Archive for ‘President Xi Jinping’

17/06/2019

Chinese Vice-Premier Liu He says ‘external pressure’ can actually help China’s economy

  • President Xi Jinping’s chief US trade war negotiator did not specifically reference rising tensions with United States during surprise speech in Shanghai
  • Keynote address at Lujiazui financial forum his first public appearance in three weeks since tour of Jiangxi province with Xi
The keynote address by Liu He (second left) at the Lujiazui financial forum in Shanghai on Thursday was his first public appearance in three weeks. Photo: Xinhua
The keynote address by Liu He (second left) at the Lujiazui financial forum in Shanghai on Thursday was his first public appearance in three weeks. Photo: Xinhua
Vice-Premier Liu He believes the “external pressure” now hitting China’s economy was inevitable and could actually boost the country’s innovation and development.
Liu, the top economic aide to President Xi Jinping and chief negotiator in the trade talks with the United States, backed up comments last week from

People’s Bank of China governor Yi Gang

that Beijing has sufficient policy tools to address the risks and challenges to ensure that China’s long-term growth prospects remain sound.

He did not directly mention the US-China trade war in remarks at the Lujiazui financial forum on Thursday, but said that there was ample room in China’s macroeconomic system to support growth and that recent moves by the government to cut taxes and government administrative fees were starting to have a positive impact on the economy.

“We do face some external pressure at the moment, but this is the inevitable test that China’s economic upgrade must experience,” Liu told the forum, which is an annual event organised by the Shanghai government and the People’s Bank of China. “The external pressure will help us improve innovation and self-development, speed up reform and opening up and push forward with high quality growth.”

Liu was critical of economists for focusing solely on monthly economic data that has shown signs of weakness in the Chinese economy, while neglecting positive trends that support long-term growth in the world’s second largest economy.

Chinese employment, consumer prices and the balance of payment remained at “reasonable” levels, he said, although 

China’s consumer price index

did rise to the highest level in 15 months in May, partly because of the rising price of pork and fresh fruit.

“No matter what happens temporarily, China’s long-term growth remains positive, which won’t change,” Liu said. “After the global financial crisis, our financial system has been stable. The rapid growth of debt in the system has been contained.”

The keynote speech, which was Liu’s first public appearance since accompanying Xi on a tour of Jiangxi province three weeks ago, was only confirmed at the last minute having initially been announced as a speech by “a State Council leader”.

The external pressure will help us improve innovation and self-development, speed up reform and opening up and push forward with high quality growthLiu He

In an unusual move, Liu used charts and slides, both in Chinese and English, to address Chinese and foreign bankers and investors as well as other Chinese officials including Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission chairman Guo Shuqing and People’s Bank of China governor Yi.
It remains to be seen whether Liu will resume trade talks on China’s behalf, with a meeting between 
Xi and US counterpart Donald Trump

at the G20 summit at the end of June yet to be confirmed after negotiations broke down in early May.

“We noticed that the US side had repeatedly expressed the hope that the two presidents could meet during the G20 summit later this month. Right now I have no new information to offer about the China-US trade talk,” said Chinese Ministry of Commerce spokesman Gao Feng during Thursday’s regular press conference.
“Nothing is agreed until everything is agreed.”
Since the last round of talks in Washington, which were attended by Liu, the US has increased tariffs on US$200 billion of Chinese goods from 10 per cent to 25 per cent, while Trump has threatened to impose tariffs on the US$300 billion worth of imports not yet covered by duties.
“The US used state power to suppress Chinese enterprises and generalise the concept of national security. These are the behaviours of distorting the market,” Gao added.
“It was the US who reneged and was dishonest in the trade talks, unilaterally escalated the trade tensions and made the negotiation fall into an impasse.”

