The Cold War in Asia
FBI Director’s threat assessment demands US–Tibet Direct Dialogue
In FBI Director Christopher Wray’s evaluation, China is ‘most significant’ threat to US. In my analysis, the threat posed by Communist China requires an immediate response. On behalf of Living Tibetan Spirits, I recommend US-Tibet Direct Dialogue to confront threats arising from spread of Communism to mainland China. It must be said, Tibetans understand China’s deception better than any other people in our world.
FBI Director Chris Wray says China is ‘most significant’ threat to US – Business Insider
FBI Director Christopher Wray at the Aspen Security Forum. Screenshot/Aspen Security Forum
Amid rampant discussion about Russian election interference and espionage, FBI Director Christopher Wray has deemed China the largest, most concerning threat to the US.
Speaking at the Aspen Security Forum on Wednesday, Wray was asked whether he saw China as an adversary and, if so, to what level.
“I think China, from a counterintelligence perspective, in many ways represents the broadest, most challenging, most significant threat we face as a country,” Wray answered.
“And I say that because for them it is a whole of state effort. It is economic espionage as well as traditional espionage; it is nontraditional collectors as well as traditional intelligence operatives; it’s human sources as well as cyber means.
“We have economic-espionage investigations in every state, all 50 states, that trace back to China. It covers everything from corn seeds in Iowa to wind turbines in Massachusetts and everything in between. So the volume of it, the pervasiveness of it, the significance of it, is something I think this country cannot underestimate.”
The comments follow a 2017 report by the US trade representative that accused China of “trade secret theft, rampant online piracy and counterfeiting, and high levels of physical pirated and counterfeit exports.” The report found intellectual-property theft by China was costing the US up to $600 billion annually.
It seems a far more strategic and wide-ranging effort than Russia’s ongoing interference efforts, which dominated headlines in the US this week amid President Donald Trump’s widely panned summit with President Vladimir Putin.
Wray said Russia needed to be dealt with “aggressively,” but he seemed far more concerned with what he called China’s efforts to position itself as “the sole dominant superpower, the sole dominant economic power.”
“They’re trying to replace the US in that role, and so theirs is a long-term game that’s focused on just about every industry, every quarter of society in many ways,” Wray said. “It involves academia, it involves research and development, it involves everything from agriculture to high-tech. And so theirs is a more pervasive, broader approach but in many ways more of a long-term threat to the country.”
This isn’t the first time China’s patience and willingness to play the long game have been described as reasons its interference campaigns are more successful than those of Russia.
John Garnaut. Screenshot
Earlier this year, John Garnaut, who led a secret government inquiry into China’s political influence in Australia, told the US House Armed Services Committee that Russia preferred “focused, sharp strikes,” while Beijing’s actions were more incremental.
“Unlike Russia, which seems to be as much for a good time rather than a long time, the Chinese are strategic, patient, and they set down foundations of organizations and very consistent narratives over a long period of time,” Garnaut told the committee.
Garnaut’s report found China had attempted to influence politics at all levels in Australia. The Australian government has since introduced new foreign-interference laws— much to Beijing’s ire — and the issue is frequently discussed and debated in the public sphere.
It’s this widespread shift toward a consensus on China’s influence and interference attempts that Wray described as “one of the bright spots” since he became FBI director just over 10 months ago.
“It’s one of the few things I’ve seen that, in a country where it feels like some people can’t even agree on what day of the week it is, on this I think people are starting to come together,” Wray said.
“I see it in the interagency, I see it up on the Hill when I’m talking to the intelligence committees across the spectrum. I think people are starting to wake up and rub the cobwebs, or sleep, out of their eyes. And my hope is we’re in a moment where we can pivot and start to take this much more seriously.”
TIBET’S PROBLEMS RESULT OF SPREAD OF COMMUNISM TO MAINLAND CHINA
In my analysis, Tibet’s problems result of spread of Communism to mainland China in 1949. I view Tibet’s problems as mere symptoms of The Cold War in Asia. Most unfortunately, the US efforts to contain spread of Communism to mainland China failed. This setback does not mean that the world can ignore Tibet’s problems.
SPECIAL FRONTIER FORCE
TIBET’S PROBLEMS RESULT OF OLD CAUSES: DALAI LAMA
Dalai Lama (PHOTO: AFP)
Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama on Monday said Tibetans believed in the law of causality and the Tibetan problem was a consequence of old causes that had ripened.
Talking to Australian audience in Sydney through video conferencing, Dalai Lama said according to Chinese history book, in 7th, 8th and 9th century, there were three major empires: the Chinese, Mongol and the Tibetan empire.
In the 9th century, due to some quarrel among the Tibetan emperor, Tibet disintegrated. The problem started during that century. After that I think Tibetans paid attention to their own small circle, including the lamas, locals and landlords in different parts of Tibet, resulting in disintegration, he said.
“History had produced that way. Old causes have already there, so there will be consequences. Nobody can change that,” Dalai Lama said.
He said Tibet remained as one entity because of the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. “300 volumes of Buddhist texts translated from India and the language that covered the whole Tibetan area was what kept Tibetans as one entity. Otherwise in the political matter, for several centuries, we really neglected” he further stated.
