Archive for ‘Europe’

03/06/2019

Chinese vice president visits Germany, vows closer cooperation

GERMANY-CHINA-WANG QISHAN-VISIT

Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan meets with German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier in Berlin, Germany, May, 31, 2019. Wang Qishan paid a visit to Germany from Thursday to Sunday at the invitation of the German Federal Government. (Xinhua/Rao Aimin)

BERLIN, June 2 (Xinhua) — Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan paid a visit to Germany from Thursday to Sunday at the invitation of the German Federal Government.

During his visit in Berlin, Wang met with German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Chancellor Angela Merkel and Foreign Minister Heiko Maas separately.

When meeting with Steinmeier, Wang said that China and Germany were both major world economies and major countries with great influence. The relations between the two countries have gone beyond bilateral scope and bear global significance.

Wang said in recent years the high-level contacts were frequent, and the cooperation in all fields has been constantly deepened, adding he is willing to push for new development of the all-around strategic partnership through his visit.

Noting the ties between China and Germany is currently facing a new situation, Wang called on the two countries to set a model of win-win cooperation for the world through deepening collaboration, to bring stability to the world through guiding the China-EU cooperation, and to strength the power to safeguard multilateralism through boosting global governance.

For his part, German President Steinmeier said that the current international landscape is complicated and turbulent, and multilateralism is under threat.

He noted that Germany highly values the ties with China, adding Germany is willing to strengthen communication and coordination with China at all levels, and to continue the pragmatic cooperations in Industry 4.0 and in other fields.

Germany and China, and Europe and China, should join hands to maintain the world peace and stability, free trade, and existing international orders, Steinmeier added.

When meeting with Merkel, Wang said China sticks to peaceful development, and will through steadily deepening reform and opening up, solve the existing problem of imbalance and insufficient development to meet people’s desire for a better life and to fulfill the promises of the party and the government to the people.

Wang said China cannot develop itself in isolation from the world, nor can the world develop without the 1.4 billion Chinese people, and China advocates countries to together build a community of shared future for humankind.

Facing the profound and complex changes in the international situation, China always insists on doing its own share firstly, staying calm and clear-headed, showing composure, shouldering responsibility and reacting rationally, he noted.

Wang called on China and Germany, as all-around strategic partners, to strengthen cooperation in building a more fair and reasonable global governance system, and to jointly face the uncertainties.

The Chinese vice president also said that China has always viewed Europe from a strategic height and with a long-term vision, and firmly supported the European integration. Wang added that China is a trustworthy partner for Europe to have dialogue on an equal footing.

Chancellor Merkel said Germany appreciates China’s great achievements in economic development and believes that China can definitely achieve the ambitious goals of eradicating poverty and finishing building a moderately prosperous society on schedule.

Facing the current complex and volatile international environment in which various new problems emerge, Merkel said, Germany is always committed to safeguarding the principle of multilateralism and the existing international order.

She noted that Germany advocates to strengthen international coordination and collaboration through dialogue, disagrees with the action of exerting threat and pressure to solve problems.

She believed that Germany and China, as well as Europe and China, share broad consensus on a wide range of issues, expressing Germany’s willingness to strengthen communication, exchanges and cooperation with China, and to improve global governance system jointly with China.

When meeting with Heiko Maas, Wang said China and Germany share common interests in many fields such as deepening pragmatic cooperation, safeguarding multilateralism and free trade, improving global governance and promoting world peace.

Looking to the next stage of the bilateral relations, Wang advocates that both sides should set the right direction for the Sino-German, Sino-European win-win cooperation, encourage the enhanced exchanges in ideology, talents as well as science and technology, cement the friendship between the two peoples, and to inject more positive energy into the world.

Echoing Wang’s comments, Maas said Germany is willing to strengthen strategic communication and cooperation on multilateral issues with China, as well as to jointly tackle global challenges, safeguard multilateralism and international order, promote the liberalization of international trade.

During his visit to Germany, Wang also met with mayor of Hamburg Peter Tschentscher and Bavarian governor Markus Soeder and visited the port of Hamburg.

Before his tour to Germany, the Chinese Vice president also visited Pakistan and the Netherlands.

Source: Xinhua

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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

29/04/2019

Cambodian PM says China ready to help if EU imposes sanctions

PHNOM PENH (Reuters) – China will help Cambodia if the European Union (EU) withdraws special market access over its rights record, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen said on Monday as he announced a 600 million yuan ($89 million) Chinese aid package for his military.

