Cyprus, Israel and Greece have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on cooperation in the fields of energy and water. Speaking after the signing of the MoU, Cyprus Minister of Energy, Commerce, Industry and Tourism Yiorgos Lakkotrypis said “this is a monumental moment for the cooperation among the three countries”. “The MoU is a framework which will determine the number of activities that the countries have agreed to jointly pursue, such as energy security supply, environmental concerns and a number of other issues which are common for us three”, he added.
Iraq’s Kurdistan region has started to export crude oil by truck to an Iranian port for shipping to Asia, industry sources say, using a trade route that is likely to anger both Baghdad and Washington The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has reportedly approved a second route for crude through Iran after Turkey, although a KRG official denies any crude was going through Iran yet. Iraq’s Kurdistan region is exporting crude oil by truck to an Iranian port for shipping to Asia, industry sources say, using a trade route that is likely to anger both Baghdad and Washington.
South and East Asia have become the world’s major oil consumers, but they lack the supply. Energy security thus lies at the heart of Asia’s economic transformation, prosperity and development. Jean-Pierre Lehmann and Suddha Chakravartti explain how China, India and their smaller neighboring economies are scrambling to find ways to secure and deliver enough oil from suppliers to consumers. The vastness and heterogeneity of Asia contrast with the relative compactness and homogeneity of Europe. Nevertheless, Asia does exist as a geopolitical, geo-economic and analytical entity.
A group of energy companies that discovered large amounts of natural gas off Israel’s Mediterranean coast said they were in talks to export the gas to Europe via a pipeline to Turkey. They are also studying options to export gas to Jordan, Egypt and the Palestinian Authority, Avner Oil & Gas said on Tuesday. “The partners are negotiating with various officials,” Avner, one of the partners in the project, said. Recoverable gas in the Levant Basin, which lies largely in Israeli and Cypriot waters in the eastern Mediterranean, hold some 3.5 trillion cubic metres of gas, the U.S. Geological Survey has estimated.
Japan unveiled its biggest warship since World War II, a $1.2 billion helicopter carrier aimed at defending territorial claims, drawing criticism from regional rival China which accused its neighbour of “constant” military expansion. Japan plans to use the helicopter carrier, named Izumo and expected to go into service in 2015, to defend territorial claims following maritime skirmishes with China, which has demonstrated its own military ambitions in recent years. Tokyo is also locked in a separate territorial dispute with Seoul.
The Arabian Peninsula Seas contain two of the most important strategic waterways in the world: Bab Al-Mandab and Strait of Hormuz. Without them much of the geopolitics of the Horn of Africa and South West Asia would make little sense. The Red Sea is moderately integrated into the regional level but it is much more deeply integrated into international level. National pride, regional developments, international commerce and worldwide political events all have played a part in shaping in the Red Sea Region as it exists today. The “new” Red Sea Region should be characterized by regional cooperation.
Business leaders of Asian nations today decided to promote new free trade agreements and strengthen the existing pacts to use them as building blocks for creating a Free Trade Area of the Asia Pacific (FTAAP).
According to a joint statement issued after the 4th Asian Business Summit, economic partnership agreements and FTAs will bind Asian economies together and promote greater regional cooperation for expanded trade in goods, services and greater cross-border investment flows, besides dismantling of non- tariff barriers.
Pine Gap is a secretive facility nearly 20km south-west of Alice Springs which has been there since 1970. Run by both Australia and the United States, its official name is the Joint Defence Facility Pine Gap, even though our government really hates to admit it exists.
Pine Gap is essentially a satellite tracking station, situated in the middle of nowhere because that makes it hard for other countries to intercept the signals emitted from within. It is thought that the US controls all of its spy satellites from Pine Gap, and that the US and Australia “listen to Asia” from the 14 antennae concealed beneath white domes at Pine Gap.
The Philippines plans to relocate major air force and navy camps to a former U.S. naval base northwest of Manila to gain faster access to waters being contested by China in the South China Sea, according to the country’s defense chief and a confidential government report. Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said Sunday that as soon as relocation funds are available the government plans to transfer air force and naval forces and their fleets of aircraft and warships to Subic Bay, which has become a busy free port since the 1992 departure of the U.S. Navy.
Amid signs Israel’s effort to patch up relations with one-time ally Turkey is in difficulties, the prospect of exporting gas from offshore fields to Europe via a pipeline under the eastern Mediterranean to Turkey would seem to be dimming. That suggests more interest in a liquefied gas system aimed at lucrative exports to Asia via the Red Sea. Either way, Israel’s navy is trying to figure out how best to protect the Jewish state’s expanding gas industry– and if current plans work out, oil production as well — from a wide spectrum of security threats that seem to be growing by the day.
Allowing the US military to use facilities on an almost continuous basis offers a bonanza to weapons manufacturers and may inflame tensions in the region. The proposed Philippines-US bases access accord should be scrutinised for its hidden motives, to remove chaff from grain. The agreement will chain the Philippines as a permanent station for bolstering America’s military presence in the Asia-Pacific region, and its arms trade. Building the Philippines’ “minimum deterrence capability” in territorial feuds with China and ensuring a US shield against external aggression are just sound bytes. The corporate agenda is concealed by security objectives.
How many bargains you get when shopping depends on Egypt’s Suez Canal being open for business. Between 8% and 12% of all international trade goes through Egypt’s Suez Canal, which cuts thousands of miles off ship journeys from Asia to Europe and to the North American East Coast. We can call it 10% of world trade on a rolling average (trade is still down after the 2008 crash). But note that if the Suez Canal were to be closed by the country’s turbulence, it wouldn’t just affect that ten percent– the impact on prices of many commodities would be across the board.
