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Showing posts from December, 2019

A symptom of fragile anti-US alliances: Russia accuses China of technology theft

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By James M. Dorsey
A podcast version of this story is available on Soundcloud,Itunes, Spotify, Stitcher, TuneIn, Spreaker, Pocket Casts, Tumblr, Podbean,Audecibel, Patreon and Castbox.
Chinese Russian military and geopolitical cooperation is flourishing – for now.
If, however, the weapons industry is anything to go by, a fraying at the edges of close ties between the two Asian powers may be on the horizon.
To be sure, Russia remains by far China’s foremost arms supplier even if China has no scruples about stealing Russian military technology, much like it allegedly does in the West.
So far, Russia, with a weak economy desperately in need of the revenues of weapons sales that undergird Moscow’s geopolitical heft, has been willing to look the other way.
The question is for how long.
By the same token, it’s a question that also applies to various other opportunistic alliances such as relationships between Russia, Turkey and Iran that are driven by short-term interests, first and foremost a des…

Sports: A battlefield for freedom of expression and political change

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By James M. Dorsey
A podcast version of this story is available on Soundcloud,Itunes, Spotify, Stitcher, TuneIn, Spreaker, Pocket Casts, Tumblr, Podbean,Audecibel, Patreon and Castbox.
Athletes, executives and fans are turning sports in an era of defiance and dissent into a battleground for freedom of expression and political change, putting national and international sports associations that nominally adhere to human rights on the spot.
Denunciations of repression in China’s troubled north-western province of Xinjiang and support for pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong by soccer celebrity Mesut Ozil, Houston Rockets basketball general manager Darryl Morey, and rugby superstar Sonny Bill Williams alongside soccer fans in regions like Morocco and Hong Kong, highlight the willingness of sports associations to sacrifice the values attributed to sports for commercial gain in their dealings with autocratic nations.
They also by implication puncture the fiction of a separation of sports and p…

Israeli soccer club’s anti-racism echoes Israel’s political divide

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By James M. Dorsey
A podcast version of this story is available on Soundcloud,Itunes, Spotify, Stitcher, TuneIn, Spreaker, Pocket Casts, Tumblr, Podbean,Audecibel, Patreon and Castbox.
Storied and crowned soccer club Beitar Jerusalem was for decades a pillar of the Israeli right-wing and an often-extreme symbol of Israel’s lurch towards the right as well as its`` ever more uncompromising attitude towards an equitable peace with the Palestinians and approach towards its Israeli Palestinian minority.
Today, in an anti-cyclical development, Beitar Jerusalem, with its acquisition by technology entrepreneur Moshe Hogeg, is at the forefront of the fight against racism, including anti-Arab sentiment and Islamophobia.
Beitar Jerusalem and La Familia, the mostly working-class militant segment of the club’s fan base, long prided themselves on the fact that the club has never hired a Palestinian player even though Palestinians have long been among Israeli soccer’s top performers.
La Familia still doe…

Gulf security: China envisions continued US military lead

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By James M. Dorsey
Based on remarks at The Belt and Road Initiative: China-Middle East Cooperation in an Age of Geopolitical Turbulence workshop organized by Brookings Doha Center and the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences
A podcast version of this story is available on Soundcloud,Itunes, Spotify, Stitcher, TuneIn, Spreaker, Pocket Casts, Tumblr, Podbean,Audecibel, Patreon and Castbox.
A first-ever joint Chinese-Russian-Iranian naval exercise signals that closer Chinese military ties with a host of Middle Eastern nations does not translate into Chinese aspirations for a greater role in regional security any time soon.
If anything, the exercise, coupled with notional Chinese support for proposals for a multilateral security approach in the Gulf, suggests that China envisions a continued US lead in Gulf security despite mounting rivalry between the world’s two largest economies.
That is the message China is sending by playing down the significance of the exercise and hinting that it would o…

China struggles to fend off allegations of debt trap diplomacy

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By James M. Dorsey
A podcast version of this story is available on Soundcloud,Itunes, Spotify, Stitcher, TuneIn, Spreaker, Pocket Casts, Tumblr, Podbean,Audecibel, Patreon and Castbox.
Desperate for cash, Tajikistan is about to sell yet another vital asset to China at a time that countries like Sri Lanka and the Maldives are demanding renegotiation of debt settlements that either forced them to surrender control of critical infrastructure or left them with unsustainable repayments.
The pending Chinese acquisition ofa stake in Tajikistan’s aluminium smelter, coupled with earlier tax concessions to Chinese companies that would substantially reduce the trickle down effect of investments for the troubled Tajik economy, suggest that China has yet to fully take account of frequent criticism of its commercial approach to Belt and Road-related projects.
The Washington-based Center for Global Development warned last year that “23 of 68 countries benefiting from Belt and Road (BRI) investments were…

Ending the Gulf crisis: Natural gas frames future Gulf relations

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By James M. Dorsey
A podcast version of this story is available on Soundcloud,Itunes, Spotify, Stitcher, TuneIn, Spreaker, Pocket Casts, Tumblr, Podbean,Audecibel, Patreon and Castbox.
Natural gas could well emerge as the litmus test of how relations among the Gulf’s energy-rich monarchies evolve if and when a Saudi-United Arab Emirates-led alliance and Qatar bury their hatchet.
It could also position Gulf states as key players in shaping the future of the energy architecture of Eurasia.
This week’s summit in Riyadh of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) that groups Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman and Bahrain is likely to determine how close the kingdom and its allies are to lifting a 2.5-year-old diplomatic and economic boycott of Qatar.
Qatari foreign minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani suggested that secret Saudi-Qatari talks in recent weeks had “moved from a deadlock in the Gulf crisis to talks about a future vision regarding ties.” It was not immediately clear …