China - News & Discussion

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China - News & Discussion

Post by gunjur » Fri Oct 13, 2017 8:39 am

Post China related news/views

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5 charts that show how China is spending billions in foreign aid
AidData unveiled new data this week that tracks China's official financing, including foreign aid, concessional and non-concessional state financing, between 2000 and 2014.
During that period, Beijing committed $354.3 billion to 140 countries, the group found. In comparison, U.S. official finance stood at $394.6 billion.

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Re: China - News & Discussion

Post by gunjur » Wed Dec 06, 2017 9:05 am

China E-Commerce growth

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China stages large scale air exercises ‘in areas it has never flown before’ to tell the US to back off
Beijing says its exercise included the use of reconnaissance and AWACS radar control aircraft working in conjunction with strike fighters. It included the rapid redeployment of PLAAF aircraft from deep within China to coastal districts before flying far out to sea.
Beijing is being coy about exactly when and where it staged its demonstrations, choosing to reveal it had sent warplanes through “routes and areas it has never flown before” on the same day the US and South Korea launched large scale mock airstrikes involving 230 aircraft.

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Re: China - News & Discussion

Post by Hari Seldon » Thu Dec 07, 2017 12:40 am

Thx for the dhaga, gunjur san. mucho needed only.

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Re: China - News & Discussion

Post by chetak » Tue Dec 26, 2017 2:12 pm

What's that very presumptuous rail link running across India presumably and ultimately also connecting from lanka's hambanthota port to somewhere in paki land??


PERSPECTIVES
CPEC and the Silk Road Rail Network

Reliable freight routes will help Pakistan and neighbouring countries cut transportation costs, save time and ease mobility

Yasir Habib Khan

DECEMBER 23, 2017

If CPEC is handled carefully and Pakistan is able to use it to its advantage, there is a fortune to be made in trade and the industrial market through one of its lesser known projects. This is the Silk Road Rail Network (SSRN), also known as the Eurasian Rail Project or Eurasian trans-continental rail transport network. It is meant to link Pakistan to Eurasian countries; including Myanmar, Bangladesh, India, Turkey and Germany as part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). This massive overland railroad which will stretch from Myanmar to Germany only exists on paper today, but it is highly likely that it will see the light of day soon as the practical and theoretical issues associated with it have been smoothed out.

Robust and reliable freight routes will help cut transportation cost, save time and ease mobility. China and the Eurasian countries, which include Pakistan, will be able to exploit the SRRN and rejuvenate their economies and change the fate of the entire Eurasian landmass. 80 percent of global trade is currently executed through sea due to a lack of rail networks across the world. Once the SRRN is completed, global trade will be revolutionised. China Railways has already published its master plan for the SRRN, outlining all emerging rail routes. The railway will start at Kunming, the capital of China’s western Yunnan province and connect Myanmar, Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Iran and Turkey before ending in the heart of Europe at Hamburg.

However, this project does not include the 1800 kilometre long rail line between Pakistan and China, which is specifically a part of CPEC. The SRRN is part of the Silk Road Train. There is already optimism regarding this plan, because freight trains have already journeyed from China to Europe in the recent past. 7500 mile long rail links are already operating within Suzhou, a major city in the South Eastern Jiangsu province, which leads to Warsaw.

80 percent of global trade is currently executed through sea due to a lack of rail networks across the world. Once the SRRN is complete, global trade will be revolutionised. China Railways has already published its master plan for the SRRN, outlining all emerging rail routes. The railway will start at Kunming, the capital of China’s western Yunnan province and connect Myanmar, Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Iran and Turkey before ending in the heart of Europe at Hamburg

There are also railways which go from Lianygang to Rotterdam, Chengdu to Lodz, Chongqing to Duisburg, Yiwu to Madrid and Zhengzhou to Hamburg. Currently, these trains move along one of two main routes: either they go north from China to link with Russias Trans-Siberian network or they travel west across Kazakhstan and feed into the Trans-Siberian at Yekaterinburg which divides Europe and Asia.

After the China-Madrid rail connection, the China-London route has been gaining traction. This is the second longest rail route conceived in history. It journeyed from China to the UK, reaching Barking’s Eurohub freight terminal in London in January 2017. The train is famous by the name of ‘East Wind’, getting its inspiration from Chairman Mao who once claimed that “The East Wind shall prevail over the West.” This train made London the fifteenth European city with direct rail links to China. Last month, the first freight train set off from Standord-le-Hope, Essec for Yiwu in Zhejiang province, China. As Brexit looms, British Prime Minister Theresa May is likely hoping trade ties between the UK and China continue to improve.

Image

The train starts its journey from Zhengzhou, which is located on the southern banks of the Yellow River. Once it was known as one of the eight ancient capitals of China, home to the famous Shaolin Monastery. Being a leading national railway hub, it has easy access to Beijing and some other regions by high speed train.

Passing through Baoji, Tianshui, Lanzhou and Zhanye, renowned cities for China huge industrial belt, it reaches at Xinjiang, old route of Silk Road trade that linked to Middle East. This ancient route’ footprints may be found easily by moving into its traditional open-air bazaars of the oasis cities of Hotan and Kashgar. Making headways, train has a route of the old Kazakh capital Almaty, and Astana, Kazakhstan’s modern capital. After penetrating into Russia, train accesses to Yekaterinburg, Russia’s fourth-largest city. It is place of Ural mountain range considered as the boundary between Europe and Asia.

Before The Silk Road Rail Network made the world sit up and take notice, some initiatives had taken shape in form of “The Trans-Siberian”. After this, various rail routes came into play between East and West. As a major part of the Silk Road Economic Belt, the overland segment of China’s BRI, direct cargo trains are frequently moving between China and Europe.

The writer is a senior journalist working for China Today, CRIOnline and, China Plus. He also writes for local and international print media. He is a fellow of ICFJ and a recipient of China friendly Netizen 2017 award. He can be reached at yaseerkhan@hotmail.com and tweets at @yasirkhann

Published in Daily Times, December 23rd 2017.

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Re: China - News & Discussion

Post by gunjur » Wed Jan 17, 2018 6:49 am

Slightly old article.
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Petro-yuan: China wants to dethrone dollar, RMB-denominated oil contracts
China is the world's top oil importer, and so Beijing sees it as only logical that its own currency should price the global economy's most important commodity.
The plan is to price oil in yuan using a gold-backed futures contract in Shanghai, but the road will be long and arduous.

The architects of the "petro-yuan" face an uphill struggle in dislodging the "petrodollar" and, with it, more than four decades of U.S. dollar-priced oil.

Another obstacle standing in the path of China's ambitions to price oil in yuan is the currency itself. The yuan is not yet fully convertible, it's fixed daily, prone to intervention and subject to capital controls.

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Re: China - News & Discussion

Post by V J » Tue Jan 30, 2018 10:45 am

https://twitter.com/Cold_Peace_/status/ ... 8738264064
China builds new African Union HQ for "free" in 2012.
2017 a tech employee notices an oddity.
"between midnight and 2am, computer servers were reaching a peak in data transfer activity...[and] later discovered that the AU servers were all connected to servers located in Shanghai"
https://twitter.com/Cold_Peace_/status/ ... 2974732293
"computer systems were fully equipped by the Chinese, allowing them to open an undocumented portal that gives Chinese administrators access to the AU’s computing system. This“backdoor”is an intentional fault put into code to allow hackers and intl agencies to gain illicit access"

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Re: China - News & Discussion

Post by Shakuni » Tue Jan 30, 2018 1:43 pm

Does not surprise me in the least bit - any mature intelligence agency would try and plant such stuff. The Israelis and Russians are at it, as are the Americans, all due to software products. Cheenis have to install a physical backdoor. Not sure how our babus are at it, since there are no software products to speak of, and not much of China like 'free' construction.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/10/tech ... cking.html
The Wall Street Journal reported last week that Russian hackers had stolen classified N.S.A. materials from a contractor using the Kaspersky software on his home computer. But the role of Israeli intelligence in uncovering that breach and the Russian hackers’ use of Kaspersky software in the broader search for American secrets have not previously been disclosed.
https://www.counterpunch.org/2008/09/27 ... jan-horse/
Since the late 1990s, federal agents have reported systemic communications security breaches at the Department of Justice, FBI, DEA, the State Department, and the White House. Several of the alleged breaches, these agents say, can be traced to two hi-tech communications companies, Verint Inc. (formerly Comverse Infosys), and Amdocs Ltd., that respectively provide major wiretap and phone billing/record-keeping software contracts for the U.S. government. Together, Verint and Amdocs form part of the backbone of the government’s domestic intelligence surveillance technology.

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Re: China - News & Discussion

Post by chetak » Sun Feb 04, 2018 8:56 am

twitter
Brahma Chellaney@Chellaney
Feb 2

Some Indians claimed India was isolating itself by opposing China's BRI. In reality, India has helped shape global reaction — e.g., Theresa May echoes India's words by saying BRI should be transparent, open and rules-based. Tillerson, meanwhile, likens BRI to European colonialism

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Re: China - News & Discussion

Post by chetak » Sun Feb 04, 2018 11:03 am

China Is Starting to See India as a Major Threat



China Is Starting to See India as a Major Threat

More and more, scholars in China see India replacing Japan as the second biggest threat to Beijing, following the U.S.

By Hemant Adlakha
January 11, 2018



As the new year gets underway, and Chinese foreign policy analysts join their counterparts around the world in assessing the events of 2017, the emerging international relations (IR) discourse in Beijing is quite a revelation — at least to the Japanese and Indian strategic affairs community.

While most Chinese believe Japan to be the second biggest threat to China’s “peaceful rise,” according to a few Chinese experts, the rising global profile of India, especially under the “right-wing” nationalist Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), has gone unacknowledged.

In February 2015, The Diplomat carried an article by a Chinese scholar titled “Why China Doesn’t See India as a Threat.” In April 2017, Sanjeev Nayyar, an independent columnist, wrote: “One thing China must understand is that the Indian government is not obsessed with being a threat to China but only wants a rightful place for India in the world.” And in the fall of 2017, China’s semi-official, hyper-nationalist Global Times dismissed with disdain any talk of India worrying China in an article titled “India-Japan intimacy poses no real threat to China.” The article was written in response to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s India visit in September.

The Global Times also – it now seems ignorantly – wrote off India’s successful test of its long-range ballistic missile Agni-IV a year ago, commenting: “China should realize that Beijing wouldn’t hold back India’s development of Agni-IV. However, Chinese people don’t think India’s development has posed any big threat to it.”

