Made in China: The Shanghai Cooperation Organization

The China-founded Shanghai Cooperation Organization has no dreamy mission statements or quixotic, warm-and-fuzzy objectives. It was created by dictators for dictators, and it’s all about consolidating and increasing their power, as well as their hold on energy supplies. And as this intriguing article mentions, some see it as the replacement of the old Warsaw Pact.

Few may yet have heard of it. But out of the east comes a radically different paradigm for 21st-century international organisation, short on idealism and long on hard-headed self-interest. The “universal” principles of “liberty, democracy and justice” lauded by Mr Blair are hardly its driving force.

Founded by China, the five-year-old SCO groups together like-minded authoritarian leaderships in Russia and four central Asian republics – Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. Pakistan, Mongolia and India are observer members. So too is Iran.

In terms of total population, area and resources, the SCO is far bigger than Nato or the EU. It dwarfs older regional organisations. It is not yet a mutual defence pact but it is heading that way as Sino-Russian military ties deepen. Its charter pledges “non-interference and non-alignment” while seeking to create “a new international political and economic order”. David Wall of Chatham House’s Asia programme calls it “a club for autocrats and dictators”.

The SCO’s next summit meeting, in Shanghai on June 15, will pursue joint security, energy and development goals, including enhanced cooperation against terrorism, Islamist extremism and separatism. For China, this means a common front on Taiwan and Muslim “splittists”. For Russia, it means solidarity over Chechnya. For the likes of Uzbekistan, a year after the Andijan massacre, it means no awkward questions about human rights abuses.

…Russia and China are suspected of using the SCO to shut the US and its allies out of fast-developing central Asian energy markets, thereby monopolising supply. Beijing, for example, is offering $900m (£480m) in soft loans to central Asian partners. At a deeper level, US strategists see a threat that might one day produce renewed, cold war-style confrontation between opposing east-west poles. In some analyses, the SCO is a born-again Warsaw pact; Russia has already been “lost”; India and Pakistan are swing voters; and Iran is the wild card.

….This contest could be one of the new century’s defining struggles. Viewed from this rough-and-tumble frontier world of realpolitik, real estate, and repressive governance, Mr Blair’s trumpeting of “universal” values may look naive or unhelpful – or simply irrelevant.

Looking at the roster of this good old boys’ club, I’d be hard pressed to think of a more unappealing set of thugs and scoundrels. However, considering America’s own attempts to monopolize oil supplies, not to mention our own justification for torture and contempt for human rights in the name of “anti-terrorism,” I don’t see how we can criticize the SCO without appearing blatantly hypocritical. Yes, it sounds like an evil cabal, and the idea of this group acquiring power on the level of the old Soviet empire is terrifying. Too bad our Codpiece in Chief has robbed us of our claims to a moral high road. We can criticize, but to many our complaints will ring hollow. Thanks George.

Link via CDT.

The Discussion: 28 Comments


Well thanks for posting this Guardian article, at least so that I can dig my teeth into it and show what a piece of sensationalist journalistic hack-work it is.

Alright. First, a working premise, which I’m stating based on experience as well as on the essential formative experiences of Russian history ever since the Mongols invaded Russia 800 years ago: Russians, generally speaking, do not like the Chinese, and they trust them even less, and admire them not at all. A “Russian-Chinese alliance” has never happened except in the most superficial way in the past, and never will happen in any substantial way.
Sure, Stalin used the Chinese to harass the Americans, but did Russia send any troops to Korea? HA! No, far better for Russia to let the Chinese die like flies in the Korean War. Which, you’ll notice, kept the Chinese AND the Americans busy, while the Russians sat back and watched. Sure as hell kept China from rising too far too fast, didn’t it? China remained terribly weak under Mao – a Soviet protoge, originally supported by KGB plants. What the Russians NEVER intended, was for China to become part of any “socialist brotherhood.” But by setting up the CCP and promoting Mao, Russia made China its bitch. And a very weak little one, weak and poor – and then of course, totally insane, and so yes then the Russians had regrets about the Frankenstein they created in Communist China.

But notice how even in the Sino-Soviet border clashes around 1969, China had to back off, because it had been so weakened by Mao. Just as the Russians intended.

