Posts Tagged ‘Chinese Dream’

The Chinese Dream

May 7, 2018

This DW series explores China’s rise as a global superpower. In this article we examine the “Chinese Dream,” which shapes the present and reaches far into the future, encapsulating President Xi’s vision for the country.

China Neujahrsansprache von Xi Jinping (picture-alliance/Xinhua)

The rest of the world rubs its eyes in astonishment. In just under three decades, China has transformed itself from being a bitter-poor developing country into a global economic power. Beijing now has set its eyes on becoming a world superpower. For now, at least, fears about China’s rising power and influence are mixed with admiration for the rapid pace of its growth and development.

The Chinese people, on the other hand, and especially the political class in Beijing, see the strengthening of their country as the correction of a historical anomaly. This view is promoted by Beijing’s propaganda departments and President Xi Jinping’s “Chinese Dream” is meant to address it.

Since Xi took over the reins of his country in 2012, China’s state and party leaders have promised to the Chinese people the return to the grandeur of past dynasties. By doing so, Xi has attempted to tap into the historical consciousness of the Chinese.

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Today’s Chinese see themselves as the heirs of a millennium-old civilization that was the world leader in culture, science, technology and administration right up to the 16th century. In this ideal conception, China — the “Middle Kingdom,” as it is still called in Chinese today — was at the center of the world, surrounded by barbarians, who were willing to pay tribute to the luminosity of Chinese civilization.

‘Century of humiliation’ — Resentment Drives Toward the Future

The so-called “century of humiliation” stands out all the more against this background. It began with China’s defeat in the First Opium War (1839-1842) by Great Britain. In the first of the so-called “unequal treaties,” China was forced to cede control of Hong Kong to the British. The Century has a formal end that suits official propaganda: the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949 by the Communist Party.

The Century of Humiliation forms the antithesis to the rise of China. Who knows that China’s share of world economic output in 1820 was over 30 percent? Following internal Chinese rebellions, colonial exploitation, state collapse, Japanese occupation and civil war, this share had fallen to just 5 percent in the early 1950s.

The phantom pain of losing imperial greatness is kept alive in the collective memory. History books, television series and newspaper articles repeatedly evoke the humiliation of the Chinese nation by foreign powers, the decline and misery. This culture of remembrance has paved the way for the mass appeal of Xi Jinping’s Chinese Dream. In doing so, as a collective vision proclaimed from above, it is the exact opposite of the “American Dream” of the realization of individual happiness.

Vertrag von Nanking (picture-alliance/CPA Media Co. Ltd)The Treaty of Nanjing was signed in August 1842 to mark the end of the First Opium War. It was the first of the so-called ‘unequal treaties’

‘Global superpower by 2049’

The plans for the “great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation” extend to 2049, the year marking the 100th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China. By then, China should once again emerge as a global superpower. It seems as if the nobler the goals and the farther into the future their fulfilment, the greater the sacrifices one can demand from the people. When it comes to the “rejuvenation of the Chinese nation,” nothing like civil liberties or cumbersome constitutional processes should come in the way, according to Beijing’s view. Dissenters, human rights activists, even their lawyers end up in jail. The previously hard-won liberties, even in the media, are again being scaled back.

The vision of the Chinese Dream is so vague and at the same time so comprehensive that different messages can fit under its roof.

Anyone who has the authority to interpret the content of the vision can define almost anything as an element for the realization of the Chinese Dream. When Xi Jinping visited the Three Gorges Dam in April, for instance, the ability to independently develop technology was declared essential to realizing the dream. When Xi met with senior military officials in mid-March, it was the greater integration of the civilian and military spheres. Furthermore, there have been repeated exhortations for unity and the development of strength.

Read more:

How China is trying to export its soft power

How China’s Xi upstaged Trump as the ‘world leader’

In its ambiguity, the Chinese Dream is also suitable as a tool for fomenting Chinese nationalism, which has been gaining traction for the past two decades. It is important as a source of legitimacy for the rule of the Communist Party, as the party’s legitimacy, in ideological terms, has been eroded due to its role as the organizer of a highly effective form of state capitalism, with party workers and government officials as main beneficiaries despite Xi’s unprecedented anti-corruption campaign.

China’s robust maneuvering in the territorial spat with Japan in the East China Sea, and the building of artificial islands in the South China Sea to enforce its claims to the region, also serve the purpose of deliberately stirring the Chinese people’s nationalist fervor.

With the Silk Road to the middle of the world

Against this backdrop, Xi’s signature project — the Belt and Road Initiative — also fits under the umbrella of the Chinese Dream. China is deploying immense resources to build infrastructure that would connect it to parts of Asia, Africa and Europe and boost its trading links to these regions.

Infografik Chinas neue Seidenstraße Englisch

This ambitious project makes China the only country in the world currently pursuing a global vision. And it is certainly no coincidence that the Belt and Road Initiative, regarded as a modern-day version of the ancient Silk Road, also linguistically ties up with times of former splendor.

With its clever investment policy, China has been increasingly able to translate its economic strength into political influence. The new transport links and economic corridors will definitely play their part in the development of the Chinese Dream, by strengthening Beijing’s role as a Eurasian center of gravity and turning it once again into the “Middle Country.”

It goes without saying that this center should then radiate out into the world. At the Communist Party’s congress last fall, Xi called for “Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era” and recommended it as a development model for other countries. At the start of the year, The People’s Daily, an official newspaper of the Communist Party, went as far as to talk of a fusion of the “Chinese Dream” with the “Dream of the Whole World.”


China to reorganise propaganda efforts at home and abroad

March 21, 2018


© AFP/File | The CCTV tower in Beijing: the broadcaster is facing consolidation with other state media

BEIJING (AFP) – China Wednesday announced a series of changes aimed at strengthening its global influence, including the creation of a centralised news service to better communicate the ruling Communist Party’s message at home and abroad.The changes are part of a larger overhaul of government functions that will also see an increased role for the United Front Work Department, a shadowy organisation that has been accused of trying to manipulate politics abroad.

Under the new arrangement, the party’s Central Propaganda Department will take direct responsibility for print, news and movies away from the central government, according to an announcement published by the official Xinhua news agency.

The move to put these branches of the media directly under the party’s control comes as China has been tightening censorship and efforts to dictate the outlook and “positivity” of content.

Control of radio and television will be placed under a separate government-run organisation tasked with “carrying out the Party’s propaganda guidelines and policies”.

The change is aimed at ensuring that broadcast media “acts as the Party’s mouthpiece”, the announcement said.

As part of the change Chinese state media outlets CCTV, China Radio International and China National Radio will be consolidated into one super-broadcaster answering to the Central Propaganda Department.

Programmes targeted at foreign audiences will be rebranded as “the Voice of China”, the announcement said.

The reorganisation will also increase the prominence of the United Front Work , an agency which works to promote ties between the Communist Party and non-Communist elite — including other political parties, former government officials, religious groups and overseas Chinese.

Under the new arrangement it will have complete responsibility for work related to China’s ethnic minority groups, religious management and contact with overseas Chinese, which Beijing sees as an important constituency for its propaganda efforts.

President Xi Jinping has described the United Front Work Department as a “magic weapon” in the country’s soft power arsenal.

But it has come under increased criticism for what some say are covert efforts to influence politics in other countries.

Chinese donors tied to United Front-affiliated groups gave money to Australian politicians, providing impetus for Canberra to introduce new laws to limit foreign interference in its government.



