Pubblicato in: Cina, Demografia, Geopolitica Asiatica

Mondo. La denatalità sta diventando una ‘crisi umanitaria’.

Giuseppe Sandro Mela.

2019-09-17.

Sainte Chapelle 004__

Chiunque abbia un qualche rudimento di storia dovrebbe aver ben presente la peste antonina, che dal 160 al 180 quasi dimezzò la popolazione dell’impero romano, dando la stura al suo declino: senza persone non esiste impero che tenga.

L’imperatore Marco Aurelio ebbe a dire che “la pestilenza attorno a lui era meno letale della menzogna, del comportamento maligno e della mancanza di vera comprensione“, ma sul letto di morte sentenziò: “Perché piangete voi per me, e non pensate piuttosto alla pestilenza ed alla morte comune?

La denatalità è diventata in poco meno di tre decenni quello che Elon Musk ed il fondatore di Alibaba Jack Ma hanno definito essere una ‘crisi umanitaria’.

«”Most people think we have too many people on the planet, but actually, this is an outdated view,” Musk said on a panel with Ma in Shanghai in August. “I think that the biggest problem the world will face in 20 years is population collapse — not explosion, collapse.” …. The speed of population decreasing is going to speed up. Now you called it a collapse. I agree with that,” Ma said.».

Mentre la peste antonina colpiva la gente indipendentemente dall’età, causando quindi un decremento bilanciato tra le classi di età, la denatalità riduce la numerosità della popolazione falcidiando il numero dei giovani, da cui in breve perdita della numerosità della forza lavoro, non più in grado di accudire e mantenere gli anziani. Questo sarà il dramma nel dramma.

«These dire projections are shared by demographers who argue that the world’s population will virtually stop growing by the end of this century, due in large part to falling global fertility rates.»

«For three decades, China operated the “one-child” policy of population control. This was abandoned in 2016 in favor of a two-child policy to boost the labor force.»

«But average fertility rates keep falling, even as restrictions are lifted.»

«In 2016, after the one-child policy was abandoned, there were 17.86 million births. This dropped to 17.2 million in 2017 and 15.2 million in 2018 – the third-lowest rate since the foundation of the People’s Republic of China in 1949.»

«Much of China’s astonishing economic growth of the past four decades has been fueled by a young labor force, but this too is in rapid decline, while the elderly population is dramatically increasing.»

«In China in 2017, the ratio was six workers in the 20-64 age bracket supporting one senior citizen at least 65 years old. This will decline to 2.0 workers in 2039 and 1.6 in 2050.»

«No social security net, no family security and a pension crisis — this will evolve into a humanitarian catastrophe. As women …. will be the main victims of population control»

«Average fertility rates in Taiwan and Hong Kong from 2001 to 2018 were 1.14 and 1.07 respectively. These areas all fall within China’s cultural sphere.»

* * * * * * *

Su questo settore si assiste ad un crescendo di pubblicazioni.

Global population decline will hit China hard

«Business leaders and analysts see the global population declining in the next century, and China will be badly affected. The Asian nation is well-advised to make precautions soon to avoid a humanitarian crisis»

Aging populations challenge China, India, Iran and Japan

«Childless employees under the age of 40 could pay a percentage of their wages into a fund for newborn babies. If they were to have two children, they would be entitled to parental benefits; should they have just one child, they would be entitled to a refund of their contributions only after reaching the legal retirement age»

Aging Japanese Society Worries Experts

«Seven million people will soon be getting a pension from their companies and the state. But half of Japan’s retired generation has to survive on the state pension alone — an average of 2.7 million yen, or 15,000 euros a year. ….

The figures such as the gross domestic product show that Japan is a rich country. But not everybody shares these riches. The older the people get the bigger the differences between the poor and the rich become, between those people who were able to save and those who needed the money to live. That means that there are poor people who have to work their whole life regardless of their age»

IMF’s Christine Lagarde worried about Asia’s aging population

«The head of the International Monetary Fund has praised Asian nations for their efforts toward economic expansion and poverty reduction. But she warned that an increasingly aging population might become a huge obstacle.»

China faces problem of caring for an aging population

Aging China lacks caregivers

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Una delle tristi eredità dell’ideologia libera socialista è il considerare la persona umana come un mero strumento economico. È un classico errore logico, ove una verità parziale è assunta come se fosseverità generale.

L’essere umano ha sicuramente anche una sua dimensione economica, ma questa non estingue la globalità della persona: esiste la mente, il sentimento, la volontà, il libero arbitrio.

Non solo. Esistono sicuramente dei diritti, ma questi corrispondono e traggono origine da ben precisi doveri. Non esisteono diritti senza i relativi doveri.

Nell’aderire ad una Collettività, la persona ne ricava alcuni diritti, per esempio, quello di essere tutelato nella sua esistenza fisica, ma nel contempo si carica di oneri e doveri.

Per sussistere, per continuare a vivere, la Collettività ha bisogno che siano generati costantemente nuovi membri: in caso contrario si destina alla estinzione. Ma scopo primario di una persona incardinata in una Collettività è quello di mantenerla in vita: quindi, di figliare.

Il fatto, possibile, che una persona sterile abbia generato ricchezze in nulla concorre a mantenere in vita la Collettività: senza nascite, questa può solo morire, anche se fosse straricca.

Sorge poi il problema del perché un giovane dovrebbe farsi carico di vecchi che non hanno figliato e che non siano suoi parenti: ne ha già più che a sufficienza di dover pensare ai suoi, sempre poi che lo voglia fare.

Nei fatti, il problema della procreazione è pertinente più la Weltanschauung che l’economia. Ma una vera politica familiare si contraddistingue non tanto dalle facilitazioni economiche, quanto piuttosto dall’aver strutturato l’istituto familiare in modo robusto, ponendo seri limiti alla sua disgregazione. Poi, che dire? La politica della regolazione delle nascite, anticoncezionali ed aborto, sono proprio l’opposto di ciò che serve a ristabilire gli equilibri generazionali.

Se è ragionevole che dei genitori ambiscano a dare ai figli quanto meglio possano, sarebbe altrettanto ragionevole constatare che mica tutti siano tenuti a frequentare la Yale University, andare a lezione di flauto trasverso, oppure fare le ferie girando il mondo. Si potrebbe benissimo vivere da persone normali.

Da ultimo, ma non certo per ultimo, l’ideologia liberal socialista individua nella religione un nemico mortale. Ma senza religione viene a mancare la visione del trascendente e, con essa, la speranza. È una cultura dell’immanente, priva di visione futura, che trova nel suicidio l’unico sbocco coerente.

Annunci
Pubblicato in: Cina, Devoluzione socialismo, Economia e Produzione Industriale, Geopolitica Asiatica, Senza categoria

Indonesia. Bloccato l’export del nickel estrattivo.

Giuseppe Sandro Mela.

2019-09-17.

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Nel 2001 l’Indonesia aveva un pil di 174.507 miliardi Usd ed un pil procapite di 834 Usd. 

A fine 2018 il pil era salito a 1,022.450 miliardi ed il pil procapite si attestava a 3,871 Usd.

In diciotto anni il pil è cresciuto di un po’ più di cinque volte: un risultato di tutto rilievo.

Adesso inizia ad ambire a qualcosa ancora di meglio.

«Indonesia is the largest nickel ore producer in the world, followed by the Philippines.»

«Indonesia has brought forward a nickel ore export ban by two years and will stop delivering low-grade ore from January 2020.»

«Under the new policy, ore containing less than 17pc nickel will not be allowed to be exported from 1 January next year»

«the three-month nickel contract traded on the London Metal Exchange (LME) surged to $17,800/t on 30 August, gaining $1,525/t on the day, and up by $5,680/t or 47pc since the beginning of July. The three-month nickel price is at its highest since 18 September 2014»

«The export ban was initially planned to take effect from 2022 but the Indonesian government has changed its plans after months of discussions, to speed up the development of the domestic nickel refining and smelting industry»

«In the past few years, Indonesia has implemented policies to encourage the development of value-added refining industries in the country, which would generate more income than ore exports»

«According to the ministry, 11 nickel smelters have been built and 25 are under construction.»

«The policy also aims to preserve existing proven nickel ore reserves, estimated at 698mn t, which will only meet demand for seven years if no new reserves are found»

«As the Chinese stainless steel industry relies heavily on Indonesia’s nickel ore as feedstock to produce nickel pig iron (NPI), the ban will have a severe impact on NPI supply in China.»

«Indonesia exported 20.72mn t of nickel ore and ferro-nickel last year. The majority of this, 19.9mn t, was delivered to China to feed the country’s stainless steel industry, trade data show.»

Gli impianti di raffinazione del nickel sono costosi e complessi, ma è del tutto ragionevole che l’Indonesia ambisca di incrementare il numero di quelli già esistenti sul suo territorio. L’export dei lingotti è infatti molto meno oneroso rispetto al minerale grezzo e la tecnologia resta in patria. Poi, così facendo, si installa un’industria produttiva e si generano posti di lavoro a grado di qualificazione medio – alto.

Certo, i cinesi dovranno fare buona faccia a cattiva sorte.


Argus. 2019-09-02. Indonesia to stop nickel ore exports in 2020

Indonesia has brought forward a nickel ore export ban by two years and will stop delivering low-grade ore from January 2020, the ministry of energy and mineral resources said today.

Under the new policy, ore containing less than 17pc nickel will not be allowed to be exported from 1 January next year.

“We have signed the regulation, which is essentially about terminating nickel export incentives for smelter builders as of 1 January 2020,” director-general Bambang Gatot Ariyono said.

