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BRI, aimed at economic uplift of partners, is not a geopolitical tool

Source: Global Times

Date: 27th December 2018

Is the Belt and Road initiative (BRI) a geopolitical strategy and tool China has created to scramble for hegemony as what the US and some Western countries claim? This is the most contentious argument as the international community sifts through China’s intention of reaching out to the wider world in a momentous spree of infrastructure building and poverty alleviation.

The fact is that the BRI is a geo-economic rather than geopolitical construct and has nothing to do with geopolitics in form or content. China neither has the intention of forming alliances through the BRI nor plans to seek a sphere of influence. China seeks partners, not allies, in implementing the initiative. The US is grossly mistaken in regarding the initiative as a geopolitical concept.

Some in the West call the BRI China’s Marshal Plan. They are two different things that are not comparable. The Marshall Plan was an American initiative providing aid to West European countries with the political motivation of containing the spread of Communism at the start of the Cold War. The recipients were countries with the same political system as the US and the other goal of the plan was to facilitate the formation of a military alliance with European countries.

In sharp contrast, the BRI is more about investment. Countries of different political systems are welcomed to participate and it doesn’t aim at a military alliance. The significance of the BRI as a geo-economic concept lies in that it can help solve development problems some backward regions are grappling with and provide them enabling conditions for the same.

I recently visited some countries and regions along the Belt and Road routes. Take Peshawar in Pakistan, a city plagued by terrorism in northern Pakistan. The security there has certainly improved in recent years with the progress in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. Local people know that terrorism would stand in the way of Belt and Road projects, so they consciously resist the designs of fissiparous elements, leading to reduction in incidents of terrorism.

In northern Myanmar, the construction of the China-Myanmar Economic Corridor under the BRI has seen a marked improvement in security as the importance of peace and stability in facilitating the project dawns on the people.

The BRI can influence major-power relations. The US is planning a $60 billion fund that will bankroll infrastructure projects in Africa, Asia and the Americas and the European Union has also put forward its foreign policy plan to improve transport, energy and digital infrastructure links with Asia. These moves will help meet the huge demands for infrastructure in developing regions. Why can’t major powers cooperate to carry out these infrastructure development initiatives?

Japan and China have agreed to step up cooperation in infrastructure projects in third countries. Some Western countries such as Britain are eyeing closer cooperation with China under the BRI. The initiative is open and inclusive; the more participants it draws in, the more secure and healthier its development. It will serve as a platform to step up cooperation among major powers.

In short, the BRI is a promising mechanism for economic cooperation, a new tool for managing security and a platform that can be used to explore more major-power cooperation.

The article was compiled by Global Times reporter Yu Jincui based on a speech by Huang Renwei, executive vice dean of Fudan Institute of Belt and Road & Global Governance, at the Third Understanding China Conference recently held in Beijing.

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China built a tower that acts like ‘the world’s biggest air purifier,’ and it actually works

Source: Business Insider
Date: December 21, 2018
  • Scientists say an experimental tower in northern China, dubbed the world’s biggest air purifier, appears to be working.

  • Researchers at the Institute of Earth Environment at the Chinese Academy of Sciences say they have seen improvements in the air quality over an area of more than three square miles in the past few months.

  • The tower works through greenhouse coverings. Polluted air is sucked in, heated up by solar energy, and then circulated through multiple layers of cleaning filters.

  • A number of locals say they have noticed a difference in the air quality, even during the winter when the city is especially prone to pollution.

    An experimental tower over 100 meters (328 feet) high in northern China — dubbed the world’s biggest air purifier by its operators – has brought a noticeable improvement in air quality, according to the scientist leading the project, as authorities seek ways to tackle the nation’s chronic smog problem.

    The tower has been built in Xian in Shaanxi province and is undergoing testing by researchers at the Institute of Earth Environment at the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

    The head of the research, Cao Junji, said improvements in air quality had been observed over an area of 10 square kilometers (3.86 square miles) in the city over the past few months and the tower has managed to produce more than 10 million cubic meters (353 million cubic feet) of clean air a day since its launch. Cao added that on severely polluted days the tower was able to reduce smog close to moderate levels.

    The system works through greenhouses covering about half the size of a soccer field around the base of the tower.

    Polluted air is sucked into the glasshouses and heated up by solar energy. The hot air then rises through the tower and passes through multiple layers of cleaning filters.

    “The tower has no peer in terms of size … the results are quite encouraging,” said Cao.

