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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China unleashes J-20 Black Eagle fighter jets in ‘SERIOUS THREAT to US aircraft’


CHINESE stealth fighter jets described as a “serious threat” to US air dominance are ready to be sent into combat.

By Joshua Nevett Published 9th February 2018

China defence ministry warns US for ‘causing trouble’

China’s armed forces – the largest in the world – has expanded its airpower by putting a new generation stealth fighter into combat.

The Chengdu J-20, dubbed Black Eagle, is a fifth generation stealth fighters designed to deliver precision airstrikes on enemy warships, aircraft and ground forces.

Chinese President Xi Jinping commissioned the aircraft to rival the radar-evading US F-22 Raptor air-to-air combat jet as part of his plan to modernise the army.

The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Air Force revealed the J-20s were ready to be deployed for military operations in a brief statement released today.

And China is already developing an array of ULTRA advanced high tech weapons
The jets, costing an estimated £79million ($110million) each, will help China’s “sacred mission” of defending its territory, sovereignty and security, the air force said.

The PLA could seek to rapidly expand its fleet of J-20s – a move that would pose a serious threat to US aircraft, ships and bases, according to the US Naval Institute.

Li Jie, a military analyst from Beijing, said the J-20s will allow China to narrow the military gap with its neighbours and biggest rival, the US.

“With the J-20 entering combat service, China can better counter other countries’ rising military forces,” Li said.

Zhou Chenming, another Beijing-based military expert, said the newly minted jets could be deemed as an aggressive move to protect its assets across the world.

In recent months, China has ramped up naval and military drills in the South China Sea – a strategically key and resource rich region.

Sukhoi Su-35s – China’s deadliest and most advanced fighter jets – were deployed to the region for a military training exercise this week, according to the PLA.

Source: Daily Star “China unleashes J-20 Black Eagle fighter jets in ‘SERIOUS THREAT to US aircraft’”

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


Spreading Hostility against China among Americans Dangerous


Peter Marino’s commentary “Commentary: China’s next ideological front” published by Reuters the day before yesterday proves quite a few US elites have sunk deep in Thucydides Trap

Mr. Marino accused China of spreading its values in the world in order to spread hostility against China among world people, especially American people.

According to Mr. Marino, as both the US and China are products of revolution, both think now is the time to trumpet and spread their values. China’s Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era is indeed trumpeting the success of Chinese system but it by no means spreads Chinese values in the world.

Chinese President Xi Jinping has made it very clear that China does not want to export its model. In fact Xi is wise to have the insight that it is impossible to export a country’s model.

The US has strived and even fought wars for regime changes to export its system. It has succeeded in bringing regime changes in Egypt, Lybia, etc. peacefully and in Iraq and Afghanistan with wars, but has it succeeded in spreading there democracy, openness, civil liberties, and a boisterous public sphere that the US is committed to?

What Mr. Marino accuses China of in his article is all what China has been doing domestically such as censorship of foreign entities’ publication in China and disallowing regarding Taiwan and other parts of China as independent countries. China has never conduct such censorship abroad nor is it able to do so abroad.

Mr. Marino accused the Confucius Institutes China has set up in US colleges. Those are but institutes for cultural exchanges. US universities have also set up lots of American cultural centers in China. Such cultural exchanges aim at enhancing the friendly relationship between the two peoples.

Certainly each country’s cultural exchange institutes advocate its own values in the other’s country. If a country’s values are popular in another country, it will be accepted by the people there. Forcing one’s values on the others will never do.

Mr. Marino’s worry about China’s Confucius Institutes proves that he believes that US cultural centers are unable to make Chinese accept US values but China’s are able to. That is quite normal, Chinese culture has been well established for thousands of years. It is certainly not easy to use American values to convert Chinese people.

If one’s model is wonderful, it will attract lots of others. There is no need of hard sales. That was why Confucius gave the teaching: “If people afar do not obey, develop culture and morality to attract them.”

The US, instead, develops military power to scare others to obey. Does it work? No, even small and backward ISIS would not obey and is determined to fight to the bitter end.

Thucydides Trap has mostly given rise to war. Does Marino want to have a war between the US and China by spreading hostility against China among American people?

Beware of the danger please!

As a matter of fact in spite of the difference in values, China and the US can still be friends if neither of them wants to force its values on the other. They can be friend especially as they have lots of common interests. Even a trade war will hurt both countries severely let alone a disastrous military war.

