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China threatens to hit back at US with tariffs on 106 more US products

BEIJING: Just hours after the Trump administration unveiled a list of $50 billion worth of Chinese goods on which the White House plans to impose 25 per cent tariffs, China hit back with its own list of 106 US products, including soybeans, corn, cars as well as aircrafts, that it would also target with tariffs of 25 per cent if the US does not back down.

The US’s list of 1,333 imports which ranges from aerospace equipment to industrial robots, satellites, semiconductor parts and machinery for everything from railways to biscuit ovens – specifically targets a key Chinese campaign to upgrade its economy called “Made in China 2025”.

That Made in China national plan, designed to turn China into a “manufacturing superpower” by investing in sectors such as IT, new energy vehicles, robotics and other forms of smart manufacturing, may be the real sticking point in a potential trade war between China and the US.

“Made in China 2025 is a must for China,” said an independent economist based in Shanghai. “Thus it will be China’s bottom line. We can negotiate, we can bargain on this, we can impose small punishments on each other but if the US touches on the foundation of Made in China 2025, there will definitely be a large trade war,” she said.

Beijing describes Made in China, first introduced by a Chinese think-tank in 2013 and adopted by the Chinese government in 2015, as an effort to avoid the middle-income trap that developing countries can fall into, and encourage home-grown innovation.

To achieve this, China wants to replace most of the foreign technology it imports with locally made components. China’s 2025 campaign is billed as a way to get the country on par with industrial heavyweights, alongside Germany, South Korea, Japan and the US.

The US and other critics do not see it in the same light. In the conclusion of the US trade office investigation into Chinese trade practices, which was the basis of president Trump’s initial announcement of the tariffs in March, the Made in China policy is mentioned numerous times.

China’s top-down approach to economic planning could also stand in the way. State support encourages companies and local officials to chase subsidies, eventually creating overcapacity, according to senior adviser and China practice lead at the Crumpton Group, Jude Blanchette. “Central planning often gets you a lot of waste,” he said. Still, he believes what can be achieved will have a critical impact. “Made in China 2025 is going to drastically change global value chains and how industries operate, if China gets half of the way, that’s going to have profound repercussions.”

Source: https://profit.pakistantoday.com.pk/2018/04/04/china-threatens-to-hit-back-at-us-with-tariffs-on-106-more-us-products/

US companies eager to participate in energy sector in Pakistan: David Hale

ISLAMABAD: The US Ambassador to Pakistan David Hale has said that US companies are eager to participate and compete in the energy sector in Pakistan.

During the panel discussion at a seminar titled ‘Pak Power: Progress and Way Forward’ in Islamabad on Monday, he said the United States has worked with Pakistani authorities on good management and best practices in terms of policy development.

David Hale said that the United States has been engaged in supporting Pakistan’s energy sector since the 1950’s.

Source: https://profit.pakistantoday.com.pk/2018/03/05/us-companies-eager-to-participate-in-pakistans-energy-sector-david-hale/

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India, US, Australia and Japan in talks to build alternative to China’s Belt and Road

SYDNEY: 

Australia, the United States, India and Japan are talking about establishing a joint regional infrastructure scheme as an alternative to China’s multibillion-dollar Belt and Road Initiative in an attempt to counter Beijing’s spreading influence, the Australian Financial Reviewreported on Monday, citing a senior US official.

The unnamed official was quoted as saying the plan involving the four regional partners was still ”nascent“ and ”won’t be ripe enough to be announced’ during Australian Prime Minister Turnbull’s visit to the United States later this week.

The official said, however, that the project was on the agenda for Turnbull’s talks with US President Donald Trump during that trip and was being seriously discussed. The source added that the preferred terminology was to call the plan an “alternative” to China’s Belt and Road Initiative, rather than a “rival.”

China’s Silk Road revival ‘hits hurdles’

“No one is saying China should not build infrastructure,” the official was quoted as saying. “China might build a port which, on its own is not economically viable. We could make it economically viable by building a road or rail line linking that port.”

Representatives for Turnbull, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and Trade Minister Steven Ciobo did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, asked at a news conference about the report of four-way cooperation, said Japan, the United States, Australia, and Japan, Australia and India regularly exchanged views on issues of common interest.

“It is not the case that this is to counter China’s Belt and Road,” he said.

Pakistan’s development by-product of China’s global integration

Japan, meanwhile, plans to use its official development assistance (ODA) to promote a broader “Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy” including “high-quality infrastructure”, according to a summary draft of its 2017 white paper on ODA. The Indo-Pacific strategy has been endorsed by Washington and is also seen as a counter to the Belt and Road Initiative.

First mentioned during a speech by Chinese President Xi Jinping’s to university students in Kazakhstan in 2013, China’s Belt and Road plan is a vehicle for the Asian country to take a greater role on the international stage by funding and building global transport and trade links in more than 60 countries.

Xi has heavily promoted the initiative, inviting world leaders to Beijing last May for an inaugural summit at which he pledged $124 billion in funding for the plan, and enshrining it into the ruling Communist Party’s constitution in October.

Local Chinese governments as well as state and private firms have rushed to offer support by investing overseas and making loans.

Adding Afghanistan to China’s OBOR is a tricky gambit

In January, Beijing outlined its ambitions to extend the initiative to the Arctic by developing shipping lanes opened up by global warming, forming a “Polar Silk Road”.

