Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Gwadar will be the economic funnel for the region

http://m.gulfnews.com/opinion/thinkers/gwadar-will-be-the-economic-funnel-for-the-region-1.2032494


The Pakistan port, operated by China, will also benefit countries in Central Asia and the Middle East as it helps unhindered flow of energy and goods

By Sajjad Ashraf, Special to Gulf News

16:43 May 24, 2017

Pakistan’s deep-sea port Gwadar, which the Chinese built and are now operating under a 40-year agreement, remains a subject of considerable interest for much of the world. The port, 605km east of the world’s biggest energy choke point — Straits of Hormuz, has a much bigger strategic dimension than earlier imagined. Nearly 20 per cent of the world’s traded oil and 77 per cent headed towards Asia-Pacific pass through the Straits everyday. Pakistan’s former president General Pervez Musharraf had described Gwadar as the “economic funnel for the whole region”. Gwadar shortens China’s route to the world by thousands of kilometres.

Gwadar’s importance increased manifold following China’s announcement of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) by President Xi Jinping in 2015 at an estimated cost of $45 billion (Dh165.51 billion). Additional projects have now raised the investment volume to $54 billion. As the southern terminal of the CPEC, close to the Straits of Hormuz, Gwadar assumes formidable importance in the high-stakes power game for strategic control of the Indian Ocean region.

Despite initial challenges, there is considerable optimism in its future because firstly the Chinese go full-steam once they take on a project. Secondly, Gwadar being a vital cog in the CPEC, China or Pakistan cannot afford its failure. The projected development of road, rail links, with oil and gas pipelines will convert Gwadar into a trans-shipment port for China and the Central Asian region.

Unconfirmed reports indicate that after senior Russian officials visited Gwadar, Pakistan has also acquiesced to Russia’s interest in using the port. Moscow’s gradual thaw towards Pakistan may also be a consequence of this mutual interest.

For Pakistan, Gwadar, with its industrial free zone is potentially the economic engine that can help shore up its faltering economy. The 923 hectares zone will be manufacturing hinterland for the Gwadar Port and will benefit countries of South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East. Gwadar’s location 460km west of Karachi decreases Pakistan’s vulnerability against India in case of another round of hostilities between the two neighbours. Along with the naval base at Ormara 349km west of Karachi, Pakistan will have an enhanced ability to eavesdrop on India’s naval manoeuvres in the Arabian Sea.

Underlying China’s need is the fact the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries together account for 60 per cent of China’s energy supplies. Nearly 75 per cent of China’s energy supplies pass through the Straits of Malacca. The US navy and its allies have a commanding presence in both the regions and can block China’s supplies. Beijing for now seems to be developing Gwadar to be a terminal of Iranian, GCC and African oil, which leaves open the possibility of Chinese naval units patrolling the areas around. While this may be the ostensible interest, it is likely that Iran’s gas and oil pipelines will extend to Gwadar through overland route to provide greater security to its supplies from the Gulf.

Gwadar’s importance to CPEC is logical — once developed, it will help spur economic growth in China’s western region through much shorter energy supply route and for exports from China through Gwadar into the Middle East and beyond.

Gwadar’s strategic significance is best understood as part of a growing Chinese acquisition of port facilities, often described as the “string of pearls” in the Indian Ocean region. Gwadar followed Chinese presence in Myanmar, Bangladesh, Seychelles and Sri Lanka, and will soon add Djibouti where a Chinese-built naval base is nearing completion.

The US and India are just about the only significant countries looking at the Chinese OBOR/CPEC initiative with scepticism. They believe that the twin initiative is meant more to secure China’s geo-strategic aims with political and security implications for them. Gwadar is therefore, viewed differently by either side.

Despite several Chinese overtures to join the CPEC, India believes that the initiative, of which Gwadar is a key component, is designed for strategic encirclement of India. The US is also wary of China supplanting American hegemony around the world.

In this game of power, the fact remains that the US, through its land and sea-based deployments, overwhelmingly dominates the oil-producing Middle East region and the sea lanes. No rapidly ascending power can accept to remain a hostage to such military dominance. Hence the Chinese attempts to break out of the US-imposed order.

Gwadar and the CPEC project offer several opportunities to the GCC countries. From nearly 15,000km distance between the UAE ports to Xingjiang in China, the Gwadar route will bring the shipping distance down to just about 2,500km. When the road, rail and energy pipelines are in place, Gwadar will offer the shortest and more secure route for the transportation of Gulf oil to China and goods either way, eliminating any danger of chocking at Malacca.

Gwadar therefore, offers a unique opportunity for not only China and Pakistan, but will also directly benefit countries in Central Asia and the Middle East. The unhindered and efficient flow of energy and goods will bring advantages of interdependence leading to peace and greater prosperity to the region.

Sajjad Ashraf is an adjunct professor at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore. He was a member of Pakistan Foreign Service from 1973-2008

CHINA’S NEW SILK ROAD MEETING ‘SUCCESSFUL’: SINGAPORE’S DEPUTY PM

http://m.scmp.com/week-asia/politics/article/2095521/chinas-new-silk-road-meeting-successful-says-singapores-deputy-pm


BY TEO CHEE HEAN24 MAY 2017

A week after the Singaporean PM’s absence from the Belt and Road Forum stirred debate regarding China-Singapore ties, his deputy Teo Chee Hean says the countries’ common interests outweigh ‘occasional differences’

 6

Singapore’s Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. Photo: AFP

I first visited China in 1984 and have had the opportunity to observe China’s transformation over many trips, interactions and exchanges. Most recently, over the past three months, I co-chaired two of our three main bilateral mechanisms with senior Chinese leaders.

The 13th Joint Council for Bilateral Cooperation in Beijing, which I co-chaired with Politburo Standing Committee member and Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli; and just last week, we welcomed Politburo member and Central Organisation Department Minister Zhao Leji for the 6th Singapore-China Forum on Leadership here in Singapore.

What Belt and Road snub means for Singapore’s ties with China

We had a wide-ranging exchange of views on issues of common interest between our two countries. Such dialogues reflect the high level of mutual trust between our countries, and our mutual desire to learn from the experiences of each other. It is a unique dialogue for both countries.

They also provide a valuable platform for a new generation of leaders from our two countries to develop a deeper understanding and appreciation for each other. Today, China’s weight in the world has undoubtedly grown – in the economic, social, international relations and political domains.

First, China’s economy. China’s growth moderated to about 6.7 per cent in 2016.

Chinese President Xi Jinping with world leaders at the Belt and Road Forum in Beijing. Singapore’s prime minister was not invited to the event. Photo: AFP

While it no longer enjoys the double-digit growth rates of the early decades of its economic opening, this is a more sustainable rate given the maturing Chinese economy. It is shifting from an economy characterised by low-wage labour towards innovation and productivity, and moving up the value chain. Skill and care are required to manage this transition.

 

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Within 10 years of joining the WTO in 2001, China had become the top trading partner for all key Asia-Pacific economies – Australia, Japan, the Republic of Korea, India and Asean.

For ASEAN, excluding intra-Asean trade, China is now Asean’s largest trading partner. In 2015, China accounted for 15 per cent of Asean’s trade, compared to just 4 per cent in 2001. Since 2015, China has also become a global player in a new dimension, as a net exporter of capital and investments.

China has also gone beyond being the “factory of the world” to creating global brands. Private enterprises especially in the digital economy such as WeChat and Didi Chuxing are transforming delivery of services within China and producing high-end products.

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At the same time, China is increasingly aware of the impact of its rapid economic growth on its environment. The government has started to take action domestically, and takes its responsibilities in the global arena seriously through its early ratification of the Paris Agreement on climate change. Chinese companies are now global leaders in clean technology, electric vehicles and batteries.

‘HUGE AND CHALLENGING TASK’

Meanwhile, China needs to restructure its economy and reduce excess capacity in certain key sectors, and transform its state-owned enterprises. This is a huge and challenging task.

We are optimistic that China will develop an innovative, productive economy with greater contribution from services and its private sector. A prosperous and stable China benefits the region and the world.

