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Kazakhstan’s Financial Center gearing up to become BRI Regional Hub

The Astana International Financial Center (AIFC), Kazakhstan’s regional financial hub, has geared itself up to become a key financial platform of the Belt & Road Initiative (BRI).

The AIFC was officially launched in January 2018 under the initiative of Nursultan Nazarbayev, first president of Kazakhstan. With independent management and judicial bodies, the centre has received 250 companies by September.

The AIFC regards the BRI as a clear and important priority for its development, said AIFC Governor Kairat Kelimbetov, noting that the BRI opens up a new prospect for financial cooperation between Kazakhstan and China.

In support of the BRI, the AIFC has set up a “Belt Economics Department,” which works with various financial institutions to develop investment models for the Belt and Road projects in Kazakhstan and beyond.

As one of the 55 China-Kazakhstan production capacity cooperation programs, the Astana International Exchange (AIX), with Shanghai Stock Exchange and the Silk Road Fund among the shareholders, is a major participant of the AIFC.

A key innovation of the AIX is the establishment of “Belt and Road market,” in which the RMB is the most important trading currency. Money raised on the market will be used to support projects under Kazakhstan’s Bright Path new economic policy and the BRI, China-Kazakhstan production capacity cooperation programs, and the Kazakh privatisation programs.

Related stocks and bonds are expected to be listed on the AIX in 2020, said Deputy CEO of the AIX Wan Jianqiang, adding that thanks to the close cooperation and the support of the two countries in expanding local currency settlement, “it is believed that the RMB has great potential of use in Kazakhstan.”

“China-Kazakhstan cooperation has greatly expanded and deepened in the past years, showing high complementarity of the two economies,” Wan said.

Since its founding, the AIFC has been in extensive cooperation with Chinese financial institutions.

The AIFC signed a regulatory memorandum with the China Securities Regulatory Commission and the China Banking Regulatory Commission. It also established strategic partnership with the Shanghai Stock Exchange, Silk Road Fund, China Development Bank, China Construction Bank, China CITIC Bank and CITIC Securities.

China Development Bank is the first Chinese institution which opened a representative office in the AIFC. Over the years, it has funded dozens of projects in such areas as oil and gas, minerals, electric power, chemical industry, finance and cross-border infrastructure.

Many other top Chinese banks are following suit. The Altyn Bank, a subsidiary of China CITIC Bank, registered in the AIFC in December 2018 and has become an indirect participant of the RMB Cross-Border Interbank Payment System (CIPS).

As the latest result of China-Kazakhstan Financial Cooperation, China Construction Bank has registered in the AIFC and officially opened its branch on Monday.

Earlier this month, China and Kazakhstan decided to develop a permanent comprehensive strategic partnership during Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev’s state visit to China.

In a joint statement during the visit, the two countries agreed to deepen cooperation in the financial sector, notably support the development and operation of the AIFC and expand the use of local currency for settlement.

Over the past years, from regulatory bodies to commercial banks, from stock exchanges to securities dealers, all-round financial cooperation between the two countries has been developing on the fast track.

Dated on: 25/9/2019

Source: Bellt and Road News

 

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How US will benefit by Cooperating with Belt & Road

China is emerging as a growing power and its rise is not limited to a certain domain. Rather, it is experiencing growth in economy, trade, political influence, soft and hard power. Above all, China’s commitment is to sustainable growth and mutual development across the world.

At present, China is engaged with around half of the countries of the world. It has built these bilateral and multilateral relations gradually.

It is incorrect to portray China’s increasing dominance as a bid to strategically encircle any country. China’s engagements with each country in the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) abides by the established norms of international relations.

Whether it is Pakistan (a time tested friend of China) or any neutral State, China has focused on mutual partnerships and mutual growth.

At present, the worth of the BRI stands at US$1.2- 1.3 trillion. The BRI has converged the stakes of many countries of the world, which shows that China enjoys an edge, considering the volume of its economic input into these projects.

What does all this mean for Chinese competitors?

In finding an answer to this question, one first needs to consider who is or who are Chinese competitors?

Consider, Russia, India, and the European Union: None of these countries or entities is the loser by China’s rise, rather they are reliable partners in growth with China. The only country which might lose strategic or economic advantage is the United States.

The US and China are engaged in a trade war and have political discords. America has openly expressed reservations about the BRI as America believes it might hurt its strategic objectives.

