5 Maps That Show China’s Biggest Limitations

Authored by George Friedman via MauldinEconomics.com,

As we wrote about in “China’s Strategy,” East Asia is split into four parts: The Pacific archipelago, the Chinese mainland, the Korean Peninsula, and Indochina. East Asia holds the second and third largest world economies: China and Japan. The relationship between them and the US define modern East Asian geopolitics.

China’s Power Can Be Seen from Outer Space

The above map shows the countries of East Asia lit up at night. It reveals much about the power dynamics in this region. The centers of Chinese wealth and power—including Beijing, Shanghai, and Hong Kong—all hug China’s long coastline. Geographic features in the interior divide the country. The rest of the country is in darkness.

Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan are major industrial powers that border these waters along China’s coast. Much of the rest of East Asia is in darkness. North Korea’s darkness is particularly striking.

But relative to the bright lights of China’s coast and Japan, much of Indochina and inner China are also undeveloped.

Western China Is Nearly Uninhabitable

The below map shows population density in China with the 15-inch isohyet overlaid on top.

The area of China from this line to the coast gets enough rain to support a large population. North and west of the 15-inch isohyet, China is less populated and undeveloped.

Geography Limits China’s Expansion

The distance from Beijing to Kazakhstan is almost 2,500 miles through desert and mountains. The Himalayas box China in on the southwest. They also stop conflict between India and China.

Jungles on the border with Myanmar, Vietnam, and Thailand have always limited Chinese growth south.

It is hard for China to grow westward. When China’s power is ascendant, it can grow north, south, or east toward the Pacific. This is easier said than done. Japan continues to be the major regional power. China would still face certain defeat against Japan, especially with US support of the Japanese.

So, China is mainly focused on two things. Controlling its chaotic domestic political and economic situation as growth rates have slowed. And building its military. First for resistance and then for offensive action in the region.

The Chinese Navy Is in No Position to Take Action

The Chinese navy is still a decade away from exerting power over the islands, rocks, and shoals that limit China’s freedom to navigate along its coast.

Many countries around China have claims over these islands. The region’s other major players—Japan and South Korea—are both key US allies. They host large and permanent US military deployments. And like we recently mentioned, the Philippines recently welcomed back US forces to their bases.

This situation has created a stalemate. The US has no desire for a bad relationship with China. But it also doesn’t want any power to control the region. And China still cannot challenge US hegemony in the seas.

As we’ve discussed before, it talks of nationalism in the South China Sea mostly for domestic consumption. Japan and the other East Asian countries view China with increasing concern. They remain staunch US allies as a result.

North Korea Is China’s Bargaining Chip

When we wrote about the North Korean strategy, we said that North Korea appears dangerous with its nuclear weapons tests and its sly, bigoted strongman regime built around a top leader. Kim Jong Un is that leader and he has been consolidating his power.

North Korea happens to also be one of the few areas China is weak. The Chinese intervened in the Korean War when US forces neared the Yalu River on the border between North Korea and China.

North Korea’s unpredictable behavior gives China a big bargaining chip in its relations with the US and the region. So, China favors keeping the status quo.

China’s Limitations Determine the Future of East Asia

East Asia is the world’s most dynamic economic region. Strong countries surround bodies of water over which there is competition. These are some of the world’s most important sea lanes. Japan and China (in that order) are the region’s two most significant powers.

But as we wrote about last year, the most powerful country in the Pacific, the US, is far away. Its Navy patrols and keeps freedom of movement across the Pacific. At the center of this power struggle is China. China’s struggle against its domestic and geographic constraints is the key to understanding the future of this region.

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2016 in architecture

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The year 2016 in architecture is expected to involve some significant events and new buildings.

Buildings[edit]

Australia
China
Germany
Malta
Poland
South Korea
Sri Lanka
  • September – Anantara Kalutara Resort, Kalutara projected for completion to a design by Geoffrey Bawa (d. 2003).
Turkey
United Arab Emirates
United Kingdom
United States

Awards[edit]

2016

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
This article is about the year 2016. For other uses, see 2016 (disambiguation).

