But China’s strategic aims are not limited to the region alone.
Let me take you to nine volcanic islands in the North Atlantic Ocean, midway between North America and Europe. About 1,500 km from Lisbon and 2,000 km from Newfoundland, Canada, these islands form the Autonomous Region of the Azores, one of the two autonomous regions of Portugal.
At 8.30 am on June 27, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao’s Boeing 747 landed at Air Base number 4 on the island of Terceira to refuel. He was returning to Beijing after a fairly successful official trip to Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina and Chile. After being formally received by Alamo Meneses, the regional secretary of environment of the sea, Wen went on a walkabout, having coffee with the residents of the sleepy little town, talking about bull-fighting, the European economy, and of course China. He broke into a loud laugh when an old timer, asked about his impression of China, replied "very mysterious."
"China’s reform and opening up 30 years, it is no longer a mystery," said Wen, urging the gathering to visit his country.
Image: Tibetan exile Jamphel Yeshi, 27, runs as he is engulfed in flames after he set himself on fire during a protest in New Delhi on March 26, 2012.