Thursday, May 28, 2015

The US and China can avoid a collision course – if the US gives up its empire

John Glaser

The Guardian - Thursday 28 May 2015

To avoid a violent militaristic clash with China, or another cold war rivalry, the United States should pursue a simple solution: give up its empire.
Americans fear that China’s rapid economic growth will slowly translate into a more expansive and assertive foreign policy that will inevitably result in a war with the US. Harvard Professor Graham Allison has found: “in 12 of 16 cases in the past 500 years when a rising power challenged a ruling power, the outcome was war.” Chicago University scholar John Mearsheimer has bluntly argued: “China cannot rise peacefully.”
But the apparently looming conflict between the US and China is not because of China’s rise per se, but rather because the US insists on maintaining military and economic dominance among China’s neighbors. Although Americans like to think of their massive overseas military presence as a benign force that’s inherently stabilizing, Beijing certainly doesn’t see it that way.
According to political scientists Andrew Nathan and Andrew Scobell, Beijing sees America as “the most intrusive outside actor in China’s internal affairs, the guarantor of the status quo in Taiwan, the largest naval presence in the East China and South China seas, [and] the formal or informal military ally of many of China’s neighbors.” (All of which is true.) They think that the US “seeks to curtail China’s political influence and harm China’s interests” with a “militaristic, offense-minded, expansionist, and selfish” foreign policy.


Full video:China issues defense white paper

CCTV - MAY 2015

China issued its first white paper on military strategy, stressing the "active defense" guideline and pledging closer international security cooperation. The strategy adheres to the unity of strategic defense and operational and tactical offense, according to the white paper "China's Military Strategy" issued by the State Council Information Office. The paper highlights four "critical security domains", including the ocean, the outer space, cyberspace and nuclear force.


China's active defense strategy features in military buildup

Han Bin  05-26-2015

China has issued its 2015 White Paper on national defense, elaborating on its military strategy and security concept. It says the country will adhere to an active defense strategy, to effectively deter threats and better protect its national interests. The document also lays out the developing trend of its military capabilities.
China’s military build ups and activities and its military intentions and directions are often under close watch by the world. The Chinese military wants to explain what is behind the development and what is to come.
"This paper is highly strategic and comprehensive with a focus on China's present military strategy and its orientation in the future," said Yang Yujun, Chinese Ministry of National Defense spokesman.
The military is undergoing deep transformations under the new leadership. It is speeding up modernization with high-tech weaponry and information technology, fast integrating its land, naval and air forces. And it has increased regular blue water missions and become more active in international security cooperation.
The White Paper explains the components of its Active Defense Policy and the impact on the ever-changing role of the armed forces under a new security environment.
"China's armed forces will implement the military strategic guideline of active defense in the new environment. The paper stresses far-sighted planning and management, creating favorable positions, comprehensively managing crises, and deterring and winning wars," Yang said.
The White Paper comes at a time of rising tensions in the South China Sea and louder criticism of China’s military build up. President Xi Jinping has called for strengthening the army and its capabilities to prepare it for a win in the event of conflict.
China says its military is still defensive in nature, yet it is becoming more active in protecting its interests.
Leaders believe China faces complex and diverse security challenges in protecting its sovereignty. And the military must adjust to the changing situation to better protect peace and stability.
This is the ninth White Paper on this subject. Unlike the previous ones, which focused mainly on what the PLA has been doing, this new document is concentrating on its future development. Many say the greater transparency of this intention of the Chinese army may signal both its growing confidence and its willingness to play a more active role on the world stage.

Building the New Silk Road - CFR

James McBride,

Council on Foreign Relations - May 25, 2015

More than two thousand years ago, China's Han Dynasty launched the Silk Road, a sprawling network of commerce that linked South and Central Asia with the Middle East and Europe. Today, the idea of a "New Silk Road," an intertwined set of economic integration initiatives seeking to link East and Central Asia, has taken hold in the United States and China—for very different reasons.
In 2011, the United States launched its vision of greater Central Asian economic and infrastructure integration in the hopes of supporting political stability as it withdrew from Afghanistan. By 2013, Chinese President Xi Jinping was assertively articulating his own vision for a China-led Silk Road that would streamline foreign trade, ensure stable energy supplies, promote Asian infrastructure development, and consolidate Beijing's regional influence.
It remains to be seen if the United States and China will clash over their competing plans for developing energy resources in Central Asia’s Turkmenistan, creating infrastructure in Pakistan, or winning political influence with local governments throughout Asia. Other Asian powers like India and Russia, meanwhile, are seeking to define their own approach to regional integration. While these ambitious projects hold the potential to reshape one of the world’s least integrated areas, all must contend with local rivalries, logistical roadblocks, security risks, and political uncertainty.