Comment by Chan Kai Yee on Reuters’ article, full text of which can be viewed at https://www.reuters.com/article/us-marino-china-commentary/commentary-chinas-next-ideological-front-idUSKCN1G0233.


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.


Argentina defends ties with China, Russia despite U.S. objection


FILE PHOTO: Horacio Reyser, Argentina’s Secretary of International Economic Affairs, speaks during an interview with Reuters in Buenos Aires, Argentina November 22, 2017. REUTERS/Martin Acosta

Nicolás Misculin February 9, 2018

BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) – Argentina said on Thursday that a good trade relationship with Russia and China “does not generate a conflict,” days after the United States warned against the growing influence of those countries on Latin America.

Before starting a tour of the region, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said last week that Russia’s growing presence in Latin America was “alarming.” He said the region did not need “new imperial powers,” in reference to its fluid commercial relations with both Russia and China.

“There is an increase in interest (in China and Russia) and we encourage it because it seems very positive, it does not generate a conflict,” Argentina’s Secretary of International Economic Relations Horacio Reyser told Reuters.

China is Argentina No. 2 trade partner after Brazil, and it is the top buyer of Argentina’s main cash crop, soybeans.

Reyser called for more trade with Russia. “Today we have trade with Russia of $900 million, which is really very low. We believe that this can double,” he said in a telephone interview.

“There may be some opportunity to grow trade with Russia, just as we can improve our trade with China and also receive investments from Russia and China,” Reyser said.

He said this would not imply a concentration of trade with the two countries. “On the contrary, we seek diversification,” he said.

Tillerson raised eyebrows last week when he said the 1823 Monroe Doctrine, which has been linked to U.S. armed intervention in Latin America, was “as relevant today as it was the day it was written.”

Peru’s trade minister Eduardo Ferreyros defended China as a good trade partner on Tuesday.

He said Peru’s 2010 trade liberalization deal with China had allowed the Andean nation of about 30 million people to post a $2..74 billion trade surplus with Beijing last year. “We’re happy with the results of the trade agreement,” he said.

Writing by Hugh Bronstein; Editing by Tom Brown

Source: Reuters “Argentina defends ties with China, Russia despite U.S. objection”

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 Allies Aren’t Buying Its New Strategies to Confront China


China presents many challenges, but bluff, bluster, and empty rhetoric will be seen for exactly what it is.

By Bates Gill

February 05, 2018

With the release of the U.S. National Security Strategy and National Defense Strategy, the Trump administration has foreshadowed a much more confrontational relationship with China. But U.S. allies and friends question how well the Trump administration rhetoric relates to strategic reality.

Net result? So far, advantage China.

The rhetoric is clear. The National Security Strategy describes China as a “revisionist power” that aims “to shape a world antithetical to U.S. values and interests,” “displace the United States in the Indo-Pacific region,” “reorder the region in its favor,” “expand the reaches of its state-driven economic model,” and “steal U.S. intellectual property.”

The National Defense Strategy (NDS) reiterates the “central challenge” to U.S. interests as strategic competition with revisionist powers, with China at the top of the list. According to the NDS, China employs “predatory economics to intimidate its neighbors while militarizing features in the South China Sea” and seeks “Indo-Pacific regional hegemony in the near-term and displacement of the United States to achieve global pre-eminence in the future.”

The documents are also clear about the importance of allies to U.S. strategy: they bring “invaluable advantages,” “magnify our power,” and, as such, the United States will deal with competitors “from a position of strength, foremost by ensuring our military power is second to none and fully integrated with our allies and all of our instruments of power.”

All true and laudable declarations. But U.S. allies and friends don’t seem to be buying it. There are at least four good reasons for their scepticism.

Let’s begin with the fundamental premise of these documents: that China is a “revisionist power” that gravely challenges the longstanding interests of the United States and its allies. There is some truth in that. But at the same time this claim emanates from an administration that in one year has itself unwound and “revised” fundamental elements of the liberal international order: questioning the value of NATO and other American alliances; exiting the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and reconsidering U.S. commitment to other multilateral and bilateral free trade arrangements; withdrawing from global climate change negotiations; and showing support for authoritarian leaders.

How can U.S. allies and friends join fully in support of U.S. goals to counter revisionist threats when Washington itself has taken steps to undermine U.S. partners’ interests in a robust, rules-based, liberal international order, normally underpinned by trustworthy political, economic, and military ties between Washington and allied capitals?