Ahead of the announcement on the ministry website this morning, the three-month nickel contract traded on the London Metal Exchange (LME) surged to $17,800/t on 30 August, gaining $1,525/t on the day, and up by $5,680/t or 47pc since the beginning of July. The three-month nickel price is at its highest since 18 September 2014.

The export ban was initially planned to take effect from 2022 but the Indonesian government has changed its plans after months of discussions, to speed up the development of the domestic nickel refining and smelting industry.

In the past few years, Indonesia has implemented policies to encourage the development of value-added refining industries in the country, which would generate more income than ore exports.

According to the ministry, 11 nickel smelters have been built and 25 are under construction.

The policy also aims to preserve existing proven nickel ore reserves, estimated at 698mn t, which will only meet demand for seven years if no new reserves are found.

As the Chinese stainless steel industry relies heavily on Indonesia’s nickel ore as feedstock to produce nickel pig iron (NPI), the ban will have a severe impact on NPI supply in China.

Indonesia is the largest nickel ore producer in the world, followed by the Philippines. Indonesia exported 20.72mn t of nickel ore and ferro-nickel last year. The majority of this, 19.9mn t, was delivered to China to feed the country’s stainless steel industry, trade data show.

But some Chinese stainless steel producers have already set up operations in Indonesia.

Integrated Chinese-owned stainless steel producer Tsingshan operates a 3mn t/yr mill in Indonesia and also owns nickel and chrome mines in the country.

And Chinese producer Delong Holdings’ Indonesian joint venture Dexin Steel was due to become operational this year.

Nickel is one of the key materials in stainless steel production and the industry accounts for about 70pc of global nickel consumption. It is also increasingly important for the battery industry as nickel is a key component in lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles.

*

«GDP rises 2% in Indonesia in second quarter

Gross Domestic Product of Indonesia grew 1.3% in the first quarter of 2019 compared to the previous quarter. This rate is 1 -tenth of one percent higher than the figure of 1.2% published in the forth quarter of 2018.

The year-on-year change in GDP was 5.1%,,there is no change since last quarter. less than the 5.1% recorded in the first quarter of 2019.

The GDP figure in the first quarter of 2019 was $211,568 million, Indonesia is number 15 in the ranking of quarterly GDP of the 50 countries that we publish.

Indonesia has a quarterly GDP per capita, of $910, $88 higher than the same quarter last year, it was. If we order the countries according to their GDP per capita, Indonesia is in 49th position. According to this parameter, its population has a low level of affluence compare to the 50 countries whose quarterly GDP we publish.

Here we show you the progression of the GDP in Indonesia. You can see GDP in other countries in GDP and see all the economic information about Indonesia in Indonesia’s economy.»

Pubblicato in: Cina, Commercio, Economia e Produzione Industriale, Geopolitica Asiatica, Stati Uniti

Guerra mondiale valutaria e commerciale. South Korea nei triboli.

Giuseppe Sandro Mela.

2019-09-03.

2019-09-02__South Korea 001

Ci si sarebbe stupiti fortemente se la guerra valutaria e commerciale in corso tra Stati Uniti e Cina non avesse coinvolto anche tutte le altre nazioni, specie quelle dell’Unione Europea e del sud – est asiatico.

Sulla attuale situazione proprio nel sud – est asiatico la Bbc ha pubblicato un interessante report che riportiamo in calce, senza le figure che avrebbero occupato troppo spazio.

Nel novero, però, la situazione della South Korea sembrerebbe essere una delle più colpite.

«Concerns swirled earlier this year that South Korea could slip into recession. But it managed to avoid that outcome after huge government spending helped the economy swing back to growth in the second quarter.

Gross domestic product grew 1.1% in the three months to June compared with the previous quarter, when South Korea posted its sharpest contraction since the global financial crisis. In July, the country’s central bank cut rates for the first time in three years.

Much of the pain has been caused by faltering tech exports, driven by the global electronics slowdown. That trade is crucial to South Korea, since electronics account for around 30% of the country’s exports. A simmering trade battle with Japan is adding more uncertainty to South Korea’s growth prospects.»

Uno dei problemi della South Korea è legato al fatto che

«the global electronics slowdown»

«electronics account for around 30% of the country’s exports»

Ciò che un anno fa sarebbe stato considerato una eresia economica si è puntualmente verificato: il mercato dell’elettronica inizia a contrarsi, ma questo settore reggeva oltre il 30% dell’export della South Korea.

A ciò si aggiungano i danni del duello in atto con il Giappone.

How Japan’s trade row with South Korea could hit tech supplies

«A trade spat between Japan and South Korea threatens to spill beyond their borders, posing potential risks to consumer electronics supplies around the world.

The row stems from export restrictions Tokyo imposed on certain industrial materials that Seoul needs to make semiconductors and display screens.

Japan has also warned tougher trade curbs could be on the way.

The moves have drawn anger from South Korea, and earlier this month President Moon Jae-in described the situation as an “unprecedented emergency” for his country’s economy.

On Tuesday, officials from Seoul will bring the dispute to a meeting of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) General Council.

They hope to convince the international community that Japan has violated global trading rules, and the measures should be rescinded.

The simmering dispute is seen as the latest example of countries using trade as a weapon in diplomatic battles.

“There’s blame to be had on both sides,”»

* * *

Il punto è semplice:

«export restrictions Tokyo imposed on certain industrial materials that Seoul needs to make semiconductors and display screens».

Il sistema economico sudkoreano ha montato una serie di produzioni che dipendono nei fatti dalla possibilità di importare materia prima ovvero semilavorata, esponendosi così a dipendere dai fornitori di quei beni ed agli umori degli acquirenti.

La cosa in sé non sarebbe negativa, se però l’espansione del settore fossa stata tenuta meglio sotto controllo: un settore così dipendente dall’estero avrebbe dovuto essere bilanciato tramite una ampia diversificazione.

Adesso sono oltre sei mesi che l’export della South Korea scende mese dopo mese con variazioni yoy negative a due cifre percentuali.

Questa è una situazione non sostenibile nel tempo.

* * * * * * *


Bbc. 2019-09-01. Trade war drives ‘innocent’ Asian nations towards recession

Rising fears about the health of the global economy have prompted talk of recession, spreading anxiety about jobs and growth.

The US-China trade war is casting a shadow over the world economy and warning signs of a looming downturn have flashed on financial markets.

Recession poses no immediate threat to the biggest economies in Asia, although they are slowing down. Yet some smaller economies in the region – including Hong Kong and Singapore – are definitely at risk.

They are what Louis Kuijs, head of Asia economics at Oxford Economics, calls the “innocent bystanders” in the trade fight between Washington and Beijing.

“These are small, open economies, where trade – and trade with China – is extremely important,” says Mr Kuijs.

Here’s a look at what’s driving the slowdown in Asia’s top economies, as well as the countries at risk of recession:

China

Growth in the world’s second-largest economy has been for easing for years. The latest figures show China’s gross domestic product (GDP) grew 6.2% in the second quarter, its slowest pace since the early 1990s.

The trade war that has seen Washington impose tariffs on billions of dollars’ worth of Chinese goods is adding more strain.

It has hurt some Chinese firms, with roughly 20% of the country’s exports sent to the US. But perhaps more harmful to businesses is the lack of clarity over when the long-running dispute will end.

“The one thing that is affecting business plans is the uncertainty of the US-China trade war, probably more important than the tariffs,” says Mr Kuijs.

“The uncertainty is a major factor of [the concerns] we see globally.”

Beijing has taken a series of steps this year to support the economy, including tax cuts and infrastructure spending. For 2019, the government is targeting growth of between 6% and 6.5%.

Japan

Mr Kuijs points out that what happens to China matters a lot to the rest of Asia.

The slowdown there and the trade war have knocked business confidence in Japan, a country also grappling with softer global demand for its exports, such as electronic equipment and car parts.

A quick guide to the US-China trade war

But its latest economic figures were fairly upbeat. Preliminary data showed GDP increased 0.4% in the second quarter – beating an expected 0.1% rise – thanks to strong consumer spending.

Still, the world’s third-largest economy faces a threat to spending when a long-awaited sales tax increase is introduced in October.

“Conditions probably won’t remain as healthy as they are now, as domestic demand is set to weaken after the tax hike,” Capital Economics Japan economist Marcel Thieliant says.

India

Over in Asia’s third-largest economy, growth has faltered amid sluggish demand at home and weak investment. India’s latest quarterly GDP growth dropped to a five-year low of 5.8%. The next GDP reading, due 30 August, could be weaker still.

The country has relied on domestic consumption to spur its huge economy, but spending has slowed sharply.

Car sales are one troubling example. In July, passenger vehicle sales plunged 31%, the steepest monthly fall in nearly two decades. The sector has slashed jobs and cut production as sales dry up.

India announces retaliatory US tariffs

India no longer world’s fastest-growing economy

So far this year, India’s central bank has cut rates four times. The benchmark rate currently sits at a near-decade low.

More stimulus measures to boost the economy, which is also battling the threat of a widening trade conflict with the US, are expected this year.

Hong Kong

The Asian financial hub is fighting the pressures of a slowdown in China, the trade war and political unrest. Some economists expect that combination to push the territory into recession before long.

Gross domestic product shrank 0.4% in the three months to June compared with the previous quarter.

But those figures did not capture the impact of the pro-democracy protests that have gripped Hong Kong for more than two months, hitting tourism and retail sales.

Hong Kong protests in 300 words

Economists at DBS and Capital Economics are among those expecting that third-quarter numbers, due out in November, will show Hong Kong has fallen into a technical recession, defined as two consecutive quarters of negative growth.

