Thursday, May 29, 2014

Israel's Tech Industry Is Becoming All About 'China, China, China'

By Yaacov Benmeleh

Bloomberg - May 29, 2014

Attendees at a technology conference in Tel Aviv last week took home mock boarding passes to Shanghai, Shenzhen and Hangzhou. Those are among the stops on a 10-day roadshow across China in November, where the Israeli government plans to showcase the country's life-sciences companies.
The gimmick highlighted Israel's expanded focus on trade, particularly in technology, with the world's most populous country. Some 350 Chinese businessmen and government officials convened at the event to meet with Israeli tech entrepreneurs and scientists.
"Israel is going east," Nafatli Bennett, the country's economy minister, said at the conference on May 22. "We are shifting our economic resources to Bangalore, Africa and China, China, China."
That shift is also taking place in the country's academic circles. Tel Aviv University announced last week that it's teaming up with Tsinghua University in Beijing to establish the XIN Center for research into areas like nanotechnology.


Tuesday, May 27, 2014

China U.

By Marshall Sahlins

The Nation - October 29, 2013

We were sitting in his office, Ted Foss and I, on the third floor of Judd Hall at the University of Chicago. Foss is the associate director of the Center for East Asian Studies, a classic area studies program that gathers under its roof specialists in various disciplines who work on China, Korea and Japan. Above us, on the fourth floor, were the offices and seminar room of the university’s Confucius Institute, which opened its doors in 2010. A Confucius Institute is an academic unit that provides accredited instruction in Chinese language and culture and sponsors a variety of extracurricular activities, including art exhibitions, lectures, conferences, film screenings and celebrations of Chinese festivals; at Chicago and a number of other schools, it also funds the research projects of local faculty members on Chinese subjects. I asked Foss if Chicago’s CI had ever organized lectures or conferences on issues controversial in China, such as Tibetan independence or the political status of Taiwan. Gesturing to a far wall, he said, “I can put up a picture of the Dalai Lama in this office. But on the fourth floor, we wouldn’t do that.”

The reason is that the Confucius Institutes at the University of Chicago and elsewhere are subsidized and supervised by the government of the People’s Republic of China. The CI program was launched by the PRC in 2004, and there are now some 400 institutes worldwide as well as an outreach program consisting of nearly 600 “Confucius classrooms” in secondary and elementary schools. In some respects, such a government-funded educational and cultural initiative is nothing new. For more than sixty years, Germany has relied on the Goethe-Institut to foster the teaching of German around the globe. But whereas the Goethe-Institut, like the British Council and the Alliance Française, is a stand-alone institution situated outside university precincts, a Confucius Institute exists as a virtually autonomous unit within the regular curriculum of the host school—for example, providing accredited courses in Chinese language in the Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations at the University of Chicago.


Fueling the Dragon's Flames: China's Pursuit of Energy Security in the Middle East

By Daniel Thorp

Truthout - Sunday, 04 May 2014

China's insatiable thirst for energy as it continues along its course toward international hegemony is having a profound effect on the countries that surround it.
The rise of The Peoples Republic of China (PRC) on the international stage in recent years has caused increasing competition over natural resources across the globe, with energy in the Middle East being no exception.
The Middle East is an area of the globe that contains 48.4% of known oil reserves and 43% of known natural gas reserves. Since becoming a net oil importer in 1993, Beijing has considered developing diplomatic and trade relations with Middle Eastern states to be of very high priority. In 2011 China imported nearly 3 million barrels of oil from the Middle East per day, accounting for 60% of its total oil imports, and in September 2013 became the largest importer of oil in the world, surpassing the US.


China, Middle East Economic Partnership to Develop Beyond Oil, HSBC Says

By Nicolas Parasie

The Wall Street Journal -  May 25, 2014

As the world’s second-largest consumer of oil, China in the past decade has relied heavily on the Middle East to secure the resources required to fuel its ascendancy to become an economic superpower. In doing so, it overtook the U.S. as principal investor in the Middle East and played a pivotal role in transforming the region by lifting its economic and living standards.
Those strong economic ties are now broadening beyond China’s demand for commodities and will further shape the Middle East – and Africa – for at least another generation to come, according to an HSBCHSBA.LN +1.23% report on the impact of China’s economic globalization on the region.
“There would be no kilometer tall towers in the desert, no ski slopes in the shopping mall, no Gulf owned football teams winning the English premier league, without the emergence of China as a global economic power,” said Simon Williams and Razan Nasser from HSBC.
Indeed, the gross domestic product of the Gulf region’s exporters has risen by $1 trillion to $1.7 trillion in the past decade alone, lifting per capita GDP to an average of $35,000 and close to $100,000 in Qatar and Abu Dhabi, according to the report.


Behind the Veil

By Bai Tiantian

Global Times - 2014-5-26

Xinjiang drifts toward Talibanization as dances suppressed, conservative dress imposed

Roxiangul (pseudonym), a Uyghur woman in her 50s, always makes sure she has a veil in her purse whenever she leaves the house.
Not that she wants to wear it all the time.
Five years ago, during the infamous July 5 riot in Urumqi, capital of Northwest China's Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, some young Uyghur girls suffered cuts on their arms and thighs because they were wearing short skirts.
The perpetrators, women in black gowns and black veils, called the girls "bitches" and cursed them to "burn in hell."
If that wasn't enough to frighten Roxiangul, a year or so later, when she was shopping near the International Bazaar in Urumqi, a group of random Uyghur men surrounded her and harshly accused her of debauchery for disobeying the teachings of the Koran about how women are forbidden to reveal their faces.
Even as a devout Muslim, Roxiangul was shaken and scared. After that, she began pulling a veil out of her purse whenever she sensed looks of disapproval on the street.


Sunday, May 25, 2014

Call for Papers: China in the Middle East - Indiana University China Office, Beijing, March 17-18, 2015

Indiana University’s Ottoman and Modern Turkish Studies Chair invites interested scholars and advanced graduate students to submit proposals for the conference below. The event will take place at the Indiana University China Office, Beijing, March 17-18, 2015. Please submit a 200-word paper proposal along with your CV to ksilay (at), tugrulkeskin (at), and zantao79 (at) by October 1, 2014.

