China-Indian Ocean expansion: Beijing’s latest Silk Road plan envisions a port, pipelines and special economic zone that is meant to transform Myanmar’s Kyaukpyu backwater into a modern entrepot to rival Hong Kong and Singapore, reports Eli Meixler. The hub, like similar emerging “string of pearls” projects in Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and India, is aimed at fortifying Beijing’s position in the Indian Ocean and could also one day host Chinese naval vessels.
Russia, Syria’s contractor: The rebuilding of the culturally significant Great Mosque of Aleppo, destroyed by fighting in April 2013, has become a symbol of Moscow’s influence. Sami Moubayed writes that Russia is determined not to give Saudi Arabia, Qatar or Turkey any of the reconstruction work, arguing that the honor of rebuilding Syria belongs to the Kremlin and its friends.
Ostpolitik for Korea? German reunification was preceded by West Germany’s policy of direct engagement, or Ostpolitik, and a version of it will start to play out on the Korean Peninsula, writes Yoon Young-kwan. South Korea’s new leader, Moon Jae-in, looks set to follow his mentor Kim Dae-jung, who during his 1998-2003 presidency pursued a non-violent “Sunshine Policy” with the North.
Asia-pivot to China: Aung San Suu Kyi’s meeting with Xi Jinping at the Belt and Road summit this month punctuated what was already shaping up to be a good year for China-Myanmar relations. Asia Times reports that since US relations Myanmar soured and China was quick to fill the void, it indicates a larger Asia-wide strategic setback for Washington.