    Xian can experience heavy pollution in winter, with much of the city’s heating relying on coal.

    xian china air pollution
    The world’s biggest air purifier is being tested in Xian in an effort to remedy the nation’s smog problem without costing a fortune.
     Zhang Yuan/China News Service/VCG via Getty Images

    The tower’s operators say, however, that the system still works in the cold months as coatings on the greenhouses enable the glass to absorb solar radiation at a much higher efficiency.

    Cao’s team set up more than a dozen pollution monitoring stations in the area to test the tower’s impact.

    The average reduction in PM2.5 – the fine particles in smog deemed most harmful to health – fell 15 percent during heavy pollution.

    Cao said the results were preliminary because the experiment is still ongoing. The team plans to release more detailed data in March with a full scientific assessment of the facility’s overall performance.

    The Xian smog tower project was launched by the academy in 2015 and construction was completed last year at a development zone in the Chang’an district. The purpose of the project was to find an effective, low-cost method to artificially remove pollutants from the atmosphere. The cost of the project was not disclosed.

    air purifier tower china
    The tower’s operators say, however, that the system still works in the cold months as coatings on the greenhouses enable the glass to absorb solar radiation at a much higher efficiency.
     VCG/VCG via Getty Images

    What was previously thought to be the largest smog tower in China was built last year by Dutch artist Daan Roosegaarde at 798, a creative park in Beijing.

    The seven-meter (23-feet) tall tower produced about eight cubic meters (282.5 cubic feet) of clean air per second. It was entirely powered by electricity, most of which is generated by coal-fired power plants in China.

    Daan Roosegaarde smog tower .JPG
    Dutch artist and innovator Daan Roosegaarde poses in front of the Smog Free Tower.
    Damir Sagol/Reuters

    Cao, however, said their tower in Xian required little power to run.

    “It barely requires any power input throughout daylight hours. The idea has worked very well in the test run,” he said.

    Several people in Xian told the South China Morning Post they had noticed the difference since the tower started operating.

    A manager at a restaurant about 1km (0.62 miles) northwest of the facility said she had noticed an improvement in air quality this winter, although she was previously unaware of the purpose of the tower. “I do feel better,” she said.

    A student studying environmental science at Shaanxi Normal University, also a few hundred meters from the tower, said the improvement was quite noticeable.

    “I can’t help looking at the tower each time I pass. It’s very tall, very eye-catching, but it’s also very quiet. I can’t hear any wind going in or out,” she said. “The air quality did improve. I have no doubt about that.”

    china smog
    Researchers say they hope to build larger smog towers in other cities in China.
     Kevin Frayer/Getty Images

    However, a teacher at the Meilun Tiancheng Kindergarten on the edge of the 10-square-kilometer (3.86-square-mile) zone said she had felt no change. “It’s just as bad as elsewhere,” she said.

    The experimental facility in Xian is a scaled-down version of a much bigger smog tower that Cao and his colleagues hope to build in other cities in China in the future.

    A full-sized tower would reach 500 meters (1,640 feet) high with a diameter of 200 meters (656 feet), according to a patent application they filed in 2014.

    The size of the greenhouses could cover nearly 30 square kilometers (11.6 square miles) and the plant would be powerful enough to purify the air for a small sized city.

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7 million people in China left cities to move to rural areas and take up farming last year, and it reveals a growing trend.

Source: Business Insider

  • A rising number of educated urbanites in China are choosing to wave goodbye to city life and head back to the land.
  • “Reverse urbanization” is picking up as infrastructure improves in remote areas.
  • Last year the Ministry of Agriculture announced that seven million people had returned to the countryside from cities.
  • Of these, 60% had done so to work in agriculture.

 

When thousands of diseased and bloated pig carcasses floated down a tributary of the Huangpu River in Shanghai in early 2013, after being dumped upstream by farmers, the stench turned Zheng Lixing’s stomach.

“If you were there, you wouldn’t have been able to eat for a few days,” says Zheng, a native of Shaanxi province in northwest China with a doctorate in polymer science from Tianjin University of Science and Technology.

The experience got him concerned about the state of the agricultural sector in China, which, for centuries before its industrialization, was an agrarian society.

Three years later, with two million yuan from their own pockets and investors, Zheng and four other university graduates from Shaanxi returned home and acquired 13 hectares (32 acres) of farmland in Liquan county. They wanted to show local farmers the benefits of switching to organic methods.

The quality of the soil is poor, he says, and will take another few years to recover fully. Soil contamination, caused by pesticide and fertilizer use, but also industry and waste disposal, is a big threat to China’s food security.

