Saturday, March 17, 2018

How Should the US Engage China in Space?

How Should the US Engage China in Space?

Examining the maritime domain for lessons on a strategic way forward for U.S.-China cooperation.

By Adam Yang

March 17, 2018


China is striving to become a space powerthat rivals or surpasses the United States, Russia, and Europe. In September 2006, China tested lasers against U.S. imagery satellites in a manner that could potentially blind or damage them in future conflict. For U.S. officials, this event and China’s subsequent destruction of its own weather satellite in 2007 signaled that space was a “contested domain.” Subsequently, in 2011, U.S. lawmakers passed legislation that banned cooperation between the National Aeronautical Space Administration (NASA) and the China National Space Administration – largely in response to China’s history of espionage against U.S. technical industries.

The 2018 U.S. National Defense Strategy categorized China as a revisionist power, and through this lens, it seems strategically sound for the United States to shield its precious technical advantages from a potential adversary. Nevertheless, some NASA officials insist that the United States should still collaborate with China to capitalize on a revolutionary period of high technical exchange between China and other space powers. Other officials warn that if the U.S. and China do not find meaningful ways to cooperate in space, relations could devolve into greater mistrust and lead to conflict. To guide strategic thinking on U.S. space policy, this article submits that policymakers may gain strategic insights on how to address China’s growing influence in the space domain by examining its actions in the maritime domain.

Deriving Strategic Insights from Sea to Space

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To derive strategic insights from the maritime environment for the space domain, this article surveys how China: 1) applies force, 2) manipulates laws, 3) shapes the environment, 4) cooperates internationally, and 5) conducts diplomacy.

First, China possesses three major maritime agencies that apply force in order to protect and pursue its interests: the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN), People’s Armed Police (PAP) and the Maritime Law Enforcement Forces that include the Coast Guard, and the Maritime Militia. As Andrew Erickson notes, each agency represents the largest of its kind globally. The PLAN commands over 300 ships (whereas U.S. Navy has 277 as of 2017) and its Coast Guard has over 1,200 ships.

In their research on territorial disputes in the South China Sea, scholars Christopher Yung and Patrick McNulty find that China utilized its military and paramilitary forces 148 times from 1995 to 2013 – more than all other active claimants (Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, and Taiwan) combined in the same period. Their research concluded that as China’s capabilities increased, Beijing was more likely to use force to advance its interests and less likely to defer to legal or multilateral solutions.

From a space perspective, U.S. policymakers can surmise that if China had a comparable offensive capability in the space domain, it might also prefer utilizing force to challenge rivals over other means. Though China currently does not have an offensive space capability on par with the scale of its maritime forces, the U.S. Department of Defense 2017 Annual Report to Congressasserted that the PLA is aggressively acquiring a range of counterspace capabilities. Given the fact that there are no international limitations on developing ground-based counterspace weapons, China may pursue an equivalent path of developing a high quantity of systems to overwhelm adversaries during conflict.

Second, China could reinterpret laws as a pretext to apply force. In the maritime domain, China reinterprets the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) to challenge U.S. freedom of navigation patrols through the South China Sea. China claims waters extending past 12 nautical miles and into the exclusive economic zone (EEZ), saying that foreign states must refrain from threatening the “territorial integrity or political independence” of the owning state. Concurrently, in 1992, China promulgated domestic maritime lawsthat extended its sovereign claims and deemed the commercial or research activities of other states illegal in contested waters. The international community at large does not recognize this reimagining of the EEZ; however, it does provide China some legal footing and domestic cover to deploy maritime forces in this region.

Similarly, the Central Military Commission is exploring the legalities for the use of force in space. PLA doctrine proclaims the need to destroy, damage, or disrupt an adversary’s space capability to secure victory in the information space. Nationally, China codified its security strategy of active defense – using defensive counterattacks in order to spoil the offensive actions of an adversary – in its National Security Law of 2015. By watching the evolution of China’s space-related domestic laws or reinterpretations of international laws, U.S. policymakers may find China strategically telegraphing its intentions through legal maneuvering.

Third, when China feels international laws are unfavorable, it may create an alternate framework that advances its own interests. Shortly after a tribunal at the Permanent Court of Arbitration of The Hague ruled against China’s activities in the South China Sea in 2016, China announced that it would create a “maritime judicial center” and a “maritime arbitration center” to promote its own vision for maritime law. China claimed that this endeavor would advance the nation’s role as a maritime power and support the development of its Belt Road Initiative. Skeptics assert that China initiated this endeavor to harden its claims on disputed territories and to divert cases away from UNCLOS courts. By doing so, China can create legal precedents to interpret international maritime laws and begin to undermine the international maritime system framed around UNCLOS.

