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Showing posts from September 13, 2018

China's Belt and Roller Coaster

OPINION

Xi risks losing control of Beijing's sprawling strategic investment driveJonathan HillmanSeptember 14, 2018 07:00 JSTSri Lanka has handed over control of Hambantota port to China to clear debt -- raising fears about sovereignty. (Photo by Marwaan Macan-Markar)Five years ago, President Xi Jinping unveiled the Belt and Road Initiative, a vast investment scheme cloaked in the rhetoric of cooperation that was designed to pave the way for China's transition to great power status.Instead, it has become a roller coaster that Beijing itself is struggling to control.The BRI's highs came early and have been mainly diplomatic and symbolic. Large and often unrealistic numbers touted for Chinese investment under the BRI have attracted more than 80 countries to the effort. Several countries have announced their intentions to link their development strategies with the BRI. Conflating demand for investment with approval of the BRI, Chinese officials have even claimed it is a new an…

Taking stock of power projects under CPEC

Zamir Ahmed Awan: Taking stock of power projects under CPECTuesday,Sep 11, 2018Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif speaks at the inauguration of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor port in Gwadar, Pakistan November 13, 2016. [Photo/Agencies]China-Pakistan Economic Corridor was signed in 2013, but actual work started after the visit of President Xi Jinping in April 2015. Pakistan was facing severe shortage of electricity, and that resulted in several hours of power cuts on daily basis. The shortage hit the industrial sector hardest and affected industrial productivity. It resulted in reduction of export and earning of foreign exchange. One of the major reasons for poor economy of Pakistan was the shortage of electricity. Due to this, CPEC focused on power sector and most of projects initiated were in power generation and transmission. Here’s a brief look at power projects under CPEC;The total portfolio of CPEC projects is $47.96 billion, namely $34.18 billion of energy projects (IP…