Zheng’s farm uses only organic fertilizers, such as chicken and pig dung, and no chemical pesticides. As a result, however, crop yields are low, and this puts other farmers off following their example.

“We won’t break even until the end of this year,” he says, adding that the neighbors may have a change of heart when they see how better-quality products can fetch higher prices.

Zheng is among a rising number of educated urbanites in China choosing to wave goodbye to city life and head back to the land.

The modernization of farming in China is on the government’s agenda. In March, President Xi Jinping said more effort should be made to encourage talented university graduates and overseas returnees to move to rural areas to revitalize them and boost innovation.

The drive to boost the rural economy includes tax breaks, easier financing, and other support measures for rural entrepreneurs.

About 60% of China’s population lives in towns and cities, a huge increase from 26% in 1990. However, that is still well below the average of 75% in the developed world, and “reverse urbanization” is picking up as infrastructure improves in remote areas.

Last year the Ministry of Agriculture announced that seven million people had returned to the countryside from cities, although it did not give a time frame for the migration. Of these, 60% had done so to work in agriculture, it said.

Ma Yanwei, who acquired an 11-hectare farm in Inner Mongolia’s Alashan prefecture in 2015, says the government is supporting local farmers with water conservation methods in the arid region, which is on the fringe of a desert.

“Although Alashan is under threat from desertification, the air and soil are very good. Local farmers use underground water for irrigation. But they plant corn, which consumes a lot of water,” says Ma, who graduated from Beijing Normal University with a doctorate in ecology.

“After digging ditches around a patch of land, they water all the land before moving on to another patch, wasting a lot of water through evaporation. Only the roots need to absorb water.”

The local government provides piping, which Ma teaches local farmers to use. With holes in the hosepipes spaced 20cm (8 inches) apart, they are rolled out alongside the base of crops, and water drips from holes. This method uses only half the amount of water, he says.

A native of Harbin in China’s northeast, his previous job at a Beijing-based environmental organization brought him to Alashan in 2004. “It is beautiful and the locals are friendly,” he says.

Also helping others to adopt environment-friendly farming techniques is Yixi Kanzhuo, who graduated from Beijing’s University of International Business and Economics with an executive MBA. The Dalian native worked for the See Foundation, China’s largest NGO dedicated to environmental protection, before moving to Yushu in Qinghai province, in the country’s northwest.

“I always went to Qinghai for the foundation. I met a native there who has about 1,300 hectares of land situated 4,500 meters (14,800 feet) above sea level. I moved to Qinghai in 2015 and married him last year,” she says. Like many ethnic Tibetans in the area, her husband abandoned his land after the government launched a policy around 2005 to move nomads into towns.

“It’s a desolate area. When I first came here, transport was inconvenient, with no motorways or asphalt roads. But since a national park was established last year, basic infrastructure is being built,” she says.

 The couple are building a home on their farm, which is 300km (185 miles) from the nearest town, as they attempt to revive largely deserted pastures on the plateau, and help those who have fallen into poverty since the relocation.
“They haven’t returned to their farms… They originally led self-sustainable lives by raising livestock and making clothes from wool.” Yixi says.

Since the move, they have been living in government-built houses in towns that lack basic services, such as medical facilities, elderly care, rubbish disposal, and running water, she adds.

They were promised an annual subsidy for relocating, but some families claim they are not receiving as much as they were told they would. Tibetans generally have high birth rates, and families, often of seven or eight people, quickly became destitute.

“Before 1985 each nomad [in Yushu] owned more than 100 yaks. They were never worried about money because they just had to sell a yak when they needed it.

“Before his whole family relocated to town a decade ago, my husband lived on the farm until he was 15 and his life was carefree. But after being relocated, people were cut off from their [traditional] way of life and couldn’t find work,” Yixi says.

She and her husband built their home using a traditional mortar made of soil, glutinous rice, and quicklime, she says, to show others how it was possible to return to their pastures and carve out a sustainable lifestyle.

The couple have organized a cooperative with seven other families, with 300 head of livestock, so “everybody can take turns grazing the livestock throughout the year to help conserve the pastures”.

Their farm will observe local customs, she adds, eschewing mass slaughter of livestock in deference to Tibetan Buddhist culture.

“Most of the produce is for sale locally, because outsiders are not keen on yak meat, suyou [fat distilled from yak and sheep’s milk] and qula [the residue from making suyou]. Our produce will include Armillaria luteo-virens [an edible mushroom], which thrives during the rainy season on the high plateau, and butter made from yak milk, which non-locals will like,” Yixi says.

