist pro-Chinese Imperialists.

Edward MacMillan and a Chinese dissident have written in The Guardian,
China, the world's rising superpower, continues to systematically engage in the political repression and torture of its citizens, with an estimated 7 to 8 million Chinese currently being held in prison or labour camps.
The problem is that critics of Western foreign policy often criticise 'Western imperialism' without setting it in the context of the competitive advantage China has as a result of its 'no strings attached policy', one which aims up repellent African dictatorships to gain access to valuable  resources without theproblem of human rights.

One of the worst offenders is John Pilger who criticised the Western intervention in Libya ( a highly botched and foolish policy ) because they wanted access to the oil in competition with Chinese inroads into Africa. But he had nothing to say about Chinese imperialism.
...the main reason the US is invading Africa is no different from that which ignited the Vietnam war. It is China. In the world of self-serving, institutionalised paranoia that justifies what General David Petraeus, the former US commander and now CIA director, implies is a state of perpetual war, China is replacing al-Qaeda as the official American "threat"
There is nothing in Pilger's Orwellian doublethink ( ironic from a journalist who absurdly claims Orwell's mantle when promoting himself ) about the fact that China's record in Africa is appalling. By this logic, it would be better no have, as China has, no standards instead of double standards.

As witnessed by this witless observation
Africa is China's success story. Where the Americans bring drones and destabilisation, the Chinese bring roads, bridges and dams. What they want is resources, especially fossil fuels. With Africa's greatest oil reserves, Libya under Muammar Gaddafi was one of China's most important sources of fuel
No mention of China's racist policy of supporting African dictatorships and exploiting cheap black labour in the mines while the engineers benefiting from building this infrastructure are exclusively Chinese. If the USA seeks resources it is "rapacious" With China it is a "success story" One such example of Pilger's assertion that China is responsible for Africa's success is Zimbabwe

One commentator opined in a Stalinoid style twaddle that,
The present-day capitalist and imperialist system around the globe is this kind of a regime, including both Western capitalism and the neoliberal capitalist bloc that dominates China today. But it's a capitalist system that originated in the West and still largely dominated by the West, just picking on China or other non-Western "authoritarian regimes" is stupid and ridiculous. As long as the capitalist-imperialist global system today is not overthrown, humanity shall know neither justice nor peace.
What such defenders of China should realise is that China is an authoritarian regime without the need for sarcastic scare quotes. It's repressive concentration camp system cannot be rationalised any more than Stalin's Gulag was by 1930's progressives lauding Stalin's industrialisation drive.

The idea that China's authoritarian state will crumble is a convenient myth: the gains of 1989 have gone into reverse precise due to neoliberal capitalism causing a social anarchy and brutal drive for resources that is leading to creeping authoritarianism in the West too.

Essentially, those who harbour some detestation from within for Western Civilisation ( Ken Livingstone, John Pilger, George Galloway, Calvin Tucker et al ) have failed to realise that China's dash for growth since 1978 has created the conditions for vast capital accumulation.

That capital is now being invested in what John Pilger calls "Africa's success story". Had Pilger bothered to visit Zimbabwe he might have noticed that Mugabe's regime is propped up and supported by China" they supply investment and weapons: Mugabe supplies resources.

Zimbabwe's "Look East" policy has aimed to extend bilateral and trade relations and offer priority to investors from not just China but Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam, Japan, South Korea, India, and Russia, has focused increasingly on China.

The West is too hypocritical and "imperialist" to be worth dealing with. So the doublethink requires ever greater Chinese colonisation. The Zimbabwean trade deficit with China amounted to US$189 million in the first half of 2007.

The terms of trade are very much to China's benefit: it is using global market forces in exactly in the same way as the US Empire has done and The British Empire dis in India. Zimbabwe exported US$16 million of goods to China.

