Archive for ‘Construction’

18/04/2019

Cambodian, Chinese entrepreneurs meet to explore business opportunities

PHNOM PENH, April 18 (Xinhua) — A Cambodian and Chinese entrepreneurs meeting was held here on Thursday, aiming at exploring opportunities for trade and investment, officials said.

The meeting brought together nearly 20 entrepreneurs from southwest China’s Sichuan province and about 20 Cambodian business executives.

Ek Sam Ol, president of the Cambodia-China Friendship Association, said that currently, many enterprises from Sichuan have been doing businesses in various sectors in Cambodia.

“The forum is a good opportunity for the entrepreneurs from both sides to exchange experiences and to explore opportunities for investments or business partnerships,” he said.

Sam Ol said China is currently the top foreign investor in Cambodia and Chinese investments have importantly contributed to socio-economic development in the country.

He said Chinese investments have focused on a variety of sectors including transport infrastructure, hydropower plants, industrial zones, garment and footwear factories, banking and finance, real estate and construction, agriculture, tourism, and airlines.

Source: Xinhua

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11/04/2019

Chinese State Councilor calls for enhanced production safety, fire control

CHINA-BEIJING-WANG YONG-PRODUCTION SAFETY-FIRE CONTROL (CN)

Chinese State Councilor Wang Yong (C, back) speaks at a meeting ahead of the central government’s tour of inspection on provincial governments in production safety and fire control in Beijing, capital of China, April 10, 2019. (Xinhua/Ding Haitao)

BEIJING, April 10 (Xinhua) — Chinese State Councilor Wang Yong stressed Wednesday that major accidents must be prevented and contained.

Efforts should be made to stabilize and improve production safety and fire control, Wang said at a meeting ahead of the central government’s tour of inspection on provincial governments in these fields.

The tour of inspection is an important institutional arrangement that focuses on the implementation of the central authorities’ decisions and plans in production safety and fire control, Wang said.

Local governments which failed to rectify their problems and saw recurring accidents will be strictly held accountable, Wang said.

A specific inspection will be held for work related to dangerous chemical products, while checks will be made in coal and non-coal mines, transport, construction and fire control.

Local governments should live up to their supervision duties and take effective prevention measures to fundamentally keep safety accidents from happening, Wang said.

Source: Xinhua

11/04/2019

China to enhance BRI cooperation with Croatia: premier

CROATIA-ZAGREB-CHINA-LI KEQIANG-PM-TALKS

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang (L, front) attends a grand welcome ceremony held by Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic (R, front) at the St. Mark’s Square in Zagreb, Croatia, April 10, 2019. Li held talks with Plenkovic in the Croatian capital of Zagreb on Wednesday. (Xinhua/Shen Hong)

ZAGREB, April 10 (Xinhua) — China is ready to enhance the synergy of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) with Croatia’s development strategies, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said on Wednesday.

Li made the remarks when holding talks with Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic in the Croatian capital of Zagreb.

Hailing the long-term friendship between the two countries, Li said China and Croatia have enjoyed a healthy and sound development of bilateral relations since the establishment of diplomatic ties.

He said China stands ready to work with Croatia to strengthen mutually beneficial and win-win cooperation and carry on friendship on the basis of mutual respect, equity and mutual trust, so as to explore new dimensions for bilateral relations and push forward bilateral cooperation to a new level.

On practical cooperation, Li said China is ready to expand the scale of two-way trade, boost the level of two-way investment, and increase the import of Croatian specialty products that suit the demands of the Chinese market, and deepen people-to-people exchanges including culture and tourism.

“China will support its companies to participate in the construction of Croatian ports and railways in line with market principles,” Li said.

The Chinese premier is scheduled to inspect the Peljesac Bridge project with his Croatian counterpart on Thursday. The bridge, which used European Union (EU) standards and funds, is contracted by a Chinese company through bidding.

“The Peljesac Bridge project is a model of tripartite cooperation among China, Croatia and the EU, and realizes mutual benefits and win-win results,” Li said.

Li stressed that the 16+1 cooperation mechanism has played an important role in enhancing cooperation between China and 16 Central and Eastern European Countries (CEEC) and cementing the European integration process.

China appreciates Croatia’s work on facilitating 16+1 cooperation and is ready to make joint efforts with Croatia toward a successful China-CEEC leaders’ meeting, Li said.

This is the first time ever by a Chinese premier to visit Croatia since the establishment of diplomatic ties.

Plenkovic welcomed Li on the visit and said Croatia stands ready to strengthen the understanding of China’s history and culture, share China’s development opportunities, support the building of the Belt and Road so as to benefit the two countries and peoples.

Noting the high-level development of bilateral relations, Plenkovic said Croatia and China will ink a series of cooperation documents during Premier Li’s visit, which demonstrates the latest achievements of practical cooperation between the two sides.

“The Peljesac Bridge is highly rated by the Croatian people and China is Croatia’s important partner on infrastructure construction,” said the Croatian prime minister, adding that Croatia is willing to further enhance cooperation with China in politics, economy, culture, tourism and port infrastructure.

Saying he is looking forward to co-chairing the eighth leaders’ meeting of China-CEEC, Plenkovic also commended positively the outcomes of the 21st China-EU leaders’ meeting and said as an EU member, Croatia stands ready to play an active and constructive role in cementing the development of EU-China ties.

After the meeting, Li and Plenkovic witnessed the signing of multiple bilateral cooperation documents in areas including trade and investment, tourism, quality inspection and sports. The two sides also released a joint communique between the two governments.

Prior to the meeting, Plenkovic held a grand welcome ceremony at the St. Mark’s Square for Li.

Source: Xinhua

09/04/2019

China’s bridge to North Korea opens 3 years after it was built – but why now?

