The World Bank’s blogg on East Asia


The World Bank has a new blog on East Asia & Pacific

The East Asia & Pacific region is facing some great development challenges today: urbanization, protection of the environment, the need to find renewable energy sources and many others.

This blog wants to create a conversation around those important issues, share what we at the World Bank are doing and highlight some interesting initiatives. It is maintained by various staff working on different development areas in the region.

Come join the conversation at http://eapblog.worldbank.org

Wired World Warning

Hoy en Rac1 hablaban de los problemas de los cables de comunicaciones submarinos, que sin ser nuevos si que parece estan aumentando y cambiando su carácter. En este blog podéis ver detalladamente los problemas ocurridos recientemente, y la infraestructura en questión, que podeis consultar en Telegeography (otros mapas históricos, como los cables telegráficos), impresionante.
Algunos terremosots y tsunamis en TAiwan y el SEAsiático ya habían provocado problemas, pero ahora parece que en el último mes 9 cables se han roto y por causas poco claras pero no atribuibles a terremotos. La mayoría de estos cortes, que tardan días a ser reparados, no se han comunicado y cuando se han comunicado las explicaciones se han basado en supuestas embarcaciones que con su ancla podrían haber lastimado los cables.
La falta de información ha permitido empezar un seguido de teorias conspirativas y el sensacionalismo, que van desde un supuesto auto-boicot de las compañías a atentados terroristas, las posibilidades de quedarse desconectado, etc. Sin embargo, las causas pueden ser múltiples, como destaca este informe de la International Comunications Union:

The occasionally volatile nature of the seabed can expose a previously buried segment of cable (ICPC, 1996). Between 1985 and 1987, AT&T found that its first deep sea submarine fiber optic cable (laid between the Canary Islands, Grand Canaria and Tenerife) suffered periodic outages because of frequent attacks of the Pseudocarcharias kamoharai, or crocodile shark, on the cables.2 In deep ocean, the cables often lie unprotected on the ocean floor; cables in areas closer to the shore, where seabed activity might include fishing, are usually both armored and buried some two to three feet deep in the ocean floor (ICPC, 1996). The cables need only be bent to suffer significant damage (ICPC, 1996).

Podemos encontrar más información en el Comité para la Protección de los Cables Submarinos, con informes y videos sobre los problemas entre los cables y la pesca, etc…
En otros casos lo que ha ocurrido es que directamente se ha robado el cable, como muestra este caso de Vietnam.
Si miramos el mapa veremos que existen puntos clave que tienden a coincidir con los estrechos, ya de por si puntos clave de las rutas marítimias comerciales y que son también los puntos en los que se concentran los problemas actualmente.
Pese a todo esto lo que parece claro es que el peligro natural, accidental o terrorista y estratégico potencial es importante y no debería menospreciarse. En un excelente post Rudolf Van der Berg dice:

The dependency on a handful of fibres for international connectivity (and trade) should make fibre as important as oil and gas lines or airports. So how many do you need. Given the risks involved one would want at least 3 different lines on different routes coming in and out of the country. The routes should be undersea, because these tend to be less prone to damage than the ones over land. There are more idiots with backhoes than boats. (Yet another reason not to want to be a landlocked country) And that is where the first problem lies: How do you get three international routes of the more expensive kind to almost every country in the world Currently most lines are Trans North Atlantic or Trans North Pacific. They run from rich country to rich country, poor country to the north and never south-south. A redundant network would look much more like a web, instead of a like spoke and hub system it now is. Unfortunately fibre follows money. South America is connected to the world via the US. Africa via Europe. Asia- Europe mostly goes via the US. In an ideal situation South America would have multiple direct links with Europe, Africa and Asia via both the Atlantic and the Pacific. And Asia and the Middle East wouldn’t send all their traffic over the US or the Suez Canal.