The Zimbabwean government also purchases large amounts of military hardware from China, including a US$13 million radar system, six Hongdu JL-8 jet aircraft, twelve JF-17 Thunder fighter aircraft, and 100 military vehicles since June 2004.

Chinese racial policies and colonisation include control over the national airline Air Zimbabwe have also increased their hiring of of Chinese-speaking flight attendants and training of existing flight attendants in the Chinese language.

Zimbabwean blacks are often thus discriminated against. Something not important to Hugo Chavez nor his acolyte John Pilger in his fawning interviews with President of the sort he would never carry out with US officials. It is only if the West does anything wrong that parochial 'anti-Western imperialists carp'. Silence by omission indeed.

Trade is often done not even on money terms as Mugabe's regime reverts to being a basket case economy and a Chinese colony. Deals are done on barter terms due to Zimbabwe's shortage of hard currency.

China is especially interested in Zimbabwe's supply of platinum. Black construction workers are regularly beaten in what John Pilger terms "Africa's success story" as was shown in rumours of beating, exploitative labour and meagre pay in building a Military Academy. In Zaire the resource is copper. In Angola it is oil.

If that is not a double standard or a complete disregard for imperialism just so long as it is in competition with China, then it is difficult to know what a double standard could actually mean. If that logic is followed the USA should compete by completely disregarding trivia such as human rights.

After all in this pathological New Great Game, it would be more effective if the USA followed China's outstanding lead and "success story "

This is is a curious position for a radical 'anti-imperialist' who supports unpleasant nationalism's so long as they are against US Imperialism.This is a position based on abstract humanitarianism posing as love of one's fellow man or "humanity". Pilger seems to take a stance based on vitriol and hatred rather than a compassion most bogus and faked. It's his career and image that's important.

The same doublethink applies to Pilger's lauding of Chavez without challenging him in his fawning and uncritical interviews with the late Venezuelan leader's realpolitik strategy of aligning with Cuba and Zimbabwe, regimes which torture, murder and imprison their citizens. This is the journalist who moans about the Westerm media omitting the facts about cynical Western realpolitik.

The usual predictable retort to this by groupies of Chomsky and Pilger is that "we" live in democracies so "we" are responsible for the crimes committed by Western Powers. But in the context of the New Great Game, the West is ever more as desperate as China to compete for these resources.

But if a global internationalist stance is to be taken on these resource conflicts , there is no reason why 'leftists' should not criticise both the USA and China instead of coming out with hypocritical drivel about ' Africa's success story"

The West is overdependent upon resources such as oil in Libya which was the reason for the so-called "humanitarian intervention" The again the prosperity of even the poorest citizens in the West is dependent upon access to these resources in the absence of constructive alternatives.

Replies to Opponents.

David W Ferguson -
You haven't provided one single coherent sentence explaining why we in the west are entitled to haul China over the coals for its performance on human rights.
The argument is coherent if a person is able to follow a argument based on  coherent logic and that is something which some seem terminally incapable of being able to do. The idea that he UK and USA has diminished its ability to lecture China on human rights in recent years because of Guantanamo Bay, Iraq Abu Ghairab etc is used to avoid talking about Chinese Imperialism.

There is nothing in what I have written that states that this is not the case, though surely those global international paragons on the Western left such as Chomsky and Pilger might at least be expected to mention Chinese human rights abuses as well. But if they think democracy in the West is in such a bad way anyway, why or how could "we" make a difference?

The hypocrisy of Pilger is exemplified in the way he has berated Western companies for doing deals with Burma as neo-imperialism while wholly ignoring that a large backer of the Burmese at the UN was China and Chavez of Venezuela. Pilger never questioned the validity of my 'my enemy's enemy is my friend".

What I have provided is an explanation about why the US and UK cannot lecture China about human rights when many of their recent practices fall short of the human rights that they trump to give themselves the moral high ground in the New Great Game.

