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 

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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

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 24 More Countries May Fall Into China’s Debt Trap With COVID-19

WASHINGTON

A Chinese worker carrying materials for the first rail line linking China to Laos, a key part of Beijing's 'Belt and Road' project across the Mekong, in Luang Prabang, on Feb. 8, 2020. (AIDAN JONES/AFP via Getty Images)

2020 A LOOMING DEBT CRISIS

Through its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), China has poured billions of dollars in loans into low-income countries to help build their massive infrastructure projects. And now with the COVID-19 pandemic, concern about a looming debt crisis has increased in developing nations, as most of them are already bent under massive Chinese debt.

Launched in 2013, China’s BRI, also referred to as “One Belt, One Road” or the “New Silk Road,” is one of the world’s most ambitious and controversial development programs. In recent years, the initiative has been perceived as a “debt trap,” due to Beijing’s predatory lending practices.

The BRI has contributed to the substantial external debt buildup in many low-income countries, according to a recent report by the Institute of International Finance (IIF).

Over the past two decades, China has become a major global lender, with outstanding debt exceeding $5.5 trillion in 2019—more than 6 percent of global gross domestic product, the IIF report stated.

Largest Creditor To Low-Income Countries: BEIJING
($730 billion – 112 countries)
50 percent of Chinese loans are “hidden”

The BRI has played an important role in driving China’s lending activity in recent years, making Beijing the world’s largest creditor to low-income countries. Since its launch, the initiative directed more than $730 billion to overseas investment and construction projects in over 112 countries, according to the report.

Among the BRI countries, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Laos, the Maldives, and Tajikistan are rated at “high risk of debt distress” by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), meaning they are likely to default or face problems servicing their massive debt.

In addition, a recent academic study published by the Kiel Institute for the World Economy suggests that the Chinese overseas loans may be higher than reported. The study says that up to 50 percent of Chinese loans are “hidden,” as they’re not reported to the IMF or World Bank. China’s non transparent lending practices amplify debt vulnerabilities in poor countries.

Amid a looming financial crisis, Sri Lanka is currently piling on more Chinese debt. Although the debt-ridden country must make $4.8 billion in loan repayments this year, it has reached an agreement with China for at least $1 billion in additional lending, according to Nikkei Asian Review.

Sri Lanka is often cited as a clear example of becoming trapped in Chinese debt and being forced to hand over strategic assets to China.

CCP, B.R.I. DEBT TRAPS:
Target Key logistics Assets to .

PROVIDING UNCHECKED:

CCP Commercial (and or) Military use for MOVEMENTS of:

i: PERSONNEL Civilian or Military 

ii: EQUIPMENT Commercial or Military

Already Debt Defaults has seen Chinese state-owned firm take control of:

Sri Lanka – Port of Hambantota.

Djibouti – Port of Doraleh.

A Chinese state-owned firm took control of Sri Lanka’s southern port of Hambantota in 2017 on a 99-year lease after the country defaulted on its loans.

“Ports have dual use in almost every country—for civilian use as well as for military use,” Bonnie Glick, deputy administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development, told The Epoch Times’ American Thought Leaders program.

“And the way China has mapped out the globe, it has been very strategically looking at the most valuable ports first and approaching those countries accordingly.”

The same thing happened in the East African country of Djibouti, she noted, where China built a concessionary port. The country is located at the entrance to the Red Sea, where the United States has strong defense interests. Nearly 10 percent of the world’s oil exports and 20 percent of all commercial goods navigate through the Suez Canal, passing close to Djibouti.

“Djibouti defaulted on its loan, and China ultimately controls operations in the port in Djibouti,” Glick said, calling the BRI “One belt, one road, one-way trip to insoluble debt.”

DEBT RELIEF

Both the World Bank Group and the IMF have urged the G-20 economies including China to provide debt relief to the world’s 76 poorest countries and allow them to redirect funds toward fighting the pandemic.

China is a signatory to the debt service suspension initiative agreed to by the G-20 nations, which provides a freeze of debt repayments for the poorest nations upon request. The suspension will run from May 1 through the end of 2020.

According to Glick, the initial Chinese response to debt forgiveness was positive.

But later, “they started putting all kinds of conditions on what type of debt would be considered for debt forgiveness, carefully trying to thread the needle to keep bilateral debt owed” to China off the table, she said.

BRI’s massive construction projects are financed mainly through a wide range of Chinese local government and state-controlled institutions.

The Trump administration has voiced a hard line against China’s ambitions to grow its footprint in emerging markets, and the pandemic has amplified these concerns.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the whole world is waking up to the challenges posed by the Chinese Communist Party.

“China’s been ruled by a brutal, authoritarian regime, a communist regime, since 1949. For several decades, we thought the regime would become more like us through trade, scientific exchanges, diplomatic outreach, letting them in the WTO as a developing nation,” he told reporters on May 20.

“That didn’t happen. We greatly underestimated the degree to which Beijing is ideologically and politically hostile to free nations.”

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo

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Original Source: Date-stamped: 2020 MAY 24 | Author: by Emel Akan | Article Title: More Countries May Fall Into China’s Debt Trap With COVID-19 | Article Link: theepochtimes.com

2018 DEC 13 Exported Tyranny; Telecom Role in the CCP’s One Belt, One Road

EXPORTED TYRANNY: 

CCP, ZTE, HUAWEI,

Huawei and ZTE are two sides of the same coin,Chinese telecom companies represent afundamental riskto National Security.

The CCP has built a vast, high-technology system to surveil the Chinese people, and it is exporting this system as part of its One Belt, One Road initiative. Two of the primary players in this push are the companies ZTE and Huawei.

Recently, Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) warned the Trump administration that ZTE was helping China export surveillance tactics to the NICOLÁS MADURO REGIME. The Chinese telecommunications giant, which has been penalized for violating trade sanctions on Iran and North Korea, may acquire additional U.S. sanctions as the company’s business with the Venezuelan government faces new scrutiny.

Rubio and Van Hollen sent a letter to the U.S. secretaries of state, the treasury, and commerce, urging an investigation into company’s activities.

“Huawei and ZTE are two sides of the same coin,” Van Hollen said in a statement, adding that Chinese telecom companies represent a “fundamental risk” to U.S. national security.

VENEZUELAN GOVERNMENT: MADURO REGIME & ZTE.

Maduro regime

MADURO REGIME

In the letter, the senators referred to a recent Reuters report stating that the Chinese telecom firm assisted the Venezuelan government in establishing control over its citizens. According to the Reuters report, ZTE helped the Maduro regime to build a database that enables the monitoring and tracking of Venezuelan citizens and, since 2016, to centralize video surveillance.

“We are concerned that ZTE, by building this database for the Venezuelan government, may have violated U.S. export controls and sanctions laws, as well as the terms of the Commerce Department’s June 2018 superseding settlement agreement with ZTE,” the senators said in the letter.

ZTE has a history of breaching U.S. government sanctions. In April, the Commerce Department found ZTE had violated a settlement reached in 2017, and blocked the company from buying crucial components and software from American technology companies. ZTE is highly dependent on U.S. suppliers like Qualcomm, Google, and Corning to manufacture its cellphones and telecom equipment.

The ban nearly brought the company to the brink of bankruptcy, prompting a rare intervention by Chinese leader Xi Jinping.

In June, ZTE reached a settlement with U.S. authorities, agreeing to pay a total of $1.4 billion in fines and to overhaul its board of directors and senior management ranks. In exchange, the United States lifted the ban.

“The Venezuelan government hired ZTE to build a database and develop a mobile payment system for a smart ID card,” the lawmakers wrote.

The project was inspired by China’s national identity card program that tracks the social, political, and economic behavior of its citizens. The program enables the government to monitor everything from a person’s personal finances to medical history and voting activity.

The system in Venezuela was built using components from Dell Technologies in the United States, which alarmed the senators.

“ZTE installed data storage units built by Dell Technologies,” the letter stated. “Though Dell’s transaction appears to have been with ZTE in China, we are concerned that ZTE may have violated U.S. export controls by misidentifying the end-user or purpose of the end use.”

ZTE is China’s second-largest telecom equipment maker. The company is publicly traded, but its largest shareholder is still a Chinese state-controlled enterprise.

VIOLATIONS

A spokesperson for the Commerce Department confirmed that it had received the senators’ letter.

“The Department of Commerce will remain vigilant against any threat to U.S. national security and continues to diligently implement the settlement agreement with ZTE. We have no further comment at this time,” stated the spokesperson in an email.

As part of the settlement deal in June, ZTE has allowed the U.S. Commerce Department to monitor the company’s behavior.

Both Rubio and Van Hollen have been vocal about ZTE’s potential violations and about retaining sanctions on the firm.

“We have not received a response to our letter at this point,” stated a spokesperson for Van Hollen.

Van Hollen co-sponsored a bill introduced in September called the ZTE Enforcement Review and Oversight (ZERO) Act. The legislation requires the Commerce Department to put ZTE out of business if it violates the current agreement with the United States.

