Russia, Sudan and China
- Fact one: in a story that began to break yesterday, and continues to develop as I write, it turns out that China has had a big hand in Russia's thuggish seizure of Yukos:
China lent Russia $6bn (£3.2bn) to help the Russian government renationalise the key Yuganskneftegas unit of oil group Yukos, it has been revealed.
- Fact two - as longtime readers of this site may remember, China already has several thousand troops in Sudan to protect its immense oil interests and investments there.
RE: fact one above - the Beeb continues, reporting:
The Kremlin said on Tuesday that the $6bn which Russian state bank VEB lent state-owned Rosneft to help buy Yugansk in turn came from Chinese banks.
The revelation came as the Russian government said Rosneft had signed a long-term oil supply deal with China....
The deal between Rosneft and CNPC is seen as part of China's desire to secure long-term oil supplies to feed its booming economy.
China's thirst for products such as crude oil, copper and steel has helped pushed global commodity prices to record levels.
"Clearly the Chinese are trying to get some leverage [in Russia]," said Dmitry Lukashov, an analyst at brokerage Aton.
"They understand property rights in Russia are not the most important rights, and they are more interested in guaranteeing supplies."
Add all of these to the fact that Chinese and Russian troops are training together, and a pretty clear picture emerges: these countries have a very basic mutual understanding of the importance of access to, and control of, energy and other natural resources by national governments in an increasingly unstable world. Further, their understanding is one which explicity ignores the rule of law when it becomes inconvenient - see the whole sorry Yukos debacle, or any one of many examples of Chinese banks' and factories' corruption - and just generally laughs at the whole idea of free elections, open society or human rights.
Russia and China represent an opposite vision - a crass, heartless grab for resources, control and power. Unfortunately, over the past four years, this has also widely - and not incorrectly - been the view of the rest of the world about the United States as an international actor.
It is important that we all realize the world and potential worlds that are taking shape around us, for many reasons, not the least of which is to remind us why we are fighting to make the United States into the kind of country that can set an example for a better world.