The covert department behind China’s growing influence

March 21, 2018

‘Magic wand’ used to extend China’s reach abroad gets enhanced role at time of growing international concern over state’s covert influence

South China Morning Post

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 21 March, 2018, 3:02pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 21 March, 2018, 4:37pm

The controversial Chinese Communist Party department responsible for promoting its influence around the world will have its authority greatly strengthened, according to a document seen by the South China Morning Post.

The document was later published by the official Xinhua news agency on Wednesday afternoon.

The United Front Work Department, which has fallen under the scrutiny of Western governments in recent months, will now oversee the country’s ethnic and religious issues as well as overseas Chinese affairs.

This is part of a sweeping party restructuring that will see a further fusion between the party and the state.

It aims at increasing efficiency and strengthening the party’s control on all aspects of life in China.

The document also proposed upgrades to four party leading groups – responsible for reform, cybersecurity, finance and the economy, and foreign affairs.

The leading groups are the de facto decision-making bodies in Chinese politics and the upgrade is designed to further institutionalise the party’s political power.

The elevation of the UFW, once hailed by Xi Jinping as a “magic weapon” for the party to project its influence and wield its soft power, came at a time when democracies from Australia to the United States are increasingly suspicious of tacit Chinese state influences on their soil.

“The party used to lead the United Front behind a veil,” a government source, who declined to be named, told the Post.

“Under the new structure, it will no longer hide behind various government agencies.”

 The Communist Party is seeking to institutionalise its political power. Photo: Reuters

Under the new line-up, the State Ethnic Affairs Commission will report to the United Front Work Department, while the State Administration of Religious Affairs and the Overseas Chinese Affairs Office will be absorbed into the department as two internal bureaus, according to the document dated March 19.

At the same time, the Chinese Communist Party will also upgrade four “leading groups” headed by Xi into “commissions”.

The move will enhance the president’s control over the relevant fields.

The State Computer Network and Information Security Management Centre, the office in charge of China’s “Great Firewall”, will be moved under the central commission on internet security, from the control of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.

The central leading group responsible for protecting China’s maritime interests, meanwhile, will be merged into Central Commission of Foreign Affairs Works – a move that highlights the importance of maritime issues on the leadership’s agenda.

In addition, the Chinese Communist Party will set up a new “Rule-by-Law Commission” and an auditing commission. A new leading group on education will be set up as well.

The Publicity Department of the Central Committee, the propaganda arm of the party, will have a direct control over all publishing and movies, according to the document.

Will China’s new foreign policy dream team be the key to achieving its global ambitions?

February 25, 2018

Beijing’s top leadership is packed full of highly trained foreign affairs experts hand-picked to help deliver on President Xi Jinping’s global goals

By Shi Jiangtao
and South China Morning Post staff

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 25 February, 2018, 1:48pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 25 February, 2018, 2:11pm

After five years in office, President Xi Jinping has put together a team of top foreign-policy makers with substantial experience in handling the West, especially the US, to achieve China’s growing global ambitions.

Apart from Xi himself, the leading figure is Wang Qishan, the former Communist Party anti-graft tsar who is Xi’s most trusted ally.

According to several Beijing-based sources, Wang is highly likely to be named vice-president soon and take on a large foreign affairs portfolio in the midst of a major overhaul of the country’s diplomatic hierarchy.

“Wang will play a key role in foreign affairs work in the years to come, especially on thorny issues involving Sino-US relations,” a source close to the leadership told the South China Morning Post. He declined to be named because of the sensitivity of the matter.

Wang’s surprising comeback, just a few months after he retired from the party’s apex of power, is expected to give a boost to China’s diplomatic decision-making at a critical juncture, especially amid emerging strategic rivalry with the United States.

There have been signs hinting at Wang’s new role, with sources saying he recently met US and Japanese officials in Beijing.

 Wang Huning (left) and President Xi Jinping at the announcement of the new Politburo Standing Committee line-up at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing in October. Photo: Reuters

Unlike previous top leadership line-ups, the new Politburo Standing Committee announced after the party’s national congress in October is packed with foreign affairs experts, including outgoing Vice-Premier Wang Yang and Wang Huning, an international affairs scholar turned party theorist.

Wang Huning, known as the chief architect of Xi’s Chinese dream, has been a foreign policy adviser and often accompanied Xi on foreign trips.

Pang Zhongying, a Beijing-based foreign affairs expert, said Wang Huning was among the first Chinese experts to translate and introduce the concept of soft power to China in early 1990s. It had been coined by Harvard University professor Joseph Nye in the 1980s to encompass a country and an associated culture’s ability to attract and persuade.

Wang Huning, who became the first party theorist to be elevated to the Politburo Standing Committee since the end of the Cultural Revolution, is expected to play a big role in addressing the mismatch between Beijing’s outdated, China-centric propaganda apparatus and its grand foreign policy goals.

Another new Politburo Standing Committee member, Wang Yang, was China’s point man in economic talks with the US during Xi’s first five years as president.

Among career diplomats, State Councillor Yang Jiechi, a former foreign minister and ambassador to the US, is set to become China’s most powerful foreign affairs supremo since late vice-premier Qian Qichen. Also a former foreign minister, Qian was a vice-premier who served as a foreign policy guru in the party’s powerful Politburo under Jiang Zemin, and Yang looks to be on the same path after becoming a Politburo member in October.

 US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (right) shakes hands with State Councillor Yang Jiechi at the State Department in Washington this month. Photo: AP

Wang Qishan’s appointment as vice-president will be formally confirmed at the annual session of the National People’s Congress (NPC), China’s legislature, next month, setting in motion a sweeping government reshuffle that will include vice-premiers, state councillors and prominent ministers.

Foreign Minister Wang Yi has been tipped to replace Yang as state councillor while retaining his current position as the country’s second-ranked diplomat, sources and party insiders said.

Pundits say the overhaul and strong line-up of foreign policy officials underlined Xi’s eagerness for China to emerge as a global power and project its political and economic clout far beyond the Asia-Pacific region at a time of US retreat from world leadership under his American counterpart Donald Trump.

Wang Qishan, 69, Yang, 67, and Wang Yi, 64, are above or approaching the traditional retirement age for senior officials, but the pundits say Xi appears to view them as irreplaceable for the moment in implementing his assertive foreign policy and overseeing China’s expanding global interests.

There are growing signs that Wang Qishan, once seen as China’s second most powerful leader after Xi, will not just take on ceremonial duties as vice-president but will continue to wield considerable influence in the country’s secretive and opaque elite politics.

As in most other countries, the vice-presidency in China has usually been a weak, ceremonial, titular position with little sway over real policy issues.

But Wang Qishan is likely to be different. In a sign of his close ties with party general secretary Xi, the former Politburo Standing Committee member had been continuing to attend meetings of the party’s innermost circle of power, albeit without voting power, sources said.

 Foreign Minister Wang Yi addresses a press conference in Beijing in December. Photo: Kyodo

In a further move defying political convention in China, which includes an unwritten rule that top leaders retire at the age of 68, he retained his NPC seat last month, paving the way for his vice-presidency.

Wang Qishan’s political future was the centre of intense speculation in China’s corridors of power over the past year. His continued roles basically confirmed widespread rumours that an increasingly strident Xi had decided to retain one of his most trusted allies.

Wang Qishan earned that trust by overseeing Xi’s ruthless crackdown on corruption over the past five years.

