Posts Tagged ‘China-Pakistan Economic Corridor’

China Backs Pakistan At IMF — No reason to keep CPEC shrouded in secrecy

October 17, 2018

THE public endorsement is likely a result of a great deal of behind-the-scenes lobbying.

It is welcome that China, via its foreign ministry spokesperson, has announced its support for the IMF “making an objective evaluation of Pakistan based on professionalism and earnestly helping it properly address the current difficulty”.

Dawn (Pakistan)
Editorial

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For Pakistan, walking a familiar IMF tightrope has been significantly complicated by the increasing competition and hostility between China and the US on the global stage and in this region. The US, which at least until the Trump administration touted its adherence to a so-called rules-based world order, had initially come out in an almost ugly American fashion against CPEC, virtually demanding that Pakistan limit the scope of the project if the IMF is to be allowed to deliver a bailout package to Pakistan.

Take a look: US arrogance

At least publicly, the hostile and threatening US rhetoric has been toned down in recent days and it is, instead, the IMF leadership that has underlined the need for greater Pakistani transparency on its CPEC-related financial commitments.

What is not known is the extent to which China is resisting Pakistan sharing CPEC data with the IMF or, indeed, if there are binding covenants that prevent Pakistan from making public such data.

Worryingly, the PTI federal government may not have the expertise or the clarity necessary for navigating such fraught international political and financial challenges — though arguably no other Pakistani government would be considered well placed to deal with such complex challenges either.

Read: Rearranging CPEC

At a minimum, however, the federal government ought to use the imminent IMF bailout as an opportunity to draw some new lines in this country’s fiscal dealings with the outside world and transparency at home. The US hostility towards and seemingly the IMF’s scepticism of CPEC aside, there is no plausible reason for the PTI to continue with the excessive secrecy that characterised the PML-N’s approach to CPEC.

If binding commitments have been made regarding the secrecy of certain contracts and they can be justified in light of international best practices, the PTI government should publicly say so. If not, why is the PTI seemingly reluctant to place before parliament and other appropriate forums the full scale of Pakistan’s debt and financial exposure to China?

If new best practices are to be instituted and financial transparency promoted, the shackling and blindfolding of the State Bank of Pakistan under the previous PML-N government in particular will need to be reversed.

An autonomous and empowered State Bank that has access to the full range of financial data is not only necessary for a well-managed economy, it could also help protect the public’s interest when IFIs and global powers squabble among themselves and heap pressure on Pakistan.

Whatever Washington’s motives, the IMF’s incentives and China’s fears may be, surely the Pakistani public deserves to know the full picture of the state’s financial liabilities, external and domestic.

Published in Dawn, October 17th, 2018

https://www.dawn.com/news/1439506/imf-and-chinas-support

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Pakistan: Painful Economic Decisions Ahead, Finance Minis­ter Asad Umar Says

October 14, 2018

Finance Minis­ter Asad Umar on Saturday said the government will have to take difficult decisions that would be painful for people but necessary under international commitments to get out of the current severe economic situation.

Speaking at a news conference after his return from Indonesia where he formally applied for the IMF bailout, the minister rebutted the narrative in the Trump administration that the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) was responsible for Pakistan’s debt problems and the need for IMF bailout and said talks with Saudi Arabia for oil supplies on deferred payments were in progress.

Image result for Finance Minis­ter Asad Umar, photos

Finance Minis­ter Asad Umar

He said the government would have to make a stop-gap arrangement for external financial resources to support foreign exchange reserves until the IMF programme was finalised. An exercise for short-term borrowing was in the process for the prime minister’s approval.

IMF mission due on Nov 7, CPEC not to blame for debt crisis

The minister said the US was a key stakeholder in the IMF with about 16.5 per cent votes but enjoyed no veto power in its decision making that required majority 51pc votes. He said no government in Pakistan irrespective of any political background could compromise on national security and the PTI government, too, would not opt for an IMF programme if conditionalities are of that nature.

He was responding to a question related to comments by US State Department spokesperson Hea­ther Nauret that Pakistan found itself in the current situation partly because of Chinese debt and that the US would examine Pakistan’s debt position from all angles in evaluating any type of loan programme.

The “statement of state department spokesperson is 100pc wrong”, he said explaining that Pakistan’s financing gap for the current year was about $12 billion and total repayments to China averaged $300 million over the next three years. “We totally disagree with that statement,” Finance Minister Umar said, adding that he had already explained this to the US representatives and also to IMF chief Christine Lagarde. “The American narrative is totally wrong narrative.”

The minister said there was nothing in the CPEC agreements and loans that should be kept secret. Rather, it should be known to the world, placed before parliament and shared with the IMF that how a real friend China extended attractive financing to Pakistan for the long term. He said the Chinese embassy had endorsed this position in a recent tweet.

The finance minister also denied a statement by his cabinet colleague Fawad Chaudhry that unacceptable conditions from friends – Saudi Arabia, China and the UAE – compelled Pakistan to go for the IMF bailout. He declined to go into details about the hype around $10-12bn support from Saudi Arabia and the UAE and why it fizzled out saying the decision to go for the IMF programme was “taken with their consultation and there was no condition demanded either by Saudi Arabia, the UAE or China at all. I won’t comment more”.

Mr Umar said the IMF programme was inevitable in the given circumstances when export competitiveness had been destroyed and debt profile aggravated over the past five years and the people would have to brave the impact of the consequential inflation and squeeze on growth. He said the IMF programme would be a helping hand for Pakistan to gradually sail through the tough economic circumstances. “We can perhaps live without the IMF but this could be more painful,” he said.