The Russian way of diplomacy with its perceived potential enemies, is to give them a long rope to hang themselves with in the form of an apparent gift. And guess who Russia’s perceived potential enemies are right now? China and any Chinese sphere of influence in the Far East AND in Central Asia. Not to mention Russia’s ACTUAL enemies among Islamic fanatics in Central Asia and the Near East (and in the Caucasus.)

Second: Notice, that it was CHINA who created this “Shanghai Organisation”, and China’s main purpose for that organisation was, and is, to extend China’s influence (for whatever reasons, including oil and security) in the Central Asian states which USED TO BE part of the Soviet Union. Thus, this organisation is an inroad by China into what Russia considers its traditional sphere of influence and of vital interests.

Thus, OF COURSE Russia joined the Shanghai Group. And of COURSE China invited Russia to do so – because any other kind of arrangment would have been seen by Russia as an act of Chinese aggression toward Russia, ie if Russia were left out of it.

But the very idea of Russia making any kind of genuine alliance with China against Europe (or even against the US), is ludicrous. I’ve said this many times before on this site, and I must repeat it now: The Russians conceive of themselves as the traditional – and underappreciated – defenders of European Civilisation against the Asiatic Hordes of the East and the South.

The Russians do not – at all – see themselves as having ANY common interests with the Chinese, except for sharing some common borders and having to deal with that inconvenient situation in the most practical (and hopefully stable) way.

I repeat: Traditionally, Russia’s perceived categorical enemies are those – whether Mongol or Chinese or whatever – from the East, and to a lesser extent from the Muslims of the South. The memory of the Golden Horde still runs deep.
In fact, if you look at a traditional Russian Christian cross, you’ll see a diagonal slash at the bottom: and that represents the victory of Christian Russia over the Muslim Horde around 1450, when (simultaneously) the heiress of the throne of Constantople (which was conquered by the Turks at the same time when the Russians defeated THEIR Muslim overlords) – well, the Princess of Constantinople married the Muscovite Prince, and so, Moscow became the “Third Rome” which replaced Constantople around 1450.

The Russian Imperial Eagle (which has been re-adopted as the official emblem) originally was the emblem of Constantinople. Thus, the theme of the Third Rome, again. The heirs and the defenders of Christian, European Civilisation, the Saviours of the West – THAT is how Russians have seen themselves for centuries, and the idea still runs deep.

(Actually, SOME of that idea, of Russia being the “saviour of Europe”, informed the Russian propaganda and other interpretations of the victory over Hitler and the “liberation” of Europe.
And the victory over Napoleon, too. It’s not always clearly conscious, but it’s THE main national myth of Russia: The defenders of Europe, the suffering Saviours of the West.)

Right. Now, let’s go through some points in this article:

1. “David Wall of Chatham House’s Asia programme, calls it ‘a club for autocrats and dictators.”

Um, well, yes in a self-evident way, that’s what it is. But that is entirely different from being an organisation whose common cause is to promote dictatorships. Or any common cause at all. It’s a device mostly for Russia and China to use, to negotiate over their respective roles of influence in Central Asia, and for the OTHER, lesser countries, to be in on what those two greater powers are parlaying about.
It’s a device through which Russia and China are trying to avoid conflicts between themselves, and to keep SOME kind of stability in Central and South Asia. Which is an area which happens to consist almost entirely of autocracies and dictatorships – but that’s just what Russia has to deal with.

2. “Sino-Russian relations… had never been better.” Well, that ain’t much. That’s like saying India-Pakistan relations have never been better. What has NOT changed is the radical distrust and utter contempt most Russians feel for the Chinese. (I’ll avoid arguing about whether that contempt is justified, but the main reasons for it include – surprisingly enough for anyone who doesn’t know Russia – a contempt for how the Chinese blindly and unthinkingly follow authority – which, contrary to American Cold War propaganda, is anathema to Russians, who are among the LEAST OBEDIENT people in the world. Russians are basically anarchists and individualists (and MAJOR EGOTISTS!), with a terrible contempt for intellectual or moral cowards. And they perceive the Chinese as a craven, unthinking, morally cowardly people. For some good reasons, considering the Cultural Revolution, and the blinkered materialist philistinism of today’s China….)

3. “The SCO is becoming a rival bloc to the US alliance. It does not share our values…” a Japanese official said.

