Since the end of the Cold War, the improved political and economic relationship between Beijing and Moscow has affected a range of international security issues. China and Russia have expanded their bilateral economic and security cooperation. In addition, they have pursued distinct, yet parallel, policies regarding many global and regional issues.
Yet, Chinese and Russian approaches to a range of significant subjects are still largely uncoordinated and at times in conflict. Economic exchanges between China and Russia remain minimal compared to those found between most friendly countries, let alone allies.
Although stronger Chinese-Russian ties could present greater challenges to other countries (e.g., the establishment of a Moscow-Beijing condominium over Central Asia), several factors make it unlikely that the two countries will form such a bloc.
The relationship between the Chinese and Russian governments is perhaps the best it has ever been. The leaders of both countries engage in numerous high-level exchanges, make many mutually supportive statements, and manifest other displays of Russian-Chinese cooperation in what both governments refer to as their developing strategic partnership.
The current benign situation is due less to common values and shared interests than to the fact that Chinese and Russian security concerns are Read more…
To those who think that buying food in the corner deli is becoming a luxury, we have five words: you ain’t seen nuthin’ yet. U.S. consumers face “serious” inflation in the months ahead for clothing, food and other products, the head of Wal-Mart’s U.S. operations warned Wednesday talking to USA Today. And if Wal-Mart which is at the very bottom of commoditized consumer retail, and at the very peak of avoiding reexporting of US inflation by way of China is concerned, it may be time to panic, or at least cancel those plane tickets to Zimbabwe, which is soon coming to us.
The world’s largest retailer is working with suppliers to minimize the effect of cost increases and believes its low-cost business model will position it better than its competitors.
Still, inflation is “going to be serious,” Wal-Mart U.S. CEO Bill Simon said during a meeting with USA TODAY’s editorial board. “We’re seeing cost increases starting to come through at a pretty rapid rate.”
Along with steep increases in raw material costs, John Long, a retail strategist at Kurt Salmon, says labor costs in China and fuel costs for transportation are weighing heavily on retailers. He predicts prices will start increasing at all retailers in June. Read more…
Mr Tsvangirai on Friday returned from a trip to urge neighbouring leaders to act to prevent Zimbabwe sliding back to the “dark days” of violence seen in the disputed 2008 elections which saw him form a coalition with his rival Mr Mugabe.
On Saturday, he is due to address a Movement for Democratic Change rally in Harare, defying a police order that it be cancelled.
Diplomatic sources in Harare said they feared the rally, which will take place close to a meeting of Mr Mugabe’s Zanu PF supporters, could end in bloodshed if police intervene.
There are also concerns that Zimbabwe’s Joint Operations Command, made up of the heads of the police, armed forces and state security, could use the opportunity to arrest Read more…
Zimbabwe’s President Mugabe is said to have deployed soldiers to control the capital amid growing insecurity by his regime which fears that the anti-government protests in the Middle East may soon catch up with Zimbabwe.
By Innocent Munetsi, Harare
Soldiers both on foot and in armored trucks have been seen patrolling in neighborhoods of the capital Harare. They have set up tents at local police stations and have created roadblocks, stopping and searching cars and everyone they meet.
Chitungwiza, a stronghold of Mugabe’s political rival Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, is one of the perceived hotspots that have been cordoned off by pro-Mugabe soldiers.
This is the testimony of Leonard Chuma, a resident of Chitungwiza, Harare’s satellite town situated 25 kilometres to the south:
“Soldiers weren’t spared”
“The night club entrance was sealed off. In seconds, there were dozens of soldiers inside. The DJ was ordered to stop the music and we were all ordered to lie down Read more…
Speculation that members of the Zimbabwe National Army are in Libya to help prop up cornered dictator Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, has gained momentum. This follows Zimbabwe’s Defence Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa (pictured) avoiding giving a straight answer to a question posed in Parliament.
With the eastern part of Libya having fallen to anti-Gaddafi protesters, it’s being reported that mercenaries from several African countries, including Zimbabwe, are putting up a stand in the west of the country, including the capital Tripoli, on behalf of Gaddafi. They are reportedly gunning down unarmed civilians at random and Arab TV channel Al Jazeera said that Zimbabwe was helping to provide mercenaries, along with Chad and other African countries.
In Parliament on Wednesday MDC-T MP and Chief Whip, Innocent Gonese, asked Mnangagwa to respond to reports that soldiers from Zimbabwe are involved. Instead of giving a Read more…
An intelligence assessment by an International Atomic Energy Agency member nation says Iran has broadened its secretive worldwide effort to secure unrefined uranium for its atomic work, the Associated Press reported today (see GSN, Feb. 23).
The finding fits with estimates that indigenous sources of raw uranium were insufficient for the Persian Gulf nation’s nuclear activities, according to AP. The United States and its allies have expressed concern that Iran’s uranium enrichment program could generate nuclear-weapon material, but Tehran has maintained its atomic efforts are geared strictly toward civilian endeavors.
Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi held an undisclosed meeting in January with high-level managers of mineral extraction in Zimbabwe “to resume negotiations … for the benefit of Iran’s uranium procurement plan,” the document states.
“This follows work carried out by Iranian engineers to map out uranium deposits in Africa and assess the amount of uranium they contain,” according to its two-page summary.