Singapore

The trade-dependent city state has been hit by weak global demand, slowing growth in China and the trade war.

Singapore is reliant on high-tech exports – and softer demand for electronics around the world has darkened its economic outlook.

The economy shrank by 3.3% in the second quarter, on a seasonally adjusted annualised basis. That prompted the government to cut its growth forecasts for 2019 to between 0% and 1%.

Oxford Economics expects that third-quarter GDP numbers, due in October, will show a contraction, meaning that Singapore will enter a technical recession.

Trade war infects Asia as exports plunge

Mr Kuijs says the impact of the trade war on Hong Kong and Singapore is “larger than in China itself, even though no one is imposing any tariffs on these countries”.

South Korea

Concerns swirled earlier this year that South Korea could slip into recession. But it managed to avoid that outcome after huge government spending helped the economy swing back to growth in the second quarter.

Gross domestic product grew 1.1% in the three months to June compared with the previous quarter, when South Korea posted its sharpest contraction since the global financial crisis. In July, the country’s central bank cut rates for the first time in three years.

Much of the pain has been caused by faltering tech exports, driven by the global electronics slowdown. That trade is crucial to South Korea, since electronics account for around 30% of the country’s exports. A simmering trade battle with Japan is adding more uncertainty to South Korea’s growth prospects.

Pubblicato in: Armamenti, Cina, Geopolitica Asiatica

Cina. Isole artificiali adesso armate anche con aeroplani militari.

Giuseppe Sandro Mela.

2019-08-13.

2019-07-28__Cina_Isole__001

Nel breve volgere di pochi anni la Cina ha costruito una serie di isole artificiali nel Mare Cinese del Sud. Adesso sta completando il loro armamento: dai supporti logistici aeroportuali, ai sistemi missilistici antiaerei ed antinave,  missili da crociera ed aerei da guerra.

«The J-10 jets have a combat range of about 500 miles (740 kilometers), putting much of the South China Sea and vital shipping lands within reach»

2019-07-28__Cina_Isole__002

La loro utilità dipende strettamente dalla tipologia del conflitto configurabile.

2019-07-28__Cina_Isole__003

Nel corso di una guerra nucleare, essendo obiettivi fissi, sarebbero facilmente distrutti anche solo con il lancio di una testata nucleare balistica. Ma, ovviamente, una situazione di questo tipo vedrebbe coinvolte tutte le realtà militari in una reciproca distruzione.

2019-07-28__Cina_Isole__004

Diversa la situazione nel caso di un problema militare locoregionale. Sicuramente una flotta allo stato dell’arte, quale quella americana, avrebbe la possibilità di penetrare il Mare Cinese del Sud, ma ciò avverrebbe pagando uno scotto severo. Se nel conflitto locale fosse invece coinvolta un’altra potenza locale, la supremazia cinese sarebbe schiacciante.

2019-07-28__Cina_Isole__005

* * * * * * *

2019-07-28__Cina_Isole__006

Una unica considerazione.

Anni fa, le isole artificiali non esistevano: adesso invece vi sono.

2019-07-28__Cina_Isole__008

2019-07-28__Cina_Isole__009


China building aircraft hangars on disputed islands in South China Sea, says US think

«China appears to be building reinforced aircraft hangars on reclaimed islands it controls in a disputed area of the South China Sea, according to a US think tank.

Satellite photographs taken in late July show the construction of hangars on Fiery Cross, Subi and Mischief reefs in the Spratly chain of islands and some have already been completed, according to a report by the Centre for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

Although no military aircraft have been spotted, each of the three small islands would soon have enough hangar space for 24 fighter jets, plus three to four larger planes, the think tank said. …. The hangars, in three different sizes, could accommodate any plane used by China’s air force, the think tank said. …. These include the J-11 and Su-30 fighters, H-6 bombers, the H-6U refuelling tanker and the air force’s largest aircrafts –the Y-20 and Il-76 transport planes.»

*


South China Sea: Satellite image shows Chinese fighter jets deployed to contested island

«A satellite image obtained by CNN shows China has deployed at least four J-10 fighter jets to the contested Woody Island in the South China Sea, the first known deployment of fighter jets there since 2017.

The image was taken Wednesday and represents the first time J-10s have been seen on Woody or any Chinese-controlled islands in the South China Sea, according to ImageSat International, which supplied the image to CNN.

The deployment comes as tensions remain high in the South China Sea and Chinese President Xi Jinping prepares to meet United States President Donald Trump at the G-20 summit in Japan next week.

Analysts who looked at the satellite photo for CNN said both the placement of the planes out in the open and accompanying equipment is significant and indicates the fighter jets were on the contested island for up to 10 days.

“They want you to notice them. Otherwise they would be parked in the hangars,” said Peter Layton, a former Royal Australian Air Force officer and fellow at the Griffith Asia Institute. “What message do they want you to take from them?”

Carl Schuster, a former director of operations at the US Pacific Command’s Joint Intelligence Center, said the deployment is designed to “demonstrate it is their territory and they can put military aircraft there whenever they want.”

“It also makes a statement that they can extend their air power reach over the South China Sea as required or desired,” Schuster said.

The J-10 jets have a combat range of about 500 miles (740 kilometers), putting much of the South China Sea and vital shipping lands within reach, Schuster said.

The four planes are not carrying external fuel tanks, the analysts said. That suggests they were to be refueled on the island, so the plan may be to keep them there awhile. ….

The Paracels sit in the north-central portion of the 1.3 million-square-mile South China Sea. They are also claimed by Vietnam and Taiwan, but have been occupied by China since 1974, when Chinese troops ousted a South Vietnamese garrison.

The past several years have seen Beijing substantially upgrade its facilities on the islands, deploying surface-to-air missiles, building 20 hangars at the airfield, upgrading two harbors and performing substantial land reclamation, according to the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative.

Woody Island has served as a blueprint for Beijing’s more prominent island-building efforts in the Spratly chain to the south, AMTI said in a 2017 report.»

*


China lands military plane at third Spratly Island, just 12 nautical miles from Philippines

«China has deployed military aircraft to a third outpost in a disputed South China Sea island chain, a move which will alarm rivals who believe Beijing has ramped up its military presence in the region.

The Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative published images showing a military aircraft, a Shaanxi Y-8, at Subi Reef in the Spratly Islands.

The plane was “designed as a military transport aircraft, but some variants are used for maritime patrol or signals intelligence,” said the think tank, which is part of the Centre for Strategic and International Studies.

The photographs reveal the first deployment of military aircraft on the island, which hosts one of three runways in the strategically important Spratlys. Military aircraft have now landed on all three of the airstrips, the AMTI said.

The organisation said that a naval patrol aircraft landed at Fiery Cross Reef two years ago, while two Xian Y-7 military transport aircraft were seen on Mischief Reef in January.»

*


The Real Problem with China’s South China Sea Bases

«China has built some islands in the South China Sea. Can it protect them?

During World War II Japan found that control of islands offered some strategic advantages, but not enough to force the United States to reduce each island individually. Moreover, over time the islands became a strategic liability, as Japan struggled to keep them supplied with food, fuel and equipment. The islands of the SCS are conveniently located for China, but do they really represent an asset to China’s military? The answer is yes, but in an actual conflict the value would dwindle quickly. ….

China has established numerous military installations in the South China Sea, primarily in the Spratly and Paracel Islands. In the Spratlys, China has built airfields at Subi, Mischief and Fiery Cross, along with potential missile, radar and helicopter infrastructure at several smaller formations. In the Paracels, China has established a significant military installation at Woody Island, as well as radar and helicopter facilities in several other areas. China continues construction across the region, meaning that it may expand its military presence in the future. The larger bases (Subi, Mischief, Fiery Cross and Woody Island) have infrastructure necessary for the management of military aircraft, including fighters and large patrol craft. These missiles, radars and aircraft extend the lethal reach of China’s military across the breadth of the South China Sea. ….

Missiles

Several of the islands serve as bases for SAM systems (including the HQ-9, with a range of 125 miles, and perhaps eventually the Russian S-400) and ground-launched cruise missiles (GLCMs). These missiles serve to make the South China Sea lethal for U.S. ships and aircraft that do not have stealth capabilities, or that do not enjoy a layered air-defense system. The SAM installations, buoyed by networks of radars, can effectively limit the ability of enemy aircraft to enter their lethal zone without significant electronic-warfare assistance. The GLCMs can add another set of launchers to China’s A2/AD network, although not necessarily with any greater effectiveness than missiles launched from subs, ships or aircraft.»

* * * * * * *

Pubblicato in: Armamenti, Geopolitica Asiatica

South Korea. Costruirà una portaerei leggera.

Giuseppe Sandro Mela.

2019-08-05.

South Korea 001

«The Chinese navy has two carriers. Another is under construction. Beijing’s fleet could possess as many as six aircraft carriers by the mid-2030s, experts told state media. They could be a mix of conventional and nuclear-powered vessels.

Even the smallest Chinese carrier displaces around 60,000 tons of water, making it twice as big as South Korea’s own, future flattop»

«The South Korean joint chiefs of staff decided on July 12, 2019 to acquire an assault ship capable of operating fixed-wing aircraft, Defense News reported. The vessel presumably would embark vertical-landing F-35B stealth fighters»

«South Korea is getting an aircraft carrier. The vessel could help Seoul’s navy to compete with its main rivals, the Chinese and Japanese fleets.»

«Seoul for years has mulled a purchase of F-35Bs to complement the country’s land-based F-35As»

«“The plan of building the LPH-II ship has been included in a long-term force buildup plan,” a spokesman for the joint chiefs told Defense News, using an acronym for “landing platform helicopter.”»