2016 (MMXVI) was a leap year starting on Friday (dominical letter CB) of the Gregorian calendar, the 2016th year of the Common Era (CE) and Anno Domini (AD) designations, the 16th year of the 3rd millennium, the 16th year of the 21st century, and the 7th year of the 2010s decade.

Events[edit]

January[edit]

February[edit]

March[edit]

April[edit]

May[edit]

June[edit]

July[edit]

August[edit]

September[edit]

October[edit]

November[edit]

December[edit]

Births[edit]

Deaths[edit]

Main article: Deaths in 2016
Further information: Category:2016 deaths

January[edit]

February[edit]

March[edit]

April[edit]

May[edit]

June[edit]

July[edit]

August[edit]

September[edit]

October[edit]

November[edit]

December[edit]

Nobel Prizes[edit]

Nobel medal

“Nazi Dogs”: Turkey Prepares Sanctions Against The Netherlands

The bizarre diplomatic scandal that erupted over the weekend, after the Netherlands banned several prominent Turkish politicians from organizing and participating in pro-Erdogan rallies just days ahead of the Dutch general election where immigration will be perhaps the most important topic, and which prompted numerous accusations of “nazism” and “fascism” by Turkey’s president Erdogan, appeared set to escalate further on Monday when the Turkish cabinet is expected to consider imposing sanctions on the Netherlands in a deepening row with the country’s NATO ally. Cited by Reuters, one minister said punitive measures were likely.

A government source told Reuters that sanctions were expected to be discussed when the cabinet of ministers meets at 7 pm (1600 GMT). Ankara’s minister for EU Affairs, Omer Celik, said sanctions were likely. “We will surely have sanctions against the latest actions by the Netherlands. We will answer them with these,” Celik said.

In addition to economic measures, sanctions could affect cultural activities, and military and technological cooperation. “When the sanctions are imposed, what we need to be careful about is being realistic. We are not completely closing the windows,” the source said. “However, we want to show that what has been done to Turkey will have a response.” He said certain cultural activities may be cancelled and the re-evaluation of military and technological cooperation was also on the table.

Earlier, Turkey summoned the Dutch charge d’affaires on Monday to complain about the ban – imposed due to fears of unrest and distaste at what the Netherlands sees as an increasingly authoritarian tone from Erdogan – and the actions of Rotterdam police against Turkish protesters over the weekend, foreign ministry sources said. As we reported on Sunday Dutch police used dogs and water cannon to disperse hundreds of protesters waving Turkish flags outside the consulate in Rotterdam. Some protesters threw bottles and stones and several demonstrators were beaten by police with batons, a Reuters witness said. Mounted police officers charged the crowd.

“The Turkish community and our citizens were subject to bad treatment, with inhumane and humiliating methods used in disproportionate intervention against people exercising their right to peaceful assembly,” a statement attributed to ministry sources said.

As further reported over the weekend, President Erdogan, who is seeking support from Turks in a referendum on boosting his powers, accused the Dutch government of acting like “Nazi remnants” and said it should face sanctions for barring his ministers from addressing expatriate Turks to drum up votes. The row marks another low point in relations between Turkey and Europe, further dimming Ankara’s prospects of joining the bloc. It also comes as Turkey is caught up by security concerns over militant attacks and the war in neighboring Syria.

Some 400,000 Turkish citizens live in the Netherlands and an estimated 1.5 million Turks live in Germany.

Commenting on the Turkish official visits, the Dutch government said the visits were “undesirable” and it would not cooperate in their campaigning. According to polls, it is set to lose about half its seats in elections this week as the anti-Islam party of Geert Wilders makes strong gains. Monday was the third time the Dutch envoy had been called in since Saturday over the row. The Dutch ambassador is on leave and the Turkish foreign ministry says it does not want him back “for some time”.

For now, economists do not anticipate a major fallout from the diplomatic scandal. Ozgur Altug, chief economist at BGC Partners in Istanbul, said at this stage he did not foresee the row having serious short-term economic consequences. Still, with Dutch direct investment in Turkey amounting to $22 billion, making the Netherlands the biggest source of foreign investment with a share of 16%, there is a substantial risk of escalating retaliation which could impact the deteriorating Turkish economy which recently posted double digit inflation.