In the space arena, China is not anywhere close to rearranging an entire judicial system around its views; however, it actively participates in international space organizations and introduces measures that could limit the ability for the United States to project force. Through the United Nations, China and Russia have twice (2008 and 2014) proposed the legally binding Treaty of Prevention of the Placement of Weapons in Outer Space and of the Threat or Use of Force Against Outer Space Objects (PPWT). The primary U.S. objections to the treaty were that it did not include verification mechanisms, only applied to space-based weapons, and did not include ground based ASAT weapons – a primary counterspace capability China is advancing.

Fourth, policymakers could also examine China’s maritime cooperation initiatives to envision potential space cooperation. China’s counterpiracy operation in the Gulf of Aden has slowly emerged as a valuable mechanism to improve U.S.-China cooperation as seen through the counterpiracy exercises of December 2014. On a grander scale in June 2017, China laid out an ambitious vision for cooperation in relation to the “Maritime Silk Road” as part of its larger Belt and Road Initiative. This plan envisions the establishment of cooperative principles, environmental norms, maritime security, and “collaborative governance” to achieve mutual prosperity. If one believes in China’s sincerity, working cooperatively across these lines could greatly reduce security tensions and set conditions for long-term mutual gain.

Subsequently, China is pursuing international cooperation in space – not only for security and economic reasons, but also to bolster the legitimacy of the Chinese Communist Party to domestic and international audiences. The European Space Administration (ESA) has already expressed desires to cooperate with China on human space flight and the use of its future space station. China especially values its relationship with ESA due to the opportunities to trade and transfer technologies denied by the United States. China and Russia have also agreed to cooperate on human space flight and deep space exploration. Though these initiatives are not on the scale of a Maritime Silk Road, they do offer U.S. policymakers opportunities to work with a rising space power for positive ends.

Finally, the United States should pay attention to China’s diplomatic and engagement efforts with other nations. Contrary to the cooperative tenets for a Maritime Silk Road, in 2016, China convinced Cambodia to block an Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) joint statement that recognized The Hague’s arbitration ruling on the South China Sea dispute in favor of the Philippines. In June 2017, Vietnam resisted China’s demands to vacate an oil venture within its EEZ, but eventually capitulated when China threatened to use force. The most concerning aspect for Vietnam was an atypical silence from its neighbors – particularly from the Philippines, Indonesia, and Singapore. Apparently, China’s political and economic leverage over these nations prevented them from publicly sympathizing with Vietnam or rebuking China’s actions.

Seemingly, when pressed, China uses soft and hard power tactics bilaterally to dislodge multilateral initiatives that counter it interests. Could China disrupt the U.S.-European alliance as it did with ASEAN unity? At this stage, Chinese-European cooperation in space seems well intentioned. Nevertheless, U.S. policymakers should consider whether China’s growing space relations with Europe, Russia, or any other space power could complicate U.S. interests in other areas. As China strengthens its partnerships, its ability to shape laws, institutions and the strategic preferences of others increase as well.


The United States sits at an important period to develop a comprehensive space strategy that addresses China’s growing influence. U.S. cooperation with the Soviets in space during the Cold War was not due to a desire for true cooperation, but a means to manage a potential crisisrelated to the management of ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons. The United States could develop a similar mechanism for limited engagement with China to send positive signals and reduce misperceptions.

China’s activities in space have already intersected with U.S. interests and will only increase in frequency and intensity over time. In the end, for the United States to compete and lead in the space domain, it must engage new players and shape the contours of the game. If Washington is worried about how China will play the game, it can always look in the maritime arena for strategic clues.

Adam Yang is a Major in the U.S. Marine Corp and a student at the Command and Staff College, Marine Corps University in Quantico, Virginia. The opinions expressed in this piece are his own.

Chinese expert delegation visits mineral side of Balochistan’s Muslim Bagh



QUETTA: Secretary Industrial Balochistan Ahmed said that Chinese experts would train youth of province in technical and industrial sectors in order to get opportunities of mega project China-Pak Economic Corridor (CPEC) in the country.

He said this while briefing six member of Chinese delegation when they visited the Muslim Bagh’s mineral area and Special Economic Zone in Bostan in connection with investment opportunities in Balochistan.

