A look back at the uneasy, love-hate story in China-Russia relations, in particular when it comes to geopolitical influence in Central Asia. While the former continues to maintain its Soviet-like stature through establishment of numerous multilateral initiatives which tie countries ranging as far from Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, to Turkmenistan, the latter, altogether with its rising GDP, and insatiable hunger for more natural resources control, is also making use of its economic boom to entice these countries’ leaders with promising investment in mega-projects worth tens of billions of US dollars, one that Russia, given its stagnating economic growth, is lacking of. For this reason, Central Asia remains a point of contention in the bilateral relations, and also one of the illustrations of the ongoing rivalries taking place between two Eurasian great powers.
Read the complete analysis in Al Jazeera.
Putin’s regional integration project will likely not prevent, but rather pave the way for Chinese comprehensive economic expansion. While Russia needs Central Asian states in the Customs Union for the purpose of maintaining its geopolitical presence, China pursues its economic benefits. Russia relies on its military might and traditional soft power in the region, whereas China applies its financial clout.
So while Beijing refrains from all out confrontation with Russia’s interests (as opposed to PRC’s hawkish approach to its neighbours in the East and South-East Asia), Chinese policymakers certainly take advantage of the Kremlin’s missteps and limited capabilities.
China takes note of the stagnating Russian economy that is gradually losing positions in the region. Russia and Central Asia overall trade turnover reached $27.3bn in 2011, when China’s commerce with Central Asia topped $46bn in 2012. Single-handedly, Beijing has become a main trade partner to all former Soviet states of Central Asia, except for Uzbekistan, where it is the second.
Darmon Richter, a freelance writer who blogs about the world’s bizarre places in his The Bohemian Blog, paid a visit to one of China’s landmark ‘ghost cities’, Ordos, which, as analysts are concerned regarding the country’s unprecedented rise in debt levels, will become the dominant face of China’s urban future.
Read the full article, and look at its dazzling photographs, in Business Insider.
Inner Mongolia is an interesting place. Once the birthplace of Genghis Khan, only 79% of the population belong to China’s predominant Han ethnicity, while 17% are of Mongol origin. It was once a part of Greater Mongolia, though consecutive Chinese empires and the latter-day rise of the Communist Party saw Inner Mongolia moulded and cast, time and time again, as a subservient province of China.
Interestingly however, Inner Mongolia is one of the only places in the world that still uses traditional Mongolian script. While Mongolia itself adopted Cyrillic during the communist years, perhaps the Mongols of China felt they had more to prove; clinging fiercely on to their heritage, and with it, the ancient characters that still now appear on street signs across Ordos and Kangbashi.
When a conglomeration of property developers began planning a new urban centre just outside the existing city of Ordos in 2003, the Kangbashi New Area, Ordos seemed set to become the futuristic jewel in China’s crown of city states.
However, nobody quite anticipated how quickly this new development would fall flat on its face. Deadlines weren’t met, loans went unpaid, and investors pulled out before projects could be completed – leaving entire streets of unfinished buildings. The ridiculous cost of accommodation in this dream city put off many would-be inhabitants, so that even fully completed apartments became difficult to sell.
Will Russia invade Ukraine over Crimea’s matter? That remains a critical concern in today’s international relations.
First thing Kremlin has to consider though: it is technically, cost-wise, impossible for Moscow to launch a huge military offensive on a country populated by more than 45 million people, but that doesn’t also mean improbable as well. Russia had gotten with similar conflict with Georgia in 2008, but the government would be considerate enough to assume that Ukraine is no Georgia.
Well, there’s something that may inhibit Putin’s plan, at the very least: as much as 60 billion US$ has evaporated from Russian stock indices in a single day. A goddamn single day. He must have had enough inner fear himself.
But one analyst, in a counter-argument, and with his similarly risky data analysis, dares himself to invest in Moscow’s stock market. Read the full article in Quartz. Perhaps it’s also the same consideration that comes along Putin’s mind. Think again.
Infographics’ source: Business Insider