Questions also arise in allies’ minds as to the fiscal sustainability of the strategies, a point U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis seems to acknowledge. In public remarks launching the NDS, he mentioned China just once, and instead, speaking days before the January government shutdown and yet another short-term fiscal patch-up, focused much of his attention on a major domestic challenge to America’s military: budgetary uncertainty in an era of political dysfunction at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue.

Third, U.S. allies do not entirely share the same zero-sum vision of relations with China as portrayed by the new U.S. strategy. Yes, there are increasing concerns among U.S. allies about China’s rising influence in their societies, its regional ambitions, its repressive political tendencies, and its coercive behavior.

However, U.S. allies and partners still wish to engage actively with China and do not seek confrontation or anticipate conflict with Beijing. The Australian foreign minister, Julie Bishop, may have spoken for many U.S. allies when she said recently, “We have a different perspective on Russia and China, clearly. We do not see Russia or China as posing a military threat to Australia.” She added, “[W]e continue to work closely with China.”

Finally, U.S. friends and allies are hesitant to buy in to the declared U.S. strategy toward China because it is so unclear who actually owns the strategy within a divided administration. The stated views of one senior official are often contradicted by another, including the president. Indeed, the president himself often expresses ambiguous and conflicting views which adds to the confusion and uncertainty for allies.

China presents many challenges to the United States and to the world and regional order Washington has led for more than 70 years. But bluff, bluster, and empty rhetoric will be seen for exactly what it is.

If the Trump administration truly wants to address the China challenge, it is time to credibly rebuild and reassure U.S. allied relationships through investments in diplomacy and defense, encourage U.S.-led free-trade arrangements and the political solidarity and economic benefits they bring to like-minded partners, and provide convincing leadership to friends in support of democratic principles.

U.S. strategy needs to take allies and the tremendous strategic asset they represent seriously, not just in words, but in deeds. Until it does, expect China to continue taking advantage of a remarkable window of opportunity.

Dr Bates Gill is an Asso


Peru defends China as good trade partner after US warnings


Peru’s Foreign Trade and Tourism Minister Eduardo Ferreyros gestures to media after Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) talks during APEC Summit in Danang, Vietnam, November 9, 2017. REUTERS/Kham

Marco Aquino February 7, 2018

LIMA (Reuters) – Peru’s trade minister defended China as a good trade partner on Tuesday, after U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson warned Latin American countries against excessive reliance on economic ties with the Asian powerhouse.

Eduardo Ferreyros said Peru’s 2010 trade liberalization deal with China had allowed the Andean nation of about 30 million people to post a $2.74 billion trade surplus with Beijing last year.

“China is a good trade partner,” Ferreyros told foreign media, as Tillerson met with President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski in Lima, a stop on Tillerson’s five-nation Latin American tour. “We’re happy with the results of the trade agreement.”

The remarks were the Peruvian government’s first signal since Tillerson’s warning that it does not share Washington’s concerns about growing Chinese influence in the region.

Before kicking off his trip to Latin America on Friday, Tillerson suggested that China could become a new imperial power in the region, and accused it of deploying unfair trade practices.

“I appreciate advice, no matter where it comes from. But we’re careful with all of our trade relations,” Ferreyros said, when asked about Tillerson’s remarks.

Ferreyros also praised Peru’s trade relationship with Washington, despite a trade deficit with the United States. “I‘m not afraid of trade deficits,” Ferreyros said.

Since China first overtook the United States as Peru’s biggest trade partner in 2011, thanks mostly to its appetite for Peru’s metals exports, bilateral trade has surged and diplomatic ties have tightened.

Kuczynski, a former Wall Street banker, made a point of visiting China before any other nation on his first official trip abroad as president in 2016.

Under former president Barack Obama, the United States had hoped to counter China’s rise in the fast-growing Asia-Pacific region, which includes large parts of Latin America, with the sweeping Trans-Pacific trade deal known as the TPP.

While President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the TPP upon taking office, the 11 remaining signatories, including Peru and Japan, have struck a similar deal that they plan to sign without the United States in March.

Tillerson, who left Peru for Colombia on Tuesday, said on Monday that Trump was open to evaluating the benefits of the United States joining the so-called TPP-11 pact in the future, which Ferreyros called “a good sign.”

All countries in the Asia-Pacific region, including China, were welcome to join TPP-11, Ferreyros said. “But the deal has closed and countries that want to join obviously can’t renegotiate the whole agreement,” he added.

Reporting By Marco Aquino, Writing By Mitra Taj, Editing by Rosalba O’Brien

Source: Reuters “Peru defends China as good trade partner after US warnings”

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