As the year 2017 was drawing to a close, however, Yin Guoming, a Chinese foreign affairs analyst, argued that India, and not Japan, is now the second biggest threat to China after the United States. Here’s an excerpt:

China-India standoff has compelled us to regard India as a serious rival. During the Dong Lang [or Doklam] confrontation, it became very clear to everyone – from ordinary Chinese to foreign policy experts – China must reckon India to be its second biggest rival. And that China needs to re-assess, re-examine, and reformulate its India strategy.

However, more significantly, the article pointed out that most people in China were not yet ready to recognize the Indian threat.

China’s strategic affairs community has been arguing for some time now that, viewed geopolitically, Sino-Indian relations are the second most important bilateral ties for Beijing following the Sino-U.S. relationship. Most Chinese came in for a rude shock in the summer of 2017, when the Indian army openly crossed into Doklam border region and for weeks refused to withdraw. Writing in an influential, widely read online patriotic portal based in China’s Hainan province and popular among rich, educated urban Chinese, Li Yang, a current affairs commentator wrote in July – midway through the Doklam confrontation – “The biggest mistake we have made in the past two decades has been to underestimate India and ignore India. During these years of India’s rapid progress, we did not trouble India, did not make India stumble or make India shed tears.”

Earlier, in May 2017, India announced – just a day in advance – that it would not be present at the inauguration of China’s first mega-diplomatic event of the year, the Belt and Road Forum, citing sovereignty concerns. The Chinese, though angered by India’s last minute boycott, chose to officially remain silent. A section of China’s foreign affairs commentators did indeed hint it was a mild setback to their diplomacy.

By comparison, the Doklam faceoff, which cropped up within a few weeks of Belt and Road Forum, was a “game changer.” It went well beyond the Chinese imagination. Interestingly, as the days passed, India’s refusal to withdraw its troops as well as its dismissive attitude toward engaging with the Chinese on the issue, simply left the Chinese puzzled and clueless as to the Indian game plan. Not surprisingly, Shen Dingli, an eminent and influential Chinese international relations scholar at Fudan University, counted the Doklam crisis as among China’s top five diplomatic failures under the so-called “Xi-style Diplomacy.”

Current trends in Chinese discourse on the potential India threat, if acknowledged and accepted at the official level by the central authorities in Beijing, would mean further intensification of China and India viewing each other as a hostile “enemy” in the future. The following arguments have been offered by some Chinese scholars as to why India, and not Japan, will pose a bigger threat and challenge for China in the coming years.

In the context of geopolitics, China believes it enjoys a greater advantage over Japan. Japan is a maritime nation and maritime trade and transportation forms Japan’s economic as well as survival lifeline. Geographically too, Japan’s location makes its energy supply route from the Middle East longer than China’s. Both logistically and economically, the South China Sea route is the shortest path. Once China establishes its full hegemony in the South China Sea (and also regains control over Taiwan, which has long been Beijing’s dream), China would naturally be able to easily place a stranglehold on Japan by dominating maritime trade routes – crucial for Japan’s existence.

In contrast, China’s own crucial maritime energy supply route passes through the Indian Ocean, which falls within the Indian military threat zone. During the Doklam confrontation, the Chinese took due notice of Indian analysts making statements that in the event of a India-China military clash, India would cut off China’s maritime access to the Indian Ocean.

Of course, it is true many Chinese dismiss the Indian threat as nothing but a joke. But that is more because India has not yet fully realized its potential, not because India is not capable of becoming a future threat to China.

Some analysts in China have also expressed their frustration over India’s “unchecked” rapid economic progress during the past two decades. These experts and scholars are rather candid in admitting China had failed to anticipate the “revolutionary” transformation Narendra Modi has brought about in the Indian national psyche. True, it is not a revelation to the Chinese that India has always viewed China is its “imaginary enemy.” Moreover, it is not hidden from the Chinese either that the Indian defeat during the 1962 boundary war has since remained the single most crucial factor in determining India’s national defense strategy. Yet, it is only now and under Modi, as India’s stature in global politics has risen, that China has suddenly realized that — unlike Japan — India is a nuclear weapon state. Finally, thanks to the Modi government’s uncharitable stance, it has dawned upon China’s strategic affairs community that Beijing’s Belt and Road strategy is bound to produce more and more structural contradictions between the two neighbors, already rapidly becoming hostile.

No wonder, if the media reports from Beijing are true, that the Peoples Republic of China for the first time keenly awaited the outcome of this year’s assembly elections in India. Following the Gujarat elections, the mandarins watching India in the Chinese foreign affairs ministry, it is believed, have predicted in their dossier that Modi will enjoy a second term as the prime minister in 2019.

Going by the current Chinese discourse, Beijing is certainly not going to just sit and watch and let India become a threat. The question that looms large, then, is what China is going to do about it.


Hemant Adlakha is a professor of Chinese at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi and an Honorary Fellow at the Institute of Chinese Studies (ICS), Delhi.

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Re: China - News & Discussion

Post by Kabir » Mon Feb 05, 2018 10:10 pm

Thought we have similar dhagas on BRF - obor, cpec, cheen militia, economy?

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Re: China - News & Discussion

Post by chetak » Tue Feb 06, 2018 11:08 am

Why Chinese One Belt One Road (OBOR) is dangerous for the economic well-being of the world


Why Chinese One Belt One Road (OBOR) is dangerous for the economic well-being of the world

By Shekhar Tankhiwale, February 5, 2018

One Belt One Road (OBOR) is an ambitious project conceptualized by China in 2013 ostensibly to revive and build trade routes between China and the countries in Indo-Pacific region, Central Asia and Europe. China is trying assiduously to position it as ‘be all end all’ initiative, especially for the developing nations to end their infrastructure deficit and boost their GDP. Four years down the road, is it really turning out to be so? Here is an attempt to look at OBOR from wider perspective

What is the global infrastructure investment demand and the gap?

As per World Economic Forum (WEF) estimates, the current global infrastructure investment gap is pegged at $1tn per year vis-à-vis the annual infrastructure investment demand of $3.7tn. As per The Global Infrastructure Outlook report, which is a joint report developed by the Global Infrastructure Hub with Oxford Economics, road, electricity and rail are the major sectors with the bigger investment gaps vis-à-vis the forecast. The infrastructure investment needs are leapfrogging now because of growing world population and at the same time faster rate of urbanization. Unless these investment gaps are addressed in a robust manner, United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) would also be at the risk of not being met.

How the investments are financed now?

Both developing as well as developed economies need significant investments to maintain or raise their economic profile. US for example spends $400bn every year and yet falls short on investment needs. All over the world the investments are being funded through private as well as public route. There are variety of choices available today ranging from financing available in multiple markets, including municipal bonds, project finance loans, dedicated federal credit programs, and private equity investments to Pension Funds, Sovereign Wealth funds to multilateral or bilateral institutions such as World Bank (through their Overseas Development Assistance), Asian Development Banks, BRICS Bank, EU Bank etc. These funds are being provided through the combination of debt and equity. Many governments have set up dedicated infrastructure financing funds e.g. Indian govt for example has set up National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF) for enhancing infrastructure financing in the country. If the cumulative infra spending needs of the nations is worth say Rs 100, then all the alternate routes put together supply Rs 73 worth of funds today. This gap of 27% in demand and supply of funds is being seen as an opportunity by China to further its strategic objectives. To that aim, China is seeking to fill this gap partly by leveraging its massive foreign exchange reserves. Enter China’s One Belt One Road (OBOR) project

What is China’s funding and execution strategy for OBOR?

China has $3.2tn foreign exchange reserves held in US dollars. The money is depreciating 2-3% a year vis-à-vis US Dollar. Also, China is getting a mere 0-1% interest on the money and sometimes even made to pay the servicing cost. Effectively the money isn’t fetching great returns for the Chinese. If they take the money back to Yuan, there are severe inflationary repercussions that they will most certainly face. On positive side, IMF’s 2016 decision to include Chinese Yuan in the basket of currencies that make up the Special Drawing Right (SDR), an alternative reserve asset to the dollar, has also come in handy. Even though only about 1% of the total foreign exchange reserves are currently being held in Yuan but it certainly offers Chinese a comfortable position and a window of opportunity.

Chinese figured out in 2013 a clever means of ensuring higher returns on its foreign exchange reserves along with attaining the strategic and geo-political objectives through OBOR project. Under OBOR, China is funding strategically important projects on maritime silk route as well as one belt region. Chinese offer loans at 6% plus of LIBOR rates vis-a-vis World Bank’s standard rate of around 3%. The other conditions attached to Chinese loans are pertaining to using min 40% of Chinese equipment, 100% of China manufactured raw material such as steel, cement etc. The projects too are executed by the Chinese companies by shipping in cheap labor from China in the host nation. OBOR is envisaged to provide an answer to China’s industrial overcapacity woes especially for its steel and cement sector. In summary, this effectively means the Chinese loan money spent on building the infrastructure in the host nation ultimately goes back to China’s own infra companies, manufacturers and the Chinese workers who are brought overseas to execute the projects.

How can these investments become a noose around host nation’s neck?

Now with this kind of costly investments and “only China” kind of execution model, if the requisite volumes are not generated quickly on the completed projects, be it air traffic for airports, container traffic for sea ports etc. it would become extremely difficult for the host nation to service the debt and Chinese investment can quickly turn into a massive burden for the host nation leading to debt trap like situation.

Normally an infrastructure project benefits the local economy in very many ways. Besides bringing in investments, it helps create jobs, pump primes local ancillary and raw material industry, creates new economic and social opportunities for growth etc. All of this results in betterment of local purchasing power, propelling growth in demand for products and services. With OBOR kind of model, the investment in the form of debt would certainly come in the host nation but because of the “unique” execution model, all the related benefits which should accrue to the local economy would instead be passed back to Chinese economy. This would stem the growth of purchasing power in the local economy. Imagine a situation where the host nation gets the infrastructure built say an airport through the debt investments but since the local economy isn’t pump-primed the new jobs aren’t created, the money hasn’t been spent with the local companies, the purchasing power of the local economy doesn’t change significantly. This means the necessary volumes needed for servicing the debt for the completed infra projects doesn’t get generated easily. The host nation then gets faced with a challenge of how to repay Chinese loan when there are no revenues from the completed project? This leads to a debt trap for the host nation.