Indiana University Ottoman and Modern Turkish Studies Chair Presents
An International Conference on
China in the Middle East

March 17-18, 2015

Organized by
Dr. Kemal Silay, Ottoman and Modern Turkish Studies Chair, Indiana University, USA
Dr. Tuğrul Keskin, Portland State University, USA
Dr. Zan Tao, Peking University, People’s Republic of China

Keynote Speech by

Conference Program

March 17, 2015
IndianaUniversity China Office (Beijing)

9:00 - 9:30 AM Opening Ceremony

9:00 - 9:15 AM Welcome Speech by Dr. Wang Enge, President, Peking University

9:15 - 9:30 AM Opening Remarks by Dr. Kemal Silay, Indiana University

9:45 - 12:00 Panels

1.     Panel 1: Cultural Exchange between China and the Middle East
In this panel, we will explore social and economic history between China and the Middle East before and after 1949. Trade and commerce between China and the Middle East has a long-standing mutually beneficial history of exchange, which has created social and cultural bridges between these societies. The panel will examine the role of cultural exchange between Chinese and Middle Eastern Societies based on trade and commerce. 

2.     Panel 2: Sino-Turkish Relations: Past and Present
Unlike other Middle Eastern societies, the relationship between Chinese and Turkish societies is a historic one, based on social, political and economic diversification. Social and political connection can be clearly seen in the history of Turkish people in Mahmud al-Kashgari and Yusuf Khass Hajib’s writings and ideas; however, following the emergence of nation-states in the 20th century and the economic globalization of China after Deng Xiaoping, these two societies and states have established a more economic based exchange which has become the core of their relationship. Over the last 20 years, Chinese economic growth led to much attention in Turkish economic circles. As a result, more Turkish and Chinese business communities began to engage in trade exchanges. Turkey, as a member of NATO, and wanting membership in EU, began to seek economic and political partners in the globalized world. In this panel, we will examine the Chinese-Turkish relationship in the modern era with these factors in mind.

12:00-13:30 PM Lunch

14:00-16:30 PM Panels

3.     Panel 3: Sino-Iranian Relations: Past and Present
One of the examples of a stable relationship between China and a Middle Eastern state can be the mutually beneficial friendship between China and Iran. Iran has had a long historical and diplomatic relationship with the PRC in the 20th century; however, today, Sino-Persian ties are mostly in trade and commerce. With the growth of the Chinese economy and the search for more energy resources, the PRC began to shift its foreign policy towards the Middle East, specifically Iran. This panel explores current social, political, and economic trends in the Sino-Persian relationship.                  

4.     Panel 4: Sino-Israeli Relations: Past and Present
Although Israel was one of the first nations to recognize the PRC as a legitimate government, China did not establish its diplomatic relationship with Israel until 1992. However, since then, both countries have developed commercial and military links based on mutual benefits. An interesting aspect of the Sino-Israeli relationship is that the Chinese accepted Holocaust survivors escaping from Nazi persecutions. The panel investigates Sino-Jewish relationships in the contemporary era.          

March 18, 2015
Peking University 


5.     Panel 5: Sino-Arab Relations: Past and Present
Chinese and Arab-populated states are the product of the colonial conditions in the 20th century. However, both Chinese and Arab societies have an economic and social exchange which predates Islam. This exchange has created mutual understanding and led to mutual benefits. Chinese interests in Arab-populated societies are purely based on economic investment and energy resources. On the other hand, Arabs view China as a new global partner, not replacing the US and Europe, but rather as a new relationship in the globalized era. This panel focuses on social, political, and economic exchange between the PRC and Arab states in the modern era.    
6.     Panel 6: China’s Energy Security Strategy and the Middle East
The Middle East is considered an American backyard for energy resources; however, with the increased need of oil for newly emerging economies, the Middle East has received a lot of attention from states such as China. After 2020, US domestic oil production will eliminate the need for foreign oil sources; therefore, the US will play less of a role in the Middle Eastern oil market. However, current trends in the Chinese economy point to their increased need for foreign energy in the future. This panel will examine the overlapping interests of China and the United States in the Middle East.

Closing Remarks by President Michael McRobbie, Indiana University, Bloomington

Israel Announces Plan to Expand Bilateral Economic Ties With China

Jewish Political News and Update - May 21, 2014   

By Sol Rieger

An Israeli ministerial committee announced Wednesday a comprehensive action plan to expand bilateral economic ties with China, aiming to double Israeli exports to Asia’s fastest growing economy within five years to about 5 billion U.S. dollars annually.
The plan was approved a day after Israel and China signed three major agreements, which were defined by Israel’s Economy Ministry as “a significant milestone in Israel-Sino relations.”
Under the plan drafted by the Ministerial Committee on China Affairs, the government will allocate 49 million shekels (about 14 million dollars) a year to the program, China’s Xinhua News Agency reported.
It includes government recognition for wide-ranging business projects that will be implemented with Chinese organizations specializing in knowledge-intensive industries, agriculture, environmental protection, energy, water technology and health. Working groups for each field will collaborate with their Chinese counterparts, advancing Israeli companies’ efforts in China as well as creating opportunities for mutual investment.
The plan also includes opening a designated operations center in China, the Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement.


Saturday, May 24, 2014

The uncertain future of China-Israel relations

Al-Arabiya - Friday, 4 April 2014

By Naser al-Tamimi

In a recent interview on Bloomberg TV, the Israeli President Shimon Peres stated: “The future is galloping like a horse, and if you don’t gallop with the horse, the horse will gallop without you.” His interesting words may apply to the tireless Israeli efforts in recent years to “gallop” with the Chinese horse. This Israeli “galloping” comes at a time when China is seeking to enhance the security of its energy imports from the Middle East by increasing its political and economic involvement in the region.
One of the striking issues that characterizes Beijing’s relations with the region is that it has good relations with all parties. China’s ties with Iran, Turkey, and the Arab world are growing rapidly. Today, China is the largest exporter to the Middle East, Saudi Arabia’s top trade partner in West Asia, the biggest importer of Iranian oil, the major player in the Iraqi oil game and a rising star in the Turkish economy. At the same time, China has been the top market for Israeli exports in Asia.