The Chinese delegation visited mineral and chromites side area of Muslim Bagh where they were also briefed about recovered chromites.

“Chinese and Balochistan experts jointly will play their role in development and prosperity of the people of Pakistan and province”, he said in briefing.

He said Balochistan is rich in mineral resources where foreign investors could take benefits in these fields.

Secretary noted that under the CPEC, Balochistan is emerging investment province around the world and adding that he hoped that the Chinese specialist delegation would play their key role in boosting investment in Balochistan.

Regional Director Federal Board of Investment Dr Riaz, Director Mines and Mineral Khalid Achakzai, Deputy Director Mines, Syed Muzaffar Bukhari, Syed Rafiq-Ullah were accompanied with Chinese delegation during visiting

Stability in Pakistan integral to China’s development: Ambassador

3:21 PM | March 17, 2018

Ambassador of People’s Republic of China to Pakistan, Yao Jing, has said that China cannot afford to lose Pakistan because stability in its neighbourhood is integral to China’s development.

He made these remarks while speaking at an interactive policy dialogue organized by Lahore Centre for Peace Research (LCPR) on the topic “Pakistan-China Relations in the 21st century” which was arranged in his honour, said in a press release issued here Saturday.

In his keynote speech, the Ambassador of China emphasized that Pakistan matters to China’s vision of development and growth as enshrined in last year’s 19th China’s Communist Party Convention.

He said that Pakistan’s importance to China would continueto increase because of the all-weather Pak-China relations and centrality of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) route in the Belt and Road Initiative(BRI).

Yao said that a stable Pakistan was vital to China’s  growth. The Ambassador reminded the distinguished gathering that China envisages CPEC to be a lead project for connectivity and peace.

He said the project was not only for the benefit of Pakistan and China as ‘ownership of CPEC finally belongs to the whole world’.

Earlier, Ambassador Shamshad Ahmed Khan, former foreign secretary and currently Chairman Lahore Center for Peace

Research, highlighted the unwavering commitment of Pakistan and China’s leadership to build stronger economic and social ties between the two countries.

He emphasised that China’s relations with Pakistan were not based on transient interests but have remained unconditional. He said that China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is a huge regional agenda with mutual interests rooted in China’s and Pakistan’s common vision for a better future and prosperity of the region.

Rooted within BRI was China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) initiative that harbours economic prosperity for greater benefit of the entire region. He praised the Chinese leadership in promoting world-wide connectivity for socio-economic development and reiterated that Pakistan was also determined in its commitment to support CPEC.

The event was attended by the Chinese Consul General Long Dingbin, former Finance Minister, Dr Salman Shah, former Pakistan diplomats and notable defense analysts and people from the academia

FDI jumps 15.6 percent on massive Chinese inflows


KARACHI: Pakistan’s foreign direct investment (FDI) surged 15.6 percent in the eight months of current fiscal year largely drawing strength from massive Chinese inflows under China-Pakistan Economic Corridor projects, data released by State Bank of Pakistan showed on Friday.

The FDI in the July-February period of FY18 increased to $1.941 billion from $1.678 billion a year earlier. In February alone, the FDI inflows were recorded at $340.8 million, compared to $146.7 million in the corresponding month of last fiscal year.

During period under review, the FDI inflows from China reached $1.281 billion, an increase of 139 percent over the same period of the last fiscal. On the other hand, investments from the United Kingdom rose to $205.5 million against $139.9 million last year, whereas inflows from Malaysian firms increased to $121.3 million from $16.7 million year ago. Most of the investment went into power, construction and financial sectors.

Analysts expect foreign direct investment to be around $3-3.5 billion during the current fiscal year, reflecting surging Chinese investments under China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC)—a part of Beijing’s “One Belt, One Road” initiative to develop trade and transport infrastructure in Asia.

“Our flow of foreign investment has reduced to one country that’s China. For a country like Pakistan, foreign investment should be broad-based. We shouldn’t put all the eggs in one basket,” said Dr Ashfaque H Khan, renowned economist and dean at NUST School of Social Sciences.

“Since Pak-China relations are very deep-rooted and strategic in nature that’s why the flow of FDI is rising, but our traditional foreign investors appear to have shied away from Pakistan which is not a good sign,” Khan added.