Take the case of Hambantota airport in Sri Lanka which is also known as world’s emptiest airport. Hambantota was built at the cost of $210 mn of which around $190mn came from Exim Bank of China as a loan at 8%. This massive airport in Southern Lankan district of Hambantota has the capacity of handling 1 million air travelers a day. Four years in operation Hambantota still far away from generating enough revenues to payback the interest on Chinese debt. The airport operates only 3 flights-2 domestic and 1 international to UAE. Because of their inability to pay back, Sri Lankans govt finds itself in deep trouble and in debt trap now. Similar situation prevailed on the massive investments in Hambantota port which was recently handed over to a Chinese port management company amidst huge uproar in Sri Lanka. Similar fate awaits CPEC projects in Pakistan where economist have already raised alarms about Pakistan’s imminent default on repayments by March of 2018. The Chinese solution for this situation has been to swap the debt with an equity as also to extract huge concessions from the host nation e.g. Chinese have asked for and have been given 15000 hectors of land near Hambantota port apparently for developing other port led development projects. In case of Zimbabwe, China has agreed to cancel $40mn worth of debt and in return Harare to increase local use Yuan as a currency for foreign exchange reserve. This model is very similar to west’s economic colonialism model that they practiced earlier in Hong Kong and Macau.

How does OROB impact global economic well-being?

OBOR model of “growth” has implications for the entire global economy. Going by OBOR’s expanse (OBOR aims to cover 60 countries, 30% of world GDP & 60% of world population), a large population would be impacted by OBOR in next 2-3 decades. OBOR has a project pipeline cutting across South Asia, West Asia, Eastern Europe etc.

PM Modi speaking at WEF 2018 in Davos implicitly alluded to an alternate model of infrastructure development to Chinese OBOR, which is being promoted by India and Japan. While talking about three major challenges before humanity today, PM Modi outlined the failure of globalization due to protectionism as the third biggest challenge after environment and terrorism. Modi attributed the decline in overall global Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) to protectionism being followed by some western economies. Whilst remaining unmindful of the fact that if the overall FDI quantum reduces due to protectionism, the more number of developing nations who can’t generate enough resources internally would be compelled to seek Chinese funds. This would set many of them on the course for debt trap and faltering local economy. This will obviously have a cascading impact on the exporting nations as well as the overall consumption rates in the defaulted economies are expected to come down significantly. Thus, the 60 odd participating nations would be at risk leading to a global crisis situation where only China benefits and all the rest undergo a severe distress.

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Re: China - News & Discussion

Post by chetak » Tue Feb 20, 2018 5:10 am

The Backlash to Belt and Road



The Backlash to Belt and Road

A South Asian Battle Over Chinese Economic Power

By Andrew Small

When Beijing announced its One Belt, One Road initiative five years ago, the global reaction was immediate and pronounced. OBOR, as it became known, was hailed as a transformative effort to deploy China’s economic might in service of its strategic goals. By going out of their way to reject analogies to the United States’ Marshall Plan in Europe, Chinese leaders in fact invited the comparison. Chinese ports, pipelines, roads, and railways would expand commercial, investment, and infrastructure linkages from Asia to Europe. They would build new markets, integrate poorly connected regions, and stabilize the Chinese periphery. Ultimately, they would lay the groundwork for a Sinocentric global order.

No region seemed to make a more promising target for such ambitions than South Asia. Sparsely populated Central Asia is a transit route and energy source rather than a serious market. East Asian trade and infrastructure connections are already well developed. EU public procurement rules preclude a privileged role for Chinese companies. Russia is in economic decline.

South Asia, by contrast, appeared to have all the right ingredients for the Chinese economic model: large populations, fast-growing economies, GDP per capita comparable to China’s a decade earlier, weak connectivity, and major infrastructure deficiencies. When Chinese Premier Li Keqiang undertook his first overseas visit in 2013, South Asia was the location he picked to tout two new economic corridors, a version of OBOR avant la lettre.

But five years on, such hopes have proved unfounded. The region has instead become the main battleground for OBOR’s future—with India as its chief opponent, Pakistan as its chief enthusiast, and, in between, countries from Nepal to the Maldives facing economic choices that have become highly politicized. While the hope may have been that Chinese investment schemes would help mitigate competition in the region, the result so far has been precisely the opposite: OBOR has fused with and reinforced existing divisions. If China wants the economics of the initiative to achieve its intended strategic effects, it will need to square the politics first. South Asia illustrates the obstacles Beijing will face when it fails to do so.

CHINA AND INDIA AT A CROSSROADS

At the crux of this contest is the Sino-Indian relationship, which has deteriorated sharply in the last few years. In other regions, Beijing offered careful reassurances to countries that might try to frustrate Chinese investments in their backyards. With Russia, for example, China noted that OBOR would complement and reinforce Moscow’s own connectivity plans. Beijing made no such efforts with India. New Delhi had been willing to join earlier Chinese-led initiatives, such as the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), when Chinese diplomacy displayed deftness and a multilateral spirit. China’s conduct around OBOR in South Asia took a clumsier and more unilateral form. Its quasi-official maps of the initiative included Indian ports, despite the lack of any consultations between the two sides. The economic corridor linking Bangladesh, China, India, and Myanmar was likewise folded into the scheme without Indian agreement.

Most controversially, China announced that OBOR would include the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), an investment scheme potentially worth tens of billions of dollars, which India has formally objected to on the grounds that the route passes through disputed territory. In practice, the cross-border aspects of CPEC are modest—some fiber optic cable installations and road upgrades had already been under way—and the projects in the contentious region of Gilgit-Baltistan are similarly small in scale. CPEC is essentially an investment package rather than a serious transit route. But the “corridor” terminology and ambitious claims from the Pakistani side about future railways and pipelines implied a more significant change to the status quo. This only deepened New Delhi’s long-standing anxieties over Sino-Pakistani relations, which have for decades been built around the common security goal of counterbalancing India. While China has sought to portray CPEC as a means to stabilize Pakistan, India sees it as emboldening Islamabad.

OBOR’s takeoff in the rest of the region triggered a fresh round of concern about the security risks of China’s growing economic reach. For India, Sri Lanka exemplified its gravest fears. Beginning in 2007, China began supplying arms and diplomatic cover to the government of President Mahinda Rajapaksa, which played a crucial role during the brutal denouement of the country’s civil war. Beijing also lent an already indebted government funds to pursue several vanity projects, which enabled Rajapaksa to woo his political base. Alarm bells went off in New Delhi when China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) submarines paid port calls in Colombo without advance notice, the last straw that prompted Indian efforts to bolster the opposition to Rajapaksa in the 2015 election. But the new president, Maithripala Sirisena, who wanted to extricate Sri Lanka from some of the Chinese contracts, quickly found that the terms were inflexible and had left the country with virtually unserviceable levels of debt. China was willing to negotiate but sought a debt-for-equity swap that would give Chinese companies a long lease on Hambantota port.

In spite of this, India has maintained the upper hand politically. The 2015 elections proved that there was a price to be paid by Sri Lanka for ignoring New Delhi’s redlines. With the Hambantota lease deal, the Sri Lankan government carefully assured Indian officials that sensitive port operations, including security management, would be controlled by a Sri Lankan company and that the port would not be used for military purposes. It also denied subsequent requests from the PLA Navy to make port calls in Colombo. New Delhi’s message resonated throughout the region, prompting other governments to provide private reassurances that Chinese investments would not be a prelude to militarization. Beijing may find friendly governments to work with temporarily, but with the exception of Pakistan, it will find it very difficult to establish a dual-use port in South Asia that the PLA Navy can count on.

But Sri Lanka’s case also offered a warning to India of the economic realities working against it. Colombo was forced back to the negotiating table with China for lack of any better options. India has since improved its efforts to offer countries appealing economic alternatives. But its various limitations—in its resources, its capacity for direct investment, its significant infrastructure needs at home—have necessitated partnerships with other concerned countries. The most important of these has been with Japan, which created in 2015 the new “Partnership for Quality Infrastructure,” an expansion of the infrastructure resources provided by the Asian Development Bank (ADB), and in cooperation with India developed an “Asia-Africa Growth Corridor.” Perhaps the most telling Indo-Japanese intervention was in Bangladesh, which in 2015 was in the advanced stages of agreeing to a package of Chinese financing for a new deep-water port. But political pressure and economic incentives (including the largest yen loan that the Japan International Cooperation Agency has ever offered for developmental assistance) pushed Dhaka to opt for a Japanese deal instead.

Almost as important, Sri Lanka handed India a propaganda coup. In Colombo, a convincing story has taken hold, one that paints OBOR as predatory, a debt trap, and a route to military expansionism. In reality, the new Chinese highways have been beneficial; and the expansion of the Colombo port has been an economic success, with the overwhelming majority of the port’s activity consisting of trans-shipment to India. Yet that more nuanced picture is overshadowed by the evocative sight of Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport, a gleaming, fully staffed building with virtually no passengers, no planes, and an empty departures board, surrounded by sweeping highways on which cars are outnumbered by auto rickshaws, cows, and elephant dung. It is that image that has come to embody OBOR in Sri Lanka, much to India’s delight.

A ZERO-SUM FUTURE?

Beyond South Asia, India has been notably effective in influencing the debate over OBOR by consistently raising its concerns at the highest political levels to countries with plenty of reservations of their own. It was no coincidence that in October 2017, fresh off a trip to New Delhi, U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee about OBOR “going through disputed territory.” India, alongside Japan, has reinforced the Trump administration’s competitive stance toward China and encouraged the adoption of a “free and open Indo-Pacific” strategy that is partly intended as a counterpoint to OBOR. When the newly resumed security “quad” (Australia, India, Japan, and the United States) met in November 2017, these strategic economic issues took up much of the agenda.

Clearly, none of these developments will stop China’s economic advances in South Asia. There are over $20 billion worth of projects moving ahead on the ground in Pakistan. The Southern Expressway in Sri Lanka is progressing ineluctably to connect Hambantota and Colombo. China has just ended India’s Internet monopoly in Nepal. And states elsewhere in the region will continue to take advantage of China’s growing role to gain leverage in their dealings with New Delhi, the traditionally dominant power in their neighborhood. But alongside its partners, India does place certain limits on OBOR in the region by creating an environment in which it is politically costly to pursue various projects without taking Indian interests into account. This puts OBOR at a crossroads in the region.

There are three potential scenarios for what could happen next.