The U.S. military is shifting its huge fleet of unmanned aircraft to other hot spots around the world. The move comes as the Obama administration is reducing the number of drone attacks in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen. This next phase of drone warfare is focused more on spying than killing and will extend the Pentagon’s surveillance networks far beyond traditional, declared combat zones. According to the Washington Post, over the past decade, the Pentagon has collected more than 400 Predators, Reapers, Hunters, Gray Eagles and other high-altitude drones that have revolutionized counterterrorism operations.
Here’s what your stockbroker and the media aren’t telling you: the world is more indebted now than it was at the height of the financial bubble in 2007. That’s right. Despite the extraordinary government intervention of the past six years. Despite continuing optimism of a recovery. Despite the reassuring words of central bankers. We’re worse off in debt terms. Interest rates can’t rise above GDP rates, otherwise debt to GDP ratios will climb further. If they do, you can expect more money printing, budget cuts and tax rises.
The doctrine of the Indian secret agency, Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) is based on the principle of waging continuous secret battles through its agents. Since its creation in 1968, RAW has assumed a significant status in formulation of Indian foreign policy. RAW’s operations against the regional countries are conducted with great professional skill and expertise, which include the establishment of a huge network inside the target countries. It has used propaganda, political dissent, ethnic divisions, economic backwardness and criminal elements to foment subversion and terrorism to weaken these states in consonance with Indian regional ambitions.
Chinese state-run oil companies hope to develop seven new gas fields in the East China Sea, possibly siphoning gas from the seabed beneath waters claimed by Japan, a move that could further inflame tensions with Tokyo over the disputed area.
Beijing had slowed exploration in the energy-rich East China Sea, one of Asia’s biggest security risks due to competing territorial claims, but is now rapidly expanding its hunt for gas, a cheaper and cleaner energy to coal and oil imports.
The Air Force of the future is likely to be slightly smaller and more reliant on remotely piloted aircraft, face growing challenges from the rise of Asia and rapidly increasing space traffic, and struggle to maintain its technological superiority as the United States produces fewer scientists, engineers and other highly skilled graduates. In the report, called “Global Horizons: United States Air Force Global Science and Technology Vision,” Maybury said that the Air Force’s manned air fleet is likely to shrink slightly by 2027. But the Air Force’s fleets of remotely piloted aircraft and their missions are likely to grow.
Greenland, a territory of 2,166,086 km² inhabited by less than 57,000 persons, which got Self Rule within the Kingdom of Denmark in 2009, has everything to attract major powers. Greenland has already become a meeting place for American, European and Asian interests in the Arctic. It is also a strategic territory and a key to future developments in the Arctic. In order to handle such a rising international interest, one of Greenland’s main challenges is capacity building. Greenland has talents, but too few to handle such an interest.
The new middle class is “much more likely to engage in political activism to get their way.” Not just protests and civil unrest but revolutions — the kind predicted by the Pentagon a decade ago. This “threatening gap between rapidly rising expectations and a disappointing reality” will have enormous implications for China’s stability. Reading “Middle-Class Revolution” and other Fukuyama works, it is obvious that the “Pentagon 2020” war scenario is accelerating everywhere — across Asia, India, Africa, Europe, South America and the United States — fueled by capitalists who only see population growth as an opportunity for new consumer markets.
The “emerging” powers determine and project national interests through political leadership guiding national decisions in socio-cultural settings so as to increase and protect the prestige of the country concerned. They develop vibrant economies, military muscles, and engage in socio-cultural infiltration of other countries and regions using what is popularly termed “soft power”. In this sense, businessmen, politicians, economists, and various professionals in the state are functionaries in national grand designs to make each a power to reckon with.
India and South Korea share remarkable common interests – all the more remarkable considering how far apart they are geographically, in area, population, average income, living conditions and climate. And then consider how different are Indians and Koreans in ethnic and linguistic backgrounds, religious beliefs and influences. It’s hard to imagine two such important nations and societies with so little in common, yet so closely bound by security and economic considerations.
How many nuclear weapons and delivery systems does a country need as an effective deterrent against the threats of attack? Finding an acceptable balance is critically important in Asia, where four of the world’s nine nuclear-armed states are located.Asia may be sliding into a nuclear arms race, aggravated by underlying tensions and mistrust. As one nuclear weapons state enlarges its arsenal, other regional atomic powers do the same. SIPRI estimated that China, India and Pakistan had each added about 10 warheads to their operational stockpiles in 2012.
China, Japan and Korea are all exercising increased diplomatic and political thrusts into the Arctic countries, but in different manners. While the visits of Chinese and Korean officials target the Nordic countries to talk Arctic and environmental cooperation, China’s diplomatic representation is actually strongest in Russia. China has five consulates in Russia, the same number as it has in the U.S., perhaps pointing to at least a traditional equivalence in the weight that the U.S. and Russia hold in Chinese foreign policy.
The youth riots in Brazil, Chile, the European Union, the Arab Middle East, Turkey, and even the “Occupy” movement in the West all reflect what political theory broadly calls the “legitimacy crisis” of modern democracy – the notion that participation in democratic politics does little to change the actual process of government, that elites are dug-in and immoveable, that cronyism is endemic, and so on. Young voters particularly become cynical of the formal electoral process, either dropping out in disdain, or expressing their grievances “extra-parliamentarily”, i.e., on the street.
The Philippine military has revived plans to build new air and naval bases at Subic Bay, a former U.S. naval base that American forces could use to counter China’s creeping presence in the disputed South China Sea, senior navy officials said.
The bases would allow the Philippines to station warships and fighter jets just 124 nautical miles from Scarborough Shoal, a contentious area of the South China Sea now controlled by China after a tense standoff last year.
Britain’s spy agency GCHQ has secretly gained access to the network of cables which carry the world’s phone calls and internet traffic and has started to process vast streams of sensitive personal information which it is sharing with its American partner, the National Security Agency (NSA). The sheer scale of the agency’s ambition is reflected in the titles of its two principal components: Mastering the Internet and Global Telecoms Exploitation, aimed at scooping up as much online and telephone traffic as possible.