The BRI is focused on connecting China and Europe via land and sea, with the sea link passing through the South China Sea as well. China aims at focusing on developing infrastructure along the Indian Ocean, the Red Sea and the Mediterranean. These three seas hold significant strategic importance for China as well as the US. The too clash here.

However, Congressional hearings about the BRI and Security and Economic review of US-China relations, have not been held in the recent past, despite Congressional concerns over monitoring developments in US-China relations. This shows that the US, to a minimal extent, considers the developments benefiting its agenda of cooperative development.

The US has ignored China’s mega plans of development, as it believes that the BRI can offer opportunities to American allies if not the America itself.

Despite having reservations about China’s trade initiatives, bilateral trade between the US and China stands at billions of dollars. When it comes to competing in building critical infrastructure, rails and roadways, the US is lagging behind. This is where the US can benefit from Chinese experience. China has shown willingness to share its experience with the US in this field.

With President Trump’s arrival, bilateral competition has become more stringent; coupled with the ongoing trade war things have gotten worse. They have ended the leverages which they had been offering to each other for decades.

President Trump’s vision of ‘America First’ has taken the US far from China. But Trump’s isolationist strategy has not proved to be prudent in financing and executing America’s projects. The history of China suggests that its development was based initially on isolationism. But it has benefited from it and also come out of it. This is also an area in which Chinese experience can benefit America.

Considering such developments, the Atlantic Council strategy paper about ‘Silk Road and US strategy’ says that the US should reconsider its approach toward China, since, confronting China is becoming counterproductive.

The paper also highlights many areas where the United States can be a beneficiary of Chinese development; specially by expanding bilateral economic relations and use China’s influence over South Asian politics, where America is confronting challenges.

American experts believe that while posing a tough challenge to China, America must focus on converging its efforts with China’s, to participate in Eurasian growth since it Eurasia is a strong export market for US products. The Chinese believe that a collaborative approach could serve the interests of both China and America in Europe.

But at present China want America to maintain a distance. This is because of the on-going trade war which it believes can disrupt the idea of cooperative development.

On the other hand, the Chinese idea of mutual development is considered flawed by Americans. But the Chinese believe that the US should benefit in terms of expanding inter-regional and extra-regional growth. The Chinese have always rejected the idea that the BRI means strategic encirclement of any specific country.

American experts who have long studied Chinese growth and development argue that the US must adopt the strategy of constructive development. They condemn the cherry-picking approach. They believe that the US can participate in energy-related projects, and asses the growth prospects of building new regional connections.

The cherry-picking formula might also conflict with the American geopolitical interests as well. America should not insist that every Chinese project must meet its ideological worldview and abjure projects which abridge its strategic interests.

Constructive participation needs complete manifestation of will and power to uplift bilateral partnerships.

The present century is witnessing immense growth and development. Each sector is witnessing new trends. But trade and economic interests have remained the classic reason for conflict. China and the US have a totally different history. One has a protectionist approach, while the other calls itself the champion of profuse development.

China’s growth is the new mechanism in place and the world is adjusting itself with the plans offered by China. Its soft and gradual growth is attracting the outer world, which has left the US with no other alternative but to witness the new trends.

In contrast to China’s economic developmental approach, the US spells nothing but conflict, destruction and diffidence. The Chinese model aims at building partnerships for mutual benefit and not conflict.

China is the only state in the present century placing in front of the world a creative and meaningful way for coming out of economic stagnation. The US cannot protect itself from the impact of BRI or China’s growth.

There is no dearth of International relations scholars who argue that the Chinese model deserves a look by the US.

Source: Belt and Road NEWS 

Dated on: 19/9/2019

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Top Baloch tribal leaders vow to support, protect CPEC projects

BEIJING, China – In a major breakthrough, leaders of top Baloch tribes traditionally thought to be opposed to China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) have vowed to fully support the CPEC and promised to provide security to the Chinese nationals working in across Balochistan.

The leaders of different tribes of Balochistan also downplayed negative western propaganda vis-a-vis China’s investment made under China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and vowed to support the initiatives of CPEC and Belt and Road.