Wednesday, May 27, 2015

PODCAST: Identity, Race, and Civilization in China

Identity, Race, and Civilization  

Kaiser Kuo, Jeremy Goldkorn, David Moser, Jeremiah Jenne    

A Sinica Podcast - May 26, 2015

‘Iron Silk Road': Dream Or Reality? – Analysis


By Selçuk Çolakoğlu and Emre Tunç Sakaoğlu

A majority of the projects introduced by China within the scope of the ‘Silk Road Economic Belt’ vision have yet to reach maturity. Nevertheless, the draft outlines prepared for these projects promise great potential in the eyes of many regional countries including Turkey, which have received relevant proposals with great enthusiasm. A combined budget worth nearly $40 billion will be allocated to these projects through which China is planning to boost its influence over Central Asia, the Caucasus, and the Middle East in particular. Another objective set by Beijing when introducing the projects in question was to promote China as a leader country which is deemed indispensable for regional stability, development, and integration.
As to the prerequisite for the realization of all the Silk Road projects, reinforcing regional transportation infrastructures and improving intra-regional logistic links come to the fore. In that regard, the ‘Iron Silk Road’ project is expected to form the backbone of a greater vision of multi-dimensional cooperation among Turkey, China, and the rest of the region concerned; and raise the level of relations between these countries to the highest level. Within the scope of the ‘Iron Silk Road’ project, the parties involved hope to put into operation a railway line that passes through China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) and Central Asian countries before reaching Turkey and Europe. The new railway line will function as the latest continental land bridge and lay the groundwork for the creation of a vast market that is expected to surpass $1 trillion in cumulative volume by virtue of low tariffs, extensive people-to-people contacts, and improved interdependency.

Ankara’s approach to the subject

The main reason why Ankara receives Silk Road projects favorably, and leans toward the idea of actively taking part in the ‘Iron Silk Road’ project in particular, is the firm belief that commercial relations between Turkey and Central Asian countries will be amplified through the actualization of such prospective projects as soon as possible. Through this project, Ankara is also looking forward to capitalize on its geostrategic advantage that essentially derives from lying at the intersection zone of traditional transport routes connecting Europe and Asia. With this project, it wishes to place itself once again at the center of inter-continental transport routes, this time by way of harboring a major railway corridor between Europe and Asia that will facilitate trade in fossil fuels, minerals, and manufactured goods, alongside agricultural products and other raw materials. Besides, Turkey believes the project will set the scene for closer bilateral relations with China based on mutual trust and substantial economic cooperation as new railway lines envisaged by the project will carry a significant quantity of passengers and freight on both directions between the two countries concerned. Moreover, bilateral economic relations will be protected from the potentially disturbing effects of fluctuations in the value of the dollar thanks to two-way trade in national currencies instead. In sum, the ‘Iron Silk Road’ project is seen as a potential leverage that can allow Ankara to become the ultimate playmaker in the Euroasian arena while increasing its economic and political radius of action.


Tuesday, May 26, 2015

A Big Step Forward for China's AIIB

Member countries have agreed on a charter for the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.

By Shannon Tiezzi

The Diplomat - May 23, 2015

In March, a flurry of counties (including U.S. allies like the U.K., South Korea, and Australia), applied to join China’s new Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) before the March 31 deadline for joining as a founding member. The new bank will have authorized capital of $100 billion, to be used in infrastructure projects throughout Asia.
Being a founding member means having a say in the AIIB charter – especially important for countries that had expressed concern about governance issues related to the new bank. Today, China’s Ministry of Finance announced that the 57 founding members of AIIB have agreed upon the bank’s charter, which will be signed in a ceremony in Beijing at the end of June.
The AIIB negotiators met in Signapore from May 20-22 for talks on the bank’s charter. At stake were a number of concerns: how the bank’s capital will be provided and the corresponding stakeholder levels of each country. China has previously said that 75 percent of AIIB shares will be reserved for Asian countries, meaning European countries like the U.K., Germany, and France will have little say.
Delegates from the Singapore meeting told Reuters that China will likely wind up with a 25-30 percent stake in the bank, making it the largest shareholder. India is expected to be the second largest shareholder at 10-15 percent. That meshes with predictions from the Korean Institute for Economic Policy, which calculated that China and India would be the largest shareholders at roughly 30 and 10 percent, respectively. KIEP, which based its calculations on having 75 percent of shares for Asian countries and allocating shared based on GDP and PPP (purchasing power parity), predicted that Indonesia, Germany, and South Korea would be the next three largest shareholders, all with just under 4 percent.


Monday, May 25, 2015

Taliban and Afghan Peace Officials Have Secret Talks in China


The New York Times - May 25, 2015  

BEIJING — A peace envoy from Afghanistan met in western China last week with former Taliban officials with close ties to Pakistan’s intelligence agency, in an attempt to keep open the possibility of formal Afghan peace talks, officials said Monday.  The meeting, hosted by China and, in part, organized by Pakistani officials, took place Wednesday and Thursday in Urumqi, capital of the western region of Xinjiang, which has mountainous borders with Afghanistan and Pakistan and is home to many Muslims.  The main representative of the Afghan government was Mohammad Masoom Stanekzai, who was, at the time, a crucial member of the country’s Peace Council, the group charged with exploring talks with the insurgency, and since then has been nominated by President Ashraf Ghani as defense minister. On the other side of the table were three figures from the old Taliban government in Afghanistan, according to current and former officials with knowledge of the discussions who agreed to speak on the condition of anonymity because of diplomatic sensitivities.  Mr. Stanekzai is awaiting confirmation as defense minister and has been the architect of efforts by the government to begin formal peace negotiations.


