Archive for ‘Belt and Road Initiative’

03/06/2019

Inside China’s state-owned industrial park in Vietnam, Beijing’s image trumps trade war profits

  • China-Vietnam (Shenzhen-Haiphong) Economic and Trade Cooperation Zone is only Chinese state-owned industrial park in Vietnam
  • Venture has attracted increasing interest since start of US-China trade war, but operators say first duty is to support Xi Jinping’s trade initiative
A total of 16 of the 21 Chinese companies that have relocated to the China-Vietnam (Shenzhen-Haiphong) Economic and Trade Cooperation Zone did so after the start of the US-China trade war. Photo: Cissy Zhou
A total of 16 of the 21 Chinese companies that have relocated to the China-Vietnam (Shenzhen-Haiphong) Economic and Trade Cooperation Zone did so after the start of the US-China trade war. Photo: Cissy Zhou
Until the middle of 2018, business was slow for the only Chinese state-owned industrial park in Vietnam, located in the northeastern manufacturing hub of Haiphong and wholly-owned by the Shenzhen city government.
US President Donald Trump’s tariffs on Chinese goods enacted last year changed that, with 16 of the 21 Chinese companies that have relocated to the China-Vietnam
(Shenzhen-Haiphong) Economic and Trade Cooperation Zone – many of them electronic device manufacturers – having done so since the start of the trade war.
However, profit-making was never the top priority for the park’s operators, which took over the reins from private investors after a series anti-Chinese riots raged through southern and central Vietnam in May 2014 forced the owners to abandon the project.
Protesters set fire to other industrial parks and factories and attacked Chinese workers, killing more than 20 people and injuring more than 100.

While any commercial organisation would be thrilled at the rush of manufacturing firms into Vietnam, for the park’s operators, the first duty is to showcase the Chinese government’s top international economic cooperation project, the Belt and Road Initiative.

[They] requested that we make this industrial park a showcase for the Belt and Road Initiative, so that when our top leaders pay state visits to Vietnam, they can come to our park Chen Xu

The Shenzhen arm of the State-owned Assets Control and Supervision Commission (SASAC), which oversees all city owned companies “has requested that we make this industrial park a showcase for the Belt and Road Initiative, so that when our top leaders pay state visits to Vietnam, they can come to our park”, Chen Xu, vice general manager at the Vietnam-China Economic and Trade Cooperation Park (VCEP), told the South China Morning Post.
The Chinese industrial enclave in Vietnam is part of a largely untold story of the trade war. The common narrative is that Chinese and international firms are fleeing China to avoid paying tariffs, setting up in low-cost hubs in Vietnam and elsewhere in Southeast Asia, but the picture is more nuanced than that.

In Haiphong, a part of the Chinese government is actively encouraging firms to come to Vietnam, armed with US$200 million in investment capital and with a vision of creating 30,000 jobs by the time the entire three-phase project is completed in 2022.

The then-private VCEP project was suspended after the 2014 riots, and after the local government in Vietnam said it would reclaim the land unless it resumed, the Shenzhen government “decided to fully take over the project”, according to VCEP general manager Zhang Xiaotao.

Newcomers must now buy land from the park and build their facilities themselves as the original buildings have already been rented out. Photo: Cissy Zhou
Newcomers must now buy land from the park and build their facilities themselves as the original buildings have already been rented out. Photo: Cissy Zhou

“Our evaluation then was that we could not make a profit out of this project. Then why did we still take it over? We have to serve the Belt and Road Initiative, as it is a national strategy,” Zhang added. “In fact, we surrender part of our profit [because] we sell the land [in the park] at a lower price and with better facilities than in neighbouring industrial parks. We are still in the red based upon the current land price. Our bosses understand the situation and ask us at least not to lose money.

“To make a profit is of course the priority of any company. But we are different, we are not a pure commercial project.”

Furthermore, it is a commonly held assumption that China is only open to losing low-end, labour intensive and high-polluting industry, as it looks to upgrade its manufacturing profile domestically. And while there is certainly truth to that as examples of low-value Chinese manufacturing plants litter Vietnam, VCEP is keen to avoid that persona.

Because of the need to maintain a relatively high-profile, the park does not welcome labour-intensive manufacturers such as shoes factories, because “it is bad for our image”, Chen said. Instead, it is focused on hi-tech engineering – exactly the kind of industry China is desperate to nurture on its own soil. In this sense, the Shenzhen-Haiphong facility represents something of a paradox.

