Monday, February 27, 2017

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman begins six-nation Asian tour

The Japan Times - February 26, 2017 

RIYADH – Saudi Arabian King Salman bin Abdul-Aziz al-Saud arrived in Malaysia on Sunday, kicking off a multination tour aimed at boosting economic ties with Asia.  The official Saudi Press Agency reported Sunday that the monarch’s tour will also take in Indonesia, Brunei, Japan, China and the Maldives. Salman will also visit Saudi Arabia’s neighbor, Jordan, before returning home.  OPEC kingpin Saudi Arabia is the world’s largest oil exporter, with much of its crude destined for customers in Asia.  The kingdom is eager to attract investment as it diversifies its economy, including for its upcoming initial public offering of part of state oil giant Saudi Aramco.

Wang Yi Meets with Foreign Minister Adel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir of Saudi Arabia

Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People's Republic of China- 2017/02/19

On February 18, 2017 local time, Foreign Minister Wang Yi met with Foreign Minister Adel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir of Saudi Arabia on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference.  Wang Yi expressed that China sees Saudi Arabia as an important strategic partner. China is not only a long-term partner of Saudi Arabia in energy cooperation, but also stands ready to further elevate the level of bilateral cooperation, expand new cooperation areas, and continuously be an ideal cooperation partner of the country during the process of its economic diversification, so as to constantly boost the comprehensive strategic partnership between both countries to a new level. The Chinese side is willing to take the visit of the King of Saudi Arabia to China as an opportunity to enhance the docking of bilateral development strategies and speed up negotiations on the China-Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) free trade area (FTA). China supports Chinese enterprises to expand investment in Saudi Arabia and carry out cooperation on projects such as industrial parks.  Adel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir said that Saudi Arabia attaches high importance to relations with China, and regards China as a strategic partner and good friend. China is a stable force in international affairs, and both countries enjoy many common grounds. Saudi Arabia is willing to play a positive role in the GCC FTA talks, enhance communication and cooperation between the two countries at bilateral, regional and global levels, so as to facilitate Saudi Arabia-China relations to move toward a deeper, broader and stronger direction. Adel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir appreciates Foreign Minister Wang Yi's propositions and measures expounded at the G20 Foreign Ministers' meeting on sustainable development and partnerships with Africa.  Both sides also exchanged views on the Syrian issue and other regional hotspot issues.

Animation on Chinese boy's adventures in Saudi Arabia premieres - 2017-02-24

An animation series, Kong Xiaoxi and Hakim, co-produced by China and Saudi Arabia, premiered in Saudi Arabia on Wednesday.
The 26-episode series features a Chinese boy named Kong Xiaoxi and his friendship with a Saudi Arabian boy Hakim, who is from a family of food connoisseurs. Kong helps Hakim's family restaurant defeat local Western competitors by using traditional Chinese cooking methods.
As the first film and TV cooperation between the two countries, the series took about three years to complete, presenting a comprehensive picture of Chinese cuisine, clothing, martial arts as well as Saudi Arabian culture and food. It will be broadcast in the two countries and other Arabian countries.
According to Chinese producers, the plan for a second season is on the agenda. The second series will focus on Hakim's experience of learning traditional martial arts in China.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Pakistan, China revise ‘priority list’ of CPEC energy projects

By Shahbaz Rana

The Express Tribune - February 17, 2017

ISLAMABAD:  Pakistan and China have signed a revised priority list of energy projects they plan to complete in the next two years under the multibillion-dollar corridor programme, making adjustments in light of progress made on these schemes during the last couple of years.  The Energy Expert Group agreed to upgrade another 660-megawatt (MW) Hubco coal-fired power plant to the prioritised list but downgraded the 1,320MW Rahim Yar Khan Power project to its actively promoted list, which carries projects that will be completed in the next five years. The parties also upgraded the Oracle Power project to the priority list.  The Energy Expert Group signed the list in light of an understanding reached during a Special Meeting for China-Pakistan Energy Projects held in Beijing in December. Prime Minister’s Secretary Fawad Hasan Fawad, Secretary Water and Power Younus Dagha had attended the meeting from Pakistani side.