“If the tension escalates and if countries start imposing sanctions against each other, it might have serious implications for the Turkish economy,” Altug said.

Turkish exports to the Netherlands totalled $3.6 billion in 2016, making it the tenth largest market for Turkish goods, according to the Turkish Statistical Institute. Turkey imported $3 billion worth of Dutch goods in 2016.

Additionally, Reuters notes that Dutch visitors are important to Turkey’s tourism industry, which was hit hard in 2016 by security fears due to attacks by Islamic State and Kurdish militants. Some 900,000 Dutch people visited Turkey last year, down from 1.2 million a year earlier.

Ankara has given the paramaters it seeks to de-escalate: it is is seeking an official written apology for the treatment of its family minister and diplomats in Rotterdam, the Turkish foreign ministry sources also said. However, as noted on Sunday morning, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte has said it is Erdogan who should apologize for comparing the Netherlands to fascists and Nazis, adding that Turkey was acting “in a totally unacceptable, irresponsible manner”. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg called on Turkey and the Netherlands to defuse the row.

Meanwhile, assuring that the scandal is likely to get worse before it gets better, a front page headline in the pro-government Aksam newspaper place a photo of a police dog biting the thigh of a man during Saturday night’s protest in Rotterdam, above which it placed the headline “Nazi Dogs.”

Mapping America’s Friends, Foes, & Frenemies

Subject to change…

Map created by reddit user ShilohShay

Via BrilliantMaps.com,

The map above shows which countries Americans consider their allies and friends and those they consider unfriendly or even their enemy.

The data is based off a YouGov poll conducted between January 28 – February 1, 2017, which asked 7,150 adults living in the United States the question:

“Do you consider the countries listed below to be a friend or an enemy of the United States?”

 

Reddit user ShilohShay explains that:

For the purpose of extrapolating more interesting data from the poll, I only added a country to “Don’t Know” in this map if 50% or more of Americans picked that option. Otherwise I went with the plurality opinion.

Top 10 US Allies were:

  1. Canada
  2. Australia
  3. UK
  4. France
  5. Italy
  6. Ireland
  7. Israel
  8. Norway
  9. Sweden
  10. Germany

Top 10 US Enemies were:

  1. North Korea
  2. Iran
  3. Syria
  4. Iraq
  5. Afghanistan
  6. Russia
  7. Libya
  8. Somalia
  9. Pakistan
  10. Palestine

While many of the enemies are the ones you’d expect, only 11% of Americans consider China their enemy and just 9% consider Cuba their enemy.

What NATO Must Do To Remain A True Alliance

US Secretary of Defense James Mattis met with defense ministers from other NATO member countries in Brussels on Feb. 15. The meeting was closed to the public, but some of Mattis’s comments were released to the media. “America will meet its responsibilities, but if your nations do not want to see America moderate its commitment to this alliance, each of your capitals needs to show its support for our common defense.” He added, “America cannot care more for your children’s security than you do.”

The previous US administration criticized NATO at times but in such a way that the complaint was never taken seriously. The new administration cannot afford for this demand to not be taken seriously.From a US strategic view, the status quo is unacceptable.

Is NATO Still An Alliance?

NATO was created to be a defense alliance. Defense requires military forces. Alliance means deploying those forces to protect or support an ally. Alliances usually involve countries with varying power and capabilities, some weak and some strong. This is to be expected. But sharing the burden is also expected in an alliance. Each partner gives what it can for the greater good.

By all these measures, NATO is not currently a coherent alliance. It is instead a collection of states disproportionately dependent on the US for security guarantees. This arrangement is significantly less valuable to the US than an alliance.

The world is more unstable today than at any point since the Soviet Union’s fall. The US is still the only global power, but it is not all-powerful. The US must have the support of its allies to meet challenges such as Russia and China, as well as in the ongoing war with radical Islamism. Other NATO members also must have the support of the US.

Mattis has called attention to an unpleasant truth: NATO military capabilities are not adequate to meet all the challenges facing NATO members. This lack of capability can be attributed to three factors: the disproportionate level of NATO members’ defense spending, the decline in NATO members’ defense spending over the last seven years, and the unequal sharing of the alliance’s burdens relative to individual members’ resources.