With 1,500 people currently employed, it is some way from reaching its 30,000 goal, but the number of Chinese manufacturers wanting to set up factories in the park is now about eight times what it was before the trade war started last July, according to both Chen and Zhang. Newcomers must now buy land from the park and build their facilities themselves as the original buildings have already been rented out.

The relatively poor state of the surrounding infrastructure has also led VCEP to spend 30 million yuan (US$4.3 million) on a new road and bridge linking the park to the national highway in Haiphong.

“We could not wait for the Vietnamese government to build the infrastructure. They don’t have the money and their efficiency is low, so we built it ourselves,” said Li Meng, a member of VCEP’s Strategic Investment Department, who said it took less than nine months to finish the project.

The cost of the bridge was more than triple what it would have cost in China as “the efficiency is much lower here and we needed to import a lot of material from China due to lack of material in Vietnam”, Li added

“Every inch of the road and the bridge linking the national highway in Haiphong to VCEP is paved with renminbi.”

The Vietnam-China Economic and Trade Cooperation Park has a vision of creating 30,000 jobs by the time the entire three-phase project is completed in 2022. Photo: Cissy Zhou
The Vietnam-China Economic and Trade Cooperation Park has a vision of creating 30,000 jobs by the time the entire three-phase project is completed in 2022. Photo: Cissy Zhou

TP-Link, the Shenzhen-based Chinese manufacturer of computer networking products, has rented a plant in the park and will start testing its equipment in July. The company, the world’s largest provider of consumer Wi-fi networking devices, has bought an additional 140,000 square metres of land in the park to expand production.

When TP-Link bought the land in late-2018, the price was between US$75 to US$80 per square metre, Chen said. Now, six months later, the price has risen to US$90 per square metre. This is indicative of the huge spike in interest in manufacturing in Vietnam caused by the trade war. Data from Vietnam’s Foreign Investment Agency shows that Vietnam attracted US$16.74 billion in foreign capital over the first five months of 2019, a year-on-year increase of 69.1 per cent. Of this, 72 per cent was invested in the processing and manufacturing sectors.

“Chinese local governments are, of course, unhappy with the increasing number of manufacturers who are relocating to Vietnam, but President Xi has clearly put forward the Belt and Road Initiative, which local governments cannot disturb. So local governments are not encouraging manufacturers to relocate, but they dare not try to stop them,” said vice-general manager Chen.

The Chinese inflow has also met with opposition in Vietnam, although far from the scale of the deadly riots of 2014.

“Some local [Vietnamese] media have been demonising China, with local prime time TV news talking about fake Chinese meat and poisoned food and hyping these cases. High-ranking Chinese officials have asked the Vietnamese government to guide public opinion in the right direction,” Chen added.

General manager Zhang added that the Vietnamese authorities have also become more sensitive to investment from China, a view reflected by Lam Thanh Ha, a senior lecturer at the Diplomatic Academy of Vietnam university which operates under the management of Vietnam’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. “Overreliance on foreign cash in general and Chinese capital in particular may pose risks for Vietnam in terms of exchange rate fluctuations and external influences,” Ha warned.

“As production is generally dependent on transnational supply chains, foreign enterprises in Vietnam are often deeply engaged in both import and export processes, leaving the Vietnamese economy vulnerable to global economic conditions,” Ha added.

In a 

commentary published

by the Post earlier in May, Ha warned that Vietnam should avoid “becoming China’s dirty industrial backyard”, although Zhang had the opposite view.

“We are not shifting all our low-end industries to Vietnam, which would be irresponsible. China is trying to help Vietnam with sincerity, even if we don’t make a profit, we still want to proceed with the project,” he said.
Source: SCMP
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08/03/2019

Xinhua Headlines: China advances all-round opening-up at “two sessions”

Xinhua Headlines: China advances all-round opening-up at "two sessions"

Visitors are seen at a tulip fair at Baiwankui garden in Nansha free trade zone in south China’s Guangdong Province, Feb. 9, 2019. (Xinhua/Liu Dawei)

BEIJING, March 7 (Xinhua) — China expects to see wider opening-up as it pledges to do more to attract foreign investment and promote global cooperation at the ongoing annual “two sessions.”

“We will promote all-round opening-up and foster new strengths in international economic cooperation and competition,” Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said when delivering the government work report to the annual legislative session Tuesday.