Source: SCMP

Advertisements
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

13/06/2019

From cosplay to cause play: why the Communist Party supports a revival in traditional Chinese clothing

  • Han costumes are enjoying a renaissance across China, buoyed by a call to nationalism backed by President Xi Jinping
Women wear Han-style clothing in Beijing as part of April’s Traditional Chinese Costume Day celebration. Photo: AFP
Women wear Han-style clothing in Beijing as part of April’s Traditional Chinese Costume Day celebration. Photo: AFP
Dressed in a flowing robe adorned with beaded floral embroidery from a bygone era, stylist Xiao Hang looks like she emerged from a time machine as she strides across the bustling Beijing metro, attracting curious glances and questions.
While China embraced Western fashion as its economy boomed in recent decades, now a growing number of young people like Xiao look to the past for their sartorial choices and have adopted hanfu, or Han clothing.
The costumes of the Han ethnic majority are enjoying a renaissance in part because the government is promoting traditional culture in an effort to boost patriotism and national identity.

Like the film, television and comic book productions that have inspired cosplay fans in the West, period dramas on Chinese TV have contributed to the surge in interest in traditional clothing. The Story of Minglan, a series set during the Song dynasty, attracted more than 400 million viewers over three days when it was first shown this year.

The success of television drama The Story Of Minglan this year reflects China’s interest in its Han heritage. Photo: Baidu
The success of television drama The Story Of Minglan this year reflects China’s interest in its Han heritage. Photo: Baidu

While each Han-dominated dynasty had its own style, hanfu outfits were generally characterised by loose, flowing robes with sleeves that reached the knees.

“When we were little, we would drape sheets and duvets around ourselves to pretend we were wearing beautiful clothes,” Xiao said.

Once a worker at a state-owned machine manufacturing company, Xiao now runs her own hanfu business, where she dresses customers for photo shoots and plans hanfu-style weddings.

The Hanfu fashion revival: ancient Chinese dress finds a new following

In modern China, the hanfu community includes history enthusiasts and anime fans, students and young professionals.

Yang Jiaming, a high school pupil in Beijing, wears his outfit under his school uniform.

“Two-thirds of my wardrobe are hanfu,” he said, decked out in a Tang-style beige gown and black boots, adding that his classmates and teachers were supportive of his fashion choices.

A government-supported revival in Chinese culture has energised the hanfu community. Since he entered office in 2012, President Xi Jinping has supported the promotion of a Han-centric vision of Chinese heritage.

Fans of traditional Chinese clothing dare to mix old and new, and hanfu is not the preserve of women. Photo: AFP
Fans of traditional Chinese clothing dare to mix old and new, and hanfu is not the preserve of women. Photo: AFP

In April, the Communist Youth League of China launched a two-day conference celebrating traditional Chinese garb, which included hanfu and took in Traditional Chinese Costume Day.

A live broadcast of the event drew about 20 million viewers, alongside an outpouring of emotions.

“Chinese people have abandoned their own culture and chosen Western culture. The red marriage gown has now become a wedding dress,” wrote a user of Bilibili, a video-streaming platform popular among young anime, comic and gaming fans in China.

Clothes were the “foundation of culture”, said Jiang Xue, who is part of Beijing-based hanfu club Mowutianxia, which has received funding from the Communist Youth League.

“If we as a people and as a country do not even understand our traditional clothing or do not wear them, how can we talk about other essential parts of our culture?” she said.

Forget K-pop and US missiles, Korea is back in fashion with China thanks to live-stream shopping

The style has not yet gained mainstream acceptance in China.

In March, two students in Shijiazhuang Medical College, in northern Hebei province, were reportedly threatened with expulsion for wearing the outfits to class.

Others said they were put off by the reaction they got while wearing hanfu in public.

“I used to be very embarrassed to wear [hanfu] out,” screenwriter Cheng Xia said.

The 37-year-old said she overcame her reservations after going out dressed in a full outfit last year.

Meanwhile, the movement to revive Han ethnic clothing has prompted questions about nationalism and Han-ethnocentrism – a sensitive issue in China, where the government is wary of conflict between ethnic groups.