Uneven Defense Expenditures

The chart above starts at the simplest level. Not all NATO members spend a similar amount on defense. NATO estimates that alliance members’ defense expenditures totaled $918.3 billion in 2016. More than 70% of that spending came from the United States. The US spends 2.5 times more on defense than all other NATO member states combined.

NATO is not currently a traditional military alliance. It is a list of 27 countries the US has agreed to defend.

Decline in Defense Spending

The data in the table above are taken directly from NATO’s own figures and show the problem from a different angle. Defense expenditures as a percentage of each individual ally’s GDP (including the US) have been decreasing steadily. Some claim this decline only began after the 2008 financial crisis. This is not true.

Only eight countries increased spending as a percent of GDP from 2005 to 2008. As the chart above shows, these increases were small. In 2006, NATO states agreed at a summit in Riga that all members should spend 2% of GDP on defense. In that year, six countries met that threshold: Bulgaria, France, Greece, Turkey, the UK, and the US. In 2016, only five countries met this threshold: Estonia, Greece, Poland, the UK, and the US.

In 2014, some NATO countries reaffirmed their commitment to increase spending to requisite levels by 2024. But NATO member states had already agreed to those spending levels in 2006. “Reaffirming a commitment” is code for not having fulfilled a previous promise and insisting this time will be different. Promises lose their worth when they have been broken in the past. A decade is a long enough time to wait for an ally to live up to a promise. And 18 years is an unreasonable amount of time.

The US cannot fight wars and defend NATO’s varied interests with promises. The US cannot honor commitments unconditionally. Its power has limits. The US faces a broad array of challenges in different parts of the world, and this makes having dependable allies a crucial part of US strategy.

Relative Defense Spending

Not all NATO members are created equal. For example, Croatia is never going to spend an equal amount on defense as the United States. But even when factoring in the size of the US, it spends significantly more on defense than other members. As the chart above shows, the US accounts for about 50% of NATO members’ total GDP and 32% of their total population—and yet the US makes up about 72% of defense spending.

There is only one country that spends a proportionate share on defense based on its share of overall GDP and population: the United Kingdom. The US contributes far more than its share. Every other NATO country spends less relative to its economic activity or its population. Western European countries (excluding the UK) account for 31% of NATO members’ GDP and 33%  of their population, and yet they contribute 16%  to NATO members’ total defense spending.

Eastern European countries, which account for 4.2% of NATO members’ GDP and 12.7% of their population, are much poorer and smaller than Western European countries. Eastern Europe contributes 2.7% to defense spending. In effect, Eastern Europe contributes closer to its share than its far wealthier and stronger neighbors to the west.

On one hand, this makes sense. Eastern Europe faces more immediate threats than Western Europe. Eastern Europeans still have fresh memories of Soviet domination, which means Russian aggressiveness poses a very real threat there. On the other hand, it demonstrates that some NATO members that can contribute more are not pulling their weight.

Clear Eyes

After Mattis’s closed-door meeting with defense ministers, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said at a press conference, “This is not the US telling Europe to increase defense spending. This is 28 allies, heads of states and governments sitting around the same table in 2014, and looking into each other’s eyes and agreeing that we shall increase defense spending.”

The NATO secretary general’s analysis is wrong. This is the US telling Europe to increase its defense spending. There will be a tangible change in NATO member states’ behavior, or there will be a tangible change in US support for NATO. If the second scenario takes shape, NATO will be replaced by a greater emphasis on important bilateral relationships.

The US has asked for help and hasn’t gotten it. The US is now demanding help. NATO member states face a serious choice over whether to give the US this help. The US wants NATO meetings to be gatherings of officials from 28 allies sitting around a table, each clear-eyed about the alliance’s goals, and bearing a proportional share of the cost of achieving those goals. For the US, that is a measure of success. It is not a description of reality.

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Economic trends, social upheaval, stock market cycles, and more are all connected to powerful geopolitical currents that most of us aren’t even aware exist. Global-intelligence guru George Friedman gives you an in-depth view of these hidden forces in This Week in Geopolitics. Get it free in your inbox every Monday.