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Beijing welcomes Riyadh in CPEC

Source: Express Tribune
By Mohammad Zafar
Published: October 11, 2018

Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan Yao Jing has said China has no objection over inclusion of Saudi Arabia and other countries in the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects and would welcome Riyadh’s investment in Pakistan.

“We will welcome Saudi Arabia and other countries’ investment in CPEC projects. China wants to expand CPEC up to central Asian states via Afghanistan,” the Chinese ambassador said while speaking to businessmen and journalists at two separate functions in Quetta on Wednesday.

Chinese ambassador also confirmed that CPEC projects are being revisited in view of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) led new government’s vision, adding that new development projects will be included in the project with consensus.

Yao said reviewing the CPEC agreement is natural as the new Pakistani government which came into power after the July 25 general election has its own agenda and vision.

The envoy said the new Pakistani government wants to give all attention to socio-economic sector and in reviewing of CPEC agreement the desire of the Pakistan’s new government would be considered.

“Both China and Pakistan governments have agreed to further expand the CPEC,” he said, adding that taking decision with mutual understanding and consensus is part of the CPEC agreement.

He said both the governments have decided to continue work on ongoing projects launched under CPEC in Pakistan and particularly Balochistan and these projects would be completed on time.

Yao said Pakistan and China have very cordial relations since long; they are not only partners in CPEC but have lots of other ties and projects in which they are helping each other. “China and Pakistan are strategic partners,” he said.

He said that the main objectives of CPEC include establishing road-network, construction of highways and motorways, power generation and developing agriculture sector.

Yao Jing said in the next phase, China will focus on joint ventures and will give attention to socio-economic sector, which is also vision of the new Pakistani government.

“Under CPEC it was decided that more resources would be provided to the western provinces of Pakistan. It is our desire to link the mega project to Central Asian states via Afghanistan and under CPEC will open new ways of development and prosperity in the entire region,” he said.

The Chinese ambassador said CPEC has entered “a new era” and that jobs would be created for the people of Pakistan through its various projects. “Balochistan offers numerous opportunities to investors in terms of agriculture, livestock, mines and minerals,” he said.

At the chamber of commerce, businessmen urged the Chinese ambassador to establish a Chinese consulate in Quetta to address their business needs. The ambassador promised the business community that their request would be discussed with Chinese high-ups.

Responding to a question about Balochistan’s share in CPEC, Yao Jing said Balochistan is an important part of CPEC and the second phase of the project would be more important for Balochistan.

He said that though entire Pakistan is equal for his country, China wants to work for the development of different sectors of Balochistan on priority. “China will help in developing agriculture, industry and other sectors in Balochistan,” he said.

The envoy said he is very much inspired with the vision of new federal and Balochistan governments as they want to develop socio-economic sector. “Balochistan should be main beneficiary of CPEC. Chinese investors would find out new trade and investment opportunities in Balochistan,” he added.

Yao said Balochistan has great potential in mineral resources, mining, livestock, and fisheries and there is need to work for the promotion of these sectors. He said China will extend all help and assistance to the local people for sending fruit, vegetable and seafood to international market.

He said he had a meeting with Balochistan Chief Minister Jam Kamal and observed that new provincial government is more interested in the development of the province and providing maximum facilities to its people.

To a question, he said the Chinese universities are open for Pakistani students and these universities offer scholarships in March every year and students could apply for admission online. However, he said, Balochistan students would be provided assistance in applying for admission to the Chinese universities.

URL: https://tribune.com.pk/story/1823109/1-beijing-welcomes-riyadh-cpec/

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CPEC debt servicing to commence in year 2021, says official

Source: Profit by Pakistan Today
By: Mian Abrar
Date: 11 October 2018

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Thursday said that China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) related debt servicing to China is to commence from the year 2021, while the benefits of these investments to the Pakistani economy far outweigh the scheduled payments.

Talking to Pakistan Today, the focal person of the CPEC project said that CPEC does not impose any immediate burden with respect to loan repayments and energy sector outflows.

“CPEC outflows (debt servicing to China) would start from the year 2021 and spread over 20 to 25 years with a maximum in the year 2024 and 2025. The resultant benefits of these investments to the Pakistan economy would far outweigh these outflows (debt servicing),” the official said.

