Tillerson ends China trip with warm words from President Xi


China’s President Xi Jinping (R) shakes hands with U.S. State of Secretary, Rex Tillerson at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, March 19, 2017. REUTERS/Thomas Peter

By Yeganeh Torbati and Michael Martina | BEIJING Sun Mar 19, 2017 | 2:14am EDT

With warm words from Chinese President Xi Jinping on Sunday, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson ended his first trip to Asia since taking office with an agreement to work together with China on North Korea and putting aside trickier issues.

China has been irritated at being repeatedly told by Washington to rein in North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs and the U.S. decision to base an advanced missile defense system in South Korea.

Beijing is also deeply suspicious of U.S. intentions toward self-ruled Taiwan, which China claims as its own, with the Trump administration crafting a big new arms package for the island that is bound to anger China.

But meeting in Beijing’s Great Hall of the People, those issues were brushed aside by Xi and Tillerson, at least in front of reporters, with Xi saying Tillerson had made a lot of efforts to achieve a smooth transition in a new era of relations.

“You said that China-U.S. relations can only be friendly. I express my appreciation for this,” Xi said.

Xi said he had communicated with President Donald Trump several times through telephone conversations and messages.

“We both believe that China-U.S. cooperation henceforth is the direction we are both striving for. We are both expecting a new era for constructive development,” Xi said.

“The joint interests of China and the United States far outweigh the differences, and cooperation is the only correct choice for us both,” Xi added, in comments carried by China’s Foreign Ministry.

China and the United States must strengthen coordination of hot regional issues, respect each other’s core interests and major concerns, and protect the broad stability of ties, Xi said.

Tillerson replied that Trump looks forward to enhancing understanding with China and the opportunity for a visit in the future.

Tillerson said Trump places a “very high value on the communications that have already occurred” between Xi and Trump.

“And he looks forward to enhancing that understanding in the opportunity for a visit in the future,” Tillerson said.

“We know that through further dialogue we will achieve a greater understanding that will lead to a strengthened, strengthening of the ties between China and the United States and set the tone for our future relationship of cooperation.”

Trump has so far been an unpredictable partner for China, attacking Beijing on issues ranging from trade to the South China Sea and in December by talking to Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen.

Before Tillerson arrived in Beijing on Saturday, Trump said North Korea was “behaving very badly” and accused China of doing little to resolve the crisis over the North’s weapons programs.

SOME PROGRESS

Speaking in Seoul on Friday, Tillerson issued the Trump administration’s starkest warning yet to North Korea, saying in Seoul that a military response would be “on the table” if Pyongyang took action to threaten South Korean and U.S. forces.

Still, China and the United States appeared to have made some progress or put aside differences on difficult issues, at least in advance of a planned summit between Xi and Trump.

Both Tillerson and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi struck a more conciliatory tone in their meeting, with Tillerson saying the United States and China would work together to get nuclear-armed North Korea take “a different course”.

Underscoring the tensions, North Korea conducted a test of a new high-thrust engine at its Tongchang-ri rocket launch station and leader Kim Jong Un said the successful test was “a new birth” of its rocket industry, Pyongyang’s official media said on Sunday.

North Korea has conducted five nuclear tests and a series of missile launches, in defiance of U.N. sanctions, and is believed by experts and government officials to be working to develop nuclear-warhead missiles that could reach the United States.

Washington wants China, the North’s neighbor and main trading partner, to use its influence to rein in the weapons programs.

China says it is committed to enforcing U.N. sanctions on North Korea, but all sides have a responsibility to lessen tensions and get back to the negotiating table.

Chinese official also repeatedly say they do not have the influence over North Korea that Washington and others believe, and express fears poverty-struck North Korea could collapse if it were cut off completely, pushing destabilizing waves of refugees into northeastern China.

(Writing by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan)

Source: Reuters “Tillerson ends China trip with warm words from President Xi”

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, Saudi Arabia eye $65 billion in deals as king visits


Chinese President Xi Jinping (R) and Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud attend a signing ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China March 16, 2017. REUTERS/Lintao Zhang/POOL

By Ben Blanchard | BEIJING Mar 16, 2017 | 11:10am EDT

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman oversaw the signing of deals worth as much as $65 billion on the first day of a visit to Beijing on Thursday, as the world’s largest oil exporter looks to cement ties with the world’s second-largest economy.