On Dec. 1, as part of a U.S. probe, Canada arrested Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer of Huawei, another Chinese telecom company.

The United States was pursuing Meng, the daughter of Huawei’s founder, in a criminal probe related to the violation of sanctions against Iran.

“While the Commerce Department focused its attention on ZTE, this news highlights that Huawei is also violating U.S. law,” Van Hollen said in the statement. “We need a comprehensive plan to hold the Chinese and their state-sponsored entities accountable for gross violations of the law and threats to our security.”

A PUSH INTO PANAMA

China’s top telecom firms are also making inroads in Panama. R. Evan Ellis, a professor of Latin American studies at the U.S. Army War College Strategic Studies Institute, predicts that Huawei and ZTE will be the dominant providers of telecom infrastructure and services in Latin America and the Caribbean, with a “near-monopoly status” eclipsing local providers by 2050.

Such dominance, according to Ellis, would give China “virtually limitless capability to collect business intelligence or appropriate technologies to give an unfair position to PRC-based companies,” he said for a report published by U.S. think tank Center for Strategic and International Studies on Nov. 21.

The two firms’ dominance could also compromise “virtually any military, government, or business leader in the region, to obtain from them valuable political and military intelligence,” he said.

Huawei was even recently awarded a contract for installing a street-level surveillance system with facial recognition cameras linked to a data network based in the city of Colón—allowing the Panama government to mimic China’s mass surveillance system, in which millions of cameras currently monitor citizens throughout the country and have been used to snuff out dissidents. Panama’s system would also be wired to the government offices of defense, migration, fire department, and ambulance service.

Beijing has deployed advanced surveillance technology especially in the region of Xinjiang as part of its efforts to monitor and persecute Uyghur Muslims and other ethnic minorities. The Chinese regime is now exporting its surveillance technologies to other countries.

Many governments around the world, including in the United States and Australia, have raised concerns about equipment and phones made by Huawei and ZTE. The Pentagon issued an order in May to remove all phones from these two companies sold at stores on U.S. military bases, out of concern that those devices could be used to spy on U.S. forces.

China and Panama signed multiple cooperation deals after Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s recent visit to the Central American country. However, experts are voicing concerns that the closer relationship between the two countries could be damaging to Panama’s interests, as well as those of the United States.

Xi arrived in Panama on Dec. 2 for a 24-hour visit, during which he met with Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela. The two leaders signed 19 cooperation agreements for trade, infrastructure, banking, education, and tourism, according to Reuters. One of the agreements calls for China to provide non-reimbursable aid to Panama for carrying out the different projects; the amount wasn’t disclosed.

Additionally, Varela expressed support for Panama’s continued participation in projects under Beijing’s “One Belt, One Road” (OBOR, also known as Belt and Road) initiative, according to China’s state-run media Global Times. Beijing first announced OBOR, a bid to build up geopolitical influence through trade networks, in 2013. The initiative includes billions of dollars’ worth of investments in countries throughout Asia, Europe, Africa, and Latin America.

CORRUPTION CONCERNS

Panamanian economist Eddie Tapiero raised concerns about the relationship with China, while speaking at a news program run by Panamanian broadcaster TVN.

“It calls us to be more demanding in areas of transparency, corruption, and the law. If that doesn’t happen, the initiative [with Chinese investment] would not work out” because the money would be squandered, Tapiero said, and efforts “to boost Panama would not happen.”

While Tapiero didn’t elaborate on how corruption might take place, China’s OBOR has been known to foster corruption in countries with weak institutions, while benefiting the Chinese regime and harming local interests. One example involves Malaysia, whose newly elected Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad canceled some $23 billion worth of OBOR infrastructure projects in August after his predecessor was charged with corruption and money laundering in relation to funding for the projects.

Similar transparency concerns were voiced by Miguel Antonio Bernal, a law professor and a candidate running in Panama’s 2019 presidential election, who said, “[China has] a colonization plan and we don’t have the professional capacity to resist it. We are like an ant wanting to be friends with an elephant,” according to a Dec. 2 article by U.S.-based Spanish-language cable news channel Univision.

CHINA INVESTMENTS

Chinese companies have invested heavily in Panama in recent years. For example, in May 2017, China’s Landbridge Group, under the OBOR initiative, was awarded the contract to expand Panama’s largest port, the Colón Container Port, for about $1 billion. The firm began construction in June 2017, according to China’s state-run media.

In July 2018, China’s state-run China Communication Construction and its subsidiary China Harbor Engineering won the bid to construct a new bridge over the Panama Canal, with a $1.42 billion contract.

In an article published Sept. 21, Global Americans, a nonprofit platform that provides news and analysis on Latin America, pointed out several cases of Chinese companies being awarded public contracts under dubious circumstances.

China Harbor Engineering, for example, was awarded the bridge contract following the “unexplained withdrawal of one of the competitors from the bidding process.” Additionally, the company’s final design closely resembled one submitted by the competitor that lost the bid.

US Interests

Both the United States and China are heavily dependent on the Panama Canal for trade. According to statistics by government agency Panama Canal Authority, in the 2018 fiscal year, the United States was the top user of the canal, with about 68 percent of total trade going to or from the country. China was second, with about 16 percent.

The U.S. congressional committee China Economic and Security Review Commission (USCC), issued a report in October on China’s engagement in Latin America and the Caribbean, warning of the challenges posed by China’s investment in the region. The report concludes that Chinese investment would reduce the United States’ strategic influence in the region, diminish U.S. regional security relationships, and undermine U.S. promotion of international norms such as democracy and fair labor practices.

China is currently constructing port facilities at both ends of the Panama Canal: Port Balboa and the Amado Cruise Terminal near the entrance connecting to the Pacific Ocean; and Panama Colón Container Port at the Atlantic Ocean entrance.

The USCC report includes comments by Navy Adm. Kurt W. Tidd, commander of the U.S. Southern Command, who stated that “increased reach to key global access points like Panama create[s] commercial and security vulnerabilities for the United States.”

The USCC report questions the economic feasibility of some of the Chinese projects, including the $167 million Amado Cruise Terminal, which is “not along any major cruise ship routes.”


This article is part of a special report published by The Epoch Times on Huawei. Click here to see all coverage.


Original Source: Date-stamped: 2018 DEC 13 | Author: by Emel Akan and Frank Fang | Article Title: Exported Tyranny: Telecom Role in the CCP’s One Belt, One Road | Article Link: theepochtimes.com

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Tags: 4cminewswire, CCP, ZTE, Huawei, Qualcomm, Google, Corning, Maduro, Iran, North Korea, Venezuelan, Xi Jinping, Dell Technologies, 4cminews, #4CM2018DEC13

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,


2019 OCT 25 Victoria Deepens Engagement with Beijing’s Controversial Belt and Road Initiative

 

Whenever Premier Daniel Andrews is attacked over his cosy relationship with China, he says the deal is in the interest of the state’s economy.(Twitter: Lisa Tucker) 

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has signed a new deal with the Chinese Government to deepen the state’s engagement with the controversial Belt and Road initiative.

The deal has angered some in the Morrison Government who are worried about Chinese influence in Australia, but the Premier, who is a frequent visitor to China, says the deal is designed to boost the Victorian economy and jobs.

SO, WHAT IS THIS NEW DEAL?

It’s technically a non-legally binding agreement for Victoria to be involved in the Belt and Road project; the Silk Road for the 21st century that includes new ports, highways and railways across the globe.

It is essentially a commitment by Victoria to work together with Beijing on future projects for the benefit of both parties.

Mr Andrews will co-chair a group that will meet half yearly.

A big part is for Victorian infrastructure experts to get access to the hundreds of billions of dollars of projects slated for the Belt and Road.

But it also encourages Chinese infrastructure firms to establish a presence in VICTORIA AND TO BID FOR MAJOR PROJECTS.

($16 billion North-East Link) BE SURE THE MONEY AND THE WORK IS DONE BY CHINA AND CHINESE WORK FORCES NOTHING BUT CRUMBS FLOW BACK TO AUSTRALIANS OR AUSTRALIA

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Two Chinese firms are part of bids for the $16 billion North-East Link. 

Some critics have accused Mr Andrews of hypocrisy after he introduced laws ensuring local procurement for all government projects.

WHAT WILL VICTORIA GET OUT OF IT?

Foreign policy doesn’t usually fall under the jurisdiction of state governments, but essentially it will mean a bigger market to sell wine, beef and lamb, as well as an opportunity for Victorian institutions to teach future Chinese doctors.

International education is already the state’s biggest export.

Voicing public support for a major Chinese foreign policy initiative is likely to ease the way for Chinese companies to get approval from Beijing to make investments in Victoria, and for Victorian-based companies to sell to China.

For example, the partial granting in April of a licence for Bellamy’s infant formula to sell Chinese-labelled product after years of delay came just days before a visit by Mr Andrews to Beijing for a Belt and Road forum.

But was that a coincidence? Whenever Mr Andrews is attacked over his cosy relationship with China, he says the deal is in the interest of the state’s economy.