The emergence of China and India as global powers may become inevitable and may have significant implications for the Gulf region and beyond. The U.S. National Intelligence Council in its latest report ‘Global Trends 2030: Alternative Worlds,’ describes a world that will be radically transformed from what we know today. In a tectonic shift, by 2030, the reports says ‘Asia will have surpassed North America and Europe combined in terms of global power, based upon GDP, population size, military spending, and technological investment.’
A Mongolian company has tapped one of the world’s most closed markets by taking a stake in a North Korean oil refinery, to help Asia’s fastest growing economy ease its energy reliance on Russia and China.
HBOil JSC, an oil trading and refining company based in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, said it acquired 20 percent of the state-run entity operating North Korea’s Sungri refinery, according to an e-mailed statement yesterday. It intends to supply crude to Sungri, which won’t be fully operational for up to a year, and export the refined products to Mongolia.
China has offered Sri Lanka new loans for infrastructure projects, worth US$ 2.2 billion dollars. In a reply to a question, the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Mr. Hong Lei told the news media that in addition to infrastructure loans, both countries agreed to further deepen defence cooperation and maintain exchanges between two defence ministries, whilst they continue to carry out in cooperating defence technology, personal training and other fields. Yet, the spokesperson did not reveal further details regarding the nature of the new strategic cooperation.
In a bid to capture part of the surging demand globally for physical bullion, Deutsche Bank has launched its second-biggest gold storage vault in Singapore.
Deutsche Bank has launched its second-biggest gold-storage vault in Singapore that can hold up to 200 tonnes of the metal as it looks to capture surging global demand for physical bullion. Gold prices are near a two-year low and down 17 percent in 2013, after 12 straight years of annual gains.
The Iranian people will choose the man to replace Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on 24 June 2013. The country’s complex and unique political system has always raised questions about the extent of power, the president has as the highest publicly elected official and the second in command of the country.
The Iranian political system is a combination of unelected powerful institutions, controlled by the Supreme Leader, and elected officials such as the president and members of parliament. Despite efforts by the Supreme Leader, the rift between those elected and unelected institutions have sometimes surfaced over the past two decades.
Hundreds of world leaders and industry chiefs met in Myanmar Wednesday for Asia’s edition of the World Economic Forum, as the fast-changing nation woos foreign investors following the end of decades of harsh junta rule.
Foreign firms are queuing up to enter the country formerly known as Burma, tantalised by the prospect of an untouched market with a potential 60 million new consumers in addition to Myanmar’s well of cheap labour.
As the United States pivots away from the Western world to face the burgeoning Pacific Rim, what wisdom can it carry over from its former stomping grounds to the new cockpit of geopolitics? Perhaps Washington can take a page out of Leopold Kohr’s book. The obscure Austrian philosopher once popularized the slogan “Small is Beautiful” — which has clearly never caught on in the States. Yet his theories on the importance of size in international relations might help Washington manage its decidedly outsized geopolitical challenges in Asia.
Despite Beijing’s fulminations, India and Japan on Wednesday lifted their strategic convergence to a new level by vowing to work together for ensuring stability in the Asia-Pacific region in the face of growing muscle-flexing by China. The two sides agreed to institutionalize joint exercises by their navies and to increase their frequency even as Japan offered its highly advanced sea plane Shinmaywa or US-2 in what is the first instance of Tokyo’s willingness to offer a technology that has both military and civilian applications.
From seasoned investors to recent graduates armed with little more than hastily made business cards and dreams of striking it rich, foreigners are pouring into Myanmar to stake a claim as it opens up.
It is an expat “goldrush” driven by the promise of an economic boom after the rollback of many sanctions following the end of decades of junta rule.
However, some, at least, are also drawn by a commitment to help rebuild the impoverished nation. The once-empty Western bars of central Yangon are now doing a roaring trade, hotels are fully booked and networking nights thrum with the chatter of new arrivals hungry for contacts in the city.
Turkmenistan plans to begin production at Galkynysh, the world’s second largest gas field, by June 30, which will allow it boost exports to Asia and help Europe lessen its dependence on Russian gas.
Turkmenistan, a post-Soviet Central Asian country of 5.5 million which borders Afghanistan and Iran, holds the world’s fourth-largest natural gas riches after Russia, Iran and Qatar. British auditor Gaffney, Cline & Associates has estimated the reserves of Galkynysh, named after the Turkmen word for “renaissance,” at 13.1 trillion to 21.2 trillion cubic metres.
Israel’s rapprochement with onetime strategic ally Turkey is a vital element in Ankara’s drive to become the intercontinental east-west energy hub in the Mediterranean and many expect it to produce an energy alliance that will transform the region.
Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Recep Erdogan has transformed his country’s economic prospects through a wide-ranging diplomatic drive aimed at restoring Turkish leadership in the region. He has long sought to transform Turkey, which has no energy resources of its own, into the unassailable central hub for transporting oil and gas from the eastern Mediterranean, the new hot zone, to Europe and maybe to Asia as well.
Over the past five years, Chinese businesses have been expanding their footprint in Latin America in a number of ways, beginning with enhanced trade to ensure a steady supply of bulk commodities such as oil, copper and soybeans. At this year’s Boao Forum for Asia, for the first time a Latin American sub-forum was created that included the participation of several heads of state from the region.
Military strategists love a neat metaphor and today’s defence white paper from the Gillard government has given us a new one to bandy about.
The US had its “pivot” into the region. The white paper is asking us to envisage what it’s calling a “new Indo-Pacific strategic arc” stretching from India, through south-east Asia and north-east Asia, as our area of key strategic interest. In essence, this means more emphasis on looking west and northwest towards the Indian Ocean as well as to the north and north-east – not a revolution, but an evolution of what has been going on quietly inside defence circles for some years.