The United States, Japan, India and Australia have recently revived four-way talks to deepen security cooperation and coordinate alternatives for regional infrastructure financing to that offered by China.

The so-called Quad to discuss and cooperate on security first met as an initiative a decade ago – much to the annoyance of China, which saw it as an attempt by regional democracies to contain its advances. The quartet held talks in Manila on the sidelines of the November ASEAN and East Asia Summits.

Source: https://tribune.com.pk/story/1638725/3-india-us-australia-japan-talks-build-alternative-chinas-belt-road/

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China Steps into the Maelstrom of the Middle East

The Middle East has a knack for sucking external powers into its conflicts. China’s ventures into the region have shown how difficult it is to maintain its principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of other states.

China’s abandonment of non-interference is manifested by its (largely ineffective) efforts to mediate conflicts in South Sudan, Syria and Afghanistan as well as between Israel and Palestine and even between Saudi Arabia and Iran. It is even more evident in China’s trashing of its vow not to establish foreign military bases, which became apparent when it established a naval base in Djibouti and when reports surfaced that it intends to use Pakistan’s deep sea port of Gwadar as a military facility.

This contradiction between China’s policy on the ground and its long-standing non-interventionist foreign policy principles means that Beijing often struggles to meet the expectations of Middle Eastern states. It also means that China risks tying itself up in political knots in countries such as Pakistan, which is home to the crown jewel of its Belt and Road Initiative — the China–Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

Middle Eastern autocrats have tried to embrace the Chinese model of economic liberalism coupled with tight political control. They see China’s declared principle of non-interference in the affairs of others for what it is: support for authoritarian rule. The principle of this policy is in effect the same as the decades-old US policy of opting for stability over democracy in the Middle East.

It is now a risky policy for the United States and China to engage in given the region’s post-Arab Spring history with brutal and often violent transitions. If anything, instead of having been ‘stabilised’ by US and Chinese policies, the region is still at the beginning of a transition process that could take up to a quarter of a century to resolve. There is no guarantee that autocrats will emerge as the winners.

China currently appears to have the upper hand against the United States for influence across the greater Middle East, but Chinese policies threaten to make that advantage short-term at best.

Belt and Road Initiative-related projects funded by China have proven to be a double-edged sword. Concerns are mounting in countries like Pakistan that massive Chinese investment could prove to be a debt trap similar to Sri Lanka’s experience.

Chinese back-peddling on several Pakistani infrastructure projects suggests that China is tweaking its approach to the $50 billion China–Pakistan Economic Corridor. The Chinese rethink was sparked by political volatility caused by Pakistan’s self-serving politics and continued political violence — particularly in the Balochistan province, which is at the heart of CPEC.

China decided to redevelop its criteria for the funding of CPEC’s infrastructure projects in November 2017. This move seemingly amounted to an effort to enhance the Pakistani military’s stake in the country’s economy at a time when they were flexing their muscles in response to political volatility. The decision suggests that China is not averse to shaping the political environment of key countries in its own authoritarian mould.

Similarly, China has been willing to manipulate Pakistan against its adversaries for its own gain. China continues to shield Masoud Azhar (who is believed to have close ties to Pakistani intelligence agencies and military forces) from UN designation as a global terrorist. China does so while Pakistan cracks down on militants in response to a US suspension of aid and a UN Security Council monitoring visit.

Pakistan’s use of militants in its dispute with India over Kashmir serves China’s interest in keeping India off balance — a goal which Beijing sees as worthy despite the fact that Chinese personnel and assets have been the targets of a low-level insurgency in Balochistan. Saudi Arabia is also considering the use of Balochistan as a launching pad to destabilize Iran. By stirring ethnic unrest in Iran, Saudi Arabia will inevitably suck China into the Saudi–Iranian rivalry and sharpen its competition with the United States. Washington backs the Indian-supported port of Chabahar in Iran — a mere 70 kilometres from Gwadar.

China is discovering that it will prove impossible to avoid the pitfalls of the greater Middle East. This is despite the fact that US President Donald Trump and Saudi Arabia’s powerful Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman seem singularly focussed on countering Iran and Islamic militants.

As it navigates the region’s numerous landmines, China is likely to find itself at odds with both the United States and Saudi Arabia. It will at least have a common interest in pursuing political stability at the expense of political change — however much this may violate its stated commitment to non-interference.

Source: https://intpolicydigest.org/2018/02/18/china-steps-into-the-maelstrom-of-the-middle-east/

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China urges Trump to drop ‘Cold War mentality’

BEIJING: Beijing criticised the “outdated Cold War mentality” of the United States Wednesday after President Donald Trump named China among threats to American values in his State of the Union address.

In recent weeks, US officials have laid the groundwork for a strategic pivot that envisions a world of renewed great power competition with the likes of Russia and China.

In his State of the Union address to Congress and the nation on Tuesday, Trump described Moscow and Beijing as challenging “our interests, our economy, and our values”.

In Beijing Wednesday, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said the common interests of the US and China “far outweigh our differences and disagreements”.

A steady relationship with the United States is “also in the interest of the whole world,” Li said after meeting with British Prime Minister Theresa May.

“China hopes that the United States will work with us and continue to view this relationship in a positive overall perspective,” he said.

But Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying had more critical words.

“We hope the US side can abandon the outdated Cold War mentality to work for the shared goal with China of properly managing our differences and upholding the steady development of China-US relations,” she told a regular press briefing.

Source: https://arynews.tv/en/china-trump-cold-war-mentality/