WHAT’S IN IT FOR CHINA?

For Beijing, it’s all about politics.

China’s cashed-up state-owned and private companies don’t need much encouragement to look for investment opportunities abroad — political leaders from across the globe come to Beijing on a near-daily basis asking for Chinese funding.

Having already been stung by a few unviable infrastructure projects in Sri Lanka and Pakistan, Chinese companies would likely weigh up the merits of Victorian deals rather than splash cash recklessly.

The real value for China is diplomatic.

Belt and Road is designed to help maintain economic growth in China through Chinese companies using Chinese materials and sometimes Chinese labour to build infrastructure in other countries, usually developing nations.

But it is also designed to grow China’s clout abroad by making countries economically dependent on Beijing, and has been written into the Communist Party’s constitution as a sign of its importance.

This political imperative partly explains the Federal Government’s refusal to formally sign Australia up.

So China’s Government is thrilled it can bypass Canberra by doing deals directly with a state government — and hopes more deals with other states could pressure the Federal Government to change its policy in future.

It would be unthinkable for a Chinese province to break ranks with Beijing on a major foreign policy issue like Victoria is doing, which also helps to explain the frustration of the Morrison Government having its diplomacy undermined.

WHY IS IT CONTROVERSIAL?

THIS ACTION IS DIVISIVE, & A THREAT TO AU NATIONAL SECURITY

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Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton has led criticism of the Victorian deal with China, questioning why the Premier believes the decision is in the national interest.

“It’s a decision that’s been made by Mr Andrews, so he can justify the decision. I haven’t heard the rationale or the reasoning behind what seemed to be a pretty rushed decision,” Mr Dutton said.

Jane Golley from the ANU’s Australian Centre on China in the World said the Premier was making a pragmatic decision based mainly on the economic benefits for Victoria.

She warned simple rhetoric against the deal from Canberra politicians was a bigger concern because it sent a signal to Beijing that Australia was closed for business.

Associate Professor Golley said engagement was the most pressing national issue but how to deal with it needed to rise “beyond partisan squabbling”.

“It is not a black and white proposition,” she said.

Victorian Opposition Leader Michael O’Brien said he was concerned the agreement was one-sided, in China’s favour.

He pointed to the part of the agreement which said the aim was to “increase participation of Chinese infrastructure companies in Victoria” compared to “promoting the cooperation of Victorian firms in China”.

Mr O’Brien said he was concerned the agreement would give Chinese companies a head start on Victorian jobs.

“I am all for trade, economic partnerships and attracting investment to Victoria but I am also for a level playing field,” he said.

A PREMIER WITH THE MORAL CONSCIENCE THE SIZE OF AN ANT!

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But what about China’s human rights record?

ABC’s Four Corner’s program exposed how China was creating the world’s largest prison, with millions of citizens being held in detention.

But the Premier insists China is an important trading partner and Victorian jobs will benefit.

The Premier has also encouraged other state governments and the Federal Government to follow suit.

“We’d always hope that the Federal Government would have a similar approach to us to work closely with China for the benefit of Victorian workers …” he said.

“I think most Australians would say that was good … we need a strong partnership … and we would hope that every state and territory, and indeed the Commonwealth, would have a strong partnership and friendship with China.”

Original Source: Date-stamped: 2019 OCT 25 | Author: Richard Willingham & Bill Birtles | Article Title: Victoria Deepens Engagement With Beijing'S Controversial Belt And Road Initiative | Article Link: abc.net.au

Hashtags: #4cminewswire, #BRI, #XiJinping, #China, #DanielAndrews, #Uighurs, #Kazakhs, #Kyrgyzs, #4cminews, #4CM2019OCT25

Tags: 4cminewswire, BRI, Xi Jinping, China, Daniel Andrews, Uighurs, Kazakhs, Kyrgyzs, 4cminews, #4CM2019OCT25


2019 OCT 01 China’s Path Forward Is Getting Bumpy

 

A Chinese flag is seen at the Khorgos border crossing point.SHAMIL ZHUMATOV / REUTERS)

KHORGOS[1]Khorgas, officially known as Korgas, also known as Chorgos, Gorgos, Horgos and Khorgos, formerly Gongchen, is a Chinese city straddling the border with Kazakhstan. It is located in the Ili Kazakh … Continue reading, Kazakhstan—To better understand the future of China’s role in Central Asia, and the world, you need to come here, the middle of nowhere.

Straddling the Kazakh-Chinese border, a collection of cranes, railways, and buildings rises out of a barren stretch of desert surrounded by towering mountains to form the backbone of the Khorgos Gateway, one of the most ambitious projects in China’s Belt and Road Initiative, or BRI, Beijing’s sprawling infrastructure project. 

BEIJING – “DRY PORT”
KAZAKH TRAINS (5,000-plus-mile to) EUROPE

Beijing hopes the “dry port” here—where Chinese freight will be reloaded onto Kazakh trains to make the 5,000-plus-mile journey to Europe—will expand land-based trade across Eurasia. Beyond the logistics hub, the Kazakh project also consists of a special economic zone to attract investors to build factories and warehouses, and a free-trade border zone that aims to increase commerce with China. On the Kazakh side of the border, a purpose-built village, Nurkent, houses the area’s workers, with ambitious plans to grow it in the coming decades to complement its sister city in China, also called Khorgos, which already features shopping malls, hotels, and a population of more than 100,000.

Only in operation since 2015, the facilities are still taking shape in Kazakhstan, whose government is trying to maximize its geographic location to benefit from China’s flagship foreign-policy effort. Yet along the way, Khorgos has become emblematic of the immense promise and problems associated with the Belt and Road Initiative.

Since BRI was launched, in 2013, China has sunk hundreds of billions of dollars into ports, railways, and energy projects across Asia, Africa, and Europe. The goal is to not only expand infrastructure, including in many developing countries, but also win over local populations and governments by funnelling investment, jobs, and economic growth in their direction.

The path forward has been bumpy, though.

Questions regarding the commercial value of certain projects and concerns over the initiative being a backdoor for more sinister geopolitical ambitions have undercut Beijing’s official rhetoric of “win-win” cooperation and illustrated the uncertainty surrounding its plans.

As Beijing marks the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China, questions over the implementation of BRI are among several facing the country regarding the limits of its power—from protests in Hong Kong to the escalating trade war with the United States.

“There is a reason that lots of these gaps in global infrastructure that China is trying to fill exist in the first place,” Andrew Cainey, a China expert and an associate fellow at Chatham House, a London-based think tank, told me. “It’s because they are not so commercially appealing.”

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• EXPECTATIONS
• SUBSIDIES
• WASTE & FRAUD

This tension—between the expectations surrounding BRI and the challenges of fulfilling them—is on display here in Khorgos. The project has posted impressive overall growth numbers, and Kazakh officials are keen to talk up plans to develop the area. The dry port processed 44 percent more cargo, as measured by so-called 20-foot-equivalent units, in 2018 compared with the previous year, according to data provided by the authorities here. Kazakh officials were also keen to point to the area’s potential for growth.

A 2017 study commissioned by the International Union of Railways estimated that trade volume between China and Europe via rail would increase sharply over the next decade, with Kazakhstan becoming the key crossroads.

Similarly, officials mentioned new investments from Chinese companies to build facilities and factories in the special economic zone on the Kazakh side as a sign of the area’s growth.

Khorgos is about turning Kazakhstan into Central Asia’s transit hub,” Nurlan Toganbayev, the director of the commercial department at the KHORGOS GATEWAY, told me. “We know this is no easy task, but we’re growing, and we take great pride in that.”

Yet even these touted successes point to future problems for the project.

Rail transport is still only a small percentage of global trade; sea and air routes, which are cheaper and faster, respectively, form the bulk of goods moved between China and Europe.

The land route has also been criticized for waste and fraud.

Many of the cargo containers returning by rail from Europe to China through Kazakhstan are empty, officials admit, due to a trade imbalance, but the problem may run even deeper.

The Chinese government provides significant subsidies to encourage use of the rail links, and a recent report by the Chinese Business Journal found that many exporters transported empty containers from China to Europe just to receive those subsidies.

China Railway, the government operator of the rail line, admitted to the state-run Global Times that the problem existed, but said that it has been eradicated. Not only does the episode illustrate the commercial limits of large-scale shipping by train, but it calls into question the viability of the Khorgos project.

These concerns may be part of a broader pattern.

CORRUPTION

Beijing has “zero tolerance”

At the second annual Belt and Road Forum, in April, the Chinese leader Xi Jinping signalled that his government would move to tighten oversight of the opaque network of infrastructure projects that makes up BRI and discussed taking on more high-quality and sustainable deals, saying that Beijing had “zero tolerance” for corruption.

This came on the heels of several instances that have sullied the initiative’s brand. The $62 billion CHINA-PAKISTAN ECONOMIC CORRIDOR has been scaled back amid Pakistan’s increasing debt problems, while a major port deal in Myanmar was slimmed down from roughly $7 billion to $1.3 billion.