Tnuva sale to go ahead, Clal Insurance stalled

By Ron Stein

GLOBES - 18/05/2014 

The moment of decision is nearing in two big deals for the sale of the controlling interest in Tnuva Food Industries Ltd. at a company value of NIS 8.5-9 billion and Clal Insurance Enterprises Holdings Ltd. (TASE: CLIS) at a company value of NIS 4.6 billion to Chinese companies. The sale of Tnuva by Apax Partners to Bright Food Group is apparently on the verge of being signed. In contrast, the sale of Clal Insurance by IDB Holding Corp. Ltd. (TASE:IDBH) to JT Capital Fund pte Ltd. and its partners is waiting for a decision by Supervisor of the Capital Markets, Insurance, and Savings Dorit Salinger. "A deal is on the verge of being signed, and while not final, it can said with assurance that it will happen within days," said a source familiar with Tnuva negotiations said today. Another source added, "There is no signing yet, but there are intensive talks and optimism."
A delegation from Bright Food, including its CFO, has arrived in Israel and is engaged in intensive talks aimed at overcoming last minute obstacles. The previous delegation was headed by the company's dairy division.


Jitters in China's Xinjiang

Era of suicide bomber arrives with deadly blasts in Urumqi. Is this also the start of urban guerrilla warfare? 

Al-Jazeera - 24 May 2014

By Adrian Brown
Al Jazeera's senior China correspondent.

A week ago, I was reporting on anti-Chinese riots that had swept through a third of Vietnam's provinces following the sudden escalation of a long-festering territorial dispute.
Now here I was thousands of kilometres away in Urumqi, capital of Xinjiang, the sprawling province of mountains and deserts in China's far west.
It was a little after 3am and we had flown a circuitous route from Nanning, close to the Vietnamese border, to Beijing for the connecting flight to Urumqi.
A 12-hour journey. But now it was time to work.
Less than 24 hours earlier, Urumqi had experienced its worst single act of violence since the city was convulsed by riots five years earlier, in which more than 200 Han Chinese and ethnic Muslim Uighurs had died following days of rioting.
Now 39 people were dead and more than 90 injured following a series of blasts at a busy early morning market in the centre of Urumqi.
Is this the start of urban guerrilla warfare in China, I wondered? The targeting of civilians is what happens in Iraq and Pakistan, both countries I have reported from.
But such indiscriminate violence is extremely rare here.


Friday, May 23, 2014

China, Iran pledge to boost ties

Daily Times Pakistan - MAY 22, 2014

SHANGHAI: Chinese President Xi Jinping held talks on Thursday with visiting Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani, both pledging to enhance bilateral ties.
Xi said China pays much attention to its relations with Iran and is ready to work with the Iranian side to bring the relationship to a new level. The two sides should maintain high-level contact and promote exchanges between the two governments and parliaments as well as their localities and peoples to consolidate mutual understanding and trust, he said, also urging them to increase bilateral trade and cooperation in petroleum, gas and petrochemical sectors.
China welcomes Iran to actively participate in the construction of the Silk Road economic belt and the 21st century maritime Silk Road with cooperation in infrastructure construction and the launch of high-speed railway projects and economic parks, according to Xi. China and Iran should step up security cooperation to combat terrorism, drug trade and transnational crime and boost cultural and people-to-people exchanges and tourism cooperation, he said.
Xi told Rouhani that China respects Iran’s right of peaceful use of nuclear energy and has long believed that negotiations are the only right and effective way in tackling the Iranian nuclear issue. The Chinese side hopes that all parties involved can make further efforts to reach a comprehensive agreement on the nuclear issue, the president said. He added that China will beef up communication with Iran so as to play a constructive role in promoting the negotiation process.


Sinopec advances Iran oil-field plans despite canceled China deal

Tehran Times - May 22, 2014

China Petroleum & Chemical Corp., or Sinopec, is pushing to start a new phase in an Iranian oil-field development, a plan Iran says it is likely to approve, according to people familiar with the project.
The push is part of a broader attempt by China and Iran to mend fences after the cancellation of a separate project. 
Chinese state-owned company Sinopec is taking steps to start development activities in the second phase of the Yadavaran oil field, which is set to start next year. Delegates from Sinopec are due to travel to Tehran next month to discuss the plans, according to two people familiar with the company's Iran operations. The topics will include ordering equipment such as pipes.
In late April, Iran canceled a $2.5 billion deal with state-owned China National Petroleum Corp. following repeated delays at a giant oil-field project. The cancellation triggered speculation among Iran oil experts that privileged ties between Tehran and Beijing may be at risk.


China, Iran and Russia: Restructuring the global order

Powerful countries are alarmed by the threats against Russia as they see themselves as potential future targets. 

Seyed Mohammad Marandi 

Seyed Mohammad Marandi is professor of North American Studies and dean of the Faculty of World Studies at the University of Tehran.

Al-Jazeera - 20 May 2014

At the Fourth Summit of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia (CICA) that opens May 20 in Shanghai, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani will meet with both Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin. Among other things, the summit will underscore how rising non-Western powers are playing ever more prominent roles on the global stage. However, Western elites remain stuck in a time warp, wherein the United States and its European partners are the imperial masters of all they survey.
In this regard, it is an interesting coincidence how mainstream Western media outlets consistently produce narratives that are almost indistinguishable from official government statements regarding countries and leaders with dissimilar worldviews from their Western counterparts. For instance, we repeatedly hear about the democratically elected "dictators" in Venezuela, yet we are assured that friendly dictators are "moderate reformers".
Another fascinating coincidence is that Western human rights organisations pursue initiatives and policies closely aligned with those of their own governments. When the US accused the Syrian government of using chemical weapons against its own people - notwithstanding noteworthy evidence to the contrary and despite the fact that it was fine as far as Washington was concerned when former Iraqi president Saddam Hossein attacked Iran with chemical weapons - some human rights advocates stood shoulder to shoulder with President Barack Obama in advocating "shock and awe" in Damascus for humanitarian purposes.


