Archive for ‘China alert’

15/07/2019

Record-high of 377 rivers in China report floods

BEIJING, July 14 (xinhua) — China has seen a record high of rivers reporting floods since this year’s high-water season began, the Ministry of Water Resources said Sunday.

A total of 377 rivers across the country have reported floods exceeding alarm levels, over 80 percent more than the annual number of such rivers registered since 1998 when severe floods hit China, according to Wang Zhangli, deputy director with the ministry’s flood and draught disaster prevention department.

Some 15 small and medium-sized rivers had seen the all-time worst floods, Wang added.

Both north and south China are expected to see some regions suffering intensive rainfalls from July 16 to August 15, while two to three typhoons might hit China during this period.

The ministry has sent over 30 work teams to guide local floods relief work, according to the official.

Source: Xinhua

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15/07/2019

Chandrayaan-2: India space launch delayed by technical problem

The rocket that will carry the Chandrayaan-2 satelliteImage copyright EPA
Image caption The rocket weighs as much as a fully-loaded jumbo jet

The launch of India’s second lunar mission has been halted less than an hour before the scheduled blast-off, due to a technical problem.

The countdown stopped 56 minutes before the launch after a “technical snag was observed in launch vehicle system,” India’s space agency said.

The satellite had been scheduled for launch at 02:51 local time on Monday (21:21 GMT Sunday) from Sriharikota space station on India’s eastern coast.

A new launch date will follow soon.

What is this mission all about?

India hopes the $150m mission, Chandrayaan-2, will be the first to land on the Moon’s south pole.

It will focus on the lunar surface, searching for water and minerals and measuring moonquakes, among other things.

If successful, India will become the fourth country to make a soft landing on the Moon’s surface.

Only the US, China and the former Soviet Union have been able to do so.

India’s Prime Minister, Narendra Modi has championed the country’s space programmes, but critics would like to see poverty at home tackled first.

Presentational white space

The chief of the Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro), K Sivan, said this was “the most complex space mission ever to be undertaken by the agency”.

If the launch had gone to plan, the lander and rover would have been expected to touch down in early September.

India’s space agency is yet to give more details on why the launch was delayed and how it will affect the timeline.

The country’s first lunar mission in 2008 – Chandrayaan-1 – did not land on the lunar surface, but it carried out the first and most detailed search for water on the Moon using radars.

How will it get to the Moon?

Chandrayaan-2 (Moon vehicle 2) will attempt a soft landing near the little-explored south pole of the Moon.

India is using its most powerful rocket, the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark III (GSLV Mk-III), in this mission. It weighs 640 tonnes (almost 1.5 times the weight of a fully-loaded 747 jumbo jet) and at 44 metres (144ft) is as high as a 14-storey building.

Graphic showing the launch vehicle with different parts labelled
The spacecraft weighs 2,379kg (5,244lb) and has three distinct parts: an orbiter, a lander and a rover.

The orbiter, which has a mission life of a year, will take images of the lunar surface, and “sniff” the tenuous atmosphere.

The lander (named Vikram, after the founder of Isro) weighs about half as much, and carries within its belly a 27kg Moon rover with instruments to analyse the lunar soil. In its 14-day life, the rover (called Pragyan – wisdom in Sanskrit) can travel up to a half a kilometre from the lander and will send data and images back to Earth for analysis.

“India can hope to get the first selfies from the lunar surface once the rover gets on its job,” Dr Sivan said.

Presentational grey line

A new frontier for India’s space programme

By science writer Pallava Bagla

A soft landing on another planetary body – a feat achieved by just three other countries so far – would be a huge technological achievement for Isro and India’s space ambitions.

It would pave the way for future Indian missions to land on Mars and an asteroid. More importantly, it would open up the possibility of India sending astronauts to the Moon. India hopes to carry out a crewed space flight by 2022.

India also wants to assert itself as a space power to be reckoned with – and national pride is riding high as it aims to hoist its flag on the surface of the Moon.

A successful mission to the Moon would also be a win for India’s ambitious space agency, which has had a string of successes recently.

Media caption Is India a space superpower?

In 2014, it successfully put a satellite into orbit around Mars, becoming only the fourth nation to do so. In 2017, India created history by successfully launching 104 satellites on a single mission, overtaking the previous record of 37 satellites launched by Russia in 2014.

