Tag Archives: UK

New Silk Road: One Belt, One Road

Chinese President, Mr. Xi Jinping, made a four day official visit to the UK last week. This was the first visit since 2005 and the UK was definitely well prepared to ensure that the Chinese President left the UK with a good impression and, more importantly, that he left with many infrastructure and trade projects signed.

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As we all well know, China is becoming more powerful and China has a lot of ambitions. One of the most important is its ambition to revitalize the Silk Road under the One Belt, One Road project.

The Silk Road is an ancient route facilitating trade and cultural exchange from east to west. The Great Wall of China was built to protect this route—in a way, to protect the continuation of trade between the east and the west. The development of this route enabled China, Persia, India and many countries in the past to benefit from cultural and economic development.

The length of the route is 6,000 km. The name Silk Road comes from the famous Chinese silk, which was a major attraction in building this route. Nowadays, thanks to the development of technology and fast transportation options, this route can be utilized more efficiently.

Following the global financial crisis in 2008, we are still not out of the woods. More importantly, we are losing our patience and our hopes for the future. When under 25 unemployment hits 50% in some developed countries, that is not only telling us about a single problem. It is signalling a much bigger problem: a lost generation.

The New Silk Road is being worked on in such an environment, and it excites everyone as it did in the past. And obviously everybody wants to get their share.

In the EU, the UK is lagging behind Germany with its trade volume with China. Obviously, Germany sells its cars and manufactured goods whereas the UK is not very competitive, actually not producing many exportation goods at all.

However, the UK is the leading country in the service sector in the EU. That’s where the internationalization of RMB could play an important role, as London can be the main clearing centre for renminbi.

In addition, the UK is where ideas of the future are turning into reality. It is the country where you can freely discuss with intellectuals and implement your ideas. Most importantly, the UK has a global talent pool which may only be compared with the USA.

Of course, it is not only Germany and the UK that are competing for a share in this big cake. Japanese president, Mr. Abe, has been travelling in Central Asia this week to secure better relationships with Central Asian countries. Given that Central Asia is the main connecting point, it is the main artery for the New Silk Road, pumping blood into its heart.

In my opinion, this visit is too late for Japan. Chinese companies, with the support of the Chinese Exim Bank, have been working on this region for many years now.

The power shift has already begun. The UK decided to sign for the foundation of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, where many hesitant countries followed the UK. This should be a warning bell for the US.

I think we have to give credit to Cameron’s chancellor, George Osborne, for this courageous move.

The UK media criticized David Cameron for not discussing in detail China’s human rights track record and its steel pricing policy. On top of that, it was unfortunate timing that the UK steel industry announced job cuts during the visit of the Chinese president to the UK.

I believe David Cameron is following the right strategy with China.

How would it be possible to cooperate with someone on social issues without establishing the right relationship?

History might be bloody between the UK and China, but the future definitely looks bright.

All the best from Singapore.

Sukru Haskan
Twitter: @sukru_haskan

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UK: Prime Minister’s Questions

Prime Minister’s Questions is the weekly session where Prime Minister answers questions of the opposition leader and the other MP’s in the House of Common.

For those you that are not familiar with the UK parliamentary system, House of Commons is the parliament where members of the parliament meet each other.

David Cameron speaks during PMQs

Although prime ministers have answered questions in parliament for centuries, until the 1880s questions to the prime minister were treated the same as questions to other Ministers asked without notice.

In 1881 fixed time-limits for questions were introduced and questions to the prime minister were moved to the last slot of the day as a courtesy to the 72-year-old prime minister at the time, William Gladstone, so he could come to the Commons later in the day. In 1953, when Winston Churchill was prime minister, it was agreed that questions would be submitted on fixed days (Tuesdays and Thursdays.

It is the year of 1961 when the PMQs were made permanent. Since then there has been some tweaks in the format, and it continues in the current format.

I have been following the PMQ in the last four years and there are many funny moments that I laughed out loud.

I think it is a great way to understand British politics and it is also great way to flourish your language skills.

David Cameron is my real star when it comes to PMQ as his performance is always a stellar.

Some of my favourite conservations from PMQ:

#1 David Cameron: “…. which we wouldn’t have, if we would listen the muttering idiot sitting idiot opposite to me”
Speaker: “Prime Minister, please withdraw the word ‘Idiot” as it is unparliamentary…”

#2 David Cameron:  “I do feel now that a big part of my life is trying to give pleasure to Mrs… ” and then he continues “I feel on this occasion, I can only go so far.”

