Tag Archives: India

RCEP Hops On The New Silk Roads, by Pepe Escobar

Spearheaded by the Chinese and Russian governments, new economic alliances are forming across Eurasia. From Pepe Escobar at The Asia Times via zerohedge.com:

Ho Chi Minh, in his eternal abode, will be savoring it with a heavenly smirk. Vietnam was the – virtual – host as the 10 Asean nations, plus China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand, signed the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, or RCEP, on the final day of the 37th Asean Summit..

RCEP, eight years in the making, binds together 30% of the global economy and 2.2 billion people. It’s the first auspicious landmark of the Raging Twenties, which started with an assassination (of Iran’s Gen. Soleimani) followed by a global pandemic and now ominous intimations of a dodgy Great Reset.

RCEP seals East Asia as the undisputed prime hub of geoeconomics. The Asian Century in fact was already in the making way back in the 1990s. Among those Asians as well as Western expats who identified it, in 1997 I published my book 21st: The Asian Century (excerpts here.)

RCEP may force the West to do some homework, and understand that the main story here is not that RCEP “excludes the US” or that it’s “designed by China”. RCEP is an East Asia-wide agreement, initiated by Asean, and debated among equals since 2012, including Japan, which for all practical purposes positions itself as part of the industrialized Global North. It’s the first-ever trade deal that unites Asian powerhouses China, Japan and South Korea.

By now it’s clear, at last in vast swathes of East Asia, that RCEP’s 20 chapters will reduce tariffs across the board; simplify customs, with at least 65% of service sectors fully open, with increased foreign shareholding limits; solidify supply chains by privileging common rules of origin; and codify new e-commerce regulations.

When it comes to the nitty gritty, companies will be saving and be able to export anywhere within the 15-nation spectrum without bothering with extra, separate requirements from each nation. That’s what an integrated market is all about.

When RCEP meets BRI

The same scratched CD will be playing non-stop on how RCEP facilitates China’s “geopolitical ambitions”. That’s not the point. The point is RCEP evolved as a natural companion to China’s role as the main trade partner of virtually every East Asian player.

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Is War With China Becoming Inevitable? by Patrick J. Buchanan

It had better not be, because the US would lose. From Patrick Buchanan at buchanan.org:

“The Indians are seeing 60,000 Chinese soldiers on their northern border,” Secretary of State Michael Pompeo ominously warned on Friday.

He spelled out what he meant to commentator Larry O’Connor:

“The Chinese have now begun to amass huge forces against India in the north. … They absolutely need the United States to be their ally and partner in this fight.”

Pompeo had just returned from a Tokyo gathering of foreign ministers from the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, or “Quad,” the group of four democracies — U.S., Japan, Australia, India — whose purpose is to discuss major Indo-Pacific geostrategic issues.

Exactly what kind of “ally and partner” the U.S. is to be “in the fight” between India and China over disputed terrain in the Himalayan Mountains was left unexplained. We have no vital interest in where the Line of Control between the most populous nations on earth should lie that would justify U.S. military involvement with a world power like China.

And the idea that Japan, whose territorial quarrel with China is over the tiny Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea, thousands of miles away, would take sides in a Himalayan India-China conflict also seems ludicrous.

Yet, tensions are rising between the U.S. and China, as the list of ideological, political and economic clashes continues to lengthen.

And there is a transparent new reality: China seems in no mood to back down. Continue reading

More Fallout from Iran/China Deal: India Loses Farzad-B, by Tom Luongo

India is caught in the middle between the US and the Eurasian axis of China, Russia, and Iran. From Tom Luongo at tomluongo.me:

he carnage for following President Trump’s lead on ending the JCPOA continues for India.

From SputnikNews last week comes this note about the Farzad-B oil and gas field and Iran.

Close on the heels of breaking the Chabahar-Zahedan rail project agreement, Iran appears set to deny India’s state-run ONGC Videsh Limited (OVL), exploration and production rights for the key Farzad B gas field.

The granting  of rights to OVL was already delayed with New Delhi moving slowly on the issue, but came to a complete standstill after the 2018 imposition of US sanctions on Tehran.

Now that threat looks to be a reality.

Turkish news agency Anadolu Agency quoted India’s External Affairs Ministry (EAM) as saying on Thursday Tehran would develop the Farzad-B gas field in the Persian Gulf region “on its own” and might engage India “appropriately at a later stage”.

Translation: “Stop stalling for Trump’s sake and make good on your promises or the project goes to China.”