All eyes are on Isro again. Global interest in India’s frugal Moon mission is peaking, according to Simonetta Di Pippo, director of the UN office of Outer Space Affairs.

“The mission’s studies of lunar topography, mineralogy, elemental abundance, the lunar exosphere, and signatures of hydroxyl and water ice will contribute to scientific progress for all of humankind,” she says.

The Indian space community is nervous and Dr Sivan says “there is churning in his stomach”.

“Unknown-unknowns can kill a mission, [although] no stone has been left unturned to understand all the complexities”.

Presentational grey line

How long is the journey to the Moon?

The launch is only the beginning of a 384,000km (239,000-mile) journey – the robotic craft is expected to land on the Moon some 54 days later.

Isro chose a circuitous route to take advantage of the Earth’s gravity, which will help slingshot the satellite towards the Moon. India does not have a rocket powerful enough to hurl Chandrayaan-2 on a direct path.

“There will be 15 terrifying minutes for scientists once the lander is released and is hurled towards the south pole of the Moon,” Dr Sivan says.

Graphic: How India's Chandrayaan-2 will reach the moon
He explains that those who had been controlling the spacecraft until then will have no role to play in those crucial moments. The actual landing, he adds, is an autonomous operation dependent on all systems performing as they should. Otherwise, the lander could crash into the lunar surface.

Earlier this year, Israel’s first Moon mission crash-landed while attempting to touch down.

Site of successful moon landings graphic showing where other countries have landed on the moon

Who is on the team?

Nearly 1,000 engineers and scientists have worked on this mission. But for the first time, Isro has chosen women to lead an interplanetary expedition.

Two women are steering India’s journey to the Moon. While programme director Muthaya Vanitha has nurtured Chandrayaan-2 over the years, it will be navigated by Ritu Karidhal.

“Women power is powering India’s Moon ambitions,” Dr Sivan said, adding that at Isro, “women and men are all equal. Only talent matters – not the gender.”

Source: The BBC

14/07/2019

Indonesia asks China for special Belt and Road Initiative fund

  • Indonesian finance minister working on loan structure and criteria
Indonesian President Joko Widodo asked Chinese President Xi Jinping for a special belt and road fund at the G20 summit in Osaka last week. Photo: Reuters
Indonesian President Joko Widodo asked Chinese President Xi Jinping for a special belt and road fund at the G20 summit in Osaka last week. Photo: Reuters
Indonesia has asked China to set up a special fund within its Belt and Road Initiative for investment in Southeast Asia’s biggest economy, after offering China projects worth US$91 billion, Indonesian government officials said on Wednesday.
Indonesia has not been among the biggest beneficiaries of China’s trillion-dollar push to create a modern-day Silk Road.
Indonesia says this is because it has insisted that any loan within the initiative’s framework is done on a business-to-business basis to avoid exposing the government in case of default.
Indonesian President Joko Widodo made the request for a special fund during a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sideline of the Group of 20 summit in Japan last week, Indonesia’s Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati said.
Japan still leads in Southeast Asia infrastructure race, even as China ramps up belt and road investments: report
Indrawati said she had been given the responsibility of coming up with the fund’s structure, including a proposal to China on the size of the fund and the criteria for loans from it.
“I am currently doing a study about its form, its mechanism, the size of it and of course the consequences of its costs,” she said.

Luhut Pandjaitan, coordinating minister for maritime affairs, said separately the fund should provide loans “with low interest in regards to investment in Indonesia, in partnership with Indonesian companies”.

Pandjaitan, who oversees belt and road projects in Indonesia, previously said the Indonesian government had offered China involvement in about 30 projects, worth US$91 billion, during the second Belt and Road Forum in April.

The most high-profile belt and road venture in Indonesia is a US$6 billion high-speed rail project connecting the capital, Jakarta, to the textile hub of Bandung, awarded to a consortium of Chinese and Indonesian state firms in 2015.

China expert lays out trillion yuan nuclear path for belt and road plan

The project has faced land ownership issues.

Another controversial project is a US$1.5 billion hydropower plant, funded by Chinese banks and being built by the Chinese state firm Sinohydro, in the heart of the Batang Toru rainforest on the island of Sumatra, which is home to the endangered Tapanuli orangutans.