A new reality is emerging amid all the hype about Myanmar’s democratization process and moves to liberalize its political landscape. Myanmar’s drift away from a tight relationship with China towards closer links with the West is signaling the emergence of a new focal point of confrontation in Asia, one where the interests of Washington and Beijing are beginning to collide.
Rather than being on a path to democracy, Myanmar may find itself instead in the middle of a dangerous and potentially volatile superpower rivalry. That means the traditionally powerful military may not be in the mood to give up its dominant role in politics and society any time soon.
A team of scientists in China has created hybrid viruses by mixing genes from H5N1 and the H1N1 strain behind the 2009 swine flu pandemic, and showed that some of the hybrids can spread through the air between guinea pigs. The results are published inScience1. Flu hybrids can arise naturally when two viral strains infect the same cell and exchange genes. This process, known as reassortment, produced the strains responsible for at least three past flu pandemics, including the one in 2009. There is no evidence that H5N1 and H1N1 have reassorted naturally yet, but they have many opportunities to do so.
Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director of Human Rights Watch, said the recommendation that the population Muslims should be controlled in the long term was outrageous. “It’s quite chilling to start talking about limiting births of one particular group,” he said. “Will coercive measures get taken on the ground even if the union government says people can take this voluntarily?”
The report said concerns expressed by Buddhists in Rakhine state over the rising population of Muslims they see as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh had “undermined peaceful coexistence” between the two groups. It said the introduction of family planning education “would go some way to mitigating” the crisis.
China has allegedly sold helicopter gunships to ethnic Wa rebels who occupy areas of Shan State in eastern Burma, intelligence monitor Jane’s Information Group reported on Monday.
The report claimed China “delivered several Mil Mi-17 ‘Hip’ medium- transport helicopters armed with TY-90 air-to-air missiles to the Wa in late February and early March, according to both Myanmar ethnic minority and Myanmar government sources.” Bertil Lintner, an expert on Burma and author of Great Game East: India, China and the Struggle for Asia’s Most Volatile Frontier, confirmed the accuracy of the Jane’s report.
The current tensions on the disputed India-China border – known delightfully for its vagueness as the ‘Line of Actual Control’ – in the western sector of the Ladakh region bordering China’s Xinjiang Autonomous Region hark back to the scenario five decades ago when little skirmishes snowballed into a major outbreak of hostility. Fortunately, however, this time around there is a fundamental difference, too, which obviates the danger of a catastrophic slide to armed conflict. On a systemic plane, there are disquieting signs that the Indian establishment has not been pulling together on the country’s China policy and this disconnect, which has been suspected through the recent past, threatens to introduce its own disharmony.
A new report released in April by the Center for the Study of Chinese Military Affairs at the National Defense University looks at the history of Chinese threat and retaliation signaling. It offers up a future signaling scenario involving the South China Sea that should be required reading for the US Pacific Command and the US National Security Council.
The core of the scenario is based on the proposition that China perceives closer military ties among the US, Philippines, and Vietnam as a “threatening strategic trend” as it did with the 1978 Hanoi-Moscow security treaty. China perceived the treaty as collusion to establish a “regional hegemony” over Vietnam’s neighbors.
A panel of experts at the recent SISO CEO Summit did a great job describing where they’d put their money now—and in five years. Interestingly, they are looking at, and investing in, MIST: Mexico, Indonesia, South Korea and Turkey. Some say the “S” should stand for South Africa.
In spite of the over-hyped press, Mexico is safe and on the rise. Between rising wages and transportation costs in Asia, the maquiladora business in Mexico is booming. Mexico has more free trade agreements in place than any other country in the world. There are good (privately owned) venues in the major cities and great suppliers, hotels and services.
The Arctic Ocean is deceptively vast, spanning 5.4 million square miles. In comparison, Russia in its entirety spans 6.6 million square miles. While most of the Arctic Ocean remains inaccessible, the shrinking of permanent sea ice has roused global economic interest for two reasons. First, the Northern Sea Route runs from the Bering Strait to the Barents Sea, and condenses the traditional “Royal Road” route by about 2500 nautical miles (approximately 10 days’ travel). If viable, the opening of this route would radically alter the transport of goods from Asian industrial hubs to Western consumer markets.
A United States warship designed to fight in coastal areas arrived on Thursday in Singapore for its Southeast Asian deployment, underlining President Barack Obama’s new strategic focus on Asia.
The deployment of the USS Freedom comes at a time of heightened tensions on the Korean Peninsula and as China publicly flexes its naval muscle in the South China Sea, where it has competing territorial claims with some Southeast Asian states. US Navy officials said the Freedom, a littoral combat ship, sailed into Changi Naval Base at around 11 a.m. in Singapore, a long-standing US ally that assists in logistics and exercises for forces in Southeast Asia.
“The year 2014 can be expected to usher in another major war involving the U.S.” The threat of war against the United States is making headlines and roiling investors’ nerves. While full-scale war is likely not imminent, it’s something worth considering in light of where we stand in the long-term War Cycle.
To answer this question we need first to realize where we are in the context of the 24-year cycle. This particular cycle, a subset of the Kress 120-year cycle, has been identified as the long-term “war cycle” among industrialized countries. The most recent 24-year cycle bottom occurred in October 1990. This ended a vicious bear market for the stock market.
The United States is footing more of the bill for overseas bases in Germany, Japan and South Korea even as the military reduces the number of American troops in Europe and strategically repositions forces in Asia, a congressional report says.
The exhaustive, yearlong investigation by the Senate Armed Services Committee focused on costs and burden-sharing as the United States spends more than $10 billion a year to back up the US military presence overseas, with 70 percent of the amount expended in the three nations. The figure does not include military personnel costs.
