China Newsbrief and Sitrep

China Newsbrief and Sitrep

November 10, 2020

Source

By Godfree Roberts – selected from his extensive weekly newsletter : Here Comes China

Infrastructure

The Three Gorges passed all its tests. Flood control, power generation, navigation and water resources utilization are running smoothly. The river dam, flood discharge, energy dissipation, water diversion and power generation, navigation facilities, protective buildings, mechanical and electrical systems are operating normally and stably. The reservoir accumulated 180 billion cubic meters of floodwater, reduced the flood peak by 40 percent, and the lowered flood control pressures in the the Yangtze River. Read full article →

Agriculture

A new record means a one mu (0.067 hectare) rice field can feed five people for a year. Scientists achieved record-breaking yields of 1,500 kg per mu, or 22.5 tonnes per hectare. The strain, named “Sanyou #1”, is known for its high yield and resilience to unfavorable weather conditions. The late-season hybrid rice yield measured on Monday reached 911.7 kg per mu – each mu measures about 0.07 hectares.  Read full article →

Aerospace

China has launched more satellites than any other country this year as of Sept. 30, putting it on track to win the space launch-rate race three years in a row. Through the third quarter of 2020, China has launched a total of 29 satellites. The US by contrast has launched 27 total, launching 10 this quarter. Only SpaceX keeps the US close to China. Read full article →

Useless Idiots?

What really happened at the US Consulate General in Hong Kong when those four young anti-China activists turned up seeking asylum? They were rejected because, as much as they would like to believe they fought the good fight against “tyranny” and merit “protection” for all the sacrifices they made, they are in fact nobodies in the eyes of the unscrupulous and manipulative officials and politicians in Washington who cheered them on and lulled them into a false sense of security that America had their backs. Read full article →

The four Hong Kong activists who sought protection at the US consulate last week had discussed their intentions with consular staff, who gave them the green light to enter the compound before firmly asking them to leave. Three were seeking asylum, while the fourth, who claims to be a US citizen, is accusing the consulate of neglecting its duty to help him.  Read full article →

Long Read: Investing in the Belt and Road

(This article selection is specifically for the explanation on Islamic Finance)

Pakistan BRI Projects

China’s Belt & Road Initiative officially kicked off in 2013, some seven years ago, under the initial title of ‘One Belt One Road’. That was later dropped as it became apparent that the scale of demand for projects would be rather more than single Eurasian and Maritime routes. While there has been some controversy over China’s financing and the exporting of its construction SOEs to build these projects, closer examination of the so-called ‘debt trap’ issue by US Universities such as John Hopkins and William & Mary have revealed this not to be the case; their studies failing to produce any evidence of debt trap problems created by Chinese loans. It is however encouraging that such finance is being monitored and it will help keep Beijing straight. This is good news for Pakistan, as it has been a significant recipient of Chinese infrastructure funding, with US$62 billion being spent on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) alone.

The China–Pakistan Economic Corridor 

The CPEC is a collection of infrastructure projects that are under construction throughout the country. CPEC is intended to rapidly upgrade Pakistan’s required infrastructure and strengthen its economy by the construction of modern transportation networks, numerous energy projects, and special economic zones. CPEC became partly operational in late 2016 when Chinese cargo was transported overland to Gwadar Port for onward maritime shipment to Africa and West Asia, while certain nationally important power projects came onstream in late 2017.

A vast network of highways and railways are currently being constructed as part of CPEC that will span the length and breadth of Pakistan. Inefficiencies stemming from Pakistan’s current, mostly dilapidated transportation network are estimated by the government to cause a loss of 3.55% of the country’s annual GDP with little investment having been made since the days of the British Raj.

Modern transportation networks built under CPEC will link seaports in Gwadar and Karachi on Pakistan’s southern coast with northern Pakistan, as well as to routes and cities further north in Western China’s Xinjiang Province and onto Central Asia. This includes a 1,100 km motorway being built between Karachi and Lahore, while the Karachi-Peshawar main rail route is being upgraded to allow for high speed train travel.

To the north the Karakoram Highway from Gilgit to Taxkorgan and Kashgar is being completely overhauled while Pakistan’s railway network will also be extended to eventually connect to China’s Southern Xinjiang railway in Kashgar and from there onto China’s national rail system and its majority Muslim Provinces of Xinjiang, Gansu, Qinghai and Ningxia – all of which lie in a West-East axis, following the ancient overland trade routes of the ancient silk road. China’s Muslim population is about 80 million with significant hubs in cities such as Xián and Beijing.

To the West from Xinjiang, China is connected to Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Afghanistan and Uzbekistan, all Muslim countries. Urumqi, the capital city of Xinjang, is a major Central Asian hub and reaches out via road, rail and air to many Central Asian destinations.

Pakistan’s Export Manufacturing Potential  

What this means for Pakistan – world renowned traders extraordinaire – is that the Belt and Road build in their own country can be used to service the business and human footfall needs now being created in hubs across the country, as well as vastly improved trade interconnectivity with similar cultures and values throughout China and Central Asia.