Beijing could make a unilateral course correction, opting to have a greater portion of its efforts in South Asia look more like those of the AIIB: more transparency, less onerous loan terms, a closer partnership with multilateral institutions, and more focus on regional connectivity than bilateral links to China. Beijing is not going to turn the whole of OBOR into the AIIB—it wants to preserve its prerogatives to pursue politically targeted projects with narrower bilateral benefits—but a shift would reduce the levels of criticism and opposition.

China and India could also reach an informal agreement over the scope of OBOR, given that there is still considerable room for negotiation, even over Indian sensitivities about CPEC. Particularly if China made progress on other thorny issues, such as on India’s membership in the Nuclear Suppliers Group, New Delhi’s stance on OBOR could end up resembling Japan’s: retaining economically competitive elements while identifying targeted areas for cooperation. As former Indian National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon has argued, India’s interest is in seeing more projects like Colombo port and fewer projects like Hambantota. If India more actively engaged China on the rules of the road, its capacity to shape OBOR would arguably be greater.

The most likely scenario is that the competition continues and hardens. Dynamics in South Asia are increasingly taking on a zero-sum quality. And with improving U.S.-Indian and Chinese-Pakistani relations set against a decline in U.S.-Pakistani and Chinese-Indian relations, such dynamics are becoming mutually reinforcing. This is an unhealthy trend, given the pressing need for a better economically integrated region. The connectivity deficit in South Asia remains significant: the World Bank estimates that intraregional trade accounts for only five percent of the total, compared with 25 percent in Southeast Asia, 35 percent in East Asia, and 60 percent in Europe, while intraregional investment stands below one percent overall. Although in East Asia, rivals have been able to sustain mutually beneficial economic relationships, in South Asia, security rifts have stymied trade and investment. Outside parties, including the United States and China, still have an interest in alleviating this problem rather than allowing the economics of the region to turn into an extension of political and military rivalries. The window for doing so is now closing.

So far, OBOR’s rollout in South Asia demonstrates the barriers Beijing will face unless it makes adjustments. Beijing pushed the narrative that growing Chinese trade and investment would spur development, stability, and a more integrated region. But the project’s early promise has been soured by China’s failure to reach a consensus with the region’s major power and to answer serious questions about whether its handling of Sri Lanka is sui generis or symptomatic of its general approach. Even in sympathetic Pakistan, similar concerns are quietly expressed, and the Maldives is shaping up to be the regional test case for 2018. There is still an opportunity for Beijing to push forward a version of OBOR that is likely to command broader support and consent, including from competitors and rivals that can still see benefits in certain Chinese investments. But token efforts, such as recent offers to rename CPEC, are not enough. If Beijing wants a clearer run to advance the economic and strategic goals that underpin OBOR, it needs to do its political homework first.

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Re: China - News & Discussion

Post by chetak » Wed Feb 21, 2018 3:35 am

China ups strategic game in Pakistan, Maldives, Nepal: Is India alert enough to the clear, grave and present danger?

China ups strategic game in Pakistan, Maldives, Nepal: Is India alert enough to the clear, grave and present danger?

Sreemoy Talukdar Feb 20, 2018.

Indian policymakers, wonks and strategists still tend to reflexively underplay the scope, scale and gravity of the threat that China poses for India. If we choose to ignore the Cold War hangover, part of this has roots in our collective memory of the 1962 war and the lessons that we have (wittingly or unwittingly) internalised. It has, among other things, led to a denial of realities that prevents us from assessing the true nature of the bilateral relationship.

Part of this 'underplaying' of Chinese threat also flows from a strong moral compulsion in India's foreign policy, that places a burden of 'exceptionalism' on our actions. Regardless of the threat perception, India must do what is "morally right" and set an example before the world. In her book From Chanakya To Modi, The Evolution of India's Foreign Policy (Harper Collins, Page 15) Aparna Pande posits that an element of this 'Indian exceptionlism' is an assumption that "the rest of the world (will) accord India status commensurate with its civilisational contribution." Since we are destined for greatness, it makes sense, as it were, to wait for it instead of being proactive.

Beijing obviously doesn't subscribe to the Indian worldview. Under Xi Jinping, it has set about constructing a Sinocentric globe and "a unipolar Asian order that will be defined by deference to the Middle Kingdom and its increasingly imperial rulers", as ORF vice-president Samir Saran writes in The Security Times on Beijing's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

And as China goes about rapidly translating its economic prowess into hard power and geopolitical might to further strategic goals, at least in the immediate neighbourhood it increasingly finds India blocking its path to regional hegemony. From India's stand on BRI to resistance in Doka La, from New Delhi's economic, strategic, military and political influence over Sri Lanka, Maldives, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh to its larger game in ASEAN, the stage is set for a fierce battle for Asia's and even global future, because at issue are not just two giant competing nations but completely different political, ethical, philosophical and normative systems.

It is fascinating to watch China's response to India's primacy in the subcontinent — a region that falls within India's civilisational sphere of influence and consists of sovereigns who have deep and enduring traditional, cultural and historical ties with India. For New Delhi, its immediate neighbourhood isn't just a "sphere of influence" but also a security buffer and "one indivisible historical entity", as Pande writes in her book.

Xi's China relies on a combination of gunboat and chequebook diplomacy for regional hegemony, and where it cannot employ this coercive playbook, Beijing tries to either bribe its way in or intensify discord where unrest will serve its long-term purpose. Xi seems to have been more influenced by Kautilya's Arthashastra, the ancient realist treatise on statecraft that advice saam, daan, dand and bhed for imperial rulers to manage their state.

Recent churnings bring to sharp focus the realities that India is faced with in its struggle to measure up to China and contain its revanchist and neo-colonial advances. A look at these simultaneous developments provides an idea of the scale of China's strategic game plan — logical, meticulous and swift.

It has been said that Pakistan's restive Balochistan province, which houses major CPEC infrastructure including the China-developed Gwadar deep water port, may eventually prove to be Beijing's greatest headache. China has pumped in more than $60 billion in mega infrastructure projects in the federally administered region that has been for decades the hotbed of an armed secessionist movement.

London-based Financial Times reported on Monday that China has been in "quiet talks" for more than five years with tribal separatist leaders and militants in Balochistan to insure their investment against subversive actions. One tribal leader was quoted as saying by FT that "many young men had been persuaded to lay down their weapons by the promise of financial benefits."

If true, this would fly in the face of China's claims that it "doesn't interfere in domestic politics" of other nations — a claim that it had recently repeated during the unfolding of Maldives crisis. China appears confident that it has been able to buy peace and subdue the Balochistan movement with bribes. Yao Jing, China's ambassador to Pakistan, was recently quoted by BBC Urdu as saying that Baloch militant organisations are no longer a threat to the CPEC.

China's increasing interference in Pakistan's domestic politics presents an additional challenge for India, as has recently been articulated by Naeem Akhtar, a minister with the Jammu and Kashmir government. In an interview to Indian Express, Akhtar pointed to China's game of stonewalling India on Masood Azhar to claim that Beijing has "adopted" Azhar and his terror group Jaish-e-Muhammad so that Pakistan may continue unabated its strategy of sub-conventional war against India.

“Unlike earlier, the great game is literally being played inside Kashmir… The Kashmir issue isn’t limited to the fight between India and Pakistan now. There is another major factor involved. It isn’t Pakistan alone, it is China too… Now it is one single front, circling around. From Bhutan to Arunachal Pradesh, Ladakh, Valley to Jammu, Sri Lanka and Maldives, it is all one front. Pakistan and China aren’t separate,” he was quoted, as saying by the newspaper.

China's move to turn Pakistan into a 'client-state' and use it for counterbalancing India isn't new. What is, is the pace at which this seems to be happening. Again on Monday, the Pakistani senate approved a motion to declare Mandarin as an "official language", ostensibly to smoothen communication over CPEC, reported ANI.

The move isn't exactly to deepen "Pakistan-China relationship" as Islamabad power brokers have claimed but to deepen the "client-state" ties. Beijing is in no hurry to introduce Urdu as its "official language", for instance. China's steps in Balochistan, similarly, is less intended towards the development of the region and more towards securing its own interests and investments, another marker of a client-state relationship.

As Pakistani journalist Muhammad Akbar Notezai writes in The Diplomat, "There is also a deep sense of deprivation among the general population in Balochistan, who also seem largely uninterested in the unfolding development. The apathy can be explained by the conviction the locals will see little benefit from Chinese money."

News has also emerged from Islamabad that Pakistan has turned down cheaper loans from Japan because it no longer needs to borrow. There's little doubt on who would have influenced Pakistan—a nation reeling under Chinese debt—against taking Japanese money that had softer lending terms.
China pressuring Pakistan not to accept Japanese infrastructure lending.
Tells everything you need to know about China’s aims with Belt and Road. https://t.co/FogUmC4sLy

— Ely Ratner (@elyratner) February 19, 2018

China's coercive strategies around India are not limited to Pakistan. It recently sent a naval task force to the Maldives, which is undergoing a political turmoil, to flex its military muscle in India's backyard. The task force, according to an Australian newspaper, consists of "at least one modern destroyer, a frigate, an amphibious assault ship and a support tanker entered the Indian Ocean last week." The motive is to intensify its competition with India in the Indo-Pacific theatre and warn it against military intervention in Male.

A similar game is unfolding in Nepal where newly elected prime minister Khadga Prasad Sharma Oli has vowed to "deepen ties with China to get more leverage against India." For a start, he wants to revive the Chinese dam project that his predecessor had cancelled because "we can’t forget that we have two neighbours… We don’t want to depend on one country or have one option” according to South China Morning Post.

This isn't to say that New Delhi is under siege in its immediate neighbourhood from China but there's no denying the zero-sum nature of the Sino-Indian rivalry. In the short to medium term, this is set to intensify as India pushes back against Chinese hegemony and both nations compete for regional influence.

India's close civilisation integration with neighbours is both an advantage and a disadvantage. While it raises the costs for China in employing coercive diplomacy, it equally gives many of these debt-ridden infrastructure-hungry states the chance to play one giant against the other and secures for itself a better deal. Either way, Indian policy needs to be flexible. But above all, it needs to be alert to the Chinese threat. Apart from building on its maritime advantages over China and gradual accumulation of hard power, Indian strategic game needs to be less reactionary. It must achieve a direction and a purpose within the larger template of a grand, over-arching design. Indian economy presents some capacity constraints but those are temporal. The battle is won first in the mind.

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Re: China - News & Discussion

Post by vishvak » Wed Feb 21, 2018 8:04 pm

Please keep this coming.