In must be noted that foreign direct investment for fiscal year 2017 stood at $2.218 billion. The FDI data came after the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) Extended Fund Facility post-programme monitoring report showed the external sector imbalances were likely to elevate further this fiscal year owing to widening current account deficit.

“Despite continued recovery of exports and some moderation of import growth, the current account deficit is expected to widen to $15.7 billion (4.8 percent of GDP) this year,” the IMF said in the report.

“On current policies, and based on the authorities’ ambitious external financing plans, gross international reserves are expected to further weaken to $12.1 billion (2.2 months of imports) this year, with risks skewed to the downside,” the IMF report said.

The FDI from China under economic corridor could help improve depleting foreign exchange reserves as the country’s account remained negative. However, the CPEC investments are increasing debt risks for Pakistan.

“While some of the gap in the current account (CPEC-related) is being funded by increased foreign direct investment – mainly from China – a large portion is being funded by debt. This has led to a rise in Pakistan’s overall external debt – to 27.3 percent of GDP in December 2017 from 24.8 percent in December 2015 – which we believe will increase further,” a report released by Standard Chartered Bank last week said

Net FDI records 84pc growth in July-Feb

Masroor Afzal Pasha


The net Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) witnessed a substantial growth of 84.5 percent during the period of July to February of the financial year 2017-18 compared with the corresponding period of last financial year, according to the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP).

Overall, the country received a net FDI of $4.297 billion in July to February as compared with $2.33 billion net FDI reported in the same period of last financial year.

The growth in net FDI was witnessed due to significant inflows in FPI which surged to $2.45 billion after the floating of foreign bonds in the international market. On the other hand, FDI of the real sector recorded a growth of 16.5 percent to stand at $1.94 billion during the period under review.

Foreign Portfolio Investment (FPI) is made in equity and debt securities and is the major component of net Foreign Direct Investment. On the other hand, the FDI is carried out in the real sector with long-term impact on economy and industries of the country.

Besides, investment from equity market showed an outflow of $93 million in the said period. Analysts were of the view that FDI will continue to pour in Pakistan due to the economic activities stirred up by mega-billion dollar project of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
They were of the view that FDI inflows are likely in Pakistan from different countries especially in sectors like power, oil and exploration, real estate and construction, food, financial business, and telecom.
China is the biggest contributor of FDI. Investment inflows from China are largely focused in real sectors such energy and infrastructure at around $1.284 billion during the eight months of the financial year 2017-18. Besides China, major contributors of the net FDI are the United Kingdom with $205 million, Malaysia with $121 million, the United States with $65 million respectively.

Sectors witnessed investment inflows are power with $711 million and construction with $470 million, Financial Sector with $229 million and oil and gas exploration and production with $1,384 million

Friday, March 16, 2018

China's Hybrid Approach and BRI

China's Hybrid Approach

The more worrisome part of this expansion is, however, not related to the Chinese military. In what could be called a ‘hybrid approach’ to power projection, the military is merely a part of a broad- er strategy, combined with economic and political incentives and pressures. *Among the main features of this approach has been the use of civilian power and economic investments to progressively gain ground strategically.* Whether associated with the ‘String of Pearls’ (China’s alleged previous geopo- litical strategy for the Indian Ocean), or nowadays promoted as part of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) or the Maritime Silk Road, the develop- ment of vital connectivityinfrastructure (seaports, roads, railways etc.) has become Beijing’s signature foreign-policy project.

Bilateral relationships formed along the MSR are deeply asymmetric.

📌China exploits the economic weaknesses of individual countries by collateralis- ing investments against access to strategic resourc- es or long-term land loans. In extreme cases, this ‘debt-trap diplomacy’ can lead to a partial erosion of sovereignty, as was the case of the Sri Lankan port of Hambantota, where the local government’s inability to reimburse $8 billion lead to a 99-year lease to China. The acquisition of port facilities in Gwadar, Mombasa, Djibouti, Athens and elsewhere were all negotiated under debt constraints. In other cases,🔴 economic pressure is used to purchase politi- cal goodwill, with investments traded against dip- lomatic favours and support in international fora.

📌Another important characteristic of China’s behav- iour along the BRI has been a lack of transparency and a constantly evolving agenda. While not un- common in China’s foreign policy in general, the discrepancy between official discourse and actions on the ground generates ambiguity and tends to sow distrust in its foreign partners.

