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    Senior Member Red Dragon's Avatar
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    New China leader in Moscow boosting ties

    Geopolitical giants: New China leader in Moscow boosting ties

    Edited time: March 23, 2013


    Chinese President Xi Jinping reviews Russian honour guard during official welcome ceremony at Vnukovo airport outside Moscow.(AFP Photo / Alexander Nemenov)

    The new Chinese leader chose Russia as his first stop on his maiden overseas voyage. As this visit signals the two powerful neighbors growing ever closer, analysts assess their potential in countering the US-led Western domination of global affairs.

    Xi Jinping is in many respects returning the courtesy bestowed last year, when President Vladimir Putin included Beijing in the first foreign trip of his third presidential term.

    This exchange of first foreign visits is seen as the two powers’ effort to bolster their common clout in the world arena now that Russian-Chinese relations “are the best in their centuries-long history,” as Vladimir Putin put it in his recent interview to ITAR-TASS.

    Xi has already confessed to “breakthrough agreements” reached, chief among which was the presidents’ overseeing of a deal between Russian oil giant Rosneft and China’s state-owned CNPC. The agreement will see Russia increase oil supplies to China. The former is the world’s largest energy producer, while the latter is its biggest consumer. "We can already say this is a historic visit with positive results," Putin said of the agreement.

    During negotiations the leaders also compared notes on the most important issues in global relations. Among them were situations in the Middle East, Northern Africa, the crisis on the Korean peninsula, the development of BRICS countries and national standings in the G-20.

    Both sides confirmed a commitment to strengthening economic cooperation, discussed new investment programs, particularly in high-tech spheres of the economy. The leaders expressed hope that the volume of shared business would reach $100 billion annually, increasing from the current $80 billion. $150 billion in terms of mutual business has already been pegged as the next target.

    An agreement on tackling illegal immigration has been signed, while the two have also kick-started a Year of Chinese Tourism in Russia. Adding to bilateral ties Russia and China will start an extensive student exchange project from 2014-2015.

    Putin particularly stressed that Russian authorities sincerely appreciate the fact that the new Chinese leader has made his first international visit to Russia. “This definitely reflects the strategic character of Russian-Chinese relations,” Putin said. “I’m going to visit Russia very often and Mr. Putin will also be a frequent visitor to China,” Xi Jinping promised.

    According to the Russian president, the two countries are working on quite an ambitious common goal “to shape a new, more just world order.” What they have so far been doing to achieve it is they jointly countered US and its allies’ position on most pressing issues like the Syrian crisis, the situation around Iran, and Middle East settlement.

    “Both countries share a strong common interest in seeking a more multipolar world and preventing the United States from dominating the global political and economic order,” Joseph Cheng, political analyst and professor at Hong Kong City University told RT.

    China and Russia have on many occasions made use of their right of veto in the UN Security Council to curb intervention and aggression.



    “Moscow and Beijing have seen the impact of NATO backed attacks… They don’t want the instability that Washington seeks in the Middle East… Beijing and Moscow want to do business,” author and journalist Afshin Rattansi believes.

    The more the US pushes its agenda in certain parts of the world, the closer they push Russia and China together, believes James Corbett, political analyst and host of the Corbett Report.

    “That is the inevitable result of the type of US-Asia Pacific pivot that is threatening China on one side and the NATO-increasing military encirclement of Russia on the other side,” Corbett said in an interview with RT.

    Another factor binding China and Russia together and bringing Xi Jinping to Moscow is economics. China is booming and Russia is right next door. The potential for gas deals and pipelines are vast as soon as the two can agree on a price. Russia also sees China as a way to diversify its economy like helping tap untouched water sources in the east and investing in the West.

    Bilateral trade grew 11 per cent last year, reaching a record $88 billion. It is expected to hit $100 billion in 2015 and $200 billion in 2020.

    Russia is also one of the world's biggest energy producers, while China consumes more energy than any other nation. In February, the two countries agreed on Russia supplying 38 billion cubic meters of natural gas annually to China. That figure can potentially grow as economically boosting Beijing needs more.

    Within days, the two countries will move beyond strengthening only bilateral ties. The BRICS summit on March 26 and 27 will bring them together with the other emerging economies of the group. And experts now see these nations as much more than an acronym coined by a guy at Goldman Sachs.

    “They all agree on the fundamentals: ‘We want a multi polar world, we want to have more say on everything that happens geopolitically,’” Pepe Escobar, Asia Times correspondent, told RT.

    This point of view is shared by Cheng, who believes “all five members [of BRICS] would like to seek a larger role in the international community. And they also understand that effective coordination within the BRICS group will help all of them to achieve this goal.”