“Our venture is not simply about agriculture. It’s about how people can live harmoniously with nature. We want to build living quarters for visitors, who will be able to ride horses, meditate, do yoga and live a tranquil life on the farm.

“We can train locals in how to serve visitors and cook food for them. The scenery is beautiful here, as we are near the source of the Yellow River. A road leading to our farm will be completed next year and [the government] will start building a small airport in Yushu next year.”

For a city dweller, life in the remote countryside took a lot of getting used to for Yixi. “When I first arrived, I went for as long as 20 days without washing my hair,” she says.

In spite of the hardship, she says her new life is much better than when she lived in the big city.

“To earn 20,000 to 30,000 yuan [US$2,900 to US$4,350] a month, people have to commute through the crowded subway every day and spend all their salary on living expenses. They only live for work. There’s no dignity,” she says.

“I hope our kids will be born in the house. They will be able to grow up surrounded by nature and lead a happy life.”

In Shaanxi, Zheng says he dreams of growing high-quality produce for export, like Japanese and Western farmers.

“China is so big that it can sustain any kind of fruit. We can’t sell the grapes we produce, even though they only cost several yuan a bunch. Japanese ones sell for several hundreds a bunch,” he says.

“There is a success story in another town in Shaanxi, where 20 million yuan was spent to establish a vineyard. The grapes sell in Hong Kong for more than 200 yuan a kilogram.

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What you need to know to understand Belt and Road

Source: World Economic Forum

Writer: Bruno Maçães

There are two things everyone needs to know about the Belt and Road. First, as officials in Beijing will tell you, this grand project is measured in decades, with its conclusion planned for 2049, the centenary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China. Second, the initiative is both global and revolutionary. Its aim is to create a new order in world politics and the world economy.

Past equivalents to the Belt and Road would have to be just as shapeless and ambitious. Perhaps concepts such as “the West” come the closest — even in the manner that a metaphor came to acquire epochal significance. If the initiative succeeds, it is very likely that we shall use the name to refer to the new arrangements, much as we use “West” as a shorthand for the existing order.

What will the world look like after the Belt and Road? In the first Belt and Road summit in 2017 Xi Jinping hailed it as the “project of the century.” If all goes according to plan, the Belt and Road will change the shape of the world economy and world politics, returning us to a time when China occupied the center of global networks.

There will be new infrastructure, of course, and that will be an obvious and easy metric of success. In twenty or thirty years some of the new Belt and Road projects will likely stand as the highest example of what human ingenuity can achieve in its drive to master natural forces. A bridge crossing the Caspian Sea may make road transport between Europe and China fast and easy, changing old mental maps separating continents. The Kra Isthmus Canal in Thailand will do the same for the Indian and Pacific Oceans.

But infrastructure is ultimately a means. The geographic space being transformed must be connected before it can start to grow areas of economic activity; industrial parks along infrastructure routes are slowly integrated to establish regional value chains and eventually support China’s rise to a technological superpower, leading the transformations of the future.

Artificial intelligence, robotics, genetic engineering and space exploration. As it expands, the Belt and Road is bound to become increasingly futuristic. Self-driving vehicles on land, sea and air and trillions of connected devices worldwide will be empowered by a Belt, Road and Space fleet of China-centered satellites. Chinese companies are already planning to engage in deep-space economic activity, like building orbit solar power plants, and mining asteroids and the moon. One or more Sputnik moments – when Chinese technology leaps far ahead of what the West can do – will offer the final and most meaningful metric of success for the Belt and Road.

The Belt and Road will never become universal—just as the West never became universal—but in some areas of the world it will rule unimpeded and different shades of influence will be felt everywhere.

The problem is to determine the core of the new Chinese world picture and identify the main traits which it will come to impress upon the whole. Many of those traits are already visible in what is but the construction stage of the Belt and Road.

Virtues are regularly invoked. Countries have relations of dependence, generosity, gratitude, respect and retribution. Relations between countries are much more diverse and complex than in the more formal Western-led order. Ritual is important, and so is history. Nations are better seen as intersecting stories and power the ability to determine where the story goes next.

Even in its formative stage the Belt and Road is an exercise in the opacity of power. There is an exoteric doctrine of the initiative and then an esoteric practice where deals are agreed upon, often with no written evidence, and where hierarchy resembles that of security-clearance levels of access. The Belt and Road is like holy writ—never revealed completely and all at once, but only bit by bit and over many decades.

Rapid change, old-fashioned morality, and secret communication. This will be a world of soothsayers, saints, and spooks.