The deals included a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between giant state oil firm Saudi Aramco [IPO-ARMO.SE] and China North Industries Group Corp (Norinco) [CNIGC.UL], to look into building refining and chemical plants in China.

Saudi Basic Industries Corp (SABIC) and Sinopec, which already jointly run a chemical complex in Tinajin, also agreed to develop petrochemical projects in both China and Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia’s octogenarian monarch, who has overseen the launch of an ambitious economic reform plan since his accession two years ago, is on a month-long Asian tour.

The visits to countries that are some of world’s fastest growing importers of Saudi oil aim to promote investment opportunities in the kingdom, including the sale of a stake in Aramco.

Saudi Arabia has sought to boost oil sales to China, the world’s second-largest oil market, after losing market share to Russia last year, by working mostly with China’s top three state oil firms.

In Beijing’s cavernous Great Hall of the People, President Xi Jinping told Salman that China was a reliable and stable oil export market and the two countries should deepen cooperation.

“For a long time, China and Islamic countries have respected each other and had win-win cooperation, and have created a model of the peaceful coexistence of different cultures,” Xi said, according to China’s Foreign Ministry.

Salman told Xi he hoped China could play an even greater role in Middle East affairs, the ministry added.

“Saudi Arabia is willing to work hard with China to promote global and regional peace, security and prosperity,” Salman said.

‘OLD FRIENDS’

Deputy Chinese Foreign Minister Zhang Ming said the memorandums of understanding and letters of intent were potentially worth about $65 billion, involving everything from energy to space.

“President Xi Jinping and King Salman are old friends,” Zhang said. “Practical cooperation between China and Saudi Arabia has already made major achievements, and has huge potential.”

A statement later posted on Saudi state news agency SPA said the documents included an MoU for the kingdom to participate in China’s Chang E-4 moon mission and a partnership agreement for manufacturing drones.

Besides the MoUs agreed between the two governments, Saudi and Chinese companies signed 21 deals, ranging from exploring investments in oil and petrochemical plants to ecommerce and co-operating in renewable energy markets.

For Saudi Aramco, the potential investments fit with its strategy to expand its refining and chemicals portfolio in its bid to diversify assets and secure long-term agreements for its oil.

Beijing, for its part, has recently loosened its grip on a sector long dominated by the country’s top three energy giants in an effort to boost private investment as the economy cools. The Norinco deal could involve exploring the possibility of a greenfield refinery and chemical plant in Panjin, Liaoning province, while also upgrading an existing refinery and petrochemical facility in the same location, an industry source said.

“This MoU shows Aramco is determined to expand its market share in the Far East by looking beyond oil majors and working closely with new independent clients within its biggest market,” said Sadad al-Husseini, an energy consultant and former senior Aramco executive.

Aramco said in written statements the MoU was for the development of refinery and chemical facilities.

The state oil giant also signed an MoU with Aerosun Corp for the manufacture of reinforced thermoplastic pipes and components.

‘HONEST BROKER

China has traditionally played little role in Middle East conflicts or diplomacy, despite its reliance on the region for oil. But it has been trying to get more involved in efforts to end Syria’s six-year-old civil war, where Riyadh supports rebels battling President Bashar al-Assad.

Last year China also offered support for Yemen’s government, which is backed by a Saudi-led Gulf Arab coalition in a war against the Iranian-aligned Houthi movement that controls much of the country.

Zhang said both the Yemen and Syria crises were discussed by Salman and Xi, and both leaders agreed that these issues must be resolved politically via talks.

China has had to tread a careful line, though, as it also has close relations with Iran. Xi visited both Saudi Arabia and Iran in January last year.

Next week Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visits China.

One Beijing-based diplomat from a Muslim-majority country told Reuters that China was trying to play the role of “honest broker” in the Middle East, as it lacks the historical baggage of the Americans or the Europeans.

“China does not take sides and that is appreciated,” said the diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity.

(Story corrects 18th paragraph to read “…clients within its biggest market..” instead of “…clients with its biggest market…”)

(Additional reporting by Reem Shamseddine in KHOBAR, Katie Paul in RIYADH and Meng Meng and Chen Aizhu in BEIJING; Editing by Clarence Fernandez, Greg Mahlich)

Source: Reuters “China, Saudi Arabia eye $65 billion in deals as king visits”

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


What Will China and US Get in Trump-Xi Meeting?