Pakistan’s south coast Ports also offer shipping access and trade to Southeast Asia including the Muslim countries of Malaysia and Indonesia – offering a combined market of 300 million people. Then there are India’s Muslims – another 172 million. The opportunities for Pakistan’s business export sector to grow and develop are immense.

This is important as Pakistan currently has a growing current account deficit. This is driven by a widening trade gap as import growth outstrips export expansion and could draw down reserves and dampen GDP growth in the medium term. That said, Pakistan is currently undergoing a process of economic liberalization including privatization of all government corporations, being aimed to attract FDI and decrease the budget deficit. Pakistan is generally regarded as one of the ten emerging global economies with a particular focus on its manufacturing hub.

The economy of Pakistan is the 23rd largest in the world in terms of purchasing power parity (PPP), while the country has a significant population of 220 million, and is expected, along with the BRICS nations to be among the world’s largest economies in the 21st century. Clearly, China has been investing in a friendly, emerging and significant economy. So too notably have expatriate Pakistani’s based in the UK and United States, as well as investments coming in from the UAE and Turkey. Investments from the West and mature Asian economies have tended to be big-ticket and restricted to MNC’s – while the CPEC builds, when completed, offer more opportunities for SME’s and medium sized investors as well as the big players.

Islamic Financing

Asian regional hubs have seen what is happening and have begun offering Islamic finance services as part of their portfolio. Hong Kong has been placing Sukuk (Islamic bonds) to raise capital for several years now, some into the billions of dollars. HSBS and Standard Chartered are often utilized as global advisers, with banks such as Malaysia’s CIMB and Abu Dhabi’s National Bank involved in Islamic countries. Singapore has had less success, with DBS closing its Islamic Bank of Asia in 2015 and folding Islamic finance facilities into core operations. Nonetheless, facilities are available in Hong Kong and the regional Muslim economies in Asia.

The major projects China has helped finance and build in Pakistan that would be of interest to Islamic and global financiers and businessmen are as follows:

Pakistan’s Gwadar Port (گوادر بندرگاه) is the deepest sea port in the world, and is under the administrative control of the Maritime Secretary of Pakistan and the operational control of the China Overseas Port Holding Company.  The port is a link between the Belt & Road Initiative and the Maritime Silk Road.

It includes the Gwadar Special Economic Zone currently being built on a 2,292 acre site adjacent to the Port.

The Gwadar SEZ will include manufacturing zones, logistics hubs, warehouses, and display centres and is modelled on the successful Chinese SEZ model which launched cities such as Shenzhen into global recognizance and shipping importance. Business established in the special economic zone will be exempt from Pakistani income, sales, and federal excise taxes for 23 years, while a 40-year tax holiday will be granted for imports of equipment, materials, plants, machinery, appliances and accessories that are to be for construction of Gwadar Port and SEZ.

The SEZ is being completed in three phases. Manufacturing and processing industries should start to be operational by 2025, while further expansion of the zone is intended to be complete by 2030. While the Chinese are building the Gwadar infrastructure, it should be noted that opportunities exist both for foreign investors within the SEZ and especially those who wish to target either the Pakistani domestic market or for reexport manufacturing to take advantage of the lower operational costs.

The good news for manufacturing in Gwadar to sell onto the domestic market are the tax incentives and low worker costs, coupled by the growth of the Pakistani consumer market, which although volatile, and has been impacted by Covid-19, has also been on an upwards trend. Estimates now suggest that Pakistan’s middle class has reached about 16 million. That may be small beer to many, but it is expected to grow, and now would be a good time to develop brands in a total market size of 220 million.

Gwadar SEZ is useful and extremely valuable to investors as component parts will be able to enter the zone duty free, with import duty not payable unless goods enter the domestic market. VAT breaks and refunds are also available to businesses setting up shop there. The fact that English, that global language of commerce, is widely spoken is another ”ease of doing business” advantage. That has been noted, the World Bank stating earlier this year that ‘‘due to a concerted improvement in business regulation, Pakistan climbed 28 places and rose to a rank of 108 in the global ease of doing business rankings in 2020″.

The same economic drivers suggest Gwadar will become an important Asian SEZ and ideal for export manufacturers. Under Chinese and Pakistani management, security will be tight, and the incentives make it attractive.

The other aspect to Gwadar that local Pakistani and their overseas counterparts overseas can make an investment case for are the facilities outside the SEZ and Port. These include business and human services to support these facilities, as well as property investments – they can be expected to significantly increase in the immediate Gwadar area. That is exactly what has happened in Sri Lanka’s Colombo Port City – another BRI project whose time has come. Investors both local and international are putting money into the surrounding area. Profits are being made, and the same will happen at Gwadar.