    And that’s what they are going to start to implement at a coming summit in Durban, as there’s a plan to announce the formal establishment of a BRICS Business Council. Experts believe the more joint projects the better for the fledgling club if it wants to increase its influence globally.

    Geopolitical giants: New China leader in Moscow boosting ties ? RT News
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    Senior Member Sinbad's Avatar
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    Re: New China leader in Moscow boosting ties

    I note whenever Russia and China grow closer ties.the USA lays an egg of worry.

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    Re: New China leader in Moscow boosting ties

    Quote Originally Posted by Sinbad View Post
    I note whenever Russia and China grow closer ties.the USA lays an egg of worry.
    Dude, Putin and Xi Jinping are knowledgeable and capable leaders.

    They are not bloody idiots like George w Bush with delusional dreams of world empire.

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    Senior Member sami's Avatar
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    Re: New China leader in Moscow boosting ties

    Quote Originally Posted by PakShah View Post
    Dude, Putin and Xi Jinping are knowledgeable and capable leaders.

    They are not bloody idiots like George w Bush with delusional dreams of world empire.
    The problem that Russia and China do not face is that their leaders are not vetted by Tel aviv through a subversive organisation like AIPAC which has subverted American democracy
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    Re: New China leader in Moscow boosting ties

    Quote Originally Posted by sami View Post
    The problem that Russia and China do not face is that their leaders are not vetted by Tel aviv through a subversive organisation like AIPAC which has subverted American democracy
    While I agree that the Zionist lobby is not strong in China and Russia.

    The Zionist state literally survives on USA. If it wasn't for USA, the Middle East would have trashed up the Zionist state real good.

    But do give credit to Russia and China. They atleast have an independent foreign policy.

    Both Russia and China are great countries with great histories, with a very hard working populace.

    Both countries are respected around the world.
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    Senior Member Hafiz's Avatar
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    Re: New China leader in Moscow boosting ties

    Quote Originally Posted by Sinbad View Post
    I note whenever Russia and China grow closer ties.the USA lays an egg of worry.
    Just like whatever Pakistan and China do, India panics.

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    Senior Member KingKong's Avatar
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    Re: New China leader in Moscow boosting ties

    Quote Originally Posted by Hafiz View Post
    Just like whatever Pakistan and China do, India panics.
    Pakistan should at all times do whats right for its interests. Having closer ties with China is in our interests
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    China-Russia Energy Relations after Xi Jinping’s Visit to Moscow

    The series of energy deals signed during Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to Moscow in March 2013 underscore the important role that Chinese capital -- primarily in the form of loans from China Development Bank (CDB) --plays in spurring Eurasian economic integration. The nonbinding agreements inked by Chinese and Russian firms have laid the groundwork for the creation of new energy corridors stretching from Russia to China. Indeed, Xi spoke of oil and natural gas pipelines functioning as an artery connecting China and Russia in the 21st century like the tea road over which traders exchanged Chinese tea for Russian furs did in centuries past. The key to substantially expanding energy trade between Russia (one of the world’s largest exporters of oil, natural gas and coal) and China (one of the world’s largest importers of oil and coal and a growing importer of natural gas) is likely to be CDB. The bank not only has the motivation and means to finance the infrastructure needed for the cost-effective delivery of substantially larger volumes of Russian energy to China. It also has an established track record as a driver of regional economic integration.

    The latest China-Russia summit set the stage for dramatically increasing the flows of oil, coal and natural gas from Russia to China. First, Rosneft pledged to triple its oil deliveries to China from 300,000 barrels per day (b/d) to as much as one million b/d, which is double the amount of oil Russia exported to China in 2012 and equal to the amount of oil Saudi Arabia, China’s top crude oil supplier, delivered to China last year. Second, China’s Shenhua Group and Russia’s EN+ Group agreed to develop coal resources and related infrastructure in East Siberia and the Russian Far East with an eye to expanding Russian coal exports to China. Third, Gazprom and China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) signed a memorandum of understanding for the delivery of 38 bcm of natural gas to China over for 30 years starting in 2018 with the option of expanding deliveries to 60 bcm. A supply contract of this size would help fill the projected gap of 150 bcm between China’s natural gas demand and China’s domestic natural gas supply in 2020 projected by CNPC last year.

    CDB features in the oil and coal agreements. The increased volumes of oil that Rosneft pledged to deliver to China reportedly are being used to support a $2 billion loan from CDB. The bank also agreed to extend a $2 billion line of credit to Shenhua Group and EN+ Group for the development of coal resources and infrastructure to transport them to markets.

