Archive for ‘Fudan University’

07/07/2019

Interview: President Xi’s letter inspires more contributions to Japan-China friendship — Japanese youth

TOKYO, July 6 (Xinhua) — “When I wrote the letter, I didn’t expect to receive a reply from President Xi Jinping. I was surprised and honored,” said Daichi Nakashima with excitement.

The 27-year-old Japanese man said he had received the reply from Xi before the Chinese leader attended the Group of 20 summit in Osaka. “When my friend told me on WeChat, I was shocked!” Nakashima said in an exclusive interview with Xinhua.

Nakashima had several times been a winner in the Panda Cup Japan Youth Essay Contest. Founded in 2014, the competition is co-sponsored by People’s China magazine, the Chinese embassy in Japan and the Japan Science Society, aiming to help Japanese youths have a more comprehensive, objective and rational understanding of China.

Nakashima began learning Chinese in college and has participated in several short-term exchange programs in China.

When talking about his original intention of writing a letter to Xi, Nakashima said, “I wanted to convey the warmth and friendship of the Chinese people I felt during my visit to China and the importance of mutual understanding and exchanges between Japanese and Chinese youths.”

Xi, in his reply, said he was glad to see that Nakashima has been studying the Chinese language and literature for a long time and, by participating in essay contests and exchange activities in China, has learned more about China and strengthened his bonds with Chinese friends.

“It’s the best affirmation and recognition of my persistence for so many years. I’m very touched,” Nakashima said.

Born in 1992, Nakashima first learned about China through classics like “Romance of the Three Kingdoms” and “Outlaws of the Marsh,” but it was a two-week trip to Tianjin in 2011 that gave him a glimpse of a vibrant China.

After that, he visited Beijing, Sichuan, Guangdong and other places. Last year, he went to Fudan University in Shanghai and studied for half a year.

Nakashima found that Chinese youth are very familiar with Japanese anime, music and so on, while Japanese youngsters do not know much about China. Their impression of China is restricted to Chinese tourists, “not knowing about Chinese movies and popular music,” he said.

Nakashima said he believes that the friendship between the two peoples needs more bilateral youth exchanges, as President Xi said in the letter.

Noting that China and Japan are close neighbors separated by only a narrow strip of water, Xi said the friendship between the two countries is rooted in the people, and that the future of the friendship between the two peoples is in the hands of the young people.

Xi said he hopes that the youth of China and Japan will strengthen exchanges and mutual learning, enhance mutual understanding, develop long-lasting friendships, and contribute to creating an even brighter future for bilateral relations.

Xi also encouraged Nakashima to continue to promote the China-Japan friendship. Nakashima said this is an encouragement, a mission and also motivation for him to move forward.

Nakashima graduated with a master’s degree in April and has begun to work in a publishing house. He has been determined to introduce excellent works such as Chinese picture books and science fiction to Japan, so that Japanese teenagers can feel the affinity between the two countries.

“I have met many friendly Chinese people and made many friends that are very important to me. In the future, I will continue to make efforts to help Japanese and Chinese youth deepen mutual understanding,” he said.

Source: Xinhua

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23/06/2019

Xi Jinping’s state visit to North Korea aims for ‘new impetus’ in ties

  • Stalled denuclearisation talks also expected to be on the agenda when Chinese president meets Kim Jong-un this week
  • Analysts say Korean peninsula has become intense diplomatic battleground between Beijing and Washington
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (right) attends a welcome ceremony in Beijing with Chinese President Xi Jinping in January. Xi will begin a visit to Pyongyang on Thursday. Photo: AP
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (right) attends a welcome ceremony in Beijing with Chinese President Xi Jinping in January. Xi will begin a visit to Pyongyang on Thursday. Photo: AP
Xi Jinping’s upcoming trip to 
North Korea

will be a state visit – a higher status than the last trip to the hermit kingdom by a Chinese president, highlighting the close bilateral ties between Beijing and Pyongyang.

Xi’s two-day trip, which 
begins on Thursday

, is the first by a Chinese president to North Korea in 14 years and comes just a week before he is due to meet US President Donald Trump for talks on the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit in Japan.