American officials and experts have generally welcomed Wang Qishan’s likely vice-presidency as he has been heavily involved in dealing with Washington in various jobs over the past two decades, especially on the economic and trade fronts.

As a vice-premier he was China’s point man and top negotiator in the now-defunct strategic and economic dialogue with the US between 2009 and 2012.

Senior US diplomats who know Wang personally describe him as a party veteran with a global vision, an advocate of economic reform and a seasoned troubleshooter who understands the importance of navigating often fraught US-China relations in an increasingly chaotic and uncertain world.

One foreign diplomat who has met Wang described him as articulate and said he appeared to be someone Xi trusted to solve problems.

But the scope of his power or his exact role in China’s largely centralised foreign-policy decision-making process remain unclear.

Even more intriguingly, it remains to be seen how he would coordinate and work with other party leaders and top diplomats, especially Yang, Wang Yi and Song Tao, the head of the party’s international liaison department, which is in charge of ties with foreign political parties.

 Communist Party international liaison department head Song Tao (left) is greeted by Ri Chang-gun, vice-director of the Korean Workers’ Party’s international department at Pyongyang International Airport in November. Photo: Kyodo

“While it is positive to have more people with diplomatic expertise and experience on board, it is too early to tell if they are able to work together efficiently as a lack of efficient coordination has long plagued the decision-making and implementation of China’s foreign policy,” Pang said.

It could pose new challenges and dilemmas for internal coordination, which would go beyond cooperation and collaboration between the military and civilian authorities, he said.

As vice-president, Wang Qishan would also be expected to replace incumbent Li Yuanchao as deputy head of the Central Leading Group on Foreign Affairs, a powerful supra-ministerial decision-making body.

The group, like more than a dozen other leading groups and other decision-making party institutions Xi chairs to drive policy on security, political, economic and diplomatic issues, consists of a dozen party and government agencies, including the foreign and commerce ministries as well as the military and security authorities,

Several Beijing-based European diplomats said there were growing signs Wang Yi, tipped to succeed Yang as state councillor, would also stay on as foreign minister in the government reshuffle next month.

Yang is director of the office of the Central Leading Group on Foreign Affairs, dealing with the daily routines of foreign policy coordination and implementation, while Wang Yi is also a member of the group. There had been speculation Yang might be promoted to become a second deputy head of the group, alongside the vice-president, with Wang Yi succeeding him as office head, but sources said Yang was likely to remain director. In either scenario, Wang Yi would continue to serve under Yang.

 Vice-premier Qian Qichen shakes hands with US president George W. Bush at the White House in Washington in March 2001. Photo: AP

But officials and experts said that if Wang Yi became a state councillor, Yang was unlikely to become the first vice-premier in charge of foreign affairs since Qian Qichen stepped down in 2003, as previously speculated because such an appointment was very rare.

The last time China officially had both a vice-premier, usually a Politburo post, and a state councillor, which ranks above cabinet ministers, overseeing foreign policy was soon after the bloody Tiananmen Square crackdown in 1989.

But then vice-premier Wu Xueqian was largely sidelined for political reasons, while Qian was promoted to state councillor in 1991 while still serving as foreign minister before replacing Wu as vice-premier two years later. He was both foreign minister and vice-premier for the next five years.

The rumoured moves are being widely read by Chinese diplomats and international affairs experts as signalling an end to the erosion of the foreign ministry’s role in China’s diplomatic decision-making hierarchy over the past decade.

However, it remains to be seen if the overhaul of the foreign policy structure will help tackle long-term problems such as wrangling and poor coordination among various party and government agencies and inconsistency between what officials say and what they do.

One area that requires coordination is the stances of the military and the civilian government.

There was an embarrassing moment in January 2011 when the Chinese military staged the maiden test flight of the J-20 stealth fighter jet during a visit by then US defence secretary Robert Gates aimed at defusing military tensions between the two big powers.

After raising the test flight during a meeting with then president Hu Jintao, Gates told reporters the Chinese leader was taken aback and appeared to have little idea the military had been planning such a muscle-flexing move.

 US defence secretary Robert Gates (left) shakes hands with president Hu Jintao at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing in January 2011. Photo: AFP

There may have been a similar incident last month, when a Chinese submarine was spotted by the Japanese navy near the disputed Diaoyu Islands, known as the Senkakus in Japan. While the Chinese authorities did not explain what had happened, military experts said the submarine could have been forced to leave the waters around the islands, which are claimed by both countries.

Foreign relations experts said the incident had overshadowed Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono’s first trip to Beijing just two weeks later.

Beijing-based security expert Zhang Tuosheng, director of the Centre for Foreign Policy Studies at the China Foundation for International and Strategic Studies, said it could be a sign the military and civilian authorities were still not communicating and coordinating effectively ahead of important diplomatic events.

He said Beijing had rolled out quite a few moves in the past decade aimed at streamlining the multi-layered decision-making process and smoothing out wrinkles in inter-agency coordination, including the establishment of the National Security Commission (NSC) in 2013.

“However, we have yet to see significant improvement as some of the existing bodies are repetitive and overlapping, with many yet to be clearly defined,” Zhang said.

The NSC, modelled on the similarly named US agency, was supposed to play a big role in decision-making and coordination on foreign policy issues at the top leadership level, but it has largely disappeared from view after its first meeting four years ago.

Zhang said there was a need for “an overarching agency like NSC and professionals and experts to help with decision-making”, but the NSC had, unfortunately, not operated as efficiently as expected.

Zhang and other observers also noted that like the NSC and the Central Leading Group on Foreign Affairs, most Chinese bodies tasked with coordinating foreign policy were secretive party organs instead of government ones, which made it hard for them to deal with their foreign counterparts.

“With China’s rise to global prominence, we will inevitably be facing more challenges, scepticism and pushbacks from other countries and it remains to be seen if the new leadership is up to task of turning the country into a responsible world power and securing a favourable international environment for domestic development,” Pang said.

Additional reporting by Choi Chi-yuk, Catherine Wong and Laura Zhou

China’s creditor imperialism — Nations Become More Aware of “Debt Trap” Bondage

December 22, 2017

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 By Brahma Chellaney
Japan Times

This month, Sri Lanka, unable to pay the onerous debt to China it has accumulated, formally handed over its strategically located Hambantota port to the Asian giant. It was a major acquisition for China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) — which President Xi Jinping calls the “project of the century” — and proof of just how effective China’s debt-trap diplomacy can be.

Unlike International Monetary Fund and World Bank lending, Chinese loans are collateralized by strategically important natural assets with high long-term value (even if they lack short-term commercial viability). Hambantota, for example, straddles Indian Ocean trade routes linking Europe, Africa and the Middle East to Asia. In exchange for financing and building the infrastructure that poorer countries need, China demands favorable access to their natural assets, from mineral resources to ports.

Moreover, as Sri Lanka’s experience starkly illustrates, Chinese financing can shackle its “partner” countries. Rather than offering grants or concessionary loans, China provides huge project-related loans at market-based rates, without transparency, much less environmental or social impact assessments. As U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson put it recently, with the BRI China is aiming to define “its own rules and norms.”

To strengthen its position further, China has encouraged its companies to bid for outright purchase of strategic ports where possible. The Mediterranean port of Piraeus, which a Chinese firm acquired for $436 million from cash-strapped Greece last year, will serve as the BRI’s “dragon head” in Europe.