Thursday, February 23, 2017

Edward Said Lecture Series: Rational Nationalism on the Rise in China - Ivan Willis Rasmussen - March 2, 2017

The Middle East Under Trump - Jin Liangxiang

Jin Liangxiang    
Research Fellow, Shanghai Institute of Int'l Studies

China-US Focus - Feb 22, 2017

The world entered the year of 2017 with everybody talking about US President Donald Trump. It is widely believed that Trump will bring uncertainty to almost every part of the world, including the Middle East. While many are talking about Trump’s Muslim ban and its implications on the relations between the US and Middle Eastern Muslim countries, the biggest change in the Middle East under Trump might be the change of regional geopolitical landscape.
There has been a kind of geopolitical structure in the Middle East since the end of the Cold War, and it was Washington and its Western allies that had created and dominated the structure. The US had been sitting on the top of the structure while major regional players were divided into two groups, “moderates” and “radicals”, according to their policy toward the US The moderates included GCC countries, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco and the Palestinian Authority, and the said radicals included Saddam’s Iraq, Qaddafi’s Libya, Iran and Palestinian Hamas.


Monday, February 20, 2017

Pakistan-China project beneficial for UAE, says Pakistani ambassador

Khaleej Times - February 14, 2017

"Pakistan will be pleased if the UAE can benefit from the project, as this is a win-win situation for all countries in the region," said Ambassador Moazzam Ahmed Khan.  The Pakistani Ambassador to the UAE has spoken about how both countries can benefit from the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a part of China's ambitious One Belt, One Road multi-billion dollar initiative, and also part of Pakistan's Vision 2025.  "Pakistan will be pleased if the UAE can benefit from the project, as this is a win-win situation for all countries in the region," said Ambassador Moazzam Ahmed Khan.  In an interview with Wam at the Pakistan Embassy in Abu Dhabi, the ambassador said Pakistan and China are working on huge projects on infrastructure, roads and railway networks. Most importantly, both countries are also investing in the energy sector.  Describing this as an ideal investment opportunity for Emirati investors, Khan noted that the UAE is the second largest GCC trade partner of Pakistan, with a trade surplus of $5b. Moreover, Pakistani nationals send $4.5 billion in remittances each year from the UAE to their home country.


UAE, China firms seal onshore oil concession deal

Xinhua  02-20-2017

ABU DHABI, Feb. 19 (Xinhua) -- Abu Dhabi National Oil Company of the United Arab Emirates signed an agreement Sunday with China National Petroleum Corporation, awarding it an eight percent interest in Abu Dhabi's onshore oil concession, both sides said in an e-mailed statement.  The agreement was signed by Sultan Ahmed Al-Jaber, Group Chief Executive Officer of the government-controlled ADNOC and member of the Supreme Petroleum Council of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, and Wang Yilin, CNPC Chairman.  CNPC contributed a sign-up bonus of 6.5 billion dirham (1.77 billion U.S. dollars) to enter the concession. The onshore concession is operated by the Abu Dhabi Company for Onshore Petroleum Operations (ADCO).  Al-Jaber said "Our agreement with CNPC strengthens and deepens the strategic and economic relationship between the UAE and China."  Al-Jaber added "we see tremendous opportunity in working together to optimise our energy resources, by achieving maximum economic value, in support of ADNOC's long-term growth objectives."  Wang Yilin said the agreement "marks an important new phase in CNPC's strategic relationship with ADNOC and we hope it will lead to further opportunities to participate in the UAE's energy sector."  CNPC is China's largest oil and gas producer and supplier, as well as one of the world's major oilfield service providers.