Hun Sen, who is on a five-day trip to China to attend a Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) forum in Beijing, held bilateral talks with President Xi Jinping and signed several agreements with Cambodia’s most important ally.

Cambodia benefits from the EU’s “Everything But Arms” trade scheme which allows the world’s least developed countries to export most goods to the EU free of duties.

But Cambodia risks losing the special access to the world’s largest trading bloc over its human rights records.

During a meeting with Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang, Li pledged to help Cambodia if the EU withdraws the market access, according to a post on Hun Sen’s official Facebook page.

“In this regard … Prime Minister Li Keqiang also confirmed his efforts to help Cambodia,” the post said.
China is Cambodia’s biggest aid donor and investor, pouring in billions of dollars in development aid and loans through the Belt and Road initiative, which aims to bolster land and sea links with Southeast Asia, Central Asia, the Middle East, Europe and Africa.
Unlike Western countries, China does not question Cambodia’s record on rights.
The EU, which accounts for more than one-third of Cambodia’s exports, including garments, footwear and bicycles, in February began an 18-month process that could lead to the suspension of the special market access.
Among the agreements Hun Sen struck in China was one for Huawei Technologies to help Cambodia develop a system for 5G technology. The Chinese tech giant has ambitions to build the next generation of data networks across the world and boasts 40 commercial 5G contracts worldwide.
China also agreed to import 400,000 tonnes of Cambodian rice, according to Hun Sen’s Facebook page.
“China will continue to support the national defence sector in Cambodia, and in this regard, the Chinese president announced that China will provide 600 million yuan to Cambodia’s defence sector,” the post said.
Source: Reuters
27/04/2019

(BRF) Feature: In Schwab’s eyes, BRI growing into mature initiative

BEIJING, April 26 (Xinhua) — The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is growing up and gaining global traction, said Klaus Schwab, founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum (WEF), here on Friday.

In an interview with Xinhua on the sidelines of the second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation (BRF), he said that when he attended the first BRF in 2017, the BRI “was still a child growing up and you don’t know what the end of it will be.”

“Now the BRI has become an adult, which means that it has become an important factor in the global economy. It has grown up,” he told Xinhua.

Illustrating his understanding of the BRI in a speech at the ongoing second BRF, the professor said that through the BRI and institutions like the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, China can demonstrate to the world that “the philosophy and concept of the Belt and Road is more than an important initiative.”

The WEF founder, an advocate of “Globalization 4.0,” said that if people want globalization to continue as a positive force, a higher level of globalization is needed to respond to the needs and realities of a transforming world.

The BRI, he added, can be “a building block and a role model of” an advanced pattern of global cooperation that should be more sustainable, more inclusive and more collaborative.

Over the years, Schwab has articulated on many occasions his views of the BRI. At the 2015 Summer Davos Forum in northeast China’s port city of Dalian, he said he was happy to see that China proposed the BRI.

There was a huge infrastructure demand in Asia and Europe, and it was a good thing for China to play a leading role in building infrastructure in the region, he noted.

Partly thanks to the fact that it met the development needs of many countries, the BRI continued with rapid progress, promoting common development in participating countries and bringing Asia and Europe ever closer.

On May 13, 2017, the 1,000th China-Europe freight train that year departed from China’s eastern city of Yiwu to Europe, fully loaded with commodities like smallware and clothes.

The next day, Schwab reaffirmed his full support for the BRI in an address at the first BRF. Not hiding his enthusiasm about the BRI, he said the initiative “takes a long-term and holistic view, and makes a unique contribution to international cooperation and economic development.”

He pointed out that connectivity, a primary focus of the BRI, “is the new meta-pattern of our era and a key driver of our future economy.”

Citing a Chinese saying that “if you want to get rich, build a road,” he said, “I would update this to say: ‘If you seek prosperity, build connectivity.'”

One month later, in an interview with Xinhua ahead of the 2017 Summer Davos Forum, also held in Dalian, Schwab pointed to the BRI’s paradigm-shifting significance.

“The Belt and Road Initiative has great significance because it is a new approach to reach a new and open cooperation … and everybody can participate in a win-win situation as an equal partner,” he said.

Since Chinese President Xi Jinping proposed the initiative six years ago, 126 countries and 29 international organizations have signed BRI cooperation documents with China. The initiative has become the world’s largest platform for international cooperation and the most welcomed global public good.