SCMP says in its report “Politics aside, Trump and Xi could bond as ‘strong men’” today, “White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said on Monday (March 13) the administration was preparing for a meeting between the two leaders but was not ready to announce a date. ‘Planning is ongoing for a visit between President Trump and President Xi at a date to be determined,’ Spicer said.”

SCMP quotes Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying as saying that the two sides had been in close communication over the possibility of a summit and information would be released in a timely manner.

For a summit between two countries, each of the leaders wants to get as much as possible for his own country. That is not an occasion for personal friendship though good personal relations may make it easier for leaders to convincing each other as they are more willing to listen to and think about more carefully each other’s arguments.

However, they certainly will not do anything unfavorable to their national interests.

That is why the fact that both Trump and Xi are strongmen cannot determine the occurrence of the meeting, let alone the results of the meeting.

Putin is much more a strongman than Xi and must be more likely to have a summit with Trump, but there is no prospect of a meeting between them as neither Trump can lift the sanctions for Putin nor Putin can give up Crimea for Trump. Such conflicts cannot be resolved by personal friendship between leaders as they concern their countries’ core interests.

Both Trump and Xi want good relations for their countries’ economy. For Trump, getting China’s concessions on currency and trade is his core interests. Xi can give him as liberalization of Chinese currency and removal government support for enterprises with excessive production capacity are precisely what Xi wants. No matter Trump wants them or not, Xi will do so. US pressure only helps Xi do so.

I have just posted Reuters’ report titled Trump’s USTR nominee pledges tough enforcement of U.S. trade laws”, in which Reuters says “Lighthizer said Beijing’s industrial policies have supported vast amounts of ‘uneconomic’ production capacity that would not survive without state support. He said this was particularly true in the steel and aluminum sectors, leading to the dumping of products into U.S. markets.”

Xi wants to scrap the excessive capacity but has difficulty to overcome vested interests in those industries. US pressure helps him do so.

As for manipulation of Chinese currency, Xi wants to liberalize yuan but sees great risks in doing so. It is good that Trump wants Xi do so. The risks will be reduced substantially with strong US financial support.

As for much exaggerated conflicts between China and the US concerning Taiwan and the South China Sea. They concern China’s core interests but are Trump’s burdens. The US can get nothing from Taiwan and has no interests in the South China Sea but has to incur lots of costs to defend Taiwan and US allies in the South China Sea.

The US can only make some profit by arms sale to Taiwan, but the weapons are not US best ones. As China are now able to make weapons rival to US best weapons the arms sale may not hurt China’s interests. However, the purchase of expensive weapons will only cause shortage of financial resources for Taiwan to improve its economy. In that respect, the US is helping China.

However, the easy concessions that Trump will get from Xi will be Trump’s breakthrough to help him get concessions from other countries. That is why a summit can be arranged only a couple of months after he came into office.

It gives the impression of Trump’s unpredictability as Trump seemed most hostile to China in his election campaign. It is in fact entirely predictable as one thing is perfectly sure: Trump wants to work for US interests. He was hostile to China as he thought that China hurt US interests. He is happy to know now that China has no intention to hurt US interests but, on the contrary, wants win-win cooperation with the US for the benefits of both countries.

Comment on by Chan Kai Yee on SCMP’s report, full text of which can be viewed at http://www.scmp.com/news/china/diplomacy-defence/article/2078888/politics-aside-trump-and-xi-could-bond-strong-men


Corruption cases in China jumped one-third in 2016


The number of corruption cases heard by Chinese courts jumped by about one-third last year, as the country’s top prosecutor vowed on Sunday there would be no let up in China’s campaign against deep-seated graft.

Since assuming office more than four years ago, President Xi Jinping has waged war on corruption, warning, like others before him, that the problem is so bad it could affect the ruling Communist Party’s grip on power.

Dozens of senior figures have been jailed for corruption and abusing their positions, including a once powerful domestic security chief, Zhou Yongkang.

In an annual report to China’s largely rubber-stamp parliament, chief justice Zhou Qiang said Chinese courts in 2016 heard 45,000 graft cases involving 63,000 people, though he did not say how many had been convicted or provide a comparison.

Compared with figures he gave in last year’s report though, that represents about a one-third rise for both on 2015.

Top prosecutor Cao Jianming said in his work report that anti-corruption efforts will “absolutely not weaken”.

“The zero-tolerance stance on corruption will certainly not be changed,” Cao said.

Both men also promised to keep up the pressure on separatists, extremists and terrorists.