Yeah well, screw you, Japan. The Russians don’t like you either. And Russian values are far closer to those of America than to Japan, by the way. And what do you mean, “OUR” values, Tojo? How similar are Japanese and American values, really?

4. “Russia and China are suspected of using the SCO to shut the US and its allies out of fast-developing central Asian energy markets.”

So, what’s your point? Does America have any vested RIGHT to Central Asian oil? Nope.
And considering that America has a big part of its Army in Iraq, I can’t blame Russia and China for wanting to secure some hold on other oil resources. And again, Central Asia is traditionally RUSSIA’s sphere of influence, not America’s at all.

5. “In some analyses, the SCO is a born-again Warsaw Pact.”

Oh good GOD! What utter twaddle. The Warsaw Pact was a European affair, which grew out of the military standoff in Central Europe after 1945. It had no similarities, none, with the SCO.

6. “Russia has already been ‘lost'”

More utter twaddle. Today’s Moscow is as free and open and prosperous as any major European capital. The print media in Russia continue to publish any and every kind of attack on the government. And – oh heavens – in Russia, there is NO BLOCKAGE of any “sensitive” internet sites. Fancy that! And if you want to hold a public demonstration in Moscow – say, remembering the attempted coup in 1991 – you’re free to do so. Ah, but of course, there was no massacre in Moscow in 1991, and the boys in the tanks stopped and went home after people started giving them flowers and old ladies admonished them to behave decently. All of which suggests, that today’s China is far more “lost” than Russia.

At this time I can’t even be bothered with the rest of this hack-journalist tripe. Maybe I’ll say more in more detail after a few other commenters chime in.

June 6, 2006 @ 12:46 am | Comment

Ivan, thank you for your outspoken analysis. I won’t pretend to be an expert on the SCO, and you of course know far more about Russia than I ever will. That said, just doing some quick searches I see that the “Warsaw pact’ analogy is nothing new; here’s Wikipedia making a similar claim:

Though the declaration on the establishment of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization contained a statement that it “is not an alliance directed against other states and regions and it adheres to the principle of openness”, most observers believe that one of the original purposes of the SCO was to serve as a counterbalance to the United States and in particular to avoid conflicts that would allow the United States to intervene in areas near both Russia and China. Many observers also believe that the organization was formed as a direct response to the threat of missile defense systems by the United States, after the United States reversed course in its nuclear policy and began promoting National Missile Defense.

Maybe they really are nothing like the Warsaw Pact, but it sure sounds like there are parallels, at least in terms of “balance of power.”

Agree completely about America not have a ‘vested right” to Central Asian oil. It’s completelyy consistent, however, that the powers that be in America would go apeshit over the SCO, just as they have over OPEC, as we do believe we have a God-given right the earth’s oil. I also believe Russia and China do indeed share some common interests, based entirely on economic considerations (which is why both were opposed to the glorious war in Iraq, and will both oppose any action against Iran).

Back later when i have free time….

June 6, 2006 @ 1:53 am | Comment

Richard, just one sentence you wrote jumps out at me:

“I also believe Russia and China do indeed share some common interests, based entirely on economic considerations….”

…it’s a big mistake to assume that economic considerations are ever foremost in the minds of Russians. See what I wrote above, about how Russians view themselves as having a peculiar spiritual mission on Earth. And the Russian capacity for self-sacrifice for an ideal (NOT the same thing as the craven, slavish Chinese worship of leaders who pretend to be gods) must never be underestimated.

If you mean Russia will protect its perceived interests in other oil resources, then yes they will. Would Russia ever support some of China’s interests at some expense to the US?
Yes, definitely. But only in very limited ways.
And even far more limited if it ever involved allowing China to become, well, ANY kind of real World Power.

Russian support for China will diminish and evaporate, in direct proportion to how much Russia perceives China as posing any kind of potential threat – military or economic to Russia OR to Europe in general. But especially any kind of threat to, or rival of, Russia’s traditional spheres of interest.

China is NOT a “rising power.” It’s a recovering country, whose full recovery is very doubtful because it’s mostly based on lies and financial smoke and mirrors. (And culturally, China is just not made of the stuff of Great Powers – because you simply cannot make a Great Power out of a nation of craven, unthinking slaves, or out of an economy based on manufacturing cheap socks and plastic keychains and ridiculous high-rise buildings which will fall down in ten years.)
China’s “rise” is a con game. And the Russians know that, and so they’re watching and waiting, carefully.
Russia is watching China very closely. And you can take it as a sign of China’s essential overall weakness, that Russia is cooperating with China at all at this time.