“Leaders of the two countries will review the development of the bilateral relationship and carry out an in-depth exchange of opinions on the development of Sino-North Korean relations in the new era, and chart the future course of development,” state news agency Xinhua reported on Tuesday.
Xi’s predecessor, Hu Jintao, went to North Korea in October 2005 on a three-day trip described as an “official goodwill” visit.
Speaking at a regular press briefing in Beijing on Tuesday, foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang said Xi’s visit aimed to “inject new impetus” into relations in the year the two countries marked the 70th anniversary of establishing diplomatic ties, and to give stalled denuclearisation talks a much needed push.
“Regarding the progress on denuclearisation, as I said, the result of the Hanoi leaders’ meeting in February was indeed a little unexpected. But after that, everyone actually looks forward to the resumption of dialogue in a good direction,” Lu said, referring to the failed talks between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in the Vietnamese capital four months ago.

Trump hinted at the possibility of another meeting with Kim after receiving what he called “a beautiful letter” from the North Korean leader last week. On Tuesday, South Korea’s chief nuclear negotiator, Lee Do-hoon, said the US had been in contact with the North.

Life in North Korea the ‘admiration and envy’ of others, state media says

Washington will also send US Special Representative for North Korea Stephen Biegun to South Korea next week, days after Xi’s visit to Pyongyang, to fully align its position on North Korea with its ally.

Meanwhile, Trump confirmed he would meet Xi for talks in Osaka next week, saying in a tweet on Tuesday they had “a very good telephone conversation” and would hold “an extended meeting” at the G20 summit, where they are

expected to try to cool tensions

over an almost year-long trade war.

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

Had a very good telephone conversation with President Xi of China. We will be having an extended meeting next week at the G-20 in Japan. Our respective teams will begin talks prior to our meeting.

Analysts said the Korean peninsula had become an intense diplomatic battleground between Beijing and Washington.
Cha Du-hyeogn, a visiting research fellow at the Asan Institute for Policy Studies in Seoul, said China and the US were competing for influence over the peninsula.
“The US and China are seeking a greater sphere of influence in the region. After the Singapore summit between Trump and Kim last year, the US and North Korea are the only key players on peninsula matters. China may want to restore its influence and become a major player,” Cha said.
“But China is less likely to have a so-called strategic competition with the US – that is to say, it won’t challenge the US-led sanctions regime and its goal in achieving North Korea’s denuclearisation. In fact, it is likely to persuade Kim to come to the negotiating table for complete denuclearisation.”
Chinese tourists flood North Korea as Beijing remains Pyongyang’s key ally

Pyongyang has demanded the lifting of sanctions imposed on the regime following its nuclear and missile tests, while Beijing has said the livelihoods of North Koreans should not be affected. But Washington insists full sanctions should remain in place.

The US has also voiced scepticism about Chinese compliance with the sanctions. At a security summit in Singapore earlier this month, US acting Pentagon chief Patrick Shanahan – who on Wednesday stepped down from his role 

amid domestic abuse claims

– presented his Chinese counterpart Wei Fenghe with photographs and satellite images of North Korean ships transferring oil near China’s coast.

Analysts said Xi would seek to use the visit to boost China’s diplomatic leverage on the North Korean nuclear front, strengthening its hand in dealing with the US.
Exports from North Korea to China, which account for the bulk of its trade, plunged 87 per cent last year from 2017, and the country has faced other economic problems at a time when Kim has vowed to deliver on the economy.
A diplomatic source said China was expected to offer a large amount of humanitarian assistance, such as food and fertiliser, to North Korea, which could weaken the impact of sanctions.

China’s goal of denuclearisation on the Korean peninsula is unwavering and will not changeLu Chao, North Korean affairs expert at Liaoning Academy of Social Sciences

Communist Party mouthpiece People’s Daily on Tuesday said via its social media account that Xi would discuss economic and trade cooperation with Kim during the visit.

Quoting Zheng Jiyong, director of the Centre for Korean Studies at Fudan University in Shanghai, the newspaper said Pyongyang had taken steps to reform its economy and introduced China’s industrial manufacturing blueprint.

In September, Beijing proposed building a rail link from the city of Dandong, in China’s northeastern Liaoning province, to Pyongyang and then on to Seoul and Busan in the South, as well as a new road between Dandong and Pyongyang through Sinuiju.

Lu Chao, a North Korean affairs expert at the Liaoning Academy of Social Sciences, said large-scale economic cooperation between China and North Korea was unlikely because of the sanctions, but smaller moves were possible.

