China pursuing huge South China Sea land reclamation: US

China has dramatically ramped up its land reclamation efforts in the South China Sea this year, building artificial islands at an unprecedented pace to bolster its territorial claims in the disputed area, US officials said Friday.

The rapid construction of artificial islands in the strategic waters comes to 2,000 acres (800 hectares), with 75 percent of the total in the last five months, officials said.

“China has expanded the acreage on the outposts it occupies by some four hundred times,” said a US defense official. Continue reading

Russia to Spend Over $2 Billion on Crimea Modernization

MOSCOW (Sputnik) – Deputy Minister for Crimea Andrey Sokolov announced at an economic forum in Yalta on Saturday that the sum allocated for Crimea’s infrastructure development can be comparable to the funds spent on the preparation for the 2014 Sochi Olympics, adding that “in the coming years this sum will only increase.” Continue reading

US and China: The Fight for Latin America

According to Robert Valencia, China is vying for greater economic influence in Latin America, to include possibly constructing and operating an alternative ‘Panama Canal’ through Nicaragua. One unanticipated consequence of this burgeoning US-China rivalry, Valencia observes, is that it might push Latin American countries closer together.

During the first weekend of June, U.S. President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping met in California to discuss cyber espionage and territorial claims in the Pacific Rim. While tension on these topics has hogged the headlines, the fight for influence in another area could be even more important—Latin America. Other emerging markets in Africa, where China has an overwhelming influence due to foreign direct investment in mining and oil, also offer economic opportunities, but Latin America has an abundance of natural resources, greater purchasing power, and geographic proximity to the United States, which has long considered Latin America as its “backyard.” Continue reading