Archive for November, 2017

03/11/2017

Five things to watch for on Donald Trump’s first Asia trip | South China Morning Post

The world will be watching as America’s leader makes his first official visit to Asia, where trade deficits and military ties are likely to be among the hot topics

US President Donald Trump’s first official visit to Asia gets under way on Friday, with a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping scheduled for next week likely to one of the highlights.

After a quick stop-off in Hawaii, Trump will travel to Japan, South Korea, China, Vietnam and the Philippines over the course of 12 days, taking him as close as he is ever likely to get to his greatest adversary – North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.As well as holding talks with state leaders, Trump will attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Vietnam and the US-Asean Summit in the Philippines.

Although he pledged during his presidential campaign last year to be “unpredictable” in diplomacy, here are the five issues that we think are likely to dominate his visit:

How will Donald Trump’s Beijing visit shape US strategy on China?

1) US Asia policy

Trump’s attitude towards the United States’ long-term allies, as well as partner-cum-rival China during his trip could set the foundations for US foreign relations for the rest of his presidential term.

In contrast to the “Pivot to Asia” approach adopted by his predecessor Barack Obama, Trump has made no bones about putting “America First”. It will be interesting to see how rigidly he adheres to that policy in talks with his Asian counterparts.

2) North Korea

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and China’s ambassador in Washington Cui Tiankai have both confirmed that the North Korea issue will top the agenda of the Sino-US meeting.

The restive state has conducted 15 missile tests since February and claims to have developed the technology to land a warhead on US soil.In response, Trump has repeatedly pressed China to do more to contain its long term ally’s weapons development programme and he is expected to further push Beijing to implement sanctions against Pyongyang and take additional steps to rein in its restive neighbour.

Trump to hop a flight home from the Philippines instead of attending East Asia SummitAlthough China has cooperated with UN Security Council resolutions on Pyongyang, North Korea’s official state media reported that Xi on Thursday expressed his hopes to promote ties between the two countries.

Before meeting Xi, Trump will visit Japan and South Korea – the United States’ closest Asian allies on the North Korea issue – and his talks there could well shed some light on how things might go in Beijing.

3) US military alliances

During his presidential campaign Trump made repeated claims that the US was bankrolling the defence of its Asian allies Japan and South Korea. Though he has yet to make any defence budget cuts, it will be of great interest not only to the United States’ allies but also other nations in the region how much he commits to America’s military development in Asia.

Will US President Donald Trump’s Asia trip result in deals to rein in North Korea?

With their shared and deepening concerns over North Korea’s nuclear weapons capabilities, Trump’s talks in Seoul may touch on the deployment of the US Terminal High Altitude Area Defence anti-missile system, an issue that has caused a year-long conflict between China and South Korea.

In Japan, whose defence ties to the US date back to the signing of the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security in 1960, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is likely hoping Trump will continue to honour the deal.In September, Trump said he would allow both Japan and South Korea to buy a “substantially increased amount” of sophisticated military equipment from the US.

4) Trade

Trump on Wednesday referred to the United States’ US$347 billion trade deficit with China as “embarrassing” and “horrible”. It should be expected, therefore, that while in Beijing he will be keen to rebalance that relationship by proposing new trade terms.

The ongoing US investigations into China’s alleged dumping of stainless steel flanges and Beijing’s intellectual property practices could also be on the agenda.

Donald Trump visit sees China’s US ambassador delay retirement

The United States’ second-largest trade deficit – US$69 billion – is with Japan, so Trump may look to continue the talks he began with Tokyo earlier in the year covering tariffs on US agricultural products and American car sales in the Asian country.

Trump has also called for a renegotiation of the 2012 US-S

Source: Five things to watch for on Donald Trump’s first Asia trip | South China Morning Post

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03/11/2017

Despite its reputation, Chinese aid is quite effective

CHINA is one of the world’s largest providers of foreign aid. But it has a reputation as a rogue donor: stories abound of shoddy projects, low environmental standards and mistreatment of workers.

A hospital built by the Chinese in Luanda, the capital of Angola, developed alarming cracks and had to be rebuilt. Aid is widely thought to have been diverted for arms purchases by Robert Mugabe’s regime in Zimbabwe. The list goes grimly on.

Stories do not abound, however, about who gets China’s aid and what it goes on. The government says that it spends about $5bn a year on assistance to other countries. But it has no aid ministry comparable to, say, Britain’s Department for International Development. Most details of the aid programme are kept secret, perhaps because the largesse is unpopular domestically. Many Chinese think that their country is too poor to give handouts and the money ought to be spent at home. When the health ministry tried to investigate whether Chinese projects in Africa made people healthier, the rest of the government flatly refused to co-operate.

The most detailed study so far of Chinese aid, published this week by AidData, a research group at the College of William and Mary in Virginia, shines a light on the murky data. The report looks at 4,400 projects which China has either committed to, is building or has finished, between 2000 and 2014. It finds that the country gave or lent about $350bn over that period—not much less than the total of American aid, which was $424bn in those years. But almost all of America’s aid is in the form of grants, compared with a fifth of China’s. The rest is concessional lending at below-market interest rates, mostly to Chinese companies working abroad—the kind of aid that used to be common in the West but went out of fashion in the 1990s because it overburdened recipients with debt. The grant component of China’s aid was $75bn, still a lot (about the same as Britain’s), but not a tidal wave of money.

Previous AidData studies of Chinese aid have been controversial. In 2013 the researchers reckoned that aid to Africa alone (which accounts for half of China’s total foreign aid) was $75bn between 2000 and 2011. Deborah Brautigam of Johns Hopkins University in Maryland said their calculation was “way off”. She criticised what she described as its excessive reliance on unreliable news reports. AidData’s new estimate appears to be better grounded. It is based more on official announcements from Chinese commercial offices abroad and from the finance and planning ministries of recipient countries.

The authors use their new numbers to look at whether Chinese aid works—an equally controversial subject. In a study published along with the data set, researchers including Bradley Parks of the College of William and Mary find that the grant kind does. They reckon a doubling of Chinese grant aid is associated with a 0.4-point increase in the rate of GDP growth of the recipients after two years. That is more than can be said for China’s no-strings-attached concessional lending, which, according to AidData, has no effect on the receiving country’s GDP. It appears to be tantamount to an export subsidy to Chinese firms, with a side order of backhanders for local elites.

On a happier note, the study looks at whether Chinese aid damages Western assistance. The researchers do this by calculating whether aid effectiveness declines in countries that receive Western aid and then get an influx of Chinese cash. It finds no decline, implying Chinese aid does not harm efforts by other donors.

Three conclusions can be drawn from AidData’s findings. First, Chinese aid could do more good in poor countries if more of it came in the form of grants, rather than cheap loans. Next, Western aid agencies should not be so wary of co-operating with the Chinese. Co-ordination is important in aid-giving because otherwise you might find, say, three aid agencies each building a hospital in the same city. Because China is regarded as a rogue, it is not roped into the co-ordination efforts among Western donors. That should change. Lastly, the paucity of information about China’s aid (despite AidData’s efforts) is caused by the opacity of China’s government. Perhaps it might consider being more open about a programme that appears, for all its flaws, to be moderately effective.

Source: Despite its reputation, Chinese aid is quite effective

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