Any One’s Investment in Infrastructures in Belt and Road Benefits China


There is a common misunderstanding that China’s Belt and Road initiative (BRI) aims at enhancing its geopolitical influence so that Bloomberg’s article “China Faces New Competition as Japan, India Eye Sri Lanka Port” regard India and Japan’s investment in Sri Landa Port as a new competition faced by China.

As I have repeatedly pointed out that BRI aims at provide connections for China’s trade, help other nations’ development by building necessary infrastructures and transferring China’s labor-intensive industries there, and thus expand China’s market there.

China’s investment in building Sri Lanka’s Hambantota Port is a part of its efforts to establish its 21st maritime Silk Road linking China with the Middle East, Europe and Africa through the Indian Ocean. Therefore, the most important parts of that Silk Road are the connection through the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor to Pakistan’s Port of Gwadar and the connection through the China-Myanmar Economic Corridor to Myanmar’s Port of Kyaukpyu. For the latter connection the existing port facilities in Sri Lanka are far from enough for China’s huge shipping volume from the Port of Kyaukpyu. That is why China incurs so great costs to build Hambantota Port into a shipping hub for its maritime Silk Road through the Indian Ocean.

India and Japan’s investment in the Port of Colombo will provide additional port facilities for China’s maritime Silk Road. Their project will help China’s establishment of its maritime Silk Road. China will certainly be happy with that.

China knows well that it lacks financial resources to build BRI infrastructures alone so that it has times and again invited other nations to join it. What India and Japan plan to do in Sri Lanka means cooperation with China’s BRI instead of competition.

Comment by Chan Kai Yee on Bloomberg’s report, full text of which can be viewed at https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-05-21/japan-india-in-deal-at-belt-and-road-colombo-port-nikkei.

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M’sia to enter 10 new halal markets via China’s Obor initiative


Bernama (Updated )

Malaysia will expand its halal services to 10 new countries through China’s US$1 trillion investment – One Belt, One Road (Obor) initiative, says the Halal Industry Development Corporation (HDC).

Its vice-president Hanisofian Alias (photo, above) said the new countries include Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Egypt, Turkmenistan, Iran, Tajikistan and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

“Along the Obor route, there are about 10 Muslim-majority countries and we have identified opportunities in these new markets.

“For example, in Kazakhstan and part of Russia, whereby our ministry will be having a joint economic commission meeting (with its Russian counterpart) at the end of this year,” Hanisofian told Bernama during a four-day working visit to the Seoul Food 2019, which began yesterday.

The event was organised by the Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency (Kotra), a state-funded organisation, which aims at facilitating South Korea’s export-led economic development via various trade promotion activities.

Last March, HDC signed a memorandum of understanding with Kotra, with the strategic aim of enhancing halal bilateral trade and investment exchange, as well as market access for halal products and services between both countries.

Elaborating further, Hanisofian said these countries had been showing a keen interest in their domestic halal industry developments.

“We are expanding into these countries via internationalisation approach based on five main features, namely opening new markets, rebranding, expanding services and products from Malaysia, human resources development and thought leadership, which uses Malaysia as a reference centre for the world’s halal industry,” he said.

He said HDC would also leverage its halal services by exporting more food products to China, home to 1.4 billion people, of which 26 million are Muslims, with its domestic halal market growing by 10 percent per annum.

Last April, Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad attended the Obor Summit, which he described as “a very successful trip”.

The international forum was attended by 37 world leaders and 5,000 representatives from 150 countries.

Also in the same month, Malaysia received an injection of RM3.7 billion in palm oil deal, following the revival of the stalled East Coast Rail Link.

Hanisofian also said that apart from new trade collaborations with the 10 countries, the HDC, which falls under the Economic Affairs Ministry, would also be focusing on its cooperation with South Korea.

“In South Korea, we are going to focus on the education sector as well as human capital development, involving cooperation between our local universities and the Korean ones.

“We also see opportunities in the Muslim-friendly hospitality sector, as well as 7sharing expertise in terms of research and development, and innovation,” he said.

Asked about the potential export value for the year, Hanisofian said it was a tad premature to project.

Malaysia’s halal export to South Korea in 2018 was at RM1.28 billion, with three product categories having the highest export values being halal ingredients (RM600 million), food and beverages (RM594 million) and cosmetics and personal care (RM80 million).

Source: malaysiakini.com “M’sia to enter 10 new halal markets via China’s Obor initiative”

Note: This is malaysiakini.com’s report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.


