Archive for ‘Chinese foreign minister’

29/05/2019

China looks to Russia, Central Asia for support amid tensions with US

  • President Xi Jinping will meet Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin next month and address economic summit in St Petersburg
  • Diplomatic flurry will also include regional security forums in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan
Xi Jinping has met Vladimir Putin more times than any other foreign leader since he took power in 2013. Photo: AFP
Xi Jinping has met Vladimir Putin more times than any other foreign leader since he took power in 2013. Photo: AFP
Beijing is stepping up efforts to seek support from regional and global players such as Russia and Central Asian nations as its geostrategic rivalry with Washington heats up.

President Xi Jinping is expected to meet his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin next month, when he will also address the St Petersburg International Economic Summit,

Russian presidential aide Yuri Ushakov told state-run TASS news agency earlier.

The Chinese president will also visit the Kyrgyzstan capital Bishkek for the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit in June, as well as another regional security forum in Dushanbe, Tajikistan.

Meanwhile, Vice-President Wang Qishan is visiting Pakistan before he heads to the Netherlands and Germany, according to the Chinese foreign ministry.
Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan meets Chinese Vice-President Wang Qishan in Islamabad on Sunday. Photo: AFP
Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan meets Chinese Vice-President Wang Qishan in Islamabad on Sunday. Photo: AFP
The latest flurry of diplomatic activity comes as competition between China and the US intensifies on several fronts including trade and technology, the South China Sea and the Arctic, where Beijing’s partnership with Moscow –

funding and building ports, berths and icebreakers off Russia’s shores

– has drawn criticism from Washington.

It will be Xi’s second time at the St Petersburg forum, and observers expect the Chinese leader will reaffirm Beijing’s commitment to multilateralism and promote the nation as a champion of openness and cooperation.
China-Russia ties unrivalled, Beijing warns before Pompeo meets Putin
It will also be his second meeting with Putin in two months, after talks on the sidelines of the Belt and Road Forum in Beijing in late April, when the Russian president

offered his support

for the controversial China-led infrastructure and investment initiative.

With China and Russia edging closer, the latest meeting is likely to see efforts to coordinate their strategies on a range of issues – including Venezuela, North Korea, nuclear weapons and arms control, according to observers. Xi has met Putin more times than any other foreign leader since he took power in 2013.

“This time it is very likely that the latest anti-China moves by the US, such as new tariffs and the Huawei ban, will feature prominently in their conversations,” said Artyom Lukin, an associate professor at Far Eastern Federal University in Vladivostok.

Lukin said Russia’s stagnating economy and sanctions imposed by the West limited its role as a substitute for the foreign markets and technologies China could lose access to because of the US crusade. But he said Putin would “provide political and moral support to Xi”.

“That is also significant as Russia has been withstanding intense US-led sanctions pressure for more than five years already,” Lukin said, referring to sanctions imposed after Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014.

Xi and Putin are also expected to talk about Venezuela, where US-backed opposition leader Juan Guaido is attempting to oust socialist President Nicolas Maduro, who has the support of China and Russia.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has the backing of China and Russia. Photo: AP
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has the backing of China and Russia. Photo: AP

“Moscow and Beijing are not able to seriously hurt Washington by raising tariffs or denying access to high technology. However, there are plenty of areas where coordinated Sino-Russian policies can damage US interests in the short term or in the long run,” Lukin said. “For example, Moscow and Beijing could intensify their joint support for the Venezuelan government of Nicolas Maduro, frustrating Washington’s efforts to dislodge him.”

China and Russia would also be seeking to boost economic ties. Bilateral trade, dominated by Chinese imports of gas and oil, reached US$108 billion last year – falling far short of the target set in 2011 by Xi’s predecessor, Hu Jintao, of US$200 billion by 2020.

China and Russia to forge stronger Eurasian economic ties

Li Lifan, an associate research professor at the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, said bilateral trade was a sticking point. “This is one of the potential hindrances in China-Russia relations and Beijing is hoping to [address this] … in the face of a possible global economic slowdown,” Li said.

Given the escalating trade war with Washington, he said China would seek to diversify its investments and markets to other parts of the world, particularly Russia and Europe.

“China will step up its investment cooperation with Europe and Russia and focus more on multilateral investment,” Li said.