Chinese tourists flood North Korea as Beijing remains Pyongyang’s key ally

“For example, China may export daily necessities to North Korea. And if it’s needed, China is very likely to provide [food] assistance to North Korea,” Lu said. “I believe the UN sanctions on North Korea should change, because it has shown a more substantive approach to [achieving] denuclearisation.”

But analysts said Beijing remained firm on the need for Pyongyang to honour its pledges so that denuclearisation could be achieved.

“China’s goal of denuclearisation on the Korean peninsula is unwavering and will not change … China supports [North Korea] and the US continuing to hold talks,” Lu said.

Beijing also had an important part to play in the peace process, according to Boo Seung-chan, an adjunct professor at the Yonsei Institute for North Korean Studies in Seoul.

“China can have a positive role as a mediator to facilitate the peace process on the Korean peninsula,” Boo said.

Source: SCMP

17/06/2019

Oil tanker attacks: did Iran’s ties with China just go up in smoke?

  • Washington has blamed Tehran for an attack on two oil tankers near the Strait of Hormuz, putting pressure on Iran’s allies like China
  • Beijing usually backs its trade partner – but experts say the trade war with the US and problems with Huawei may have changed the equation
A tanker burns in the Gulf of Oman after a mystery attack that the United States has blamed on Iran. Photo: AFP
A tanker burns in the Gulf of Oman after a mystery attack that the United States has blamed on Iran. Photo: AFP
When 
Shinzo Abe

headed to Tehran this week for the first visit by a sitting Japanese prime minister in four decades, some in the diplomatic world imagined he could be the man to bring

Iran

back to the negotiating table with the

United States

.

Those hopes were torpedoed on Thursday when, on the same day Abe was meeting Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei, explosions ripped through two oil tankers, one Japanese and one Norwegian, near the Strait of Hormuz, a strategically significant shipping lane.
The attack immediately overshadowed an earlier success for Abe, who had met President Hassan Rowhani a day before and was assured Iran would stick to the terms of a 2015 agreement limiting its nuclear activities.
Washington accused Iran of being behind the attack on the tankers, releasing a video on Friday that it said showed Iran’s revolutionary guard removing an unexploded mine from one of the ships, and warning that it would “defend its interests”.
Iranian President Hassan Rowhani and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe meet Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in Tehran. Photo: Reuters
Iranian President Hassan Rowhani and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe meet Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in Tehran. Photo: Reuters

Tehran, for its part, claimed to have been set up, with its foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif saying “suspicious doesn’t begin to describe” the incident. So much, then, for hopes of mediation.

US President

Donald Trump

, who had encouraged the Japanese leader’s visit, admitted on Twitter soon afterwards that when it came to negotiating, “they are not ready, and neither are we!”

Still, the incident exposed more than just the naivety of those hoping for an Abe-led breakthrough. In raising the stakes in Washington’s confrontation with Tehran, it also threw the spotlight on Iran’s dwindling number of allies – and perhaps most significantly on its largest trading partner, China – which face mounting pressure to rethink the relationship.

Tanker attacks: world divided over Iran role as Saudi prince breaks silence
The day after the attack, China’s President

Xi Jinping

said Beijing would promote its ties with Iran “however the situation changes” – a comment made during a meeting with Iranian President Hassan Rowhani on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit in Kyrgyzstan – but diplomatic observers question just how far China can go in accommodating its controversial trading partner.

BEST FRIENDS FOREVER?

Iran has long been able to count on support from China, which accounts for 30 per cent of the Islamic republic’s exports and imports, and its willingness to defy US pressure is a gamble at least partly based on an assumption it can continue to count on Beijing’s support.

As Iran’s largest economic partner – Chinese direct investment in Iran hit a record high of nearly US$4 billion last year, according to data analysis project ChinaMed – Beijing already plays a key role in relieving US pressure on Iran, said Mohsen Shariatinia, assistant professor of regional studies at Shahid Beheshti University in Tehran.

But experts warn that reliance will come into question as China becomes increasingly hamstrung by its own problems.

China has enough problems of its own, starting with US pressure on Huawei. Photo: EPA
China has enough problems of its own, starting with US pressure on Huawei. Photo: EPA
Chief among Beijing’s headaches are its

trade war

with Washington and the related assault on its

5G

giant

Huawei

– which, as analysts point out, originally ignited over allegations it was defying US sanctions on Iran. Beijing will also be well aware of the need to keep

Saudi Arabia

, its second-biggest oil supplier and Tehran’s critic-in-chief, happy.