Gilgit SEZ – Access To China & Central Asia  

The Moqpondass Gilgit SEZ is a priority development under CPEC in Gilgit in Pakistan’s northern Baltistan Province. It borders Afghanistan to the north, China to the northeast, and the Pakistani administrated state of Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) to the south. It covers an area of about 750 acres. Construction work has begun.

The area is naturally rich in precious stones, ore and fruits. The proposed SEZ would be connected with Gilgit Airport, about 30km distant and also scheduled for upgrades as well as being on the route to Sost, the last Pakistani border town to China. It is also connected to the important trade and supply route through to Skardu to the east, itself a Gateway to the Karakorum Mountain range. The town is located on the Indus river, which separates the Karakoram Range from the Himalayas.

The SEZ is being designed for processing marble and granite, iron ore, steel, (to be used in later regional construction projects) other minerals as well as fruit processing and added value such as packaging and so on.

The SEZ is significant as Gilgit has suffered from Taliban attacks in the past and was heavily infested with weapons as a result. There has been a mass cleanup, while the SEZ is intended to give inhabitants the ability to turn their time back towards trade and production and towards relative wealth in what is a naturally productive region. With the China border so close, it is an excellent opportunity. China also wishes to secure the region as train routes and major highways can then pass through to Xinjiang Province.

Securing regional trade and developing wealth creation opportunities in Central Asia and Northern Pakistan is important for Beijing as it, like Pakistan, seeks to deal with the worst aspects of Islamic fundamentalism.

Additional incentives may also come to the region as the Pakistan Government is considering declaring Gilgit-Baltistan as a Province, giving it more funding and a greater status within the country. That would upset India, pre-occupied with a military standoff with China in nearby Ladakh. That said, despite complaints, India is unlikely to interfere. However it would be good news for Gilgit and help advance regional trade, commerce and security. The opening of the Gilgit SEZ would probably coincide with news confirming Provincial status, expected to be ‘soon’. State funds can then be expected to be freed up to further develop the area. Investors can take advantage, as always occurs when following State encouraged funding.

The Karachi to Peshawar Railway

The Karachi–Peshawar Railway Line (کراچی–پشاور مرکزی ریل راستہ) is one of four main railway lines in Pakistan, being operated and maintained by Pakistan Railways. The line begins from Karachi City Station and ends at Peshawar Cantonment Station, with a total length of 1,687 km. It passes 184 railway stations and serves as the main passenger and freight line of the country. 75% of the country’s cargo and passenger traffic uses this route. It is currently undergoing a US$5.4 billion upgrade and renovation as part of CPEC with average rail speeds expected be doubled to 160 kilometers per hour upon completion.

Greater Peshawar Mass Transit System 

The Peshawar Circular Railway (پشاور مداری ریلوے ) Project is an inter-regional commuter rail system for the Greater Peshawar metropolitan area which will connect several industrial and commercial districts within Peshawar to the outlying suburbs and cities of Jamrud, Charsadda, Mardan, Nowshera and later, to Swabi. In August 2016, the regional Government agreed to a US$1.6 billion MoU with the China Communications and Construction Company (CCCC). This railway is expected to resolve transportation problems in the Peshawar region and generate jobs leading to the overall economic revival of the province. It will impact 11 million people in the Peshawar Valley. To the West lies the Khyber Pass to Afghanistan, it is hoped that the proximity will further settle tribal areas and better influence regional trade on a broader scale.

The Karachi-Peshawar Motorway 

The Karachi – Peshawar Motorway is a construction and development of a six lane, access controlled highway of 1,100 km. It is a tolled facility, and originates in Karachi through Motorway M-9 (136 km) to Hyderabad. From Hyderabad onwards, it comprises new build for 345 km to Sukkur, then from Sukkur to Multan follows the left bank of the River Indus for 392 km.

It opened at the end of last year, and is intended to allow speeds of up to 120 kmh. It is Pakistan’s first bi-directional six-lane motorway with an intelligent (smart) transportation function. It cost US$2.9 billion to build and took 36 months. There are 100 bridges, 468 underpasses, 991 culverts, 11 interchanges, six pairs of service areas, five pairs of rest areas, and 24 toll stations. The motorway was divided into seven sections for simultaneous construction. The project was undertaken by the China State Construction Engineering Corporation (CSCEC).

Multan and Sukkur are important cities in Pakistan, and they are now connected by the motorway. Multan is a major area for producing mangoes, dates and other crops, while Sukkur is an important transport hub. The motorway reduces the commuter time between the two cities from 11 hours to less than four hours, thus expediting travel between China and Pakistan.

These are just a handful of the Belt & Road projects that China has invested in Pakistan that are about to come to fruition; there are many more in terms of Special Economic Zones, road, rail and other infrastructure facilities that are being built and that will project Pakistan into an Asian manufacturing hub during this decade. This is further enhanced with China in particular as Pakistan has a Free Trade Agreement with China. Pakistan is also a member of SAFTA, a free trade bloc that also includes Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal and Sri Lanka.   All countries completed the respective Trade Liberalization Program (TLP) under the Phase I and II of SAFTA, meaning that tariffs fell to 0-5 percent on all traded products other than those in the respective ”sensitive” lists. Although there has been some horseplay over what are and are not legitimate ‘sensitive’ products, a further 100 items are due to be exempted from tariffs in 2020. Read full article →

(We regularly include Chris Devonshire-Ellis’ articles partly because he lives in the port of Hambantota–and because he regularly visits Eurasia’s flyover countries.)