Belt and Road Initiative gains more recognition overseas: report


By Zhou Minxi, Bi Ran 19:39, 21-May-2019 Updated 20:38, 21-May-2019

The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is gaining more recognition and support overseas, and a growing number of people across Asia believe the project is good for their countries and themselves, according to a new report released on Saturday.

The 2019 “The Belt and Road” Media and Think Tank Exchange Event was held in Nanjing, east China’s Jiangsu Province. Experts and media representatives from 17 countries joined the discussion on the theme of common development and people-to-people ties, and exchanged views on how to forge partnerships and promote dialogue between civilizations.

It followed the second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in April and the recently concluded Conference on Dialogue of Asian Civilizations in Beijing.

Gao Anming, deputy director of China International Publishing Group (CIPG), said the event provides a timely platform for broad cooperation between media and thinks tanks from countries along the Belt and Road routes.

“BRI has reached a point where it now needs more detailed research work and policy work across the world to deepen it as you like and to provide it with an intellectual policy hinterland,” said Martin Jacques, a senior fellow at the University of Cambridge during the second Belt and Road Forum.

A report released during the event, titled “Leading a New Round of Global Opening up and Cooperation: The Belt and Road in the Eyes of the International Community,” based on a series of surveys conducted by the Academy of Contemporary China and World Studies (ACCWS) since 2014, sheds new light on the impact of BRI on the global community.

Since its conception in 2013, the BRI initiative has gone from a grand vision to a tangible reality. The international community’s recognition of the BRI has grown steadily year after year, the report found.

Among the countries along the Belt and Road routes, 70 percent of respondents from six ASEAN countries – Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, the Philippines and Indonesia – recognized the initiative, the highest in the world.

According to the 2019 Survey on Mutual Recognition of Major Asian Civilizations by the ACCWS, 74.7 percent of respondents from 11 Asian countries surveyed believed that the BRI can bring more development opportunities to their countries. People from Pakistan, Thailand, Saudi Arabia and Indonesia responded most positively to the initiative.

Asian countries’ evaluation of the BRI’s influence according to the 2019 Survey on Mutual Recognition of Major Asian Civilizations. /Photo via ACCWS

The 2018 China Image Survey on 17 countries found that 72.5 percent of the respondents think the BRI is a global public product with bright prospects; and 69.3 percent wish their governments will further participate in the initiative.

Belt and Road countries’ understanding of development prospect of the BRI according to the 2018 China Image Survey by the ACCWS. /Photo via ACCWS

Promoting the Belt and Road cooperation cannot be separated from the support of the people along the Belt and Road routes. The BRI embraces the historical trend of economic globalization, responds to the call for improving the global governance system and meets people’s longing for a better life, the report concluded.

Secretary General of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Rashid Alimov said on Saturday that the BRI is not a single country’s solo show but a chorus of many countries. A new model of global cooperation, the BRI is built on the basis of dialogue and mutual respect, fully recognizing all countries’ contributions.

Source: CGTN “Belt and Road Initiative gains more recognition overseas: report”

Note: This is CGTN’s report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.


Belt and Road Initiative can encourage cooperation amid global uncertainty: Heng Swee Keat


Tham Yuen-C, Senior Political Correspondent

May 17, 2019, 1:49 pm SGT

SINGAPORE – China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) plays an important role in strengthening regional and multilateral cooperation amid global uncertainty, said Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat.

To this end, China can work with other countries to launch more projects in third-party markets, he added.

Mr Heng, who is also Finance Minister, was speaking at a Singapore-China Business Association event at Shangri-La Hotel on Friday (May 17), ahead of his trip to China next week.

Casting an eye on current geopolitical developments, he said the global economy is forecast to slow down, with the continuing trade war between the United States and China rattling markets and the path to Brexit still unclear.

But the economy remains strong in Asia, he noted, adding that Asean is expected to become the fourth-largest economy in the world by 2030.

Against this backdrop, the BRI presents opportunities for cooperation and mutual benefit, said Mr Heng.

Besides developing physical infrastructure to better connect China with the world, China can work with other countries on new areas of cooperation under the initiative, he added.

He reiterated a suggestion made by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the second Belt and Road forum in April, for China to explore third-country investments.

The Singapore-China Business Association can play a part in this aspect, by encouraging cooperation between Singapore and Chinese companies in other markets, Mr Heng said.

He added that Singapore can provide a platform for Chinese companies to expand overseas.

At the same time, Chinese companies based in Singapore can help local companies enter the Chinese market.

Reaffirming the longstanding ties between Singapore and China, Mr Heng said he believes economic and trade cooperation between both countries will grow.