    CDB may also become part of Chinese and Russian efforts to transform their long-discussed dream of a cross-border natural gas pipeline into a reality. This project has a strong logic for both parties; Russia is looking to diversify its markets away from Europe, while China is looking for supplies to meet its growing demand. The principle obstacle to moving this pipeline off the drawing board has been a disagreement over price. Gazprom has long insisted on selling natural gas to China at prices that would provide the same level of profits it earns from sales to Europe, while CNPC has repeatedly refused to pay international prices for Russian gas due to domestic price controls. (The company lost almost $7 billion on natural gas imports in 2012 because it could not pass the full cost of its imports to Chinese customers.) However, a multibillion dollar loan from CDB to Gazprom may resolve the stalemate. Indeed, Gazprom Deputy CEO recently indicated that his company would reconsider its position that its standard terms of deliveries for European customers should apply to China if China were to provide a loan that could be repaid with natural gas exports.

    CDB is no stranger to breaking impasses in the China-Russia energy relationship. In 2009, the $25 billion in oil-backed loans that the bank extended to Rosneft and Transneft (the Russian pipeline monopoly) persuaded Moscow to give the green light to the construction of a spur from the East Siberia Pacific Ocean oil pipeline to the Chinese border. The Russians were thrilled with the large volume, low cost and long duration of their loans, and the Chinese were delighted to see Russian oil exports to China jump after the ESPO spur began operation in 2011.

    CDB also helped open up energy corridors between Central Asia -- one of the least economically integrated regions of the world -- and China by bankrolling the construction of the Kazakhstan-China oil pipeline and the Trans-Asia Gas Pipeline. Before these pipelines were built, most of the oil and natural gas produced in Central Asia were shipped to points west. Today, increasing volumes of energy are going to China.

    It’s hardly surprising that CDB has emerged as a premier financier of energy development and related infrastructure projects in Eurasia. The bank has a mission to advance the interests of the Chinese leadership as the leadership understands those interests at any given time. In the past, those interests included financing the domestic infrastructure necessary for China’s economic boom. Today, those interests include increasing the flows of energy from Russia and Central Asia to China. CDB also has the means to support those interests. It is China’s largest overseas lender, and its outstanding foreign currency loans – a rough proxy for its international lending – have ballooned from nearly $17 billion in 2005 to $210 billon in 2011.

    If history is any guide, CDB’s involvement in the energy deals signed during Xi’s visit to Moscow improves the likelihood that these nonbinding agreements will be finalized. The past decade of negotiations over cross-border pipeline projects indicate that geographic proximity and economic complementariness are necessary –but not sufficient – for the development of a robust bilateral energy relationship. An increase in the flow of Chinese capital across the border for infrastructure construction should expand the flow of energy in the other direction.
    Money Talks: China-Russia Energy Relations after Xi Jinping?s Visit to Moscow | Brookings Institution

  9. #9
    Senior Member Felix's Avatar
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    Re: China-Russia Energy Relations after Xi Jinping’s Visit to Moscow

    This is a good move and a refirmation that we no longer live in a unipolar world

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    Senior Member Red Dragon's Avatar
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    Re: China-Russia Energy Relations after Xi Jinping’s Visit to Moscow

    Our relations with our global partners are engrossed in cement.

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    Senior Member Red Dragon's Avatar
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    China and Russia growing closer despite mistrust

    China and Russia growing closer despite mistrust



    Kor Kian Beng
    The Straits Times
    Asia News Network
    Singapore April 6, 2013

    The Russian bear is set to supply more weapons to the Chinese dragon, and this trend, observers say, will continue going forward even though suspicions remain between both sides.

    Chinese media reported last week that China was buying 24 Russian fighter jets and four submarines, making it Beijing's first large-scale weapons purchase from Moscow in a decade. Observers say the deal, which China hopes to ink by the end of the year, is further proof that Sino-Russian defence cooperation is on the uptick.

    One key reason is warming bilateral ties, which hit a high with Chinese President Xi Jinping's visit to Moscow on March 22. It was the first stop on his maiden foreign trip as China's leader. He and Russian President Vladimir Putin hailed their countries' ties as "the new type of relations between major powers" and a model for the world. Some 30 energy and other deals were inked.

    "China wants to strengthen political ties with Russia, so it has to support Russia's defence industry by buying its military equipment," defence expert Song Zhongping said.

    Another reason, he said, is China's keenness in boosting its military might, in view of territorial disputes with neighbours such as Japan and the Philippines.

    That Beijing pushed for the arms deal, reportedly worth US$3.5 billion, could also reflect China's acknowledgement of "shortcomings with its home-grown defence technologies", analysts say.