«“Once a preliminary research is completed within a couple of years, the shipbuilding plan is expected to be included in the midterm acquisition list,”»

«The new LPH will displace around 30,000 tons of water, roughly twice as much as the South Korean navy’s two LPH-Is displace. The older assault ships embark only helicopters. A 30,000-ton vessel easily could operate a dozen or more F-35Bs plus other aircraft.»

«The $6-billion acquisition include three Aegis destroyers armed with ballistic-missile interceptors and three submarines equipped with their own launchers for land-attack missiles.»

«The new ships could help Seoul’s navy to expand beyond its current, largely coastal mission. The main threat to South Korea is North Korea, specifically the North’s huge force of artillery that in wartime quickly could demolish Seoul and endanger millions of people.»

«The navy currently possesses three of the Sejong the Great-class destroyers that it acquired between 2008 and 2012. «The 11,000-ton-displacement destroyers are among the most heavily-armed in the world and boast 128 vertical missile cells for SM-3 air-defense missiles and Hyunmoo-3C cruise missiles.»

* * * * * * *

Nell’Asia dell’est e del sud est è in corso da tempo un riarmo di notevole consistenza.

Se quello cinese è adeguato ad una potenza locoregionale con malcelate ambizioni globali, gli altri stati stanno attentamente ponderano soprattutto la loro difesa.

Le attuali rivalità nippo-koreane sembrerebbero essere solo formali.

I punti nevralgici sarebbero essere la North Korea, per la sua impredicibile politica, e la Cina, per la sua prevedibile ambizione marittima.

Sotto sotto, ci sarebbe anche da valutare l’ipotesi di una volontà di portare la cantieristica sudkoreana allo stato dell’arte.


The Diplomat. 2019-07-26. South Korea Moves Toward Medium-Sized Aircraft Carriers: Why?

Earlier this week, South Korea announced its intention to include a medium-sized aircraft carrier in its naval expansion plans. The decision to construct the ships comes at a time of high tension with Japan, and takes place more generally in context of accelerated Japanese and Chinese aircraft carrier construction. Reportedly, the ship will displace 30,000 tons, making it somewhat larger than the Japanese Izumos. Designing the ship from the keel up to operate the F-35B may also remedy the need for the compromises that required extensive refitting in the Japanese ships.

Such a vessel would lock South Korea into the acquisition of the F-35B, except in the unlikely event that South Korea developed its own advanced STOVL fighter aircraft. The ROK has already agreed to acquire the F-35A, although it has also pursued a related project for a fifth-generation fighter. There is no indication that the KFX fighter would have STOVL capabilities, however. Presumably, the construction of this carrier would put to bed rumors about refitting the Dokdo-class to operate the F-35B, a plan that would have seriously strained the smaller vessels.

Although South Korea has never constructed a military vessel of this size, the shipbuilding industry is sufficiently sophisticated that upsizing from the Dokdos should not present any serious challenges. It is fair to say that Japan is unlikely to share the design characteristics of the Izumos. However, the Spanish Juan Carlos and the Italian Cavour and Trieste could provide ready models if South Korean shipbuilders sought the advice of their European counterparts.

Indeed, this new ship will join a growing family of vessels, including the Juan Carlos, the Izumo, the Cavour, and the Trieste, intended to operate the F-35B as their primary combat capability. The Turkish Anadolu (based on the Juan Carlos) was intended for the same purpose, but Turkey has been excluded from the F-35B project. The large American amphibious warships of the Wasp and America classes also operate the F-35B, as do the British Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carriers. The South Korean decision may provide additional ammunition to advocates of refitting the Canberra class amphibs (yet again based on the Spanish Juan Carlos) to carry the Joint Strike Fighter. 

The timing of the announcement of the decision to build this vessel resonates uncomfortably with the renewal of tensions with Japan over World War II history, but competition with Tokyo probably remains mostly in the arena of prestige. This decision may also reflect increasing confidence that South Korea’s primary security problems do not involve North Korea. Fighters launched from carriers aren’t intrinsically worth more than fighters launched from land bases, although the presence of a carrier would complicate North Korean targeting problems. More likely, however, South Korea envisions using the ship in a blue water role, contributing to multi-national military and humanitarian operations, and safeguarding ROK interests in the distant abroad.

Whether this spurs additional construction on the part of Japan is an open, interesting question. Notwithstanding the diplomatic irritation that has resurfaced over the past months, Japan does not seem to regard South Korea as a meaningful security threat, or as a competitor for prestige. If happier relations return, the two navies could share lessons learned, and perhaps even act in concert to manage regional security affairs.

*


National Interest. 2019-07-23. South Korea Is Getting an Aircraft Carrier (Armed with F-35s?)

The South Korean joint chiefs of staff decided on July 12, 2019 to acquire an assault ship capable of operating fixed-wing aircraft, Defense News reported. The vessel presumably would embark vertical-landing F-35B stealth fighters.

South Korea is getting an aircraft carrier. The vessel could help Seoul’s navy to compete with its main rivals, the Chinese and Japanese fleets.

The South Korean joint chiefs of staff decided on July 12, 2019 to acquire an assault ship capable of operating fixed-wing aircraft, Defense News reported. The vessel presumably would embark vertical-landing F-35B stealth fighters.

Seoul for years has mulled a purchase of F-35Bs to complement the country’s land-based F-35As.

“The plan of building the LPH-II ship has been included in a long-term force buildup plan,” a spokesman for the joint chiefs told Defense News, using an acronym for “landing platform helicopter.”

“Once a preliminary research is completed within a couple of years, the shipbuilding plan is expected to be included in the midterm acquisition list,” the spokesman added.

The new LPH will displace around 30,000 tons of water, roughly twice as much as the South Korean navy’s two LPH-Is displace. The older assault ships embark only helicopters. A 30,000-ton vessel easily could operate a dozen or more F-35Bs plus other aircraft.

Acquiring a carrier represents “a symbolic and meaningful step to upgrade the country’s naval capability against potential threats posed by Japan and China,” Kim Dae-young, an analyst with the Seoul-based Korea Research Institute for National Strategy, told Defense News.

The new flattop is part of a wider naval buildup in South Korea. The South Korean government on April 30, 2019 approved plans to acquire new destroyers and submarines for the country’s fast-growing navy.

The $6-billion acquisition include three Aegis destroyers armed with ballistic-missile interceptors and three submarines equipped with their own launchers for land-attack missiles.

The new ships could help Seoul’s navy to expand beyond its current, largely coastal mission. The main threat to South Korea is North Korea, specifically the North’s huge force of artillery that in wartime quickly could demolish Seoul and endanger millions of people.

But looking beyond the North Korean threat, South Korea clearly has ambitions to develop a far-sailing “blue-water” navy.

The South Korean navy in 2019 operates 68 major warships including 16 submarines, 12 destroyers, 13 frigates, 13 corvettes and 14 amphibious warfare ships. The fleet also includes scores of patrol boats, mine-warfare vessels and auxiliaries.

The three new Sejong the Great-class destroyers and three new Dosan An Chang-Ho-class submarines apparently will expand the fleet rather than replace older vessels.

“The new Aegis destroyers will be outfitted with an upgraded missile launch system which will allow them to intercept ballistic missiles,” Yonhap news agency reported. “They will also represent a marked upgrade in detection and tracking abilities.”

The navy currently possesses three of the Sejong the Great-class destroyers that it acquired between 2008 and 2012. The 11,000-ton-displacement destroyers are among the most heavily-armed in the world and boast 128 vertical missile cells for SM-3 air-defense missiles and Hyunmoo-3C cruise missiles.

At present the American-made SM-3 is most effective as a terminal- or boost-phase missile-interceptor, meaning it possess the speed, range and altitude performance to hit enemy ballistic missiles when they’re first launching or in their final seconds of flight.

But the U.S. Missile Defense Agency plans to modify the SM-3 and test it for the most difficult, mid-course-phase intercepts, when an interceptor must climb outside of the atmosphere. Exo-atmospheric interceptions require special sensors and other capabilities.

Among Asian powers, Japan is also equipping its destroyers with SM-3s for missile-defense missions.

South Korea however is unique in fitting its submarines with launchers for ballistic land-attack missiles. The 3,400-ton-displacement Dosan An Chang-Ho-class subs will come with vertical launchers that can fire Chonryong cruise missiles and Hyunmoo-2 ballistic missiles.

The boats’ land-attack capabilities could help Seoul to target Pyongyang’s 13,000 artillery pieces, potentially minimizing the damage that North Korea could inflict on the south.

More than 30 million people including hundreds of thousands of foreigners live within range of North Korea’s artillery. Barrages in the opening hours of a full-scale war could kill or injure 250,000 people, the U.S. Defense Department estimated.

The new submarines during wartime also would hunt North Korea’s own large but aging fleet of subs. Pyongyang operates around 70 undersea vessels, including around 20 Soviet-designed Romeo-class attack boats and scores of midget submarines.

South Korea’s carrier will sail into crowded seas. Japan’s cabinet on Dec. 18, 2018 approved a plan to modify the Japanese navy’s two, 27,000-ton-displacement Izumo-class helicopter carriers to embark F-35B stealth fighters.

The modifications should result in the Japanese fleet operating, for the first time since World War II, flattops with fixed-wing aircraft.

The Chinese navy has two carriers. Another is under construction. Beijing’s fleet could possess as many as six aircraft carriers by the mid-2030s, experts told state media. They could be a mix of conventional and nuclear-powered vessels.

