Posts Tagged ‘Latin America’

Huawei’s R&D budget hits $14bn as next-generation networks arrive — Budget will rise as much as $20bn each year

March 30, 2018

Group’s fast-rising research spending feeds into US fears of Chinese 5G dominance
 
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Louise Lucas in Shenzhen
FT (Financial Times)


Huawei spent a record $13.8bn on research and development last year, ranking the Chinese tech giant among the world’s top spenders, and projects its budget will rise to as much as $20bn each year.

The beefed-up spending is likely to fuel fears in the US administration that Chinese companies will spearhead standard-setting in next generation technologies, including networks. US concerns of snooping and state support — denied by Huawei — have seen the Shenzhen-based company effectively frozen out of the US market, unable to sell either telecoms kit or even handsets at any scale.

Ken Hu, Huawei’s deputy chairman and rotating chief executive, said the challenges in the US would make the company work “even harder in other markets around the world”.

As a commercial company, Huawei sought to earn profits globally, he said. “But for one reason or another unfortunately we are not able to do business over there [North America] and we feel sorry for it,” he said.

The R&D budget, which equates to 15 per cent of sales, ranks the Chinese tech giant third among groups globally, just behind Alphabet, according to research group statista.

The news comes amid fears within the White House of Chinese advancement in fifth generation (5G) high-speed data networks. This has prompted US President Donald Trump to block Broadcom’s acquisition of Qualcomm, fearing the deal would mean cost cuts and undermine the US chipmaker’s ability to compete with Huawei in 5G.

In a letter earlier this month, the Committee on Foreign Investment in the US, an inter-agency body that vets takeovers, said Qualcomm owed its “technological success and innovation” to its R&D spending, which typically ranked it second among chipmakers only to Intel.

“This expertise and R&D expenditure in turn drive US leadership in key standard-setting bodies, and Qualcomm has been a leading participant in standards setting for 3G and 4G,” wrote Aimen Mir, the US Treasury department’s deputy assistant secretary for investment security.

A reduced role for the US company would open the door for China, he added, naming Huawei as one contender. “Huawei has increased its R&D expenditure and owns about 10 per cent of 5G essential payments,” he wrote.

Mr Hu said R&D spending would be directed at talent, technology, equipment and partnerships. “The goal of these investments is to help us overcome challenges we still face in technology innovation,” he said.

The ramped up R&D spending emerged as Huawei, which is owned by employees, announced net profits of Rmb47.4bn ($7.6bn) last year, up 7.9 per cent year-on-year, on the back of revenues of Rmb603.6bn.

Sabrina Meng, chief financial officer and daughter of founder Ren Zhengfei, attributed the growth to improved financial discipline in the handset division. The unit, which accounts for 39 per cent of group revenues, saw margins pummelled in 2016 by big spending on marketing and other costs.

The backbone carrier business, which accounts for half of revenues, grew sales just 2 per cent as telecoms operators’ capital expenditure cycle slowed after the 4G upgrade and ahead of the 5G ramp-up. The Americas — virtually all Latin America — was especially badly hit, with revenues down 11 per cent year on year.

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https://www.ft.com/content/7abddaca-33dc-11e8-a3ae-fd3fd4564aa6

 

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Trump to attend Summit of the Americas meeting in Peru

March 10, 2018

AFP and AP

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© Mandel Ngan, AFP | US President Donald Trump will attend the upcoming Summit of the Americas, officials said Friday.

Text by NEWS WIRES

Latest update : 2018-03-10

U.S. President Donald Trump will attend the upcoming Summit of the Americas, officials said Friday, putting him face-to-face with Western Hemisphere leaders, many of whom are upset by his policies and rhetoric toward the region.

The regional summit next month in Peru is seen as the leading forum for projecting U.S. leadership in Latin America and the Caribbean. U.S. presidents have participated in all seven previous gatherings, but with Trump’s anti-immigrant statements, proposal to build a wall on the Mexican border and stance on trade stirring anger throughout the region, many wondered if he would attend.

“There will be some very uncomfortable meetings there,” said Christopher Sabatini, a lecturer in international relations at Columbia University.

A high-ranking Peruvian official confirmed Trump’s visit to Lima for the summit. The official spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to publicly discuss details of the April event. White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders later said Trump will visit Colombia after Peru.

In recent years, U.S. leaders have faced sharp rebukes from leftist Latin Americans at the periodic gathering and this year’s event is likely to be no different. But the upcoming summit is also generating controversy because of a leader at the other end of the political spectrum: Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.

Peruvian leaders have repeatedly said Maduro isn’t invited to attend as international criticism grows over Venezuela‘s human rights record and the nation’s increasingly autocratic government. But Maduro recently said he is determined to attend, “rain, shine or lightning.”

“By air, land or sea – I will get to the Summit of the Americas to tell the truth of this country,” he vowed at a news conference for international journalists.

Mercedes Araoz, the chief of Peru’s Cabinet of Ministers, later quipped back that Maduro cannot come by “land nor Peruvian airspace because he is not welcome.”

