Posts Tagged ‘Belt and Road’

The West Faces Up to Reality: China Won’t Become ‘More Like Us’

December 12, 2017

The make-believe that Beijing would eventually embrace Western values is over

SHANGHAI—For decades, the relationship between China and the West rested on illusion and pretense.

Western politicians fooled themselves into thinking that the Chinese system, centrally directed and authoritarian, would in time resemble their own, open and democratic.

For its part, China camouflaged its global ambitions. Obeying Deng Xiaoping’s maxim to “hide our capabilities and bide our time,” it built itself into a manufacturing colossus and the world’s largest trader, amassed “hard” military power and projected “soft” influence, sometimes covert and bought with cash.

This game of make-believe is winding down.

Last week’s trip to China by Justin Trudeau, the Canadian prime minister whose father engineered his country’s opening to the People’s Republic, will likely go down as one of the last in a series of largely futile Western efforts to “shape” China’s rise by encouraging its adoption of liberal Western ideas. He arrived with plans to open talks on a “progressive” free-trade agreement that stresses gender equality, labor protections and environmental rights. He was politely shown the door.

At the same time, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull was underscoring a new era of realism. With China in mind, he introduced legislation to limit foreign interference in the country’s political life. The impact has been swift: On Tuesday, Labor party senator Sam Dastyari pledged to resign amid an uproar over his links to a real-estate billionaire affiliated with the Communist Party.

Australia exemplifies both the advantages and potential hazards of a more hard-nosed approach to China.

Some predict a new Cold War. That’s possible, if Western disillusion gives rise to such strong anti-China sentiment that it derails ties.

But a dose of honesty could also lead to a more sustainable relationship, one based on a frank acknowledgment of differences rather than hopes for an East-West merger based on common values.

That mythical prospect—that China will become “more like us”—has held up debate in the liberal West about the larger questions posed by China’s economic and military ascendancy.

What is the appropriate response to an increasingly predatory Chinese state that takes advantage of Western openness to acquire technology even as it shelters its own markets behind protectionist barriers?

How do free societies push back against an authoritarian system that advances its geopolitical interests with clandestine influence campaigns? China co-opts the elites in target countries like Australia by offering them corporate sinecures and consultancy contracts. It buys up Chinese-language news outlets and infiltrates the Chinese diaspora through Communist Party agencies—all the while blocking Western media content at home with its Great Firewall and restricting Western influence by placing foreign NGOs under police administration.

Chinese President Xi Jinping has hastened this reckoning. At a party congress a few weeks ago, he made clear that China is supremely confident in its own ways and proclaimed a “new era” in which it will move “closer to the center of the world.” Western politicians are finally coming to view China for what it is, not the country they wish it to be.

The new sense of clarity has spread to Europe. “It is always useful to call a spade a spade,” write François Godement and Abigaël Vasselier in a paper on China-EU relations for the European Council on Foreign Relations that, among other things, recommends tougher screening for inbound Chinese investment.

In a sign of growing alarm at Chinese political interference, Germany’s intelligence services have published details on how Chinese spies have gathered data on officials and politicians using fake social-media profiles.

The U.S. House and Senate are working on bills to restrict Chinese investment in technology companies. The Trump administration is readying a raft of punitive trade measures. And among U.S. academics, debate is simmering over the threat to free expression presented by Chinese government-funded Confucius Institutes on college campuses.

In a report for the congressionally funded National Endowment for Democracy, Christopher Walker and Jessica Ludwig connect Chinese and Russian efforts to shape public opinion around the world. The billions these countries spend to influence media, culture, think tanks and academia, they argue, goes beyond “soft power.” They label it “sharp power,” which should be seen as “the tip of their dagger.”

Australia will be a test of how far Western countries will to go to defend democratic values. Fee-paying Chinese students keep the country’s higher education system afloat; Chinese purchases of Australia’s raw materials, along with tourist spending, underpin its growth.

The People’s Daily attacked the new laws on foreign interference as “hysterical paranoia.” A Foreign Ministry spokesman accused Mr. Turnbull of poisoning ties.

Mr. Turnbull was unmoved. Echoing a slogan often attributed—incorrectly—to Mao, he declared in Mandarin that the Australian people will “stand up” for their sovereignty. Once China gets over its outrage, a reset of relations with the West is attainable, this time based on candor and clear-eyed pragmatism, not wishful thinking.

