Tuesday, 31 Mar 2020 11:45 AM MYT
HANGZHOU (Xinhua): President Xi Jinping said China will roll out more targeted measures to help small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) hit by the Covid-19 outbreak restart production and further develop.
Xi made the remarks during an inspection to east China’s Zhejiang Province which began on Sunday (march 29).
Visiting the service centre of an industrial park producing high-grade auto parts and moulds in Ningbo on Sunday, Xi talked with the managing staff of the park, and representatives of SMEs management and employees returning to Zhejiang.
Various industries and enterprises have been affected during the fight against the Covid-19 epidemic, said Xi.
A series of policies have been introduced and will be improved in tandem with the changes of the situation, said Xi, adding more targeted measures will be rolled out to help SMEs restart production and further develop.
“We need to rise to the challenges. With the support of the Party and the government, we must stick together through thick and thin to overcome the difficulties,” Xi stressed. – Xinhua
Source: The Star “Xi vows aid for smaller businesses hit by Covid-19”
Note: This is TheStar’s report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.
Two-day trip could be ‘milestone’ for relations if progress on Rohingya refugee crisis and stalled US$3.6 billion Myitsone dam project can be made
Xi’s visit could involve ‘dozens’ of cultural, political and economic agreements
Published: 7:37pm, 13 Jan, 2020
Updated: 11:27pm, 13 Jan, 2020
Chinese President Xi Jinping will try to kick-start stalled Belt and Road Initiative projects and attempt to mediate in the Rohingya crisis during a two-day visit to Myanmar this week to mark the 70th anniversary of relations between the nations, analysts said.
Ties between Myanmar and China – its biggest trading partner – have strengthened rapidly in recent years, although violent conflicts and one of the world’s largest refugee emergencies pose major challenges to Beijing’s goals in the Southeast Asian country.
Xi’s visit is expected to begin on Friday, the first by a Chinese leader since Jiang Zemin 19 years ago, and may be a “milestone” for bilateral ties, according to Beijing’s senior envoy in Naypyidaw, Myanmar’s capital.
Xi would meet the country’s senior military and political leaders, and the two sides were expected to sign “dozens” of agreements in culture, politics and the economy, state newspaper Global Times quoted Chen Hai, China’s ambassador, as saying on Sunday.
He said Xi would meet President Win Myint and attend a banquet hosted by State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, the country’s de facto political leader since 2016 and head of the ruling National League for Democracy (NLD).
Xi will also meet Min Aung Hlaing, commander of Myanmar’s armed forces and still a powerful political player following the country’s transition to democracy from military government in 2015.
The visit is expected to touch on topics such as long-stalled investment projects including the Myitsone dam, and Myanmar’s border crisis with Bangladesh.
Dr Renaud Egreteau, of the department of Asian and international studies at City University of Hong Kong, said that the trip would be a major diplomatic move by China’s leader.
“President Xi certainly seems to want reassurance from Myanmar that under the NLD, the country will continue to adhere to its commitment to engage in an array of belt and road projects – some having lingered for more than a decade,” Egreteau said.
On Friday, Suu Kyi made a rare visit to northern Kachin state, which borders China and where the US$3.6 billion Beijing-funded Myitsone dam project has been idle since 2011 after residents protested about having to abandon homes, land and farms.
At a meeting to announce Xi’s trip to Myanmar, foreign vice-minister Luo Zhaohui said China and Myanmar were “still maintaining close communication” on the dam.
The northwestern state of Rakhine, a region of armed conflict and the heart of the Rohingya refugee crisis, will also figure in Xi’s visit.
An oil pipeline to Kunming in China’s southern Yunnan province and a seaport on the Indian Ocean are two belt and road infrastructure projects in Rakhine, where Myanmar’s military and thousands of ethnic Rakhine rebels clash.
Listing priorities for cooperation with Myanmar, Chen said China would “help Myanmar and Bangladesh resolve the Rakhine issue through negotiations”.