Talking about global conflicts and lack of moral consciousness in societies, the Nobel laureate pressed for the need for a more complete education system that caters to the overall well being of a human being.
“Every 7 billion human being have every right to be a happy human being. Now the concern is the existing modern education. It is very much oriented towards material value.
Therefore the generation who receive that kind of education eventually goes on to create materialist life and materialistic culture. When they are faced with mental level problems, they are helpless,” he said.
Talking about mistakes in his life, he said ‘I think in political matter I feel there have been no major mistakes. At the age 16, I took the responsibility.
Then Tibet’s situation was very difficult and delicate so the Regent asked me to take the responsibility. The previous Dalai Lama took the responsibility at the age of 18. I told him that 16 was too early but the circumstances forced me to take the responsibility.
So I lost my own freedom.
At 24, I lost my country, then there were a lot of problems. But I think, now looking back, during those difficult periods, no major mistakes. I think all my major decisions eventually seem very correct, he added.
His Holiness mentioned an old Tibetan official who remained skeptical of His Holiness’ decision to flee Lhasa in 1959, but after the events of the Cultural Revolution, he concluded that the decision was correct.
LIVING TIBETAN SPIRITS – THE COLD WAR IN ASIA
Living Tibetan Spirits initiated Tibetan Resistance Movement during late 1950s with hope for defeating military occupation of Tibet using Infantry Weapons of Warfare. Indeed, there was such possibility of seriously degrading Enemy’s war machine during Vietnam War. Unfortunately, due to Nixon-Kissinger treason, Vietnam War remains unfinished. From military point of view, due to change in circumstances, ‘The Cold War in Asia’ may not be determined by tactics used in Infantry Warfare due to Enemy’s use of enhanced military capabilities.
In my analysis, the outcome in any war is not always determined by relative military power and military tactics used by parties engaged in conflict. The Cold War in Asia will come to its natural conclusion when Nature exercises Force/Power to influence human behavior and actions.
CHINA’S MILITARY IS WAGING A COLD WAR IN TIBET – THE NATIONAL INTEREST BLOG
In 2011, Beijing shelled out some 1.5 billion yuan (US$236 million) for the construction of an airport to serve the frigid wilderness of the Tibetan Plateau, saying it wanted to boost the local tourism industry.
Completed in 2013, Yading Airport has since handled no more than 150,000 passengers a year, equivalent to three or four daily flights carrying 400 travelers brave enough to enter the remote backwater. Little wonder: at elevation of 4,411 meters, the airport in southwestern Sichuan’s Daocheng county is the world’s highest, almost one kilometer above the gateway to Tibetan capital Lhasa.
With the air supply about 30% less than you would expect at sea level, it is said that oxygenators are one of the most vital pieces of equipment for airport ground staff to avoid medical complications such as acute mountain sickness. Aircraft flying into the rarefied air must also be equipped with oxygenators before each flight.
Yet this inhospitable airport’s location next to the Tibetan Autonomous Region does appeal to another group of travelers. The People’s Liberation Army has found a number of important roles for the facility, ranging from the testing of a new generation of jet-fighters to fending off missile threats from the Indian Ocean.
It is an open secret that Yading Airport was one of several testing grounds used for the locally built J-20 stealth fighter when it was plying the air route between Yading and Chengdu, capital of Sichuan province, where the jets were manufactured.
Analysts say the alpine climate, steep terrain and high elevation of the airport and its surroundings are ideal for reliability tests on the J-20 and similar warplanes. This is the same reason that the F-22 Raptor, the spearhead of the US Air Force, was tested in Alaska.
But Yading Airport’s significance also lies in the tactical advantages offered by its location at the roof of the world. The Chinese military can observe every movement at Indian installations in the Bay of Bengal, 1,000 kilometers to the southwest, as there is no mountain range blocking the view from Yunnan province across Myanmar.
Hong Kong-based military commentator Leung Kwok-leung noted that the PLA must have installed long-range early warning radars at the airport and it could also host an anti-missile shield at an elevation that would be the envy of other military services.
Chinese observers are undoubtedly monitoring movements by US nuclear submarines in and around the Bay of Bengal, and New Delhi’s construction of a nuclear submarine base there. As a result, Beijing is getting antsy about threats lurking on its southwestern front.
Yading could be the location for the world’s highest mid-range anti-ballistic missile defense system: using the elevation and low latitude, interceptors launched from the plateau could “hitch a ride” on the centrifugal force of the Earth’s rotation.
Leung said this would mean that the PLA could use anti-ballistic missiles launched from Yading to put down Indian or US missiles fired either from bases onshore or from vessels in the Bay of Bengal area while they were still ascending, in a “blocked shot manner”.
This article originally appeared on Asia Times.
RED CHINA – AGGRESSOR
In my analysis, Communist China, Red China is aggressor, hegemonist, imperialist, Expansionist,Neocolonialist, and Evil One occupying Tibet using military force. I do not consider the actions of Tibet, or of India to explain as to why Tibet lost Freedom in 1950.
HOW TIBET LOST ITS INDEPENDENCE AND INDIA ITS GENTLE NEIGHBOR
It relates to the sequence of events and the role of KM Panikkar, the Indian Ambassador in China, during the weeks after the invasion of Tibet.