Saudi Aramco inks first oil contract with China''s Huajin

To supply Arab Extra Light to Huajin in 2017     

By Florence Tan and Meng MengSINGAPORE/BEIJING, Feb 13 (Reuters) - State oil giant Saudi Aramco has signed a contract with Chinese oil refiner North Huajin Chemical Industries Group Corp to supply crude in 2017, two sources with knowledge of the matter said on Monday. The contract, the first between Aramco and Huajin, comes as Saudi Arabia attempts to regain its status as the top crude supplier to China, the world's second-largest oil consumer, this year after losing the top spot to Russia in 2016. Saudi Aramco will supply Arab Extra Light crude to Huajin to enable the Chinese state-controlled refiner to produce more naphtha for its petrochemical production, one of the sources said.  Saudi Aramco did not respond to an e-mail seeking comment. Huajin, a unit of China's military group NORINCO, could not be immediately reached for comment.  Top global oil exporter Saudi Arabia has been exploring new ways to sell more crude to China by offering spot cargoes and providing better credit terms. Saudi Aramco could also start supplying crude to the Huizhou refinery owned by China National Offshore Oil Corp (CNOOC) after an expansion that is expected to finish in the second quarter. Huajin operates a crude oil refinery in Panjin in Liaoning province with a processing capacity of 6 million tonnes per year and a petrochemical plant in Panjin that produces 700,000 tonnes per year of ethylene, according to an announcement from its listed unit North Huajin Chemical Industries Co Ltd. The company also has fertilizer plants in the Inner Mongolia region and in the Xinjiang region.


On the belt and road, the Chinese civilisation is on the march

Peter T. C. Chang says Beijing’s ambition to build a pan-Asian sphere of common prosperity will affect far more than the region’s economy, and it would be wise to watch out for the civilisational fault lines

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Tuesday, 07 February, 2017

Just as the Euro-American world grapples with the sombre after-effects of Brexit and the installation of a pugnacious Trump presidency, the Asian milieu is becoming transfixed with the anticipation and allure of the “One Belt, One Road” initiative. At a time when the West is building walls in retreat, the East is constructing gateways in an outward advance, to embrace globalisation, through the belt and road, the brainchild of President Xi Jinping (習近平).  Retracing the ancient silk and spice trade routes, the belt and road seeks to reopen the economic corridors and re-energise the commercialism that once drew princi­palities near and far to the Middle Kingdom. Beijing’s endgame is to build a pan-Asian sphere of common prosperity, evoking both the celebrated adventures of Marco Polo and Zheng He’s expeditions, across the land and seas, all at once, this time deploying bullet trains and supertankers.


China to pump over $24bn into Xinjiang road projects for better connectivity with Pakistan

DAWN - Feb 07, 2017

The Chinese government has decided to invest $24.8 billion (170bn yuan) into laying a highway network in the Muslim-majority Xinjiang region for improved connectivity with Pakistan.  The autonomous region will use the funds this year ─ up nearly six fold from 2016 ─ for building roads so it can better serve as China's trade hub by linking countries along the Silk Road Economic Belt.  New infrastructure projects are also expected to bring more job opportunities for locals, the region's top economic planning official said.  The region has never seen such a huge investment in road construction, Zhang Chunlin, director of the Xinjiang Development and Reform Commission, said in an exclusive interview in the regional capital of Urumqi.  The region will also invest approximately $1.18bn (8.1bn yuan) in the construction of railways and $0.7bn (4.8bn yuan) in civil aviation projects, both up by 50 per cent from last year.  The investment in building roads, railways and airports this year will oustrip the total funding for transportation infrastructure from 2011-2015.


China, Saudi Arabia vow to enhance cooperation

GLOBAL TIMES - 2017/2/19

China and Saudi Arabia on Saturday pledged to enhance their cooperation and strengthen coordination.  The promise was made when Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi met with his Saudi Arabian counterpart Adel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir on the sidelines of the ongoing Munich Security Conference.  Wang said that China sees Saudi Arabia as an important strategic partner and stands ready to speed up the China-Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) FTA talks with Saudi Arabia.  He said China supports the Chinese enterprises' investment in Saudi Arabia and the bilateral cooperation on projects such as the industrial parks.  Al-Jubeir, on his part, said that Saudi Arabia is willing to play a positive role in the China-GCC FTA talks and strengthen the country's coordination and cooperation with China on different levels.