The UK and Britain destroyed its credibility on human rights when it invaded Iraq, launched the "war on terror" , started to Drone Bomb Pakistan and used "humanitarian intervention" as a pretext for a shoddy realpolitik that some did rationalise as humanitarian actions.

More to the point, the dovetailing of neoliberal global market forces with an increase in authoritarian power within Britain and the abolition of ancient liberties concerns sincere citizens on the left, liberals and conservatives who can speak out about liberty to both China and the USA.

"Whataboutery" and yeah-buttery" is the politics on the infantile and is playground politics. The gravest error was in ceding control over production to China so that "we" in the cerebral lands of the West would be not producers of good but knowledge and services.

Looking back to the nought noughties we had dolts such as Charles Leadbetter writing how we could be "Living on Thin Air". More like hot air of those sort expounded by his New Labour fans such as the repulsive Peter Mandelson and the idiotic dimwit Tony Blair who bought into the stock of idiot thinking present in this low dishonest decade.

The biggest irony about forcefully lecturing China on human rights in Central Asia the UK props up tyrannies in Uzbekistan where Islam Karamov runs a regime of murder, despotism and the charming habit of boiling opponents alive . No lectures there have appeared yet.

There are those masochistically craving the downfall of Western Civilisation, such as Calvin Tucker who runs an absurd 21st Century Socialism website lauding Cuba and China and so on ( and which contains interviews with Ken Livingstone about how great China is .

It contains such assertions as this from the ex-Mayor on London,
I see Fidel as a Marxist, and very much a Marxist coming of his time.
And I assume now that Raul Castro is running Cuba, there will be changes. When Lenin took power in Russia, the only economic transactions people made was that they brought the food they would eat that day, and a couple of times a year they would buy an item of clothing. I remember my grandmother saying 'you could leave your front door open', we are talking about pre-WW1 London. You could leave your front door open, everyone said, but that's because no one had anything to steal.
And as someone like Lenin could see, you could organise supply and demand around the very simple needs that people had. But nowadays, even people living on state benefits make dozens of economic transactions a week. It is a huge complexity, and there is no way a centrally planned economy is going to be able to manage the scale of economic activity we now have. The tragedy is, a lot of people on the left have moved from accepting, that as a means of distribution and exchange, the market can’t be bettered- to assuming that therefore the market can do everything else in society. And really it can’t. It's a very good mechanism for the distribution and exchange of goods.
What Livingstone , an utter ignoramus, does not understand is that the Chinese CP regime has actually has removed itself from direct control of Chinese economic life aside from the strategic level, especially in securing resources from Africa on its terms. The Chinese CP is not containing global market forces but unleashing them ferociously.

Meanwhile Livingstone made his mark in 1980s London politics as a defender of black Africa from 'Western Imperialism" and it's legacy of racism in British attitudes towards Commonwealth immigrants. Perhaps, like John Pilger, he sees Chinese Imperialism as "Africa's success story". But then again blacks are only "authentic" if they agree with obsolete 1968 revolutionaries.

Macmillan goes on to state,
For too long, western governments have stood by as authoritarian regimes around the world engage in systematic repression with impunity. The EU-China human rights dialogue, established 14 years ago, has yielded no tangible results, serving instead as a fig leaf for European leaders' general reluctance to challenge China robustly on its human rights record.
And China simply will not care because the West foolishly empowered China by outsourcing production to a totalitarian regime. Some sort of diplomatic dialogue might yield results but China prospered precisely by ignoring the neoliberal dogmas foisted on Russia by the IMF thay yielded katastroika.

Capitalism does not dovetail automatically with liberal democracy and there are now a variety of competing capitalisms. The Chinese 'model' is now proving far more successful than the West as it stagnates economically. The West is now dependent on China for consumer properity as China lend the US money, pumps dollars into the economy then spend on Chinese consumer goods.

Just in the same way as it is dependent upon detestable depotic regimes such as Saudi Arabia for oil, arms contracts and inward investment into London ( as with China ). The Chinese are powerful enough now to ignore Western lecturing irrespective of its ethical nature.