Agus Djoko Ismanto, an executive of the power plant developer PT North Sumatra Hydro Energy, on Wednesday denied disrupting the orangutan habitat. He said 11 per cent of the construction had been completed and it was due to begin operation by 2022.

14/07/2019

China meets resistance over Kenya coal plant, in test of its African ambitions

  • Court revokes licence for coal-fired power plant in Kenyan town whose Unesco World Heritage status is at stake
  • Beijing’s efforts to cut emissions domestically coincide with coal-financing ventures overseas
A proposed coal-fired power plant in Kenya involving four Chinese companies has provoked protests. Photo: Handout
A proposed coal-fired power plant in Kenya involving four Chinese companies has provoked protests. Photo: Handout
This article is part of a series in which the South China Morning Post examines the local impact of Chinese investment and infrastructure projects in Africa.
There are a few places in the world that have held onto their traditions. One is the island of Lamu, close to Kenya’s northern coast, which is an epicentre of Swahili culture in East Africa and home to its oldest and best-preserved history.
Nowhere combines the culture’s architecture and heritage like Lamu Old Town, where there are two streets, few cars and dozens of mosques and churches. Donkeys and wooden carts are the main modes of transport.
The town is a Unesco World Heritage Site with multibillion-dollar tourism and fishing industries. But it risks losing its global allure after Unesco’s World Heritage Committee warned that a US$2 billion coal-fired power plant planned in the area threatened its heritage site status.
Four Chinese companies are involved in the project. The United States also supported it, with its envoy to Kenya, Kyle McCarter, saying the country needed cheaper power and American energy firm GE promising to inject US$400 million for a 20 per cent stake in Amu Power, the operating company. The Kenyan government has said the plant would enable the country to have a diversified source of electricity.
Lamu Old Town’s Unesco status helps to support its tourism and fishing industries. Photo: Handout
Lamu Old Town’s Unesco status helps to support its tourism and fishing industries. Photo: Handout

However, the project’s future is uncertain after a Kenyan court, the National Environment Tribunal, ordered on June 26 that a fresh environmental impact assessment be carried out. The tribunal, which oversees decisions made by the National Environment Management Authority, also revoked the licence issued by the authority to Amu Power.

A lack of public consultation to date, as well as the environmental risks, were cited by the court, whose ruling is binding on the government. Unesco has urged Amu Power to proceed with the impact assessment, which in turn could have an impact on perceptions of Beijing’s signature transcontinental infrastructure strategy, the

Belt and Road Initiative

.

Two days after the court’s verdict, Wu Peng, the Chinese ambassador to Kenya, met groups opposed to the building of the coal plant, days after they had been dispersed by police when they tried to protest at the embassy. Wu acknowledged the need to develop a different approach to hear the public’s views.

Anti-coal campaigners have been demanding China back out. Of the plant’s estimated US$2 billion cost, US$1.2 billion is coming from the Industrial Commercial Bank of China.

The three Chinese companies – Sichuan Electric Power Design and Consulting, China Huadian, and Sichuan No 3 Power Construction – teamed up with Kenya’s Centum Investments and Gulf Energy in a venture to form Amu Power. Another Chinese firm, Power Construction (PowerChina), was contracted to build the plant, which is expected to generate 1,050 megawatts of electricity.
The Chinese embassy in Nairobi said it had asked the Chinese investors to wait for Kenya’s decision on whether it should go ahead.
“Our position is that the Kenyan people are the final decision makers in this project and the Chinese government respects that,” embassy spokeswoman Huang Xueqing said.
Despite committing to cutting China’s reliance on coal, Beijing is still funding several coal-powered plants around the world. Both China and Kenya signed the

Paris Agreement

on climate change in 2016, promising to cut carbon emissions.

China may be providing a market for its coal by outsourcing its fossil fuel use to other countries, according to 350.org, which campaigns to prevent climate change and works to end use of fossil fuels.
Yossi Cadan, a senior campaigner for the organisation, said many people looked to China to be the new world leader in addressing climate change, given its government’s ambitious initiative to reduce emissions domestically. US President Donald Trump, by contrast, made the controversial decision to 
Activists and Lamu residents have protested about the coal plant. Photo: Handout
Activists and Lamu residents have protested about the coal plant. Photo: Handout

“While China seems determined to meet its Paris climate agreement targets at home, it undermines those efforts to reduce global emissions by simultaneously investing in coal projects across the world,” Cadan said.