Even the smallest Chinese carrier displaces around 60,000 tons of water, making it twice as big as South Korea’s own, future flattop.

Pubblicato in: Geopolitica Asiatica, Problemi militari, Russia

Russia. Putin militarizza le isole Kurili.

Giuseppe Sandro Mela.

2018-12-20.

Kurili 002

Sarebbe sufficiente dare un’occhiata alla carta geografica.

Il Mare di Okhotsk è delimitato a nord dalle rive siberiane orientali, ad est dalla Penisola di Kamchacta che si protende verso sud per quasi mille kilometri, mentre ad ovest l’Isola di Sakhalin è disposta da nord a sud per quasi ottocento kilometri. Lo sbocco verso il mare libero dell’Oceano Pacifico è bloccato dalla catena di Isole Kurili. Chi abbia il controllo militare delle Kurili governa gli accessi al mare di Okhotsk.

Qualche nota aggiuntiva.

L’Isola di Sakhalin è ricchissima di giacimenti minerari: oro, argento, titanio, ferro e carbone. Negli ultimi anni sono stati individuati giacimenti di petrolio e gas naturale, che sembrerebbero essere tra i maggiori del mondo.

Le isole Kurili furono occupate dai russi negli ultimi giorni della seconda guerra mondiale e, finita la guerra, tutti i giapponesi abitanti nell’Isola di Sakhalin, quattrocentomila circa, furono deportati, mossa questa che si dimostrò essere lungimirante.

* * *

Se questi sono gli elementi geopolitici locoregionali, si dovrebbero considerare anche molti altri elementi internazionali. Anche se il Mare di Okhotsk è racchiuso prevalentemente da coste russe, attraverso gli Stretti Kurili potrebbe essere raggiunto da flotte di altre nazioni. È del tutto comprensibile che una simile opzione risulti essere sgradita ai russi.

Ecco quindi che Mr Putin ha deciso di rafforzare in modo significativo la presenza militare russa nelle Kurili.

«Russia said on Monday it had built new barracks for troops on a disputed chain of islands near Japan and would build more facilities for armored vehicles, a move likely to anger Tokyo after it urged Moscow to reduce its military activity there»

*

«The announcement, from the Ministry of Defence, said Moscow planned to shift troops into four housing complexes on two of the four disputed islands, known as the Southern Kurils in Russia and the Northern Territories in Japan, next week»

*

«Tokyo says it is concerned by what it regards as an unhelpful Russian military build-up on the islands – which has included warplane, missile defense and other deployments. Moscow, meanwhile, says it is perturbed by Japan’s roll-out of the Aegis Ashore U.S. missile system»

*

«In the meantime, Moscow is fortifying the islands»

*

«The Defence Ministry said on Monday it wanted troops and their families to move into the two new housing complexes on one of the four islands, Iturup (Etorofu in Japan), and into two others on the island of Kunashir (Kunashiri in Japan), on Dec. 25»

* * * * * * *

Nota.

Questa fotografia delle Kurili illustra benissimo la mentalità russa, che accetta e non rinnega il proprio passato.

Kurili 003


Reuters. 2018-12-17. Russia to move troops into new barracks on disputed islands near Japan

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russia said on Monday it had built new barracks for troops on a disputed chain of islands near Japan and would build more facilities for armored vehicles, a move likely to anger Tokyo after it urged Moscow to reduce its military activity there.

The announcement, from the Ministry of Defence, said Moscow planned to shift troops into four housing complexes on two of the four disputed islands, known as the Southern Kurils in Russia and the Northern Territories in Japan, next week.

The news came after the Kremlin said Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe might visit Russia on Jan. 21 as the two countries step up a push to defuse the territorial dispute to allow them to sign a World War Two peace treaty, something the disagreement over the Pacific islands has long prevented.

There was no immediate reaction from Japan. Tokyo said in July it had asked Russia to reduce its military activity on the islands, a plea Moscow dismissed as unhelpful megaphone diplomacy at the time.

Soviet forces seized the four islands at the end of World War Two and Moscow and Tokyo both claim sovereignty over them. Diplomats on both sides have spoken of the possibility of reviving a Soviet-era draft agreement that envisaged returning two of the four islands as part of a peace deal.

President Vladimir Putin and Abe have held numerous face-to-face meetings to try to make progress.

But tensions have remained high. Tokyo says it is concerned by what it regards as an unhelpful Russian military build-up on the islands – which has included warplane, missile defense and other deployments. Moscow, meanwhile, says it is perturbed by Japan’s roll-out of the Aegis Ashore U.S. missile system.

Russian politicians say they fear Japan might agree to deploy U.S. missile facilities on the islands if it ever got any of them back and that Moscow could only countenance a deal if it received a cast-iron guarantee that ruled out such a scenario.

In the meantime, Moscow is fortifying the islands.

The Defence Ministry said on Monday it wanted troops and their families to move into the two new housing complexes on one of the four islands, Iturup (Etorofu in Japan), and into two others on the island of Kunashir (Kunashiri in Japan), on Dec. 25.

It said troops were moved into two such similar facilities last year with three more barracks planned for 2019.

“Also on both islands we have modern and heated storage facilities for weapons and armored vehicles,” the ministry said in a statement, adding that more such facilities were planned.

Pubblicato in: Cina, Geopolitica Asiatica

Cina – Filippine. Mr Xi in visita ufficiale a Manila.

Giuseppe Sandro Mela.

2018-11-23.

2018-11-21__Duterte__001

La storia insegna come si possano ottenere risultati migliori sfruttando gli errori dell’avversario rispetto all’affrontarlo di petto: procedura meno costosa e ben più efficiente. Richiede solo pazienza e vigile attesa.

Così, mentre negli Stati Uniti si assiste non tanto ad una competizione per poter governare il paese quanto piuttosto ad una guerra civile volta all’eliminazione dell’avversario politico vissuto come un nemico, mentre l’Unione Europea si sta lentamente ma inesorabilmente disintegrando e l’asse franco germanico evidenzia quanto sia inconsistente causa la debolezza interna di Mr Macron e l’uscita di scena di Frau Merkel, la Cina di Mr Xi sta procedendo nei suoi piani di piccoli passi per il controllo del mondo.

Se è vero che le Filippine siano un paese ancora in fase di emersione economica, se è vero che presenta molte contraddizioni, sarebbe altrettanto vero prendere atto della sua posizione strategica nel chiudere il Mare Cinese del Sud agli accessi oceanici.

Per la Cina due sono gli obiettivi strategici.

– Assicurarsi il pieno controllo politico, commerciale e militare del Mare Cinese del Sud;

– Assicurarsi corridoi navigabili altamente sicuri tra questo mare e l’Oceano Pacifico.

*

La vera posta in gioco è la concreta possibilità di trasformare la Cina da potenza locoregionale a superpotenza mondiale. Non è certo un piano da attuarsi a breve termine, magari con azioni di forza: i risultati sono attesi tra anni, ma dovranno essere stabili, duraturi nel tempo.

L’Occidente ha trattato duramente le Filippine, e questa per reazione hanno iniziato a guardarsi attorno.

«Chinese President Xi Jinping arrived in the Philippines for a state visit on Tuesday, aiming to advance strategic gains made under a Manila leadership that has favored Beijing in the hope of receiving billions of dollars of loans and investment»

*

«Xi’s visit comes two years after Philippine counterpart Rodrigo Duterte declared he was reorienting his foreign policy away from the United States and toward China, despite decades of mistrust and bitter maritime disputes with Beijing.»

*

«Xi praised Duterte and described ties as being “a rainbow after the rain” and repeatedly called for the “proper handling” of rows over the South China Sea.»

*

«But Duterte’s style of handling has frustrated nationalists, who say he has been submissive in refusing to criticize China’s military buildup, or seek its compliance with a 2016 arbitration award that invalidated its claim to almost the entire waterway»

*

«Public opinion is largely supportive of Duterte’s presidency but surveys consistently show reservations about his China policy and disdain for the United States.»

* * * * * * * *

Occorrerebbe fare molta attenzione a non valutare gli eventi sulla scorta di quanto scrivono i media liberal, i quali odiano Mr Duterte per averli cortesemente messi all’uscio e per aver iniziato una ampia bonifica del commercio e spaccio di droghe nel suo paese.

Non sempre le mogli separate parlano ben dell’ex partner.


Reuters. 2018-11-20. China’s Xi visits Philippines as Duterte pressed to take tougher line

MANILA (Reuters) – Chinese President Xi Jinping arrived in the Philippines for a state visit on Tuesday, aiming to advance strategic gains made under a Manila leadership that has favored Beijing in the hope of receiving billions of dollars of loans and investment.

Xi’s visit comes two years after Philippine counterpart Rodrigo Duterte declared he was reorienting his foreign policy away from the United States and toward China, despite decades of mistrust and bitter maritime disputes with Beijing.

In a commentary in Monday’s Philippine Star newspaper, Xi praised Duterte and described ties as being “a rainbow after the rain” and repeatedly called for the “proper handling” of rows over the South China Sea.

But Duterte’s style of handling has frustrated nationalists, who say he has been submissive in refusing to criticize China’s military buildup, or seek its compliance with a 2016 arbitration award that invalidated its claim to almost the entire waterway.

Public opinion is largely supportive of Duterte’s presidency but surveys consistently show reservations about his China policy and disdain for the United States.

A Social Weather Stations survey released late on Monday showed 84 percent of Filipinos felt it was wrong not to oppose China’s militarization of its manmade islands, and 86 percent believed it was right to strengthen the Philippine military, especially the navy.