The Pakistani delegation  is being led by the governor Balochistan including former Chief Minister Balochistan Dr. Abdul Malik Baloch, Central Joint Secretary of Pakistan Tehreek Insaf (PTI) Bayazeed Kasi, Balochistan Minister for Sports and Culture Abdul Khaliq Hazara, Member of Provisional Assembly (MP) Sanaullah Baloch, eminent tribal leaders Abdul Kasi, Nasir Zaman Khan, Senator Muhammad Daud, Mir Liaqat Ali, Mir Mehroze Marri, Mohammad Humayun Barakzai, Faisal Hayat Khan, Chairperson of Balochistan Institute of Research and Development (BIRD) Ms Javeria Tareen and political leaders, businessmen, and think tanks. The delegation has visited Urumqi, Kashgar, and Beijing during their stay here.

It merits mention that western media has been projecting Balochistan’s nationalist tribes and groups including Marri, Bugti and National Party led by Dr Abdul Malik Baloch as  critics of the CPEC. Their support to CPEC is a major development.

Governor of Balochistan, Amanullah Khan Yasinzai, along with other representatives of local tribes also inaugurated the Silk Road Community Building on Friday here in Xinjiang, China. The Silk Road Community Building Initiative was launched at a thematic forum of people-to-people connectivity of the Second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing on April 25.

The delegation called on Mr Song Tao, head of the International Department of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, during his meeting with the delegation, said that the people to people connectivity was themed as “Working together for better lives: people-to-people connectivity and cooperation”.

“The thematic forum is aimed at building consensus and reviving the Silk Road spirit to create a brighter tomorrow. Since the First Belt and Road Forum held in 2017, there have been extensive and meaningful exchanges and cooperation between China and other Belt and Road partner countries involving people from all walks of life,” he added.

“People-to-people connectivity is the important content of the BRI, and it is also the spirit, base and goal of the BRI,” Song said, calling for working together for cultural win-win cooperation, openness, inclusiveness and innovation and for more cooperation, not only between governments, but also social organizations.

DiploMag had a special sitting with the delegation here in Beijing. Balochistan Governor Amanullah Khan Yasinzai said the Silk Road community building initiative between Balochistan, Pakistan and Xinjiang, China will help boost the CPEC.

“CPEC enters in second phase which is based on social development, capacity building and welfare projects. Balochistan and Xinjiang are sister provinces as both fall in geo-strategic and ethnic location,” he said.

He said Gawadar is a China’s billion-dollar gateway to subcontinent. “We need to learn from Chinese development model of Xinjiang to speed up development in Balochistan. We also need China’s cooperation in education, agriculture and women development sectors,” he added.

He stressed for the need to start exchange programs for Balochistan tribe leaders and political leaders to learn from Chinese models.

“There is a need to promote university-to-university cooperation between the two countries as it would help build a knowledge-based society in Pakistan’s largest province of Balochistan and the establishment of vocational training institutes in Quetta and Gwadar which would help impart modern skills and training on the local youth,” he mentioned.

Bayazeed Kasi said that PTI government was pursuing Prime Minister Imran Khan’s vision of boosting mutual cooperation in fields of agriculture, education and health between the two all weather friends.

“We are learning from China how to alleviate poverty as China has pulled 800 million people out of poverty. This poverty alleviation model would largely help Pakistan build a community of shared destiny working closely with the vision of Chinese visionary President Xi Jinping,” he added.

Bayazeed Kasi said CPEC has emerged as an opportunity for the people of Balochistan who have faced terrorism and negligence. He said our prestigious arm forces have overcome all security issues and crushed almost all terrorist. He said the CPEC has opened for world to investment in Pakistan.

“We need scholarships for Balochistan students and to construct vocational training institutes for youth,” he added.

Mir Mehroze Marri said he was happy to observe the development model of China. “We are looking for such projects in our Balochistan on poverty alleviation. We need technology transfer in hospitals and educational sectors. Balochistan is neglected in past but now CPEC has made our province very important. Gawadar is important for both our countries on mutual understanding. We should promote Pakistan and CPEC for better future of our generation,” he asserted.

Member of PEMRA Mohammad Humayun Barakzai said Pakistan and China need to promote people to people connectivity to help remove misunderstandings.

“China is the only our sincere friend Pakistan has today and we will counter all propaganda against the CPEC. We need to construct new railway lines in Balochistan to promote local industries export products to world. We need cooperation in media sector to ensure encounter of all negative propaganda of western media against CPEC,” he added.

Mir Liaqat Marri stressed the need for promotion of people-to-people contacts between Pakistan and China. “We will support CPEC projects with our lives, with our tribes,” he said, adding that the fruits of CPEC should also trickle down to the ignored people of Balochistan as well.