CPEC rail project: Govt moves to prevent financial risks By Shahbaz Rana Published: September 14, 2018 4SHARES  SHARE TWEET  CPEC's growth projections and investment is built upon the successful development of Gwadar, planning and development minister says.PHOTO: FILE ISLAMABAD: In a major development, Pakistan has announced exploring the possibility of shifting financial risks of a $9 billion railway project under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) to contractors. In addition, it also put at least one energy project of 1,320 megawatts on the back burner. The expansion and reconstruction of Karachi-Lahore-Peshawar railway track, known as the Main Line 1 project (ML1), is an early harvest and a strategic project of the CPEC framework. The change in the modus operandi of constructing the $9 billion project would require amendments to the framework agreement that China and Pakistan had signed in May last year. Foreign investors seek review of CPEC, free trade deals The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government has taken the corrective measures amid criticism that the last Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government did not fully protect Pakistan’s economic interests while signing the $46 billion deals under the Belt and Road Initiative of the Chinese president. “The government is exploring the possibility of completing the $9 billion ML1 project of Pakistan Railways on build-operate-transfer (BOT) basis,” said Minister for Planning and Development Khusro Bakhtiar on Thursday. He was speaking to the media after chairing the 56th monthly progress review meeting of CPEC. The minister also said Pakistan and China have also agreed to set up a new working group on socioeconomic development to deepen cooperation in education, health, agriculture and housing. He announced conducting a joint study to determine the flow of cargo traffic on the CPEC routes, as the last PML-N government invested $6 billion on two road projects without having scientific projections of the traffic that will flow from China. “The ML1 project had been conceived to build on the Engineering-Procurement-Construction (EPC) model that shifts the entire financing risks to the federal government,” said Bakhtiar. “To avoid risks, the government has started exploring the possibility of constructing the project on BOT model,” he added. In the EPC model, a contractor gets guaranteed price and is responsible from ‘concept to commissioning’ of the project. Due to its $9 billion cost, there was also a dispute between railways and the Ministry of Finance over the ownership of loan and its servicing. Sources in the Planning Ministry said the government may have to undertake a new feasibility study before constructing the project on BOT. However, the minister said it will be in the best interests of Pakistan to complete the ML1 project on the BOT model. Under the original CPEC plan, China had promised to give $2.2 billion out of the then estimated cost of $8.2 billion of the project. The Asian Development Bank (ADB) was required to give $6 billion loan but China opposed the plan and ousted the ADB. Under the May 2017 framework agreement, the project will solely be funded by China. According to the Framework Agreement of the ML1, China will provide 85% of the project cost as concessionary loan. The project has been declared ‘strategically important’ by both the countries. “The PML-N government did not give importance to the ML1 project the way it gave preference to $2 billion Orange Line Project and two road projects worth $6 billion,” said Bakhtiar. He said the projected cost of the ML1 was $9 billion that has greater economic benefits than the metro and road projects. The ML1 project has a total length of 1,872 kilometres. The last PML-N government decided to split the project into two due to its high cost and work that requires refurbishment and expansion of the main rail line. The planning minister also said CPEC will be opened for investment to third countries and two focal persons have been nominated to promote the corridor. He said Pakistan requires a mammoth $200 billion for infrastructure development that can only be generated with the help of other countries. He brushed aside criticism on growing indebtedness due to CPEC, saying the share of the CPEC loans was only $6 billion or 6.3% of the total outstanding external debt of $95 billion as of June end. K-P lawmakers fret fate of CPEC Energy projects The federal government also decided to protect all ongoing and planned energy projects under CPEC except the ones that have not achieved financial close and were planned to run on imported fuel, said the planning minister. The Rahim Yar Khan power plant of 1,320 MW is the only major scheme that has not achieved the financial close. The other project that is planned to be set up on imported coal but has not achieved financial close is 300MW Gwadar power plant. But the project is critical for the supply of power to port city. “Gwadar that has been ignored in the past will be taken forward as a standalone development project to maximise gains from the potential hub of transshipment,” the planning minister said. He said the revolving fund of the CPEC energy projects was a main issue. A Rs22 billion power sector revolving fund was created as a special arrangement to make preferred payments to power producers and investors under CPEC. The minister; however, assured that Pakistan will honour its all contractual obligations. He criticised the last PML-N government for its lack of integrated energy planning, which compromised the country’s bargaining position while finalising the deals. The minister also said tariffs of some of the energy projects were also very high, citing the example of the Quaid-e-Azam solar power plant project that is given 14 cents per unit tariff as against world average of 5 cents. “In the future, the focus will be on hydro projects. The last government only focused on energy generation projects at the expense of power distribution and transmission schemes,” he added.

CPEC rail project: Govt moves to prevent financial risksBy Shahbaz RanaPublished: September 14, 2018
CPEC's growth projections and investment is built upon the successful development of Gwadar, planning and development minister says.PHOTO: FILEISLAMABAD: In a major development, Pakistan has announced exploring the possibility of shifting financial risks of a $9 billion railway project under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) to contractors.In addition, it also put at least one energy project of 1,320 megawatts on the back burner.The expansion and reconstruction of Karachi-Lahore-Peshawar railway track, known as the Main Line 1 project (ML1), is an early harvest and a strategic project of the CPEC framework.The change in the modus operandi of constructing the $9 billion project would require amendments to the framework agreement that China and Pakistan had signed in May last year.Foreign investors seek review of CPEC, free trade dealsThe Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) gover…

Venezuela to get another $5 billion

Supchina.com
The Twitter bio of Nicolas Maduro reads: “President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. Son of Chávez. Building the Homeland with revolutionary efficiency.” On September 9, he tweeted in English and Spanish:42 years ago, the Great Chinese revolutionary, Mao Tse Tung, died. A communist leader and the first president of the People's Republic; his government dignified the people of the countryside. Mao gave us a legacy of an anti-imperialist struggle along with the working class. We shall prevail!