Meanwhile, another official linked to the CPEC project said that only one project under the CPEC loan umbrella – the Pakistan China Optical Fibre Project, had matured.

“We don’t have to pay anything to China immediately. The debt servicing would start by 2021 and since these loans are long-term and concessional in nature, Pakistan would not face any issues in paying outflows. However, the benefits of these projects to Pakistan would be manifold,” the official said.

When asked about the recent western media reports about debt burden on Pakistan, the spokesman rubbished the same and said that the western media’s recent reports regarding CPEC are based on incorrect information, distorted facts and one-sided opinions of individuals.

“CPEC finances are divided into government to government loans, investment and grants. The infrastructure sector is being developed through interest-free loans,” the source said.

Asked whether a parallel could be drawn between CPEC and the Chinese overseas investment in Sri Lanka or Malaysia, the spokesman said no comparison could be drawn between the two.

“Look, CPEC is the flagship and the most active project of the Belt and Road Initiative. We have actualised 22 projects of worth $28 billion over the past four years since CPEC was launched. Hence, CPEC cannot be compared with Chinese overseas investment in Sri Lanka or Malaysia as CPEC’s framework and financial modes are altogether different in nature,” the spokesman said.

The official said that the Gwadar Port is grant-based which means that the Government of Pakistan does not have to pay back the invested amount for the development of the port.

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

The spokesman said Pakistan has opted for Chinese investments under CPEC due to the favourable financing arrangements.

“We need to remember China stepped forward to support Pakistan’s development at a time when foreign investment had dried up, and economic activities were being crippled by energy shortages and infrastructure gaps. CPEC has provided enormous opportunities for Pakistan to grow economically,” the official added.

When asked about the impact of CPEC on Pakistan’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), the spokesman said that CPEC is an engine for economic growth and is expected to increase Pakistan’s GDP growth by two per cent to three per cent.

“CPEC has also facilitated in overcoming crucial energy, transport infrastructure and supply chain bottlenecks. Under CPEC, development of Gwadar would ensure the strengthening of maritime sector particularly the coastal tourism and local fishery industry thereby benefitting the local communities”.

The official said that Pakistan has repeatedly stated that it is fully committed to CPEC, which enjoys complete consensus among all institutions and political forces in Pakistan as CPEC is a key to the future of Pakistan’s socio-economic development.

“Within the broad parameters of the already approved CPEC framework, the present government, with the mutual consultation of the Government of China is broadening the base and expediting the pace of CPEC”.

When asked about the Saudi Arabian investments in the CPEC, the official said that a mechanism is being developed to include third-party participation in CPEC.

“The socio-economic development and poverty alleviation are being included in the CPEC and a separate working group is being established to fast track this dimension of the mega project. Gwadar continues as prioritized and being developed as a standalone project and a trans-shipment hub based on blue economy principles. Industrialization under CPEC has already been fast-tracked and four SEZs would hit the ground soon,” concluded the official.

URL: https://profit.pakistantoday.com.pk/2018/10/11/cpec-debt-servicing-to-commence-in-year-2021-says-official/

UK’s Hammond embraces Belt and Road on China visit, says Hong Kong will have a key role in BRI

HONG KONG – Beijing has made it very clear that Hong Kong will have a major role to play in the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), the special administration region’s top official said on Wednesday (June 27).

Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam was speaking at a global forum set up to exchange ideas on the BRI, which she noted was picking up of momentum five years after Chinese President Xi Jinping announced his signature plan to rekindle historic trade routes linking China to Europe and the rest of Asia over land and sea.

“This is a very important forum for us, to have firsthand information about the Belt and Road, including things which are of great interest to many of you – the projects, the policies, the financing and so on,” Mrs Lam said in her short address to participants of the forum on Wednesday evening.

The forum is an alliance of 110 organisations from 29 countries comprising international chambers of commerce, business associations, research institutes and think tanks to explore ways to collaborate in moving the BRI forward. More than 80 forum members across 24 countries gathered here yesterday (Wed)

Although many Asian and European countries have shown a willingness to participate in the ambitious BRI, there has also been concern in some quarters over whether the infrastructure projects are sustainable, especially those requiring long-term investments.

In April, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) cautiously climbed aboard in a bid to prevent the BRI from turning into a wasteful splurge on white-elephant projects by providing public financial management and training on debt risks.