On the other hand, analysts say, China will be wary of being seen to abandon its old friend, as doing so would send a message to other nations at odds with Washington that they could no longer look to China as a diversification strategy.
“This could mean Chinese investment is vulnerable to US interference,” said Esfandyar Batmanghelidj, founder of Bourse Bazaar, a media company that supports business diplomacy between Europe and Iran.
Sanctions drive Iranian students away from US towards Asia
Doing so, Batmanghelidj said, would put a question mark over one of China’s most significant foreign policies of recent years – President Xi’s signature

Belt and Road Initiative

to fund infrastructure across Eurasia.

THE BELT AND ROAD QUESTION
Tensions between Iran and the US have reached boiling point in recent weeks, after the Trump administration last month ended waivers on sanctions for nations importing Iranian oil – a move the US says is aimed at making the republic “radioactive to the international community” and which Rowhani has described as an “economic war against Iran”.
So far, China has largely stuck by the Islamic Republic, continuing to buy fuel from it despite the latest wave of US sanctions on Iranian oil that followed Trump’s decision last year to withdraw the US from the landmark 2015 agreement curbing Tehran’s nuclear development.
The deal had been widely lauded as a triumph of multilateralism and the dawning of a new economic era for Iran.
US releases video of ‘Iranian forces removing unexploded mine’ from ship
Part of its eagerness to support Iran has stemmed from the Islamic Republic’s key position in the Belt and Road plan. In 2017 alone, China signed deals for more than US$15 billion in Iranian infrastructure investment, according to the

Chinese Communist Party

mouthpiece China Daily.

Planned projects include high-speed rail lines, upgrades to the nation’s electrical grid, and natural gas pipelines. The two nations have also vowed to boost bilateral trade to US$600 billion in the next seven years.
“China sees Iran as its Western gateway, where not only is it a big market in itself, but it will also be the gateway to the rest of the 
Middle East

and ultimately to Europe for China,” said Anoush Ehteshami, professor of international relations at Durham University in Britain.

Nisha Mary Mathew, at the Middle East Institute in Singapore, said that China’s relationship with Iran was not just economic – but primarily strategic, with both nations envisioning an international order that was no longer dominated by the US and its Western allies.
DEFIANCE, FOR NOW
If the belt and road gives China good reason to stick with Iran, there are plenty of voices urging just that action. As Andrea Ghiselli at Shanghai’s Fudan University pointed out, US sanctions until now have only strengthened the hardline factions in Iran’s government.
The combination of the US withdrawal from the nuclear deal – which had the support of the international community – along with Europe’s tepid efforts to rescue it, may have emboldened those favouring resistance over negotiation.
Xi’s supportive comments in Kyrgyzstan were only the latest in a string of remarks from China that could encourage such factions.
If Trump kills off Huawei, do Asia’s 5G dreams die?
After China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi met Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in Beijing last month, the ministry’s spokesman Lu Kang said China’s economic relationship with Iran was “reasonable and lawful”.
Two months prior to that, China’s Minister of Commerce Zhong Shan, while hosting his Iranian counterpart Farhad Dejpasand, had claimed China’s “determination to maintain and develop the China-Iran comprehensive strategic partnership is unshakeable”.
Chinese President Xi Jinping with Iranian President Hassan Rowhani. Photo: AFP
Chinese President Xi Jinping with Iranian President Hassan Rowhani. Photo: AFP

Even so, the pressure is getting to some. In February, Foreign Minister Zarif temporarily resigned, in what Andrea Ghiselli at Fudan University in Shanghai called a clear sign of the “changing and precarious power balance with Iran’s foreign policy establishment”.

And nowhere is the pressure felt more keenly than the economy and China’s ability to serve as a lifeline.

“The real anxiety in Iran right now is about market share,” said Bourse and Bazaar’s Batmanghelidj. “If you’re exporting zero oil and your customers are buying oil elsewhere, you lose market share.

“The government wants to know if it agreed to go back to the negotiating table and the US promised sanctions relief, that there are people who are going to buy in significant volume.”

TURNING POINT: HUAWEI

For many analysts, the event most likely to have changed the equation in Beijing’s eyes is the arrest by the Canadian authorities of 

Meng Wanzhou

, the chief financial officer of Chinese telecom giant Huawei.