A day after asking Japan to stop encroaching its territory, Chinese military on Wednesday for the first time deployed its naval ships to patrol the islands disputed with Tokyo in the East China Sea. This is the first time in recent months China deployed its naval vessels for patrols in the islands waters replacing the marine surveillance vessels, even though some naval ships were seen in the waters earlier. A two-vessel fleet of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy patrolled the territorial waters surrounding the Diaoyu islands this morning
History is being written in the East. As the U.S. stays distracted with stone age warriors in Central Asia and the Middle East, the last platform of the American economic foundation, the U.S. Dollar’s currency reserve status, is being underminded by their trade partners in Asia. Both Australia and Japan are set to start direct-trading in Chinese currency and they are not the only ones. There are almost 20 countries whom have currency swaps in place with China all in order to side-step the U.S. Dollar in global trade.
In recent years, the state of Washington has issued nearly 300 fictitious driver licenses to the CIA. That’s according to public records initially disclosed, but now withheld, by state officials. The state’s cooperation with the nation’s premier spy agency has been a secret for years — unknown to lawmakers and even the governor.
Inside Washington’s Department of Licensing is a special office called the License Integrity Unit. This is where police officers who are going undercover can come to get a fake identity. It’s a valid Washington driver license, but with a fictitious name, birthdate and address. It’s known as the confidential driver license program. It’s operated for decades, but without legislative approval.
For half a century, geopolitical theory was effectively banned. In the USSR, this branch of science was described as “bourgeois.” In the West, it was considered politically incorrect, and was largely the preserve of provincial professors with no hope of entering the establishment. The situation began to change with the advent of the new century, and now geopolitics is back in ordinary usage and quickly regaining its political correctness and legitimacy. There is no single definition of geopolitics. But in the most general terms, it can be described as the science of investigating the relationship between foreign policy, international relations, and geographical and natural surroundings.
At the same time, the Japanese public has more fully embraced the once-discredited Self-Defense Forces. That is in part because of anxiety over China and North Korea, but also because of the military’s prominent humanitarian presence after the 2011 tsunami.
The reality of the changing geopolitics was not lost on the Japanese officers who watched their soldiers scrambling up San Clemente’s grassy hills. They acknowledged they were learning tactics from the Marines, who developed them during their island-hopping campaign in the Pacific against Imperial Japan.
Only too aware of the threat of east Mediterranean supply if Europe is able to diversify away from Russian gas dependency, Moscow has been steadily feting Israel to buy into a piece of the action.Moscow has already advanced a $3.5 billion loan and attempted to gain more leverage over Cyprus’ economic and energy assets during the recent bitter negotiations in the banking crisis.
The Kremlin is playing a much bigger game. Gazprom is already eyeing a role in the development of Israel’s gigantic Leviathan gas field. With its estimated 25 tcf of gas Leviathan is due to come on-stream by 2016. And the eastern Mediterranean bonanza is potentially huge. The US Geological Survey estimates the eastern Mediterranean Levant Basin contains around 123 tcf of gas and 1.7 billion barrels of oil.
Japan and the United States will draft a plan to counter any Chinese military action to seize disputed islands in the East China Sea. A U.S. defense official in Washington told VOA Wednesday that Japan’s General Shigeru Iwasaki, the chief of staff of the Japanese Self Defense Forces Joint Staff, is meeting in Hawaii this week with the commander of the U.S. Pacific Command, Admiral Samuel Locklear, to discuss a plan to retake the islands, should China invade.
Chinese and Indian consumers are living well and eating well. And that could spark a global crisis. The consumer boom in China and India will touch off global inflation and could lead to food and water riots if investment, policy, and technology don’t keep pace.
Without smart, quick action by the private sector and government alike, surging Chinese and Indian demand for premium foods will lead to commodity volatility, runaway food prices, and worldwide water shortages as the “boomerang effect” brings the unexpected impact of Asian growth to U.S. shores. That’s the conclusion of research by The Boston Consulting Group (BCG). The main findings are presented in “The Boomerang Effect,” a Perspective that is being released today
Sri Lanka will start storing bunker fuel at the $1.5-billion (U.S.) Hambantota port in June, a senior official said, after years of delays to the Chinese-built installation that sits on strategic shipping lanes, and a key step to making it commercially viable.
The $130-million storage project contains eight tanks of bunker oil for ships and six tanks of aviation fuel and LPG. The port is envisioned as a refuelling and service point for cargo ships which pass a few kilometres away off the southern tip of the Indian Ocean island nation, on one of the world’s busiest east-west shipping lanes.
The balance of power in the world is changing, with many new power players emerging — in some cases re-emerging — with growing militaries that challenges U.S. interests in the world and highlight the increasing security challenges of the 21st century.
While the U.S. ponders cutting its military spending, her competitors and allies are ramping up their military strength to advance their interests in their part of the world and beyond. In Asia, China, Japan, and India stand as the leaders in military spending with an emphasis in quantity for the purpose of improving their standing and to uphold their national pride.
Japanese PM Shinzo Abe is pushing ahead with sweeping changes to the constitution, despite concerns that they signal a return to Japan’s inward-looking, militaristic regime of the early years of the 1900s. “My guess is that is that their view of Japan is that it should be more like pre-war Japan of the early 1930s,” said Masako Kamiya, a professor of law at Gakushuin University. “I believe there are a number of LDP members who share the view that it was not such a bad time, that there were some good things in that era,” she added.
The Pentagon is also putting money into developing a new “afloat forward staging base” in the Pacific, which can be used for everything from counter-piracy to mine clearing to Special Operations Forces missions.
Perhaps most public is the move of 250 US Marines to Darwin, Australia, last April, with the promise of as many as 2,500 at any given time in the years to come. Also, some 85,000 US troops are currently stationed in South Korea and Japan.
A number of developing nations have sold or leased much of their farmland to foreign investors. The list is led by Liberia, whose arable land is 100 percent under foreign ownership.
The process is known as “land grabbing,” and it is affecting countries in Africa, South America, Asia and Eastern Europe. Around half of the farmland of the Philippines is owned by foreign investors. In Ukraine, American companies have secured over one-third of the country’s farmland. Population growth in countries like India and Brazil is driving up demand for cereal crops, and investments in farmlands offer the chance of solid returns.