The minister said an IMF mission would visit Islamabad on Nov 7 for talks to determine the size of the balance of payments support before which the government would prepare Memorandum on Economic and Financial Policies for discussions and agreement. He said Pakistan’s current year debt repayments were about $9bn but obviously it would not entirely be available from the IMF.

He said the some support would also come from bilateral and multilateral creditors and investors in the market once the IMF certificate is available along with financing. He said the size of the IMF funding was not yet clear but the programme would be for three years with front end disbursements.

Mr Umar did not agree that last week’s currency devaluation and stock market crash was because indecision or policies of the government saying the currency was devalued on the signal from the State Bank of Pakistan and it was a considered decision of the PTI that exchange rate should be determined by the central bank without any political interference from the finance ministry.

He said Pakistan had so far availed a total of 18 programmes of the IMF, including two by the PML-N, eight by the PPP and eight by the military governments and hence it was not unique for the PTI that was forced upon it because of decline in foreign exchange reserves on the domestic front. On the external side, he said the policies of President Trump, including sanctions on Iran and trade war with China, led to oil price increase and economic uncertainty in the international market besides increase in US interest rates and currency crises in Turkey, Greece and Argentina.

Responding to a question, the minister said he would not take refuge behind the IMF for tough economic decisions that had become unavoidable because of the poor policies of the previous government. He said the economic problems could not be addressed unless the export sector was supported to reduce trade gap because of about $60bn imports and $25bn exports.

He said the lower middle income group could suffer the most in the medium term because of corrective economic structural reforms and he had also sought advice from multilateral lenders how the impact of stabilisation should be minimised on this class. On its part, he said, the government had increased gas prices for this segment by 10pc compared to 143pc of the rich while exempting the export-oriented sectors.

Similar approach would be applied when electricity rates are increased to restore competitiveness of the export sector.

In reply to a question on bringing back funds held illegally abroad by Pakistanis, he said Switzerland was on top of the countries who have not shared details of that wealth and he had taken up the matter with the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development which has agreed to intervene for mutual information sharing.

In response to another question, he said he did not agree that privatisation of public sector entities like Pakistan Steel Mills and PIA was a solution to address their continuous losses but getting them out of the clutches of the bureaucrats and politicians and giving under professional management teams to turn around them. He said it was also not true that their staff was a cause of their disaster but the governance failure.

Published in Dawn, October 14th, 2018

https://www.dawn.com/news/1438882/painful-decisions-ahead-warns-asad-on-return-from-bali

Pakistan: Government Defends CPEC, Relationship With China, Debt — IMF talks of “excessive debts which cannot be repaid”

October 12, 2018

Outflows under China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) will begin in 2021 and peak over the next three years without creating a debt trap, an official of the Planning Commission with knowledge of the financing arrangements told Dawn on condition of anonymity.

Image result for China, Pakistan, Photos

Separately, the Planning Commission released a lengthy statement trying to address the concerns of the global community about Pakistan’s mounting Chinese debts and whether or not CPEC could turn out to be a “debt trap” for Pakistan.

Most recently, the IMF Managing Director told reporters at a press conference in Bali on Thursday that the fund will demand “absolute transparency” about all debt, without explicitly naming Chinese debt, whether under CPEC or not. A day earlier, the IMF Chief Economist Maurice Obstfeld told reporters that Pakistan should avoid “excessive debts which cannot be repaid” when availing Chinese borrowing for infrastructure development.

Image result for IMF Chief Economist Maurice Obstfeld, photos

IMF Chief Economist Maurice Obstfeld

By contrast, the planning commission official on Thursday said CPEC was rather being expanded and its pace expedited.

He said the debt repayments will start in 2021 with about $300-400 million annually and gradually peak to about $3.5 billion by fiscal year 2024-25 before tapering off with total repayments to be completed in 25 years.

The planning commissioned statement tried to strike a more earnest tone. “CPEC is not imposing any immediate burden with respect to loans repayment and energy sector outflows” it said, arguing all debt related outflows will be outweighed by the resultant benefits of the investments to the Pakistan economy. The statement, however, did not give any figures on the size of the outflows or their timeline.

“The present government, with mutual consultation of Government of China is broadening the base and expediting pace of CPEC, within the broad parameters of the already approved CPEC framework”. A mechanism is being developed to include third party participation in CPEC, it added.

The commission reiterated that CPEC was a “flagship” project and most active project of Belt and Road Initiative where 22 projects worth a total of $28 billion have been actualized over the past four years. “The project could not be compared with Chinese overseas investment in Sri Lanka or Malaysia as frameworks and financial modes of CPEC are altogether different in nature” the statement continued.

CPEC finances are divided in government to government loans, investment and grants. Infrastructure sector is being developed through interest free or government concessional loans. Gwadar Port is grant-based investment which means the Government of Pakistan does not have to pay back the invested amount for the development of the port.

Energy projects are being executed under Independent Power Producers (IPPs) mode and finances are mainly taken by the private companies from China Development Bank and China Exim Bank against their own balance sheets, therefore, any debt would be borne by the Chinese investors instead of any obligation on part of the Pakistani government.

Pakistan has opted for Chinese investment under CPEC due to the favorable financing arrangements, it continued. “China stepped forward to support Pakistan’s development at a time when foreign investment had dried up, and economic activities were being crippled by energy shortages and infrastructure gaps.”

The statement described CPEC as “an engine for economic growth and is expected to increase Pakistan’s GDP growth by 2 to 3pc. CPEC has also facilitated in overcoming crucial energy, transport infrastructure and supply chain bottlenecks.”