Meng’s arrest came at the request of the US government, which claimed her company had violated sanctions by selling equipment to Iran.
Many observers saw the action as Washington’s way of signalling to Chinese companies that they would face repercussions if they eased the pressure on Iran by continuing to trade.
Huawei’s chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou. Photo: Reuters
Huawei’s chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou. Photo: Reuters

“Going after Huawei was about going after Chinese enterprises – signalling that they can no longer trade with Iran with impunity,” Batmanghelidj said.

Since then, Chinese firms have shown increased skittishness towards trading with Iran. According to China’s General Customs Administration, Chinese exports to Iran declined by more than half between October 2018 and February 2019, from over US$1 billion to just under US$500 million.

Mohammad Ali Shabani, a researcher at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London, said other countries in the region were now watching to see if China would blink in the face of US pressure. “This could have dire consequences for China’s image as a reliable partner,” he said.

NOT JUST ABOUT AMERICA

There are reasons beyond US pressure that may factor into Beijing’s thinking. It has long stated its opposition to Iranian nuclear weapons development, and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi has said that China is “ready” to take on “its due responsibilities and make a greater contribution to world peace and common development”.

Trade war: here are Beijing’s options – and none look any good

Zhao Hong, at the Research School of Southeast Asian Studies at Xiamen University, said that in stepping up as a responsible world power Beijing faced a dilemma over its approach to Iran.
“Chinese leaders have to painfully balance an impulse towards economic cooperation with Iran against other vital interests, including convincing Washington that China is a responsible stakeholder,” he wrote in the Journal of Contemporary China.
Saudi Aramco's Ras Tanura oil refinery. The country is China’s second-largest oil supplier after Russia. Photo: Reuters
Saudi Aramco’s Ras Tanura oil refinery. The country is China’s second-largest oil supplier after Russia. Photo: Reuters

Then there is China’s relationship with Iran’s chief adversary, Saudi Arabia, to consider. Riyadh is China’s second-largest oil supplier, behind Russia, and it plays a central role in Beijing’s energy strategy.

According to International Trade Centre data, more than 12 per cent of China’s imported oil came from Saudi Arabia last year, compared with just 6 per cent from Iran. Last year, Saudi Arabia shipped 56.73 million tonnes of oil to China, or 1.135 million barrels per day.

Why would Kim Jong-un trust Trump, now that he’s ripped up Iran’s nuclear deal?

This April, China imported 6.3 million tonnes of oil from Saudi Arabia, nearly twice the 3.24 million tonnes it imported from Iran, according to China’s General Administration of Customs.

Iran’s comparatively small share of China’s oil imports market and its heavy reliance on China as a trading partner add up to a deeply uneven relationship, experts say, and it is this imbalance that will encourage the US that China may be open to rethinking its ties.

As Jon Alterman, director of the Middle East programme at Washington DC think tank the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, pointed out, while China was Iran’s largest trading partner, Iran represented less than 1 per cent of China’s international trade.

“Iran needs China,” Alterman said. “But to China, Iran is expendable.”

Source: SCMP

29/05/2019

Short of war, US can’t help but lose to China’s rise in Asia, says think tank Lowy Institute

  • Lowy Institute’s 2019 Asia Power Index puts Washington behind both Beijing and Tokyo for diplomatic influence
  • Trump’s assault on trade has done little to stop Washington’s decline in regional influence, compared to Beijing, say experts
Chinese and US flags at an international school in Beijing. Photo: AFP
Chinese and US flags at an international school in Beijing. Photo: AFP
The 
United States

may be a dominant military force in Asia for now but short of going to war, it will be unable to stop its economic and diplomatic clout from declining relative to China’s power.

That’s the view of Australian think tank the Lowy Institute, which on Tuesday evening released its 2019 index on the distribution of power in Asia.

However, the institute also said China faced its own obstacles in the region, and that its ambitions would be constrained by a lack of trust from its neighbours.

The index scored China 75.9 out of 100, just behind the US, on 84.5. The gap was less than America’s 10 point lead last year, when the index was released for the first time.
“Current US foreign policy may be accelerating this trend,” said the institute, which contended that “under most scenarios, short of war, the United States is unlikely to halt the narrowing power differential between itself and China”.
The Lowy Institute’s Asia Power Index. Click to enlarge.
The Lowy Institute’s Asia Power Index. Click to enlarge.
Since July, US President

Donald Trump

has slapped tariffs on Chinese imports to reduce his country’s

trade deficit with China

. He most recently hiked a 10 per cent levy on US$200 billion worth of Chinese goods to 25 per cent and has also threatened to impose tariffs on other trading partners such as the European Union and Japan.