Senator Daud Khan said that the delegates had visited three cities of China and learnt from Chinese development model.

“We need Xinjiang development model to develop Balochistan. We ensure full proof security for all Chinese companies. Our all political and tribal leaders of Balochistan supporting CPEC,” he added.

Faisa Hayat was of the view that the Pakistan and China need to develop closer institutional collaboration so as the two friendly states  could build closer cooperation irrespective of the change in leadership at various levels. He said the military-to-military ties between the two countries were exceptional and there was a need to also promote people-to-people contacts.

Javeria Tareen stressed the need for establishment of more skill building and vocational training centers in Balochistan to train local youth and create opportunities for them. “We need to focus on women’s development projects and give more opportunities under people to people exchange programs,” she concluded.

Source: Diplomag

Dated on: 11/9/2019

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China releases a movie drama featuring its belt-and-road project

“Please don’t take it as a propaganda movie,” urges an employee from the Chinese entertainment company behind “Common Destiny”, the world’s first film featuring China’s Belt and Road Initiative (bri), a global infrastructure-building scheme. That is a tall order. State media openly admit that the film, which had a nationwide première on August 30th amid much hype, received “major backing” from the government. It bears only a superficial resemblance to a drama pic.

The Chinese term for bri is rarely mentioned in the film. But it is all about the goodwill that China supposedly manifests through the project. The plot revolves around half a dozen unrelated people from all corners of the world, each benefiting in some way from the scheme. A schoolgirl in Kenya rides a new railway built by China (a guard is pictured at its terminus in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi). An unemployed woman in Jordan is hired by a Chinese internet firm—involved in the bri’s “digital Silk Road”—after local companies turn her down. The only aspect of the film that is overtly political is its title, which is shorthand for the much ballyhooed goal of President Xi Jinping’s foreign policy: “A community of common destiny for mankind”. At the film’s opening Martin Campbell, a New Zealander best known for directing the James Bond movies “GoldenEye” and “Casino Royale”, said “Common Destiny” would “deeply touch” audiences.

Source: The Economist

Date: 6/9/2019

Is China’s Belt & Road Initiative really what Interpreters make of It?

Without question, the much debated, mammoth Belt & Road Initiative (BRI), is a brainchild of China’s President Xi Jinping. Without question, Xi Jinping has further centralised his powers and, in the process, China has turned more authoritarian.

Yet, understanding this gigantic infrastructure investment initiative simply as a top-down project, directed by an almighty leadership in Beijing, is more than questionable. The BRI is open, plural and ever-changing, and, to a large degree what interpreters, Chinese or otherwise, public or private, make of it.

Following the pragmatic attitude which has characterised China’s leadership since Deng Xiaoping’s reforms in the 1980s (‘crossing the river by feeling the stones’), Xi Jinping inaugurated the BRI when a great deal of Chinese overseas investments was already underway.

While the initial focus was on Central and Southeast Asia -strategically, economically, and culturally crucial to China, the BRI’s scope has later become global. At the same time, it has also become ‘local’, and dispersed into countless, smaller, Belt & Roads.

These Belt & Road are constructed in different ways by different actors; they are what the actors ‘make of them’. For the Kremlin, the BRI is an opportunity to strengthen its strategic partnership with China. The Pakistani Armed Forces interpret it as a way to cement both their alliance with Beijing and their dominant position within Pakistani society.

British legal firms see the BRI as a chance to provide their services in support of many infrastructural projects, including in Africa. US defence analysts conceive of it as a dangerous scheme which can potentially destabilise the security of the whole of Eurasia and beyond.

In so far as Chinese investments and loans provide support to non-democratic regimes, they certainly contribute to strengthen authoritarianism. In addition, investments in infrastructure projects provide China with significant financial influence. While the idea of a ‘Beijing model’ is mainly Western, China’s economic achievements and political economy do represent a potential template for many developing countries in Africa and Asia.

In other words, in some ways the BRI can be seen as a vehicle for authoritarian politics. Having said that, China is not promoting its own political model per se, and the countries involved in the BRI have enough agency to make autonomous choices. Pakistan, for example, is renegotiating contracts on infrastructure, while Malaysia has cancelled expensive railroad projects, since Mahathir’s return as Prime Minister in 2018.