Today, Bloomberg reports that China has agreed “to extend a $5 billion credit line to cash-strapped Venezuela, said the Venezuelan finance minister, as President Nicolas Maduro headed to Beijing.”The finance minister Simon Zerpa is already in Beijing, where he has been talking to Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan 王岐山. The South China Morning Post says Maduro himself arrives today.The fine print of the $5 billion loan is still being finalized. Chinese foreign ministry spoke…

Current Balochistan: Conflict updates from the ground

14/9/2018
AWARAN:-According to sources, two residents of Gwarjak Mashkay Valley, Awaran, named Taj Mohd S/o Ibrahim and Sultan S/o Mohd Kareem were released from torture cells, who were forcefully abducted by Pakistani Forces 20 Days ago.

14/9/2018
MASHKEY:-According to sources, on 22 august Pakistani army Abducted a civilian namely Basheer S/o Sher Mohd R/o Toba from Tank, an area of Mashkey,
Who was released two days ago from Mashkey Tank army camp & Returned to his home.

NEPAL BARES CHINA-TEMPERED STEEL. INDIA BETTER GET USED TO IT

BY GEJA SHARMA WAGLE13 SEP 2018The Himalayan country’s pull-out from an army drill in India and its new-found access to China’s seaports represent a psychological victory over its southern neighbour, but real gains are still a long way off

Chinese President Xi Jinping meets Nepal Prime Minister Khadga Prasad Sharma Oli on his 2016 Beijing visit. Photo: EPAThe timing of a surprise decision by Nepal to withdraw from the first-ever joint military exercise in India – which comes exactly a week before a scheduled joint military exercise with China, and on the heels of a vital transit agreement with the Middle Kingdom – may have been merely coincidental, but is loaded with strategic meaning for the small country sandwiched between two regional giants.On Saturday, Kathmandu let it be known that the Nepalese Army would not participate in the first-ever joint military exercise of the so-called BIMSTEC nations in India that started on September 10. The Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral…

The political significance of China’s latest commitments to Africa

The political significance of China’s latest commitments to AfricaYun SunWednesday, September 12, 2018AFRICA IN FOCUSIn my recent blog post, I examined the financial pledges China made at the 2018 Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) and the evolving Chinese economic priorities these commitments represent. Beyond the specific financial commitments, the rest of the eight actions meet the traditional checklist on infrastructure, agriculture and industrialization, and trade facilitation, and continue to expand on China’s interests in green development, health care, and peace and security issues.AuthorYun SunNonresident Fellow - Global Economy and DevelopmentAfrica Growth InitiativeAs a political event, the FOCAC Summit usually reflects China’s current priorities in foreign strategy. The Beijing Summit was no exception. In the eight days during and around the summit, Chinese President Xi Jinping met with every leader from the 53 African countries present at th…

New Kahan’s Baloch live a life of deprivation

Author: Shaad BalochNew Kahan, an area of eight thousands mud made houses under a very devastated state is entirely comprised of the Baloch, Marri Tribe inhabitants. They came here and settled in 1992 when returning from exile with Nawab Khair Bakhsh in Afghanistan. It has been almost 26 years since they have been here but they are still deprived of the basic facilities in form of health units, electricity, gas and water.New Kahan is not for away from the Quetta city, it is just few kilometres distance and located in a vicinity of an industrial area Hazar Ganji. Hazar Ganji is a business oriented place where in a day billions worth of business are carried out. From Hazar Ganji it is only a walk of ten minutes to reach New Kahan. Only a road disconnects both areas, but the stark contrast in both areas depicts the way the inhabitants of New Kahan are being dealt. Electricity, health and education, which are considered the basic rights of the citizens, as for as the UN declaration of Mil…

Baloch activists demand suspension of Pak's membership from UNHRC

ANI | Geneva [Switzerland] | Last Updated at September 13 2018 22:35 IST
Highlighting the human rights violations by the Pakistan security forces, Baloch activists have demanded the suspension of Islamabad's membership from the United Nation Human Rights Council (UNHRC).Addressing a conference in Geneva on Wednesday, the activists said that unless the Pakistan government takes steps to recover the missing people, who have been abducted by the security forces, the council should suspend the country's membership, Bolan Times reported.Prominent Baloch activists like Naela Qadri Baloch, Mama Qadeer Baloch and Shaukat Ali Kashmiri also highlighted the enforced disappearances, arbitrary detentions and mass killing of political and human rightsactivist by Pakistan.The Voice for Missing Baloch Persons (VBMP) vice president, Mama QadeerBaloch, said that the Pakistan Army and the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) have slaughtered 10,000 Baloch people since 1948. He vowed that the organis…

