BEIJING — At its recent plenary session in Beijing on Oct. 14-18, the Chinese Communist Party’s Central Committee rubber-stamped the country’s latest five-year economic plan, oversaw the further emergence of a new generation of political leaders and issued a number of significant policy announcements. Taken together, these events signal a changing political tide in Beijing and the ascendancy of the CCP’s Maoist-influenced “Princeling” faction in the run-up to the 2012 leadership transition. The Princeling faction is so named because many of its key figures are the sons of revolutionary heroes. The Princelings effectively represent the CCP’s traditionalist wing, littering their […]

On Oct. 11, Iranian Oil Minister Massoud Mir Kazemi announced a reassessment of the country’s oil reserves, increasing them by 9 percent to 150.31 billion barrels, from the previous official figure of 138 billion barrels. The announcement closely followed a similar move by Iraq, which had a week earlier raised its proven reserves by one-quarter — to 143 billion barrels — allowing Iraq to temporarily overtake Iran as the world’s third-largest oil-reserve holder. The back-to-back announcements do not signal the discovery of new oil in the Middle East, however. As Iranian and Iraqi subsoil resources have been extensively surveyed over […]

Editor’s note: This article is the second in a two-part series. Part I focused on the impact of budget cuts on the British navy. Part II focuses on the implications for U.S. national security policy. As part of government-wide cuts meant to rein in decades of deficit spending, in October the U.K. Ministry of Defense announced an initial 8 percent reduction in its roughly $63 billion annual budget. The Royal Navy will suffer the deepest cuts, with around one-quarter of the fleet — as measured by tonnage — to be decommissioned and future purchases of ships and planes delayed and […]

Editor’s note: This article is the first in a two-part series. Part I will focus on the impact of budget cuts on the British navy. Part II will focus on the implications for U.S. national security policy. It was an event worthy of the British Royal Navy’s 500-year history. On June 3 at Portsmouth Naval Base, hundreds of dignitaries and citizens gathered to celebrate the commissioning of HMS Dauntless, the second of six high-tech Type 45 destroyers now entering service. A band played, the crew marched in parade and the ship’s captain, Richard Powell, read the traditional “commissioning warrant.” There […]

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A number of rail link items have caught my attention recently, and I thought it worthwhile to pass them along. The first is this massive China-Turkey joint development of a Turkish high-speed rail project, with China financing the project to the tune of an estimated $30 billion. The second is this Burma project linking its deep-water port of Kyaukphyu to Kunming, the capital of China’s southwestern province of Yunnan. Then there’s this one, in Africa, linking South Sudan to Uganda. And finally, there’s this rundown of the current rail projects in Southeast Asia. We often talk about ties between two […]

U.S. and European efforts to stabilize Yemen and Somalia are boomeranging. Rather than weakening militants in both countries, Western counterterrorism and counterinsurgency strategies are fueling radicalism and turning wide swathes of the population against the West. With little real effort to economically and politically stabilize the two countries, U.S. military and security support for Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh and the embattled head of Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government (TFG), Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed, exacerbates local fault lines and strengthens deep-seated anti-Americanism. The backfiring of Western policies is compounded by a one-size-fits-all approach and a failure to address local grievances. To be […]

Space-based solar power (SBSP) may soon emerge as one of the leading sectors of strategic cooperation between India and the U.S., with a recently released report (.pdf) authored by U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Peter A. Garretson making the case for it being the next focus of the growing partnership. There are a number of reasons why SBSP may emerge as the hub for strategic industrial coordination between the two countries. First, neither country can meet its energy needs through existing clean-energy technologies, including nuclear power, and various technological advances over the past few decades have made space-based solar power […]

The news that Turkey and China had organized a joint military exercise at the huge Konya airbase in Turkey’s central Anatolian region last month came as a surprise to many. After all, just a year ago, when clashes between Uighur and Han Chinese broke out in China’s Xinjiang province in July 2009, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused Chinese authorities of mishandling a situation that he compared to “genocide.” What explains such a dramatic improvement in relations between Turkey and China? And how should this military exercise be understood in the context of the current shifts taking place in […]

With nations scouring the globe in pursuit of dwindling mineral supplies, the world’s attention has shifted to Mongolia, a country some are heralding as the next resource success story. Among the last places on earth with rich, untapped mineral deposits, this landlocked, underdeveloped country is expected to become one of the world’s fastest-growing economies over the next decade — if, that is, it can address a set of daunting challenges and bring these resources to the market. According to some estimates, there is about $1.3 trillion worth of untapped coal, gold, silver, copper, uranium and zinc deposits in what is […]

