Friday, December 19, 2008

The Open Thread

Here is your open thread for the next 7 days.

That which is not a thread topic, goes here. Also, any topic you want to bring back from the dead or any suggestions for a new topic, goes here.

caveat: the usual rules apply.


Kate said...

Hi everyone, just going to throw this out there... new cooperative agreements signed between Belarus and China. Are there more technical complications with the Druzhba pipeline or should we paying special attention to this, as China continues to move west through Eurasia?

L.Douglas Garrett said...

Well now, let's see.

The Belarus-China intergovernmental agreements for technical exchange are going on ~10 years running now, and cover lots of different areas of technology. I know of a recent agreement on nuclear energy assistance, for example.

re: "more technical complications with the Druzhba pipeline...?"

I'm not sure the two matters are closely related. Here's why:

re: Druzhba pipeline
(That would be the "Friendship" Oil pipeline network that carries South Russian Oil to the Black Sea and Eastern Europe regions, and now on to Central Europe)

It's getting old, and it hasn't had the best care in recent years, but it is a steady deliverer. Keeping up on supply was *if I recall correctly* the significant problem in the last year.

China's only Oil pipeline from Central Asia is a different system; the Kazakstan project (and it isn't complete to the East, yet). The only obvious interrelationship would be if China needs Belarussian assistance on making it work... But the Kazaks are fairly competent at such projects.

However, you have opened a lovely little overarching concern in your question: Is China really "moving west" through Eurasia?

Is it really "moving into" anywhere?

Or does the Russian example of how bordering states are either clients or enemies *not* apply to P. R. China's relations with adjacent States?

Kate said...

My final question regarding Chinese movement, if it can be qualified as such, had to do with my most recent readings on Sino-African relations, which often go unnoticed in the press. Though it has maintained a presence for decades, as late, we have a surge of its influence in E. Africa in particular in recent years. My citing Belarus was triggered by knowing a little bit about Minsk's tumultuous relationship with Moscow, as well as the fact that Belarus' relative isolation from the rest of Europe has certainly been felt in the area of infrastructure.

Thanks, LDG, for the insight, it is much appreciated.

L.Douglas Garrett said...


That makes some sense. The competition for resources has greatly replaced the competition for influence in East Africa (and Africa as a whole). If there is enough interest here, maybe one day I'll take a turn at the Sino-Japanese rivalry for resource access that was evolving. Once world trade stablizes again, that rivalry will certainly be back on.

On the other point, I do rather like the observation that Russo-Belarussian relations are as they are. It may be that Belarus is making economic friends with China as a counterweight. The thing with Belarus is: while the military is still totally integrated with the Russians, the Lukashenko regime is so self-interested that in almost any non-military matter, who the heck knows what they are really thinking.

This (both parts) is a fun one. Thank you for bringing it up, Kate.

L.Douglas Garrett said...

Here is the latest round of Belarussian gamesmanship vis a vis Russia.

KC-Fresno, Ca. said...

I wanted to wish you, Princess Foxy and all of the mews a wonderful and happy Merry Christmas. How do you celebrate this day and what special treats do you eat??

All my best

L.Douglas Garrett said...


Thank you! A Merry Christmas to you and yours as well.

I can't say I celebrate the holiday, but as Foxy (Mrs. LDG) is a bit christianized, we make a good time of it. The big deal this year was as this is the first Christmas in our new house, we did put stockings by the mantlepiece and had fun with presents.

We'll be doing more in the way of special dinners and celebrating come the New Year's time, which is the really big mid-winter festival time here.

Fun Facts about Christmas in Japan:

. Chicken, especially fried chicken, is the modern-traditional Christmas dinner. Seems the American troops here during the post WWII occupation wanted turkey, but no turkey was to be had in Japan, so they went to the one place they could get chicken... and the locals saw the foreigners eating chicken for the holiday meal, and thought it was some American tradition... and now KFC does its best business day of the year here, on Christmas Eve.

.. Christmas Eve is also the premier romantic dinner night for young couples. It is considered the bar-none-best-day to offer a marriage proposal... after a big fancy restaurant dinner.