Monday, 8 April 2013

CND's Kate Hudson-an Exemplar of Orwellian Doublethink

Farcically, in the face of North Korea's strategy of remaining a Power by using it's nuclear capability as a means of being taken seriously, even more the regime to survive, "peace activists" in Britain have been blaming the USA wholly for "causing" North Korea to explode its fourth nuclear bomb.

CND's Kate Hudson, formerly a member of the Communist Party Of Great Britain, used the CND "brand" as a means to rationalise the acquisition of nuclear weapons by states such as North Korea as a mere reaction to US and British militarism.

Hudson opines in North Korea's nuclear test: a product of US policy Tuesday, 12 February 2013 ,this

'Obama's commitment to global abolition, which we expect him to repeat later today, is very welcome. But it is at odds with the failure of nuclear weapons states, including the US, to live up to their responsibilities as signatories to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Rather than working "to accomplish the total elimination" of their nuclear weapons, most of these states – including Britain – are pouring billions into modernising their arsenals. Is it any surprise that this makes other states feel unsafe?'

'As long as nuclear-armed states conclude that they are better off with these monstrous weapons, others will come to the same conclusion. And so while it is right to condemn North Korea's third nuclear test, this cannot be seen in isolation. Let us condemn North Korea seeking nuclear weapons while we condemn nuclear-armed states for refusing to fulfil their legal and moral obligations to eliminate their arsenals.


'Irrespective of previous insane strategies for a US "Missile Shield " touted by the Bush II administration, it is arrant nonsense to claim that there are not more internal pressing needs for the North Korean military junta to develop nuclear weapons beyond rationalising it as "merely a response".

North Korea is pursuing nuclear weapons as it has no other way of remaining a Power and for the junta to remain in power . Even with the messianic rhetoric of the "Axis of Evil" back in 3003, there was no serious plan to target North Korea for "regime change". It was never on the agenda.

Irrespective of US militarism and the military industrial complex that the USA has, the North Korean regime is a military industrial complex led by militarists who build bombs while North Koreans starve and live in a nightmare 1984 Orwellian state.

Rather than merely rationalise North Korea's missile programme wholly to "US Imperialism" it seems a curious that a "peace activist" simply uses the North Korean nuclear tests and threats to bait her main target. At least, one might expect some acknowledgement that North Korea has its own internal agenda.

CND in the 1950s used to be led by intelligent and principled men as A J P Taylor and Bertrand Russell. Now CND has been hijacked by ex-apologists for the USSR such as Kate Hudson who use CND as a "front" for their monomaniacal hatred of the USA.

True, being against nuclear proliferation is a worthy goal and CND is right to protests against the folly of renewing Trident, which would be of zero use in combating a North Korean nuclear threat to Britain, a farcical use of the politics of fear used by PM Cameron to justify this redundant Cold War product.

The warbling on about "US Imperialism" ignores the very real fear in North Korea comes from Chinese Imperialism ( if Hudson looked on a map she may have noticed how China borders North Korea ). The junta simply doesn't want to lose power should the state collapse and be absorbed by China.

Chinese domination of North Korea would mean Chinese colonisation by Han Chinese, as it has in other imperial expansions. It is this far more than the threat of "Yankee Imperialism" that is amongst one strategic calculation among the North Korean leadership.

The internal political dynamic is that the North Korean regime want to use nuclear bombs to retain a position upon which to negotiate in Pyongyang with US diplomats and trying to get them or any other Great Power to shore up this impoverished historical anomaly.

If the USA is to be criticised under Obama it is in continuing to regard North Korea as some threat to global peace. It is in that sense, that misunderstanding that the Washington must be criticised and part of that does lie in promoting the military-industrial complex.

Moreover, to retain the idea that even apparently insane regimes have no rationale to their policy as in North Korea is handy for the USA in comparing this "rogue regime" with Iran, the real target for "regime change" which it's entire foreign policy in the Middle East and Central Asia is geared.

