29 June 2015

Bridging ties with the New Silk Road

June 29, 2015

There is not enough understanding in India that the Chinese Belt and the Road project is a consequence of an economic imperative in China, which is undergoing structural change, and has less to do with geopolitics as is easily assumed.

A first-time visitor to hot and humid Shenzhen, the port city of Guangdong province in southeast China, will be stuck by the grandeur of what is clearly a modern mega-city. The city, which abuts Hong Kong and a gateway to southern China, is a showcase of the country’s reforms era (1978-present).

What was once a fishing village in the late 1970s, has transformed itself after a special economic zone was designated there in 1979. Many parts were built up to accommodate businesses and factories to aid in the rapid urbanisation that was wrought out from foreign investment, dedicated urban governance and by leveraging the coasts of the Pearl River delta and the South China Sea. Within four decades, the city has grown into a tertiary hub, host to high-technology companies, highly skilled manpower and an equivalent of the Silicon Valley of the United States. Today, the port city serves an important function in China’s outreach to the world by being a major outpost in the Maritime Silk Road project. It is also the base of some of the busiest container terminals on the Pearl River delta.

Rear View: The sudden war

Inder Malhotra
June 29, 2015 

AS briefly indicated earlier, the Kargil War of 1999 was highly significant, and it is imperative that we do not repeat the initial mistakes we committed then (‘And she didn’t have 272’, IE, June 15). The worst of these was that, until on May 3 some shepherds alerted the nearest military post about Pakistani infiltrators on Kargil and neighbouring heights building bunkers for themselves, the country knew nothing about this grave happening. Counter-measures began immediately, of course. But it still took more time before we realised that the invaders were not just “mujahideen”, but also soldiers of Pakistan’s Northern Light Infantry.

Soon, it became known that this misadventure was the brainchild and handiwork of the then army chief and later military dictator of Pakistan, General Prevez Musharraf. Ironically, Nawaz Sharif, then as now the prime minister of Pakistan, had handpicked “Mush” by superseding three generals senior to him. It is true that Musharraf was late in informing his PM about what was afoot. But Sharif’s claim that Musharraf acted “behind his back” is inaccurate. Pakistani accounts have confirmed that when Sharif was briefed, his only question was: “Can we get to Srinagar?”

Don’t compound errors of 1947

K.C. Singh
Jun 29, 2015

China is trying to sweeten the deal by offering India and Pakistan membership of the SCO. The signal is that Chinese munificence is based on India accepting their vision of future Asian integration with China as the hub.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s second Brics summit, now in Ufa, Russia, on July 8-9, 2015, will take place amidst a changed global situation, economic crises of some members and testy domestic developments compared to his Brazil visit immediately on assuming office.

Firstly, only the second time after 2009 is the Brics summit being clubbed with that of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO). Last time the justification was the international financial crisis. Secondly, both Russia and China have looming stand-offs with the US and its allies, the former over Ukraine and the latter in the South China Sea. Both wish to redefine the Asian power structure and diminish America’s role. Central Asia, at the centre of the Eurasian land mass, assumes importance as a source for oil and gas.

Indo-US Strategic Ties – OpEd

June 27, 2015

The US tilt in South Asia is not a sudden development, in fact, after the demise of the Soviet Union there has been a gradual convergence of interests between New Delhi and Washington. Before the Cold War any alliance between the US and India remained out of the question due to Nehru’s policy of nonalignment. However, the US always recognized India’s regional importance. The first step towards India came when General Claude Kicklighter visited India in 1991. Subsequent agreements that took place to develop the joint training exercises marked the first military-to-military cooperation between United States and India. Immediately thereafter, high level discussion on strategic interests took place in January 1992 in New Delhi. At that meeting, India was considered as the only country that could act as a regional stabilizing force against the spread of “Islamic fundamentalism”.

A short history of traitors in Pakistan, from Frontier Gandhi to critics of the economic corridor to China

Adnan Aamir

Our neighbour shares our penchant for branding citizens as anti-national.

Ever since its inception in 1947, one thing that Pakistan is excelled at is producing traitors. Using the allegations of treachery to malign politicians, intellectuals and activists has been a time tested practice in Pakistan.

The first traitor of Pakistan was Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy. He was the premier of Bengal in United India and was instrumental in making East Bengal a part of Pakistan. He spent three months in Calcutta with Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi after Partition. During that period, He helped in pacifying the anti-Muslim riots in the former capital of United Bengal. Upon his return to Pakistan, he was deprived of his national assembly membership and was declared a traitor.