Israel pivots to China, India as US influence wanes


Nikkei - May 10, 2014

CAIRO -- Israel is working hard to build stronger security and economic ties with China and India, looking to broaden its options as the U.S., its closest ally, starts to play a smaller role on the world stage.
Israel has high hopes for help from Beijing in dealing with Iran's nuclear weapons development. "China has a central role in the efforts to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear bomb," Israeli President Shimon Peres told Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping during a trip to China early last month.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited China last May, and top defense officials from the two countries have been deepening their ties. The high-profile visits underscore Israel's aim of improving its diplomatic position in the United Nations by growing closer to China, a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council.
India agreed in February to work with Israel to devise anti-terrorism measures and develop a missile defense system. They also plan to set up a fund to support joint ventures between technology companies in both countries.


CICA summit new arena for China's diplomacy

People Daily - May 21, 2014

SHANGHAI, May 20  -- China's hosting of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA) summit will usher in a new stage of diplomacy.
As a founding member of the CICA, China has always been an active participant and builder of the regional cooperation mechanism, established in 1992 as a forum for dialogue and consultations.
China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi said earlier this year that the CICA is an important security forum. Together with the APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting in November, the two events are "key priorities for China's diplomacy this year", Wang said.
President Xi Jinping is scheduled to elaborate on China's diplomatic stance concerning Asian security at the summit.
Compared with the APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting, the CICA more focuses on such subjects as mutual and comprehensive security as well as cooperation to strengthen security. It also puts more emphasis on communication and trust.


Ahmet Davutoğlu: I am in Shanghai to represent Turkey at the CICA Heads of State and Government Summit

Thursday, May 22, 2014

U.S. Oil Imports From Africa Are Down 90 Percent

By Matthew Philips

BLOOMBERG - May 22, 2014

The U.S. used to be the world’s biggest consumer of African oil, importing about a quarter of the continent’s total exports. Now it’s barely taking any at all. Since 2010 the U.S. has cut the amount of oil it imports from African countries by 90 percent, from an average of roughly 2 million barrels per day to about 170,000.
The shale oil boom has boosted U.S. production from 5 million barrels a day in 2008 to more than 8 million. The Energy Information Administration predicts that by 2019 that number will rise to 9.6 million barrels per day. For what it’s worth, Saudi Arabia pumps about 9.5 million barrels of oil per day.
Almost all of that new U.S. oil is light, sweet crude—the same kind American refiners used to import from West Africa. Now, instead of shipping it across the Atlantic, U.S. refiners are piping and railing it across the country. That’s pushed African oil to Asia (China now gets a third of its oil from Africa) and helped keep the world oil markets stable and well supplied amid large amounts of chaos and outages.


Chinese, Turkish FM Meets on Closer Co-op

China Radio International - 2014-05-22


Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi met here Wednesday evening with visiting Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, and the two sides pledged closer cooperation.
Wang expressed China's willingness to advance coordination and cooperation with Turkey within the framework of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA), established in 1992 as a forum for dialogue and consultation.
China would like to work with Turkey to contribute to building a regional security pattern and concept with Asian features, he said.
Calling Turkey a regional major power and a country with worldwide influence, Wang said strengthening the relationship with Turkey is one of China's important strategic choices.
Wang also called on the two sides to respect and accommodate with each other's core concerns.
Davutoglu spoke highly of China's hosting of the just concluded CICA summit, saying he believes the CICA will be developed during China's presidency.
Davutoglu said the driving force for the world economy lies in Asia, and it is the historical inevitable trend for the two countries to cement cooperation.


Beijing moves to boost forum's role to counter US influence

President's call at Shanghai conference shows Beijing placing new emphasis on regional ties to counter US influence, analysts say

South China Morning Post - MAY 23, 2014

By Teddy Ng in Shanghai

China is hoping a regional forum held in Shanghai this week can be used to strengthen its security role in Asia and counter US influence in the region, analysts say.
President Xi Jinping told forum delegates that military alliances targeting a specific nation were not conducive to regional security.
A new security cooperation system should be established, one maintained by Asians, although stakeholders from other parts of the world were welcomed, he said.
Xi made the pledge at the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA), which ended on Wednesday.
"It shows that China recognises the importance of regional relationships, even though the US is still the main focus of China's foreign policy," said Raffaello Pantucci, a senior research fellow with the Royal United Services Institute in London.
"China is more aware that having good relationships in the region is crucial for the nation to continue to grow."
Beijing exerts some influence over regional security through the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation. But the CICA has been a relatively obscure forum until recently.


Iran wants more links, cooperation with China: president (Xinhua)

People Daily - May 22, 2014

SHANGHAI, May 22 -- Iran wishes to serve as a bridge connecting China and Central Asia and the Caucasus, and looks forward to more cooperation with China, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said here Thursday.
Rouhani was speaking at a press conference, a day after he attended the fourth summit of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA) in the east China coastal city. He met with Chinese President Xi Jinping earlier Thursday as part of his two-day state visit.
Noting that China was Iran's largest trading partner, Rouhani told reporters his visit to China aimed at further expanding bilateral ties.
He wants to see more cooperation between Iran and China, a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council and a member of the P5+1 (the United States, Russia, China, France, Britain, plus Germany) nuclear talks with Iran, in different regional and international matters.
He said closer cooperation would benefit not just the two countries but the wider region.


31 dead in Xinjiang 'terrorist' attack: Xinhua

Initial accounts suggest cars rammed into market before exploding

South China Morning Post - May 22, 2014

At least 31 people were killed when a series of explosions hit an open-air market in China's restive Xinjiang province, Xinhua said today. Around 90 people were injured.
Witnesses said two cars barrelled through metal barriers and ploughed into people as their occupants threw explosives from the windows in the incident at 7.50am.
The cars then crashed head-on and one of them exploded, the official Xinhua News Agency reported
“I heard four or five explosions. I was very scared. I saw three or four people lying on the ground,” said Fang Shaoying, the owner of a small supermarket located near the scene of the blast.
China's Ministry of Public Security described the incident as a "serious violent terrorist incident" that caused major casualties.
In a statement domestic security chief Meng Jianzhu vowed to "destroy the arrogance of violent terrorists".