Analysis: Political Consciousness – Frans Vandenbosch 方腾波 18.10.2020

Consciousness is defined as the quality or state of being aware, especially of something within oneself. Political consciousness is then the personal awareness or concern for some social or political cause. For certain philosophers, all consciousness is political because in their view, it always is the outcome of politic-economic circumstances, a product of ideological influences. That looks close to the reality, but it is far from complete. Today in 2020 the picture is much more complex.

Four steps to full political consciousness

Without any doubt, most people either straightforward deny or are unaware of the entire economic, political, media and internet influence. With a lot of effort and a strong analytic mind it is nevertheless possible to escape that external influence. Not right away; that process takes time and effort. These are the four steps in the process. Everyone, whether they like it or not, has to go through these four stages:

The honeymoon

This is even for well educated people raised in a political active family, the first step. It is an inevitable stepping stone to a more correct political consciousness. Because of the heavy social pressure and the daily brainwashing by the mainstream media, many, if not most people never escape this first stage.

Ambiguity and doubt; the second step.

After being confronted with the contradictions between the mainstream media story and reality, a form of uncertainty slowly arises. Last week, a friend wrote me in an email: “I can’t believe they’re all lying”. Indeed, they’re all lying. I have not taken the effort to explain him the details; he wouldn’t accept my explanation anyway. Much, if not all what people read in the western mainstream media is pure propaganda. It is meeting all of the 10 features of propaganda as defined by Edward Bernays and his followers.

Awareness, apprehension; the third stage. 

Cracks appear in the image. People are getting aware that most mainstream media do not present real news but only a pre-made fairy-tale. They despise some or all of the western mainstream media and look for alternative media. They scold the media and politicians but are not yet ready to look for the root causes of the decline of democracy, the economy and freedom of speech.

Full political consciousness; the final stage. 

The nirvana of political consciousness. People no longer consume western mainstream media. They have strong indications of the root causes of the decline of their freedom. But they’re also fully aware of Confucius’ “Real wisdom is to know that one can’t know everything”.

Global political consciousness 

It is, as Mark Twain so vividly put it, not just useful but of the utmost importance to travel to other countries. To speak with the local people in their own native language:

Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.

One of the reasons for the bias within the Anglo-Saxon population is the lingua franca status of their language. They do not feel the same incentive as others to try to speak the native language of their interlocutor. It is only with a deep understanding of the social and economic situation in other countries that political consciousness has a fertile soil to grow.

In this regard, it is remarkable that most Chinese people have a higher political consciousness than Westerners.  There are four main causes for the stronger Chinese awareness. In brief: the Chinese 10 points higher IQ, the Chinese education system based on STEM directions and analytical thinking, the harsh meritocratic selection process and the Western degrading but Chinese increasing Flynn effect.

And even more remarkable is that in general, sociologists are less politically aware than STEM graduates. At first sight this may seem contradictory, but on closer inspection it is very logical. Sociologists are believers, they absorb a way of thinking and pass it on to their audience in a convincing way. STEM graduates, on the other hand, look at things in an analytical way, measure and test, and don’t make a decision until they’ve reviewed enough parameters.

Aldous Huxley, fully aware of Bernays’ work two decennia before him, wrote on 21.10.1949 in a letter to his former student George Orwell, author of ‘1984’: “Within the next generation I believe that the world’s leaders will discover that infant conditioning and narcohypnotic are more efficient, as instruments of government, than clubs and prisons, and that the lust for power can be just as completely satisfied by suggesting people into loving their servitude as by flogging them and kicking them into obedience”

Frans Vandenbosch, Chinese name 方腾波, is a Fleming who lived in China for years where he supported companies in the automotive, medical, electronics and plastics processing sectors. He is cofounder and senior consultant at the International Institute on Governance and Strategy (IIGS) in Beijing and the author of Statecraft and Society in China about grassroots politics in China.


This represents but a fraction of what is included in the Here Comes China newsletter.  If you want to learn about the Chinese world, get Godfree’s newsletter here

Weekly China Newsbrief and Sitrep

Source

Weekly China Newsbrief and Sitrep

By Godfree Roberts selected from his extensive weekly newsletter : Here Comes China

Editorial Comments

Now that the excitement of all the major Heads of Countries virtually speaking at the UNGA is over, we can come to initial conclusions.  The theme of this gathering was to investigate the UN itself, and to position it to be a better global gathering place where internal relations can be discussed, problems solved and the work of multi-polarity between nations can continue.  President Putin gave a serious statesman speech without any fireworks, stating why the UN is important and calmly outlining the conditions in our world today, which actions should take priority and what the Russian focus is in the medium and long terms.  His gift to the UN and staff is a free SputnikV Vaccine.  Chairman Xi did the same and also came bearing gifts, putting some money where their mouth’s are in essence.  Here is the transcript and this quote stands out:  (Note my bolded sentence).

