Russia’s colossal economic shift toward Asia in energy, finance, and infrastructure deepened at this year’s APEC summit in Beijing with 17 major bi-lateral business deals with China. The strategic alliance could crowd out other global players.
The deals signed by the world’s second and eighth largest economies reflect a ‘synergy’, as natural resource rich Russia has a lot to offer a country with one of the world’s fastest growing populations and economies, Martin Jacques, columnist and author of When China Rules the World, told RT.
“Russia is very rich in natural resources and China is very poor so there is a natural synergy in their economic relationship. Russia has something to offer China which China needs,” he said.
Both Russia and China are also uncomfortable with the current US-dominated world order, although not in quite the same way, says Jacques.
“Russia’s interests, needs, and status is not respected and I think that is essentially the problem. China acknowledges the importance of the international order, definitely wants to be part of it, but at the same time it doesn’t feel it has got the same stake in that system as for example the US,” he said.
The headline stealing accord was, of course, the deal between Russia’s Gazprom and China National Petroleum Corp. When completed the western pipeline will deliver up to 30 billion cubic meters of gas in addition to the 38 billion annually agreed in May.
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I refer to the letter “HK student protesters right to fight for democracy” (Oct 6). It was arguably the umpteenth time I heard that democratic change was needed regardless of the circumstances.
Firstly, could the writer clarify what contractual obligation Beijing reneged on? Article 45 of the Basic Law states: “The method for selecting the Chief Executive shall be specified in the light of the actual situation in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and in accordance with the principle of gradual and orderly progress. The ultimate aim is the selection of the Chief Executive by universal suffrage upon nomination by a broadly representative nominating committee in accordance with democratic procedures.” It is therefore the pro-democracy activists who want to change the Basic Law, not Beijing.
Secondly, as Foreign Affairs and Law Minister K Shanmugam pointed out (“Shanmugam: Beijing’s position on HK understandable”, Oct 6), Beijing’s perspective on the issue would be in the context of implications on the whole of China, not Hong Kong alone.
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This is about inequality, not politics, so democracy can’t fix the problem.
HONG KONG — The prevailing media narrative about the Hong Kong protest — namely that the citizens are politically dissatisfied and are fighting for democracy against the tyranny of Beijing — is false. What’s actually happening is this: A fringe of radical (or sometimes, more charitably, merely naive) ideologues are recasting the real and legitimate economic grievances of people here as a fight about Hong Kong’s autonomy. The movement is part of a global trend you might call maidancracy (rule of the square, from the infamous Maidan in central Kiev where the Ukrainian protests began). If carried out to its full extent, it will not end well for Hong Kong.
Maidancracy is an increasingly common post-Cold-War phenomenon. From the former Soviet Union to Southeast Asia, from the Arab world to Ukraine, it has affected the lives and futures of hundreds of millions of people. Hong Kong’s iteration shares certain characteristics with the ones in Cairo and Kiev: First, there is general popular discontent over the prevailing state of affairs and the region’s probable future. Second, while the foot soldiers are largely well-intentioned people with genuine concerns for their own welfare and that of the Hong Kong society, they are led by activists with a strong ideological agenda. As a result, their aim becomes the overthrow of the government or sometimes the entire political system. Third, the press relentlessly cheers them on and thereby amplifies the movement and turns it into a self-fulfilling prophecy. Fourth, democracy is always the banner.
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Nascent political movements are a little like the Hunger Games. The odds are almost never in the little guys’ favor, which is why we marvel at the fall of the Berlin Wall or the success of Rosa Parks and the Montgomery Bus Boycott.
Last week, Jeff Bader, the Obama administration’s former top adviser on Asia, gave a stark prediction: Hong Kong protestors will almost certainly fail in their demands for universal suffrage. The reality, Bader told the Washington Post, is “Beijing is quite intractable.”
Bader’s assessment is brutal, but fair.
There are, however, pundits who lack Bader’s discernment, and confuse saying “it’s unrealistic” with “it’s absurd.” They sway readers by obfuscating two lines of thinking: Something is difficult to obtain, ergo, it is unworthy of attempt.
Martin Jacques’s piece “China is Hong Kong’s Future, Not It’s Enemy” is a classic in this vein. Its logic flows thus:
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Hongkongers aren’t protesting because of economic resentment toward mainland China.
As Hong Kong’s “Umbrella Revolution” continues, Martin Jacques and others commentators have tried to pin the underlying causes on purely – or primarily – economic factors. Although quality of life issues undeniably played a role in building up public discontent, the emerging narrative – which seeks to portray Hongkongers as ingrates resentful of Mainland China’s newfound economic success – is incomplete and misleading.
Hong Kong’s current system of governance has aptly been described as “the result of collusion between Hong Kong’s tycoons and Beijing’s Communists.” Half of Hong Kong’s legislature is made up of “functional constituencies” representing “special interests.” The end result of this is that the 1,200-strong Election Committee that currently chooses Hong Kong’s Chief Executive disproportionately favors corporate interests.
This skewed institutional framework is a major contributor to a whole host of quality-of-life issues. For example, the dispute over the high-speed rail public works project in 2010 – railroaded through the legislature despite significant public opposition – is a vivid illustration of the consequences of a political system in which business interests can run roughshod over other considerations. Successive chief executives, too, have been able to ignore quality-of-life issues affecting the general public precisely because they are accountable only to their “constituents” and not the general electorate.
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World-renowned scholars on Wednesday expressed divided opinions on the way the Communist Party of China (CPC) is handling reforms in China at a dialogue held in Beijing.
The scholars, from various disciples, aired their views at the China’s Reforms: Particularities versus Commonalities session on the first day of The Party and the World Dialogue 2014.
The scholars, who came from all over the world, discussed the reform for almost half a day. Some suggested that the reforms are being correctly handled due to the wide participation of society. Others disagreed, saying that despite the achievements, the Party’s reforms are bound to fail due to a number of issues including the lack of a democratic political system and censorship. Some of the delegates suggested that China is role model for rapid development.
David Shambaugh, a professor of political science and international affairs at the George Washington University in the United States, outlined ten challenges that the CPC is facing in implementing and sustaining the reforms.
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