High school pupils and young children are drawn to China’s hanfu trend. Photo: AFP
High school pupils and young children are drawn to China’s hanfu trend. Photo: AFP

For instance, within the hanfu community there is long-running opposition towards the qipao, the high-collared, figure-hugging garment that was once a staple of women’s wardrobes.

Known as cheongsam in Cantonese, the qipao – meaning “Qi robe” – began as a long, loose dress worn by the Manchu, or Qi people, who ruled China from the 17th century until the early 1900s.

Its popularity took off in 1920s Shanghai, when it was refashioned into a fitted must-have, favoured by actresses and intellectuals as a symbol of femininity and refinement.

“Some people … think that the cheongsam was inspired by the Qing dynasty, which is not enough to represent China. There are nationalist undertones in this issue,” Chinese culture scholar Gong Pengcheng said.

Master of a dying art: traditional dressmaker recalls golden era of cheongsam in Hong Kong

“It is a good trend to explore traditional culture and clothing culture … There are many things we can talk about, and we need not shrink to nationalist confrontation.”

Yang, the high school pupil, was more upbeat. He said: “At the very least, we can wear our own traditional clothes, just like the ethnic minorities.”

Source: SCMP

10/06/2019

China’s massive military spending is creating a ripple effect across the Asia-Pacific region

  • With a defence budget second only to the US, China is amassing a navy that can circle the globe and developing state-of-the-art autonomous drones
  • The build-up is motivating surrounding countries to bolster their own armed forces, even if some big-ticket military equipment is of dubious necessity
Chinese President Xi Jinping reviews an honour guards before a naval parade in Qingdao. Photo: Xinhua
Chinese President Xi Jinping reviews an honour guards before a naval parade in Qingdao. Photo: Xinhua
The Asia-Pacific region is one of the fastest-growing markets for arms dealers, with economic growth, territorial disputes and long-sought military modernisation propelling a 52 per cent increase in defence spending over the last decade to US$392 billion in 2018, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.
The region accounts for more than one-fifth of the global defence budget and is expected to grow. That was underscored last week by news of 
Taiwan

’s bid to strike a

US$2 billion deal

to purchase US tanks and missiles.

Taiwanese Soldiers on a CM11 battle tank, jointly developed with US arms manufacturer General Dynamics. Photo: EPA
Taiwanese Soldiers on a CM11 battle tank, jointly developed with US arms manufacturer General Dynamics. Photo: EPA
The biggest driver in arms purchases, however, is 
China

– responsible for 64 per cent of military

spending in the region. With a defence budget that is second only to the

US

, China is amassing a navy that can circle the globe and developing state-of-the-art autonomous drones. The build-up is motivating surrounding countries to bolster their armed forces too – good news for purveyors of submarines, unmanned vehicles and warplanes.

It is no coincidence that the recent 
Shangri-La Dialogue

in

Singapore

, a security conference attended by

defence

chiefs, was sponsored by military contractors including Raytheon,

Lockheed Martin

and

BAE Systems

.

Opinion: How the Shangri-La Dialogue turned into a diplomatic coup for China

Kelvin Wong, a Singapore-based analyst for Jane’s, a trade publication that has been covering the defence industry for 121 years, has developed a niche in infiltrating China’s opaque defence industry by attending obscure trade shows that are rarely advertised outside the country.

He said the US is eager to train allies in Asia and sell them arms, while also stepping up its “freedom of navigation” naval operations in contested waters in the

South China Sea

and Taiwan Strait. It has lifted a ban on working with

Indonesia

’s special forces over atrocities committed in

East Timor

. And it is considering restarting arms sales to the

Philippines

.

