Skip to main content

China proceeds with Belt and Road push, but does it more quietly

WED, JAN 23, 2019 - 7:30 AM

Ever since President Xi Jinping of China unveiled the Belt and Road Initiative in 2013 to link the economies of Asia, Europe and Africa with highways, rail lines and power plants, Beijing has promoted the program as a centrepiece of its foreign policy. 

PHOTO: AFP

[DAVOS] Ever since President Xi Jinping of China unveiled the Belt and Road Initiative in 2013 to link the economies of Asia, Europe and Africa with highways, rail lines and power plants, Beijing has promoted the program as a centrepiece of its foreign policy.

But China has turned down the volume on its plan, even though it still appears to be moving forward.

Various senior Chinese government officials are at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, including Vice President Wang Qishan, who is to speak on Wednesday. None of them, though, participated in a panel during one of the forum's most prominent time slots Tuesday that was focused on the Belt and Road Initiative and billed as a review of "China's trillion-dollar vision."

Instead, the vice chairman of a government-linked trade association and the chairman of a state-owned business spoke cautiously about the initiative.

Except for a long-scheduled meeting with African leaders in Beijing in September, top Chinese officials have said fairly little about the Belt and Road program since last summer. The initiative has been plagued by allegations of corruption, overspending on vanity projects, excessive debt and other problems in countries like Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Uganda.

SEE ALSO: Trade worries sour CEOs' mood as leaders converge on Davos

The panel on Tuesday seemed like an opportunity to recast the initiative's image to a crowd stacked with government leaders and tycoons from developing countries, many of which have borrowed heavily from Chinese financial institutions to build infrastructure as part of the program.

But China took a different tack. Xu Niansha, the chairman of the state-owned China Poly Group, apologised for not having many statistics about the program, a rare occurrence given that Chinese corporate or government officials often lard their speeches and discussions with numbers.

Speaking in general terms, Mr Xu said China's rapid economic growth in recent decades had put it in a better position than many countries to foster economic development elsewhere. "We do know what people need," he said. "That is why I think we can do a better job in cooperation."

Frank Ning, the chairman of the Chinese chemical giant Sinochem, said during a different panel that there was a new awareness in China about worries outside the country over how its businesses make overseas investments. "I think the Chinese are quite confused; they thought they would be welcome in other countries," he said.

The Belt and Road discussion was moderated by Tian Wei, a well-known anchor for the state-run China Global Television Network, making the absence of Chinese government officials, who typically shun panels with foreign moderators known to have criticised China, somewhat surprising.

Ms Tian repeatedly hinted at the resentment felt by some people in China about foreign criticisms of the Belt and Road program, which she said was helping to build roads in developing countries that need them. "Let's talk about facts, let's talk about case studies, and let's talk about the real stories, not just hearsay," she added.

Wang Yongqing, the vice chairman of the All-China Federation of Industry and Commerce, mentioned during the panel that China had helped build an industrial park in Ethiopia that makes leather products. But he and Mr Xu avoided specifics about the hundreds of Belt and Road infrastructure projects already completed or underway. Critics say Chinese construction companies have moved so quickly partly because they bring in thousands of Chinese workers instead of training locals, and because they arrange special deals with local officials in developing countries that allow them to avoid paying tariffs on machinery that they ship in.

Sitting in the audience was Xiao Yaqing, the government minister who oversees state-owned enterprises. Asked to speak by Ms Tian, he suggested one possible reason for Chinese officials' caution when he said the Belt and Road push was good for Chinese companies as well as for other countries.

There have sometimes been criticisms on Chinese social media, quickly deleted by censors, that Beijing was spending money on overseas development that would be better spent at home, particularly when economic growth is slowing in the country.

China has been rethinking two aspects of the initiative: how it decides on overseas spending, and how the initiative is presented to overseas audiences. In September, Mr Xi promised a further US$60 billion for projects in African countries, but he made a point of saying that China would not pay for what he called vanity projects.