Write to Andrew Browne at


Russia Urges India to Back China’s Belt and Road

December 11, 2017

Image may contain: 3 people, people smiling, people standing and suit

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (L) Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj (C) and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi shake hands before the start of their meeting in New Delhi, India, December 11, 2017. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi Reuters

By Sanjeev Miglani

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – Russia threw its weight behind China’s massive Belt and Road plan to build trade and transport links across Asia and beyond, suggesting to India on Monday that it find a way to work with Beijing on the signature project.

India is strongly opposed to an economic corridor that China is building in Pakistan that runs through disputed Kashmir as part of the Belt and Road initiative.

India was the only country that stayed away from a May summit hosted by Chinese President Xi Jinping to promote the plan to build railways, ports and power grids in a modern-day recreation of the Silk Road.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said New Delhi should not let political problems deter it from joining the project, involving billions of dollars of investment, and benefiting from it.

Lavrov was speaking in the Indian capital after a three-way meeting with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj at which, he said, India’s reservations over the Chinese project were discussed.

“I know India has problems, we discussed it today, with the concept of One Belt and One Road, but the specific problem in this regard should not make everything else conditional to resolving political issues,” he said.

Russia, all the countries in central Asia, and European nations had signed up to the Chinese project to boost economic cooperation, he said.

“Those are the facts,” he said. “India, I am 100 percent convinced, has enough very smart diplomats and politicians to find a way which would allow you to benefit from this process.”

The comments by Russia, India’s former Cold War ally, reflected the differences within the trilateral grouping formed 15 years ago to challenge U.S.-led dominance of global affairs.

But substantial differences between India and China, mainly over long-standing border disputes, have snuffed out prospects of any real cooperation among the three.

India, in addition, has drawn closer to the United States in recent years, buying weapons worth billions of dollars to replace its largely Soviet-origin military.

Swaraj said the three countries had very productive talks on economic issues and the fight against terrorism.

(Editing by Clarence Fernandez)


Trump fiddles with phone as US burns out in Asia, and China gives a lesson in leadership

December 9, 2017

By Richard Heydarian

President’s Twitter rants and lack of a coherent strategy have seen confidence in US leadership plummet, and Beijing has not been slow to fill the void

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 09 December, 2017, 8:32pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 09 December, 2017, 8:33pm

“Of all manifestations of power, restraint impresses men the most,” warned Thucydides, who painfully observed the Peloponnesian war and the devastation of the Athenian empire.

Centuries from now, the world is likely to look back at the Donald Trump presidency as the beginning of a precipitous decline in America’s global influence. His midnight rants on Twitter, open hostility to the international liberal order, and lack of a coherent grand strategy has alienated friends and allies like never before.

In contrast, Beijing has deftly forged ahead with constructing an “Asia for Asians”, while luring the world with ambitious infrastructure projects that will transform globalisation in China’s image.

Meanwhile, US allies such as Japan, Australia and the European Union have openly expressed their willingness to fill the leadership vacuum by pushing for alternative trade, security and climate-related agreements.

To be fair, what we are witnessing is partly driven by a relative decline in the foundations of American power, primarily due to the meteoric rise of China and other major developing countries.

In the coming years, Beijing is expected not only to oversee the world’s largest economy, but also emerge as a leading global source of investment and technology. Even in the realm of military power, where the US holds a decisive edge, China is rapidly closing the gap.

 Chinese President Xi Jinping (right) shakes hands with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the Apec summit in Da Nang, Vietnam last month. The two leaders support free trade in the Asia region. Photo: Xinhua

According to a Rand Corporation study, Beijing is catching up in virtually every crucial area of military technology, while enjoying geographical advantage vis-à-vis crucial flashpoints such as the Taiwan Strait, South China Sea and Korean Peninsula.

Nonetheless, as Thucydides observed in ancient Greece, quality of leadership can define the fate of superpowers and the broader trajectory of history.

Throughout my conversations with senior officials and experts from American allied nations in Asia and Europe, I have seen nothing short of outright trepidation regarding the Trump presidency.

While the statements and actions of able officials such as US Defence Secretary James Mattis have been warmly received, there is still an excruciating clamour for a steady hand at the top.

Surveys show that global confidence in America’s leadership has collapsed in the past year alone. A Pew study reported an average 42 per cent decline among 37 surveyed nations.

An intensified “Russia-gate” investigation into members of Trump’s inner circle is expected to further distract an already wobbly administration.

Trump’s “America first” mantra has been interpreted as an unvarnished expression of unilateralism and isolationism by the global superpower. In response, many countries have found themselves either embracing China or veering away from America.