A port in Sri Lanka garnered global headlines after the government couldn’t repay its loans and granted a state-owned Chinese company a 99-year lease on the port as a form of debt relief.

Elsewhere, projects have been tarnished by corruption: 

China has built a sprawling Surveillance State and Internment-Camp System up to 2 million people

The new Malaysian government renegotiated a major rail project at a significantly reduced cost and cancelled $3 billion worth of plans to build new pipelines following a graft scandal. The Maldives is seeking debt forgiveness following corruption allegations connected to Belt and Road projects green-lit by its previous government.

These scandals come as a slowing Chinese economy could lead to a more cautious approach to investment in the future. According to Cainey, from Chatham House, Beijing is still fine-tuning BRI and trying to learn from a spree of large-scale projects in countries with poor governance and weak rule of law.

“The Chinese have taken the same approach they took at home, where they have lots of experience managing the risks of large infrastructure projects,” he told me, “but as they are now seeing, things work differently overseas.” 

China has become the largest investor in Central Asia, and its patronage has been embraced by local governments, especially in Kazakhstan, where Xi announced BRI in 2013. But China’s expansion also stirred fears among everyday citizens of vassalage[2]a position of subordination or submission (as to a political power). to Beijing.

Concerns over China’s intentions are not new, but they have increased as its economic footprint has deepened. These worries have grown in recent years, as China has built a sprawling surveillance state and internment-camp system to target its Muslim population: mostly Uighurs, but also ethnic Kazakhs, Kyrgyzs, and other groups in its western Xinjiang region, which shares a 1,100-mile border with Kazakhstan.

It’s unclear how many people are in some sort of detention, but the U.S. State Department estimates that 800,000 to 2 million people have been detained since 2017.

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In Zharkent, a Kazakh city of about 33,000 people that sits 22 miles from the Khorgos Gateway, this reality is on display.

The city was the site of the high-profile trial of Sayragul Sauytbay, an ethnic Kazakh Chinese national who worked in the camps and then fled to Kazakhstan because she feared internment herself. Sauytbay became a local celebrity for her firsthand testimony about China’s camps when she was tried for crossing the border illegally through the Khorgos free-trade zone. (She was granted asylum in Sweden in June.)

The internment camps also overlapped with the broader Khorgos project in December 2017, when Askar Azatbek, a former Xinjiang official who became a Kazakh citizen, was allegedly taken from the Kazakh side of the free-trade zone to China, where he has since been detained.

“China is trying to win hearts and minds,” Philippe Le Corre, a nonresident senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace who studies China’s global rise in Europe and Eurasia, told me, “but it’s an almost impossible task when you look at what’s happening to the Muslims of China.”

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Markets and bazaars in Zharkent are full of Chinese goods, and rumors of Chinese encroachment are prolific in trading stalls and tea houses. But criticizing China publicly is still a sensitive topic in authoritarian Kazakhstan, and during a recent visit, many people were wary of speaking on the record.

Alexander, a resident of Zharkent who gave only his first name, told me that he makes his living shuttling Chinese goods, and that there has been a change of attitude in recent years when locals interact with Chinese merchants and officials. “They look down on us now,” he said. Another man, Bolat, told me he feels that grand projects like Khorgos bring “no benefit to the local community.”

Still, despite limited goodwill for China and various difficulties with its marquee Belt and Road projects, developments like Khorgos hold too much symbolic political value for China and Kazakhstan to be allowed to fail. Beijing has fuelled its global infrastructure push with subsidies and investments, but as China enters a new phase shaped by tighter budgets and oversight, Khorgos and other BRI projects may need to adapt.

“There are lots of local people that would like for Khorgos to be a success story,” Le Corre said. “But given everything else going on at the moment, it’s becoming more difficult for China to sell this new Silk Road.”

Original Source: Date-stamped: 2019 OCT 01 | Author: by Reid Standish  | Article Title: The Khorgos Gateway was once touted as one of the most ambitious projects in the Belt and Road Initiative, but it has come to represent the limits of Beijing’s global push. | Article Link: theatlantic.com


Hashtags: #4cminewswire, #BRI, #XiJinping, #China, #KhorgosGateway, #Malaysia, #Maldives, #SriLanka, #Kazakhstan, #Pakistan,  #Uighurs, #Kazakhs, #Kyrgyzs, #4cminews, #4CM2019OCT01

Tags: 4cminewswire, BRI, Xi Jinping, China, Khorgos Gateway, Malaysia, Maldives, Sri Lanka, Kazakhstan, Pakistan,  Uighurs, Kazakhs, Kyrgyzs, 4cminews, #4CM2019OCT01


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References

1 Khorgas, officially known as Korgas, also known as Chorgos, Gorgos, Horgos and Khorgos, formerly Gongchen, is a Chinese city straddling the border with Kazakhstan. It is located in the Ili Kazakh Autonomous Prefecture of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. SEE URL: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Khorgas
2 a position of subordination or submission (as to a political power).

2018 DEC 06 ONE BELT, ONE ROAD, ONE BIG MISTAKE

China’s signature foreign-policy project is a failure that the U.S. shouldn’t copy.

China's President Xi Jinping, Papua New Guinea's Governor-General Bob Dadae, and Papua New Guinea's Chief of Defense Major General Gilbert Toropo attend a welcome ceremony for Xi's state visit in Port Moresby on Nov. 16 ahead of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit. (David Gray/AFP/Getty Images)

The headlines coming out of this year’s APEC conference in Papua New Guinea focused on the conflict between America and China that kept the forum from issuing a joint communiqué. Less noticed were two short memorandums released on the sidelines of the conference by the island nations of Vanuatu and Tonga. In return for renegotiating existing debt, both agreed to become the newest participants—following other Pacific nations like Papua New Guinea and Fiji—in Chinese President Xi Jinping’s signature foreign-policy venture, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

As Xi’s trillion-dollar development strategy has snaked away from the Eurasian heartland and into the South Pacific, Western Africa, and Latin America, concern has grown. Many Americans fear that the Belt and Road Initiative is an extension of efforts by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to undermine the security and economic architecture of the international order. China’s growing largesse, they worry, comes largely at the expense of international institutions and American influence.

This angst lies behind another announcement made at last month’s APEC gathering: Australia, Japan, and the United States declared that they had formed their own trilateral investment initiative to help meet infrastructure needs in the Indo-Pacific.

FOR SOME THIS IS NOT ENOUGH: In its most recent report to the United States Congress, the bipartisan U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission recommended that Congress create an additional fund “to provide additional bilateral assistance for countries that are a target of or vulnerable to Chinese economic or diplomatic pressure.” This is the wrong response to the Belt and Road Initiative. 

IGNORE THE HYPE: For the Chinese, this initiative has been a strategic blunder. By buying into the flawed idea that barrels of money are all that is needed to solve complex geopolitical problems, China has committed a colossal error. Xi’s dictatorship makes it almost impossible for the country to admit this mistake or abandon his pet project. The United States and its allies gain nothing from making China’s blunders their own.

In Xi’s speeches, the phrase most closely associated with the Belt and Road Initiative is “community of common destiny.” Xi’s use of this term is meant to link the BRI to the deeper purpose party leaders have articulated for the CCP over the last three decades. China’s leaders believe that not only is it their “historic mission” to bring about China’s “national rejuvenation” as the world’s most prestigious power, but that China has a unique role to play in the development of “political civilization” writ large.

It is the Chinese, Xi maintains (as Hu and Jiang did before him), who have adapted socialism to modern conditions, and in so doing have created a unique Chinese answer to “the problems facing mankind.” Though this answer began in China, Xi is clear that the time has come for “Chinese wisdom and a Chinese approach” to benefit those outside of China.

The Belt and Road Initiative is intended to do just that. By using the Chinese model of socialism to develop the world’s poorer regions, the initiative justifies Xi’s grandiose claims about the party’s historic mission on the international stage.

To match these lofty aims, Chinese academics and policy analysts at prestigious party think tanks have articulated more down-to-earth goals for the initiative. According to them, the BRI promises to integrate China’s internal markets with those of its neighbors.

Doing so will bring its neighbors closer to China geopolitically and bring stability to the region. By increasing economic activity in China’s border regions, such as Xinjiang and Tibet, the Belt and Road Initiative will lessen the appeal that separatist ideology might have to the residents.

Another projected benefit is the energy security that will come through the construction of BRI-funded transport routes. Finally, by articulating and then following through on an initiative that puts common development over power politics, China will gain an advantage over other major countries (read: Japan and the United States) who present the world as a black-and-white competition for hegemony. The community of common destiny, these analysts have claimed, is a community that will immensely benefit China.

As the Belt and Road Initiative is only five years old (and many of its main members have been involved for a far shorter time) its full results cannot yet be judged. However, a preliminary assessment can be offered for BRI projects in South and Southeast Asia, the region described by Chinese leaders as the “main axis” of the Belt and Road Initiative.

It is here that BRI investment is strongest and has been around longest. The picture is not promising. The hundreds of billions spent in these countries has not produced returns for investors, nor political returns for the party.