Peru and the United States have emerged as two of the most outspoken nations in voicing their objections to Maduro’s rule as Venezuela struggles with hyperinflation, food and medical shortages, and a growing exodus of its citizens fleeing to other parts of the region. Both have also criticized snap presidential elections being held in April that key opposition leaders are boycotting.

Peruvian Foreign Minister Cayetana Aljovin reiterated Friday that Maduro is not invited, saying only presidents committed to “governability, democracy and fighting corruption” can attend.

“There’s a real risk of a very undiplomatic showdown that could occur,” Sabatini said of the ongoing squabble with Maduro. “He’s already been disinvited. It would be strange, odd to have him re-invited. And if he should just show up, can Peru deny him entry?”

Former U.S. President Bill Clinton first invited all hemispheric leaders except Cuba’s Fidel Castro to gather in Miami in 1994 to promote a free trade zone ranging from Alaska to the tip of South America. U.S. leaders have gotten an earful from their Latin American counterparts in more recent years.

Protesters led by soccer legend Diego Maradona burned an effigy of President George W. Bush to protest the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq at the 2005 summit in Argentina. Four years later, the late Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez famously gave then President Barack Obama a copy of a classic leftist book, “The Open Veins of Latin America,” detailing the history of U.S. military interventions in the region.

The theme of this year’s summit is “democratic governance against corruption,” a topic that has embroiled nearly every country in the region. Peru’s own president, Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, was nearly impeached in December after an opposition-led investigation revealed his private consulting firm had received payments from Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht over a decade before.

Odebrecht admitted in a 2016 U.S. Justice Department agreement to paying nearly $800 million in kickbacks to politicians, their campaigns and political parties to secure lucrative public works contracts.

Sabatini said it was a “positive” development that Trump would have face-to-face meetings with regional leaders, but added there are a range of topics likely to be raised that may make the U.S. president uncomfortable. Aside from immigration and the Mexico border wall, his administration’s partial rollback of Obama’s Cuba policy and new, steep tariffs he recently ordered against steel and aluminum imports to the U.S. are almost certain to come up in the discussions.

“There are a lot of open questions and a lot of points of friction,” Sabatini said.

(AP)

The power of China’s checkbook diplomacy

September 10, 2017

There are many ways a government can assert its interests on the international stage. Some use military muscle. Others use subversion or bluster. In Asia, Africa, Latin America, and even in Europe, China is using investment to get what it wants from countries and governments in need.

The most obvious examples are in Asia. Pakistan’s relations with the United States have deteriorated sharply in recent years for many reasons, and President Donald Trump’s warmer ties with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi have given Pakistan’s government and military good reason to invest more deeply in strong relations with China. In turn, Beijing’s investment in Pakistan has gathered momentum. An infrastructure development project, the US$55 billion (S$73.6 billion) China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, part of China’s broader One Belt, One Road Initiative, is generating growth and creating much-needed jobs in Pakistan. In return, China is developing the port of Gwadar, which will provide China a stronger presence in the Indian Ocean.

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Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte does not like criticism from the US and Europe, and Beijing has pledged to help him improve his country’s underdeveloped infrastructure. So far, China hasn’t delivered much, but the promise alone has persuaded the Philippine President not to push hard against China’s expansive claims in the South China Sea. He has also added the Philippines’ voice to a more pro-China stance from the 10-member Asean. Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak has also added to Asean’s tilt towards China and likewise backed off rival claims in the South China Sea because his country also needs investment in roads, bridges and especially rail lines – and because the scandal involving misappropriation of funds from 1Malaysia Development Berhad, a sovereign wealth fund, has left Mr Najib and his government short of cash.

China’s deep pockets have long bought influence in Africa, where President Xi Jinping has pledged billions more in investment in coming years. China is also amplifying its voice across Africa via StarTimes, a state-backed, though privately owned, Chinese media and telecoms firm that beams Chinese content – and a Chinese worldview – via subsidiaries in 30 African countries into African households.

As a member of the Brics group since 2010, South Africa has given China a gateway into the Southern African Development Community, which provides access to natural resources that support China’s growth and boosts its political influence across the region. China is South Africa’s largest trade partner, and the two countries signed commercial deals in 2015 worth US$6.5 billion. South Africa’s government has rewarded China’s willingness to invest by denying Tibet’s Dalai Lama, who is persona non grata in China, entry into South Africa on three separate occasions since 2009, though South African officials deny this.

Chinese trucks at Pakistan’s Gwadar port in Pakistan. Beijing’s investments in the South Asian nation has grown, with China developing the port and the $73.6 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. PHOTO: DAWN/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta was one of just two African leaders offered a seat at the Belt and Road Forum in Beijing earlier this year, and Kenya can expect to be a major recipient of Chinese infrastructure investment as part of the maritime route of the One Belt, One Road project. China has already built a high-speed rail connection between the Kenyan cities of Nairobi and Mombasa, and Kenya’s government has expressed thanks with support for China’s territorial claims in the South China Sea and for Beijing’s bid to persuade the International Monetary Fund to add China’s currency to its Special Drawing Rights basket.