    Also, Moscow is turning to Beijing for more business after reportedly losing some lucrative military contracts in India - the biggest buyer of Russian military hardware - to Western countries. By selling its new advanced military equipment like the Su-35 jets to China, Russia is getting a free advertising campaign for new potential clients such as Vietnam and the Philippines, said Song.

    Russian analysts estimate that China bought about $26 billion worth of Russian arms and technology between 1992 and 2006. Sales slowed after 2003 following a technology theft dispute involving a fighter jet prototype, but picked up in recent years, with the value of new contracts signed last year exceeding $2.3 billion.

    But some obstacles that have plagued bilateral defence ties remain, say analysts. Russia is wary that the Chinese will copy and make use of its technology to compete against it in the international arms market. For instance, Russia's Su-27 fighter jets were reportedly reverse-engineered and produced in bulk as China's J-11 fighter. The same for the J-15 fighter being tested on China's first aircraft carrier Liaoning. It is rumoured to be based on an Su-33 prototype.

    A report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute last month said China has displaced Britain as the world's fifth-largest arms exporter, the first time it has made the top five. Russia is ranked second after the United States.

    A bigger concern for Russia is the possibility that its weapons and technology might be used against it in a future dispute with China, say observers. In a commentary last week, Harry Kazianis, editor of The Diplomat global current affairs magazine, wrote that Russia must consider the long- term ramifications.

    "While Russia and China have cordial relations at the moment, selling some of your most advanced military equipment to a possible future geo-strategic competitor is always a risky proposition," he said.

    But others believe there is less cause for concern this time. Russian defence expert Vasily Kashin said in a report last month that "China's aircraft engines, which are essentially modified versions of Russian engines, are way too inferior to the originals and China continues to depend on the supply of Russian engines".

    Richard Bitzinger, a military expert at Singapore's S Rajaratnam School of International Studies, said that if the two powers were to move closer, they could form "an interesting centre of power".

    "It would bring the Russians farther into Asia, and also bolster Chinese military capabilities. That, in turn, would only make Japan and India more nervous about a rising Chinese military power," he said.

    "It would also likely drive a wedge between Russia and India ... (which) have a 50-year history of close military ties."

    China and Russia growing closer despite mistrust - The Nation
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    Senior Member Felix's Avatar
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    Re: China and Russia growing closer despite mistrust

    These 2 nations are naturally being pushed together

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    Member Durrani's Avatar
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    Re: China and Russia growing closer despite mistrust

    Well the media is from Thailand. Don't know how true it is about Russian-Chinese mistrust.
    Last edited by Durrani; 6th April 2013 at 07:16.

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    Re: China and Russia growing closer despite mistrust

    Good to see them pushing closer. Good for the region

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    Re: China and Russia growing closer despite mistrust

    This is the time for both the nations to strengthen their relationship. Both countries have similar geopolitical goals, both face similar geopolitical challenges, so it makes no sense for them not to have close relations. Both are huge countries, giants in the world, emerging powers: in a way, competitors yes. But I think they can have the closest relations anyone can have.
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    Re: China and Russia growing closer despite mistrust

    Quote Originally Posted by bilalhaider View Post
    This is the time for both the nations to strengthen their relationship. Both countries have similar geopolitical goals, both face similar geopolitical challenges, so it makes no sense for them not to have close relations. Both are huge countries, giants in the world, emerging powers: in a way, competitors yes. But I think they can have the closest relations anyone can have.
    precisely. Good for Asia

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    Senior Member Red Dragon's Avatar
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    Russia Must Expand Relationship With China

    A significant number of the economic sanctions that the United States and European Union have imposed on Russia involve not just restrictions on exports of advanced and dual-use technologies, but also technology aimed at purely civilian use.

    And, in contrast to restrictions on Russia's financial and energy sectors that are also painful for the West, the blockade on technology exports might remain in force for decades.

    An example is the restrictions that the U.S. and Europe placed on military technology exports to China in 1989 in response to events on Tiananmen Square. Those restrictions remain in place today, even though the events that prompted them have receded into history and economic relations between the West and China have greatly improved during the intervening years.

    The West has long enforced numerous informal restrictions on technology exports to Russia. Russian industries have often faced refusals when attempting to purchase highly complex U.S.-made industrial equipment that Washington willingly sells to its allies. But now the West has formalized those restrictions and will not cancel them in the foreseeable future.

    That forces Russia to look for alternative suppliers of complex technological equipment, and China is the logical first choice.

    Until recently, Chinese industry was best known for its ability to mass-produce technologically uncomplicated products, with the result that Russia preferred looking to Europe to source more technologically advanced goods.

