Posts Tagged ‘One Belt One Road’

Tillerson: China ‘Predatory’ for Dumping ‘Enormous Levels of Debt’ on Developing Nations

October 20, 2017

In this Sept. 26, 2017, photo, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson speaks at the State Department in Washington. Tillerson is making his second trip to China since taking office in February, and relations between the two world powers have rarely mattered so much. The standoff over North Korea’s nuclear weapons has entered a new, dangerous phase as its leader Kim Jong Un and President Donald Trump exchange personal insults and threats of war with no sign of a diplomatic solution. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Tillerson’s speech comes as a welcome response to the aggressive global agenda laid out by Xi, but it is also surprisingly tough given how hard the Trump administration has worked to get China on board with restraining North Korea.

Tillerson, who usually plays the “good cop” counterpart to Trump’s fiery criticism of global adversaries, was unsparing in his criticism of China’s business practices. The topic of his speech was “Defining Our Relationship with India for the Next Century.” He segued into hammering China during the Q&A session, after praising India’s economic development and efforts against terrorism in glowing terms for a good twenty minutes.

CSIS President John J. Hamre teed up the assault by quoting a “very interesting” passage from Tillerson’s remarks on India, in which he called for a close U.S.-Indian partnership to “ensure the Indo-Pacific is increasingly a place of peace, stability, and growing prosperity” and prevent it from becoming “a region of disorder, conflict, and predatory economics.”

Asked to clarify what he meant by predatory economics, Tillerson described the hunger of emerging economies and “fledgling democracies” in the region for infrastructure investment.

“We have watched the activities and actions of others in the region, particularly China, and the financing mechanisms it brings to many of these countries, which result in saddling them with enormous levels of debt,” said the secretary of state.

“They don’t often create the jobs, which infrastructure projects should be tremendous job creators in these economies, but too often foreign workers are brought in to execute these infrastructure projects,” he continued. “Financing is structured in a way that makes it very difficult for them to obtain future financing, and often has very subtle triggers in the financing that results in financing default, and the conversion of debt into equity.”

“This is not a structure that supports the future growth of these countries,” Tillerson said. “We think it’s important that we begin to develop some means of countering that with alternative financing measures, financing structures.”

“During the East Asia summit, ministerial summit in August, we began a quiet conversation with others about what they were experiencing, what they need, and we’re starting a quiet conversation in a multilateral way with how can we create alternative financing mechanisms,” he revealed. “We will not be able to compete with the kind of terms China offers, but countries have to decide—what are they willing to pay to secure their sovereignty and their future control of their economies? We’ve had those discussions with them as well.”

Tillerson recalled having similar discussions with borrowers during his days as a private-sector oil executive, which is a hopeful sign that he’s the right person to be waging this quiet financial war with China.

“On a direct competitive basis, it’s hard to compete with someone who’s offering something on financial terms that are worth a few points on the lending side,” he conceded, an especially important point when considering the billion-dollar scale of the loans he was describing. “We have to help them put that in perspective of the longer-term ability to control their country, control the future of their country, control the development of their economy in a rules-based system.”

“That’s really what we’re promoting. As you retain your sovereignty, you retain your commitment to a rules-based order, we will come with other options for you,” he said. This will be an interesting challenge when China is so aggressively pushing the idea that sovereignty, both individual and national, is overrated compared to the material benefits provided by authoritarian central control.

Examples of the predatory practices Tillerson described can be found in places like Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Pakistan, the latter two of which have been “virtually decimated” by Chinese debt manipulation according to this critique. Not coincidentally, the targets of Chinese financial assault tend to be located along its “New Silk Road” trade route construction project (which is often explicitly linked to the infrastructure projects Beijing funds) or along the borders of China’s great regional adversary, India.

Another case study is Cameroon, which owes China a huge amount of money, and noticed last year that Chinese loggers were illegally cutting down its forests. Critics specifically cited Cameroon’s debt to China for infrastructure loans as a major reason environmental laws were not enforced against it.

Tillerson compared China’s economic growth to India’s and concluded China has acted “less responsibly, at times undermining the international rules-based order.” He called out China’s “provocative actions in the South China Sea” as a direct challenge to international law.

“We’re going to have important relationships with China. We’ll never have the same relationship with China, a non-democratic society, that we can have with a major democracy,” he said.

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What Xi Jinping’s second term can bring Asean (Good News and Bad News)

October 20, 2017
 / 03:24 PM October 19, 2017
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Chinese President Xi Jinping. AFP FILE PHOTO

The Chinese Communist Party kicked off its 19th congress on Wednesday, ready to set a fresh course for the country and recast the leadership, although President Xi Jinping will almost certainly be re-elected to a second five-year term and be given even greater power in running the country. Xi’s leadership is utterly crucial as China’s peaceful rise has significant impacts on this region and the world.