One of the concerns the IMF had was that the BRI would drive up debt in countries where it was already high.

But many in Hong Kong’s financial sector see opportunities in these projects.

Mr Vincent Lo, chairman of the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC), said: “We all share a common goal of creating opportunities and benefits from the Belt and Road Initiative. Using Hong Kong as a commercial hub, the forum helps you make international connections and find partners to turn concept into business.”

The roundtable, which took place earlier in the day, consisted of two sessions, said Mr Andrew Weir, Belt and Road Committee member as well as global chairman of real estate and construction at KPMG.

Asked what the key takeways were from the discussion, Mr Weir said it was how the BRI was not just about infrastructure projects but represented “broader economic connectivity which gives rise to sectors beyond infrastructure and new geographies and new sectors”.

“The other big takeaway was how to identify the right projects, assess the risks and then package projects in a way which ensures they’re bankable and how that requires very early discussion at consortium level and with public bodies and investment agencies,” he added.

Besides risk management, participants also talked about ways to ensure international standards on safety, contracting and governance, Mr Weir shared.

On Thursday (June 28), speakers from Hong Kong, mainland China and countries along the BRI will share insights on intergovernmental cooperation and business opportunities for different sectors at the third Belt and Road Summit.

Organised by the Hong Kong government and HKTDC, the summit’s theme this year is “Collaborate for Success”.

It is expected to link some 5,000 participants with projects, services, businesses and investment opportunities.

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Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Peter O’Neill meets with Xi Jinping; signs up to China’s Belt and Road initiative

Chinese President Xi Jinping met with Papua New Guinea’s Prime Minister Peter O’Neill in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing as part of a trip that saw the Pacific nation signing on to Beijing’s One Belt One Road initiative.

During the meeting, the leaders agreed to promote bilateral relations between the two nations to a new level.

It was also revealed that during the same trip PNG had signed up to China’s “One Belt and One Road” initiative, according to a statement from the Chinese National Development and Reform Commission.

Mr Xi said PNG was an influential Pacific island country, noting that China-PNG relations had made historic progress since their establishment 42-years-ago, especially after a strategic partnership was established in 2014.

“Mutual political trust and mutually beneficial cooperation between the two sides have reached a new historical level,” Mr Xi said.

“China appreciates Papua New Guinea’s firm adherence to the One-China policy and is willing to work together with Papua New Guinea to strengthen communication, deepen cooperation, expand exchanges and push bilateral relations to a new level.”

Mr Xi stressed that not long ago PNG officially joined the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and is the first Pacific island country that signed a memorandum of understanding on the Belt and Road construction.

He said both sides should actively expand pragmatic cooperation under the framework of the Belt and Road so as to inject a new power to the sustainable and stable development of the bilateral relationship.

Mr O’Neill said PNG had been committed to deepening the strategic partnership with China, and firmly adhered to the one-China principle.

“Papua New Guinea is committed to deepening its strategic partnership with China, firmly pursuing the One-China policy, highly praising and actively supporting president Xi Jinping’s great ‘One Belt, One Road’ initiative,” he said.

He said that he hoped to expand “cooperation with China in the fields of economy and trade, investment, agriculture, tourism, and infrastructure”.

Mr Xi also said China was willing to enhance coordination in multilateral mechanism with PNG and supported the country to host this year’s Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders Meeting for building an open Asian-Pacific economy.

According to the Lowy Institute, China spent $858.4 million on 27 projects in PNG between 2006 and 2016.

China’s influence can be seen in the funding of Port Moresby’s new $35 million International Convention Centre, the venue for the upcoming APEC summit.

China has also been involved in large-scale road projects, building a six-lane boulevard between the convention centre and the nearby national parliament — worth an estimated $40 million — and an upgrade to the Port Moresby freeway.

Mr O’Neill arrived in China on Wednesday for a week-long visit to strengthen ties with China that will include visits to Shanghai, Zhejiang and Guangdong, according to the Chinese Foreign Ministry.

His visit comes amid continued concern in Australia about the growing influence of China in the Pacific region, with Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop telling Fairfax Australia wanted to be the “natural partner of choice” to Pacific nations.

But Peter Hartcher, the political editor for the Sydney Morning Herald, said Australia had “already been caught napping” on investment in the Pacific.