Dekyi Linka, the Indian Mission in Lhasa till 1952 (thereafter the Indian Consulate-General).
Claude Arpi, holding the Field Marshal KM Cariappa Chair of Excellence from the United Service Institution of India (USI), for his research on the Indian Presence in Tibet 1947-1962 (in 4 volumes), has extensively worked in the National Archives of India and well the Nehru Library (on the Nehru Papers) on the history of Tibet, the Indian frontiers and particularly the Indian Frontier Administrative Service.
The Last Months of a Free Nation — India Tibet Relations (1947-1962) is the first volume of the series, using never-accessed-before Indian archival material. Though Tibet’s system of governance had serious lacunae, the Land of Snows was a free and independent nation till October 1950, when Mao decided to “liberate”it. But “liberate” from what, was the question on many diplomats’ and politicians’ lips in India; they realised that it would soon be a tragedy for India too; Delhi would have to live with a new neighbor, whose ideology was the opposite of Tibet’s Buddhist values; the border would not be safe anymore.
The narrative starts soon after Independence and ends with the signing, under duress, of the 17-Point Agreement in Beijing in May 1951, whose first article says: “The Tibetan people shall unite and drive out imperialist aggressive forces from Tibet; the Tibetan people shall return to the big family of the Motherland-the People’s Republic of China.” Tibet had lost its Independence …and India, a gentle neighbour.
Reproduced below are extracts from a chapter The View from the South Block.
It relates to the sequence of events and the role of KM Panikkar, the Indian Ambassador in China, during the weeks after the invasion of Tibet.
It is usually assumed that Sardar Patel, the Deputy Prime Minister wrote his “prophetic” letter to Jawaharlal Nehru, the Prime Minister, detailing the grave implications for India of Tibet’s invasion. In fact, he used a draft sent to him by Sir Girija Shankar Bajpai, the Secretary General of the Ministry of External Affairs and Commonwealth.
On November 7, 1950, just a month after the entry of the People’s Liberation Army in Tibet, Patel sent Bajpai’s note to Nehru under his own signature Bajpai, the top-most Indian diplomat, was deeply upset by the turn of events; he also shared his note with President Rajendra Prasad, C. Rajagopalachari and others. Nehru ignored Patel’s letter and the views of his colleagues.
It is usually assumed that Sardar Patel, the Deputy Prime Minister of India wrote the “prophetic” letter to Jawaharlal Nehru, the Prime Minister, detailing the grave implications for India of Tibet’s invasion. In fact, he used a draft sent to him by Sir Girija Shankar Bajpai, the Secretary General of the Ministry of External Affairs and Commonwealth. On November 7, 1950, a month after the entry of the People’s Liberation Army in Tibet, Patel sent Bajpai’s note under his own signature, to Nehru, who ignored Patel’s letter.
Bajpai, deeply upset by the turn of events, had also sent his note to President Rajendra Prasad and C Rajagopalachari.
Girija Shankar Bajpai’s Note of October 31
Bajpai first noted that on July 15, 1950, the Governor of Assam had informed Delhi that, according to information received by the local Intelligence Bureau, Chinese troops, “in unknown strength, had been moving towards Tibet from three directions, namely the north, north-east and south-east.” The same day, the Indian Embassy in China reported that rumours in Beijing had been widely “prevalent during the last two days that military action against Tibet has already begun.” Though Panikkar was unable to get any confirmation, he virtually justified Beijing’s military action by writing: “in view of frustration in regard to Formosa, Tibetan move was not unlikely.” A few days later], Bajpai remarked that the Ambassador [Panikkar] had answered [Delhi] that he did not consider the time suitable for making a representation to the Chinese Foreign Office. Bajpai is more and more frustrated with Panikkar’s surrender to Chinese interests and perhaps also by the support that the ambassador gets from the Prime Minister. The Secretary General is clearly in a difficult position. Already on July 20, Panikkar’s attention had been drawn by South Block to the fact that Beijing’s argument that the “Tibetans had been stalling the talks,” was wrong. Panikkar had been informed by Delhi that the Tibetan Delegation should not be blamed for something they are not responsible for…
Panikkar brings in philosophical issues
India [Panikkar] attempted to change the Communist regime’s decision to “liberate” Tibet, by bringing a philosophical angle to the issue: “In the present dangerous world situation, a military move can only bring a world nearer [to a conflict], and any Government making such a move incurs the risk of accelerating the drift towards that catastrophe.”
Mao was not in the least bothered about such niceties.
Delhi again repeats its “philosophical” position: it would be bad for Beijing to invade Tibet: “The Government of India would desire to point out that a military action at the present time against Tibet will give those countries in the world which are unfriendly to China a handle for anti-Chinese propaganda at a crucial and delicate juncture in inter-national affairs.” Delhi is convinced that “the position of China will be weakened” by a (Chinese) military solution.
The Chinese plans are clear
The objective of Mao and the Southwestern Bureau in Chengdu is to occupy Chamdo, it is therefore clear that the PLA is preparing to enter “Tibet proper”. …The objective remains the fall of Chamdo before the winter, ambassador or no ambassador, negotiation or no negotiations.
