@4cminews tweet: 2020 MAY 22 Australia: Victoria’s Belt and Road Initiative Deal Undermines Cohesive National China Policy

EDITORIAL: 2020 MAY 22 **AUSTRALIA: VICTORIA’S BELT AND ROAD INITIATIVE DEAL UNDERMINES COHESIVE NATIONAL CHINA POLICY** , , , , , , , , , , READ HERE: 4cminews.com/?p=51856

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@4cminews tweet: 2018 SEP 14 Chinese Propaganda; Belt and Road Initiative Explained

VIDEO: 2018 SEP 14 **CHINESE PROPAGANDA; BELT AND ROAD INITIATIVE EXPLAINED** , , , , , , , , WATCH HERE: 4cmitv.com/2018/09/14/201…

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@4cminews tweet: 2020 MAY 21 Vic Government ‘Clothed in Secrecy’ Over Beijing Links

VIDEO: 2020 MAY 21 **VIC GOVERNMENT ‘CLOTHED IN SECRECY’ OVER BEIJING LINKS** , , , , , , , , , , WATCH HERE: 4cmitv.com/2020/06/06/202…

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2018 JUL 30 What Is China’S Belt And Road Initiative?

THE PROJECT IS OFTEN DESCRIBED: as a 21st century silk road, made up of a “belt” of overland corridors and a maritime “road” of shipping lanes.

 

Beijing’s multibillion dollar Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has been called a Chinese Marshall Plan, a state-backed campaign for global dominance, a stimulus package for a slowing economy, and a massive marketing campaign for something that was already happening – Chinese investment around the world. 

Over the five years since President Xi Jinping announced his grand plan to connect Asia, Africa and Europe, the initiative has morphed into a broad catchphrase to describe almost all aspects of Chinese engagement abroad.

Belt and Road, or yi dai yi lu, is a “21st century silk road,” confusingly made up of a “belt” of overland corridors and a maritime “road” of shipping lanes.

From South-east Asia to Eastern Europe and Africa, Belt and Road includes 71 countries that account for half the world’s population and a quarter of global GDP.

Everything from a Trump-affiliated theme park in Indonesia to a jazz camp in Chongqing have been branded Belt and Road. Countries from Panama to Madagascar, South Africa to New Zealand, have officially pledged support.

HOW MUCH MONEY IS BEING SPENT?

The Belt and Road Initiative is expected to cost more than $1tn[1]SEE URL: https://www.morganstanley.com/ideas/china-belt-and-road (£760bn), although there are differing estimates as to how much money has been spent to date. According to one analysis, China has invested more than $210bn, the majority in Asia.

But China’s efforts abroad don’t stop there. Belt and Road also means that Chinese firms are engaging in construction work across the globe on an unparalleled scale.

GRAPH Total of Contracts Awarded to CCP:

To date, Chinese companies have secured more than $340bn in construction contracts along the Belt and Road.

However, China’s dominance in the construction sector comes at the expense of local contractors in partner countries.

The vast sums raked in by Chinese firms are at odds with the official rhetoric that Belt and Road is open to global participation and suggest that the initiative is also motivated by factors other than trade, such as China’s need to combat excess capacity at home.

WHAT ARE THE RISKS FOR COUNTRIES INVOLVED?

More recently, governments from Malaysia to Pakistan are starting to rethink the costs of these projects. Sri Lanka, where the government leased a port to a Chinese company for 99 years after struggling to make repayments, is a cautionary tale.

Earlier this year, the Center for Global Development found eight more Belt and Road countries at serious risk of not being able to repay their loans.

In eight countries, Belt and Road loans could increase the risk of debt distress …

GRAPH 2 Eight Countries, Belt and Road Loans:

The affected nations – Djibouti, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, the Maldives, Mongolia, Montenegro, Pakistan and Tajikistan – are among the poorest in their respective regions and will owe more than half of all their foreign debt to China.

Critics worry China could use “debt-trap diplomacy”[2]SEE URL: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/may/15/warning-sounded-over-chinas-debtbook-diplomacy to extract strategic concessions – such as over territorial disputes in the South China Sea or silence on human rights violations. In 2011, China wrote off an undisclosed debt owed by Tajikistan in exchange for 1,158 sq km (447 sq miles) of disputed territory.

