Archivo de la categoría: RELACIONES INTERNACIONALES

Behind China and Russia’s ‘Special Relationship’ – Bob Savic – The Diplomat

The rise of a more politically and militarily assertive Russia and an economically and institutionally ascendant China may be characterized as the two principal forces challenging the United States in global policymaking.

China’s and Russia’s strategies for international expansion, in each of their respective areas of policy specialization, are not necessarily mutually exclusive. Arguably, both countries’ intensified involvement on the world stage is not only complementary but to a growing extent directly and indirectly supportive of each other’s increasingly commonly-defined interests.

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The growing international significance of China and Russia’s key political and economic partnership must be considered a major factor in global policymaking going forward.

China-Russia Relations Before 2014 

China and Russia have largely formulated their economic and political relations based on an evolving series of strategic partnerships. While there is no “model” strategic partnership, in the sense that the terms are negotiated individually with a partner state, both countries have incorporated certain core principles into each partnership.

Following two partnership agreements in 1994 and 1996 and a Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation in 2001, the 2012 comprehensive strategic partnership of cooperation (the 2012 Strategic Partnership), underlined the principles of mutual benefit, mutual trust, and equality in addition to setting specific economic targets in China-Russia bilateral relations.

Notably, although the 2012 Strategic Partnership, signed by President Hu Jintao, China’s president at the time, and Russian President Vladimir Putin, was intended to provide the basis for implementation of relations over a ten-year period, it was prematurely superseded by the 2014 agreement calling for a new stage in the comprehensive strategic partnership of cooperation, the 2014 Strategic Partnership.

In this case, China’s President Xi Jinping, was the co-signatory.  The involvement of Xi, who came to power in 2013, a year after Putin’s re-election as Russian president, has become a key driver in the intensification of bilateral relations.

After the Ukraine Crisis

The 2014 Strategic Partnership, ratified shortly after Russia’s annexation of Crimea, amid the launch of U.S. and EU sanctions against Russia, is widely regarded as the most enhanced in terms of depth and breadth of economic, political, and security relations of any one of China’s or Russia’s network of strategic partnerships.

Some of the much-publicized and high-profile deals emerging from the 2014 Strategic Partnership included a 40-year gas supply agreement between Gazprom and China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC). The landmark gas supply deal, including plans to build the “Power of Siberia” gas pipeline, was indirectly referred to in the 2014 Strategic Partnership as a measure aiming to “strengthen the Sino-Russian energy partnership.”

A further deal with Russia’s largest oil company, state-owned Rosneft, involving financing deals with CNPC to supply oil worth up to $500 billion from Russia’s largest oil field, was also established shortly after, prospectively enabling Russia to surpass Saudi Arabia as China’s main supplier of oil.

Also in 2014, the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) and the Central Bank of Russia signed an arrangement for a currency swap worth 150 billion yuan and 815 billion rubles ($24 billion at the time). The first such Chinese currency swap to be announced for any country outside of Asia, the deal was meant to facilitate settlement in national currencies and boost bilateral trade.

Since 2014, and particularly in 2015, Russia has become one of the five largest recipients of Chinese outbound direct investment in relation to the Chinese government’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) connecting Asia with Europe. Meanwhile, China was Russia’s largest bilateral trade partner, in 2015; in spite of declining overall bilateral trade in U.S. dollar terms (mainly due to sharp declines in the ruble as well as the yuan), relative to 2014, trade flows continued to expand in terms of volume.

In this context, it was significant that Russia’s exports of mechanical and technical products to China rose by about 45 percent over the course of 2015 possibly signifying an important trend in the diversification and competitiveness of Russia’s non-energy sector in terms of bilateral trade prospects with China.

Importantly, the economic relationship between China and Russia has been driven by a variety of bilateral intergovernmental commissions, including 26 subcommissions. According to Putin, in spite of often slow progress in reaching agreements, both sides invariably maintain a common goal of cooperation to eventually find a solution on a wide range of complex issues.

Integrating of High-Level Political Interests

Since the 2014 Strategic Partnership, amid a strengthening of personal ties in the Putin-Xi relationship, there has been an extensive broadening of bilateral relations beyond merely focusing on economic interests. This has centered on mutual support concerning each country’s “core interests,” including “strengthening close coordination in foreign policy.” They have also jointly advocated for reform of the international financial and economic architecture to accord with the rapidly-changing global real economy.

The relationship between China and Russia has, therefore, evolved into intensified cooperation in political areas in the last couple of years. Chief among those developments was the announcement on May 8, 2015 in Moscow, on the occasion of the annual parade commemorating the end of World War II, of the planned integration of the Chinese-led BRI with Russia’s Eurasian Economic Union (EEU).

The BRI comprises the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, with the objective of developing a trade and infrastructure network connecting Asia with Europe and Africa along the ancient Silk Road routes. The EEU groups Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Russia in an inward-focused trading network.

Beijing’s policy of integrating the BRI, its flagship international development program, with Moscow’s EEU stood in sharp contrast to the European Union’s Eastern Partnership program with former Soviet states. The latter program required these countries to sign up to EU economic and political associations and to relinquish their trade agreements and political affiliations with Russia.

Further evidence of the growing high-level political relations between China and Russia was manifested in the international financial markets under the co-arrangement of up to 6 billion yuan in “Baikalbonds” (a yuan-denominated Russian government bond issued in Russia).  The co-arrangers were China’s ICBC and state-owned Gazprombank — Russia’s third-largest bank, which has been under U.S. sanctions since July 2014.  This issuance of offshore yuan foreign sovereign bonds was the largest ever undertaken, exceeding the U.K. government’s earlier 3 billion yuan sovereign bond issue.

Both Putin and Xi reiterated the significance of their growing bilateral political relations at the BRICS development summit in Goa, India, in October 2015, where they noted that China and Russia should strengthen coordination and cooperation within global and regional multilateral institutions.