  • Buses from the North make return trip to China on Monday, according to South Korean media
  • Opening of Jian-Manpo border crossing had been delayed during heightened tension over sanctions on the North
The bridge crosses the Yalu River on the border between China and North Korea. Photo: Kyodo
The bridge crosses the Yalu River on the border between China and North Korea. Photo: Kyodo
China and North Korea have finally opened a border bridge built between the two countries in 2016, in a potential boost to the North’s economy as Beijing tries to balance its concerns about its neighbour against ongoing international pressure for it to denuclearise.
A border checkpoint and bridge connecting the Chinese city of Jian with North Korea’s Manpo were open on Monday, following three years of delays since they were built.

Four buses crossed the border from North Korea in the morning and returned to the hermit kingdom about an hour later carrying about 120 people, who included tourists, according to South Korean media. It was not known whether the people travelled from North Korea or boarded the buses in China.

The bridge had remained closed on its completion in 2016, with Beijing taking a cautious approach at a time when it faced international scrutiny of whether it was fully implementing UN Security Council sanctions on the North.

to enforce the sanctions after a UN committee accused it and South Korea of being reluctant to enforce a ban on coal exports from the North.

But there has been a change in the status of the Jian-Manpo border crossing – built near to where Kim’s father, the former leader Kim Jong-il, was reported to have crossed the border in 2010 in a rare trip outside his country.

Kim’s second summit with Trump in February collapsed against a backdrop of continued economic struggles for North Korea. Beijing is wary of instability around the North Korean regime posing a threat to the security of China’s northeast, fearing an influx of refugees into one of its poorest regions.

North Korea’s trade has suffered to the extent that the Korea Development Institute said in February it had almost collapsed.

The North’s exports to China – which accounts for the bulk of its trade – plunged 87 per cent year-on-year in 2018, according to data compiled by South Korea’s Korea

International Trade Association, while there have been myriad other economic problems at a time when Kim has vowed to deliver on the economy.

In April last year, Kim announced that Pyongyang was moving away from its twin-track “byungjin” policy of developing nuclear weapons and the economy simultaneously to focus exclusively on rebuilding the economy.

Boo Seung-chan, adjunct professor at the Yonsei Institute for North Korean Studies in Seoul, said the bridge’s primary use would be to boost tourism in North Korea, which is not restricted by the UN sanctions.

“Tourism is the only sector left for the North Koreans to earn foreign revenue,” Boo said. “Besides, China can only offer its financial help through the tourism sector as it does not wish to violate UN sanctions.

“China’s Korean peninsula policy is to maintain the stability of the region. It may also be drawing a road map for when sanctions may be lifted, finding its means to accelerate its economic engagement to increase its sphere of influence.”

Source: SCMP

06/03/2019

Huawei: The story of a controversial company

The African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa is a shiny spaceship-like structure that glistens in the afternoon sun.

With its accompanying skyscraper, it stands out in the Ethiopian capital.

Greetings in Mandarin welcome visitors as they enter the lifts, and the plastic palm trees bear the logos of the China Development Bank.

African Union HQ, Addis Ababa

African Union HQ, Addis Ababa

 

Everywhere, there are small indications that the building was made possible through Chinese financial aid.

In 2006, Beijing pledged $200m to build the headquarters. Completed in 2012, everything was custom-built by the Chinese – including a state-of-the-art computer system.

For several years, the building stood as a proud testament to ever-closer ties between China and Africa. Trade has rocketed over the past two decades, growing by about 20% a year, according to international consultancy McKinsey. China is Africa’s largest economic partner.

But in January 2018, French newspaper Le Monde Afrique dropped a bombshell.

It reported that the AU’s computer system had been compromised.

The newspaper, citing multiple sources, said that for five years, between the hours of midnight and 0200, data from the AU’s servers was transferred more than 8,000km away – to servers in Shanghai.

This had allegedly continued for 1,825 days in a row.

Le Monde Afrique reported that it had come to light in 2017, when a conscientious scientist working for the AU recorded an unusually high amount of computer activity on its servers during hours when the offices would have been deserted.

It was also reported that microphones and listening devices had been discovered in the walls and desks of the building, following a sweep for bugs.

The reaction was swift.

Both AU and Chinese officials publicly condemned the report as false and sensationalist – an attempt by the Western media to damage relations between a more assertive China and an increasingly independent Africa.

But Le Monde Afrique said that AU officials had privately expressed concerns about just how dependent they were on Chinese aid – and what the consequences of that could be.

In the midst of all of this, one fact remained largely unreported.

The main supplier of information and communication technology systems to the AU headquarters was China’s best-known telecoms equipment company – Huawei.

The company says it had “nothing” to do with any alleged breach.

Huawei “served as the key ICT provider inside the AU’s headquarters”, said Danielle Cave of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, in a review of the alleged incident.

Huawei headquarters in Shenzhen, China

Huawei headquarters in Shenzhen, China

“This doesn’t mean the company was complicit in any theft of data. But… it’s hard to see how – given Huawei’s role in providing equipment and key ICT services to the AU building and specifically to the AU’s data centre – the company could have remained completely unaware of the apparent theft of large amounts of data, every day, for five years.”

There is no evidence to indicate that Huawei’s telecoms network equipment was ever used by the Chinese government – or anyone else – to gain access to the data of their customers.

Indeed, no-one has ever gone on record to confirm that the AU system was compromised in the first place.

But these reports played into years of suspicions about Huawei – that a large Chinese company might find itself unduly influenced by the Chinese government.

Ren and the rise of Huawei

“When I first started out 30 years ago… we didn’t really have any telephones. The only phones we had were those hand-cranked phones that you see in old World War II films. We were pretty undeveloped then.”

Huawei’s founder and chairman Ren Zhengfei is reminiscing to the BBC about the origins of the world’s second-biggest smartphone firm, while sitting in the Huawei headquarters in Shenzhen – a symbol of the success that he’s worked his whole lifetime for.