#3 David Cameron: “There is a complete mug …..” to Ed Miliband.

#4 David Cameron: “The gentleman sitting right opposite, enjoys the game, Bingo as it is only time that he’s got close to Number 10”

5# David Cameron: “…. You do not need to be knowing it’s Christmas, when you sitting next to a turkey.”

#6 David Cameron: ” In 43 days time, I am plan to arrange his retirement plan…”

Speaker : “Orderrrr, Orderrrr…”

I do not want to imagine what could happen if these conversations with the noise in the background, would take place in some other countries.

That’s the beauty of advanced democracy in a develop country. I strongly advise you watch PMQs if you haven’t been familiar yet.

All the best from Istanbul before heading back to Singapore,

Sukru Haskan
Twitter: @sukru_haskan

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Would you like to be in the same boat?

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According to an article by Patrick Kingsley in Guardian Newspaper, we are facing the world’s biggest refugee crisis since the World War two.

224,000 migrants and refugees have come to Europe in 2015. For those of you who can’t visualize the number, it is equivalent of four Arsenal Emirates stadium in London.

What could be happening in your home country that you could potentially risk your life to go somewhere else?

Abraham Maslow, an American psychologist, could explain it quite clearly with his famous theory called Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.

If you don’t have your basic needs met such as physiological and safety, then you can risk anything. And it is very clear that very basic human needs of these people are not being met.

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These migrants are mainly coming from Syria, Eritrea, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Iran, Somalia, Darfur, Nigeria and Mali and all these places are fighting with poverty, civil unrest or war.

What has Europe done for these people? Well – Current European leaders have failed in many ways in the recent years and migrant crisis is just another episode of their failure in the big European project.

To answer my own question; They haven’t really done much. Instead they avoided the problem and as the problem knocks their own doors now, they are murmuring…

When you crunch the numbers, Germany, Sweden and Italy have accepted highest numbers of migrants up until now.

….But I do not think that granting these people asylum, is the real problem solver.

Europe is the birthplace of renaissance and it brought humanism, art, development in science and policy, reform in education and self-awareness.

I would expect the same Europe to bring intelligence, know-how, education, sanitation, water, healthcare and other basic human needs to these countries.

Instead politicians are proudly talking of extra fencing, dogs and police officers. Unfortunately these measures were not really helpful and I’m afraid that they will not be helpful going forward as well.

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By the way, EU has just approved EUR 2.4 billion aid for the current migrant crisis this week. Another short term symptom solving approach rather than digging deep into the problem.

The message, these people are conveying to us, is crystal clear…

“Instead of living in my home country, I rather prefer to be dead or live somewhere else!”

To our beloved politicians: If you really want to keep these people away from your own countries, you shall bring basic human needs to them to get them developed!

You should channel the money to your own NGOs instead of pumping money to their corrupted government. Some European NGOs are already on the ground for some time and they know the countries and their specific problems much better than anyone else.

Charities such as Wateraid and Oxfam can play more significant role than the governments.

Although I focus on European migrant crisis in this post, the problem does not only exist in Europe.

Migrants from Myanmar and Bangladesh are trying to reach to Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Australia whilst migrants from Honduras, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala and Mexico are trying to reach USA.

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According to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), the following countries are hosting the most refugees from Syria.

Turkey     – 1,805,255
Lebanon – 1,172,753
Jordan     –    629,128

In other words; Turkey is hosting 30, Lebanon 20 and Jordan 10 Arsenal stadiums size of people in their own country. 

Imagine the congestion on the way to Finsbury Park station after an Arsenal game and multiply it by 30 to figure out the refugee population in Turkey.

Of course it is not easy when Europe is going through economically hard times but we still could help these people in a better way!

Empathy is a valuable virtue!

Our behaviours will set the scene for a future world war or sustainable peace just like it did in the beginning of 1900s.

Finally, I will encourage you to listen Gary Haugen’s TED talk to understand a bit more what could be the motivations behind migrants journey to Europe.

Next week, I will be focusing on China and its economic policies. Keep following and please register your email to my subscription list!

Best from Singapore,
Sukru Haskan
Twitter: @sukru_haskan

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