Source: Strait Times “Belt and Road Initiative can encourage cooperation amid global uncertainty: Heng Swee Keat”

https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/belt-and-road-initiative-can-encourage-cooperation-amid-global-uncertainty-dpm-heng


New Silk Road: US is pushing a false narrative


By George Koo

Mike Pompeo, America’s globetrotting secretary of state, has been meeting with leaders in Africa and Latin America to warn them of China’s Silk Road-styled Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Watch out for predatory financing and debt traps, he tells them.

Close to 40 heads of state attended the just-concluded second Belt and Road Forum. As Asia Times reported, the “BRI is now supported by no less than 126 states and territories, plus a host of international organizations (including the World Bank and the IMF) – way bigger, diversified and more representative than the G20.”

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan gave the keynote address at the forum. He spoke of Pakistan’s longstanding friendship with China and the benefits of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). He said he was proud that the CPEC, the economic impact of which is already proving to be a “blessing” for Pakistan, was one of the first major BRI projects.

Khan noted that China has lifted more than 800 million people out of poverty and can help Pakistan do the same. With young people making up half of Pakistan’s population, Khan looked forward to Pakistani people learning and benefiting from China’s technological advances so as to maximize his country’s potential.

Khan concluded his remarks by proposing five initiatives: plant billions of trees to combat climate change, develop tourism to promote people to people exchanges and cultural understanding, establish an office dedicated to combatting corruption, learn from China how to fight poverty, and move to further liberalize world trade.

He pledged that Pakistan will work with China and fellow members of the BRI for a common future full of hope and happiness. The BRI is obviously no mirage to Khan, nor is it to President Vladimir Putin of Russia and Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, among other leaders that also attended the Forum.

In contrast to Khan’s vision of a common future, what could Pompeo possibly have said to convince heads of state in the developing world that their future lies with the US and not with the BRI?

World’s loan shark?

Professor Deborah Braütigam of Johns Hopkins published a timely op-ed, Is China the World’s Loan Shark?, in The New York Times to coincide with the Belt Road Forum in Beijing. She is a leading authority on and monitor of China’s investments in Africa.

Despite the provocative title, her analysis did not identify debt traps in Africa. She found that China’s financing in Africa was within IMF debt-ceiling guidelines for those countries. In fact, she concluded that “the idea that the Chinese government is doling out debt strategically, for its benefit, isn’t supported by the facts.”

Sri Lanka’s Hambantota port development, frequently cited by western media as the epitome of China’s capricious design to exploit the developing world, was specifically examined by Braütigam and she dismissed the accusation.

Sri Lanka’s Hambantota port development, frequently cited by western media as the epitome of China’s capricious design to exploit the developing world, was specifically examined by Braütigam and she dismissed the accusation

Because of its strategic geographical location, Hambantota has long been regarded by many international experts as having the potential to become another Singapore by providing services to shipping traffic from the Middle East to Asia. Therefore, there has always been an economic justification for the project.

Sri Lanka asked for international assistance but only China agreed to help. After the port was built, revenue failed to materialize to service the debt due to internal political infighting that prevented the full implementation of a working harbor.

China had to take possession to relieve the debt load. Even so, the debt owed to China amounted to only 10% of Sri Lanka’s total national debt – hardly enough to qualify as a debt trap.

The major gap in US-China relations is the difference between the reality on the ground and the distortion and fabrication by western media and political leaders. Secretary Pompeo is an example of a progenitor of such a gap.

Pompeo’s glorious experiment

On Pompeo’s return from Latin America, the former CIA director stopped to talk to students at Texas A&M. Boasting about his time with the intelligence agency, he said, “We lie, we cheat, we steal.” He said its entire training course “reminds you of the glory of the American experiment.”

No wonder North Korea’s Kim Jong-un does not want anything to do with this American diplomat.

Lying, cheating Pompeo is simply an extension of his boss, President Donald Trump. Trump considers veracity a sucker’s play, truth inconvenient and facts just another version of fake news.

Thus, all of American’s positions on China, whether on Huawei, 5G, artificial intelligence, IP theft, cyber hacking or any other accusations, appear suspect upon close examination. No one can tell fact from fiction when it is coming from Washington.

Gradually and steadily, the rest of the world, even America’s closest allies, are wary of Trump’s single-minded “America first” and to hell with everything else style of international diplomacy. Unlike collaboration for mutual benefit from the BRI, dealing with the US is all one way for Trump’s benefit.

The 21 Democratic presidential hopefuls that aim to replace Trump must recognize that continuing to treat China as the next great adversary does nothing to enhance US national security.

Someone with wisdom and courage needs to step forward and admit that former US president Barack Obama made a mistake when he kept his country from joining the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and that we are continuing to multiply our mistake by not being part of the BRI.