“The Australian Government now finds itself in a catch-up phase,” Mr Hartcher told the ABC’s The World program.

“The reason that countries like Papua New Guinea and earlier Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands are interested in Belt and Road … is we haven’t been such great and generous benefactors ourselves over recent decades.”

Mr Hartcher added that it was unlikely Australia could keep up with the size of Beijing’s foreign aid warchest.

“You don’t need a begging bowl when you go to Beijing these days because the Chinese have put out a giant honeypot … a giant treasure chest,” he said.

“They’ve invited more than 100 countries in the world to participate and take some of the treasure, at least as a loan. You don’t need to beg. The Chinese are practically ladling it out.”

SOURCE:http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-06-22/png-prime-minister-peter-oneill-meets-with-xi-jinping-in-beijing/9897248

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CPEC: beyond infrastructure

Recently, I came across a very interesting research undertaken by a private sector firm that ranked the 67 Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) countries to assess their attractiveness for investment and infrastructure. The research was based on publicly available data from the IMF, World Bank, UNDP and Transparency International.

On this Belt and Road Index, Pakistan was ranked the 11th least attractive country. The index was based on economic potential, demographic advantage, infrastructure development, institutional effectiveness, market accessibility and resilience to natural disasters. Out of the six parameters, Pakistan performed the worst on institutional effectiveness, with a score that was less than half of India’s and lowest within South Asia, surpassing only that of Afghanistan.

The results are not surprising and resonate rather well with data from other sources as well as with anecdotal evidence. A few weeks ago, I met an investor, who has set up a multi-million dollar manufacturing plant in Pakistan on an industrial plot in a government-sponsored industrial estate. To his dismay, the land title still is in the name of private individuals and despite knocking on various doors he has not had any luck in the last two years in transferring the title in his name, despite payment of all dues. In the meanwhile, his lenders are pushing for ownership record before he can access credit.

This is one of countless such examples. Investors keep on complaining about bureaucratic red tape, rent seeking by regulatory agencies and frequently changing policies leading to unforeseen costs.

About $46 billion worth of infrastructure projects have been committed under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). These have to be completed within 10 years or so. For a country with $300 billion GDP, it translates into additional 1 to 1.5% of GDP every year and provides the much needed capital to build north-south highways to facilitate trade and construct power plants to help overcome years of load-shedding.

Infrastructure development and growth go hand in hand. Ensuring uninterrupted supply of energy, building state-of-the-art road, rail and transport infrastructure and providing reliable urban services pave the way for future investments and growth. If, however, the infrastructure stock is not maintained and new investments are not made at the requisite level, it may lead to power shortages and transmission losses, congested roads prolonging travel time and poor quality infrastructure services discouraging investors to relocate, thereby straining growth prospects.

But the real question is whether good infrastructure is sufficient to attract investment. As per World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Index, the five most problematic factors for doing business in Pakistan are corruption, tax rates, government instability, crime and inefficient government bureaucracy. Availability of infrastructure comes way lower in the list. This means that without addressing these soft yet potent issues, no amount of investment in hard infrastructure can convince the investors to invest.

The stories of Rajapaksa Airport and Hambantota Port in Sri Lanka have been frequently quoted by critics of CPEC and BRI, as examples of misplaced priorities and building expensive infrastructure without demand. With ten times more population than Sri Lanka and a strategically located port, Pakistan does not face the same risk of low demand. If anything, the CPEC road infrastructure can provide a very busy transit and trade route in future. Its special economic zones can host manufacturers that wish to relocate closer to their markets and the power plants can provide energy for the new industries. This is where the real returns on CPEC have to be expected.

This however would require a lot of homework domestically in addressing the softer issues. Without an enabling business environment, Pakistan can never achieve the dream of prosperity that has been promised under CPEC. And this would require fixing governance. Sooner or later, we’ll have to realise that there are no shortcuts to reform.

SOURCE:https://tribune.com.pk/story/1738036/6-cpec-beyond-infrastructure/

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India refuses to endorse CPEC at SCO summit

India was the only country on Sunday not to endorse a high-profile Chinese project at the end of the 18th Shanghai Cooperation Organisation SCO summit in Qingdao even as Prime Minister Narendra Modi stressed that New Delhi’s priority was connectivity with the neighborhood and between the SCO countries.