Most Chinese officials acknowledge the potential far-reaching impact that the rise of Weibo microblogging services could have on Chinese society, according to a new study.
WantChinaTimes notes that a survey of over 2,000 officials by the party-backed People’s Tribune found over 50 percent are afraid of increased social unrest due to microblogs, while 70 percent of them were in favor of the use of Internet in combatting corruption. While it’s nice to see so many apparatchiks in support of online anti-corruption measures, it does make you wonder about the other 30 percent.
WITHIN two decades the United States will be forced out of the western Pacific, says a senior Chinese military officer, amid concerns that increasingly militarised great-power rivalry could lead to war.
Senior Colonel Liu Mingfu, at the People’s Liberation Army’s National Defence University, told Fairfax Media this week that American strategic influence would be confined ”east of the Pacific midline” as it is displaced by Chinese power throughout east Asia, including Australia. Colonel Liu’s interpretation of one facet of what the new Chinese leader, Xi Jinping, calls ”a new type of great-power relationship” adds to the uncertainty and anxiety surrounding China’s strategic ambitions.
In his first term, President Obama instructed the Pentagon to pivot its forces and reorient its strategy toward fast-growing Asia. Instead, the U.S. military finds itself drawn into a string of messy wars in another, much poorer part of the world: Africa.
Over the past two years, the Pentagon has become embroiled in conflicts in Libya, Somalia, Mali and central Africa. Meantime, the Air Force is setting up a fourth African drone base, while Navy warships are increasing their missions along the coastlines of East and West Africa. In scope and expense, the U.S. military involvement in Africa still barely registers when compared with its presence in Asia, let alone the Middle East or Afghanistan.
A pre-dawn raid on a Thai military base ended with 16 Muslim insurgents killed on Wednesday in the deadliest violence in the country’s south in nine years, marking a dangerous escalation in one of Asia’s least-known conflicts.
Acting on a tip-off, marines lit flares and opened fire as up to 60 insurgents wearing military fatigues approached the base at about 1 a.m. in Narathiwat province on the Malaysian border, said Internal Security Operations Command spokesman Pramote Phromin. He revised the death toll to 16 from an earlier 17. None of the Thai military defenders of the base was hurt, he said.
The disputed Reed Bank in the Spratly Islands is estimated to contain up to 5.4 billion barrels of oil and 55.1 trillion cubic feet (tcf) of natural gas, according to a newly published report by the United States Energy Information Administration (EIA).
Quoting data from the US Geological Survey, the EIA estimates the disputed Spratly Islands territory may contain significant deposits of undiscovered hydrocarbons. “USGS assessments estimate anywhere between 0.8 and 5.4 (mean 2.5) billion barrels of oil and between 7.6 and 55.1 (mean 25.5) tcf of natural gas in undiscovered resources,” the EIA said in the Feb. 7 report.
A report published by the Ministry of Defence (mod) said many western economies could stall and decline in the face of the growing economic strength of countries like China and India. Such a situation may spark long periods of recession and growing disaffection within the UK, according to the report looking at trends in south Asia until 2040. It added: “This could subsequently lead to increased incidents of internal unrest, a rise of nationalistic groups and a demand for protectionist economic and defence policies.
It’s been easy of late to get hyperbolic about the chance of conflict in East Asia. China appears to be the first serious military challenger America has had since the Soviet Union, and it is clearly beginning to throw its weight around in the waters of Asia. Especially raising tensions in the region is a passel of territorial disputes over islets that has pitted China against countries in southeast and northeast Asia and put Japan at odds with all its major neighbors. But the one key disagreement is between Japan and China in the East China Sea. There, an archipelago called the Senkaku Islands is claimed by Japan, Taiwan, and China.
Like several other key ports in the region – including Piraeus in Greece and Naples in Italy – it is now partially owned by China. The state-owned Cosco Pacific holds 20 percent the terminal, helping make it one of the dominant – if not the dominant – Mediterranean port operators.
Cosco stresses that it is a purely commercial venture and many analysts agree. But few doubt that Beijing has made a wider geopolitical decision to become much more involved in the region. For the last two years, the People’s Liberation Army Navy has sent one or more warships through the Suez Canal to visit southern European ports, the furthest its fleet has ever operated from home.
A Chinese military officer has warned Australia not to side with the United States and Japan if war breaks out in the East China Sea. America is the global tiger and Japan is Asia’s wolf, and both are now madly biting China.
Colonel Liu’s warning raises the nightmare possibility of Australia having to choose between its dominant economic and security partners as a territorial contest between Japan and China over the Senkaku Islands, also known as the Diaoyu Islands, continues to escalate. China, Japan and Japan’s defence ally, the United States, have trading military and diplomatic warnings over the disputed islands, while China has placed the People’s Liberation Army on combat alert.
Japan scrambled fighter jets on Saturday to head off a Chinese state-owned plane that flew near the disputed Diaoyu islands, which Japan calls the Senkakus, a Japanese Defence Ministry spokesman said. Japanese jets were mobilised after a Chinese maritime aircraft ventured 120 kilometres north of islands at about noon, the spokesman said. The Chinese Y-12 twin-turboprop later left the zone without entering Japanese airspace, he added. It was the first time Japanese fighters had been scrambled this year to counter Chinese aircraft approaching the islands, the spokesman said.
U.S. sales of warplanes, anti-missile systems and other costly weapons to China’s and North Korea’s neighbors appear set for significant growth amid regional security jitters.
Strengthening treaty allies and other security partners is central to the White House’s “pivot” toward a Pacific region jolted by maritime territorial disputes in China’s case, and missile and nuclear programs, in North Korea’s.