Far more understanding of these diplomatic nuances, and the fact that North Korea is mostly a sideline issue for the USA beyond the sort of idea it is a "threat", is needed if global peace is to be striven for. The shame is that movements such as CND no longer have intelligent leaders.

North Korean militarism has a dynamic of its own but it is not "caused" as a reflexive response to the USA: in fact it thrives off sensational acts of provocation that the USA responds to in messianic language while remaining rather restrained.

In Britain, the public are simply misled over nuclear issues when those such as Kate Hudson, an exemplar of Orwellian doublethink, claim to represent well intentioned people who want to see a reduction in nuclear proliferation and better prospects for global peace.

Friday, 30 December 2011

China, Iran, Afghanistan.

A press release has revealed that not only has China struck a deal with Karzai's regime in Kabul. In addition now Iran has struck an energy deal with Afghanistan.
In what could supply Afghanistan millions of tons of Iranian oil, ministers of the two neighboring nations on Monday signed a deal.

Afghan Trade and Industry Minister Anwar Ul-Haq Ahady and Iran’s Deputy Oil Minister Alireza Zeyghami signed the pact under which Iran will export fuel oil, including diesel, fuel for agricultural, industrial and heating uses, petrol and aviation fuel.

The agreement came weeks before Europe and the U.S. planned to increase more sanctions on Iran, which is believed to be creating a nuclear weapon under civilian cover.

Tehran always denies the allegations, but could not stop Western powers imposing sanctions on its oil and gas sectors. In February, Iran said it hoped Afghanistan would fulfill all its needs for fuel products through Iran – an offer Kabul turned down, saying it still prefers to meet some of its fuel demands through Pakistan, Russia, Iraq, and Turkmenistan.

More on the Role of Afghanistan's Mineral Wealth.

Despite the fact that the costs of "stabilising" Afghanistan have been met by the Western nations, the benefits as regards the winning of concessions to extract Afghanistan's mineral wealth have so far been won by Russia and China. A CS Monitor ( 28th December 2012) reports states,
"In a deal finalized on Wednesday, China’s National Petroleum Corporation became the first foreign company to tap into Afghanistan’s oil and gas reserves. Chinese officials have estimated that the deal could be worth at least $700 million, but some say China could earn up to 10 times that....China has not participated in the war effort, but it has managed to gain the biggest stake in Afghan minerals. In 2007, China inked a $3 billion deal securing access to copper mines in Mes Aynak, south of Kabul".
So even on the basis of self interest, the West is losing out to China which simply makes no requirements that governments are transparent and fight corruption or adhere to human rights. Of course, the war has continued mostly due to the geopolitical and strategic benefits of the TAPI Pipeline.

From the Washington Post ( 28th December 2011 ),
'Afghanistan’s government signed a deal Wednesday with China’s state-owned National Petroleum Corporation, allowing it to become the first foreign company to exploit the country’s oil and natural gas reserves.

The contract, which covers the northeastern provinces of Sari Pul and Faryab, is the first of several such blocks to be put on the market in coming months, Afghan Minister of Mines Wahidullah Shahrani said during the signing ceremony.

The ministry listed the initial value of the project with CNPC as $700 million. But the total could be ten times greater if more reserves are found and developed, and if international oil prices remain at today’s levels, Shahrani said.

The fuel pact allows the Chinese firm to research oil and natural gas blocks in Sari Pul and Faryab, an area known as the Amu Darya River Basin that was first explored by Soviet engineers in the 1960s. The Soviets estimated the reserves at about 87 million barrels, but both the Afghan and Chinese partners believe they will prove to be much larger.

CNPC will also build a refinery — Afghanistan’s first — within the next three years, after the real size of the reserves is established with greater accuracy, said Lu Gong Xun, president of CNPC’s international branch.