ACWF VP Meets With Wife of Algerian PM

By Fan Wenjun

WOMEN OF CHINA - April 29, 2015

Song Xiuyan, vice-president of the All-China Women's Federation (ACWF), met with Farida Sellal, the wife of Prime Minister of Algeria Abdelmalek Sellal, during the first lady's visit to Beijing on April 28.
Song, who is also first member of the Secretariat of the ACWF, spoke highly of the friendship, international exchange and cooperation in the field of women issues between the two countries.
Song said that China has attached great importance to the relationship with Algeria and that China is willing to strengthen international exchange and cooperation between the countries—especially between women—in order to promote the development of friendly Algeria-Chinese and African-Chinese relationships, as well as further women's undertakings.
Ms. Sellal applauded the Algeria-Chinese relationship, saying that both nation's women are playing increasingly significant roles in the building of their own countries.
Ms. Sellal hopes that her visit will help deepen the international exchange and cooperation between women of the two countries.


China, Algeria pledge closer partnership

BEIJING, April 29 (Xinhua) -- Chinese President Xi Jinping met with Algerian Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal Wednesday afternoon and they pledged to boost the comprehensive strategic partnership between the two countries.
"China and Algeria are bothers," Xi said during the meeting at the Great Hall of the People, hailing mutual support, mutual trust and solid friendship between the two countries in their efforts for national independence, sovereignty and prosperity as well as world peace and development.
China and Algeria announced the comprehensive strategic partnership in February 2014 on the 55th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations and the 10th anniversary of strategic cooperation between the two countries.

China, UAE oil firms sign 330 mln USD worth oilfield development project - 2015-05-18

ABU DHABI, May 17 (Xinhua) -- A subsidiary of China's oil and gas giant signed on Sunday a contract worth 330 million U.S. dollars with an onshore petroleum firm in Abu Dhabi, the United Arab Emirate (UAE), for a development project at the UAE's southern Mender oilfield.
The joint project between China Petroleum Engineering and Construction Corporation (CPECC) and Abu Dhabi Company for Onshore Oil Operations (ADCO) will help boost ADCO's daily crude production from 1.4 million barrels to 1.8 million by 2017.
Hou Haojie, general manager of CPECC, said the Mender project, which follows CPECC's successful work on programs to develop the emirate's crude pipeline and Asab oilfield, has demonstrated his company's growing market reputation and strong global competitiveness.
He also hoped that the two companies could work closely on the Mender project, and expand their cooperation in the future.


China envoy calls for further cultural exchanges with UAE

Xinhua - 2015-05-23

The Chinese envoy to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Thursday urged China and the UAE to further enhance their cultural exchanges, and promote mutual understanding between the two peoples.
Chang Hua, China's ambassador to the UAE, made the remarks while addressing the opening ceremony of a photo show in Abu Ahabi titled "the UAE in the Eyes of Chinese."
The friendship between the two countries enjoys a long history, and the ancient maritime silk road used to closely connect the two, he told those who also attended the opening.
As the new century begins, China and the UAE have forged a strategic partnership, and their cooperation has been strong, prosperous and promising, said the Chinese envoy, adding that they have also seen an ever deepening cultural exchanges between the two countries.
He also hailed the show, saying it is designed to reveal a different UAE through the lens of Chinese living and working in the Gulf country.
Sheikh Nahayan Mabarak Al Hahayan, UAE's minister of culture, youth and community development, said the photos, taken by the Chinese in his country, are proving just how intact a friendship the two countries share.


China raising its stake in UAE oil fields

 Special to -  

The state oil company of China has been awarded a major onshore oil contract by United Arab Emirates.  China Petroleum Engineering and Construction Corporation (CPECC), part of state-run PetroChina, won the $330 million contract for development of Abu Dhabi’s Mender oilfield, according to Beijing’s state-owned Xinhua news agency.
Officials said China, which in 2013 doubled its oil imports from UAE, may be eyeing a stake in Abu Dhabi’s Company for Onshore Operations (Adco).
China currently imports 15 percent of UAE’s crude oil output as compared to 30 percent for Japan and 12 percent for South Korea.
The field is expected to yield 20,000 barrels per day when developed and is part of the wider onshore South East Full Field Development project that includes the Sahil and Qusahwira oilfields, which together are expected to increase Abu Dhabi Company for Onshore Operations’ (Adco’s) output to 1.8 million bpd by the end of 2017 from the current output of about 1.4 million bpd.
The Mender oilfield, some 300 kilometers south of Abu Dhabi, should yield 20,000 barrels per day with the development project, and Adco’s total output is expected to reach 1.8 million barrels per day by the end of 2017.


Sieren's China: Military exercises in the Mediterranean

Turkey is mulling buying missiles in China and nuclear power plants in Russia. Meanwhile, China and Russia are holding military exercises in the Mediterranean. The West has to get used to it, says DW's Frank Sieren.