The BRI “is now growing up into a mature initiative that can have even more impact,” Schwab told Xinhua.

Source: Xinhua

27/04/2019

Europe wants to deal with China as a group – German minister

BEIJING (Reuters) – Major European Union countries want to deal with China as a group rather than sign bilateral agreements as individual states, German Economy Minister Peter Altmaier said on Friday, attending a summit in Beijing on China’s Belt and Road plan.

European countries have generally signalled their willingness to participate in China’s programme to re-create the old Silk Road joining China with Asia and Europe.

But key states like France and Germany have said China must in turn improve access and fair competition for foreign firms.

Italy in March became the first major Western government to back China’s initiative, even as some EU leaders cautioned Rome against rushing into the arms of Beijing.

 

“In the big EU states we have agreed that we don’t want to sign any bilateral memorandums but together make necessary arrangements between the greater European Economic Area and the economic area of Greater China,” Altmaier said when asked if he could see Germany signing a similar bilateral agreement to Italy.

A spokesman for Altmaier’s office later said he was talking about general arrangements and not specifically the Belt and Road.

The minister said he was encouraged by Chinese President Xi Jinping’s pledge to pursue free trade, multilateralism and sustainability as part of Belt and Road.

“We will take this promise seriously” and make suggestions on how to achieve these goals in both Asia and Europe, he said.

China is a partner and a competitor at the same time and the EU must define its interests, Altmaier said.

“And for that we need an industry strategy. For that we need our own connectivity strategy,” he added.

Source: Reuters

23/04/2019

How China’s ban on plastic waste imports became an ‘earthquake’ that threw recycling efforts into turmoil

  • When recycling businesses gravitated to Malaysia, a black economy went with them
  • Some countries treat China’s ban as an opportunity and have been quick to adapt
For years, China was the world's leading destination for recyclable rubbish, but a ban on some imports has left nations scrambling to find dumping grounds for growing piles of waste. Photo: AFP
For years, China was the world’s leading destination for recyclable rubbish, but a ban on some imports has left nations scrambling to find dumping grounds for growing piles of waste. Photo: AFP
From grubby packaging that engulfs small Southeast Asian communities to waste that piles up in plants from the US to Australia, China’s ban on accepting the world’s used plastic has thrown recycling efforts into turmoil.
For many years, China took the bulk of scrap plastic from around the world, processing much of it into a higher quality material that could be used by manufacturers.
But, at the start of 2018, it closed its doors to almost all foreign plastic waste, as well as many other recyclables, in an effort to protect its environment and air quality, leaving developed nations struggling to find places to send their waste.
“It was like an earthquake,” Arnaud Brunet, director general of Brussels-based industry group The Bureau of International Recycling, said.
“China was the biggest market for recyclables. It created a major shock in the global market.”
Instead, plastic was redirected in huge quantities to Southeast Asia, where Chinese recyclers have shifted.

With a large Chinese-speaking minority, Malaysia was a top choice for Chinese recyclers looking to relocate, and official data showed plastic imports tripled from 2016 levels to 870,000 tonnes last year.

China to collect applications for scrap metal import licences from next month, trade group says
In the small town of Jenjarom, close to Kuala Lumpur, plastic processing plants appeared in large numbers, pumping out noxious fumes around the clock.

Huge mounds of plastic waste, dumped in the open, piled up as recyclers struggled to cope with the influx of packaging from everyday goods, such as foods and laundry detergents, from as far afield as Germany, the US, and Brazil.

Residents soon noticed the acrid stench over the town – the kind of odour that is usual in processing plastic, but environmental campaigners believed some of the fumes also came from the incineration of plastic waste that was too low quality to recycle.

“People were attacked by toxic fumes, waking them up at night. Many were coughing a lot,” resident Pua Lay Peng said.

“I could not sleep, I could not rest, I always felt fatigued,” the 47-year-old added.

Representatives of an environmentalist NGO inspect an abandoned plastic waste factory in Jenjarom, outside Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia. Photo: AFP
Representatives of an environmentalist NGO inspect an abandoned plastic waste factory in Jenjarom, outside Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia. Photo: AFP

Pua and other community members began investigating and, by mid-2018, had located about 40 processing plants, many of which appeared to be operating without proper permits.

Initial complaints to authorities went nowhere but they kept up pressure, and eventually the government took action. Authorities started closing down illegal factories in Jenjarom, and announced a nationwide temporary freeze on plastic import permits.