A long marbled staircase, covered in plush red carpet, greets you as you first walk in.

At the top of the stairs, a giant painting depicts a traditional Chinese New Year scene.

Inside Huawei's Shenzhen HQ

Inside Huawei’s Shenzhen HQ

A few kilometres away in Dongguan, Huawei’s latest campus is even more eye-catching.

The site – designed to accommodate the company’s 25,000 R&D staff – comprises 12 “villages”, each of which recreates the architecture of a different European city, among them Paris, Bologna and Granada.

It’s as if Silicon Valley had been re-imagined by Walt Disney. Long corridors of Roman pillars and picturesque French cafes adorn the campus, with a train connecting the different areas, running through manicured gardens and past an artificial lake.

It’s a world away from the environment that Mr Ren found himself in when he first started the company in 1987. “I founded Huawei when China began to implement its reform and opening up policy,” he says. “At that time, China was shifting from a planned economy to a market economy. Not only people like myself, but even the most senior government officials, did not have the vaguest idea of what a market economy was. It seemed it was hard to survive.”

Ren was born in 1944 in Southern China – a tumultuous, chaotic place, one of the poorest regions in an already destitute country.

For a long time, hardship was all he ever knew.

He was from a family of seven children. “They were very poor,” says David De Cremer, who has co-written a book on Ren and Huawei.

“I think hardship is something that you can see throughout his life, and which he keeps emphasising himself.”

To escape that life of poverty and drudgery, Ren did what many young Chinese men of that era did. He joined the army.

Soldiers from the People's Liberation Army, 1972

Soldiers from the People’s Liberation Army, 1972

“I was a very low-ranking officer in the People’s Liberation Army,” he says. “I served in an ordinary construction project, not a field unit. At the time, I was a technician of a company in the military, and then I became an engineer.”

He left the military in 1983 when China began to downsize its forces, and went into the electronics business.

By his own admission, he wasn’t a great businessman at first.

“I was someone who had been in the military all my life at the time, used to doing what I was told,” he says. “Suddenly, I began to work in a market economy. I was at a total loss. So I too suffered losses, I too was deceived, and I was cheated.”

But he was quick to learn, and was a keen student of Western business practices and European history.

“I did research on what exactly a market economy was all about,” he says. “I read books on laws, including those about European and US laws. At that time, there were very few books on Chinese laws, and I had to read those on European and US laws.”

Five years later, he founded Huawei – the name can be translated as “splendid achievement” or “China is able” – to sell simple telecoms equipment to the rural Chinese market. Within a few years, Huawei was developing and producing the equipment itself.

Sometime in the early 90s, Huawei won a government contract to provide telecoms equipment for the People’s Liberation Army.

By 1995, the company was generating sales of around US$220,000, mainly from selling to the rural market.

The following year Huawei was given the status of a Chinese “national champion”. In practice, this meant the government closed the market to foreign competition.

At a time when China’s economy was growing by an average of 10% per year, this was no small advantage. But it was only when Huawei started to expand overseas in 2000, that it really saw its sales soar.

In 2002, Huawei made US$552m from its international market sales. By 2005 its international market contracts exceeded its domestic business for the first time.

Ren’s early days in business instilled in him a desire to protect his company from the whims and fancies of the stock market. Huawei is privately held and employee-owned. This gave Ren the power to plough more money back into research and development. Each year, Huawei spends US$20bn on R&D – one of the biggest such budgets in the world.

“Publicly listed companies have to pay a lot of attention to their balance sheets,” he says. “They can’t invest too much, otherwise profits will drop and so will their share prices. At Huawei, we fight for our ideals. We know that if we fertilise our ‘soil’ it will become more bountiful. That’s how we’ve managed to pull ahead and succeed.”

One story from the early days of the company tells how Ren was cooking for his staff (he loves to cook, or so the story goes). Suddenly he rushed out of the kitchen and announced to the room: “Huawei will be a top three player in the global communications market 20 years from now!”

And that’s exactly what happened. In fact, those ambitions were surpassed.

Today, Huawei is the world’s biggest seller of network telecommunications equipment.

From aspiring to be a company like Apple, it now sells more smartphones than Apple.

But shadows have continued to loom over Huawei’s international success.

Ren and Huawei’s links to the Chinese Communist Party have raised suspicions that the company owes its meteoric rise to its powerful political connections in China. The US has accused Huawei of being a tool of the Chinese government.

It’s an accusation which Ren denies. “Please don’t think that Huawei has become what it is today because we have special connections,” he says. “Even 100% state-owned companies have failed. Do good connections mean you will succeed then? Huawei’s success is still very much due to our hard work.”

The case against

It was 1 December 2018. US President Donald Trump and China’s President Xi Jinping were dining on grilled sirloin followed by caramel rolled pancakes at the G20 summit in Buenos Aires.

They had a lot to discuss. The US and China were in the middle of a trade war – imposing tariffs on each other’s goods – and growth forecasts for both countries had recently been cut as a result. This was adding to the fear of a slowing global economy.

In the event, the two leaders agreed a truce in the trade war, with Donald Trump tweeting that “Relations with China have taken a BIG leap forward!”

Xi Jinping and Donald Trump at dinner, December 2018

Xi Jinping and Donald Trump at dinner, December 2018

But thousands of kilometres north in Canada, an arrest was taking place that would throw doubt on this rapprochement.

Meng Wanzhou, Huawei’s chief financial officer and Ren Zhengfei’s eldest daughter, had been detained by Canadian officials while transferring between flights at Vancouver airport.

The arrest had come at the request of the US, who accused her of breaking sanctions against Iran.

“When she was detained, as her father, my heart broke,” says Ren, visibly emotional. “How could I watch my child suffer like this? But what happened, has happened. We can only depend on the law to solve this problem.”