Wednesday, May 21, 2014

A Russia-China Alliance Is Emerging, And It Will Be A Disaster For The West

FORBES - MAY 20, 2014

By Mark Adomanis

It’s always dangerous to declare the crisis in Ukraine over. Every time it seems as if the situation has “de-escalated,” something awful happens: a building is burned down in Odessa, Ukrainian soldiers are ambushed outside of Slovyansk, a mayor is shot, or a journalist is kidnapped. These provocations have usually, but not always, been at the instigation of pro-Russian separatists, and have promptly caused a renewed spiraling of tensions and violence. It’s been clear that the Russian authorities have been trying their utmost to maximize the chaos in Ukraine in order to prevent the post-Yanukovych government from consolidating its hold on power, and they have done little or nothing to ameliorate, and quite a lot to incite, increasingly dangerous East-West cleavages.  Nonetheless, the most recent overtures from Moscow have been decidedly less antagonistic than before. While far from certain, it at least appears possible that the Kremlin is backing down having realized that it overplayed its hand. I’ve been harshly critical of the Kremlin’s efforts to destabilize Ukraine, and if these efforts really have failed then we should all be grateful. Russia has perfectly legitimate concerns regarding the composition of the new government in Kiev, but its behavior over the past three months has been as dangerous as it is indefensible.


Russia signs 30-year gas deal with China


Russia's President Vladimir Putin has signed a multi-billion dollar, 30-year gas deal with China.
The deal between Russia's Gazprom and China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC) has been 10 years in the making.
Russia has been keen to find an alternative energy market for its gas as it faces the possibility of European sanctions over the crisis in Ukraine.
No official price has been given but it is estimated to be worth over $400bn.
President Putin said in a statement to the Russian news channel Rossiya: "The price is satisfactory for both sides.
"It is tied, like it is envisaged in all our international contracts with Western partners, specifically our partners in Western Europe, to the market price on oil and oil products. It is an absolutely calibrated, general formula for pricing."


China to Sell Saudi Arabia Drones

China and Saudi Arabia have agreed on a deal for the Wing Loong medium-altitude long-endurance UAV.

By Zachary Keck

The Diplomat - May 08, 2014

China has signed a deal with Saudi Arabia to sell it a domestically-made drone, according to a report in Want China Times.
“Saudi Arabia has signed an agreement to purchase China’s Wing Loong medium-altitude long-endurance unmanned aerial vehicle, otherwise known as the Pterodactyl I,” the report said. Previously, Popular Science magazine reported that China had agreed to sell Saudi Arabia the Wing Loong.
Want China Times said the announcement had first been reported by China’s Global Times, which itself cited Russian news sources as saying that the deal had been signed during Saudi Defense Minister Salman bin Abdulaziz’s recent trip to China. The deal was signed between Crown Prince Salman and Lt. General Wang Guanzhong, the deputy chief of the People Liberation Army’s General Staff. The reports didn’t specify the number of units the Saudi government had agreed to buy. Lt. Gen. Wang often represents the PLA in dealing with foreign countries.
Although the sale hasn’t been officially acknowledged by either country, this has been the case in the past with Chinese arm sales to the Persian Gulf monarchy. Moreover, the report makes sense as China has pushed the Wing Loong drone as a major potential export.


China’s biggest bank gets approval for Kuwait branch

REUTERS — Monday 19 May 2014

KUWAIT CITY: China’s biggest bank, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, got final approval on Sunday to open a branch in Kuwait, which wants to free up its banking sector.
In March, Kuwait said it would allow foreign banks to open multiple branches to spur growth.
Analysts said it was unlikely that many banks would take advantage of the offer unless the government accelerated long-postponed infrastructure projects.
Allowing foreign banks to expand in Kuwait will encourage competition and the development of banking products and services, governor Mohammad Al-Hashel said in a statement on the central bank website (
He said the central bank had put ICBC in the official register of foreign banks after it got approval from the Finance Ministry to open a branch.


Israeli PM Netanyahu, Chinese Vice Premier Liu Yandong Sign Innovation Agreement

The Algemeiner - May 19, 2014

Israel and China on Monday agreed to expand cooperation between their two countries, with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu welcoming Chinese Vice Premier Liu Yandong to his Jerusalem office where they signed an accord.  In a statement, Netanyahu said Monday’s agreement came a year after his visit to China, where he met Chinese President Xi and Premier Li, listing the many ways cooperation has expanded since then.  “China is Israel’s largest trading partner in Asia and fast becoming perhaps Israel’s largest trading partner period as we move into the future,” Netanyahu said. “We see the great success of China. We admire China and we think there are complementary things that Israel brings to this relationship.  One of them is innovation.”


Israel inks tech pacts with China’s Silicon Valley


The Jerusalem Post -  05/21/2014

Israel signed a bilateral industrial R&D cooperation agreement on Tuesday with China’s Zhejiang Province, known as the Silicon Valley of China, as 350 delegates from the Asian giant attended MIXiii, the Israel Innovation Conference.
It also inked agreements with Jiangsu Province’s Science and Technology Department to promote Israeli companies’ participation in Chinese innovation parks and a first-of-its kind pilot program to encourage Israeli companies participation in the Changzhou Innovation Park in Jiangsu (population 79 million).


Israel, China to open $300 million research center

400 Chinese business and government officials in Israel for a week of conferences, summits and business deals

By David Shamah 

The Times of Israel - May 19, 2014

el Aviv University announced on Monday a partnership with Beijing’s Tsinghua University to invest $300 million to establish the XIN Research Center, intended to research early-stage and mature technologies in biotech, solar energy, water and environmental technologies. TAU officials say they hope the center will cement ties between the two countries and create opportunities for tech advancement in both countries.
The agreement establishing the institution is scheduled to be signed Tuesday by Prof. Joseph Klafter, president of TAU, and government and academic officials from China. It is one of a number of Israel-China business events taking place this week, as hundreds of Chinese government and business officials arrived in Israel.


Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Russia, China set to promote oil cooperation, soonest start of gas supply to China Economy


SHANGHAI, May 20. /ITAR-TASS/. Russia and China intend to broaden cooperation in the oil industry and promote the soonest start of Russian gas supplies to China, the leaders of the two countries said in a joint statement adopted upon results of talks between Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping in the Chinese city of Shanghai on Tuesday.
According to the document, the two countries agreed “to step up comprehensive Russian-Chinese energy partnership, broaden complex cooperation in the oil industry, promote the soonest start of Russian gas supplies to China, enhance cooperation in the coalmining industry, including through development of deposits in Russia and development of transport infrastructure and active development of construction projects of new power-generating facilities in Russia for a higher electricity export to China.”
Russia and China have signed 6 inter-governmental energy agreements over the past year. More than 20 agreements were signed between Russian and Chinese companies. The sides managed to reach agreements on a number of strategic projects and move closer to forming an energy alliance.

Launch of Eastern Siberia - Pacific Ocean oil pipeline
The launch of the Eastern Siberia - Pacific Ocean Oil Pipeline (Russia and China are implementing a large-scale project valued at more than $60 billion for deliveries of crude oil to China on a pipeline running from Skovorodino in Russia to Mohe in China) and contracts signed by the Russian oil company Rosneft (in June 2013, Rosneft signed a 25-year-long $270 billion contract for the delivery of 360.3 million tons of crude oil to China with the Chinese National Petroleum Corporation - CNPC) laid down the foundation for fruitful cooperation.


The Birth of a Eurasian Century: Russia and China Do Pipelineistan

By Pepe Escobar

TomDispatch | News Analysis - 19 May 2014

Hong Kong - A specter is haunting Washington, an unnerving vision of a Sino-Russian alliance wedded to an expansive symbiosis of trade and commerce across much of the Eurasian land mass - at the expense of the United States.
And no wonder Washington is anxious. That alliance is already a done deal in a variety of ways: through the BRICS group of emerging powers (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa); at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, the Asian counterweight to NATO; inside the G20; and via the 120-member-nation Non-Aligned Movement (NAM). Trade and commerce are just part of the future bargain.  Synergies in the development of new military technologies beckon as well. After Russia’s Star Wars-style, ultra-sophisticated S-500 air defense anti-missile system comes online in 2018, Beijing is sure to want a version of it. Meanwhile, Russia is about to sell dozens of state-of-the-art Sukhoi Su-35 jet fighters to the Chinese as Beijing and Moscow move to seal an aviation-industrial partnership.


Monday, May 19, 2014

China, Russia, and Iran are having a friendly get-together to sort out security in Asia

By Heather Timmons 

QUARTZ - May 19, 2014

Vladimir Putin spent most of a recent interview with Chinese state media praising the “exemplary collaboration” between Russia and China in recent years. He listed a wide range of areas, from financial services to the aircraft industry, where his country wants to partner with its “trusted friend.”

But Putin’s interview also highlighted a polarizing meeting that takes place in Shanghai this week. Putin promises that the talks will lead to “a new security and sustainable development architecture in Asia-Pacific”—a task that has become increasingly important as China aggressively moves into disputed territory in the South China Sea.

Known as the “Summit of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia,” or CICA, the meeting is a once-every-four years gathering of Asian nations. Started by Kazakhstan president for life Nursultan Nazarbayev, the group’s members include some of the world’s most powerful non-Western non-democracies and dictatorships, as well as Israel and India:

Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Cambodia, China, Egypt, India, Iran, Iraq,Israel, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Pakistan, Palestine, Republic of Korea, Russia, Tajikistan, Thailand, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan,Vietnam.

Turkey, China in talks on $10-12 billion energy investment: minister

By Orhan Coskun 

REUTERS - Mon May 5, 2014

Turkey and China are in talks on a $10-12 billion investment deal for the Afsin-Elbistan coalfield and power plant project in southern Turkey, Energy Minister Taner Yildiz told Reuters.
Turkey is keen to make the most of its coal resources to reduce its imports of natural gas and signed a deal with Abu Dhabi National Energy Co (TAQA) TAQA.AD on the project in January 2013.
However, TAQA said in August it was delaying investment and Turkey subsequently began talks with other companies.
"There will be an investment of $10-12 billion in the Afsin-Elbistan field. This will include use of the coalfields. We are in talks with China for a deal on this subject," Yildiz said late on Sunday.


Sunday, May 18, 2014

China’s Oil Future

Getty Deborah Gordon, Yevgen Sautin, Wang Tao

Carnegie Endowment for International Peace - May 6, 2014

Robust industrial growth and increasing domestic living standards have left China with a nearly insatiable thirst for energy. And oil is playing an integral part in meeting that demand.
Although coal remains the chief source of energy, oil fuels China’s transportation, plays a crucial role in industry, and is a significant input in agriculture. During the height of the Cultural Revolution in 1969, China ranked 25th in world oil demand. Today, China is the world’s second-largest consumer of oil and the largest net importer of petroleum and other liquid fuels.

China’s growing demand for oil comes at a time when the petroleum industry is experiencing perhaps the most significant paradigm shift since the OPEC embargo in 1973. High crude prices combined with technological advances are allowing supermajors, petro-states, and independent oil entrepreneurs to unlock a new class of previously unattainable unconventional oils. These oils are globally more abundant and widespread than their conventional predecessors.

Gordon on China's Oil Future

How China navigates this complex new oil terrain will have far-reaching consequences for domestic affairs, international trade, the environment, and global security. With Beijing’s new leadership seeking to ensure that China’s economic growth charts a more sustainable path, it is the right time to address the nation’s future oil opportunities and challenges.

China’s Oil Industry

Until the 1990s, China enjoyed energy self-sufficiency due to the discoveries of the large Daqing field in northern China in the 1950s and other conventional plays in central China. Now, China’s oil consumption exceeds domestic production by more than 2:1, fueling the nation’s search for petroleum at home and abroad. China became a net oil importer in 1993 (see figure 1), and in 2013, it was responsible for one-third of all oil growth. Over the longer term, the U.S. Energy Information Administration projects that China’s output of oil and petroleum products will reach 5.6 million barrels per day by 2040. Most of the growth over the long term is expected to be from unconventional sources, including gas-to-liquids, coal-to-liquids, kerogen, and biofuels, as conventional crude oil production remains relatively flat.

Read more....

