The recent formalization of a new regional cooperation bloc that includes every country in the Americas except Canada and the United States has been largely dismissed in the English-language media as little more than a new soap-box from which the region’s more flamboyant leftists, namely Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, will now spew anti-American rhetoric. To some extent, the potential for such an outcome exists. But it is also worth noting that the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, or CELAC by its Spanish acronym, has now been given an official stamp of approval from not just left-leaning heads of state, but from leaders across the Latin American political spectrum. Alexander Main, a Latin America specialist at the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, contends that the “two biggest factors in CELAC so far have been Brazil and Mexico taking the key initiatives in the process that led to its creation.” Neither country represents the region’s far left. “So, the two countries that are the biggest in terms of their economic weight and their populations have been key promoters of CELAC,” Main told Trend Lines on Monday. “It’s not just Chávez’s baby.” Indeed, backing from Brazil and Mexico, coupled with the participation of every one of the region’s other major players -- including Colombia and Chile, both also notably not pro-Chávez -- signals a level of unprecedented regional cohesion.In perfect unison, Chinese President Hu Jintao extended congratulations on the establishment of the new grouping.
CELAC so far lacks a headquarters or a formalized funding mechanism. But last weekend saw heads of state and high-level representatives from every Latin American and Caribbean nation gather in Caracas to sign the “Caracas Declaration,” establishing the group as a forum for adopting common international positions and calling for a deepening of regional integration. They also signed the “Caracas Action Plan,” outlining an initial agenda focused on such initiatives as establishing transnational energy relationships, addressing hunger and literacy issues and deepening regional trade. While it remains to be seen whether CELAC will emerge as an aggressive geopolitical counterweight to the Organization of American States -- of which both Canada and the United States are members -- a quick read between the lines seems to suggest a collective desire for something like that to occur. The “Caracas Action Plan,” according to Main, explicitly calls for an agreement among member countries on how the World Bank, International Monetary Fund and Inter-American Development Bank should be reformed and restructured. “The document implies that members countries should try to come together as a group and agree on how to promote larger quotas for developing countries in the decision-making process for those international financial institutions,” he said. Also included in the formation documents are strong statements calling for an end to the U.S. embargo on trade with Cuba and supporting the legalized chewing of coca in Bolivia and Peru. “What’s really interesting,” said Main, "is that there’s no way that the U.S. would ever subscribe to any of this. So it demonstrates what the whole region is thinking when the U.S. and Canada aren’t there -- and that these countries of the region have a lot in common that the U.S. and Canada don’t share.” “The U.S. has been overlooking the deep changes that have been occurring in the region for the past 12 years or so,” he added. “You now have a very different region politically than you had back in the 1990s, and the U.S. hasn’t come to terms with that. They don’t understand it, and they don’t want to see it, but CELAC is a manifestation of it.” - WPR.
In a telegram to Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and Chilean President Sebastian Pinera, Hu Jintao said that the founding of the bloc is an important milestone in the region’s integration process, and will help enhance regional unity and better cope with common challenges. Hu expressed China’s willingness to boost cooperation with member countries and work for a comprehensive and mutually beneficial partnership in pursuit of common development. - CNTV.China, for its part has increased its trade with Latin America and the Caribbean substantially over the last few years. It initially contributed 350 million U.S. dollars to various investment programs organized by the Washington, D.C.-based organization that works to support investment in Latin American and Caribbean countries. Last October, the Export-Import Bank of China and the IDB committed to finance up to 200 million U.S. dollars worth of trade activities between China and Latin American and the Caribbean region over the next two years. In my homeland of Jamaica, our entire road program is run by China, under the multi-million dollar investment by China Harbour Engineering Company.
With so much investment, these forces are now gathering behind China's deceptive "peaceful and prosperity" rosy-colored vision outlined in its recent white paper on "Peaceful Development", opposing Secretary Hillary Clinton's aggressively-toned "America's Pacific Century". With assertive adminstrations throughout the Middle East from Cairo to Tel Aviv, expressing little interest in abiding by the American dictates, China is slowly burying its friendship with the West, as President Obama, in tandem, creates and imposes a graveyard on the spirit, authority, dominance and economy of America. In a recent news report, Major General Zhang Zhaozhong, a professor from the Chinese National Defense University, said China would not hesitate to protect Iran even with a third World War. Russia, recently declared that it is preparing to retaliate against NATO and has put radar stations on combat alert.
In a move, in concert with the aforementioned, President Jintao urged the Chinese navy, today, to prepare for military combat amid growing regional tensions over maritime disputes and a US campaign to assert itself as a Pacific power.
The navy should "accelerate its transformation and modernisation in a sturdy way, and make extended preparations for military combat in order to make greater contributions to safeguard national security," he said. Addressing the powerful Central Military Commission, Hu said: "Our work must closely encircle the main theme of national defence and military building." His remarks, which were posted on a statement on a government website, come amid growing US and regional concerns over China's naval ambitions, particularly in the South China Sea. China claims all of the maritime area, as does Taiwan, while four Southeast Asian countries declare ownership of parts of it, with Vietnam and the Philippines accusing Chinese forces of increasing aggression there. In a translation of Hu's comments, the official Xinhua news agency quoted the president as saying China's navy should "make extended preparations for warfare." But the Pentagon on Tuesday downplayed Hu's speech, saying that Beijing had the right to develop its military, although it should do so transparently. "They have a right to develop military capabilities and to plan, just as we do," said Pentagon spokesman George Little, but he added "we have repeatedly called for transparency from the Chinese and that's part of the relationship we're continuing to build with the Chinese military." "Nobody's looking for a scrap here," insisted another spokesman Admiral John Kirby. "Certainly we wouldn't begrudge any other nation the opportunity, the right to develop naval forces to be ready. "Our naval forces are ready and they'll stay ready." US undersecretary of defence Michelle Flournoy is due to meet in Beijing with her Chinese counterparts on Wednesday for military-to-military talks. Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao last month warned against interference by "external forces" in regional territorial disputes including in the South China Sea, a strategic and resource-rich area where several nations have overlapping claims.
And China said late last month it would conduct naval exercises in the Pacific Ocean, after Obama, who has dubbed himself America's first Pacific president, said the US would deploy up to 2,500 Marines to Australia. China's People's Liberation Army, the largest military in the world, is primarily a land force, but its navy is playing an increasingly important role as Beijing grows more assertive about its territorial claims. Earlier this year, the Pentagon warned that Beijing was increasingly focused on its naval power and had invested in high-tech weaponry that would extend its reach in the Pacific and beyond. China's first aircraft carrier began its second sea trial last week after undergoing refurbishments and testing, the government said. The 300-metre (990-foot) ship, a refitted former Soviet carrier, underwent five days of trials in August that sparked international concern about China's widening naval reach. Beijing only confirmed this year that it was revamping the old Soviet ship and has repeatedly insisted that the carrier poses no threat to its neighbours and will be used mainly for training and research purposes. But the August sea trials were met with concern from regional powers including Japan and the United States, which called on Beijing to explain why it needs an aircraft carrier. China, which publicly announced around 50 separate naval exercises in the seas off its coast over the past two years -- usually after the event -- says its military is only focused on defending the country's territory. - Yahoo.