China has also spent considerable time and money building its influence in Latin America. China has become the largest export market for Brazil, Chile, Cuba, Peru, and Uruguay. But this is no longer simply a story of China buying commodities. These same countries, plus Bolivia, now import more from China than from anywhere else. Panama has also become part of the story, in part because China’s investment in the expansion of the Panama Canal has allowed Chinese mega-freighters to reach the Atlantic and eastern seaboard of the US. Earlier this year, Panama announced it would no longer recognise Taiwan, providing China with another diplomatic victory.

Beijing has even extended this strategy into Europe, where leaders still act as though the world is hoping to follow their lead. The most recent Chinese investment is in cash-strapped Greece, a country fed up with imposed austerity and bitter criticism from the European Union. Greece has won Chinese investment through the One Belt, One Road project. In particular, a Chinese state-owned firm now operates the Greek commercial port at Piraeus, the busiest in the Mediterranean. Earlier this year, Greece blocked an EU statement to the United Nations Human Rights Council that criticised Mr Xi’s crackdown on domestic political dissent and joined Hungary to support China’s South China Sea territorial claims at The Hague.

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A senior Greek official last month said: “While the Europeans are acting towards Greece like mediaeval leeches, the Chinese keep bringing money.”

There is a lesson here for the US, the EU and any other international player that would condition badly needed investment on domestic political behaviour. Mr Trump boasts of American power, but he has made clear he has no interest in writing large cheques. Now look at China from the recipient’s point of view. China offers good deals for governments and countries that need them – and it does not demand risk and sacrifice in return.

The only question about this strategy’s future is where it will succeed next.

http://www.straitstimes.com/opinion/the-power-of-chinas-chequebook-diplomacy

The writer is the president of Eurasia Group and author of Superpower: Three Choices For America’s Role In The World.

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Shiite corridor from Tehran to Damascus)

 (John Bolton)

(Includes John Bolton’s Plan for Iran and the Nuclear Deal)

In Latin America, VP Pence Threads Needle on Venezuela

August 14, 2017

CARTAGENA, Colombia — Vice President Mike Pence is demonstrating the delicate balancing act that has thus far defined his term, walking a line during a trip to Latin America between the region’s opposition to possible U.S. military intervention in Venezuela, and President Donald Trump’s surprising refusal to rule out that option.

Speaking during a joint news conference with Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos shortly after his arrival Sunday, Pence also declined to rule out possible military action against Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, whose efforts to consolidate power in the country have drawn alarm. Still, Pence stressed the U.S. would much prefer what he called a “peaceable” solution to the growing political and humanitarian crisis.

“President Trump is a leader who says what he means and means what he says,” Pence said. “But the president sent me here to continue to marshal the unprecedented support of countries across Latin America to achieve by peaceable means the restoration of democracy in Venezuela, and we believe it is achievable by those means.”

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U.S. Vice President Mike Pence listens to Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos during a joint press conference at the presidential guesthouse in Cartagena, Colombia, Sunday, Aug. 13, 2017. Cartagena is the first stop of Pence’s weeklong trip to Latin America, that will also take him to Argentina, Chile and Panama. (AP Photo/Fernando Vergara).

Trump’s startling comments Friday sparked backlash across the region, including from Venezuela’s chief opposition coalition and the Colombian government.

Standing at Pence’s side in Cartagena after the two met, Santos said he had repeatedly told Pence in no uncertain terms that the U.S. must not even consider military action in response to Venezuela’s crisis.

The two countries are important allies, Santos said. “But since friends have to tell each other the truth, I have told Vice President Pence that the possibility of a military intervention shouldn’t even be considered, neither in Colombia nor in Latin America,” Santos said through a translator. “America is a continent of peace. It is the land of peace. Let us preserve it as such.”

Analysists said Trump’s comments played into Maduro’s hands by awakening dark memories of U.S. intervention in the region and making it harder for other Latin American countries to join the anti-Maduro coalition. “The phantom of military interventions in Latin America disappeared a long time ago, and we don’t want it to return,” Santos said.

Pence emphasized the U.S. will work together with many nations in Venezuela’s “neighborhood” to pressure Maduro so that democracy can be restored. “We simply will not accept the emergence of a dictatorship in our hemisphere,” he said, continuing the tough talk that has been Trump’s approach to Maduro. “The United States will not stand by as Venezuela crumbles,” he said.

Pence also addressed the deadly violence that broke out Saturday during a march by white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia, using words the president would not. “We have no tolerance for hate and violence, white supremacists or neo-Nazis or the KKK,” Pence said. “These dangerous fringe groups have no place in American public life and in the American debate, and we condemn them in the strongest possible terms.”

Trump has been criticized by both Democrats and Republicans for not singling out those groups directly in a lengthy Saturday statement and instead blaming “many sides” for the violence.