Thirty-three factories were closed down, although activists believed many had quietly moved elsewhere in the country. Residents said air quality had improved but some plastic dumps remained.

Chinese recycling expert breeds thousands of flies to turn kitchen waste into cash

In Australia, Europe and the US, many of those collecting plastic and other recyclables were left scrambling to find new places to send it.

They faced higher costs to have it processed by recyclers at home and in some cases resorted to sending it to landfill sites as the scrap piled up so quickly.

“Twelve months on, we are still feeling the effects but we have not moved to the solutions yet,” said Garth Lamb, president of industry body Waste Management and Resource Recovery Association of Australia.

Some have been quicker to adapt to the new environment, such as some local authority-run centres that collect recyclables in Adelaide, South Australia.

The centres used to send nearly everything – ranging from plastic to paper and glass – to China but now 80 per cent is processed by local companies, with most of the rest shipped to India.

Rubbish is sifted and sorted at Northern Adelaide Waste Management Authority's recycling site at Edinburgh, a northern suburb of the city of Adelaide. Photo: AFP
Rubbish is sifted and sorted at Northern Adelaide Waste Management Authority’s recycling site at Edinburgh, a northern suburb of the city of Adelaide. Photo: AFP

“We moved quickly and looked to domestic markets,” Adam Faulkner, chief executive of the Northern Adelaide Waste Management Authority, said.

“We’ve found that by supporting local manufacturers, we’ve been able to get back to pre-China ban prices.”

In mainland China, imports of plastic waste dropped from 600,000 tonnes per month in 2016 to about 30,000 a month in 2018, according to data cited in a recent report from Greenpeace and environmental NGO Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives.

Once bustling centres of recycling were abandoned as firms shifted to Southeast Asia.

How China’s plastic waste ban has left Japan to deal with mountains of trash
On a visit to the southern town of Xingtan last year, Chen Liwen, founder of environmental NGO China Zero Waste Alliance, found the recycling industry had disappeared.
“The plastic recyclers were gone – there were ‘for rent’ signs plastered on factory doors and even recruitment signs calling for experienced recyclers to move to Vietnam,” she said.
Southeast Asian nations affected early by the China ban – as well as Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam were hit hard – have taken steps to limit plastic imports, but the waste has simply been redirected to other countries without restrictions, such as Indonesia and Turkey, the Greenpeace report said.
With only an estimated nine per cent of plastics ever produced recycled, campaigners said the only long-term solution to the plastic waste crisis was for companies to make less and consumers to use less.
Greenpeace campaigner Kate Lin said: “The only solution to plastic pollution is producing less plastic.”
Source: SCMP
21/04/2019

How much of Europe does China own?

Shipping containers at PiraeusImage copyrightAFP
Image caption China now has a majority stake in the Greek port of Piraeus

The European Union has introduced a new mechanism for screening foreign investment.

It’s widely believed to have been prompted by concerns over China’s economic ambitions in Europe.

It will allow the European Commission – the EU’s executive arm – to give an opinion when an investment “threatens the security or public order” of more than one member state or undermines an EU-wide project such as the Galileo satellite project.

In March, the European Commission called China a “systemic rival” and a “strategic competitor”.

The Chinese Ambassador to the EU urged the bloc to remain “open and welcome” to Chinese investment, and not to “discriminate”.

How much foreign investment is in the EU?

China’s ownership of EU businesses is relatively small, but has grown quickly over the past decade.

A third of the bloc’s total assets are now in the hands of foreign-owned, non-EU companies, according to a report from the European Commission in March.

Of these, 9.5% of companies had their ownership based in China, Hong Kong or Macau – up from 2.5% in 2007.

That compares with 29% controlled by US and Canadian interests by the end of 2016 – down from nearly 42% in 2007.

So, it’s a significant increase, but the total amount is not huge, comparatively speaking.

China in the EU

Foreign direct investment into the 28 member stAlthough the levels of Chinese foreign direct investment in the EU have been increasing rapidly, it peaked at €37.2bn in 2016 amidst a slowdown in Chinese investment globally, according to the Rhodium Group and the Mercator Institute for China Studies.

In European countries outside the EU, investment also dropped in 2018.

What and where is China investing?

A large proportion of Chinese direct investment, both state and private, is concentrated in the major economies, such as the UK, France and Germany combined, according to the Rhodium Group and Mercator Institute.