Published in Dawn, October 12th, 2018

https://www.dawn.com/news/1438508/govt-fires-back-at-critics-of-cpec-debt

IMF warns Pakistan against ‘excessive loans’ from China — China has pledged about $60bn in financing to Pakistan

October 10, 2018

Pakistan has not yet formally approached the International Monetary Fund for financial assistance, but if bailout talks get underway this week, the goal will be to help Pakistan reach its full potential, the IMF’s chief economist said on Tuesday.

Addressing a news conference at the IMF and World Bank annual meetings in Bali, the IMF’s Maurice Obstfeld cautioned that increased Chinese involvement in Pakistan’s economy could bring both benefits and risks.

Image result for IMF, indonesia, October 2018, photos

Obstfeld said Pakistan is facing financing gaps as it has been hit by a large fiscal and current account deficit, a low level of reserves and a currency he described as “too rigid” and over-valued.

Finance Minister Asad Umar said on Monday the government would seek to open talks with the IMF in Bali this week for emergency financial assistance.

Prime Minister Imran Khan had earlier sought alternatives to a second bailout programme in five years from the IMF as it impose austerity and limit his vision of an Islamic welfare state.

Obstfeld said that if the IMF does enter into talks with Pakistan this week on a possible new financing programme, the goal would be reforms that would help Pakistan reach its “immense potential” without providing specific details.

“The government has expressed its desires to enact deep structural reforms that might break the cycle of Pakistan needing financial support from the Fund,” he said.

Infrastructure needs

Pakistan needs more infrastructure development, Obstfeld added, and the country could benefit from China’s role in supporting its project financing.

But China’s involvement could also bring potential risks, he said.

“It is important that the design of the projects… be solid and excessive debts which cannot be repaid are avoided,” the IMF chief economist said.

Islamabad has cut the size of the biggest Chinese “Silk Road” project in Pakistan, a reconstruction of the main rail line between the port city of Karachi and Peshawar in the northwest by $2 billion, citing government concerns about the country’s debt levels.

The changes are part of Islamabad’s efforts to rethink key Belt and Road Initiative projects in Pakistan, to which China has pledged about $60bn in financing.

The Trump administration has been critical of China’s Belt and Road initiative, saying that it has saddled some developing countries with debts they cannot afford to repay.

In July, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said there was “no rationale” for an IMF bailout of Pakistan that pays off Chinese loans to Pakistan.

Chinese officials have rejected criticism that the so-called China-Pakistan Economic Corridor projects have burdened Pakistan with unsustainable debts. Instead, the Chinese maintain, they have boosted the country’s economic growth and provided 70,000 jobs.

Published in Dawn, October 10th, 2018

https://www.dawn.com/news/1438023

Pakistan’s Imran Khan Sparked Arrest of Shahbaz Sharif in Political Victimisation of Opponents, Nawaz Sharif Says

October 9, 2018

The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) central executive committee in an ‘emergency meeting’ on Monday decided to launch a protest movement against what it termed political victimisation of opponents by the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf-led coalition government.

While resuming his political activity weeks after his release from jail, ousted prime minister and PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif chaired the CEC meeting and directed the party’s parliamentary group (comprising senior members of both houses of parliament) to establish contacts with all opposition parties immediately to have them onboard for launch of a joint struggle.

Image result for Nawaz Sharif, photos

Nawaz Sharif — FILE photo

The PML-N had earlier said Mr Nawaz wouldn’t resume political activities till the Chehlum of his wife who died last month, but the ‘sudden and unexpected’ arrest of party president Shahbaz Sharif compelled him to get into action and deal with the challenges the party has been facing.

While presiding over the CEC meeting at PML-N’s Model Town secretariat, Mr Nawaz alleged that Mr Shahbaz had been arrested by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) at the behest of Prime Minister Imran Khan.

PML-N plans movement against ‘political victimisation’ of opposition members

The committee passed several resolutions condemning the arrest of its leadership days before the Oct 14 by-elections, huge increase in gas and electricity tariff that resulted in inflation, threatening tone used by the PTI leadership against its political opponents, and PTI’s intention to review China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects.

“After taking input from CEC members, Nawaz Sharif directed the party’s parliamentary group to establish contact with opposition parties in coming days to have them onboard for a joint struggle to deal with Imran Khan’s aggressive action plan to target opposition members,” said a CEC member after the meeting.

He said the CEC members were of the opinion that if the PML-N and other opposition parties did not resist the ‘political victimisation’ jointly, this would continue.

The meeting decided that in the first phase of the protest movement, the party would launch agitation against ‘political victimisation’ of the Sharif family and opposition members in and outside the parliament.

In one of its resolutions, the PML-N’s CEC termed the arrest of Mr Shahbaz a ‘political revenge’ and demanded his immediate release. “Before the Oct 14 by-polls the arrest of Shahbaz is part of a planned conspiracy to benefit the PTI. The mala fide intention of the government and NAB can be gauged from the fact that he has been arrested without a reference is filed against him in this (Ashiyana) case,” it said.

Another resolution condemned PM Khan’s threatening tone towards the PTI’s political opponents, bureaucracy and businessmen. “The language used by Imran Khan in a presser in Lahore is not worthy of a prime minister.” The resolution also chided the government for huge increase in gas and electricity tariff that resulted in inflation and increase in prices of commodities.

The meeting adopted another resolution against the PTI government’s intention to review CPEC projects, demanding it must carefully handle this matter as China was Pakistan’s time-tested friend. The PTI ministers’ controversial comments in this regard were against the national interest, it added.

Protests planned 

Talking to reporters after the meeting, PML-N’s MNA Rana Sanaullah said the party would stage protest demonstrations outside the National Assembly and Punjab Assembly on Wednesday if their sessions were not called by then.