 Despite the best efforts of US Defence Secretary James Mattis, global confidence in America’s leadership has plummeted this year. Photo: Reuters

During his November trip to Asia, the US president struggled to secure a single major concession from either allies or rivals, namely China. Crucially, Trump was deeply isolated during the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) summit in Vietnam, where he openly called for bilateral trade agreements and lashed out at globalisation.

Aside from nixing the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which deeply alienated regional allies and new friends such as Vietnam, Trump failed to propose any new economic initiative in the region.

In a blatant rebuke, allies such as Japan and Australia subsequently discussed a revitalised TPP deal, which excludes America yet upholds the principles of free trade. Meanwhile, Chinese President Xi Jinping extolled the virtues of an open global order.

The Chinese leader described globalisation as an “irreversible historical trend”, reiterating his country’s commitment to a “multilateral trading regime and practice”, which enables “developing members to benefit more from international trade and investment”.

In particular, China supports the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, which covers 16 nations and aims to dramatically reduce tariff barriers across the Asia-Pacific. In fact, it’s here where Beijing’s greatest strength lies: commercial diplomacy.

 Chinese Premier Li Keqiang (left) extended his stay in Manila last month to discuss multibillion-dollar infrastructure projects with Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte (right). Photo: Reuters

Across Southeast Asia, China is increasingly seen as the next major driver of industrialisation and development, including among American treaty allies Thailand and the Philippines.

While Xi used the bully pulpit to promote globalisation during the Apec summit, China’s Premier Li Keqiang, in turn, offered concrete investment deals during his visit to Manila for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) summit just days after.

While Trump cut his visit to Manila short by 24 hours, Li extended his stay in the city by several days. He met and discussed multibillion-dollar infrastructure projects with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte.

Lured by China’s economic initiatives, the Filipino president leveraged his Asean chairmanship this year to deepen ties between Beijing and Southeast Asian nations. We may have finally found a glimpse of Pax Sinica in Asia.

Richard Javad Heydarian is an Asia-based scholar and the author of several books, including Asia’s New Battlefield: US, China and the Struggle for Western Pacific and The Rise of Duterte: A Populist Revolt Against Elite Democracy.

Sri Lanka hands over debt-laden port to Chinese owner

December 9, 2017


© AFP/File | The $1.12 billion deal announced in July lets a Chinese state company take over Sri Lanka’s southern port of Hambantota, which straddles the world’s busiest east-west shipping route, on a 99-year lease

COLOMBO (AFP) – Sri Lanka Saturday handed over a deep-sea port to a Chinese firm, in a deal agreed to boost the cash-strapped island’s finances that has raised concerns at home and abroad over Beijing’s growing influence.The $1.12 billion deal first announced in July lets a Chinese state company take over the southern port of Hambantota, which straddles the world’s busiest east-west shipping route, on a 99-year lease.

“With the signing of the agreement today the Treasury has received $300 million,” Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said at a ceremony in the capital to mark the handover.

“This is the beginning of our debt settlement,” Wickremesinghe said.

The loss-making port will now be jointly managed by the state-owned Sri Lanka Port Authority and China Merchants Port Holdings.

Sri Lanka owes China $8 billion that former president Mahinda Rajapaksa’s regime borrowed for its infrastructure development projects, including the port.

The deal has raised concerns at home and overseas, where countries such as India and the United States are known to be worried that China getting a foothold at the deep-sea port could give it a military naval advantage in the Indian Ocean.

On Friday Sri Lanka’s parliament approved wide-ranging tax concessions for the port deal, including a tax holiday of up to 32 years for the Chinese firm, that opposition parties objected to.

“Please tell this House the details of very favourable tax concessions you gave China on the deal. What are you getting out of it?” Anura Dissanayake, an opposition law marker asked in parliament Saturday.

Sri Lanka has said it wants to reduce its high foreign debt with the proceeds of the Hambantota port deal, and is selling off some other enterprises to raise revenue

China denies making impossible demands for collapsed US$14 billion infrastructure deal with Pakistan

December 8, 2017

Beijing did not ask for ownership rights to Diamer-Bhasha dam, an unnamed official with China’s top planning agency was quoted on state media

By Viola Zhou
South China Morning Post

PUBLISHED : Friday, 08 December, 2017, 10:01am
UPDATED : Friday, 08 December, 2017, 11:15am

An official with China’s top planning agency said it does not accept Pakistan’s claim that it decided to cancel a US$14 billion infrastructure deal with China because Beijing was making demands that were impossible to meet, state media reported.