The winning Democratic nominee should listen to former US president Jimmy Carter, who said, “We have wasted $3 trillion on defense spending. If we divert $1 trillion into infrastructure, we’d have a high-speed railroad, we’d have bridges that aren’t collapsing and we’d have roads maintained properly and our education system would be as good as that of, say, South Korea and Hong Kong.”

America desperately needs a leader to define and seek a win-win solution in relations with China and reverse the trend toward a disastrous outcome where everyone loses.

Source: Asia Times “New Silk Road: US is pushing a false narrative”

Note: This is Asia Times’ article I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.


ECRL needs to bring industrial growth to east coast – Azmin


Bernama

April 30, 2019 14:45 pm +08

MELAKA (April 30): The East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) project needs to bring new industries and industrial sector development to the East Coast, which in turn, spurs economic growth that benefits the people, says Economic Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali.

He said if there were no new industries and growth, no cargo to be transported via the ECRL, then there is be no reason to proceed with the project.

“Among the new conditions we laid down was to bring new industries to the East Coast. The ECRL is important if there is industrial growth that can generate economic growth and transfer of industrial cargo to Port Klang,” he said.

Mohamed Azmin said this to reporters after delivering his keynote address titled “People’s Hope Development: A New Malaysia Mechanism or Just a Rebranding?” at the Melaka Berwibawa Seminar in Bandar Hilir, here today.

The two-day seminar, which started yesterday, was officially launched by Melaka Chief Minister Adly Zahari earlier. Also present was Deputy Primary Industries Minister Datuk Seri Shamsul Iskandar.

It was reported that the ECRL project would be revived and the construction costs for Phase 1 and Phase 2 have now been reduced to RM44 billion from RM65.5 billion.

Mohamed Azmin said the project’s RM21.5 billion savings was not due to the scaling down of its scope and specifications as alleged by several parties, instead they remained unchanged.

“It is still double track and the alignment and distance is about the same. What happened is that we do not allow them to pass through Gombak as there is a dam there and we do not want any problems (to occur). This decision was made when I was the Selangor Menteri Besar.

“We also have the Klang Gates Quartz ridge which was registered with Unesco as the world’s longest quartz ridge and we do not want them to bore through it and construct a RM10 billion tunnel. We’ve saved almost RM10 billion here.

“We are against the abuse of power, corruption and leakages, and we will continue with these practices and principles, including for the Bandar Malaysia project which will be governed by a new development concept,” he added.

Source: theedgemarkets.com “ECRL needs to bring industrial growth to east coast – Azmin”

Note: This is theedgemarkets.com’s report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.


Less traffic congestion for Port Klang residents once ECRL completed, says MP


1 May 2019

PORT KLANG, May 1 — The decision to resume the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) project is expected to provide comfort to the local residents who have been facing traffic congestion and damage to infrastructure due to container lorries plying the roads in the port town for so long.

Port Klang assemblyman Azmizam Zaman Huri said the realignment of ECRL that focusing on the cargo segment would provide comfort to local residents who had been competing with container lorries on the roads on daily basis for so many years.

“Based on the data I received, there are about 300 transport companies operating here with a total of 8,525 containers lorries, used to transport cargo from two major ports operating here, the West Port and North Port.

“With less number of container lorries (once ECRL completed) here I expect the presence of domestic and foreign tourists will increase as Port Klang has various tourist attractions including floating houses, fishermen and indigenous villages in Pulau Indah,” he said when contacted by Bernama here today.

Earlier this month the government announced ECRL would resume at a lower cost following the signing of supplementary agreement (SA) between Malaysia Rail Link Sdn Bhd (MRL) and China Communications Construction Company Ltd (CCCC).

The original RM65.5 billion construction cost for Phase 1 and 2 had been reduced to RM44 billion, a reduction of RM21.5 billion.

The new ECRL alignment will run through 20 stations, among others, from Kota Baru to Kuala Terengganu, Kuantan, Mentakab and proceed to Jelebu, Bangi/Kajang, Putrajaya Sentral and onto Port Klang.

Council of Eminent Persons (CEP) chairman Tun Daim Zainuddin said cargo load would bring in more profit to ECRL compared to passenger ridership as the rail link would cut travel time significantly between Port Klang and Kuantan Port.

The cargo load would contribute an estimated 70 per cent to revenue versus 30 per cent for passenger traffic due to its shorter travel time and greater reliability as a mode of transport. — Bernama

Source: Malaymail.com “Less traffic congestion for Port Klang residents once ECRL completed, says MP”

Note: This is Malaymail.com’s report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.