“The biggest issues aren’t between China and Myanmar, but between Myanmar and Bangladesh,” said Wang Dehua, researcher at the Chinese Association for South Asian Studies, referring to the hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees who have sought shelter in Bangladesh. “China will try to mediate, this is clear,” he said.
But China has been the only major world power to support Myanmar’s handling of the crisis which has brought strong international criticism down on Nobel Peace Prize winner Suu Kyi.
Half a million minority Rohingya Muslims fled after Myanmar military attacks in 2017, which United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein called “textbook ethnic cleansing”.
“I think there are numerous expectations for Xi’s visit, but there is also trepidation that the high-level visit is predicated on China cashing in on its diplomatic support for Myanmar over the Rakhine crisis, and unsticking stalled CMEC [China Myanmar Economic Corridor] projects,” said David Mathieson, an analyst based in Yangon.
“The Western opprobrium heaped on Myanmar was not mired by China, who balanced its strategic interests with shoring up support for the NLD government, and now it’s time for China to use that support to get its trade and infrastructure projects moving faster.”
Source: SCMP “High expectations for Xi Jinping’s visit to mark 70th anniversary of China-Myanmar relations”
Note: This is SCMP’s article I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the article’s views.
Far from the front lines of the US-China trade war, the resource-rich Kachin is the scene of a familiar struggle for influence between the two superpowers
China has invested heavily, but for some locals development has come at a cost
Published: 2:00pm, 12 Jan, 2020
Updated: 10:24pm, 12 Jan, 2020
While the US-China trade war plays to the audience on the global stage, behind the scenes the two superpowers are engaged in a unique tug of war for influence in one of the world’s more remote corners.
Myitkyina, the capital of Myanmar’s Kachin State about 1,200km north of Yangon, rarely features on tourist bucket lists. Despite its verdant scenery and dynamic culture and traditions, it suffers from high rates of poverty and drug addiction, and has been the scene of a conflict between the Kachin Independence Army and the Myanmar military which has displaced an estimated 100,000 people since a 17-year ceasefire collapsed in 2011.
Yet recently not one, but two high-profile visitors arrived in the space of just days.
US Ambassador to Myanmar Scot Marciel and a delegation from the US Embassy held a Myitkyina Road Show in November that included a jobs and opportunities fair, a workshop with the agricultural sector, and a meeting with veterans who fought alongside US troops in World War II. Marciel said the embassy wanted to work with the Kachin people “in support of freedom, democracy, human rights and economic progress”, and that the US was “committed to implementing development programmes in an open, transparent manner … to listen and learn”.
Just days later, the Chinese Embassy held its own visit, filming scenes later posted on Facebook of Ambassador Chen Hai handing out items including laptops, rice and cooking oil emblazoned with a “China Aid” logo. China’s state-run Xinhua News Agency said the ambassador had donated to a hospital, university, orphanage and school for the blind and pledged to “assist Myanmar to achieve eternal peace”.
Economically, we need to deal with China, and on human rights, we need to deal with the West
La Aung, chairman of the Kachin National Consultative Assembly
It should not be surprising that the two superpowers are keen to woo the resource-rich Kachin, which neighbours both China’s Yunnan Province and India, and holds jade, gold, amber, timber, and vast hydropower potential.
Myanmar has signed up to President Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road Initiative, which seeks to link Eurasia with Beijing-backed infrastructure projects, in the form of the China-Myanmar Economic Corridor. Many of the details of the corridor, for which a memorandum of understanding between the two governments was signed in September 2018, remain unknown to the public. Yet China is ramping up its economic activity across the country, including in Kachin.
The close timing of the envoys’ visits was not lost on locals interviewed by This Week in Asia, who expressed a keen awareness of Kachin’s strategic importance, and a desire to participate in the social and economic future of their state.
According to La Aung, chairman of the Kachin National Consultative Assembly, an independent organisation which advises on matters concerning society in Kachin State, “We Kachin need to deal well with both the West and China for our survival. Economically, we need to deal with China, and on human rights, we need to deal with the West.”