Chinese naval escort taskforce visits United Arab Emirates

CHINA MILITARY - 2017-02-03

ZAYED PORT, ABU DHABI, Feb. 3 (ChinaMil) -- A Chinese naval escort taskforce arrived at the Zayed Port in Abu Dhabi, capital of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), on January 26 and started its five-day goodwill visit to the UAE after its visits to Saudi Arabia and Qatar.   This is Chinese navy's third visit to the United Arab Emirates (UAE).   At about 9:00 am on that day, the guided-missile destroyer Harbin (Hull 112), the guided-missile frigate Handan (Hull 579) and the comprehensive supply ship Dongpinghu (Hull 960) of the 24th Chinese naval escort taskforce entered the Zayed Port, during which the Chinese sailors dressed in navy-blue uniforms manned the rails on the three naval warships.   More than 600 people including Chinese Ambassador to the UAE Ni Jian, Chinese Consul General to Dubai Li Lingbing and Chinese Military Attaché to the UAE You Jian together with other staff members of the Chinese embassy and consulate in the UAE, working staff of China-funded institutions, overseas Chinese, Chinese students studying in the UAE as well as representatives from the UAE Navy were at the pier to welcome the taskforce.   After the welcoming ceremony, Chinese Ambassador to the UAE Ni Jian and his party had a talk with Rear Admiral Bai Yaoping, commanding officer of the taskforce, Zhou Pingfei, political commissar and other sailors of the taskforce. They also visited the guided-missile destroyer Harbin and the guided-missile frigate Handan together with other Chinese and foreign personnel.  


Sunday, February 19, 2017

Chinese navy ends Persian Gulf visits to Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and United Arab Emirates

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Monday, 06 February, 2017

Expanded presence of Beijing’s maritime forces included escorting commercial ships and patrolling for pirates in Gulf of Aden

A Chinese navy task force has finished visits to four Persian Gulf states as the nation’s increasingly capable maritime force expands its presence in the strategically vital region.  The three ships departed from Kuwait on Sunday after stopping in Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, the Defence Ministry said on its website on Monday.  They had previously completed an assignment escorting commercial shipping and patrolling for pirates in the Gulf of Aden, the 24th Chinese task force to be dispatched for such duties since Beijing joined the multinational effort in December 2008.


Dubai reports Chinese visitors up 20 pct in 2016

Xinhua   2017-02-07

The number of visitors from China to Dubai in 2016 stood at 540,000, up 20 percent from a year earlier, the government-owned Dubai Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) said here Tuesday.  Overall tourist arrivals for the year, at 14.9 million, rose 4.92 percent from that of 2015.  China dominated the demand from Asia, firmly cementing its status as among Dubai's top 10 markets, DTCM said, adding that China's contribution would go up further in light of the United Arab Emirate's visa exemption policies that came into force in November 2016.  The growth in tourist arrivals in 2016, at 4.92 percent, was slower than the 7.5 percent posted in 2015. The drop was attributed to a general slowdown in business in the Gulf Arab state.  Dubai's state-owned carrier, Emirates Airline, reported a 75 percent profit slump in April-September, 2016.  "Increased competition, as well as the sustained economic and political uncertainty in many parts of the world, has added downward pressure on prices and dampened travel demand," said then Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, chairman and chief executive of Emirates Airline.  Helal Saeed Almarri, director general of Dubai Tourism, remained optimistic about Dubai's objective of attracting at least 20 million visitors by 2020, when the UAE hosts the World Expo.  The sheikhdom's keenness to attract more visitors from China has been mirrored in increased activities during Chinese New Year celebrations.  To meet growing demand, Emirates Airline started flights to Chinese cities of Yinchuan and Zhengzhou last May as its fourth and fifth destination in China. On Dec. 20, Sichuan Airlines launched its first direct flight from Chengdu to Dubai.