📌Finally, *even though a deal may be clearly articulated at first, its conditions and endgame may change over time (as was the case with using civilian port facilities in Sri Lanka and Pakistan for hosting military capabili- ties, for instance).*

For Europe, activities along China’s grand con- nectivity project are bringing a taste of the latter’s foreign policy assertiveness closer to home. Large-
scale infrastructure investments in several EU member states and in the countries of the Western Balkans have already resulted in political trade-offs

Balochistan seeks technology assistance from Punjab


A delegation from the government of Balochistan led by Provincial Secretary Science and Technology Aftab Ahmad Baloch visited the Punjab Information Technology Board (PITB) to seek technological assistance in various sectors here Thursday. The senior officers of PITB briefed the delegation regarding the technological interventions being practiced in the Punjab. Director General e Governance Sajid Latif, Waqar Naeem Qureshi, DG IT Solutions and Saima Raoof Shaikh, Director Training & Development, gave presentations to the delegation regarding education, health, law and order, police, revenue, eKhidmat, eRozgaar, eStamping and other various projects which have started delivering encouraging resulted in real and stipulated time.
The delegation was informed that the PITB was already extending assistance and necessary training to the government of Balochistan for automation of police, law and health sectors on complimentary basis. The delegation identified the new area of interest, including eFiling, education, data center etc.
The other members of the delegation were Director General IT Baluchistan Tariq Qamar, Engr Arsalan Baseer, Director Tech, and Farhan Shakeel Focal Person, took a round of various projects and appreciated the PITB’s unprecedented assistance for the public sector departments of the government of Balochistan.—APP

CPEC: a case for gender mainstreaming

By Benazir Jatoi

Published: March 16, 2018

The writer is a barrister and human rights campaigner. She tweets @BenazirJatoi

The undisputable facts about CPEC, Pakistan’s $60 billion bi-lateral agreement is that it is growing at a rapid speed and will most certainly change the physical landscape and socio-economic environment of the entire country. CPEC seeks unprecedented focus firstly, on manufacturing — showing present constraints and future requirements; and secondly, demands for new jobs.

With regard to the labour market demands, it looks as if it is not Pakistanis that fulfilled the immediate job market demand in the highly specialised energy and infrastructure sector. Yet, there is no doubt that the long-term sustainability and success of CPEC relies on local knowledge and labour force. In terms of the industrial zones, the first nine having been identified, there is room to plan and negotiate for local, both women and men, human resource as workers, entrepreneurs and specialists.

With long-term sustainability and the diversely identified industrial zones, Pakistan is presented with a perfect opportunity to address many serious pending issues that is holding us back economically and socially. This brings into light the issue of gender equality and women’s empowerment, requiring an honest recognition of what is lacking and holding back women being integrated into the formal labour market. A meaningful analysis will question issues around women’s own agency (or lack of), patriarchal and societal structures and (lack of) education as underlying barriers to progress. Yet examples from around the world leave us with unequivocal evidence — that formally recognising women as economic contributors and integrating women in conventional and non-conventional vocation have benefited not just women and their immediate families but significantly added to the collective economic growth and development of the whole country.

China is perhaps the best example to start with as a nation that has recognised that women citizens are equal agents of economic change. It has shown that gender mainstreaming and women’s economic empowerment have remained on the agenda, even when faced with political or other instability. At one moment in time, pre-industrialised China stood where Pakistan stands today. Despite many differences, the similarities were glaringly obvious. In addition to the oppression of women under customary rules and deeply-rooted traditional views, China had a large population to deal with. Similar to Pakistan, China also lacked educational and technical institutions and was short of the machinery and capital investment needed for sustained growth. However, the ruling elite did have an astute understanding of the most imperative ingredient for economic change — its people. At the core of the Chinese revolutionary doctrine it was clear that economic growth was not possible with just men. This called for a thorough restructuring of Chinese society as essential for economic growth. This included the elimination of customs and institutions that oppress women — religious superstition, landholding systems, educational admission standards, job discrimination and family patterns. In fact, it was well understood that reform of the traditional family system, marriage and divorce, and addressing issues of child and forced marriages, women’s confinement to the home and housework and suicide among women was imperative for real change to take place.