All remaining seven members of the SCO summit bloc supported the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project which is part of President Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) – a multi-billion inter-continental connectivity mission. The 17-page joint Qingdao declaration said all other seven member countries had endorsed the project and agreed to work towards implementing it. India was not expected to endorse the BRI in the Qingdao declaration which was released soon after Prime Minister Narendra Modi speech at the plenary session.

The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is one of the flagship projects of the BRI. India has stayed away from the BRI – the only SCO country to be opposed to it – saying the CPEC violates its territorial integrity.

Earlier on Sunday, Prime Minister Modi said India supports connectivity projects that are inclusive, transparent and respect territorial sovereignty.

Speaking at the plenary session of the summit, Modi said India’s priority was connectivity with the neighborhood and between the SCO summit countries in the region. “We have again reached a stage where physical and digital connectivity is changing the definition of geography. Therefore, connectivity with our neighborhood and in the SCO region is our priority,” he said and emphasized the need for inclusiveness and transparency in connectivity projects to be successful.

Published in Daily Times, June 11th 2018.

SOURCE: https://dailytimes.com.pk/252018/india-refuses-to-endorse-cpec-at-sco-summit/

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At SCO summit, India again says ‘no’ to Belt and Road

India on Sunday again said “no” to China’s Belt and Road project, while Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Pakistan President Mamnoon Hussain merely shook hands on the final day of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Summit in Qingdao city.

India, which participated at the Chinese-led security bloc for the first time after being inducted into the grouping last year, did not figure in the list of rest of the member states endorsing Beijing’s Belt and Road initiative in the joint declaration.

 Earlier in the day, Modi made it clear that New Delhi was all for connectivity projects but could not compromise its sovereignty and territorial integrity.

India strongly opposes Beijing’s multi-billion dollar project, which aims to connect Asia with Europe through a network of roads, ports and sea lanes.

New Delhi’s objection is to the key artery of the project – the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which goes through the Kashmir governed by Pakistan and claimed by India.

“We have again reached a stage where physical and digital connectivity is changing the definition of geography. Therefore, connectivity with our neighborhood and in the SCO region is our priority,” Modi said.

“We welcome any new connectivity project, which is inclusive, sustainable and transparent, and respects a country’s sovereignty and regional integrity,” he said at one of the sessions at the Summit.

This is one of the contentious issues between India and China but both seem to have decided not to let it affect other aspects of bilateral ties.

Like India, Pakistan also became a member of the SCO in 2017 and attended the event for the first time.

“It was noted that the SCO had asserted itself as a unique, influential and authoritative regional organization whose potential had grown remarkably following the accession of India and Pakistan,” the 17-page Qingdao declaration said.

With the inclusion of India and Pakistan, the grouping has expanded into an 8-member bloc. China, Russia, Kyrgyz Republic, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan are SCO’s other members.

Modi, who had bilaterals with Chinese President Xi Jinping and other leaders, just had a handshake with the Pakistan head of state.

The ties between the two countries have plummeted following attacks at Indian Army bases and continuing violence in Jammu and Kashmir.

The bloc vowed to fight terrorism.

“The SCO’s coordinated policy of waging an effective fight against challenges and threats to security remains unchanged. Practical interaction in this area will be facilitated by the adopted Programme of Cooperation between the SCO Member States in Opposing Terrorism, Separatism, and Extremism for 2019-21.”

During the summit, Modi and Xi had a “substantive” meeting on Saturday. India struck major deals like the export of rice and Indian pharmaceutical products to China.

The bilateral trade target of $100 billion by 2020 was another important announcement by both sides.

The Kyrgyz Republic will take over the Presidency of the organization. The next meeting of the Council of SCO Heads of State will be held in the Kyrgyz Republic in 2019.

SOURCE: http://m.greaterkashmir.com/news/world/at-sco-summit-india-again-says-no-to-belt-and-road/287805.html

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China launches meteorological satellite to benefit Belt and Road countries

XICHANG: China on Tuesday launched the new Fengyun-2H meteorological satellite to improve the accuracy of weather forecasting and provide better meteorological services to countries participating in the Belt and Road Initiative, reported Xinhua News

The Fengyun-2H was launched on a Long March-3A rocket at 9:07 p.m., Beijing Time, from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in southwest China’s Sichuan Province.

