Showing posts with label CHINA. Show all posts
Showing posts with label CHINA. Show all posts

Saturday, June 30

1st EP. - THE GREAT PUPPETEERS OF THE LIBYAN TRAGEDY

LAST GADAFI's TIME FEBRUAR 22, 2011
Glencore is keeping the marketing rights for the Sarir and Messla crude grades for a third year even though BP and Shell are returning to lift Libyan oil in a sign the country’s industry is perceived as becoming more reliable. One source familiar with the matter said Libya’s state oil firm National Oil Corporation (NOC) had allocated its 2018 crude and that the contracts would be signed next week. 

With production having steadied at around 1 million barrels per day (bpd) since the middle of last year, Libya, beset by factional fighting, has become a less unstable supplier. However, supply risks remain. One pipeline bringing Es Sider crude to export was recently bombed but swiftly repaired. BP and Shell declined to comment. Spokesmen for Glencore and the NOC did not immediately respond to requests for comment (Last August, Shell directly lifted its first cargo of Libyan crude in five years).

Since the end of 2015, Glencore has been the sole marketer of the Sarir and Messla grades, which are produced in the east of the country and exported via the Hariga port. Glencore was one of the few traders willing to deal with the risks associated with Libya’s unrest, Islamic State intrusions and a crippling port blockade that slashed the country’s output.

Earlier this month, the NOC said it was seeking a prompt restart of the country’s largest refinery at Ras Lanuf, following a resolution to arbitration cases with its operator, Lerco. The refinery, closed since 2013, runs on the grades allocated to Glencore. It was not immediately clear when the refinery would resume operations or what would happen to Glencore’s allocation once it does. 

NOC subsidiary Arabian Gulf Oil Co produces the Sarir and Messla grades. Output has been fluctuating between around 150,000 and 230,000 bpd, its chairman said in early January, below its potential 320,000 bpd owing to power problems.

Other contract winners include Vitol, Total, Unipec, OMV, BB Energy, ENI, API, Cepsa, Socar and Repsol, trading and shipping sources said, largely unchanged from 2017 to June, 2018.

-Shell and BP have agreed annual deals to buy Libyan crude oil. Sources told the news agency that Shell’s deal is the first of its kind since 2013, and that the first cargo of 600,000 barrels will start to be loaded from Zueitina port.

-The head the eastern-based National Oil Corporation EAST (NOC) has claimed that his office has signed 29 contracts independently of the Tripoli-based organisation.

Naji al-Maghrabi told Reuters that recent contracts included deals with major states such as Russia and China. Russia is reported to be planning to arm eastern-based strongman General Khalifa Haftar

-The Deputy Prime Minister of Libya’s internationally recognized government in Tobruk, Abdus Salam al Badri, told a conference last week in Malta that his government will punish international oil companies (IOCs) that continue to work with the rival administration in Tripoli.

-In parallel, the Chairman of the National Oil Corporation (NOC) based in the East of Libya, BP, which didn’t have a term deal in 2017, has reportedly also reached an agreement for this year.

-The Tripoli-based National Oil Corporation (NOC) held a series of meetings with a group of global refineries in the Mediterranean area and with a major oil companies last week in London. The first meeting was with BP, followed by meetings with more than 20 partners, customers, Libyan crude refiners and fuel suppliers. BP, which didn’t have a term deal in 2017, has reportedly also reached an agreement for this year.

-The newly-created National Oil Corporation (NOC) loyal to the internationally recognised government in the east of Libya has reportedly invited international oil companies (IOCs) to “discuss legally signed agreements and contracts” at a conference in Dubai next month.

-The Tobruk government set up the rival company – ‘NOC East’ – in Benghazi, but oil buyers are still dealing only with the established NOC in Tripoli. According to Reuters, oil customers have refused to sign any deal with the eastern entity due to legal concerns as geological data to prove ownership of oil reserves are stored at NOC Tripoli. The invitation to a conference on 2nd September was issued by Naji al-Maghrabi, who was recently appointed chairman of the eastern NOC.

-The head the eastern-based National Oil Corporation (NOC) has claimed that his office has signed 29 contracts independently of the Tripoli-based organisation.  Naji al-Maghrabi told Reuters that recent contracts included deals with major states such as Russia and China. Russia is reported to be planning to arm eastern-based strongman General Khalifa Haftar, commander in the Libyan National Army (LNA), who opposes the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli.

-The Deputy Prime Minister of Libya’s internationally recognized government in Tobruk, Abdussalam Elbadri, told a conference last week in Malta that his government will punish international oil companies (IOCs) that continue to work with the rival administration in Tripoli.

-In parallel, the Chairman of the National Oil Corporation (NOC) based in the East of Libya, Nagi al-Magrabi, told Bloomberg: “We will send letters to all the international companies that operate in Libya asking them to deal with the internationally recognized and legal government. “We will take measures based on their respective replies to the letter. If they continue to decline to cooperate with the legal government, we will stop their loadings once their contracts expire.” Mahdi Khalifa, an NOC board member, said that any oil companies that refuse to cooperate with the government face the risk of legal action.

-Libya’s internationally recognised government has warned companies against dealing with the Tripoli-based National Oil Corporation (NOC). Speaking to a press conference of Beida, the head of the House of Representatives (HoR), Abdullah al-Thinni (pictured), said his government is taking further steps to export crude oil from the regions under its control through its locally recognized “NOC”, and away from the Tripoli-based organisation.

-The chairman of the pro-HoR “NOC”, Mabruk Abu Yousef Maraja, warned of the illegality or illegitimacy of dealing with the NOC in Tripoli. He also warned Tripoli not to enter into any contracts or legal actions that would impose any obligations on the Libyan oil sector.

-National Oil Corporation (NOC) Chairman Nuri Berruien [Nuri Balrwin] (pictured), has confirmed that there are to be no new exploration-production sharing agreements (EPSAs) before mid-2014. Answering questions at the end of a conference in London, he added that this would probably be “during a constitutional government”, implying that the current “interim” government is not deemed constitutional enough or does not have the authority or legitimacy to launch an EPSA bidding round, according to Libya Herald. He added that he hoped for a “win-win” situation for both the NOC and the international oil companies, admitting that the current EPSAs had problems for both parties and hoped that the new EPSAs would “encourage long-term development”.

Glencore oil deal in Libya branded worthless by rival government. Internationally recognised regime in Benghazi says commodity firm’s potentially lucrative oil-export deal in Tripoli is with the wrong people. 

Glencore’s deal to export Libyan oil is not worth the paper it is printed on, the commodities company has been told. The Switzerland-based firm agreed last week to buy up to half of Libya’s oil exports from the western division of the National Oil Company in Tripoli, where an Islamist-backed government is based. But the internationally recognised government in Benghazi, in eastern Libya, said Glencore had signed a deal with the wrong people

Nagi Elmagrabi, chairman of the eastern division of the National Oil Company, told Bloomberg that he had written to Glencore asking for an explanation but not yet received a reply. He said that if Glencore had signed a deal with the parallel regime in Tripoli, the Benghazi government could physically prevent Glencore tankers from using Libyan ports. 