Meng Wanzhou being driven to court in Canada

Meng Wanzhou being driven to court in Canada

Huawei’s problems were just beginning. Nearly two months later, the US Department of Justice filed two indictments against Huawei and Ms Meng.

Under the first indictment, Huawei and Ms Meng were charged with misleading banks and the US government about their business in Iran.

The second indictment – against Huawei – involved criminal charges including obstruction of justice and the attempted theft of trade secrets.

Both Huawei and Ms Meng deny the charges.

January 2019: Acting US attorney general Matthew Whittaker announces charges against Huawei and Meng Wanzhou

January 2019: Acting US attorney general Matthew Whittaker announces charges against Huawei and Meng Wanzhou

The charge of stealing trade secrets centres on a robotic tool – developed by T-Mobile – known as Tappy.

According to legal documents, Huawei had tried to buy Tappy, a device which mimicked human fingers by tapping mobile phone screens rapidly to test responsiveness.

T-Mobile was in partnership with Huawei at the time, but it rebuffed the Chinese firm’s offers, fearing it would use the technology to make phones for T-Mobile’s competitors.

It’s alleged that one of Huawei’s US employees then smuggled Tappy’s robotic arm into his satchel so that he could send its details to colleagues in China.

After the alleged theft was discovered, the Huawei employee claimed that the arm had mistakenly fallen into his bag.

Huawei claimed that the employee had been acting alone, and the case was settled out of court in 2014. But the latest case is built on email trails between managers in China and the company’s US employees, linking Huawei management to the alleged theft.

The indictment also details evidence of a bonus scheme from 2013, offering Huawei employees financial rewards for stealing confidential information from competitors.

Huawei has denied any such scheme exists.

Meng Wanzhou, photographed in 2014

Meng Wanzhou, photographed in 2014

This is not the first time that Huawei has been accused of stealing trade secrets. Over the years companies like Cisco, Nortel and Motorola have all pointed the finger at the Chinese firm.

But US fears about Huawei are about much more than industrial espionage. For more than a decade, the US government has seen the company as little more than an arm of the Chinese Communist Party.

These concerns have been brought to the fore with the advent of “fifth generation” or 5G mobile internet, which promises download speeds 10 or 20 times faster than at present, and much greater connectivity between devices.

As the world’s biggest telecoms infrastructure provider, Huawei is one of the companies best placed to build new 5G networks. But the US has warned its intelligence partners that awarding contracts to Huawei would be tantamount to allowing the Chinese spy on them.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo recently cautioned against Huawei, saying, “If a country adopts this and puts it in some of their critical information systems, we won’t be able to share information with them.”

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo

The UK, Germany and Canada are reviewing whether Huawei’s products pose a security threat.

Australia went a step further last year, and banned equipment suppliers “likely to be subject to extrajudicial directions from a foreign government”.

Huawei was not mentioned by name, but Danielle Cave of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute says the company posed a national security risk because of its government links.

She cites an article in Chinese law that makes it impossible for any company to refuse to help the Chinese Communist Party in intelligence gathering.

“Admittedly, what is missing from this debate is the smoking gun,” she says.

“For the average person who has a Huawei smartphone it’s not a big deal. But if you’re a Western government that has key national security to protect – why would you allow this access to a company that is in the political system that China is in?”

For his part, Ren says that Huawei’s resources have never and would never be used to spy for the Chinese government.

“The Chinese government has clearly said that it won’t ask companies to install backdoors,” he says. A “backdoor” is a term used to describe a secret entry point in software or a computer system that gives access to the person or entity who installed it to the inner workings of the system.

“Huawei will not do it either,” he continues. “Our sales revenues are now hundreds of billions of dollars. We are not going to risk the disgust of our country and our customers all over the world because of something like that. We will lose all our business. I’m not going to take that risk.”

Xi’s China

Zhou Daiqi is Huawei’s chief ethics and compliance officer.

He’s been with the company for nearly 25 years, in a number of different positions – chief engineer, director of the hardware department, head of the research centre in Xi’an, according to his biography on the company’s website. He is also understood to combine his high-ranking executive duties with another role – party secretary of Huawei’s Communist Party committee.

All companies in China are required by law to have a Communist Party committee.

Zhou Daiqi's profile on Huawei's website

Zhou Daiqi’s profile on Huawei’s website

The official line is that they exist to ensure that employees uphold the country’s moral and social values. Representatives of the committee are also often tasked with helping workers with financial problems.

But critics of China’s one-party system argue that they allow the state to exert control on corporate China. And they say the level of this control has increased in recent years.

“[President] Xi Jinping is exerting greater control over the business community in China,” says Elliott Zaagman, who regularly advises Chinese companies on their PR strategy. “As these companies gain power and influence overseas, the party doesn’t want to lose control over them.”

Ren, however, argues that the role of Huawei’s Communist Party committee is far less important than many in the West believe.

“[It] serves only to educate its employees,” he says. “It is not involved in any business decisions.”

In China, most chief executives are Communist Party members.

Every year, they dutifully turn up to the National People’s Congress along with local and national party chiefs, officials and chief executives.

It’s where the big economic decisions are voted on – although no proposal is put forward which hasn’t already been agreed upon.

Still, big CEOs come to show their commitment to the party, and to contribute to working papers that are meant to help the government understand the concerns of the business community.

Being a member of the party is very much a networking opportunity – in the way one would join a business association.

Elliott Zaagman argues that this is a system that demands loyalty.

“There is no separation from the party and the state,” he says.

“The system in China encourages the lack of transparency in companies like Huawei.”

The worry is that these close links mean that if the Communist Party asked a company to do something, they would have no choice but to comply.

And if that company is one that is involved in sensitive global telecoms infrastructure projects, it’s easy to see why Western observers would be worried.