But Beijing was not expected to do anything to worsen tensions with Washington.

“China is currently taking a very cautious approach towards the US, trying to avoid heating up the confrontation and further aggravation of the situation,” said Danil Bochkov, a contributing author with the Russian International Affairs Council. “For China it is important to demonstrate that it has a reliable friend – Russia – but that should not be done in an openly provocative manner.”

Stephen Blank, a senior fellow at the American Foreign Policy Council in Washington, said Beijing and Moscow would also seek to contain US influence “as far as possible” from Central Asia, where China has increased its engagement through infrastructure building under the “Belt and Road Initiative”.

Leaders from the region will gather in Bishkek next month for the SCO summit, a security bloc set up in 2001 that now comprises China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, India and Pakistan. Those members account for about 23 per cent of the world’s land mass, 45 per cent of its population, and 25 per cent of global GDP.

Newly re-elected Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi could meet the Chinese president for talks in Bishkek next month. Photo: EPA-EFE
Newly re-elected Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi could meet the Chinese president for talks in Bishkek next month. Photo: EPA-EFE

There is growing speculation that Xi will meet newly re-elected Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the sidelines of that summit.

Independent analyst and author Namrata Goswami said India would be seeking a commitment to a WTO-led and rules-based multilateral trading system during the SCO talks.

“This is interesting and significant given the current US tendencies under President Donald Trump focused on ‘America first’ and the US-China trade war,” Goswami said.

Counterterrorism will again be a top priority at the SCO summit, amid concerns among member states about the rising number of Islamic State fighters returning from Syria and Iraq. Chinese scholars estimated last year that around 30,000 jihadists who had fought in Syria had gone back to their home countries, including China.

Alexander Bortnikov, chief of the main Russian intelligence agency FSB, said earlier that 5,000 fighters from a group affiliated with Isis had gathered in areas bordering former Soviet states in Central Asia, saying most of them had fought alongside Isis in Syria.

War-torn Afghanistan, which shares a border with four SCO member states – China, Pakistan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan – is also likely to be high on the agenda at the Bishkek summit.

“With the Trump administration drafting plans to withdraw troops from Afghanistan, the SCO will assess the security situation there and decide whether to provide training for Afghan troops,” Li said.

Eva Seiwert, a doctoral candidate at the Free University of Berlin, expected the security bloc would also discuss Iran after the US withdrew from the 2015 nuclear deal and ordered new sanctions against the country.

Iran, which has observer status with the SCO, was blocked from becoming a full member in 2008 because it was subject to UN sanctions at the time. But its membership application could again be up for discussion.

Iran presses China and Russia to save nuclear deal

“The Trump administration’s unilateral withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal in 2018 made it easy for China and Russia to present themselves as the proponents of peaceful settlement of conflicts,” Seiwert said. “Discussing the possibility of admitting Iran as a full member state would help the SCO members demonstrate their support of multilateral and peaceful cooperation.

“This would be a strong signal to the US and enhance the SCO’s standing in the international community,” she said.

Kyrgyz President Sooronbay Jeenbekov (right) meets Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in Bishkek on Tuesday last week. Photo: Xinhua
Kyrgyz President Sooronbay Jeenbekov (right) meets Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in Bishkek on Tuesday last week. Photo: Xinhua

As well as security, Xi’s visit to Central Asia is also likely to focus on economic ties. Meeting Kyrgyz President Sooronbay Jeenbekov in Bishkek last week, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said Beijing would continue to “provide support and help national development and construction in Kyrgyzstan”.

Li said China may increase investment in the Central Asian region, especially in greenfield projects.

“China will continue to buy agriculture products from Central Asia, such as cherries from Uzbekistan, and build hydropower projects to meet local energy demand,” Li said. “Investment in solar and wind energy projects is also expected to increase too.”

Source: SCMP

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19/04/2019

China asks Britain for help to boost image of Belt and Road Initiative

  • China’s Ambassador to the UK Liu Xiaoming cites ‘rule-making’ as an area for bilateral cooperation with the UK
Chinese Ambassador to the UK Liu Xiaoming gives a keynote speech during the ‘Chinese Bridge’ Chinese Proficiency Competition for Foreign College Students UK Regional Final in London. Photo: Xinhua
Chinese Ambassador to the UK Liu Xiaoming gives a keynote speech during the ‘Chinese Bridge’ Chinese Proficiency Competition for Foreign College Students UK Regional Final in London. Photo: Xinhua
China has asked Britain for help to offset claims its “Belt and Road Initiative” investments are opaque and justify its overseas spending to critics.
It made the move days before UK Chancellor Phillip Hammond was expected to head to the belt and road forum in Beijing.