“There are some extreme cases where China lends into very high risk environments, and it would seem that the motivation is something different. In these situations the leverage China has as lender is used for purposes unrelated to the original loan,” said Scott Morris, one of the authors of the Washington Centre for Global Development report.

WHY IS THE INITIATIVE SPARKING GLOBAL CONCERN?

As Belt and Road expands in scope so do concerns it is a form of economic imperialism that gives China too much leverage over other countries, often those that are smaller and poorer.

Jane Golley, an associate professor at Australian National University, describes it as an attempt to win friends and influence people. “They’ve presented this very grand initiative which has frightened people,” says Golley. “Rather than using their economic power to make friends, they’ve drummed up more fear that it will be about influence.”

According to Shan Wenhua, a professor at Jiaotong University in Xi’an, Xi’s signature foreign policy is “the first major attempt by the Chinese government to take a proactive approach toward international cooperation … to take responsibility.”

Some worry expanded Chinese commercial presence around the world will eventually lead to expanded military presence. Last year, China established its first overseas military base in Djibouti. Analysts say almost all the ports and other transport infrastructure being built can be dual-use for commercial and military purposes.

“If it can carry goods, it can carry troops,” says Jonathan Hillman, director of the Reconnecting Asia project at CSIS.

China’s “maritime silk road” also pushes its strategic advantage at sea

Maritime Silk Road GLOBE

Others worry China will export its political model. Herbert Wiesner, general secretary of Germany’s PEN Center, says human rights are being “left in the ditches by the sides of the New Silk Road”.

WHERE DOES IT END?

Belt and Road is likely to continue, not least because these projects signal loyalty to Xi. The initiative has been enshrined in the Chinese communist party’s constitution, which also eliminated term limits, leaving Xi room to continue Belt and Road for as long as he wants.

It also gives disparate Chinese projects overseas the veneer of being part of a grand strategic plan, according to Winslow Robertson, a specialist in China-Africa relations. It is not a centralised initiative, so much as a brand, he says.

“Who determines what is a Belt and Road project or a Belt and Road country? Nobody is sure. Everything and nothing is Belt and Road.”

WHAT’S NEXT?

Not all of the most ambitious Belt and Road projects are about hard infrastructure. China plans to set up international courts, in Shenzhen and Xi’an, the former hub of the original Silk Road, to resolve commercial disputes related to Belt and Road.

“It’s a reminder BRI is about more than roads, railways, and other hard infrastructure,” said Jonathan Hillman, director of the Reconnecting Asia project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. “It’s also a vehicle for China to write new rules, establish institutions that reflect Chinese interests, and reshape ‘soft’ infrastructure.”

Officials have said the courts, to be based on the judiciary, arbitration and mediation agencies of China’s Supreme People’s Court in Beijing, will follow international rules and will invite legal experts from outside China to participate.

Legal experts say the courts will likely be modelled on the Dubai International Financial Centre Courts and the International Commercial Court in Singapore, which has already struck an agreement with China to resolve Belt and Road-related disputes.

But critics of the independence of the country’s judicial system, which traditionally answers to China’s ruling communist party, worry the courts will favour Chinese parties over foreign firms.

RELATED: More from the Cities of the new Silk Road series 

Tags: 4cminewswire, 4cminews, BRI, China, Panama, Madagascar, South Africa, New Zealand, Dubai, Singapore, Beijing, Herbert Wiesner, Jonathan Hillman, Djibouti, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Maldives, Mongolia, Montenegro, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Xi Jinping, Marshall Plan, Asia, Africa and Europe, 4CM2020JUL30,

Hashtag: #4cminewswire, #4cminews, #BRI, #China, #Panama, #Madagascar, #SouthAfrica, #NewZealand, #Dubai, #Singapore, #Beijing, #HerbertWiesner, #JonathanHillman, #Djibouti, #Kyrgyzstan, #Laos, #Maldives, #Mongolia, #Montenegro, #Pakistan, #Tajikistan, #XiJinping, #MarshallPlan, #Asia, #Africa, #Europe, #4CM2020JUL30,

Original Source: Date-stamped: 2018 JUL 30 | Author: Lily Kuo and Niko Kommenda | Article Title: What Is China'S Belt And Road Initiative? | Article Link: theguardian.com

References

References
1 SEE URL: https://www.morganstanley.com/ideas/china-belt-and-road
2 SEE URL: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/may/15/warning-sounded-over-chinas-debtbook-diplomacy