At the session, further relax of controls over market access has been announced, a draft foreign investment law will be deliberated, and the Belt and Road cooperation has been promoted.

UNVEILING OPPORTUNITIES

The government will further shorten the negative list which outlines fields off-limits to foreign investors, Ning Jizhe, deputy director of the National Development and Reform Commission, told a press conference on the sidelines of the annual legislative session Wednesday.

China will roll out more opening measures to the agriculture, mining, manufacturing and service sectors, and allow wholly foreign-funded enterprises to operate in more sectors, Ning said.

John Huang with the British information service provider Experian believes that international investors will welcome China’s further opening-up.

“Some core industries, once considered to be ‘the most difficult areas to open up,’ such as automobile manufacturing and financial services, are now welcoming foreign investment,” said Huang, managing director for decision analytics of Experian Greater China.

“The Chinese government’s consistent commitment to opening-up has given foreign enterprises confidence about the business environment here,” said SangBoem Han, CEO of LG Display from the Republic of Korea.

In July 2018, LG Display opened an OLED panel factory in south China’s Guangdong Province with a total investment of 46 billion yuan (6.9 billion U.S. dollars).

China saw a record foreign direct investment of 135 billion U.S. dollars in 2018 despite a global economic downturn and rising protectionism.

“In the early days, foreign firms received preferential policies regarding land, electricity and taxes in China,” Han said, “but more recently, the government has increased its protection of intellectual property and improved efficiency.”

FOREIGN INVESTMENT LAW

On Tuesday, Premier Li emphasized opening up based on rules and related institutions.

This will help China better conform with the international rules, said Zhang Jin, a national political advisor and businessman from Guangdong.

“This is also in line with China’s further integration with globalization and engagement in international competition,” Zhang said.

A highlight at this year’s “two sessions” is the draft foreign investment law, which is to be submitted to this year’s session of the 13th National People’s Congress (NPC) for review.

Once adopted, the unified law will replace three existing laws on Chinese-foreign equity joint ventures, non-equity joint ventures (or contractual joint ventures) and wholly foreign-owned enterprises.

The foreign investment law would be highly significant to protect legitimate rights and interests of foreign investors and ensure fair competition, said Loh Jen Yuh, president of China & Investment Management of CapitaLand Group, one of Asia’s largest real estate companies.

“The law shows China’s openness and the rule of law,” said Han, who hoped that the enact of the law would further improve China’s business environment.

PROMOTING GLOBAL COOPERATION

Along with the efforts to attract foreign businesses, China is also stepping up the implementation of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) to benefit more participants.

To date, a total of 152 countries and international organizations have signed cooperation documents with China on the BRI.

“Many countries along the Belt and Road have shown their intention to cooperate with Chinese manufacturers,” said Wu Gang, a national political advisor and chairman of wind power firm Xinjiang Goldwind Science & Technology.

“We are more confident in going global under the government’s favorable policies related to the BRI,” said Wu, whose business has gained great market shares in Pakistan and Australia.

According to the government work report, China will continue to “promote the joint pursuit” of the BRI, aiming at “shared growth through discussion and collaboration.”

China has signed free trade agreements with over 20 countries and regions. According to Zhao Ji, a national political advisor and president of China’s Northeastern University, the country’s efforts to strengthen the opening-up are especially important against the weak global economic growth.

“The development of China, which has been closely connected with the world, will continue to play a key role in promoting globalization,” Zhao said.

Source: Xinhua

06/03/2019

Belt and Road Initiative mutually beneficial: Rwandan foreign minister

RWANDA-KIGALI-FM-CHINA-BELT AND ROAD INITIATIVE

Rwandan Foreign Minister Richard Sezibera speaks at a press conference held by the Rwandan Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation in Kigali, capital of Rwanda, March 5, 2019. The Belt and Road Initiative is a partnership that is mutually beneficial for Rwanda and addresses Rwanda’s development challenges, Rwandan Foreign Minister Richard Sezibera said here Tuesday. (Xinhua/Cyril Ndegeya)

KIGALI, March 5 (Xinhua) — The Belt and Road Initiative is a partnership that is mutually beneficial for Rwanda and addresses Rwanda’s development challenges, Rwandan foreign minister Richard Sezibera said Tuesday in Rwandan capital city Kigali.

The Belt and Road Initiative is a good initiative, which addresses development requirements of China’s partners, said Sezibera when responding to a question on the Belt and Road Initiative and second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation at a press conference held by Rwandan Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.