There is no evidence to indicate that Huawei is in any way under the orders of the Chinese government, or that Beijing has any plans to dictate business plans and strategy at Huawei – particularly when it comes to spying.

But the way in which the Chinese Communist Party has robustly defended Huawei has raised questions about how independent the company is of its influence.

For example, Beijing stated that Ms Meng’s detention was a rights abuse .

And while her extradition case to the US was moving forward, China detained two Canadian citizens and accused them of stealing state secrets. Critics say the detentions are linked to Ms Meng’s arrest.

December 2018: Chinese police patrol outside Canada's embassy in Beijing

December 2018: Chinese police patrol outside Canada’s embassy in Beijing

While not commenting on the arrest of the Canadians, Ren says China’s defence of Huawei is understandable.

“It is the Chinese government’s duty to protect its people,” he says. “If the US attempts to gain competitive edge by undermining China’s most outstanding hi-tech talent, then it is understandable if the Chinese government, in turn, protects its hi-tech companies.”

Over the past few years, there have been signs of a bigger push by the government to get private companies, and in particular tech firms, to cooperate with party rules – even when they are firmly resistant.

 A Didi Chuxing logo adorns a building in Hangzhou, China

 A Didi Chuxing logo adorns a building in Hangzhou, China

China’s ride-hailing giant Didi Chuxing’s troubles are an example of the struggles Chinese firms face when they try to uphold their independence in the face of government pressure.

Chinese attitudes to data collection and data privacy are different to those in the West – many people don’t care if businesses have access to their data, arguing that it adds to the convenience of life and work.

Government access to data in China is not the free-for-all that many outside of China assume it to be

Samm Sacks, CSIS

So it wasn’t unusual when, after the murders of two of its passengers by Didi drivers, regulators used the scandal to force Didi to share more corporate data with the government. But Didi resisted – citing customer privacy. Under Chinese law, it had no choice but to comply.

When it did, it handed over “three boxes of data printed on paper, including 95 hard copies for authorities to review”.

According to Samm Sacks of the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), the case demonstrates that “government access to data in China is not the free-for-all that many outside China assume it to be”.

She says this indicates that there appears to be “a kind of tug of war between the government and companies over data”.

How this plays out will determine how Chinese companies are viewed by foreign governments when they do business overseas.

Companies like Huawei have grown up in a system where to survive and thrive they needed strong links to the Chinese government – there was and is no other choice. But these links could harm their reputation abroad.

“It’s two different systems,” says Zaagman. “Think of it like an electrical outlet. China’s plug doesn’t fit in to the outlets we have in the West.”

What’s at stake

“Basically you want to connect to everything that can be connected.”

Zhu Peiying, head of Huawei’s 5G wireless labs, is showing off devices that can connect to the new technology. From a smart toothbrush that collects data about how well you brush your teeth, to a smart cup that reminds you when you should drink some water, this is a world where everything you can think of is being measured and analysed.

At its most sophisticated, everything in entire cities would be connected – driverless cars, the temperature of buildings, the speed of public transport – the list is endless.

Huawei is thought to be a year ahead of its competitors in terms of its technological expertise and what it can offer customers, according to industry sources.

It’s also thought that the company can offer prices that are about 10% cheaper than its competitors, although critics claim this is because of state support.

Ren dismisses this, saying that Huawei doesn’t receive government subsidies.

He says the real reason behind the US resistance to Huawei is its superior technology.

“There’s no way the US can crush us,” he says. “The world needs Huawei because we are more advanced. Even if they persuade more countries not to use us temporarily we could just scale things down a bit.”

Many analysts say that Huawei’s exclusion from US networks could actually cause the US to fall behind in its 5G capabilities.

“It would mean we wouldn’t be able to participate in any blended network [using Huawei] in Europe or Asia,” says Samm Sacks of CSIS. “That would put us at a significant disadvantage.”

What this would mean in reality is a world of two internets – or what analysts are calling a “digital iron curtain” – dividing the world into parts that do business with Chinese companies like Huawei, and those that don’t.

Because of US pressure on its allies, Huawei has been on an aggressive public relations campaign to win over customers and government stakeholders.

In recent days, Vodafone’s boss Nick Read called on the US to share any evidence it has about Huawei, while Andrus Ansip, the European Commission’s vice president for the digital single market, said in a tweet that he had met with Huawei’s rotating CEO to discuss the importance of being open and transparent, as they explored ways of working together.

But suspicions about Huawei remain.

One security firm reports a sharp rise in inquiries by Asian government clients about Huawei.

“Some have asked us how much they should worry about whether Huawei is really a liability,” says an analyst who consults to Asian governments, on condition of anonymity.

Ren is sanguine about such concerns.

“For countries who believe in them [suspicions about Huawei] we will hold off,” he says. “For countries who feel Huawei is trustworthy, we may move a little faster. The world is so big. We can’t walk across every corner of it.”

But this is about more than just one company or one CEO and his family.

Increasingly, this is perceived as a battle between two world orders, and which one is the future.

In the early days of China opening up, US presidents like George HW Bush espoused the merits of engagement.

“No nation on Earth has discovered a way to import the world’s goods and services while stopping foreign ideas at the border,” he said in a 1991 speech. “Just as the democratic idea has transformed nations on every continent, so, too, change will inevitably come to China.”

1989: George HW Bush in Beijing - he encouraged economic engagement with China

1989: George HW Bush in Beijing – he encouraged economic engagement with China

Previous US administrations believed that economic engagement in China would lead to China following a freer, more “liberal” path.

There’s no denying China has made remarkable strides in the past 40 years. The economy grew by an annual average of 10% for three decades, helping to lift 800 million people out of poverty. It is now the second-largest economy in the world, only surpassed by the US.