Although Dilma Rousseff failed to secure an absolute majority in the first round of Brazil’s presidential election, she seems certain to beat her rival Jose Serra in the run-off voting on Oct. 31 to become Brazil’s first female president. As current President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva’s hand-picked successor, Rousseff represents policy continuity, and her likely victory shows the degree to which Brazilians are happy with the track their country is on. Yet one disturbing issue has been largely overlooked by both domestic and international commentators during the election campaign: Since 2004, Brazil has refused to grant inspectors from the […]

Since the financial crisis broke in 2008, the United Nations Security Council has looked like a poor relation to the newly empowered Group of Twenty (G-20). While world leaders tackled the crisis at biannual G-20 summits, ambassadors in New York got on with the daily grind of reviewing peace operations and routinely condemning far-flung atrocities. The council has occasionally been in the limelight, not least during this summer’s tortuous negotiations over new sanctions on Iran. But a top-level meeting on the council’s role convened by Turkey this September was an illustrative bore, producing a statement calling for a “continuous process […]

On Oct. 20, Iraq will embark on the next phase of development of its hydrocarbon sector by auctioning rights to three natural gas fields to private investors. For Baghdad, the success of this bid round, the third in the last two years, will go some way toward determining its ability to address Iraqi citizens’ concerns over power shortages. For outsiders, including many in European capitals and Washington, the comprehensive development of the Iraqi gas sector offers hope that in the medium term, Iraqi gas could begin to compete directly with Russian gas in the European market. The fields on offer […]

The ebullient celebration in Brazil over Petrobras’ historic $70 billion share-issue last month was bitterly received in Mexico City, where the state-owned oil company Pemex is mired in debt, inefficiency and ongoing political wrangling. With little having changed since Mexican President Felipe Calderón sought to reform the country’s energy sector two years ago, the contrast between Petrobras’ successes and Pemex’s failures has reignited discussion of Pemex’s future and renewed the public’s interest in the beleaguered Mexican oil giant. Once Latin America’s largest company, Pemex has persistently lost profits and market share to other state-led oil companies, including PetroChina, Russia’s Lukoil, […]

TBILISI, Georgia — Turkey’s ongoing foreign-policy reorientation will not only reshape the contours of the surrounding region, but could also force the West and those hopeful of joining its orbit to consider how to position themselves in the resulting geopolitical landscape. Georgia, in particular, will be especially affected by Ankara’s emergence as a regional center of influence. In addition to proximity, Georgia shares longstanding historical ties and burgeoning trade with Turkey. Georgia’s precarious geopolitical relationship with Russia is also a significant factor driving Tbilisi’s calculations. Turkey’s rising tide has been a safe bet for Georgia so far, but future Turkish […]

Last week India and Russia finalized plans to deliver 250 to 300 jointly developed fifth-generation fighter aircraft (FGFA) and 45 multirole transport aircraft (MTA) to India over the next decade. The Indian defense minister underlined that these would be the flagship Indo-Russian joint development projects, building on the success of the Brahmos cruise missile program as a model. Some wrinkles remain in the two countries’ defense partnership. India raised the issue of inordinate delays in the delivery of Russian defense systems, which result in considerable cost escalation. For instance, India will end up paying Russia $2.34 billion for the delivery […]

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Judy Dempsey offers a typically insightful piece on the challenges facing the EU at the U.N. these days. Ironically, Dempsey pivots off of Germany’s election as a non-permanent member of the council, whereas the real news of this year’s batch of non-permanent members is the presence of India and South Africa. With Brazil already there from last year, that means the council will now include all the member states of IBSA and BRIC, with Turkey thrown in for good measure. We already got a taste this spring of what an alternative emerging powers line at the UNSC could look like […]

BEIJING — Urban legend tells of an American businessman who, visiting a factory in China’s Guangdong Province, witnesses working conditions forbidden by Chinese law. When he inquires about them, the factory owner replies sharply, “Laws made in Beijing mean nothing in Guangdong.” Though apocryphal, the story reflects the localism and institutional inconsistency that are core aspects of the modern Chinese economy. Mao Zedong’s attempts to bring centralization and uniformity to an economic system of continental proportions resulted in paralysis. In the reform era, previously suppressed network connections have regenerated quickly, resulting in increasing heterogeneity and even fragmentation within the economic […]

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