By wielding its financial clout in this manner, China seeks to kill two birds with one stone.

First, it wants to address overcapacity at home by boosting exports. Second, it hopes to advance its strategic interests, including expanding its diplomatic influence, securing natural resources, promoting the international use of its currency and gaining a relative advantage over other powers.

China’s predatory approach — and its gloating over securing Hambantota — is ironic, to say the least. In its relationships with smaller countries like Sri Lanka, China is replicating the practices used against it in the European-colonial period, which began with the 1839-1860 Opium Wars and ended with the 1949 communist takeover — a period that China bitterly refers to as its “century of humiliation.”

China portrayed the 1997 restoration of its sovereignty over Hong Kong, following more than a century of British administration, as righting a historic injustice. Yet, as Hambantota shows, China is now establishing its own Hong Kong-style neocolonial arrangements. Apparently Xi’s promise of the “great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation” is inextricable from the erosion of smaller states’ sovereignty.

Just as European imperial powers employed gunboat diplomacy to open new markets and colonial outposts, China uses sovereign debt to bend other states to its will, without having to fire a single shot. Like the opium the British exported to China, the easy loans China offers are addictive. And, because China chooses its projects according to their long-term strategic value, they may yield short-term returns that are insufficient for countries to repay their debts. This gives China added leverage, which it can use, say, to force borrowers to swap debt for equity, thereby expanding China’s global footprint by trapping a growing number of countries in debt servitude.

Even the terms of the 99-year Hambantota port lease echo those used to force China to lease its own ports to Western colonial powers. Britain leased the New Territories from China for 99 years in 1898, causing Hong Kong’s landmass to expand by 90 percent. Yet the 99-year term was fixed merely to help China’s ethnic-Manchu Qing Dynasty save face; the reality was that all acquisitions were believed to be permanent.

Now, China is applying the imperial 99-year lease concept in distant lands. China’s lease agreement over Hambantota, concluded this summer, included a promise that China would shave $1.1 billion off Sri Lanka’s debt. In 2015, a Chinese firm took out a 99-year lease on Australia’s deep-water port of Darwin — home to more than 1,000 U.S. Marines — for $388 million.

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Similarly, after lending billions of dollars to heavily indebted Djibouti, China established its first overseas military base this year in that tiny but strategic state, just a few kilometers from a U.S. naval base — the only permanent American military facility in Africa. Trapped in a debt crisis, Djibouti had no choice but to lease land to China for $20 million per year. China has also used its leverage over Turkmenistan to secure natural gas by pipeline largely on Chinese terms.

Several other countries, from Argentina to Namibia to Laos, have been ensnared in a Chinese debt trap, forcing them to confront agonizing choices in order to stave off default. Kenya’s crushing debt to China now threatens to turn its busy port of Mombasa — the gateway to East Africa — into another Hambantota.

These experiences should serve as a warning that the BRI is essentially an imperial project that aims to bring to fruition the mythical Middle Kingdom. States caught in debt bondage to China risk losing both their most valuable natural assets and their very sovereignty. The new imperial giant’s velvet glove cloaks an iron fist — one with the strength to squeeze the vitality out of smaller countries.

Brahma Chellaney, a professor of strategic studies at the New Delhi-based Center for Policy Research and a fellow at the Robert Bosch Academy in Berlin, is the author of nine books, including “Asian Juggernaut,” “Water: Asia’s New Battleground,” and “Water, Peace, and War: Confronting the Global Water Crisis.” © Project Syndicate, 2017


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 PLA personnel attend the opening ceremony of China’s new military base in Djibouti in August. Photo: AFP

TPP leaders’ meeting fails to materialise amid disputes

November 10, 2017

DANANG, Vietnam (Reuters) – A planned meeting of leaders of the 11 countries in the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) to decide on the fate of the trade pact did not take place on Friday, amid disagreements over how to take it forward without the United States.

The leaders were set to meet on the sidelines of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Vietnam to discuss how to push ahead with TPP.

Their meeting was preceded by conflicting comments from their delegations on Thursday, when the trade ministers met to firm up a plan to present to the leaders. Japan had said an agreement in principle had been reached, but Canada disputed that.

The spat highlighted the continuing challenge to reviving a pact whose survival was thrown into doubt when President Donald Trump ditched it, in one of his first acts in office, in favour of bilateral deal-making by the United States.

The leaders’ meeting had been scheduled for 0145 local time (0645 GMT), but Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau failed to show up, according to people familiar with the matter.

“The meeting did not happen, work remains to be done and that’s what’s happening now,” a Canadian official said.

“We need to get this right and that will take the time it takes. We have to remember, the task officials had going into this week was to present options,” the official said.

Even before the planned meeting, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had told the president of Peru – a TPP member – that he welcomed a broad agreement reached at the TPP ministerial meeting.

Canada, whose economy is the second biggest among the TPP-11 after Japan, said on Wednesday it would not be rushed into a revived TPP deal. Like Mexico, its position is further complicated by renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with the Trump administration.

A Vietnamese soldier stands guard at the airport upon arrival of the U.S. President Donald Trump for the APEC Summit in Danang, Vietnam November 10, 2017. REUTERS/Kham

The TPP aims to eliminate tariffs on industrial and farm products across a bloc whose trade totalled $356 billion last year. It also has provisions for protecting everything from labour rights to the environment to intellectual property – one of the main sticking points.

The original 12 countries had reached agreement on the TPP in 2016, but Trump withdrew, throwing its very survival into doubt.

The absence of the United States had made TPP unattractive for some countries, but Japan had lobbied hard to proceed with a pact that could help to contain China’s growing regional dominance.

TPP countries are discussing suspending certain provisions of the original agreement to avoid having to renegotiate it and potentially, in the long term, to entice the United States back.

Earlier on Friday, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said he was “reasonably confident” a deal could be reached without the United States. Malaysia is one of the 11 TPP countries.

“We believe TPP is important for the region… The 11 countries led by Japan, we are trying to come up with our new version,” Najib said at a separate panel discussion at the APEC summit.

“I am reasonably confident. I am quite sanguine that we will get a deal but of course it has got to go through the process of ratification,” he said.

Trump set out a strong message on trade at the APEC summit on Friday, saying the United States could no longer tolerate chronic trade abuses and would insist on fair and equal policies. Redressing the balance of trade between Asia and the United States is at the centre of Trump’s “America First” policy he says will protect U.S. workers.

Countering Trump, Chinese President Xi Jinping said Asia-Pacific nations must “uphold multilateralism”. Globalisation was an irreversible trend, but the world must work to make it more balanced and inclusive, Xi told leaders.

Additional reporting by Kiyoshi Takenaka; Writing by A. Ananthalakshmi; Editing by Richard Borsuk and Nick Macfie


BBC News

Trump at Apec summit: US will no longer tolerate trade abuses

Donald Trump said he would put “America first” at the Apec summit

President Donald Trump has said the US will no longer tolerate “chronic trade abuses”, in a defiant address at the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (Apec) summit in Vietnam.

He said he would always put US interests first and Apec nations should “abide by fair reciprocal trade”.

In stark contrast, China’s Xi Jinping said globalisation was irreversible and voiced support for multilateralism.

Mr Trump is currently on a five-nation Asia tour, with China one of his stops.

Apec brings together 21 economies from the Pacific region – the equivalent of about 60% of the world’s GDP.