Some estimates put China’s economy ahead of America’s by 2030.

It achieved this while maintaining one-party rule and the supremacy of the Communist Party.

But its success has raised concerns that it is only possible with a huge amount of government control over the country’s companies. The fear is that control could be used to achieve the Communist Party’s goals – which are at this point unclear.

“It’s a double-edged sword for China,” says Danielle Cave. “[Because of its laws] the Chinese Communist Party has made it virtually impossible for Chinese companies to expand without attracting understandable and legitimate suspicion.”

Added to this, China has become more authoritarian under Xi Jinping’s rule.

President Xi Jinping 

President Xi Jinping 

“Xi is systematically undermining virtually every feature that made China so distinct and helped it work so well in the past,” writes Jonathan Tepperman, editor in chief of Foreign Policy.

“His efforts may boost his own power and prestige in the short term and reduce some forms of corruption. On balance, however, Xi’s campaign will have disastrous long-term consequences for his country and the world.”

But Ren dismisses this, insisting that China is more open than ever before.

“If this meeting took place 30 years ago,” he says of our interview, “it would have been very dangerous for me. Today, I can be straightforward when answering difficult questions. This shows that China has a more open political environment.”

Still, Ren is hopeful of the direction China will take in the future.

“China has more or less tried to close itself off from the outside world for 5,000 years,” he says. “Yet we had found ourselves poor, lagging behind other nations. It was only in the past 30 years since Deng Xiaoping opened China’s doors to the world that China has become more prosperous. Therefore, China must continue to move forward on the path of reform and opening-up.”

In one of Huawei’s vast campus sites across Shenzen, lies a man-made lake. Swimming in these serene waters are two black swans.

There is a story that Ren put the birds here to remind employees of “black swan” events – unpredictable and catastrophic financial eventualities that are impossible to prepare for. He dismisses this as an urban myth, but it’s hard not to read something into it.

For Huawei, and Ren, these are highly uncertain times with no way of telling what lies ahead.

Source: The BBC

26/05/2017

India opens longest bridge on China border – BBC News

India has inaugurated a 9.15km (5.68-mile) bridge over the Lohit river, easily its longest ever, which connects the disputed state of Arunachal Pradesh with the north-eastern state of Assam.China claims Arunachal Pradesh as its own, and refers to it as “southern Tibet”.

Beijing recently strongly objected to India’s decision to allow Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama to visit the state and has also protested against the development of military infrastructure there.

But India has defended its right to do so.”With China getting more and more aggressive, it is time we strengthened our physical infrastructure to defend our territory,” India’s junior Home Minister Khiren Rijiju, a native of Arunachal Pradesh, told journalists.China renames places disputed with India

Why India is planning a new road near the China border

China accused of Indian incursion

Mr Rijiju had earlier said that “Arunachal Pradesh is part of India and that reality will not change, regardless of who likes it or not”.

Construction of the Dhola Sadiya bridge began in 2011.

“It was real tough work, a major engineering challenge, and the speed was slightly affected by some compensation issues,” said an official from Navayuga Engineering, the company which constructed the bridge.

India has defended its right to upgrade its military defences along the border with China

However, it was completed on schedule.

Apart from the bridge, India is constructing a two-lane trans-Arunachal highway, upgrading a World War Two vintage road and undertaking a further four projects to widen roads.

Another project, to upgrade a chain of advance landing grounds for heavy lift transport aircraft, has also moved at some speed. This is expected to improve India’s strategic airlift capabilities.”We need infrastructure to move up troops and supplies if we have to fight the Chinese and this bridge is a great thing,” retired Major General Gaganjit Singh, who has commanded a division in the state, told the BBC.”India did not develop physical infrastructure in Arunachal Pradesh for two decades after the 1962 war as many stupidly believed the Chinese would use the roads if they attacked again. But now we are on the right track.

“India’s Home Minister Rajnath Singh has also stressed the importance of developing physical infrastructure in the state, as part of efforts to defend a long border with China.”We want peace, but peace with honour. We need to be capable of deterring anyone who may think we are weak,” Mr Singh told members of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police force that guards parts of the frontier with China.

His remarks followed Beijing’s strident protests against the “development of military infrastructure in a disputed province”.

Officials hope the bridge will also facilitate development and increase tourism

India has already raised two mountain divisions and is going ahead with raising a strike corps to beef up its defences against China.

“But troop strength is useless if we don’t have the roads and bridges to move them fast when we are threatened. Moving them with heavy equipment quickly to the battlefront holds the key to victory,” Major General Singh said.

A military engineer told the BBC that the Dhola-Sadiya bridge was capable of supporting 60-ton battle tanks.

Locals are also excited about the opening.

“It was unimaginable that this crossing could be bridged at a point where six rivers meet, all flowing into the mighty Brahmaputra,” Gunjan Saharia, a resident, told the BBC.

“I promise this will not just be a military thing, it will help develop the economy of remote regions of Assam and Arunachal, and it will attract tourists in large numbers,” Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal said.

The bridge will also reduce travel time by as much as eight hours for communities on either side of the river.

“It will be great for us, as much as it will be great for the army,” Dimbeswar Gogoi of Sadiya told the BBC.

Source: India opens longest bridge on China border – BBC News

03/05/2017

China Focus: Key component of world’s longest cross-sea bridge installed – Xinhua | English.news.cn

Chinese engineers installed a 6,000-tonne key part of the world’s longest cross-sea bridge linking Hong Kong, Zhuhai and Macao.