Intensification of Bilateral Cooperation in Multilateral Institutions

At the Hangzhou G20 Summit, held in September 2016, the China-Russia dialogue was accorded a high-level agenda by both leaders.  The dialogue focused, especially, on principles such as the “rule of law” in promoting tax and legal concepts for enhancing investments, investment protection, privatization, and the provision of state guarantees on finance for projects. There was also dialogue on how to bridge each side’s differing interpretations of legislative concepts, such as public-private partnerships and concession agreements.

At the level of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), Putin and Xi’s proposals for integrating China’s BRI with the Russian-led EEU played a key role in significantly elevating the status of the SCO.  Although the SCO is a separate institution to the BRI and EEU, it is increasingly viewed by governments across the world as an organization reflecting the political and economic ascendancy of the Eurasian region. Partly, as a result, India and Pakistan, currently holding SCO observer status, have submitted applications for full membership, anticipated to become effective by early 2017. Moreover, an increasing number of other countries from around the world have also requested to join the organization.

At the recent November 2016 summit of SCO prime ministers, in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, China’s Prime Minister Li Keqiang proposed a free trade area among SCO members. The proposal was supported by Putin, who stated that the long-term economic interests of China and Russia should outweigh national protectionist sentiments to protect local producers.

The Russia-India-China (RIC) trilateral grouping is considered by its participants as an important arrangement in securing political stability, both globally and in the region. India and Russia’s relations have remained strong for several decades, with Russia being India’s largest defense and nuclear energy partner. However, while China’s and Russia’s relations have clearly improved in the last few years, the China-India relationship has somewhat lagged the development of the other two legs of the triangle. Consequently, Russia has played a role in bringing both sides closer together through its interactions in the RIC grouping.

At the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum held recently on November 2016, in Peru, Putin and Xi further reiterated their close cooperation and ongoing communication on policy matters with an international dimension. They agreed to promote the APEC bloc by fostering regional and economic growth strategies. This included their support for an Asia-Pacific free trade area for all 21 member states. Their joint support for regional free trade came on the heels of U.S. President-elect Donald Trump seeming to back away from the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement – an exclusive U.S.-led trade bloc including 12 states on both sides of the Pacific Ocean.

At the summit, Putin and Xi also affirmed their common interest in upholding security and stability in Central and Northeast Asia, as well as regions neighboring their countries’ borders.

Intensifying Cultural Exchanges

An important element of China-Russia relations, beyond the political and economic dimensions, has been the countries’ promotion of sociocultural integration at various levels of society. In this regard, toward the end of the APEC summit, Putin and Xi stated their interest in holding a 2017 China-Russia Media Exchange Year, wherein the media has become the most direct channel for communication between the two sides. Additionally, the two leaders stated their support for other cultural and people-to-people exchanges in the coming year.

The important role which the media increasingly plays in cultural matters was highlighted by recent headline reports about the gift of Russian ice cream by Putin to Xi, who declared it to be his favorite Russian dessert. The purpose of the media coverage was not only to portray an ever-closer personal relationship between the two leaders, but also to convey the idea of a growing friendship, built on a greater understanding of mutual cultural awareness, between Chinese and Russian peoples. Consequently, Xi’s interest in Russian ice cream has reportedly spawned a craze of interest for the dessert across China.

In early 2016, Putin and Xi urged that both countries’ legislative bodies enhance exchanges and mutual learning so as to further elevate China-Russia ties. Accordingly, Russia’s Federation Council and Russia’s State Duma, the upper and lower houses of the Russian parliament, respectively, and China’s National People’s Congress agreed to strengthen their cooperation on legislative initiatives and supervision to enhance coordination on regional, municipal and industrial development policies and plans.

Joint Military and Security Cooperation

A major feature of China’s and Russia’s defense and geostrategic interests has been rising levels of official support for each other’s security, increasingly pitched as common defense concerns. The most prominent recent affirmation of this position came in the form of China’s and Russia’s stated opposition to the deployment of the U.S. Terminal High Altitude Air Defense (THAAD) missile defense system in South Korea, a decision made in mid-2016. Both governments have warned that THAAD risks igniting an arms race in the Asia-Pacific that could potentially destabilize the region.

In this vein, China and Russia have been accelerating their joint military drills including holding their first joint naval drills conducted in the South China Sea this year. According to senior officers at China’s Central Military Commission and Russia’s Defense Ministry, since both sides are faced with a more complex international security environment, closer mutual cooperation has been widely considered a necessity.

The Russian government has also voiced its support for the Chinese government’s position in the South China Sea, backing Beijing’s call opposing interference by powers outside the region. In turn, China has increasingly provided verbal support intimating its sympathy with Russia’s annexation of Crimea (mainly attributing the move to Crimea’s historical links as part of Russia), in addition to backing Russia’s intervention in Syria, while calling for a political settlement to the war.

Longer Term Headwinds 

Possibly the most serious undermining of the China-Russia relationship could come from its very success. As both countries integrate more quickly and as migration flows expand, there is likely to be mounting concern in Russia of a “Chinese takeover” of the sparsely-populated Russian Far East and other regions of Siberia.

Should this pose China’s and Russia’s greatest challenge going forward – in light of the popularity of Russia’s opposition nationalist party in the Far East and Siberian regions during the 2016 Duma elections – then both sides will need to need to consider jointly upgrading the regulation and monitoring of migration flows. Detailed satellite mapping of the two countries’ common border, in addition to having resolved all outstanding border disputes in 2005, should facilitate the necessary cooperation in managing migration across Russia’s politically-sensitive regions.

Conclusion

Driven by strengthening personal ties between Putin and Xi, the breadth and depth of China-Russia relations have spilled over into multiple spheres of governmental and institutional policymaking.  This has included both countries’ central governments, as well as regional and municipal governments, in addition to the increasing role played by state and private companies and various sectors of civil society.