Shahrani said the deal calls for the Afghan government to receive 70 percent of the profits from the sale of the oil and natural gas. CNPC will also pay 15 percent in royalties, as well as corporate taxes and rent for the land used for its operations.

Afghanistan’s army and police will set up special units to guard the project...'
It will be interesting to see how the regional powers divvy up the spoils in Afghanistan in 2012.

Imperialism and Doublethink.

It is curious that Mishra berates the Imperialism of the West but not once does he use that word with regards China in this recent article on Tibet. The doublethink and hypocrisy runs through the discourse of many "anti-imperialists" who cannot break out of the obsolete paradigm that imperialism and colonialism is uniquely Western.

Instead we have Marxoid speak about "semi-globalised and unequal societies". Nothing about Chinese colonialism in Tibet nor Chinese Imperialism in Africa, one that John Pilger has recently lauded because they are involved in infrastructural projects ( omitting the racism and use of forced labour in nations such as Zambia).

No mention of colonialism in the case of Tibet again here. Imperialism seems to be a vice the West only indulges in. As when Gandhi opined that Western civilisation was a good idea. Now Africa and Asia will be increasingly free from that and free to taste the benefits of the non hypocritical Chinese.

The Chinese operate more effectively than the West as they do so by not making any proclamation of a global role on moral grounds. There is no giving of aid in return for political reforms. They do not seek to interfere with the politics of the states it brings its technical and economic know-how to.

As John Pilger put it in The New Statesman,
'Africa is China's success story. Where the Americans bring drones and destabilisation, the Chinese bring roads, bridges and dams.

What they want is resources, especially fossil fuels. With Africa's greatest oil reserves, Libya under Muammar al-Gaddafi was one of China's most important sources of fuel'
The US is an Imperial power. For Mishra, China is a bringer of "modernity" offering "inclusion in global modernity", which, of course it is, no less than the British Empire or the USA has in the past. The peculiar thing is that few, especially "anti-imperialists" in the West or in nations influenced by the West, call it imperialism.
Tibetans are akin to other uprooted and bewildered victims of globalisation and modernisation, such as the Indian villagers protesting against nuclear plants on their lands or the indigenous forest-dwelling peoples in central India resisting their dispossession
The difference being the Tibetans have been colonised by an alien power through a direct invasion and occupation and Indian villagers fighting against their own governments plans is thus subtly erased. In Tibet "globalisation" is still imposed through imperialism and ethnic cleansing.
As China increasingly appears as a saviour of many struggling economies, the world's conscience looks likely to be as little troubled in the future by Tibet as it is by Kashmir – British MPs had failed to even discuss the self-immolations until this week, and did so only after being pressed by the advocacy organisation Avaaz.
It's called imperialism. Britain is not "the world's conscience". It once tried to combine world power with a 'civilising mission'. Yet if Mishra clearly loathes that , as made clear from his recent review of Niall Ferguson's Civilisation, then the West should concentrate on it's own internal weaknesses first.
The usual simple-minded oppositions between authoritarianism and democracy deployed in discussions of India and China are not of much use here. What these conflicts, cutting across differences in political systems, illustrate is a deeper clash: a powerful and aggressive ideology that upholds social and economic individualism against a traditionally grounded respect for collective welfare and the environment.
The difference between Indian democracy and Chinese authoritarian dictatorship is not so "simple minded" for those banged up in prison or confined in Chinese concentration camps. Nor is the Chinese model of capitalism in any sense about "economic individualism".

The fact is, for good or ill, Tibet is a colonised society and China a huge land empire which has extended imperialism first to its near abroad and then on to Africa where it is nudging the West aside as it does not adhere to the double standards and hypocrisy detested by those like Mishra.

On the contrary, China is more effective precisely because it has no sense of having a civilising mission outside China in lands believed to have no civilisation anyway but where minerals and oil are to be found to boost Chinese economic and hence political and diplomatic superpower.