CONCERNS FOR SOME
However, Chinese mega-projects are a concern for many Kachin.
While La Aung said Chinese development in Kachin was inevitable, he worried about the effects on Kachin tradition and culture. “I fear that our culture will run away,” he said. “If there is too much commercial development, people won’t care about each other. Only money will be in the centre. Our hearts, our mentality can change.”
Included in the economic corridor is the construction of an industrial zone known as Namjim, 25km from Myitkyina. The public has been largely left in the dark about plans for the zone, expected to cost US$400 million and cover 4,700 acres, but land disputes emerged in November among dispossessed locals.
According to La Aung, “Namjim will occupy a large area, but China didn’t discuss details carefully with local people or get their agreement, so I don’t support it”.
Another contentious mega-project is the Myitsone hydropower dam, stalled since 2011 in the midst of widespread community resistance. Earlier this year, protests were reignited after China’s former ambassador Hong Liang visited Myitkyina and his embassy released a statement that Kachin’s political leaders had assured him that local people in Kachin did not oppose the project. In October, the Kachin State People’s Party issued a statement calling for a stop to all mega-projects in Kachin until peace had been achieved. The party’s vice-chairman Gumgrawng Awng Hkam said: “Given the instability of the region, China should not implement the [belt and road] nor its mega-projects in Kachin right now … China should consult us Kachin, but they are mainly dealing with the central government over the projects in our region. We know we cannot get the upper hand, but we have to bear it.”
At the same time, he said that with many ethnic Kachin residing in Yunnan Province, maintaining cordial cross-border relations was essential.
“There are many Kachin in China. We should continue our brotherhood by having good communication with the Chinese government.”
Those interviewed by This Week in Asia voiced concern that Chinese business practices often skirted loosely-enforced regulations and primarily benefited Chinese interests.
Illegal Chinese-backed banana plantations now cover tens of thousands of acres of land in Kachin, bringing a range of environmental and land rights concerns. Reports have also emerged of illegal rare-earth mining along Kachin’s border with China, with little public information available as to the companies involved or the extent and nature of the activities.
Lahkri La Aung, chairman of the Kachin State Mining Association, said that civil war and a patchwork of authorities along the border, including the Myanmar military, Kachin Independence Army and various militias, had enabled Chinese companies to conduct mining activities haphazardly in Kachin, with little regard for the environment or worker safety. He also said that a centralised government limited the authority of state governments to regulate the industry. This situation, he said, had fostered a sense of urgency among local actors at all levels, including the state government, military, armed groups and militias, to grab the resources that were still available. “Locally, people lack a sense of ownership over this region. They think, ‘If we do not act, someone else will’,” he said.
Seng Hkum, chairman of the Kachin State Travel Association, took a more optimistic view towards Kachin’s eastern neighbour. “I welcome Chinese investment if it enables us to build our economy. We cannot avoid China as a great market,” he said. At the same time, he expressed concern about business practices. “I don’t necessarily want to reduce Chinese business engagement, but I want to see a more sustainable, responsible approach.”
‘SOFT AND POLITE’
America is also building its presence in Kachin. In November, the US Agency for International Development launched a five-year, US$38 million agriculture and food-systems development activity in three regions, including Kachin. In the same month, the agencycalled for proposals for a five-year, US$6 million initiative promoting local solutions to Kachin’s drug epidemic.
Such moves have gone down well with the locals, tapping into historical goodwill.
Awng Hkam said Kachin soldiers’ role in fighting alongside Americans in World War II and the role American missionaries played in bringing Christianity to Kachin had fostered a connection between the two countries, adding: “I really appreciate Americans’ democratic culture…The way they deal with us is soft and polite.”
La Aung hoped the US would continue to support peace-building through providing funding and technical assistance to development projects.
“US initiatives in Kachin are firmly positive…they can provide economic support to us to go towards righteousness and peace if we cooperate through joint management of projects,” he said.