Friday, February 10, 2017

CFP: China and the Middle East - Shanghai University, China June 7-8, 2017

Call for papers:
3rd China and The Middle East Conference:
Asia to the Middle East: Asianization of the Middle East with Economic Characteristics?
Shanghai University, China
June 7-8, 2017

Organized by
Center for Turkish Studies and Center for Global Studies
Shanghai University
Description and Objectives:
Over the last two years, with the One Belt One Road initiative, we have seen the increase of Chinese political and social activities in the Middle East region. As a result of this new political strategy, the PRC started to play a more active role within the Middle Eastern political arena. Hence, Xi Jinping visited Pakistan, Iran, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia. Additionally, Chinese social and cultural activities began to appear more visibly within universities and educational institutions in the Middle East. Hanban Institutes started to open and finance Confucius Institutes in the region that facilitate Chinese cultural and language classes and promote mutual understanding between China and the Middle East. For example, these institutes have arisen in Turkey, Israel, Iran, Lebanon, Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria, Jordan, UAE, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Morocco. China has also become one of the largest economic and trade partners with Middle Eastern states such as Iran, Turkey, Pakistan, Egypt, and Israel. Therefore, we would like to make this academic initiative a permanent conference meeting, and each year, we will organize a China and the Middle East Conference in different countries in collaboration with other universities. We organized two very successful academic conferences on this topic in collaboration with Beijing University, on March 17-18, 2015, and Qatar University, on March 23-24, 2016.
This year we have expanded the conference topic to the broader context of Asia and Central Asia. All submissions should be related to contemporary themes of sociology, political science, international relations, history and anthropology during and post-Cold War Era. We therefore invite submissions on the following and related topics:

China, Islam and the Middle East
Central Asia, Islam and the Middle East
Japan, Islam and the Middle East
The Center for Turkish Studies and Center for Global Studies at Shanghai University invites interested scholars and advanced graduate students to submit proposals for the conference below. The event will take place at Shanghai University, June 7 - 8, 2017. Please submit a 300-word paper proposal to Dr. Tugrul Keskin ( by APRIL 3, 2017. We acknowledge receipt of all emails and will reply to all. If you do not receive a reply, please resend your abstract. Please include the following in your email:

-Author name;
-Email address;
-Abstract in Word format;
-Title of your paper
-A short CV.

Acceptance notices will be sent by April 10, 2017.

In case your abstract is accepted, a draft paper of around 5000 words is due two weeks prior to the beginning of the conference. We intend to compile an edited volume with the best papers for publication in an international reference publisher.

Please note that this is an academic conference only, no non-academic presenters will be accepted.

Any additional queries should be sent to

Organizing Committee:
·      Dr. Guo Changgang, Professor - Shanghai University, China.
·      Dr. Mohammedmoin Sadeq, Professor - Qatar University, Qatar.
·      Dr. Chen Hao, Assistant Professor – Shanghai University, China.
·      Dr. Tugrul Keskin, Associate Professor - Shanghai University, China.
·      Dr. Mark Juergensmeyer, Professor - University of California at Santa Barbara, USA.
·      Dr. Tarik Yousef, Senior Fellow and Director, Brookings Doha Center, Qatar.
·      Dr. Sean Foley, Associate Professor - Middle Tennessee State University, USA.
·      Dr. Baris Doster, Associate Professor – Marmara University, Turkey.
·      Dr. Mojtaba Mahdavi, Associate Professor - University of Alberta, Canada.
·      Dr. Can Ulusoy, Assistant Professor – Maltepe University, Turkey.
·      Dr. Saban Kardas, Associate Professor – TOBB University, Turkey.
·      Dr. Nissim Otmazgin, Professor – The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel.  
·      Dr. Sari Hanafi, Professor - American University of Beirut, Lebanon.
·      Dr. Juan Cole, Professor - University of Michigan, USA.
·      Dr. Yunus Emre, Associate Professor – Kultur University, Turkey.
·      Dr. Geoffrey Gresh, National Defense University, USA.
·      Dr. Merve Kavakci, Associate Professor - Uskudar University, Turkey.  
·      Dr. Yang Chen, Post-Doctoral Fellow - Shanghai University, China.