Second, on the social front, Chinese leaders are keenly aware of the domestic hot-button livelihood issues that they need to address, such as unemployment, inflation, housing and air pollution. China will face some headwinds to sustain its economic growth as its demographic profile changes. China’s population is ageing fast. Nearly 15 per cent are over 60 years old, and by 2030, it will be 25 per cent. Its workforce growth is also slowing and will plateau. This will pose major challenges to family and social structures, and healthcare and pension systems.

Singapore's Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean delivers a speech at the 20th anniversary of the East Asian Institute think tank. File photo

The Chinese Government will need to cater to the younger generations of Chinese who have higher aspirations and expectations than their parents.

Many of these social challenges are not unique and Singapore too faces these issues. A comparative study of how these challenges are being addressed in East Asian societies, which have similar societal norms and values, would be quite instructive and help inform family and social policy in East Asia, including China. I also co-chair the Singapore-China Social Governance Forum with Politburo member and Political and Legal Affairs Commission Secretary Meng Jianzhu, where we share our experiences and exchange views on how we can address some of the common challenges in our changing social landscape. We hope to continue these mutually beneficial exchanges for a long time.

CHINA’S INTERNATIONAL ROLE

Third, as China grows in economic and military weight, it will play a more significant international role. China has launched the Belt and Road initiative and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) to connect countries across various regions. Singapore supports both initiatives. We saw early on how these initiatives will encourage further economic integration and infrastructure development. Beijing recently held a successful “Belt and Road” Forum. President Xi Jinping’s pledge of over US$100 billion for Belt and Road infrastructure projects over 56 economic zones in 20 countries was very well-received. China’s initiatives will benefit our region and countries along the Belt and Road, where there is significant demand for infrastructure funding.

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Furthermore, in spite of the global uncertainties over trade protectionism, China has embarked on the key tasks of internationalising the Renminbi and supporting global trade. By 2015, the Renminbi was the fifth most used currency for payments. Hong Kong, London and Singapore are now the three largest Renminbi clearing centres. Since 2016, the Renminbi has been included in the IMF basket of reserve currencies. The internationalisation of the Renminbi will provide more opportunities for Chinese companies to venture overseas, and work with other companies in third markets.

Members of a Chinese military honour guard outside the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. China saw its budget increase by 7 per cent to some US$150 billion this year. Photo: AFP

In defence, China saw its budget increase by 7 per cent to some US$150 billion this year. To provide some context, though it is the second highest in the world, it is about a quarter of the US defence budget of US$600 billion.

Under President Xi Jinping’s plans to streamline and upgrade the Chinese People’s Liberation Army, the PLA Navy has been undergoing major developments to bring it closer to being able to operate beyond the near waters to more distant waters. As the major trading nation that China has become in the last twenty years, China will increasingly depend on international cooperation and conventions to ensure that its shipping and goods can proceed unhindered in all parts of the world. Recent deployments by the PLA Navy to join other navies, to protect international shipping against piracy in the Gulf of Aden are a case in point. No country can do this alone.

The Singapore Navy too worked with the Chinese Navy in the Gulf of Aden. The Chinese frigate Huangshan that visited Changi Naval Base last week was one of the PLA Navy ships that our Navy had frequent interactions with in the Gulf of Aden.

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Singapore Navy ships also visit China frequently; our frigate RSS Steadfast visited Shanghai last September and conducted a bilateral exercise with the Chinese frigate Jingzhou.

China is also developing its cultural products such as in the arts and film. Many of these Chinese works are widely available on various online media platforms. It has about 480 Confucius Institutes globally facilitating cultural exchanges and the learning of the Chinese language.

POLITICAL EVOLUTION

Fourth, political evolution in China. The 19th National Congress later this year will shape the political landscape in China for the next decade. President Xi has already taken important steps to strengthen party discipline through his anti-corruption drive and re-organised key State and Party institutions, including the People’s Liberation Army. The Communist Party of China (or “CPC” in short) has made great efforts to update itself. I have visited the Central Party School in Beijing as well as the three executive leadership academies in Yan’an, Pudong and Jinggangshan. The CPC is building the capabilities of its cadres to lead a modern economy, a population with raised aspirations, and a society that already has more than 730 million people connected to the internet. At the same time, it is re-visiting key inflexion points in its history such as the Long March in the mid-1930s, to renew and re-dedicate itself to values which have bonded the Party and the people.

Chinese President Xi Jinping addresses the Belt and Road forum. Photo: AFP

At the CPC’s 95th anniversary in 2016, President Xi urged the CPC to “listen to the voice of the times”, be innovative in theory and in practice, and adapt the CPC’s founding ideology to the current development realities and priorities in China. I am optimistic about China’s potential to continually reinvent itself and play a greater leadership role both within the region and globally.

SINGAPORE-CHINA RELATIONS

Singapore-China relations have been aptly characterised as an “All-Round Cooperative Partnership Progressing with the Times”, during President Xi Jinping’s State Visit to Singapore in conjunction with 25 years of diplomatic relations in 2015. This reflects the depth, breadth and strength of our long-standing bilateral ties, and the bright prospects for the future. Singapore and China have worked closely together, and Singapore has been a consistent friend and supporter of China’s peaceful development. Each of our Government-to-Government projects, namely the Suzhou Industrial Park, the Tianjin Eco-City, and the Chongqing Connectivity Initiative, and major platforms such as the Leadership Forum and Social Governance Forum, have supported China’s developmental priorities at key stages. Singapore and China have a broad and longstanding relationship.

We share similar views on most issues, and have worked well together to advance these common interests. But even among close neighbours and friends, there may be different perspectives on some issues, given that countries are of different sizes, have different histories, vulnerabilities, and geographical location.

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But the fundamental position of our two countries, that we share a common interest in the peaceful growth and development of our two countries and the region remains the same. Our common interest in building a peaceful and growing region is much greater than any occasional differences of views. Singapore will continue to be a strong and principled supporter of China’s peaceful development and constructive engagement in the region.

With that, I have three hopes for China: First, for a China that is stable and prosperous, even more integrated with the region and the world; Second, a China which continues to contribute to developing international norms and rules for the benefit of all, in order to preserve peace, stability, growth and development. Third, for a China that draws on its long history and deep culture to find a harmonious blend with modernity, as China continues making its societal transformation.

The East Asian story is an exciting and dynamic one, continuing to unfold. China is a key player in the story, and Singapore is a part of this great drama.

Teo Chee Hean is deputy prime minister of Singapore. This is an edited excerpt of Teo’s speech at the 20th anniversary celebrations of the city state’s East Asian Institute on Wednesday

China stresses role of Belt and Road Initiative in UN 2030 Agenda

http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2017-05/24/c_136311484.htm


Source: Xinhua| 2017-05-24 17:22:27|Editor: Mengjie

UNITED NATIONS, May 23 (Xinhua) -- China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative contributes to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, said Liu Jieyi, China's permanent representative to the United Nations, at the UN Economic and Social Council forum on financing for development Tuesday.

"Four years on, the Belt and Road Initiative abides by the principle of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits, strongly promote infrastructure development and connectivity, the alignment of development strategies among countries and enhance coordinated development," Liu said.

The Chinese envoy said the initiative has gained support from more than 100 countries and international organizations. So far, China has signed cooperation agreements with over 40 countries and international organizations, and established industrial capacity cooperation mechanisms with more than 30 countries.

Between 2014 and 2016, total trade volume between China and other Belt and Road countries exceeded 3 trillion U.S dollars, Liu said.

China's overall investment in these countries surpassed 50 billion dollars, and Chinese companies set up 56 economic and trade cooperation zones in over 20 countries, generating some 1.1 billion dollars in tax revenue and 180,000 jobs, according to the Chinese envoy.

The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank has provided 1.7 billion dollars in loans to nine projects carried out in Belt and Road participating countries while the investment from the Silk Road Fund has amounted to 4 billion dollars. "All these efforts contribute to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda," he said.