“Since the start of this year, we, the 1.4 billion Chinese, undaunted by the strike of COVID-19, and with the government and the people united as one, have made all-out efforts to control the virus and speedily restore life and economy to normalcy. We have every confidence to achieve our goals within the set time frame, that is, to finish the building of a moderately prosperous society in all respects, lift out of poverty all rural residents living below the current poverty line, and meet ten years ahead of schedule the poverty eradication target set out in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

China is the largest developing country in the world, a country that is committed to peaceful, open, cooperative and common development.  We will never seek hegemony, expansion, or sphere of influence. We have no intention to fight either a Cold War or a hot war with any country.  We will continue to narrow differences and resolve disputes with others through dialogue and negotiation. We do not seek to develop only ourselves or engage in a zero-sum game. We will not pursue development behind closed doors. Rather, we aim to foster, over time, a new development paradigm with domestic circulation as the mainstay and domestic and international circulations reinforcing each other. This will create more space for China’s economic development and add impetus to global economic recovery and growth.

China will continue to work as a builder of global peace, a contributor to global development and a defender of international order. To support the UN in playing its central role in international affairs, I hereby announce the following steps to be taken by China:

— China will provide another US$50 million to the UN COVID-19 Global Humanitarian Response Plan.

— China will provide US$50 million to the China-FAO South-South Cooperation Trust Fund (Phase III).

— China will extend the Peace and Development Trust Fund between the UN and China by five years after it expires in 2025.

— China will set up a UN Global Geospatial Knowledge and Innovation Center and an International Research Center of Big Data for Sustainable Development Goals to facilitate the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.”

So why is it that the Chinese government seemingly fails to convince the western public that China is not their enemy? Alternatively stated, why is it that the western countries are successful in portraying China as their enemy?  The answer is non-complicated at a first look.

At present, 90% of Americans learn about China through Western media, so it’s hard for the Chinese Government to convince Americans of anything.

American media are even more tightly controlled than Chinese media and far less trustworthy, says the American Press Institute, “Just six percent of Americans say they have a lot of confidence in the media, putting the news industry about equal to Congress and well below the public’s view of other institutions”.

Americans don’t trust what their media tell them, but they don’t have other sources of information, either.

Joey Yu says: (February 22) —”The average American also has never left the United States. Never seen another country unless it’s through the media, and what the media shows them is probably outdated.”  • And nearly all Western media has the constant anti-Chinese political refrain which has brainwashed many even highly educated American and British professionals. I have given up trying to correct such people because I would lose their friendship if I continue to do that. But that brainwashing rankles.

First we had President Trump’s speech at the UNGA, which can only be categorized as a blistering and outright attack on China, well outside of the theme set for this meeting, while pretending to be the ‘Peaceful Nation’.  The Chinese commentary was immediate and devastating. I pulled these few comments describing President Trump’s speech out of just one of the Chinese commentaries:

Discriminatory, did the US President come to the UN for a quarrel, vulgar, full of loopholes, fooling only the American public, undisguised attempt at a new cold war, a destroyer, a creator of tensions, a hysterical attack that violated the diplomatic etiquette a top leader is supposed to have, pays no heed to diplomacy, they believe power is everything, they want the agenda of the international community to serve US politics, and the UN General Assembly be turned into Trump’s presidential campaign, the US has performed so poorly in handling domestic affairs that reforms could barely be advanced, it has to pass the buck to digest the domestic anger.

And then finally:  “This is the sign of stagnation and the decline of a major power. It’s hoped the US government will not go further in this direction, which will only end up deceiving itself.”

With that as a backdrop, this selection from Godfree’s Here Comes China Newsletter focuses on

  • vaccines,
  • how the ‘scary social credit system’ actually works,
  • a purported whistle blower,
  • Pakistan and Belt and Road
  • Chinese foreign investment.

While in the western countries there is a concerted effort against vaccines, and a tremendous amount of backlash from citizens against vaccines for Covid-19 (and I don’t blame them at all given who is developing these for the western world), in China the situation is completely different:

China will not need a sweeping coronavirus vaccination programme because the pathogen is effectively under control in the country – at least for now. Gao Fu, director of the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CCDC), said that large-scale vaccination would only be needed if there was a major outbreak, like the one in Wuhan in February. “This is an issue of balancing risk and return”.[MORE]


We’ve seen endless propaganda with visions of brutal control of the citizens via the so-called Social Credit System in China.  Let’s take a look at how it really works.