The Chinese government did not ask for ownership or operation rights to the Diamer-Bhasha dam or seek to take another Pakistan dam in exchange for striking an agreement with Islamabad, the state-run Xinhua news agency on Thursday quoted an unnamed official with the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) as saying.

 Diamer Bhasha dam is in the preliminary stages of construction on the Indus river in Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan. Photo: Handout.

The conditions “did not exist”, the official was quoted. “The recent reports on Pakistani media contained factual mistakes”, “or they only reflected the stands of individual officials”.

Pakistani media had reported last month that the project was excluded from the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) framework because Islamabad was unable to meet China’s “strict conditions” for agreement.

The Chinese conditions were “not doable and against our interests”, Pakistan’s Express Tribune quoted Water and Power Development Authority chairman Muzammil Hussain as saying on November 14.

Hussain said the conditions centred on project ownership, operation and maintenance costs and possibly giving China operational rights to another Pakistani dam, according to the report.

The official with the NDRC, an agency under the State Council with broad administrative and planning control over the Chinese economy, was quoted as saying the two governments are still in touch regarding cooperation on the Diamer-Bhasha dam, although the facility is not part of the CPEC plan.

The dam, on the Indus river in Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan, is in the preliminary stages of construction.

The official said Chinese companies had made large investments to generate profit from the Gwadar Port since taking over management rights. Gwadar Port, a deep-sea port on the Arabian Sea at Gwadar in Pakistan’s Balochistan province, is seen as vital to the US$57 billion CEPC plan and a crucial element of China’s massive trade and infrastructure undertaking, the “Belt and Road Initiative”.

A Pakistani Naval personnel stands guard during the opening in 2016 of a trade route linking Gwadar Port to the Chinese city of Kashgar. Photo: AFP

The CPEC, a flagship project under the Belt and Road Initiative, is considered vital to open up trade along land and sea corridors from Asia to Africa to Europe.

Responding to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor challenge

December 3, 2017
Given the challenges that China-Pakistan Economic Corridor is facing, India will need to do much more to provide an effective counter-narrative
China-Pakistan Economic Corridor gives China a foothold in the western Indian Ocean with the Gwadar port, located near the strategic Strait of Hormuz. Photo: Bloomberg

China-Pakistan Economic Corridor gives China a foothold in the western Indian Ocean with the Gwadar port, located near the strategic Strait of Hormuz. Photo: Bloomberg

The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) has been attracting a lot of attention lately and for all the wrong reasons. Pakistan has reportedly rejected China’s offer of assistance for the $14 billion Diamer-Bhasha Dam, asking Beijing to take the project out of the $60 billion CPEC so that Pakistan can build the dam on its own. Because the project was in a disputed territory, the Asian Development Bank had refused to finance it. So China was keen to step in but Pakistan realized that the tough conditions being imposed by Beijing pertaining to the ownership of the project, operation and maintenance costs, and security of the dam would make the project politically and economically untenable. It gravitated, therefore, towards self-financing.

This was followed by differences on the use of the Chinese yuan in Pakistan along the lines of the US dollar. Pakistan had to reject this demand as well, arguing that common use of the yuan in any part of Pakistan, exchangeable like the dollar, has to be on a reciprocal basis.

As the initial euphoria surrounding CPEC gives way to a more realistic appraisal of the costs of the project, both Beijing and Islamabad seem to be reassessing the terms of their engagement. While China is demanding greater autonomy and security in operationalizing the project, Pakistan is finding it difficult to accede to most of these demands. There are growing voices in Pakistan that China seems to be a bigger beneficiary from CPEC than Pakistan, with its modus operandi of importing goods and labour for the projects at the expense of the local market and Islamabad carrying the burden of paying interest on loans to Chinese banks way into the future.

Chinese ambassador to Pakistan Sun Weidong made it clear recently that Pakistan is not producing the goods that are needed in China. Only when Chinese companies start producing such products in Pakistan would the trade balance be rectified, according to him. This has reinforced the perception that all China wants is to use the infrastructural advancement of CPEC for the benefit of Chinese companies.

Meanwhile, China’s overtures to India on joining One Belt, One Road (Obor) have continued. The Chinese ambassador to India, Luo Zhaohui, said during a recent speech that China “can change the name of CPEC” and “create an alternative corridor through Jammu and Kashmir, Nathu La pass or Nepal to deal with India’s concerns”. It is getting clearer by the day that the viability of CPEC requires India’s participation.