In the Silk Road spirit of peace and cooperation, openness and inclusiveness, mutual learning and mutual benefits, the forum on financing for development reached a multitude of fruitful outcomes, said Liu.

Liu told the meeting that financing for development is an important means of implementation for the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

He called on participating countries to carry forward global economic governance and foster an international environment conducive to the development of developing countries.

"(China) expresses its sincere appreciation to South Africa and Belgium for their efforts as the co-facilitators" he said, adding that "international community should strengthen global cooperation for development, and help developing countries as they strive to meet the SDGs(Sustainable Development Goals).

US revives two key infrastructure projects in Asia: Five things to know

http://indianexpress.com/article/world/us-revives-two-key-infrastructure-projects-in-asia-five-things-to-know-4671749/

By: Express Web Desk | Washington |Published On: May 24, 2017 5:45 Pm

US President Donald Trump (File Photo)

In what could counter China’s ambitious One Belt One Road project, the US has moved to revive two large-scale infrastructure projects in South Asia and Southeast Asia, and India could play a key role in the plans. The Donald Trump administration has sought to revive the New Silk Road initiative. The plan was announced in July 2011 by then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Chennai. It has also sought to revive the Indo-Pacific Economic Corridor that connects South Asia and South East Asia.

1. The Trump administration in its maiden budget briefly outlined the plans on Tuesday. The budget indicated that NSR will likely be a public-private partnership project. India could also be a key player in that initiative.

2. James McBride of the Council on Foreign Relations explains that the NSR refers to suite of joint investment projects and regional trade blocs that have the potential to bring economic growth and stability to Central Asia. McBride said that post the 2009 surge of troops in Afghanistan, “Washington began to lay out a strategy for supporting these initiative through diplomatic means”.

3. The NSR project had hit roadblocks in Obama’s second term with John Kerry running the state department. However, it seems, the Trump administration is looking at the option of economic diplomacy in South, Southeast and Central Asia. China’s OBOR is an example of how geoeconomics and economic diplomacy can be a good alternative to geostrategy in order to gain regional control.

4. While NSR will be focused primarily on connecting Afghanistan with its neighbouring countries, the Indo-Pacific Economic Corridor will link South Asia with Southeast Asia. The support for the budgetary requests, according to the US state department, will be leveraged via side-by-side collaboration with regional countries. It will also raise support from bilateral donors, multilateral development banks as well as private sector players.

5. Afghanistan remains the key area of focus for the US. India enjoys close ties with Afghanistan and has contributed massively in helping the country in some of its key infrastructure projects. The state department said that the importance of the NSR grows in light of the transition happening in Afghanistan. It added that the US “strives to help the Afghan people succeed and stand on their own.”

US to revive Asian infra projects to counter China

https://www.newsbytesapp.com/timeline/World/7299/42960/how-the-us-is-countering-obor/lite?redirect=1



24 May 2017 | By Gaurav Jeyaraman | PC: 

The Trump administration has revived 2 infrastructure projects in Asia, providing brief details in their maiden annual budget.

The New Silk Road initiative, announced when Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State and the Indo-Pacific Economic Corridor have both been resuscitated. India will play a key role in both.

The projects are seen as a means to counter Chinese influence through the OBOR.

Context: How the US is countering OBOR?

24 May 2017: US to revive Asian infra projects to counter China

OBOR: What is OBOR?

China announced the One Belt One Road initiative as a means to improve trade connections between Asia and Europe.

The ambitious project envisages creation of several trade corridors on land and across the sea, to ultimately link the trade between South Asia, Central Asia and Eastern Europe.

India is opposed to one of the projects as it runs through PoK.

NSR: What is the New Silk Road initiative?

The NSR initiative was announced by Hillary Clinton in July 2011, in Chennai.

The initiative primarily seeks to improve Afghanistan's connectivity with its neighbourhood, by becoming a transit hub for energy and goods trade.

She emphasized on building economic corridors across India, Pakistan, Afghanistan up to Central Asia to consolidate trade between these countries.

Fact: Clinton on the NSR

"Turkmen gas fields could help meet both Pakistan's and India's growing energy needs and provide transit revenues for Afghanistan and Pakistan. Tajik cotton could be turned into Indian linens. Furniture, fruit from Afghanistan could find its way to markets of Astana or Mumbai and beyond."

Implementation: How will the projects be implemented?

PC: 

According to officials in the Trump administration, their budgetary allocation will help support the projects.

They will implement in collaboration with regional partners in bilateral or multilateral mechanisms.

They will also use assistance from development banks. They said that the private sector will play a major role in realizing these two projects.

IPEC: The Indo-Pacific Economic Corridor

The IPEC was initially proposed during the US rebalancing and pivot to Asia strategy which began in late 2011.

The concept sought to improve economic and trade linkages between South Asia and South East Asia, and eventually link South Asia to the Pacific states.

This involved development of new ports, road transit corridors etc. India would play a key role in the project

US revives New Silk Road with India playing big part: Is this a snub to China and CPEC?

http://www.ibtimes.co.in/us-revives-new-silk-road-india-playing-big-part-this-snub-china-cpec-728006



The US has brought back the New Silk Road and the Indo-Pacific Economic Corridor, both of which could challenge China's bid for regional supremacy. Read to know more.

Arkadev Ghoshal

 

May 24, 2017 21:28 IST

[Representational image]Flickr

Southern and South-Eastern Asia is now broadly divided into two sections, with India and its allies on one side and Pakistan, China and their allies on the other. This has become all the more apparent in recent times due to China's persistent denial of India's appeals for a seat in the Nuclear Suppliers' Group (NSG), and the developments surrounding the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

Now, it seems that India has a new and much stronger ally in the United States, with the Donald Trump administration reviving the New Silk Road project, in which India is slated to play a major part. It would give India a much bigger role in the region, rivalling that of China. 

What is the New Silk Road?

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According to the US State Department: "The New Silk Road initiative was first envisioned in 2011 as a means for Afghanistan to integrate further into the region by resuming traditional trading routes and reconstructing significant infrastructure links broken by decades of conflict." Hillary Clinton, who was Secretary of State back then, had spoken about it. 

The department adds about the project: "With multiple transitions underway in Afghanistan, the United States and its allies can bolster peace and stability in the region by supporting a transition to trade and helping open new markets connecting Afghanistan to Central Asia, Pakistan, India and beyond."

[Representational image]Creative Commons

How it helps India

A new "Silk Road" of US making directly conflicts the "One Belt One Road" idea China was promulgating while promoting the CPEC. The new initiative means China will no more have the say in the projects on the Belt and Road Initiative, since it may not be the only project around that count.

And as if that was not enough, the US has also brought back the Indo-Pacific Economic Corridor, which links South Asia with Southeast Asia. This entirely bypasses China, which is in East Asia, while keeping India at the centre of the action. Also, both projects keep Pakistan in play, amid fears that the CPEC alone could have helped 

For all the chest-thumping, India cannot win a war against Pakistan

https://qz.com/990579/for-all-the-chest-thumping-india-cannot-win-a-war-against-pakistan/

Raghu Raman 

May 24, 2017

Who is mightier? (AP Photo/Vincent Thian)

In the 1983 film WarGames, a nuclear war simulation is accidentally started by a supercomputer designed to take over in the event of the Cold War spiralling out of control. After evaluating all the possibilities, the computer declares that “war is a strange game, in which the only winning move—is not to play.” That advice is possibly truest for India right now.

For all the xenophobic war mongering touted in every medium, India cannot “win” a war against Pakistan and the sooner we appreciate this politico-military reality, the more coherent and serious we will sound to our adversaries and the world community. The demands for a “once and for all” resolution of Kashmir/Pakistan emanating from several quarters, which surprisingly includes some veterans—equating India’s non-retaliation with impotence—perhaps don’t factor the larger picture and the stark truth of modern military warfare.

Matter of fact, short of total genocide, no country regardless of its war-withal can hope to achieve a decisive victory with a “short war” in today’s world. As the US is discovering eight years, trillion dollars, and over 25,000 casualties later—in Afghanistan. That era of “decisive” short wars, especially in the Indo-Pak context, is largely over because of several reasons.

