Mr Xi Jinping Is Coming To Washington. Look Out, America!

February 12, 2012

Mr Xi Jinping Is Coming To Washington. Look Out, America!

Weng Lan writes from Washington: One of China’s communist bosses, Xi Jinping, who is expected to succeed Hu Jintao as supreme leader of China, is coming to Washington to gauge the state of relations between the old superpower and the emerging one. The Obama Administration will have to be on its best behaviour. The Chinese are sticklers for protocol and ritual and do not take kindly to being slighted. Comrade Xi is coming as heir apparent. This means that he is not going to make policy but will be keen to grasp how decisions are made in the US capital. It is a look and learn exercise for a man who will soon be the second most powerful politician on the planet. For President Obama the visit is not well timed. Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum, fighting for the Republic nomination... 

Some Juicy Political Gossip. With Lots Of Chinese Names Involved

February 11, 2012

Some Juicy Political Gossip. With Lots Of Chinese Names Involved

Lang Li writes from Chongqing: Here’s some seriously juicy political gossip from the heart of China. The word is that Wang Lijun, deputy mayor of Chongqing, a  municipality of 29 million people, has vanished. Rumour has it that he has sought political asylum in the US consulate in Chengdu. Apparently, after debriefing him, the Americans decided that he was too hot a potato to keep and sent him on his way. Just imagine what the Chinese government would have made of the claim that the US had granted him political asylum. Beijing would have accused the Americans of drugging, kidnapping or waylaying him. The question here though is this: ‘What did Wang tell the yanks?’ The fallout from Wang’s downfall may have a negative effect on Bo Xilai, the dynamic first Communist Party secretary of... 

Is China Pushing America And Europe Out Of Africa? Sure Is

February 11, 2012

Is China Pushing America And Europe Out Of Africa? Sure Is

Samuel Marshall writes from Addis Ababa: How about that huge tower block that the Chinese have built for the Organisation of African States in the  Ethiopian capital? Yes, the Chinese are smart. They go for high profile projects that stand out so that the locals cannot miss them. They are saying to all Africans: ‘We’re building your future’. The arrival of the Chinese has come as a shock to the American and European dispensers of aid. The Anglo-Saxon approach is to treat the locals as overgrown children who need to be taught the rules of modern life. What are their priorities? Human rights, equality of the sexes, freedom of the individual and the rule of law. The Americans are worse offenders than the British, the French, the Germans and the Scandinavians. Uncle Sam downgrades the... 

Republicans Have A New Hero. But He May Be Backing A Lost Cause

February 10, 2012

Republicans Have A New Hero. But He May Be Backing A Lost Cause

James Anderson writes from Washington: Who could have thought that Rick Santorum would win hands down in the Republican primaries in Colorado, Minnesota and Missouri on Tuesday? He did so on a shoestring budget and was outspent ten to one by the front runner for the Republican presidential nomination, Mitt Romney. Newt Gingrich did not campaign and finished a poor third. At present Romney has 107 delegates, Santorum 45 and Gingrich 32, as they head towards the National Convention in August that will select the candidate to take on President Barack Obama. The winner has to get the support of at least 1143 delegates, to aspire to be America’s next President. So why did Mr Santorum win and Mr Romney lose? Both were fighting for the evangelical Christian and Tea Party votes. Santorum is the son... 

Beijing Is Facing A New Threat: The Abduction Of Its Nationals Abroad

February 8, 2012

Beijing Is Facing A New Threat: The Abduction Of Its Nationals Abroad

Anonymous writes from Beijing: A problem is facing the Chinese governement: how to protect its nationals working around the world. A few days ago criminals had abducted 25 Chinese factory workers in the Sinai peninsula, supposedly to alert everyone to foreign labour taking away jobs from the locals. The Egyptians figured that if they seized Chinese workers, they would get an immediate response from Cairo and Beijing. They were right. The workers were quickly released, presumably with a pay-out to soothe local grievences. The week before 29 Chinese construction workers were abducted in the South Kordofon region of Sudan. China’s response was to dispatch a Ministry of Foreign Affairs team to consult with the Sudanese authorities. Releasing the workers topped the agenda but Beijing was concerned... 