China is an important partner for Rwanda at all levels, and Rwanda welcomes the growing partnership with China, he said, adding that Rwanda and China have important relationships in infrastructure development, party-to-party and people-to-people exchanges, and at the political level.

The second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation is going to be held in April in Beijing.

Source: Xinhua

01/03/2019

China Focus: Foreigners anticipate a more open China at “two sessions”

BEIJING/GUANGZHOU, March 1 (Xinhua) — The world’s attention is on China as the country is to open its most important annual political meetings next week, known as the “two sessions.”

Foreign business leaders, observers and China watchers have expressed high hopes of seeing a more open China during the meetings and look forward to greater opportunities its development will bring to the world.

Harley Seyedin, president of American Chamber of Commerce in South China, said foreign businesses in China would keep a close eye on the discussion of the draft of foreign investment law, as it will “create a level playing field where everyone can participate,” once it is adopted and enforced.

“It will help China open up more,” Seyedin said.

A draft of China’s foreign investment law will be submitted to the upcoming plenary session of the National People’s Congress (NPC), which is scheduled to open on March 5.

Seyedin noted that foreign businesses in China have already sensed a positive signal last year, with the shortened negative list, and have confidence investing in China, fueled by the country’s efforts to protect intellectual property rights.

Mizumoto Shinji, president of Hitachi Elevator (China), said the anticipated adoption of the foreign investment law will help build a more law-based business environment in China.

“China’s business environment has greatly improved in recent years,” said Mizumoto. “We hope that China will further ease its management of foreign capital, so as to create a more stable, transparent and predictable investment environment.”

Once adopted, the unified foreign investment law will become a basic law in the field, replacing three existing laws on Chinese-foreign equity joint ventures, non-equity joint ventures (or contractual joint ventures) and wholly foreign-owned enterprises.

Pablo Rovetta Dubinsky, general manager of Spanish firm Tecnicas Reunidas’s China branch, said the law would help dispel misgivings among some foreign businesses over China’s determination to open up further.

“The foreign investment law to be discussed at the annual legislative session will mark a new beginning in China’s opening-up to the world,” Rovetta said. “It is a clear demonstration of China’s resolve to open up.”

In an interview with Xinhua ahead of the “two sessions,” Argentine ambassador to China Diego Ramiro Guelar hailed China’s spirit of cooperation as the country has been expanding its presence in commerce and investment across the globe.

“Compared to some western countries, China has a much more open attitude toward sharing and transferring its technology, which, in my opinion, is the core spirit of the Belt and Road Initiative,” Guelar said.

The ambassador added that as a region, Latin America had established a close association and mutual trust with China, and was keen to maintain the robust cooperation.

Khalifa Mohammed Alkhorafi, the consul-general of the State of Kuwait in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou, expressed hope that the upcoming “two sessions” would send more positive signals on the Chinese economy. He added that Kuwait, which is strategically situated in the Persian Gulf region, would provide a lot of business opportunities for Chinese companies.

“There is a very strong relationship between China and Kuwait. There will be many big projects coming soon,” he said.

Lusa news agency reporter Joao Pimenta said that China’s economic achievements and its efforts on poverty alleviation had impressed the world.

“More and more Chinese families are enjoying a relatively comfortable life. China has also made remarkable achievements in poverty reduction in the process of reform and opening-up,” Pimenta said.

Diego Garcia, a Brazilian expert with China Radio International, believes that the international community is paying more attention to China’s diplomacy in global affairs.

“China is playing a constructive role on international issues, especially those concerning developing countries,” Garcia said. “In particular, the Belt and Road Initiative and the China International Import Expo have served the interests of many developing countries.”

Source: Xinhua
28/02/2019

HKSAR gov’t sees Greater Bay Area development as golden opportunity

HONG KONG, Feb. 27 (Xinhua) — The financial secretary of China’s Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) government delivered Hong Kong’s annual budget on Wednesday, saying the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area offers golden opportunities for Hong Kong to explore new directions and open up new horizons.

To support implementation of various measures, the budget, themed “supporting enterprises, safeguarding jobs, stabilizing the economy, strengthening livelihoods,” provides new resources ready for use of about 150 billion HK dollars (about 19.1 billion U.S. dollars), with additional resources earmarked for various purposes.

“This demonstrates our determination to enhance public services, support enterprises, relieve people’s burden and invest for the future,” Financial Secretary of the HKSAR government Paul Chan said.