Firstly, the much vaunted Indian military superiority is largely an accounting subterfuge. Sure we have more soldiers, tanks, aircraft, and ships than Pakistan, but banking on mere numbers is misleading and irrelevant in military strategy. Pakistan has successfully locked down over 30% of our army in internal counter insurgency roles that not only sucks in combat troops from their primary roles for prolonged periods, but also alienates the local population in the valley.

The major reason for the Pakistani Op Gibraltar’s failure in 1965 was the overwhelming loyalty of Kashmiri locals towards India. Disguised Pakistani troops who had infiltrated into the valley to incite rebellions were caught by the locals and promptly handed over to the Indian security forces. Fifty years later, sentiment in the valley is very different. And this “turning move” has been achieved by Pakistan with a ridiculously low investment of merely a few hundred terrorists and psychological operations.

Another substantial part of our army is locked down in the North East insurgency and we are still trying to build adequate force levels against our much stronger adversary all along our border with China. India’s Chinese front is in a tenuous state because of decades of neglect and the massive infrastructure China has built to be able to mobilise several divisions in a matter of hours into that theatre.

Most worryingly, Pakistan and China have achieved military interoperability, which is the capability of their two armies to execute joint missions against a common target. Decades of mutual cooperation, technology transfer, training, equipment sales, and of course a common enemy, have welded our two adversaries into a formidable joint force. Pakistan’s accelerated achievements in nuclear technology, missile delivery systems, logistic supply chain of equipment, and spares as well as new-age technologies such as cyber and drone warfare are all the result of cooperation between the two countries.

In contrast, India has not even been able to integrate its three services, what to speak of assimilation with political leadership, industry, academia and indigenous defence capabilities. As Praveen Sahwney points out in his book “The Dragon on our doorsteps,” India has primarily focused on developing its military arsenal whereas Pakistan and China have been developing war waging capabilities, which is a synthesis of many strengths other than just military force.

Secondly, Pakistan has leveraged its geopolitical position far more strategically than India has been able to. India has traditionally relied on moral high ground to achieve global consensus and support. In the aftermath of the Cold War, the world’s largest democracy, wedged in between a communist adversary and a rapidly radicalising Islamic nation got global mindshare and sympathy. Though none of that translated into meaningful benefits for India per se, our foreign policy continues to have the hangover of “doing the right thing.” Unfortunately, in the harsh reality of the contemporary world that doesn’t count for much.

Russia, our traditional all-weather friend, has far greater bonhomie with both the US and China than ever before. The US needs Pakistan to achieve closure in Afghanistan so much so, that despite the blatant betrayal of shielding America’s public enemy number one, Osama bin Laden, the US has no choice but to continue supporting Pakistan financially and militarily. On the other hand Pakistan’s dependence on the US has reduced dramatically with China filling in the gap.

China’s “One Belt One Road” project coursing through the length of Pakistan has pretty much made the two permanent partners. China’s economic aspirations and access to the Arabian Sea through Baluchistan ending at Gwadar port is a strategic masterstroke by Pakistan and China. Not only is it a win-win for them but it is also a “lose-lose” for India for many reasons.

Firstly, the only area where India could try a meaningful riposte to Pakistan-sponsored insurgency would be Baluchistan. By tying in China’s stake of keeping Baluchistan under control, Pakistan has made it extraordinarily difficult for India to make any aggressive move in its south without threatening Chinese interests. The same is true for any Indian military action in the theatres of Kashmir or Punjab. Any Indian operation that endangers thousands of Chinese citizens working on the CPEC project in Pakistan will draw the wrath of China and give them the loco standi to initiate hostilities against India. So beyond shallow skirmishes all along the border, India really has no operational or strategic options without the risk of drawing China into a two-front war.

Pakistan has correctly appreciated that the force levels which India will be able to muster against it will be more or less evenly matched, and in the event of Indo-Pak hostilities, they can depend on China for their logistics supply chain as well as splitting the Indian armed forces’ resources and focus by mobilising PLA divisions along the border with India. This would in effect, pin down a substantial part of the Indian Army’s reserves to cater for the eastern front.

Also, now there too many stakeholders dependent on the success of the “One Belt One Road”/CPEC project and any disturbance in this area would be attributed to India’s truculence rather than Pakistan’s interference into Kashmir. China combine has positioned the OBOR as an Asian developmental initiative, whereas the Kashmir problem has been positioned as a bilateral local issue—by none other than India itself. So, rather than looking like the visionary big player in the Asian growth story, India is at the risk of being perceived as the obdurate party incapable of setting aside bilateral issues for the larger good of the region. And with dark clouds hovering over their own respective challenges, none of the world’s major powers, the US, UK, Russia or France, will have the gumption to interfere militarily in an Indo-Pak conflict that has the potential to draw in the fifth permanent member of the UN Security Council.

Politically too, India is in no position to consider a short war. The current political dispensation is only just gathering momentum on its electoral manifestoes, the lynchpin of which is economic development. That necessitates a stable and peaceful environment. War clouds are an antithesis for economic investments. Even preparation for war costs billions of dollars in terms of resources and mindshare, a diversion that India can scarcely afford when millions of youth are entering the job market whose un-channelised energies is another potential risk.

For a nation to go to war, all its pillars of strength, including its military, economic prowess, industrial capability, external alliances and national will must be aligned in a singular direction to achieve meaningful success. War waging is not about bombastic threats, surgical strikes, cross-border firing or clamorous bellowing on TV channels. That is called letting off steam. There is an old couplet by Ramdhari Dinkar which suggests that forgiveness befits a snake which has venom in its bite—not one which is weak, toothless, and harmless. To be taken seriously, India needs to build that strength first rather than spewing ineffectual rhetoric.

This post first appeared on Medium. We welcome your comments at ideas.india@qz.com.

CPEC may create more India-Pakistan tension: UN 

https://www.dawn.com/news/1335064

report

DAWN.COM | THE NEWSPAPER'S REPORTER

ISLAMABAD: The India-Pakistan dispute over Kashmir is a matter of concern, according to a United Nations (UN) report, claiming that the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) might create geopolitical tensions with India and ignite political instability.

The report released by the UN’s Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (Escap) on Tuesday feared that Afghanistan’s political instability could limit the potential benefits of transit corridors to population centres near Kabul or Kandahar.

The report, ‘The Belt and Road Initiative and the Role of Escap' was prepared at China’s request and covers the six economic corridors spanning Asia, Europe and Africa under the umbrella of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

CPEC holds the promise of closer trade, investment and energy cooperation between the two countries, as it creates alternative maritime trade routes for China and its trading partners, it said. According to the report, CPEC could serve as the “driver for trade and economic integration” between China, Pakistan, Iran, India, Afghanistan and the Central Asian states.

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Incensed India

India did not send an official delegation to attend the “Belt and Road Forum” (OBOR) in Beijing after the Chinese Ambassador to India Luo Zhaohui called on India to join.

Instead, India criticised China's global initiative, warning of an “unsustainable debt burden” for countries involved.

India is incensed that the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor ─ one of the key Belt and Road projects ─ passes through Kashmir and Pakistan.

“No country can accept a project that ignores its core concerns on sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Indian foreign ministry spokesman Gopal Baglay said.

He also warned of the danger of debt. One of the criticisms of the Silk Road plan is that host countries may struggle to pay back loans for huge infrastructure projects being carried out and funded by Chinese companies and banks.

“Connectivity initiatives must follow principles of financial responsibility to avoid projects that would create an unsustainable debt burden for communities,” Baglay said.

'Shared prosperity'

On the other hand, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif insisted that the CPEC and OBOR initiatives were all about shared prosperity, beginning a new era for humanity and progress in poor regions.

“Work has already begun across Asia and Africa on infrastructure, industrial cooperation and new platforms of technology. Financial flows have found their way to some of the least developed parts of the world. These outcomes are knitting nations and regions into economic networks and inclusive neighbourhoods that transcend borders,” he said while addressing the second session of the Leaders Roundtable at the two-day Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation.