Because that’s where this leads in light of the announced mega-deal between Iran and China worth a reported $400 billion.

I wrote last week I thought India has lost its way on the New Silk Road. Losing the contract to build the railway it pushed for to bypass Pakistan and assert independence from China’s OBOR plans should have been a clear enough signal.

But apparently it wasn’t.

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Is Washington Provoking India to a War With China? By F. William Engdahl

This is a good survey and analysis of one of the world’s hottest hot spots. From F. William Engdahl at lewrockwell.com:

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in a recent video conference suggested that the US might move some of its troops from Germany to the region around India, citing growing US security concerns in the Asian region. Given the dramatic rise in tensions between India and China over disputed borders in the region of Nepal and Bhutan where several soldiers from both sides reportedly died in hand-to-hand combat, the question is whether Washington is deliberately trying to fan fires of war between the two Asian giant powers. As unlikely as that might be at present, it indicates how unstable our world is becoming amid the ‘coronavirus economic depression’, and the perceived power vacuum of a US in retreat.

Speaking to a virtual Brussels German Marshall Fund Forum on June 25,Secretary of State Pompeo was asked about recent statements that the US military planned withdrawing a contingent of its forces from Germany. He replied that the Chinese threat to India and Southeast Asian nations was one of the reasons America was reducing its troop presence in Europe and deploying them to other places. He cited unspecified recent Chinese actions as “threats to India, threats to Vietnam, threats to Malaysia, Indonesia and the South China Sea challenge,” adding, “We are going to make sure the US military is postured appropriately to meet the challenges.”

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The India-China, Himalayan Puzzle, by Pepe Escobar

Pepe Escobar knows a very important of the world that most Americans know little about—Eurasia. From Escobar at consortiumnews.com:

The Indo-China border is a strategic chessboard and it’s gotten way more complex. 

Valley near Kangan, Kashmir. (Kashmir Pictures, Flickr)

It was straight from an Orientalist romantic thriller set in the Himalayas: soldiers fighting each other with stones and iron bars in the dead of night on a mountain ridge over 4,000 meters high, some plunging to their deaths into a nearly frozen river and dying of hypothermia.

In November 1996, China and India had agreed not to use guns along their 3,800 km-long border, known as the Line of Actual Control (LAC), which sports an occasional tendency to derail into a Line Out of Control.

Yet this was not just another Himalayan scuffle. Of course there were echoes of the 1962 Sino-Indian war – which started pretty much the same way, leading Beijing to defeat New Delhi on the battlefield. But now the strategic chessboard is way more complex, part of the evolving 21st Century New Great Game.

Indian army marching in 1962 war, during which Indian Air Force was not used. (Indian Defence Review)

The situation had to be defused. Top military commanders from China and India finally met face to face this past weekend. And on Tuesday, Chinese Foreign Minister spokesman Zhao Lijian confirmed they “agreed to take necessary measures to promote a cooling of the situation.”

The Indian Army concurred: “There was mutual consensus to disengage (…) from all frictions areas in Eastern Ladakh.”

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India’s Hunger Games, by Jayant Bhandari

And you thought lockdowns were bad in the US. From Jayant Bhandari at lewrockwell.com:

While the world over people have grown myopic worrying about the real or imagined problem to do with corona-virus in their immediate surroundings, the world’s biggest prison has been erected. 1.38 billion people are in a complete house-arrest, with no possibility of leaving home. In scale, this is by far the first in human history.

I am not talking about China. When faced with the first wave of corona-virus, China focused mostly on Wuhan and other hotspots. It didn’t see a need to lockdown the whole country. Moreover, it didn’t think it could get away with that.

Any regime that contemplated locking down the whole country would have realized that not only would it create massive disruption, joblessness, poverty, and dislocation, but also that restarting the economy would be a gargantuan job. Farmers would have found themselves with no money to buy seeds and banks with no cash to lend out, and everyone in a vicious economic cycle.

India’s Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, however, thought that he could enforce a draconian curfew without any legal backing in what is one of the world’s most undisciplined, chaotic, poverty-stricken and backward societies.

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Trump Does The Taj, by Eric S. Margolis

Trump visited India and it didn’t go so well. From Eric S. Margolis at lewrockwell.com:

President Donald Trump’s 36-hour whirlwind visit to India this past week was designed to show Americans just how adored abroad their president really is.

Unluckily for Trump, his campaign stop at this behemoth nation of 1.3 or 1.4 billion proved a fiasco.