India so far has steadfastly refused to participate in the Belt and Road Initiative, maintaining opposition to China’s investment in CPEC, which passes through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. India, boycotting the Belt and Road Forum in May, announced: “No country can accept a project that ignores its core concerns on sovereignty and territorial integrity.” Indian foreign secretary S. Jaishankar articulated this position at the 2017 Raisina Dialogue: “China is very sensitive about its sovereignty. The economic corridor passes through an illegal territory, an area that we call Pak-occupied Kashmir. You can imagine India’s reaction at the fact that such a project has been initiated without consulting us.” Prime Minister Narendra Modi too asserted that “connectivity in itself cannot override or undermine the sovereignty of other nations”.

The long-term strategic consequences of Obor for India could also allow China to consolidate its presence in the Indian Ocean at India’s expense. China may use its economic power to increase its geopolitical leverage and, in doing so, intensify security concerns for India. CPEC gives China a foothold in the western Indian Ocean with the Gwadar port, located near the strategic Strait of Hormuz, where Chinese warships and a submarine have surfaced. Access here allows China greater potential to control maritime trade in that part of the world—a vulnerable point for India, which sources more than 60% of its oil supplies from the Middle East. What’s more, if CPEC does resolve China’s “Malacca dilemma”—its over-reliance on the Malacca Straits for the transport of its energy resources—this would give Asia’s largest economy greater operational space to pursue unilateral interests in maritime matters to the detriment of freedom of navigation and the trade-energy security of several states in the Indian Ocean region, including India.

Indian opposition has now galvanized those who remain suspicious of Chinese motives behind Obor in Pakistan as well as in the rest of the world. The West is now more vocal in its concerns and voices in Pakistan are demanding a reappraisal of the project. But India needs to do more than just articulate its opposition. It needs to provide a new template for the world on global connectivity projects. New Delhi has moved in that direction recently with an articulation of the Asia Africa Growth Corridor (AAGC). The AAGC, structured to connect East Asia, South-East Asia and South Asia with Africa and Oceania, provides a normative alternative to Obor with its promise of being more consultative and inclusive. With the AAGC, India and Japan have underscored the “importance of all countries ensuring the development and use of connectivity infrastructure in an open, transparent and non-exclusive manner based on international standards and responsible debt financing practices, while ensuring respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, the rule of law, and the environment.”

This is a welcome first step but given the challenges that CPEC is facing, India will need to do much more to provide an effective counter-narrative.

Harsh V. Pant is a distinguished fellow at the Observer Research Foundation and professor of international relations at King’s College London.

Comments are welcome at

Europe Set to Award China `Holy Grail’ With Tariff-Rules Revamp

December 3, 2017


By Jonathan Stearns

  • European industries face greater onus in winning import duties
  • Biggest change to EU trade regime to take effect in December

European industries from steel to solar are bracing for a new set of tariff rules that may make it harder to fend off low-cost imports from China and other foreign countries.

 Image result for china imports to europe, by ship, photos

European Union governments are due on Monday to rubber-stamp the biggest revamp of the bloc’s method for calculating duties aimed at countering below-cost — or “dumped” — imports. The move is a response to longstanding Chinese government demands for more favorable treatment while stopping short of saying those shipments are fairly priced.

The overhaul will end an EU presumption that Chinese exporters and those in nine other members of the World Trade Organization operate in non-market conditions. That approach, which has allowed for higher European anti-dumping duties, is being replaced by a more opaque procedure for determining whether imports unfairly undercut domestic producers.

“There’s going to be much more work for European industries to make their dumping cases,’’ said Laurent Ruessmann, a partner and trade expert in the Brussels office of law firm Fieldfisher LLP. “There’s a lot of discretion for EU trade authorities in the new system. The question is how that discretion is used and what the political influence will be.’’

 Image result for china imports to europe, by ship, photos

Political, Economic Rewards

The EU carrot to China comes as both seek to claim a global leadership role in trade amid U.S. President Donald Trump’s protectionist stance, which has shaken the post-World War II commercial order. The U.S. has taken a different tack from the EU, rejecting China’s claim of market-economy status and refusing to alter how it calculates anti-dumping duties.