China’s partners thus exercise agency and draw on their own constructions of the meaning, significance and role the BRI. Constructiveness is particularly helpful to understand discourses on the BRI; those discourses rely on a range of desires, hopes and fears in diverse locales, especially in countries with ongoing BRI projects. At the same time, discourses are structured by more objective realities of power and economic interest. The filters through which BRI projects are perceived, constructed and made sense of are those of authoritarianism and neo-liberalism.

In many countries in the West but also in emerging economies, neo-liberalism has recently morphed into a nationalist populist project with protectionist, repressive and even racist overtones. In Europe, market-dominance over democratic choices is embodied by the supra-national and technocratic European Union. In countries with authoritarian traditions, authoritarianism has hardened and grown more nationalist. These structural conditions underpin the way global initiatives such as BRI are interpreted and understood all over the world.

Analysts have long focused on understanding the intentions behind and causes rather than the consequences of the BRI. Some, especially in the US, contend that BRI would be China’s first step towards achieving regional and global influence, or even hegemony. Others have pointed to the economic benefits that accrue to China and Chinese SOEs (State Owned Enterprises).

Other observers notice how China has ‘moved West’ towards Eurasia in order to avoid confronting the US influence in Japan and Korea. All these observations contain a grain of truth and looking for any ‘singular’ explanation would be misleading. It is clearly difficult to see China aiming at world hegemony when its navy consists of just two aircraft carriers (plus one under construction) vis-à-vis eleven US carriers.

It is also difficult to imagine China pursuing ‘world economic domination’ through the BRI, when its financial commitment –around 1 trillion $ according to reasonable estimates- totals only about a fourth of China’s domestic investments in recent years. Finally, it is difficult to see BRI as a ‘failing’ project when stories of failures (the Hambantota Port in Sri Lanka) are mixed with success stories (Piraeus’ surprising growth since the Chinese takeover).

In conclusion, due to its complexity, scope and scale, there is a multiplicity of ways in which the BRI can be and is interpreted around the world. Rather than seeing it as a uniform whole, individual BRI projects should be assessed on a case by case, country by country basis.

Paying close attention to the micro-foundations of how these are projects are interpreted, negotiated and implemented in their specific context by actors on the ground might tell us more about the BRI’s consequences than trying to interpret it in terms of ‘grand strategy’.

Source: Belt and Road News

Dated on: 1/9/2019

Four measures needed to better implement BRI projects

In the initial stage of promoting the Belt and Road Initiative, China engaged more with the central governments of the host countries and relied more on State-owned enterprises investing in infrastructure projects there. That was necessary because the support of a country’s central government meant quick acceptance of the Belt and Road Initiative by the host country and efficient allocation of resources for the initiative’s projects.

But despite the acceptance of the initiative by an increasing number of economies, its implementation is facing new challenges, as some Western media outlets have spread fake stories about the Belt and Road projects. Such changes in the situation demand a change of strategy, too, to implement the Belt and Road projects.

Based on a study by Grandview Institution, “four transitions” have been suggested for further implementation of Belt and Road projects-transition here means making changes on the bases of what has already been done.

First, partnership building should go beyond governments to reach the public and local communities. In most Belt and Road countries, China has focused on building partnerships mainly with central governments and high-ranking officials. Chinese enterprises and officials now need to bring more local communities into the projects.

Also, Belt and Road projects have focused more on building big infrastructure facilities. So sincere efforts should be made to include small projects which would benefit more local people. Efforts should also be made to strengthen environmental protection and help raise employment. And companies involved in the projects should not shun their social responsibilities, and instead engage more with the local people. Only in this way can the local people be convinced about the necessity of such projects and welcome them.

Second, a transition is needed in terms of the main participants in the initiative-SOEs have to make way for at least some third-party participation from other countries, both from the public and private sectors.

True, the Chinese government proposed the initiative. But that does not mean China is the only player in the game or China will monopolize Belt and Road investment and projects. On the contrary, the initiative is an open, inclusive and dynamic ecosystem that aims to promote free mobility of the factors of production and optimum allocation of resources in line with the laws of the market. This is also the advice China has given to the international community to tackle global challenges created by trade protectionism and unilateralism.

Third, the initiative’s promotion should be proactive, not reactive. Some Western media outlets have called the initiative by different names-“debt trap”, “environmental hazard”, “resource plunderer”, “Eastern Marshall Plan”, and “China’s global expansion”. To refute such claims and prevent the building up of negative public opinions, there is a need to disseminate detailed information so that people across the world get to know the real facts about the initiative. But, unfortunately, Chinese companies are better at executing projects rather than telling good stories-not because they don’t have stories to tell but because they don’t know how to present them.