Coda and prediction: If and when the militantly nationalist faction of China’s government ever becomes unrealistic about its own capabilities and dares to press into Russian Siberia, you’ll see a magnified version of how Viet Nam defeated China’s invasion in 1979. That is to say, if there’s one thing Russians take VERY seriously, it’s the defense of their vast borders.

And today’s Chinese Army PALES behind what Hitler’s was in 1942, at Stalingrad – if you get the picture.

If China’s leaders ever become so besotted with their own imagined “rise” that they ever fuck with Russia’s borders, then, well, it will be “bye-bye” to China’s “rise”, to say the least.

June 6, 2006 @ 2:23 am | Comment

Just some remarks on this from my side.
I was not aware of the existence of this organization and thus I have no clue on it’s program or objectives, but for me there are some things directly ate the surface that do not bode well:
1. An organization making the claim that “it is not an alliance directed against other states and regions …” proves it’s fear to be perceived as such and where does such fear originate from, unless there is some real threat at the basis ?
2. With partners like Russia and India involved, I wonder how long an alliance that carries “Shanghai …” in it’s name can survive before the internal struggles start. We all know that, though China attracts currently highest visibility on a worldscale, the others are not less ambitious and how do large ego’s normally react in conjunction ? They clash. With half of the world population involved, that would not be a prospect I’d be looking forward to. With Ivan’s analysis on the Russian-Chinese relations, my pessimism is only confirmed, while Richard’s claim that thanks to George W. any moral legacy we may have claimed in the past (if ever …) has become an utterly ridiculous things, only adds to my uncomfortable feeling.

June 6, 2006 @ 5:12 am | Comment

I wrote a huge reply to Ivan and then it got lost in the ether. Depressing. My bottom line: I have no doubt as to the greatness of the Russian character and spirit, but I hope Ivan doesn’t sell the Chinese short. The Russia good/China bad argument is too simplistic, I believe. Yes, a lot sucks about present-day China, much of it traceable to Mao and some of it traceable to the first emperor, but we can’t deny China is enjoyuing a dizzying success. What we can argue is the sustainability of that success, whether it’s a mirage….and we’ve done that a lot in other threads.

Lao lu, India is only a member with observer status – not sure exactly what that means, tough.

June 6, 2006 @ 5:24 am | Comment

Richard, my friend, as you know, I always have the highest respect for your thoughts and your very careful and deadly logical analyses.

But my greatest worry right now, is about how so many Americans sell China too “long”, with unrealistic hopes and aspirations. (This is more of an American myopia than a European one – and not a Russian one at all. America has a long history of fantasising about China as a potential “great power”, and this goes back LONG before our time. And America has been disappointed, again and again and again, by this fantasy of China being a “Great Power.”)

And when you said, “we can’t deny China is enjoying a dizzying success” – well, the only part I agree with there, is the word, “dizzying.”

It’s dizzying because it’s a fantasy. And an old fantasy for Americans, going back way before Mao’s time.

There are many reasons for America’s old habit of wanting to see China as a “Great Power” – and I cannot summarise them all here. In brief, I’ll just mention that it has a lot to do with ONE of America’s old habits of thinking of itself as the representative of “the Future”, ie, a country which has SEPARATED itself from Europe and from the heritage and legacy of Europe.

And, THAT old American myth, of America being the embodiment of REJECTION of Europe (the “Old World”), was translated by many Americans, in many ways, into a sense of mission. A mission which led into the Pacific. Including, literally, many Christian Missionaries. (Many of whom are – alas – infecting China once again, in the most blinkered and arrogant ways.)

Personally, I believe one of the main reasons why America’s mainstream media and mainstream intellectuals continue to prattle on and on about “China’s rise” and “Russia’s fall”, is because so many Americans belong to this peculiar American tradition (which is especially strong in the American West, for obvious reasons) of seeing America as a “pioneer” country with a “mission” to spread its ideals farther and farther West – away from Europe and ultimately toward Asia. And the corrollary of that, is ONE old American idea (one among many competing ones, but alas, the strongest one now) of America representing a rejection of Europe.