As Tibet is invaded, Sir Girija’s narrative continues:
On October 17, the Indian Ambassador receives the full details of the Chinese invasion of Tibet. South Block confirms that Tibet has been invaded, it was “brought to our notice at the request of the Tibetan Government in a message sent through our Mission in Lhasa,” says a cable from Delhi. The next day, Panikkar continues to argue against the invasion having happened; he says that out of the incidents to which Lhasa has drawn Delhi’s attention, only one appears to be new.
Bajpai more upset
Sir Girija Bajpai is further upset when Panikkar argues: “Further I should like to emphasise that the Chinese firmly hold that Tibet is purely an internal problem and that while they are prepared in deference to our wishes to settle question peacefully they are NOT prepared to postpone matters indefinitely.”
This is written by the Ambassador of India.
(On October 22], Nehru cables the Ambassador in Beijing: “I confess I am completely unable to understand urgency behind Chinese desire to ‘liberate’ when delay CANNOT possibly change situation to her disadvantage.”
Finally on October 24, the Ambassador presents an aide-memoire to the Chinese Foreign Office. Bajpai notes “The contrast between the tone and content of the instructions sent to the Ambassador, and his feeble and apologetic ‘note’ deserves notice.” This raises a question, how could the ambassador present an aide-memoire without its content being vetted by South Block? It is a mystery.
Bajpai could only conclude that “from the foregoing narrative which I have been at some pains to document, that ever since the middle of July, at least, Peking’s objective has been to settle the problem of its relations by force.” From Mao’s cables, [one can see that] the invasion (or “liberation” for the Chinese side) did not at all depend on “negotiations” or “talks” with Tibetans. The army action had been decided since months.
Though Bajpai says that he is not interested to find “scapegoats”, he finally blames his ambassador to China: “The search for scapegoats is neither pleasant nor fruitful, and I have no desire to indulge in any such pastime. …however, I feel it my duty to observe that, in handling the Tibetan issue with the Chinese Government, our Ambassador has allowed himself to be influenced more by the Chinese point of view, by Chinese claims, by Chinese maps and by regard for Chinese susceptibilities than by his instructions or by India’s interests.” This is a strong, though late indictment of Panikkar.
Patel replies to Bajpai
…When on October 31, Sardar Patel wrote back to Bajpai: “The Chinese advance into Tibet upsets all our security calculations. …I entirely agree with you that a reconsideration of our military position and disposition of our forces are inescapable.” A few days later, Bajpai would write a note for Patel who sent it to Nehru, who did not even acknowledge it… Patel passed away five weeks later.
The rest is history.
RED CHINA’S INFORMATION WARFARE – INFILTRATION OF AMERICAN ACADEMIC INSTITUTIONS
Red China deploys Communist Tactics of Deception, Infiltration, and Subversion to undermine American Academic Institutions
WAKING UP TO CHINA’S INFILTRATION OF AMERICAN COLLEGES – THE WASHINGTON POST
Clipped from: https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/global-opinions/waking-up-to-chinas-infiltration-of-american-colleges/2018/02/18/99d3bee8-13f7-11e8-9570-29c9830535e5_story.html?utm_term=.2f7f2220ca8d
FBI Director Christopher A. Wray testifies during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Capitol Hill on Feb. 13. (Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)
China’s massive foreign influence campaign in the United States takes a long view, sowing seeds in American institutions meant to blossom over years or even decades. That’s why the problem of Chinese financial infusions into U.S. higher education is so difficult to grasp and so crucial to combat.
At last, community of U.S. officials, lawmakers and academics focused on resisting Chinese efforts to subvert free societies is beginning to respond to Beijing’s presence on America’s campuses. One part of that is compelling public and private universities to reconsider hosting Confucius Institutes, the Chinese government-sponsored outposts of culture and language training.
With more than 100 universities in the United States now in direct partnership with the Chinese government through Confucius Institutes, the U.S. intelligence community is warning about their potential as spying outposts. But the more important challenge is the threat the institutes pose to the ability of the next generation of American leaders to learn, think and speak about realities in China and the true nature of the Communist Party regime.
“Their goal is to exploit America’s academic freedom to instill in the minds of future leaders a pro-China viewpoint,” said Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), co-chair of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China. “It’s smart. It’s a long-term, patient approach.”
This month, Rubio asked all Florida educational institutions that host Confucius Institutes to reconsider those arrangements in light of a growing body of evidence that China seeks to constrain criticism on American campuses, exert influence over curriculum related to China and monitor Chinese students in the United States.
One of the schools Rubio contacted, the University of West Florida, had already decided not to renew its contract with Hanban, the Chinese government entity that manages the institutes. Western Florida joins a growing list of universities that are rejecting the Faustian bargain that comes with accepting Chinese government funding and management for programs meant to expose students to China, including the University of Chicago, Penn State University and Ontario’s McMaster University. West Florida President Martha Saunders told me the decision was primarily due to a lack of student interest, but the rising concerns also contributed.
FBI Director Christopher A. Wray articulated those concerns in testimony last week before the Senate Intelligence Committee. He said the FBI is “watching warily” and even investigating some Confucius Institutes. He said “naiveté” in the academic sector was exacerbating the problem and called out the Chinese government for planting spies in American schools.