The poll of 1,200 people conducted in late September also showed trust in the United States remained “very good”, but China was considered “poor”.

A small protest was held outside China’s embassy in Manila on Tuesday.

Asked on Tuesday about the survey, presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo, said Duterte’s strategy was to avoid a potential “inferno” of conflict while reaping the rewards of improved business.

“They are not aware of the real geopolitics in the region. The president is a very cautious diplomat,” Panelo told news channel ANC.

“Rather than provoke, he’d rather talk with them and get some trade relations that will benefit this country.”

Panelo accepted that those benefits, including $24 billion of pledged loans and investments, were yet to materialize, but said Duterte was not scared to speak up.

“This is the best time for the president to exert pressure on the Chinese president,” he said. “Knowing the man, he’ll do that, he’s that kind of person.”

Duterte has heaped praise on Xi for his support for his infrastructure program, although just three of dozens of such planned projects have broken ground.

Some analysts say Duterte risks appearing as if he has been duped into making concessions.

Other Philippine experts say delays in securing Chinese credit could be a blessing given the potential debt burden, echoing a warning delivered by U.S. Vice President Mike Pence.

Pubblicato in: Economia e Produzione Industriale, Geopolitica Asiatica, Problemia Energetici

Arun. Centrale idroelettrica condivisa tra India e Nepal.

Giuseppe Sandro Mela.

2018-06-27.

2018-05-11__India_Nepal__001

«The Arun is the largest trans-Himalayan river passing through Nepal and also has the greatest snow and ice-covered area of any Nepalese river basin. The Arun drains more than half of the area contributing to the Sapta Kosi river system but provides only about a quarter of the total discharge. This apparent contradiction is caused by the location of more than 80 percent of the Arun’s drainage area in the rain shadow of the Himalayas. Average annual rainfall in Tibet is about 300 millimetres (12 in).

The river leaves the Tibet region at a height of about 3,500 metres (11,500 ft) and crosses the main Himalayan ranges. Leaving their rain shadow, the river’s flow increases substantially in the monsoonal climate of east Nepal. The landscape south of the border tends to be steep with less than 15 percent of the area having a sustained slope of less than 15° and is strongly dissected by stream channels. Many of the hill slopes are structurally unstable, and the region is seismically active. The August 1988 Nepal earthquake, with an epicentre more than 50 km south of the Arun basin, had a moment magnitude of 6.9 and resulted in more than 100 deaths in the basin alone.

The northern third of the Nepalese portion of the Arun basin supports a rich, though human-modified, forest of mixed hardwoods, Chir pine, fir, and rhododendron at elevations of over 1,000 metres (3,300 ft). The vegetation in the southern two-thirds of the area has been extensively modified for subsistence agriculture. Most of the half-million people in the Arun basin live in this southern area between 300 metres (980 ft) and 1,000 metres (3,300 ft) in widely scattered villages near the slopes they farm.» [Fonte]

*

«Gross Domestic Product of Nepal grew 0.4% in 2016 compared to last year. This rate is 29 -tenths of one percent less than the figure of 3.3% published in 2015.

The GDP figure in 2016 was $21,132 million, Nepal is number 108 in the ranking of GDP of the 196 countries that we publish. The absolute value of GDP in Nepal dropped $279 million with respect to 2015.

The GDP per capita of Nepal in 2016 was $729, $18 less than in 2015, when it was $747. To view the evolution of the GDP per capita, it is interesting to look back a few years and compare these data with those of 2006 when the GDP per capita in Nepal was $349.

If we order the countries according to their GDP per capita, Nepal is in 174 th position. According to this parameter, its population is among the poorest of the 196 countries whose GDP we publish.

Here we show you the progression of the GDP in Nepal. You can see GDP in other countries in GDP and see all the economic information about Nepal in Nepal’s economy.» [Fonte]

* * * * * * *

Il Nepal è un paese misero e con un clima ai limiti della umana sopravvivenza. Molto difficile impiantarvi una qualsiasi attività produttiva. A ciò si aggiungano le tensioni con i paesi limitrofi: questioni talora secolari divenute oramai quasi connaturate nel modo di pensare della gente.

Il Nepal, pur essendo sovrabbondante di acque, ha acquedotti fatiscenti, di conseguenza ha una rete nera primordiale, e manca drammaticamente di strade, strade ferrate ed energia.

In questa situazione non ci si stupisce che il pil procapite sia infimo: 241$ nel 2000, saliti faticosamente a 729$ nel 2016.

Di questi giorni una buona notizia.

Dopo quasi dieci anni di colloqui diplomatici, il Nepal ha stretto un accordo con l’India. Mr Modi si è recato in visita al suo Collega in Nepal.

«I due capi di governo, da remoto, daranno il via alla posa delle fondamenta della centrale idroelettrica Arun III, della capacità di 900 megawatt, sul fiume Arun, nel distretto di Sankhuwasabha, dopo un iter iniziato quasi dieci anni fa.»

*

«Alla realizzazione della struttura sarà destinato il più grande investimento estero diretto indiano nel paese himalayano: 1,4 miliardi di dollari. L’accordo finanziario dovrà essere concluso entro il 29 settembre. Inoltre, il progetto si avvarrà dell’assistenza della Banca mondiale»

*

«L’impianto sarà orientato all’esportazione: venderà elettricità all’India; i termini finanziari devono ancora essere concordati con le utility indiane.»

*

«Il governo nepalese beneficerà di royalty, tasse, tariffe e di una quota di energia per il periodo della concessione, di 25 anni, per un valore di 348 miliardi di rupie nepalesi, circa 2,7 miliardi di euro. Il Nepal otterrà senza costi il 21,9 per cento dell’energia prodotta, pari a 197 megawatt»

* * * * * * *

In parole povere: il Nepal mette a disposizione le proprie risorse orografiche permettendone lo sfruttamento agli indiani, che in cambio si sono assunti l’onere della costruzione della centrale elettrica e di lasciare poi 197 megawatt al Nepal per ciascuno dei venticinque anni di contratto.

Ci guadagna l’India, ci guadagna il Nepal. È un contratto perfetto.


→ Agenzia Nova. 2018-05-09. Nepal-India: visita Modi, al via i lavori per la centrale idroelettrica Arun-III

Katmandu, 09 mag 15:08 – (Agenzia Nova) – Il ministro degli Esteri del Nepal, Pradeep Kumar Gyawali, ha informato oggi il parlamento nepalese del programma della visita ufficiale del premier dell’India, Narendra Modi, l’11 e 12 maggio. Il leader indiano inizierà il viaggio da Janakpur, dove sarà accolto dal capo del governo statale del Pradesh 2, Lal Babu Raut, e sarà ospite d’onore di una cerimonia organizzata dall’amministrazione comunale; poi, con l’omologo Khadga Prasad Sharma Oli, visiterà il tempio induista di Janaki, che sarà incluso nel circuito indiano di pellegrinaggi Ramayan; inoltre, sarà inaugurato il collegamento autobus Janakpur-Ayodhya. Modi si trasferirà, quindi, a Katmandu, dove firmerà accordi bilaterali e incontrerà la presidente della Repubblica, Bidhya Devi Bhandari, e il suo vice, Nanda Bahadur Pun. Anche nella capitale gli sarà riservata una cerimonia d’onore. Il giorno seguente il capo dell’esecutivo di Nuova Delhi si recherà al tempio di Muktinath, nel distretto del Mustang; lì incontrerà anche esponenti di partiti espressione della comunità madhese, prima di rientrare in India.

Ieri, in vista dell’arrivo di Modi, Oli ha avuto un incontro con ex primi ministri (Pushpa Kamal Dahal, Sher Bahadur Deuba, Baburam Bhattarai, Lokendra Bahadur Chand, Madhav Kumar) ed ex ministri degli Esteri (Narayan Kaji Shrestha, Bhekh Bahadur Thapa, Mahendra Bahadur Pandey, Bhim Rawal), ai quali ha chiesto suggerimenti sulle questioni da affrontare con l’ospite e su come promuovere al meglio gli interessi nazionali. I temi dei colloqui bilaterali spazieranno dalle acque interne ai trasporti ferroviari, dall’agricoltura all’energia. I due capi di governo, da remoto, daranno il via alla posa delle fondamenta della centrale idroelettrica Arun III, della capacità di 900 megawatt, sul fiume Arun, nel distretto di Sankhuwasabha, dopo un iter iniziato quasi dieci anni fa.

Pochi giorni fa il Consiglio per gli investimenti del Nepal ha dato il via libera al progetto, rilasciando la licenza di produzione alla Sjvn Arun-III Power Development Company, sussidiaria della compagnia pubblica indiana Satluj Jal Vidyut Nigam. Alla realizzazione della struttura sarà destinato il più grande investimento estero diretto indiano nel paese himalayano: 1,4 miliardi di dollari. L’accordo finanziario dovrà essere concluso entro il 29 settembre. Inoltre, il progetto si avvarrà dell’assistenza della Banca mondiale. I contratti per la costruzione dei primi due lotti – diga e centrale – sono già stati assegnati.

I lavori dovrebbero essere completati entro cinque anni. L’impianto sarà orientato all’esportazione: venderà elettricità all’India; i termini finanziari devono ancora essere concordati con le utility indiane. Il governo nepalese beneficerà di royalty, tasse, tariffe e di una quota di energia per il periodo della concessione, di 25 anni, per un valore di 348 miliardi di rupie nepalesi, circa 2,7 miliardi di euro. Il Nepal otterrà senza costi il 21,9 per cento dell’energia prodotta, pari a 197 megawatt.