The Belt and Road may well never realize its goals. It may be abandoned as it runs into problems and the goals it sets out to achieve recede further into the distance. But success and failure are to be measured in terms of these goals, so we must start from them.

The new world the initiative will try to create is not one where one piece on the chessboard will be replaced, not even one where the pieces will have been reorganized. It will be a world built anew by very different people and according to very different ideas.

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NHA plans to build DI Khan-Zhob section

Source: The Express Tribune
Date: December 11, 2018

The National Highway Authority (NHA) plans to build the 210 kilometres Dera Ismail Khan-Zhob section of the western route of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

Its first portion is a 50km four-lane motorway from Yarik on Indus Highway to Sagu, according to an NHA official.

Beyond Sagu up to Zhob, dualisation of the DI Khan-Quetta Highway (N-50) is being done under the project, he added. The project includes the construction of Darazinda and Zhob bypasses.

The proposed right of way of the project is 100 metres for Yarik to Sagu, while 50m will be acquired for dualisation of N-50.

The official said Chinese financing for the project for upgrading the road for the western route would be among the important points on the agenda for the next CPEC Joint Cooperation Committee meeting scheduled to be held in the 3rd week of this month.

Matters regarding financing are being pursued with the Chinese government, he added. He said the Zhob-Quetta and Quetta-Sohrab sections of CPEC’s western route were in the feasibility study stage.

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CPEC is Pakistan’s national priority, China told

Source: DAWN
Date: December 11, 2018.

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Monday reaffirmed its commitment to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) by pledging to complete it as a national priority.

The assurance was conveyed to the Chinese side by the Foreign Office at the inaugural round of bilateral political consultations. Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua led the Pakistani delegation at the meeting, while the Chinese side was headed by Vice Foreign Minister Kong Xuanyou.

“Pakistan side conveyed that CPEC is a national priority for the government and Pakistan remains committed to the successful implementation of CPEC,” the FO said in a statement on the meeting.

“The two sides also resolved to work together towards completion of the ongoing projects and agreed to expand CPEC to new areas of cooperation in line with the vision of the leadership of Pakistan,” it added.

The reiteration comes ahead of the upcoming meeting of the Joint Coordination Committee (JCC) of the CPEC in Beijing next week.

Prime Minister Imran Khan had last month paid his maiden visit to China. During the trip, which analysts say reinforced Pak-China bond, the two countries showed “complete consensus on the future trajectory of CPEC, timely completion of its ongoing projects and joint efforts for realisation of its full potential with a focus on socio-economic development, job creation and livelihoods and accelerating cooperation in industrial development, industrial parks and agriculture”.

However, there is speculation that despite the positivity exhibited during Mr Khan’s Beijing trip, the Chinese have concerns about the future of the CPEC.

The Pakistani and Chinese delegations at their political consultations “agreed to build on the consensus developed during Mr Khan’s visit”, the FO said.

“They reaffirmed ‘all-weather strategic cooperative partnership’ between the two countries and expressed their satisfaction at the strong bilateral ties in political, economic, security, cultural and other spheres,” the statement said.

Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Kong Xuanyou also called on Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi after the political consultations.

Mr Qureshi said the prime minister’s visit to China marked “a milestone in the history of bilateral relations and has deepened the bond of trust and friendship between two nations”. Reassuring the Chinese delegation about the CPEC, he said Pakistan would complete this project as envisaged by the leadership of both countries.

Mr Qureshi confirmed Pakistan’s participation in the 2nd meeting of China-Afghanistan-Pakistan foreign ministers’ trilateral mechanism to be held in Kabul on Dec 15.

The Chinese vice foreign minister also visited the General Headquarters for a meeting with Army Chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa.

“During the meeting matters of mutual interest, regional security and enhanced bilateral cooperation came under discussion,” the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said.

Gen Bajwa underscored that Pak-China relations were all-weather and based on mutual trust and confidence. “The visiting dignitary commended the sacrifices and resilience of the people and armed forces of Pakistan and appreciated the role Pakistan Army has played in battling the scourge of terrorism,” the ISPR said.

Last month security forces had foiled a terrorist attack on the Chinese consulate in Karachi. The Chinese government had on that occasion praised Pakistani security forces for their timely action and emphasised on ensuring the safety of Chinese institutions and personnel in Pakistan.

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Besides infrastructure, manufacturing industry needs big investment

Source: The Express Tribune
Writer: Umer Khayyam
Date: December 10, 2018

The mega Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), launched by China, comprises one axis and two wings. The axis is composed of 15 countries mostly neighbouring China and aids Chinese influence across continents. The two wings are spread over 24 countries across continents.