The chairman of China’s embattled HNA Group Co. Ltd. was restricted from excessive spending on travel, golf and other activities by a court as debt woes continue rattling the once high-flying conglomerate. A district court in Xi’an, northwest China’s Shaanxi province, issued orders to limit spending by HNA and its 67-year-old co-founder and Chairman Chen Feng, a court document database showed Wednesday. As the legal representative of HNA, Chen will be restricted from taking flights, buying train tickets that are pricier than economy class, accommodations in luxury hotels, spending on entertainment such as golf and leisure trips, buying property and nonessential vehicles, and investing in high-yield wealth management products, according to the orders. The Xi’an court said it issued the orders in a debt dispute filed against HNA in August. [MORE]

It seems absolutely fine to me that if someone mismanaged his large business and lived a luxury life, that he should be brought back to a normal lifestyle while fixing his business.


We`ve all heard of the Chinese Virologist that is being trotted out on most western mainstream media, saying that China developed the Covid-19 virus in a lab and she was told to stay silent.   Yet, I bet very few have seen the Chinese commentary on this:

Chinese defector’s shocking virus claim: Dr Li, a formerly a specialist at Hong Kong’s School of Public Health, said her supervisor first asked her to investigate a new “SARS-like” virus in Wuhan – but that her efforts were later stifled. She said she reported back that cases appeared to be rising exponentially but was told to “keep silent and be careful”. “’We will get in trouble and we’ll be disappeared’,” her supervisor reportedly said.  Dr Li travelled to the US in late April before speaking out, saying she had to leave Hong Kong because she “knows how [China] treat whistleblowers”. [MORE]

A press release from the University of Hong Kong (HKU) denied her claim and stated that: “Dr Yan never conducted any research on human-to-human transmission of the novel coronavirus at HKU during December 2019 and January 2020. We further observe that what she might have emphasised in the reported interview has no scientific basis but resembles hearsay.” The director of HKU’s School of Public Health, Keiji Fukuda, said in an internal memo to staff that none of the researchers named by Yan were involved in any cover-up or “secret research”.[MORE]


Pakistan and China signed the Development Agreement for the first China Pakistan Economic Corridor’s (CPEC) Rashakai Special Economic Zone (SEZ) Monday. Chairman Atif R. Bokhari said sufficient headway has been made on this front and the zones are now gearing up for business. “Pakistan’s proximity with China will allow these SEZs to foster economic interdependence for mutual economic advantage,” he added. [MORE]

In Pakistan, the Belt and Road project is everywhere. A dinner at the Islamabad Club quickly turns into a reminiscence of different visits to China. After a lecture in Lahore, a group of young men from Baluchistan want to know if China’s monumental economic initiative will develop their region — or cause it to lose its identity. The acronym for the corridor linking China and Pakistan, CPEC, can be heard in hotel lobbies and restaurants; it stands out for those who cannot understand Urdu. There are young people who have come of age since the beginning of the initiative and for whom it constitutes the only possible horizon for professional advancement. Earlier this year, I spent three weeks traveling in Pakistan, the crown jewel of the Belt and Road project, the country where the initiative first took root and therefore the most plausible candidate for the place where its future can be surmised and understood.

So central is the Belt and Road to Pakistani politics that it should not be thought of as a specific enterprise. Rather, it provides the overarching framework for every economic policy and project. In short, the initiative is something that should feel very familiar to policymakers in Brussels and other European capitals.

In my discussions with economic authorities and think tanks, it quickly became obvious that the main debate in Pakistan today is about the best way to adapt policy decisions and reforms to the Belt and Road framework. The Belt and Road can thus be compared to the European Union and the role it played for countries in Central and Eastern Europe after the 2004 and 2007 enlargements. Which decisions should these countries make in order to better occupy their place within the given political and economic order?

That many in the West still think of the Belt and Road purely in terms of infrastructure is something I find deeply perplexing. In the project’s inaugural speech that Chinese President Xi Jinping delivered in Astana in 2013, infrastructure was no more than one of the five pillars of the Belt and Road — and very obviously not more than an ancillary one. The real action was clearly elsewhere.

At the time of Xi was giving his speech in Astana, it was common to hear from different officials and intellectuals in Beijing that the Belt and Road was meant to be completed in 2049, around the time of the first centennial of the new China. Last year, while living in Beijing, I started hearing that the temporal horizon was even longer. Many spoke openly of a 100-year project. This is not the time-scale of an infrastructure plan. The Marshall Plan was concluded in just a few years. Interestingly, in Pakistan this idea — that the Belt and Road is a project of economic and technological development, culminating in a new global political and economic order — is clearly understood.  By Bruno Maçães, a former Europe minister for Portugal, is a senior adviser at Flint Global in London and the author most recently of “History Has Begun: The Birth of a New America” (Hurst, 2020). The paperback edition of his “Belt and Road: a Chinese World Order” will be published this month.  [MORE]