At the congress, which continues through Saturday, the party will amend its constitution to incorporate Xi’s political thoughts and philosophy, in effect elevating his status close to that of founding chairman Mao Zedong and of Deng Xiaoping, who initiated China’s sweeping economic reforms.

Xi in his turn seeks to establish a fiscally moderate yet prosperous society by 2020 through reforms, the rule of law and strict party discipline. His thinking prioritises the integrated development of politics, culture, society and environmental protections while ensuring economic stability. It would be an impressive feat indeed if China could in the next five years put that vision into practice without any of the components being cruelly distorted.

Under Xi, however, China has over the past five years become more aggressive and more authoritarian, even with its healthy economy and remarkable technological advances. While China’s economic assistance to countries in Southeast Asia is most welcome, territorial disputes with Beijing in the South China Sea have cast our giant neighbour as an arrogant bully.

Xi’s “One Belt One Road” initiative is set to create a multitude of opportunities for economic development spanning much of the world, but building physical links over land and sea will also give China the wherewithal to expand its influence into every connected nation. Its political and economic influence is already evident enough in most member-countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Myanmar rely on China for financial and technological aid. Thailand and Laos are in partnerships with Beijing to build a railway that will connect them all, a project requiring not just Chinese investment and technology but also human resources. Cambodia, Thailand and Myanmar have bolstered their military ties with Beijing, purchasing hardware from and conducting joint exercise with China.

All of this, though, proceeds in the shadow of the South China Sea conflicts, which put Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam directly at odds with Chinese expansionism. The volatile combination of fiscal reliance on Beijing and confrontation over disputed maritime territory could well split Asean in two. Its members with no land in the South China Sea tend to stand closer to Beijing in all other matters. Every Asean summit has at least one member-country imploring the others to tone down the wording of statements objecting to Chinese territorial incursions. China is poised to take full advantage of such disunity, and in fact might well be encouraging it.

It can be argued that Asean-China relations have suffered under Xi’s leadership. In the interest of maintaining and improving stability in Southeast Asia, Xi would be well advised to review his dealings with Asean. The bloc as a whole is a valuable trading partner for China. Every effort must be made in his second term to resolve the South China Sea issue and to pursue other forms of mutually beneficial cooperation with Asean, not just its individual members.

Read more: http://opinion.inquirer.net/108020/xi-jinpings-second-term-can-bring-asean#ixzz4w3Gja0dx
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China says it has sovereignty over all the South China Sea north of its “nine dash line.” On July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration  in The Hague said this claim by China was not valid. But China and the Philippine government then chose to ignore international law.
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Shiite corridor from Tehran to Damascus)

 (Enslavement Project?)

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China is the nation gaining the most, so China should step up to pay for a greater share of the planned railway network, the Thai transport minister said less than a month agao

China leads the way: Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai inspecting a model at the launch of China High Speed Rail Exhibition at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre in December last year. It is undeniable that China garners the most support in the bid for the HSR project, beating countries such as Japan.

China leads the way: Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai inspecting a model at the launch of China High Speed Rail Exhibition at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre in December last year. It is undeniable that China garners the most support in the bid for the HSR project, beating countries such as Japan.

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China’s People’s Daily launches English app in soft power push

October 15, 2017

AFP

© AFP/File | The People’s Daily launched its English-language mobile application ahead of the Communist Party’s 19th National Congress, a twice-a-decade political meeting.

BEIJING (AFP) – The People’s Daily, the mouthpiece of China’s ruling Communist Party, launched an English-language mobile application on Sunday in what it called a “strategic step” to strengthen Beijing’s influence internationally.

The newspaper, which sold an average of 3.18 million copies a day in 2016, launched a Chinese app three years ago that it says has been downloaded 200 million times, — but it did not yet have an app in English for mobile phones.

The app launch comes ahead of a key party congress expected to confirm a second term for President Xi Jinping, who has been keen to demonstrate China’s increasing global influence.

“To develop an English app is a strategic move to … further enhance our global influence and presence,” People’s Daily Newspaper Group president Yang Zhenwu said at a ceremony at a brand new headquarters in Beijing, in the presence of senior government officials.

“We are striving to achieve what President Xi has asked, namely to speak well of China and to spread his word well,” Yang added.

The Party’s Central Committee representative, vice-minister Guo Yezhou, said it was “very important to tell the world about the theories and philosophy” of the CCP and to “tell good stories about China and the (Party).”

The new English-language app’s home page launched on Sunday with a photo of Nigerian president Muhammadu Buhari, who sent a congratulatory letter to his Chinese counterpart Xi for the upcoming 19th National Congress, a twice-a-decade political meeting.