The BRI is aimed at connecting countries in the region and beyond through trade facilitation and other measures. However, the development of a broad-based transport network is the sine qua non for such connectivity.

Hence, a new array of highways attracted $11 billion out of the $46 billion initially promised by Beijing for China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects. The transport infrastructure development accounts for 24% of the CPEC investment, covering roads, highways and railways from the Khunjerab Pass to Gwadar Port.

This long transport passage has been designed to also facilitate energy projects through coal transportation, but the transportation network is mainly targeted at markets of the Middle East and Europe. It will ensure a smooth flow of Chinese goods to international markets. In the meantime, Pakistan is trying to persuade other neighbouring countries including Saudi Arabia, Iran and Turkey to join CEPC. Simultaneously, the eastern part of the BRI is being facilitated by Malaysia.

Likewise CPEC and other major investments in Pakistan, China has made huge capital injection into Malaysia. Till 2008, China’s investment accounted for just 0.08% of the total foreign direct investment (FDI) in Malaysia.

However, in 2016, the Chinese investment rose massively and touched the level of 14.4%. Most of the investment from China went to infrastructure development like the East Coast Rail Link and the Kuantan Port. The investment will help provide easy market access across Malaysia.

Non-manufacturing sector

The huge investment in the non-manufacturing sector comes in the wake of developing countries’ heavy reliance on the strong economies. As the developing countries are short of resources, they open their economies for the FDI but with little say in such investment plans.

Although the investing economies target neglected sectors of the recipient economies, still in this process they improve their supply chain to the world market.

These pose a great challenge to goods and services producers of the developing countries both in local and international markets. Malaysia has already experienced difficulties as demand for its goods and services has gone down because imported goods are cheaper and are easily available.

In the same way, Pakistan could face the challenge of competing with goods and services of China.

Apart from this, though infrastructure investment provides employment to locals with handsome remunerations, it is not known what will happen to these jobs when projects are completed. Also, all such investments are non-productive and are based on loans with guarantees from the state.

If the state fails to return the loans, the consequences may be difficult to bear. An example is Sri Lanka’s Hambantota Port, where the state could not return Chinese loans and then the port was handed over to Beijing on a 99-year lease.

However, there is no doubt that CPEC is a game changer. It addresses core problems of Pakistan like energy shortage, dearth of infrastructure and financing as well as underdeveloped areas. It will lead to the promotion of small and medium enterprises and uninterrupted energy supply will help large-scale manufacturing companies to compete at the global level.

Also, the road and railway infrastructure will support the development of backward areas and bridge the rural-urban divide. CPEC will create an environment for regional integration, help build trust among regional emerging economies and provide Pakistan with a platform to improve its image in the international arena.

However, there is a strong need to revise plans in order to invest more, without any impact on infrastructure investment, in the manufacturing sector, which will create more employment opportunities and promote emerging industries. This way, Pakistan’s economy will strengthen and a strong neighbouring country is in the interest of China as well.

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PN celebrates 60th Gwadar Day

Source: The Express Tribune
Date: December 09, 2018

KARACHI.: Pakistan Navy celebrated 60th Gwadar Day with zeal and fervor on Saturday.

Various ceremonies were held in Gwadar under the auspices of Pakistan Navy to celebrate the day and to rejuvenate the spirit of nationalism amongst the local populace.

The main ceremony of the day was held at PN establishment PNS Akram where former naval chief Iftikhar Ahmed Sirohey was the chief guest.

Flag hoisting ceremony was held at PNS Akram followed by boat race, boat rallies and friendly football matches amongst the locals under the auspices of Pakistan Navy.

The celebrations were aimed at revival of history among locals, creating healthy environment and enhancement of national harmony among various local communities.

Gwadar Day is celebrated on December 8th every year to mark annexation of Gwadar with Pakistan in 1958. Gwadar was in possession of Oman since 1783 and was formally handed over to Pakistan in 1958. A naval platoon led by then Lt Iftikhar Ahmed Sirohey was the first to land at Gwadar and raise Pakistan’s flag there.

Being one of the first government organisations at Gwadar, Pakistan Navy has always been cognisant of its responsibilities pertaining to the area and its people and has always been committed to the development of the region.

Pakistan Navy’s role in health and education sector of coastal areas of Balochistan specially Gwadar and its efforts for making China-Pakistan Economic Corridor a reality are a manifestation of its commitment towards the region.