First came the terrifying Chinese coronavirus that so far has killed less people than the weekly toll on China’s dangerous roads, but the whole world went into a panic.  The US stock market, the underpinning of Trump’s popularity at home, took a crash dive even though the all-knowing president-physician assured Americans that the Wuhan virus was only a cold.

VP Mike Pence, who believes in Adam and Eve and Noah’s Ark, was put in charge of combating the new virus.

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The Biometric Threat, by Jayoti Ghosh

Biometric systems aren’t foolproof, and the danger they pose to civil liberties is obvious. From Jayoti Ghosh at project-syndicate.org:

As with so many other convenient technologies, the world is underestimating the risks associated with biometric identification systems. India has learned about those risks the hard way – and should serve as a cautionary tale to the governments and corporations seeking to expand the use of these technologies.

NEW DELHI – Around the world, governments are succumbing to the allure of biometric identification systems. To some extent, this may be inevitable, given the burden of demands and expectations placed on modern states. But no one should underestimate the risks these technologies pose.

Biometric identification systems use individuals’ unique intrinsic physical characteristics – fingerprints or handprints, facial patterns, voices, irises, vein maps, or even brain waves – to verify their identity. Governments have applied the technology to verify passports and visas, identify and track security threats, and, more recently, to ensure that public benefits are correctly distributed.

Private companies, too, have embraced biometric identification systems. Smartphones use fingerprints and facial recognition to determine when to “unlock.” Rather than entering different passwords for different services – including financial services – users simply place their finger on a button on their phone or gaze into its camera lens.

It is certainly convenient. And, at first glance, it might seem more secure: someone might be able to find out your password, but how could they replicate your essential biological features?

But, as with so many other convenient technologies, we tend to underestimate the risks associated with biometric identification systems. India has learned about them the hard way, as it has expanded its scheme to issue residents a “unique identification number,” or Aadhaar, linked to their biometrics.

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India: The Next Apartheid State? by Danny Sjursen

Will India swallow Kashmir? From Danny Sjursen at antiwar.com:

It has long been called the most dangerous place in the world. Still, few Americans know anything about the place; nor could they point out the troubled region of Kashmir on a map. Yet for 62 years India and Pakistan have contested for control of the province. In fact, a long-running insurgency there has even been punctuated by at least three inter-state wars between the nuclear armed powers. Now, after India recently revoked Kashmir’s “special status” – essentially annexing the disputed (and Muslim-majority) territory – there might just be another war. Tens of thousands have already been killed over the years; how many more will now die is anyone’s guess.

It’s tempting to blame the British for the whole mess. After all, like so many ongoing world conflicts, the violent struggle in Kashmir has its roots in the dissolution of venal, exploitative British Empire in the decades after World War II. Before its independence in 1947, British India – known as the raj – consisted of a massive, ethnically diverse mega-state that included the modern countries of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Burma (Myanmar). When the Brits took off, ethnic and religious tensions boiled over into a state of civil war as the raj bloodily devolved into separate Hindu and Muslim majority countries. Perhaps a million people died and fifteen million others were displaced in a tragic population swap that set a gold standard for ethnic cleansing.

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Risk of Nuclear Conflict in Asia Grows, by Eric Margolis

For an area that could be the site of a nuclear war, Kashmir, split between India and Pakistan, gets remarkably little publicity. There are probably more people who know the song Kashmir by Led Zeppelin than who could find it on a map. From Eric Margolis at lewrockwell.com:

Two of the world’s most important powers, India and Pakistan, are locked into an extremely dangerous confrontation over the bitterly disputed Himalayan mountain state of Kashmir.  Both are nuclear armed.

Kashmir has been a flashpoint since Imperial Britain divided India in 1947.  India and Pakistan have fought numerous wars and conflicts over majority Muslim Kashmir.  China controls a big chunk of northern Kashmir known as Aksai Chin.

In 1949, the UN mandated a referendum to determine if Kashmiris wanted to join Pakistan or India.  Not surprisingly, India refused to hold the vote.  But there are some Kashmiris who want an independent state, though a majority seek to join Pakistan.

India claims that most of northern Pakistan is actually part of Kashmir, which it claims in full.  India rules the largest part of Kashmir, formerly a princely state. Pakistan holds a smaller portion, known as Azad Kashmir.  In my book on Kashmir, ‘War at the Top of the World,’ I called it ‘the globe’s most dangerous conflict.’  It remains so today.

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