People’s Daily also has a website that broadcasts its articles in eight languages.

In addition to the People’s Daily, China has several international news channels, including Xinhua news agency and, since the end of 2016, the China Global Television Network (CGTN), which brings together foreign language channels of its state broadcaster.

Conversely, the Chinese regime closely controls information allowed to enter the country, and bans the websites of certain foreign media such as Le Monde and the New York Times.

Beijing has maintained that its various forms of web censorship — collectively known as “The Great Firewall” — are necessary for protecting its national security.

The Communist Party congress opens Wednesday and is expected to see Xi tighten his grip on power.

Though craving recognition abroad — and perhaps even more importantly at home — as a great power, China under Xi is also aware of suspicions over its actions and regularly issues verbal reassurances.

For example, Beijing touts its trillion-dollar “One, Belt, One Road” initiative, aimed at boosting its ties to Europe and Africa, as a “win-win” strategy to lift millions out of poverty.

The Big Winner From China’s Foreign-Aid Frenzy: China

October 11, 2017

Beijing’s development assistance generally also lands deals for the country’s companies

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BEIJING—When Ghana sought to build a hydroelectric dam in the early 2000s, it failed to get World Bank backing. Then China stepped forward.

The Bui Dam was built through China’s brand of foreign aid: roughly half of the $600 million cost came as aid-like financing on favorable terms; the other half, commercial loans to be repaid with the proceeds from cocoa production.

China’s blurring of charity and business was examined in a new study from AidData, a research center based at the College of William and Mary in Virginia, which tallied 4,400 Chinese foreign-development projects from 2000 to 2014. AidData estimates one-fifth of the $362.1 billion took the form of Chinese government grants or other aid. Another one-fifth was too murky to determine whether it was aid or business. The remaining transactions were mostly commercial in nature.

China’s hybrid development model is playing a growing role, as Beijing begins its enormous “Belt and Road” infrastructure push across Asia, the Middle East and Africa. At $1 trillion, its projected cost is more than seven times that of America’s Marshall Plan for Europe’s post-World War II reconstruction, in today’s dollars.

Helping Hand? / China overseas development funding, 2000-2014. Source: AidData

Beijing’s ambition has funded pricey projects that might otherwise draw few backers, such as the Gwadar port in Pakistan and a data center in Djibouti, home to China’s first overseas naval base. But China has drawn criticism for financing authoritarian regimes and countries with unsustainable debt, such as Venezuela.

China has cast Belt and Road as a humanitarian effort, as well as a means to forge trade routes and strategic alliances. In May, China said it would spend 60 billion yuan ($9.1 billion) on assistance to Belt and Road countries in the next three years, including on emergency food aid and poverty alleviation.

The U.S. and other Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development countries define foreign aid, or “official development assistance,” as transactions that are at least 25% grant.

May 15: China is trying to build excitement around Xi Jinping’s ‘Belt and Road’ plan to expand trade with roads, railways and ports. Photo: Thomas Peter/Reuters

But for China, development assistance generally also lands business for its companies—a dual role that Beijing views as a win-win rather than a conflict, says Evan Ellis, a U.S. Army War College professor who studies China’s engagement in South America.

“The Chinese don’t just give loans,” he said. “They are almost all tied to using Chinese companies as subcontractors.”

China’s commerce ministry and the Export-Import Bank of China didn’t immediately reply to requests for comment. China has said its foreign assistance is based on mutual benefit and noninterference in the internal affairs of the recipient countries.

The U.S. and other member countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, a Paris-based research body, agreed in 1978 to restrict the practice of requiring aid recipients to purchase goods and services, and to limit how aid can be mixed with commercial financing, said Brad Parks, AidData’s executive director. China isn’t a member of the OECD, so isn’t bound by the agreement.

Yu Zhengsheng, chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference—a political advisory body that includes some of China’s wealthiest businesspeople—and Ghanaian President John Dramani Mahama cutting a ribbon at the opening of a gas project in the Ghanaian capital of Accra in April of 2016.Photo: Ju Peng/Zuma Press

“This practice has raised serious alarm among countries that do not blend their development finance and trade finance,” said Mr. Parks.

The U.S. Export-Import Bank warned in its annual competitiveness report this summer that the agreement may suffer from China’s use of “mixed credits,” which combine regular export credits with aid or aid-like loans.

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Bui Dam under construction

The result is financing packages that countries adhering to the OECD agreement can’t match, the report said.

Deborah Brautigam, director of the China Africa Research Initiative at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies, said the U.S. had used foreign aid to boost exports for many years before unlinking the two areas.