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Re: China - News & Discussion

Post by chetak » Fri Apr 27, 2018 8:05 am

Thick as two bricks.

banditji, at his strategic best.


THE FATE OF A VISIONARY DIPLOMAT
Thursday, 26 April 2018 | Claude Arpi |

The fate of a visionary diplomat

Had Nehru followed the advice of Sumul Sinha, the Indian official who had warned him about the intentions of communist China, the destiny of the nation could have been different

One does not often pay homage to unknown diplomats: Had their advice been followed, the destiny of the nation could, perhaps, have been different. This is the case of Sumul Sinha, the official in-charge of the Indian Mission in Lhasa between 1950 and 1952.

Five months after forcing a 17-Point Agreement on Tibetan delegates (and forging the seals of the Lhasa Government), the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) entered the Tibetan capital in September 1951. During the first months, the Red generals were pure honey. Sinha witnessed their changing behaviour and reported to his bosses in New Delhi.

The young Mandarin-speaking diplomat noted that the Tibetans had started to ‘shed their fears’ and they have again ‘acquired confidence for the future’. Though 11 months earlier, the PLA had brutally smashed an ill-prepared and disorganised Tibetan Army in eastern Tibet, perhaps the Chinese were not so bad after all, believed many Tibetans.

Sinha explained to Delhi: “Credit is due to the Chinese [general] who with patience and delicacy are handling the problem of leading Tibet into the fold. They had struck terror into the hearts of Tibetans, when the offensive began, and it was then essential to pulverise resistance and gain victory. …The struggle has begun for the mind and soul of Tibet in ways that are subtle and hardly perceptible.” The Chinese largesse at that time was phenomenal.

This type of language deeply irritated the Indian Prime Minister; according to Nehru, Sinha could not grasp that the Chinese had come to help the Tibetans to abandon their medieval mindset and in any case, the destiny of India and China were forever bound together for the good of humanity.

“Mr Sinha needs to be enlightened”, he once wrote; poor Sinha was only trying to report, as faithfully as possible, the situation on the ground.

On October 7, 1950, the Chinese had walked into eastern Tibet. While the population in Lhasa had started panicking, the Tibetan Government reacted ‘cautiously’ to the invasion at the beginning; they did not want to ‘upset’ the Chinese.

India’s Tibet policy had recently been taken a radical change under the guidance of KM Panikkar, the Indian Ambassador in Beijing, who was suddenly promoted as Nehru’s chief advisor for Tibet affairs. Conflict with China had to be avoided at any cost, world peace was the only objective were the new mottos …and Tibet could be sacrificed in the process.

The situation rapidly soured between the Indian Representative in Tibet and the Prime Minister. On November 23, Nehru wrote to Sinha: “Government of India have noticed that certain communications from Lhasa and Sikkim regarding Tibet are dogmatic, disputatious and admonitory. We want of course our representatives to give us full information …[But] once a decision has been taken by Government [read to abandon Tibet to its fate], it should be accepted gracefully and followed faithfully; any insinuation that Government have been acting wrongly or improperly is objectionable.”

Sinha saw another angle to the dramatically-unfolding Tibetan issue; India was suddenly acquiring a new neighbour; the Indian borders could soon be endangered. But Sinha’s reports did not fit into Nehru’s ‘larger’ vision of the world. Further, for Delhi, Sinha expressed too much sympathy for the Tibetan people at a time when their nation was being erased from the world map.

Sincere and competent officers often suffered because of Nehru’s admonishing tendencies; the Prime Minister was particularly harsh on those who tried to warn him of the consequences of his ‘friendship at any cost’ policy with China.

The reaction to Sinha’s cable has to be understood against backdrop of the letter on Tibet sent on November 7 by Deputy Prime Minister, Sardar Patel to Nehru.

In the same cable, the Prime Minister said that diplomats should: “avoid as far as possible strong language and condemnation …of nations which only increases international tension.” In other words, don’t call a spade, a spade, even in internal ‘top secret’ correspondence.

The cable continued eulogizing China’s revolution: “This may be factor for stability and peace of the world or danger to us and to world peace. For this reason we tried to cultivate friendly relations with China and we believe that this became a stabilising factor when Korean war started.”

On November 27, 1950, Sinha cabled the Foreign Secretary (a young officer could not answer directly to the Prime Minister, though copies were marked for the PMO): “My short-coming is inexperience. I know, however, that I have striven to carry out Government of India’s policy to the letter. In my telegrams which had to be TERSE, I tried to reflect faithfully the reactions of Tibetan Government to situation facing them in the belief Government of India would like to know.”

In the following years, Sinha would be blasted again and again for warning Nehru of the true intentions of Communist China. Sadly, he finished a dejected man.

Just before the end of his tenure in Lhasa in Summer 1952, Sinha did it again; he upset the Prime Minister. Sinha had the unfortunate idea to ask for a loan of two lakh rupees to help the forces fighting for Tibetan independence.

Nehru was furious. In a cable sent to the Mission in Lhasa, the Prime Minister told off Sinha; it would be “improper and unwise for our representative to get involved in Tibetan domestic affairs or intrigues.”

He added that India was naturally friendly towards Tibetans, but this should not give anyone the impression of possible interference or help. He concluded by telling his Representative: “We have to judge these matters from larger world point of view which probably our Tibetan friends have no means of appreciating.”

On March 5, 1953, Nehru again got irritated by a memo prepared by Sinha, who was now posted as Officer on Special Duty in the Ministry. Retrospectively, Sinha’s note was prophetic; it was titled ‘Chinese designs on the North-East Frontier of India.’

But one can imagine that the title was not to the Prime Minister’s liking.

The Prime Minister again criticised the approach of the former Indian Representative in Tibet. He noted: “I find Mr Sinha’s approach to be coloured very much by certain ideas and conceptions which prevent him from taking an objective view of the situation. The note starts by reference to the lust for conquest of the Chinese and is throughout based on this.”

Nehru asserted that Sinha: “looks back with a certain nostalgia to the past when the British exercised a good deal of control over Tibet and he would have liked very much for India to take the place of the British of those days.”

Six years later, when the Chinese intruded in NEFA and Ladakh, the Prime Minister probably realised that Sinha was right, but it was too late. Ever since, every summer, the Chinese cross the line and ‘transgress’ into Indian territory.

(The writer is an expert on India-China relations and an author)

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Re: China - News & Discussion

Post by chetak » Sat May 05, 2018 3:21 am

India-China summit highlights Modi’s hope versus Xi’s strategy



India-China summit highlights Modi’s hope versus Xi’s strategy

May 1, 2018


An unpredictable and transactional Trump administration puts India on the back foot with Beijing

Brahma Chellaney, Nikkei Asian Review

Chinese President Xi Jinping’s “informal” summit meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the central Chinese city of Wuhan, significantly, began on the same day as the inter-Korean summit on April 27. That Xi chose the same date for the two-day summit might not have been a mere coincidence, given that the historic meeting between the leaders of North and South Korea left China on the sidelines, with little influence over those proceedings.

It was Modi’s government, however, that initiated the effort at rapprochement with Beijing following a rocky year in which new disputes flared between the two Asian giants, including over China’s Belt and Road Initiative, the Dalai Lama’s visit to a Chinese-claimed Himalayan Indian state, transboundary river waters, and the Chinese military encroachment on Doklam plateau, which India’s ally Bhutan regards as its own territory. The relationship between the two countries, which make up more than a third of humanity and almost a fifth of the global economy, is critical to international relations.

The Wuhan summit, with no set agenda other than to improve the relationship, was billed as a chance to “reset” ties. No breakthroughs on major disputes were expected. But no sooner had the summit ended than significant differences emerged on how India and China interpret even the understandings reached at Wuhan.

For example, India said the two leaders “issued strategic guidance” to their respective militaries to avoid further border friction. But China’s statement made no mention of that. India, which has chafed against increasingly lopsided trade with China, said agreement was reached to strengthen trade and investment in a “balanced and sustainable manner.” But that key phrase was missing from Beijing’s version.

Such differences are no surprise: The summit was long on political theater, such as shows of amity, but short on concrete results to fundamentally change the Sino-Indian dynamics. As if to pander to India’s proverbial weakness — confounding symbolism with substance — Xi focused more on diplomatic stagecraft, including receiving Modi with a very long red carpet, taking the Indian leader on a lakeside walk and a boat ride, and engaging in long handshakes while voicing hope the summit would “open a new chapter in bilateral ties.”

Compelling strategic reasons may have prompted Modi to seek reconciliation with China. Yet his abrupt policy shift is fraught with political risk at home, where it could potentially dent his self-cultivated image as a strongman boasting a 56-inch chest measurement. Modi decided to take the risk now because the national election is a year away. His gambit, however, sends confusing signals to India’s strategic partners, including about the country’s commitment to a “free and open Indo-Pacific region” — a key goal of U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration.

Behind Modi’s overture to China is India’s strategic imperative to develop a semblance of balance in relations with various powers, largely because his pro-U.S. foreign policy has failed to secure tangible benefits for India thus far. Trump’s increasingly transactional approach to international relations and narrow geopolitical calculations have generated growing American pressures on India, including to slash its $25-billion yearly trade surplus, cut back its ties with Russia and Iran, and maintain full diplomatic relations with Pakistan, despite the latter’s export of terrorists.

The U.S. is also warning that India’s defense and energy dealings with Russia would attract sanctions under the new Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, even as the Trump administration seeks “a flexible waiver authority” from Congress to protect relationships with India and others. Moreover, Trump’s policy to squeeze Iran, despite the 2015 nuclear deal, has emerged as an obstacle in the Indian project to expand and modernize the Iranian port of Chabahar, India’s gateway to landlocked Afghanistan and Central Asia. Trump’s restrictive visa policy, meanwhile, is crimping India’s $150-billion-a-year information technology industry.

A feeling is growing in New Delhi that the U.S. takes India for granted while it handles China with kid gloves, to the extent that Beijing managed to create and militarize seven artificial islands in the South China Sea without incurring any international costs. The Trump administration did not issue a single statement in India’s support during last summer’s 73-day Doklam military standoff, even as Beijing threatened virtually every day to teach India a bitter lesson. By contrast, Japan publicly sided with India.

In fact, U.S. policy continues to drive India’s old partner, Russia, closer to China, while Trump periodically heaps praise on “my good friend” Xi and says he is hopeful of clinching a deal with Beijing that would avert the imposition of punitive trade tariffs. By making China the main beneficiary of its fixation on Russia, North Korea and Iran, Washington is compelling New Delhi to hedge its bets.

