Australia, U.S., India and Japan in talks to establish Belt and Road alternative: report


Reuters Staff February 19, 2018

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australia, the United States, India and Japan are talking about establishing a joint regional infrastructure scheme as an alternative to China’s multibillion-dollar Belt and Road Initiative in an attempt to counter Beijing’s spreading influence, the Australian Financial Review reported on Monday, citing a senior U.S. official.

The unnamed official was quoted as saying the plan involving the four regional partners was still ”nascent“ and ”won’t be ripe enough to be announced’ during Australian Prime Minister Turnbull’s visit to the United States later this week.

The official said, however, that the project was on the agenda for Turnbull’s talks with U.S. President Donald Trump during that trip and was being seriously discussed. The source added that the preferred terminology was to call the plan an “alternative” to China’s Belt and Road Initiative, rather than a “rival.”

“No one is saying China should not build infrastructure,” the official was quoted as saying. “China might build a port which, on its own is not economically viable. We could make it economically viable by building a road or rail line linking that port.”

Representatives for Turnbull, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and Trade Minister Steven Ciobo did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, asked at a news conference about the report of four-way cooperation, said Japan, the United States, Australia, and Japan, Australia and India regularly exchanged views on issues of common interest.

“It is not the case that this is to counter China’s Belt and Road,” he said.

Japan, meanwhile, plans to use its official development assistance (ODA) to promote a broader “Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy” including “high-quality infrastructure”, according to a summary draft of its 2017 white paper on ODA. The Indo-Pacific strategy has been endorsed by Washington and is also seen as a counter to the Belt and Road Initiative.

First mentioned during a speech by Chinese President Xi Jinping’s to university students in Kazakhstan in 2013, China’s Belt and Road plan is a vehicle for the Asian country to take a greater role on the international stage by funding and building global transport and trade links in more than 60 countries.

Xi has heavily promoted the initiative, inviting world leaders to Beijing last May for an inaugural summit at which he pledged $124 billion in funding for the plan, and enshrining it into the ruling Communist Party’s constitution in October.

Local Chinese governments as well as state and private firms have rushed to offer support by investing overseas and making loans.

In January, Beijing outlined its ambitions to extend the initiative to the Arctic by developing shipping lanes opened up by global warming, forming a “Polar Silk Road”.

The United States, Japan, India and Australia have recently revived four-way talks to deepen security cooperation and coordinate alternatives for regional infrastructure financing to that offered by China.

The so-called Quad to discuss and cooperate on security first met as an initiative a decade ago – much to the annoyance of China, which saw it as an attempt by regional democracies to contain its advances. The quartet held talks in Manila on the sidelines of the November ASEAN and East Asia Summits.

Reporting by Jane Wardell and Colin Packham; additional reporting by Linda Sieg, Nobuhiro Kubo and Kaori Kaneko in Tokyo; Editing by Peter Cooney and Michael Perry

Source: Reuters “Australia, U.S., India and Japan in talks to establish Belt and Road alternative: report”

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

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Chinese Coastguards Patrol Diaoyus Regularly despite Japan’s Protest


Japan claims that it administeres the Diaoyus (known as Senkadus in Japan), but Chinese coastguards fleets patrol the waters of the islands regularly. Not only so, Chinese fishing fleets fish there and Chinese drill rigs operate there regularly. Who actually administer the islands?

SCMP reports Chinese coastguard fleets’ patrol and Japan’s protest in its report “Coastguard on the front line as Japan protests over Chinese incursions in East China Sea” yesterday. If SCMP publishes regular reports on such regular patrols and protests, its readers will be fed up by them. This time, however, SCMP’s report aims at telling its readers about US plan to send a coastguard boat to patrol the East and South China Seas.

What is the use of one coastguard ship? Can it drive away Chinese ones?

Comment by Chan Kai Yee on SCMP’s report, full text of which can be found at http://www.scmp.com/news/china/diplomacy-defence/article/2133215/coastguard-front-line-japan-protests-over-chinese.


Another foreign company in trouble with China for geographical sins


Jeremy Goldkorn  January 31, 2018

The People’s Republic has always exerted tight control over maps and names of geographical features within its borders. I remember buying a map of Kashgar, Xinjiang in 1996 that had an inset showing the small city’s location in China; the inset was twice as big as it needed to be, in order to accommodate the Nine-Dash Line, the huge “cow’s tongue” of territory China claims in the South China Sea.

