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Geopolitics / Asia

  • The Great South China Sea Hydrocarbon Grab

    In all of the struggles for territory in history, none has been quite as ambitious or unusual as a country trying to steal a whole ocean. But that is what China is actively doing in the ocean south of the mainland: the South China Sea. Bit by bit, it is establishing hegemony over this most important sea where the littoral states -- China, Taiwan, the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore and Vietnam -- have territorial claims. The importance of the South China Sea is hard to overestimate. Some of the most vital international sea lanes traverse it; it is one…

  • Has The PRC Decided On Its Global Strategic Posture?

    Planners in the People’s Republic of China rightly see the need for a capable, blue water naval force to support and sustain the PRC’s rise as a global economic and strategic power. What has largely been missing, however, from the PRC’s maritime dialog is a philosophical framework which would contain, or viably enable, such a maritime projection. The PRC sees the necessity to replace or eclipse the United States as the dominant global sea power. However, mainland China’s rise to economic good fortune has depended — and continues to depend — on the concept of a free and open maritime…

  • The Next Big Thing: The Growth in Strategic Importance of the Indian Ocean

    Justifiable preoccupation by intelligence analysts with the rise of the People’s Liberation Army-Navy (PLAN) has paralleled the focus of popular attention on the growth of the People’s Republic of China (PRC). However, the significant growth of the Indian Navy (IN) in recent years has been neglected by international scholars, and the international attention paid to India has similarly suffered in comparison with the PRC.  Proportionately, the rise of the Indian Navy — and Indian defenses generally — is in some ways more spectacular than that of the PLAN and the other, new PRC maritime power projection and protection tools. Arguably,…

  • What Territorial Dispute? Vietnam Moves To Repair Relations With China

    The government of Vietnam is sending a senior politburo member to China to help repair relations that were strained over Beijing’s deployment of an oil rig in waters of the South China Sea claimed by Hanoi.The move, on May 1, started a serious dispute between the two countries, sparking violent and often deadly demonstrations in Vietnam and confrontations at sea between Vietnamese boats trying to approach the rig and Chinese coast guard vessels sent to protect it.Two-and-a-half months later, China withdrew the $1 billion rig, the Haiyang Shiyou 981, saying it had completed its work and should be moved out…

  • China’s Careful Days

    The Chinese believe that they can achieve their objective of acquiring islands throughout the South and East China Seas without a fight.  It worked against the Philippines.  If they try the same strategy against Japan over the Senkaku Islands, they just may get a bloody surprise.The Reference to the "String of Pearls" first appeared in a 2005 intelligence report about the emergence of China as a regional power.  The String of Pearls is a number of Chinese built port facilities in Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and Pakistan and were constructed by Chinese state owned corporations.  That is to say that…

  • Sakhalin Energy Reserves Russian Calling Card for Improved Japanese Ties

    Siberia has traditionally conjured up images of fearsome cold and death, first as a place of exile under the Russian Tsars and later under the murderous regime of Lenin’s Bolsheviks.A great appeal of eastern Siberia for political exile was its extreme remoteness. Originally only reachable by ship, eastern Siberia’s isolation was only somewhat alleviated by the opening of the single-track Trans-Siberian railroad in 1916. Russia’s Pacific coast city Vladivostok is closer to Tokyo and Beijing than Moscow.Russia’s Pacific seaboard is comprised of the Primorsky Krai, (Primorye), Khabarovsk Krai, Magadan Oblast and Kamchatka. The large offshore island of Sakhalin (Sakhalin oblast,…

  • This Week in Energy: At the Crossroads of Japan’s Energy Future

    Japan’s 9 February gubernatorial elections are being billed largely as a referendum on the fate of the country’s nuclear energy future—an election that will shape the debate on whether Japan should continue its reliance on nuclear energy, at least for the next two decades.The gubernatorial elections come as Abe administration is hoping to restart some nuclear power plants once the Nuclear Regulation Authority confirms that they are safe.  Challenging this plan is an alliance between former prime minister Morihiro Hosokawa and former prime minister Junichiro Koizumi, who are pushing an influential zero nuclear platform.As such, and in this post-Fukushima environment,…

  • Ten Trends that will Effect Asia in 2014

    According to the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Asia could be in for a turbulent 2014. Today, Evan Feigenbaum outlines the ten key factors – both positive and negative – that will shape the region’s politics and security over the coming year.A fraught 2014 lies ahead for Asia. Political risks will rise, security tensions will increase, and skepticism will continue to grow about whether major Asian governments—especially in Beijing, Tokyo, New Delhi, and Jakarta—are sufficiently committed to growth-conducive reforms.Ten trends will shape this more volatile Asia, yielding risks, opportunities, and patterns that will influence the next twelve months and beyond.1.…

  • Southeast Asia Energy Advisory

    This week our advisory for investors focus on India and Indonesia, where new oil and gas blocks are up for offer, and Pakistan, where the government is banking on a massive privatization plan that includes the state oil company and refinery—big profit makers. INDIALast weekend, the government of India announced it was putting 46 new oil and gas blocks up for auction, but bidding rules have not yet been defined so investors remain wary. Here are the details for potential investors: •    The new blocks include 14 deep-water, 15 shallow-water and 17 onshore, covering a total of 94 364 km2 …

  • Freed from Prison Russian Energy Oligarch Khodorkovsky Flies to Germany

    Following a marathon four-hours news conference on 19 December, Russian President Vladimir Putin had a surprise announcement to make about former oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky, arrested in October 2003 and due to be released in 2017. Following up on the last question of the press conference, Putin told reporters that Khodorkovsky recently "wrote to me asking for pardon. He has already spent over 10 years in confinement. This is a serious punishment." Noting that Khodorkovsky’s mother was ill, Putin added, "Considering all those circumstances, I believe it is possible to make a relevant decision and a (presidential) pardon decree for him…