2020 MAY 21 Australia’s State of Victoria Pushing Ahead with Belt and Road Plans, Despite Canberra’s Objections

 

FEDERAL GOVERNMENT vs. VIC STATE GOVERNMENT

Victoria plans to sign agreements for investment under China’s Belt and Road Initiative within weeks, as Beijing ramps up trade tensions with Australia
Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton asked the state government to justify taking part in a ‘propaganda exercise’ for Beijing

An Australian state is continuing with its plans to participate in China’s signature infrastructure drive regardless of opposition from Canberra, amid growing divisions between state and federal leaders over how to handle relations with Beijing.

Victoria’s bid to sign a road map for investment under China’s Belt and Road Initiative within weeks comes as state and national government figures clash over Canberra’s handling of escalating trade tensions with Beijing.

Beijing earlier this month restricted beef imports and slapped an 80 per cent tariff on Australian barley, in moves widely seen as retaliation for Australia’s push for an independent international inquiry into the coronavirus pandemic.

A seeder sows barley seed at a farm in Balliang, Victoria, as China slapped anti-dumping duties on Australian barley for five years as diplomatic tensions escalate between the two trading partners. Photo: Bloomberg

VIC STATE GOVERNMENT & BEIJING PROPAGANDA EXERCISE

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton on Thursday called on the Victorian government, led by the opposition centre-left Labor Party, to justify taking part in a “propaganda exercise” for Beijing.

“This is gravely concerning, and Victoria needs to explain why it is really the only state in the country that has entered into this relationship,” Dutton said.

The remarks came after Victorian Treasurer Tim Pallas accused the federal government, led by the centre-right Liberal Party, of “vilifying” China, suggesting its push for an inquiry had led Beijing to retaliate against Australian exporters.

Pallas’ comments drew condemnation from government MPs for “parroting” Beijing, as well as resistance from even some federal members of his own Labor Party.
Although the trade measures are widely seen as punishment for the inquiry, Canberra has refrained from directly linking the two issues and insisted they be resolved separately.

Beijing has denied any link, insisting the measures were introduced in response to quarantine and inspection violations and unfair trade practices.

Victorian Treasurer Tim Pallas accused the federal government of vilifying China, which resulted in it retaliating against Australian exporters. Photo: EPA-EFE

On Wednesday, Victorian government and opposition MPs clashed over the infrastructure initiative after state Transport Infrastructure Minister Jacinta Allan refused to answer questions on whether A$24 billion (US$15 billion) in new spending to deal with the pandemic would include funds borrowed from China.

Peter Jennings, executive director of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, said the Victorian government was “undermining a bipartisan position” on the belt and road strategy and stepping beyond its authority into the realm of foreign affairs.

“The focus of state politicians tends only to be on investment and trade and they have little conception of the downside risks of engagement with the People’s Republic of China,” Jennings said.

SECURITY CLEARANCES & NATIONAL SECURITY

“Very few state officials have security clearances or the need to access information from our intelligence agencies and the national security establishment. The result is state and territory governments tend to be incredibly naive when it comes to dealing with the PRC.”

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews, who has made six trips to China as state leader, signed up to join Beijing’s US$1.4 trillion infrastructure drive in October 2018, hailing it as an “Australian first” that would lead to “more trade and more Victorian jobs and an even stronger relationship with China”. Both sides agreed to work out specific investment details by the middle of this year.

Victoria, home to Australia’s second biggest city Melbourne, sold A$10 billion (US$6.5 billion) worth of exports to China in 2018, more than to any other country, and received more than a quarter of Chinese investment into the country.

AUSTRALIAN & PRIME MINISTER

Prime Minister Scott Morrison rebuked the premier at the time for not properly consulting the federal government, which under the constitution is tasked with managing foreign affairs.

Beijing’s initiative, which envisages the creation of a new “Silk Road” linking China to Europe, Asia and Africa, has been viewed with suspicion in Canberra amid concerns about its strategic ambitions for the region and allegations of Chinese meddling in domestic politics.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison. Photo: EPA-EFE

NATIONAL SECURITY PERSPECTIVE

Nick Bisley, a professor of international relations at La Trobe University in Melbourne, said state leaders lacked a “national security perspective” on China and were likely to see even greater need to court new investment due to the trade dispute at the national level.