President Assad Gets A Breather. Compliments Of Russia And China

February 7, 2012

President Assad Gets A Breather. Compliments Of Russia And China

Martin McCauley writes from Damascus: Great celebrations here marked the UN Security vote. Russia and China are now worshipped by President Bashar al Assad’s supporters as national heroes. They are credited with stopping a possible US-led military invasion of Syria. Make no mistake, the Arab League drafted a UN resolution that was couched in language that made it impossible to implement it in the short term. The result of that would have triggered a military intervention. So President al Assad is riding high. He knows that the UN will not sanction a military or even severe economic sanctions against his regime, in the near future at least. From the coverage in the Western media you would think that the whole of Syria is rising up against Assad. The truth is quite different. Bashar’s ruling... 

Bashar Al-Assad Is Following In Gaddafi’s Footsteps: Fighting To The Death

February 1, 2012

Bashar Al-Assad Is Following In Gaddafi’s Footsteps: Fighting To The Death

Martin McCauley writes from Tampa: The Syrian army has retaken some of the Damascus suburbs held by the rebels. Activists report that 2,000 soldiers and 50 tanks have moved into Kfar Batna, Saqba, Deraa and elsewhere. House to house arrests followed. The Free Syrian army engaged in a tactical withdrawal in the face of such military force. Does this mean that President Bashar Al-Assad has decided to carry out his threat to destroy opponents of the regime? His detractors grimly comment that he is not called Bashar for nothing. He is hell bent on grinding the protesters into the dust. He has initiated urban warfare in the capital. This destroys parts of one of the most beautiful cities in the Middle East. It is a heavy economic price to pay, Assad is willing to reduce the country to penury to... 

France Has Found Itself A New Joan Of Arc. And She’s A Guy This Time

January 29, 2012

France Has Found Itself A New Joan Of Arc. And She’s A Guy This Time

Martin McCauley writes from Paris: France and Britain have been at war since Guillaume le Conquerant  (you may know him as William the Conqueror) took over England in 1066. After then there was the 100 Years’ War, made immortal by the exploits of Joan of Arc, the first really populist politician, who appealed to the masses with her special type of patriotism and led the French to victory over the English. That is why she’s revered as one of the patron saints of France. But a modern Joan of Arc has risen: step forward François Hollande, a Socialist candidate in the French presidential elections in May. He is leading President Nicolas Sarkozy by 20 points in the opinion polls. Monsieur Hollande has proclaimed that he will free France from the tutelage of the financial markets. As a... 

Is Libya Descending Into Civil War? Yep, It’s Doing Just That

January 28, 2012

Is Libya Descending Into Civil War? Yep, It’s Doing Just That

Martin McCauley writes from Tripoli: Thing are not looking good in Libya, in case you’ve missed it. A bit of a civil war is brewing up here. So that you know, the late dictator Muammar Gaddafi based his power on the policy of divide and rule. He favoured his own tribe and its allies and discriminated against the rest. The uprising that eventually overthrew him was just the first act in the  Libyan drama. The next act is now being played out. Those who suffered under Gaddafi and during the uprising are now seeking revenge. The rebels’ primary loyalty was to themselves. There was no likelihood that afterwards they would lay down their arms and meekly accept a new civilian government backed by the West. The National Transitional Council does not really possess a proper army that could... 

War With Iran Is Inevitable Unless It Caves In To Western Pressure

January 27, 2012

War With Iran Is Inevitable Unless It Caves In To Western Pressure

Anonymous writes from Tehran: These are tense times in Iran as more tough Western sanctions loom.  Oil exports accounting for 80 per cent of the country’s foreign earnings are to be cut off to EU countries that take about a fifth of its exports. Any deals with the Central Bank of Iran will face sanctions. What is the goal of sanctions? To throttle the Iranian economy. Deny it the wherewithal to continue the race to acquire nuclear weapons. The problem with this scenario is that no government on earth would give in to such pressure from outside powers. If it did, it would lose all legitimacy. It would not be seen as defending national sovereignty and the national interest. So what is going to happen? There has to be compromise. Why? Because the West has concluded that a war with Iran before... 

Next Page »