The deal in question envisages Glencore loading and finding buyers for crude oil from the Sarir and Messla fields, exported via Tobruk’s Marsa el-Hariga port in the east. The eastern government says it does not recognise any agreement signed with Tripoli.

Finding a way to resolve the impasse could prove particularly lucrative for Glencore, given that Libya’s oil exports have huge potential to increase. Libya was pumping about 1.6m barrels of oil a day before the civil war that ended Colonel Muammar Gaddafi’s rule in 2011. 

Production has since slumped to as low as 400,000 barrels a day, although it could be increased if the security situation in Libya improves. Glencore regularly invests in countries where security risks and political turmoil have deterred other investors, such as the Democratic Republic of Congo and Colombia

However, the company is in need of new sources of income, after the economic slowdown in China prompted a slump in global commodity prices, ravaging its share price. The company floated its shares at £5.30 in 2011 but they have since plunged, closing on Monday at 90.42p. 

The firm announced proposals earlier this year to raise £6.6bn in an effort to allay investors’ fears about its £20bn debt pile. The plan includes mine closures, asset sales and a £1.6bn share-placing but has yet to arrest the decline in Glencore’s stock. Glencore declined to comment on its dealings in Libya


Monday, August 31

AFRICA CON GLI "OCCHI A MANDORLA" IN CRISI

”Cinafrica” è l’etichetta lanciata nel 2008 da Serge Michel e Michel Beuret, rispettivamente corrispondente di Le Monde e capo del servizio esteri del settimanale svizzero L’Hebdo, in un libro-reportage fatto assieme al fotografo Paolo Woods

E’ il tentativo cinese di imbastire una fitta trama di accordi commerciali e politici del governo cinese con il continente africano per lo sfruttamento del petrolio e di altre materie

In alcuni casi alimentando speranze di riscatto, in altri sostenendo dittatori e politicanti corrotti, più spesso l’una e l’altra cosa allo stesso tempo. 

Già all’epoca dell’uscita del libro oltre 50.000 cinesi si erano riversati a cercare fortuna in Africa, in una sorta di Far west del XXI secolo. 

Successivamente, il venir meno di Gheddafi aveva dato l’occasione per sostituirlo nel ruolo di principale finanziatore dell’Unione Africana, fino al punto di pagare integralmente i 200 milioni della nuova sede di Addis Abeba

Ovviamente, questa presenza sempre più massiccia aveva creato alcuni problemi. Diversi cinesi erano stati attaccati – ad esempio – da guerriglieri in Etiopia

Pogrom e sommosse anti-cinesi c’erano state in Algeria, Lesotho, Angola, Congo. Slogan anti-cinesi erano stati agitati in Sudafrica. 

Soprattutto, una campagna elettorale contro l’invadenza di Pechino era stata vinta nel 2011 nello Zambia da Michel Sata, che dopo aver accusato i cinesi di trattare come schiavi i lavoratori delle miniere di rame nella prima conferenza stampa da presidente aveva ammonito la Repubblica Popolare a cambiare metodi. 

Anche se poi, in concreto, era cambiato poco. Impossibile trovare altri acquirenti che potessero sostenere i prezzi del rame con voracità analoga.

Ora però qualcosa sta cambiando: il gigante cinese traballa, assieme alla sua Borsa, materie prime e commodities in blocco vedono i prezzi cadere, e con questo è aumentata l’incertezza su un volume di investimenti che era ormai arrivato ai 20 miliardi di dollari.  E l’Africa che ha goduto della crescita cinese ora rischia di andare giù assieme al dragone.

Il segnale più significativo arriva dal Sudafrica, partner della Cina non solo come fornitore, ma anche come alleato politico nei BRICS. 

Negli ultimi anni il rand sudafricano, la valuta ufficiale del paese, era l’unica moneta africana a essere utilizzata nel carry trade quel trucco speculativo che consiste nel prendere a prestito denaro in paesi con tassi di interesse più bassi, per cambiarlo in valuta di paesi con un rendimento degli investimenti maggiore, ma con il crollo della domanda di oro, platino e carbone il rand ha perso l’8 per cento in una sola settimana: le valutazioni vi dipendono però comunque dalla forza dell’economia di un paese e con le difficoltà della Cina i contraccolpi per quella sudafricana sono stati pesanti.

Se il Sudafrica è in difficoltà, nonostante sia l’unica vera potenza industriale del Continente, gli altri paesi legati commercialmente con la Cina soffrono ancor più lo sboom cinese

L’Etiopia, ad esempio, era l’economia continentale di grandi dimensioni che stava crescendo più rapidamente, proprio perché Pechino l’avevo scelta per delocalizzare produzioni in cui la pur tradizionalmente parca manodopera cinese aveva iniziato a diventare troppo cara

Grazie a salari che erano un quarto di quelli della Repubblica popolare, imposte inferiori e materie prime a portata di mano, i cinesi avevano deciso di superare gli handicap di formazione e infrastrutture investendo nel paese con strade, ferrovie, centrali elettriche e aeroporti: ora però queste opere potrebbero essere abbandonati

Stesso discorso va fatto per Nigeria e Kenya, altri due Paesi a forte crescita. Nel Sud Sudan è a rischio l’oleodotto che dovrebbe permettere al Paese di più recente indipendenza del Continente di esportare la sua pressoché unica ricchezza.

Particolare è il problema dello Zimbabwe, la cui moneta è stata praticamente distrutta dalla terribile inflazione provocata dalla politica di Robert Mugabe, al punto che alla fine ha deciso di rinunciarvi. 

Dal 2009 vi si utilizzano infatti monete straniere, ma dal 30 giugno la banca centrale ha ripreso a cambiare i dollari dello Zimbabwe ancora in mano a privati, fino al 30 settembre. 

Al tasso di cambio eccezionalmente favorevole di 5 dollari Usa ogni 175 milioni di miliardi di zimdollars, quando il rapporto vero sarebbe di 250 milioni di miliardi a uno. 

L’idea era che l’operazione avrebbe dovuto favorire la diffusione dello yuan, dal momento che la Cina assorbe un quarto dei 3,2 miliardi di euro dell’export

A maggio l’ambasciatore della Repubblica Popolare a Harare aveva annunciato che gli investimenti cinesi nello Zimbabwe erano ormai arrivati a 1,3 miliardi di euro, e ad agosto Pechino si era impegnata a finanziare progetti di infrastrutture per 2 miliardi di dollari. 

Ma, sebbene introdotto dal 2014 nel paniere di nove monete straniere utilizzabili, la gente non si fida, continuando a preferire dollaro USA, rand e euro. E quel che sta accadendo non è induce a superare questa diffidenza.

Thursday, November 6

XI JINPING EMULA MAO TZE TUNG MA ASSOMIGLIA A PUTIN

Lo scorso novembre il plenum del Comitato permanente del Partito comunista cinese, l’organo ristretto che decide le sorti della Cina, si aprì nel nome di Deng Xiaoping, il grande riformatore. Allora – era il terzo plenum per il gruppo attuale – il presidente Xi Jinping promise di cambiare la Cina come solo Deng prima di lui aveva fatto, di aprire sempre di più l’economia al mercato, di riformare le banche, le aziende di stato e la politica del figlio unico. 