Over 80% of the World’s Na­tions received Chi­nese For­eign In­vest­ment in 2019. Chi­na’s out­bound for­eign di­rect in­vest­ment to­talled USD$136.91 bil­lion, for a YoY de­cline of 4.3%. The in­vest­ment sum nonethe­less made China the world’s sec­ond biggest source of for­eign di­rect in­vest­ment af­ter Japan ($226.65 bil­lion). As of the end of 2019 Chi­na’s to­tal for­eign di­rect in­vest­ments were $2.2 tril­lion, third be­hind the United States ($7.7 tril­lion) and the Nether­lands ($2.6 tril­lion). Chi­na’s out­bound for­eign di­rect in­vest­ment com­prised 10.4% of the global to­tal in 2019 – the fourth con­sec­u­tive year that this fig­ure was above 10%. Chi­na’s to­tal for­eign di­rect in­vest­ments were 6.4% of the to­tal, on par with 2018. 80% of Chi­na’s for­eign di­rect in­vest­ments in 2019 were in the ser­vices sec­tor, with key ar­eas in­clud­ing leas­ing and com­mer­cial ser­vices, whole­sale and re­tail, fi­nance, in­for­ma­tion com­mu­ni­ca­tions/ soft­ware, real es­tate, and tran­sit/ ware­hous­ing. [MORE]


Selections and editorial comments by Amarynth.  (Go Get that newsletter – it is again packed with detail).

The “Baloch Liberation Army” Is a Foreign-Backed Feudal Terrorist Group — Astute News

The so-called “Baloch Liberation Army” issued a video ultimatum to China over the weekend to discontinue its CPEC development projects in Pakistan’s Balochistan or face a renewed wave of terrorist attacks against its interests there, with this message unambiguously proving that the group is far from the “national liberation movement” that it purports to be […]

via The “Baloch Liberation Army” Is a Foreign-Backed Feudal Terrorist Group — Astute News

Pakistan relying less and less on US, turning to China, Saudi Arabia & UAE

By Darius Shahtahmasebi
Source

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Pakistan is making important strides in its military and naval capacities with the help of China, relying less on US-made weaponry. Despite accepting money from all sides, Pakistan’s relationship with China continues to be strong.

After the Trump administration decided to suspend $3 billion in security assistance to Pakistan, complaining that Islamabad fails to do enough to combat terrorism, Washington has risked pushing Pakistan into the open arms of a number of other notable nations.

China-Pakistan relationship continues to strengthen

China has been a key ally for Pakistan in recent times and is almost certainly the reason why the US has taken a sharp turn in its approach to dealing with the country. (Considering that the Bush administration was caught red-handed funding Pakistani terrorist groups, Washington’s recent disdain for Islamabad makes little sense in the context of wider US imperialism).

Now, China is assisting Pakistan’s Navy to expand rapidly, with the completion and delivery of four advanced warships currently under construction in Shanghai. According to the Diplomat, Pakistan’s Chinese-made naval vessels will arrive through a bilateral arms agreement by 2021. Worth over $348 million, these frigates have the capacity to act as anti-ship and anti-submarine operations, as well as for air defense.

Reports seem to indicate that these ships are to be stationed for defense and security in and around the Gwadar port. This is the same port that many media outlets accused China of attempting to hijack and transform into its own naval base. Perhaps the media sounding the alarm over these reports have helped convince China to try a subtler strategy of creating a naval presence around this strategic area, but either way, the move to acquire Chinese naval ships is sure to irk the United States irrespective of the end result, as some experts are predicting that this will lead to regular Sino-Pakistani patrols across the region.

That being said, this is also the same port in which Saudi Arabia is planning to establish a $10 billion oil refinery, according to the Saudi Energy Ministry, setting Saudi Arabia up as a key partner in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

Pakistan turning down American arms

Unfortunately for Washington, Pakistani purchases of US-made military equipment have begun to fall. Data from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute appears to show that US weapons exports to Pakistan dropped from $21 million in 2017, from a whopping $1 billion just seven years prior. Altogether, since the September 11 attacks, the US has provided over $22 billion in overt security aid to Pakistan and another $10 billion in economic aid, according to a July 2018 report conducted by consultant firm Avascent.

However, despite these initial findings, this same report found that Pakistan was increasingly turning to Beijing for its defense equipment and leaving Washington out in the sand. In total, Pakistan has signed billions of dollars’ worth of contracts for fighter aircraft, submarines and warships from China. The report estimated that over the next decade, Beijing will become the single most important arms supplier for the Pakistani military, but maintains options to obtain arms from Turkey and Russia as well. Turkey, for its part, will upgrade two of Pakistan’s Agosta 90B-class submarines, will provide four MILGEM corvettes to the Pakistani Navy, and already provided a navy fleet tanker in 2016.

Pakistan is also reportedly the largest importer of the F-7PG aircraft from China, with more than 50 F-7PG fighters in the Pakistan Air Force (one of these planes just recently crashed in Western Pakistan, killing the pilot).