“If you [the PM] did not pay attention to this protest, then this protest would not remain confined to the parliament,” he warned. He demanded Mr Shahbaz, who was leader of the opposition in the National Assembly, should be brought to the NA session.

“What message Imran Khan has given to the construction companies after the arrest of Shahbaz Sharif. Now a good construction firm will be reluctant to work on government projects,” he said, adding that NAB had always been used for political victimisation.

PML-N Senator Mushahidullah Khan said NAB should also lay hand on Prime Minister Imran Khan and Defence Minister Pervez Khattak for their alleged role in the Peshawar metro bus scandal if the bureau wanted to prove its impartiality.

PML-N spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb said the meeting was primarily called to discuss the situation after the arrest of Shahbaz Sharif and formulate the party’s strategy. “Shahbaz Sharif has been arrested as part of PTI’s policy of political victimisation of its opponents,” she said.

Meanwhile, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry told the media that action against corrupt elements would continue and the government would not come under pressure from the opposition. “No matter how much you [opposition members] cry, the accountability process will not stop,” he declared.

Published in Dawn, October 9th, 2018

https://www.dawn.com/news/1437771

IMF: Pakistan has not sought financial assistance — Warns about Chinese involvement in Pakistan’s economy

October 9, 2018

Pakistan has not yet formally approached the International Monetary Fund for financial assistance, but if bailout talks get underway this week, the goal will be to help Pakistan reach its full potential, the IMF’s chief economist said on Tuesday.

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Addressing a news conference at the IMF and World Bank annual meetings in Bali, the IMF’s Maurice Obstfeld cautioned that increased Chinese involvement in Pakistan’s economy could bring both benefits and risks.

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Obstfeld said Pakistan is facing financing gaps as it has been hit by a large fiscal and current account deficit, a low level of reserves and a currency he described as “too rigid” and over-valued.

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The IMF has called on Pakistan’s new government to act fast to stabilize its teetering economy, warning growth will likely slow and inflation rise. Above, Pakistani woman receives charity food at the Bari Imam shrine in Islamabad. (AFP)

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Pakistan’s Finance Ministry Asad Umar said on Monday the government would seek to open talks with the IMF in Bali this week for emergency financial assistance.

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New Prime Minister Imran Khan had earlier sought alternatives to a second bailout program in five years from the IMF as it impose austerity and limit his vision of an Islamic welfare state.

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Obstfeld said that if the IMF does enter into talks with Pakistan this week on a possible new financing program, the goal would be reforms that would help Pakistan reach its “immense potential” without providing specific details.

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“The government has expressed its desires to enact deep structural reforms that might break the cycle of Pakistan needing financial support from the Fund,” he said.

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Pakistan needs more infrastructure development, Obstfeld added, and the country could benefit from China’s role in supporting its project financing.

.
But China’s involvement could also bring potential risks, he said.

.
“It is important that the design of the projects… be solid and excessive debts which cannot be repaid are avoided,” the IMF chief economist said.

.
Islamabad has cut the size of the biggest Chinese “Silk Road” project in Pakistan, a reconstruction of the main rail line between the port city of Karachi and Peshawar in the northwest by $2 billion, citing government concerns about the country’s debt levels.

.
The changes are part of Islamabad’s efforts to rethink key Belt and Road Initiative projects in Pakistan, to which China has pledged about $60 billion in financing.

.
The Trump administration has been critical of China’s Belt and Road initiative, saying that it has saddled some developing countries with debts they cannot afford to repay. In July, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said there was “no rationale” for an IMF bailout of Pakistan that pays off Chinese loans to Pakistan.

.
Chinese officials have rejected criticism that the so-called China-Pakistan Economic Corridor projects have burdened Pakistan with unsustainable debts. Instead, the Chinese maintain, they have boosted the country’s economic growth and provided 70,000 jobs.

AFP

Pakistan can benefit from U.S. – China trade tiff

October 8, 2018

The ongoing trade war between China and the United States can boost the prospects of Pakistani exports to the American market and encourage Chinese producers to relocate to Pakistan to avoid punitive tariffs on their US shipments and take advantage of cheaper labour.

On top of that, business leaders say it may afford Islamabad an opportunity to renegotiate the terms of China’s future investments in and trade with Pakistan.

Abdul Razzak Dawood, adviser to the prime minister on trade, industry and investment, was quoted last week to have told a gathering of textile manufacturers in Karachi that the trade war between the world’s two largest economies could be beneficial for Pakistan.

See: What’s on everyone’s mind in China-US trade war

“The trade war between China and the United States is getting bigger and bigger by the day… and the demand for goods is not declining (in the US market). Pakistan needs to explore ways so that it can benefit from this war.”

Chinese manufacturers can ward off punitive tariffs on their exports to the United States by relocating their labour-intensive industries to Pakistan, according to PBC CEO Ehsan Malik

Pakistan is already seeking the same market access for its exports that Beijing has given to the Association of South East Asian Nations (Asean), New Zealand and Australia under the 2006 Free Trade Agreement (FTA) that is responsible for heavily tilting the trade balance in favour of China.

Image result for Pakistan, factory workers, photos

Islamabad has also asked China to share complete information of its exports, both under and outside the FTA, with Islamabad in order to help it eliminate under-invoicing by Pakistani importers.

Moreover, efforts are on to convince Beijing to encourage its manufacturers to relocate their industry to Pakistan.

The adviser had also told a Senate panel on industries and production that China-US tensions over trade tariffs was a good sign for Pakistan as it would place the country in a better negotiating position (with China).