“They’re exploiting the very open research and development environment that we have, which we all revere. But they’re taking advantage of it,” Wray said.
For Rep. Christopher H. Smith (R-N.J.), that’s a long-awaited acknowledgment. The majority of the institutes’ activity may be benign, and it’s difficult to determine how much self-censorship participating institutions engage in, Smith said. He has commissioned a study of the institutes by the Government Accountability Office to collect data to support his call for their closure.
“They are nests of influence, reconnaissance,” he said. “They keep tabs on Chinese students, and those who attend their classes are getting a Pollyannaish take on what China is about today.”
To understand what Confucius Institutes are really about, it’s necessary to understand their connections to the Communist Party and its history. Peter Mattis, a former U.S. intelligence analyst now with the Jamestown Foundation, said Confucius Institutes can be directly linked to the Communist Party’s “united front” efforts, still described in Maoist terms: to mobilize the party’s friends to strike at the party’s enemies.
For example, Liu Yandong, the Communist Party official who launched the Confucius Institutes and served as chairwoman, was the head of the United Front Work Department when the program began.
“They are instrument of the party’s power, not a support for independent scholarship,” Mattis said. “They can be used to groom academics and administrators to provide a voice for the party in university decision-making.”
At a minimum, Confucius Institutes must be required to provide more transparency, yield full control over curriculum to their American hosts and pledge not to involve themselves in issues of academic freedom for American or Chinese students. If they don’t do this voluntarily, Congress will likely act to compel them. Both Rubio and Smith are working on new legislation to do just that.
More broadly, if we as a country don’t want Confucius Institutes to control discussion of China on campus, we must provide better funding for the study of China and Chinese languages. If we are really headed into a long-term strategic competition with China, there is no excuse for not investing in educating our young people about it — or for letting the Chinese government do it for us.
CHINESE’ STRING OF PEARLS’ TIGHTENS NOOSE AROUND SRI LANKAN NECK
China’s Neocolonialism is tightening the noose around necks of cash-strapped economies of countries in Asia and Africa while the United States watches helplessly as a silent spectator.
SPECIAL FRONTIER FORCE
WITH SRI LANKAN PORT ACQUISITION, CHINA ADDS ANOTHER ‘PEARL’ TO ITS ‘STRING’ – CNN
The Hambantota port facility, 2015
(CNN)When Sri Lanka’s government first looked to develop a port on its southern coast that faced the Indian Ocean, it went not to China, but to its neighbor, India.
The venture was considered economically unviable and indeed, in the years that followed, the port sat empty and neglected, and Sri Lanka’s debt ballooned.
But India’s economic foresight might have cost it in terms of strategic geopolitics, since the debt incurred on the port and the surrounding infrastructure undertakings now belong to its great rival.
China’s official licensing of the port in December last year gives it yet another point of access over a key shipping route, and the prospect of providing it with a sizeable presence in India’s immediate backyard and traditional sphere of influence, bringing China closer to India’s shores than New Delhi might like.
Sri Lankan dancers perform at the site of the Hambantota port during a ceremony marking the first phase of construction, August 15, 2010.
Moreover, Sri Lanka’s decision to sign a 99-year lease with a Chinese state-owned company for the Hambantota port to service some of the billions it owes to Beijing has some observers concerned other developing nations doing business with China as part of China’s One Belt One Road initiative might fall into similar financial straits.
A trap, they warn, that may well have them owing more than just money to Beijing.
“China is, in many cases, the only party with the interest and the capital to deliver on these projects,” said Jeff Smith, a research fellow on South Asia at the Heritage Foundation in Washington DC. “The relevant question for everyone is: at what cost?”
‘A determined strategy by China’
China has for decades invested in Sri Lanka, particularly during moments in recent history when much of the international community held off.
As the European Union sought to punish Sri Lanka over human rights abuses during the decades-long civil war between government forces and the Tamil Tigers, China acted on its behalf diplomatically at the United Nations. It also supplied the Rajapaksa government with military aid and it promised to spend to rebuild the country’s damaged infrastructure. India had also sent in military help, but nowhere near the levels Beijing dispatched.
The civil war ended in 2009. Between 2005 and 2017, China spent nearly $15 billion in Sri Lanka. By comparison, the International Finance Corporation, which is part of the World Bank group, says that between 1956 and 2016, it invested over $1 billion.
Jeff Smith points out that along with the Hambantota port investments, Beijing loaned Sri Lanka $200 million in 2010 for a second international airport and a year later a further $810 million for the “second phase of the port project.”
There was more. $272 million for a railway in 2013 and more than $1 billion for the Colombo Port City project, ventures that hired mostly Chinese workers (one Sri Lankan report put the number of Chinese workers dedicated to projects in 2009 at 25,000), and all with money Sri Lanka could barely afford to repay.
By 2015, Sri Lanka owed China $8 billion, and Sri Lankan government officials predicted that accumulated foreign debt — both owed to China and other countries — would eat up 94% of the country’s GDP.
After an equity swap, an IMF bailout and more control over the projects ceded to Beijing, the terms of the debt were restructured, giving Sri Lanka some breathing space.
In 2017, however, the Hambantota port proved too costly for Sri Lanka to sustain.