Pence also addressed a spike in coca production in Colombia, saying the worsening crisis required “swift action to protect the people of both our countries.” A July report from the United Nations showed that coca production in Colombia had reached levels not seen in two decades, complicating Colombia’s efforts to make its vast, lawless countryside more secure.

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U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, right, and Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos, arrive to give a joint press conference at the presidential guesthouse in Cartagena, Colombia, Sunday, Aug. 13, 2017. Cartagena is the first stop of Pence’s weeklong trip to Latin America, that will also take him to Argentina, Chile and Panama. (AP Photo/Fernando Vergara).

Venezuelan Vice President Tareck El Aissami lashed out at Pence, rejecting what he called “interventionist” comments intended to hide the failure of US anti-narcotics policies in Colombia. He dismissed Pence’s meeting with Santos as “an encounter between the world’s largest producer of drugs and the nation with the most consumers.”

El Aissami was sanctioned by the Trump administration in February for allegedly running a drug trafficking network of corrupt officials in Venezuela.

Pence and his wife, Karen, arrived Sunday in Colombia for a six-day, four-country trip through the region. Pence has other stops scheduled in Argentina, Chile and Panama, giving speeches and meeting with leaders.

White House officials tried Sunday to explain Trump’s decision to raise the prospect of possible military action in Venezuela. CIA Director Mike Pompeo said Trump was trying “to give the Venezuelan people hope and opportunity to create a situation where democracy can be restored.” Pompeo told “Fox News Sunday” that Venezuela “could very much become a risk” to the U.S. if it descended into further chaos.

Yet a Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee who calls himself “a pretty hawkish guy” expressed skepticism about the idea of American troops in Caracas.

“I have no idea why we would use military force in Venezuela. I’m open-minded to a reason, but at the end of the day, our military should be deployed when there’s a national security interest that can be articulated to the American people,” South Carolina’s Lindsey Graham told “‘Fox News Sunday.”

Trump’s national security adviser, who has previously warned against military talk, said the Trump administration wants to get a handle on the current situation under Maduro’s embattled government and “understand better how this crisis might evolve.”

“The president never takes options off the table in any of these situations and what we owe him are options,” H.R. McMaster told ABC’s “This Week.”

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Associated Press writer Joshua Goodman in Caracas, Venezuela, contributed to this report.

US Vice President Mike Pence Starts Latin American “Reassurance Tour” — Following President Donald Trump’s threat of a possible “military option” against Venezuela

August 13, 2017

AFP

© GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP/File | US Vice President Mike Pence’s tour would be dominated by the crisis in Venezuela and how US “partners and friends” were looking to the “future” regarding that country, while others were stuck in the “past,” a senior US administration official said

BOGOTA (AFP) – US Vice President Mike Pence launches a Latin America tour Sunday that has taken on new significance following President Donald Trump’s threat of a possible “military option” against Venezuela.

The weeklong trip, aimed at coordinating a regional diplomatic action to the political crisis in Caracas, begins in Colombia, a strong US ally that takes hundreds of millions of dollars a year in funding from Washington and which has little liking for leftist Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.

The other stops were Argentina, Chile and Panama.

The tour would be dominated by the crisis in Venezuela and how US “partners and friends” were looking to the “future” regarding that country, while others were stuck in the “past,” a senior US administration official said.

“We’ve been firm in both word and deed against the Maduro regime, and it’s important to get others in the region. And these four countries have, but we want to continue to put the pressure on the Maduro regime,” he told reporters on condition of anonymity.

“We’ll talk to economic options, diplomatic options — every tool that’s available. It’s not only the United States putting forth pressure on Maduro, but that he’s getting it from all sides of the region as well.”

But, thanks to Trump’s warning on Friday that he was considering various measures to tackle Venezuela “including a possible military option if necessary,” Latin American nations — including those who are scolding Caracas for “breaking democratic rule” — are united against the use of American force.

Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru all issued messages rejecting such a step.

– Bitter memories –

For many Latin American countries, bitter memories of past US military adventures in the region have resurfaced as a result — including the 1989 invasion of Panama to topple and capture its leader, Manuel Noriega — as well as CIA involvement in bloody guerrilla and counter-guerrilla campaigns, and Washington’s propping up of military dictators.

The United States has slapped sanctions on Maduro — an extremely rare punishment against a head of state — as well as two dozen of his officials.

The measures were for the establishment of a new assembly of Maduro loyalists that bypasses the legislature controlled by opposition. The body, which started work this month, has set about clamping down on dissent and opposition politicians.

With Trump’s threat of possible military action, Maduro’s regime has intensified arguments that the United States is plotting with the opposition to oust the president and grab Venezuela’s oil reserves, the largest in the world.

It also said the threat was not just against it, but against all of Latin America.

“The reckless threat by President Donald Trump aims to drag Latin America and the Caribbean into a conflict that would permanently alter stability, peace and security in our region,” Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza told a news conference on Saturday.

The defense minister, General Vladimir Padrino, called Trump’s talk “craziness.”