I media parlarono di Xi (era una delle sue prime grandi prove di governo) come di un leader forte ma riformatore, uno che avrebbe potuto rivaleggiare con Deng e portare a termine la modernizzazione della Cina. Questa settimana è iniziato un nuovo plenum, il quarto, ma rispetto all’anno scorso molte cose sono cambiate. E’ sparita la parola riforma, sono spariti l’entusiasmo e l’attesa. E’ sparito il riferimento a Deng Xiaoping, e lunedì Russell Leigh Moses sul Wall Street Journal stabiliva un nuovo termine di paragone: il quarto plenum “si annida sotto l’ombra di Mao”. 

L’anno scorso Xi era un leader non del tutto testato, e al tempo del terzo plenum molti analisti diedero credito alle sue promesse di apertura. Ma a quasi un anno di distanza molte cose sono cambiate in Cina. Pochi giorni fa il sinologo Carl Mintzer ha scritto un articolo eccellente per il Los Angeles Times, in cui spiega che sotto Xi Jinping il paese, lungi dall’inaugurare una nuova èra di riforme, sta tornando a chiudersi in se stesso, sta cedendo al nazionalismo e al dirigismo economico. La lotta contro i funzionari corrotti si sta trasformando in una purga gigantesca. 

Gli imprenditori stranieri sono vittime di inchieste mirate e spesso infondate. L’economia di stato favorisce i “campioni nazionali” rispetto alla competitività. In politica estera la Cina è sempre più aggressiva, e in teatri come il mar Cinese addirittura ostile. Negli slogan della propaganda sono sempre più frequenti i richiami ai valori “tradizionali” e al sentimento anti occidentale. Nei centri di ricerca scientifica si consiglia di evitare le collaborazioni con gli enti stranieri. 

La repressione dei dissidenti è ai massimi da anni. La crisi di Hong Kong, dove decine di migliaia di studenti protestano da tre settimane per il suffragio universale, ha mostrato che Pechino non ha intenzione nemmeno di discutere la possibilità di riforme politiche, anche in un laboratorio “protetto” come l’ex colonia inglese.

Il quarto plenum del Partito, inaugurato lunedì, ha come argomento centrale la “rule of law”, l’esercizio del potere “secondo la legge”. Sembra un buon segnale, e molti lo riconoscono come tale. Indica, se non altro, che il Partito comunista cinese ammette che il paese ha bisogno di una governance più certa, alcuni si spingono a dire che saranno fatti passi verso un potere giudiziario più indipendente ed equilibrato. Il Partito certifica che c’è un problema, e questo, da solo, è un progresso. Ma altri fanno notare che spesso la lingua cinese manca di preposizioni. 

La “rule of law” può essere tradotta anche come “rule by law”, e questo cambia tutto, perché quella dell’esercizio del potere “attraverso la legge”, l’uso della legge in maniera strumentale, è una teoria politica che esiste in Cina da millenni, e che Xi Jinping ha citato più di una volta negli ultimi mesi. Forse dal plenum uscirà un potere giudiziario più efficiente, ma sarà solo un’arma più affilata per imporre la disciplina del Partito e portare avanti la lotta alla corruzione, che ora si serve di strumenti ai margini della legalità come la detenzione a tempo indeterminato dei sospetti. 

Nessuna riforma metterà in discussione l’autorità del governo. Alcuni segnali (la scarsezza di anticipazioni) mostrano che attorno al quarto plenum c’è discussione. Ma Xi Jinping è il leader che dai tempi di Mao ha concentrato più potere nelle sue mani, il plenum, che si chiude giovedì, sarà un modo per riaffermarlo.

Wednesday, November 5

MILLION CHINESE ARE BUILDING A NEW EMPIRE IN AFRICA

Over two million Chinese citizens have moved to Africa in the last decades, where they have established a wide array of businesses, from small farms to large construction companies. In this perceptive account, backed by numerous and often insightful interviews with people in a dozen African countries, French makes clear that the Chinese presence in Africa is not solely the result of Chinese government policies. 

According to the duo, China’s growing economic and political might have made them a significant player in the continent. Not only is it Africa’s single largest trading partner today, China’s practical investment diplomacy offering buildings, roads, railways, power plants and other infrastructure has emerged as a powerful alternative to Western development aid that is geared towards reducing poverty instead. 

This has led to Chinese companies successfully funding and building many new developments in African cities ranging from the headquarters of the African Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to the Lekki Free Trade Zone in Lagos, Nigeria.

It was supposed to be a state-of-the-art city for 1,500,000 - but eerie footage shows how a Chinese-built urbanisation is at risk of becoming Africa's first 'ghost town'. Constructed on the outskirts of Angola's capital city Luanda, Nova Cidade de Kilamba has 750 eight-storey blocks of flats, a dozen schools and more than 100 shop units. But, crucially, it has no residents, and many of the nearby slum-dwellers cannot afford the £75,000 price-tag to move in.

This has sparked fears the £2.2billion project, a fraction of the cash China has poured into Africa in recent years, could lay abandoned for years to come. It has also highlighted the increasing 'colonisation' of Africa by China, seen to be wanting the resource-rich continent as a 'satellite state', in recent years. It is said to be reminiscent of the West's imperial push in the 18th and 19th centuries, with critics pointing to trade deals with more than 40 countries.

A surprising number of his subjects reveal that they left China because they found life in Africa more attractive and do not intend to return home

  China Africa Working by STEFAN MEDO VLAHOVICH



Sunday, September 28

REGISTI SIONISTI, ARROGANTI YANKEES, EUROPEI FASULLI


Se a qualcuno la recente campagna statunitense contro la Siria sembra un deja-vu del tentativo della scorsa estate di lanciare attacchi contro Bashar al-Assad, bloccato all’ultimo minuto, è perché lo è, scrive il blog ZeroHedge. E proprio come lo scorso anno, il più grande jolly in questo intervento diretto in territorio siriano sovrano, o come alcuni lo chiamano: invasione o addirittura guerra, non sono gli Stati Uniti, ma l'Arabia Saudita. Bin Sultan, artefice della campagna del 2013 per sostituire la leadership siriana, è stato ufficialmente rimosso poco dopo, ma le ambizioni saudite riguardo la Siria sono rimaste.   

La campagna aerea dell’America contro lo Stato islamico è cominciata anche in Siria, dopo i quasi trecento bombardamenti sparsi e quasi niente in Iraq dove bombardano gli inglesi della RAF. L’espansione delle operazioni al paese vicino attraverso un confine che in certi tratti non esiste più era ormai considerata scontata ed era attesa da un mese. 

Il Pentagono ha usato aerei da guerra, droni Predator e Reaper e anche missili Tomahawk sparati dalle navi della marina, e ha colpito assieme ai jet di cinque Paesi arabi, che si sentono minacciati dai sunniti di Abu Bakr al Baghdadi. Arabia Saudita, Emirati Arabi Uniti e Giordania ci hanno messo quattro F-16 ciascuno, il Bahrein due F-16, e il Qatar ha mandato alcuni jet Mirage che non hanno bombardato.