The Western media, which monopolize the global discourse, have been making up stories to stigmatize the Belt and Road Initiative. To win this communication war, we need to make collaborative efforts with the host states to win over local people and the target audience.

Fourth, to further implement Belt and Road projects, China needs to help provide political security for the host countries and facilitate their development. Many Belt and Road countries face security challenges.

So by taking measures to ensure their political stability is not affected and national security not undermined, China can lay the foundation for the smooth implementation of Belt and Road projects-and allow the initiative to continue contributing to global economic development and promoting peace and development.

The author is vice-president of and a senior research fellow at the Grandview Institute. The views don’t necessarily represent those of China Daily.

 Source: China Daily
Date: 02/09/2019

China looks to rebrand Belt and Road Initiative …to the exclusion of failed projects

By Kiana Wilburg

China’s Belt Road and Initiative (BRI), which aims to bring infrastructural development to various regions, has developed a reputation among most nations as being a debt trap. Even though the world’s most populated country has formally denied such criticisms, the stain still remains. In light of this, China is now looking to embark on a serious rebranding campaign for the initiative.
This rebranding effort is outlined in a report that was prepared by the Advisory Council of the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation.
The first meeting of the Advisory Council was held on 16-17 December 2018 in Beijing, with its discussion focused on the Synergy between the Belt and Road Initiative and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in promoting world economic growth; Priorities for the Belt and Road cooperation; and the ways forward in strengthening the architecture and capacity building for the Belt and Road cooperation.
It was noted by the Advisory Council that by the end of March 2019, 125 countries (of which Guyana is one) and 29 international organisations had signed instruments of cooperation with China to promote the Belt and Road cooperation. The Council wants these partners to help China rebrand the initiative to the world in order to garner more public support, boost confidence and address concerns of various stakeholders.
The Council said it will be important to ensure that the Belt and Road projects are consistently of high quality, sustainable, viable and inclusive so that project delivery matches the vision for the Belt and Road.
It further suggested that better branding could include efforts to accomplish a series of model projects, including both landmark projects that would fundamentally contribute to the socioeconomic development of the host countries and some quick-wins that allow people to feel the real benefits of the Belt and Road cooperation in the short run. It said that this would help to increase the sense of gaining for local communities, establish a good reputation of the Belt and Road projects in their host countries, and avoid the risk that the misperception may pose obstacles to the goal of maximising cooperation among countries.
Additionally, it was noted that better branding also needs improved publicity for the Belt and Road projects.
The Council said, “It is suggested that all partners, not only the governments, but also the private sector, civil society, non-governmental organisations and academia, should be engaged in improving understanding of the Belt and Road cooperation among the general public by raising the profile of success stories and model projects and sharing lessons learned.”
The Council said, too, that it will be important to elaborate on the full story line of the projects in order to cover the whole life cycle of the projects, so as to clear the “misunderstanding” and present clearly the full impact of outcomes of the Belt and Road cooperation. It said that research-based thematic papers on the Belt and Road cooperation are also encouraged.
But what the Council stayed clear of including in its rebranding campaign is acknowledgement of the fact that there are several countries which are left chained to years upon years of debt because of the Belt and Road Initiative.
For over a year now, Kaieteur News has been at the forefront of exposing how the debt burden from China’s BRI has been breaking the backs of nations which signed up for it.
Sri Lanka, for example, was forced to sign over its strategically important Hambantota port to a Chinese state-owned company on a 99-year lease in 2017. The transfer of the port was to lift some of the enormous billion-dollar debts Sri Lanka owed to Beijing, debts which came from loans that helped fund Hambantota in the first place.
Other countries which have landed in the same situation are Sri Lanka include Pakistan, Djibouti, the Maldives, Fiji and Malaysia. (See link for further details: https://www.kaieteurnewsonline.com/category/chinas-modus-operandi/).
In spite of the revelations made by this newspaper and the international reports warning countries about the BRI being nothing more than a debt trap, Guyana still signed onto it.
Other Caribbean nations, which have done the same include Jamaica, Barbados, Venezuela, Costa Rica, Panama, Trinidad and Tobago, Dominica, and the Dominican Republic.