He added that the core of the OBOR initiative was connectivity and long-term development, especially in developing countries.

Similarly, China’s regional governments are falling over each other to curry favour with President Xi Jinping, jostling for roles in his New Silk Road plan to boost economic and cultural links through Asia to Europe.

One says it wants to send its young people to be Silk Road “super connectors”, while a second is pitching to become a new home for foreign consulates. Another wants to build a folk museum to commemorate Beijing’s overseas push.

While official plans published in 2015 only list 18 provinces as areas key to the plan, over 30 of China’s territories now say they have an OBOR strategy

Good read: BALOCHISTAN

http://www.vartaa.in/article/b3b9e4b46812f2db9af29be2a51adbd5

From: Indian Express By: Published at: August 25, 2016

UpVote DownVote

Prime Minister Narendra Modi ’s Independence Day speech from the Red Fort mentioning Balochistan has set in motion a debate on motives, linkages with Jammu & Kashmir and whether India can stay the course.

However, the moot point being missed is the legal status of Balochistan. The whole issue hinges on whether or not Kalat (as Balochistan was then called) was an Indian princely state or an independent non-Indian state under British rule. If it is the latter, then clearly what the Baloch nationalists say about Pakistan’s illegal occupation has merit.

The British came into contact with Kalat in 1839 seeking passage and provisions during the disastrous first Afghan war. The British signed treaties with the Khan of Kalat in 1839, 1841, 1854, 1862 and 1876. While each treaty eroded the Khan’s sphere of action and the territories of the Khanate, all of them essentially recognised his independence. For example, the agreement of 1862 called the Khanate a neighbouring state of India and the 1876 treaty acknowledged the Khan as an independent ruler, an ally and a friendly neighbour.

The legal status of Kalat as an independent state continued till 1947. It was on this basis that the Khan never joined the Chamber of Princes in Delhi and always maintained that they were not a part of Britain’s Indian empire. While the 560-odd princely states in India belonged to Category A and were dealt with by the political department, states like Kalat, Nepal, Bhutan and Sikkim, were Category B states and dealt with by the external affairs department.

However, for reasons that are not very clear, the Government Of India Act, 1935 treated the Khanate as a part of India. In protest, the Khan wrote to the British government demanding that the “restrictions and conditions imposed, contrary to the terms of the treaty of 1876… may be withdrawn and rescinded and the independence of the Kalat government may be honoured scrupulously in accordance with the treaty.” After his protest, on June 10, 1939, the British government informed the Khan that “His Excellency recognises the treaty of 1876 as fully valid in every respect and that it would henceforth form the relations between the British and Kalat.”

In March 1946, the Khan submitted a memorandum to the Cabinet Mission through his lawyer — none other than Muhammad Ali Jinnah. The memorandum argued that: “On the transference of power in British India, the subsisting treaties between the Khan of Kalat and the British government would come to an end, and whatever obligations have been imposed on the Khan by these treaties will ipso facto terminate. The consequence will be that the state of Kalat will become fully sovereign and independent in respect of both external and internal matters.”

As the Cabinet Mission could not find flaws with the legality of the demand, it left the issue unresolved. At a round table conference held in Delhi on August 4, 1947 — attended by Lord Mountbatten, the Khan of Kalat and Jinnah — it was decided that the “Kalat State will be independent, enjoying the same status as it originally held in 1838.” Jinnah also signed a standstill agreement with the Khan on August 4, 1947. According to it, “The government of Pakistan recognises Kalat as an independent sovereign state in treaty relations with the British government, with a status different from that of Indian states.”

Thereafter, the Khan declared the independence of Kalat on August 12, 1947, two days before the creation of Pakistan. The independence, however, was short-lived. At the end of March 1948, Pakistan occupied Kalat and forced the Khan to sign the instrument of accession.

From the evidence, it is clear that Kalat was not an Indian state. Thus, legally at least, Pakistan’s occupation of Balochistan is dubious at best, illegal at worst. In either case, there is merit in the argument of the Baloch nationalists that Balochistan is not an internal matter of Pakistan. As Jinnah argued before the Cabinet Mission, the association of Balochistan with India was “merely due to its connection with the British government.”

It is one of the ironies of history that Jinnah, who as Kalat’s lawyer had argued for its independence and as governor general-designate of Pakistan agreed to its independence, was later to force its accession to Pakistan

Chinese family abducted from Quetta

https://www.thenews.com.pk/latest/206375-Chinese-family-abducted-from-Quetta


QUETTA: A Chinese family including husband, wife and their child, was abducted from Quetta’s Jinnah Town area on Wednesday.

DIG Quetta said those abducted include a couple and their minor child, however he does not verify their nationality.

A private TV channel reported the couple was Chinese citizens.

The foreign nationals went to have lunch at a local restaurant when the incident took place.

Police said unknown abductors put the foreigners into a vehicle at gunpoint and drove away.

A local man, likely the guard of the foreigners, sustained injuries when he resisted the kidnapping.

Officials have not yet confirmed the identity and nationality of the abductees.

Police have launched investigation into the incident.

Balochistan government spokesman told Reuters, "A Chinese couple has been kidnapped and their personal guard was injured during the incident."

Many Chinese nationals are working in the country at China-Pakistan Economic Corridor projects.

China´s ambassador to Pakistan and other officials have urged Islamabad to improve security, especially in Balochistan

Chinese nationals kidnapped in Balochistan

http://www.thehindu.com/news/international/chinese-nationals-kidnapped-in-balochistan/article18559510.ece

KARACHI, MAY 24, 2017 16:30 IST

UPDATED: MAY 24, 2017 16:36 IST

Three Chinese nationals were kidnapped by unknown people at gunpoint in Quetta, Balochistan, police said on Wednesday.

According to police, four men in an unregistered Grey Corollo abducted Li Xin Heng, Meng Li and Lu Ling - who work as instructors in a local Chinese language centre. Tahir, a passerby was injured in the firing that ensued when he tried to resist the abduction. He is out of danger, doctors said.

Police have surrounded the area and are conducting search operations. Balochistan Chief Minister Sanaullah Zehri has directed the police and agencies to ensure their immediate recovery.

Balochistan province has seen a sharp increase in Chinese visitors over the past couple of years as Pakistan and China are working closely on the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC

The Centaurus’ to support 100 children of Balochistan

https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/206299-The-Centaurus-to-support-100-children-of-Balochistan


Islamabad

The management of the ‘The Centaurus’ mall has decided to take responsibility of bearing expenses on education of 100 needy children of Balochistan.  In this connection, Sardar Muhammad Yasir Ilyas, the group director of Pak-Gulf Construction Company handed over a check to Rear Admiral Asif Khaliq, a senior officer of Pakistan Navy. The assistance is part of business group’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programme.  On this occasion, Sardar Yasir Ilyas said the Pak-Gulf Construction Company along with bringing in foreign investment and promoting the business sector of Pakistan would continue to work for social uplift of country and its people.  It may be pointed out here that Pakistan Navy has been executing various projects on health and educational uplift of people of Balochistan particularly those living in coastal areas of the province

‘Banks in Balochistan shy away from financing SMEs’

https://www.dawn.com/news/1334952/banks-in-balochistan-shy-away-from-financing-smes


SALEEM SHAHIDUPDATED ABOUT 6 HOURS AG

QUETTA: The State Bank of Pakistan has taken serious initiatives for the development of the SME sector with regard to banks financing, however banks in Balo­chistan are not taking required interest despite very secure incentives given by the central bank, SBP Additional Director, Infra­stru­­cture Housing and SME (Kara­chi) Imran Ahmed on Tuesday.

Mr Ahmed was addressing the SME and Agriculture Finance Mela as the chief guest.

The full day event was organised by the State Bank of Pakistan in collaboration with Zarai Taraqiati Bank, Quetta Chamber of Commerce and Industry, provincial government departments, Smeda and local entrepreneurs.