As a result, the speed and scale of the relationship may be more aptly described as “revolutionary” rather than evolutionary. Clearly, external factors such as the Ukraine crisis were pivotal in turning the Russian leadership away from its post-Soviet relations with western Europe. The degree to which the Russian public were going to back their government’s shift from West to East, however, was more questionable.  Nevertheless, Chinese and Russian state-led activism in supporting this process has, thus far, brought some degree of success.

Bob Savic is a Senior Research Fellow at Global Policy Institute, London Metropolitan University and a Partner in Eurasia Corporate Services, St. Petersburg Capital Management LLP.

Deconstructing China’s Energy Security Strategy – Samir Tata – The Diplomat

Given continued American global naval supremacy, which is unlikely to be challenged successfully in the foreseeable future, Beijing’s highest strategic priority is to ensure energy security by connecting friendly major oil and gas producers to China via pipelines transiting through land routes beyond the effective military reach of the United States. If successful, within a generation China’s new “Silk Roads” – land pipelines, together with roads and railways – will transport enough oil and gas to meet the country’s import requirements.

Currently, China is highly dependent upon oil and gas imports, principally from the Persian Gulf and Africa, which are carried mainly by tankers over sea lines of communication (SLOCs) and through maritime choke points controlled by the U.S. Navy. An energy imports cut-off enforced by  a naval blockade would trigger a rapid collapse of China’s economy and paralyze its military forces, reducing the country to a paper dragon. The Pentagon is convinced that China will fail in its attempt to circumvent American control of the global maritime commons. Its 2016 annual report to Congress on China concludes: “Given China’s growing energy demand, new pipelines will alleviate only slightly China’s maritime dependency … the sheer volume of oil and liquefied natural gas that is imported … will make strategic SLOCs increasingly important to China.”

While the Pentagon’s assessment is certainly true for the short term, it would not be prudent to shape long term American grand strategy with respect to China on the premise of Beijing’s continued dependence on sea-borne energy imports.

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China’s Energy Insecurity

The Energy Information Administration (EIA), the statistical arm of the U.S. Department of Energy, in its International Energy Outlook 2016 estimates China’s oil imports in 2015 amounted to about 6.6 million barrels per day (b/d), representing 59 percent of the country’s total oil consumption. By 2035, the EIA projects China’s oil imports will rise to about 9.7 million b/d, accounting for about 62 percent of total oil consumption.

While not as stark as its dependency on imported oil, China’s reliance on imported natural gas is also significant. According to the EIA, China’s natural gas imports, which amounted to 1.4 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) in 2015 (about 24 percent of consumption), are expected to rise to 6 Tcf (about 26 percent of consumption) in 2035. The EIA forecast on China’s energy imports implies a rather modest annual growth rate of about 2 percent for oil imports and a more robust 7.5 percent annual growth rate for gas imports.

By 2035, China’s GDP (in terms of purchasing power parity) will grow to $43.7 trillion, about 1.6 times larger than the $26.7 trillion projected for the United States or $27.8 trillion estimated for the European Union (EU). China certainly has the economic and financial capacity to underwrite the costs of its ambitious effort to develop alternate land routes to bypass current maritime routes.

Russia and Iran are the only two major energy exporters outside the camp of the United States who have significant enough oil and gas reserves to potentially satisfy all of China’s oil and gas import requirements on a sustainable basis. Beijing’s energy security strategy is designed around a simple and straightforward bargain: economic security for Russia and Iran (based on assured Chinese demand) in return for energy security for China (based on reliable and secure supply via land-based pipelines from Russia and Iran). In this case, interdependence is perceived to be mutually beneficial.

Engineering a Moscow Pivot

The EIA estimates that as of 2015 Russia has proved reserves of 80 billion barrels of oil and 1,688 Tcf of natural gas (the world’s largest reserves of gas). In 2015, it produced 11 million b/d of oil and 22.4 Tcf of gas, of which 7.5 million b/d of oil and 7.3 Tcf of gas were exported. By 2035, the EIA forecasts that Russian energy production will rise to 11.8 million b/d of oil and 29.3 Tcf of gas, of which 8.1 million b/d of oil and 12.3 Tcf of gas will be exported.

Per EIA’s base case projection, in 2035 Russia could satisfy about 85 percent of China’s oil import requirements (8.1 of 9.7 million b/d) and all of China’s needs for natural gas imports (6 Tcf). It is reasonable to assume that Russia could increase oil production above the base case projection by about 1 percent per annum over the next two decades to completely satisfy all of China’s oil import requirements in 2035. China shares a 4,179 kilometers (km) land border with Russia, so pipelines connecting Russian oil and gas fields to northeastern China would be secure and energy flows could not be effectively shut down by the United States.

Of course, transforming potential into reality will be both time-consuming and expensive, reflecting the need to develop oil and gas fields, increase production, and build and expand pipeline networks. From an energy security perspective, Russia would have to pivot from Europe to China. Currently, Russia is highly dependent upon energy exports to the European Union for its economic security. According to the EIA country analysis brief on Russia, energy exports accounted for about 43 percent of Russian government revenues in 2015. In that year, Russia sent about 60 percent of its oil exports (4.5 million b/d) and 75 percent of its gas exports (5.5 Tcf) to the EU (supplying about 30 percent of European requirements for imported oil and gas). In 2015, Russian oil exports to China amounted to a mere 852,000 b/d, accounting for about 13 percent of China’s imported oil requirements, while Russian gas exports to China were negligible. However, the imposition of U.S. and EU sanctions on Russia in the wake of its annexation of Crimea in 2014 has pushed Moscow to reorient its energy export strategy and shift its focus from Europe to China.  Russia’s need for economic security in the form of reliable demand for its energy exports is perfectly aligned with China’s need for energy security in the form of reliable supply to meet its energy imports requirements.