“The China-US trade war has put Pakistan in an advantageous position and we have become more competitive than China in some areas like textiles. It offers an opportunity for Pakistan to boost its exports to the United States as well as revive the closed manufacturing capacity (mostly in Punjab),” Pakistan Business Council CEO Ehsan Malik told this correspondent.

He says Chinese manufacturers can also ward off punitive tariffs on their exports to the United States by relocating their labour-intensive industries to Pakistan.

“They (Chinese companies) can bring semi-finished goods and convert them into value-added goods for export to the United States. Then there are products that are made in China but not in Pakistan.

Such industries can also be relocated to Pakistan to avert higher US tariffs on Chinese exports.”

A Lahore-based textile exporter, who requested anonymity, was not too optimistic. “In theory, we can take advantage of the American action against China. But we are not ready to benefit from it. We do not have enough capacity to fill the gap. Nor do we have developed our value-added textiles to replace China in the US market. I think countries like India and Bangladesh will have captured the US market by the time we are ready to even start thinking about benefitting from this opportunity.”

By far, China has shown a rather favourable view of most of Islamabad’s demands. It has expressed willingness to take steps to boost its imports from Pakistan in view of the geopolitical advantages it will draw from the completion of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a part of the Belt and Road Initiative around which it has pledged to invest more than $60 billion in energy and transport infrastructure.

“The immediate benefit Pakistan can expect from China because of its worsening trade relations with the United States is improvement in trade terms and extension in the repayment period of loans taken for power projects under the CPEC initiative,” the anonymous textile exporter contended.

“It can be followed up with softer terms for future CPEC investments, relocation of Chinese textiles industry to Pakistan and transfer of technology and skills. My advice for the government will be to focus on these items.”

Published in Dawn, The Business and Finance Weekly, October 8th, 2018

https://www.dawn.com/news/1437409/making-the-most-of-china-us-trade-tiff

Vietnamese Worry About China’s “Slow, Creeping Invasion” from Tibet to Australia and Pakistan

October 7, 2018

‘Yesterday Is Tibet, Today Is Vietnam, Tomorrow Is Australia’

The Melbourne Vietnamese community held a rally in Federation Square on Sept. 30 to protest against the invasion of Vietnam by the Chinese Communist Party through its “One Belt, One Road” project.

The organizers of the rally had a warning for anyone listening: if Australia does not guard against the influence of the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP’s) soft power, it will become the next target of the communist regime.

“Yesterday is Tibet, today is Vietnam, and tomorrow is Australia,” they said.

The rally attracted hundreds of people from the local Vietnamese community as well as people from all walks of life across Melbourne, one day before the anniversary of the CCP’s establishment on Oct. 1.

October 5, 2018 Updated: October 5, 2018
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Vietnamese Community Federation Chairman Bon Nguyen, Vietnamese religious leaders, Australian intelligence and security expert Paul Monk, and Tibetan community chairman Tenzin Khangsar all spoke at the rally.
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Vietnamese protesters take to the streets against the government's plans to pass a controversial special economic zone law. Photo: Twitter

Vietnamese protesters take to the streets against the government’s plans to pass a controversial special economic zone law. Photo: Twitter

Nguyen said that the rally was to protest the expansion and invasion of the CCP in Vietnam under the rule of the Vietnamese Communist Party. He stressed that it was not a protest against the Chinese people.

“Communist China and Chinese people are two different things. Chinese people are our friends. Chinese people are living in harmony in our community,” Nguyen said. He added that the Chinese people themselves are also suffering from the CCP’s persecution in China.

“In Australia, we do not want to stand idle. Tomorrow, we will see Australia be next because we see what has happened in Tibet, because we are witnessing what is happening in Vietnam now. The Chinese communist are trying to expand their borders, and this is what happened in Vietnam.”

Vietnamese protesters shout slogans against a proposal to grant foreign companies lengthy land leases during a demonstration in Ho Chi Minh City on June 10, 2018. Photo: AFP

Vietnamese Sovereignty Under Threat

Nguyen explained how Vietnam was losing its sovereignty under the CCP’s “One Belt, One Road” initiative, under which the Vietnamese Communist Party allowed the CCP to set up a special “special economic zone” (SEZ) in Vietnam.

In June, the Vietnamese Communist government drafted a bill to create three SEZs in northern, central, and southern Vietnam, and Phu Quoc Island, which will allow foreign investors to lease land in these areas for up to 99 years.

According to the Central News Agency, the draft triggered the Vietnamese people to question whether their government was “selling land and country to China.” Large-scale protests broke out in several cities across Vietnam.

One protester who participated in the Ho Chi Minh City protests said: “the 99-year land lease law will directly affect Vietnam’s sovereignty and allow Vietnam to fall into the hands of China. Vietnamese people may lose 5,000 years of history from the world.”

Saigonese@VietNamTweeter

HOT: Wave of online protests sweeps over in opposition to planned legislation (June 15) that will let foreigners lease Vân Đồn, Phú Quốc, Vân Phong for 99 years and turn them into Special Economic Zones. Many call it a backdoor for China and an act of treason.

“We, the Vietnamese community, have been the victims of the Chinese communist regime for years,” he said.

Saigonese@VietNamTweeter

Unbelievable: Teacher Đào Quang Thục, who protested against the Formosa pollution disaster, was given a 14-year sentence plus 5 years house arrest, for “attempt to overthrow the regime”. @hrw

Saigonese@VietNamTweeter

A church in N.Central Vietnam boldly denounces the communist’s mistreatment of PoC

Regional Instability

Nguyen said that the Vietnamese people’s resistance to the bill had been violently suppressed by the Vietnamese Communist Party, with some protesters being jailed.

He also said that China’s militarisation in the South China Sea has meant that Vietnamese fishermen have been unable to fish in their own seas for some time.