According to Cadan, cancellations and delays of coal projects in China left a desperate Chinese coal industry looking elsewhere, assisted by Chinese financial institutions.

He argued that if China was serious about being a global leader in reducing emissions and tackling the climate crisis, it must apply the same restrictions it was 

introducing domestically

to coal financing outside China.

Analysts said that if the Lamu coal project were to be abandoned, other Chinese-funded coal power projects in Africa would come under the spotlight.
China is funding eight coal-powered projects in Africa, including Egypt’s Hamrawein plant, which has an estimated cost of US$4.2 billion and is expected to generate six gigawatts of power.
Omar Elmawi, campaign coordinator at deCOALonize, was among the campaigners who met ambassador Wu two weeks ago.
“Other African countries could take a cue from [the Kenyan situation],” he said. “Already key financial institutions are coming up with policies that are either cutting back on or refusing to fund new coal plant projects. This will add to the pressure on China to abandon coal projects.”
Lauri Myllyvirta, lead analyst at Greenpeace’s air pollution unit, said the Lamu case could spur the Chinese government to adapt its criteria for supporting overseas energy projects. This could include requiring coal-fired power projects overseas to meet more stringent emissions standards.
“Currently, essentially all of the overseas coal-fired power projects with involvement from Chinese banks and firms plan to use much weaker emissions control technology than is allowed in China, leading to much worse air quality impacts and public health impacts – which was the case in Lamu,” Myllyvirta said.
“It’s hard to see how [a weaker emissions standard] fits with the Chinese leadership’s objectives of greening the belt and road, and projecting a positive, technologically advanced image of China overseas.”
Source: SCMP
09/07/2019

China and India eye joint military drills as sides seek thaw after face-off on Himalayan border

  • Relations between the Asian giants had been strained after a 73-day military stand-off at their disputed border last year
The Chinese People’s Liberation Army in Beijing. Photo: EPA
The Chinese People’s Liberation Army in Beijing. Photo: EPA
China and India aim to hold joint army drills in China before the end of this year, China’s Defence Ministry said on Thursday, as the two countries continue a rapid rapprochement.
Relations between the Asian giants were strained last year over a 73-day military face-off in a remote, high-altitude stretch of their disputed Himalayan border.
Chinese ‘tourists’ face 7 years in Indian jail over shahtoosh shawls made from endangered antelope
But the neighbours have over recent months been working on mending ties and Chinese Defence Minister Wei Fenghe met Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi in August.
Speaking at a regular monthly news briefing, Chinese Defence Ministry spokesman Wu Qian said that the joint exercise was planned for before the end of this year.
China and India are aiming to hold joint army drills this year as part of an ongoing rapprochement. Photo: EPA
China and India are aiming to hold joint army drills this year as part of an ongoing rapprochement. Photo: EPA

The two countries would meet in the southwestern Chinese city of Chengdu next month to discuss the arrangements, he added, without giving other details.

India and China fought a war in 1962 and the unresolved dispute over stretches of their 3,500km (2,200 miles) border has clouded relations ever since.

But the two big Asian economies share similar positions on a host of issues including concern about US tariffs and Chinese President Xi Jinping and Modi agreed in April to improve relations.

Source: SCMP

09/07/2019

Xi Jinping says China, Russia and India should take ‘global responsibility’ to protect interests

  • Chinese president also called for the three nations to uphold multilateralism in talks with Vladimir Putin and Narendra Modi in Osaka
  • In a separate meeting with other BRICS leaders, he said Beijing opposed ‘illegal and unilateral sanctions’ and ‘long-arm jurisdiction’
(From left) Russian President Vladimir Putin, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese leader Xi Jinping meet on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Osaka, Japan, on Friday. Photo: EPA-EFE
(From left) Russian President Vladimir Putin, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese leader Xi Jinping meet on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Osaka, Japan, on Friday. Photo: EPA-EFE
Chinese President Xi Jinping on Friday called on the leaders of Russia and India to take “global responsibility” to safeguard the three countries’ interests and uphold multilateralism, as Beijing seeks to rally support amid its protracted trade war with Washington.
Xi made the remarks during a trilateral meeting with Vladimir Putin and Narendra Modi on the sidelines of the annual 
Group of 20

summit of world leaders in Osaka, Japan.