In altre parole, John Kerry ha promesso tutto quello che poteva, fino ad includere il pezzo mancante del puzzle -la Siria stessa su un piatto d'argento- al fine di prevenire un’altra umiliazione diplomatica statunitense

Ma a disturbare queste vergognose e tragiche sottotracce diplomaticheecco arrivare nel golfo, due navi da guerra cinesi: un caccia-torpediniere e una fregata. Prima volta nella storia.

Il governo cinese l’ha denominata una “visita amichevole” quella del cacciatorpediniere Changchun e della fregata Changzhou. Ambedue attraccate nel porto iraniano di Bandar Abbas, nel golfo Persico, per iniziare una serie di esercitazioni militari congiunte tra Pechino e Teheran. Come anticipato, é la prima volta che navi da guerra cinesi si fanno vedere nel golfo Persico insieme a quelle iraniane (le esercitazioni saranno concentrate sulle missioni di recupero), ed è un segnale importante perché di solito, con altri partner, a dominare i mari mediorientali sono le fregate degli USA, con una base in Bahrein e una portaerei nella regione.

Pechino protesta da tempo contro la presunta invadenza delle flotte americane nel mar Cinese, e le esercitazioni fanno parte di una strategia volta a rispondere alla sorveglianza americana con maggiore aggressività. La scelta del partner, poi, è un modo per mandare a dire all’occidente che non c’è nessuna sanzione e nessun embargo che possa dissuadere Pechino dall’organizzare dei war game con l’Iran degli ayatollah, bomba o non bomba, e dal fare affari con la Russia di Putin (un nuovo contratto multimiliardario per le forniture di gas è in arrivo)

La Cina è il più grande importatore di petrolio iraniano, e i commerci con Pechino, seppure resi difficili dal sistema di divieti messo in piedi dall’occidente, sono una spina nel fianco della strategia di Washington contro Teheran. E’ proponendosi come alternativa al sistema strategico occidentale che la Cina cresce in potenza e pericolosità. E sotto il presidente Xi Jinping, la minaccia è ancora più concreta.

Mentre il Gruppo di Shangai si allarga, Russia, Cina e Iran si preparano per le esercitazioni navali congiunte nel Golfo Persico. L'Economist ha descritto come "altamente inquietante dal punto di vista dell'Occidente" spaventa l'occidente, la possibile adesione di nuovi Paesi all’Organizzazione di Shangai per la Cooperazione. E fanno bene a temere scenari che ribalteranno la storia millenaria occidentale. 

Monday, August 12

THE DEADLY KISS BETWEEN TWO FAKE LOVERS.

Russia hedges its collaboration with China—starting with its close cooperation with India, Beijing's historic rival. Moscow cannot afford bad relations with its largest neighbor and, like other Asian states—including those who are close allies of the United States—one of its major trading partners. 

Russia was never going to be drawn into any sort of overtly anti-Chinese alliance or serve as one of the pillars of a U.S. pivot to the region. Yet there have been plenty of signals that Russia wanted to have a much more balanced relationship between Beijing and Washington

The reformist factions around Dmitry Medvedev pushed the strongest for the "reset" in relations with Washington, driven in part by their assessment that the nadir in U.S.-Russian relations during the second term of the Bush administration would push Russia into a closer embrace with China. 

But even among the so-called "siloviki" in the Kremlin (the "power" factions), there is concern about an overdependence on Beijing. Igor Sechin, the CEO of the state oil company Rosneft, has taken steps in recent years to tie his company's future to the Chinese market. Yet, in proposed projects for the Russian Far East, he has also solicited Japanese and Western investment—to counterbalance Beijing's influence.

One of the defining features of the post-cold-war era is the absence of a peer or near-peer competitor to the United States. This reality, combined with the military inferiority of regional adversaries, has meant that the United States and its allies have enjoyed considerable freedom of action in imposing their will on midsize and smaller states that persistently pursue policies either in gross violation of international norms or counter to U.S. and allied interests.

Unfortunately for America, this is unlikely to be a permanent feature of the international security landscape. So what could the future hold? What should we be preparing for? One very plausible-and very less-than-desirable-scenario looks something like this. 

We call it the "Eurasian entente

Writing in these pages five years ago, Peter A. Wilson, Lowell Schwartz, and Howard J. Shatz sketched out the outlines of what they termed a "very less-than-desirable-scenario" for the United States: the "Eurasian entente"—a situation where China and Russia would work together to frustrate the U.S. goals around the world and in the process institutionalize their collaboration in a variety of fields, from business and energy to military cooperation. 

While not all of their predictions have come to pass (as of yet), Moscow and Beijing have moved to solidify their use of the "double veto" in the United Nations Security Council to block preferred U.S. outcomes, have continued to carry out joint military exercises, and signed billions of dollars in new deals. 

The U.S. reaction has been largely to see this as inevitable, as the formation of some sort of Axis of Autocracies.

Friday, August 9

THE THIRD SIRYAN PROTECTOR AFTER RUSSIA AND IRAN

“I don’t think that any sane human being would think that terrorism can be dealt with via politics”. “There may be a role for politics in dealing with terrorism pre-emptively,” said Al Assad. Syria’s crisis will only be solved by stamping out “terror”, President Bashar Al Assad said, in reference to rebels fighting his regime. 

In a rare speech on Syrian state television, Al Assad also dismissed the political opposition to his regime as a “failure” that could play no role in solving the country’s brutal war. “No solution can be reached with terror except by striking it with an iron fist,” said Al Assad.

“There may be a role for politics in dealing with terrorism pre-emptively,” said Al Assad, adding that as soon as “terrorism” has arisen, it can only be struck out.

The Assad regime has been engaged in fierce fighting against its own people for well over two years. Syria’s embattled leader was quoted recently as saying “no solution can be reached with terror except by striking it with an iron fist,” illustrating his belief in a military solution to the current crisis.

Whilst Russia and Iran (backed by their Shia allies Hezbollah) have rightly received the majority of international criticism, China has escaped proper scrutiny for its role in supporting the embattled Assad regime militarily, politically and economically.

A 2011 report by the U.S. Congressional Research Service highlighted the role China has played in arming Assad’s military, providing $300 million worth of arms from 2007 to 2010.

For proof of continuing support, February 2013 saw the United States impose sanctions on China Precision Machinery Import and Export Corporation, a state-owned company, for allegedly conducting military transfers to Syria in violation of nonproliferation legislation.

China seems happy to let Russia and Iran take on the role as Assad’s main supporters. Even though China is less obvious than the other two nations, it is nonetheless far from neutral.

Despite Chinese rhetoric of supporting a political solution, its actions suggest otherwise.

China’s selective use of its “non-interference” policy has seen them (alongside Russia) veto three Western-backed Security Council resolutions seeking to bring Assad to the negotiating table. As a permanent member of the Security Council, any international solution would require Chinese acquiescence.