In keeping with the old saying, “keep your friends close and your enemies closer,” Modi has sought to arrest the deterioration in Sino-Indian relations, which constricted India’s foreign policy options, including making it dependent on an unpredictable Trump administration. Indeed, with even Japan seeking to mend fences with China and inviting Xi to pay a visit, India could not afford to be an outlier.

Xi has his own strategic reasons to appreciate Modi’s overture, including the threat of a trade war with America. It is hardly in Chinese interest to push India — a critical swing state — into the anti-China camp. In any event, the semblance of better bilateral relations gives Beijing greater space, including by quieting New Delhi’s concerns, to pursue its engagement-with-containment strategy, which has steadily built greater strategic pressure on India.

Make no mistake: Prospects of a genuine rapprochement look anything but promising. This, after all, is Modi’s second effort at a “reset.” The first effort, which Modi launched soon after coming to office, backfired conspicuously. Xi arrived in India on Modi’s birthday in September 2014 bearing an unusual gift — a deep Chinese military incursion into India’s Ladakh region. Relations progressively worsened after that.

In fact, ever since China became India’s neighbor by occupying Tibet in 1951, high-level bilateral dialogue has been no indicator of better relations. For example, New Delhi’s ongoing negotiations with Beijing to settle territorial disputes first began in 1981, when India’s economy was larger than China’s. Now India’s economy is five times smaller, with China’s military power dwarfing India’s, yet the negotiations have still to produce real progress toward a resolution.

Little good has come from Modi’s own discussions with Xi, although the two have met 14 times since 2014 in different locations around the world. Since assuming office four years ago, Modi has already traveled to China four times and will be going there again soon for the mid-June summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization security bloc.

Modi actually traveled to Wuhan with weakened leverage. After Modi defiantly stood up to China’s Doklam aggression and forced Beijing to accept a mutual pullback from the standoff, Chinese forces in the past eight months have quietly moved in and occupied much of that remote plateau. Also, on Modi’s watch, China has doubled its trade surplus with India to almost $5 billion a month.

To be sure, Modi went to Wuhan just after the Indian Air Force, deploying its entire warfighting machinery and flying 11,000 sorties, conducted its largest ever exercise, which simulated a simultaneous war with China and its ally Pakistan. Nevertheless, with Modi seeking less border trouble and more balanced trade, Xi likely believes that the Indian leader needs him more than he needs Modi — a situation Xi will seek to exploit with the same guile that has effectively made him China’s new emperor.

This suggests that, far from addressing India’s security and economic concerns or reining in its increasing border intrusions, Beijing would like the Wuhan bonhomie to translate into two material gains — a bigger Chinese penetration of the Indian market and greater caution and reluctance on India’s part to challenge, or gang up against, China. In other words, a truly win-win outcome for China from Modi’s Reset 2.0. If this happens, Modi will validate Karl Marx’s statement that “history repeats itself first as tragedy, then as farce.”


Brahma Chellaney is a geostrategist and the author of nine books, including the award-winning “Water: Asia’s New Battleground.”

chetak
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Re: China - News & Discussion

Post by chetak » Sun May 20, 2018 1:24 pm

At least now we know why they are so ken on grabbing AP.

"south tibet" my left foot.



China’s gold mine at Arunachal border may become another flash point with India



China’s gold mine at Arunachal border may become another flash point with India

Projecting the mining operations as part of China's move to take over Arunachal Pradesh, the report said "people familiar with the project say the mines are part of an ambitious plan by Beijing to reclaim South Tibet".


Beijing | May 20, 2018

China has begun large-scale mining operations on its side of the border with Arunachal Pradesh where a huge trove of gold, silver and other precious minerals valued at about USD 60 billion has been found, a media report said on Sunday. The mine project is being undertaken in Lhunze county under Chinese control adjacent to the Indian border, the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post reported. China claims Arunachal Pradesh as part of southern Tibet.

Projecting the mining operations as part of China’s move to take over Arunachal Pradesh, the report said “people familiar with the project say the mines are part of an ambitious plan by Beijing to reclaim South Tibet”. “China’s moves to lay claim to the region’s natural resources while rapidly building up infrastructure could turn it into ‘another South China Sea’ they said,” it said.

The Post report with inputs from local officials, Chinese geologists as well as strategic experts comes less than a month after the first ever informal summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Xi Jinping that was aimed at cooling tensions to avert incidents like the Dokalam military standoff last year. The 73-day standoff marked a new low in bilateral ties.
Lhunze was in the news last October, just about two months after Dokalam, when Xi in a rare gesture replied to correspondence from a herding family in Lhunze County underscoring Beijing’s claim to the area. The family is based in Yumai, China’s smallest town in terms of population located close to Arunachal Pradesh.

Xi thanked the father and his two daughters for their loyalty and contributions to China, and also urged the people of Lhunze to “set down roots” to develop the area for the national interest.

The Post report said although mining has been going on in the world’s highest mountain range for thousands of years, the challenge of accessing the remote terrain and concerns about environmental damage had until now limited the extent of the activities. But the unprecedented heavy investment by the Chinese government to build roads and other infrastructure in the area has made travel easy.

Most of the precious minerals which include rare earths used to make hi-tech products are hidden under Lhunze county, the report said. By the end of last year, the scale of mining activity in Lhunze had surpassed that of all other areas in Tibet, it said.

People have poured into the area so fast that even local government officials could not provide a precise count for the current population, it said. “Enormous, deep tunnels have been dug into the mountains along the military confrontation line, allowing thousands of tonnes of ore to be loaded and transported out by trucks daily, along roads built through every village,” it said.

Extensive power lines and communication networks have been established, while construction is under way on an airport that can handle passenger jets, it said. With more mines being dug in Lhunze and surroundings, a county official told the Post that more than 80 per cent of the county government’s tax income came from mining.

The mines would also lead to a situation akin to “another South China Sea” arising out of the world’s highest mountain range, it said. Zheng Youye, a professor at the China University of Geosciences in Beijing and the lead scientist for a Beijing-funded northern Himalayan minerals survey, confirmed to the Post that a series of discoveries in recent years put the potential value of ores under Lhunze and the nearby area at 370 billion yuan (USD 58 billion). “This is just a preliminary estimate. More surveys are underway,” he said.

There could be more big discoveries as Chinese researchers learn more about the area. With strong financial backing from the government, they have already amassed extensive data on the region.

According to Zheng, the new-found ores could tip the balance of power between China and India in the Himalayas. He said Chinese troops withdrew in the 1962 war from the areas in Arunachal Pradesh as they had no people to hold the territory.

The new mining activities would lead to a rapid and significant increase in the Chinese population in the Himalayas, Zheng said, which would provide stable, long-term support for any diplomatic or military operations aimed at gradually driving Indian forces out of territory claimed by China. “This is similar to what has happened in the South China Sea” where Beijing has asserted its claim to much of the contested waters by building artificial islands and increasing its naval activity, he said.

Hao Xiaoguang, a researcher with the Institute of Geodesy and Geophysics at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Wuhan, Hubei who specialises in India-China issues said Beijing was likely to take the same approach to the Himalayas as in the South China Sea.

As China’s economic, geopolitical and military strength continues to increase, “it is only a matter of time before South Tibet returns to Chinese control,” Hao claimed. “What China (has) achieved today in the South China Sea was almost unthinkable a decade ago. I am optimistic (about) what will happen in the Himalayas in the coming years because President Xi has made it clear that ‘not a single inch of our land will be or can be ceded from China’, which definitely includes South Tibet,” he said.

But Hao said the Lhunze mining boom would not be expanded to other areas due to environmental reasons. In Lhunze, some of the newcomers are still acclimatising. The area is already teeming with people from different parts of China. Weng Qingzhen, who owns a Sichuan restaurant in the county, said she moved there less than two months ago after friends and relatives told her about the mining boom.

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Re: China - News & Discussion

Post by chetak » Fri Jun 29, 2018 9:49 am

targeted specifically at the hans

Australia to pass foreign interference laws amid rising China tensions


Australia to pass foreign interference laws amid rising China tensions

Reuters Staff

* Australia seeks to prevent foreign meddling

* Lobbyists required to register as foreign agents

* New legislation has soured Australia-China ties

* China’s Huawei says security concerns “just plain wrong” (Updates to show legislation now expected to pass on Thursday)

By Colin Packham and Tom Westbrook

SYDNEY, June 27 (Reuters) - Australia is expected to pass legislation on Thursday aimed at preventing interference by foreign governments, a move likely to further stoke tensions with major trading partner China.

Mirroring similar rules in the United States, Australia will require lobbyists for foreign countries to register, and makes them liable for criminal prosecution if they are deemed to be meddling in domestic affairs.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull last year referred to “disturbing reports about Chinese influence” as justification for the measures.

China has denied allegations of meddling in Australian affairs, but concern over Chinese political donations and relationships between lawmakers and Chinese businesses has intensified in Australia.

“It will come down to whether China is cited when the legislation passes. China will not want to again be singled out,” said James Laurenceson, deputy director of the Australia-China Relations Institute at the University of Technology Sydney.

The legislative package before the Senate includes the new Foreign Influence Transparency Scheme Bill, which requires the registration of lobbyists working for foreign governments.

Another amended law expands potential crimes to include meddling by these agents.

Having cleared the lower house, the package is expected to pass in the Senate where the main opposition Labor Party has said it will support it. The Senate had been expected to give its approval on Wednesday, but time was taken over other items, and the legislation was held over until Thursday.

Another planned bill, banning foreign political donations, has yet to be introduced in the lower house.

Speaking in Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said law-making was a country’s internal affair and he declined to comment, though he did appeal for all countries to “abandon Cold War thinking”.

“We further want all other countries in the world to follow the principle of not interfering in other countries’ internal affairs,” Lu told a daily news briefing.

“So we hope that all countries can abandon Cold War thinking and on a foundation of mutual respect and equal treatment pursue better communications and cooperation. We believe this better fits with the interests of all countries’ peoples.”

The widening diplomatic rift between Australia and China has affected some of their $125 billion in two-way trade as Australian wine exporters such as Treasury Wine Estates faced delays getting some products through Chinese customs.

Despite Australian efforts to ease the curbs, wine is only trickling into the industry’s most lucrative market, expected to be worth more than A$1 billion this year.

Australian cattle graziers and citrus growers also fear they are being sidelined by China as a result of the row.