La visita di Modi, la terza nel paese himalayano, a meno di un mese da quella di Oli in India, è attesa come un’altra tappa nel processo di ritorno alla normalità delle relazioni bilaterali, dopo le frizioni degli ultimi anni. I due paesi sono alleati storici, ma i loro rapporti hanno registrato un picco negativo nel 2015: la chiusura delle frontiere da parte indiana dopo gli scontri scoppiati nel Nepal in seguito all’approvazione della nuova Costituzione, chiusura che lasciò il paese himalayano senza rifornimenti di carburanti e farmaci. All’epoca, tra l’altro, Nuova Delhi si limitò a prendere atto di quella riforma costituzionale senza accoglierla con favore, posizione percepita come un sostegno alla comunità madhese, quella più contraria, a causa di rivendicazioni territoriali, alla nuova carta fondamentale, accettata solo dopo alcuni emendamenti.

Nelle prime elezioni seguite all’adozione della Costituzione che ha dato al paese un assetto federale si è imposta l’alleanza tra il Partito comunista del Nepal marxista-leninista unificato (Cpn-Uml) e il Partito comunista del Nepal – Centro maoista (Cpn-Cm), coalizione considerata filocinese. Dopo una campagna elettorale dai toni critici contro Nuova Delhi, è tornato al potere il presidente dell’Uml, partito di maggioranza relativa, Oli, lo stesso che aveva governato nel 2015-16 e attribuito la fine di quel governo a “forze esterne” ovvero a interferenze indiane.

Dopo le elezioni, tuttavia, è iniziata la distensione, sancita dall’incontro tra Modi e Oli a Nuova Delhi e dalla firma di accordi di cooperazione in materia di agricoltura e connettività. Nella dichiarazione congiunta i due leader hanno ribadito “una stretta e amichevole relazione costruita sulle solide fondamenta di legami storici e culturali condivisi”. In particolare, Oli ha assicurato che il suo governo attribuisce grande importanza all’ulteriore rafforzamento dei rapporti, mentre Modi ha confermato che il Nepal rientra nella sua politica di vicinato all’insegna del principio “tutti insieme, progresso per tutti”. “Siamo col Nepal nella sua ricerca della prosperità”, ha sintetizzato il leader indiano, garantendo l’impegno di Nuova Delhi per lo sviluppo del paese partner.

Pubblicato in: Commercio, Geopolitica Asiatica, India

India ed Indonesia iniziano a farsi anche loro isolotti armati. Sabang.

Giuseppe Sandro Mela.

2018-06-03.

Malesia 010 Sabang

Lo Stretto di Malacca mette in comunicazione tramite il Mare delle Andamane l’Oceano Indiano con il mare Cinese Meridionale. Attraverso di esso transitano ogni anno merci per un controvalore di circa 3,000 miliardi di dollari americani. Nel pressi di Singapore lo Stretto si restringe con una ampiezza minima di 2,8 km rendendo la navigazione più difficile vista l’intensità di traffico. Le dimensioni massime delle navi che lo possono attraversare sono definite dal Malaccamax.

La sua importanza strategica è semplicemente evidente.

La Cina ha fatto ampli sforzi per ottenere il controllo del mare Cinese Meridionale costruendovi un buon numero di isole artificiali, tramutate rapidamente in basi aereonavali armate allo stato del’arte.

Non solo. La Cina ha anche messo in atto un intenso programma di costruzioni di linee ferroviarie ad alta velocità che la collegano a porti locati sull’Oceano Indiano, stringendo ovviamente contatti politici, militari ed economici con i relativi paesi.

È semplicemente intuitivo come la Cina in un domani sentirà la esigenza di difendere le proprie rotte commerciali anche nell’Oceano Indiano, ossia ad ovest dello Stretto di Malacca.

Ma India ed Indonesia, al contrario dell’Occidente, si sono attivate per tempo: nella vita non si sa mai.

Malesia 011 Sabang

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«Sabang is a city consisting of a main island (Weh Island) and several smaller islands off the northern tip of Sumatra. The islands form a city within Aceh Special Region, Indonesia. The administrative centre is located on Weh Island, 17 km north of Banda Aceh. The city covers an area of 153.0 square kilometres and according to the 2010 census had a population of 30,653 people; the latest estimate (for January 2014) is 32,271. Sabang is also known as the northernmost and westernmost city of Indonesia.» [Fonte]

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Se si desse una rapida occhiata alla carta geografica, la posizione strategica di Sabang salta immediatamente agli occhi. Non a caso nel corso della seconda guerra mondiale i giapponesi vi costruirono imponenti strutture di difesa. e basi aeronavali.

Se si guarda la fotografia satellitare, si nota un ampio porto con pescaggio attorno ai quaranta metri, con immediatamente a ridosso un aeroporto. Possono attraccarvi portaerei e sommergibili atomici.

Essendo un’isola, Sabang ha accessi facilmente controllabili, è vicina ad un’isola di grandi dimensioni e con strutture abbastanza adeguate a supportarla, è messa nella posizione ideale per controllare quella porsione di Oceano Indiano che aggetta sulla Malacca, nonché lo stretto stesso.

Una volta ben attrezzata e munita sia di missilistica contraerea adeguata sia di missili antinave potrebbe costituire un baluardo del quale sarebbe impossibile non dover tener conto.

«Indonesia and India pledged on Wednesday to step up defense and maritime cooperation, with plans to develop a strategic Indonesian naval port in the Indian Ocean»

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«Indonesian President Joko Widodo met Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to discuss, among other issues, developing infrastructure and an economic zone at Sabang, on the tip of Sumatra island and at the mouth of the Malacca Strait, one of the busiest shipping channels for global trade»

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«Analysts say the move comes amid concerns over China’s rising maritime influence in the region, and is part of Modi’s “Act East” policy of developing stronger ties with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).»

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Una sola mesta nota di commento.

Anche se distante migliaia di miglia, lo Stretto di Malacca sarebbe strategico anche per gli occidentali, europei soprattutto. Ma nessuno se ne cura più di tanto.


Saudi Gazette. 2018-06-01. Indonesia, India to develop strategic Indian Ocean port

Indonesia and India pledged on Wednesday to step up defense and maritime cooperation, with plans to develop a strategic Indonesian naval port in the Indian Ocean, the leaders of the two countries said after meeting in Jakarta.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo met Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to discuss, among other issues, developing infrastructure and an economic zone at Sabang, on the tip of Sumatra island and at the mouth of the Malacca Strait, one of the busiest shipping channels for global trade.

“India is a strategic defense partner…and we will continue to advance our cooperation in developing infrastructure, including at Sabang Island and the Andaman Islands,” Widodo told a news conference after the meeting at the presidential palace.

Analysts say the move comes amid concerns over China’s rising maritime influence in the region, and is part of Modi’s “Act East” policy of developing stronger ties with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

“The India-ASEAN partnership can be a force to guarantee peace and progress in the Indo-Pacific region and beyond,” Modi said in a statement read in Hindi.

Modi this year invited the leaders of all ten ASEAN nations to attend New Delhi’s Republic Day parade, the biggest such gathering of foreign leaders at the annual event.

There has been tension in Southeast Asia over the disputed South China Sea, a busy waterway claimed in most part by China.
Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam also have conflicting claims in the area, through which about $3 trillion worth of sea-borne goods passes every year.

While not a claimant, Indonesia has clashed with Beijing over fishing rights around the Natuna Islands and expanded its military presence there. It has also renamed the northern reaches of its exclusive economic zone, to reassert its sovereignty.
Modi, who is making his first trip to Indonesia, is also set to visit the Istiqlal mosque in the capital of the world’s biggest Muslim-majority country.

The Indian leader flies to Malaysia on Thursday to meet recently elected Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad before heading to neighboring Singapore to address a regional security forum, the Shangri-La Dialogue.

Last week, Indonesia’s chief maritime affairs minister, Luhut Pandjaitan, said the existing port at Sabang, which is 40 meters (131 ft) deep, could be developed to accommodate both commercial vessels and submarines, according to media.

Indonesia’s transport minister told reporters on Wednesday that Sabang would get a transshipment port that could be developed over two years.

Asked about Indian investment in Sabang, Indian foreign ministry official Preeti Saran said New Delhi was interested in helping build infrastructure across Southeast Asia.

“There have been discussions about building infrastructure, it’s not just seaports, but airports,” she said. “There would be a lot of interest among Indian companies.”

Widodo and Modi also signed pacts on cooperation in the pharmaceuticals and technology industries.

Pubblicato in: Cina, Geopolitica Asiatica

Bangladesh. Cina ed il ponte sul Padma.

Giuseppe Sandro Mela.

2018-05-07.

Bangladesh. 001

Il Bangladesh è un paese disperatamente povero. Disperatamente.

Tuttavia qualcosa sembrerebbe iniziare a muoversi.

Se nel 2000 il pil procapite era 412 Usd, a fine 2016 era salito a 1,446. Negli ultimi cinque anni il pil è cresciuto al ritmo di qualcosa di più del 10% all’anno.

2018-05-05__bangladesh__001

«On 4 October 2000, the Government of Bangladesh issued a postal stamp marking the 25th anniversary of the establishment of Bangladesh-China diplomatic relations. By this time, China had provided economic assistance totaling US$300 million to Bangladesh and the bilateral trade had reached a value mounting to a billion dollars. In 2002, the Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao made an official visit to Bangladesh and both countries declared 2005 as the “Bangladesh-China Friendship Year.” ….

The two countries signed nine different bi-lateral agreements to increase there mutual relationship. ….