    Working with European industry also had several advantages: the mutual ties both sides had developed over a period of decades, Russia's geographic proximity to Europe's main industrial centers, and Russians' knowledge of European languages and markets.

    The Ukraine crisis has forced Russian companies to seriously consider working with Chinese industry. Both state-owned and private Russian industrial enterprises have begun searching for potential Chinese partners that could compensate for the negative consequences of breaking ties with Europe. The initial results are encouraging.

    Undeniably, Chinese high technology still lags behind that of Europe and the U.S., but Chinese industry has nearly met or even surpassed Western levels of development in some specific areas. For example, the fastest supercomputer in the world is the Chinese Tianhe-2, and China has made significant progress in building high-speed rail links that are of great interest to Russia.

    China has managed to bring its production of microelectronics hardware components much closer to Western levels and mastered the production of various types of modern industrial machines. China succeeded in modernizing its industry in large part due to the scale of the national economy, and because of the dominant role that the state has played in developing the machine-building industry.

    Western companies, dependent on the growing Chinese market, were forced to adjust to the demands of the Chinese government's industrial policy. That created favorable conditions for the transfer of Western technology.

    China's production of military technology very favorably complements Russia's. While Russia exports upward of $2 billion in military equipment to China annually, Beijing is strong in a number of specific areas where Moscow is particularly weak. For example, despite making some progress, Russia has yet to achieve serial production of its own strike drones and remains heavily reliant on European and Israeli partners for that equipment.

    China, on the other hand, has begun the full-scale production and export of at least two types of reconnaissance and strike drones comparable to the U.S. MQ-1 Predator, made by General Atomics.

    The Chinese analogue, the Pterodactyl I, is made by the Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) and the China Aerospace Science & Industry Corp (CASIC), and although it might lag behind the Predator in some individual characteristics, the fact that a number of countries, including Saudi Arabia, have already purchased the Chinese drone attests to its high quality.

    China's experience of military and technical cooperation with such countries as Turkey, Pakistan, Iran and Argentina shows that whatever shortcomings might exist in Chinese technology are more than compensated for by Beijing's open and businesslike approach.

    For reasonable terms, China readily agrees to transfer technology and licenses for other countries to produce its most modern types of equipment, including air defense systems, radio location stations, tactical and anti-ship missiles, helicopters and combat aircraft. Russia might accelerate development of its own drones by cooperating with China.

    Amphibious ships are an even better example of untapped potential. Both the Soviet Union and Russia paid too little attention to this technology, with the ultimate result that Moscow was forced to buy the French Mistral warships. At this point, prospects are very slim that France will ever deliver those ships to Russia.

    However, China has long been successfully building its 071 series of modern helicopter-landing amphibious assault ships, and is developing its 081 universal amphibious assault ship as well. If the Mistral deal is canceled, Russia could use its refund and the significant know-how already gained from building the Mistral's stern on Russian territory to start building a new class of universal amphibious assault vessels in cooperation with China.

    In the future, such joint Russian-Chinese products might find a market among developing countries.

    The move toward a new level of industrial and military-technical cooperation between Russia and China has already begun. For example, Russian Technologies and federal space agency Roscosmos are already consulting with CASIC on the possibility of procuring electronic components for satellites.

    Russian Technologies has also begun collaborating with China Electronics Technology Group Corp (CETC) to launch production for the civilian sector. Meanwhile, Russia's private businesses have stepped up their search for Chinese partners.

    Russia's decision to establish closer industrial cooperation with China is not only a consequence of sanctions. Russian industry felt the need to pursue this path earlier, but the peculiarities of the Chinese market and the fact that Russia already had long-standing ties with Europe weakened its willingness to change.

    The current crisis provides an opportunity for Russia to diversify its foreign economic relations. What's more, the new contacts with Asia will endure even after the current sanctions are lifted.

    http://www.themoscowtimes.com/opinio...na/508425.html

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    Banned alihamza's Avatar
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    Re: Russia Must Expand Relationship With China

    The problem is that while Russia is "sticking to its guns", China is still deeply involved with the West, even though it is competing with it for "global domination". This is the reason the Russia-China friendship cannot flourish beyond a certain level at the current moment.

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    Do the Trans-Siberian shuffle

    A specter haunts the elites of the Empire of Chaos; the new Russia-China strategic partnership. It's manifesting itself in myriad ways - energy deals, investment deals, a closer political alliance inside the G-20, the BRICS and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, a concerted effort to progressively bypass the petrodollar. I have described this long process as essential to the birth of the Eurasian century.

    From a Washington/Wall Street point of view, it was so much easier in those long gone, unipolar, "end of history" days. China was still tiptoeing on the banks of the river of capital accumulation, and Russia was down if not out.