A gigantic crane, which was transformed from a tanker, hoists a 6,000-ton key structure of the world’s longest cross-sea bridge linking Hong Kong, Zhuhai and Macao, May 2, 2017. The wedge, 12-meter-long and weighing more than 25 Airbus A380 jets, was lowered to connect the immersed tubes of the underground tunnel of the bridge. The 55-kilometer bridge connects Zhuhai in Guangdong Province with Hong Kong and Macao. It includes a 22.9-km bridge and 6.7-km underground tunnel. (Xinhua/Liu Dawei)

The wedge, 12 meters long, and weighing more than 25 Airbus A380 jets, was lowered to connect the tubes which will form the tunnel section of the bridge, said Lin Ming, chief engineer of the island and tunnel section of the bridge.

The 55-kilometer bridge connects Zhuhai in Guangdong Province with Hong Kong and Macao. It includes a 22.9-km bridge and 6.7-km tunnel.

Before the wedge was installed on Tuesday, 33 immersed tubes, each 180 meters long and weighing 80,000 tonnes, had been installed.

“There is only one wedge for a tunnel, and we cannot afford to fail in its installation. It took two years to prepare for today,” said Chen Yue, director of the chief engineer’s office of the bridge’s island and tunnel section. The installation procedure took more than 10 hours.

“The margin of error for the wedge is 1.5 centimeters. We have to measure precisely the influence of wind, current and buoyancy force,” said Lin.

“It is like putting a needle through a hole in the sea — a truly unprecedented event in the history of transportation,” Lin said.

A gigantic crane, which was transformed from a tanker, was used to hoist the wedge, lowering it to the desired destination between the tubes.The wedge will be welded and finished by June, Lin said.

By the end of the year, the bridge will be open to traffic, said Zhu Yongling, director of the bridge management bureau.

Construction began in December of 2009 at Zhuhai. The Y-shaped bridge connects Lantau Island in Hong Kong with Zhuhai and Macao.

Tan Guoshun, an expert in bridge construction who has participated in many big projects, told Xinhua that breakthroughs were made in construction management, technique, safety and environmental protection.

For instance, the bridge is designed to be used for 120 years. “Anticorrosion and quake-proof measures were improved so as to make the goal possible,” he said.

The bridge was pieced together with different parts built in different locations like building blocks. “The progress of China’s equipment manufacturing industry made this construction method possible,” said Zhong Huihong, deputy chief engineer of the bridge management bureau.

Take the floating crane as an example. In the 1990s, China’s floating cranes could only handle about one hundred tonnes. “Now their capacity has reached 10,000 tonnes,” Zhong said.

“Some foreigners believe that completion of the bridge marks a leap forward of China’s construction industry,” said Su Quanke, chief engineer of the bridge management bureau.

The bridge will cut land travel time between Hong Kong and Zhuhai from three hours on the road to a 30-minute drive.

“As economic exchanges between Hong Kong, Macao and Zhuhai deepen, an urban agglomeration has formed. The bridge will further boost the interconnection,” said Zheng Tianxiang, vice president of the Asia-Pacific Innovation Economic Research Institute.

Guo Wanda, executive vice president of the Shenzhen-based China Development Institute, believes that the bridge could also help boost the industrial gradient transfer of inland provinces like Guizhou, Yunnan, Hunan and Jiangxi.

“The area will become an important hub of the Belt and Road Initiative,” he said.

Source: China Focus: Key component of world’s longest cross-sea bridge installed – Xinhua | English.news.cn

28/02/2017

Building Binge: ADB Calls for More Infrastructure Across Asia – China Real Time Report – WSJ

BEIJING–Asia needs at least $1.5 trillion of roads, bridges and other infrastructure annually between now and 2030 to maintain its growth momentum, a doubling of earlier projections, according to the Asian Development Bank.

In a report released Tuesday, the Manila-based development bank said the tab would run even higher if climate change is factored in: Upgrading power plants, transport systems and other facilities would boost regional investment by another $241 billion annually among some 45 Asia and Pacific countries.

Infrastructure has gained favor as a way to boost flagging growth following the 2009 global financial crisis. U.S. President Donald Trump has vowed to spend $1 trillion over a 10-year period rebuilding U.S. roads and bridges. China spent 15.2 trillion yuan [$2.2 trillion] in infrastructure fixed-asset investment in 2016 alone. The world’s second-biggest economy is promoting its infrastructure-led growth model, creating the Beijing-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, which touts itself as a more efficient alternative to the likes of the World Bank and ADB.

Countries that fail to invest in infrastructure may see economic growth pinched by bottlenecks and lackluster job-creation. The ADB’s current projections represent a doubling of the $750 billion in annual infrastructure requirements the bank forecast in 2009 for the 2010-2020 period. The Asia-Pacific region currently invests around $880 billion annually in infrastructure, according to ADB.Governments currently pay around 92% of the cost of infrastructure in the region, the bank estimates in its report. Boosting spending levels, it said, is going to require tax, regulatory and institutional changes to draw in the private sector.

“Governments can get more bang out of their infrastructure investment,” said ADB economist Rana Hasan. Mr. Hasan acknowledged that the Asian region is unlikely to spend the full $1.7 trillion annually, but said the ADB hopes its recommendations can bring governments closer to those levels. “They need to make it more attractive for the private sector,” he said.

Of the estimated $26 trillion in projects required between 2016 and 2030 to bolster economic output, alleviate poverty and respond to climate change, $14.7 trillion is needed for the power sector, $8.4 trillion for transport, $2.3 trillion for telecommunications and $800 billion for water and sanitation projects, the report said.While acknowledging the need for better and more infrastructure, some economists caution that corruption and politics can significantly undercut the economic benefits of big building initiatives.

“Most developing countries could use more infrastructure. But the problem is not a lack of demand. It’s a lack of credibility,” said Guanghua School of Management professor Michael Pettis. “If your debt gets too high, you start running into debt-servicing problems, defaults and other problems.”China has relied on infrastructure investment as a form of economic stimulus since the global financial crisis in 2009. Since then, local government debt, much of it to fund infrastructure, has risen by two-thirds, according to Standard & Poor’s Financial Services LLC. That debt stood at more than 41% of economic output in 2015, according to Bank of America Merrill Lynch.Beijing has also struggled to attract private investors. Though it has strongly promoted public-private partnerships, some have stumbled during implementation, many due to mismatched expectations of private companies and the state sector.