Interesante la afirmación de que estas infraestructuras van a ser tan importantes como los oleoductos o gasoductos, con los que comparten parecidos. Sin embargo, si hablamos de internet y a diferencia de los oleoductos la extensión de la red es un beneficio en si mismo, dejar desconectados África o América Latina sería también perjudicial para todos, es más parecido a la red de carreteras por el que fluyen bienes de forma bi-direccional y su estructura se parece más a esto (autopistas de la información). Hablamos de digital divide pero no de oil divide.
Es difícil pronosticar si esta vulnerabilidad va a ser un elemento geopolítico importante en el futuro, especialmente por las posibilidades de innovaciones tecnológicas que pueden convertir estas redes en obsoletas en poco tiempo (el caso de los telégrafos es evidente). Sin embargo la red muestra claramente las interdepenencias y dependencias mundiales en la actualidad, con tres polos “comunicativos” que son America del Norte, Europa y Asia Oriental con un excedente de capacidades y una multiplicidad de redes y otras regiones casi abandonadas.

Chalmers Johnson and the American Empire

Spekaing Freely and many other video files

Por 10 millones de chinas

Hoy incluso algunos periódicos españoles como El País destacan un pedazo de las conversaciones de Kissinger en China descalificadas recientemente por el Departamento de Estado norteamericano, y especialmente en la parte en que Mao hace referencia a la supuesta entrega de 10 millones de chinas a EEUU, sin duda una broma machista (que no marxista), de mal gusto, pero que puede entenderse especialmente si contextualizamos el momento histórico, leemos el contexto de relajación en la conversación y suponemos (como podemos intuir) la presencia de dos bellas traductoras durante la conversación con las que Mao flirtea. Aquí va el extracto del texto original pero no dudéis en leer todas las transcripciones, que son apasionantes:

Chairman Mao: The trade between our two countries at present is
very pitiful. It is gradually increasing. You know China is a very poor
country. We don’t have much. What we have in excess is women.
(Laughter)
Dr. Kissinger: There are no quotas for those or tariffs.
Chairman Mao: So if you want them we can give a few of those
to you, some tens of thousands. (Laughter)
Prime Minister Chou: Of course, on a voluntary basis.
Chairmain Mao: Let them go to your place. They will create disasters.
That way you can lessen our burdens. (Laughter)
(…)
Chairman Mao: Do you want our Chinese women? We can give
you ten million. (Laughter, particularly among the women.)
Dr. Kissinger: The Chairman is improving his offer.
Chairman Mao: By doing so we can let them flood your country
with disaster and therefore impair your interests. In our country we
have too many women, and they have a way of doing things. They
give birth to children and our children are too many. (Laughter)
Dr. Kissinger: It is such a novel proposition, we will have to
study it.
Chairman Mao: You can set up a committee to study the issue.
That is how your visit to China is settling the population question.
(Laughter)
Dr. Kissinger: We will study utilization and allocation.
Chairman Mao: If we ask them to go I think they would be willing.
Prime Minister Chou: Not necessarily.
Chairman Mao: That’s because of their feudal ideas, big nation
chauvinism.
Dr. Kissinger: We are certainly willing to receive them.
Chairman Mao: The Chinese are very alien-excluding.
For instance, in your country you can let in so many nationalities,
yet in China how many foreigners do you see?
Prime Minister Chou: Very few.
Dr. Kissinger: Very few.
Chairman Mao: You have about 600,000 Chinese in the United
States. We probably don’t even have 60 Americans here. I would like
to study the problem. I don’t know the reason.
Miss Tang: Mr. Lord’s wife is Chinese.
Chairman Mao: Oh?
Mr. Lord: Yes.
Chairman Mao: I studied the problem. I don’t know why the Chinese
never like foreigners. There are no Indians perhaps. As for the
Japanese, they are not very numerous either; compared to others there
are quite a few and some are married and settled down.
Dr. Kissinger: Of course, your experience with foreigners has not
been all that fortunate.
Chairman Mao: Yes, perhaps that is some reason for that.
(…)
Chairman Mao: (Looking toward Miss Shen.) The Chinese have a
good command of English. (To Prime Minister Chou.) Who is she?
Prime Minister Chou: Miss Shen Jo-yun.
Chairman Mao: Girls. (Prime Minister Chou laughs.) Today I have
been uttering some nonsense for which I will have to beg the pardon
of the women of China.
Dr. Kissinger: It sounded very attractive to the Americans present.
(Chairman Mao and the girls laugh.)
Chairman Mao: If we are going to establish a liaison office in your
country do you want Miss Shen or Miss Tang?
Dr. Kissinger: We will deal with that through the channel of Huang
Hua. (Laughter)
Dr. Kissinger: But they have done a remarkable job, the interpreters
we have met.
Chairman Mao: The interpreters you have met and our present interpreters
who are doing most of the work are now in their twenties
and thirties. If they grow too old they don’t do interpretation so well.
Prime Minister Chou: We should send some abroad.
Chairman Mao: We will send children at such a height (indicating
with his hands), not too old.
Dr. Kissinger: We will be prepared to establish exchange programs
where you can send students to America.
Chairman Mao: And if among a hundred persons there are ten
who are successful learning the language well, then that would be a
remarkable success. And if among them a few dozens don’t want to
come back, for example, some girls who want to stay in the United
States, no matter. Because you do not exclude foreigners like Chinese.
In the past the Chinese went abroad and they didn’t want to learn the
local language. (Looking toward Miss Tang) Her grandparents refused
to learn English.6 They are so obstinate. You know Chinese are very
obstinate and conservative. Many of the older generation overseas Chinese
don’t speak the local language. But they are getting better, the
younger generation. (…)
Chairman Mao: We have so many women in our country that don’t
know how to fight.
Miss Tang: Not necessarily. There are women’s detachments.
Chairman Mao: They are only on stage. In reality if there is a
fight you would flee very quickly and run into underground shelters.
Miss Wang: If the minutes of this talk were made public, it would
incur the public wrath on behalf of half the population.
Chairman Mao: That is half of the population of China.
Prime Minister Chou: First of all, it wouldn’t pass the Foreign
Ministry.
Chairman Mao: We can call this a secret meeting. (Chinese laughter)
Should our meeting today be public, or kept secret?
Dr. Kissinger: It’s up to you. I am prepared to make it public if
you wish.
Chairman Mao: What is your idea? Is it better to have it public or
secret?
Dr. Kissinger: I think it is probably better to make it public.
Chairman Mao: Then the words we say about women today shall
be made nonexistent. (Laughter)
Dr. Kissinger: We will remove them from the record. (Laughter)
We will start studying this proposal when I get back.
Chairman Mao: You know, the Chinese have a scheme to harm the
United States, that is, to send ten million women to the United States
and impair its interests by increasing its population.
Dr. Kissinger: The Chairman has fixed the idea so much in my
mind that I’ll certainly use it at my next press conference. (Laughter)
Chairman Mao: That would be all right with me. I’m not afraid of
anything. Anyway, God has sent me an invitation.

Todo esto es más curioso todavía si tenemos en cuenta que Mao es conocido por ser un partidario de la expansión demográfica de China como una arma importante ante la posibilidad de una guerra nuclear mundial.

Pero hay partes más interesantes, sin duda. Como la parte sobre Hitler o sobre las posibles acciones frente a una guerra con la URSS:

Chairman Mao: If there are Russians going to attack China, I can
tell you today that our way of conducting a war will be guerrilla
war and protracted war. We will let them go wherever they want.
(Prime Minister Chou laughs.) They want to come to the Yellow
River tributaries. That would be good, very good. (Laughter) And if
they go further to the Yangtse River tributaries, that would not be bad
either.
Dr. Kissinger: But if they use bombs and do not send armies?
(Laughter)
Chairman Mao: What should we do? Perhaps you can organize a
committee to study the problem. We’ll let them beat us up and they
will lose any resources. They say they are socialists. We are also socialists
and that will be socialists attacking socialists.
Dr. Kissinger: If they attack China, we would certainly oppose
them for our own reasons.