And so, America’s mainstream thinkers today, TEND to be scornful of (European) Russia even while they dream fantastic dreams about the “NEW! RISING!” China. In contrast to Russia, which, to Americans, seems too much like the “Old World.” (And so it is! Actually – from experience I can tell you – that the old European ethos of chivalry, survives today more in Russia than in any other European country, with the possible exception of Germany, weirdly enough – and Richard, I know that you know what I mean about how some Germans still hold true to chivalry, so you can imagine what I mean about Russian chivalry…)

AND – um, Richard, you know I’m partly Jewish, so you know I’m no antisemite – but I will add this as well: Many of America’s mainstream intellectuals and journalists, are recent descendants of Russian Jews, whose inherited memories of Russia are of escaping from a land of oppression, into the New World. And honestly, Richard, I think that has SOMETHING to do with their tendency to dismiss Russia while they look forward to some kind of “new world” farther West, which now includes fantasies about China. Just a thought, and I know you’ll think about it very seriously. You Mensch. 🙂

Just some more food for thought, there, Richard, my friend.

Oh and also, Richard, I find it refreshing to be on the other side of an argument with you, for once. 🙂 Ah, chivalry, you know… 🙂

June 6, 2006 @ 7:32 am | Comment

I’ve had to cover two SCO events here and it is no Warsaw Pact. It’s a talking shop that does little else. China would like resources from the ‘Stans’ (and Russia for that matter) and Russia would like to maintain its regional influence. The ‘Stans’ want economic and military aid. Every few months they all get together and issue vague statements on ‘co-operation.’ These are dreadfully boring events from an organization that is well below Asean+3 on China’s priority list.
I’d rank the SCO slightly above the forgettable Mekong region co-operation association in terms of signifigance.

June 6, 2006 @ 7:41 am | Comment

PS, I have been too intelligent in this thread. As a matter of principle, I want to get back into my regular persona as Ivan the Terrible of TPD:

(Impersonating Butthead – well, the more articulate half of Beavis and Butthead):

“Uhh, Mao sucks.”

(Beavis replies):

“No! Mao RULES! He RULES! Mao got lots of chicks. And Mao’s bunghole went: RATATATTAT!
Mao had guys, like he had Army guys who cleaned out his bunghole! Mao RULES!”

Eh, well, just to make it clear that I’m not an intellectual. I hate intellectuals.


June 6, 2006 @ 7:46 am | Comment

Myrick’s comment crossed with mine before I sent my last one about Beavis and Butthead.
For the record, I agree with what Myrick said, 100 percent.

June 6, 2006 @ 7:49 am | Comment

PS, further about what Myrick said about what the Central Asian “stans” want:
…the typical head of state (OR diplomat – a term I use very loosely here) of one of the former Soviet “stans” of Central Asia, closely resembles the mafia brutal, vulgar, venal uneducated thugs in the American movie “Goodfellas.” (1990)
They’re half-educated thugs. Vulgarians who are looked upon with justified contempt by their Russian overlords, as well as with (somewhat less justified) contempt by the Chinese mandarins.
They (the PUTATIVE leaders of the former Soviet “stans”, who in the end have their dicks in the Kremlin’s pocket), are ignorant, opportunistic, entirely selfish barbarians, the remote residue of the ignorant and benighted Mongol Horde whom the Russians put in their proper places in 1451.
And that is how the Russians see them, and that is how they treat them. As vassals, as puppets who are easily bought, for a pittance.
The Russians do not consider them to be true
“heads of state” in any real way. The Russians go through the motions of TREATING those Central Asian hoodlums as “heads of state”, only as a matter of convenience.
And those Central Asian hoodlums who pretend to be heads of state (and the “diplomats” who represent them) are paid – under the table – in hard currency and in other privileges – by the Russians. So that they can keep their philistine “palaces” and their mistresses, and their ridiculous medals and uniforms, all as loyal allies of what is now called the “Commonwealth of Independent States”, which took the place of the USSR after it formally broke up.
But the basic power relations between Russia and the venal and exquisitely corrupt leaders of those “stans”, has remained unchanged.
Their bread is buttered on Russia’s side. Russia pays them (very personally), and Russia sustains the very existence of those putative “countries” in the stans of Central Asia.
And – and here is the kicker – the leaders AND the common PEOPLE of those stans, hate China.
They hate China for many reasons, not least of which is because China is an atheist country which represses Muslims in ways that Russia does not. (And I can’t bother with any argument here about how “Russia represses Muslims too in Chechnya” – um, no. Chechnya is a peculiar case. There are millions of Muslims in Russia, and NONE of them are controlled by any “Patriotic Russian-Muslim Organisation” like ALL Muslims are controlled in China.)
The Muslims in Central Asia, know that their bread is buttered on Russia’s side. And they fucking HATE China and want nothing to do with it.
Thus, the de facto borders of the Russian Empire, have not really changed since 1991.
The peoples of the “stans” do not all love Russia, but they HATE China.
Oh and don’t even get me started on Kazakhstan, half of whose people are Russians, who hate China all the more precisely because they live so close to it and fear being swept into (as they see it) China’s barbarianism.