A series of changes that took place after the current government replaced the military government through the January 2011 elections has brought hope for stability and development in the country, as well as expanded its diplomatic room. This provides Myanmar with opportunities to improve relations with the US and Japan. Against the backdrop of the US “pivot to Asia,” the Obama administration has emphasized Southeast Asia as a strategic focus, and seeks to forge comprehensive strengthened US-ASEAN cooperation.
Surveillance State: Ecuador Implements “World’s First” Countrywide Facial- and Voice-Recognition System
Ecuador has installed a nationwide system that lets government officials ID “several million” people by their voices and faces, Slate reported. If an Ecuadorian agency taps a phone line, for example, it is now able to match the voices in a call with a database of “voiceprints” of known criminals, suspects and persons of interest. The voice system is 97 percent accurate, says the system’s maker, SpeechPro
The hawkish LDP leader Shinzo Abe, who has pledged to revive Japan’s stagnant economy and aggressively defend its territorial interests, is now certain to become the nation’s next Prime Minister – its seventh in six years.
The LDP’s liberal-left rival, the Democratic Party, was pummelled at the polls for breaking electoral promises on welfare, tax and defence, shedding more than 200 seats. The Prime Minister, Yoshihiko Noda, who lost much of his public support by backing a tax rise and supporting nuclear power, conceded defeat last night.
The competition for Caspian gas supplies is usually seen as a contest between Europe and Russia. China, although acknowledged to play a role, is generally seen to be a marginal player. But at a recent Chatham House event titled Rebalancing the World Energy Markets: The Role of China, Russia and Central Asia it was underscored that Chinese energy demand will have a profound effect on energy markets: in Russia, Central Asia, and Europe. Central Asia is also a vital part of the equation, with one speaker calling it “the fulcrum point” in Russia-China relations.
China is muscling into Iraq’s oil sector as Baghdad grapples with defections by international majors like Exxon Mobil and Chevron of the United States and France’s Total. This is part of Beijing’s drive to secure oil and natural gas resources in the Middle East and Africa as U.S. influences wanes.
China’s clout in Iraq, along with other parts of the Middle East, including Saudi Arabia, is bound to increase as the Americans’ diminishes.
The United Arab Emirates has laid down a 400 km pipeline from Habshan fields in Abu Dhabi to Fujairah terminal on the Gulf of Oman, which has the capacity of exporting 2 million barrels oil per day to Asian markets in case of any disruption in its shipment from the Strait of Hormuz.
The UAE has started using the new pipeline in July this year, which was constructed by China from which three fourth of the country’s production of oil can be exported, which is about 2 million barrels a day. The UAE is also increasing Fujairah’s storage and off-loading capacities.
Suggesting that the US relationship with India has the potential to alter the power dynamics in Asia and the world, a leading US think tank has proposed a deeper military engagement between two countries.
This “can have a range of strategic benefits, including the enhancement of military capabilities, building long−term professional relationships, as well as strategic signalling to allies, partners, and potential adversaries,” says a new report by the Wadhwani Chair in US−India Policy Studies at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).
An arms-buying spree across south-east Asia will be the elephant in the room when almost 20 world leaders meet in the Cambodian capital, Phnom Penh, on Tuesday. Flush with economic success and wary of China’s military expansion, countries are acquiring sophisticated sea- and air-based arsenals that include dozens of submarines that can operate in secret.
The United States military will station a powerful radar and a space telescope in Australia as part of a major refocusing of priorities towards Asia, the two countries announced Wednesday. US Defense Secretary Leon Panettea described it as “major leap forward in bilateral space cooperation and an important new frontier in the United States’ rebalance to the Asia-Pacific region”.
The US has shown interest in becoming a dialogue partner in the Indian Ocean grouping, the Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Cooperation (IOR-ARC). The US request is being considered by the members of the forum.
India has been chairing the forum for the past two years, and its term will come to an end next year, when Australia will take over from India. There are 19 member nations, from across three continents, and five dialogue partners.
Asia’s top powers have doubled defense spending in the past decade, spurred by the explosion in military expenditure by China, new research shows. While troop numbers have remained constant, overall annual spending has grown to $224 billion in 2011, according to a report released Monday by the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies. Spending particularly accelerated in the second half of the decade. The research covers China, Japan, India, South Korea and Taiwan, which account for some 87 percent of Asia’s defense spending.
Gold is now a strategic metal for present and future SCO governments, which between them have over 40% of the world’s population; and now that the price of gold is re-establishing its rising trend, understanding its future role as a replacement for the US dollar is increasingly urgent, because gold is wealth and this wealth is being transferred from west to east.
The Chinese, for all their troubles, must be trying very hard not to laugh loudly. They don’t want anyone to sense how delighted they are with the recurrence of the Dokdo/Takeshima island-rocks psychodrama. Topographically, the disputed territory adds up to something like 46-plus acres (much less than a golf course). But geopolitically, the Japanese and Koreans are at each other’s throats — again. So this is a big-time opening for the boys in Beijing. And I wouldn’t blame them for enjoying it. This is really good for us, say Chinese leaders, although very quietly (in fact, just among themselves).
“There is a danger of China and Japan having a military conflict,” said Yan Xuetong, one of China’s most influential foreign policy strategists, and a noted hawk. “I do not see either side making concessions. Both sides want to solve the situation peacefully, but neither side can provide the right approach.”
He warned that unless one side backed down, there could be a repeat of the Falklands conflict in Asia.
The FBI Biometric Center of Excellence said that voice recognition systems are “a popular choice for remote authentication due to the availability of devices for collecting speech samples (e.g., telephone network and computer microphones) and its ease of integration.” Furthermore, the FBI believes voice biometrics will be a “reliable and consistent means of identification for use in remote recognition.” Deploying voice recognition requires no “special equipment” other than a good quality microphone which most of us have thanks to our mobile phones.
China sent its first aircraft carrier into formal service on Tuesday amid a tense maritime dispute with Japan in a show of force that could worry its neighbours.