Europe is offering political and economic rewards to Beijing by removing China from the European list of non-market-economy countries in dumping investigations. While being the EU’s No. 2 trade partner behind the U.S., China is grouped with the likes of Belarus and North Korea in lacking market-economy designation by Europe and faces more European anti-dumping duties than any other country.

To read more about trade tension between the U.S. and China, click here

Such EU levies cover billions of euros of Chinese exports such as reinforcing steel, solar panels, aluminum foil, bicycles, screws, paper, kitchenware and ironing boards, curbing competition for producers across the 28-nation bloc.

“China has coveted market-economy status as the ultimate recognition from the West,” said Hosuk Lee-Makiyama, director of the European Centre of International Political Economy in Brussels. “It’s their holy grail.”

European Protection

The EU has traditionally used other nations’ figures to calculate anti-dumping levies against China on the grounds that Chinese state intervention artificially lowers domestic prices and makes them an unreliable indicator of a good’s “normal value.” This practice, known as the analogue-country model, has resulted in higher EU duty rates against Chinese exporters and — by extension — more protection for European manufacturers.

China’s agreement on joining the WTO 16 years ago made it harder for the EU to justify using the analogue-country model against Chinese exporters after a specific provision expired in December 2016. To drive home the point, Beijing filed a complaint the same month against the EU at the Geneva-based global trade arbiter, hastening European deliberations over an overhaul of anti-dumping rules.

EU legislators negotiated a deal in October and the full European Parliament offered its endorsement the following month, leaving national governments to give their final approval on Dec. 4.

The legislation, due to be published on Dec. 18, features elements of compromise between free-trade governments in northern Europe allied with China and more protectionist member countries in the south.

‘An Elegant Solution’

“It’s quite an elegant solution,” said Lee-Makiyama. “The EU has found a near-impossible compromise between the demands of European industry that thinks China is the enemy and the bloc’s legal obligations under the WTO. There remains plenty of scope to defend manufacturers in Europe because, in a way, Europe is abolishing the diploma just as China graduates.”

To ease the impact of the new system on European manufacturers, the EU will have recourse to a special formula for calculating anti-dumping duties against countries whose markets are deemed to have “significant distortions’’ resulting from state intervention. Under the new rules, the EU will be able to construct the normal value of a good in an exporting country using undistorted costs.

In a sign of the balance that the new system strikes, the Chinese government is sending out skeptical signals about the EU changes.

The Ministry of Commerce in Beijing said in mid-November the notion of significant market distortions will cause “serious damage” to the WTO’s anti-dumping legal system. The ministry also said “China reserves its rights under the WTO dispute-settlement mechanism and will take the necessary measures to protect the rights of Chinese companies.”

Pakistan’s Deal With China on CPEC aggravates India-Pakistan tensions — U.S. study says

November 29, 2017


  • CPEC will deepen China’s already formidable presence in the South Asian nation
  • It will “aggravate” tension between India and Pakistan, a US think-tank said.
  • As per the report, CPEC is in some ways a test case of the BRI because it includes some of the initiative’s first projects to become fully operational.

WASHINGTON: The multi-billion dollar China- Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) will deepen China’s already formidable presence in the South Asian nation, and “aggravate” tension between India and Pakistan, a US think-tank said today.

“CPEC will deepen China’s already formidable presence in the country and clearly aggravate India-Pakistan tensions. In addition, real questions persist about Pakistan’s ability to finance its share of new energy investment,” Michael Kugelman, deputy director and senior associate for South Asia Program at the Wilson Center said in a report published today.

According to him, even though the CPEC may enable Pakistan to generate more power, it will not solve the country’s broader energy crisis, which is rooted in factors that go well beyond supply shortages.

“Stability in Pakistan’s security situation and economic performance is increasingly in critical interest for Beijing because it is a precondition for CPEC’s success. Given New Delhi’s strenuous opposition, CPEC will exacerbate India- Pakistan tensions,” Kugelman wrote.

Among other things, CPEC cements the already deep presence of Washington’s top strategic competitor in a region where the US has a much lighter footprint, he said.

“The project also generates additional obstacles for the Indian efforts to access markets and natural gas reserves in Central Asia — a region that India cannot reach directly by land because Pakistan denies its transit rights on Pakistani soil,” he said.

According to Kugelman, Beijing’s messaging is very similar to Islamabad’s — it uses only the most positive of rhetoric and with a triumphant and confident tone. Like Pakistan, China has much at stake, he said.

As per the report, CPEC is in some ways a test case of the Belt and Road Initiative(BRI) because it includes some of the initiative’s first projects to become fully operational.