The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor

In actuality, China and Pakistan are developing their relationship in more ways than at first meets the eye. It is one thing to spend millions of dollars attempting to beef up a nation’s navy, but it is something else entirely when two nations become attached on a much deeper level, particularly when it involves the citizens of those countries. Just this week, the government of Pakistan announced a new visa regimebetween Pakistan and China, tourism being an area of Pakistan’s economy that China has already been contributing heavily. Reportedly, millions of young Pakistanis are also foregoing English and learning Mandarin instead in order to obtain jobs and degrees. If we fast-forward a few decades down the line, I venture to bet that Western influence in Pakistan will be almost completely invisible.

Pakistani President Arif Alvi also just hailed the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), vowing that the scheme will bring economic prosperity to the two countries. The CPEC is essentially a combination of infrastructure projects in Pakistan funded by Chinese loans which are worth at least $62 billion. As explained above, Saudi Arabia is not sitting idly by watching this project develop (not surprising, when one understands why).

READ MORE: Engine of growth: Trade turnover across China’s ‘One Belt, One Road’ exceeds $5 trillion since 2013

CPEC, combined with China’s New Silk Road Project, has top US lawmakers and intelligence personnel increasingly “concerned.” One senator stated that he was “concerned about data access China may control through digital infrastructure projects in countries around the world. What is the IC’s assessment of potential dual-use aspects of China’s Belt and Road Initiative and what threats do they pose to US interests?

US allies and partners “seeking greater independence from Washington”

A report compiled by Daniel R. Coats, the director of national intelligence, entitled “Worldwide threat assessment of the US intelligence community” identifies Pakistan as a nation that contributes to the risks of escalation dynamics and security in the region. More noticeable, however, is that while Pakistan appears in the document a handful of times, China is mentioned at least 85 times right throughout the report.

We assess that China’s leaders will try to extend the country’s global economic, political, and military reach while using China’s military capabilities and overseas infrastructure and energy investments under the Belt and Road Initiative to diminish US influence,” the report states. “China has built its first overseas military facility in Djibouti and probably is exploring bases, support facilities, or access agreements in Africa, Europe, Oceania, Southeast Asia, and South Asia.”

Most curious is the foreword of the report which, after outlining all the threats Russia and China pose to the United States in all the different ways, states that “[a]t the same time, some US allies and partners are seeking greater independence from Washington in response to perceptions of changing US policies on security and trade and are becoming more open to new bilateral and multilateral partnerships.”

Let’s do the math. As already stated, the US has deprived Pakistan of $3 billion in security assistance. Not too long ago, the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development (ADFD) UAE deposited $3 billion into the State Bank of Pakistan to support its economic growth. Saudi Arabia made a similar promise, agreeing to provide Islamabad with a one-year deferred payment facility for importation of oil worth up to $3 billion.

At around the same time, Emirati media announced that the UAE and Pakistan were accelerating defense cooperation after the federal minister for defense production in Pakistan, Zubaida Jalal, received Major General Staff Pilot Ishaq Saleh Al-Balushi, head of the executive directorate of industries and development of defense capabilities at the UAE Ministry of Defense in Islamabad.

Pakistan is also expected to sign a memorandum of understanding with Saudi Arabia on a framework for $10 billion in Saudi investments. While some media will present Pakistan’s willingness to work with Saudi Arabia as an issue which will rattle and unnerve China, the available evidence appears to show that Sino-Pakistan relations are continuing unabated.

The question of Pakistan’s nukes

Last Thursday, the Pakistani Army Strategic Forces Command conducted a successful test flight of the Nasr close-range ballistic missile, which is nuclear-capable and can reach a specification of 70km.

The target of the ballistic test may surprise you. According to the Pakistani Army statement, the Nasr “augmented Full Spectrum Deterrence posture remaining within the precincts of policy of Credible Minimum Deterrence, against prevailing and evolving threat spectrum more effectively including enemy’s ballistic missile defense and other Air Defence Systems.”

The “enemy” referred to in this statement appears to be a blatant reference to Trump’s recent 2019 Missile Defense Review, which admitted that the US had “discussed potential missile defense cooperation with India” in light of the fact that “a number of states in South Asia are developing an advanced and diverse range of ballistic and cruise missile capabilities.”

Currently, Pakistan has ballistic missiles with ranges that can hit anywhere inside India. It has also built nuclear-tipped cruise missiles that can travel up to 400 miles. Not surprisingly, it was the US that gave the green light to Pakistan to modify its F-16 fighters to be capable of dropping nuclear weapons.

Conclusion

Pakistan’s economic woes put the nation in an incredibly compromising position. Knowing that it can no longer rely on Washington for support, it has to turn to as many partners as it can to keep its economy afloat. While China may not be thrilled by Saudi Arabia’s attempt to wade in on its project at the Gwadar port, it does appear that Pakistan’s geopolitical significance, particularly in relation to China, will entail Beijing continuing to prioritize its relationship with Pakistan. This includes, if necessary, militarizing its available bases in the region through the supply of its Chinese-made naval vessels.

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