Frank Sieren

DEUTSCHE WELLE - 04.05.2015

It sounds dangerous to Westerners: For the first time, at the gates of the EU in the Mediterranean, Russian and Chinese military forces are practicing "joint action in distant seas." And they're doing it with live ammunition.
This is perceived as a provocation and a concentrated demonstration of power, but the fact that American soldiers are exercising together with the Philippine army off the coast of China is, on the other hand, viewed as a settled matter.
That maneuver is the largest joint exercise in 15 years and is called Balikatan, which translates to should-to-shoulder in Tagalog. How this is perceived, however, is illustrated by the perspective. Beijing does not find the maneuver any less menacing than the EU finds the Russian-Chinese one.
There are three questions that arise: Are they allowed to do that? Who started it? And most importantly, how can the risks of this development be minimized?
There is a quick answer to the first question: Anyone can practice with whomever they choose in international waters – even with live ammunition. What is new here is that the US is no longer the only global player that can afford to do this, as there are now others, like Russia and China. In the case of the Philippines, at least a neighboring country has asked the USA for support. Russia and China do not have direct access to the Mediterranean. So, in this respect, their maneuver in mid-May is even more irritating, although legal and legitimate.


Turkey hosts 14th Chinese language competition

SHANGHAI DAILY - May 24,2015

NKARA, May 24 (Xinhua) -- The 14th "Chinese bridge" Chinese proficiency competition for Turkish university students opened in Middle East Technology University here on Saturday.
"My Chinese dream," which is the topic of the contest, attracted 25 students, who have past the writing test in the morning, to give their own story about their connection with Chinese language and culture.
"The world is so big, I want to go to china and have a look," the sentence which is quite popular on Chinese web, was used in Arad's speech about why he chose to learn Chinese.
Dance of Little Apple, the most popular song in China in 2014, and the drunken beauty of leading Chinese opera performer Li Yugang, among other famous Chinese songs and dances, were included in the performance list of the competitors.
The show of famous poetry "To the Oak Tree" written by Chinese poet Shu Ting helped Gullu from sinology department of Ankara University to win the first runner-up and gain a chance to go to China, a dream she has been trying to fulfill for a long time. "I love Chinese poem and songs and I wish to go to China to get my master degree," Gullu said.
Zeynep, the girl who won the ticket to the world "Chinese Bridge" competition host annually by Hanban in Beijing, was very excited after the contest. "I am fascinated by Chinese culture and I could even touch the pulse of this dragon. Now I have a chance to improve my Chinese by communicate and compete with the students from other countries in China. What a dream come true!" she said.


Chinese Navy fleet begins 5-day visit to Turkey

2015-05-25 - CNTV Editor: Li Yan

China's 19th convoy fleet arrived Sunday in Istanbul, Turkey, to start a five-day friendly visit to the country.
Sent by the Chinese People's Liberation Army Navy, the fleet is comprised of the missile frigates Linyi and Weifang, as well as the supply ship Weishanhu.
The Chinese warships and navy officers were greeted by the Chinese ambassador to Turkey, Turkish navy officers, and representatives from Chinese groups in Turkey.
The Chinese Navy soldiers will meet with their Turkish counterparts and hold a series of programs, including a friendly basketball match. The Turkish navy soldiers will also visit the Weifang missile frigate.
The 19th convoy fleet left Qingdao, in east China's Shandong province, December 2, 2014. It has since conducted 35 escort missions. It also helped to evacuate 897 people, of 16 nationalities, from Yemen and recently took part in a joint China-Russia drill.


ICBC becomes the first Chinese bank in Turkey

DAILY SABAH - MAY 24, 2015

The Industrial and Commercial Bank of China has bought 75.5 percent share of Turkey's Tekstilbank for TL 669 million, aiming to serve Turkish and Chinese consumers on a global scale 

The Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) took over a majority stake in Tekstilbank from Turkish GSD Holding, becoming the first Chinese bank operating in Turkey. 
Last April, GSD Holding signed a contract to sell its entire stake of 75.5 percent in Tekstilbank to ICBC, one of the four largest of China's banks, for TL 669 million ($256 million). The Banking Regulation and Supervision Agency (BDDK) approved the sale on April 3. A statement released by Tekstilbank said: "While taking advantage of corporate, personal, investment and correspondent banking and securities, asset management and other products of the group, Tekstilbank aims to offer service to Turkish and Chinese consumers on a global basis." The statement also said that ICBC's acquisition of stakes in Tekstilbank would help invigorate financial services between Turkey and China and the economic development of both countries, in addition to being a globalization strategy.