It was the 277th mission of the Long March rocket series.

A geostationary orbit satellite, Fengyun-2H is the last in the Fengyun-2 series. The Fengyun-4 series will dominate China’s new generation geostationary orbit meteorological satellites, said Zhao Jian, deputy director of the Department of System Engineering of China National Space Administration (CNSA).

In response to a request from the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the Asia-Pacific Space Cooperation Organization (APSCO), the position of Fengyun-2H will be changed from original 86.5 degrees east longitude to 79 degrees east longitude.

This means the Fengyun series satellites will be able to cover all the territory of China, as well as countries along the Belt and Road, the Indian Ocean and most African countries, according to the CNSA.

The adjustment will enable the Fengyun series satellites to acquire meteorological data over a wider range, improve weather forecasting accuracy and the ability to cope with climate change and mitigate losses caused by natural disasters, Zhao said.

Equipped with a scanning radiometer and space environment monitor, Fengyun-2H will provide real timecloud and water vapour images and space weather information to clients in the Asia-Pacific region, said Wei Caiying, chief commander of the ground application system of Fengyun-2H and deputy director of the National Satellite Meteorological Center.

The Belt and Road region, which is mainly high mountains, deserts and oceans, lacks meteorological information. Damage from natural disasters, especially meteorological disasters, in the region is more than double the world average.

After four months of in-orbit tests, Fengyun-2H will provide data to help Belt and Road countries better cope with natural hazards, Zhao said.

“The move shows China’s willingness to construct a community with a shared future,” said Zhao.

It also addresses a WMO request to strengthen satellite observation of the Indian Ocean to fill a gap in the region, which is China’s contribution to the international community as a major power of the developing world, Zhao said.

China will offer data of the Fengyun series free to Belt and Road countries and APSCO member countries, said Zhao.

China has helped establish ground stations to receive the data in some APSCO member countries, including Pakistan, Indonesia, Thailand, Iran and Mongolia. China plans to upgrade the stations and provide training to technicians in those countries.

If countries along the Belt and Road are struck by disasters like typhoons, rainstorms, sandstorms and forest or prairie fires, they can apply for and quickly get the data, Wei said.

China’s meteorological satellites have played an important role in the Belt and Road region. For instance, the Fengyun-2E satellite captured an indication of heavy rainfall in Pakistan in August 2017 and issued a timely warning to avoid casualties.

China already has 17 Fengyun series meteorological satellites in space, with eight in operation, including five in geostationary orbit and three in polar orbit, to observe extreme weather, climate and environment events around the globe.

The WMO has included China’s Fengyun series of meteorological satellites as a major part of the global Earth observation system. They provide data to clients in more than 80 countries and regions. Weather forecasts in the eastern hemisphere depend mainly on China’s meteorological satellites, according to the CNSA.

Since Fengyun-2A was sent into orbit on June 10, 1997, the Fengyun-2 series satellites have monitored more than 470 typhoons emerging in the western Pacific Ocean and the South China Sea.

They helped improve the accuracy of typhoon forecasting. In 2015, the deviation of China’s prediction of typhoon tracks within 24 hours was less than 70 kilometers, among the world’s best, according to the Shanghai Academy of Spaceflight Technology (SAST), producer of the Fengyun series.

The new generation Fengyun-4A geostationary meteorological satellite launched at the end of 2016 can improve observation efficiency by 20 times compared with the Fengyun-2 series, said SAST.

SOURCE:https://nation.com.pk/06-Jun-2018/china-launches-meteorological-satellite-to-benefit-belt-and-road-countries

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Gwadar free zone’s industrial units to start working by year end

KARACHI: At least 10 industrial units will start working at Gwadar port’s free zone by this yearend as the first phase of the zone has been completed, a senior Chinese official said on Tuesday.

Zhang Baozhong, chairman of China Overseas Ports Holding Company Pakistan (COPHC) said six of the industrial units are from China, while four are local and they are setting up projects related to edible and palm oil processing and automotive and services industries.

“A sum of $300 million has already been invested in the mega-project, while another approximately $200 million would be spent on phase-II for which the feasibility report is already complete,” Baozhong said, speaking at the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry’s (FPCCI) event.