“They (the Chinese) called in the debt, and the debt has been paid by Sri Lanka giving them the (Hambantota) port. That port then gives them not only a strategic access point into India’s sphere of influence through which China can deploy its naval forces, but it also gives China an advantageous position to export its goods into India’s economic sphere, so it’s achieved a number of strategic aims in that regard,” said Malcolm Davis, senior analyst at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute in Sydney.
“This is part of a determined strategy by China to extend its influence across the Indian Ocean at the expense of India and it’s using Sri Lanka to achieve it,” he said.
Details of the new agreement between China and Sri Lanka have not been made public.
The port is an “important project aimed at spurring local economic growth based on equality and mutual benefits,” according to the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It declined to answer further when asked by reporters.
Construction workers operate heavy equipment at the base of Sri Lanka’s Hambantota port August 1, 2010. Some 350 Chinese staff helped in the first phase of construction.
‘Creating demand for Chinese goods’
China’s claiming of controlling stakes in strategic ports along critical shipping lanes — what analysts have taken to referring to as its “string of pearls” — beginning at the Straits of Malacca and dotting the Indian Ocean, should signal Beijing’s ultimate ambitions, said Davis.
“There’s a bigger picture here, that the more you invest in the Belt and Road initiative, the more the Chinese are in a position to force your country to align politically in terms of policy,” Davis told CNN.
“So you become dependent on their investment and their largesse, and you’re less likely to be critical of them and you’re more likely to accommodate their interests strategically.”
China launched its ambitious One Belt One Road (OBOR) development strategy in 2013, investing in projects that include thousands of miles of highways in Pakistan, an international airport in Nepal and a rail link between China and Laos. The initiative would come to span more than 68 countries and encompass 4.4 billion people and up to 40% of global GDP. Consisting of two distinct parts, the Silk Road Economic Belt would stretch from China to Europe and include a host of trade and infrastructure projects, and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road would be a sea-based network of shipping lanes and port developments throughout Asia and the Pacific.
Beijing’s other potential partners are finding difficulty with some of their own joint projects.
Last November the government in Nepal scrapped a $2.5 billion deal with a Chinese company to build the biggest hydropower plant in the Himalayan country because of “irregularities” in the award process. The current Nepalese government, which had replaced the cabinet that had approved the earlier deal, announced the contract would instead go to a state-owned Nepali company.
In Myanmar, a $3.6 billion dam project has stalled. The then-military backed government suspended work on the Myitsone dam in the north of the country in 2011, with talks regarding its future ongoing.
Pakistan withdrew from a $14 billion agreement with China for a dam last November because the conditions of the deal included China taking ownership of the project and were “not doable and against our interests,” Pakistan’s Water and Power Development Authority chairman Muzammil Hussain was quoted as saying. Like Nepal, Pakistan has since indicated it would also look to shoulder the cost of the dam rather than go to an outside investor.
China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs claimed to be unaware of this when asked about the situation by reporters in Beijing in December. The country’s top economic planning agency later said that the two countries were discussing cooperating on the dam project but that there’d been no discussion of proposals to move it forward. The agency said “Pakistan media’s reporting on this project has been inaccurate, or only represented the views of certain officials.”
But China is still spending in Pakistan. It is building a hydroelectric power station in the Rawalpindi district, and it is developing the port of Gwadar, strategically located on the Arabian Sea.
In Malaysia, China is spending $7.2 billion on a new deep sea port in the Straits of Malacca and working on infrastructure projects on the country’s eastern seaboard.
China’s trade deal with the Maldives government included investments in developing the international airport and a bridge, but the Maldives in return has taken on a significant number of controversial loan obligations.
Last July, former President Mohamed Nasheed said the loan interest the traditionally Indian ally pays to service its foreign debt to China is more than 20% of the country’s budget. He said that part of the deal included China’s receipt of 16 “strategically located islands” in navigation sea-lanes.
A Sri Lankan soldier walks past a billboard bearing portraits of Chinese President Xi Jinping and Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa, ahead of Xi’s visit to the Sri Lankan capital Colombo, September 15, 2014.
Dean Cheng, a senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, DC, said that the initial wave of Chinese investments in the Indian Ocean, the so-called string of pearls, was largely driven by economic considerations. The investments, he said, “would facilitate economic growth, which would benefit Chinese companies. Moreover, the construction projects would entail Chinese workers (a feature of most Chinese projects abroad, bringing their own work force), and create a demand base for Chinese goods.”
At the same time, he said the Chinese are clearly intent on creating a friendly political network of states. “There’s nothing inherently dangerous about political considerations in economic investments,” he told CNN. “It would be foolish to think that any state is wholly driven by economic considerations.”
Leaders attend China’s Belt and Road Forum
The ever-encroaching Chinese presence into India’s sphere of political and economic influence has been noted, but so far, says Manoj Joshi, New Delhi purports to be unruffled, as long as Hambantota remains a commercial port, and no Chinese naval vessels suddenly appear in the vicinity.
“In 2014 a Chinese submarine was spotted in Colombo harbor and that was the first time we saw that and the Indian side was a bit concerned,” said Joshi, a distinguished fellow at the Observer Research Foundation in New Delhi. At the time Indian defense officials expressed “serious concern” to their Sri Lankan counterpart, and naval chiefs from both countries met to discuss the incidents. Then-Defense Minister Arun Jaitley said the government “keeps a constant watch on all developments concerning our national security and economic interests and takes necessary measures to safeguard them.”