China Reaches Out

  • Western Firms Bet Big on China’s Multibillion-Dollar Infrastructure Project (May 14, 2017)
  • Tightened Belt: China Skimps on Its Grand Trade Plan (May 9, 2017)
  • Beijing Spins a Web of Chinese Infrastructure (Jan. 16, 2017)
  • China’s ‘One Belt, One Road’ Takes to Space (Dec. 28, 2016)
  • China Builds First Overseas Military Outpost (Aug. 19, 2016)
  • Chinese-Pakistani Project Tries to Overcome Jihadists, Droughts and Doubts (April 10, 2016)
  • China Makes Multibillion-Dollar Down-Payment on Silk Road Plans (April 21, 2015)
  • China Readies $46 Billion for Pakistan Trade Route (April 16, 2015)

“We know these tricks,” said Ms. Brautigam. “These are all the same tricks that we had used.”

Defenders of China’s development model say countries gain valuable infrastructure that otherwise might not have been funded.

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When Ghana sought to build its first dam in the 1960s, the U.S. and World Bank mobilized for the project, fearing in those Cold War days that the mineral-rich area would fall under Soviet sway. But by the early 2000s, public opinion in the West had turned against dam-building, making the World Bank reluctant to take on new projects like Ghana’s second dam, said Julian Kirchherr, an assistant professor in sustainable development at Utrecht University in the Netherlands.

China’s Sinohydro Corp. completed Ghana’s Bui Dam in 2013. In August, the Ghana Cocoa Board told the country’s parliament it was in financial distress due to obligations that including servicing the Bui Dam loan.

—Xiao Xiao and Yang Jie contributed to this article.

Write to Eva Dou at eva.dou@wsj.com

https://www.wsj.com/articles/when-it-comes-to-foreign-aid-chinas-taking-care-of-business-1507694463

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© AFP/File | Iranian President Hassan Rouhani shakes hands with Chinese President Xi Jinping (R) during a welcoming ceremony on January 23, 2016 in the capital Tehran

 (Enslavement Project?)

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China is the nation gaining the most, so China should step up to pay for a greater share of the planned railway network, the Thai transport minister said less than a month agao

China leads the way: Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai inspecting a model at the launch of China High Speed Rail Exhibition at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre in December last year. It is undeniable that China garners the most support in the bid for the HSR project, beating countries such as Japan.

China leads the way: Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai inspecting a model at the launch of China High Speed Rail Exhibition at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre in December last year. It is undeniable that China garners the most support in the bid for the HSR project, beating countries such as Japan.

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Myanmar’s conflict-hit Rakhine a magnet for Chinese cash

September 28, 2017
© AFP / by Marion THIBAUT, with Julien Girault in Beijing | This picture shows burnt houses in Maungdaw in Myanmar’s northern Rakhine state, with the government saying this week it would manage all fire-damaged land in Rakhine for “redevelopment” purposes
BANGKOK (AFP) – Battered by global outrage over an army crackdown on Rohingya Muslims, Myanmar has found comfort in an old friend ?- China, an Asian superpower whose unflinching support is tied to the billions it has lavished on ports, gas and oil in violence-hit Rakhine state.

Close to half a million Rohingya have fled to Bangladesh in the last month after a militant attack sparked a vicious military campaign that the UN has called “ethnic cleansing”.

China — which is expected to speak later Thursday at a UN Security Council meeting on the crisis — has fallen out of step with much of the world in condemning the army-led crackdown.

“We think the international community should support the efforts of Myanmar in safeguarding the stability of its national development,” foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said earlier this month.

That support was far from unexpected from an ally who ploughed cash into Myanmar even as its economy choked under a half century of military rule and US sanctions.

Most of those sanctions were rolled back in 2014 as a reward for democratic elections.

But those freedoms meant little to Beijing anyway.

Between 1988 and 2014, China invested more than $15 billion in the junta-run country, according to its official Xinhua news agency, mostly in mining and energy. It also propped up the pariah military regime with weapons.

“They have a few major economic projects under way with the Myanmar government,” said Sophie Boisseau du Rocher, Southeast Asia expert at the French Institute for International Relations.

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A jetty for oil tankers is seen on Madae island, Kyaukpyu township, Rakhine state, Myanmar in this October 7, 2015 file photo. Chinese state-controlled commodity trader Guangdong Zhenrong Energy Co Ltd has won approval from the Myanmar government to build a long-planned $3 billion refinery in the Southeast Asian nation, two company executives said on April 5, 2016. REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun/Files – RTSDNFP

That includes a planned $9 billion deep-sea port and economic zone in Kyaukpyu, south of the epicentre of the recent violence, by Beijing’s massive CITIC investment group slated for 2038.

China has already pumped money into the restive state.