Y continua interesante Kissinger cuando habla de Europa (continua):

Chairman Mao: But your people are not awakened, and Europe
and you would think that it would be a fine thing if it were that the ill
water would flow toward China.
Dr. Kissinger: What Europe thinks I am not able to judge. They cannot
do anything anyway. They are basically irrelevant. (In the midst of
this Chairman Mao toasts Dr. Kissinger and Mr. Lord with tea.) What we
think is that if the Soviet Union overruns China, this would dislocate the
security of all other countries and will lead to our own isolation.

Y en otro encuento con Chou En-Lai Kissinger continua:

The first possibility, that we want the Soviet Union to defeat China.
If this were to happen, I am assuming from history that Japan would
end up on the side that looks stronger to Japan. That has always been
the case. If China were to be defeated, Japan would join the Soviet
Union. Europe would become like Finland, and the United States
would be completely isolated. So whether the Soviet Union defeats
China first or Europe first, the consequences for us will be the same.
So this can never be our policy. (…)
Indeed, under the
pressure of their Communist parties, and even worse, of those intellectuals
who listened to the communists without having their discipline,
they adopted the view that every crisis was the result of America’s
policy and the only danger of war was American intransigence,
not Soviet. So every European leader was in the happy position that
when he needed some cheap popularity he could come to Washington
and recommend détente, secure in the knowledge that we would refuse
him. [laughter] In the spring of 1971 a European leader came to
Washington to lecture us again about our intransigent policy and I said
to him, “You had better enjoy this trip, because very soon you will be
in a position where you will have to be very careful what you recommend
because we might accept it.” [laughter]
So if you compare the defense efforts of the Europeans before 1971
with after 1971, it is actually higher today. Now, how is this paradox
to be explained? Until 1971 the Europeans wanted to make sure that if
there was a war—they had exactly the opposite view of Brezhnev in
his communication to us—they wanted to make sure it would devastate
the U.S. but not devastate Europe. So they made just enough of an
effort to induce us to keep our forces there but never enough of an effort
so that we could actually defend Europe in Europe. (…)

Y sobre Japón:

Dr. Kissinger: May I ask the Prime Minister what I can tell the
Japanese? [laughter]
PM Chou: You can tell them what is in the communiqué.
Dr. Kissinger: That is the absolute maximum I would tell them.
[laughter] There is no possibility that I will tell them more. I am trying
to figure out a way to tell them less.
PM Chou: You can say for instance that both our sides expressed appreciation
about the establishment of diplomatic relations between China
and Japan and that we believed this was in the interests of peoples of the
three countries and the other people in Asia and the Pacific Ocean.
Dr. Kissinger: I will certainly say that. Let me suggest this about
the Liaison Office. I will say only that we agreed to establish some form
of contact and we will still exchange messages about what it is. But
then you should not tell them any more.
PM Chou: We won’t say anything.
Dr. Kissinger: Our view about Japan is—I didn’t tell the Prime
Minister—we agree with his analysis, and the dangers. Why we didn’t

En general las minutas muestran el desconocimiento mutuo, y en especial por la parte China sobre el funcionamiento de la política norteamericana y las relaciones internacionales en general.. Existen muchas preguntas sobre las posibilidades de mantener actuaciones secretas, del papel del Congreso en la toma de decisiones, etc. por parte de Estados Unidos. Los chinos están obsesionados en la posibildad de un ataque soviético y quieren saber que hará EEUU, también comercio y Japón, Israel, Finlandia, Sri Lanka, India, Kashmir, Gaddafi y su intento de comprar Malta, Camboya, Korea, etc… un apasionante debate sobre la realidad mundial de 1973. Sin duda, las mejores minutas son entre Kissinger y Chou En-Lai, y pese a todos los peses, debemos reconocer la maestría de Kissinger.