Nobody thinks Belt and Road is fading away. Mr Wang, the trade association vice chairman, said China would invite entrepreneurs to events next fall that emphasised business opportunities through the initiative.

Among business leaders from countries like India that have been skeptical of the initiative, there are continuing worries that it will keep moving ahead, and leave them behind.

"Indian business leaders are concerned that China is building linkages around the world," Gaurav Dalmia, the chairman of the Indian conglomerate Dalmia Group, said in an interview before the panel talk. "Indian companies may get left out on the resource side."


https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/government-economy/china-proceeds-with-belt-and-road-push-but-does-it-more-quietly

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

SSG Commando Muddassir Iqbal of Pakistan Army

“ Commando Muddassir Iqbal was part of the team who conducted Army Public School operation on 16 December 2014. In this video he reveals that he along with other commandos was ordered to kill the innocent children inside school, when asked why should they kill children after killing all the terrorist he was told that it would be a chance to defame Taliban and get nation on the side. He and all other commandos killed children and later Taliban was blamed.
Muddassir Iqbal has deserted the military and now he is  with mujahedeen somewhere in AF PAK border area”
For authenticity of  this tape journalists can easy reach to his home town to interview his family members or   ISPR as he reveals his army service number”
Asalam o Alaikum: My name is Muddassir Iqbal. My father’s name is Naimat Ali. I belong to Sialkot divison (Punjab province), my village is Shamsher Poor and district, tehsil and post office  Narowal. Unfortunately I was working in Pakistan army. I feel embarrassed to tell you …

CPEC Jobs in Pakistan, salary details

JOBS...نوکریاں چائنہ کمپنی میںPlease help the deserving persons...Salary:Salary package in China–Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) in these 300,000 jobs shall be on daily wages. The details of the daily wages are as follows;Welder: Rs. 1,700 dailyHeavy Duty Driver: Rs. 1,700 dailyMason: Rs. 1,500 dailyHelper: Rs. 850 dailyElectrician: Rs. 1,700 dailySurveyor: Rs. 2,500 dailySecurity Guard: Rs. 1,600 dailyBulldozer operator: Rs. 2,200 dailyConcrete mixer machine operator: Rs. 2,000 dailyRoller operator: Rs. 2,000 dailySteel fixer: Rs. 2,200 dailyIron Shuttering fixer: Rs. 1,800 dailyAccount clerk: Rs. 2,200 dailyCarpenter: Rs. 1,700 dailyLight duty driver: Rs. 1,700 dailyLabour: Rs. 900 dailyPara Engine mechanic: Rs. 1,700 dailyPipe fitter: Rs. 1,700 dailyStorekeeper: Rs. 1,700 dailyOffice boy: Rs. 1,200 dailyExcavator operator: Rs. 2,200 dailyShovel operator: Rs. 2,200 dailyComputer operator: Rs. 2,200 dailySecurity Supervisor: Rs. 2,200 dailyCook for Chinese food: Rs. 2,000 dailyCook…

Historical relationship between Kurd and Baloch.

The Kurds are the ethnical group living in a region known as Kurdistan which is divided into Iraq, Syria, Turkey and Iran. They  are struggling for an independent region since decades and they are famous for their female guerrilla fighters.        On 25 September 2017, the referendum for an independent Kurdish region  was held in Iraq with a turn out of 72 %.   On this important occasion, the historical relation between Kurd and Baloch people is worth discussing.       When it comes to history, every nation tends to find its roots and origin. Same goes with the Baloch people. The Baloch people are always curious  about  finding their roots in history. Even if you  talk to a shepherd in Balochistan, he will be curious to talk about his  tribal or ethnical roots.      The Balochs have always conveyed the history to the next generations in different mediums like poems etc. No Baloch before 20th century had written books on  history  or origin of the Baloch nation .
        Balochs…