Whether Chinese leaders actually seek a financial return from the Belt and Road Initiative has always been questionable—the sovereign debt of 27 BRI countries is regarded as “junk” by the three main ratings agencies, while another 14 have no rating at all.

Investment decisions often seem to be driven by geopolitical needs instead of sound financial sense. In South and Southeast Asia expensive port development is an excellent case study. A 2016 CSIS report judged that none of the Indian Ocean port projects funded through the BRI have much hope of financial success.

They were likely prioritized for their geopolitical utility. Projects less clearly connected to China’s security needs have more difficulty getting off the ground: the research firm RWR Advisory Group notes that 270 BRI infrastructure projects in the region (or 32 percent of the total value of the whole) have been put on hold because of problems with practicality or financial viability. There is a vast gap between what the Chinese have declared they will spend and what they have actually spent.

There is also a gap between how BRI projects are supposed to be chosen and how they actually have been selected. Xi and other party leaders have characterized BRI investment in Eurasia as following along defined “economic corridors” that would directly connect China to markets and peoples in other parts of the continent. By these means the party hopes to channel capital into areas where it will have the largest long-term benefit and will make cumulative infrastructure improvements possible.

Original Source: Date-stamped: 2018 DEC 06 | Time-stamped: 3:29 PM | Author: Tanner Greer | Article Title: One Belt, One Road, One Big Mistake | Article Link: foreignpolicy.com

Tag: 4cminewswire, 4cminews, CCP, BRI, China, Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Vanuatu, Tonga, Xi Jinping, Eurasia, South Pacific, Western Africa, Latin America, Australia, Japan #4CM2018DEC06,

Hashtag: #4cminewswire, #4cminews, #CCP, #BRI, #China, #PapuaNewGuinea, #Fiji, #Vanuatu, #Tonga, #XiJinping, #Eurasia, #SouthPacific, #WesternAfrica, #LatinAmerica, #Australia, #Japan, #4CM2018DEC06,

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,

2019 OCT 30 Australian Perspectives On The Belt And Road Initiative

 

Around 130 countries have reportedly signed agreements with the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in some capacity on engagement with the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) since its launch by President Xi Jinping in 2013. Thirty-seven world leaders were in attendance at Beijing’s second Belt and Road Forum this year, up from 29 last year. 

The BRI is largely touted as an infrastructure development initiative by the PRC, described by President Xi as ‘a new option for other countries and nations who want to speed up their development while preserving their independence’.[1]‘Socialism with Chinese characteristics enters a new era: Xi’, Xinhua, October 18 2019 SEE URL: http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/2017-10/18/c_136688475.htm But this is merely one aspect of an initiative that is in reality shaping up to be a multi-pronged and ambitious geostrategic framework for PRC foreign policy. A useful conceptualisation is put forth by former China correspondent for The Australian, Rowan Callick, who described the BRI thusly: ‘[T]he PRC is transitioning towards becoming a pervasive global player, with Xi’s signature Belt and Road Initiative – wrapping itself now not merely around the Silk Road from Asia to Europe but around the globe – at the core.’[2]Rowan Callick, ‘The China Challenge’, CIS Occasional Paper 171, Centre for Independent Studies, July 2019, p 2.

Exactly what the BRI’s scope is has been fodder for much discussion. For example, on July 8, PRC Defence Minister Wei Fenghe told a meeting of senior defence officials from South Pacific and Caribbean countries that the PRC would be ‘willing to deepen military exchanges and cooperation’ under the auspices of the BRI.[3]‘China to deepen military cooperation with Caribbean countries, Pacific island countries: defense minister’, Xinhua, July 8 2019 SEE URL: … Continue reading This seemed to be public confirmation from a senior government representative of a military dimension to the BRI, which would belie the PRC’s stated intentions about the nature of the initiative. How significant a development this is remains unclear, but nonetheless adds to the uncertainty around the BRI.

The PRC continues to court countries to participate in the BRI, focusing particularly on countries of geostrategic significance. But while deals have been inked on numerous BRI projects, many have yet to materialise. The BRI is also the subject of structural concerns, particularly around transparency, governance and debt, which has diminished some countries’ appetite to engage with the initiative, including Australia. This has compelled the PRC to acknowledge, and pledge to address, some of these issues.[4]Alfred Romann, ‘Who will benefit from China’s Belt and Road Initiative?’, Al Jazeera, April 28 2019 SEE URL: … Continue reading

Chief amongst countries vocally agitating against the BRI has been the US, with senior officials criticising the initiative in set piece speeches and engaging in attempts to recruit other countries in coordinated pushback against the PRC. This has yielded mixed results. For example, a reported attempt by the US State Department in April to persuade 12 diplomats from allied nations to sign a joint statement criticising the BRI was met with refusal.[5]Noah Barkin, ‘The US is losing Europe in its battle with China’, The Atlantic, June 4 2019 SEE URL: … Continue reading The US has, however, joined with Australia and Japan to establish a trilateral infrastructure financing fund to provide an alternative, of sorts, to the BRI.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo during a visit to Sydney for the annual Australia-United States Ministerial Consultations (AUSMIN) summit in August called for a ‘determined effort’ between Australia and the US to ‘band together’ on the PRC, nominating the BRI as a key security challenge for both countries:[6]Brad Norington and Cameron Stewart, ‘US call for help battling China’, The Australian, August 5 2019 SEE URL: … Continue reading

The time is right because the challenge China presents to us in the region is upon us, whether that is the militarisation of the South China Sea or their Belt and Road Initiative.

Mike Pompeo

Australia, for its part, has thus far refrained from following the lead of the US in its public characterisation of the BRI and abstained from joining a campaign of overt pushback, opting to characterise itself as ‘neutral’ on the initiative.[7]‘Scott Morrison gives his final 7.30 interview of the 2019 campaign’, transcript, May 16 2019 SEE URL: https://www.abc.net.au/7.30/scott-morrison-gives-his-final-7.30-interview-of/11121856 Australia has expressed notional support for the developmental aspects of the BRI and what it can contribute to the region, but has at the same time expressed reservations, along the lines of the structural concerns noted above. It has furthermore sought to counterweight the BRI through its commitment to a ‘Pacific step up’ (with initiatives such as the Australian Infrastructure Financing Facility) and support for the Quad, an informal strategic dialogue with the US, Japan and India.

It is unlikely that Australia will move away with any haste from its current position on the BRI at the federal government level, which is to consider BRI-umbrella projects on a case-by-case basis instead of formally ‘signing up’ to the initiative. This position was most recently reiterated by Foreign Minister Marise Payne in June.[8]Nathan Hondros, ‘Why WA is China’s next target in its controversial Belt and Road scheme’, WAtoday, June 12 2019 SEE URL: … Continue reading Moreover, the uncertainty with which the BRI is viewed by influential quarters of government was reinforced by Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton earlier this month.[9]Ben Doherty and Melissa Davey, ‘Peter Dutton: China accuses home affairs minister of ‘shocking’ and ‘malicious’ slur’, The Guardian, October 12 2019 SEE URL: … Continue reading

While most Australian state and territory governments, such as New South Wales, Queensland and Western Australia, have opted to leave the formulation of policy on the BRI solely within the purview of the federal government, there is not as yet complete unanimity on this front. Victoria is currently the most prominent exception, having signed two memoranda of understanding (MoUs) on the BRI, and the Northern Territory has spoken welcomingly of the initiative in recent years.

Australian businesses, free to pursue BRI projects in their own right, continue to express some enthusiasm for more formalised engagement with the initiative by the Australian government, although arguably seem more circumspect about this than in the past.

This fact sheet lays out recent perspectives on the BRI in Australia at the federal and state government levels and in the business sphere.

For more background on the BRI and Australia, refer to the author’s December 2017 briefing ‘Australia and the Belt and Road Initiative: An overview’.[10]Elena Collinson, ‘Australia and the Belt and Road Initiative: An overview’, Australia-China Relations Institute, University of Technology Sydney, December 5 2017 SEE URL: … Continue reading

Federal Government

The Australian government has been at pains to ensure a careful, moderate public tone on the BRI is generally adhered to, continuing on policy articulated under the Turnbull government. However, comments by the Home Affairs Minister earlier this month provide an indication of how the BRI is being discussed in Canberra.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison in an interview going into the federal election in May clearly laid out the Australian government’s position on the BRI:[11]‘Scott Morrison gives his final 7.30 interview of the 2019 campaign’, transcript, May 16 2019 SEE URL: https://www.abc.net.au/7.30/scott-morrison-gives-his-final-7.30-interview-of/11121856

We have a neutral position on that. We don’t sign up to it. We don’t participate in it – that’s the position of the Australian government.

Scott Morrison

The Prime Minister went on to repeat government support for business engagement with the BRI:

There are individual Australian companies, though, who do participate in that and we seek to facilitate that as well and have no issues with that. It’s good for Australian companies, it’s good for Australian jobs.