“These tensions are certainly making states feel as if the government’s focus on the strategic risk of China is putting economic welfare in some states under threat, and as such they are likely to try to do what they can to improve economic ties,” said Bisley. “Given how dire the economic consequences of COVID are likely to be, there will be added incentive to do so.”

PAROCHIAL POINT OF VIEW

Pradeep Taneja, a lecturer in Chinese politics and international relations at the University of Melbourne, said the Victorian premier saw ties with China from the “parochial point of view” of investment opportunities in part because the state was on a major infrastructure drive, including an expansion of Melbourne’s rail network.

But Taneja said there would be limits to Chinese involvement in projects in the state as the federal government retained a veto over large international investment.

“Premier Andrews knows that – that he’s unlikely to get any major investment from China,” Taneja said, explaining that the state leader hoped to send the message that Victoria was open to trade. “It’s not just about investment, it’s also about the trade relationship.”

The Victorian government was contacted for comment.

VIDEO: (In 2013, Chinese President Xi Jinping unveiled an ambitious plan for economic integration on a global scale. What became known as the Belt and Road Initiative has seen at least 68 countries and international organisations sign trade and infrastructure deals with China. Beijing says the initiative will benefit the whole world and lift millions out of poverty. But critics, including the US and several major European countries, fear China’s real motive is to gain more power and influence on the world stage.)


Original Source: Date-stamped: 2020 MAY 21 | Time-stamped: 6:01 pm | Author: John Power | Article Title: Australia’s state of Victoria pushing ahead with belt and road plans, despite Canberra’s objections | Article Link: scmp.com

Hashtags: #4cminewswire, #PeterDutton, #TimPallas, #DanielAndrews, #ScottMorrison, #China, #Beijing, #XiJinping, #4cminews, #4CMiTV, #4CM2020MAY21,

Tags: 4cminewswire, Peter Dutton, Tim Pallas, Daniel Andrews, Scott Morrison, China, Beijing, Xi Jinping, 4cminews, 4CMiTV, #4CM2020MAY21,


2020 MAY 22 Australia: Victoria’s Belt And Road Initiative Deal Undermines Cohesive National China Policy

the face of a godless traitor

ZOMBIE PROJECT? needs to be rethought

The Victorian government’s Belt and Road Initiative program is a zombie project that has its own inertia and is proceeding despite the world changing around it. It needs to be halted and comprehensively reassessed. The federal government institutions that understand foreign policy, national security and digital technology must be involved actively and comprehensively in that reassessment.

The core rationale for a state government being a party to this initiative of Beijing’s also needs to be rethought in light of the world we are now living in.

If it’s about cheap financing, the COVID-19 environment means money is as cheap for governments to borrow as it has ever been, so that reason doesn’t make much sense.

If it’s about giving Chinese firms work, there are plenty of Australian companies that are at least as qualified and available to undertake infrastructure projects.

If it’s about using Chinese digital technology in our infrastructure, that’s probably just a bad idea.

VICTORIA’S BIG BUILD

Premier Daniel Andrews has been personally pursuing Chinese involvement in Victoria’s multi-billion-dollar ‘Big Build’ since at least his May 2018 visit to China. In October of that year, he signed up to the Belt and Road Initiative in a memorandum of understanding with Beijing. He refused to make the agreement public, only doing so after intense pressure during the last Victorian election campaign.

Then in October last year, Andrews signed a ‘framework agreement’ with the People’s Republic of China on ‘Jointly Promoting the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road’. The title is boilerplate Chinese government language for the BRI, Xi Jinping’s strategy for growing Chinese power and creating a Sino-centred world.

That document was made public, which is great, because it has some clear principles. It commits China and Victoria to adhere to ‘the concept of openness, green and clean governance’ as well as ‘highlighting the importance of procedure [which is] open, transparent and non-discriminatory’.

So, it’s surprising to find that as the Victorian government prepares to sign up Chinese entities—perhaps banks, perhaps state-owned or private construction companies, perhaps a combination of these—for actual projects in Victoria, no one can be told any of the details.

BIG PROBLEMS

There are two bigger problems here, though. The Victorian government’s BRI activities are simply out of step with the new international and economic environment, including the now openly coercive directions that Beijing is taking with Canberra over trade and in government relations.

