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Govt misses deadlines to put CPEC projects on track

ISLAMABAD: 

The government has missed the deadlines set to put the delayed China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects back on track despite the instructions given by Prime Minister Imran Khan but China has once again expressed the resolve to remain committed to the multibillion-dollar strategic initiative.

Pakistan and China on Friday jointly reviewed progress on all the ongoing projects in the 58th Progress Review Meeting, which was held after a gap of 10 months.

The last joint Progress Review Meeting was held in November 2018. During the tenure of previous Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government, the review meetings were held on a monthly basis.

Chinese Ambassador Yao Jing and Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Jehanzeb Khan also attended the meeting.

The government had set the end-August deadline for giving approval to the revised PC-I of Eastbay Expressway project and signing a tripartite agreement for starting work on the delayed Kohala power project.

The prime minister had also instructed the planning ministry to approve PC-I of the multibillion-dollar Mainline-I (ML-I) project of CPEC by September 15. Meeting proceedings suggested that all these deadlines had been missed again.

The planning ministry also missed the September 15 deadline set for finalising the debt sustainability report of the ML-I project.

The meeting deliberated on the issues confronting different projects and it was decided to fast-track resolution of the issues for timely completion of all projects, according to a statement issued by the Ministry of Planning after the review meeting.

Minister for Planning Makhdoom Khusro Bakhtiar underlined the need for meeting timelines of the projects and called for further stepping up the momentum in CPEC projects, it added.

The Chinese ambassador stressed that CPEC projects would continue to progress at the expedited pace, as reiterated by PM Imran in his recent meeting with the Chinese foreign minister, for timely completion of all projects.

According to the statement, Yao said CPEC was heading in the right direction, adding that CPEC was quite different from other Belt and Road initiatives as this flagship project manifested the longstanding friendship between the two friendly countries and would bring prosperity and progress for Pakistan.

However, the critical projects have been facing years of delay. Last month, the prime minister directed authorities to expedite work on half a dozen CPEC projects that had been facing significant delays.

The strategic initiative came to an almost grinding halt in the past one year due to the reservations expressed by the cabinet ministers and enhanced fiscal controls under the $6-billion International Monetary Fund (IMF) loan programme. But lately PM Imran started showing interest in CPEC after returning from Washington.

The Planning Commission deputy chairman said the PM had set up a committee to resolve the ML-I project-related issues and the matter might not be discussed in the review committee meeting.

The PM had also directed that the tripartite agreement for the Kohala power plant should be finalised by August 30 and should be signed in the PM Office in the presence of Azad Jammu and Kashmir prime minister.

The review committee discussed the energy projects in detail. The power secretary informed the meeting that a synchronised demand-supply study of CPEC energy projects would be firmed up by October 2019.

The National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra) said all pending tariff issues including that of Port Qasim and Gwadar 300-megawatt coal-power project would be resolved soon. PM Imran had instructed last month to resolve tariff issues at the earliest.

It was informed that the Gwadar Development Authority, headed by the chief minister of Balochistan, had approved the Gwadar city master plan with some minor modifications. The communications secretary said the Multan-Sukkur motorway would be opened soon for general traffic as work was almost complete.

No date for the formal opening of the Multan-Sukkur motorway was finalised, although the motorway might be opened for traffic, except for freight cargo, next week.

The meeting also discussed the status of the Orange Line Train project and ongoing projects of Gwadar were also taken up in detail. It was once again reiterated that the Orange Line project would be ready for operations by December.

Progress on the Gwadar Airport was also reviewed and Chinese authorities informed the meeting that due to a lack of water and electricity supply there were serious hurdles in the way of executing the scheme.

The Eastbay Expressway project’s revised PC-I has also remained pending due to delay in finalising financing arrangements to the extent of the additional cost.

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Cabinet poised to approve CPEC Authority ordinance

ISLAMABAD: 

Amid opposition from the parliamentary panel on China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), the cabinet is set to give the go-ahead for promulgating an ordinance for setting up the CPEC Authority that will oversee work on projects in which a third country is involved besides Islamabad and Beijing.

The government of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) argues that CPEC is going to enter a new phase where a third party like Saudi Arabia will also take part in the gigantic economic corridor.

Saudi Arabia has pledged to invest billions of dollars in setting up an oil refinery in Gwadar. It is also interested in pouring capital into other industrial projects in the port city of Balochistan.

Sources told The Express Tribune that the Cabinet Committee for Disposal of Legislative Cases had considered a draft CPEC Authority ordinance and recommended the cabinet to notify and promulgate the ordinance. The cabinet, in its meeting scheduled to be held on September 17 and chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan, would consider the recommendation for promulgating the CPEC Authority ordinance.

However, the parliamentary committee on CPEC, in a meeting held on Thursday last week, rejected the government’s proposal of establishing the CPEC Authority, arguing that it would create more confusion about billions of dollars worth of projects being executed under the CPEC program.

Work on CPEC began in 2015 after the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the governments of Pakistan and China. Focal ministries of Pakistan and China were the Ministry of Planning and Development and the National Development and Reform Commission respectively.

In a summary sent to the cabinet, it was highlighted that CPEC was now going to enter the next phase with the incorporation of additional areas such as trade and market access, industrial cooperation, socio-economic development, poverty alleviation, agriculture, Gwadar development and regional connectivity. At the same time, third country would also be allowed to invest in CPEC projects.

Earlier in a meeting chaired by PM Imran on May 20, 2019, it was decided to establish the CPEC Authority. The National Development Council (NDC) has already approved, in principle, the constitution of the authority to ensure fast-track implementation of CPEC projects.