Under mounting external pressures, Hong Kong’s economic growth moderated from 4.1 percent in the first half of 2018 to 2.1 percent in the second half of the year, with growth for the fourth quarter at a mere 1.3 percent, the lowest since the first quarter of 2016, he said.

Overall, Hong Kong’s economy grew by 3 percent in 2018, at the lower end of the range projected in last year’s Budget but still higher than the trend growth rate of 2.8 percent over the past decade, he added.

Chan forecast a surplus of 58.7 billion HK dollars for 2018-19. Fiscal reserves are expected to reach 1,161.6 billion HK dollars by March 31, 2019; economic growth of 2 to 3 percent in real terms for Hong Kong in 2019.

He said the development of innovation and technology (I&T) will bring huge economic benefits to Hong Kong, adding that sufficient resources, with a commitment of over 100 billion HK dollars has been allocated in this area so far.

More efforts will be made to support scientific research and I&T sectors by developing I&T infrastructure, promoting research and development (R&D), pooling talent, supporting enterprises and promoting reindustrialization.

Talking about national development strategy, Chan emphasized that the Greater Bay Area development and the Belt and Road Initiative are providing rare opportunities for Hong Kong.

Chan said that the outline development plan for the Greater Bay Area, promulgated last week, is a milestone setting out the development directions for the Greater Bay Area up to 2035.

Hong Kong, positioned as international financial, transportation and trade centers as well as an international aviation hub in the Greater Bay Area, will strengthen its roles as a global offshore Renminbi business hub and an international asset and risk management center; and will devote great efforts to develop I&T industries as well as international legal and dispute resolution services, the financial chief said.

Meanwhile, the Belt and Road Initiative will create greater room for Hong Kong’s economic and social development. There has been positive outcomes in areas such as supporting industries in exploring markets, establishing business matching platforms for enterprises and encouraging Hong Kong’s professional services sector to participate in Belt and Road projects.

As for land supply, Chan said, the HKSAR government will ensure that adequate resources are provided to support fully the short, medium and long-term measures to increase land and housing supply.

The estimated public housing production for the next five years is about 100,400 units and the supply of first-hand private residential units is expected to remain at a relatively high level in the coming three to four years at about 93,000 units, according to Chan. (1 U.S. dollar = 7.84 HK dollars)

Source: Xinhua

26/02/2019

China’s service trade hits record high in 2018

BEIJING, Feb. 26 (Xinhua) — China’s service trade rose 11.5 percent year-on-year and hit a record high in 2018, the Ministry of Commerce said Tuesday.

Imports and exports of services totaled 5.24 trillion yuan (about 782.1 billion U.S. dollars) last year, ranking the world’s second largest for five years in a row, the Ministry of Commerce said on its website after a national meeting on service trade.

As the country continued to transition its economy, the service sector prospered and contributed to nearly 60 percent of GDP growth.

The country will move to expand service exports, boost service consumption and push poverty reduction through development of the household service industry, according to the ministry.

The country will also work to promote high-quality development of the service trade and commercial service sector, and expand the overseas service market with a focus on countries along the Belt and Road, Xian Guoyi, a ministry official, said at Tuesday’s meeting.

Source: Xinhua

20/02/2019

China’s top legislator holds talks with Iran’s parliament speaker

CHINA-BEIJING-LI ZHANSHU-IRAN-ALI LARIJANI-TALKS (CN)

Li Zhanshu (R), chairman of the National People’s Congress (NPC) Standing Committee, holds talks with Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, capital of China, Feb. 19, 2019. (Xinhua/Pang Xinglei)

BEIJING, Feb. 19 (Xinhua) — China’s top legislator Li Zhanshu on Tuesday held talks with visiting Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani, calling for stronger cooperation to boost ties.

Li, chairman of the National People’s Congress (NPC) Standing Committee, urged the two sides to take a strategic and long-term view in bilateral ties, constantly deepen political mutual trust, strengthen communication and coordination, and provide mutual support on issues concerning each others’ core interests.

He also called for more anti-terrorism security cooperation and more mutually beneficial cooperation within the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative.

Despite profound changes in the international situation and increasing instabilities and uncertainties, China’s position in safeguarding the Iranian nuclear deal has not changed, neither has its commitment to developing China-Iran relations, Li said.

During Chinese President Xi Jinping’s state visit to Iran in 2016, the two countries established a comprehensive strategic partnership, ushering in a new chapter in bilateral ties, said Li.