Scott Morrison

The potential for positive contributions to regional development by the BRI are also acknowledged when discussing the initiative. Ahead of his attendance at the G20 in Japan, the Prime Minister said:[12]Scott Morrison, ‘Where we live’, speech, Asialink, Sydney, June 26 2019 SEE URL: https://asialink.unimelb.edu.au/stories/australia-and-the-indo-pacific-an-address-by-prime-minister-scott-morrison

Australia welcomes the contribution that the Belt and Road Initiative can make to regional infrastructure investment and to regional development.

Scott Morrison

But at the same time, concerns around the current iteration of the BRI are not shied away from, with threshold standards important to Australia consistently made clear. The Prime Minister had told Caixin magazine in November last year that Australia was ‘keen to strengthen engagement with China in regional trade and infrastructure developments that align with international standards of governance and transparency.’[13]Li Xin and Ke Dawei, ‘Exclusive: Australia’s Prime Minister says China not targeted by investment restrictions’, Caixin, October 9 2018 SEE URL: … Continue reading

This was reinforced by Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Secretary Frances Adamson, who, during a visit to Beijing to represent Australia at the second Belt and Road Forum, in a speech on April 25 said:[14]Frances Adamson, Remarks at Australia-China reception, Ambassador’s residence, Beijing, April 25 2019 SEE URL: https://china.embassy.gov.au/bjng/Speech190425.html

Australia’s participation reflects our preparedness to engage in the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

Frances Adamson

Australia wants to strengthen engagement with China on projects that align with international standards of governance, transparency and debt sustainability.

The Australian government also continues to maintain that it will assess participation in BRI projects on a ‘case-by-case basis’, a stance reiterated by the Foreign Minister in June:[15]Nathan Hondros, ‘Why WA is China’s next target in its controversial Belt and Road scheme’, WA Today, June 12 2019 SEE URL: … Continue reading

Australia is prepared to consider Belt and Road projects on a case-by-case basis according to their individual merits.

Marise Payne

The BRI has not factored into much public discussion by the government this year, but on October 11 Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton, in some of the strongest public language on the PRC used by a senior minister yet, stated that a ‘frank conversation’ needed to be had about the PRC, nominating the BRI as one of several key issues. This was noted within the following context:[16]Ben Doherty and Melissa Davey, ‘Peter Dutton: China accuses home affairs minister of ‘shocking’ and ‘malicious’ slur’, The Guardian, October 12 2019 SEE URL: … Continue reading

My issue is with the Communist Party of China and their policies to the extent that they’re inconsistent with our own values.

Peter Dutton

The Prime Minister sought to soften the rough edges of these remarks, but did not fully contradict them.[17]Ibid.

The Australian Labor Party (ALP), despite having expressed some openness to the BRI in years previous, has been largely silent on their positioning this year.

By contrast, former prime minister and leader of the ALP, Kevin Rudd, in an opinion piece laying out a suggested blueprint for a national China strategy published on September 6 wrote:[18]Kevin Rudd, ‘Let’s cool it on the anti-China hysteria’, The Sydney Morning Herald, September 6 2019 SEE URL: … Continue reading

There are…areas where it may be difficult to work constructively with Beijing, but where it’s possible to do so. We could engage our Chinese friends on the future the Belt and Road Initiative, as opposed to simply demonising it as the definition of all ideological evil.

Kevin Rudd

He had expounded on this notion during a previous speech in August saying:[19]Kevin Rudd, ‘The complacent country: Alternative visions for Australia’s future in the region and the world’, speech, Australian National University, Canberra, August 28 2019 SEE URL: … Continue reading

I often say to our American allies on the BRI: where’s your cash to match it? China is prepared to put somewhere between one and three trillion dollars on the table.

Kevin Rudd

State and Territory Governments

While most state and territory governments, such as New South Wales, Queensland and Western Australia, have opted to refrain from formal engagement with the BRI, leaving it to the federal government to chart a course in that area – a course of action preferred by the federal government – there is not complete unity on this front. Victoria has opted to effectively go it alone, signing two MoUs with the PRC, while the Northern Territory continues to speak highly welcomingly of the initiative.

Queensland

Queensland under Labor Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk emphatically ruled out formal participation by the state in the BRI. The Premier said on November 12 2018:[20]Jared Owens, ‘Annastacia Palaszcuk weighs in on Victorian government’s controversial China Belt and Road Initiative deal’, The Australian, November 12 2018 SEE URL: … Continue reading

I firmly believe that issues in relation to One Belt One Road and the relationships between China and the Australian government should be at the (national) government-to-government level.

Annastacia Palaszczuk

New South Wales (NSW)

NSW under Liberal Premier Gladys Berejiklian also ruled out signing up to the BRI in November 2018, agreeing that ‘any commitment to infrastructure building on such a vast scale must remain in the hands of Canberra, not the states’.[21]Brad Norington, ‘China’s Belt and Road a bad fit for states, says NSW’, The Australian, November 17 2018 SEE URL: … Continue reading The state government also confirmed that Beijing had not made any overtures to NSW regarding the BRI.

Western Australia

Despite initially showing some openness to engagement with the initiative, Western Australia Premier Mark McGowan in June this year ruled out WA’s participation in the BRI:[22]Nick Butterly, ‘WA Government won’t sign up to China’s Belt and Road initiative’, The West Australian, June 11 2019 SEE URL: … Continue reading

The BRI is not on our agenda and we won’t be signing up to this initiative.

Mark McGowan

The PRC had previously made approaches to WA terming the state and the PRC ‘natural partners’ and pressing the state to grasp the ‘historical opportunity presented’.[23]Andrew Burrell, ‘Belt and Road an ideal fit for WA, says China’, The Australian, June 6 2019 SEE URL: … Continue reading

Northern Territory

The Northern Territory, under the leadership of ALP politician Michael Gunner, has exhibited some support for the BRI and the opportunities it might present for the territory.

The Chief Minister delivered the keynote address during the ‘One Belt One Road in Australia’ conference on July 10 2018, describing the Northern Territory as the ‘belt and road’s gateway into the markets and minds of Australia.’ He noted that Australia’s Developing the North Agenda and the BRI ‘work together’ and that there is ‘alignment’ between the two.[24]Michael Gunner, keynote speech, One Belt One Road Conference, Darwin, July 10 2018 SEE URL: https://chiefminister.nt.gov.au/articles/population-conference2

This enthusiasm for the BRI was also expressed by the Chief Minister on October 14, when during a reception held in Darwin by the PRC Embassy in Australia to mark the 70th anniversary of the PRC, he said of BRI cooperation in an interview with PRC state media:[25]‘Belt and Road Initiative can be win-win, says Australia’s Northern Territory chief minister’, Xinhua, October 15 2019 SEE URL: http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/2019-10/15/c_138471623.htm

I’d like to think of it as win-win. It’s how do we work together to develop common bonds or common economic opportunities.

Michael Gunner

Victoria

Victoria is a notable outlier in its determined pursuit of the BRI. The first state to ‘sign up’ to the BRI in principle via an MoU last year, Victoria recently inked an MoU setting out more specific areas of cooperation. In the normal vein of MoUs with the PRC, however, the text of this second MoU is still fairly vague and general.

On October 8 2018 Victorian ALP Premier Daniel Andrews and the Chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission of the PRC, the country’s economic planning authority, quietly signed an MoU signing Victoria up to the BRI in principle. It was later announced at a formal ceremony on October 25.

The federal government appeared to be caught off-guard by the deal, with the Prime Minister criticising the lack of consultation with the federal government.[26]Scott Morrison, Doorstop – Kunda Park, QLD, transcript, November 6 2018 SEE URL: https://www.pm.gov.au/media/doorstop-kunda-park-qld The Foreign Minister, however, had adopted a different tone, stating that states and territories are ‘encouraged…to expand opportunities with China’.[27]‘Foreign Minister Marise Payne to visit Beijing’, interview, ABC AM, November 6 2018 SEE URL: https://www.abc.net.au/radio/programs/am/foreign-minister-marise-payne-to-visit-beijing/10468604

On October 23 this year it was announced that Victoria had signed a second MoU with the PRC on the BRI, nominating cooperation in infrastructure, innovation, aged care and trade development, with the creation of a joint working group to guide cooperation chaired by the Victorian Premier and a senior PRC government official.[28]Office of the Victorian Premier, ‘Victoria and China take partnership to the next level’, media release, October 23 2019 SEE URL: … Continue reading

This time, the primary figure from the federal government to weigh in on the deal from the federal government was the Home Affairs Minister, who questioned the decision, asking:[29]Noel Towell, ‘Andrews signs new belt-and-road deal with China: ‘the right thing to do’’, The Sydney Morning Herald, October 23 2019 SEE URL: … Continue reading

Why does he believe this is in our national interest? Why does he believe it’s in Victoria’s interest?

I haven’t heard the rationale or the reasoning behind what seemed to be a pretty rushed decision.

Peter Dutton

The federal ALP, with the exception of vocalised support for the decision from former leader Bill Shorten, has thus far been silent on the decision.