The nascent East Siberia-Pacific Ocean (ESPO) pipeline connecting Russian oil fields in eastern Siberia to northeastern China (current planned capacity of 2.6 million b/d by 2020), and the Power of Siberia (POS) gas pipeline to northeastern China (current planned capacity of 3.3 Tcf by 2020) symbolize the beginning of the Sino-Russian energy partnership. In order to satisfy all of China’s energy import requirements by 2035, the capacity of the ESPO oil pipeline network would have to be quadrupled to 10.4 million b/d while the capacity of the Power of Siberia gas pipeline network would have to be doubled to 6.6 Tcf. Complementing the ESPO expansion project, there will have to be an expansion (additional capacity of about 5 million b/d) of the existing pipeline network connecting western and eastern Siberian oil fields to accelerate Moscow’s energy pivot, and a huge expansion of the spur line connecting ESPO to China (current planned capacity of 0.6 million b/d by 2018) to 10.4 million b/d.  These oil and gas pipeline expansion projects will have to be completed over the next 20 years – a very aggressive but not insurmountable undertaking.

The Persian Hedge

Strategic prudence (and history of tension between China and Tsarist as well as Soviet Russia) suggests that both Moscow and Beijing would seek to hedge their mutual interdependence. Accordingly, Russia will strive to maintain its energy ties to Europe while increasing its energy partnership with China. Likewise, China will seek to diversify its energy supply sources. From China’s energy security perspective, Iran represents an ideal hedge, as it is outside the control of both the United States and Russia. And Iran, which has endured the crippling effects of U.S.-led energy sanctions (targeted primarily against Tehran’s nuclear power program), clearly needs an alternative to energy exports to Europe. According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), oil revenues accounted for about 46 percent of Iranian government revenues in 2014. Assured Chinese demand for its oil and gas exports would guarantee Iranian economic security.

The EIA estimates that as of 2015 Iran has proven reserves of 158 billion barrels of oil (the fourth largest after Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, and Canada) and 1,201 Tcf of natural gas (the second largest after Russia). Iran shares a common border with southwestern Pakistan while China shares a common border with northwestern Pakistan, so land-based oil and gas pipelines connecting Iran to China via Pakistan would make sense. China and Iran have no history of conflict, and China and Pakistan have been allies for over half a century.

Reflecting the impact of U.S.-led energy sanctions, EIA’s most recent figures indicate that Iran produced 3.4 million b/d of oil (2014) and 5.7 Tcf of gas (2013), of which 1.6 million b/d of oil and a negligible amount of gas (0.1 Tcf) were exported. In 2014, Iranian oil exports to China amounted to about 558,000 b/d (representing 9 percent of China’s oil imports). If, over the next two decades, Tehran can boost oil production at an annual growth rate of 6.75 percent while at the same time restraining annual domestic oil consumption growth to 2.5 percent, then by 2035 Iran’s oil exports would amount to 9.6 million b/d, reflecting oil production of 12.6 million b/d and oil consumption of 3 million b/d. Similarly, if Iranian natural gas production increases at an annual growth rate of 6.75 percent while domestic gas consumption growth is limited to 5 percent per annum, then by 2035 Iran’s gas exports would amount to 6.1 Tcf based on gas production of 21 Tcf and gas consumption of 14.9 Tcf.

The initial Iran-to-Pakistan energy pipeline has been built (although it would need to be significantly expanded), but the critical Pakistan-to-China portion is likely to take a generation to become reality. Beijing has committed to invest $46 billion for the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) linking Pakistan’s port of Gwadar on the Arabian Sea to Kashgar in Xinjiang province of western China. Assuring security for the network of roads, railways, and pipelines – the critical infrastructure of CPEC – running through Pakistan will be a major challenge. The Pakistani army is currently battling ethnic Baloch separatists along the Pakistan-Iran border, and radical Sunni fundamentalist groups such as ethnic Pashtun Pakistani Taliban along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. Islamabad has also promised to establish a special 13,000-person security force to safeguard CPEC

Conclusion

The United States should not underestimate China’s ability to achieve energy security within the next two decades. China’s Silk Road strategy, which completely bypasses the global maritime commons, is Beijing’s non-military solution to U.S. global naval dominance. Once the new overland pipelines for black gold are fully operational, the United States no longer will have the ability to sever Beijing’s energy lifeline. And China may no longer be deterred from resorting to military action in support of its proclaimed core interests to force Taiwan reunification, seize the Diaoyu/Senkaku islands from Japan, and enforce its nine-dash maritime boundary in the South China Sea.

However, Beijing’s gain is not necessarily Washington’s loss. A realistic assessment of U.S. vital national interests in an increasingly multi-polar world would suggest that China’s limited aspirations do not adversely impact America’s global sphere of influence and its status as the sole global power. A modus vivendi is in the mutual interests of both countries.

Samir Tata is the founder of International Political Risk Analytics, based in Reston, VA.  He has previously served as an intelligence analyst with the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, a staff assistant to Senator Dianne Feinstein, and a research associate with Middle East Institute, Atlantic Council, and National Defense University. 

Fuente: http://thediplomat.com/2017/01/deconstructing-chinas-energy-security-strategy/

2016, el fin de la Guerra Fría en América Latina

El año 2016 se produjeron dos hechos de importancia geopolítica para el continente latinoamericano: el reestablecimiento de relaciones diplomáticas entre EEUU y Cuba y el desarrollo de proceso de paz en Colombia.

Ambos hechos influirán en forma duradera en la política latinoamericana.

El reestablecimiento de las relaciones entre EEUU y Cuba obedece a una lectura realista respecto de los nuevos tiempos que rigen en el mundo, favorecen una mirada más abierta de la diplomacia y el gobierno cubano y deja como último obstáculo para la efectiva normalización, el fin del embargo estadounidense sobre la isla.