China’s Iran oil imports in April at 11-month high -customs

In Freight News - 23/05/2015    

China’s crude imports from Iran fell 11.6 percent in April from record shipments a year ago but were still the highest in 11 months, official customs data showed on Friday.
China’s imports last month from Iran were 2.91 million tonnes, or 707,400 barrels per day (bpd), up 10.8 percent from March on a daily basis and the highest since last May.
Last month, Iran and six world powers signed a framework nuclear agreement that could see sanctions on Tehran eventually lifted if a more permanent pact is finalised by a June deadline. Many analysts, though, say there will be no significant increase in Iran’s output or exports before mid-2016.
Earlier this week, Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said Tehran would not accept “unreasonable demands” by the world powers.
China’s April imports from Iran were well above from the 2014 average of roughly 550,000 bpd, which was about the same as seen before the United States and the European Union toughened sanctions over Iran’s disputed nuclear programme in early 2012.
Imports could head lower in coming months, especially for condensate, which Chinese customs count as crude, after a fire in April at independently run Dragon Aromatics that will force it to halt operations for at least three months, said a trading source with knowledge of the plant.


China M&A activity in Israel shifts beyond high tech

TEL AVIV | By Tova Cohen

REUTERS - Thu May 14, 2015

When one of China's biggest food companies was looking to boost its dairy output it turned to Israel's tiny market, paying about $1.1 billion for control of the country's largest food maker.
Even though the company Tnuva is focused on the Israeli market, China's Bright Food was attracted to its efficiency in milk production and cutting-edge technology in quality control for use in China, where demand for dairy products is surging.
The deal is the latest example of how M&A activity in Israel is shifting from the booming high-tech sector, which has been the focus for nearly two decades and is now valued at some $40 billion, or nearly 13 percent of gross domestic product.
High-tech firms are increasingly going for listings rather than seeking buyers, but Israel's reputation as a center for innovation is rubbing off on more traditional industries.
Firms with a niche, a high level of exports or efficient production processes, such as Tnuva, are attracting buyers, particularly from Asia."Clearly one of the things interesting investors is that they are buying some sort of innovation," said Adir Waldman of Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, a law firm that represented Bright Food in the Tnuva deal, which closed a month ago.


China is destined to intervene in the conflict between Israel and Palestine

Yiyi Chen Director, Institute for Hebrew and Jewish Studies at Peking University

Quartz - May 11, 2015

In June 1954, the leaders of China, India, and Burma (now Myanmar) issued a joint statement affirming the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence—mutual respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, mutual non-aggression, non-interference in each other’s internal affairs, equality and mutual benefit, and peaceful coexistence—as the basis for conducting international relations. Since then, China has adhered strictly to the principle of non-interference in other countries’ domestic turmoil, as displayed prominently over the past several years in Beijing’s response to the Syrian civil war.
However, this is not true in the shuttle diplomacy China is practicing with respect to the conflicts in Sudan and South Sudan.
There, Chinese state-owned enterprises (mainly the China National Petroleum Company) have invested heavily in the oil fields of Sudan for decades, and in the oil infrastructure of South Sudan since its independence in 2011. China’s “crossing the water by feeling the stones” style of changing its non-interference policy—a Chinese expression referring to a methodical, pragmatic style in addressing a new problem—is happening not just in Sudan but also in many other parts of Africa and, on a smaller scale, in other parts of the world.

China investment in Israeli companies rises

FINANCIAL TIMES -  May 14, 2015

John Reed in Jerusalem and Charles Clover in Beijing

When Israel held its biggest agricultural technology conference, Agrivest, last month, one in 10 of the delegates who travelled to the central city of Rehovot to attend came from China.
A few weeks before, a large delegation from Alibaba, the Chinese e-commerce giant, had been in Tel Aviv to attend Cybertech, Israel’s main conference on cyber security, an area in which the security-conscious Jewish state excels. Alibaba in January invested an undisclosed sum in Visualead, an Israeli company specialising in QR code technology.
Chinese companies are pushing deeper and further into Israel than ever before, and Israeli companies and government officials are returning the embrace. “There seems to be a kosher stamp from the government on both sides to let these trade relations blossom and bloom,” says Jon Medved, founder and chief executive of OurCrowd, the Israeli crowdfunding company. 
A decade ago, Chinese overseas investment was primarily focused on securing supplies of natural resources in places such as Africa and Latin America, and was driven by state-owned energy and mining companies.


China-Israel Ties on the Rise

China has become Israel’s third largest trading partner.


China’s investments in Israel are moving beyond start-ups and the high-tech sector. As Israel joins the China-led Asian development fund (AIIB), the bilateral trade relationship is emerging into a broader regional partnership. From a meager $50 million in the early 1990s, trade between the two countries has risen to $11 billion. Today China is Israel’s third largest trading partner.
In recent months, Israeli agriculture trade fairs like Agrivest and AgriTech have witnessed large Chinese delegations and greater participation from Chinese state-owned and private players. China’s Rising consumer demand and increased pressure on agricultural land has prompted the Asian giant to increasingly look at Israeli agriculture technology to boost crop yields and dairy production. Last year, China and Israel decided to set up an agriculture technology incubator in Anhui Province, China – enabling joint development of agriculture technologies and solutions in keeping with requirements on the ground.
In March, Israel joined China’s newly constituted Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), becoming a founding member of the institution.
This regional lending institution will have an initial authorized capital of $100 billion and will invest in projects throughout Asia. China will provide 50 percent of the capital. The fund would open opportunities for Israeli companies to partner in infrastructure projects in Asia.
Israel resisted the initial pressures from the Obama administration, urging it to refrain from China-led fund.