– Force rejected –

Leftist allies Bolivia, Cuba, Ecuador and Nicaragua have backed Venezuela in a confrontation against its “imperialist” foe.

Other Latin American nations strongly opposed to Venezuela’s political move have also condemned the prospect of the US military being deployed to impose Washington’s will.

“The repudiation of violence and whatever option involving the use of force is resolute and constitutes a fundamental basis of democratic cohabitation, both in domestic contexts as well as in international relations,” Brazil’s foreign ministry said in a statement.

“The crisis in Venezuela can’t be resolved through military actions, internally or externally,” Mexican Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray wrote on Twitter.

Say hello to a post-America world — By Fareed Zakaria

July 28, 2017

President Trump sits alone at the Group of 20 summit. (Felipe Trueba/European Pressphoto Agency)

 Opinion writer July 27 at 7:49 PM

In London last week, I met a Nigerian man who succinctly expressed the reaction of much of the world to the United States these days. “Your country has gone crazy,” he said, with a mixture of outrage and amusement. “I’m from Africa. I know crazy, but I didn’t ever think I would see this in America.”

A sadder sentiment came from a young Irish woman I met in Dublin who went to Columbia University, founded a social enterprise and has lived in New York for nine years. “I’ve come to recognize that, as a European, I have very different values than America these days,” she said. “I realized that I have to come back to Europe, somewhere in Europe, to live and raise a family.”

The world has gone through bouts of anti-Americanism before. But this one feels very different. First, there is the sheer shock at what is going on, the bizarre candidacy of Donald Trump, which has been followed by an utterly chaotic presidency. The chaos is at such a fever pitch that one stalwart Republican, Karl Rove, described the president this week as “vindictive, impulsive and shortsighted” and his public shaming of Attorney General Jeff Sessions as “unfair, unjustified, unseemly and stupid.” Kenneth Starr, the onetime grand inquisitor of President Bill Clinton, went further, calling Trump’s recent treatment of Sessions “one of the most outrageous — and profoundly misguided — courses of presidential conduct I have witnessed in five decades in and around the nation’s capital.”

But there is another aspect to the decline in America’s reputation. According to a recent Pew Research Center survey of 37 countries, people around the world increasingly believe that they can make do without America. Trump’s presidency is making the United States something worse than just feared or derided. It is becoming irrelevant.

The most fascinating finding of the Pew survey was not that Trump is deeply unpopular (22 percent have confidence in him, compared with 64 percent who had confidence in Barack Obama at the end of his presidency). That was to be expected — but there are now alternatives. On the question of confidence in various leaders to do the right thing regarding world affairs, China’s Xi Jinping and Russia’s Vladimir Putin got slightly higher marks than Trump. But German Chancellor Angela Merkel got almost twice as much support as Trump. (Even in the United States, more respondents expressed confidence in Merkel than in Trump.) This says a lot about Trump, but it says as much about Merkel’s reputation and how far Germany has come since 1945.

Trump has managed to do something that Putin could not. He has unified Europe. As the continent faces the challenges of Trump, Brexit and populism, a funny thing has happened. Support for Europe among its residents has risen, and plans for deeper European integration are underway. If the Trump administration proceeds as it has promised and initiates protectionist measures against Europe, the continent’s resolve will only strengthen. Under the combined leadership of Merkel and new French President Emmanuel Macron, Europe will adopt a more activist global agenda. Its economy has rebounded and is now growing as fast as that of the United States.

To America’s north, Canada’s foreign minister recently spoke out, in a friendly and measured way, noting that the United States has clearly signaled that it is no longer willing to bear the burdens of global leadership, leaving it to countries such as Canada to stand up for a rules-based international system, free trade and human rights. To America’s south, Mexico has abandoned any plans for cooperation with the Trump administration. Trump’s approval rating in Mexico is 5 percent, his lowest of all the countries Pew surveyed.

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China’s leadership began taking advantage of Trump’s rhetoric and foreign policy right from the start, announcing that it was happy to play the role of chief promoter of trade and investment around the world, cutting deals with countries from Latin America to Africa to Central Asia. According to the Pew survey, seven of 10 European countries now believe that China is the world’s leading economic power, not the United States.

The most dismaying of Pew’s findings is that the drop in regard for America goes well beyond Trump. Sixty-four percent of the people surveyed expressed a favorable view of the United States at the end of the Obama presidency. That has fallen to 49 percent now. Even when U.S. foreign policy was unpopular, people around the world still believed in America — the place, the idea. This is less true today.

In 2008, I wrote a book about the emerging “Post-American World,” which, I noted at the start, was not about the decline of America but rather the rise of the rest. Amid the parochialism, ineptitude and sheer disarray of the Trump presidency, the post-American world is coming to fruition much faster than I ever expected.

Read more from Fareed Zakaria’s archivefollow him on Twitter or subscribe to his updates on Facebook.