Recognising that real development lay in the maximum employment of its citizens, China’s single most important policy goal has been its full employment policy. With regard to women, China has taken into account two things, firstly, that women need to join the workforce for economic growth and secondly, the policy has to address the dual burden — of home and work — faced by women, in order for real meaningful success of its policy. This has meant using manpower policy and social policy, in mutually reinforcing and complimentary ways. In basic healthcare units, the Communist party in 1949 made impressive progress, starting with women workers who faced frequent pregnancies and high mortality rates in both mother and child. Lighter work during pregnancy and flexible working hours for mothers with young children, maternity leave and creating paramedical and midwife staff to attempt rural women access to healthcare were also adopted as the state policy. Similarly, the earliest policy area, where the Communist party has consistently focused has been childcare services for working mothers. Women wings of local trade unions were responsible for childcare services. The 1970s saw a particular emphasis through policy stances on bringing women out of traditional women’s work. Women activists or women community leaders, often semi or illiterate women in local areas, identified and recruited by the Communist party, were relied on to take the messages of policy and campaign stances to the people. In fact it was believed that government policy would never be enforced in China without the activist.

There is no doubt that the restructuring of Chinese society were never viewed in isolation from the existing political institutions and an intricate part of larger revolutionary goals. Critics rightly argue that these pro-women policies were put in place to aid production not necessarily to aid women. And present day China still sees discrimination and barriers against women where women are not viewed as the principal carriers of economic development. But it would be simplistic not to see the distance that women have come in China.

Keeping in view China’s example, the ADB considers Pakistan to be having an opportune time with CPEC, which has the potential to help Pakistan move up from a lower income to a middle-income country. To realise this potential, among other factors, good initial planning must consider women and men benefit differently from the economic dividends. Therefore, it is important that Pakistan’s policymakers acknowledge the difference to enable for better and more comprehensive plans.

Yet, gender mainstreaming is also Pakistan’s biggest challenge, because misconstrued cultural practices and beliefs restrict women into traditional roles and add to the already dismal figures around girls’ education, the lack of women’s decision-making role in family planning, and women’s economic and social dependency. Keeping in mind China’s example, a good place to start would be for the planning commission and other relevant stakeholders to recognise the underlying causes and the need to address them.

The Principal Economist at the ADB, Mr Guntur Sugiyarto, believes that Pakistan needs to create evidence-based decision-making process to show not just the impact of mainstreaming women into economic development but also the impact on Pakistan’s economy and social fabric of not including women in the development process. ILO requirements, which now also have EU’s GSP backing, are also supportive of integrating women and provide frameworks that are good aids to start with.

Planning that takes everyone along and keeps in the forefront all Pakistanis is necessary when identifying opportunities that may be reaped from CPEC. Further, opening up about the details of CPEC will not only dispel insecurities and misunderstandings around it, but also allow everyone to be part of the planning process. The success of CPEC lies in Pakistanis being in the forefront to sustain it and ensure it succeeds. It would be flawed and simplistic to think that its sustainability and CPEC’s long-term success can be realised without involving Pakistan’s citizens, including women, directly. Taking women along, however, is not a revolutionary ask. International best practices and unambiguous evidence all point to the fact that gender mainstreaming is sensible, essential for real economic growth, sustainable development and of collective benefit to all.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 16th, 2018

The Indo-Pacific – A passage to Europe?

15 March 2018

Eva Pejsova

The new 'Indo-Pacific' is headed for an era of more open strategic rivalry. At the forefront, China’s progressive expansion into the Indian Ocean to secure its interests along its Maritime Silk Road connectivity initiative is raising concerns about its assertive foreign and security policy. On the other side, a more robust collaboration is emerging between the status quopowers (US, Japan, India and Australia - the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue), which are wary of preserving a rules-based liberal democratic order. The focus on connectivity and maritime security puts Europe on the spot: as the greatest trading power with an interest in regional stability, Brussels will have to take a stance.

This Brief sets the stage for an upcoming EUISS series entitled ‘Along the road’, which will examine the security implications of China’s Belt and Road (BRI) connectivity initiative. Through a collection of case studies from infrastructure projects and countries situated ‘Along the road’, this will seek to gather concrete evidence of the success or failure of Beijing’s new geopolitical project.

Download document

Thursday, March 15, 2018

China and Europe can work together on the Belt and Road Initiative

DISCLAIMER: All opinions in this column reflect the views of the author(s), not of PLC.