Herve Lemahieu, the director of the Lowy Institute’s Asian Power and Diplomacy programme, said: “The Trump administration’s focus on trade wars and balancing trade flows one country at a time has done little to reverse the relative decline of the United States, and carries significant collateral risk for third countries, including key allies of the United States.”

The index rates a nation’s power – which it defines as the ability to direct or influence choices of both state and non-state actors – using eight criteria. These include a country’s defence networks, economic relationships, future resources and military capability.

It ranked Washington behind both Beijing and Tokyo in terms of diplomatic influence in Asia, due in part to “contradictions” between its recent economic agenda and its traditional role of offering consensus-based leadership.

The spoils of trade war: Asia’s winners and losers in US-China clash

Toshihiro Nakayama, a fellow at the Wilson Centre in Washington, said the US had become its own enemy in terms of influence.

“I don’t see the US being overwhelmed by China in terms of sheer power,” said Nakayama. “It’s whether America is willing to maintain its internationalist outlook.”

But John Lee, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, said the Trump administration’s willingness to challenge the status quo on issues like trade could ultimately boost US standing in Asia.

“The current administration is disruptive but has earned respect for taking on difficult challenges which are of high regional concern but were largely ignored by the Obama administration – 

North Korea’s

illegal weapons and China’s predatory economic policies to name two,” said Lee.

“One’s diplomatic standing is not just about being ‘liked’ or ‘uncontroversial’ but being seen as a constructive presence.”
CHINA’S RISE
China’s move up the index overall – from 74.5 last year to 75.9 this year – was partly due to it overtaking the US on the criteria of “economic resources”, which encompasses GDP size, international leverage and technology.
China’s economy grew by more than the size of Australia’s GDP in 2018, the report noted, arguing that its growing base of upper-middle class consumers would blunt the impact of US efforts to restrict Chinese tech firms in Western markets.
US President Donald Trump with Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping. Photo: Reuters
US President Donald Trump with Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping. Photo: Reuters

“In midstream products such as smartphones and with regard to developing country markets, Chinese tech companies can still be competitive and profitable due to their economies of scale and price competitiveness,” said Jingdong Yuan, an associate professor at the China Studies Centre at the University of Sydney.

“However, to become a true superpower in the tech sector and dominate the global market remains a steep climb for China, and the Trump administration is making it all the more difficult.”

The future competitiveness of Beijing’s military, currently a distant second to Washington’s, will depend on long-term political will, according to the report, which noted that China already spends over 50 per cent more on defence than the 10 

Asean

economies,

India

and

Japan

combined.

TRUST ISSUE
However, 
distrust of China

stands in the way of its primacy in Asia, according to the index, which noted Beijing’s unresolved territorial and historical disputes with 11 neighbouring countries and “growing degrees of opposition” to its signature

Belt and Road Initiative

.

Beijing is locked in disputes in the

South China Sea

with a raft of countries including Vietnam, the Philippines and Brunei, and has been forced to renegotiate infrastructure projects in

Malaysia

and Myanmar due to concerns over feasibility and cost.

If Trump kills off Huawei, do Asia’s 5G dreams die?
Xin Qiang, a professor at the Centre for American Studies at Fudan University in Shanghai, said Beijing still needed to persuade its neighbours it could be a “constructive, instead of a detrimental, force for the region”.
“There are still many challenges for [China to increase its] power and influence in the Asia-Pacific,” Xin said.
Wu Xinbo, also at Fudan University’s Centre for American Studies, said Beijing was having mixed success in terms of winning regional friends and allies.
“For China, the key challenge is how to manage the maritime disputes with its neighbours,” said Wu. “I don’t think there is growing opposition to the Belt and Road Initiative from the region, actually more and more countries are jumping aboard. It is the US that is intensifying its opposition to the project as Washington worries it may promote China’s geopolitical influence.”
Yuan said the rivalry between the

US and China

would persist and shape the global order into the distant future.