Source: Kaieteur News

Date: Aug 8, 2019

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BRI Trade Reached $617.5 Billion in First Half of 2019

China’s trade with countries participating in the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) reached $617.5 billion in the first half of 2019, up 9.7 percent year-on-year.

This increase was greater than the growth rate of the country’s total trade for the period which remained stable at 3.9 percent, according to the General Administration of Customs.

Exports and imports with Russia, Saudi Arabia and Egypt went up by 11.5 percent, 34 percent and 11 percent respectively. China has signed cooperation documents on jointly building the Belt and Road with 18 Arabian countries, the Ministry of Commerce said on July 12. In 2018, bilateral trade volume between China and Arabian countries reached $244.3 billion, jumping 28 percent year-on-year.

The release of the statistics coincides with the news of the 100th approved member of the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). Although not officially associated, the AIIB and the BRI are complementary. AIIB can finance infrastructure projects that will support increased trade.

The AIIB Board of Governors approved the applications of three African countries, Benin, Djibouti and Rwanda, on Saturday. AIIB members collectively account for 78 percent of the world’s population and 63 percent of global GDP. Germany, Britain, France and Italy defied U.S. requests to refrain from affiliation with the AIIB and became its founding members in 2016.

China’s Finance Minister Liu Kun said on Saturday that he hopes the AIIB will link its strategy with the development blueprints of its members, the BRI and the Connecting Europe and Asia Strategy of the European Union.

Since January 2016, the AIIB has provided $8.5 billion in loans to 45 projects in 18 member countries, many in renewable energy and green infrastructure. The investments have made significant contributions to connectivity and development in Asia.

Source: The Maritime Executive

Date: 15/7/2019

Belt and Road Initiative: Target towards Globalization 5.0

The strategic initiative of the One Belt One Road Initiative has expanded and restructured with new routes being added along the initial project program. Now the plan aims to reach 4.4 Billion people in around 69 countries with a combined effect of US $ 2 trillion on their GDP. Primarily the initiative would bridge the infrastructure gap and redistribute funds amongst the Asian economies. According to the implementation guideline for the Belt and Road initiative published by China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) in March 2015 “development plans along the Belt and Road routes aims to improve connectivity in five areas: policy, infrastructure, trade, currency, and people”. An area of utmost priority is given to the development of infrastructure to improve the connectivity of the region like the construction of roads, railways and ports. Another priority area is that of the energy sector that is essential for the smooth running of industries along the initiative such as power grids, oil and gas pipelines, liquefied natural gas terminals, high-voltage power lines, nuclear power reactors, renewable energy installations and other energy projects. Additionally for the flow of technology and its acceptance, the communication lines and mega IT, projects are also under the pipeline across Asia, the Middle East, East Africa and Europe.

The region is of the most significance since the global stats shows that East Asia is one of the most dynamic and fastest growing regions of the world. Despite of the rich treasures of natural resources, the Central Asia still lags behind in terms of development. This initiative understands particular issue therefore; the stem of its infrastructure is being developed from Central Asia. Such a move aims to reduce the friction in this region and to ensure a bilateral trade for equitable economic growth, development, and integration. The strategic goals of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) further emphasizes on the importance of regional stability and better understanding of each other’s political makeup to combat the forces of terrorists and extremists groups.

By the development and transformation of the infrastructure relating to transport, energy, and communication along the Road and the Belt, not only China but also regional connected economies like Pakistan would be able to solve the problems relating to regional connectivity.

 

On the other hand, the one belt one-road initiative spreads over the ASEAN countries that have a history marred with neglect of regional connectivity and a desperate need for infrastructure to overcome the impending need for stable energy resources (SIEW 2015). For a 21st, Century China moving towards globalization the challenges that come with a sustainable domestic economy are numerous. Some of these challenges include ‘lack of access to the resource markets for final products; reduction or reallocation of industrial overcapacity and diversification of its enormous US$3.51 trillion in foreign reserves.

I am of view the Belt and Road initiative is a window to crack some of these problems in an efficient manner. By the development and transformation of the infrastructure relating to transport, energy, and communication along the Road and the Belt, not only China but also regional connected economies like Pakistan would be able to solve the problems relating to regional connectivity. Over a span of two millennia, China has emerged as world power, which can be seen from the production, trade, finance culture, ecology, security, military and geopolitics. At an international level, China has evolved as a world power with substantial participation in structure, bilateral trade agreements and peace treaties. China dwells upon its span over a large unprecedented geographic region that exercises control without any military power. Therefore, the given ideology of soft power without the use of force imposes an interest-driven discourse of its political, economic, and security reality on others.