A huge number of locals participated in events arranged by PN while a number of local notables also attended the ceremonies.

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China’s real endgame in the trade war runs through Europe

Source: CNBC
Date: December 08, 2018

SCHLOSS ELMAU, GERMANY – Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban recently shared some history with a friend, explaining why he reached out to China’s then-Premier Wen Jiabao in 2011, seeking urgent financial support and providing Beijing one of several European inroads in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis.

Orban’s reason was a simple one: survival. Facing a potential debt crisis and unwilling to accept austere loan conditions from Western institutions, Beijing offered a lifeline. For his part, Orban convened some Central European leaders with Beijing, and they laid the groundwork for the “16-plus-one” initiative based in Budapest that since then has provided China unprecedented regional influence.

It didn’t take long for China’s investment to bear fruit. In March 2017, Hungary took the rare step to break European Union consensus on human rights violations, refusing to sign a joint letter denouncing the alleged torture of detailed lawyers. In July of the same year, Hungary joined Greece – another distressed European target of Chinese largesse – in blocking reference to Beijing in a Brussels statement on the illegality of Chinese claims in the South China Sea.

 The Bavarian Alps might seem an unusual place to reflect on China’s growing global influence, in a week that begin with U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping working to avoid a trade war in Argentina and advanced to Canadian authorities arrest of Chinese tech company Huawei’s CFO in Vancouver, at US request on suspicion of Iran sanctions violations.

Transatlantic strategy experts – convened at this breath-taking resort by the Munich Security Conference – were left to reflect on Europe’s unique vulnerability to this major power conflict in a world where they are absorbing the unanticipated shocks of greater US unpredictability, greater Chinese assertiveness and deeper European divisions about how to navigate it all.

“China already has shown it can have a veto power over European Union policy,” said Wolfgang Ischinger, chairman of the Munich Security Conference, on the margins of the off-record gathering he convened. He notes that while West European companies are driven by profit, their Chinese counterparts invariably also represent Chinese state interests. “That doesn’t have to be malign, but it can also be malign.”

European Union officials concede that China already has exercised veto power it has over policies that require unanimity, and because some officials are pushing privately for a change to majority voting. Concerns are growing as Beijing’s influence has grown more rapidly than anyone anticipated. Chinese foreign direct investment in the EU has risen to $30 billion in 2017 from 700 million before 2008.

That influence has grown more rapidly than anyone anticipated. Since the 2008 financial crisis, Chinese foreign direct investment in the EU has risen from 700 million Euro to 30 billion Euro in 2017.

A report by two German think tanks, the GPPI and Mercator Institute for China Studies, found that Beijing has taken full advantage of Europe’s openness and has been “rapidly increasing political influencing efforts in Europe.”

Political warfare

Some call it political warfare, using a nonmilitary toolbox of overt and covert means to exert its influence on political and economic elites, academia and public opinion. With these efforts, it weakens Western unity (and US attraction) and improves its image as an alternative to liberal democracy, the report concluded.

Growing Sino-US tensions have brought Europe new export chances in China but at the same time China has shifted considerable export and foreign investment efforts to Europe to replace lost American markets. In the first six months of this year, newly announced Chinese mergers and acquisitions into Europe were nine-fold the North America number at $20 billion compared to $2.5 billion and completed investments were six times higher at $12 billion compare to $2 billion.

At the same time, a new Trump-Xi trade deal could shake Europe as well, as China’s state driven economy could decide overnight to replace European products with US goods for political purposes.

The potential for an escalated Beijing-US struggle has left European experts scratching their heads over how they would choose sides or navigate the perils, particularly in the case where some countries and industries have much more at stake in China.

Some European officials speak of the need for “strategic autonomy” in the face of US sanctions extraterritorial reach on Iran and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s speech in Brussels this week where he questioned multilateralism and the European Union. At the same time, they worry more about what some call China’s “political warfare” of gathering economic, financial and thus also diplomatic influence.

The European Union hasn’t yet applied anything as restrictive on foreign investment as the US Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), an interagency committee that reviews the impact of foreign investments on US national security. However, the EU this month passed a bill creating an unprecedented, if non-binding, screening scheme aimed at predatory Chinese investments.

Germans this week increased their focus on questions regarding a company called KUKA Robotics, which has become the poster child for the perils of high tech sales to the Chinese. With its industrial robotics production, KUKA was one of the nation’s greatest innovators for the 21st century economy until it was taken over by the Chinese company Midea in 2016.