While those interviewed by This Week in Asia hoped China could help broker peace talks, they expressed a lack of clarity about the role China intended to take.
Seng Hkum said: “Many Kachin feel that China is closer to the central government and Burmese military. I would like to see China engage more with the ethnic sides as well.”
According to Awng Hkam, China’s ongoing investment in Myanmar during periods of conflict as well as under the former military regime makes some confused over where China stands on the peace process between the Kachin Independence Organisation and the government.
For Lahkri La Aung, achieving peace is essential to ensure that Chinese businesses operate sustainably.
“We need stability in the region to create a space where we can jointly do business with China,” he said.
Seng Hkum hoped that Kachin could claim a sense of agency in relation to the US and China.
“It’s important for us Kachin to consider how much we will benefit from engaging with both countries. We have to look at our own interests first.
“The world’s ideologies are not so distinct any more. It’s not necessary to be an ideological battleground. It’s not necessary for us to be victims. As long as it benefits Kachin, I think we should engage with everyone,” he said.
Source: SCMP “Chinese money, US human rights: in Myanmar’s Kachin State, a delicate balance”
Note: This is SCMP’s article I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the article’s views.
Chinese president hails leader of South Pacific nation after it severed diplomatic ties with Taiwan
Tue 7 Jan 2020 05.42 GMT
Last modified on Tue 7 Jan 2020 05.46 GMT
China’s president Xi Jinping has praised Kiribati for being “on the right side of history” after the two countries signed a memorandum of understanding in China on Monday.
The agreement, which signs the Pacific nation up to China’s belt and road initiative, comes after Kiribati severed diplomatic relations with Taiwan and established them with China in September last year.
Xi met Kiribati’s president, Taneti Maamau, in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing and thanked him for visiting China.
“Last September, China and Kiribati restored diplomatic relations based on the one-China principle and have ushered in a new chapter of bilateral cooperation,” said Xi, according to video of the meeting released by the Chinese state broadcaster CGTN. “We welcome Kiribati back to the big family of China-Pacific island cooperation.”
“Mr President and the Kiribati government stand on the right side of history,” Xi told Maamau, according to CGTN.
Maamau told Xi: “Kiribati is grateful for the support we have received from China in the last recent months following the normalisation of our diplomatic relations in September 2019.
“Allow me also to take this opportunity to reaffirm my government’s commitments to the ‘one China’ principle and now our deepest respect of your government’s sovereignty to maintain peace and harmony among your people and the world at large.”
Kiribati’s switch in support from Taiwan to China meant Taiwan lost its second diplomatic ally in less than a week, following an announcement from the Solomon Islands that it was breaking away from Taiwan.
Over the decades, dozens of countries – including the US and most western nations – have switched recognition to Beijing, leaving just a handful of countries loyal to Taiwan, largely in Latin America and the Pacific.
The south Pacific has been a diplomatic stronghold for Taiwan, where, until this week, formal ties with six island nations made up more than a third of its total alliances.
The Solomon Islands and Kiribati (pronounced Kiribas) were the largest of Taiwan’s Pacific allies, with populations of 600,000 and 115,000 respectively.
The decision of the two nations to establish relations with China has left Taiwan with four remaining Pacific allies: Tuvalu, Nauru, Palau and Marshall Islands, as well as allies in the Caribbean and Latin America.
China’s concerted attempt to peel allies away from Taipei could be seen as putting pressure on Taiwan’s president Tsai Ing-wen, who is pro-Taiwanese sovereignty, ahead of elections in Taiwan this weekend.
Tsai is favoured to win a second term in Saturday’s election, an outcome that would likely intensify Chinas economic, diplomatic and military pressure over her refusal to accept its insistence that Taiwan is a part of China. Since her election, China has increasingly sought to isolate Taiwan diplomatically while ramping up its threat to use force to annex the self-governing island republic.
Source: The Guardian “’On right side of history’: Xi Jinping praises Kiribati for switch to China”
Note: This is The Guardian’s report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.