The trilateral meeting was part of the Chinese leader’s efforts to marshal international support ahead of his 
high-stakes meeting

with US President Donald Trump, seeking to reach a truce on the year-long trade conflict between the world’s two biggest economies.

“The rise of protectionism and unilateralism has severely affected global stability and economic growth, as well as the existing international order which emerging economies and developing countries have relied on,” Xi was quoted as saying by state broadcaster CCTV.

“China, Russia and India should take on global responsibility to safeguard the fundamental and long-term interests of these three countries and the world,” he said.

Xi also called for the nations to promote “a more multipolar world and the democratisation of international relations” – meaning with less reliance on a US-led world order.

During a meeting with leaders of the other BRICS countries – major emerging economies Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – Xi also said Beijing opposed what it saw as “illegal and unilateral sanctions” and “long-arm jurisdiction”.

The efforts to forge closer ties among China, Russia and India come as all three nations are locked in disputes with the United States.

New Delhi, a key strategic ally in Washington’s Indo-Pacific policy to contain China’s rise, has been upset over tariffs imposed on Indian goods by the Trump administration. Meanwhile, geopolitical rivalry and the Kremlin’s alleged meddling in US elections has strained relations between Moscow and Washington.

Beneath the smiles and handshakes, tensions simmer as world leaders meet for G20

Wu Jianghao, director general of the Chinese foreign ministry’s Asian affairs department, said the trilateral meeting laid out a framework for future cooperation.

“The three countries have spoken with one voice on some major global issues, helping stability and injecting positive energy to the current international situation – which is filled with instability and uncertainties,” Wu said at a briefing on Friday.

Wu said that the leaders did not talk about Huawei Technologies or 5G networks, but that the three countries had maintained good communication on telecoms issues and would continue to cooperate.

Washington has banned US companies from selling American technology to Huawei and put pressure on its allies to block the Chinese tech firm over security concerns.

(From left) US President Donald Trump, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi pose for a photo before their meeting. Photo: AP
(From left) US President Donald Trump, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi pose for a photo before their meeting. Photo: AP

Meanwhile, the United States is also seeking to build ties with India, with Trump holding trilateral talks with Modi and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Friday.

Indian Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale described that trilateral meeting as “very good”, saying it was “short but very productive”.

“The main topic of discussion was the Indo-Pacific, about how the three countries could work together in terms of connectivity, infrastructure and ensuring that peace and stability is maintained, and working together to build upon this new concept so that it would benefit the region as a whole and the three countries,” Gokhale said.

On the Modi-Trump bilateral meeting, he said the two leaders had “a very warm discussion”. They also briefly discussed 5G, with the focus on business cooperation between the two countries to leverage their technology and the potential of the Indian market, according to Gokhale.

He said the discussion of how to develop 5G networks was “in terms of business, not in terms of governments”. “It’s an exciting new area that India and the US can work together [on],” he said.

Source: SCMP

07/07/2019

China says briefed by U.S. on latest Trump-Kim meeting

BEIJING (Reuters) – China has received a briefing from the United States on the latest meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, China’s Foreign Ministry said on Saturday, in a call between two senior diplomats.

Trump became the first sitting U.S. president to set foot in North Korea on Sunday when he met Kim in the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) at Panmunjom between the two Koreas and agreed to resume stalled nuclear talks.

Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Luo Zhaohui and U.S. Special Representative for North Korea Stephen Biegun discussed that meeting in a telephone call on Friday, China’s Foreign Ministry said in a short statement.

“Biegun introduced the meeting between the U.S. and North Korean leaders at Panmunjom, and said the U.S. side is willing to strengthen communication and coordination with the Chinese side on the peninsula issue,” the ministry added.

Luo told Biegun the recent “positive interactions” on the North Korean issue by all parties had important meaning for the peace talks process, the ministry said.