    So allow me a flashback to the early 1990s. I had been on the road in Asia for months, from all points Southeast Asia to India, Nepal, the Himalayas and the eastern Chinese seaboard. Then I finally hit Beijing - waiting in the bitter winter of early 1992 to take the Trans-Siberian to Moscow. I was barely aware of the collapse of the Soviet Union - not exactly a news item in the Himalayas. I was also fortunate enough to be in southern China just a few days after Deng Xiaoping made his famous tour - whose key consequence was to catapult the dragon to dizzying development heights. A look back to those heady times may have the merit of illuminating our present.

    All aboard the night train
    It's 8:32 pm in Beijing Railway Station, and the Trans-Manchurian Train 19 to Moscow is about to depart. It's minus 9 degrees Celsius. A bunch of Romanian crazies are trying to load more than 20 huge, vaguely green bundles stuffed with Made-in-China gear into one of the carriages. The Russian comptroller spouts out a "Nyet". Romanian chicks immerse in Transylvanic hysteria. Then a stash of George Washingtons changes hands at the final whistle, just in time for PLA soldiers and lady sweepers sporting the ubiquitous red armband with the words "Serve The People" to impassibly observe the happy ending.

    A cacophony of Russians, Poles, Romanians, Czechs and Mongols has deployed dozens of bags, bundles and sacks to totally overload the train corridors. 300 kg of shoes. 500 kg of jackets. 200 kg of T-shirts. Thousands of beauty cream pots that will be all the rage from Bucharest to Cracow. A "bed" on the train is a concavity over one of the bundles. That will be story for six days, across over 9,000 snowy kilometers in the former USSR, now Russia, from East to West.

    At the comptroller's compartment, more bags - whose content will be sold in the streets of Moscow. With so many George Washingtons in sight, the success of her bazaar is guaranteed - what with multiple stops on the way and an unregulated "free" market in every platform. The whole of Eastern Europe is loaded with stuff and dying to make a quick buck.

    In the Chinese stretch of the journey, nothing happens, unlike the 1930s, when Japan occupied Manchuria, installed puppet Pu Yi on the throne and was ready to take over Asia. The Terminator action starts in Zabaikalsk, at the Russian-China border - after we cross a huge Arc of Triumph in cement, complete with Leninist motto and not-yet-destroyed hammer and sickle. Customs - on both sides - is absolutely deserted.

    The train changes configuration to adapt to the new tracks. Yet all sights are set on the new dining car; exit Chinese, which only offered a miserable pork with soya sauce; enter Russian, crammed with goulash, soup, salami, frozen fish, black caviar, champagne from Crimea, coffee, eggs, even cheese - everything on the black market paid with US dollars.

    With the border behind us, it's go-go bazaar time. Everyone freaks out, because we instantly move from Beijing time to Moscow time. Sunrise is at 1 in the morning. The black market is running at $1 = 110 roubles, the rouble in free fall as we cut through the sublime snowy infinite desert of the Siberian tundra, where each spectacular sunrise under a slight Arctic fog is an epiphany celebrated with more Crimea champagne.

    Occasionally we spot reindeers or even huskies. The taiga - coveted by Japan, Korea and the US - is enveloped in snow. Beyond lay the ghosts of the 20 million corpses in Stalin's gulags, the hunters of the rare Amu tiger (fewer than 200 left) and the sinister Norilsk complex; 2 million tons a year of sulphuric acid and other heavy metals dumped in the atmosphere - the reason for that Arctic fog.

    The train stops stretch for 15 and even 20 minutes, reaching a nadir in Novosibirsk and Perm, which previously housed a notorious gulag. At every stop, hordes of Russians in Genghis Khan mode attack the train with little plastic bags. The best deal in the Trans-Siberian is anoraks and leather jackets. Jao, from Beijing, sells 50 in three days, at up to US$50 each; she paid $20 each in the Beijing hutongs. The Russians buy everything in sight and sell roubles - now plunging to 160 to the US dollar - as well as vodka, beer, salami, champagne and local $1 Pepsi bottles.

    The whole of Eastern Europe has taken over Train 19. Post-Ceausescu Romanians are the most exuberant - from former boxers to hookers to a seedy gangster in a tracksuit boasting about his two hours with a Russian doll for $10 (the going rate is $20). There's an Albanian contingent, young Polish students, shirtless Mongol nomads feverishly counting their profits, babushkas bored to death and even a loquacious Chinese dandy.

    The Russian carriages, once elegant, are a mess: foul air, dense cigarette smoke, drenched in sweat, toilets crammed with sacks, and "Kapitan", the only waiter, trying to make a quick buck selling Soviet paraphernalia. I find it the ideal setting to devour almost 1,000 pages of Norman Mailer's Harlot's Ghost, a history of the CIA.