June 6, 2006 @ 8:20 am | Comment

Ivan says “blah blah blah”.

Ivan’s arguement of the status of the SCO would be more convincing if he came off as something other than a sad delusional Russian chauvinist.

Hate to break it to you comrade. But your beloved Mother Russia is full of impotent drunkards who are slowly killing themselves and everyone realizes it except you. Russia is a geopolitical has been whose only claim to fame now is oil and its nuke stockpile ruled by leaders still paranoid about Nato encroachment.

p.s. My Polish friend says hello. 😛

June 6, 2006 @ 8:34 am | Comment


I am sending a copy of your comment (and of all of this thread) to all of my Russian friends.

You have no idea how much they will laugh at what you said – with sheer contempt. All the more evidence that the Chinese are a race of fantasists who care more about “face” than about practical reality OR about any transcendent ideals.

One billion abject slaves who make plastic keychains, does not a superpower make.

And a country like China, whose leaders lie with every breath, whose leaders are too fucking cowardly to allow anyone to remember the barbarian massacre of June 4 1989 in public, is not the stuff of any Great Power.

A country like Russia, which has made a peaceful transition from Communist tyranny, is.

Oh and you can remind your Polish friend of how the Russians killed the Polack who tried to call himself the Tsar, whom the Russians killed and then shot his body out of a cannon toward Poland.

June 6, 2006 @ 9:26 am | Comment

You know Ivan, I had thought that it would be worth deconstructing your insipid ranting for what it is but I realize now its not worth my time. Like Kruschev beating his shoe on the podium, you can bloviate and make any number of racist comments you want, but it won’t change the dismal reality. Keep on drinking though, it’ll make it hurt less when it dawns on you glorious motherland is a dungheap.

June 6, 2006 @ 9:47 am | Comment

Oh, heavens. Save me from nationalists and chauvinists of every stripe.

Except for a little shout-out to the NORWEGIANS! Yeah! Norway RAWKS!

June 6, 2006 @ 10:22 am | Comment

I was just coming in to say that they always hype the possibility of a Sino-Russian ecnomic/security alliance, but it has never panned out, even when it was perceived as a Big Thing in the early 90’s. Then I saw the comments. God. Ivan, I still think you’re a bigot and a bastard, but posts like these (ignoring the pissing match with Jing) almost make up for it. Why don’t you write like this more often, and why don’t you have your own blog? And what’s with all those cartoon voices in your head? Some sort of Dario Fo-inspired ‘laughter as political weapon’ thing?

June 6, 2006 @ 10:49 am | Comment

The Fenqings are right all along. China is surrounded by enemies.

June 6, 2006 @ 3:00 pm | Comment

I am new here but I for one heartily welcome Ivan the russian. If most russians are like him, then China has nothing to worry about. Yeah a Russia full of crazy Ivans maybe dangerous, but more so to itself. As a golden rule, the delusional always end up destroy himself before he destroys others.

June 6, 2006 @ 4:14 pm | Comment

See, Ivan, the problem with defending Siberia is that Russia’s population in Siberia is about 14 million spread out over a landmass the size of the lower 48 states. And the population falls by about 10% every 3 years, meaning that in 30 years, there’ll be about 5 million people in Siberia (mostly concentrated in cities like Novosibirsk and Vladivostok.) China won’t have to invade. They’ll just immigrate.