“They can still and do wish to cooperate where both find it mutually beneficial, but I think the more important task for now and for some time to come, is to manage their disputes in ways that do not escalate to a dangerous level,” Yuan said. “These differences probably cannot be resolved given their divergent interests, perspectives, etc, but they can and should be managed, simply because their issues are not confined to the bilateral [relationship] but have enormous regional and global implications.”
Elsewhere in Asia, the report spotlighted Japan, ranked third in the index, as the leader of the liberal order in Asia, and fourth-placed India as an “underachiever relative to both its size and potential”.
China’s wrong, the US can kill off Huawei. But here’s why it won’t
Lee said the index supported a growing perception that Tokyo had emerged as a “political and strategic leader among democracies in Asia” under

Shinzo Abe

.

“This is important because Prime Minister Abe wants Japan to emerge as a constructive strategic player in the Indo-Pacific and high diplomatic standing is important to that end,” Lee said.

Russia

, South Korea, Australia,

Singapore

, Malaysia and Thailand rounded out the top-10 most powerful countries, in that order. Among the pack, Russia, Malaysia and Thailand stood out as nations that improved their standing from the previous year.

Taiwan

, ranked 14th, was the only place to record an overall decline in score, reflecting its waning diplomatic influence

after losing three of its few remaining diplomatic allies

during the past year.

Source: SCMP
19/05/2019

Shanghai Bund’s historic buildings saved from demolition … for now

  • Experts win reprieve for two out of three heritage houses but fear their success is only temporary
  • Authorities plan public cultural facilities for the site
The historic buildings on Shanghai’s Bund in the 1930s. One of the three structures has already been demolished but authorities have temporarily suspended plans to knock down the other two. Photo: Handout
The historic buildings on Shanghai’s Bund in the 1930s. One of the three structures has already been demolished but authorities have temporarily suspended plans to knock down the other two. Photo: Handout
Two historic buildings on Shanghai’s famous Bund have temporarily escaped demolition after a group of experts appealed to the government to conserve the heritage sites, but the intervention was too late to save a third.
About 15 architecture, history and culture experts based in Shanghai banded together to write an article on social media app WeChat last month, calling on the city’s government to “protect the city’s memories” by preserving three houses on Huangpu Road.
A few days after the article was published one of the buildings was demolished as part of a plan to build public cultural facilities on the site. But authorities suspended work on the other two and are considering removing only the interior structure while preserving the external walls, according to the group.
The houses, which date back to 1902, witnessed the city’s boom in the first half of the 20th century when it became one of the world’s most important, and famous, ports, the experts said.
The demolition project on The Bund, Shanghai has been suspended, but not before one of the three historic buildings was demolished. Photo: Urban China magazine
The demolition project on The Bund, Shanghai has been suspended, but not before one of the three historic buildings was demolished. Photo: Urban China magazine

All three of the properties originally belonged to Japanese shipping company Nippon Yusen Kaisha Group and were later used as storage facilities for Japan’s military forces during the second world war, according to Yu Hai, a sociologist from Shanghai’s Fudan University.

“These buildings, along with the nearby Yangzijiang port on the Huangpu River, represented Shanghai’s wharf culture and port culture,” Yu said. “They are historically significant as they witnessed Shanghai grow prosperous through shipping and trade industries about a century ago.”

Although the two remaining buildings are safe for now, the experts argue their interiors are also worth preserving.

Liu Gang, an architecture professor at Shanghai’s Tongji University, said the properties featured big wooden beams supported by black iron pillars, which were prominent architectural features of industrial buildings dating back to the 19th century.

“We guess it was hard to move these giant beams with vehicles at the beginning of the 20th century. Quite possibly they were transported on the river. We guess that the wood was chopped down and processed in places across the Pacific [from North America] and shipped to Shanghai.”

In the WeChat article, Liu called for the protection of the interior structure of the buildings. “Without solid research, we cannot simply take them down to be replaced by new ones.”

Yu agreed, saying: “The building with a new inside structure would be a fake and this plan will destroy historical heritage.”

Experts say the interiors of the historic buildings are also worth preserving. Photo: Urban China magazine
Experts say the interiors of the historic buildings are also worth preserving. Photo: Urban China magazine

Huangpu Road, where these houses sit, is rich with history. It features the Garden Bridge of Shanghai – the city’s first steel bridge, built in 1907 – and was once home to the consulates of the United States, Russia, Japan, Germany, Denmark and the Austro-Hungarian empire.

Other notable landmarks on the road include the Astor House Hotel, built in 1846, where Charlie Chaplin, Albert Einstein and George Bernard Shaw stayed in the 1920s and 1930s. The hotel is still there.

“History happened here,” Yu said. “But it’s a pity that most of the old buildings in this area no longer exist.”