Asian powerhouse prepares for big show at Hardware+Tools Middle East 2014

Zawya - May 18, 2014

Mr. Ahmed Pauwels, CEO

China sets sights on Middle East construction sector China's growing stature as a major tools and hardware exporter has been underlined by the Asian powerhouse's key presence at the Middle East's only dedicated trade fair for tools, hardware, materials and machinery next month.  More than 160 Chinese manufacturers and suppliers will be out in full force at Hardware + Tools Middle East 2014, as they scout out new markets and evaluate business prospects from across the region.  Thousands of regional trade professionals to the three-day event, which takes place from 3-5 June at the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre, will be greeted at a dedicated Chinese pavilion stacked with Chinese-made products.  Known for presenting cost-effective construction solutions from hand and power tools and accessories, to doors, floors and plastic and rubber materials, Chinese manufacturers are expected to be highly sought after by regional trade buyers.

Read more....

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

China's Middle East energy strategy

Al-Monitor - May 6, 2014

China’s increasing energy imports expose its economy to the fluctuations of the global market, according to a report by the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies. Today, China is the most energy-consuming country and the most dependent on energy imports, especially from the Middle East, while the United States is moving toward energy independence. As was the case for the United States, China’s energy policy will have an impact on global energy markets, climate change and Beijing’s foreign policy. It is worth noting that the average annual increase in demand for oil in China ranges between 4% and 5%, the overall demand in 2012 reached about 11 million barrels per day (bpd) and China’s refining capacity is approximately 10.7 million bpd.

Read more....

China in the Middle East

Middle East Report 270   
Spring 2014

“Will China dominate the twenty-first century?” So asks the title of one of the latest entries in an expanding canon on the subject. The question is of particular concern in Washington, because its premise is that the post-World War II “American century” is coming to a close or perhaps already over. A corollary question is whether China covets the US role in the Persian Gulf and the surrounding region. The spring 2014 issue of Middle East Report zooms out to look at the historical and geopolitical aspects of Chinese ties to the Middle East and then zooms in to look at the economic, cultural and human interactions.
It was not always the case that Chinese-Middle Eastern relations were refracted through the prism of links to the West. Cemil Aydin lays out the often forgotten history of West Asian fascination with East Asia, and vice versa, while Shuang Wen recounts Muslim activist meetings in Meiji Japan. Chinese ties with Africa, as Engseng Ho demonstrates, also have both a rich history and potential to reshape today’s world.
A key reason for Middle Easterners’ interest in communist China was Maoism and its solidarity with Third World countries under various degrees of Western domination. Mohammed al-Sudairi, Afshin Matin-Asgari and Kamran Ali write about Maoist influence in the Arab world, Iran and Pakistan, respectively.
Today, with Mao long gone in both body and spirit, China offers Middle Eastern states a model of neoliberal economics without political reform, as well as the tantalizing promise (as yet unrealized) of a counterweight to the West. Kyle Haddad-Fonda reports on the frustrations of Arab diplomats in Beijing. Haiyun Ma and I-wei Jennifer Chang show how the study of Middle Eastern languages in China tracks with the strategic interests of the Chinese state.

Read more....

China, Middle East to lead oil demand growth, says OPEC

Market Watch, WSJ - May 13, 2014

Much of the growth in global oil demand will come from China and the Middle East this year, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries said in its monthly report released Tuesday.
OPEC expects global oil demand to rise 1.14 million barrels a day to reach 91.15 million barrels a day this year. That’s unchanged from the previous report.
But “almost half of annual oil demand growth is seen coming from China and the Middle East,” it said.
OPEC sees demand growth from China of 330,000 barrels a day, or 3.3%, in 2014 compared with 2013 and demand growth from the Middle East of 310,000 barrels a day, or 3.9%.
Still, OPEC pointed out that economic growth in China slowed to 7.4% year-to-year in the first quarter, with a quarter-on-quarter growth rate of just 1.4% — the weakest growth rate since the fourth quarter of 2008. Growth expectations for China GDP were left unchanged for this year at 7.5%, OPEC said.

Read more....

China could become net oil-product exporter to Middle East

CNPC  Dubai

Platts - 14 May 2014

China is on a long-term track to become a net exporter of petroleum products to the Middle East, a senior official of state-controlled China National Petroleum Corp said Tuesday.

"China could at some point become a net exporter of fuel products to Arab countries," CNPC Director of Research Ding Shaoheng said during a question and answer session at the Abu Dhabi International Downstream Exhibition and Conference.

China was likely to remain a major importer of Middle East crude for the foreseeable future, Ding said.

During a conference presentation on the long-term outlook for oil product supply and demand in the Chinese domestic market, Ding forecast that Chinese annual oil-product consumption would rise from 286 million mt in 2013 to 360 million mt in 2020 and 440 million mt in 2030.

Meanwhile, annual fuel production capacity at Chinese oil refineries was forecast to expand from 296 million mt in 2013 to 390 million mt in 2020 and 440 million mt in 2030.

Read more....

Basra Railway - Al-Monitor

Workers check a train at Basra railway station, Basra, southeast of Baghdad, May 13, 2014. China has recently delivered two brand new diesel trains to Iraq.

The Militarized Pacific: An Anniversary Without End

Truthout | Op-Ed - Wednesday, 14 May 2014

By Jon Letman

March 1, the 60th anniversary of the Castle Bravo test - a nuclear detonation over a thousand times more powerful than the bomb that destroyed Hiroshima - has come and gone. Predictably, major decadal events, like a 15-megaton explosion over a Micronesian atoll, garner fleeting attention, but it's all the days between the anniversaries that tell the real story of those who live with the impacts.
For the people of the Marshall Islands, where Enewetak, Bikini and neighboring atolls were irradiated and rendered uninhabitable by 67 nuclear tests between 1946 and 1958, the brief anniversary recognition only underscores what little attention the Marshallese and, in a broader sense, millions of peoples of the Asia-Pacific are given by the US government and public.
The Marshallese, like people across the Pacific, live with impacts of plans devised at the United States Pacific Command (USPACOM) headquarters in Hawaii. After the Pentagon, PACOM is one of the world's most far-reaching military command centers. With a self-proclaimed "Area of Responsibility" that absorbs half the world's population and covers roughly half the planet from the Arctic to the Antarctic, across the Indian Ocean and from Central Asia to the Central Pacific, it gives new meaning to the word "vast."

