Reviving the Silk Road

Nearby Laos is into hock to the Chinese for a pile of infrastructure, notably their ‘under construction’ bit of a ‘Kunming-Singapore’ railroad that has very little support in Malaysia and Thailand further south which will cost them 33% of their annual GDP by the time it opens in 2021. The loan needs annual servicing thereafter.

The terrain in Laos is brutal, it is basically one mountain range from north west to south east.

Between the rail project (China to the capital) and some motorway and dam projects they are in hock for over 50% of GDP albeit rapidly growing GDP nowadays. If they could stop at that lot for a few years then inflation will get them out of potential trouble in a few years.

If they keep taking credit they will be a Chinese vassal state by 2025. :frowning:

A quick breakdown of how China’s geaography drives it’s defence policy.

Chinas Giant Gulag!

Since 2016 China has built a giant system of Gulags or ‘special vocational schools’ in its Muslim majority North West province of Xinjiang. These large camps, over 20 of them, are capable of housing at least 1 MILLION PRISONERS and a catalogue of these gulags, together with Google Earth Images, is available HERE.

So far China is detaining in the order of 500,000-700,000 prisoners, almost all are ethnic Uighurs and Kazakhs from the NW area. The total population of Kazakhs and Uighurs is around 13-14m meaning that 5% of the entire ethnic population is now in the Gulag. Whole areas are depopulated now.

The FT carried an excellent piece on this enormous security crackdown this week. … 81731a0340

Nobody is safe from the Gulag. … dawut.html

That’s horrendous about the Uighirs and Kazakhs. How is this the first we’re hearing of this? It looks like it’s too late to put the Chinese Genie back in the bottle.

The Chinese look to be ratcheting up the pressure on Taiwan. TBH I’m not sure what the status of Taiwan is. I have a vague rememberance (probably from this parish) that the Chang Kai Cheks Chinese Nationalist fled there after they lost to the Communists. I don’t know if Taiwan is traditionally part of China, I’ll have to look it up.

From what I remember from my history lessons, it is(was) a Chinese province that is where the losing nationalists fled to after the civil war, the communists never bothered to pursue them at the time, but never recognised it as a separate country.

The Chinese don’t appear to have any ambitions to bomb their way to victory, they’ll play the long game where eventually Taiwan will be reunited into the State.
It looks like they recently have increased the pressure to grind down the Taiwanese so that eventually they’ll rejoin (under duress).

As for that Genie, I think we can blame western business leaders who used cheap Chinese labour to break the western unions.

Yep, this is exactly it. Is it ironic that a Communist Country was used to break western unions?

The clients along the Silk Road are waking up to the debt implication of some of the projects. The Myanmar Junta and now the Malaysian’s are reviewing their part in the projects.

Tanzania appears to have had a lucky escape from the clutches of the Chinese. The Previous government signed up for a huge $10bn Port named Bagamayo . Seemingly the current Tanzanian government will guarantee nothing for this project and it will probably not go ahead unless the Tanzanians are on the hook for a backstop.

There are towns in northern Lao that are full of empty Chinese owned hotels and restaurants that have been set up for money laundering purposes.

The Chinese have also assumed de facto control of Lao’s rubber industry. From a quick Google search… … ode=fjps20

They are also probably going to be afforded the use of a number of Vietnamese islands in the South China Sea for a price…although many Viets are not happy with this prospect… … a-dilemma/

Ultimately all of these actions are being undertaken with the willing consent of the locals, some of whom will benefit from same (many others will not of course).

Its basically the same approach that the Britsh East India Company employed in the 18th and 19th centuries and is (depending on your perspective) infinitely more desirable than a Bush/Clinton/Obama approach which requires initial destruction followed by contracts for regeneration…at least for now…

I traveled in Shan state in northerly Myanmar a decade ago and Chinese money was very obvious then. On the plus side I was able to access my e-mail accounts there which I couldn’t do elsewhere in Myanmar. In Yangon it was actually cheaper and quicker to telegram a message to Ireland than send an email via the heavily censored government official web service.

I’m surprised at the Vietnamese kowtowing to the Chinese. They only recently (in Asian history terms) fought a war against the Chinese and the Chinese traditionally considered Vietnam a province of China.

Yeah. The Viet Government are playing with fire. This was only the second anti-Government protest since the ending of the American war in the 70s. The first was around a ecological disaster which destroyed a large section of the Vietnamese fishing industry a couple of years ago (2016)…caused by the actions a Taiwanese multi-national (Formosa)…and in the eyes of the average Viet, Taiwanese = Chinese. So despite the upward economic trajectory, there is plenty of discontent below the surface.

However, generally money talks and the reality is that if the head honchos in the Communist Party decide something is good, no opposition is tolerated. Bloggers and others have been jailed of late for public displays of dissent.

China developed underground gas & oil pipelines from Myanmar coast to Yunnan
This avoids Straits of Malacca for the 80% of China energy imports that come from Arabia

Impressive stuff.

Watching the piece around the proposed development of a special economic zone around the port area its worth recalling that Hong Kong was little more than a fishing village up until the 1870s or so.

China making huge forays into the Arctic too, cooperating with Russia, being rejected in Iceland, US putting pressure on Denmark to reject
How a potential Chinese-built airport in Greenland could be risky for a vital US Air Force base
BBC - How Greenland could become China’s Arctic base

China has started turning up the heat on foreigners living in China.

They had to go to Taiwan to release the video as well.

When I came across a BBC programme on Aung San Su Ki two weeks ago in which the reassessment of her was itself being reassessed, I immediately suspected something may be afoot.

Less than 2 months into the Biden Presidency and the murmurs are increasing.

The Guardian is worried about democracy and the right to protest etc. Differs of course to any such right that may be perceived to exist in and around Grafton Street or indeed any democratic mandate that may have arisen on the back of Brexit, but presumably Myanmar peeps dont be engaging in conspiracies or go chasing down rabbit holes.

Nontheless, the narrative remains unclear with the question of who will be cast in the roles of heroes and villains being difficult to determine. All very murky and China as well as Russia hanging around in the background.