HUAWEI HANG UP

Against this backdrop of cooling relations, Chinese telecommunications firm Huawei Technologies Co Ltd has emerged as a lightning rod for Australian security fears.

The world’s largest maker of telecommunications network equipment and the No. 3 smartphone supplier, Huawei has already been virtually shut out of the giant U.S. market because of national security concerns.

It is lobbying to avoid a similar fate in Australia, sponsoring more overseas travel for politicians than any other company in recent years, and arranging for John Lord, chairman of its Australian unit, to speak in Canberra on Wednesday.

Lord, a former rear admiral in Australia’s navy, said security concerns based on Huawei’s links to China were “uninformed or just plain wrong”.

“In our three decades as a company no evidence of any sort has been provided to justify these concerns by anyone ever,” Lord told the National Press Club of Australia, adding that Britain and New Zealand had permitted 5G investments by Huawei.

“Nothing sinister has been found. No wrongdoing, no criminal action, no intent, no back door, no planted vulnerability and no magical kill switch,” he said.

Huawei provides 4G equipment to three of the country’s four major carriers, Vodafone, SingTel’s Optus and TPG Telecom Ltd, but was blocked in 2012 from providing broadband equipment.

Turnbull said the government was still mulling Huawei’s role in the country’s nascent 5G network.

“We’ll continue to consider that and get the best advice on that from our national security agencies,” he told reporters in Canberra. ($1 = 1.3535 Australian dollars) (Reporting by Colin Packham and Tom Westbrook in SYDNEY Additional reporting by Christian Shepherd in BEIJING Editing by Darren Schuettler)

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Re: China - News & Discussion

Post by chetak » Wed Jul 04, 2018 6:30 am

The hans see India as a passive vassal state which should play only the role assigned to it by them and not aspire for anything greater, and in their minds, India is merely there to serve their market penetration and provide for export earnings and ensure jobs in china as well as safeguard their national security.

They do not acknowledge their own historic and hostile stance vis-a-vis India, their aggressive hegemony, strategic encirclement and bombastic territorial claims based on some imagined "tributes" paid to their emperor in the days of yore nor the huge balance of payments issue.

The US too is unfairly trying to leverage India-US relations and bring in their own version of the BRI by trying to dictate both economic and strategic terms to India, via its sanctions regime and weapon systems sales, an insistence that India abandon its traditional allies and coercing India to enter into a series of "agreements" like COMCASA, CAATSA and the other alphabet soup travesties all designed to brand India and forcibly and insidiously bind her into a US ally avatar that fully requires India to fund her own entrapment to the US system.

Is it mere happenstance that both the chinese initiatives like the BRI/OBOR/CPEC and the ameriki initiatives are poisonous, subversive and require India to pay for the funding of these initiatives in one form or the other?? One payment being "upfront" and exorbitant, with almost infinite add-ons, leveraged in terms of spares, support and upgrades and the other a delayed unconscionable plunder designed to hobble, subdue and exploit, both initiatives are stealthily, treacherously disguised and packaged as being essential to India's rise and the legitimate quest for her place in the comity of nations.

The road to hell is always paved with "good" intentions.

This iran sanctions dramatics is a litmus test to see how far and how fast India and especially her Navy can be suborned to the US cause without any cost to them.

The US deep state is no less dangerous to us than the hans open hostility and the pakis are also pitching in via the cashmere route. This concerted action cannot be a mere coincidence.

China hardens stance against India over Indo-Pacific strategy, warns New Delhi may lose opportunities by following US

China hardens stance against India over Indo-Pacific strategy, warns New Delhi may lose opportunities by following US

India Akshita Jain, Jul 03, 2018


Since US president Donald Trump adopted the term 'Indo-Pacific', China has time and again expressed its disapproval and even issued demarches to countries participating in the quad. It has always been wary of the "free and open Indo-Pacific" strategy that Trump has been attempting to push. Beijing has also warned that US' efforts to contain China's rise would be viewed with scorn.

The US envisages a greater role for India in its Indo-Pacific strategy. The US National Security Strategy (2017) and the US National Defense Strategy (2018) give more weightage to India's role in the region.


Nadia Schadlow, Deputy Assistant to the US President for National Security Strategy, said at the Raisina Dialogue 2018 that the document recognises the centrality of India-US partnership. "India is a pillar of our common vision for free and open Indo-Pacific." The NSS states that the US will support India’s growing relationships throughout the region.

Beijing has been mindful of New Delhi taking centre stage in the Indo-Pacific strategy. An op-ed in the state-run Global Times warned that any benefits from the Indo-Pacific strategy may be "greatly outweighed by the costs to India." It warned India that the US' strategy is hampering, not aiding New Delhi's interests.

It also suggested that it would be better for India "to look to China for ways of self-development". The piece warned that New Delhi would lose future opportunities to cooperate with Beijing and many other neighbouring countries if it continues to follow the US strategy.

While China has always been critical of the Indo-Pacific strategy and called it an "attention-grabbing idea" that will "dissipate like ocean foam", it has continuously called on India to look to China instead for development. In the op-ed published on 1 June in Global Times, it was suggested that Beijing can provide more support and knowledge to New Delhi than the US.

While China has echoed the same views before by calling out the US and terming Indo-Pacific a "trap" set by Washington, the tone seems to have hardened over recent months. Another op-ed published in Global Times in May this year said that there is little possibility of New Delhi falling into this trap. However, now Beijing expects New Delhi to "understand the situation" or lose opportunities to cooperate with China.

'Concept coming into operation'

In recent months, Beijing seems to have realised that the "Indo-Pacific strategy has become more than a concept, and is gradually coming into operation." While Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during his visit to Singapore, called Indo-Pacific a "natural region" and assured that India does not consider itself as directed against any country, Global Times stated that China still needs to carefully watch New Delhi's diplomatic moves in the Indo-Pacific region.

At the Shangri-La Dialogue, Modi said that India does not see the Indo-Pacific as a strategy or as a club of limited members, nor as a grouping that seeks to dominate. Despite Modi's assurances that New Delhi's vision for Indo-Pacific is a positive one, the Global Times op-ed was wary of this "softer" stance by the prime minister. It questioned if India's current China policy and the adjustment of the Indo-Pacific strategy are not for "keeping a low profile and making some achievements?"

India's budding relationship with the US and its participation in the quad meet this year gives reasons for China to be suspicious of India's motives. Foreign ministry officials from India, Australia, Japan and the US met in Singapore and reaffirmed their support for a free, open, prosperous and inclusive Indo-Pacific region.

Modi also pointed out at the Shangri-La Dialogue that the Indian armed forces, especially the navy, are building partnerships in the Indo-Pacific region for peace and security, as well as humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.

With calls for India to take on a greater role in the Indo-Pacific, China's concerns have compounded. BJP's national general secretary Ram Madhav wants India to take a more proactive role in the region. At the Raisina Dialogue 2018, he said that India needs to re-orient its strategic thinking from a westward thinking nation to an eastward-looking nation. He added that New Delhi does not want to remain a "mere spectator."

The BJP general secretary also said that the global power axis has shifted to the Indo-Pacific region and while the diminishing power of western nations is a reality in this region, the rising power of countries like China is also a strategic reality.

China's hardened stance and stern warnings to India come in the wake of calls for New Delhi to take on a more important role in the region.

The Wuhan summit and Modi's assurances that India seeks a "natural" region in the Indo-Pacific do not seem to have blunted China's criticism. Beijing has repeatedly called on India to avoid getting "trapped" by Washington and instead look to China for ways of self-development. The op-eds in Global Times are also a reflection of the growing concerns in China about India's role in the Indo-Pacific.

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Re: China - News & Discussion

Post by chetak » Sat Sep 08, 2018 7:56 am

This may simply be another CPEC/OBOR/BRI tactical ploy to force India's hand to provide nepal unhindered access to Indian seaports. A route that the chinese can themselves use by labelling their goods as made in nepal.

I cannot imagine nepal exports/imports being anywhere near competitive after being hauled 3,300 kms by road to/from some han port for overseas shipment.


China allows Nepal to use land, seaports for trade
China allows Nepal to use land, seaports for trade

China on Friday agreed to allow Nepal to use four of its seaports and three land ports for third-country trade reducing the landlocked country's dependence on India to conduct international commerce.

Nepal will be able to access Shenzen, Lianyungang, Zhanjiang and Tianjin, the latter being the nearest seaport at a distance of around 3,300 kms from the Nepalese border, according to foreign ministry sources here.

Similarly, Nepal has been allowed to use Lanzhou, Lhasa and Xigatse land ports (dry ports) as well. This will provide alternative routes for Nepal to carry out international trade.

Chinese authorities will provide permits to trucks and containers ferrying Nepal-bound cargo to and from Xigatse in Tibet, as per the new arrangement.


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Re: China - News & Discussion

Post by gunjur » Thu Oct 04, 2018 11:45 am

Hello Folks - Pls suggest some books which detail out chinese economic growth in last 20-25 years, preferably written in last 2-3 years. books which also cover how each regions are moving, sectors like electronics, steel, automobile etc.

Also preferably within Rs.1K

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Re: China - News & Discussion

Post by chetak » Fri Oct 12, 2018 10:20 am


chetak
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Re: China - News & Discussion

Post by chetak » Tue Oct 16, 2018 2:49 pm

A new chaal by the cheeni, driven by the fear of Trump and also their everpresent need to enmesh India.

They have been trying to worm their way into SAARC for a long time now


China reaches out to India for joint projects in South Asia


China reaches out to India for joint projects in South Asia

Dipanjan Roy Chaudhury, Oct 16, 2018

NEW DELHI: China has reached out to India to create joint projects in South Asia similar to Sino-Indian joint projects in Afghanistan.

Speaking at the launch of joint Indo-China project for training Afghan diplomats in New Delhi on Monday, Chinese Ambassador to India Luo Zhaohui suggested that China-India Plus cooperation should be extended from Afghanistan to other countries such as Nepal, Bhutan, Maldives, Iran and Myanmar.

He further said that both sides should join under the mechanism of SAARC, to promote regional peace, stability and prosperity. Sources here indicated that India is not in favour of expansion of SAARC to include China, and BIMSTEC is being strengthened as a sub-regional organisation amid Chinese inroads.


And BCIM, or Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar, has not made much progress. Last week, China reached out to India seeking to join hands amid trade war with the US.

...............



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Re: China - News & Discussion

Post by chetak » Fri Nov 02, 2018 6:12 am

Credit could and should have been given to the present GoI for its perspicacious and principled stand.

