Iran, A Man, An Armani

Earlier this week, while the easily-distracted Western world was focused on the travails of Oscar Pistorius, someone in Pakistan and China must have been listening to the feng shui advisor who warned:

Bad star number 2, symbolizing sickness, will arrive in the Southwest in 2013. The traditional method to dissolve this [bad qi] is to hang a string of six metal coins in the affected area in the Southwest.

Lunghu is relatively certain that the price involved somewhat more than 6 coins, but both China and Pakistan swiftly took decisive action:

China took control Monday of a strategic Pakistani port of Gwadar on the Arabian Sea, as part of a drive to secure energy and maritime routes.  The Pakistani cabinet approved the transfer of Gwadar … from Singapore’s PSA International to China Overseas Ports Holding Company Limited.  Although China had paid about 75 percent of the initial $250 million used to build the port, in 2007 PSA International won a 40-year operating lease [from the Pervez Musharraf regime].

old_port_Gwadar

China wants [a pipeline terminal] to secure reliable oil and gas supplies from the Persian Gulf.  Beijing has also agreed to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to finish a 900-kilometer road that would link [Gwadar] with Pakistan’s north-south Indus Highway, facilitating overland transport from Gwadar to China via the Karakorum Highway that winds through the [Hindu Kush] into Xinjiang province. Beijing believes that helping develop Pakistan will boost economic activity in Xinjiang and dampen a simmering, low-intensity rebellion there.

Lunghu suspects that energy supplies are only part of China’s interest in developing Gwadar.  Although reflexive Sino-phobes (India, USA, etc.) are grumbling about a potential Chinese naval base adjacent to the Strait of Hormuz, that prospect is only a relatively small part of the larger picture.  The real value of Gwadar lies in its future as a outlet for Chinese manufactured goods destined for Middle East and African markets.  China wants economic development in its western regions (Xinjiang and Tibet) in order to quell rebellious tendencies there, but the existing transportation infrastructure makes eastward shipment of far-west products a hugely cost-prohibitive proposition.  When some of your key export markets are in the west, why not manufacture in the west, and ship directly west?  And when your central government provides “strategic guidance” to the nation’s state-capitalist economy, intent can quickly become capability.

Nothing personal; it’s just business.  So Gwadar’s near neighbors needn’t be concerned for their safety just because the Chinese are moving in next door.  In any case, what can you really do if you don’t like it?

Iran announced on Sunday that its navy plans to establish a new base on the Sea of Oman near the border with Pakistan.  Adm. Habibollah Sayyari said that the base will be built in Pasābandar, about 100 kilometers west of Pakistan’s port of Gwadar.

Pasabandar_IR

One final note:

Now that all this attention is being focused on an obscure Southwest corner of Baluchistan, maybe one of those eagle-eyed PLA scouts or Iranian marines will be able to spot the long-missing Robert Levinson.  Bacause that’s where he was, last time Lunghu checked: Gwadar … or maybe Jīwani.

R_Levinson_201x

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