Business

With a few exceptions, Australian businesses have seemed to veer away from a previously vocal push for the Australian government to move forward with the BRI.

Businessperson and former minister Warwick Smith, currently chair of the Australian government’s new National Foundation for Australia-China Relations, ‘believes Australia should sign up’ to the BRI’:[30]Glenda Korporaal, ‘Heat on Australia’s Mr China’, The Australian, September 14 2019 SEE URL: … Continue reading

We should get some of the commercial opportunities from Xi Jinping’s grand vision to recreate the old Silk Road trade routes.

I don’t want Australia to be left behind.

Warwick Smith

This builds on his assessment in June that with respect to the BRI, Australia has ‘to do something a bit more formal’.[31]Glenda Korporaal, ‘Australia ‘needs special envoys to court China’’, The Australian, June 1 2019 SEE URL: … Continue reading

Australia-China Business Council president John Brumby expressed a similar view:[32]Glenda Korporaal, ‘Business lobby backing China’s Belt and Road’, The Australian, June 27 2019 SEE URL: … Continue reading

Australia needs a strategy to become part of the BRI if it wants to grow its economy.

John Brumby

Deloitte China BRI head Derek Lai in June said that Australia’s abstention from formal engagement with the BRI was having a discernible impact on Australian business, although conceded this analysis was difficult to quantify. He noted:[33]Patrick Durkin, ‘China Belt and Road refusal hurting business’, The Australian Financial Review, June 12 2019 SEE URL: … Continue reading

If you sign the MoU there is a different perception by Chinese companies…

Derek Lai

Other members of the business community, whilst keenly exhibiting an interest in the BRI, are stopping short of advocating for the Australian government to ‘sign up’.

For example, the agriculture sector is concerned that if Australia ‘is not at the table, it will be on the menu’.[34]Jenne Brammer, ‘Belt up for ride with China: Elders chief’, The West Australian, September 10 2019, p51. To this end, Agribusiness Australia in a report recommended that agribusiness seek opportunities to participate in the BRI. The report, however, while urging business participation, does not call on the federal government to reconsider its current BRI policy.[35]Brad Thompson, ‘Grain growers the losers in China chill’, The Australian Financial Review, July 25 2019 SEE URL: … Continue reading

Agribusiness Australia head and Elders boss Mark Allison said in October:[36]Glenda Korporaal, ‘Elders call to get on board the BRI train’, The Australian, October 15 2019 SEE URL: … Continue reading

Whether we formally sign up for BRI or not doesn’t matter. That’s a political question. But from a business point of view, not being anti-BRI may be helpful.

Mark Allison

And Fortescue chief executive Elizabeth Gaines asserted earlier this year that that while ‘belt-road is an opportunity’, the company would leave ‘policy for the policymakers’.[37]Brad Thompson, ‘Give China more credit, says Fortescue boss’, The Australian Financial Review, July 4 2019 SEE URL: … Continue reading

This fact sheet was prepared by Elena Collinson, Senior Project and Research Officer, Australia-China Relations Institute, University of Technology Sydney.


Original Source: Date-stamped: 2019 OCT 30 | Author: by Elena Collinson Senior Project and Research Officer | Article Title: Australian Perspectives on The Belt and Road Initiative | Article Link: australiachinarelations.org

Hashtags: #4cminewswire, #BRI, #XiJinping, #China, #DanielAndrews, #MikePompeo, #PRC, #MarisePayne, #PeterDutton, #ScottMorrison, #FrancesAdamson, #KevinRudd, #AnnastaciaPalaszczuk, #GladysBerejiklian, #MarkMcGowan, #MichaelGunner, #BillShorten, #WarwickSmith, #JohnBrumby, #DerekLai, #MarkAllison, #ElizabethGaines, #4cminews, #4CM2019OCT30

Tags: 4cminewswire, BRI, Xi Jinping, China, Daniel Andrews, Mike Pompeo, PRC, Marise Payne, Peter Dutton, Scott Morrison, Frances Adamson, Kevin Rudd, Annastacia Palaszczuk, Gladys Berejiklian, Mark McGowan, Michael Gunner, Bill Shorten, Warwick Smith, John Brumby, Derek Lai, Mark Allison, Elizabeth Gaines, 4cminews, #4CM2019OCT30


References

1 ‘Socialism with Chinese characteristics enters a new era: Xi’, Xinhua, October 18 2019 SEE URL: http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/2017-10/18/c_136688475.htm
2 Rowan Callick, ‘The China Challenge’, CIS Occasional Paper 171, Centre for Independent Studies, July 2019, p 2.
3 ‘China to deepen military cooperation with Caribbean countries, Pacific island countries: defense minister’, Xinhua, July 8 2019 SEE URL: http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/2019-07/08/c_138209338.htm
4 Alfred Romann, ‘Who will benefit from China’s Belt and Road Initiative?’, Al Jazeera, April 28 2019 SEE URL: https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/04/benefit-china-belt-road-initiative-190427131051786.html
5 Noah Barkin, ‘The US is losing Europe in its battle with China’, The Atlantic, June 4 2019 SEE URL: https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2019/06/united-states-needs-europe-against-china/590887/
6 Brad Norington and Cameron Stewart, ‘US call for help battling China’, The Australian, August 5 2019 SEE URL: https://www.theaustralian.com.au/nation/step-up-to-the-plate-on-china-says-pompeo/news-story/f5295e97f7b68ca01b15c53ff01de569
7 ‘Scott Morrison gives his final 7.30 interview of the 2019 campaign’, transcript, May 16 2019 SEE URL: https://www.abc.net.au/7.30/scott-morrison-gives-his-final-7.30-interview-of/11121856
8 Nathan Hondros, ‘Why WA is China’s next target in its controversial Belt and Road scheme’, WAtoday, June 12 2019 SEE URL: https://www.watoday.com.au/politics/western-australia/why-wa-is-china-s-next-target-in-its-controversial-belt-and-road-scheme-20190611-p51wjg.html
9 Ben Doherty and Melissa Davey, ‘Peter Dutton: China accuses home affairs minister of ‘shocking’ and ‘malicious’ slur’, The Guardian, October 12 2019 SEE URL: https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2019/oct/12/peter-dutton-accuses-china-of-stealing-intellectual-property-and-silencing-free-speech
10 Elena Collinson, ‘Australia and the Belt and Road Initiative: An overview’, Australia-China Relations Institute, University of Technology Sydney, December 5 2017 SEE URL: https://www.australiachinarelations.org/content/australia-and-belt-and-road-initiative-overview
11 ‘Scott Morrison gives his final 7.30 interview of the 2019 campaign’, transcript, May 16 2019 SEE URL: https://www.abc.net.au/7.30/scott-morrison-gives-his-final-7.30-interview-of/11121856
12 Scott Morrison, ‘Where we live’, speech, Asialink, Sydney, June 26 2019 SEE URL: https://asialink.unimelb.edu.au/stories/australia-and-the-indo-pacific-an-address-by-prime-minister-scott-morrison
13 Li Xin and Ke Dawei, ‘Exclusive: Australia’s Prime Minister says China not targeted by investment restrictions’, Caixin, October 9 2018 SEE URL: https://www.caixinglobal.com/2018-10-09/exclusive-australias-prime-minister-says-china-not-targeted-by-investment-restrictions-101333112.html
14 Frances Adamson, Remarks at Australia-China reception, Ambassador’s residence, Beijing, April 25 2019 SEE URL: https://china.embassy.gov.au/bjng/Speech190425.html
15 Nathan Hondros, ‘Why WA is China’s next target in its controversial Belt and Road scheme’, WA Today, June 12 2019 SEE URL: https://www.watoday.com.au/politics/western-australia/why-wa-is-china-s-next-target-in-its-controversial-belt-and-road-scheme-20190611-p51wjg.html
16 Ben Doherty and Melissa Davey, ‘Peter Dutton: China accuses home affairs minister of ‘shocking’ and ‘malicious’ slur’, The Guardian, October 12 2019 SEE URL: https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2019/oct/12/peter-dutton-accuses-china-of-stealing-intellectual-property-and-silencing-free-speech
17 Ibid.
18 Kevin Rudd, ‘Let’s cool it on the anti-China hysteria’, The Sydney Morning Herald, September 6 2019 SEE URL: https://www.smh.com.au/national/let-s-cool-it-on-the-anti-china-hysteria-20190905-p52o9r.html
19 Kevin Rudd, ‘The complacent country: Alternative visions for Australia’s future in the region and the world’, speech, Australian National University, Canberra, August 28 2019 SEE URL: http://kevinrudd.com/2019/08/28/the-complacent-country-alternative-visions-for-australias-future-in-the-region-and-the-world/
20 Jared Owens, ‘Annastacia Palaszcuk weighs in on Victorian government’s controversial China Belt and Road Initiative deal’, The Australian, November 12 2018 SEE URL: https://www.theaustralian.com.au/nation/politics/annastacia-palaszczuk-weighs-in-on-victorian-governments-controversial-china-belt-and-road-initiative-deal/news-story/c724fbb417970bf0d6e022f9c4745f51
21 Brad Norington, ‘China’s Belt and Road a bad fit for states, says NSW’, The Australian, November 17 2018 SEE URL: https://www.theaustralian.com.au/nation/foreign-affairs/chinas-belt-and-road-a-bad-fit-for-states-says-nsw/news-story/5eea735a36d16952e719c331f0f29e7d
22 Nick Butterly, ‘WA Government won’t sign up to China’s Belt and Road initiative’, The West Australian, June 11 2019 SEE URL: https://thewest.com.au/politics/state-politics/wa-government-wont-sign-up-to-chinas-belt-and-road-initiative-ng-b881225762z
23 Andrew Burrell, ‘Belt and Road an ideal fit for WA, says China’, The Australian, June 6 2019 SEE URL: https://www.theaustralian.com.au/nation/politics/belt-and-road-an-ideal-fit-for-wa-says-china/news-story/cf3b67e202ff912dba61e86e4056dbbd
24 Michael Gunner, keynote speech, One Belt One Road Conference, Darwin, July 10 2018 SEE URL: https://chiefminister.nt.gov.au/articles/population-conference2
25 ‘Belt and Road Initiative can be win-win, says Australia’s Northern Territory chief minister’, Xinhua, October 15 2019 SEE URL: http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/2019-10/15/c_138471623.htm
26 Scott Morrison, Doorstop – Kunda Park, QLD, transcript, November 6 2018 SEE URL: https://www.pm.gov.au/media/doorstop-kunda-park-qld
27 ‘Foreign Minister Marise Payne to visit Beijing’, interview, ABC AM, November 6 2018 SEE URL: https://www.abc.net.au/radio/programs/am/foreign-minister-marise-payne-to-visit-beijing/10468604
28 Office of the Victorian Premier, ‘Victoria and China take partnership to the next level’, media release, October 23 2019 SEE URL: https://www.premier.vic.gov.au/victoria-and-china-take-partnership-to-the-next-level/
29 Noel Towell, ‘Andrews signs new belt-and-road deal with China: ‘the right thing to do’’, The Sydney Morning Herald, October 23 2019 SEE URL: https://www.smh.com.au/national/andrews-signs-new-belt-and-road-deal-with-china-the-right-thing-to-do-20191023-p533kf.html
30 Glenda Korporaal, ‘Heat on Australia’s Mr China’, The Australian, September 14 2019 SEE URL: https://www.theaustralian.com.au/weekend-australian-magazine/warwick-smith-australias-mr-china/news-story/bd3b34f5997999253f3eef79d30936ee
31 Glenda Korporaal, ‘Australia ‘needs special envoys to court China’’, The Australian, June 1 2019 SEE URL: https://www.theaustralian.com.au/business/economics/australia-needs-special-envoys-to-court-china/news-story/f93b63822f19815a6ba4f38d41fb21c8
32 Glenda Korporaal, ‘Business lobby backing China’s Belt and Road’, The Australian, June 27 2019 SEE URL: https://www.theaustralian.com.au/nation/politics/business-lobby-backing-chinas-belt-and-road/news-story/08f427dd9f4a51a8745cc95997b7920d
33 Patrick Durkin, ‘China Belt and Road refusal hurting business’, The Australian Financial Review, June 12 2019 SEE URL: https://www.afr.com/world/asia/australia-s-china-belt-and-road-refusal-hurting-business-20190612-p51ww1
34 Jenne Brammer, ‘Belt up for ride with China: Elders chief’, The West Australian, September 10 2019, p51.
35 Brad Thompson, ‘Grain growers the losers in China chill’, The Australian Financial Review, July 25 2019 SEE URL: https://www.afr.com/companies/agriculture/agribusiness-warning-on-belt-and-road-breakdown-20190725-p52ap4
36 Glenda Korporaal, ‘Elders call to get on board the BRI train’, The Australian, October 15 2019 SEE URL: https://www.theaustralian.com.au/business/elders-call-to-get-on-board-bri-train/news-story/82cff86a3cf6db6542c2169ae559219c
37 Brad Thompson, ‘Give China more credit, says Fortescue boss’, The Australian Financial Review, July 4 2019 SEE URL: https://www.afr.com/companies/mining/give-china-more-credit-says-fortescue-boss-20190704-p5241i

