ENERGY SECURITY IN ASIA-PACIFIC

The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) is, in my view, the prototype of modern international organization . The daughter of the fall of the USSR and the rise of China, it arises from the need of each other and the desire to avoid third party interference in their "backyards". When Uzbekistan joined the group of the "Shanghai Five", the first goal of the new organization was, as stated in its charter, combating terrorism, extremism and separatism. At a time when Russia was facing the three events in the Caucasus, China in Tibet and Xinjiang and Central Asian republics sought to consolidate their domestic regimes in an environment of tolerance, the establishment of the SCO appeared almost more as a necessity than a virtue. Some claim her as anti-NATO or blatantly contrary to Western interests, but although there is no doubt that there are conflicting ambitions in Asia, no openly hostile demonstration has been detected so far. In the Asian idiosyncrasy, the mechanisms that generate trust have an importance that, in the West, we tend to underestimate. The fact that the two great nations of the continental Far East me et regularly and seek points of agreement on certain issues have a relevance that we can hardly overestimate. Do not forget that the vast frontier of the Russian Federation with the Peoples Republic of China has been a source of tension and place of military ± and nuclear ± buildup for many years. At a long, even medium, term it will be very difficult to keep a stable balance between the two powers. This statement will be particularly true when India finishes entering the equation and more if, finally, Iran becomes a nuclear power. On the margins of the table we have yet to take into account Turkey, partner and competitor at the time of Russia and Iran, Japan and Indonesia who, for the time being at another level, has many of the cha racteristics needed to become an important regional power. Many "confidence-building" organizations proliferate throughout the continent but they lack the scope ± or do not have enough participants ± to bring countries together as the EU has done in Europe. Asia lacks a unifying mechanism and a clear and acceptable leader that would unite t he nations and make the best of the economic period they are going through. Other than that, they have all the ingredients to become the main characters in the century. Sufficiency ± easily mistaken for arrogance ± regarding European geopolitical role can prevent us to be aware of the magnitudes we are talking about when dealing with the economy and resources of the Asia-Pacific region. The Western attitude towards Russia and Turkey can be particularly damaging in the medium term if these countries end up feeling excluded from Europe and turn to their Asian side. Both nations have a dual component in their culture that makes it difficult for us to deal with them. Yet allowing the Asian side of their
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personality to take over is not the best possible polic y for them and certainly not for Europe. Another feature is shared by the two countries: they are the gateway to the huge reserves of Asian gas and oil towards a thirsty Europe with very limited reserves of its own. And both nations intend, of course, to take advantage of its geostrategic position and become a mandatory passage for pipelines. The lever that the closing of the valves provides became clear Russian-Ukrainian gas crisis. With the Russian Federation be ing a de facto agent of Gazprom and the pipeline from Algeria and gas coming by sea as the only alternative for Europe, the mutual dependence between Russia and Europe is inevitable in the short term. In fact, when examined in the light of energy security, recent events acquire a little more sense than they appeared to have at the time. Thus, the War of Georgia can be considered within a strategy that seeks to hinder the viability of the Nabucco pipeline. Of core Anglo-American participation, the pipeline aims to bring the vast deposits of the Central Asian republics to Europe without having to rely on Russian taps. The two possible routes pass through Azerbaijan and Georgia the first one and through Iran the second one. Discarded the latter for as long as the nuclear dispute with the Islamic Republic stands, Georgia held the key of the project. The Russian Federation opposes her options North Stream and South Stream to Nabucco. They, in turn, avoid crossing Ukraine and use the bottom of the Black Sea (in the case of South Stream) and its ally, Belarus (for the North Stream), to reach Europe. At stake is much more than the supply of the all-important European market. The monopoly of supply is also a considerable influence that goes beyond the purely economic. Much of the gas coming through Nabucco should be from Turkmenistan. Its export would be greatly facilitated if the Caspian Sea bottom could be used just as the Black Sea¶s. This option, however, was vetoed by Russia for "environmental reasons". Cut westward by the sea, South by Afghanistan and Iran (and by the mountains of the Hindu Kursh ), the Central Asian republics are penned by the two big Asian giants to channel their exports. Cultural and historical reasons diverged, until very recently, almost all production to the Siberian branch of the Russian F ederation¶s pipeline and Russia became, in fact, the official distributor of the "Tans¶´ oil and gas. However, Chinese demand growth, the lack of maintenance of Russian facilities and the implementation of the unwritten rule that every exporter needs "two alternative routes, possibly three," China has been able to gas company into the business of its partners in the SCO.
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On the one hand, China is supplied by a derivation of the Siberian branch by making its exports coming Turkmenistan and the rest of its ne ighbors, on the other, the "Middle Kingdom" has sponsored a direct pipeline to its Xinjiang province through Uzbekistan and Kazakstan. Another series of decisions that are best understood when viewed under the microscope of energy security are those relating to sanctions against Iran by China and Russia. Far from not being concerned about the prospect of a nuclear Iran, the two Asian powers seek to avoid, where possible, clashes with the Islamic Republic is set to be one of the key pieces in the stability of the continent. For Russia, Iran - along with Turkey - is a potential source of support for radical Islamists, who have caused so many problems on its southern flank and good relations with both are of great importance for Moscow. For China, Iran is a huge oil well can help to appease the voracious appetite of the Chinese manufacturing industry. In fact, China has contributed to financing the pipeline linking Turkmenistan with the Persian republic. This new line should help to avoid lack of local supply, but seen from a little further, almost closes the circuit to allow a point the Chinese supply from Iran by land. Because the vast majority of Chinese imports of oil is carried by sea across the Indian Ocean. Although domestic production and imports of their neighbors, most of the oil it consumes, the country comes from Africa (mostly from Angola and Sudan) and the Middle East. This has led, in principle, the remarkable growth and modernization of the Navy of Chinese People's Army with an impulse decided to d eep-sea fleet and plans for the acquisition or manufacture of a Naval Air Group. Secondly, it has meant the involvement of units - three at the time of writing - from the Chinese navy to support the safety of the waters in the vicinity of the Horn of Afric a and the Strait of Hormuz. Last but not chronologically, has favored the creation of the "necklace of pearls". The pearls would possessions or Chinese establishments along the route linking Port Sudan to avoid Hong Kong as a potential rival India. The maritime route that suggests the "Necklace" through straits as dangerous for navigation as the Malacca and the Hormuz (although Lombok, Indonesia and Mandab versus Djibouti) and requires its own or shared infrastructures settlements in Pakistan, Sri Lanka , Maldives and Somalia. All these facilities represent an increase of the Chinese diplomatic presence in the area and, in many cases, the use of so-called "soft power". The sale of frigates and next generation aircraft to Pakistan falls in the latter case as well as cooperation with Iran (Bandar-e-Abbas), Sri-Lanka (Hambantota) and Pakistan (Gwadar) for construction or expansion of port facilities.