In an article in London’s Evening Standard on Wednesday, China’s Ambassador to the UK Liu Xiaoming cited “rule-making” as an area for bilateral cooperation.

“Britain has played a leading role in the establishment and management of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank,” Liu said. “In [belt and road] development, Britain could have a big role to play in ensuring that the projects are of higher quality, at a higher standard, with higher return.”
Four years ago the UK defied the US and joined the AIIB.
Liu’s comments followed news the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) was asked to join a new initiative aimed at improving China’s international accounting and transparency standards.
China is thought to see DFID as a model for its new aid outfit, China International Development Cooperation Agency (CIDCA), which was established last year to oversee Beijing’s foreign aid.
Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer Phillip Hammond. Photo: EPA-EFE
Britain’s Chancellor of the Exchequer Phillip Hammond. Photo: EPA-EFE

The DFID was the third most transparent donor in the world after the Asian Development Bank and UNDP, according to the aid data-crunching website Publish What You Find. China was the least.

Critics say part of the problem is Beijing prefers to deliver loans and other investments through local elites. There are also often several government departments involved, each directed by their own rules and priorities, making financial reporting more complex.

“I think the Chinese are instead playing by a different set of rules, not all of them in conflict with the West’s … but most definitely not fully aligned with what the West wants or expects”, said Eric Olander, managing editor of Shanghai-based The China Africa Project. “Therefore, I would not expect to see the kind of meaningful change in its accounting and financial standards in the near term.”

‘Cooperate or stop criticising’, China’s foreign minister Wang Yi says as belt and road summit nears

The MOU proposed by China is more a statement of intent than a plan of action but the UK welcomed it as a positive sign

“China’s proposal to set up a ‘Multilateral Cooperation Centre for Development Finance’ has real potential to ensure its huge investments in developing countries meet the key international standards that matter to all of us – on debt, transparency, environment and social safeguards,” UK International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt said at the World Bank Spring Meeting recently.

A source at DFID told the SCMP that the UK has not signed the MOU yet but said while other countries are aware of the proposal, it is the only country so far to be formally invited to participate by China.

France and Germany were two possible future signatories, and MCCDF has been discussed in EU member state meetings in Beijing.

“[China] is clearly frustrated that it feels misunderstood by the international community,” said Olander.

“I have attended one seminar after another where African stakeholders ask the Chinese for more transparency and the Chinese respond with a sympathetic smile that says ‘I’d love to but I’m not sure how we can do that given our political culture and the current political realities’.”

With the Chinese economy slowing at home and the losses abroad in places like Venezuela starting to mount, there are indications that the Chinese policy banks are becoming far more risk-averse in places like Africa and the Americas.

Even so according to figures released on Thursday, the Export Import Bank of China provided more than a trillion yuan (US$149 billion) to more than 1,800 Belt and Road projects since 2013. China Development Bank (CDB) said in March it had provided US$190 billion in the same period.

“The UK is very concerned by rising debt levels, particularly in emerging market economies and in low-income countries,” Mordaut told the World Bank.

“Unsustainable debt levels are a real risk that can undermine or reverse development gains.”

The IMF said recently 24 out of 60 of the poorest countries are either in debt distress or at a high risk of falling into it.

China is also looking to the UK to help manage the BRI projects and organise part of the financing, something the City of London and the government are keen to do, Liu said.

Describing it as “third-party involvement in BRI development” he said: “The UK, with its unique strengths in professional services, project-management and financing, could tap into this potential.”

China is keen for the UK to sign a BRI MOU like Italy, and soon Switzerland, but so far it has resisted. A report released earlier this month by the parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee called for a rebranding of the “golden era” started by the former chancellor George Osborne, now the editor of the London Evening Standard.

Britain is keen to cement closer ties with Beijing as the world’s fifth largest economy looks to reinvent itself as a global trading nation if and when it leaves the European Union.

