Archive for the ‘Nepal’ Category

China’s Silk geopolitics

By Johan Galtung

China is changing world geography, or at least trying to do so.

Not in the sense of land and water like the Netherlands, but in the sense of weaving new infrastructures on land, on water, in the air, and on the web. It is not surprising that a country with some Marxist orientation would focus politics on infrastructure–but as means of transportation-communication, not as means of production.

Nor is it surprising that a country with a Daoist worldview focuses politics on totalities, on holons and dialectics, forces and counter-forces, trying to tilt balances in China’s favor. How this will work depends on the background, and its implications.

Two recent books, Valerie Hansen, Silk Road: A New History (Oxford University Press, 2012) and Peter Frankopan, The Silk Roads: A New History of the World (Knopf, 2015) see them as arteries connecting the world, globalization, before that term became a la mode. Not that loads of goods moved all the way in both directions, parts of the way, maybe further. Europe had much less to offer in return; however:

“Viking traders from–Norway–coarse, suspicious men, by Arab account–were moving down the great rivers of Russia–trading honey, amber and slaves–as early as the ninth century–returning home to be buried with the silks of Byzantium and China beside them”. (Frankopan)

The Silk Roads – so named by the German geographer von Richthofen in 1877 – connected China and Europe (Istanbul) over land from -1200; more precisely from Xi’an to Samarkand by a northern and southern road (Hansen for maps). And the Silk Lanes connected East China and East Africa (Somalia) from +500 till +1500 when Portuguese-Spanish and English naval expansion started a Western takeover by colonization.

The modern Silk Road East-West, Yiwu/China to Madrid/Spain. Although the transit time for goods or people to transit the route is 21 days, this is 30 days faster than a ship and is 1/10 the cost of shipping freight. See

For long periods run by Buddhists in the East and Muslims in the West; Islam using them to expand, from Casablanca to the Philippines. Frankopan sees the high points in the Han dynasty (-207-220, capital Xi’an for West Han), the Tang dynasty (618-902, capital mainly Xi’an) and under Mongolian, Yuan rule–for goods, ideas, faiths, inventions.

Xi’an, 3,000 years old, served as a starting point, both for Silk Roads and for the Silk Lanes, traveling the Yangzi River, or over land, to the East China Sea coast. Till the military uprising against the Tang emperor in 755 (Hansen, Ch. 5, “The Cosmopolitan Terminus on the Silk Road”); but Xi’an is destined always to play major roles.

China is now reviving the past, adding Silk Railroads from East China to Madrid via Kazakhstan-Russia-Belarus-Poland-Germany-France, to Thailand, from East to West Africa–from the Indian Ocean to the Atlantic–from North to South Africa. Silk Flights. And Silk Web.

A silky cocoon is being woven, by worms in China. Too much?

Two features stand out in this approach to geopolitics. Read the rest of this entry »

Remembering Yoshikazu Sakamoto 1927-2014 – also former TFF Associate

By Richard Falk

Richard Falk

TFF wants to express its gratitude to Yoshikazu Sakamoto who served for many years as TFF Associate.

Prefatory Note

This post is dedicated to my remembrance of Yoshi Sakamoto who died recently. Yoshi was a deeply valued friend and an important public intellectual in Japan who exerted a strong influence on the post-war generation. His political orientation, rejecting extremes of right and left, while questioning the militarist premises of the Cold War and Japan’s willingness to become America’s Asian poodle, gave him a distinctive political profile.

I am sharing these words of appreciation, and hope that anyone from Japan who comes across this text will contact me, especially if they have a way of putting me in touch with either Yoshi’s family or Japanese media. I would like to believe that ‘an American appreciation’ of Professor Sakamoto would be of interest to those who knew and admired him.

I first met Yoshi in the mid-1960s when he came to visit me at Princeton, expressing his concern about the Vietnam War and knowing of my anti-war activism. We bonded quickly and marched in a peaceful demonstration in New York City a few days later, and somehow managed to keep in fairly consistent contact until Yoshi’s death on October 2nd.

Yoshikazu Sakamoto 1927 - 2014

Read the rest of this entry »

The world as seen from Mount Everest

By Johan Galtung

The Weekly Mirror published Mondays in Kathmandu is a remarkable mirror of the world seen from above. Prem Kumari Pant, the editor, is a Nepali in the country where Buddha was born in Lumbini. Buddhism, now 9% as against hinduism-brahmanism 80%, migrated to India, and was forced south to Sri Lanka where 5th century buddhist monks invented the Mahawamsa doctrine. They were the “chosen people”, by the Buddha, to make Sri Lanka a home for buddhism. They had not only the right but the duty to eliminate Tamil claims on a part of the land: Go home to where you came from; Sri Lanka is our homeland, language, religion; no buddhist nonviolence and compassion.

Prem Kumari Pant is also chairperson of the Nepal-China society. Read the rest of this entry »

Nepal – Six years of “transition”

By Johan Galtung

From Kathmandu, Nepal

Three huge revolts in Asia in the last decades came to an end: the anti-Confucian cultural revolution in China 1967-76, the anti Phnom Penh Khmer Rouge revolution in Cambodia 1975-79, and the anti-feudal monarchy anti-caste maoist People’s War in Nepal that lasted 10 years from 13 February 1996, followed by 18 days of effective nonviolence in the streets of Kathmandu in 6-24 April 2006. The King abdicated.

Transcend mediated in May 2003, and identified, through dialogues with the parties, eleven deep faultline conflicts as roots of violence…Continue here


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