In his speech at the Shangri-La Dialogue, acting US Defence Secretary Patrick Shanahan touted American advancements in technology “critical to deterring and defeating the threats of the future” and said any partner could choose to win access to that technology by joining the US defence network.
Wong said the message was clear: “Buy American.”
Analysts say Chinese soldiers have less training, motivation and lower morale than their Western counterparts. Photo: Reuters
Analysts say Chinese soldiers have less training, motivation and lower morale than their Western counterparts. Photo: Reuters
The analyst said there is a growing admission among the Chinese leadership that the

People’s Liberation Army

has an Achilles’ heel: its own personnel.

He said one executive at a Chinese defence firm told him: “The individual Chinese soldier, in terms of morale, training, education and motivation, (cannot match) Western counterparts. So the only way to level up is through the use of unmanned platforms and 
artificial intelligence

.”

To that end, China has developed one of the world’s most sophisticated drone programmes, complete with custom-built weapon systems. By comparison, Wong said,
US drones rely on weapons originally developed for helicopters.
Wong got to see one of the Chinese drones in action two years ago after cultivating a relationship with its builder, the state-owned China Aerospace Science & Technology Corporation. He viewed a demonstration of a 28-foot-long CH-4 drone launching missiles at a target with uncanny ease and precision.
“Everyone knew they had this,” Wong said. “But how effective it was, nobody knew. I could personally vouch they got it down pat.”
China unveils its answer to US Reaper drone – how does it compare?

That is what Bernard Loo Fook Weng, a military expert at Singapore’s S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, told the author Robert Kaplan for his 2014 book, Asia’s Cauldron, about simmering tensions in the South China Sea.

He was describing the competition for big-ticket military equipment of dubious necessity.

Southeast Asia

is littered with examples of such purchases.

Thailand

owns an aircraft carrier without any aircraft. Indonesia dedicated about one-sixth of its military budget to the purchase of 11

Russian

Su-35 fighter jets. And

Malaysia

splurged on two

French

submarines it could not figure out how to submerge.

“It’s keeping up with the Joneses,” Wong said. “There’s an element of prestige to having these systems.”

Submarines remain one of the more debatable purchases, Wong said. The vessels aren’t ideal for the South China Sea, with its narrow shipping lanes hemmed in by shallow waters and coral reefs. Yet they provide smaller countries with a powerful deterrence by enabling sneak attacks on large ships.

Nuclear-powered PLA Navy ballistic missile submarines in the South China Sea. Photo: Reuters
Nuclear-powered PLA Navy ballistic missile submarines in the South China Sea. Photo: Reuters
Asia and

Australia

are home to 245 submarines, or 45 per cent of the global fleet, according to the US-based naval market intelligence firm AMI International.

The Philippines remains one of the last coastal nations in the region without a sub – though it is in talks with Russian builders to acquire some.
Singapore recently received the first of four advanced

German

Type 218 submarines with propulsion systems that negate the need to surface more frequently. If the crew did not need to eat, the submarine could stay under water for prolonged periods. Wong said the craft were specially built for Asian crews.

“The older subs were designed for larger Europeans so the ergonomics were totally off,” he said.
Singapore, China deepen defence ties, plan larger military exercises
Tiny Singapore plays a crucial role securing the vital sea lanes linking the Strait of Malacca with the South China Sea. According to the

World Bank,

the country dedicates 3.3 per cent of its gross domestic product to defence, a rate higher than that of the United States.

State-of-the-art equipment defines the Singapore Armed Forces. Automation is now at the centre of the country’s military strategy, as available manpower is shrinking because of a rapidly ageing population.
Wong said Singapore is investing in autonomous systems and can operate frigates with 100 crew members – 50 fewer than they were originally designed for.

“We always have to punch above our weight,” he said.

Source: SCMP

06/06/2019

Russia and China sign deals worth US$20 billion as Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin’s growing friendship bears fruit

  • Agreements to boost cooperation in spheres such as energy and technology highlight closer partnership in face of tensions with US
Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin agreed to deepen their unprecedented partnership. Photo: Xinhua
Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin agreed to deepen their unprecedented partnership. Photo: Xinhua

China and Russia have signed more than US$20 billion of deals to boost economic ties in areas such as technology and energy following Xi Jinping’s summit with his “best friend” Vladimir Putin.