Sec. of State Tillerson ‘taking a little time off’ but not resigning — With global hot spots almost too numerous to list, America needs its top diplomats more than ever

July 26, 2017

, USA TODAY

Published 6:13 p.m. ET July 25, 2017 | Updated 11:46 p.m. ET July 25, 2017

Rex Tillerson has no plans to resign as Secretary of State and is “just taking a little time off,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said Tuesday amid reports Tillerson was considering stepping down.

CNN reported over the weekend that a potential “Rexit” at Foggy Bottom was brewing and that Tillerson might resign before the end of the year. The report pointed to the former ExxonMobil CEO’s growing frustration with the administration, which was exacerbated by President Trump’s public attacks on Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

“The secretary has been very clear he intends to stay here at the State Department” Nauert told reporters when asked about the resignation rumors, according to The Hill. “We have a lot of work that is left to be done ahead of us. He recognizes that. He is deeply engaged in that work.”

Nauert said Tillerson is “just taking a little time off” after returning from a “mega trip” at the beginning of the month that included stops in Germany, Ukraine, Turkey, Kuwait, Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

“He’s entitled to take a few days himself,” Nauert said.

CNN said Tillerson told “friends outside of Washington” that he intended to remain at the State Department at least through the end of the year, but the network also cited two anonymous sources who said they thought he might leave sooner than that.

Those sources added that Tillerson “could have been venting after a tough week.”

Tillerson’s senior aide RC Hammond denied the report in a Buzzfeed News story published Monday.

“As long as there are rogue regimes pursuing nuclear weapons or terrorists seeking safe haven the secretary will remain on the job,” Hammond said.

There has been tension between Tillerson and the Trump administration over issues ranging from Iran policy to State Department personnel, according to several media reports. In June, the secretary of State unloaded on White House aide Johnny DeStefano over staffing issues.

“Well, it is a lot different than being C.E.O. of Exxon because I was the ultimate decision maker,” Tillerson told Tillerson told The New York Times earlier this month about his role as chief diplomat. “That always makes life easier.”

Some reporters speculated that Trump’s politicized address at the Boy Scout Jamboree could have further alienated Tillerson, a Distinguished Eagle Scout and former national president of the Boy Scouts of America.

Rex spoke to Scouts Fri w/o public fanfare. Trump comments more likely to push him out than policy contradictions. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-07-25/trump-launches-into-political-tirade-at-boy-scouts-jamboree 

U.S. President Donald Trump delivered a meandering political speech to thousands of Boy Scouts on Monday evening, including a rip at former President Barack Obama.

bloomberg.com

Everyone covering the State Dept. is on “Tillerson quits” countdown watch. Tillerson has a long history with the Boy Scouts. https://twitter.com/nwadhams/status/889833256308416513 

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/onpolitics/2017/07/25/rex-tillerson-taking-little-time-off/510355001/

Philippines proposes ‘third route’ to extend China’s Belt and Road Initiative

May 28, 2017
Published May 28, 2017, 2:35 PM

By Roy Mabasa

The Philippines has proposed the development of a 21st Century “third route” to complement and extend China’s “Belt and Road” Initiative.

According to Special Envoy for Inter-Cultural Dialogue Jose C. De Venecia Jr., this proposed “third route” would make China’s ‘Belt and Road initiative “almost globally inclusive and create a linkage with two more continents – Australia and Latin America – in a new circumnavigation, in a revivable of the Age of Exploration, and new spirit in the Age of Globalization.”

A map illustrating China's silk road economic belt and the 21st century maritime silk road, or the so-called "One Belt, One Road" megaproject, is displayed at the Asian Financial Forum in Hong Kong, China January 18, 2016. (REUTERS/Bobby Yip / MANILA BULLETIN)

A map illustrating China’s silk road economic belt and the 21st century maritime silk road, or the so-called “One Belt, One Road” megaproject, is displayed at the Asian Financial Forum in Hong Kong, China January 18, 2016. (REUTERS/Bobby Yip / MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

It was during a visit in Central and Southeast Asia in September and October of 2013 that Chinese President Xi Jinping raised the initiative of jointly building the Xi JinpingEconomic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, later shortened to the Belt and Road Initiative.

The initiative is aimed at improving land and sea connectivity between regions in terms of infrastructure, business, culture, and financial services and is expected to elevate 3 billion more people to the middle class by 2050 and help increase global trade by $2.5 trillion (roughly P124.2 trillion) in the next decade.

De Venecia said from Hainan island off Guangdong province in southern China, the proposed third route could also pass first through the Philippines, then Malaysia, Indonesia, and the small island nation of Timor Leste onwards.

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He pointed out the currently an agri-tourism belt and large petro-chemical and industrial complex is being planned for implementation by pioneering Chinese and Filipino groups in Northwestern Philippines as part of an extended Belt and Maritime Road plan.

The former House speaker said from Timor Leste to Australia’s Gold Coast to Sydney, and New Zealand, the extended route could move across the south Pacific, and enter Latin America: Chile, Argentina, Brazil and the tourism-rich Caribbean islands, then Mexico, all the way to the US as in the old days of the Galleon Trade from Manila to Acapulco, Mexico, which sailed for 250 years.