China's banking giant takes over Turkish lender

Xinhua - May 26, 2015

ISTANBUL, May 25 -- Industrial and Commercial Bank of China Limited (ICBC), world's largest bank, said here on Monday that it completed the acquisition of 75.5 percent stake in Tekstilbank from Turkish GSD Holding, making it the first business institution operated by a Chinese bank in the country.
The announcement was made by Jiang Jianqing, chairman of ICBC, at an official inauguration ceremony in Ciragan Palace, which was attended by Turkey's Deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan.
Jiang said the acquisition serves as an important milestone in financial cooperation between China and Turkey, and pledged that ICBC will provide better financial services to major enterprises in Turkey.
"The acquisition of Tekstilbank further complements ICBC's international footprint. The transaction will also enhance ICBC's service capability for customers from both countries, thereby promoting local economic development," according to a statement issued by the Chinese lender.
Before the ceremony, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan met with Mr. Jiang and expressed his congratulations upon the acquisition, saying that Turkey and China will boost cooperation in various sectors including economy, finance, energy and infrastructure.
The ICBC will also make a tender offer for the remaining shares of Tekstilbank, held by public shareholders, in accordance with the nation's regulatory requirements.


Friday, May 22, 2015

China and the Middle East Security Puzzle

The security challenges for China in the troubled region are mounting.

By Andrea Ghiselli

THE DIPLOMAT - May 07, 2015

The upheaval inside the Muslim world since the beginning of the Arab Spring and now with the Islamic State in Syria, Iraq, the war in Yemen, and its consequences are difficult phenomena to understand. This article provides a brief review of the two security challenges that China has to face in the Middle East.
The first one is related to the well-known “go global” trend that began at the beginning of this century and that touches almost all sectors of the Chinese economy. Much ink has been spilled analyzing the repercussions of the war Libya for Chinese investments and the Chinese attitude towards risk-management and risk-prevention in volatile countries. Briefly, China learned a lesson and has henceforth acted according to its economic, military and diplomatic capabilities to prevent “another Libya.” After the massive evacuation of some 30,000 Chinese citizens and the loss of assets and investments worth several billion dollars, China’s diplomacy has focused on the risk-prevention side.


Thursday, May 21, 2015

China and Middle East strengthen ties despite growth dip

by Daleen Hassan 

EURONEWS - 19/05

Recent data has shown that growth in China has slowed to its lowest rate in the almost 25 years.
Despite the slowdown, China is still a steadily growing economy and has become the world’s largest importer of crude oil, almost a third of which comes from Gulf countries.
China and the Middle East say they have a win-win partnership, in which they have increased the proportion of trade exchange.
Beijing considers the Gulf region the most attractive destination for its export market. Data in April showed China’s economy slowing despite a rise in policy easing programmes.
Boosting growth
According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) the Chinese economy grew 7.4% in 2014 and the most recent forecast is 6.8% for this year and 6.3% for 2016.
In light of a slowing economy, the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) announced that it would reduce the rate on a one-year loan by 0.25 percent. This is the second interest rate cut to take effect this year.


Risks for China, and U.S., in Beijing’s Growing Involvement in Middle East

By Michael Singh

The Wall Street Journal - May 20, 2015 

China’s negotiations to establish a naval base in Djibouti–where the U.S. has its own military installation, Camp Lemonnier–is sure to heighten concerns in Washington about Beijing’s geopolitical aspirations. As China rises and its global ambitions expand, it has stepped up its economic, diplomatic, and military involvement in the Middle East. But the Chinese–like the outside powers that preceded them–are learning that the road to influence in the Middle East is hardly smooth.
Chinese interests in the region–energy, counterterrorism, the free flow of commerce–are not unique. But as the sheer size of China’s needs and the magnitude of its pretensions to global power have grown, it has shifted away from its philosophy of “non-interference” and reliance on U.S.-provided order to a more forward-leaning role. Chinese naval vessels have made port calls in Iran and the United Arab Emirates, conducted expeditionary missions to evacuate Chinese nationals from Libya and Yemen, and in recent days have conducted unprecedented joint drills with Russian forces in the Mediterranean.
Greater involvement in the Middle East means a greater chance of becoming enmeshed in its troubles. This has bedeviled China, which has long sought to cultivate all sides of every conflict in the region. Arab states have been displeased with China’s repeated vetoes of U.N. Security Council resolutions regarding Syria. That conflict and the one in Yemen have pitted China’s Gulf Arab allies–from which it obtains significant supplies of oil and seeks infrastructure contracts–against its best friend in the region, Iran.
As fighting intensified in Yemen this year, Beijing issued an anodyne statement that avoided taking sides. Chinese President Xi Jinping canceled a planned visit to Saudi Arabia and Egypt, reportedly angering the Saudis in his effort to avoid being drawn into the fray. Mr. Xi also has not taken a long-rumored visit to Iran, which suggests that it is not just the United States that has difficulty balancing its relationships in the region.
Similarly, China’s “Belt and Road” initiative, which envisions transportation corridors and infrastructure projects stretching from East Asia to the Mideast, has gained little purchase in the region. The China-Arab Cooperation Forum in June 2014–the first such meeting after Mr. Xi’s initiative was unveiled–concluded without endorsing the plan. Only Egypt and Iran have shown enthusiasm, yet this has paid few dividends for Beijing. It is India, not China, that is set to develop Iran’s Arabian Sea port of Chabahar. And in late 2014 Cairo passed up Chinese bidders for billions of dollars of contracts related to the planned companion waterway to the Suez Canal, though Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi had hinted that China would be favored.
Amid all the other items on Washington’s Mideast agenda, China’s activities mean that the possibility of contending for regional influence with a great-power rival cannot be excluded. Yet China’s struggles to translate power and resources into influence present an opportunity for U.S. leaders: They have an opening to convince Beijing that its resources and energies would be better spent in support of an U.S.-led regional order that advances interests shared by both powers and their regional allies, rather than striking out on their own as they have done in East Asia. Given broader U.S.-China tensions, this will be a tall order. It will be all the more so if the U.S. lacks a strategy behind which it can rally others.
Michael Singh is managing director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. From 2005 to 2008, he worked on Middle East issues at the National Security Council. He is on Twitter: @MichaelSinghDC.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Scholarship and Summer Schools in China