‘Post-Withdrawal Afghanistan’ And US – OpEd

Ahmad Hamza Subhani 
June 27, 2015

U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Pablo Perez provides security during training to counter improvised explosive devices on Camp Leatherneck in Helmand province, Afghanistan, April 3, 2013. Perez, a rifleman, is assigned to Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Tammy K. Hineline

The post-2014 condition in Afghanistan, after the disengagement of the US-NATO-International Security Assistance Force, has been a matter of serious debate. The main trouble lies in foreseeing the genuine aspirations of sundry actors involved in the Afghan predicament, particularly of the US.

The US, without any proper strategy, has been unable to figure out the shamble in Afghanistan, for which it is to some extent accountable. As a result, the it has sabotaged the entire region through ‘defective’ strategies. The only ‘trophy’ that it can avow is the elimination of Osama bin Laden. Otherwise, the ‘terrorism’ that the Americans came to eradicate has increased, not decreased.

Why China Continues To Lose Goodwill In India – Analysis

By Dr. Sridhar Krishnaswami*
June 28, 2015

If anyone was under the impression that India’s notification to the United Nations sanctions Committee to rein in Pakistan under Resolution 1267 over the release of dreaded terrorist and commander of the Lakshar-e-Taiba, Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, would have the nod of China, he/she was living in an illusory world. Even if India had provided “enough information” China would still have maintained that New Delhi had failed to do so and would have adopted every other procedural manoeuvre to prevent Pakistan from being raked over the coals.

What really would have been news is if China had gone along with other permanent members of the United Nations Security Council to consider India’s referral. That being the case it is difficult to understand why there is so much heartburn in the media and elsewhere on the latest Chinese action. In fact, this is not the first time that China has let its client state off the hook, much to the dismay of the international community, even while mouthing all the nice things about having to cooperate on issues of terrorism.

India’s Armed Drone Fleet

With even Pakistan now sporting an armed unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) developed with Chinese assistance, India has decided to accelerate the development of its own weaponized drone fleet. The process of weaponizing an indigenously developed UAV has commenced and the elements required to operate an armed drone fleet, such as a high accuracy satellite-based augmentation system (SBAS) and dedicated military communication satellites, are being put in place anyway. Work is also underway on a stealthy unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV).

Despite this, India still has to make some progress on the collision avoidance technology needed to give its drones the flexibility to use civilian airspace. It will also need to increase satellite bandwidth considerably to increase the tempo of armed UAV flights. In the next few years limited use of drone strikes near India’s borders on terrorist targets may be on the table, in keeping with the emerging Modi-Doval doctrine that authorized the recent cross-border strike in Myanmar.

Southeast Asia’s Arms Market: Growing ‘Commoditisation’? – Analysis

By Richard A. Bitzinger*

If arms sales are increasingly a commodity business, governed mainly by price, it could increase regional militaries’ access to advanced military equipment and technologies. Still, other factors affect any true “commoditisation” of the regional arms market.

Is the global arms market, and in particular, arms sales to Southeast Asia, becoming increasingly “commoditised”? Commoditisation refers to an economic situation in which there exists an almost total lack of meaningful differentiation between competing products, and when they are instead sold almost entirely on the basis of price.

Commoditised products are characterised by standardised, common technology or attributes, rather than brand or capabilities uniqueness, resulting in basically a price-based competition. If arms sales to the region are increasingly a commodity business, therefore, it would result in the expanded access of Southeast Asian nations to advanced military equipment and technology.

China, Cuba Seek Economic and Defense Cooperation

By Shannon Tiezzi
June 27, 2015

Two high-ranking Chinese officials made separate visits to Cuba this month. 

After attending the Strategic and Economic Dialogue in Washington, D.C., Chinese Vice Premier Wang Yang arrived at his second stop – Cuba. This September marks the 55th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between Beijing and Havana, and China wants to make sure the occasion doesn’t pass unnoticed.