The NDC meeting, held in the second week of August 2019, was informed that past neglect of Balochistan, lack of connectivity and economic integration, security challenges and under-utilisation and mismanagement of resources contributed to poverty in the province. The connectivity of Balochistan through CPEC projects was expected to bring social development and ensure security in the province, the meeting was told.

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‘Reports of CPEC Authority’s rejection incorrect’

CPEC Parliamentary Committee Chairman Sher Ali Arbab has upheld the decision of formation of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) Authority, saying there is complete unanimity among the respective lawmakers that CPEC authority is to be established.

Rejecting reports of CPEC Authority of being opposed, Arbab said the committee took stock of various feasibilities and options to keep the authority autonomous as parliamentarians believed CPEC Authority should have autonomous status to run its affairs without getting embroiled into any bureaucratic glitches.

Speaking to Geo.tv, Arbab said,

“CPEC authority was not rejected. A couple of members had reservations on how it will function as an autonomous body.”

He added, nobody rejected the notion and that it was an in-camera parliamentary committee meeting in which people had different views which were encouraged.

The sixth meeting of the CPEC parliamentary committee which was held at the Parliament House on September 5, discussed to evaluate the feasibility of different proposals and projects connected to CPEC being a well-thought scheme to take the country out of a crisis by developing SEZs to work as engine 0f economic growth.

The chairman and members during the meeting raised different questions during the briefing by relevant secretaries and ministries regarding their projects with remarks to complete the required assessments and evaluations keeping in view the available budgetary provisions out of government resources as well as consideration of market forces to make them sustainable.

At the end of the meeting, the chairman indicated that the committee members would have their next meeting in Gwadar to meet the locals and to see the progress in particular which were meant for the natives to improve their lives and job opportunities.

The meeting was attended by Noor Alam Khan, Sadaqat Ali Khan, Zille Huma, Ghous BuxKhan Mehar, Ahsan Iqbal Ch, Sardar Ayaz Saddiq, Zahid Akram Durrani, Muhammad Aslam Bhootani, MNs, Senators Mir Kabeer Ahmed Muhammad Shahi, senator Dr. Shehzad Waseem, Senator Ahmed Khan, and secretaries.

SOURCE: Geo News

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Largest transportation infrastructure under CPEC completed

ISLAMABAD, July 24 (Xinhua) — The construction of the 392-km Sukkur-Multan Motorway under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) has been completed after the National Highway Authority (NHA) on Tuesday presented a substantial completion certification to the constructor China State Construction Engineering Corporation (CSCEC).

The motorway, which is known as M5 in Pakistan, is a part of the country’s Peshawar-Karachi Motorway and was completed two weeks ahead of contract due date. The M5 was designed for speeds of up to 120 km/h with a total investment of around 2.89 billion U.S. dollars.

NHA M5 General Manager Muhammad Naseem Arif said during a ceremony held in Multan that the motorway is very impressive in terms of it’s quality and construction process, adding that the authority closely worked with the CSCEC and overcame a number of difficulties so that they could complete the great project within three years.

Li Ganchun, chief of the M5 project from the CSCEC, appreciated the security provided by the Pakistani side, saying that the M5 will help Pakistan connect it’s north and south, improve the country’s transportation situation and facilitate social-economic development in the region along the motorway.

According to the CSCEC, the M5 project had created some 29,000 jobs for the locals during the construction. The Chinese constructor also built schools, roads, bridges, wells and water channel for the locals to make their lives more convenient.

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Close Pakistan-China cooperation a factor of peace, stability in region: PM

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan Tuesday underlined that close Pakistan-China cooperation was a factor of peace and stability in the region and expressed appreciation for China’s support for Pakistan’s role on international and regional issues.

The prime minister also underlined the importance of mutual support by China and Pakistan to each other on their respective issues of core interest.

He said this while talking to General Han Weiguo, Commander, People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Ground Forces, China, who called on him here at the Prime Minister Office. The prime minister congratulated General Han Weiguo on the conferment of the Nishan-i-Imtiaz (Military).

The prime minister recalled his wide-ranging exchange of views with President Xi Jinping in their two recent meetings in Beijing in April 2019 and Bishkek this month. He underscored that China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) was a flagship project of President Xi’s visionary Belt and Road Initiative and added Pakistan looked forward to also deepening cooperation in socio-economic development between the two countries in Phase-II of CPEC.

General Han Weiguo thanked the prime minister for receiving him and said the conferment of the award was an honour for him.

He lauded Pakistan’s successful efforts against terrorism and steps to promote regional peace and stability.

General Han also underscored the importance of the time-tested Pakistan-China All Weather Strategic Cooperation Partnership and reaffirmed China’s resolve to deepen bilateral cooperation in all fields and further fortify the China-Pakistan relationship.

Source: Business Recorder

Date: 19/6/2019

President Alvi confers Nishan-e-Pakistan on Chinese vice-president

President Arif Alvi conferred Pakistan’s highest civil award, the Nishan-e-Pakistan, on Chinese Vice-President Wang Qishan during an investiture ceremony held at Aiwan-e-Sadar in Islamabad on Sunday.

The award was given to the Chinese dignitary to honor his role in the promotion of bilateral ties between Pakistan and China.

Vice-President Qishan had arrived in Islamabad earlier in the day on a three-day official visit to Pakistan, Radio Pakistan reported. Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi receives Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan upon his arrival at Nur Khan airbase. ─ Photo courtesy Naveed Siddiqui

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and Minister for Planning, Development and Reforms Khusro Bakhtiar received VP Qishan upon his arrival at Nur Khan airbase.

Qureshi said the Chinese vice president would also be received by Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar in Lahore, where he would visit historical places.

Source: Dawn

Date: 27/5/2019

 

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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.