Hay un cambio de percepciones mutuas enttre EEUU y Cuba en esta materia: Estados Unidos ya no perciben a Cuba como una “amenaza a la seguridad nacional estadounidense” y Cuba ya no percibe a EEUU como el agresor inminente de la soberanía cubana, como había sido la lectura prevaleciente en los recientes decenios.

El rol de Cuba en América Latina se ha transformado gradualmente, bajo el impulso -entre otros factores- del aporte de sucesivas generaciones de médicos y profesionales de la Salud que han emigrado hacia América Latina fortaleciendo los servicios de salud de la región.

Correlativamente, la política exterior estadounidense respecto de América Latina en los primeros decenios del siglo XXI ha continuado basada en la lógica de “distancia cercana”  y en el “bilateralismo selectivo”, en la medida en que para EEUU hay regiones del mundo de mayor importancia geopolítica, como el Medio Oriente, Europa y el Este de Asia.

Uno de los puntos importantes de la política estadounidense en América Latina ha sido Colombia, beneficiaria hasta hace pocos años del cuantioso aporte en armas y sistemas militares del “Plan Colombia”.

La firma del Acuerdo de Paz entre las FARC-EP y el gobierno de Colombia, constituye un aporte significativo a la diplomacia de la región y un punto de inflexión en el conflicto interno más prolongado y costoso en ese país.

El cese al fuego y las hostilidades, bilateral y definitivo, desmantelamiento, desarme y transformación de las FARC colombianas en partido político legalmente constituido, abre la puerta al fin permanente de la guerra civil, instala un nuevo actor en el escenario político-electoral y genera las condiciones para producir cambios políticos y socio-económicos de importancia para Colombia.

La reapertura de relaciones diplomáticas entre Cuba y EEUU (ahora bajo el riesgo de un retroceso al instalarse un nuevo gobierno republicano de corte populista y nacionalista en la Casa Blanca), y el proceso de paz en Colombia, rompen la lógica bipolar y confrontacional de “guerra fría” en América Latina, deslegitima los frecuentes discursos anticomunistas y antiizquierdistas y pone el acento en el dialogo político y en las reformas estructurales necesarias para enfrentar los efectos perversos del neoliberalismo ultraconservador.

América Latina se abre a un escenario mundial cada vez más multipolar. El rol gravitante de EEUU en la política latinoamericana (especialmente a través de sus gobiernos conservadores o liberales) no ha podido neutralizar la creciente influencia comercial y económica de China y, en algunos casos, como Rusia, la influencia ejercida también en la órbita militar.

Este acelerado proceso de multipolarización económica y política, que contrasta abiertamente con el predominio militar de Estados Unidos, ha abierto un importante espacio multilateral y bilateral para afianzar la autonomía y autodeterminación del continente latinoamericano. Países como Rusia han recuperado su gravitación en el área y otros como China, Irán, India y Sudáfrica juegan un papel cada vez más importante en los  equilibrios geopolíticos de la región.

How Important Is Latin America on China’s Foreign Policy Agenda? – The Diplomat

In the light of the forthcoming visit of President Xi Jinping to the South American nations of Ecuador, Peru, and Chile, it’s timely to ask: how important is Latin America as a whole to China’s foreign policy agenda? Although trade ties between the two date back to the 1570s, bilateral relationships between China and regional countries remained considerably limited. Along with Beijing’s perception of the region as an integral part within the U.S. sphere of influence, factors such as geographical distance, cultural ignorance, and economic incompatibility had greatly restricted the relationship till the recent past.

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Previously, Chinese scholars and foreign policy analysts were of the opinion that the Monroe Doctrine prevailed in the region. The Monroe Doctrine, articulated by U.S. President James Monroe in 1823, asserted U.S. hegemony over its southern neighborhood by telling other powers of the time to stay out. Quite unlike the past, however, in recent years China’s presence in the U.S. “backyard” has profoundly increased due to a number of factors.

First, China’s foreign policy has undergone a visible shift, from Deng Xiaoping’s dictum “lie low and bide your time” to a strategy of power projection and active engagement under President Xi Jinping. Although the region of Latin America is not strategically as important to China as South Asia or East Asia, bonhomie between the two sides has considerably increased in recent years along with China’s more active outreach.

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Second, the ongoing Sino-U.S. power transition and America’s close engagement with allies in Asia as well as new partners such as India and Vietnam has in a way driven China into Latin America in order to counterbalance the United States.

Third, China seeks to fulfill its commercial interests. Latin America possesses a wealth of natural resources, which are crucial to China’s brisk economic development. China, for its part, seeks to obtain raw materials and diversify the source of such imports. In fact, the Chinese Ministry of Commerce has identified Latin America along with the Middle East/Africa and Russia/Central Asia as the three chief areas that are likely to become net energy suppliers for Beijing. Beijing also wants to sustain its access to overseas markets in order to secure the export of Chinese manufactured products. Bilateral trade between China and Latin America stood at $263.6 billion in 2014.

Fourth, China has significant geopolitical interests in the region. Although the Chinese government articulates its will to establish a cooperative relationship with the region, the White Paper on Latin America and the Caribbean published in 2008 clearly states that “the one China principle is the political basis for the establishment and development of relations between China and Latin America.” Currently, of Taiwan’s 22 diplomatic allies, 12 are found in Latin America and the Caribbean, more than in any other region.

Fifth, China adheres to the principle of multipolarity and the idea of multilateralism. To accomplish this objective, Beijing requires a network of allies from the Global South, including Latin American nations. In order to shore up the country’s bonhomie with the region, China has used the Global South or developing countries card. China claims that the country shares a common history with most developing nations, resulting in better understanding and shared demands and desires. Also, reinforcing solidarity on these grounds denotes that China combines patriotism with Marxist internationalism in its foreign policy.