Hailing the smooth progress in all-round cooperation in recent years, Li said that exchanges between the countries’ legislative institutions are an important component in the comprehensive strategic partnership.

“The NPC is willing to carry out friendly exchanges with Iranian parliament at different levels and in different forms, strengthen communication on experiences in legislation, supervision, and state governance, so as to provide sound legal guarantee for the two countries’ mutually beneficial cooperation,” he said.

Larijani said the ancient trade routes of the Silk Road witnessed the long history of exchanges between the two countries, and the Belt and Road Initiative proposed by President Xi Jinping gives new meanings to the Silk Road.

He said the Iranian side highly values and actively participates in the Belt and Road Initiative. The Iranian Parliament would like to carry out more exchanges with the NPC and support mutually beneficial cooperation in various fields.

Source: Xinhua

15/02/2019

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi holds talks in Thailand ahead of general election

  • Official will meet his opposite number Don Pramudwinai in Chiang Mai
  • Wang likely to discuss investment projects under Beijing’s ‘belt and road’ plan
PUBLISHED : Friday, 15 February, 2019, 7:17pm
UPDATED : Friday, 15 February, 2019, 7:17pm

9 Feb 2019

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi arrived in Thailand on Friday for high-level talks likely aimed at reassuring Beijing about its investments in the Southeast Asian country ahead of a long-delayed general election, analysts said.

During his two-day trip to the northern city of Chiang Mai, Wang will meet his counterpart Don Pramudwinai, Thailand’s ministry of foreign affairs said on its website.

Zhang Mingliang, a Southeast Asian affairs specialist at Jinan University, said China was concerned the upcoming poll might have an impact on its interests.

“The recent events regarding the sudden changes to Thailand’s prime ministerial candidate could affect the country’s political stability and affect its relationship with China,” he said.

He was referring to the fact that on Wednesday, Thailand’s Election Commission asked the constitutional court to dissolve the Thai Raksa Chart, a political party allied with the powerful Shinawatra clan, for putting forward Princess Ubolratan as candidate for prime minister.

The move came just days after Thai King Maha Vajiralongkorn, Ubolratan’s younger brother, issued a royal decree denying her bid to become prime minister hours after her name was submitted.
Zhang said that only by ensuring the political stability of Thailand could China’s interests in the country and Southeast Asia as a whole be protected.

“In the past, political instability meant Thailand’s leaders were unable to attend foreign events such as meetings with Asean and China,” he said.

“If there is political stability in Thailand … that can aid its contribution to Asean and its ties with China.

“China’s relationship with Thailand is the best among the Asean nations, with the least conflict of interests,” he said.

Concerns over China’s overseas investments are growing and there have been accusations that Beijing is using them to gain political leverage.

China and Thailand reached an agreement in 2017 for the construction of Thailand’s first high-speed rail line. Once completed it will run from Bangkok to Nong Khai on the Thai border with Laos.

The line is seen as a key project under the “Belt and Road Initiative”, Beijing’s plan to connect China with countries across Asia, the Middle East and Africa.

Elections in Southeast Asia have proved troublesome for the initiative, however. Soon after being re-elected as prime minister of Malaysia last year, Mahathir Mohamad’s government cancelled the China-funded US$20 billion East Coast Rail Link. Officials later backtracked on the decision, leaving its future in the air.

Xu Liping, a specialist in Southeast Asian studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said that Thailand, as this year’s chair of Association of Southeast Asian Nations, has a crucial role to play in promoting China’s relationship with other members of the group.

“Ensuring the continuity of China-Thailand ties after the elections in March will also be on the agenda in Wang’s meeting,” he said.

Meanwhile, China’s top diplomat Yang Jiechi, a member of the Communist Party Politburo, travelled to Germany on Friday to attend the Munich Security Conference, which runs until Sunday.

Source: SCMP

16/01/2019

Pentagon warns of global power play behind Chinese projects such as Belt and Road Initiative

  • US Defence Department highlights range of military and non-military challenges to US strategic interests from Beijing’s favoured projects
PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 16 January, 2019, 6:03pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 16 January, 2019, 6:20pm

Monday’s report assessed China’s military and non-military expansion efforts, such as the Belt and Road Initiative and the “Made in China 2025” industrial strategy, and their implications for America around the world.

It coincided with another detailed assessment by the US Defence Intelligence Agency on Tuesday, which said China’s drive to acquire cutting-edge weaponry – including nuclear bombers and a space-based early warning system – was intended to establish itself as a global military power.