Conference Program

June 7, 2017

9:15 - 9:30 Welcome Speech and Introduction by Dr. Guo Changgang, Professor - Shanghai University, People’s Republic of China.
9:30 - 9:50 Keynote Speech by Dr. Pan Guang, Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, People’s Republic of China.

1.     Panel 1: 10:00 – 11:45

12:00-13:00 PM Lunch

2.     Panel 2: 13:15-15:00

3.     Panel 3: 15:15-17:00

DINNER 18:00 - 20:00

June 8, 2017

4.     Panel 4: 10:00 – 12:00

12:15-13:15 PM Lunch

5.     Panel 5: 13:30 – 15:30
6.     Discussion for future projects and Closing Remarks by TBA 16:00 – 17:00

DINNER 18:00 - 20:00

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

A New Report: U.S. Policy Toward China Recommendations for a New Administration

Orville Schell and Susan L. Shirk


With a new administration in the White House, maintaining what is perhaps the country’s most crucial bilateral relationship remains a critical issue. Organized by Asia Society’s Center on U.S.-China Relations and the University of California San Diego’s 21st Century China Center, members of a high-level Task Force on U.S.-China Policy offer their expert recommendations for the Trump administration.
The Task Force on U.S.-China Policy comprises a group of prominent China specialists that include former U.S. government officials, scholars, and think tank researchers, many of whom served under both political parties and every U.S. president since the Nixon administration. Its goal has been to reflect on how the U.S.-China relationship has evolved and to draft a set of recommendations for the incoming presidential administration on how the United States can best advance its interests given the current political climate. We hope this report can also provide the starting point for a public conversation on these vitally important questions.


China and the Middle East - a rapidly changing picture By Tim Collard, February 8, 2017

China has for many years now preferred to refrain from involvement in the quagmire which is the Middle East. Until now the region has been considered too distant, and not sufficiently economically rewarding (apart from, of course, the need to ensure oil supplies) to justify closer engagement. What policy there has been has been entirely pragmatic, building on the establishment of sound economic and technological partnerships with Israel without disrupting relations with the diplomatically powerful Arab world.
So far, so good. But China's rise as a global economic power, fueled by the foundation of the AIIB and the launch of the Belt and Road initiative, has rendered it more difficult, not to say undesirable, for China to keep her distance from the politics and the region. And, in turn, Chinese interest in the region in the Belt and Road context is creating a new dynamic in the Middle East, with the potential of a major change to the balance of power in the region.
The technology and infrastructure finance which the full flowering of the Belt and Road initiative envisages would provide great opportunities for the economies of the region; in particular, adding diversity to a regional economy over-reliant on fossil fuel exports.
But there are two problems here: Firstly, the Belt and Road initiative is so wide-ranging that the future world will contain a diversity of potential trade routes. Secondly, that we are on the verge of a world in which the Middle East is no longer central to oil production and its ancillary industries. The worldwide development of larger and more diverse sources of gas, and of new energy-saving technologies, will ensure that that occurs within a very short period, and the region's significance in global affairs will necessarily decline with it.
Thus the Middle East, like any other political-economic entity, must learn to compete to enjoy the fruits of the coming Asian-dominated world order. And this means addressing its intractable security problems. Infrastructure, which will always be the central plank of international trade, must be kept secure. In the entire history of war, breaking the enemy's lines of communication and logistics has been a major strategic objective.
But, you will say, there is surely no need for talk of "enemies." The world is - largely - at peace: we have a functioning system in which agreements are made between sovereign states under the umbrella of established international law. This is true, but it cannot have escaped anybody's attention that the monopoly of force by sovereign states has been breached many times in the last decade, and that the epicenter of this phenomenon is in the Middle Eastern region, where there are several regions not under the control of any recognized government.
Further east, China has already addressed the security issue in Pakistan, in building the port at Gwadar, in western Pakistan on the Iranian border, as a major contribution to the Belt and Road program. But there China was able to rely on a strong and long-developed friendship with Pakistan, and is confident that under no circumstances will the Pakistani authorities allow threats to Sino-Pakistani joint projects.
The Middle East proper is a different matter. While keenly conscious that the phenomenon of Islamic terrorism, which has been demonstrably linked to Uighur separatist activists in Xinjiang, cannot be ignored, China remains keen to avoid any interference in the internal politics of any nation or in the balance of forces within the region as a whole. However, China must know that assurances of security from a national government can provide no real security for infrastructural projects, or for those working on them.
With one exception: Israel. China has been working, with practical mutual benefits, with Israel for thirty years. Both countries have been entirely pragmatic in this cooperation; neither has called on the other to adopt a particular political position, and both have given clear demonstrations of the ability to protect vital interests on their own soil. In an ideal world Israel would be well placed to act as the regional hub for the Belt and Road program. But here politics raises its ugly head again.
Clearly the basic requirement is a sustainable solution to the Israel-Palestine problem. Up to now China has stuck resolutely to the formula which became standard in the early 1990s: "land for peace." It made sense not to vary this formula while everything was in chaos: But no progress has been made on either land or peace, and even the possibility of such an exchange is beginning to fade. What effect the opportunities offered by China's infrastructural investment program will have on breaking the deadlock, we have yet to see.
And then there is the question of whether minds are flexible enough to ensure that these opportunities will be taken up. This essentially means that common sense will have to establish itself in areas where it has hitherto been in short supply. Can China help?

