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Posts Tagged ‘Geo-political tensions’

Must-Reads from Around the World: March 20, 2012

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on March 20, 2012

Syrian President Bashar Assad speaking during a Ramadan Iftar banquet in honor of Muslim clergymen, in Damascus, Syria, 24 August 2011. (Photo: SANA / EPA)

SYRIAN PRESIDENT BASHAR ASSAD SPEAKING DURING A RAMADAN IFTAR BANQUET IN HONOR OF MUSLIM CLERGYMEN, IN DAMASCUS, SYRIA, 24 AUGUST 2011. (PHOTO: SANA / EPA)

More Syria Leaks – Al Jazeera reveals details from confidential Syrian intelligence and security documents handed over by one of the government’s most trusted officials who recently fled to Turkey. The trove shows President Bashar Assad’s strategy to suppress anti-government protests, including orders to stop protesters from getting into Damascus and detailed security plans for crushing protests in the cities of Aleppo and Idlib, as well as warnings about countries trying to influence Syrian diplomats to defect and indications the government spied on last year’s Arab League monitoring mission in Syria. Read the rest of this entry »

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How Armenia and Azerbaijan Wage War Through Eurovision

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on March 11, 2012

Giel Domen / European Broadcasting Union

GIEL DOMEN / EUROPEAN BROADCASTING UNION
Armenia’s Eva Rivas performs “Apricot Stone” at Eurovision 2010 in Oslo, Norway. The song was widely interpreted as a statement about the Armenian genocide.

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Russia’s Putin Visits Beijing: Friendly Neighbors or Strategic Competitors?

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on October 11, 2011

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Russia's Prime Minister Vladimir Putin (C) and China's Premier Wen Jiabao (L) inspect an honour guard during a welcome ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on October 11, 2011 (Photo: Takuro Yabe / POOL / AFP)

Regular readers of stories from China’s state-run Xinhua News Agency know that relations between China and nearly every country whose leader visits Beijing merit a positive appraisal. “Malawi treasures its friendship with China and is grateful for China’s selfless support for Malawi’s national development,” gushed one Xinhua article last year, while another on Oct. 11 noted that “China and Namibia have become ‘all-weather’ friends.” Today, as Russia’s Vladimir Putin began a two-day trip to China accompanied by a 160-member delegation, a Xinhua op-ed piece proclaimed: “China-Russia cooperation conducive to a more balanced world.” The Chinese media group splashed “rarely-seen photos” of Putin and his family members of its website homepage, along with a link to a close-up of the Russian leader captioned: “Cute or cool, another face of Russian Prime Minister Putin.”

As evidence of this “more balanced world,” Xinhua pointed to China and Russia’s joint rejection of a U.N. draft resolution on Syria that would have condemned Damascus for its deadly crackdown on protestors. Xinhua also opined that “as key members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and leading emerging nations, China and Russia have played an important role in shaping a multipolar world and fostering democratization of international order.” The Shanghai Cooperation Organization is a grouping of China, Russia and Central Asian nations that presents an alternate security alliance to NATO. Closer Russian-Chinese ties could provide a counterbalance to relations with the West.

Ahead of Putin’s China visit, some $7 billion in trade deals were discussed, according to the Chinese Foreign Ministry. (China is now Russia’s top trading partner, and trade will likely surpass $70 billion this year.) Further economic cooperation is expected to be finalized during Putin’s China stop—the Russian Prime Minister’s first trip abroad since he announced a controversial leadership plan in which he would try to reclaim the more important title of President next year. Read the rest of this entry »

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China’s Security Chief Goes on Tour—How Is Asia Reacting?

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on August 24, 2011

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Over the past week, as I’ve traveled across Asia, I’ve discovered an unlikely partner in my continental peregrinations:

China's Politburo Standing Committee Member Zhou Yongkang arrives for a meeting in Kathmandu, Nepal, August 17, 2011. (Photo: Navesh Chitrakar / Reuters)

China’s security chief Zhou Yongkang. The senior Chinese envoy’s travels have taken him to Nepal, Laos, Cambodia and Tajikistan. The final stop is Mongolia, where Zhou is expected to head on Tuesday.

In Zhou’s wake, the narrative has tended to follow the same plot-line: first, China’s state media proclaims “mutually beneficial cooperation” and “longstanding friendship” between Beijing and the local government. Then a raft of trade deals or bequeathing of military goodies is announced. Finally, an undercurrent of unease follows, with regional analysts wondering about China’s growing economic and security might.

Last Saturday, Zhou was in Cambodia, where he met with Prime Minister Hun Sen. In addition to various mining, road-construction and farming deals, China has agreed to supply nearly $200 million in helicopters to Cambodia. Beijing is already the Southeast Asian nation’s largest foreign investor, and Hun Sen, who has quietly evolved into one of Asia’s longest-serving strongmen, has been vociferous in his support of China. His enthusiasm for Chinese largesse stands in marked contrast to his feelings toward Western donors who tend to attach pesky strings like human-rights commitments to their aid. The Phnom Penh Post quoted a local researcher worrying that “Cambodia will become subservient to China.” Read the rest of this entry »

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