In April this year, a $2.45 billion pipeline from Rakhine to China’s Yunnan province opened, securing a key route for Beijing to import crude from the Middle East.

Image result for pipeline from Rakhine to China's Yunnan province, photos

That same month, Chinese President Xi Jinping, whose ‘One Belt, One Road’ strategy aims to hook in China’s neighbours with huge trade and infrastructure projects, rolled out the red carpet for his Myanmar counterpart Htin Kyaw in Beijing.

– Valuable land –

Rakhine, a vast area of farmland, coast and off-shore gas reserves, has been roiled by communal violence for decades, pitting ethnic Rakhine Buddhists against Rohingya Muslims — labelled illegal ‘Bengali’ immigrants by many in Myanmar.

Clashes erupted last October when the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) carried out deadly attacks on unsuspecting border police.

The militants attacked again on August 25, prompting an army crackdown that has forced some 480,000 Rohingya to flee into Bangladesh in the past month.

Swathes of land have been abandoned with scores of Rohingya villages burnt to the ground allegedly by the Burmese army and Rakhine mobs.

“The land freed by the radical expulsion of the Rohingya might have become of interest to the military and its role in leading economic development around the country,” said Saskia Sassen, sociology professor at Columbia University.

“Land has become valuable due to the China projects,” she added.

The government said this week it would manage all fire-damaged land in Rakhine for “redevelopment” purposes, without elaborating.

It is not clear what that might mean for the masses of Rohingya who have been pushed into Bangladesh over the past month — with questions looming about how or when they could return.

Despite its natural resources, Rakhine is one of Myanmar’s poorest states — some 78 percent of the population live below the poverty line, nearly double the national average.

Ethnic Rakhine, who remain deeply suspicious of the motives of Myanmar’s Bamar majority, have seen scant benefits from increased investment in the area.

There is also discomfort among the public with Chinese influence across Myanmar.

“These massive Chinese projects in Rakhine state have deeply upset local populations who have not seen any positive fallout,” said Alexandra De Mersan, Rakhine expert and researcher at the French School of Oriental Studies (Inalco).

An August report by a government-backed commission on Rakhine’s troubles, led by former UN chief Kofi Annan, echoed alarm about who is really benefitting from investments in the area.

“Profit tends to be shared between Naypyidaw and foreign companies, and as a consequence, local communities often perceive the government as exploitative,” the report read.

But Myanmar’s de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi has said that development is a top priority for the region, even as rights groups have warned against investing in Rakhine.

“We have been continuing with our socio-economic development programmes in Rakhine,” she said last week in her first national address since the latest crisis erupted.

by Marion THIBAUT, with Julien Girault in Beijing

Mattis, in Afghanistan, Criticizes Iranian and Russian Aid to Taliban

September 28, 2017

Militants mark U.S. defense secretary’s visit with airport rocket attack, highlighting challenges facing the U.S. and its allies

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, right, met with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, left, on Wednesday during his first visit to Afghanistan since President Donald Trump spelled out a new South Asia strategy.
U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, right, met with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, left, on Wednesday during his first visit to Afghanistan since President Donald Trump spelled out a new South Asia strategy. PHOTO: RAHMAT GUL/ASSOCIATED PRESS

KABUL—U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis on Wednesday criticized Iran and Russia for continuing to arm and support Taliban fighters in Afghanistan, aid that American officials say provides the militant group with both firepower and added legitimacy.

Mr. Mattis, on his first visit to Afghanistan since President Donald Trump spelled out a new South Asia strategy last month, met with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and North Atlantic Treaty Organization Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, along with the top U.S. commander there, Gen. John Nicholson.

In a sign of the challenges facing the U.S. and its allies, militants struck Kabul’s international airport in an attack apparently timed to coincide with Mr. Mattis’s arrival. Afghan officials said eight rockets were fired at the airport, while the U.S. military said the attack involved suicide vests and several rounds of high-explosive ammunition, including mortars.

The local affiliate of Islamic State claimed responsibility for the assault. So did the Taliban, which said it was targeting the defense secretary, who already had left the airport when the attack broke out.

Afghan security forces, with U.S. air support, swarmed the area where the attack was thought to have been launched, and killed four militants, a senior Afghan official said. The airport, which serves both civilian and military air traffic, was closed for several hours afterward.

Gen. John Nicholson, commander of NATO’s Resolute Support Mission, salutes Mr. Mattis as he arrives at NATO headquarters in Kabul on Wednesday. Gen. Nicholson said the new U.S. strategy has buoyed the Afghan government and its foreign allies.
Gen. John Nicholson, commander of NATO’s Resolute Support Mission, salutes Mr. Mattis as he arrives at NATO headquarters in Kabul on Wednesday. Gen. Nicholson said the new U.S. strategy has buoyed the Afghan government and its foreign allies. PHOTO: HANDOUT/EPA-EFE/REX/SHUTTERSTOCK/EPA/SHUTTERSTOCK

In a statement late Wednesday, the U.S. military said a missile on one of its aircraft had malfunctioned during the counterattack, causing several civilian casualties. It gave no further details, saying only that the attack and the malfunctioning ammunition were under investigation.