Wednesday’s meeting between the two presidents, who have spoken of their desire to boost practical cooperation in the face of increasing rivalry with the United States, marked the start of Xi’s three-day visit to Russia to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Moscow and Beijing.

On Thursday the Chinese commerce ministry said that the two sides aimed to increase the volume of trade between the two countries to US$200 billion a year following last year’s 24.5 per cent rise to a record level of US$108 billion.

Gao Feng, a spokesman for the ministry, said the deals covered areas such as nuclear power, natural gas, automobiles, hi-tech development, e-commerce and 5G communications.

The deals were the first concrete results of the warm words exchanged between the leaders, who agreed to deepen their “unprecedented” strategic partnership for “mutual advantage”.

“We discussed the current state of, and prospects for, bilateral cooperation in a businesslike and constructive manner, and reviewed, in substance, important international issues while paying close attention to Russia-China cooperation in areas that are truly important for both countries,” Putin said in a joint press statement with Xi on Wednesday.

Xi – who had previously told Russian media that he “treasured” the relationship with Putin, whom he described as “my best friend” – said the two countries would work to “build mutual support and assistance in issues that concern our key interests in the spirit of innovation, cooperation for the sake of mutual advantage, and promote our relations in the new era for the benefit of our two nations and the peoples of the world”.

Russia is already China’s biggest oil exporter, and has agreed to further joint ventures. Photo: Reuters
Russia is already China’s biggest oil exporter, and has agreed to further joint ventures. Photo: Reuters

Putin also highlighted the energy cooperation between the two countries, adding that Russia was China’s leading oil exporter and the eastern route of a gas pipeline between Russia and China will enter service in December.

China and Russia seek closer economic ties to counter US pressure

Novatek and Sinopec, Russian and China’s leading natural gas companies, signed a preliminary deal with Russian state-owned bank Gazprombank on Wednesday to set up a joint venture to market gas in China.

The Russian natural gas company is also forming a partnership with China Natural Petroleum Corporation and China National Offshore Oil Corporation to develop an Arctic natural gas facility, with both Chinese companies holding a 10 per cent stake in the project, according to S&P Global Platts, an energy information provider.

A general contract was also signed to build extra units of the Xudabao Nuclear Power Plant, located on the coast of the northeastern Chinese province of Liaoning.

Chinese tech giant Huawei has agreed a deal with Russian telecoms firm MTS. Photo: Xinhua
Chinese tech giant Huawei has agreed a deal with Russian telecoms firm MTS. Photo: Xinhua

The Chinese commerce ministry also said that Moscow had agreed to increase its soybean exports after imports from America declined sharply due to the ongoing trade war.

Andrey Denisov, Russia’s ambassador to China, was quoted by Chinese media as saying that the country should “double” its soybean exports to China, which currently make up a tiny proportion of the overall quantities bought by China.

The two sides are also discussing a US$153.3 million investment to create a joint agricultural holding company in Primorsky in Russia’s far east.

Russia’s Putin calls time on UK spy scandal: ‘it’s your agent, not ours’

Meanwhile, Chinese telecoms giant Huawei, which has been targeted by US sanctions after it was accused of spying and undermining national security, signed a deal with Russian telecoms company MTS to develop a 5G network.

China Investment Corporation and RDIF, a Russian sovereign wealth fund, were also reported to have agreed to set up a US$1 billion joint technology research fund, according the US-based analysts Sovereign Wealth Fund Institute.

Shi Yinhong, an international relations professor at Renmin University of China, said the two sides were boosting their strategic and diplomatic collaboration at a time of “extraordinary” tensions between Washington and Beijing.

“Though concrete cooperation in hi-tech areas [between Beijing and Moscow] is necessarily limited, in the purely military field it is assured,” Shi, an adviser to China’s State Council, said.