Thursday, February 2, 2017

China Oil Trader’s Mideast Spree Contributes to Shake-Up in Global Supply Flows

By Serene Cheong

BLOOMBERG - February 1, 2017

Crude purchases in one corner of the oil market by a Chinese trader are contributing to the shake-up of supply flows across the globe.  China National United Oil Co. last month bought at least 7 million barrels of Middle East crude for March loading as part of an assessment process operated by Platts used to set price benchmarks, data compiled by Bloomberg show. The spree was made at a time the region’s supply is shrinking as producers including Saudi Arabia shoulder a majority of global output curbs.  The purchases by the trader known as Chinaoil have helped raise the value of Middle East crude, which had already turned costlier relative to supplies from other regions on OPEC’s deal to cut production. The increase in the Dubai crude benchmark versus West Texas Intermediate and Europe’s Brent has spurred previously unviable flows of cargoes into Asia from areas such as the Gulf of Mexico and boosted shipments from West Africa and the North Sea.


Iran to develop ‘triangle’ of cooperation with Pakistan, China

MIDDLE EAST MONITOR - January 26, 2017

Senior officials from Iran and Pakistan discussed plans for stronger cooperation between the two countries yesterday during a meeting in Islamabad.  Alaeddin Boroujerdi, the chairman of Iran’s parliamentary Committee for Foreign Policy and National Security and Pakistan’s Chairman of the Senate Defence Committee, Mushahid Hussain, stressed the need for enhancing further cooperation.  Talking to Iranian news agency IRNA, the Iranian official said that having strong relations with Pakistan is an integral part of Iranian foreign policy.  During the three day visit the officials will hold important meetings to discuss current regional security situation and further strengthening of cooperation in bilateral ties.  Boroujerdi stressed the need for Iran, China and Pakistan to form a triangle of cooperation which will benefit the three countries. The Pakistani official urged for further cooperation and said that they are committed to complete the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline project.


Is China the new custodian of the Middle East?