Read more....

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

May 26 - Panel: China and the Middle East - International Studies Association, New Orleans, Louisiana, February 18th - 21st, 2015

Dear all,

As some you you know, the ISA's 56th Annual Convention (Global IR and Regional Worlds A New Agenda for International Studies) will take place in  New Orleans, Louisiana, from February 18th - 21st, 2015.

Chinese involvement in the Middle East goes back to the early days of the PRC; however, neoliberalization of the Chinese economy under Deng Xioaping after 1978 has led to transformations in the Chinese economy, and has created a large middle class in the late 1990 and 2000s, consisting of approximately 350 – 400 million people that require energy and a new market for it, similar to the African case. Therefore, PRC involvement in the Middle East energy and consumer market has evolved over time. Today, almost half of the Chinese Oil and energy needs are filled with the Middle East, and this is expected to grow in the next decade. This turn of events challenges American Petroimperialist interests in the region.  However, China is a soft power in the region and does not get involved in ethnic or religious conflicts; their interests originate in the global market. The two global powers, the PRC and the US have had 'soft clashes' in Africa, but these may start to take place in the Middle east as well in the near future. On the other hand, Middle Eastern societies have undergone substantial social, political and economic transformations over the last several years. "Made in China" products have poured into the Middle eastern market, Confucius Institutes opened new Chinese cultural and language centers similar to the Fulbright scholarship and British and American Cultural Centers and universities from Iran to Turkey, Bahrain to Egypt. In this panel, we will investigate the growing role of the PRC in the Middle East in modern times.              

If you are working on and interested in organizing a panel on China and the Middle East, please drop  me an informal email, we can organize a panel on this important subject.

We need the following information on May 26th. 

Title of Your Proposal
200 words summary
Your academic affiliation

Best to all,

Tugrul Keskin
tugrulkeskin (at)

Monday, May 12, 2014

China-US train plan chugs along

Arab News - May 9, 2014
BEIJING: China plans to build an ambitious 13,000 km rail line to operate bullet trains to America through Russia. 
The proposed line would begin in north-east China and run up through Siberia, pass through a tunnel underneath the Pacific Ocean then cut through Alaska and Canada to reach the continental US, according to a report in the state-run Beijing Times newspaper.
Crossing the Bering Strait in between Russia and Alaska would require about 200km  of undersea tunnel, the paper said, citing Wang Mengshu, a railway expert at the Chinese Academy of Engineering.
“Right now we're already in discussions. Russia has already been thinking about this for many years,” Wang said.
The project — nicknamed the China-Russia-Canada-America line – would run for 13,000km, about 3,000km further than the Trans-Siberian Railway. The entire trip would take two days, with the train travelling at an average of 350km/h.

Zev Sufott, Israel’s first ambassador to China, dies aged 86

British-born Sufott was wounded in battle during Israel's War of Independence, and joined the Foreign Ministry in 1950.

By Mordechai I. Twersky 

Hareetz  | Apr. 21, 2014

Zev Sufott, a British-born diplomat who served as Israel’s first ambassador to China, died April 18 in Tel Aviv following a battle with cancer. He was 86.
“He was a pioneer,” said Reuven Merhav, who, as Israel’s former director general of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, recruited Sufott for his first China post as a “Special Advisor” in 1991.
When Israel established full diplomatic relations with China in 1992, Sufett was appointed Ambassador. “Forty years after first learning Chinese he saw this as the closing of an historic circle,” said Merhav, who served as Israel’s consul general in Hong Kong.

Read more....

Iran, China Plan to Expand Media Cooperation

Fars News Agency - Wed May 07, 2014

TEHRAN (FNA)- Senior media officials of Iran and China emphasized the need for both Tehran and Beijing to stretch new horizons and open new chapters to expand cultural cooperation, announcing a joint radio station is scheduled to be established by the two countries' relevant bodies in the near future.
In a meeting between Deputy Head of the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) Hossein Soufi and his counterpart from China Radio International (CRI) in Tehran on Wednesday, the officials singed a letter of understanding on launching a joint radio station by the two capitals.
The document was signed in a ceremony during which Soufi said Iranian and Chinese media officials are determined to promote bilateral cooperation given the two countries' cultural and historical commonalties.
He hoped that the joint radio station would help confront the West's media propaganda.
Trade between Iran and China in the past year was estimated at $45bln.
Iran is currently China's third largest supplier of crude, providing Beijing with roughly 12 percent of its total annual oil consumption.
According to the figures released by China's General Administration of Customs in January, China's crude oil imports from Iran reached 2.5mln tons (mt) in December 2012, up 43 percent from November.


China Calls Iran a ‘Strategic Partner’

Iran and China’s Defense Ministers vowed to boost military ties following a meeting in Beijing on Monday.

By By Zachary Keck

The Diplomat - May 06, 2014

On Monday China and Iran agreed to deepen defense ties, according to Chinese state media. The announcement was made following a meeting between Chinese Defense Minister Chang Wanquan and his Iranian counterpart, Hossein Dehqan.
According to Reuters, which quoted a report in Xinhua News Agency, China said that bilateral relations “remained positive and steady, featuring frequent high-level exchanges and deepened political mutual trust.” Reuters also quoted Chang as saying that he is personally “confident that the friendly relations between the two countries as well as the armed forces will be reinforced” as a result of “increased mutual visits and personnel training cooperation between the armed forces.”
According to an Iranian news report, Chang also said that China views Iran as a strategic partner. “Given Iran and China’s common views over many important political-security, regional and international issues, Beijing assumes Tehran as its strategic partner,” Chang was quoted as saying by Fars News Agency, which is viewed as having close ties with Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps.
For his part, Dehqan said, “The age-old and historical relations between the two countries which date back to over 2,000 years ago are full of instances of cooperation in cultural, economic, industrial and technological arenas.” He also “voiced the hope that the two countries will continue to play a positive role in safeguarding regional peace and stability,” presumably referring to the Middle East and Central and South Asia.

Read more....