Since taking office, President Trump has pursued his “America First” agenda and pulled the US out of the regional Trans-Pacific Partnership – a major trade deal with 12 Apec nations – arguing it would hurt US economic interests.

What did Trump say?

In a speech in the Vietnamese port city of Da Nang on Friday, President Trump railed against the World Trade Organization, which sets global trade laws, and said it “cannot function properly” if all members do not respect the rules.

He complained about trade imbalances, saying the US had lowered market barriers and ended tariffs while other countries had not reciprocated. “Such practices hurt many people in our country,” he said, adding that free trade had cost millions of American jobs.

But he did not lay the blame on Apec countries, and instead accused earlier US administrations of not acting earlier to reverse the trend.

He said America would make bilateral agreements with “any Indo-Pacific partner here who abides by fair reciprocal trade”, but only “on a basis of mutual respect and mutual benefit”.

China's President Xi Jinping (C) arrives to speak on the final day of the APEC CEO Summit ahead of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) leaders summit in Danang, Vietnam, 10 November 2017Image copyrightEPA
Image captionXi Jinping is promoting China as the champion of free trade

Mr Trump has repeatedly referred to the region as “Indo-Pacific”, a term used to define America’s new geopolitical view of Asia.

The US president had travelled to Da Nang from Beijing, where he had also discussed America’s huge trade imbalance with China. There too, he said he did not blame the country for “taking advantage”.

How did his speech compare to Xi’s?

Speaking minutes after his American counterpart, Chinese President Xi Jinping took to the podium to espouse his country’s credentials as the new champion of world trade.

Globalisation, he said, was an “irreversible historical trend” but the philosophy behind free trade needed to be repurposed to be “more open, more balanced, more equitable and more beneficial to all”.

In contrast to President Trump, the Chinese leader defended multilateral trade deals, which he said helped poorer nations to benefit.

“We should support the multilateral trading regime and practise open regionalism to allow developing members to benefit more from international trade and investment.”

America First, or the Chinese Dream?

By Karishma Vaswani, Asia business correspondent

President Trump was clear – he wants bilateral trade deals and large, multilateral arrangements don’t work for him. This was a speech saying that America is open for business, but on America’s terms.

Contrast that with China’s Xi Jinping, who spoke about the digital economy, quantum science, artificial intelligence – presenting a vision of the future that is connected, and comprehensive.

Increasingly whenever you see Mr Xi on the international stage he is the poster child for free trade and globalisation. Ironic, given that China itself has yet to become a fully free economy.

The US was the architect of many of the multilateral and free trade agreements for Asia. Under its tutelage, many of these countries opened up and reformed – playing by America’s rules.

But under Donald Trump, that role has gone into reverse. Which has left China with a gaping hole to fill – and one it is only more than happy to take on.

Read more from Karishma

How are US-China trade relations?

The total trade relationship between the US and China was worth $648bn last year, but trade was heavily skewed in China’s favour with the US amassing a nearly $310bn deficit.

Mr Trump has in the past accused China of stealing American jobs and threatened to label it a currency manipulator, though he has since rowed back on such rhetoric.

Bar chart shows US trade with Asia market
Graph shows US trade with China since 1985

During the US president’s visit on Thursday, China announced it would further lower entry barriers in the banking, insurance, and finance sectors, and gradually reduce vehicle tariffs.

Mr Xi promised “healthy” and “balanced” economic and trade relations.

Deals worth $250bn (£190bn) were also announced, although it was unclear how much of that figure included past agreements or potential future deals. At the same time, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told journalists the deals were “pretty small” in terms of tackling the trade imbalance.

Before the Beijing talks, Mr Trump in Tokyo lashed out at Japan, saying it “has been winning” on trade in recent decades.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will also be making a speech at the Apec summit. Japan had a $69bn (£52.8bn) trade surplus with the US in 2016, according to the US Treasury department.

It’s unclear whether Mr Trump will address human rights issues in Vietnam

After attending the Apec summit, Mr Trump will pay a state visit to the Vietnamese capital Hanoi.

Mr Trump will end his 12-day Asian tour in the Philippines on 13 November.

Coming to a Chinese cinema near you: ‘Core Socialist Values’

July 4, 2017


© GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP/File | Actor Jackie Chan will star in Chinese public-service adverts promoting “core socialist values”

SHANGHAI (AFP) – Chinese cinema-goers now have to sit through a short clip promoting “core socialist values” and President Xi Jinping’s “Chinese dream” political credo before the show starts — and some aren’t happy about it.
Image may contain: 1 person, smiling

Authorities enlisted action star Jackie Chan and domestic film idols as part of the public-service adverts, which have been ordered shown at cinemas in China since July 1 and last a few minutes apiece, state media said.

Four videos were made under the title series “The glory and the dream — our Chinese dream”, borrowing from Xi’s vision of a revitalised China, and were an initiative of the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television, said the official Beijing Youth Daily.

“The purpose is to help people better understand and accept the (ruling communist) party’s principles and policies,” it added.

The state-aligned Global Times quoted one of the videos as saying: “No matter what you do, as long as you respect the country, our society, our nation and our family, you are helping us to realise the Chinese dream.”

The newspaper said Beijing cinemas were required to play one of the short videos before screenings, but theatres in other parts of the country also confirmed to AFP that they too had been showing the clip, suggesting the edict is country-wide.

“Many came late for the movie just to avoid the short video and others complained about the video after watching the movie,” the Global Times quoted one cinema employee as saying.

Users on Weibo, China’s Twitter-like social media platform, expressed mixed feelings.

“Had planned on going to the cinema but heard there is now a China dream trailer at the beginning, forget it,” wrote one.

But another, named Good Netizen from Henan, wrote: “Three generations of film stars spreading positive energy in society. They expressed the aspirations of a Chinese person, every ordinary Chinese person’s Chinese dream.”

Since taking office in 2013, Xi has consolidated control to become one of China’s most powerful leaders in decades, exalting the Communist Party and cracking down on its critics.




Time is running out for China to pay off its bad debts — Is the era of borrow big to earn big ending the Chinese dream?

September 19, 2016

Time is running out for China to pay off its bad debts, 101 East investigates if this could be the end of China Inc.

15 Sep 2016 20:30 GMT

Al Jazeera

There’s a magic formula to becoming a millionaire in China – borrow big to earn big.

For years, individuals, state-owned companies and municipalities have taken massive loans to chase the Chinese dream.

Now it’s payback time, but a severe economic slowdown means many are struggling to pay their debts.

Entire neighbourhoods have become “ghost towns”, industrial companies sit idle and the unemployed are growing desperate.

Government economists claim China has enough in its coffers to cover the bad loans, but defaulting on it could send the world’s economy into a tailspin.

101 East asks, is this the end of China Inc?

Join the conversation @AJ101East 

Watch the video:



China’s ultra rich

Kevin K Li, director of reality show Ultra Rich Asian Girls, speaks to Al Jazeera about China’s wealthiest 1 percent.

They own multimillion-dollar properties, go on designer shopping sprees and even star in their own reality TV show, Ultra Rich Asian Girls.

Chelsea, Pam and Diana are the children of China’s elite, and they’re stirring envy and anger as they live the high life in Vancouver.

The girls are what is known as “fuerdai”, or rich, second-generation Chinese. They have become notorious for their extravagant antics, from crashing sports cars to burning wads of cash.