China’s Ministry of Defence said the newly named Liaoning aircraft carrier would “raise the overall operational strength of the Chinese navy” and help Beijing to “effectively protect national sovereignty, security and development interests”.
In fact, the aircraft carrier, refitted from a ship bought from Ukraine, will have a limited role, mostly for training and testing ahead of the possible launch of China’s first domestically built carriers after 2015, analysts say.
U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell said islands at the heart of a dispute between Japan and China fall under an American defense pact with Japan, while urging the sides to resolve the standoff via diplomacy.
“We want to focus more on issues associated with the maintenance of peace and stability and less on the particular details of this very complex and challenging matter,” Campbell told a hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s East Asian and Pacific Affairs subcommittee yesterday. He said the islands fall under a treaty which obligates the U.S. to defend Japan if it’s attacked.
Energy potentially could play a significant role if EurAsian countries successfully form alliances to exploit their crude oil, natural gas, and other mineral resources, experts from Johns Hopkins University’s School for Advanced International Studies suggested.
EurAsia’s biggest energy producers and consumers often are adjacent, Calder observed. He said Russia, Central Asia, and the Middle East export 27 million b/d of crude, while South and East Asian nations import some 18 million b/d. Interdependence could grow as various national interests grow more complementary, he added.
When it comes to “hard power,” the West is in steep decline. Virtually every nation in Europe is cutting its defense budget.Japan refuses to spend more than 1% of its gross domestic product on defense. And Australia is slashing its military budget, leaving it at just 1.5% of GDP, the smallest ratio in more than seven decades. Now add in the cuts of more than $800 billion in current and planned spending on U.S. defenses, with the prospect of nearly $500 billion more over the next 10 years.
If Peter the Great were alive today, he would not have to re-found a new capital on the Pacific. He would simply move his court and his administration to an already built city, Vladivostok.
The city has been around for over a century and a half, since its founding in 1860 as an outpost for the military. Like “St. Pete” up north, “Vlad” out east is a port city. Tantalizingly, flying time to several key capitals – Beijing, Tokyo and Seoul – is just 60 to 90 minutes. And places such as Shanghai, Hong Kong and Taipei are within easy reach.
Out there in Russia’s Far East, even the US is a neighbor – across a long stretch of water. Indeed, San Francisco, and its proximity to Silicon Valley, has long served as a model for how things could turn out in Vladivostok.
The U.S. strategy long has been geared against the rise of any hegemonic power in Asia and for a stable balance of power.
Yet, as its 2006 national security strategy report acknowledges, the United States also remains committed to accommodate “the emergence of a China that is peaceful and prosperous and that cooperates with us to address common challenges and mutual interests.”
Can U.S. policy reconcile these two seemingly conflicting objectives? The short answer is yes.
Rear Adm. Yin Zhuo, a leading Chinese navy official, told his nation Aug. 24 that plans to boost U.S. missile defenses in Asia are a strategic conspiracy to trick other nations in the region into investing vast resources to develop nuclear and ballistic weapons.
Adm. Yin told the People’s Daily’s flagship online discussion portal “Strong China Forum” that the objective of the U.S. defense effort is to force nations to deplete military budgets that should be used to develop conventional weapons.
“We think that the United States’ missile defense system conspires to lead developing countries with nascent nuclear deterrence such as China or India astray,” said Adm. Yin, who is in charge of the People’s Liberation Army’s Naval Information System Commission.
In the panel discussion co-hosted by the National Research Council of Thailand, Huaqiao University and the Thai-Chinese Culture & Economy Association here, the official of the Thai central bank commented the Chinese currency could possibly replace the U.S. dollar and Euro when it comes to trade, financial and money-exchange dealings throughout the ASEAN community, due in part to the unresolved economic and financial problems in the United States and the European Union.
“In the long run from 2015 onwards, trade with Asia will largely increase under the ASEAN-China Free Trade Area agreement, which will influence the use of the yuan and the local currencies. The yuan is then a good alternative for the international trade in the future,” said the official, referring to the year in which the regional bloc will become an ASEAN Economic Community.
The reason I include the Central Asian region in my analysis is that because the region constitutes the heart of Asia, coupled with providing the main route to the New Silk Route, a future venture that may lead to a faceoff between Washington and Moscow. The formation of the region’s states makes it interesting to monitor for a neutral observer. Although the US national foreign policy would never keep the region at its top priority, implicit indications from the word go provided a fair picture of what the US was after. The former US National Security advisor, Zbigniew Brzezinski once referred to Central Asia as a hotbed of conflict and one of the most strategically important parts of the world, as the ‘Eurasian Balkans’.
Banks, companies and investors are preparing themselves for a collapse of the euro. Cross-border bank lending is falling, asset managers are shunning Europe and money is flowing into German real estate and bonds. The euro remains stable against the dollar because America has debt problems too. But unlike the euro, the dollar’s structure isn’t in doubt.
Otmar Issing is looks a bit tired. The former chief economist at the European Central Bank (ECB) is sitting on a barstool in a room adjoining the Frankfurt Stock Exchange. He resembles a father whose troubled teenager has fallen in with the wrong crowd. Issing is just about to explain again all the things that have gone wrong with the euro, and why the current, as yet unsuccessful efforts to save the European common currency are cause for grave concern.
“Sri Lanka has never been an island,” the American diplomat told the audience of over 300 military cadets; “it has always had trade and diplomatic relations that went back to ancient kingdoms in Asia and ruling empires in Europe.” Its strategic location in the passageway through the Indian Ocean has become increasing interest to China, India, and the United States throughout navigational and trade history, Mendis added.
By quoting U.S. strategist Admiral Alfred Mahan, Professor Mendis said, “Whoever controls the Indian Ocean dominates Asia.” The Sri Lankan born American strategist also pointed out that Chinese (Muslim) Admiral Zheng He visited Sri Lanka several times since 1405. It was almost 100 years before Christopher Columbus discovered America, Mendis explained.