“If you are not allowed to fish, you’re not allowed to carry on your normal activity in Vietnam, [and] you’re not allowed to enter certain location that you normally enter, then that’s a restriction of human rights.”

Recently, this has resulted in some Vietnamese fishermen fleeing to Australia, Nguyen said.

“Vietnamese people try to escape from Vietnam and seek freedom from another country. I hope that it’s not a massive exodus for Vietnam, but there has been evidence that the Vietnamese escape from Vietnam not just to Australia, but to Thailand and Indonesia.”

“If there isn’t Communists in China, I don’t think that there’s any intention to invade our country,” Nguyen said.

In an open letter to the Australian public, the organizers said that the CCP’s ambitions of hegemony and the treacherous kowtow actions of the Vietnamese Communist Party “pose a real threat to Australia’s security and sovereignty.”

Communist China has been aggressively invading and dominating Vietnam by stealth, the letter reads.

Deeply Alarming Signs of Infiltration in Australia

Former head of China analysis at Australia’s Defense Intelligence Organisation, Paul Monk, said that he is deeply alarmed by the CCP’s systematic program of subversion and censorship in Australia.

“I would have thought, given the clear nature of that regime, that we in Australia should collectively be saying, ‘We do want trade with China, we do want to see China continue to prosper, but we don’t accept that its way of governing China is in any way attractive or appropriate,’” Monk said.

In its attempts at diplomacy and preserving international peace, Monk said that Australia has tended towards the position of not causing trouble for other governments.

“Former prime ministers, former foreign ministers, former state premiers, former ambassadors, senior business figures, and numerous academics openly defend the China, that means the Communist Party in China, against criticism,” Monk said.

michaelturton@michaelturton

U know I live Twn, right? See ur “up close”, raise it 12K m

“Not pretty” is pro-China thugs fdng Eng speaker to call u rptdly & tell u they kill ur family & skull fuck still warm body of ur daughter

Early I lrned what ur side rly is. Not 2 late for u switch to peace side

SCS_Disputes@SCS_Disputes

Swaine was idiotically infamous for stating ‘China is not into expansionism as it has *no written plans* to do so’. Needless to say, my responses earned a BLOCKED in return!

Blind
Mute
Deaf

Can’t put two and two together!

Same type as Bob Carr, Kerry Brown.. pic.twitter.com/GQbb5vCmIE

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These Australian elites have criticised concerns about the CCP’s actions at home and in the region as being stuck in “Cold War thinking.”

But Monk warned that due to the sharp difference in political culture between the free world and Communist regimes, we are now seeing a diplomatic relationship with the CCP that is “one-way street.” While we refrain from criticising the CCP, “the Communist Party has a systematic program of seeking to subvert and limit and censor our freedoms here,” he said.

“China is a totalitarian regime. It’s not a friendly one, it’s a pernicious one.

“We now have a situation in Australia, with regard to the Chinese Communist influence, which dwarfs anything that happened in the Cold War.”

Monk believes that the influence of the CCP in Australia is mainly played out using “soft power,” which has been seen in the impact of its money into politics, business, academia and the media.

“The Confucius Institutes are a conduit for that attempt to influence and undermine freedoms that we take for granted,” Monk said, adding that the Australian government had done almost nothing about them.

He added that the CCP had not dared to act rashly against Australia militarily due to its long-standing alliance with the United States.

Related image

Australian Confucius Classrooms under question

“The main reason Australia should by no means withdraw from the alliance with the United States is because as long as we are allied with the United States, China will not seek to directly intimidate us militarily.

“But that doesn’t mean that its influence and intervention are a problem.”

Monk said that Australia’s new foreign interference legislation that was passed in June will help improve Australia’s defences against covert political interference from foreign entities, but that their effectiveness remains to be seen and will depend on how they are implemented.

Monk concluded by saying that Australia’s road to resisting CCP influence has just begun and is likely to go on for years. “We need to be principled, mobilised and vigorous in order to defend the things we cherish,” he said.

The Epoch Times reporter Ruby Zhang contributed to this article.

https://www.theepochtimes.com/vietnamese-community-has-warning-about-communist-china_2681687.html

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Pakistan Now Says Saudi Arabia Not Part of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor

October 3, 2018

Pakistan said on Tuesday that Saudi Arabia would not be made part of the $50 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) framework and the kingdom’s proposed investments would fall under a separate bilateral arrangement.

Speaking at a joint news conference with Infor­mation Minister Fawad Chaudhry, Minister for Planning and Development Khusro Bakhtiar said there was no decision to bring a third country, like Saudi Arabia, under the framework of the CPEC.

Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry and Minister for Planning and Development Khusro Bakhtiar address a joint press conference in Islamabad. ─ DawnNewsTV

Infor­mation Minister Fawad Chaudhry and Minister for Planning and Development Khusro Bakhtiar — DawnNewsTV

He was responding to a question about the possibility of Saudi Arabia becoming part of the Joint Working Groups (JWGs) or Joint Coordination Committee (JCC) on the CPEC between China and Pakistan. He said there could be many offshoots of the CPEC where third countries could be inv­olved in trilateral arr­ange­ment for infrastructure development, like China-Pakistan-Japan, China-Pakistan-Saudi Arabia or China-Pakistan-Germany.

Minister says there could be many offshoots of the project where third countries could be involved

“Saudi Arabia is not to become a collateral strategic partner in the CPEC. This impression is not true,” he said, adding that the third country participation in the CPEC was not limited to Saudi Arabia but other countries could also become part of the business and investment ventures arising out of the CPEC. “The framework between China and Pakistan is bilateral and Saudi Arabia is not entering that framework as a third-party investor, rather the base of CPEC will be broadened and its pace will be expedited.”