In his comments earlier in the day, Mr. Mattis said Russia and Iran’s continued assistance to the Taliban runs counter to their interests.

“Those two countries have suffered losses to terrorism, so I think it would be extremely unwise if they think they can somehow support terrorism in another country and not have it come back to haunt them,” he said.

Military officials said weaponry and support from the Russians and Iranians serve to strengthen the Taliban, but also bestow a sense of legitimacy. “That’s a lot more dangerous right now than what they’re providing in terms of materiel,” a military official said.

Russia has acknowledged that it shares information with the Taliban in an effort to combat Islamic State, but has denied sending weapons. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, answering a question about the U.S. accusation last month, called it “a campaign based on falsehoods.”

Taliban leaders have described their relationship with Moscow as “just political.” Iranian officials say they have contacts with the insurgent group, but deny providing it with weapons or sanctuary.

Mr. Mattis also met with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, pictured second from right on a helicopter en route to a Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan on Wednesday. The U.S. has 4,000 troops in Afghanistan as part of a NATO force.
Mr. Mattis also met with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, pictured second from right on a helicopter en route to a Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan on Wednesday. The U.S. has 4,000 troops in Afghanistan as part of a NATO force. PHOTO: THOMAS WATKINS/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES

The Trump administration’s new approach will add approximately 4,000 U.S. troops to the 12,000 already in Afghanistan. Another 4,000 troops are there as part of a NATO force. The new policy also will pressure Pakistan to seal off havens the administration has said are used by the Taliban and other militant groups to continue fighting the U.S.

The additional troops will reach Afghanistan by the end of the year, officials said. Most will participate in a mission to train, advise and assist Afghan forces, with fewer than 150 assigned to counterterrorism operations, officials said.

The new U.S. strategy, coming about eight months after Mr. Trump took office, has buoyed the Afghan government and its foreign allies, said Gen. Nicholson. It is based on conditions rather than timelines, meaning the U.S. isn’t expected to draw down its forces until U.S. goals have been reached.

President Trump outlined his new stance to combat terrorism in Afghanistan on Monday night, saying that U.S. troops will continue to stay in the region and that the fight will only become more intense. The WSJ’s Gerald F. Seib gives us three takeaways from the speech. Photo: Getty

“The fundamental difference is in morale,” Gen. Nicholson told reporters.

The Obama administration based part of its Afghanistan policy on timelines, and critics—particularly Mr. Trump—charged that approach signaled to the Taliban that it could just wait out the Americans.

The change by Mr. Trump has had a negative impact on Taliban morale, Gen. Nicholson said, adding that the leadership of the Islamist group has “atomized.”

“For years, they thought we were leaving,” he said, but fresh U.S. and NATO commitments have dispelled that notion.

Islamic State remains a challenge in Afghanistan, U.S. officials said. Since at least 2015, the group’s fighters have gained a toehold in eastern Afghanistan, near the country’s border with Pakistan.

The group is resilient, but Gen. Nicholson and other military officials said there were no indications that foreign fighters from Iraq or Syria have escaped that region to come into Afghanistan.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/mattis-in-afghanistan-criticizes-iranian-and-russian-aid-to-taliban-1506539364?mod=e2fb

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If you are talking Iran you are talking China….

© AFP/File | Iranian President Hassan Rouhani shakes hands with Chinese President Xi Jinping (R) during a welcoming ceremony on January 23, 2016 in the capital Tehran

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China’s Overseas Deals Going on Life Support?

September 25, 2017

Bloomberg

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As one Chinese company advances abroad, another retreats — or at least halts.

Shandong Weigao Group Medical Polymer Co. agreed to acquire closely held Argon Medical Devices Inc., a U.S. maker of biopsy forceps, for $850 million. At the same time, developer Country Garden Holdings Co. has paused its international expansion in response to government restrictions.

The push-pull dynamic proves one point: Overseas acquisitions remain far from off-limits for Chinese companies, as long as they’re in the areas that Beijing wants.

Argon is the latest in a string of healthcare deals by mainland purchasers. The company’s surgical devices are popular in the U.S., the world’s largest pharmaceuticals market — exactly the type of assets Beijing would like to see in Chinese hands. Shandong Weigao, in a tie-up with an unidentified private equity firm, will fund almost half of the purchase — $420 million — with debt.