And yeah, what happened to Russia’s life expectancy, infant mortality rate, alcoholism rate, suicide rate, military forces, embezzlement rate, GDP, etc. after 1991? They all worsened and have yet to recover to pre-1991 levels. A good tradeoff for a semi-free press controlled by billionaires and Putin’s cabinet.

June 6, 2006 @ 6:50 pm | Comment

btw, some food for thought:
China is already hip-deep into a stealth economic invasion of the RFE. The region is heavily dependent on Chinese imports for its food supplies and consumable items. The vast distances between Russia’s economic center and the RFE have meant that the area frequently looks south, rather than west, for economic opportunity. Anecdotally, the Chinese presence in markets, restaurants, real estate, and investment throughout the RFE is significant; according to the U.S. government’s Commercial Service, China is one of the three largest foreign trade partners of at least five of the nine administrative regions of Russia’s Far East Federal District. Wildly imprecise estimates of the Chinese population in the RFE range between 100,000 to an improbable 10 million, on the back of illegal immigration facilitated by the sievelike nature of the 2,700-mile border between the two countries. In July 2000, intelligence provider forecasted that the Chinese could become the RFE’s dominant ethnic group by 2020; it later warned that the Chinese government’s crackdown on domestic crime gangs, and the criminal opportunities offered by the untamed nature of the RFE, compounded by the incompetence and corruption of Russian law enforcement, was leading to the dramatic expansion of Chinese criminal activities in the RFE.

June 6, 2006 @ 6:55 pm | Comment

As a norwegian I think I should reply to OtherLisa’s claim that norway RAWKS..

I’m afraid I have to inform you that there are no more vikings. Norway is probably the dullest place on the planet, and has been so for a millenium.

June 6, 2006 @ 7:50 pm | Comment


June 6, 2006 @ 10:03 pm | Comment

Cheer up, Lisa. There’s always Denmark!!! 😉

June 6, 2006 @ 11:11 pm | Comment


June 6, 2006 @ 11:29 pm | Comment

It seems that discussion has been unexpectedly hijacked by strong showing of rivaling ultra nationalism initiated by Ivan. The tone Ivan adopted resembles ultranationalist 愤青 in China. The Fall of Soviet Union took a tremendous pride toll on Russian folks. To cure the communist plague, Russia took some strong medicine, which it�s still digesting today. In the mean time, China has witnessed some stats swelling which is in my view doubtfully sustainable. I say doubtful mainly because China is running on pragmatic but shaky and shitty doctrines. I don�t necessarily share Ivan�s view on why China�s rise is doubtful. Even for this doubtful rise, the Russians cast a jealous eye on it. That�s why Russians treat Gorbachev like shit and lament about they didn�t have a Russian Deng Xiaoping. Russians and Moguls love to tell westerners that you know what we don�t like Chinese. There�re historical reasons, but I suspect jealousy is a factor in addition to sense of losing out in the process.

The who hates whom and why actually didn�t play much in the current Sino-Russian alliance. After all, there ain�t much juvenile unconditional love and hate among any other major countries in the world. It�s obvious that SCO has been formed and operated mindful of American�s influence in the region. To say we�re not against any third party is just 此地无银三百两.

There is no shared articulated ideological foundation among SCO members. But lack mutual love and common ideological foundation do not prevent the Russia and China to pose a united front against United States� interests in global politics. The lack of mutual trust, on the other hand, plays out evidently every time when it comes to the nitty-gritty. Still, for America and its allies, SCO can be a force to be reckon with in the future.

June 7, 2006 @ 12:23 am | Comment

ivan the russian fenqing?



June 7, 2006 @ 2:15 am | Comment

And yet, Mikhail Gorbachev won the Nobel Peace Prize.

THAT is the mark of a great nation.

June 8, 2006 @ 7:58 am | Comment

Careful wityh thios one, Ivan. After all, Yasser Arafat won a Nobel prize as well – it’s not a litmus test for greatness.

June 8, 2006 @ 8:31 am | Comment

Richard, I know. And yet, no Chinese person has ever won the Nobel Peace Prize. So, China has a long way to go before it catches up with Yassir Arafat’s level of respect for Human Rights!

(smug smile here….)

June 8, 2006 @ 9:26 am | Comment

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