The Party’s absolute insistence on rectifying maps and place names is now spreading beyond its borders, starting with the softest of targets: foreign companies that do business in China or sell to Chinese consumers. In recent weeks, Marriott hotels, fast fashion retailer Zara, and a number of other companies have come under fire from the Chinese government for geographical sins, such as websites that list Taiwan as a country. Today, Asahi Shimbun reports that “Japan’s Muji retail chain was forced to pull a catalog in China that left the disputed Senkaku Islands off a map after receiving a complaint from Chinese authorities.”
•Currently under Japanese control, the Senkakus, or Diaoyu Islands 钓鱼岛 are claimed by China. They have become an emotional symbol for Chinese nationalists, including in Taiwan and Hong Kong, as well as right wing Japanese.
•The catalog was distributed in China by Muji stores, operated by Ryohin Keikaku of Tokyo, which said it “scrapped the catalog after receiving a directive from Chinese officials in October.”
•China’s foreign ministry told foreign companies to “respect China’s sovereignty” in response to the news about Muji, according to the Associated Press.
•“Tokyo has communicated its concerns to Beijing” over the order to pull the catalogues, says the South China Morning Post, quoting Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga: “There is no territorial dispute to be settled over the Senkaku Islands. We can by no means accept the measure based on China’s unilateral claims.”

Source: SubChina “Another foreign company in trouble with China for geographical sins”

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


China declares intention to improve ties with Japan


Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono, left, shakes hands with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi before their meeting at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing, China Jan. 28, 2018. REUTERS/Andy Wong/Pool

Ben Blanchard January 28, 2018

BEIJING (Reuters) – China hopes to work with Japan to establish more cordial relations, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told his Japanese counterpart on Sunday, aiming to move on from a series of disputes, some dating back to before World War Two.

China and Japan have sparred frequently about their painful history, with Beijing often accusing Tokyo of not properly atoning for Japan’s invasion of China before and during the war.

Ties between China and Japan, the world’s second and third-largest economies, have also been plagued by a long-running territorial dispute over a cluster of East China Sea islets and suspicion in China about Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s efforts to amend Japan’s pacifist constitution.

The two nations have, however, sought to improve ties more recently, with Abe and Chinese President Xi Jinping having met in November on the sidelines of a regional summit in Vietnam.

Wang told Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono that his trip to Beijing, coming so early in the year, showed Japan’s strong wish to improve relations and that China approves of this because better ties would be in both nations’ interests.

Though there has been positive progress, there are also many “disturbances and obstacles”, Wang said, but the minister also pointed to comments from Abe on wanting to improve relations.

“China-Japan ties always sail against the current, either forging ahead or drifting backward,” Wang said in front of reporters at the start of talks with his counterpart.

“We hope that the Japanese side will neither relax in its efforts nor fall back, and turn the spoken statements into concrete actions.”

Kono, who later met Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, said that the two countries shared a major responsibility in safeguarding the stability and prosperity of Asia and the world at large.

“Not only do we need to manage our bilateral relations, but we also need to work together to deal with issues facing the entire globe, in particular the issue of North Korea,” Kono said. “We desire to extend mutual cooperation between our two countries in working towards resolving this issue.”

Japan has repeatedly pressed China to do more to help rein in North Korea’s missile and nuclear programmes. China says it is committed to enforcing U.N. sanctions but that all parties need to do more to reduce tensions and restart talks.

Japanese Foreign Ministry spokesman Norio Maruyama told reporters that China and Japan are aiming to hold several high-level visits this year. These would include Abe visiting China and Xi going to Japan, he said, though no dates have been set.

“Let’s see. It’s all a question of the schedule,” he said.

Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Nick Macfie and David Goodman

Source: Reuters “China declares intention to improve ties with Japan”

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


Japan’s defense chief criticizes China over submarine near disputed islands


Reuters Staff January 15, 2018 / 3:03 PM / Updated 16 hours ago

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan’s defense minister criticized China on Monday for sailing an advanced stealthy nuclear submarine close to disputed islands claimed by Japan and China, saying the action had stoked tension.

The submarine, which Japan detected in the East China Sea, was a 110 meter-long Shang-class vessel, which is able to dive deeper and for longer than older boats and is armed with torpedoes and anti-ship missiles, according to Japan’s Ministry of Defence.
“Operating a submerged submarine close to another country’s territory goes against the norms of international rules,” Minister of Defence Itsunori Onodera told reporters.

While Chinese surface vessels often operate near Japanese islands on the edge of the East China Sea, the presence of a concealed submarine is viewed as a far more serious threat by Japan, which worries that China is flexing its military muscle in the waters that lead to the western Pacific as it consolidates control over the neighboring South China Sea.

The contested uninhabited islands in the East China Sea are known as the Senkaku in Japan, which controls them, and Diaoyu in China.