Despite their success in winning a stay of execution for the two buildings, the experts are cautious in their expectations.

“The demolition work was suspended, but that does not mean they have accepted our proposals. We are not optimistic,” Yu said.

About two weeks ago as part of their effort to save the buildings, Yu and three other scholars approached officials from Shanghai’s Planning and Natural Resources Bureau, the government body behind the demolition project.

“Officials emphasised the difficulties of keeping the completeness of the old buildings and we just pointed out the damage to their historical values,” Yu said.

The Shanghai bureau did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

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Appeals by the public to conserve historical buildings have generally not been successful. Shenyuli, a typical Shanghai residential community built in the 1930s, was included in the city’s protected list of historical buildings in 2004.
The listing was not enough to prevent its demolition eight years later to make way for a public green land space.
Three years ago, the Shanghai government announced it was suspending the planned demolition of a former sex slavery station used by Japanese soldiers during the second world war, following media reports and a public outcry.
However, the building was later demolished, according to Su Zhiliang, history professor from Shanghai Normal University and a researcher on sex slavery, who predicts a similar outcome for this latest conservation effort.
“I think the government is just using the same tactic to postpone their plan. After the public’s attention is over, they will continue demolishing,” Su said.
Source: SCMP
11/05/2019

China’s mothers say no to more babies, they can’t afford them

  • Birth rate continues to fall three years after one-child policy was relaxed
  • Survey finds high cost of raising children biggest deterrent to second baby
Chinese mothers say financial pressures are stopping them from having another child. Photo: Shutterstock
Chinese mothers say financial pressures are stopping them from having another child. Photo: Shutterstock
Half of China’s working mothers do not want a second child, mainly because of financial pressures, a survey released ahead of Mother’s Day has found.
Another 40 per cent said they hoped to have a second child, but dared not to, according to the 2019 working mothers’ living condition survey by Chinese recruitment website Zhaopin.com, which polled 8,739 women over the past two weeks.
The biggest obstacle deterring the mothers from having a second child was economic pressure, with 85 per cent saying they could not afford the high cost of raising children.
China’s low birth rate has been a top concern for the government since it introduced a universal two-child policy in 2016. After decades of a rigidly enforced restriction on couples to have only one child, the number of newborns has not risen as expected.
Births across the country have continued to fall over the past three years, from 17.86 million in 2016, to 17.23 million in 2017, and 15.23 million last year, according to data from the National Bureau of Statistics.
Social demography professor Yang Juhua, from the Centre for Population and Development Studies at Renmin University of China in Beijing, said there were several factors influencing Chinese women’s decision to stick to one child, despite the policy relaxation.

“People are reluctant to give birth because of two reasons: no money to raise kids and no people to look after them, especially when the babies are too young to be admitted to kindergartens,” she said.

The economic stress of raising a child was not about basic living costs, but the expense of extracurricular courses and tuition fees at elite private schools, she said.
“Parents have to send their kids to learn various subjects in order to keep up with their peers amid fierce competition. So the kids are called cash-smashers.”
‘Burden’ of homework leaves kids sleep-deprived Doris Ding, a mother of an eight-year-old boy in Shanghai, said she decided years ago not to have another child.
The senior manager at an audit firm and her husband, an IT engineer at a technology company, pay more than 200,000 yuan (US$30,000) a year for their son to attend an international primary school. His after-school classes, which include piano and public speaking, cost another 50,000 yuan a year.
“So it’s out of our reach to raise a second kid,” Ding said.
Yang said that for many families the second major challenge was an inability to find relatives or other trustworthy people to take care of their children while they were at work.
“Grandparents are too old or not strong enough to do that. We often hear complaints from old people that they are tired of raising the first kid and don’t want to help raise the second one. Otherwise, they don’t have a personal life at all for many years,” she said.
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Nurseries providing places for children under the age of three was far from sufficient to resolve the problem, Yang said.
On Thursday, China’s executive State Council proposed a raft of policies aimed at easing the childcare burden for new parents, including encouraging companies to set up day care services for children aged three and under, as well as extended childcare and maternity leave.
According to research by Zhu Qin, a professor from the Centre for Population and Development Policy Studies at Shanghai’s Fudan University, China’s total fertility rate is just 1.54 per woman, putting the country among the lowest birth rates in the world.
As well as the economic factors, Zhu said women were not willing to give birth because of the lack of support from society.