One seriously doubts if any other govt except this particular one would have thought through the serious implications or even made a token resistance to the relentless OBOR/BRI/CPEC overtures, threats and demands, forget having the b@!!$ to reject outright these scam schemes and would have undoubtedly jumped in both feet first thus landing India in the schitt for decades to come.


Belt and roadblocks: India’s stance vindicated as China’s grandiose BRI plans run into resistance




Belt and roadblocks: India’s stance vindicated as China’s grandiose BRI plans run into resistance

Brahma Chellaney, October 29, 2018,

Sierra Leone has become the latest country to scrap a Belt and Road (BRI) project, cancelling a $318 million airport deal with China. After smooth sailing, BRI is now encountering strong headwinds, as partner nations worry about sovereignty eroding debt traps. In multiple countries, BRI projects are being scrapped or scaled back.

India was the first country to come out against the opaque BRI, Chinese President Xi Jinping’s marquee initiative. India boycotted Xi’s much-hyped BRI summit, held to drum up global support for his initiative. The May 2017 summit in Beijing attracted 29 heads of state or government, including Russia’s Vladimir Putin and Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan. But, while the US sent a joint secretary equivalent official to the summit, India sent no one.

Indeed, India publicly portrayed BRI as a non-transparent, neocolonial enterprise aimed at ensnaring smaller, cash-strapped states in a debt trap to help advance China’s geopolitical agenda. An official Indian statement before the BRI summit declared that “connectivity initiatives must be based on universally recognised international norms, good governance, the rule of law, openness, transparency and equality” and that they must also “follow principles of financial responsibility to avoid projects that would create unsustainable debt burden”.

Image
Illustration: Ajit Ninan

Some commentators in India were quick to claim that, through its summit boycott, India had isolated itself. They also predicted that India would come out a loser by turning its back on what they saw as a promising infrastructure building initiative that New Delhi too should have tapped.

But at the BRI summit itself, India received implicit support. The European Union openly echoed India’s concerns by saying BRI did not include commitments to transparency and social and environmental sustainability. The EU’s refusal to back Xi’s BRI-related trade statement marred the summit.

Before long, the US began depicting BRI as the dawn of a new colonial era. Then US secretary of state Rex Tillerson called China a “new imperialist power” whose practices are “reminiscent of European colonialism”.

The word “predatory” is now being used internationally about China’s practices. The International Monetary Fund has warned that Chinese loans are promoting unsustainable debt burdens. The price such burdens exact can extend to national sovereignty and self-respect. The handover of Hambantota port on a 99-year lease to China was seen in Sri Lanka as the equivalent of a heavily indebted farmer giving away his daughter to the cruel money lender.

Beijing has leveraged big credits to gain even military presence, as its first overseas naval base at Djibouti illustrates. Trapped in a debt crisis after borrowing billions of dollars, Djibouti was left with no choice but to lease land for the base to China for $20 million in annual rent. China is similarly seeking to employ its leverage over cash-strapped Pakistan to build a naval base next to Gwadar port.

In the Maldives, China has acquired several islets in that heavily indebted Indian Ocean archipelago. While the terms of the various lease agreements have not been disclosed, the acquisitions have come cheap; for example, China paid just $4 million for Feydhoo Finolhu, an island that previously served as a police training centre.

However, China’s grandiose BRI plans are running into broader resistance. Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang by his side in Beijing’s Great Hall of the People, recently criticised China’s use of infrastructure projects to spread its influence. By warning China against “a new version of colonialism”, Mahathir highlighted international concerns over Beijing’s use of geo-economic tools to achieve geopolitical objectives.

Sri Lanka’s experience has been a wake-up call for other countries with outsize debts to China. A number of BRI partner-states have begun trying to renegotiate their deals with Beijing. Some have decided to cancel or scale back projects. Mahathir, during his Beijing visit, announced the cancellation of Chinese projects worth nearly $23 billion. And China’s close ally, Pakistan, has downsized its main BRI railroad project by $2 billion.

BRI seeks to export China’s model of top-down, debt-driven development through government-to-government deals clinched without competitive bidding. But, increasingly, BRI is being seen internationally as an attempt to remake global commerce on China’s terms and project Chinese power far and wide.

Vulnerable countries are awakening to the risks of accepting loans that are too good to be true and then slipping into debt entrapment. China is even replicating some of the practices that were used against it during the European colonial period, such as the concept of a 99-year lease. BRI, by creating a mountain of debt, risks undermining China’s international standing, including engendering hidden hostility. A broader pushback against China’s mercantilist practices is already emerging.

Against this background, India’s brave, principled stand against BRI stands fully vindicated. India can pride itself as the intellectual leader that helped shine a spotlight on BRI’s financial and security risks and thereby moulded the international debate. The larger international pushback against China’s predatory practices is likely to intensify in the coming years, putting greater pressure on BRI.

DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author's own.

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Re: China - News & Discussion

Post by chetak » Mon Nov 05, 2018 5:34 pm

This could get quite nasty very soon.

This should not be catching the policy planners by surprise. It is just the sort of thing that the hans would typically do.

The gwadar route to the gulf and now this shortcut route to the Indian Ocean with access to port, repair, replenishment and drydocking facilities at hambanthota. The hans are playing the long game. They are certainly not our friends, well wishers or even our trade partners by any stretch of the imagination. There is a fundamental military thrust to the entire CPEC/BRI/OBOR thing.

This is another submarine choke point and so the subs would still have to go all the way around.




Thailand's move on Kra Canal alarms New Delhi as route will boost Chinese naval power in Indian Ocean


Thailand's move on Kra Canal alarms New Delhi as route will boost Chinese naval power in Indian Ocean

Nov 05, 2018

Pushed by his country's powerful military junta, Prime Minister of Thailand Prayut Chan-o-cha has ordered the country's National Security Council to begin examining the feasibility of proposals to build a 120-kilometre mega canal that would slash 1,200 kilometres off the route Chinese warships now take to reach South Asian ports — dramatically enhancing the superpower's ability to project power in future Indian Ocean wars.

Private investors from China have already committed $30 billion for the construction of the Kra Canal, first conceived of almost 350 years ago. Longhao, a Chinese construction company involved in the government's controversial island-building work in the South China Sea, will be given the responsibility for the work, Indian government sources told Firstpost.

President Chan-o-cha's decision, Indian government sources said, could mean that the project could be completed late in the next decade, forcing the Indian military to significantly rethink its planning and preparedness for conflicts involving China's growing navy.

File image of Thailand Prime Minister Prayut Chan-O-Cha. AFPFile image of Thailand Prime Minister Prayut Chan-O-Cha. AFP
Former Thai military commander Thawatchai Samutsakorn, who is vice-president of a private-sector consortium pushing for the Kra Canal, told The Bangkok Post that government committees to study the project will be set up before elections in February 2019.

"After the polls, when we have Opposition parties, they will oppose the campaign without taking into account the potential benefits to the country and the public," he said.

Geo-politics

From China's point of view, the Kra Canal offers a means to secure its expanding demand for West Asia's hydrocarbons against overcrowding in the Strait of Malacca — the world's busiest maritime lane through which an estimated 84,000 ships pass every year, carrying around 30 percent of the global trade transit. The World Bank estimates that over 1,40,000 ships will seek to transit through the Strait of Malacca annually by the end of the decade, far in excess of its capacity of 1,22,000 ships.

Exiting the Kra Canal westwards, traffic would enter the Andaman Sea, transit past India's Andaman and Nicobar Islands and then head south towards the Chinese-owned port at Hambantota in Sri Lanka.

But that isn't the end of the story. The Kra Canal would offer an alternative to a route surrounded by US allies, and thus, would be vulnerable to a blockade in the event of a geopolitical crisis. Former Chinese president Hu Jintao had underlined China's concerns about the straits, referring to it as the "Malacca dilemma".

Indeed, the geopolitics of the Kra Canal are one reason why Thailand remains divided on moving forward on China's proposal. Some in Thailand's strategic establishment fear that Chinese investment in the project will, inexorably, erode the country's sovereignty — a fear founded on the experience of Egypt and Panama, where the canals led to decades of foreign control.

"The history of the Panama and Suez canals shows that despite the unquestionable economic advantages of a canal, one country's funding of its construction on the territory of another country usually leads to the spread of significant influence by the first country," scholar Ivica Kinder has pointed out.

Thai critics of the project also believe it will devastate tourism earnings from resort towns along the Andaman Sea.

Uncertainty over economic viability

Experts remain divided on the economic viability of the Kra Canal, with some sceptical that it will ever pay for itself. Earlier this year, energy specialist Gary Norman had estimated that the canal would need to generate $4.57 million each day to pay for itself. Based on the assumption that 40 ships will transit the canal each day, he noted, that would mean a user fee of $1,15,000 per transit.

But, Norman pointed out, the typical additional fuel costs for the longer routes through the Malacca, Sunda or Lombok straits range from $40,000 to $1,20,000 per trip — not enough to justify the fee to use the canal.

The Suez Canal and the Panama Canal, bypassing entire continents, are able to charge large ships fees of around $2,50,000 and $1,25,000, respectively, because of the far larger savings in time they enable.

However, advocates said the Kra Canal project would handle a far higher number of ships and also draw investments from businesses linked to shipping, which range from engineering, supplies and legal services. The Thai Canal Association's plans also envisages building two large free trade zones and a new international airport.

The proposal put forward by Longhao, an Indian government source said, involved building two offshore islands for ships to berth, warehouses and even entertainment hubs. The company also proposed bringing in over 30,000 Chinese workers to build the canal.

Lyu Jian, Beijing's envoy to Bangkok, has privately told the Thai government that his country sees the Kra Canal as a strategic investment, part of the One-Belt- One-Road plan that envisages pushing new networks of rail, road and maritime links from Asia to Europe and Africa.

The Kra Canal has haunted East Asia's strategic imagination since 1677, when King Narai, the Great, asked the French engineer M de Lamar to explore linking the Andaman Sea with the Gulf of Thailand. King Rama I revived the idea in 1793, thinking it might provide a line of defence for the capital. And in 1858, Imperial Britain secured permission to begin digging but ran out of funds before work could start.

Fearing Japan might build the canal and thus bypass Britain's naval base in Singapore, Thailand later signed a treaty to not build the canal at all.

But the idea was revived in the last century — with both Soviet and US engineers at one point suggesting using nuclear bombs to cut through Thailand's intractable mountain ranges.

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