While the two countries have had diplomatic ties since 1960, by China’s own admission “there were little substantive contacts between China and Cuba during the period of Cold War.” China and Cuba began increasing their interactions, particularly high-level visits, in the 1990s. Then-Chinese President Jiang Zemin went to Cuba in 1993 and 2001; his successor, Hu Jintao, visited in 2004. Fidel Castro, who served as Cuba’s president from 1976-2008 (and as prime minister from 1959-1976) visited China in 1995 and 2003. His brother Raul, who succeeded Fidel as president, made his own trip to China in 2012. Current Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Cuba in July 2014, part of a broader tour of Latin America.

It's Official: AIIB Constitution to Be Signed on June 29

By Shannon Tiezzi
June 26, 2015

Plus, U.S-China relations, China’s military strategy, and one woman’s experience with urbanization. Friday China links. 

This week in China links…

The constitution for the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank is set to be signed on June 29, Xinhua reports. Representatives from all 57 founding member states will gather in Beijing for the signing ceremony. AIIB members finalized negotiations on the constitution in May; after the document is formally signed, each country will still have to ratify it according to their own domestic processes.

Australia’s treasurer, Joe Hockey, told Sky News that Canberra felt its original concerns about the governance of the bank (concerns shared by the United States, which lobbied allies not to join) had been adequately addressed. “’We are absolutely satisfied that the governance arrangements now in place will ensure there is appropriate transparency and accountability in the bank,” Hockey said. Australia is set to be the AIIB’s sixth largest stakeholder, following China, India, Russia, Germany, and South Korea (in that order).

China's HD-981 Oil Rig Returns, Near Disputed South China Sea Waters

By Ankit Panda
June 27, 2015

In an unexpected development, China’s Haiyang Shiyou 981 oil rig is back in contested waters. 

Reports began emerging in the Vietnamese media on Thursday that China’s Haiyang Shiyou 981 (HD-981) oil rig—the centerpiece of last summer’s clashes between Vietnam and China—was being redeployed off the coast of China’s Hainan Island, in waters where the disputed exclusive economic zones (EEZs) of Vietnam and China overlap and west of the disputed Paracel Islands (known as the Xisha Islands in China). Vietnamese reports, citing a China Maritime Safety Administration (MSA) announcement, noted that the rig was deployed to the coordinates of 17°03’75’’ North and 109°59’05’’ East, approximately 120 nm from Vietnam’s coast, 63 nm from China’s Hainan Island coast, and 87 nm from the nearest Island in the Paracels (mapped below).

China-India Relations: From Competition To Cooperation – Analysis

By Selcuk Çolakoğlu

Relations between China and India, the world’s number one and number two most populated countries respectively, have always attracted worldwide attention. Today, these two countries are ranked among the most important economies of not only Asia but the entire globe. China is currently the second largest economy in the world, while India is the seventh. The increasing economic capacities of the two countries continue to boost their weight in global politics as well. In that regard, it is not surprising to see that both have been invited to the G-20, which came into existence as the G-7’s scope was widened. China and India also embarked on a quest to establish a non-Western global economic order by founding the BRIC in 2001 together with Russia and Brazil. This entity, which evolved into what we now know as the BRICS, with the participation of South Africa, has additionally given way to the foundation of a development bank. Likewise, India became a founding member of the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), which was recently established by China as an alternative to the U.S. and Japanese-led Asian Development Bank.

Why Is Islamic State A Master Of ‘Tactical’ Defeats? – OpEd

June 27, 2015

What a difference one year can make. US officials are now using less the word terroriststo describe the Islamic State, and more often words like formidable or a resilient foe. It appears they have good reason to change their view on what is evidently more of an army and less of a “group”. An army that appears like a mutating virus and that is able to adapt with swiftness and speed to its enemies’ strategies to such an extent that professional armies find themselves changing their military tactics from offensive to defensive.

The Islamic State continues to manage to acquire more territories, almost immediately after losing other territories. Is this phenomenon a coincidence or is it a well thought-out strategy?

Islamic State Attack Puts Kobani Reconstruction At Risk – Analysis

By Joe Dyke

For the past few months, Kobani and the surrounding area have been something of a sanctuary in Syria. Since the withdrawal of self-declared Islamic State from the northern town in January, it had been peaceful.

The threat of violence seemed low enough for reconstruction efforts to begin. Foreign aid workers started shuffling in and out. It was seen as a place of relative calm, where the future, at least, looked positive. Not any more.

One attack has changed everything. Around 150 people were killed on Thursday when a large group of IS militants infiltrated the predominantly Kurdish city, carried out a series of bombings and fired indiscriminately on civilians.