“During a recent visit, the SBP governor has also desired all banks in Quetta to play their due role in credit expansion and financial inclusion of people here,” the chief guest said.

ARTICLE CONTINUES AFTER AD

The SBP will strictly monitor the disbursement targets of banks fixed for the Small and Medium Enterprise sector, he added.

Chief Manager SBP BSC Quetta Sajid Ali Shah stressed the banks for enhancement of loan disbursement to the agriculture and SME sector and take due advantage of the credit schemes offered by the central bank.

He said banks should identify sectors – especially minerals, agriculture, fruit processing, cold storages and livestock farming in Balochistan – and tap these to disburse loans.

He added the banks should not mark the SME sector as high risk rather a cash flow based lending approach may be adopted.

A small brief of SBP refinancing schemes for modernising plants and machinery was also presented.

Earlier, President Quetta Chamber of Commerce and Industry Abdul Wadood Achakzai said the banks are not providing required financing needs to traders, industrialists and farmers of the province as per need

Mastermind’ of major terror attacks in Balochistan held

https://tribune.com.pk/story/1417536/big-catch-mastermind-major-terror-attacks-balochistan-held/


By Mohammad Zafar

Published: May 24, 2017

Balochistan Home Minister Sarfaraz Bugti . PHOTO: INP/FILE

QUETTA: The man who ‘masterminded’ the most brutal terrorists attacks in Balochistan province has been arrested by the law-enforcement agencies (LEAs), claims Sarfaraz Bugti, the Home Minister.

“We have booked Syed Ahmed alias Taqwa, the mastermind behind the last year’s major terrorist attacks in Balochistan,” said Bugti on Tuesday while addressing a news conference in Quetta alongside Balochistan Inspector General Police Ahsan Mehboob.

Syed Ahmed, according to the home minister, is the architect of attacks, including the August 8 massacre of lawyers, the October 26 killing of police cadets and the November 12 blast at Shah Noorani shrine. More than 180 people had been killed and hundreds of others injured in these attacks, claimed by the outlawed Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) and Islamic State (IS).

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61 killed, at least 165 injured as militants storm police training centre in Quetta

“He has confessed to planning a number of attacks including those on Quetta lawyers, cadet’s at the police training centre and Shah Noorani shrine,” said the home minister about the arrested terrorist.

“He also plotted the targeted killing of Barrister Amanullah Achakzai, Balochistan Bar Association’s former president Bilal Anwer Kasi and police and Frontier Corps officials,” claimed Bugti.

A resident of Quetta, the accused first joined the outlawed Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and then started working for the LeJ as well, he said.

Six militants involved in Quetta blasts caught, says Bugti

During the press conference, a confessional video was also shown in which Syed Ahmed – flanked by two other men with faces covered – revealed that he joined the TTP in 2014 and went to Waziristan and Afghanistan for training. Later, he was selected as a member of the TTP’s Balochistan wing.

“After the killing of Barrister Amanullah Achakzai, we decided to target the lawyers’ community in big numbers and plotted the August 8 attack,” Syed Ahmed said, also confessing to his involvement in several other incidents of targetted killing of policemen and the FC personnel.

Answering a question about the kidnapping of Secretary Higher Education Abdullah Jan, the home minister said the civil administration and security forces had closed in on the kidnappers, who would soon be apprehended.

‘Mastermind’ of Quetta hospital carnage eliminated

He said the forces had taken measure that helped them unearth elements behind the brutal attacks. “And soon other accomplices of Syed Ahmed will also be apprehended,” he added.

Lauding police, Levies and the FC for rounding up the culprits involved in such high-profile terrorist activities, Bugti said the government would soon increase salaries of the personnel of LEAs in the province.

He said efforts were also being made to improve professional capacity of the LEAs, and all available resources were being utilised in this regard. “Balochistan government will continue the war against terrorism, with the help of the LEAs and the federal government,” he added

Huge network of target killers busted in Balochistan

http://pakobserver.net/huge-network-target-killers-busted-balochistan/
  

Staff Reporter

Quetta

A huge network of target killers was busted as the Law Enforcement Agencies arrested on Tuesday two top commanders, along with their accomplices, of a proscribed organisation in the south-western province.

According to sources, the suspects were involved in perpetuating terrorist attacks, including target killings, throughout the province and were facilitators in above 24 militant attacks.

The sources further informed that confessional video statements have been released of the suspects.
Home Minister Sarfraz Bugti lauded the raid by the security forces which unearthed the network.
Bugti said that one of the caught commanders, Saeed Ahmed alias Taqwi is the mastermind behind the civil hospital tragedy which claimed more than 70 lives, mostly from the lawyers’ fraternity.
The home minister said that efforts are underway for the recovery for Secretary Higher Education, who was abducted in March 2017, by unknown men from the provincial capital.
He expressed determination that the authorities won’t rest until the last terrorist is caught from the province.
Balochistan — Pakistan’s largest province in terms of land area — has been plagued by an insurgency and sectarian killings for several years now. However, security forces have conducted effective operations across the province cracking down on militants.
This has led to a considerable drop in militancy in the province but scattered attacks are still reported at times

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Tokyo’s shift on AIIB based on economics

http://www.globaltimes.cn/content/1048301.shtml

By Li Ruoyu Source:Global Times Published: 2017/5/23 19:53:39

Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

The first Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation convened in Beijing on May 14 and 15, gathering together 29 heads of state and government. However, although he is not a state leader, the head of the Japanese delegation Toshihiro Nikai, secretary general of the Liberal Democratic Party, also became the focus of media coverage of the grand convention. As a leading figure of Japan's ruling party, Nikai presented a letter from Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to Chinese President Xi Jinping and said to the media that Japan should become a member of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) at an early date. It is nothing new that countries are eager to join the AIIB considering its sound performance since its establishment, but the shift from rejection to recognition in Japan's attitude deserves deliberation in view of its resistance during China's preparation of AIIB and now the ruling party leader showing enthusiasm toward the bank. 

The primary factor behind this is the continuous growth of the Chinese economy which triggered a change in Japan's perception of China to some degree. Following the 1951 San Francisco Peace Conference, the US had long been one of the most important global order makers. Japan thus became the core country in East Asia due to its economic recovery and the Japan-US military alliance. Japan enjoyed this position in the international community. Nevertheless, China's GDP overtook that of Japan for the first time in 2010 and in 2013 almost reached twice the size of Japan's GDP. China is now the most powerful engine for development of the Asia-Pacific region. Therefore, Japan is no longer the core of East Asia and sees China's growth as a challenge to the old Asia-Pacific order. 

As Japan and China are both Asian countries, overlaps in diplomatic policies are inevitable. For instance, China values relations with ASEAN while Japan also intends to woo them into its circle. China initiated the AIIB to promote development in Asia while Japan led the establishment of Asian Development Bank for similar reasons. Such policy overlap creates a strategic misjudgment in Japan that China's growth stands in absolute opposition to that of Japan. Therefore, it views competition with China as a zero-sum game, believing that China's gains mean damage to Japan's national interests. 

As a result, Japan persists in "singing the blues" on each and every issue relevant to China such as the AIIB, whereas China has stressed during AIIB's preparation that the new bank was not a replacement, but a supplement to the existing ADB. China never seeks to develop at the cost of Japan's economic interests; however, acts undertaken by Japan have cost Japan opportunities in sharing China's growth dividend. 

Nikai's visit to the Belt and Road forum and his comments on the possibility of Japan joining AIIB show that despite previous confrontation, Japan now sees China's development in a more rational way and it has accepted that the size of the Chinese economy has surpassed that of Japan irreversibly. 

On one hand this change is driven by the example set by China's commitment to peaceful development, and on the other by a change in the international situation, or put it more frankly, a change in the US factor. As Financial Times reported, it was the US that lobbied big powers not to join the AIIB during its preparation. Japan believed that the US-backed TPP was enough to generate equal business opportunities to those brought by China's development. It also held that the US rebalancing its Asia-Pacific strategy would suffice in containing China politically and militarily. However, with the Trump administration now in office, all this has gone to thin air. 