However, they provided no details on the number of people convicted for these crimes in 2016.

In 2015, Chinese courts convicted more than 1,400 people for harming national security, including taking part in terrorism and secessionist activities, double a broadly equivalent number given for 2014.

Hundreds of people have been killed over the past few years in China’s resource-rich Xinjiang province, strategically located on the borders of central Asia, in violence between the Muslim Uighur people, who call the region home, and ethnic majority Han Chinese.

Officials have blamed the unrest on Islamist militants and separatists, though rights groups and exiles say anger at Chinese controls on the religion and culture of the Uighurs is more to blame for the strife. China denies any repression in Xinjiang.

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)

Source: Reuters “Corruption cases in China jumped one-third in 2016”

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 to Invest Heavily on Artificial Intelligence to Surpass US


In its report today titled “The future is here: China sounds a clarion call on AI funding, policies to surpass US”, SCMP says, “The future is here: China sounds a clarion call on AI funding, policies to surpass US… At the annual meeting of China’s parliament this week, the usual Communist Party agenda of economic growth, social welfare, jobs, health care and pension made way for an unusual addition: a clarion call by some of China’s most influential business and technology leaders for the government to set policies to define what they consider the Next Big Thing.

“They include the founder of the largest Chinese internet search engine Baidu, the owner of smartphone maker Xiaomi, and the founder of Geely Automobile, which bought Volvo.”

That proves that Chinese President Xi Jinping’s Chinese Dream is shared by China’s big moneys, who want China to be the best in technology.

If China’s rich people form their interest group to affect Chinese politics, Xi will be in great trouble, but lucky for him, most of them want to realize Xi’s dream of the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.

Comment by Chan Kai Yee on SCMP’s report, full text of which can be found at http://www.scmp.com/tech/article/2077845/future-here-china-sounds-clarion-call-ai-funding-policies-surpass-us.


Chinese Military’s Unlimited Budget


Why does China not increase its military budget in response to Trump’s 10% rise in US military budget?

To answer the question, SCMP says in its report on March 9, 2017 titled “Is China avoiding arms race with US by setting ‘low-key’ defence budget?”, “‘A 7 per cent defence budget increase rate for the world’s biggest army was carefully decided and aimed at keeping China from becoming tangled in an arms race with the United States’, Chinese military experts say.”

“However, overseas military analysts said Beijing’s apparent attempt to downplay the sensitivity of the nation’s defence budget figure would stimulate more speculation over its accuracy and the People’s Liberation Army’s strategic development,” the report continues.

First, the idea is entirely wrong that China’s military spending is limited by NPC (National People’s Congress, China’s parliament). We shall see that China is an autocracy instead of a democracy like the United States. How much Chinese military spends does not require NPC approval. According to Chinese Constitution, NPC has supreme power, but in fact, it is but a rubber stamp that will approve everything the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) tells it to approve.

Therefore, the military budget approved by NPC does not restrict China’s military spending like U.S. budget does. The budget is a carefully determined figure to please Chinese people and ease other countries’ concerns.

Second, due to China’s history of being bullied and invaded by foreign powers for nearly one century, China regards national security as its top priority and is willing to spend as much as it needs for its defense. As a result, Chinese military has an unlimited budget.

It is especially so now as China is under US threat of attack. The US sent two aircraft carrier battle groups to the area near China in order to force China to accept an arbitration award that entirely denies China’s rights and interests in the South China Sea. If China had not built its seven artificial islands with airports on them and a strong navy and air force, it would have been bullied and humiliated by a foreign power again.

Under such circumstances, there is no limit to Chinese military’s spending. It can spend as much as it needs and China can afford. Why? China is now strong enough to defend its rights and interests in the South China Sea, but the threat of US attack has not been removed. Remember, a senior US officer said that the US needed B-21 prompt strike bombers if it wants to bomb Beijing. Sure enough, the US is now spending billions of dollars to develop B-21. It certainly means that the US has the desire to bomb Beijing!

However, does that mean that Chinese military can spend at will? No, it has to obtain approval from China’s top leader before it can get funds from China’s exchequer.

Who is the top leader that controls both the exchequer and the Chinese military? It is Xi Jinping, the core of CCP collective leadership who has the final say.

Xi’s Chinese dream is the rejuvenation of the great Chinese nation. He certainly is willing to provide Chinese military as much funds as necessary for China’s defense.