Schwarzman Scholarship - Qinghua University (Beijing) is launching a new masters' program:

Symposium: *Locating Turkey in Asia

This one-day inter-disciplinary research symposium brings together researchers working on Turkey-Asia connections.

Asian Studies as a discipline tends to be heavily slanted towards research on (and research from) East, Southeast, and South Asia. This is problematic, as it excludes entire regions and societies that also fall within the rubric of “Asia”. Indeed, we need to bear in mind that the term “Asia” was first applied with reference to a region (Anatolia, in Turkey) that in contemporary Asian Studies gets left out of the conversation.

Accordingly, this symposium, using Turkey as a fulcrum, aims to disrupt and destabilize fixed assumptions and understandings about “Asia” and Asian Studies. The presenters represent a range of disciplinary approaches and stand-points including international relations, history, and anthropology. However, the uniting framework of the symposium is on Turkey’s often overlooked historical and contemporary relationships and interactions with
Asia. Thus, through reconsidering these intersections between Turkey and “Asia” the panels aim to further contribute to conversations about what exactly constitutes “Asia” and Asian Studies.

*Welcome and Opening Remarks (10:15 - 10:30)*:

Meliha Altunışık, Director of Graduate School of Social Sciences, Middle East Technical University

Introduction: Why Turkey and Asia?
Ceren Ergenç, Middle East Technical University
Romit Dasgupta, University of Western Australia/Middle East Technical University

*PART A: Historical and Cultural Intertwinings (10:30 - 12.30)*:

Tracing the Turkish Footprint in North Indian Oral Traditions
Smita Tewari-Jassal, Middle East Technical University

The Pan-Asian Pathways of “Oriental Products”: Navigating the Prohibition of Narcotics in Turkey, China, and Japan, 1918-1937
Daniel-Joseph MacArthur Seal, The British Institute of rchaeology in Ankara

From the Edges of “Asia”: Japan & Turkey
Romit Dasgupta, University of Western Australia/Middle East Technical University

Religious Minorities in Two Muslim-majority Societies in Asia: Turkey and Indonesia (joint research)
Besim Can Zırh, Middle East Technical University
Chang Yau Hoon, Singapore Management University

*LUNCH BREAK: 12.30 - 14.00*

*PART B: Political and Diplomatic Intertwinings (14:00 - 15.45)*:

Citizen Participation in Recent Neoliberal Transitions: A Comparison between China and Turkey
Ceren Ergenç, Middle East Technical University

Middle Power and its Limits: Japan and Turkey as Traditional and Emerging Middle Powers
Bahadır Pehlivantürk, TOBB University/Middle East Technical University

Middle Power: A Comparison of South Korea and Turkey
Hatice Çelik, Middle East Technical University/Kırıkkale University

*CONCLUDING REMARKS (15:45 - 16:00)*

Xi Promotes Creation of a "Community of Common Destiny" in Asia at Boao

Chinese president Xi Jinping is calling on Asian countries to build a community of common destiny and welcomed all countries to join the Silk Road initiative and the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.
XI Jinping made these remarks in his keynote speech delivered at the opening plenary of the annual conference of the Boao Forum for Asia on Saturday.
CRI's Niu Honglin has more.