And the Victorian political leadership’s championing of the state’s tie-up with Beijing on infrastructure is a glaring wedge that Beijing is driving into Australia—at a time when national cohesion on dealing with the Chinese state is essential.

Almost as bad has been the language used by Victorian Treasurer Tim Pallas, who accused the federal government of ‘vilifying’ China—when what Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Foreign Minister Marise Payne had actually done and said was call for a credible, independent, international inquiry into the causes of a global pandemic. In very calm language. They have since gained the support of more than 120 nations.

Unfortunately, the treasurer’s words sounded like talking points from Beijing’s foreign ministry or an article in the Chinese Communist Party’s Global Times mouthpiece.

The result is that we appear headed for an outcome in Victoria where Chinese firms are involved in building chunks of national infrastructure, perhaps with tie-ups to Chinese state banks and other entities—who knows.

INFRASTRUCTURE & DIGITAL TECHNOLOGY 5G

So what? Infrastructure isn’t just concrete and steel now. It’s laced with digital technology controlling its critical functions. The 2018 federal decision on 5G was all about the risks in digital technology from states like China that compel companies to cooperate for state security and intelligence purposes. Those issues are relevant here too.

What Victoria is proposing has foreign policy and national security implications that the Victorian government is simply unequipped to assess.

From the beginning, the BRI program with Victoria appears to have fallen into gaps between the federal and state governments. Right at the start, the Victorians said they had consulted at the federal level with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, but Canberra seemed only partly aware of the proposal and expressed what sounded like lukewarm public support.

CHINA-CENTRED WORLD

That was then. Who now thinks it’s the time to implement Xi’s strategic agenda and work to make Australia part of a more China-centred world? Who now thinks it’s the time to enter non-public arrangements with Chinese firms—state-owned or otherwise—to build Australian infrastructure? And who now thinks it’s the right time to show that the federal and state levels of government are on divergent paths in responding to an assertive and authoritarian Beijing?

Victoria’s tender process must not be used to hinder transparency with the proposed deal. This is not a standard arrangement between a government and the private sector. This is an Australian state dealing with an authoritarian superpower that is pursuing its key strategic agenda—and using its companies, banks and technologies to do so.

NATIONAL PERSPECTIVE, NATIONAL SECURITY APPLICATIONS, and IMPLICATIONS

There’s more to the Victorian BRI deal than infrastructure. The agreements talk about cooperation on biotechnology and life sciences, research and high-end manufacturing—all areas that also have important national security applications and implications. Again, this must all be reassessed from a national perspective.

If the national cabinet has any purposes other than helping us all manage the COVID-19 pandemic, a fundamental one must be forging a cohesive and united national policy on China. This is needed to help us navigate the increasingly sharp strategic differences between Australia and the Chinese state, while keeping the areas in which we can continue to trade and cooperate to both our national advantages. To have any meaning, that national cohesion must extend to any deals contemplated by individual states and territories.

Unlike the excuses we heard after the disastrously managed 2015 Port of Darwin deal, which led to that piece of key infrastructure being leased to a Chinese company for 99 years, we have our eyes wide open about the issues involved this time. And we have time to stop and think. Let’s do so.


Original Source: Date-stamped: 2020 MAY 22 | Author: Michael Shoebridge | Article Title: Australia: Victoria’s Belt And Road Initiative Deal Undermines Cohesive National China Policy | Article Link: aspistrategist.org.au

Hashtags: #4cminewswire, #Australia, #ForeignPolicy, #NationalPerspective, #NationalSecurity, #DanielAndrews, #ScottMorrison, #China, #Beijing, #XiJinping, #4cminews, #4CMiTV, #4CM2020MAY22,

Tags: 4cminewswire, Australia, Foreign Policy, National Perspective, National Security, Daniel Andrews, Scott Morrison, China, Beijing, Xi Jinping, 4cminews, 4CMiTV, #4CM2020MAY22,

@4cminews tweet: 2020 MAY 10 US Deploys B-1Bs, Warships in South China Sea as China Nationalists Call for Invasion of Taiwan

2020 MAY 10 **US Deploys B-1Bs, Warships In South China Sea As China Nationalists Call For Invasion Of Taiwan** , , , , , , , , , https://www.zerohedge.com/markets/us-deploys-b-1bs-warships-south-china-sea-china-nationalists-call-invasion-taiwan …

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