In January, former Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi inaugurated the first phase of Gwadar Port’s free zone that would facilitate regional and global trade under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor projects.

COPHC, the operator of Gwadar port, said more than 30 firms related to banking, fish processing and hospitality committed around $500 million of direct investments in the zone. The port was leased to China’s state-run company for 40 years.

Baozhong said Gwadar port is operational and the customs authorities have deployed manual one-customs clearing system to process import and export consignments. The web-based one customs system could not be installed at Gwadar port due to unavailability of interconnection infrastructure.

COPHC’s chairman said the port’s berth lengths would be increased to 1,500 meters from existing 600 meters while the approaching channels would be deepened to 17-23 meters through dredging, which would enable arrival of any type and size of vessel in the world. “Business community, government, local communities and chambers of commerce are extending support in the development of Gwadar, which is a popular investment destination for investors in China as well as in Pakistan,” he added.

Baozhong said Gwadar is the most efficient port in the country offering low handling charges, no demurrage, and infrastructure connecting to the rest of the country. “In five years, it will be the new economic hub in the region.”

Senior Vice Chairman FPCCI Syed Mazhar Ali said the apex trade body planned to set up a sub-office in Gwadar to serve as the information sharing platform for the business communities of China and Pakistan.

Balochistan government granted land for the development of FPCCI sub-office, while COPHC offered the body to set up a temporary office in their building in Gwadar.

SOURCE: https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/326039-gwadar-free-zone-s-industrial-units-to-start-working-by-yearend

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To avoid China’s debt trap, Malaysia to re-examine projects under Belt and Road Initiative

Malaysia is not keen to blindly go ahead with projects offered by China under its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), the recently-elected Malaysian government has said. It also indicated that it would attempt to balance its relationship with Beijing and re-examine the projects that were earlier agreed to by the previous government.

The need to avoid the Chinese debt trap was a topic that was repeatedly underscored in the run-up to the elections in Malaysia by the Pakatan Harapan alliance and its leader and current Prime Minister, the 92-year-old Mahatir Mohamad.

“China comes with a lot of money and says you can borrow this money. But, you must think, ‘How do I repay?’ Some countries see only the project and not the payment part of it. That’s how they lose large chunks of their country. We don’t want that,” Mohamad said, reported news agency ANI.

 Mohamad’s newly formed government would take a look at the projects under the BRI that were agreed to by the previous government led by Najib Razak, Mohamad’s former protégé.

Malaysia is not the first country in which projects funded or built by China have come under the scanner when the government changed after an election. The same thing happened in Sri Lanka in 2015, when the new Maithripala Sirisena government cancelled some of the Chinese-backed projects that had been signed by the previous government of Mahinda Rajapakse.

The Sirisena dispensation, left to deal with the mounting debt because of the Chinese projects, found itself unable to repay the loans. In December 2017, the Sri Lankan government was forced to hand over control of the Hambantota Port to Chinese companies for a period 99 years.

Concerns have also been rising in Pakistan, which has placed its already-precarious economy under further strain of Chinese loans to continue its projects along the troubled China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

Mahatir Mohamad’s concerns seem to stem from the spate of agreements that were signed by the Najib government under Chinese President Xi Jinping’s pet Belt and Road Initiative. Among these was the $13.1 billion East Coast Rail Link (ECRL), which aims to link Malaysia’s more industrialised east coast with its less-developed western coast and interior highlands. will run from Port Klang, Malaysia’s main port near the capital Kuala Lumpur, to Tumpat on the border with Thailand, bisecting the peninsula’s hilly interior.

Other projects include a build-and-manage agreement for a deep-sea port and an industrial park near the city of Melaka, a port rebuilding project in the town of Kuantan, and a massive residential project close to the southern border with Singapore.

China has already been accused by a number of countries of using the Belt and Road Initiative as a tool to further its expansionist goals by giving out loans for high-value projects of uncertain viability.

Malaysia’s geography would also provide an attractive strategic positioning for China, given its location along the Malacca Strait, through which a massive portion of China’s energy supplies pass through.

SOURCE: http://zeenews.india.com/world/to-avoid-chinas-debt-trap-malaysia-to-re-examine-projects-under-belt-and-road-initiative-2114262.html