“Privately, however, China worries about the security risks to CPEC, even as terrorist violence has subsided in Pakistan since 2014, when the Pakistani military launched a major counterterrorism offensive,” the report said, adding that many of the attacks that have taken place since then have occurred along or on envisioned CPEC routes in Baluchistan.

Separatist rebels have targeted energy infrastructure in the province for a number of years and remain an active threat.

“Furthermore, criminal gangs pose threats to CPEC projects in Punjab Province. One such outfit, known as the Chotu Gang, abducted 12 Chinese engineers working on a highway project in Punjab back in 2005,” he wrote.


Kugelman said in private conversations, Pakistani officials and analysts offer a sobering appraisal of the project.

“Privately, Pakistanis also express concern about the country’s ability to pay back loans in the coming years, as well as about the security threats ranging from terrorism and separatist insurgency to organized crime that threaten CPEC construction,” he said.


It does require a ””think tank” to say that CPEC will increase Indo-Pak tension. Even a ”village tank” will state this blatantly obvious thing.Babu Rajendran Chandran

Referring to India’s reaction to CPEC, Kugelman said New Delhi’s biggest objection to CPEC is that it entails building projects in Gilgit-Baltistan.

“New Delhi does not formally oppose BRI as a whole; rather, its stated concerns are restricted to CPEC, which it has described as a violation of Indian sovereignty, he noted.

Innovation and traditional strengths key to Singapore’s role in China’s Belt and Road Initiative

November 26, 2017

 Image may contain: 8 people, people smiling, people standing and indoor

Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat speaking with Singapore students at Tsinghua University on Nov 25, 2017. Mr Heng said that there are opportunities for Singaporeans to learn from and collaborate with their Chinese counterparts.ST PHOTO: LIM YAN LIANG

BEIJING – There is a palpable buzz to the innovation scene in China, and opportunities are growing for Singaporeans to learn from and collaborate with their Chinese counterparts, Minister for Finance Heng Swee Keat said on Sunday (Nov 26).

Singapore also has unique strengths, such as in legal and finance, that it should capitalise on to capture a slice of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), Mr Heng told reporters at the close of his five-day trip to Suzhou and Beijing.

“I must say that it is a place that is full of buzz and full of young entrepreneurs as well as older ones who are working very well to think about what is the next stage of growth, what they can contribute and how they can better use technology to improve lives,” he said. “I hope that we too can make a contribution in that area.”

Reading the pulse of China’s tech scene was a key goal of the trip for Mr Heng, who is the first minister from Singapore to visit China after last month’s key party congress that put in place the country’s top leadership for the next five years.

Among the places he visited were the Tsinghua University Science Park, where he saw the university’s built-in ecosystem for turning ideas into commercial products, and Didi Chuxing’s office, where he was briefed on how the ride-hailing giant uses big data and analytics with local governments to improve traffic flows.

Image result for Tsinghua University Science Park, photos

He also officiated at the finals of a tech summit where nine start-ups, including three from Singapore, pitched their ideas to investors.

China’s push for greater innovation also comes through various levels of its government, said Mr Heng, who met senior officials such as his counterpart Xiao Jie and Jiangsu party secretary Lou Qinjian during his trip.

“(An) area they have given a lot of thought to is the promotion of innovation – this is a topic that came across very strongly in all my meetings, both at the provincial level, as well as at the central government level.”

With more Chinese companies today looking at going global, a network of deep linkages with innovation hubs across the world is necessary to encourage more of them to use Singapore as a base for their internationalisation efforts.

To this end, the Global Innovation Alliance, which was launched in Beijing last Friday (Nov 24), will give Singapore entrepreneurs a chance to understand the Chinese market and build relationships, while serving as a sort of satellite campus for students to be exposed to China and “understand the buzz that’s happening in these places”.

Mr Heng said while Singaporeans are more keen to go abroad today than just a decade ago, Singapore needs more of them to do so.

“We need to encourage more young people to do so because the more they understand what is happening around our region and the global economy, the better prepared they will be to take on important roles ahead,” he said. “Singaporeans – with our emphasis on bilingual education, with our emphasis on understanding a broad range of areas, a broad range of subjects – are actually very well placed to do this.”

Singapore’s traditional strengths also mean it can be a role player in the BRI to build infrastructure across much of the region, he added.

For instance, it can help write the rules setting out clearly the role of multilateral development banks like the World Bank and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, structure projects so that risks are well understood and financing is sound across different stages, and standardise contracts to build predictability and lessen risk.