“China supports U.S.-North Korea exchanges and dialogue and hopes that the two sides will meet each other halfway and follow the consensus of the leaders of the two countries to resume consultations at the working level as soon as possible,” it added.

Trump’s meeting with Kim came around a week after Chinese President Xi Jinping met Kim himself during a state visit to Pyongyang.

While China has not officially announced it, Luo is likely China’s new special envoy for the North Korea issue, after predecessor Kong Xuanyou became China’s new ambassador in Tokyo in late May.

Luo was also involved in a briefing to Chinese reporters on Xi’s visit to North Korea before Xi went, according to state media.

Luo is an urbane career diplomat who speaks good English, according to diplomats who have met him.

He previously served as China’s ambassador in Canada, Pakistan and India, and also worked in the Chinese embassy in Washington from 1996-2000.

Source: Reuters

06/07/2019

New Delhi and Beijing cannot let differences turn into disputes: India’s ambassador to China

  • Ambassador Vikram Misri has called on China to balance its US$60 billion trade deficit with India ‘before the issue becomes politically sensitive’
  • He also says India will not take sides over its use of US-blacklisted Huawei, as ‘any decision taken over this will only be taken in our national interest’
Indian ambassador to China Vikram Misri says that while the countries’ differences will not derail ties, there are still thorny issues to grapple with. Photo: CGTN
Indian ambassador to China Vikram Misri says that while the countries’ differences will not derail ties, there are still thorny issues to grapple with. Photo: CGTN
India and China must actively manage their differences

so they do not get in the way of the Asian superpowers working together for global stability, India’s top diplomat in China said on Friday.

To emphasise his point, Ambassador Vikram Misri listed eight long-standing and new bilateral issues that required attention, including 
India

’s almost US$60 billion trade deficit with China, cooperation on counterterrorism and a

peaceful resolution to their border dispute

.

“This trade imbalance is not economically sustainable in the long run,” said Misri at an Asia Society event in Hong Kong. “It is in our mutual interest to find workable solutions before the markets react in unpredictable ways and the issue becomes politically sensitive.”
Frosty ties between two of the world’s largest economies have thawed in the past year following a 73-day 
military stand-off in the Himalayas

in 2017, with Beijing seeking to forge closer ties with New Delhi amid its ongoing trade and tech war with the United States.

Ivanka Trump, the unlikely messenger of India-US relations
In May, Beijing dropped its long-held objections towards United Nations sanctions on

Masood Azhar

, the founder and leader of terrorist group Jaish-e-Mohammed, which was behind the suicide bombing of Indian soldiers that brought India and Pakistan to the brink of war earlier this year.

Analysts said this would pave the way for a better relationship between India and China.
Misri said both countries enjoyed a “full-spectrum relationship” of economic, commercial and people-to-people ties, and this was reinforced by the “strong personal bond” Indian Prime Minister

Narendra Modi

and Chinese President

Xi Jinping

had, despite the “elements of competition”.

The leaders of the two nations met four times last year and twice in 2019, with Xi set to visit India later this year. Both men share an understanding that “our rise can be mutually reinforcing” and a mutual interest in “preventing differences from turning into disputes”, the ambassador added.

But while Misri, a career diplomat posted to Beijing at the start of this year, stressed that differences would not derail ties, he made no bones about the thorny issues both sides are grappling with.

Will Modi’s snub of Xi’s belt and road derail China-India ties?
Both nations are still engaged in the second of a three-stage process to settle their border dispute – the world’s largest in terms of area, he said.
The first stage was an agreement on the political parameters for a boundary settlement in 2005. The current stage involves agreeing on a framework for a boundary settlement, which Misri said would be translated “into a delineated and demarcated boundary” in the final stage.
Communication over water and shared rivers has also been a key area of cooperation for the two nations.
Indian ambassador to China Vikram Misri speaking at the Asia Society in Hong Kong. Photo: Asia Society
Indian ambassador to China Vikram Misri speaking at the Asia Society in Hong Kong. Photo: Asia Society

They have established channels for information sharing on cross-frontier rivers, which last year enabled the Chinese side to warn the relevant Indian authorities of a landslide which would send a large amount of water to India. While in this instance the two sides were able to avert a loss of life, they can do more to broaden cooperation, Misri said.