Earlier this year, Aier Eye Hospital Group Co. agreed to buy Clinica Baviera SA, a Spanish eye-clinic operator. Shanghai-based Fosun International Ltd., meanwhile, is currently bidding for U.S. specialty drugmaker Arbor Pharmaceuticals LLC — despite the conglomerate having been singled out by the government for its debt-fueled offshore takeover spree.

Fosun is also moving ahead with a slimmed-down bid for Indian drugmaker Gland Pharma Ltd., after an earlier stake purchase was blocked by New Delhi.

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Over at Country Garden, it’s a different story.

Plans to expand in six Indian cities have been put on pause, Chief Strategy Officer Jeff Lin told Bloomberg News. The company, based in the southern city of Foshan, has already been forced to slow its international push as China’s capital controls hurt mainland demand for a $100 billion city the company is helping to build on four artificial islands in southern Malaysia’s Johor Bahru.

Real estate has been named as a target of China’s crackdown on “irrational” offshore investments, along with assets such as sports clubs and cinemas. Overseas direct property investment from the nation could drop 84 percent to $1.7 billion this year, Morgan Stanley has predicted.

That’s not to say overseas real estate is completely out of bounds. Tie in a One Belt, One Road angle and a developer can probably find ways of expanding into countries that China has identified to help create its modern-day silk route, which will connect central Asia, Europe and Africa. (India, having recently ended a border spat with China and snubbed its neighbor’s international trade initiative, may be an exception.)

But buyers are likely to have a much easier time shopping for medical and technology investments. Access to debt will present fewer obstacles, and failed deals need not slow momentum. China-backed private equity firm Canyon Bridge Capital Partners, fresh from President Donald Trump’s rejection of its takeover of Lattice Semiconductor Corp, inked a deal for Imagination Technologies Group Plc, a British designer of graphics chips, last week.

High valuations also mean such assets are easy to sell and may carry more profit potential. Fosun, for instance, has more than doubled its investment on Israeli medical devices maker Sisram Medical Ltd., which went public in Hong Kong last week.

China’s serial acquirers aren’t dead. They’re just adapting their focus to Beijing’s desires.

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg LP and its owners.

To contact the author of this story:
Nisha Gopalan in Hong Kong at ngopalan3@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story:
Matthew Brooker at mbrooker1@bloomberg.net

https://www.bloomberg.com/gadfly/articles/2017-09-25/chinese-buying-overseas-stick-to-medical-devices

China Spreads Its Wings (Further) With $10 Billion Credit Line for Iran

September 17, 2017

AFP

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A poster of a map with a dotted line showing China’s claimed territory in the South China Sea on a street in Weifang in east China’s Shandong province. (AFP)

Tehran – A Chinese state-owned investment firm has provided a $10 billion credit line for Iranian banks, Iran’s central bank president said on Saturday.

The contract was signed in Beijing between China’s CITIC investment group and a delegation of Iranian banks led by central bank president Valiollah Seif.

The Iran Daily said the funds would finance water, energy and transport projects.

Iran is vital to China’s trade ambitions as it develops its trillion-dollar “One Belt, One Road” strategy aimed at dramatically boosting its ties to Europe and Africa.

In addition to the credit line, the China Development Bank signed preliminary deals with Iran worth $15 billion for other infrastructure and production projects, Seif announced.

The contracts reflect “a strong will for continuation of co-operation between the two countries,” Seif said.

The credit line will use euros and yuan to help bypass US sanctions that have continued despite the nuclear deal between Iran and world powers in 2015.

China was a signatory to the deal that lifted sanctions in exchange for curbs to Iran’s nuclear programme.

President Xi Jinping visited Iran a week after it came into effect, vowing to boost bilateral trade to $600 billion within a decade.

Iran’s biggest oil customer

Although trade was just $31 billion in 2016, it has jumped more than 30% in the first six months of 2017.

China is already Iran’s biggest oil customer and accounts for a third of its overall trade.

Since the lifting of sanctions, Beijing has opened two credit lines worth $4.2 billion to build high-speed railway lines linking Tehran with Mashhad and Isfahan, Iran Daily reported.

The latest move follows an eight-billion-euro credit deal signed with South Korea’s Exim bank last month.

European banks remain wary of penalties from Washington for working with Iran, but talks are said to be at an advanced stage for $22 billion in credit deals with banks from Austria, Denmark and Germany.

China’s new $10 billion credit line will go to Iran’s Refah Kargaran, San’at va Ma’dan, Parsian, Pasargad and Tose’e Saderat banks.