Many of the fuerdai are spending their families’ wealth in North American cities, purchasing high-end real estate. The influx of foreign cash has sparked protests in Vancouver, which many wealthy Chinese now call home.

Residents leading the #DontHave1Million campaign complain that rich Chinese are inflating property prices and pricing them out of the market.

Yet, the success of Ultra Rich Asian Girls suggests that many can’t get enough of these young Chinese elite and their extravagant spending habits.

The show’s creator, Vancouver-born Chinese-Canadian Kevin K Li, says there is more to this new wave of wealthy Chinese than meets the eye.

Here, Li discusses the city’s Chinese history, his identity and how the girls are shaking up stereotypes.

Al Jazeera: What inspired you to create the reality TV show Ultra Rich Asian Girls?

Kevin K Li: I was born in Canada, and over the 37 years that I’ve lived here, I’ve noticed that there has been three different waves of Chinese, each one more successful than the last. First was the working class from the villages of Guangdong province. They worked in the kitchens, operated laundry mats and sold produce. Many of them were uneducated and lacked trained skills.

The second wave was in the 1980s and 1990s, and mostly comprised those from Hong Kong. They were university-educated, worked in offices and started their own small businesses. Their kids drove Mercedes and BMWs to school.

‘People hungered to know more about who was buying the exotic supercars, exclusive handbags and multimillion-dollar properties,’ says Li [Steve Chao/Al Jazeera]

Now, from mainland China, the Chinese own major companies, are involved in world trade and fuel our economy. Many of their kids go to school in supercars and wear the latest in luxury fashion.

This show was created to celebrate the evolution of Chinese in Canada. My co-producer, Desmond Chen, and I are currently working on Season 4 and talking to co-productions in the US and distribution in Asia.

Al Jazeera: The show quickly went viral. Why is the world interested in following the lives of affluent Chinese girls?

Li: To be honest, my co-producer, Desmond Chen, and I didn’t expect it to go viral outside the Chinese community, but the show came at the right time and the right place. People hungered to know more about who was buying the exotic supercars, exclusive handbags and multimillion-dollar properties.

This show puts a face to those questions and provides a secret window into the lives of ultra-rich Asian girls. Also, it doesn’t hurt that the girls are university-educated, beautiful and charming.

Al Jazeera: Some say that wealthy Chinese are inflating house prices in cities such as Vancouver. Is this an accurate assessment or is this a form of Sinophobia?

Li: I am not an economist, but as a Canadian, I believe that there are three factors increasing the prices of homes: historically low mortgage rates, the low Canadian dollar, and Vancouver is always rated as “the best place in the world to live”.

I know a lot of Canadians who hugely profited from the sale of their homes in Vancouver, downsized to a condo and gave the rest to their kids to buy their first home. It’s supply and demand from local and foreign buyers, not just Chinese. Yes, a small percentage of complaints stem from Sino- and xenophobia. This small group is looking for someone to blame and wealthy Chinese are an easy target.

Al Jazeera:  You grew up in a working-class Chinese neighbourhood in Vancouver. How have you seen attitudes towards the Chinese population change over time?

Li: The biggest change I’ve seen is how people view Chinese women today. Even in my generation, many of my female friends were told to just “find a nice rich boy to marry”. Now, women are in control of their own destiny. The girls on my show can choose who and when they want to marry, start any business they want and continue to break down traditional stereotypes of Chinese women.

‘There’s so much misunderstanding and misinformation about Chinese Canadians,’ says Kevin Li [Steve Chao/Al Jazeera]

Al Jazeera:  The Hon Hsing Athletic Association in Vancouver’s Chinatown has played a significant role in your life. Why is this?

Li: Hon Hsing is the reason I proudly say I’m Chinese-Canadian. But it wasn’t always like that. I remember a dark phase when I was around 14, when I didn’t consider myself Chinese because I felt that I was better than my Hong Kong classmates. Their fashion styles were different, they always spoke Cantonese, and they were seen as the “uncool” kids in school.

I went out of my way to make sure my Canadian classmates knew that I was different from “these immigrants”, from the way I talked, dressed and ate. I thought everything was great, until one day I found racist writings in my school books saying “Chinks, Gooks and Chinamans should die”, with a drawing of a gun to the head.

‘The girls on my show … break down traditional stereotypes of Chinese women,’ says Kevin Li [Steve Chao/Al Jazeera]
It was directed at a group of us, Canadian-born Chinese. We learned it was actually from a group of white guys who we used to hang out with and considered to be our friends. I was so upset, angry and confused. I felt like I did everything right to separate myself from these “immigrants”, but the reality was they still saw me the same way. I knew that just because I was born in Canada, I would never be seen as an equal.

Then one of my friends brought me to a Hon Hsing Athletic Association, an activity club for Chinese youth, founded in 1939 by the Wong’s Benevolent Association. I learned Chinese lion dancing, kung-fu and Chinese-Canadian history.

This is where I found myself. Instead of ignoring and looking down on my heritage, I began to embrace it. I’d never felt happier. I was so interested in discovering my heritage that I even went to Beijing to learn Chinese for three months and learned about the history of China.

WATCH: China’s fake boyfriends

Al Jazeera:  How justified is the concern about the rise of wealth in China and its expansion into places such as Vancouver in North America?

Li: In the 1980s, Japan had a strong economy, and in the 1990s, it was Hong Kong and the US. While property prices are increasing in Vancouver, it’s also generating a lot of economic opportunities for jobs, development and growth. Things always come in waves, and I have a lot of faith in our government to know when the rise of Chinese wealth becomes a threat in our country. Personally, I’d rather it be today than back in 2008 when jobs were lost and no one was spending money. The houses were cheap then, but we didn’t have the money to buy them.

Al Jazeera:  Do you feel that Asians are accurately represented in the Canadian media?

Li: Asians are hugely under-represented in mainstream TV, film and media. And the programmes that do have Asians in them are stuck in stereotypical roles – asexual Asian males and hypersexualised Asian females.

When my show first came out, I received a huge backlash from the Asian community who felt that it “made them look bad”. It’s frustrating that as a producer, who is Chinese, I’m limited to producing “nice Asian shows” when other producers can produce anything they want without having to represent any race but themselves. There needs to be more shows that push the boundaries of mainstream Asian programming and challenge the model-minority stereotyping.

No mainstream broadcaster in Canada has an accessible programme that correctly reflects the multicultural faces of Canada. This is a failure and this is why there’s so much misunderstanding and misinformation about Chinese Canadians.

The show’s creator, Vancouver-born Chinese-Canadian Kevin K Li, left, and Desmond, right [Steve Chao/Al Jazeera]

READ MORE: My time as a fake boyfriend to China’s ‘leftover women’

Click here to watch the 101 East documentary, China’s Rich Girls.

G20: China’s century means more global leadership for China — Only China is a reliable engine of growth — IMF urges G20 leaders to boost demand, make case for trade

September 2, 2016


China mobilises for a big event like nowhere else.

Hangzhou on the eve of the G20 is a certain kind of awesome. A city rebuilt.

Filled with brand new security kit and locked down manhole covers, it has been emptied of a third of its population.

The switch was flicked to off in factories for hundreds of miles around, the pollution haze dispersed and the sky turned ‘G20 blue’.

This weekend’s G20 is a demonstration that the one party state decides on a goal, it can call the country to attention and command its people to get behind it.

Bid for economic leadership

The G20 really matters to China. Since the first such summit in Washington in late 2008, these occasions have mostly been forgettable.