He alluded to how China and India are vying for influence in the Indian Ocean, saying it was an area where both had “contiguous zones of maritime interest”.

The two sides need to work together to preserve peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region – which stretches from the Indian Ocean to the central Pacific Ocean – and ensure transparent economic and commercial cooperation, infrastructure and connectivity, he said.

As China, India and Russia draw close, has Trump overplayed his hand?

Misri, who served as the private secretary to Modi as well as former prime ministers Manmohan Singh and I.K. Gujral, said there were three areas of mutual interest for India and China.

Besides a “peaceful periphery”, they should cooperate to ensure there are open international systems regarding trade and technology, and that global governance is reformed so the voices of nations such as theirs can be heard.

The Russia-India-China trilateral meeting on the sidelines of last month’s 

G20

summit in Osaka, where leaders discussed issues ranging from energy security to climate change, was an opportunity to discuss alternative viewpoints on changing international issues.

This was crucial amid the economic instability caused by 
US-China trade tensions

, that were causing “generalised damage” to the global economy, Misri said.

In the question and answer session with the event’s 112 attendees, Misri was asked if India was feeling the pressure to choose in the face of US efforts to get its allies to reconsider using or ban Chinese tech firm 
Huawei

from their superfast 5G networks.

Washington says Huawei equipment could be used by Beijing for spying and the US Commerce Department has placed the company on its entity list, effectively banning US companies from selling equipment and components to it.
When US President 
Donald Trump

and Xi met at the G20 summit, Trump announced American companies could resume sales to Huawei as long as the products involved did not threaten national security.

Misri referred to this, and said: “Let’s see how it shapes up.”
He added the issue was far from decided for India as it had only achieved 4G connectivity recently and was not yet ready to build out its 
5G

infrastructure.

Still, he said, “there’s no question on taking sides over this”. “Our leadership is very clear that any decision taken over this will only be taken in our national interest.”
Source: SCMP
04/07/2019

China, Bulgaria lift ties to strategic partnership

CHINA-BEIJING-XI JINPING-BULGARIAN PRESIDENT-TALKS (CN)

Chinese President Xi Jinping (2nd R) and his wife Peng Liyuan (1st R) pose for photos with Bulgarian President Rumen Radev (2nd L) and his wife in Beijing, capital of China, July 3, 2019. Chinese President Xi Jinping held talks with Bulgarian President Rumen Radev here Wednesday. (Xinhua/Huang Jingwen)

BEIJING, July 3 (Xinhua) — Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday held talks with Bulgarian President Rumen Radev in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, and they decided to lift state-to-state ties to a strategic partnership.

Bulgaria was one of the first countries to establish diplomatic relations with New China, Xi noted, hoping that the two countries take the strategic partnership as a new starting point, work together to cope with the test of international changes and inject new impetus into bilateral cooperation.

Xi stressed that the two sides should respect and trust each other and strengthen exchanges between the two governments, legislative bodies and political parties while maintaining mutual support on issues involving each other’s core interests and major concerns.

“The two countries share many of the same or similar views on the international situation and should jointly safeguard the international system based on multilateralism and the international law,” said Xi.

Bulgaria is also one of the first Central and Eastern European countries to sign intergovernmental cooperation documents with China on the Belt and Road Initiative. Xi said China is willing to strengthen the synergy between the two countries’ development strategies, promote infrastructure connectivity, expand trade and investment and cement people-to-people exchanges.

Xi reiterated China’s firm support for the European integration process, EU’s unity and growth and Europe’s more important role in international affairs, saying that China’s upholding such stances is not an expedient measure.

“It is hoped that the new EU institutions will maintain the stability and continuity of their China policy,” said Xi, who also expected the new EU institutions to work with China to promote the building of partnership on the basis of mutual respect, fairness and justice, cooperation and win-win result.

“Bulgaria is a good friend and partner of China in the EU and an important participant and advocate of the cooperation between China and the Central and Eastern European countries. It is hoped that the Bulgarian side will continue to play a constructive role in this regard,” said Xi.

Radev said he was very happy to visit China on the occasion of celebrating the 70th anniversary of the establishment of bilateral diplomatic ties.