Getting the legal instruments right, such as for contracting parties to use a neutral body to be the dispute resolution centre, is also key, said Mr Heng.

Singapore aims to be this international arbitration hub, with the Ministry of Law working hard on this front, he added.

“If we can do this well, it will have a major impact,” Mr Heng said, adding that the government is also looking at different ways to expand trade flows, such as through trade and investment agreements and regulatory coordination.

Mr Heng said that as Asean chair next year, Singapore will look at ways to drive greater cooperation in new technologies, digitalisation and creative solutions. It has designated 2018 as the Asean-China Year of Innovation.

Singapore will also seek to promote deeper understanding between the Chinese and the peoples of Asean, he said.

“The more our economies are closely integrated together, the more our security are interdependent, the more important it is for us to understand people from around the region and promote that friendship (all) across,” he said.

Editorial: China Interfering in Internal Affairs — Almost Always Gets What It Wants

November 26, 2017

China often rebuffs criticism from the U.S, EU and others, by scolding that China refuses to accept others meddling in Chinese affairs…..


Taipei Times
November 26, 2017

China’s actions toward two of this nation’s diplomatic allies, the Vatican and Palau, this week sparked concern, amid reports that Beijing is using a tactic it has tried against Taiwan: restricting or barring tour groups from visiting.

Such a move is clearly aimed at influencing the two states to shift diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing, but using a stick rather than a carrot is a counterintuitive way to make friends.

Chinese tourist visits to the Vatican and Palau have soared over the past few years, even though neither is on the China National Tourism Administration’s list of places approved for Chinese tour groups, but the campaign is likely to affect the Pacific Ocean nation more, given that its economy is far more reliant on tourism than the Holy See.

Analysts have said that the directive against Palau also comes amid heightened US-China tensions over the South China Sea and the Pentagon’s efforts to reinforce its defense relationship with Palau and secure access to airfields in the western Pacific Ocean.

Such actions are part and parcel of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s (習近平) strident foreign policy.

Beijing, which has long criticized the US, UK, EU and others for “interfering” in other nations’ domestic issues, has been doing the same thing for a long time — most recently with regard to Cambodia, Myanmar, Zimbabwe and even the US.

On Monday, Chinese Minister of Foreign Affairs Wang Yi (王毅) told his Cambodian counterpart, Prak Sohhon, that Beijing is backing Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen’s efforts to eliminate rivals ahead of next year’s general elections, although he did not couch it in those terms.

Related image

Often times, when the Chinese Foreign Ministry has something to say, it is interfering in the internal workings of others….

He was quoted as saying that China supported Cambodia’s “efforts to protect political stability” — just days after the last serious opposition force in Cambodia was judicially dissolved

Of course, Beijing’s money and support have kept the regime in power for three decades.

On Thursday, a top Chinese general told the commander-in-chief of the Myanmar Armed Forces that Beijing wanted closer ties between their militaries to “help protect regional peace and security,” especially along the border between the two nations.

His visitor in turn thanked China for its support in helping Myanmar ensure domestic stability.

The generals’ meeting in Beijing came just days after China announced a three-stage plan to solve the Rohingya crisis, which is costing Myanmar diplomatic support amid worldwide criticism of its ethnic cleansing campaign in Rakhine State.

Zimbabwe’s “coup in everything but name” appears to have been green-lit by Beijing, which has invested heavily in the nation, helping to prop up former Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe’s regime.

Zimbabwe Defence Forces commander General Constantino Chiwenga and then-ousted Zimbabwean vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa flew to Beijing to meet with government officials just days before the military placed Mugabe under house arrest last week.

The men have old ties to China, having studied at the Nanjing Military School, and have been involved in many deals with Chinese investors and government bodies.

Chinese Ambassador to the US Cui Tiankai (崔天凱) in August sent a letter to senior US lawmakers that warned of “severe consequences” if legislation was passed to strengthen US-Taiwan ties, which was labeled inappropriate and counterproductive.

Image result for Cui Tiankai, photos

Cui Tiankai

Counterproductive and counterintuitive could be used to describe many of Xi’s actions.

China has long used a divide and conquer strategy to counter any effort by other nations to collectively oppose its ambitions, whether by supporting Taiwan, halting its expansion in the South China Sea or supporting Chinese striving to build a more civil society.

It is time to stop thinking of China’s actions in a piecemeal fashion — Bejing certainly does not.