But that year was a watershed for the Chinese leadership.

With the global financial crisis, Beijing stopped believing there was something immutable and dependable about the way the western powers had wired the global economy.

Talking points

The summit explained – in dolls

G20 warns Brexit adds to global economic risks

China calls on G20 to lead over global economy

Why is the South China Sea contentious?

China’s Island Factory

As others floundered, China began its lightning move up the GDP hierarchy to second place, and simultaneously launched a campaign to move from outsider to central player in global economic governance.

Despite the slower growth of recent months, Chinese purpose has not wavered.

In fact, events since have only strengthened the conviction that economic power is moving east, and that this, if not the Asian century, is at least China’s century.

Qianjiang New Town performs light show to welcome the upcoming G20 Hangzhou Summit on 28 August 2016 in Hangzhou,

Hangzhou’s future as a centre of innovation will be part of the PR narrative at the summit. Getty Images

The list of evidence for this faith is long and conveniently includes Hangzhou’s own global brands.

Eight years ago, most foreigners would have been hard pressed to name any Chinese company, but now this city alone is home to several giants, including Alibaba.

They are among China’s corporate miracles which have worked out how to leverage an immense domestic market, hungry workforce and almost limitless capital, while absorbing abroad whatever growth nutrients they are missing at home.

So this week’s PR narrative around the G20 host city is a Hangzhou which balances a glorious imperial past with a glorious innovative future.

The sharper strategic narrative around China’s G20 moment is about the decline of the West, which began with the 2008 financial crisis, but is now gathering pace amid the distractions of a US presidential election and the disarray in Europe over Brexit, migrants and recession.

An employee is seen behind a glass wall with the logo of Alibaba at the company's headquarters on the outskirts of Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, 23 April 2014.

Hangzhou is home to the world’s biggest e-commerce company Alibaba. Reuters

In this triumphal narrative, only China is a reliable engine of growth, its politics less populist, its leadership farsighted.

And according to the official New China News Agency, it is now time to take that leadership global.

The host is ready to share its time-honoured wisdom and up-to-date solutions with the world.

Put bluntly, China hopes the world will look back and identify the Hangzhou G20 as the moment when China looked like a better guardian of global economic governance than a US paralysed by poisonous politics at home and handicapped by distractions abroad.

China’s dilemma

But will the Hangzhou summit be remembered like that? Will it be remembered at all?

After all, leaders have to lead and this is hard for China on economic issues, let alone security.

At a time of struggling growth and protectionist backlash across the world, President Xi will try to present himself in Superman pants, urging his guests to defend free trade for the sake of all our futures.

But talk is cheap. Many of those in President Xi’s audience have been complaining of Chinese protectionism for decades, the joke among their trade negotiators that for China the slogan win/win means heads I win, tails you lose.

Security personnel ride bicycles on an empty road near the West Lake, as police closed off many roads before G20 Summit in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province, China 31 August 2016.

Security personnel ride bicycles on one of many roads closed off for the G20 Summit. Reuters

Certainly China has been a great beneficiary of globalisation and the commitment of others to free trade.

It would have much to lose if the rest of the world started closing its markets.

But both the German ambassador to China and the European Union Chamber of Commerce complained only this week that their companies face an unlevel playing field in China and that some feel ever less welcome.

There is no sign of a last minute Superman-style intervention that might translate Chinese talk about free trade into spectacular action.

Meanwhile the theme for China’s summit is “Towards an Innovative, Invigorated, Interconnected and Inclusive World Economy”.

But as well as being the master of top down mobilisation, China is often the master of meaning-light slogans.

A paramilitary policeman stands in front of a temple near the West Lake, before the G20 Summit in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province, China. 31 August 2016.

The summit, as always, will be heavily guarded. Reuters

What would really help an innovative and invigorated global economy is fundamental structural reform from China, the dismantling of large parts of the sclerotic and monopolistic state owned economy.

A dramatically freer Chinese economy with fair access to key sectors for private enterprise and foreigners would enormously enhance China’s credibility as a leader on global governance.

It stands to reason that if you play by fair rules, you have got a better chance of being invited to set them.

But it will not happen or will not happen fast because of perceived political risk.

A freer economy would get in the way of the Party’s number one objective, political control.

And this desperate political fragility has other painful consequences for China’s dream of leadership.

People pose, seated, for photos on an empty road near the West Lake, as police closed off many roads before G20 Summit in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province, China. 31 August 2016.

With the roads closed, some visitors took the chance to pose for a photo in the middle of the street. Reuters

Exactly a year ago, the last huge international set piece in China was a giant military parade to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the defeat of Japan in WWII.

Many of the world leaders now gathering in Hangzhou were invited to attend that too, but most stayed away because the exercise was framed in a narrative of China’s historical victimhood and 21st century return to greatness.

It was a hard power message calculated to unite the domestic audience firmly behind the Communist Party.

But by moving towards an increasingly strident nationalism complete with territorial ambitions and military build up, Beijing has placed itself in a zero sum leadership dilemma.

It can either lead at home or it can lead abroad but without a more liberal political agenda, it cannot do both.

In a region, where so many nations still have wounds from history, China’s nationalist politics are toxic to its hopes to lead internationally.

A Chinese military brass band (front) and choir stand in position ahead of a military parade later in the morning at Tiananmen Square in Beijing on 3 September 2015, to mark the 70th anniversary of victory over Japan and the end of World War II.

Most western leaders stayed away from the military parade to marking the end of WWII in 2015. AFP

In July, Beijing’s furious denunciation of an international court ruling on the South China Sea put it on the wrong side of international law.

And if there are no accepted rules of the game, then the game is not about leadership but about my will against yours and ultimately about brute force.

When you resort to that game, Superman pants can only be worn in the privacy of your own home.

All those gathered for the G20 are keenly aware of these realities. They will note the slogans, the songs and the speeches.

But when we look back in years to come and remember the Hangzhou summit, I suspect we will still be remembering the awesome mobilisation involved.

China has not yet found the language to lead a troubled world.



Diplomats who have discussed the sea disputes with Peace and Freedom say that China’s strategy is to prevent any alliance of neighbors to interfere with China’s sea expansion….



WASHINGTON  (Reuters) – The International Monetary Fund called on Thursday for G20 leaders to take much stronger action to boost demand, revive flagging trade, make long-delayed structural reforms to their economies and share growth more broadly.

In a briefing note to heads of state of the G20 group of leading economies ahead of their summit in Hangzhou, China, on Sunday and Monday, the IMF said they had fallen far behind in their 2014 goals to boost collective growth by two percentage points within five years.

The IMF said its own research showed the growth of goods and services trade volumes had slowed in most countries since 2012 to a rate half of the pace in the two decades to 2007.

“While three-fourths of this drop can be traced to weaker economic activity, notably weak investment, the waning pace of trade liberalization and a recent uptick in protectionist measures have added to the downward momentum,” the IMF said. “Such reductions in global trade can feed back to lower GDP growth.”

The IMF urged the leaders to “make the positive case for globalization” and portray trade as “a tool to improve lives.” It said they should adopt policies that foster innovation and new industries and improve labor mobility.

“It is easy to blame trade for all the ills afflicting a country, but curbing free trade would be stalling an engine that has brought unprecedented welfare gains around the world over many decades,” IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde said in a blog posting accompanying the note.