2018 DEC 18 BRI equals China Using ‘Debt Trap’ Diplomacy to Seek Hegemony (Control)


A Chinese site engineer is seen on site as the extension of the Southern Expressway from Matara to Hambantota continues under construction near Hambantota, Sri Lanka, on Nov. 16, 2018. (Paula Bronstein/Getty Images)Through its Belt and Road initiative (BRI), China is pouring billions of dollars into emerging countries to help build massive infrastructure projects. Many of these projects, however, are financed through Chinese state-controlled lenders, leaving some nations distressed by debt burdens and putting their sovereignty at risk.

BRI, also known as One Belt, One Road, is one of the world’s most ambitious development programs, spanning almost 70 countries and covering more than two-thirds of the world’s population. It was first proposed by Chinese leader Xi Jinping in 2013.

The Chinese Communist Party has made the initiative a centerpiece of its plans to grow its geopolitical influence. The initiative aims to deliver trillions of dollars of investment for a vast network of transportation, energy, and telecommunications infrastructure linking Asia, Europe, and Africa.

BRI’s massive construction projects are financed mainly through a wide range of Chinese local government and state-controlled institutions. In recent years, however, the initiative has been perceived as a “debt trap,” raising the risk of economic distress in borrower countries, particularly in Central and South Asia.

The issue of whether Beijing is pursuing “debt diplomacy” through this initiative has sparked a new international debate, as well. Contrary to its promises to deliver prosperity to the local people in host countries, China is playing a zero-sum game, according to critics.

Jeff Smith, an expert on South Asia at The Heritage Foundation, says some BRI deals are a one-way street. Speaking on a panel hosted by the foundation, he said that participating nations accumulated large sums of debt owed to Chinese financial institutions and were stuck with high-interest rates.

In addition, Chinese contractors grab the lion’s share of the construction of many infrastructure projects. Participating nations compensate Chinese firms by using Chinese materials and workers.

According to a study by Center for Strategic and International Studies, out of all the contractors participating in Chinese-funded projects, 89 percent are Chinese companies. That’s in contrast with projects funded by multilateral development banks that typically use almost 40 percent local contractors.

Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad called the initiative a “new colonialism” to express his unease about China’s growing political and economic influence in the region.

GEOPOLITICAL RETURN

Westerns countries have raised concerns about Beijing’s ambitious international-development plan, because of issues that include lack of standards, transparency, and accountability in construction deals. According to Smith, these deals have facilitated corruption and nepotism, and undermined existing lending practices and international standards.

The hundreds of billions invested in these countries haven’t produced any economic returns; Beijing is mainly seeking geopolitical returns, which has inflated the debt risk.

“There are certainly questions about financial sustainability and a risk of debt distress” for countries participating in BRI, said Smith.

According to the research firm RWR Advisory Group, 270 BRI infrastructure projects (or 32 percent of the value of the total projects) have been put on hold because of financial concerns. And the sovereign debt of 27 BRI participant countries is regarded as “junk” by the rating agencies, while another 14 have no rating at all.

Countries such as Djibouti, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, the Maldives, Mongolia, Montenegro, and Pakistan are in serious trouble, according to Smith.

Pakistan’s external debt payment, for example, will surge by 65 percent next year. Meanwhile, its foreign-exchange reserves have fallen by 40 percent over the past two years.

“That is unsustainable,” Smith said.

HUMAN-RIGHTS ABUSES

The debt trap diplomacy has also allowed China to expand its human-rights abuses. There is an increase in harassment of Chinese dissidents abroad, the arrests of foreigners in China, and a crackdown on academic freedom. And China has been using its economic and political influence in the region to silence critics.

Smith said that most China experts will say there’s been a shift over the past decade in not just China’s foreign policy but also its domestic policy toward becoming a more assertive nation, and “in some ways, a more aggressive nation at home.”

“[BRI], as an extension of Chinese influence, has amplified some of these concerns and served as a proxy for some of these concerns,” he said.

The Trump administration has been a vocal critic of BRI and China in the past two years; it has been particularly concerned about the rising debt crisis in the Asia-Pacific region.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin earlier warned of the looming financial crises in the region and pointed to China, calling it a “non-transparent emerging sovereign creditor.”

The issue was also raised at the G-20 summit in Buenos Aires and the world leaders agreed to take steps to address “debt vulnerabilities in low-income countries.”

“We will work towards enhancing debt transparency and sustainability, and improving sustainable financing practices,” said the statement.

The G-20 countries also called on “the IMF and World Bank to work with borrowers and creditors to improve the recording, monitoring, and transparent reporting of public and private debt obligations.”


Original Source: Date-stamped: 2018 DEC 18 | Author: Emel Akan | Article Title: China Uses ‘Debt Trap’ Diplomacy to Seek Hegemony | Article Link: theepochtimes.com

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