China’s Huawei signs deal to develop 5G in Russia

Last September, 300,000 soldiers from the two countries took part in

Vostok 20
18

a joint military exercise in eastern Siberia, the largest such drill in Russia in nearly four decades.

While Xi is highlighting his rapport with his “best friend” Putin, the professor added, “the romance has gone out of the personal relationship between Xi and [Donald] Trump”.
Source: SCMP
05/06/2019

China runs Confucian culture courses for religious leaders in bid to boost control

  • Communist Party says those taking part pledged to ‘cultivate the Chinese cultural character of our nation’s religions’
  • Confucius has been rehabilitated by party in recent years as a means of rallying patriotism and countering foreign influences
The Communist Party for decades attacked the sage as a symbol of feudalism, but now Confucianism has been elevated. Photo: AP
The Communist Party for decades attacked the sage as a symbol of feudalism, but now Confucianism has been elevated. Photo: AP
China has begun five-day Confucian culture immersion courses for religious leaders in the sage’s hometown as part of a campaign to extend government control over faith communities through a

process of Sinicisation

.

The ruling Communist Party’s United Work Front Department said in a news release on Monday that the activity was designed to ensure the primacy of traditional Chinese values above all.

“To hold activities here … is a collective tribute to excellent traditional Chinese culture and a conscious identification and integration with Chinese culture,” said the release, posted on the department’s website.

Participants pledged to “cultivate the Chinese cultural character of our nation’s religions so that our nation’s religions are rooted in the fertile soil of excellent traditional Chinese culture, and to ceaselessly and deeply advance the Sinicisation of our nation’s religions”, it said.

The five-day immersion courses are being held in the sage’s hometown of Qufu. Photo: United Front Work Department
The five-day immersion courses are being held in the sage’s hometown of Qufu. Photo: United Front Work Department

President Xi Jinping has launched the harshest crackdown in decades on religious practices, especially those viewed as foreign such as Christianity and Islam, while at the same time elevating home-grown Confucianism.

While for decades the officially atheistic Communist Party attacked Confucius as a symbol of feudalism, he has been thoroughly rehabilitated in recent years as a means of rallying patriotism and countering foreign influences.

Confucianism’s emphasis on strict social organisation, advancement through study and exam taking, adherence to hierarchy and maintenance of social harmony appeals especially to the heavily bureaucratic party, which brooks no challenge to its authority.

Xi has repeatedly called for religious leaders and believers to be guided by “socialist core values”. Party bureaucrats overseeing religion have demanded that key religious tenets and texts such as the Bible and Koran be interpreted “in conformity with the demands of modern Chinese development and excellent traditional Chinese culture”.

That has been accompanied by a campaign of removing crosses and bulldozing many churches, destroying mosques and locking an

estimated 1 million Chinese Muslims

in camps where they are forced to renounce Islam and their cultural traditions.

Despite international condemnation, China claims it upholds freedom of religion and is seeking only to ensure regulations are followed while discouraging religious extremism and violence.
Those participating at the launch of the five-day course included the president of the Chinese Taoist Association, vice-president of the Chinese Islamic Association, chairman of the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association and president of the Chinese Christian Association.
Confucius was believed to have been born in the 6th century BC in the eastern town of Qufu. He is credited with authoring or editing key texts of statesmanship and social order, particularly the Analects that contain his key aphorisms and teachings.
The sage’s legacy is also invoked in the name of the 
Confucius Institutes

, quasi-academic bodies set up in colleges and other centres of education around the world.