“However, to make trade work for all, policymakers should help those who are adversely affected through re-training, skill building, and assisting occupational and geographic mobility,” Lagarde said.

She told Reuters in an interview that the IMF is nonetheless likely to downgrade its economic growth forecasts further.

The IMF also repeated its view that monetary policy be kept accommodative to fight low inflation and said countries with the fiscal space should pursue needed public investments in infrastructure and support growth by avoiding direct tax increases on consumers. Some countries should also use public funds to help rebuild financial sector balance sheets, the IMF said.

(Reporting by David Lawder; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)


BBC News



China’s rise to power can no longer be seen as friendly — Xi Jinping’s Chinese Dream is an imagined world where China is the dominant power in all things — and over everybody else

September 1, 2016


Beijing justifies its actions by “creating an imagined universe” in which its actions are never at fault. Often China plays the victim. “Trying to get back their right to global governance.”

Gavin Fernando

A PROMINENT commentator specialising in Chinese affairs has warned there is nothing remotely peaceful about Beijing’s rise to power.

As the emerging superpower prepares to host the international G20 summit this weekend, veteran columnist Frank Ching says China has well and truly emerged as “the dominant power”.

In an article posted by the South China Morning Post, he said the international tribunal’s ruling on the South China Sea last month would do nothing to deter China from its plans to increase its dominance of the region.

“In its imagined world, the realisation of Xi Jinping’s Chinese Dream will place China once again at the centre of the world, after a couple of centuries of being disrupted by Western imperialism,” he writes.

“In the Chinese imagination, this is not subjugation of neighbours but simply restoration of the normal order. To some, this is a return to the traditional concept of tianxia, with barbarians benefiting from Chinese civilisation.”


Xi Jinping, China’s President, wants the country at the centre of the world, Frank Ching argues. Source: News Corp Australia

We’ve already seen evidence of China disobeying the West and its allies in this regard.

Since the international ruling on the South China Sea in July, which found there was “no legal basis for China to claim historic rights” over the nine-dash line, China has notably stepped up its presence in the disputed zone.

Pentagon officials say the number of Chinese maritime security vessels near the area has risen sharply over the past month, the Washington Free Beacon reported.

Meanwhile, satellite photos have recently emerged revealing reinforced hangars designed to house combat jets on several of Beijing’s artificial outposts.


The images, distributed by the Washington-based Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) and the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative, showed military infrastructure being built on Fiery Cross, Subi and Mischief reefs, which are all part of the various disputed territories.

The report stated each island would soon be capable of housing 24 fighter jets along with three or four larger aircraft, such as those with surveillance, bomber or tanker roles, allowing Beijing to stage a force of some 70 combat aircraft in the area.

A spokesman for the CSIS said even the smallest hangars are larger than needed for civilian purposes, saying the hangars were “reinforced to take a strike”.

The way Ching explained it, Beijing justifies its actions by “creating an imagined universe” in which its actions are never at fault.

“What China thinks is right must be the law”, he writes. This explains the country’s unruly dominance in the South China Sea, which it continues to claim ownership of.

In mid-August, the state-run Study Times wrote that Western countries were trying to deliberately exclude a rising China and deny it a proper voice on the world stage with schemes like the US-led Trans-Pacific Partnership.

“Trying to get back their right to global governance, they are forging a new ‘sacred alliance’, striving to establish new rules,” the influential paper, published twice a week by the Central Party School, wrote in a G20 commentary.

“These new rules will exclude China.”


China looks set to disobey international rulings over the South China Sea.Source:Supplied


Amid all this, China will hosts the international G20 summit for the first time in its eight-year history.

The summit, which will be held in Hangzhou, will be an occasion of huge importance for President Xi Jinping, for it will give him and his government the chance to cement China’s status as a global power.

According to The Economist, Hangzhou has been like one big construction site for the past year, with work crews paving new roads and building new hotels ahead of the prestigious gathering.

There are rumours the city is spending up to 160 billion yuan (more than $A30 billion) on refurbishments, although Hangzhou has denied this.

But despite all the fuss, the Chinese government suspects the West and its allies will undercut its discussions on the economy based on the increasingly tense climate around territorial disputes right now, Reuters reports.

“From where China sits, it looks like the Americans are trying to encircle them,” said a senior Western envoy, describing conversations with Chinese officials ahead of G20 as being dominated by the South China Sea row and an advanced US anti-missile system to be deployed in South Korea.

China is vehement that such issues should not overshadow the meeting, which will be attended by US President Barack Obama, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, and other world leaders including Malcolm Turnbull.

Meanwhile, tensions are still simmering between Australia and China over Australia’s recent decision to block the $AU10 billion sale of Ausgrid, the country’s biggest energy grid.

Reuters quoted another Beijing-based Western diplomat familiar with the summit as saying: “China is angry with almost everyone at the moment.”

Tensions are already simmering between Australia and China over the Ausgrid block.
Tensions are already simmering between Australia and China over the Ausgrid block.Source:News Corp Australia


China may be ramping up its attempt to reclaim the Scarborough Shoal, a key disputed territory in the South China Sea, in what would undoubtedly be a provocative move.

Earlier this month, it was reported that China could begin reclamation work as early as next week.

A source, who requested anonymity, said: “Since the G20 will be held in Hangzhou next month, and regional peace will be the main topic among leaders of the great powers, China will refrain from (acting on the) reclamation plan.”

It said construction could begin anywhere between the end of the G20 summit and the start of the US presidential election in November — the timing of which could make strategic sense, as it’s likely the country would not wish to risk exacerbating tensions at the prestigious G20 summit.

Whether any attempts at reclamation will guarantee military conflict is another question. Ching argues that, despite what many people think, China sees no need to challenge the US militarily, and would prefer to avoid confrontation at all costs.

Likewise, despite some heavy rhetoric last week, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has declared that war is not an option.

Today, he made a somewhat heartfelt plea to Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua to the Philippines to allow Filipino fishermen to fish in the waters over the disputed area on the Philippines border.

“I hope the Chinese may find a place in their hearts for the Filipinos,” Duterte said in front of the ambassador during a speech. “I hope you treat us [as] your brothers and not enemies and take note of our plight.”

He also stressed the need for civil discussion, saying “I don’t go to war… If I am not ready for war, then, peace is the only way.”
— with Reuters

Read Frank Ching article:



China and Russia conducting military exercises together

US Secretary of State John F. Kerry gestures as he addresses a gathering at The Indian Institute of Technology in New Delhi on August 31, 2016. Secretary of State John Kerry said that the US was united with its allies in upholding freedom of navigation rights in the South China Sea following a tribunal’s decision on the contested waters. AFP

In this Aug. 17, 2016 photo, President Rodrigo Duterte chats with Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua at the 115th anniversary of the Philippine National Police in Camp Crame.PPD/Toto Lozano


President Rodrigo R. Duterte shakes hands with Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua during the celebration of the National Heroes’ Day at the Libingan ng mga Bayani in Taguig City on August 29. KING RODRIGUEZ/PPD


Vietnam fishing boat — A fishing boat from Quang Ngai province with six sailors on board was sunk by Chinese vessels on  while fishing near the Paracel (Hoang Sa) Islands, on or about 10 July 2016. Than Nien photo

China has a record of treating Vietnamese fishermen (and Filipino fishermen) with contempt and violence.

Sinocentrism (中華思想) Criticized — “Chinese have a casual Disregard for Vietnamese and Filipinos as Human Beings”