“It is not far-fetched, for there are already multiple large Chinese investments in South America,” said De Venecia. “And at some point, we said the Latinos should also bring their trade to the south Pacific and into Asia.”

The proposal for a third route was made at the “High-Level Dialogue in China’s Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation” in Beijing last May 15.

The forum was attended by more than 40 heads of state and government and former presidents, former premiers and heads of international congregations.

According to De Venecia, the proposal was made “in order to expand, deepen and strengthen the cultural, geo-political, geo-economic, trade and people-to-people linkages of the historic Silk Road.

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http://news.mb.com.ph/2017/05/28/ph-proposes-devt-of-third-route-to-extend-chinas-belt-and-road-initiative/

World Economic Forum in Davos: Trump election casts “a deep, deep sense of uncertainty and that will cast a long shadow over Davos”

January 15, 2017
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Xi Jinping is the first Chinese president ever to attend Davos
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By Noah Barkin
Reuters

DAVOS, Switzerland – The global economy is in better shape than it’s been in years. Stock markets are booming, oil prices are on the rise again and the risks of a rapid economic slowdown in China, a major source of concern a year ago, have eased.

And yet, as political leaders, CEOs and top bankers make their annual trek up the Swiss Alps to the World Economic Forum in Davos, the mood is anything but celebratory.

Beneath the veneer of optimism over the economic outlook lurks acute anxiety about an increasingly toxic political climate and a deep sense of uncertainty surrounding the U.S. presidency of Donald Trump, who will be inaugurated on the final day of the forum.

Last year, the consensus here was that Trump had no chance of being elected. His victory, less than half a year after Britain voted to leave the European Union, was a slap at the principles that elites in Davos have long held dear, from globalization and free trade to multilateralism.

Trump is the poster child for a new strain of populism that is spreading across the developed world and threatening the post-war liberal democratic order. With elections looming in the Netherlands, France, Germany, and possibly Italy, this year, the nervousness among Davos attendees is palpable.

“Regardless of how you view Trump and his positions, his election has led to a deep, deep sense of uncertainty and that will cast a long shadow over Davos,” said Jean-Marie Guehenno, CEO of International Crisis Group, a conflict resolution think-tank.

Moises Naim of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace was even more blunt: “There is a consensus that something huge is going on, global and in many respects unprecedented. But we don’t know what the causes are, nor how to deal with it.”

The titles of the discussion panels at the WEF, which runs from Jan. 17-20, evoke the unsettling new landscape. Among them are “Squeezed and Angry: How to Fix the Middle Class Crisis”, “Politics of Fear or Rebellion of the Forgotten?”, “Tolerance at the Tipping Point?” and “The Post-EU Era”.

The list of leaders attending this year is also telling. The star attraction will be Xi Jinping, the first Chinese president ever to attend Davos. His presence is being seen as a sign of Beijing’s growing weight in the world at a time when Trump is promising a more insular, “America first” approach and Europe is pre-occupied with its own troubles, from Brexit to terrorism.

British Prime Minister Theresa May, who has the thorny task of taking her country out of the EU, will also be there. But Germany’s Angela Merkel, a Davos regular whose reputation for steady, principled leadership would have fit well with the WEF’s main theme of “Responsive and Responsible Leadership”, will not.

‘REJOICING IN THE ELEVATORS’

Perhaps the central question in Davos, a four-day affair of panel discussions, lunches and cocktail parties that delve into subjects as diverse as terrorism, artificial intelligence and wellness, is whether leaders can agree on the root causes of public anger and begin to articulate a response.

A WEF report on global risks released before Davos highlighted “diminishing public trust in institutions” and noted that rebuilding faith in the political process and leaders would be a “difficult task”.

Guy Standing, the author of several books on the new “precariat”, a class of people who lack job security and reliable earnings, believes more people are coming around to the idea that free-market capitalism needs to be overhauled, including those that have benefited most from it.

“The mainstream corporate types don’t want Trump and far-right authoritarians,” said Standing, who has been invited to Davos for the first time. “They want a sustainable global economy in which they can do business. More and more of them are sensible enough to realize that they have overreached.”

But Ian Bremmer, president of U.S.-based political risk consultancy Eurasia Group, is not so sure.

He recounted a recent trip to Goldman Sachs headquarters in New York where he saw bankers “rejoicing in the elevators” at the surge in stock markets and the prospect of tax cuts and deregulation under Trump. Both Goldman CEO Lloyd Blankfein and his JP Morgan counterpart Jamie Dimon will be in Davos.

“If you want to find people who are going to rally together and say capitalism is fundamentally broken, Davos is not the place to go,” Bremmer said.

PACE OF CHANGE

Suma Chakrabarti, president of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), believes a “modern version of globalization” is possible but acknowledges it will take time to emerge.

“It is going to be a long haul in persuading a lot of people that there is a different approach. But you don’t have to throw the baby out with the bath water,” he told Reuters.