By H.E. Ambassador Zhang Ming

 Mar 15, 2018 (updated:  Mar 15, 2018)

Moderator and Editor-in-Chief of the South China Morning Post Tammy Tam, Chinese Ambassador to the US Cui Tiankai, Ant Financial Executive Chairman Lucy Peng, Paytm Founder and CEO Vijay Shekhar Sharma and Executive Vice Chairman and CEO of the Executive Office and Legal representative of the China Center for International Economic Exchanges Zhang Xiaoqiang speak in a discussion on China's Belt Road Initiative during the inaugural Bloomberg Global Business Forum in New York, September 2017. [EPA-EFE/ANDREW GOMBERT]


The Belt and Road Initiative is brand new and therefore enjoys huge potential. Yet, it will only be brought to full potential when all players come to realise its importance and take part in it, writes Zhang Ming.

Zhang Ming is Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary and Head of Mission of the People’s Republic of China to the European Union.

Last month, I had my first Chinese Spring Festival celebration in Brussels. It was unforgettable to see Chinese lanterns illuminating the Grand Place, the world’s most beautiful square as described by French writer Victor Hugo. It was exciting to see the Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert decorated with Chinese red lanterns, bringing a moment of happiness to my European friends. Again, I was fascinated by the perfect fusion of Chinese and European cultures.

More than 700 years ago, The Travels of Marco Polo invoked Europeans’ curiosity of the East. Numerous trailblazers made strenuous efforts to connect Europe with Asia, and finally, opened up the ancient Silk Road. Today, China and Europe are bound together by faster transportation, closer commercial ties, and more diverse cultural exchanges. Despite its long history, the spirit of the ancient Silk Road, namely the respect for diversity and the pursuit of common prosperity, is still alive and relevant.

Since it was launched over four years ago, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has received wide support from more than 100 countries and international organizations, more than 80 of which have signed BRI agreements with China. The first Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation held last year produced fruitful results, and contributed to a global consensus on Belt and Road cooperation.

China and Europe, each located at one end of the Silk Road, are natural partners on the BRI. With the joint efforts of both sides, the BRI and Europe’s development strategies are creating synergy. Governments of 11 EU member states have signed BRI cooperation documents with the Chinese government. The China-Europe express freight trains are busy traveling across the Eurasian continent. In 2017, a total of 3,673 trips were made, up by 116% from 2016 and exceeding the total number combined during the past six years. The train services reach 36 European cities in 13 countries and make the access of European goods to the Chinese market much easier.

In addition, a great number of projects are well underway, such as infrastructure, logistics, ports, e-commerce and finance. For instance, in Serbia, a Chinese enterprise bought a troubled steel mill and turned it around in less than a year. In Greece, the Port of Piraeus regained its position as one of the largest ports in Europe. In the United Kingdom, China is partnering with France to build a nuclear power plant, a stellar example of tripartite cooperation under the BRI. The Brussels-based economic think tank Bruegel estimates that the EU’s foreign trade will increase by 6% because of the BRI.

The BRI, as a brand new initiative, enjoys huge potential. Yet, its potential will be brought to full only when all players come to realize its importance and take part in it. To help you better understand this initiative, I would like to characterize it with three words.

First, openness. The BRI aims to promote economic cooperation through infrastructure connectivity and to bring about common development by leveraging the comparative strengths of all participants. As a global public good, the BRI follows the golden rule of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits. All parties get involved and gain benefits on an equal footing. The BRI is definitely not a unilateral strategy or China’s Marshall Plan, as some have called it. On the contrary, it is designed to promote cooperation that is open to all.

Second, transparency. The BRI is not a one-way street allowing only China to export its resources, market opportunities, technologies, projects, and manpower. Rather, it is based on wide consultation and communication. Our goal is not only to strengthen the physical connectivity of infrastructure but also to improve the institutional connectivity of rules and standards. All BRI projects have to go through well-informed feasibility studies conducted by interested parties and must follow market principles and international rules. All projects must be results-oriented, high-standard and sustainable.

Third, inclusiveness. The BRI aims to establish a regional economic cooperation platform that is inclusive, balanced and beneficial to all. It is not meant to reinvent the wheel. Rather, it seeks to complement the existing bilateral and regional cooperation mechanisms. As people say in Europe, “Rome wasn’t built in a day”. The BRI is such a great undertaking that it has to involve many participants, including those from Europe. While each participant comes from different backgrounds and has different needs, we respect such diversity and value flexibility in our cooperation instead of insisting on uniformity.

In our world today, protectionism and isolationism are still taking a toll. China, with its 40 years of reform and opening-up, has made its stance clear: openness brings progress, while self-seclusion leaves one behind. We remain committed to partnering with our European friends in an open spirit. Let’s consult, contribute and share together to make a success of the Belt and Road Initiative