In December 2017 US President Donald Trump shifted the focus of US national security policy away from terrorism to make “great power rivalry” with China and Russia his main concern.

Since then the White House has taken a number of measures to counter Beijing, including the multibillion-dollar trade war.

“China’s most substantial expansion of its military access in recent years has occurred in its near-abroad, where territorial disputes in the East and South China Seas persist, but China has also expanded its military operations further from the Chinese mainland,” said the US Defence Department report“China’s pursuit of expanded global military access is thus driven both by new PLA missions to protect overseas interests and by a shifting approach to potential contingencies along its maritime periphery,” it said.

The report, mandated by the US National Defence Authorisation Act for the financial year of 2018, reflects increasing hawkish views among the Trump administration.

The acting defence secretary Patrick Shanahan has recently called for an effort to “sharpen and strengthen US competitiveness”.

Although this year marked the 40th anniversary of the normalisation of the US-China relations, recent months have seen growing suspicion and mistrust between the two sides.

Despite a temporary trade ceasefire he reached with Xi last month, Trump has shown little sign of softening his hardline approach towards China.

The report also raised concerns about Beijing’s economic and infrastructure investments and its acquisition of military and dual-use technology.

In particular, it warned that the Belt and Road Initiative, President Xi Jinping’s push for a transcontinental infrastructure and trade network, and the “21st century Digital Silk Road” were designed to serve “greater strategic purposes”.

Echoing widespread criticism about Beijing’s “predatory loans” and “debt-trap diplomacy”, it cited 17 cases where Chinese investment projects have had a detrimental effect on the host country.

“China’s attempts to gain veto authority over other countries’ decisions, and its coercion directed at US allies and partners in particular, will likely threaten US posture and access if not addressed,” it warned.

The Digital Silk Road strategy, announced by Xi in May 2017 as a plan to boost connectivity in the digital economy, has received little international attention so far compared with the Belt and Road Initiative.

Beijing has revealed few details so far, but Xi said the initiative should involve cooperation and development in “frontier areas”, such as the digital economy, artificial intelligence, nanotechnology, and quantum computing, as well as areas such as big data, cloud computing, and “smart cities.”

The report said Beijing was actively using state-owned or state-affiliated enterprises – including China Telecom, China Unicom, China Mobile, Huawei, and ZTE – to push for forced technology transfer and accelerate its race for tech supremacy with the US.

Huawei, the world’s largest telecoms equipment supplier, has suffered major setbacks in its global push to build 5G infrastructure recently and its alleged ties with the Chinese government and military have prompted increasing suspicion around the world.

Despite a seemingly bipartisan support for a tougher approach on Beijing in the US and frequent hostile comments by Trump administration officials, an article published by the Brookings Institute on Tuesday expressed doubts about the White House’s policies towards China.

It said it was not clear “whether the Trump administration’s objectives are to compel China to alter its behaviour in specific areas of concern, to ‘decouple’ the American economy from China’s through supply chain diversification, or to obstruct China’s rise”.

The article was written by Jeffrey Bader, an Asia adviser to US presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton, along with senior Brookings fellows David Dollar and Ryan Hass.

“There also is little clarity on the Trump administration’s strategy for achieving its objectives … Such comments reflect an attitude, but not a strategy,” they said.

Source: SCMP

12/12/2018

Book of Xi’s remarks on Belt and Road Initiative published

BEIJING, Dec. 11 (Xinhua) — A compilation of remarks by President Xi Jinping on the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) over the past five years has been published by the Central Party Literature Press.

The book contains 42 articles drawn from the speeches and public remarks made by Xi, beginning with a speech he delivered at Nazarbayev University, Kazakhstan, in September 2013 calling for jointly building the Silk Road Economic Belt, and ending with the one he delivered at the opening ceremony of the 8th Ministerial Meeting of the China-Arab States Cooperation Forum in July 2018.

The book, with about 130,000 Chinese characters, was compiled by the Institute of Party History and Literature of the Communist Party of China Central Committee.

The BRI, first proposed by Xi, has received warm responses from the international community, especially the countries along the BRI routes. Jointly pursuing the BRI is becoming a Chinese solution for the country to participate in global opening-up and cooperation, improve the global economic governance, push for common development and prosperity of the world and build a community with a shared future for humanity.

The book will be available nationwide starting Tuesday.

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