The planning minister expressed ignorance when asked how the cost of Main Railway Line (ML-I) had been reduced by $2bn from $8.2bn to $6.2bn as claimed by Railways Minister Shaikh Rashid Ahmed. “I have noticed this today that Sheikh Rashid is making some efforts [to reduce cost] but not to my knowledge. Nothing has come in front of me to suggest that the cost has come down.”

He said it was however for the new government to adopt a new model on the basis of financial viability of the ML-1 on build, own and operate (BOT) model so that its loan repayment did not become a responsibility of the government like the previous government which procured loans and built projects on EPC (engineering, procurement and construction) contracts.

Interestingly, the previous government, during whose tenure Mr Bakhtiar was an MNA, had ann­ounced that the ML-1 would be built on BOT model.

In response to a question, Mr Bakhtiar said the CPEC portfolio currently stood at about $50bn, of which about $6bn was government-to-government loan and remaining in IPP mode mostly in the energy sector. About $29bn worth of projects were currently in progress.

He said the CPEC had far bigger potential than $50bn and would keep expanding with time as new projects come up but the previous government treated and played it like a T20 match instead of a five-day test series and focused mostly on projects which could be completed during its tenure.

The minister blamed the PML-N government for irresponsible governance and questioned where it lost $32bn low oil price bonanza. He said the economic growth of the previous government was based on borrowed money that led to increase the national debt.

He said the PML-N government did not pass on the benefit of low prices to the consumers and external debt amounted to 72pc of the GDP and total public debt went beyond Rs28 trillion. He was reminded that external debt was way below almost 31pc of GDP and he agreed.

Likewise, he said only 70,000 people in the country were direct taxpayers and return filers but when challenged said meant those earning income above Rs200,000 per month. He also claimed that the PTI government has banned all power projects on all imported fuels to shift focus on renewable energy sources and hydropower. When reminded that ban on power projects on imported fuels was imposed in May 2016, he said the project already completed and those in progress would go on but if such projects were planned but not started would not be allowed to take off.

He criticised the PML-N government for what he alleged painting artificial economic growth numbers when the losses of state-owned enterprises (SOEs) increased from Rs500bn in five years to Rs1trn and circular debt of the power sector jumping from Rs583bn in 2013 to Rs1.2trn now.

He said that previous two governments had mismanaged the country’s economy to the extent that the present government has to set the direction in every field. He said the PML-N government is taking up the issue of slash in development spending but did not disclose truth to the nation that it is befooling the masses by stating higher allocation whereas actual utilisation was 34pc lower. He said total development spending was Rs661bn last year against an allocation of Rs1trn in the budget.

“They had neither resources nor the will to increase the spending but were showing higher allocation to befool the nation,” he added. The previous government also included 343 unapproved schemes of Rs55bn in development schemes of the last budget which have been excluded from the budget.

Published in Dawn, October 3rd , 2018

https://www.dawn.com/news/1436506

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Saudi investment in China-Pakistan economic corridor likely to upset Iran

October 2, 2018

The new Pakistani government has said Riyadh may invest in the multibillion dollar China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project. But the move raised eyebrows in Iran, which is skeptical of Saudi intentions.

    
Pakistani PM Imran Khan and Saudi King Salman in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia (picture-alliance/AP Photo/Saudi Press Agency)

A Saudi team arrived in Pakistan on Sunday to sign four contracts for oil and mineral sector investment and trade cooperation that, according to local media, “would ultimately extend the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) from Gwadar to Africa through Oman and Riyadh.”

In 2015, President Xi Jinping announced the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a $60 billion initiative, which is part of his intercontinental BRI. CPEC aims to expand China’s influence in Pakistan and across Central and South Asia, as well as counter US and Indian influence in the region. It also includes plans to create road, rail and oil pipeline links to improve connectivity between China and the Middle East.

As Pakistan is grappling with an acute economic crisis, experts say CPEC has the potential to stimulate much-needed economic activity in the country.

But many CPEC projects have not really taken off because of political instability in Pakistan. China is reportedly weighing the new government’s steps regarding the project. Although Beijing and Islamabad agreed to include a third country, China can still convince Pakistan to not allow certain countries to participate in CPEC.

Read more: China’s economic corridor creating new conflicts in Pakistan

The Gwadar port in Pakistan's Baluchistan province (picture-alliance/Photoshot/L. Tian)Despite Chinese-Pakistani development projects in Gwadar city, Baloch activists say locals still have no access to clean water

Saudi-Iranian rivalry

Some analysts say Pakistan’s offer to Saudi Arabia to participate in CPEC and Riyadh’s investment in western Baluchistan province bordering Iran and Afghanistan, could irk Tehran.

Riyadh is Washington’s closest ally in the region, and its involvement in a China-led economic project raises a number of questions about new geopolitical alignments.

Iran, for instance, would certainly not want a Saudi presence next to its border.

“Gwadar [a port city in Baluchistan] has a proximity to Iran’s Chabahar port and the Reko Diq project close to Zahedan, which is the capital of Iran’s Sistan-Baluchestan province. Sunni militants [who subscribe to the Saudi-Wahhabi ideology] are active in the area. Why would Tehran not be disturbed by Saudi Arabia’s investment in Gwadar?” Mir Hasil Khan Bizenjo, the minister for ports and shipping in ex-PM Nawaz Sharif’s government, told DW.

Read more: Gwadar – Pakistan’s impoverished colony or an economic hub?

Bizenjo fears that allowing Saudi Arabia to play an active role close to the border with Iran would fuel sectarian conflict.