Apart from bilateral commercial and political engagements, Beijing also engages with Latin American countries in various multilateral platforms such as the China-Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) Forum, United Nations, Organization of American States (OAS), G5 group (Brazil, China, India, Mexico, and South Africa), BRICS group (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa), and the BASIC group (Brazil, South Africa, India, and China). Further, the number of high-level bilateral visits evidently indicates the importance Latin America enjoys in China’s foreign policy agenda. Between 2000 and 2015, Chinese premiers and presidents visited the region as many as 31 times, with Brazil, Argentina, Chile, and Cuba figuring as the top destinations.

China’s rising bonhomie with Latin America has clearly altered the geopolitics of the region and tendered a strategic challenge to the United States. Above all, China’s inroads into the region have questioned the validity of the Monroe Doctrine there. Although there remains a significant question as to whether Sino-Latin American ties can be defined as a win-win relationship, the region will definitely emerge as a testing ground between China and the United States in the forthcoming years.

Shaheli Das is a Junior Fellow at Observer Research Foundation and a Doctoral candidate at the Center for East Asian Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University.

Gobierno de Argentina alcanza acuerdo con Gran Bretaña para explotación conjunta de petróleo en islas Falklands

En la edición del 14 de septiembre reciente de la prestigiosa revista electrónica estadounidense OIL AND GAS JOURNAL leemos la siguiente noticia, donde se informa que el Gobierno de Argentina y el Gobierno de Gran Bretaña han firmado un acuerdo para trabajar en conjunto a fin de remover los obstáculos para la explotación conjunta costa afuera de petróleo y gas natural en la plataforma submarina de las islas Falklands:

“The governments of Argentina and the UK have agreed to work toward removal of restrictions on oil and gas work offshore the Falkland Islands.

As part of its longstanding claim to sovereignty over the islands, the South American country in 2010 imposed restrictions on movements of ships between it, the Falklands—which it calls the Malvinas—and other islands in the South Atlantic (OGJ Online, Feb. 17, 2010).

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The Argentine government, under former President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, objected to offshore exploration then reviving under auspices of the government of what the UK considers one of its self-governing offshore territories.

Among results of drilling during that period was the discovery byRockhopper Exploration PLC of Sea Lion oil field, which is under development (OGJ Online, Sept. 14, 2011).

Argentina and the UK fought a 74-day war over the Falklands in 1982 and didn’t reestablish diplomatic relations until 1990.

Mauricio Macri, who replaced Fernandez de Kirchner as president last December, has moved to improve relations with the UK.

He met with British Foreign Office Minister Alan Duncan during a series of high-level meetings in Buenos Aires this month that yielded an agreement on travel and other issues related to the Falklands and that included the statement about working toward lifting restrictions on oil and gas activity.

In a visit to London before those meetings, Argentine Foreign Minister Susana Malcorra said her government would be willing to pursue joint exploration in the Falklands.”

Fuente: http://www.ogj.com/articles/2016/09/argentina-uk-to-seek-falklands-oil-accord.html?cmpid=EnlEDSeptember222016&eid=288271051&bid=1536302

EXPLOTACIÓN COMERCIAL DE PETRÓLEO EN LAS ISLAS FALKLANDS SE INICIA DURANTE EL PRESENTE AÑO 2016.

Recordemos que las primeras operaciones de la empresa inglesa Rockhopper Exploration PLC en la plataforma submarina de las Falklands se iniciaron en 2011.

La información más reciente al respecto es la siguiente:

“Rockhopper Exploration PLC said it will invest about $2 billion to start oil production from the North Falkland basin in early 2016.

The company said its Sea Lion discovery in PL032 could be producing 120,000 b/d by 2018. The company has conceived a development plan on the basis of producing a 350 million bbl resource using a leased floating production, storage, and offloading vessel.

Rockhopper expects to complete concept engineering studies in first-quarter 2012 and shortly thereafter to begin front-end engineering design. FEED is expected to be completed and submitted to the Falkland Islands government in first-quarter 2013, by which time the company would expect to have awarded the contracts to the FPSO provider and subsea contractor.

Accounting for all outstanding payments for well 14/10-6, the previous well drilled, the company estimates that it will have $170 million in cash. It reckons that it is therefore fully funded to complete 14/10-7, the current well, and the remaining two committed drilling slots that it has with the Ocean Guardian. It is considering its position as to whether it will take up any additional options with the rig.

The company said the 14/10-7 well, 3.3 km northwest of the 14/10-2 discovery well, was successful. Total depth is 2,696 m. The well derisked areas of lower amplitudes in the main complex, but further work is needed to determine the extent of the main complex SL20 lobe north of the well.

Rockhopper has a 100% interest in the PL023, PL024, PL032, and PL033 production licenses that total 3,800 sq km. It has also farmed into a 7.5% working interest in PL003 and PL004 operated by Desire Petroleum.

Testing of the Sea Lion discovery in September 2010 and June 2011 represented the first oil to flow to surface in Falkland Islands waters (OGJ Online, May 19, 2010).

Rockhopper hired two seismic vessels to shoot a 3D seismic survey over parts of PL024, PL032, and PL033 not previously defined by 3D and over adjacent areas. Data over the southern parts of PL032 and PL033 has been fast-track processed, and an initial interpretation has been completed. The rest of the new 3D data is expected to be available for interpretation by yearend.”

Fuente: http://www.ogj.com/articles/2011/09/falklands-sea-lion-oil-production-start-seen-in-2016.html

El (lento e interminable) fin de la Guerra Fría en América Latina

Esta mañana la prensa colombiana y del mundo anuncia la firma del Acuerdo Final para la Terminación del Conflicto en Colombia entre el gobierno y las FARC.

El comunicado publicado en La Habana informa que “las delegaciones del Gobierno nacional y de las Farc-EP anunciamos que hemos llegado a un Acuerdo Final, integral y definitivo, sobre la totalidad de los puntos de la Agenda del Acuerdo General para la Terminación del Conflicto y la Construcción de una Paz Estable y Duradera en Colombia.”