Baloch activists slam Pakistan for human rights violations in Balochistan

Baloch Voice Association conference

ANI | Updated: Sep 13, 2018 19:16ISTGeneva [Switzerland], September 13 (ANI): The human rights situation in Balochistan is witnessing an unprecedented decline as the state agencies of Pakistan are on a rampage, alleged the Baloch political activists and human rights activists while interacting with media at Geneva Press Club.
The conference organized by 'Baloch Voice Association' was addressed by Professor Naela Qadri Baloch, Mama Qadeer Baloch and other human rights activists who highlighted the issue of arbitrary detentions, enforced disappearances and killings of political and human rights activists in Pakistan.
Naela Qadri Baloch, who is heading the World Baloch Womens' Forum, said that Pakistan has been exploiting all the resources of Balochistan and later using it as dump yard, not caring for the lives of its citizens.She said "Many times Pakistan has proved that they just need the land of Balochistan. They need our gold. They …

MERICS: China Global Security Tracker

MERICS
We would like to draw your attention to our newest bi-annual China Global Security Tracker. The focus of this issue is the growing threat that China’s rapid military modernization presents to Taiwan. The People’s Liberation Army has demonstrated its new capabilities through aggressive maneuvers over the last few months, simulating an attack on Taiwan. China’s party and state leader Xi Jinping has left no doubt that he views the reunification with Taiwan as key for China’s future national strength.In her analysis of events during the first half of 2018, MERICS researcher Helena Legarda tracks China’s growing military expenditures as well as steps taken by the Chinese Communist Party to extend its control over the military. The maiden sea trials of China’s first indigenous air craft carrier occurred during the reporting period as well as a series of ballistic missile tests. China’s diplomatic activities – from Xi Jinping’s meeting with North Korea’s Kim Jong-un to the summit of th…

Sino-Japanese ties keep warming

TRIVIUM CHINASino-Japanese ties keep warmingFrosty relations with Japan have shown marked improvement in recent months.The latest sign of warming came on Wednesday, when Xi Jinping met with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on the sidelines of the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladisvostok.Xi was positive (Xinhua):“'China-Japan relations have entered the right track and are facing an important opportunity for improvement,' Xi said.”Abe was similarly upbeat (Asahi Shimbun):“’The horizon for cooperation between Japan and China has widened as exchanges and dialogue over a large number of areas have become much more active…,’ Abe said.”Xi said the Belt and Road offers opportunities to deepen ties (Xinhua):"The Belt and Road Initiative has provided a new platform and experimental field for China and Japan to deepen their mutually beneficial cooperation.”But don’t get too excited. Relations remain far from perfect (Xinhua):“'The Japanese side in particular needs to properly ad…

Iran, in shadow proxy war with Saudis, expands its Pakistan influence

By Hollie McKay, Mohsin Saleem Ullah | Fox News
Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei of Iran, alongside members of Pakistan's Shiite political party, Tahrik-e-Jafaria Pakistan (TJP).Iran is stepping up its involvement with political and militant Shiite groups in Pakistan, in what foreign affairs experts see as an escalating shadow proxy war with Saudi Arabia in a country with the world's second-largest Muslim population. “Iran is continuing to work to help rebel groups to form in the minority tribal region. There are Sindhi and Baluch separatist groups that Iran will help fund and support,” said retired Lt. Col Anthony Shaffer, an intelligence specialist who currently serves as  senior fellow at the Center for Advanced Defense Studies at the London Center. Members of the Iran-supported Tahrik-e-Jafaria Pakistan (TJP) in PakistanShaffer and others believe Iranians have long funded an array of insurgent outfits in Pakistan, in part as a means to destabilize U.S. efforts in the region. On…