A Chinese submarine and a Chinese warship were allowed to dock at the Colombo port in November 2014, just under two months after another Chinese submarine called into the same port. At the time both China and Sri Lanka dismissed New Delhi’s concerns, saying the vessels were on refueling stops during anti-piracy missions. Colombo port regularly hosts ships from numerous navies, including the US. But as China’s own navy becomes more ‘blue water’ [as in, able to move in open oceans around the world and not just in its own surrounding waters] these appearances will be more commonplace.
A Sri Lankan commando stands guard on the Hambantota construction site, November 18, 2010.
“It’s geopolitical competition and India sees itself as the foremost nation in Asia and with the Chinese building a port, building and airport, building roads in Sri Lanka, they’ve emerged as big investors there and the Indians are obviously feeling somewhat nervous because India doesn’t have those kind of resources to compete with,” Joshi told CNN.
“What we worry about is, we already have a border problem with China and now that competition goes to the Indian Ocean region. That could be against our interests.”
India and China share a 2,500 mile-long border, and have regularly faced off over perceived intrusions on each other’s terrain as well as activity in uninhabited territory claimed by China and Bhutan, an Indian ally.
“Everybody talks about China and India being major rivals, I think China doesn’t see India as a genuine long-term rival, I think it looks at India and sees a classic case of democracy gone wrong,” said Yvonne Chiu, assistant professor in the politics department at the University of Hong Kong.
“India is incredibly corrupt, its infrastructure is terrible, and it is riddled with religious and demographic problems,” she told CNN. “Except it is very large. It does have a big population as well and it’s on the border. So it’s a regional rival, but I don’t think they take India seriously as a global rival.”
Sri Lanka’s President Mahinda Rajapaksa, center, flanked by his eldest son and parliamentarian Namal Rajapaksa, right, and Prime Minister D. M. Jayaratne, left, tour the Hambantota construction site, November 18, 2010.
For its part, India is now taking an active interest in Hambantota. The government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi is reported to be in talks with Sri Lanka about taking over the airport near the port, which was built using Chinese funds that Beijing itself wants to manage and is pushing for control with the Sri Lankan government. During a media briefing last November, Raveesh Kumar, an official spokesperson for the Ministry of External Affairs, would only say that New Delhi has “a lot of developmental projects” going on in Sri Lanka and declined to elaborate further. Colombo has yet to make a decision involving the airport.
And New Delhi continues to actively participate in large-scale naval exercises in regional waters alongside allies Japan, and the US, and into the future, possibly Australia too, all to Beijing’s continued consternation.
Last year’s Malabar exercises in the Bay of Bengal involving the US, Japan and India were the largest the region has seen in more than two decades.
“India, of course, remains highly influential in Sri Lanka, and would not look kindly on any effort to pressure the government on matters related to defense and national security,” said Jeff Smith. “Nor would the Sri Lankan military, which values its exchanges with the US.”
Modi will be in Singapore in June, attending the Shangri-La dialogue, an annual meeting of defense ministers, military chiefs and defense officials from the Asia-Pacific. His keynote address will be carefully watched for words on China’s maritime expansion.
A White House unable to compete with China
South Asia’s problems are not on Washington’s radar right now, says Hong Kong University professor Chiu. The White House has much of its focus — along with a substantial naval presence — directed towards the Korean Peninsula and the ongoing crisis there. And while the US is distracted, China is slowly and incrementally changing the seascape in the Asia Pacific. China claims disputed islands in the South China Sea as part of its territory and has been militarizing some of those islands, reclaiming land on others and turning sandbars into islands to assert sovereignty over the area.
“Everything that they do, like building these islands (in the South China Sea) and stuff that is illegal internationally, but nobody wants to get into a conflict over, it adds up and you have a new status quo and it’s too late to do anything about it,” Chiu said.
“China can’t afford to go to war over anything … it would most likely lose against a major power … but these kind of small incremental things, people will let them get away with. As long as they’re patient, it could have the same effect as going to war.”
Even as China has taken the long view, Dean Cheng argues it’s never too late for the US and its allies to do something to counter Beijing’s ambitions.
“The US, in cooperation with India, Japan and possibly the European Union, could offer alternative financing,” Cheng said. “They could help train local officials, lawyers, etc., to become better negotiators. They can push for transparency, especially in Chinese-sponsored institutions to make clear the terms of the loans, payback processes, as well as how contracts are rewarded.”
Sri Lankan police stand guard during a protest in Colombo against the lease of the loss-making Hambantota port to China, February 1, 2017.
Last October US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson gave a speech on the US relationship with India. Tillerson said it was up to New Delhi and Washington to “do a better job leveraging our collective expertise to meet common challenges while seeking even more avenues of cooperation.”
“We must also recognize that many Indo-Pacific nations have limited alternatives when it comes to infrastructure investment programs and financing schemes, which often fail to promote jobs or prosperity for the people they claim to help,” Tillerson said. “It’s time to expand transparent, high-standard regional lending mechanisms, tools that will actually help nations instead of saddle them with mounting debt.”