Japan's shifting attitude toward the AIIB shows a more pragmatic attitude toward China, for it now realizes that China's economic growth is an irreversible trend. This pragmatic posture, however, should not be interpreted as Japan abandoning its alliance with the US and switching sides to China. 

Judging from the content of Abe's letter to Xi disclosed by the media, Japan made positive comments on the Belt and Road and reiterated its wishes to develop friendship and good neighborliness with China. The letter, however, did not mention politically sensitive issues between the two countries, such as historical issues and the East China Sea. 

The trend of increasingly pragmatic policies by Japan toward economic and trade ties with China is irresistible, but in no way immune to fluctuations within a certain scale caused by political influences. 

The author is an assistant research fellow at the Institute of Japanese Studies, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn Follow us on Twitter @GTopinion

OPINION: IGNORE SILK ROAD HUBRIS, CHINA WILL GROW OLD BEFORE IT GETS RICH

http://m.scmp.com/week-asia/opinion/article/2095326/opinion-ignore-silk-road-hubris-china-will-grow-old-it-gets-rich


BY KARIM RASLAN23 MAY 2017

President Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road plan is rooted in the past: here are five lessons from history that suggest assumptions of China’s inevitable rise are mistaken

 

Chinese President Xi Jinping with world leaders at the Belt and Road Forum. The initiative is rooted in the past. Photo: Kyodo

A rising China has turned us all – especially in Southeast Asia – into amateur historians.

President Xi Jinping’s signature initiative to revive the ancient Silk Road trading routes is rooted in the past, therefore the pageantry, rhetoric and indeed the substance of last week’s high-profile “Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation” in Beijing cannot be understood if one ignores history.

Living as they do in China’s “armpit”, Southeast Asians have no choice but to learn a lot more about the Middle Kingdom.

Why China should be wary of overconfidence

Given the strong maritime focus of the Belt and Road initiative – Beijing’s plan to link Eurasia through land and sea links and infrastructure into a China-centred trading network – it’s also critical to understand China’s chequered oceanic forays – stretching from the dynamism of the Han, Tang and Ming dynasties to the disastrous xenophobia of the Manchu Qing.

In this respect, Lincoln Payne’s 744-page tome The Sea and Civilization: a Maritime History of the World provides a superb overview of how the great civilizations faced sea-borne challenges.

Tracing the ups and downs of China’s maritime engagement, the reader comes away with five key points.

A Chinese louchuan, or towered warship, pictured in a 16th century edition of the ‘Collection of Most Important Military Techniques’ by Wu Ching Tsung Yao, written in 1044. Photo: The Sea and Civilization: A Maritime History of the World by Lincoln Paine

🔴🔴 First: there has been no discernible consistency in China’s relations with Southeast Asia. Over the centuries, it has veered from great interest to isolationism, sometimes within a space of a few years.

Witness the speed with which the great Ming armadas under Admiral Zheng He (1405-1433) were abruptly followed by stringent prohibitions on foreign trade.

What this means is that Southeast Asia cannot depend on China’s long-term interest in the region.

🔴This leads to a second point: history has proven that China’s leaders are easily distracted when its internal stability is threatened. Given its size, the resources needed to manage such challenges have been a huge and constant drain on the exchequer.

The vulnerability of China’s northern and western borders (as well as threats of peasant revolts), have necessitated a degree of constant military preparedness, sapping even further precious resources.

Consequently, internal policing has always been a fact of life – something that remains the same even in the Xi Jinping era today.

🔷Third, the strategic importance of China’s rivers – which have long been an essential part of internal connectivity as well as domestic security and trade – feed its inwardness.

The Yangzhou section of the Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal. Photo: Xinhua

Over the centuries, the great rivers – the Yangtze, Pearl and Yellow – have been developed to enhance irrigation, prevent flooding and ease transportation. A web of canals and domestic waterways have been built, thereby uniting the country; with the most famous of these – the Grand Canal – linking the rich agrarian South to the parched North around Beijing.

A lesser-known example but perhaps even more extraordinary is the 36.4km Lingqu Canal which was built with immense loss of life during the Qin Dynasty from 219–214 BC.

This strategic waterway connected the Yangtze and Pearl River basins, providing a means of travelling by ship from Chang’an (the Imperial capital at that time) to Guangzhou – a distance of more than 2,000km.

WATCH: Belt and Road - what, when, why and how?

It’s important to remember that the emphasis on river-going craft negated to a large extent the need to develop a strong sea-going shipping industry and this stymied trade with the Southern Seas for many centuries.

🔷Fourth, in the era before the steam engine, shipping had to follow the all-important monsoon winds. In the winter, when land is colder than water, the Northeast Monsoons would blow from China and Japan southwards, reversing in the summer, as the land warmed, creating areas of higher pressure and bringing torrential rains from the South.

As such, the monsoons determined the sailing schedule and imposed a particular time frame on trading routes between China and Southeast Asia.

A passenger ship at Kaifeng, China – one of 28 vessels depicted in Zhang Zheduan’s 5.25-metre scroll painting Qingming Shanghe Tu (Along the River During the Qingming Festival). Photo: Palace Museum, Beijing

The monsoons across the Indian Ocean weren’t in any way synchronized, meaning that travellers hoping to reach the wealthy Malabar coast and or beyond were forced to wait in Southeast Asian ports for the winds to shift, thereby slowing down pan-Asian trade routes.

This in turn led to the steady build-up across Southeast Asia of Chinese traders who would remain for a few months before returning to the ports of Guangzhou and Quanzhou.

It’s important to note that the Chinese never sought to occupy and monopolise the ports they visited. They traded, sojourned and then they departed: this is in marked contrast to the Portuguese, the Dutch and British who sought to use their firepower to dominate trade.

A Chinese postage stamp commemorating the 600th anniversary of the first Ming Dynasty expedition to the Indian Ocean under Zheng He. Photo: China Post

Indeed, the Hokkien people were to be major beneficiaries in the 11th and 12th centuries with the formation of the zealously pro-trade Southern Song Dynasty based in what is now Hangzhou.

Honing their navigational skills and trading skills, they grew to dominate Asian trade travelling as far as East Africa and the Gulf of Persia.

🔷Finally, indigenous Chinese thinkers – most notably Confucius – have been stringently opposed to commerce.

In the Analects, Confucius states dismissively: “The gentleman is conversant with righteousness, the small man is conversant with profit.”

As such, when Confucian scholars and mandarins held sway as they did for much of the Ming dynasty – controlling access to the Emperor – trade and diplomacy always suffered.

Porcelain wares were being exported to Europe by the time of the Ming Dynasty (1368–1644 AD). Photo: Karim Raslan

It’s also worth noting that Buddhism (an alien and largely sea-borne faith) also constituted a major challenge to Confucian orthodoxy and dominance. The tension between Buddhism and Confucianism may well have been an added reason for the distrust and at times, active suppression of the South Sea trade.

In the 9th and 10th centuries, trade between China and India boomed as religious scholars and monks moved backwards and forwards between the great seat of Buddhist learning, Nalanda on the Ganges and China, providing an enormous boost to Southeast Asia, especially the Sumatran trading entrepot of Srivijaya as religious texts and sacred artefacts were shipped to China.

Who learned the lessons of Thai baht crisis: China or Europe?

Nonetheless, Confucian mandarins were extremely vocal in their criticism of the importation of tropical luxuries – sandalwood, cloves, tortoise shells and rhinoceros horn – seeing them as frivolous.

Typically, Chinese-made silks and ceramics were insufficient to pay for the imports and copper coinage was exported in large amounts to pay for the purchases, contributing in turn to inflation, the scourge of the country’s economic life.

As such, it would be mistaken to assume that China will inevitably become a global, even regional hegemon.

Chinese President Xi Jinping is the apogee of calm; US President Donald Trump is a ‘pumped-up reality TV star’. Photo: AFP

Current awe of China’s mounting power is directly linked to the incompetence of US President Donald Trump’s administration.