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/2077391/china-avoiding-arms-race-us-setting-low-key-defence.


China, US to Achieve Win-win Cooperation


Secretary of State Rex Tillerson greets Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi at the State Department in Washington, U.S., February 28, 2017. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson greets Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi at the State Department in Washington, U.S., February 28, 2017. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein

Reuters says in its report “U.S., China discuss ‘mutually beneficial’ economic relationship” on China’s top diplomat Yang Jiechi’s US visit at US invitation that Yang met US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson yesterday and according to US State Department they discussed improving and maintaining “mutually beneficial economic relationship” between the two countries.

Obsessed with world hegemony, US media has long been demonizing China; therefore as always, China was attacked by both president candidates in US presidential elections to win votes. However, good relations with China are too important for the US. As a result, when elected, a US president maintains good relations with China in spite of his harsh rhetoric against China in his election campaign.

It is especially so for US new president Donald Trump as win-win cooperation with China is too important for him to realize his goal of bringing jobs back and making America great again. For Chinese President Xi Jinping, good relations with the US are indispensable for realization of his Chinese dream for recovery of China’s greatness.

There was a Foreign Affairs’ article titled “Good Foreign Policy Is Invisible: Why Boring Is Better” by James Goldgeier and Elizabeth N. Saunders that says, “The problem is that successful foreign policy is largely invisible. It often means paying up front for benefits that are hard to see until you lose them, or that will only be obvious when you really need them. Sometimes, successful foreign policy even means keeping real victories quiet.”

What do they mean? Successes in diplomacy are always visible only failures may be invisible if popular media refrain from mentioning them.

The best example is Obama’s failure to contain China by his pivot to Asia.

Obama has tried hard to exploit China’s disputes with its neighbors in the South China Sea to pit them against China. His efforts were plainly visible, but what has he got:

Most ASEAN countries have declared that they would not take side between the US and China.

The US seemed very successful in pitting the Philippines against China. It succeeded in making the Philippines seek and did get an arbitration award against China. However, it failed to scare China into accepting the award in spite of its deployment of two aircraft carrier battle groups to threaten China. China has built seven large artificial islands to defend its interests in the South China Sea due to Obama’s pivot to Asia. The three airfields on those islands can provide much greater fire power than that the US can provide with all its aircraft carriers. As a result, the US dare not attack China to enforce the arbitration award.

That was America’s invisible failure. It was invisible as media failed to draw people’s attention to it.

However, it is obvious as it has seriously upset the Philippines and proved US alliance with the Philippines was useful only to the US in containing China but useless for the Philippines in protecting Philippines’ interests.

Media has tried hard to cover Philippines’ frustration by ascribing Philippines’ 180 degree changes in diplomacy to Philippine new president’s personal factors.

That is why Obama’s failures, though obvious, are invisible.

Such failures are certainly boring for those who are fond of US successes and dislike US failures. Better ignore them.

Trump and Xi’s success in pursuing win-win cooperation between the US and China is obvious now as it is reported by such major world media as Reuters but a major part of the diplomacy seems invisible. That was the daughters diplomacy described by me in my previous posts.

To those who are fond of zero-sum results, the diplomacy is perhaps boring as there is no loser as both Trump and Xi won. It is a victory for Trump to get trade concessions from China and China’s cooperation in dealing with North Korea, but China does not lose in giving the concessions and conducting the cooperation as such concessions and cooperation benefit China.

Reuters says in its report, “China’s state news agency, Xinhua, quoted Yang as saying China was willing to work with Washington ‘to enhance exchanges on all levels from top down’ and to broaden communication and coordination on regional and global issues, while respecting ‘each other’s core interests and major concerns.’”

China has declared that its sovereignty and interests in the South China Sea are among its core interests. Tillerson’s friendly talks with Yang and refrain to repeat his harsh rhetoric about the South China Sea indicate China’s progress in making the US respect its core interests there.

Comment by Chan Kai Yee on Reuters and Foreign Affairs’ articles, full text of which can respectively be viewed at http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-china-idUSKBN167291 and https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/united-states/2017-02-28/good-foreign-policy-invisible?cid=nlc-fatoday-20170228&sp_mid=53521600&sp_rid=a3l0cmFuc2xhdGVAZ21haWwuY29tS0&spMailingID=53521600&spUserID=MjUzMzc0NjM2MTc2S0&spJobID=1104630428&spReportId=MTEwNDYzMDQyOAS2.