Just last month, Midea was reversing previous assurances that it would not remove KUKA’s highly respected and long-time CEO, underscoring China’s ultimate control over cutting-edge robotics technology.

Despite facing new scrutiny, China is undeterred in its European strategy, taking advantage of European divisions, America’s trade strains with Europe and the urgent investment needs of particularly Southern and Eastern European countries.

Xi’s first state visits Spain and Portugal

Tellingly, President Xi made a stop in Spain on his way to Argentina and then again in Portugal for a two-day stint on his way back from the G-20 meeting, his first state visits to both countries.

Even before Xi’s visit, China had invested $12 billion in Portuguese projects ranging from energy, to transport, to insurance, financial services and media. During Xi’s visit, China and Portugal further deepened their economic partnership, with Lisbon agreeing to cooperate in China’s Belt and Road Initiative as it hopes to garner increased Chinese infrastructure and energy investments. China is also poised to take over a majority stake in EDP, Portugal’s largest business and a major EU energy provider.

In short, global markets and news reports miss the real story with their single-minded focus on whether or not President Trump and President Xi can reduce tensions and close a trade deal over the next 90 days. The bigger game, increasingly apparent in Europe, is whether China can replace the United States over time or at the very least significantly reduce its influence.

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Joint committee on CPEC to ink industrial framework agreement on Dec 20

Source: Dawn
Date: December 08, 2018

ISLAMABAD: The Joint Coordin­ation Committee (JCC) of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) will meet on December 20 in Beijing to sign a framework agreement on industrial cooperation and pave the way for development of special economic zones starting with Rashakai in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

According to an official announcement, the Cabinet Committee on CPEC met on Friday and gave the go-ahead to sign industrial cooperation framework with China and encourage Chinese investors to relocate their industries. The meeting was chaired by Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Reform, Makhdum Khusro Bakhtyar.

An official said a final version of the framework agreement on industrial cooperation had been shared with the Chinese side. He said all the four provincial chief ministers, prime minister of Azad Jammu and Kashmir and chief executive of Gilgit-Baltistan would be part of the Pakistani delegation. The Pakistani side will attend the 8th JCC led by federal planning minister.

The committee also issued instructions to relevant agencies to finalise a schedule for the groundbreaking of Rashakai Economic Zone at the earliest by removing all bottlenecks. The KP government has already entered into an agreement with the China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC) for the development of Rashakai Industrial Zone in two years. The two sides, he said, would formally launch the Rashakai development project under which the Chinese firm would simultaneously launch a marketing campaign to attract investors.

The sources said the two sides are also expected to announce the financial close of $1.8 billion Lahore-Matiari Transmission Line and a Thar coal-based power project during the JCC meeting. The government had allowed in April this year an extension of 6-7 months in the deadline for financial close of these projects i.e. until Dec 1, 2018 which meant the projects would be required to achieve commercial operations by March 2021 instead of previous deadline of Aug 1, 2020.

Responding to a question, sources said the two sides have not yet finalised the financing plan for the $8.bn Karachi-Torkham Main Railway Line (ML-1) and were still in the process of discussions on involvement of a third party investor in the project.

“The committee discussed Transport Infrastructure Projects in detail including provincial as well as mass transit projects and instructed for developing a roadmap for Pakistan’s Railway Mainline-1,” the statement said.

The conveners of the Joint Working Groups on Energy, Infrastructure, Gwadar, Planning and Industrial Cooperation briefed the committee about the agenda of the forthcoming 8th JCC which was approved by Cabinet Committee on CPEC.

The committee expressed satisfaction over inviting all provincial chief ministers to participate in the JCC that would enable them to market their own industrial zones as well as negotiate their projects particularly new initiatives in the socio-economic development sector.

The meeting advised relevant agencies and provinces to identify pilot projects to be shared with the Chinese side so as to take advantage of the expanded base of CPEC to socio-economic development and agriculture sector.

The committee reviewed the progress on Gwadar projects. Completion of all codal formalities was directed for groundbreaking of Gwadar New Airport, Vocational Institute, Hospital, and 300 MW Power Plant not later than the first quarter of 2019.

It was decided to seek finances from China for the KKH Thakot-Raikot (remaining portion) and upgradation of Dera Ismail Khan-Zhob (Phase-1) project on the Western Route.

Mr Bakhtyar said the projects on the Western Route were a priority of the government that would open and ensure uplift of less developed areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan.

The Cabinet Committee on CPEC reviewed progress on energy projects and instructed for encouraging investment in Thar Coal and renewable projects in the future.