Furthermore, in an interview given to the Financial Times in June, Kadri Jamil, Syrian deputy prime minister for the economy, boasted that China has joined Iran and Russia in delivering $500 million a month in oil and credit to Syria. The majority of Syria’s oil is in the largely rebel-held north and northeast of the country, and the network of pipelines connecting the wells to the population centres are vulnerable to rebel attack. 

As a result, Syrian oil production has fallen by as much as 95 percent during the ongoing conflict, and the importance of Chinese aid should not be underestimated. Chinese financial and material support supplements Russian and Iranian aid and has allowed the Assad war machine to remain militarily effective.


Aside from strong economic and military ties to Assad’s government, which predate the current crisis, China fears radicalization of its own Sunni-majority Muslim population, some of whom it accuses of travelling to Syria for combat training with the rebels.

Assad’s survival is also tied up in a Chinese geostrategic consideration of the energy-rich Middle East, whereby supporting Assad is seen as an effective block on Western power in the region. Moreover, the Chinese government is nervous of creating a precedent for intervention on human-rights grounds due to its own insecurities at home.

With the news that the rebels have opened up a new front near the port city of Latakia, a gateway for foreign supplies, it appears they at least understand the importance of foreign aid to Assad. The United Nations estimates that over one hundred thousand people have been killed and 1.7 million people displaced in the Syrian crisis so far, and a diplomatic solution looks less likely than ever.

Whilst Russia and Iran have been instrumental in allowing Assad to survive, the international community should not overlook China’s crucial role.

Friday, September 7

Syria, Iran, Russia and China plan joint war games.

Iran, Syria, Russia and China are planning the “biggest-ever wargames in the Middle East,” according to an unconfirmed report on the semi-official Iranian news site Fars News. A Syrian official denied the claims.

According to the article, the four countries are preparing 90,000 troops, 400 aircraft and 1,000 tanks for the massive joint maneuvers, which are to take place along the Syrian coast within a month.

The report states that Russian “atomic submarines and warships, aircraft carriers and mine-clearing destroyers as well as Iranian battleships and submarines will also arrive in Syria” and that Egypt has agreed to let 12 Chinese warships cross the Suez Canal for the exercises.

According to Israel Radio, Bouthaina Shaabana, a Syrian official and President Bashar Assad’s special adviser, said the reports about such a drill are “baseless” and false.

The IDF spokesman’s office called the report a “political matter” and declined to comment.

Iran is currently holding talks with six Western powers over the fate of its nuclear program. The talks, said to be held in a tense atmosphere in Moscow, seek to alleviate world concerns that the Islamic Republic is developing nuclear weapons.

Syria meanwhile faces international pressure to end a 15-month crackdown on local rebels trying to oust Syrian President Bashar Assad.

China and Russia have come to the aid of both countries in recent months at the UN Security Council, vetoing military intervention in Syria and expanded sanctions on Iran.

Saturday, June 9

China CIC Chief Sees Rising Risk of Euro Breakup

CICThe head of China's giant sovereign-wealth fund sees mounting risks of a breakup of the euro zone, and says the fund has scaled back its holdings of stocks and bonds across the continent.
The comments by Lou Jiwei, chairman of China Investment Corp., are among the most bearish pronouncements yet on Europe by a senior Chinese official. They reflect growing dismay in Beijing at how European leaders are handling the escalating crisis in China's largest export market, and anxiety over the potential for global contagion.
"There is a risk that the euro zone may fall apart and that risk is rising," Mr. Lou said in an interview—his first with a Western media organization in five years.

The pullback by CIC, whose moves are widely watched by market participants, could further dampen investors' interest in holding European securities, analysts say, potentially contributing to even higher funding costs for the debt-laden countries.

With about $410 billion in assets under management, CIC is the fifth-largest sovereign fund in the world. It was founded by the Chinese government in 2007 to seek better returns for China's currency reserves, which were typically parked in low-yielding securities such as U.S. Treasurys. Chinese leaders have singled out better management of China's $3.3 trillion foreign-exchange reserves, the world's largest, as a priority for the financial sector.

Mr. Lou also called for China to release controls on its capital account, a move that would free up cross-border investment flows and loosen reins on the Chinese yuan free. After the euro-zone crisis ebbs, it might be time to "open up the capital account," Mr. Lou said, adding his voice to a growing chorus of calls from China's reformers to revamp the country's financial system in a bid to rebalance China's economy.
Nobody can keep his powder dry if everyone else's is wet. Lou Jiwei, chairman of China Investment Corp.
Global investors have been scrutinizing CIC's investment strategy lately because of frequent market speculation about the potential for China to come to the aid of the euro zone by purchasing European debt. CIC officials have stressed that the fund is a commercial investor and won't be part of any coordinated Chinese investment push.
Mr. Lou said CIC had sold down its exposure to the "peripheral" European countries a long time ago, before incurring any loss, and has reduced its holdings of European stocks and bonds. "Right now we find there is too much risk in Europe's public markets," he said. Mr. Lou didn't specify which peripheral countries he was referring to, but such countries, as defined by analyst firms, generally include Greece, Portugal and Ireland, which have been forced to take international bailouts, as well as the much bigger Italy and Spain, where bond yields have surged to levels that many in the markets consider unsustainably high.

Meanwhile, CIC is unlikely to be an investor in any euro bonds created to support the debt-laden euro bloc. Some European officials have floated the idea of creating a form of collective debt to help support larger European countries whose soaring borrowing costs have raised doubts about their ability to overhaul their economies.

Mr. Lou, a computer-scientist-turned-economist, doesn't think Europe is ready to launch such debt yet. "Europe hasn't formed necessary fiscal discipline and hasn't got the right policies in place," he offered, adding that such bonds may not be a suitable investment for CIC. "The risk is too big, and the return too low," Mr. Lou said.

Still, CIC will continue to invest in the continent by focusing on private equity and direct investment, including infrastructure, Mr. Lou said.

"Right now, we're underweighting on developed countries, and overweighting on emerging markets," Mr. Lou said.

The European financial crisis has intensified in recent weeks amid fears that Greece will withdraw from the euro. European officials have appealed to Beijing to help resolve the euro-zone debt crisis by offering financial support through fresh investments and increased purchases of European debt. Chinese leaders so far have expressed confidence in the future of Europe but also have refrained from making any firm financial commitment. In addition, Chinese leaders including Premier Wen Jiabao have also called on Europe to push ahead with badly-needed structural economic and financial reforms.

Mr. Lou said the rest of the world will be vulnerable to the European debt crisis, though its impact on Asia is likely to be relatively small. Still, the debt woes in Europe have caused a sharp slowdown in China's exports, a pillar of China's economy, Mr. Lou said. "Nobody can keep his powder dry if everyone else's is wet," Mr. Lou said.

In the interview, Mr. Lou also expressed confidence in China's economic growth. "The one economy we have the most confidence in is China," Mr. Lou said, adding that CIC is looking for overseas investments opportunities with "a China angle or a China factor."