Source: SCMP

26/02/2019

Exercise restraint, says China after strike on Jaish’s biggest terror camp

The IAF strike on Jaish camp in Balakot deep across LoC comes a day before the foreign ministers of Russia, India, and China (RIC) are expected to meet in the eastern China town of Wuzhen under the RIC mechanism.

INDIA Updated: Feb 26, 2019 15:56 IST

Sutirtho Patranobis
Sutirtho Patranobis
Hindustan Times, Wuzhen (China)
China on Jaish,Masood Azhar,Indian Air force
China has urged India and [pakistan to exercise restrain after the Indian Air Force hit a Jaish camp in Balakot acro(AP file photo)

China on Tuesday urged India to fight terrorism through “international cooperation” hours after the Indian air force carried out a targeted strike on a Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) camplocated across the Line of Control (LoC).

India should create “favourable” conditions internationally to fight terrorism, China added possibly in an oblique reference to New Delhi’s failure to convince Beijing to allow Jaish-e-Mohammed chief, Azhar Masood to be designated as a terrorist at the UN Security Council.

Follow live updates here

The strike comes a day before the foreign ministers of Russia, India, and China (RIC) are expected to meet in the eastern China town of Wuzhen under the RIC mechanism.

Responding to a question on the air strike, the foreign ministry spokesperson, Lu Kang said both India and Pakistan — one of China’s closest allies — should maintain restraint.

“We have taken note of relevant reports. I want to say that India and Pakistan are both important countries. A sound relationship and cooperation serve the interests of peace and stability in South Asia. Both parties (should) remain restrained and do more to improve bilateral relations,” Lu Kang said.

Read: Nation in safe hands, says PM Modi

“As for India’s claims on taking action against terrorism, fighting terrorism is a global practice. It needs to be dealt with international cooperation. And India needs to create a favourable condition internationally for the same,” Lu said.

The Chinese foreign ministry’s reaction came soon after foreign secretary, VK Gokhale confirmed that Indian forces carried out a strike on the biggest camp of the terror group Jaih e Mohammed in Balakot area early on Tuesday.

“Credible intelligence was received that JeM was attempting another suicide terror attack in various parts of the country, and the fidayeen jihadis were being trained for this purpose. In the face of imminent danger, a preemptive strike became absolutely necessary,” the foreign secretary said.

The Chinese foreign ministry reacted carefully, keeping in mind its close ties with Pakistan and the fact that India’s decision to carry out the strike was triggered by JeM-planned Pulwama attack that killed 40 CRPF personnel.

Read: After IAF strike on terror camp, Army tweets poem on power and peace

Interestingly, Chinese foreign minister, Wang Yi and his Pakistani counterpart, Shah Mehmood Qureshi spoke over phone about the Pulwama attack and its aftermath over the phone on Monday evening.

“Qureshi informed Wang of Pakistan’s stance on and measures to deal with the attack, reaffirming the country’s sincerity and resolution to communicate with India and find out the truth of the incident,” a report by China’s official news agency, Xinhua, said.

“Qureshi said Pakistan’s position on maintaining regional peace and fighting terrorism will remain unchanged and it is willing to join hands with other countries to cooperate in this area,” it added.

In the phone conversation, Wang said China supports Pakistan and India to resolve the issue through dialogue as soon as possible and avoid an escalation of the situation.

“He called on both sides to collaborate on fighting terrorism and jointly safeguard the security and stability of South Asia,” the report said.

Meanwhile, the Pulwama terrorist attack and the listing of Azhar as a global terrorist by the UN is expected to prominently figure at the 16th RIC foreign ministers’ meeting being held here on Wednesday.

Besides attending the annual trilateral meeting, external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj would also hold bilateral talks with Chinese FM Wang and Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov on the sidelines of the meeting.

Swaraj’s meeting with Wang assumes significance as it will be the first high-level interaction between the two countries after the Pulwama terror attack and Tuesday’s air strike.

China, a veto-wielding member of the UNSC, has consistently blocked India, the US, the UK and France’s efforts to list Azhar as a global terrorist since 2016 but endorsed a scathing statement issued by UN Security Council on February 21 on the Pulwama attack.

Source: Hindustan Times

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