Turkish naval visit to Hong Kong sends message of its global ambitions

Lana Lam and Minnie Chan

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Sunday, 17 May, 2015

The Turkish navy is paying a rare visit to Hong Kong and mainland waters this week, in a four-day trip that analysts describe as a shrewd move by the European nation to show its traditional allegiance to the West, but also its desire to build ties in Asia, particularly with China.
Last night, Turkey's top diplomat in Hong Kong, Haldun Tekneci, hosted a reception aboard the frigate TCG Gediz, which docked on Friday in the country's first naval visit for four years.
"We are super happy and we are so proud to see this warship because it has travelled so far," he said, adding that the visit was a sign of growing relations with China and the East Asia region.
There was also a meeting at the People's Liberation Army's Hong Kong garrison - a courtesy call, Tekneci said - before they head to Qingdao , Shandong , tomorrow.
The TCG Gediz is making Asia the focus of a 122-day tour that started on April 1, taking in 14 nations with 18 stops in the region.


Monday, May 11, 2015

Will China Interfere in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict?

By Yiyi Chen | Director - Institute for Hebrew and Jewish Studies at Peking University

Middle East Institute - May 06, 2015

In June 1954, the leaders of China, India, and Burma (now Myanmar) issued a joint statement affirming the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence―mutual respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, mutual non-aggression, non-interference in each other's internal affairs, equality and mutual benefit, and peaceful coexistence―as the basis for conducting international relations.[1] Since then, China has adhered strictly to the principle of non-interference in other countries’ domestic turmoil, as displayed prominently over the past several years in Beijing’s response to the Syrian civil war.
However, this is not true in the shuttle diplomacy China is practicing with respect to the conflicts in Sudan and South Sudan. There, Chinese state-owned enterprises (mainly the China National Petroleum Company) have invested heavily in the oil fields of Sudan for decades, and in the oil infrastructure of South Sudan since its independence in 2011. China’s “crossing the water by feeling the stones”[2] style of changing its non-interference policy is happening not just in Sudan but also in many other parts of Africa and, on a smaller scale, in other parts of the world.


Sunday, May 10, 2015

Interactive Map: Follow the Roads, Railways, and Pipelines on China’s New Silk Road

By Reid Standish, Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian    

FOREIGN POLICY - May 7, 2015

hinese President Xi Jinping arrived in Kazakhstan on Thursday to solidify new deals for Beijing’s ambitious plan to revive the old Silk Road as a modern-day trade hub. Beijing has already spent billions of dollars on roads, railways, and other infrastructure and intends to invest billions more to connect China to Europe in what it calls the “Silk Road Economic Belt.”
Xi’s visit comes as other major powers have launched economic integration projects in Eurasia. Russia launched the Eurasian Economic Union in January and the United States is plugging its own infrastructure project, the “New Silk Road.” But Beijing has outshined both countries in investment and execution. Now both Washington and Moscow are trying to hitch their wagons to China’s massive project.
Here at Foreign Policy, we’ve put together an interactive guide tracking Beijing’s victories and obstacles along the new Silk Road. The list of participating countries is still not finalized, but with China forking out billions in trade deals and preferential loans, its appeal as an economic benefactor is only set to grow.


Tuesday, May 5, 2015

China's Road Rules: Beijing Looks West Toward Eurasian Integration

By Jacob Stokes

Foreign Affairs - April 19, 2015

While the eyes of the world focus on China’s aggression in the seas to its east, China’s leaders are looking west. At the end of March, China’s National Development and Reform Commission joined its ministries of foreign affairs and commerce to release an expansive blueprint for what it calls the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road—often shortened to “One Belt, One Road.” If successful, the ambitious program would make China a principal economic and diplomatic force in Eurasian integration. One Belt, One Road calls for increased diplomatic coordination, standardized and linked trade facilities, free trade zones and other trade facilitation policies, financial integration promoting the renminbi, and people-to-people cultural education programs throughout nations in Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. Some have characterized it as China’s Marshall Plan, but Chinese leaders reject the comparison. As they see it, what they are doing is integrating Eurasia rather than drawing dividing lines, and focusing on economic growth rather than political influence. Yet therein lies the danger; if China does not skillfully balance investments and diplomacy with its search for political influence, it may find itself tangled in conflicts for which it is not prepared.


China orders Muslim shopkeepers to sell alcohol, cigarettes, to ‘weaken’ Islam

By Simon Denyer

The Washington Post - May 5, 2015

Chinese authorities have ordered Muslim shopkeepers and restaurant owners in a village in its troubled Xinjiang region to sell alcohol and cigarettes, and promote them in “eye-catching displays,” in an attempt to undermine Islam’s hold on local residents, Radio Free Asia (RFA) reported. Establishments that failed to comply were threatened with closure and their owners with prosecution.
Facing widespread discontent over its repressive rule in the mainly Muslim province of Xinjiang, and mounting violence in the past two years, China has launched a series of “strike hard” campaigns to weaken the hold of Islam in the western region. Government employees and children have been barred from attending mosques or observing the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan. In many places, women have been barred from wearing face-covering veils, and men discouraged from growing long beards.


Monday, May 4, 2015

China and the Middle East Academic Network and Mailing List

China and the Middle East Mailing List is a scholarly network for all scholars and across disciplines such as sociology, political science, history, international studies and international relations. The major aim of this network is to study and understand China and the Middle East.

China and the Middle East mailing list facilitates the academic exchange of information on conferences, panels, articles, books, and events.


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Tugrul Keskin