The Japanese criticism comes after Asia’s two biggest economies had pledged to improve ties.

Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, who last week protested against the presence of the submarine and other Chinese navy ships near the disputed islands, described the presence of three Chinese coastguard vessels in the waters on Monday as “regrettable”.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang told a regular news briefing that he was not aware of the details regarding the submarine, but that China would not accept Japan’s “representations” on the issue of the islands.

“The Diaoyu islands and associated islets are China’s sovereign territory,” he said.

Source: Reuters “Japan’s defense chief criticizes China over submarine near disputed islands”

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


US Lonely World Leadership


French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte Macron attend a meeting with China’s President Xi Jinping and his wife Peng Liyuan at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing, China, January 8, 2018. REUTERS/Andy Wong/Pool

When China launched the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), US told its allies not to join it, but all its developed allies except Japan refused to obey and joined AIIB.

Now, China’s major project is its Silk Road economic belt and 21st century maritime Silk Road (Belt and Road). The US has adopted its Indo-Pacific strategy and restored the quad of the US, Japan, Australia and India to hinder it.

However, Japanese Prime Ministers Shinzo Abe said on December 4, 2017, “I believe Japan will be able to cooperate well with China, which has been putting forward its one belt, one road initiative”.

British Finance Minister Philip Hammond said in December 2017 Britain, which is quitting the European Union, wanted closer cooperation with China over the Belt and Road scheme.

Now, according to Reuters’ report “China’s new ‘Silk Road’ cannot be one-way, France’s Macron says”, French President Emmanuel Macron said in Xian, China yesterday that China and Europe should work together on Beijing’s “Belt and Road” initiative, which he regarded as a project that could also be in France’s and Europe’s interest if done in the spirit of cooperation. That is not a problem as Belt and Road is conducted for win-win cooperation.

Macron seems to say that on behalf of Europe as he said at the same occasion, “What I came to tell you, is that Europe is back,”

Leadership means the leader going in front followed by those he leads. Now, world leader goes one way, all he leads including Europe and Japan go the other way. He is a lonely leader indeed!

Comment by Chan Kai Yee on Reuters’ report, full text of which can be viewed at https://www.reuters.com/article/us-china-france/chinas-new-silk-road-cannot-be-one-way-frances-macron-says-idUSKBN1EX0FU

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


The Arctic Silk Road


As the Arctic is melting, China may have a shipping route to Europe through the Arctic that is much shorter than through the Indian Ocean. According to Russian experts’ estimate, if the arctic shortcut shipping route referred to by them as “Silk Road on Ice” is fully utilized by 2020, global commercial shipment costs will be reduced by $50 to $120 billion a year.

Russia has to build port facilities for supplies and maintenance to facilitate and profit from the shipping. For that it needs Chinese investment. In addition, Russia needs Chinese labor for the construction of the facilities as Russia lacks labor due to its shrinking population.

In addition, Russia can provide indispensable air protection for Chinese ships along its Arctic coast. China is certainly willing to pay for use of the facilities and the air protection as the Arctic route will enable China to save lots of fuel and time. Unlike the route through the Indian Ocean, due to Russian protection, the Arctic route cannot be cut by US navy.

Not only China but also Japan and Korea will pay Russia for the use of Russian port, supply, maintenance and salvage services for the use of the Arctic route. In addition, the route will also be very useful for Russia’s export of oil and LPG extracted in Siberia. Japan and South Korea will be major importer of Russian oil and LPG through the Arctic Ocean.

Seeing the prospects of windfall from Arctic shipping, Russian has been busy making preparations for that. At a meeting of the social committee of Russian Defense Ministry on December 25, 2017, Defense Minister Gen. Shoygu announced that Russia had completed its large-scale construction of military infrastructures in Arctic region. According to him, no other countries have ever been able to build large-scale and perfectly equipped facilities in Arctic region in the history of the development the region.

Gen. Shoygu said that Russian military has cleaned up an Arctic area of 110,000 square kilometers by removing 16,000 tons of waste. Previously, Gen. Shoygu said that the military infrastructures Russia had built would facilitate control of the Arctic shipping route and ensure the safety of Russia’s economic activities in Arctic region. Russia has set up an Arctic strategic headquarters in charge of all Russian troops deployed there. Moreover, in order to turn the Arctic into it lake, Russia has a plan to restore all the 13 air bases left by the Soviet Union in Arctic region.

China and Russia will establish the Arctic Silk Road through win-win cooperation, which will be joined by Japan and South Korea because it is so attractive.

Article by Chan Kai Yee