Lai Yijun has a major in missiles and a reputation for stepping up when it counts
English is an important requirement as the PLA Navy strives to be considered an international force
Liu Zhen in Beijing
Published: 7:45am, 19 Dec, 2019
Updated: 10:52pm, 19 Dec, 2019
The captain of China’s newly commissioned aircraft carrier first made his international mark more than a decade ago.
Lai Yijun stepped in to take command of the guided-missile frigate Lianyungang during a multilateral live-fire naval exercise in Pakistan in 2007 when the vessel’s top officer fell sick.
It was the first exercise of its kind for the People’s Liberation Army Navy and involved warships from nine countries, including the United States, Britain, France and Italy.
Under Lai’s command, the Chinese frigate was one of the best performers in a competition to hit a surface target.
He was later promoted to commander of a frigate division in the East Sea Fleet.
Now Lai, who graduated from the PLA’s Dalian Naval Academy with a major in missiles, is at the helm of the Shandong, the first aircraft carrier built in China.
Trained at the PLA University of Foreign Languages and named the country’s commander of the year in 2010, Lai is in his forties, is fluent in English and was once considered to be a candidate for a Chinese embassy as military attaché, according to the Global Times.
English is an important requirement as the PLA Navy strives to be considered an international force.
Zhang Zheng, the former captain of the Liaoning, a converted Soviet-era carrier, was also in his forties when he took charge of the vessel in 2012 and had honed his language skills studying at Britain’s Joint Services Command and Staff College.
Alongside Lai is Pang Jianhong, the political commissar of the more than 4,000 troops on board.
Political commissar is a unique position within the PLA and goes back to the founding of the communist red army in 1927.
At all levels of the PLA, the commissar is a dual leader of the unit along with its military commander, and is in charge of Communist Party development and political ideology work in the military as well as building morale.
Pang is a seasoned political worker with experience as commissar of the guided-missile destroyer Xian and political director of a support ship flotilla.
According to the Global Times report, he was picked for the Shandong because of his ability to work with captains on previous assignments and expertise in talent development.
The Shandong was commissioned by President Xi Jinping in Sanya, a port in the southern island province of Hainan, on Tuesday.
This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as: English-speaking captain of latest aircraft carrier reflects global ambitions
Source: SCMP “The English-speaking commander of China’s newest aircraft carrier the Shandong”
Note: This is SCMP’s report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.
November 22, 2019 / 1:41 PM / Updated 18 hours ago
BEIJING (Reuters) – The long-term improving trend for China’s economy will not change, and the economy has great resilience, potential and room for maneuver, China’s President Xi Jinping said on Friday, as reported by official Xinhua News Agency.
Xi, speaking at a meeting with International Monetary Fund Chief Kristalina Georgieva, said he has full confidence in China’s development, according to Xinhua.
Reporting by Lusha Zhang and Se Young Lee; Editing by Himani Sarkar
Source: Reuters “China’s Xi says long-term improving trend for economy will not change: Xinhua”
Note: This is Reuters’ report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.
SCMP says in its report “Xi Jinping and Emmanuel Macron send a message to the world”, “As well as signing trade and investment deals worth billions of dollars, the Chinese and French presidents vowed to uphold multilateralism and free trade in the face of US protectionism.
Macron’s visit is a follow-up of Xi’s successful visit to France in May to form a united front in China’s trade war with the US. Lucky for China,last month the US imposed US$7.5 billion in tariffs on goods from the European Union to strengthen China-EU united front against the US.
Moreover EU is upset that on November 5, the US began its formal withdrawal from the Paris climate change accord that EU regards as very important for world’s well-being.
As the US is isolated, China is able to stand firm in its trade war with the US while the US could not but accept a partial agreement that it previously firmly rejected.
Comment by Chan Kai Yee on SCMP’s report, full text of which can be viewed at https://www.scmp.com/news/china/diplomacy/article/3036691/french-president-emmanuel-macrons-visit-china-was-success-more.