On Bangladesh Nationalist Party PM Begum Khaleda Zia’s invitation China was added as an observer in the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC). After Cyclone Sidr hit Bangladesh in 2007, China donated US$1 million for relief and reconstruction in cyclone-hit areas. ….

Bangladesh is third largest trade partner of China in South Asia. But, the bilateral trade between them is highly tilted in favour of Beijing. Bilateral trade reached as high as US$3.19 billion in 2006, reflecting a growth of 28.5% between 2005 and 2006. China has bolstered its economic aid to Bangladesh to address concerns of trade imbalance; in 2006, Bangladesh’s exports to China amounted only about USD 98.8 million. Under the auspices of the Asia-Pacific Free Trade Agreement (AFTA), China removed tariff barriers to 84 types of commodities imported from Bangladesh and is working to reduce tariffs over the trade of jute and textiles, which are Bangladesh’s chief domestic products. China has also offered to construct nuclear power plants in Bangladesh to help meet the country’s growing energy needs, while also seeking to aid the development of Bangladesh’s natural gas resources. China’s mainly imports raw materials from Bangladesh like leather, cotton textiles, fish, etc. China’s major exports to Bangladesh include textiles, machinery and electronic products, cement, fertiliser, tyre, raw silk, maize, etc» [Fonte]

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Bangladeshi, Chinese firms sign joint venture pacts to build railway

«Two Bangladeshi and two Chinese firms have signed two joint venture pacts to build over 100 km rail lines and required infrastructure in the country’s southeastern Cox’s Bazar district bordering Myanmar.

Officials of Bangladesh Railways and joint venture China Railway Group Limited (CREC) of China and Toma Construction and Company Limited of Bangladesh; and China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC) and MAX JV (joint adventure of CCECC of China and MAX international Ltd of Bangladesh) signed the deals on behalf of their respective sides here on Saturday. …. the project is part of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) support»

China EximBank to fund Padma Bridge rail link project

«The Export-Import Bank of China is going to fund the rail connection in Bangladesh’s largest infrastructure project till date, the Padma Bridge. …. Once in operation, it will only take about three and a half hours to travel to Khulna from Dhaka …..

This will help expansion of the transport sector, trade and commerce. This route will also be connected with the trans-Asian railway ….

Project sources said the principal works involve constructing 169 kilometres of main line, 43.33km loop and siding, laying down 215.22km broad gauge rail truck, 23.37km viaduct and 1.98km ramps.

Other works include constructing 66 big bridges, 244 small bridges and culverts, a highway overpass, 29 level crossings, 40 underpasses, 14 new station building, development of six existing stations, and arranging computer-based railway interlock system signalling at 20 stations»

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«The Padma Bridge is a multipurpose road-rail bridge across the Padma River under construction in Bangladesh. It will connect Louhajong, Munshiganj to Shariatpur and Madaripur, linking the south-west of the country, to northern and eastern regions. Padma Bridge is the most challenging construction project in the history of Bangladesh. The two-level steel truss bridge will carry a four-lane highway on the upper level and a single track railway on a lower level. With 150 m span, 6150 m total length and 18.10 m width it is going to be the largest bridge in the Pawdda-Brahmaputra-Meghna river basins of country in terms of both span and the total length» [Fonte]

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Bangladesh. Ponte sul Pdma. 001

Il ponte sul Padma costerà alla fine 3.8 miliardi di dollari americani.

Basta solo guardare la carta geografica per comprendere quanto sia essenziale un ponte degno di tal nome sul Padma, un fiume di portata quasi eguale a quella del Rio delle Amazzoni.

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Orbene.

Lasciamo i Lettori alla lettura dell’articolo comparso su Project Syndicate.

«To what does Bangladesh owe its quiet transformation? As with all large-scale historical phenomena, there can be no certain answers, only clues. Still, in my view, Bangladesh’s economic transformation was driven in large part by social changes, starting with the empowerment of women.»

Elementare, si direbbe.

Gli investimenti cinesi, strade, ponti, infrastrutture, etc, a ben poco sarebbero serviti, se non quasi a nulla.

È stata la liberazione femminile a generare l’inizio di questa ripresa economica.

Il farsesco è che il Project Syndicate è letto anche in Cina ed in Bangladesh.

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Una sola domanda.

Il Bangladesh sarà più riconoscente all’Occidente oppure alla Cina?

Nota.

Il nome Padma denomina gli ultimi 145 kilometri dopo la confluenza del Padma Superiore e del Brahmaputra, fiume che nasce dal Tibet ed è lungo 2,900 kilometri.


Project Syndicate. 2018-04-23. Why Is Bangladesh Booming?

As a result of progressive social policies and a bit of historical luck, Bangladesh has gone from being one of the poorest countries in South Asia to an aspiring “tiger” economy. But can it avoid the risk factors that have derailed dynamic economies throughout history?

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NEW YORK – Bangladesh has become one of Asia’s most remarkable and unexpected success stories in recent years. Once one of the poorest regions of Pakistan, Bangladesh remained an economic basket case – wracked by poverty and famine – for many years after independence in 1971. In fact, by 2006, conditions seemed so hopeless that when Bangladesh registered faster growth than Pakistan, it was dismissed as a fluke.

Yet that year would turn out to be an inflection point. Since then, Bangladesh’s annual GDP growth has exceeded Pakistan’s by roughly 2.5 percentage points per year. And this year, its growth rate is likely to surpass India’s (though this primarily reflects India’s economic slowdown, which should be reversed barring gross policy mismanagement).

Moreover, at 1.1% per year, Bangladesh’s population growth is well below Pakistan’s 2% rate, which means that its per capita income is growing faster than Pakistan’s by approximately 3.3 percentage points per year. By extrapolation, Bangladesh will overtake Pakistan in terms of per capita GDP in 2020, even with a correction for purchasing power parity.

To what does Bangladesh owe its quiet transformation? As with all large-scale historical phenomena, there can be no certain answers, only clues. Still, in my view, Bangladesh’s economic transformation was driven in large part by social changes, starting with the empowerment of women.

Thanks to efforts by the nongovernmental organizations Grameen Bank and BRAC, along with more recent work by the government, Bangladesh has made significant strides toward educating girls and giving women a greater voice, both in the household and the public sphere. These efforts have translated into improvements in children’s health and education, such that Bangladeshis’ average life expectancy is now 72 years, compared to 68 years for Indians and 66 years for Pakistanis.

The Bangladesh government also deserves credit for supporting grassroots initiatives in economic inclusion, the positive effects of which are visible in recently released data from the World Bank. Among Bangladeshi adults with bank accounts, 34.1% made digital transactions in 2017, compared to an average rate of 27.8% for South Asia. Moreover, only 10.4% of Bangladeshi bank accounts are “dormant” (meaning there were no deposits or withdrawals in the previous year), compared to 48% of Indian bank accounts.

Another partial explanation for Bangladesh’s progress is the success of its garment manufacturing industry. That success is itself driven by a number of factors. One notable point is that the main garment firms in Bangladesh are large – especially compared to those in India, owing largely to different labor laws.

All labor markets need regulation. But, in India, the 1947 Industrial Disputes Act imposes heavy restrictions on firms’ ability to contract workers and expand their labor force, ultimately doing more harm than good. The law was enacted a few months before the August 1947 independence of India and Pakistan from British imperial rule, meaning that both new countries inherited it. But Pakistan’s military regime, impatient with trade unions from the region that would become Bangladesh, repealed it in 1958.

Thus, having been born without the law, Bangladesh offered a better environment for manufacturing firms to achieve economies of scale and create a large number of jobs. And though Bangladesh still needs much stronger regulation to protect workers from occupational hazards, the absence of a law that explicitly curtails labor-market flexibility has been a boon for job creation and manufacturing success.

The question is whether Bangladesh’s strong economic performance can be sustained. As matters stand, the country’s prospects are excellent, but there are risks that policymakers will need to take into account.

For starters, when a country’s economy takes off, corruption, cronyism, and inequality tend to increase, and can even stall the growth process if left unchecked. Bangladesh is no exception.

But there is an even deeper threat posed by orthodox groups and religious fundamentalists who oppose Bangladesh’s early investments in progressive social reforms. A reversal of those investments would cause a severe and prolonged economic setback. This is not merely a passing concern: vibrant economies have been derailed by zealotry many times throughout history.

For example, a thousand years ago, the Arab caliphates ruled over regions of great economic dynamism, and cities like Damascus and Baghdad were global hubs of culture, research, and innovation. That golden era ended when religious fundamentalism took root and began to spread. Since then, a nostalgic pride in the past has substituted for bold new pursuits in the present.

Pakistan’s history tells a similar tale. In its early years, Pakistan’s economy performed moderately well, with per capita income well above India’s. And it was no coincidence that during this time, cities like Lahore were multicultural centers of art and literature. But then came military rule, restrictions on individual freedom, and Islamic fundamentalist groups erecting walls against openness. By 2005, India surpassed Pakistan in terms of per capita income, and it has since gained a substantial lead.

But this is not about any particular religion. India is a vibrant, secular democracy that was growing at a remarkable annual rate of over 8% until a few years ago. Today, Hindu fundamentalist groups that discriminate against minorities and women, and that are working to thwart scientific research and higher education, are threatening its gains. Likewise, Portugal’s heyday of global power in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries passed quickly when Christian fanaticism became the empire’s driving political force.

As these examples demonstrate, Bangladesh needs to be vigilant about the risks posed by fundamentalism. Given Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s deep commitment to addressing these risks, there is reason to hope for success. In that case, Bangladesh will be on a path that would have been unimaginable just two decades ago: toward becoming an Asian success story.