As a result, CIC is focusing on China's neighboring countries such as Russia and is bullish on Africa and Latin America whose growth is driven by domestic consumption as well as Chinese demand.
On Tuesday, CIC signed an agreement with Russia's sovereign fund to form a vehicle to mainly invest in Russia and former Soviet Republics. The joint fund will start out with $2 billion in capital and is expected to go up to $4 billion.
But Mr. Lou also acknowledged the challenges facing China's economy, the world's second-largest after the U.S. Chinese leaders have recognized that to make China's economic growth sustainable, it must readjust the country's growth model from one driven by export and investment to one that relies more on domestic consumption. The rebalancing will "take fundamental and painful reforms over a long period of time," Mr. Lou said.

One of the much-needed reforms, many have argued, is to boost Chinese people's buying power by opening up the capital account and making the yuan a fully convertible currency. "From an observer's point of view, it's time to open up," Mr. Lou said. "But today may not be the right timing," he added. "There is a crisis going on. But after the crisis, it might be time."

Liberalizing the capital account, Mr. Lou said, would lead to "natural diversification" of China's foreign-exchange reserves, a stated goal of the country's currency watchdog.
Mr. Lou, 61 years old, became head of CIC in 2007 after having served as deputy secretary-general of the State Council, China's cabinet. Before that, he had served as China's vice minister of finance and as vice governor of the southwestern Guizhou province. He played a pivotal role in overhauling China's tax system and has been widely viewed as reform-minded.

CIC was criticized in China for losses on its 2007 investments in the U.S. financial sector, including in Morgan Stanley and Blackstone Group LP. But it delivered an 11.7% overall return in both 2009 and 2010, according to the most recent figures available. That makes the fund one of the world's best-performing country funds, according to Z-Ben Advisors, a Shanghai-based research firm that tracks the financial sector.

"It's an A," said Michael McCormack, executive director at Z-Ben, referring to his scorecard for Mr. Lou's management of CIC. Mr. McCormack credited Mr. Lou for CIC's decision to stay on the sidelines in 2008—the height of the global financial crisis, and for the fund's subsequent move to reposition itself as a longer-term investor by accelerating investments into private equity, hedge funds, real estate and other alternative assets.

The shift from public securities to higher-risk and higher-return asset classes is "a fundamental rethink of what the fund could be good at over the long term," Mr. McCormack said.
In the interview, Mr. Lou said that CIC hasn't yet reached its target of having 50% of its portfolio in long-term assets such as infrastructure, commodities and real estate and the other half in public securities. "Although CIC is a long-term investor, sometimes we have to sacrifice long-term returns to reduce short-term volatilities," he said.

Energy, one of the sectors CIC has invested in, has been subject to high market swings. CIC's energy investments include $1.5 billion in Teck Resources, a Vancouver-based metals and mining company; $1.6 billion in AES Corp., a Virginia-based power company; $416 million in Penn West Energy Trust, PWE -2.14% based in Calgary, Alberta.

Mr. Lou said the energy sector's "cyclical volatility" poses a risk to the fund, which reports the value of its assets by market price. "This may create certain pressure on our short-term performance," he said. "So on one hand, we're interested in the energy space; on the other hand, we have to carefully select the kind of opportunities to invest in."

Another sector CIC is looking to invest in more is infrastructure. "For three years, I've been calling for more investment in infrastructure globally, including in my last meeting with Larry Summers before he left the government," Mr. Lou said. "But according to our observation, global investment in infrastructure hasn't increased, but decreased."

Mr. Lou said part of CIC's portfolio requires steady cash flows with low volatility, which makes infrastructure attractive. Less than $10 billion of CIC's portfolio is allocated to infrastructure, but that target hasn't yet been reached.

Mr. Lou said CIC is largely a financial investor and doesn't get involved in daily operations of projects. "We do not have anybody who can really use shovels," Mr. Lou said.

Thursday, February 2

Merkel seeking euro-savior and Iran-buster in China.


Angela Merkel says China’s help in the eurozone would boost not only the debt-ridden region, but the global economy in general. The German Chancellor is paying a three-day visit to Beijing, seeking economic and political support.b“The euro has made Europe stronger,” Merkel asserted in a speech at China’s Academy of Social Sciences, just hours before meeting her counterpart, Premier Wen Jiabao. She said despite the ongoing sovereign debt crisis, Europe was “on the right track” with its plan to curb overspending.

Merkel said the EU had made “big progress” over the past few years. China, which has the world’s largest financial reserves, is seeking investment opportunities around the globe, and the money would be handy for tackling Europe’s problems. The leader of Europe’s biggest economy also called for a level playing field for German firms operating in China, and vice versa.

On the political front, Merkel called for support on Syria and Iran, the two pressing issues on the global agenda. Germany needs China’s backing for a UN Security Council draft resolution which would call on Syrian President Assad to step down. Beijing and Moscow, both veto-wielding members of the Council, oppose it.
"It is important that the international community speak with one voice at the United Nations," the German leader said.

As for Iran, Beijing has refused to join the US and EU in imposing sanctions on the Islamic Republic’s oil industry. Being the largest importer of Iranian oil, China is in a position to put much leverage on Tehran, which Merkel hopes to convince the Chinese government to do. In order to win favors from China, Berlin may offer its support on issues of importance to Beijing, particularly in “dealing with the US,” says Simon Shen, a professor at the University of Hong Kong.

“Germany is the most powerful member of the EU, and China has always wished to lobby Germany's support,” he told RT. Among other issues high on the agenda is the rare earths trade. The elements are essential for the manufacture of many high-tech products, and China, the world’s leading exporter, is accused of restricting its trade in a bid to drive up prices and make businesses move onto its territories. Beijing is citing environmental concerns as the reason for mining restrictions.

Wednesday, December 28

Afghanistan: ecco tutti i suoi tesori nascosti.

Dopo le miniere di oro e lido ecco il petrolio. E mentre i soldati occidentali si fanno ammazzare per garantire stabilità all'Afghanistan, la Cina investe e fa affari redditizi. L'ultimo business in ordine di tempo è la firma dell'accordo tra Kabul e Pechino per l'estrazione degli idrocarburi. Il governo Karzai ha così dato via libera alla Cina per la prospezione ed estrazione di petrolio nella regione del fiume Amu, comprendente le province settentrionali di Sare-Pul e Faryab. l'Afghanistan è un Paese con rilevanti riserve di petrolio stimate in 1.596 milioni di barili, gas naturale stimate in 15.687 trilioni di piedi cubi.

In un comunicato, il palazzo presidenziale precisa che il ministro delle Miniere, Wahidullah Shahrani ha ricevuto l'incarico di procedere alla firma del contratto fra la compagnia China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) e l'afghana Watan Group. Insieme, si precisa, le due entità svolgeranno una attività di ricerca ed estrazione del greggio in tre campi della regione - Kashkari, Bazarkhami e Zamarudsay - che hanno un potenziale di 87 milioni di barili. E la terza importante iniziativa che va a buon fine nel settore minerario ed energetico, dopo il contratto firmato con una compagnia cinese per la miniera di rame di Aynak e quello raggiunto con India e Canada per il giacimento di minerale di ferro dillajigak.