Espías, tratados y viajes a la Luna

Muy interesante fin de semana con la notícia del arresto de 4 supuestos espías del gobierno chino en EEUU, en una situación que nos recuerda a la GF. Pero especialmente interesante es que el espionaje se refería a la venta de armas a Taiwán y al programa espacial norteamericano.
Y justamente también este fin de semana Rusia y China han hecho una propuesta borrador para un nuevo tratado para el desarme del espacio en clara respuesta al programa norteamericano de 2006 (leed el magnífico artículo de Richard Wietz en World Politics Review).

Así pues, parece que la carrera espacial también vuelve a escena, con Rusia, China y también India y Brasil incrementando sus presupuestos en este sentido y planeando nuevos viajes y proyectos a medio plazo más allá del lanzamiento de satélites, revisando las legislaciones, etc.. También Japón, la UE y EEUU están relanzando sus programas.

El desarrollo espacial tiene un elemento tecnológico y estratégico, una vertiente científica, etc… pero durante la Guerra Fría fué especialmente un elemento de prestigio, de imagen internacional. Solo así se pueden entender las costosas misiones tripuladas (muy poco interesantes des del punto de vista científico y estratégico) que son precisamente lo que vuelve a caracterizar los nuevos proyectos espaciales con las futuras misiones de China o India a la Luna, propuestas de ir a Marte… Es hora de volver a soñar con viajes imposibles!

What Does China Thinks?

A new intersting book about china politics by Mark Leonard, the author says in ECFR:

I am trying to show how experiments with focus groups and opinion polls are changing China from a traditional authoritarian state to a new ‘deliberative dictatorship’, and reveal how Beijing hopes to use a “China Dream” to challenge the US’ military power.

The book charts the development of a new Chinese world view and identifies the following different factions battling for influence:

  • The “New Left” who want a gentler form of capitalism with a social safety net that could reduce inequality and protect the environment;
  • The “New Right” who think that freedom will only come when the public sector is dismantled and sold off, and a new, politically active “propertied class” emerges;
  • The “Neo-Comms”, cousins of American neo-cons, want to use military modernisation, cultural diplomacy and international law to assert China’s power in the world.

I argue that in the future, the West willl be just as interested in the Chinese “Neo-Comms” plans for Asia as it is now in the “Neo-Cons” attempts to reshape the Middle East. Soon, the political struggle in the Communist Party will be seen as vital as the battle between the US presidential contenders; and protesters outside the World Bank will complain as much about the “Beijing Consensus” as they do about the “Washington Consensus”.

I have not read the book yet, but it looks like for Leonard there are no “technocrats” anymore… or maybe their views are shared for all three currents. If its a comparison with the US could be very interesting: how similar are the “great powers”?

At the ECFR webpage we also find another interesting article by F. Godement about the geopolitical consequences of the political change in Australia, Japan, Taiwan and SKorea:

These changes have powerful implications which Asia’s partners should consider. First, if there was a dream by conservative Republicans in Washington, and advocates of a strong Japan in Tokyo, to create an alliance of Asian democracies as a counterweight to China’s rise, that dream is over for the time being. (…)

Will China seize the opportunity and pursue key compromises on sensitive issues – Taiwan, maritime borders, divided Korea? Will it relax its political controls which stem from regime insecurity? Or will it merely use the moderation of its partners and the evident absence of any strategy of encirclement to further advance narrowly defined interests?

The Rise of China and the Future of the West

The Rise of China and the Future of the West
Can the Liberal System Survive?
By G. John Ikenberry

From Foreign Affairs , January/February 2008

Summary: China’s rise will inevitably bring the United States’ unipolar moment to an end. But that does not necessarily mean a violent power struggle or the overthrow of the Western system. The U.S.-led international order can remain dominant even while integrating a more powerful China — but only if Washington sets about strengthening that liberal order now.

You’ll be able to read the article here