    Blame it on glasnost
    Train 19 is not only a bazaar but also a multinational Agora. Young Russians elaborate how the almost genius perversity of the Soviet system led it to boost to the limit all the problems of modern industrial societies - offering nearly none of its benefits. Eastern Europeans volunteer that it was not the Cold War that finished off "real socialism"; it was the invasion of the capitalist economy combined with the inefficiency and "stupidity" (copyright by a Polish undergraduate) of the socialist economy.

    Russians say that glasnost finished off authority and perestroika finished off the economy - and there was nothing to replace either. End result: physics graduates selling caviar tins in a moving train for survival. Everyone praises Gorbachev but essentially condemn him to a short historical footnote. In the train, I heard arguments that would be reproduced years later in countless US academic studies.

    All the Trans-Siberian navigators exhibit a solidarity not to be found at the United Nations; they exchange currencies, swap addresses, lend money and the indispensable calculators, help to load and unload the loot, accept bundles in their compartment, offer their places for half an hour for those who only have the corridor to sleep, and crack jokes about the small Bank of China yuan bills. They are all ardent defenders of this unheard of form of direct democracy that is synonym with the end of the Cold War.

    Amid the casino lurks the most improbable character: Lulu, a diminutive Bangladeshi, always attached to a Samsonite, dabbling in Allah-only-knows mysterious activities, passport filled with dodgy visas, Saudi Arabian included. Chinese and Russians treat him like an allergic Pekingese. Train chow is predictably unbearable for this strict Muslim, who wakes us all up everyday at 5 am with his prayers - Rashid Muhammad spends six days literally on bread and water.

    Skolka? That's the Trans-Manchurian bazaar motto, a preview of Moscow. Pink Floyd launched the legendary Dark Side of the Moon at the height of the Brejnev era; Moscow suburbs look like the ghostly, dark side of the moon. Stalin's lunatic legacy is alleviated only by a solitary kiosk selling flowers, fruit or sweet Georgia brandy.

    We arrive as zombies - and only a few hours late - at Yaroslavlsky Vakzal, one of nine Moscow train stations, where a deluge of Volga taxis fight for the precious Chinese cargo. Those moving on to Eastern Europe without a reservation are doomed: seats for Warsaw and Berlin are only available in 40 days.

    In Shenzhen, Guangzhou, Shanghai and Beijing, I had witnessed the spectacular success of post-Tiananmen Chinese "market socialism", where the economy was the locomotive and politics was dispatched to the bottom end of the train. Nothing more astonishing than the contrast with Moscow, where politics was the locomotive.

    I'm housed by Dmitri, an odontology student, three metro stops from the Kremlin, paying $6 a day, a small fortune; he and his girlfriend precariously subdivide the two-bedroom, one-bathroom apartment with a whole family, dog included, besides the occasional Western visitors, who sleep in the master bedroom. This is considered an upper middle-class lifestyle.

    At the beautiful metro stations, it's the return of the Trans-Siberian bazaar; on sale are political or porno samizdats, second-hand clothes, bottles of every possible liquid. Only when I reach Red Square doI see the light; at the Himalayas and China, my time-zone was still on Gorbachev. What's now at the top of the Kremlin is a Russian flag - as well as in the center of Dzerzhinsky square, in front of the KGB. As a perfect idiot, I aim for the statue of Felix Dzerzhinsky, the former head of the Soviet secret police, only to be warned by a student that it had been torn down weeks ago. Gorbachev is now a vodka brand. And I can't get inside the KGB building.

    The whole city is converted into a giant Turkish bazaar. After Boris Yeltsin liberated the sidewalks, everyone wants to exercise this privatizatsiya thing. Until 1990, nobody knew what a checkbook or a credit card was, and $1 was equivalent to 1 rouble. There are absolutely astonishing street markets on Prospekt Marka and Gorki street, everyone silently in line exhibiting their wares; a broken doll, a solitary shoe, dusty champagne bottles, perfume, instant coffee, sardine tins, an empty beer bottle.

    The streets are filled with all the stuff brought by the Trans-Siberian navigators, but the supermarkets are empty. There's very little milk or meat, but lots of canned fish and interminable lines to buy nothing - with potential consumers resigned to play chess.

    The biggest hit in town is the new McDonald's on Pushkin square - one of the busiest in the world, selling full meals for 50 cents by cashiers sporting an Eva Herzigova smile. In front of the MacD, a paper Gorbie poses for tourists, and a crowd sells caviar tins for $5 and champagne for $3. At the GUM department store, there is not much except a few Sony and Honda showrooms and a new Dior window.