The “Reform and Opening Up” policy, has been continually working on to improve its multilateral trade agreements and strategy for economic cooperation that provides mutual benefits for future developments. The Chinese President Xi introduced the new idea that aims at creating a win-win strategy in the concept of “three together”.

Many countries playing a part in China’s One Belt One Road Initiative are working for improving infrastructure, IT and sustainable energy resources that are looking for strengthening their relationships with China. However, there are also some parties that are of the exact opposite view. Therefore the support and trust of the public and business communities, is essential for the acceptance of the initiative. The indigenous communities are very sensitive towards their religion and customs, in the countries along the path of the Belt and Road, hence getting local support for making decisions in the concerned countries relating to this multilevel and multipurpose gigantic project is very important.

China move towards globalization is not new indeed it involves the constant and persistent effort of the government, policy makers and the public at large. Pakistan should also take the same inspiration and make use of this platform at most efficient manner. Last weekend, I have attended Industrial Energy Efficiency international conference organized by Energy Foundation China in Beijing where delegates from more than 20 countries have participated and put forth their proposals to make effective use of China’s Belt and Road initiative in energy conservation, green and healthy economy.

Source: Daily Times

Date: 24/7/2019

Writer: Hassnain Javed

The writer is Master Trainer/ Advisor (PITAC), Lahore

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Pakistan’s CPEC affords good opportunities for M’sian businesses, says high commissioner

Malaysian business communities and key players are urged to seize the opportunities offered within Pakistan’s market, specifically the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project.

Malaysian High Commissioner to Pakistan, Ikram Mohammad Ibrahim, said the CPEC project — a 15-year master plan under the “One Belt, One Road” (OBOR) initiative — is a chance for local businessmen to look into, and penetrate, the market which includes roads and railways that would stretch from the Western Chinese city of Kashgar in China’s Xinjiang province to Pakistan’s second-largest port of Gwadar.

“Ever since the recent governments’ changes and exchanges of the head of states’ visits, the countries are now moving to a greater level of partnership and cooperation.

“The CPEC megaproject is a huge market opportunity that could not be missed by Malaysian business players. This is where the Malaysia-Pakistan Business Council (MALPAK) should play their big role in facilitating business meetings and help to boost the business linkages on both ends,” said Ikram to Bernama International News Service at the Pakistan-Malaysia Business Opportunities Conference (BOC), here, today.

The BOC gathered more than 300 participants — including about 150 Malaysian companies — representing various sectors including tourism, pharmaceutical, chemical, plastic, textile, surgical goods, furniture and construction.

Organised by the Rawalpindi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (RCCI), a business chamber from Pakistan, the BOC is a prelude to the Chamber’s 32nd Achievement Award ceremony scheduled for tomorrow night, with Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad as the guest of honour.

Concurring with Ikram, Pakistan’s Charge d’Affaires to Malaysia, Atif Sharif Mian, said CPEP would continue to create more joint investments in the long run.

“In terms of Pakistan’s context, the project is a US$40-50 billion (RM165-RM207 billion) investment and it is going to upgrade all the infrastructures as well as across other (sectors of) Pakistan’s economy. It is a big corridor and definitely will bring in more traffic for investments.

“Malaysia, in this regard, is globally known as good at providing services and expertise on railways, roadways and construction, thus the country can also invest in this project,” said Atif.

Aimed at increasing regional connectivity for the economic development of Pakistan and China, the economic corridor is also reported to benefit Iran, Afghanistan, India and the Central Asian region.

Earlier in his welcoming speech of the event today, Atif said Malaysia and Pakistan could do more to increase and enhance the bilateral ties shared to date.

“The focus of the BOC today is also to promote and engage the private sectors from both sides because at the end of the day, though governments have helped to facilitate the efforts, it is the private sectors that would need to find opportunities for increasing trade and investments’ purposes,” he said.

Total trade between Malaysia and Pakistan stood at RM5.91 billion last year, an increase of 2.5 per cent compared to RM5.76 billion in 2017.

Pakistan is Malaysia’s third-largest trading partner in South Asia.

The diplomatic relations between Malaysia and Pakistan were established in 1957. — Bernama

Source: https://www.malaymail.com/news/money/2019/07/08/pakistans-cpec-affords-good-opportunities-for-msian-businesses-says-high-co/1769433