Chinese investment by top EU countries

Analysis by Bloomberg last year said that China now owned, or had a stake in, four airports, six maritime ports and 13 professional soccer teams in Europe.

It estimated there had been 45% more investment activity in 30 European countries from China than from the US, since 2008.

And it said this was underestimating the true extent of Chinese activity.

What about infrastructure?

In March, Italy was the first major European economy to sign up to China’s new Silk Road programme – known as the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

It involves huge infrastructure building to increase trade between China and markets in Asia and Europe.

Officially more than 20 countries in Europe (including Russia) are part of the initiative.

For example, China is financing the expansion of the port of Piraeus in Greece and is building roads and railways in Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia-Herzegovina and North Macedonia.

This could prove attractive to poorer Balkan and southern European countries, especially as demands for transparency and good governance can make EU funding appear less attractive.

However, analysts point out that Chinese loans come with conditions – such as the involvement of Chinese companies – and also risk burdening these countries with large amounts of debt.

Will Chinese investment grow?

Globally, China’s outward direct investment has slowed over the last year or two, after more than a decade of expansion.

“This is mainly the result of stricter controls on capital outflows from China, but also of a changing political environment globally concerning Chinese investment,” says Agatha Kratz of the Rhodium Group.

China’s global investment slows

The Trump administration is taking a tougher line towards China’s economic activities.

Governments elsewhere are more cautious – particularly when it comes to investment in sensitive areas of the economy, such as telecommunications and defence.

But there’s little doubt China is now a significant player in Europe, whether through direct investments or via the new Silk Road project.

Source: The BBC

08/04/2019

China to avoid debt burden for BRI participating countries: envoy

AMMAN, April 7 (Xinhua) — Li Chengwen, ambassador for China-Arab States Cooperation Forum Affairs of China’s Foreign Ministry, refuted on Sunday the criticism that China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) will create so-called “debt trap” for some participating countries.

“China is trying to find mechanisms to avoid the ‘debt trap,'” Li said during a session on the second day of the World Economic Forum on the Middle East and North Africa 2019 held in the Dead Sea area of Jordan.

The Chinese envoy was responding to the criticism directed at the BRI by some people in the United States and Europe ahead of the second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, due to be hosted by China later this month in Beijing.

The initiative, proposed by China in 2013, aims at building a trade and infrastructure network connecting Asia with Europe and Africa along the ancient trade routes of the Silk Road to seek common development and prosperity.

As of July 2018, more than 100 countries and international organizations had signed Belt and Road cooperation documents with China, extending the initiative’s scope from the Eurasian continent to Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, and the South Pacific region.

Li pointed out that no participating country has complained of falling into the so-called “trap” of Chinese loans.

“The Belt and Road Initiative aims to increase the economic prosperity of a country. It does not aim at expanding the political and geographical authority of China in the world,” he said.

Many participants at the forum in Jordan agreed with Li’s comments.

“If you keep your interest first, you will not find China an unfair partner,” said Shandana Gulzar Khan, Pakistan’s parliamentary secretary for commerce. “But it depends on how well you do your homework.”

In Pakistan, a major BRI participating country, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor has created tens of thousands of jobs and revived the economy of an entire region, Khan noted.

Speaking at the session, He Wenping, a research fellow of the Institute of West-Asian and African Studies, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, echoed Li’s remarks.

“The biggest worry on the ‘debt-trap diplomacy’ should come from China’s side, not from outside. It is tax payers’ money,” the Chinese professor said.

“China is not waving the ‘China First’ flag,” she said.

The upcoming Belt and Road forum to be held in Beijing later this month could be an opportunity to kickstart a “second phase” of the initiative, she added.

Source: Xinhua

04/04/2019

China Focus: Premier Li’s Europe visit to inject impetus to China-EU ties

BEIJING, April 3 (Xinhua) — Chinese Premier Li Keqiang’s upcoming visit to Europe will intensify cooperation between China and European countries and provide new impetus to the China-EU comprehensive strategic partnership, a Foreign Ministry official said Wednesday.

Li’s visit, scheduled for April 8 to 12, will take him to Brussels for the 21st China-EU leaders’ meeting, and Croatia for an official visit and the eighth leaders’ meeting of China and Central and Eastern European countries (CEEC), Vice Foreign Minister Wang Chao said at a press briefing.

This is the first overseas trip to be made by Li this year as well as another significant high-level exchange between China and Europe after Chinese President Xi Jinping’s successful state visits to Italy, Monaco and France in March, demonstrating the importance that China attaches to its relations with Europe, Wang noted.