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China provides $10 billion credit line to Iran (For China, Iran is The Key To Everything)

September 16, 2017

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AFP

© AFP/File | Iranian President Hassan Rouhani shakes hands with Chinese President Xi Jinping (R) during a welcoming ceremony on January 23, 2016 in the capital Tehran

TEHRAN (AFP) – A Chinese state-owned investment firm has provided a $10 billion credit line for Iranian banks, Iran’s central bank president said Saturday.The contract was signed in Beijing between China’s CITIC investment group and a delegation of Iranian banks led by central bank president Valiollah Seif.

The Iran Daily said the funds would finance water, energy and transport projects.

 Image may contain: 2 people
Iran’s Foreign Minister Zarif (left) and his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi, in Beijing

Iran is vital to China’s trade ambitions as it develops its trillion-dollar “One Belt, One Road” strategy aimed at dramatically boosting its ties to Europe and Africa.

In addition to the credit line, the China Development Bank signed preliminary deals with Iran worth $15 billion for other infrastructure and production projects, Seif announced.

The contracts reflect “a strong will for continuation of cooperation between the two countries,” Seif said.

The credit line will use euros and yuan to help bypass US sanctions that have continued despite the nuclear deal between Iran and world powers in 2015.

China was a signatory to the deal that lifted sanctions in exchange for curbs to Iran’s nuclear programme.

Image may contain: 1 person

President Xi Jinping visited Iran a week after it came into effect, vowing to boost bilateral trade to $600 billion within a decade.

Although trade was just $31 billion in 2016, it has jumped more than 30 percent in the first six months of 2017.

China is already Iran’s biggest oil customer and accounts for a third of its overall trade.

Since the lifting of sanctions, Beijing has opened two credit lines worth $4.2 billion to build high-speed railway lines linking Tehran with Mashhad and Isfahan, Iran Daily reported.

The latest move follows an eight-billion-euro credit deal signed with South Korea’s Exim bank last month.

European banks remain wary of penalties from Washington for working with Iran, but talks are said to be at an advanced stage for $22 billion in credit deals with banks from Austria, Denmark and Germany.

China’s new $10 billion credit line will go to Iran’s Refah Kargaran, San’at va Ma’dan, Parsian, Pasargad and Tose’e Saderat banks.

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With China in Mind, Japan, India Agree to Deepen Defense Ties

September 14, 2017

GANDHINAGAR, India — The leaders of India and Japan agreed on Thursday to deepen defense ties and push for more cooperation with Australia and the United States, as they seek to counter growing Chinese influence across Asia.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe arrived this week in his counterpart Narendra Modi’s home state, skipping the tradition of visiting the capital of New Delhi, for the tenth meeting between two leaders since Modi came to power in 2014.

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Prime Minister Shinzo Abe with Prime Minister Narendra Modi

Relations have deepened between Asia’s second and third largest economies as Abe and Modi, who enjoy a close personal relationship, increasingly see eye-to-eye to balance China as the dominant Asian power.

“Almost everything that takes place during the visit, including economic deals, will in part be done with China in mind,” Eurasia analysts said in a note.

Abe’s visit comes days after New Delhi and Beijing agreed to end the longest and most serious military confrontation along their shared and contested border in decades, a dispute that had raised worries of a broader conflict between the Asian giants.

In a lengthy joint statement, India and Japan said deepening security links was paramount. This included collaboration on research into unmanned ground vehicles and robotics and the possibility of joint field exercises between their armies.

There was also “renewed momentum” for cooperation with the United States and Australia. Earlier this year, India rejected an Australian request to be included in four-country naval drills for fear of angering Beijing.

“Relations between India and Japan are not only a bilateral relationship but have developed into a strategic global partnership,” Abe told reporters in Gandhinagar, the capital of western Gujarat state.

“We (India and Japan) will strengthen our collaboration with those countries with whom we share universal values.”

Abe flew to Gujarat to lay the foundation stone of a $17 billion bullet train project, India’s first, that was made possible by a huge Japanese loan.

Tokyo wants to win other high-speed rail lines India plans to build, to edge out Chinese ambitions to do the same and provide a boost for its high-end manufacturers.

The visit was light on specific announcements, but India said it welcomed proposals for increased Japanese investment into infrastructure projects in its remote northeast, a region New Delhi sees as its gateway to Southeast Asia.

China claims part of India’s northeast as its own territory.

Japanese investment into the northeast “would give legs to our Act East policy,” Indian Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar told reporters.

Modi and Abe also said they would push for more progress on the development of industrial corridors for the growth of Asia and Africa.

Analysts say the planned $40 billion Asia-Africa Growth Corridor takes direct aim at China’s Belt and Road project, envisaged as a modern-day “Silk Road” connecting China by land and sea across Asia and beyond to the Middle East, Europe and Africa.

(Writing by Tommy Wilkes; Editing by Nick Macfie)