Lifting the bilateral ties to a strategic partnership will further strengthen the foundation of bilateral relations, said Radev.

Radev said the Bulgarian side is ready to deeply participate in the Belt and Road Initiative by giving full play to its advantages of location in the region and trying to become a gateway and hub connecting Europe and Asia.

The Bulgarian side is willing to expand cooperation with the Chinese side in such areas as trade, transportation, aviation, logistics, finance, innovation, local areas and people-people exchanges, and welcomes Chinese enterprises to increase investment in Bulgaria, said Radev.

While expressing Bulgaria’s support for multilateralism and the World Trade Organization, the Bulgarian president said his country stands ready to step up communication and work for advancing Europe-China relations and cooperation between the Central and Eastern European countries and China.

Source: Xinhua

04/07/2019

Sri Lanka could help Chinese manufacturers offset trade war impact

  • Development minister leads high-level investment forum in Beijing
  • Points to free trade agreements and preferential duty deals to offset trade war pressures for Chinese factories
Sri Lankan Minister for Development Strategies and International Trade Malik Samarawickrama at the Sri Lanka Investment Forum in Beijing on Wednesday. Photo: Simon Song
Sri Lankan Minister for Development Strategies and International Trade Malik Samarawickrama at the Sri Lanka Investment Forum in Beijing on Wednesday. Photo: Simon Song
Sri Lanka is wooing Chinese manufacturers, urging them to make use of its preferential duty-free treatment by the US and Europe as a way to offset the growing tariff pressure of the trade war.
The country’s development minister, Malik Samarawickrama, was in Beijing on Wednesday as part of an investment forum at the Sri Lankan embassy attended by dozens of Chinese businesspeople.
“China has invested heavily in infrastructure and they are assisting us to invest in ports, roads, railways, water supplies and so on. Now we would like China to get involved in setting up their manufacturing plants in Sri Lanka, primarily for the purpose of exports,” he said.
“They can make use of the preferential market access we have – we have duty free access to the European Union countries and we have free trade agreements with Pakistan, Singapore and India. And, since the cost of manufacturing in China is going up, we would like the Chinese to look at Sri Lanka for their manufacturing and we want it to be exported back to China.”
Sri Lanka, bruised from Easter bombings, seeks US$1 billion loan from China
Along with trade officials and diplomats, Samarawickrama, one of Sri Lanka’s most senior government ministers, was also keen to boost investor confidence following the deadly Easter Sunday bombings in Colombo which killed 253 people.
“Let me assure you, absolutely, Sri Lanka is safe for investment,” he told the dozens of representatives from Chinese state-owned and private companies who attended the forum.

“We must bring to your notice that none of the industries have been affected as a result of the bombings and none of the export orders were cancelled or delayed. This is a testament to the resilience of the economy.”

China is one of Sri Lanka’s largest trading partners and – sometimes controversially – the largest financier of its booming new infrastructure. Other big lenders to the island nation are the Asian Development Bank and Japan.

Earlier this year the Sri Lankan government signed a US$989.5 million loan agreement with China’s Export-Import Bank for a major new motorway project. And last month Sri Lanka’s finance ministry confirmed it was in talks with the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) for a further loan of nearly US$1 billion for energy and motorways.

Did Japan and India just launch a counter to China’s Belt and Road?
The surge of Chinese investment has raised concerns that Sri Lanka could become caught up in the rivalry between China and India as Beijing seeks to expand its influence in South Asia and the Indian Ocean.
Last month, Sri Lanka signed an agreement with India and Japan to jointly develop the East Container Terminal at the Port of Colombo, which some observers said could become a competitor to the China-funded Hambantota Port, and was perhaps a sign that the island nation was seeking to neutralise the growing influence of China.
Samarawickrama denied claims the involvement of Japan and India in Sri Lanka’s biggest port project was to counter China’s influence.
Under the agreement, he said, the terminal was owned by Sri Lanka Port Authority, with a 51 per cent stake, while Japan and India would develop the remaining 49 per cent.
“We need the expertise from Japan,” Samarawickrama said. “We need the Indians to get involved in the operation because 75 per cent of the transshipment cargoes in the Colombo port come from India and India is extremely important to us.
“They are the operators of the terminal and they are not building any ports.”
Source: SCMP