Tillerson told reporters that during the East Asia ministerial summit in August that the US had started “a quiet conversation with others about what they were experiencing, what they need.”
However, he also admitted Washington’s constraints. “We will not be able to compete with the kind of terms that China offers,” said Tillerson. “But countries have to decide, what are they willing to pay to secure their sovereignty and their future control of their economies? And we’ve had those discussions with them as well.”
China’s resources are nowhere near as limited as the US and its allies, says Yvonne Chiu from the University of Hong Kong.
“Right now, it can play on multiple fronts at once,” Chiu notes. “And they take a very long view. If you’re a power like the US, you’re really far away. That distance is going to limit how much attention you can pay to the region. The US has to pick and choose and it’s chosen East Asia. So, unless something really major happens, that’s probably where their attention is going to stay.”
A Chinese worker at the construction site of a Chinese-funded $1.4 billion reclamation project in Colombo, Sri Lanka in October 2017.
As 2017 wrapped up, the Chinese state news agency Xinhua published a dispatch from Colombo, describing how the Hambantota port was “now racing along a developmental fast-track.”
Chinese and Sri Lankan workers were building a highway north of the port, along with a bridge, and the Chinese Harbor Engineering Company is negotiating with the Sri Lankan government to develop a Logistics Zone that will include a natural gas power plant and refineries, the agency reported.
On the first day of the new year, the Chinese flag flew beside Sri Lanka’s at the port for the first time ever.
The Chinese Harbor Engineering Company began 2018 with a $1 billion investment to build three 60-story office towers in Colombo.
Rather than resist getting into further debt, Sri Lanka’s government appears to be making more deals with China that it will may yet struggle to pay back.
PRESIDENT TRUMP’S DEFINING MOMENT – ARE YOU FRIEND OF FREEDOM AND DEMOCRACY?
On Tuesday September 19, 2017, President Trump will address the UN General Assembly. It will be President Trump’s defining moment. He must prove his credentials to the world.
On behalf of Special Frontier Force, I ask Mr. President, “Are You Friend of Freedom and Democracy?”
Trump must verify his love, hate relationship with American Values. While defending Freedom and Democracy, the US lost its battle in Vietnam. Now, I must know as to how President Trump plans to “WIN” ‘The Cold War in Asia’.
Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA 48104 – 4162
SPECIAL FRONTIER FORCE
TRUMP’S LOVE, HATE RELATIONSHIP WITH THE UNITED NATIONS – ABC NEWS
President Trump will make his first speech before the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday. Will he bring the world together or sow division? Will he embrace an institution that he has previously called weak and incompetent?
His relationship with the New York-based global organization is long and complicated.
Trump, the candidate, says UN “not a friend of freedom”
During his March 23, 2016 speech before the American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s conference, then-candidate Trump issued some of his toughest commentary, speaking of the “utter weakness and incompetence of the United Nations.”
“The United Nations is not a friend of democracy. It’s not a friend to freedom,” Trump said. “It’s not a friend even to the United States of America, where, as you know, it has its home. And it surely is not a friend to Israel.”
Though a 2016 Global Attitudes Survey by Pew Research Center showed that 64 percent of Americans had a favorable view of the United Nations, Trump’s campaign promises for a protectionist economic policy and an aggressive approach to China come into conflict with the goals of multilateralism and the UN charter. His promotion of interrogation techniques “worse than waterboarding,” his push for a temporary ban on Muslims from entering the U.S. and his decision to pull out of the Paris Climate Accords have also put Trump at odds with UN allies.
Last December, Trump continued his assault on the institution, tweeting: “The United Nations has such great potential but right now it is just a club for people to get together, talk and have a good time. So sad!”
Trump, the real estate magnate: “I’m a big fan” of the UN
In 2005, Trump testified before a subcommittee looking at UN spending, calling himself a “big fan of the United Nations and all it stands for.” He told lawmakers the institution was one of the reasons he chose to build Trump World Tower, one of his luxury residential properties, where he did in 1998.
“If the United Nations weren’t there, perhaps I wouldn’t have built it in that location,” said Trump. “So it means quite a bit to me.” When Trump was planning the building, many UN officials, including Secretary General Kofi Annan, expressed disapproval of the massive construction project.
Trump’s renovation hopes
At a 2005 hearing, a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs subcommittee was looking at renovations at the UN New York headquarters and estimated development costs for similar projects in New York. Trump had met with UN officials to pitch his services, but they were refused. He told members he thought the project could cost $700 million, and he predicted the UN would end up spending upwards of $3 billion.
“You have to deal in New York City construction to see what tough people are all about,” Trump said at the time. “I listen to these people and they’re very naive, I respect them, but they’re very naive in this world. I might be naive in their world. But in this world, they’re naive.”
He also noted at a 2005 hearing that it was a dream of his to move the United Nations headquarters to the World Trade Center.
Seven years later, he shared another UN preoccupation, tweeting on Oct. 3, 2012: “The cheap 12 inch sq. marble tiles behind speaker at UN always bothered me. I will replace with beautiful large marble slabs if they ask me.”
On Tuesday, Trump will address the United Nations General Assembly and the world without his “beautiful large marble slabs” as a backdrop.