Special Report: This Week in Ukraine with Zack Baddorf

Brandon Neilan
June 27, 2015 

Zack Baddorf recently went to the Ukraine to cover the bloody conflict for War Is Boring that has cost over 6,000 lives and devastation to the eastern portion of the country. Whole towns and cities are ravaged, Shyrokyne is in shambles, Donetsk Airport is gone, and most inhabitants have fled.

He’s a veteran of the U.S. Navy, has over 10 years of journalism experience, and has contributed and reported for the Wall Street Journal, Associated Press, NPR, BBC, Seattle Times, Vice, & War Is Boring — among other top tier global news agencies.

Zack’s topical correspondence has spanned over 30 countries, including: Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and the Ukraine — from cinematographic work with U.S. Special Operations Forces on ATV’s, to frontline reporting on the conflict in eastern Ukraine, to reporting on the chemical attacks used by Assad’s regime against its citizens in Syria — and the aftermath that coincided by the inaction of the Obama administration, to the plague of ISIS in Kurdistan.

Zack is also the Co-Founder & Chief Creative Officer of Expeditionary Communicators, a disabled veteran owned & operated small business that builds communication experiences for non-profits, government agencies, and other entities. He also teaches communications at New York University as an adjunct professor and is currently working on his third master’s degree.

Putin to Press on With Russia’s Military Modernization

June 27, 2015

Despite a crippling recession, Russian President Vladimir Putin vowed to press on with his 22 trillion ruble (more than $400 billion) military modernization plan, according to Sputnik News.

Addressing a group of recent graduates of Russian military staff colleges in the Kremlin yesterday, Putin emphasized that structural reform within the Russian Armed Forces and new weapon acquisitions programs will continue unhindered over the next few years.

“A strong army equipped with sophisticated weapons guarantees Russia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. It also guarantees that millions of our fellow citizens can live in peace. I am sure you understand it quite well,” Putin said, explaining Moscow’s rationale for the massive rearmament program.

Russian Nuke Talk 'Playing with Fire'

June 26, 2015

WASHINGTON -- Russia is "playing with fire" by suggesting it would threaten the use of nuclear weapons in territorial disputes, and the Obama administration believes this is part of a Russian intimidation campaign against the NATO alliance, the Pentagon's No. 2 official said Thursday.

Robert Work, the deputy secretary of defense, said he's troubled by what he calls Russian provocations. He described Moscow's defense strategy as seeking to control the escalation of security tensions by raising the nuclear ante.

"Anyone who thinks that they can control escalation through the use of nuclear weapons is literally playing with fire," he told a House Armed Services subcommittee hearing on U.S. nuclear strategy and plans for nuclear modernization.

The Cold War Never Really Ended

Mike McQuade

For the first time in a decade, Russia spent a higher portion of its GDP on defense than the U.S. in 2013.

To those who lived through it, the night of November 9, 1989, seemed to mark a new epoch in human history. The Berlin Wall was suddenly undefended, in a single delirious moment that promised to end the Cold War division of Europe. Two years later, the Soviet Union would be dissolved. Elected leaders would govern Russia for the first time since the country’s brief democratic experiment of 1917. “Europe whole and free” seemed more than a far-off aspiration: it seemed a work in the making. A quarter century later, Russia under Vladimir Putin is more repressive and more aggressive than the Soviet Union under Mikhail Gorbachev was. It has invaded Ukraine and menaces the Baltic republics. In 2013, Russia spent a higher portion of GDP on defense than the United States for the first time in a decade. As Europe contends with economic depression and internal terrorist violence, Russian money flows to extremist parties in the hope of breaking apart the European Union. One former Warsaw Pact member, Hungary, is backsliding toward authoritarianism. “Europe whole and free” sounds like haunting mockery.

The seven stages of Greece’s debt tragedy

Jason Manolopoulos

How did we get here, and why is it lasting so long? Here is how the drama has being playing out between Athens and Brussels

Different cycles influence a country’s economy: the business cycle, the credit cycle, the regulatory cycle, the moral cycle. One that is seldom talked about is the debtor-creditor cycle. George Soros deftly describes the relationship between creditors and debtors as “the collective system of lending” in Alchemy of Finance.

In Greece’s case this cycle is of particular importance, as Greece needs a significant debt haircut in order for the economic cycle to restart. While that is not the only prerequisite, it is still essential.