Salehi’s trip is an example of Iranian uranium acquisition activities that could encompass more than Read more…
JOHANNESBURG — Dozens of students, trade unionists and political activists who gathered to watch Al Jazeera and BBC news reports on the uprisings that brought down autocrats in Tunisia and Egypt have been arrested on suspicion of plotting to oust President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe.
James Sabau, a spokesman for the police force, which is part of the security services controlled by Mr. Mugabe’s party, was quoted in Monday’s state-controlled newspaper as saying that the 46 people in custody were accused of participating in an illegal political meeting where they watched videos “as a way of motivating them to subvert a constitutionally elected government.”
The evidence seized by the police included a Read more…
A South African man was arrested this weekend on suspicion of threatening to attack the United Kingdom and the United States with foot and mouth disease, the Associated Press reported today (see GSN, June 30, 2010).
Brian Roach, the owner of a Johannesburg-area engineering company, was apprehended on Saturday and brought into court today. The 64-year-old man allegedly warned the British government through e-mail and written communication that he planned to release the biological agent in the United Kingdom and the United States if he was not paid $4 million.
“We have the expertise and resources to do this very effectively and will be able to devastate the industry in the U.K. which will cost billions to the economy,” Roach said in an e-mail message sent to the British government. “We will devastate your farms and then we will then take the problem to Read more…
Zimbabwe has claimed that China is ready to pour $10 billion (£6.2 billion) into its ailing economy. If the figure is true, what might Beijing want in return?
By Malcolm Moore, Shanghai 8:13AM GMT 10 Feb 2011
When Yang Jiechi arrives in Harare on Thursday, for the first visit by a Chinese Foreign minister in a decade, he is almost certain to be bearing gifts.
After almost three years in which China has publicly shied away from Zimbabwe, there are signs that Beijing has its eyes, once again, on the country’s rich mineral reserves.
Since the deadly elections in 2008, which forced Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe’s president, to form a “unity” government with his opponent Morgan Tsvangirai, relations have cooled while Chinese officials hedged their bets over the country’s leadership and squirmed in the fierce glare of international condemnation.
“China gets embarrassed when embarrassing details become public,” said Philip Barclay, a former British diplomat in Harare and the author of Zimbabwe, Years of Hope and Despair.
“And the Chinese weapons shipment which arrived in 2008, just at the time when violence broke out around the Zimbabwean elections, was very embarrassing. They really did not like that,” he added.
On Thursday, however, Mr Yang is likely to start negotiations over a significant injection of Chinese investment.
According to Tapiwa Mashakada, the Zimbabwean Economic planning minister, Mr Yang may be carrying with him as much as $10 billion of investment from Beijing.
“We have met with officials from China Development Bank and they have said they are willing to invest up to $10 billion,” he said, at a business conference in Harare earlier this month.
“The Chinese are looking into mining development, that is exploration and exploitation, agriculture, infrastructure development and information communication technology,” added Mr Mashakada, a member of Mr Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change party.
Previous rumors suggested, however, that the money on the table is actually a $3 billion loan from China’s Export-Import (Exim) Bank. Both sums dwarf previous Chinese investments in Zimbabwe, and Mr Mashakada’s claim represents more than twice the value of Zimbabwe’s entire economy last year, and more than all other Chinese direct investments in Africa in 2009 put together.
“It is a pie-in-the-sky figure,” said Mr Barclay. “It is much larger than previous Chinese investments and when they do invest money, the Chinese expect concrete benefits, usually closely linked to concessions,” he added.
More likely are targeted deals, perhaps for Zimbabwe’s platinum and zinc mines. Zimbabwe has the second-largest reserves of platinum in the world after South Africa.
Details of the Exim bank deal reported in Zimbabwe’s respected “Independent” newspaper cite documents proposing a “master-loan facility” aimed at resuscitating Zimbabwe’s struggling economy after years of hyperinflation and disastrous government policies.
In return, China reportedly wants control over platinum deposits currently owned by the Zimbabwean government in the Selous and Northfields concession covering 68 square miles and valued at between $30 billion to $40 billion.
More controversially, China may also have its eyes on the Marange diamond fields in Chiadzwa. In late 2008 the Zimbabwean military is alleged to have seized control of the fields, shooting illegal miners from helicopter gunships.
Currently, a small proportion of the diamonds from this vast mine are certified by the Kimberley Process to avoid being tagged as “blood” diamonds, but a much greater quantity is thought to be bought up by dubious traders with profits flowing to Mr Mugabe’s Zanu-PF.
China already mines one alluvial diamond concession at Chiadzwa in partnership with the government under the banner of Anjin Investments. There have also been rumors that China may be involved in further illegal mining activities, but they have never been confirmed.
In addition, some Chinese investment could flow into agriculture. China imports a significant quantity of tobacco from Zimbabwe, and may have one eye on a future source of food for its growing middle class.
Around 5,000 Chinese workers live in Zimbabwe, and the two countries have a relationship stretching back to the founding of Robert Mugabe’s Zanu-PF, whose Marxist revolution was partly funded by Beijing. Over the years, China has found it easy to do business with a country that was run along similar lines, with Zanu-PF’s politburo making unilateral decisions.
It is not clear if dealing with the unity government and Mr Tsvangirai’s MDC party will be to Beijing’s taste, but for Zimbabwe there seems little option.
“The MDC will send China warm and fuzzy messages too,” said Mr Barclay. “Although the investment from China is not a particularly good fit, the Chinese are the only investors out there. There was a small delegation from Germany in 2010, but they backed off.”