Lo studio sulle ricchezze minerarie dell'Afghanistan realizzato dallo United States Geological Survey e reso pubblico lo scorso anno ha un precedente molto concreto e legato al contratto firmato nel novembre 2007 dalla Cina per lo sfruttamento di quello che è considerato forse il più grande giacimento di rame del mondo. Si tratta appunto della miniera di Aynak dove la Cina ha investito 3,5 miliardi di dollari a fronte di una potenzialità estrattiva 11,3 milioni di tonnellate di rame, valore commerciale di 88 miliardi di dollari. Nei mesi scorsi il presidente Hamid Karzai ha cercato di allargare l'orizzonte dei rapporti internazionali, staccandosi dagli Stati Uniti e dai Paesi Europei che fanno parte del «gruppo dei donatori», rivolgendosi a Pechino.

In campo ci sono naturalmente questioni economiche e investimenti che la Cina ha prontamente preso al volo. Tra questi anche la costruzione di tratti di ferrovia finanziati dall'Asian Deve-lopment Bank. L'azienda di Stato cinese Mcc ha garantito al governo di Karzai di costruire oltre mille chilometri di ferrovia, da Mazar-i-Sharif, a Nord, fino a Jalalabad nella regione orientale, passando per Kabul. In cambio Pechino offre una tariffa privilegiata per l'accesso di molti prodotti afghani sul mercato cinese.

In questo scenario, l'Italia sembra recuperare terreno. L'ex ministro Romani aveva avviato alcuni accordi per le piccole e medie imprese. Oggi, nominato dal governo Monti consulente per Afghanistan e Iraq, Paolo Romani incassa due importanti commesse. La prima è l'ampliamento dell'aeroporto di Herat, per una investimento di 137 milioni di dollari e la costruzione di un tratto di ferrovia nella provincia Ovest sotto giurisdizione del Prt italiano. Concluso anche l'accordo per la partecipazione di Eni, Saipem ed Enel alla costruzione del gasdotto Tapi frutto di accordi fra Turkmenistan, dove il gas viene estratto, Afghanistan, Pakistan e India in alternativa al «tubo» Nabucco. 1,596 Milioni Sono i barili stimati come riserve nel sottosuolo afghano.

Monday, December 19

‘US to sustain tension between Koreas because of China’

Now, with North Korea’s young and inexperienced new leader, Kim Jong-un, having the keys to the country in his hands, the question is whether he will open the door or continue to keep it shut. The US reaction to the announcement of Kim Jong-il’s death was quick, but hardly added anything in support of the winds of change. "The president reaffirmed the United States' strong commitment to the stability of the Korean peninsula and the security of our close ally, the Republic of Korea," the White House said in a statement following the announcement of Kim Jong-il’s death, AFP reports. Author Tim Beal, who is an Asia specialist and has written extensively on both Koreas, believes that America’s response means Washington is committed to maintaining instability on the Korean peninsula.

“The Americans, I think, at the moment are not moving, primarily because they want to keep tension on the Korean peninsula up as way of containing China – that’s how I would read the American response,” Beal told RT. “Whether they will decide that they want to come back and negotiate we don’t yet know, but what is happening at the moment is, of course, relations between North Korea and China, and North Korea and Russia have very much improved in the last year to 18 months.” At the same time, Tim Beal added, there is possibility of improvement of relationships between North Korea and Europe. “I suppose another possibility, given Kim Jong-un’s experience as a student in Europe, we might possibly get a deepening of relationship with Europe, and that could be very interesting,” he said.

For the United States, Kim Jong-il's death comes at a delicate time, as the Obama administration was considering whether to re-engage with the regime over two major issues: Washington’s food aid to Pyongyang and the nuclear issue. A tentative agreement, under which the US would supply food aid to North Korea’s starving population in exchange for a ban on its controversial nuclear program, was reportedly in the works between the two sides when the news came. US officials say no decision on restarting negotiations on Pyongyang's nuclear program is imminent, Reuters reports. Meanwhile, James Corbett, editor of Japan-based news website Corbett Report, believes that North Korea serves a “strange function” to the United States.

“For the United States which one would think will be interested in disarming North Korea in fact in every single stage of North Korea’s nuclear armament the United States have been deeply involved,” says Corbett. He refers to the 1990s when the United States armed the North Korean regime with two reactors, also pointing out that the company processing the deal had in its board a former US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. Some analysts, however, say that the senior Kim's death and the transition to a young leader could darken the outlook for the nuclear talks.

"Everyone's immediate refrain is 'Oh, great, a tyrant is gone,'" Reuters quoted Jim Walsh, a North Korea expert at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's security studies program. "But actually this is bad news, because it means we are entering a more dangerous phase in North Korean, South Korean and US relations. Naturally, North Korea is going to be on the offensive. This young leader is going to have to prove his worth."

Friday, December 16

CINA :44 miliardi di dollari tra il 2005 e il 2010 all' AFRICA. La Banca Mondiale 11,4 miliardi. Crescono i malumori dinanzi alla presenza sempre più massiccia del Dragone nel continente nero.

"Potremmo anche vincere la guerra contro le malattie che devastano il Continente. Ma stiamo perdendo la battaglia per i cuori e le menti dell'Africa». E il senatore americano Chris Coons a sintetizzare l'inquietudine americana sull'avanzata cinese in Africa. Un nervosismo che ha spinto il segretario di Stato, Hillary Clinton ad alzare i toni e a parlare apertamente di un nuovo «colonialismo». Il quadro - quello della "gara" in cui sono impegnati Usa e Cina per l'influenza sul continente africano - non ammette sfumature.

I primi arretrano, la seconda avanza. Di più, dilaga. Pechino ha superato Washington come principale partner commerciale dell'Africa già nel 2009. L'anno successivo gli scambi tra Cina e Africa sono volati a quota 127 miliardi di dollari, contro i 113 miliardi a cui si sono fermati gli Stati Uniti. Ma c'è un altro campo sul quale la Cina sta sbancando. E quello degli investimenti. Secondo un rapporto dell'Asia Society, Pechino ha polverizzato gli investimenti della Banca mondiale. Se nel 2010 l'organismo internazionale ha elargito ai Paesi africani prestiti per 11,4 miliardi di dollari, la Cina ha prestato al solo Ghana 13 miliardi.

Una presenza, quella del Dragone, sempre più tangibile. Lo slancio cinese in Africa si traduce in strade, stadi, uffici pubblici, inan parte dei costruiti con materiale manodopera cinese. Oltre naturalmente a una necessità vitale per Pechino: la caccia a quelle risorse sui cui poggia la galoppante economia asiatica. Secondo un rapporto della Renaissance Capital, «il petrolio rappresenta oggi il 60% del totale delle esportazioni dell'Africa verso la Cina». Forti di riserve in valuta estera che hanno sfondato quota 3mila miliardi di dollari, i cinesi investono.