    The recent past does not let go; it's impossible to call Europe. It's impossible to send a fax from the Post Office. It's impossible to make a train reservation. It's impossible to make a plane reservation - at least on the Aeroflot shop in Lubyanka; only at the cavernous Intourist Hotel.

    At the lugubrious ground floor of the Mockba Hotel, deaf and dumb characters straight out of an Ionesco play crowd the corridors while a beer black-market does brisk business in front of the hotel bar. A glass of champagne goes for 50 cents. At the hall of the legendary Metropol - the 1899 Grand Dame favored by Trotsky - a dry martini is a steep $7,70. The Metropol is the new Wall Street; Danes, Italians, Americans and Chinese discuss all deals this side of a Brave New World downing Heinekens at $5 a pop.

    On Armed Forces Day, a Sunday, there's a communist demonstration, repressed with tact, boasting large numbers of old ladies carrying flowers and flags. For their part, Moscow punks with anarchist flags protest against the Armed Forces. A pre-historic Volga takes me to Sheremetyevo as if I was running from a 1950s Cold War B-movie set. The Volga gurgles, stops, cools off, runs, gurgles, stops again, cools off; a metaphor of the new Russia, and I almost miss Aeroflot SU 576 back to Paris.

    Nothing will ever be the (unipolar) same
    Those were the days. That McDonald's - symbol of unipolar, "end of history", Pax Americana - has been recently shut down. It's harder and harder for the Empire of Chaos to rule the world alone while McDonald's serves burgers. Across Pushkin square, the fashionable Cafe Pouchkine now serves the best of Russian haute cuisine.

    And still, both Russia and China are seen as pariahs by the unipolar, imperial elite. It's as if we were still frozen in those early1990s days. Russia and China may have changed almost beyond recognition - but for the Empire of Chaos the priorities are to tear Russia apart, starting with Ukraine, and "pivot to Asia" via an anti-China military/economic axis in the Western Pacific.

    Meanwhile, the Trans-Siberian will soon be linked with the Chinese-driven New Silk Roads. And then one day in the early 2020s this will all be a high-speed rail network, linking Eurasia in a flash. And nothing will ever be the (unipolar) same. Except for the back-to-Russia Crimean champagne.

    Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007), Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge (Nimble Books, 2007), and Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009).

    He may be reached at [email protected].

    http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Central...01-171014.html

  20. #20
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    China China

    China, Russia said to mull high-speed Moscow-Beijing rail line

    China and Russia are considering building a high-speed rail line thousands of kilometres from Moscow to Beijing that would cut the journey time from six days on the celebrated Trans-Siberian to two, Chinese media reported Friday.

    The project would cost more than $230 billion and be over 7,000 kilometres (4,350 miles) long, the Beijing Times reported -- more than three times the world's current longest high-speed line, from the Chinese capital to the southern city of Guangzhou.

    The railway would be a powerful physical symbol of the ties that bind Moscow and Beijing, whose political relationship has roots dating from the Soviet era and who often vote together on the UN Security Council.

    They have strengthened their relationship as Western criticism of Russian President Vladimir Putin mounts over Ukraine and other issues.

    The two signed a memorandum of understanding earlier this week during Premier Li Keqiang's visit to Moscow in which Beijing expressed interest in building a fast rail link between the Russian capital and Kazan in the oil-rich Tatarstan region, state broadcaster China Central Television reported.

    The 803-kilometre line would be the first stage of the route to Beijing, CCTV said.

    At present, trains between the two run along the Trans-Siberian railway that links Moscow and Vladivostok, before switching to a branch line heading south through the Mongolian capital Ulan Bator.

    Direct passenger trains between Beijing and Moscow went into operation in 1954 and there are still two services per week, CCTV said.

    The new link would cut the train travel time from six days at present to under two days, the Beijing Times quoted Wang Mengshu, a tunnel and railway expert at the Chinese Academy of Engineering, as saying.

    "If the funds are raised smoothly... the line can be completed in five years at the quickest," he added.

    The paper cited a research report that put the cost of one kilometre of Chinese-built fast rail at $33 million.

    The country has the world's largest high-speed rail network, built from scratch in less than a decade, relying on technology transfer from foreign companies, including France's Alstom, Germany's Siemens and Japan's Kawasaki Heavy Industries.

    Its reputation was tarnished after a bullet train collision in July 2011 near the eastern city of Wenzhou that killed at least 40 people and injured hundreds.

    But China is now keen to promote the export of its technology, and has been building high-speed rail networks in Turkey and Venezuela.

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