Entre la desconfianza aprendida de los extremos y la esperanza expectante de millones de ciudadanos colombianos residentes en su país y dispersos por el mundo, ha prevalecido el realismo y la voluntad común de hacer primar la paz, entendida como un derecho humano fundamental e irrenunciable, tras cuarenta años de guerra y de violencia.

Este acuerdo se firmará el lunes 26 de septiembre próximo en Cartagena de Indias, Colombia.

Se trata de un segundo momento histórico en las relaciones internacionales de América Latina, que se puede comparar con el reestablecimiento de relaciones entre Estados Unidos y Cuba.

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La guerra fría, esa confrontación global política, social, ideológica y cultural que dividió en dos campos geopolíticos irreconciliables al mundo entre 1945 y 1989 produjo en América Latina una suma casi interminable de trágicos resultados: golpes de Estado y asonadas militares, revoluciones armadas, guerras civiles, sistemas políticos democráticos arrasados por el fanatismo y el ultrismo, gobiernos dictatoriales entregados al dominio hegemónico y los intereses económicos y financieros de Estados Unidos, oleadas criminales de anticomunismo y de esquizofrenia política, la guerra fría puede calificarse como el verdadero medio siglo más intenso y conflictivo de la historia latinoamericana.

Probablemente el signo más significativo de la guerra fría en el continente latinoamericano fue la tendencia casi irrefrenable de gran parte de los actores políticos al uso de las armas y de la violencia en el escenario social y político.

Pocos son los partidos políticos en esta parte del mundo que pueden vanagloriarse de no haber propiciado, auspiciado, impulsado o apoyado un golpe de Estado en su propio país o en algún otro país de la región.

El rechazo a las posturas anticomunistas y a las anticuadas lógicas hegemónicas de partido único y la búsqueda constante de nuevas lógicas de desarrollo, son algunas de las lecciones aprendidas de esa etapa crucial del desarrollo de este continente.

Para las relaciones internacionales de América Latina, el fin de la guerra fría en este segundo decenio del siglo XXI constituye un hito histórico que abre el horizonte hacia un nuevo paradigma para la inserción de esta región en el escenario global.   Hoy América Latina, reconociendo su diversidad, dispone de herramientas políticas y diplomáticas más potentes para instalarse en el mundo y para participar en la arquitectura de un nuevo orden global.  En el nuevo escenario geopolítico que se abre en la región latinoamericana, el acento principal está en los modelos de desarrollo, en la grave cuestión del cambio climático, en las riquezas/carencias en materia de energía y en la construcción de instituciones democráticas cada vez más sólidas, transparentes, abiertas e inclusivas.

Se abre una nueva época de relaciones internacionales (bilaterales y multilaterales) constructivas, de diálogo diplomático y político igualitario, vuelve la Política a reencontrar su sentido más profundo.

En la clásica trilogía entre Estrategia, Política y Diplomacia, el fin de la guerra fría en América Latina -que ahora presenciamos- vuelve a poner el acento en la Política como búsqueda y construcción del interés general y de la Diplomacia como herramienta política para la interacción cooperativa.

En este siglo XXI se percibe con mucha mayor claridad y pertinencia que el modelo neoliberal de mercado, implantado en América Latina como una “exportación no tradicional” desde la escuela de Chicago, era perfectamente funcional a la lógica ideológica de la guerra fría, construida sobre la base de la exclusión social, el autoritarismo militarista, el Estado subyugado al mercado  y el antiizquierdismo compulsivo.

Terminada la guerra fría en el continente americano, el nuevo escenario geopolítico que se abre no garantiza que la potencia estadounidense no siga interviniendo y propiciando “golpes blandos” y maniobras desestabilizadoras como sucede en Brasil o en Venezuela.

Terminados el enemigo comunista y el peligro soviético por allá por 1990, Estados Unidos busca ahora su propio destino  manifiesto, entre la nostalgia y el imperialismo, tratando de ver o encontrar enemigos en Rusia o en la República Popular China y por lo tanto, no será América Latina una prioridad en la política exterior estadounidense.

América Latina se demoró 26 años en terminar una guerra fría que ya ocupa un capítulo en los libros de Historia, precisamente porque -aunque parezca paradójico- las estructuras mentales, las ideologías políticas, son más persistentes y difíciles de modificar que las instituciones, las cancillerías o los Estados.

No faltarán por cierto en esta nueva época, los que sigan creyendo que Cuba asusta a algún incauto o que sirve como recurso retórico para convencer electores, porque finalmente no es más que otro reduccionismo para alimentar viejos fantasmas.

La firma de la paz en Colombia y las nuevas relaciones diplomáticas entre Cuba y EEUU son momentos históricos significativos, que forman parte de procesos políticos y geopolíticos cuya densidad solo podemos apreciar en la perspectiva del tiempo, pero que abren nuevos horizontes para la paz, la democracia y el desarrollo en América Latina.

 

El retorno de los nacionalismos

Asistimos a un momento histórico donde se manifiestan nuevamente los nacionalismos.

La historia, nos recuerda cada cierto tiempo y en forma siempre dramática, que los nacionalismos son los principales responsables ideológicos y sociales de las dos guerras mundiales más desvastadoras del pasado siglo XX: la primera guerra (1914-1918) que enfrentó al imperio AustroHungaro y Alemania contra Inglaterra, Francia y Estados Unidos (originada en los nacionalismos eslavos de Europa central), y la segunda guerra (1939-1945) que hizo colisionar al Eje nazi-fascista de Alemania, Italia y Japón, contra los aliados EEUU, Unión Soviética, Francia e Inglaterra (desencadenada por los nacionalismos alemán y japonés).

Los nacionalismos son, además, fuerzas ideológicas alimentadas en los segmentos sociales populares más desfavorecidos, por los sectores políticos de las derechas más extremas, construyendo discursos de intolerancia, de fanatismo, de miedo y de odio contra “el otro”.