A SIGNIFICANT MEETING FOR CHINA AND EUROPE

“The China-EU leaders’ meeting, a high-level platform for strategic communication between the two sides, has played a leading role in deepening China-EU relations and promoting dialogue and cooperation,” Wang said.

He stressed that this year’s meeting, the fifth co-chaired by Premier Li, European Council President Donald Tusk and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, will be the last China-EU leaders’ meeting during the tenure of the current EU institutions, thus bearing transitional significance.

China and the EU are enjoying sound development of ties, close high-level connections, deepening cooperation and robust people-to-people exchanges, he added.

“We share broad common interests in deepening win-win practical cooperation, common positions on upholding multilateralism and free trade, and common goals in improving global governance and maintaining world peace and stability.”

Leaders of the two sides will exchange views on bilateral ties and major international and regional issues of common concerns, and witness the signing of cooperation documents on energy, competition policies and other areas, Wang said.

“We believe that this meeting will inject new impetus to the China-EU comprehensive strategic partnership, take our dialogue and cooperation across the board to a new level, and strengthen the stability, reciprocity and strategic significance of our relations,” Wang said.

A BOOST FOR 16+1 COOPERATION

Wang Chao said China-CEEC cooperation (16+1 cooperation) was a beneficial mechanism of regional cooperation between China and Central and Eastern European (CEE) countries, and has provided a platform for China and CEE countries to deepen traditional friendship and enhance mutually beneficial cooperation.

Initiated in 2012, the 16+1 cooperation has gained broad support and active participation from 16 CEE countries, and has built up an all-round and multi-tiered cooperation framework, said Wang, adding that the 16+1 cooperation has played a positive role in promoting trade and expanding pragmatic cooperation across-the-board between China and other countries.

This year marks the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China. Some CEE countries also established diplomatic relations with China 70 years ago.

Wang said this year’s meeting, to be held in Croatian city Dubrovnik, was of important significance to the promotion of the steady, long term development of 16+1 cooperation as well as China-Europe relations.

Noting the theme of this year’s meeting of building new bridges of openness, innovation and partnership, Wang said leaders attending the meeting would review new progress of 16+1 cooperation, have insightful discussions on key future work directions, and announce a series of new measures on pragmatic cooperation.

China hopes that the 16+1 cooperation will become a bridge of openness, innovation and partnership through enhancing exchanges and cooperation of mutual benefit and win-win results, he said.

According to the vice minister, outcome documents charting 16+1 cooperation will be released after the meeting and related parties will ink cooperation agreements on infrastructure construction, trade, finance, education, quality inspection, personnel exchanges, and mutual recognition of driving licenses.

China believes this year’s meeting will inject new impetus to relations between China and the CEE countries and the development of the China-Europe comprehensive strategic partnership, he said.

CHINESE PREMIER’S FIRST VISIT TO CROATIA

“Li’s visit will be the first ever by a Chinese premier to Croatia since the establishment of diplomatic ties. Therefore, it is significant in consolidating traditional friendship and advancing our comprehensive cooperative partnership as well as China-EU relations,” Wang Chao said.

Hailing Croatia as an important member of CEE countries and a key stop on the ancient Silk Road, Wang said relations between China and Croatia had been growing rapidly with the development of the Belt and Road Initiative and 16+1 cooperation.

In addition to close top-level exchanges, fruitful cooperation in trade, investment and infrastructure construction, and ever-deepening friendship between the two peoples, China-Croatia relations face a broad space for future development, he added.

During Li’s visit, the two sides will issue a joint statement summarizing any important consensus reached by their leaders and mapping out future cooperation. The prime ministers of the two countries will witness the signing of government cooperation documents and commercial contracts covering multiple sectors.

China hopes the visit will help synergize both countries’ development strategies, enhance mutual understanding and political trust, deepen cooperation and bring bilateral ties to a higher level, Wang said.

16/03/2019

China-Europe freight trains running from Xinjiang’s Urumqi reach 2000

CHINA-XINJIANG-RUSSIA-FREIGHT TRAIN (CN)

A worker onloads cargo to the 2,000th China-Europe freight train heading to Krasnodar of Russia at the freight logistics center in Urumqi, capital of northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, on March 15, 2019. Since its operation in 2016, trains running from the freight train logistics center in the regional capital reached 2,000. (Xinhua/Fu Xiaobo)

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