More favorable reviews have been given to China’s ambitious plans to modernize the ancient Silk Road trade routes. Known as “One Belt, One Road,” the program envisions a network of ports, bridges, rail lines, industrial parks and telecommunication links linking China to the rest of Asia, Europe and points beyond.

The large sums have caught the attention of foreign engineering and equipment companies such as Caterpillar, ABB Group and Vermeer Corp., which are hoping for a slice of future projects.

Source: Building Binge: ADB Calls for More Infrastructure Across Asia – China Real Time Report – WSJ

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12/01/2017

Edifice Complex: China Is the World’s Largest Skyscraper Factory, Again – China Real Time Report – WSJ

China’s love for megatowers has hit another high.

For the ninth year running, China topped the world last year for the largest number of new skyscrapers 656 feet tall (200 meters) or taller.

A record 84 high-rises were completed in the country out of 128 globally, according to a report by the U.S.-based Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat, which conferred the top ranking on China. Hundreds more are in China’s pipeline for the coming years, with the 1,965-foot Ping An Finance Centre in Shenzhen poised to become the second tallest in the country if finished as planned this year (Shanghai Tower in China’s business capital is the tallest.).

By comparison, seven skyscrapers of comparable height were built last year in the U.S.

Once seen as a sign of China’s progress, the soaring supply of skyscrapers is becoming a symbol of the slowing Chinese economy. Overall office vacancy rates are inching higher as demand wanes from domestic companies facing higher costs and multinational firms cutting back expansion plans.

In China, companies have generally been slow to lease, renting 25% less overall office space over the first three quarters of 2016 compared with a year earlier, due to worries about economic growth and the flight of peer-to-peer lending firms after a regulatory crackdown, according to real-estate broker CBRE Group. The 121-story Shanghai Tower is a prominent example of struggles with leasing.

So why hasn’t momentum slowed?

Partly, it is because local governments in China, hoping to meet economic-growth targets, have a strong incentive to sell long-term leases to developers, who in turn may seek quick returns by building as much rentable space as possible per land parcel, says Daniel Safarik, China director for the Council on Tall Buildings.

“There is also a strong incentive for leaders of large cities to show economic progress in even more tangible ways, such as building the skyline,” Mr. Safarik said.

Developers were particularly aggressive in Shenzhen, a tech hub where 11 high-rises 656 feet or taller were built last year, more than in any country besides China. Four towers of similar height were built in New York City last year.

Office-leasing troubles are starting to surface in the city, according to a third-quarter report from real estate broker Savills. The huge supply delayed some office-project launches, the broker said. Meanwhile, the overall amount of available space that was leased in the third quarter fell 35% from the previous quarter.

The city-wide vacancy rose to 9.9%, compared with the 9.2% average for China’s four first-tier cities, which include Shenzhen. CBRE said in a report that the rate may climb further with more buildings being completed over the next six months.

Office demand has been even more slack in second-tier cities, typically including provincial capitals and other large municipalities. The office vacancy rate for them collectively was 28.3% in the third quarter, CBRE said. In Chongqing, a fast-growing city in central China, the city-wide office vacancy rate was 43% at the end of the third quarter.

Source: Edifice Complex: China Is the World’s Largest Skyscraper Factory, Again – China Real Time Report – WSJ

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16/12/2016

More Trump-Branded Projects Set to Sprout Up Across India – India Real Time – WSJ

India is set to get more Trump-branded projects as local developers seek to capitalize on the brand.

A story from The Wall Street Journal Friday took a look at the many projects around the world connected to the U.S. President-elect Donald Trump, including those in India.

Unimark Group, a developer based in Kolkata, has tied up to rebrand a previously planned residential apartment building in the eastern city into a Trump-branded project.

The project is being redesigned to make it better and more luxurious to fit with Trump standards, said Dipanjan Ray, head of marketing at Unimark.

He said the project is still in planning stage, so they aren’t marketing it yet. When they do, he doesn’t doubt Mr. Trump’s election as the next U.S. president will help sales as it has elevated brand awareness in India.

“People were not so aware of Mr. Trump,” a year ago, Mr. Ray said. “He is well known to everybody right now.”

The Trump Organization has also signed up with developer M3M India Pvt. Ltd., to build a residential building in the bustling New Delhi suburb of Gurgaon, according to two people familiar with the matter. The deal was done prior to Mr. Trump’s election, according to both people, but has yet to be formally announced.

In April, Trump announced a tie-up with another developer Ireo to build an office building in Gurgaon. A spokesman for Ireo wouldn’t comment on the status of that project.

Panchshil Realty, a developer in the western Indian town of Pune, finished building the first Trump Towers in India earlier this year. The price tag for the fancy flats: $2.2 million and some are still available.

The developer had been planning another project with the Trump brand name. Sagar Chordia, a director at Panchshil, told The Wall Street Journal in November that he was planning to meet with officials at The Trump Organization to discuss a new residential project, named Trump Riverwalk.

Mr. Chordia met with Mr. Trump in the U.S. after his election, but said that they didn’t discuss any business. He wouldn’t discuss the latest status of Trump Riverwalk but said it doesn’t have plans to launch any new projects at the moment as the property market in India is a bit soft.In Mumbai, developer Lodha Group is building a 75-story Trump Towers which has three-and four-bedroom apartments with options for indoor Jacuzzis and automatic toilets. The flats are listed at around $1.3 million onward, and some are still unsold.

Source: More Trump-Branded Projects Set to Sprout Up Across India – India Real Time – WSJ

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