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Particularly dangerous Malacca Strait, only two and a half miles at its narrowest point, has led to China to study even the creation of a canal across the Isthmus of Kra to prevent it and the construction of a pipeline passing through Myanmar avoid crossing. A "collateral" effect of all this is seeking as part of India, to counter China's growing power and presence in "their" ocean. The Indian is passing through its waters no less than 17 million barrels of oil a day, 20% of world production and claims for itself a greater role in several aspects (also Ocean washes the shores of most Islamic countries , from Somalia to Indonesia, through the Persian Gulf and Pakistan, nuclear). Another unwelcome presence in the Indian Ocean is that of the U.S. Seventh Fleet in the Indian Ocean and Western Pacific. The largest U.S. fleet is also supported on the island of Diego Gar cia, home to a British base for joint use that has served as a starting point for much of the Allied missions in the recent wars in Southwest Asia. Recent reports show Americans, by contrast, a growing concern that the growth of Chinese naval power. Another feature common energy to the whole area is the use of resources and inefficient processes and highly polluting. 70% of China's energy consumption comes from coal mined from its own mines (more safely than debatable) and the use of renewables is negligibl e in all cases. Not everything is energy security in Asia despite the weight, as shown, has this in the overall concerns of the continent. Even in a globalized world, we can say that the issues that really are important are circumscribed to a specific regi on. Thus, Africa plays a growing role as a supplier of raw materials and energy to Asia. India and Japan are following, by far, the steps of China in terms of penetration in the black continent. Also, the economy and finance have their continental and glob al aspects. The surplus capital accumulated trade surplus with China in most of these exchanges have posted to Beijing as the largest investor in U.S. debt that first ousting its neighbor, Japan. Disagreements that Washington and Beijing remain regarding their respective exchange rate policies and mutual accusations of keeping their currencies artificially undervalued to boost exports have not declined, so far, the Chinese interest in American bonds. However, both the excess of foreign exchange and the pote ntial for a currency exchange recognized worldwide have led to the People's Republic shy to initiate a process of internationalization of the yuan renminbi. That a currency for use exclusively national, have come to promote it as payment to the Central Asian republics and members of ASEAN, which has resulted in an equivalent reaction by Russia with the ruble.

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Economic growth in the leading emerging nations of the area catches the attention on the prospects who have until mid -century. By then the Chinese GDP will almost double the American and Hindu whether he will walk just behind the latter. Indonesia, with growth expected in the order of almost 600% in the second quarter of the century will exceed the GDP of Japan and other economies in the region achieved growth similar proportion (Vietnam, Pakistan and Bangladesh, while more modest savings, will also grow by up 500% in twenty years). One of the most striking paradoxes of the current situation is that almost all the main parties are happy with maintaining the status quo. United States intends to maintain its current hegemony which needs stability and to retain control of trade. China intends to maintain its double -digit annual growth, allowing it to become the first world power before 2025. Their needs coin cide with the United States and collide with them about the need for access to energy resources and raw materials. The other major nations have a similar line, with long -term goals nearly coincident and, therefore, tend to be in a near future more or less competitively. The Shanghai Cooperation Organization is not, in principle, an institution clearly opposed to Western interests or NATO, however, apart from the preservation of the regimes of member nations, pursuing objectives that in many cases, crash with those of NATO countries. For Russia and, if anything, even more to China, the U.S. presence in Asia is a competitor added to the already saturated continental race. Reducing the Western presence in areas of interest from Russia and China is more a way of asserting their own presence in areas of influence than an end in itself. Asia is dotted with emerging powers in different stages of evolution. Of the four BRIC group members, three are in the area. Apart from them, Pakistan (as a nuclear power), Turkey, Indonesia, Japan and Iran are attaining the status of regional power and play an important role in the balance of power on the continent. The production and distribution of energy resources plays a key role in the economy of almost all these countries. Either as producers or as a stopping or as a consumer, Asian countries in energy resources are a focus of priority attention. The establishment of zones of influence, captive markets, transit stations and energy partnerships with countries or companies are behind many of the policy and strategic decisions affecting Asia. Russia and Turkey have a strong position regarding Europe's energy supply. China aims to compete with Europe by the resources of Central Asia and Africa and, together, form a complex web of relationships that mixed issues of international terrorism, nuclear proliferation, the use of water resources and arms races to protect all those interests.
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