Xi is the apogee of a calm, dignified global leader, all-too aware of the scale of his responsibilities. Trump, by contrast, is nothing more than a pumped-up reality TV star.

Separately, although China’s infrastructural achievements – the toll-ways, railways, ports and cities – are dazzling, these are a mere snapshot in time.

North Korea is addicted to missiles: it’s intervention or war

The underlying reality is of a fundamentally indebted, extremely unequal and vastly over-built society that is going to be knocked sideways by its own demographic earthquake – as decades of the one child policy come home to roost – and China’s population growth starts to falter.

The best advocate for this astonishing but entirely plausible argument is the former New York Times Shanghai bureau chief, Howard French, whose book Everything Under the Heavens: How The Past Helps Shape China’s Push for Global Power is a masterful explication of its barely hidden demographic woes.

An elderly pedestrian in a traditional hutong neighbourhood in Beijing, China. Photo: Bloomberg

French’s core point is that China has squandered its demographic dividend. Birth rates (projected to stand at 1.51 per cent in 2020) have fallen below replacement levels and median age rates (forty-nine years old by 2050) are climbing quickly.

Why China has just 15 years to secure its place in the world

All this means that China will grow old before it grows rich and that the resources needed to care for its elderly alone (it is projected to have 329 million people over the age of 65 by 2050, equal to today’s combined populations of France, Germany, Japan and Britain) will sap its capacity to project internationally.

So while the Belt and Road conference may have made China seem like a rising giant, let’s not lose sight of the fact that it has feet of clay

Spotlight: How China's Belt and Road is making the world smaller

http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2017-05/23/c_136307668.htm




Source: Xinhua| 2017-05-23 15:04:39|Editor: Mengjie

by Xinhua writer Chen Shilei

BEIJING, May 23 (Xinhua) -- As a high-level forum on the Belt and Road (B&R) Initiative took place in Beijing on May 14-15, the China-proposed initiative has again become the focus of the world.

Proposed by Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2013, the Belt and Road Initiative, comprising the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, aims to build a trade and infrastructure network connecting Asia with Europe and Africa along and beyond ancient trade routes.

The initiative, which embraces the spirit of peace and cooperation, openness and inclusiveness, mutual learning and mutual benefit, has gained support from more than 100 countries and international organizations, among which more than 40 have signed cooperation agreements with China.

NO MARSHALL PLAN

Amid skeptics questioning China's intentions behind the initiative, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said: "We have no intention to designate a clear geographic bound for the Belt and Road Initiative, because it is an initiative for international cooperation in its essence, and should be open to all like-minded countries and regions."

Critics have likened the Belt and Road Initiative to the politically laden post-war Marshall Plan.

However, unlike the Marshall Plan, the Belt and Road Initiative will never lead China to form a military alliance, and the economic cooperation it purposes will not change the current security landscape.

In fact, the Belt and Road Initiative was proposed during the post-crisis era when the world urgently needed a more open and inclusive global economy.

Almost nine years after the 2008 financial crisis, the world economy is still struggling to recover. According to a UN Conference on Trade and Development and World Bank report last year, foreign direct investment around the world dropped by 13 percent, while global trade grew by slightly more than 1 percent, the worst performance since the crisis.

Meanwhile, fragmented international cooperation makes it difficult to effectively integrate resources to address global challenges.

Against such a backdrop, Xi put forward the initiative offering opportunities for cooperation and development for all.

"The Belt and Road Initiative, though initiated by China, is not only about China," Xi said. "I hope people in all countries along the Belt and Road will actually feel the benefits brought by the initiative."

"While taking care of our own interests, we will give more consideration and care to the interests of other countries," the Chinese president said.

"The Belt and Road Initiative proposed by President Xi Jinping shows that he attaches great importance to cooperation between Europe and Asia," former French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin told Chinese newspaper People's Daily. "It will inject vitality into global development and shows his global vision."

Raffarin said the initiative is a creative one which shows China has the capability to create a new era for global development.

China's proposals, from the Belt and Road Initiative to the establishment of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), from the setup of a 1-billion-U.S.-dollar China-UN peace and development fund to a peacekeeping standby force of 8,000 troops, shows the giant is assuming responsibilities as a major country, said Raffarin.

WIN-WIN FOR ALL

Three years on since the Belt and Road Initiative was launched, China and countries along the ancient trade routes are witnessing positive results in infrastructure connectivity, production capacity, trade, investment and finance.

Remarkable progress has been made in the construction of land and maritime routes.

For instance, construction is underway for phase II of the Karakorum highway connecting China and Pakistan, the Multan-Sukkur section of the Lahore-Karachi highway in Pakistan, the China-Laos railway and the Yakarta-Bandung high-speed railway in Indonesia.

Furthermore, the port city in Sri Lanka's capital of Colombo is starting to take shape, while Chinese shipping giant China COSCO Shipping took over the management of the Piraeus Port Authority last year.

Regarding production capacity, China is cooperating with nearly 20 countries, with 51 important projects confirmed with a total investment value of 27 billion U.S. dollars.

Just last year, trade between China and countries along the Belt and Road hit 6.3 trillion yuan (913 billion dollars). China's direct investment in those countries exceeds 14.5 billion dollars.

There's also financial support to ensure Belt and Road projects see the light of day. The China-initiated Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank now has 70 members. The first projects under the 40-billion--dollar Silk Road Fund have begun, with a value of 5.3 billion dollars.

Amid uncertainties in the world economy, Belt and Road cooperation is key to kickstarting global growth.

"What is the most attractive in the Belt and Road Initiative is that it not only spurs China's development but also benefits other participating countries," said Spanish Ambassador to China Manuel Valencia.

WHERE CULTURES MEET

The ancient Silk Road was where Chinese civilization met with Indian, Arab and European cultures. Today, the Belt and Road Initiative seeks to once again bring East and West closer.

"The ancient silk roads are not just routes of trade, but routes of friendship," Xi said.

By the end of 2016, China signed more than 300 cultural agreements with countries along the Belt and Road and set up 11 centers on Chinese culture in those countries.

Meanwhile, people-to-people ties related to the initiative, such as international art festivals, fairs, and forums, are in full swing.

The Chinese government also set up the Silk Road Scholarship to annually sponsor 10,000 students in countries along the Belt and Road to study in China.

"The initiative of the Belt and Road is not just economic," said Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, high representative for the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations, "but also builds and promotes intercultural exchanges

Third maritime patrol ship inducted for security of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor

http://www.financialexpress.com/world-news/third-maritime-patrol-ship-inducted-for-security-of-china-pakistan-economic-corridor/681139/


By: ANI | Karachi | Published: May 23, 2017 11:18 AM

The induction ceremony was done in the presence of Minister for Ports and Shipping Mir Hasil Khan Bizenjo.(Representative image Reuters)

Pakistan has inducted PMSS Dasht as the third Chinese-built maritime patrol ship for the protection and security of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). The other two ships are the PMSS Hingol and the PMSS Basol, reports the Dawn. The induction ceremony was done in the presence of Minister for Ports and Shipping Mir Hasil Khan Bizenjo.

Speaking on the occasion, Bizenjo said major challenges have been witnessed and experienced by Pakistan and with the inception of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), the nation has become a centre of global attention. The PMSS Dasht has been built for the Pakistan Maritime Security Agency (PMSA) and arrived in Karachi earlier this month.

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Bizenjo was quoted, as saying, “The CPEC has the potential to change the regional canvas and the world. The importance of the project for Pakistan’s strategic strength and economic prosperity needs no elaboration. Every effort is being made to secure the important trade lifeline both on land and at sea.” He added,“The government allocated over USD 150 million to enable the PMSA fleet to protect our maritime area and sea lines of communication.

This will add a great deal to the security fibre not only for the CPEC but for all maritime zones of Pakistan.” He said that he had met a few Chinese engineers and technicians associated with the project and appreciated their valuable contribution and shows the strength of deep-rooted friendship between Islamabad and Beijing. Meanwhile, two more ships are under construction at the Karachi shipyard