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Los fanatismos nacionalistas se pueden entender principalmente, no solo por la afirmación exclusiva y excluyente de la propia identidad, sino también por la lógica del temor al extranjero y el odio racial contra ciertas poblaciones acusadas de culpas históricas, muy frecuentemente imaginarias.

Hoy, en la segunda década del siglo XXI, en la era de la globalización y de los intercambios a escala planetaria, los nacionalismos parecen estar de regreso, con su carga de exclusión, fanatismos, odiosidades, sentimientos colectivos manipulados y identidades locales activadas por la irracionalidad de algunas minorías iluminadas.

El miedo al ruso, al judío, al húngaro, al polaco, al alemán, al francés, al italiano, que tanta sangre hizo correr desde el siglo XVII hasta el siglo pasado en los territorios europeos, ahora parece de retorno con el miedo al inmigrante, al árabe, al islámico.

¿Asistimos solamente a la crisis del modelo unitario europeo o es sólo un anticipo de la implosión del bloque occidental, en un contexto caracterizado por la emergencia de nuevos centros hegemónicos globales en el Oriente?

¿Es Europa hoy todavía un referente significativo de la cultura universal de Occidente, o las actuales crisis sociales y culturales sólo van empujando el carro de la decadencia?   Una pregunta como ésta solo puede responderse desde una lógica temporal del largo plazo.

La crisis económica y financiera iniciada desde 2008 en el centro del sistema capitalista y en el núcleo del modelo neoliberal de mercado, o “campo occidental”, va camino de arrasar no solo las conquistas sociales de los Estados de bienestar europeos, sino que representa el telón de fondo y el contexto, en una Europa golpeada en los tiempos recientes por dos movimientos telúricos mayores: la crisis de los refugiados originada por la huida masiva de ciudadanos sirios huyendo de la desvastación de la guerra, y la decisión de Gran Bretaña de retirarse de la Unión Europea tras un referendum de alto impacto regional y global.

Europa vive ahora tres crisis de envergadura: los efectos retardados de una crisis económica y financiera iniciada en el sistema bancario de los Estados Unidos, el impacto de la crisis ocasionada por la llegada de alrededor de 2 millones de refugiados procedentes del Medio Oriente árabe e islámico y el Brexit, la salida de Gran Bretaña del bloque europeo y que puede funcionar como una potente señal de alarma.

GRAN BRETAÑA EN EL MAPA GLOBAL.

Gran Bretaña sale de la Unión Europea, pero no deja de ser el aliado político y estratégico más importante de EEUU en Europa, y continúa integrando la Alianza Atlántica OTAN, el poderoso e influyente brazo armado de Occidente, con operaciones militares de intervención en 3 continentes.

Los intereses estratégicos de Gran Bretaña se localizan en Europa, en América del Norte, en el Atlántico Sur, en Medio Oriente y en el sudeste asiático.

Cabe recordar que las relaciones diplomáticas y comerciales de Gran Bretaña con China viene desde la época de la dinastía Ming en 1638.

Basta anotar solamente que en 2010 altos mandos militares se reunieron en Pekín para discutir la cooperación militar entre ambos países, entre ellos el subjefe del Estado Mayor del Ejército Popular de Liberación, y el jefe del estado mayor del ejército británico, iniciando una etapa de intensificación de las relaciones entre China y el Reino Unido, e impulsando especialmente además, el comercio entre los dos países que vale miles de millones de libras esterlinas.

En el mapa geopolítico global, Gran Bretaña, una potencia mundial de primer orden que integra el campo occidental, se encamina por el desconocido y nebuloso camino de retirarse ordenadamente de la Unión Europea, manteniendo su presencia en la OTAN y en el Consejo de Seguridad de Naciones Unidas, pero dejando tras suyo un cuadro de agitación  e inestabilidad.

LA CRISIS DEL BREXIT Y LOS NACIONALISMOS EUROPEOS.

La “crisis del Brexit” separó a los viejos ingleses atemorizados por el miedo a los inmigrantes, de los jóvenes esperanzados en que la Unión Europea les abría las puertas a las posibilidades, a los intercambios, a la integración.   Esta generación de jóvenes británicos frustrados ahora por el corte brutal del Brexit, serán muy previsiblemente los adultos que explotarán de rabia en 20 años más contra las instituciones inglesas y europeas.

El Brexit ha sido el detonante para poner en evidencia los virulentos e impredecibles nacionalismos y localismos europeos: los escoceses que no quieren salir de la UE pero que arriesgan separarse de Inglaterra, los catalanes que agitan su independentismo autonómico de España, los irlandeses que quieren unificarse, los holandeses que quieren promover un referendum de salida de Europa…

El impecable juego democrático de los referendum y de las iniciativas ciudadanas de ley, es decir, el ejercicio teórico y práctico de la democracia participativa, le está jugando una mala pasada a las instituciones de las democracias representativas, llevando a las naciones europeas al torbellino impredecible de los asambleísmos, de los liderazgos populistas y de las odiosidades raciales.

¿Lección para las mayorías democráticas?: nunca dejen de ocuparse de las minorías.

Hasta el presente, esas tensiones locales de inspiración nacionalista y xenófoba habían permanecido casi en la trastienda del escenario político y geopolítico del viejo continente.  Ahora los nacionalismos estallan en el rostro del modelo de integración continental.  Aún así, no puede perderse de vista que mientras el Brexit sacude transitoriamente las bolsas de valores y los bancos centrales, cientos de miles de árabes pugnan dramáticamente a través del Mediterráneo por refugiarse en la Europa en crisis.

Una vez más, como lo muestra la historia, se trata de una anomalía histórica y cultural fácil de inocular y difícil de erradicar, o por decirlo en términos médicos, el nacionalismo es hoy la enfermedad visceral de la globalización.

24 junio 2016.