La Heritage Foundation, un think-tank americano, stima che tra il 2005 e il 2010 circa il 14 per cento degli investimenti cinesi all'estero ha trovato la strada per l'Africa sub-sahariana. A quanto ammonta 1 impegno cinese? Secondo la Heritage Foundation, gli investimenti cinesi sono stati pari a 44 miliardi di dollari tra il 2005 e il 2010. Per il ministero cinese del Commercio, il Paese conta più di 1600 aziende dispiegate in Africa, che coprono oltre 183% del continente.

Tra i più cospicui investimenti realizzati in terra africana spiccano il pacchetto da 8 miliardi di euro nel petrolio nigeriano, i 6,2 miliardi per la costruzione ferroviaria in Algeria, i 5,6 miliardi sborsati dalla Commercial Bank of China per l'acquisto di una quota del 20% nella sudafricana Standard Bank e i 5 miliardi di euro investiti in infrastrutture petrolifere in Niger. Ma non solo luci. La presenza cinese continua a generare malumori. L'Economist ha censito i guasti provocati all'invadenza di Pechino. L'accaparramento delle risorse africane. La corruzione dilagante. La ricchezza prodotta che ricade solo in minima parte sugli africani e che invece prende il volo verso il Dragone.

Lavori troppo spesso affidati solo alle compagnie cinesi. Ed eseguiti male. Qualche esempio? Un ospedale costruito a Luanda, capitale dell'Angola, è stato chiuso solo dopo pochi mesi dall'inaugurazione in pompa magna. Il motivo? Cedimento strutturale. I cinesi hanno costruito una strada che collega Lusaka a Chirundu,130 chilometri a sud-est della capitale. Peccato sia stata letteralmente spazzata via dalle piogge.

Un rapporto, quello tra Cina e Africa, sempre più stretto. Il volume degli scambi tre le due economie —, che rappresenta il 10,4% del totale degli scambi del continente — è oggi più di 10 volte le dimensioni che aveva nel 2000, passando da II miliardi di dollari a 129 miliardi. Si prevede che entro il 2015 il commercio cinoafricano possa salire a fino a 400 miliardi l'anno. I principali partner commerciali del Dragone sono il Sud Africa (25%), la Nigeria (11%), lo Zambia (9%), l'Algeria (8%) e il Sudan (6%). Uno dei capitoli più «sensibili »è quello del petrolio.

Nel 2009, il 30% delle importazioni di petrolio della Cina proveniva dal continente africano, principalmente dall'Angola (15,8%), Sudan (6%) e Libia (3,1 %Alcuni commentatori ricordano che gli investimenti cinesi hanno un «lato oscuro», «il fatto che — come ha scritto Chris Alden del "China in Africa Project" — i soldi restano in Cina, l'attenzione è concentrata sui progetti e non sull'effetto degli investimenti sull economia locale. Spesso il denaro rimane all'interno dei circoli legati al progetto».

Thursday, December 8

CINA: siamo pronti alla guerra

La Marina militare cinese deve fare «estesi preparativi per la guerra». Non è un giornale o un propagandista qualsiasi che parla, ma il presidente Hu Jintao in persona. La risposta più brusca che potesse dare alla decisione di Obama di schierare i Marines in Australia, confermando quanto sia grave la minaccia alla stabilità dell`intera regione del Pacifico, provocata dagli interessi economici e dalle mire espansionistiche di Pechino. Hu ha parlato martedì alla Commissione militare centrale della Repubblica popolare. Secondo la traduzione dei media ufficiali cinesi, ha detto che «il nostro lavoro deve concentrarsi strettamente sul tema della difesa nazionale e della costruzione delle capacità militari».

Quindi ha aggiunto che la Marina «deve accelerare la sua trasformazione e la modernizzazione in maniera robusta, e fare estesi preparativi per la guerra, per offrire un contributo più grande alla salvaguardia della sicurezza nazionale». Il Pentagono, a caldo, ha ridimensionato la portata delle dichiarazioni di Hu Jintao. «Loro - ha commentato il portavoce George Little - hanno il diritto di sviluppare le capacità militari e fare piani, come noi. Ciò che abbiamo chiesto ripetutamente alle nostre controparti cinesi è la trasparenza, e questo è parte del rapporto che continuiamo a costruire con i militari cinesi». L`ammiraglio John Kirby ha usato lo stesso tono, aggiungendo però un avvertimento: «Qui nessuno sta cercando la rissa. Certamente non staremo ad invidiare o lesinare ad alcuna nazione l`opportunità, il diritto di sviluppare le forze navali affinché siano pronte. La nostra Marina è pronta, e resterà pronta».

Anche il dipartimento di Stato, per bocca di Mark Toner, si è limitato a sottolineare che «vorremmo avere rapporti tra militari più forti con la Cina, e maggiore trasparenza. Ciò aiuterebbe a rispondere alle domande che potremmo avere sulle loro intenzioni». Lo scontro è anche con i vicini meridionali sull`ampliamento delle acque territoriali La verità è che nella regione è in corso un vero braccio di ferro, in prima battuta tra la Cina e i Paesi vicini, e in seconda tra Pechino e Washington. La Repubblica popolare mira alle riserve di petrolio e gas del Mar Cinese Meridionale, dove si trovano anche zone molto pescose e rotte mercantili trafficatissime.

Secondo le sue pretese, le acque territoriali che le appartengono sono raccolte dentro una U gigante, che si estende fino a mille chilometri dalle proprie coste. Una posizione che la mette in diretto contrasto non solo con i paesi più vicini, come Vietnam, Filippine, Malaysia e Bruni, ma anche con la potenza regionale indiana e la superpotenza americana. Pechino, ad esempio, ha criticato apertamente i piani di Nuova Delhi per fare esplorazioni petrolifere nella regione, così come i progetti della Exxon-Mobil davanti alle coste vietnamite. Finora le forze armate cinesi, che sono le più numerose al mondo, hanno avuto una caratteristica prevalentemente terrena.

Da qualche anno, però, que- aesdta Pechino si è dotata da poco della sua prima portaerei ma è ancora lontana dagli Usa che nelle loro sette flotte ne hanno undici A destra marinai cinesi ste ambizioni marittime di Pechino hanno accelerato gli investimenti nella Marina. L`esempio più lampante è la portaerei ex sovietica, che la Repubblica popolare ha acquistato e ristrutturato. Gli Stati Uniti sono ancora la potenza navale dominante del Pacifico, ma forse negli ultimi tempi i cinesi hanno letto le difficoltà economiche di Washington come l`inizio di una progressiva ritirata. A modificare questa percezione e rincuorare gli alleati giapponesi e coreani ci ha pensato il presidente Obama, con il recente viaggio in cui ha annunciato l`arrivo dei Marines in Australia, ma anche il capo del Pentagono Panetta, quando ha dichiarato che «gli USA sono e resteranno una presenza nel Pacifico.

Semmai, ci rafforzeremo». Il segretario di Stato Hilary Clinton ha scritto su Foreign Policy che questo sarà «l`America`s Pacific Century», il secolo del Pacifico americano, e il suo recente viaggio a Myanmar ha confermato l`intenzione di Washington di contrastare le mire cinesi. Per questo martedì mattina, Pechino ha risposto.