Several US universities have rejected offers to open Confucius Institutes on their campuses or declined to renew contracts over concerns about Chinese government political influence.
Source: SCMP
05/06/2019

Glowing tributes to China’s rise ignore Chinese with no money or rights

  • The ‘success’ of China’s undemocratic model hides the continued exploitation of the poor, the destruction of faith communities and other victims who can’t speak out
Villagers of the Yi ethnic group move into new houses for relocated residents from poor areas, in Zhaojue county in southwest China’s Sichuan province. Under President Xi Jinping, China has set the goal of eliminating poverty by 2020, but the state of the rural poor in remote counties may make the task difficult. Photo: Xinhua
Villagers of the Yi ethnic group move into new houses for relocated residents from poor areas, in Zhaojue county in southwest China’s Sichuan province. Under President Xi Jinping, China has set the goal of eliminating poverty by 2020, but the state of the rural poor in remote counties may make the task difficult. Photo: Xinhua
I write to respond to Randy Lee’s letter, dated May 6, on the dilemma of democracy and prosperity in mainland China and Taiwan (“
What Taiwan’s economy tells us about the pitfalls of democracy

”). Linear thinking of this kind has misled a lot of people on the issue.

Mr Lee compared the economies of China and Taiwan, saying the island’s economy is in a downturn and attributed this to its democratic governance. However, every nation faces regular ups and downs in its economy and there is no reason to place the blame on the so-called chaos of democracy.
The strong economy of China at present comes at a price, and the price is most likely paid by the individual citizens deprived of freedom of speech, businesses cultivating a “copying” culture to make a profit, as well as the 
destruction of faith

  and humanity.

Xinjiang Uygurs: the human cost of China’s belt and road plan
Mr Lee acknowledges the widening 
wealth gap

in the People’s Republic of China, so let’s not forget whole impoverished counties in the mainland. It is reported that the richest 100 individuals in China have more wealth than the poorest two-fifths of the country’s population combined. What does that mean? That such an economy and authoritarian government do not guarantee a more equally prosperous nation, but keep widening the gap between the poor and the rich, and even exploiting the poorest parts of the country. The image of a prosperous nation, as described by Mr Lee, is only an illusion – hiding its failure in protecting the poor from being exploited and ignored.

Source: SCMP
05/06/2019

Do you believe in UFOs? China hints at test of new missile

BEIJING (Reuters) – With a cryptic message about UFOs and a picture of a missile launcher, China’s military has hinted that it has carried out a test of a new missile, after images of an object streaking towards the sky circulated on Chinese social media.

The People’s Liberation Army typically does not announce new missile tests, but occasionally drops hints about what it is up to, amid a massive modernisation push championed by President Xi Jinping to ramp up combat capabilities.
On Sunday, footage circulated on China’s Weibo microblogging service of an object travelling up into the sky, leaving a white trail behind it, over the Bohai Sea, partly closed at the time for military drills.
That caused some Chinese internet users to wonder if it was a UFO, though most thought it was probably the test of a new underwater launched ballistic missile.
In a short post on its official Weibo account late on Monday, the People’s Liberation Army Rocket Force showed a picture of what looked like a road mobile intercontinental ballistic missile launcher against a night sky.
“Do you believe in this world there are UFOs?” it wrote in the caption, without offering further explanation.
The navy then chimed in on its Weibo account with a picture of a missile being launched from underwater heading off into the blue sky above, with a similar caption: “Do you believe in UFOs?”
Defence publication Janes said on its website that the weekend pictures could have been China’s next generation submarine-launched ballistic missile, the JL-3.
The Ministry of Defence did not respond to a request for comment.
The development of the nuclear-armed JL-3 is being closely watched by the United States and its allies as it is expected to have a longer range than its predecessor and will significantly strengthen China’s nuclear deterrent.
In its latest annual survey of China’s military modernisation, the Pentagon said last month the new missile would likely to be fitted on China’s next generation nuclear missile submarines. Construction is due to start in the early 2020s.
Source: Reuters
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

29/05/2019

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
Law of Unintended Consequences

continuously updated blog about China & India

ChiaHou's Book Reviews

continuously updated blog about China & India

What's wrong with the world; and its economy

continuously updated blog about China & India