Feb 162015
 

I just got to thinking, “How are the folks in the capital city of Ufa doing today, and…” How’s that? You mean you don’t know where in the world Ufa is? Either did I, until a few minutes ago while I was reading an article about China’s increasing economic and diplomatic forays westward from its borders into Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.

Those countries along with China form the Shanghai Cooperation Organization or SCO. Their next scheduled meeting is in June 2015 in Ufa, the capital of Bashkortostan. No little thing. This is a meeting that includes the heavy hitters Vladimir Putin, Xi Jinping, and the heads of the other member countries

But first let’s quickly orient ourselves as to where Ufa, the region of Bashkortostan, and where on the planet this all is.

Ufa map1  Ufa is a city of just over 1 million with a link to the Tran Siberian Railroad. Note that the railroad terminus is Vladivostok, located on this map just above the letter “J” in the word “Japan”. During WWII, Stalin moved much of Russia’s industries eastward to Ufa to keep it out of reach of the invading Germans. Now there is a new invasion.

June 2015 is the next meeting of SCO (see above). With the Russian currency falling, the former Soviet central Asian countries are being hit hard. Meanwhile, China is flexing its economic muscles. China’s aim is to access the mineral and gas resources of the region and also gain a land bridge to the Russian and European markets.

This is all in keeping with Xi Jinping’s “New Silk Road” policy, backed up by a $40 billion commitment. Thus China is encouraging the Asian nations to cooperate in developing road and particularly rail. And there’s more. China is very much concerned with the rising Islamic terrorist threat. China is strengthening its ties to central Asian governments and expanding contacts with Pakistan and Afghanistan, especially as it sees a vacuum being created by American military draw down. Keep in mind also that China has fourteen bordering countries plus not all together happy neighbors in the South China Sea.

Here is a map of the member countries of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, shown in green, and observer countries in blue and purple. It is a lot of land mass, a lot of resources, and a lot of people.

Ufa map 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ufa may be a little dot on a big world map, but the consequences of the agreements to be made there may affect us all.

Charles Dusenbury

Below is a very interesting link to an article on the subject from a Kazakhstan website:

http://www.silkroadreporters.com/2015/02/16/sino-russian-division-labor-keeping-central-asia-stable/

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