Still, some attendees worry that the pace of technological change and the integrated, complex nature of the global economy have made it more difficult for leaders to shape and control events, let alone reconfigure the global system.

The global financial crisis of 2008/9 and the migrant crisis of 2015/16 exposed the impotence of politicians, deepening public disillusion and pushing people towards populists who offered simple explanations and solutions.

The problem, says Ian Goldin, an expert on globalization and development at the University of Oxford, is that on many of the most important issues, from climate change to financial regulation, only multilateral cooperation can deliver results. And this is precisely what the populists reject.

“The state of global politics is worse than it’s been in a long time,” said Goldin. “At a time when we need more coordination to tackle issues like climate change and other systemic risks, we are getting more and more insular.”

(Additional reporting by Ben Hirschler; Editing by Pravin Char)

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Before Trump gets his inauguration, China’s president swipes some of the spotlight

President of the People's Republic of China Xi Jinping.

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President of the People’s Republic of China Xi Jinping.

Chinese President Xi Jinping is about to take center stage at the ultimate gathering of globalists from the world over, and he hopes to make his country the middle of global attention while he’s at it.

Xi will speak before elite business and political leaders at the World Economic Forum in Davos next Tuesday, just days before populist President-elect Donald Trump is sworn into office in the United States. Beijing will use the appearance in Switzerland to favorably contrast Xi and China with Trump and the United States.

Already before taking office, Trump has leaned hard on American companies to keep operations in the U.S., and he has chosen vocal China critics for top positions on trade and defense. In contrast, Xi is expected in his opening plenary speech to play up China as a proponent of globalization.

“I think China’s trying to send a signal that it’s the world’s most responsible stakeholder. The U.S. by contrast is a greater source of anxiety, tensions and volatility,” said Scott Kennedy, deputy director, Freeman Chair in China Studies, at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

“The growing tensions between the U.S. and China gives this a bigger, larger significance than it otherwise would have,” he said.

The 2016 World Economic Forum kicks off in Davos, Switzerland on Jan. 18, 2016.

You can’t solve all the world’s problems in Davos: DSM CEO  Tuesday, 20 Dec 2016 | 1:19 AM ET | 04:20

Xi will be the first Chinese president to attend the World Economic Forum’s Davos gathering and comes as part of a state visit to Switzerland, just ahead of the Lunar New Year. Xi is a well-traveled Chinese leader who is also expected to consolidate his own power within China at a Communist Party congress this fall.

As the leader of the world’s second-largest economy, Xi will embrace the opportunity at Davos to show that the international community needs to pay attention to China’s interests.

“More than ever, China has to raise a voice, when we know President-elect Trump is challenging, criticizing China,” said Richard Attias, who produced the World Economic Forum in Davos for 15 years and now heads consulting firm Richard Attias & Associates. “When you are challenged you need to react and I think what President Xi is doing is right.”

At Davos, the Chinese “will talk to the businesses coming to explain to them, despite all the promises of President-elect Trump, [that] China will still be an interesting place to invest and include in your strategies,” Attias said.

Beijing has taken several recent steps to position more at the center of global trade and finance. Last January, China launched the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank to serve as a financing alternative to the U.S.-led World Bank. More recently, China is stepping in replace the United States as the central player in Pacific trade, following the U.S. Congress’ failure to ratify the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement that was negotiated by the Obama administration.

‘… increased tensions in coming years’

China’s investments include projects in Africa, Latin America and the European Union, and Beijing’s “One Belt, One Road” program seeks to build infrastructure that links the country to surrounding underdeveloped regions.

China’s heavily state-influenced companies have been on a buying spree, snapping up businesses, property and technology from Europe, Japan, Australia and the United States. Last year, China’s global outbound foreign direct investment jumped by a whopping 40 percent to an estimated nearly $200 billion, according to a report released this month by Rhodium Group and the Mercator Institute for China Studies in Berlin.

Supported by a growing awareness that China uses protectionism and state supports to give its companies unfair advantages against the rest of the world, the Trump administration wants to reset the relationship between the two countries.

“I sense a lot of anxiety here in part because they’re not really sure what the ask is from the incoming administration,” Kennedy said, speaking from Beijing. “They are not … sure what they are going to do and whether [when] they achieve those things they can achieve equilibrium.”

Trump has picked “Death by China” author Peter Navarro to head a newly formed National Trade Council, and tapped for the U.S. Trade Representative post Robert Lighthizer, a lawyer who’s fought against China dumping steel into the U.S. market.

Trump’s “selection of the key economic advisors in the new administration, suggests there’s likely to be increased tensions in coming years,” said Yukon Huang, a senior fellow in the Carnegie Asia Program and formerly the World Bank’s country director for China.

That means in his Davos speech, Xi “also has to indicate intentions in the future to continue liberalizing … objectives which the U.S. leaders and European leaders would want to support,” Huang said.

Xi has been criticized outside of China for slowing or reversing some of the country’s progress toward greater openness and economic liberalization.