By Shazar Shafqat

ASIA TIMES - January 16, 2017

Russia is calling all the shots in the Middle East. No, it’s the United States. Oh hang on; it’s the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member countries that pull the strings. Israel is the dominant player. You just can’t rule out Egypt. ISIL, perhaps? The list goes on. There’s lot more you’re going to hear about the Middle East in the days to come.  Israel, infuriated after the UNSC verdict, might be contemplating upping the ante. After all, the MidEast Peace Conference in Paris due January 15, 2017 is, in all its likelihood, going to uphold the two-state solution.  Media will provide you with all the varied opinions, thoughts and predictions for 2017. Barring aside few of the stories, majority of these are going to be all but hogwash. Don’t buy into every news story you’re pitched with.


Western dominance on the global stage is coming to an end – we are now entering the era of Chinese influence

China’s economic relations with the Middle East are on a long-term upward trend. Beijing is the region’s largest foreign business partner, now surpassing the US in oil purchases. In the five years leading up to 2009 trade tripled, reaching $115bn    

Kadira Pethiyagoda  

The Independent - Sunday 29 January 2017

Donald Trump’s inauguration has been described as symbolising the end of the “American Century”. Historians may look back on 2016-17 as the years in which the two greatest forces sweeping the world – the anti-establishment backlash in the West, and the resurgence of Asia – combined to thrust China into a global leadership role. This was seen at Davos, in Beijing’s recent foray into the world’s most contentious conflict – Israel-Palestine – and most recently in Theresa May’s statement that the US and UK will never again invade sovereign countries to “remake the world in their own image”. This suggests that it might not be just a century of American dominance that’s ending, but half a millennia of Western pre-eminence.


America's Crisis of Credibility in Asia

Arthur Herman & Lewis Libby

The Wall Street Journal – January 31, 2017

Gen. James Mattis travels to Japan Friday on his first trip abroad as U.S. secretary of defense. What he will find when he arrives is a crisis-prone region that, without a firm American hand, poses risks to America’s interests.
The U.S. has not faced a more dangerous security environment in Asia since the end of the Korean War. North Korea is soon expected to test a new intercontinental ballistic missile that could threaten the American West Coast and might dangerously alter North Korean and counterproliferation calculations.


In Turkey, US Loss Is China's Gain

With relations with the United States in tatters, the ‘Eurasianers’ in Turkey look to accelerate ties with China

By George Marshall Lerner

The Diplomat - January 31, 2017

Henry Kissinger once opined that worsening state-to-state relations can be like a car crash — the result is easy to recognize but it’s notoriously hard to pin down what could have been done to avoid it. Despite the fact that ties between the United States and Turkey date back to the dawn of Cold War in the 1950s, relations between NATO’s two largest armies have deteriorated so rapidly that Russia now provides the majority of air support for the Turkish Army’s ongoing battle against the Islamic State near Al-Bab, Northern Syria.
There are two underlying causes for the breakdown in relations between Turkey and the United States. One is America’s support for the forces fighting for the Kurdish enclaves in Northern Syria, and the other is Washington’s unwillingness to extradite the cleric Fethullah Gülen back to Turkey. As the U.S.-Turkey relationship frays, China is poised to fill the gap.


What Does President Trump Mean for China's Middle East Interests?

 Trump’s “America First” slogan could force China to play a more active role in Middle Eastern issues.

By Wang Jin

THE DIPLOMAT - January 26, 2017

As the United States enters the Trump era, the war of words is heating up between China and the new president. Trump’s open criticism of China’s as a “currency manipulator,” his challenge to the “one China Policy,” and threatening comments on the South China Sea all make the future of China-U.S. relations under the Trump administration seem less than encouraging.  Although most Chinese scholars believe that Trump’s impact will be limited by the U.S. system, which is heavy on professional advisors, the risk of China-US relation deterioration should not be underestimated. Importantly, the impact of President Trump on China will also extend far beyond the Asia-Pacific. The deterioration of U.S.-China relations may pose a new challenge to China’s policy and interests in Middle East.


China Speaks About President Donald Trump, South China Sea, Trade (Full Interview) | NBC News