“The incumbent government is bringing Saudi Arabia closer to Gwadar. In other words, the hardline Sunni-Wahhabi state would be closer than ever to the Iranian border. This is likely to infuriate Tehran,” Bizenjo, who is also a veteran Baloch politician, added.

Bizenjo said the new government headed by Prime Minister Imran Khan suddenly decided to hand over some CPEC projects to Saudi Arabia, without consulting anyone.

“Previously, China was supposed to build an oil city in Gwadar. Now we have been told that Saudi Arabia will set it up. I think it will also infuriate China. The opposition will take this issue up in parliament,” said Bizenjo.

Read more:

Can India challenge China with new Iranian Chabahar Port?

Pakistan on collision course with Iran?

Karte Map China Pakistan Economic Corridor

No free hand to Beijing?

Pakistani media reported last month that China was unhappy with CPEC criticism coming from a Pakistani government official.

Abdul Razak Dawood, Pakistan’s minister for commerce, industry and investment in Prime Minister Imran Khan’s government, suggested that all CPEC projects could be suspended until a review is completed.

Days after Dawood’s statement caused diplomatic tension, Pakistan’s army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa visited Beijing to allay Chinese concerns.

Khurrum Sher Zaman, an official belonging to Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI, Movement for Justice) party says the government is not opposed to CPEC.

“We have not taken a U-turn on CPEC. The finance ministry made some changes to the budget so that we can study and review some of the CPEC projects. But that does not mean that the government wants to scrap it. CPEC is crucial for Pakistan and its future,” Zaman told DW.

But analysts say that Khan’s new government, which was inaugurated in August, has hinted that it would not give China a free hand over CPEC.

“The commerce minister represents his country’s business community. He actually echoed the sentiments of Pakistani industrialists who are wary of China’s growing control on Pakistan’s economy,” Ayub Malik, an Islamabad-based analyst, told DW.

Need for cash

Some analysts believe that by criticizing CPEC, the new government is also trying to send a signal to Washington that it does not intend to break ties with the US just to appease China.

Khan’s government urgently needs an International Monetary Fund (IMF) bailout to pay its debts, and the US, which has the biggest share in the IMF, has made it clear that it would not allow the West’s money to be used to repay China.

The South Asian nation’s economy has been in poor shape over the past several years. While its current account deficit jumped 43 percent to $18 billion ($15.4 billion) in the fiscal year that ended June 30, its fiscal deficit rose to 6.8 percent of GDP.

The country’s foreign exchange reserves, meanwhile, are dwindling, plummeting to just over $9 billion now from $16.4 billion in May 2017. The central bank has been forced to devalue the currency three times since December. Rising global crude prices present another challenge, as Pakistan imports about 80 percent of its oil needs.

Read more: Pakistan’s bailout becomes a pawn in US-China tensions

Khan’s government, thus, appears to appease Riyadh and Washington to help Islamabad tackle the financial crisis.

Ayesha Siddiqa, a renowned security analyst and researcher, believes Pakistan has no option but to create strategic space for the Saudi kingdom.

“The US blocked $900 million (€781 million) in military aid for Pakistan. The new government needs some relief in this regard. In 2013, Riyadh bailed Pakistan out, hence Islamabad is willing to give concessions to Saudi Arabia by offering it a partnership in CPEC,” Siddiqa told DW.

Read more: US aid cut: Why Pakistan shouldn’t rely on China

But pro-government analysts claim the Saudi investment will neither infuriate China nor will it anger Tehran.

“The nature of our ties with China is strategic. Beijing provides us with a number of defense related materials. Saudi investment, on the other hand, will create more jobs for Pakistanis, because unlike China, the kingdom does not bring its own engineers and workers for economic projects,” Aijaz Awan, a retired military official and defense analyst, told DW.

“The Saudis will also benefit from this partnership because many countries are interested in refining their oil,” he added.

Resting ties with Washington

Pakistan has a close strategic partnership with China, which considers Islamabad an important ally in dealing with its regional rival India. At the same time, Pakistan’s ties with Saudi Arabia are also very strong.

Saudi Arabia also has a strong religious influence on Pakistan. There are thousands of Riyadh-funded seminaries operating across Pakistan. Many religious parties subscribe to a hardline Saudi-Wahhabi ideology. Many militant groups in the South Asian country consider Shiite Iran as their rival.

But Riyadh was reportedly irked by Former PM Nawaz Sharif’s government when Islamabad refused to send troops to support the Saudi-led campaign in Yemen. The former government felt Pakistan’s involvement in the conflict would create problems with Iran, which is reportedly backing Shiite Houthi rebels in Yemen.

Although Khan’s government pledged to stay neutral in the Saudi-Iranian tug-of-war in the region, Khan chose to visit the conservative kingdom for his first official first trip as prime minister.

“Through CPEC participation, the Saudis will get access to the Arabian Sea and Indian Ocean. So, the Saudi investment serves multiple purposes,” analyst Siddiqa said.

Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi was set to hold talks Tuesday with US President Donald Trump’s security adviser John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Qureshi and Pompeo hope to reset bilateral ties as soon as possible.

Read more: Mike Pompeo visits Islamabad: Can the US and Pakistan reset bilateral ties?

Aman Memon, a lecturer at the Islamabad-based Preston University, says Pakistan is willing to move back into the orbit of American influence. “The Saudi investment in CPEC is likely to upset Beijing because Riyadh and Washington are the two sides of the same coin. In my opinion, it is not only Saudi Arabia but also the US that is entering CPEC,” Memon told DW.

https://www.dw.com/en/saudi-investment-in-china-pakistan-economic-corridor-may-upset-iran/a-45725957