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Showing posts from April, 2018

Competing Visions

A geoeconomic contest is underway to shape Asia’s future. Regional powers are putting forward ambitious plans for building roads, railways, pipelines, and other hard infrastructure across the region. Drawing on official sources, CSIS experts developed the maps below to illustrate some of these competing visions. Each map captures, in broad strokes, the major infrastructure priorities of a leading actor. Collectively, these maps preview a competition as wide-ranging as the region itself. As this story unfolds, the collection below will be expanded and updated. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has a vision for greater physical, institutional, and people-to-people linkages among its ten member countries. Its  Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity 2025  proposes connecting its members with new hard and soft infrastructure. Maritime countries Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Singapore are strengthening the ASEAN Maritime Economic Corridor with imp

Inside the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank

Click to watch A Book Launch and Reception with Natalie Lichtenstein Wednesday, April 25, 2018 4:00 pm - 5:30 pm CSIS Headquarters The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank is a $100 billion multilateral development bank that first opened in 2016. Initiated by China, its membership is global, with regional powers, from Korea to Saudi Arabia, and key players from Europe, Africa, and Latin America. Its arms reach far: in its first two years, it has financed a geographically and sectorally diverse set of projects in Pakistan, Oman, India, Azerbaijan, Tajikistan, and Indonesia. Please join the Simon Chair's  Reconnecting Asia Project  for a conversation with Natalie Lichtenstein, Chief Counsel for the 57-country negotiations that led to the AIIB's founding and the principal drafter of the Bank's charter, to discuss her new book:  A Comparative Guide to the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank .   This event is made possible through general support to CSIS. FEATURING Na

Selling the country to China? Debate spills into Malaysia's election

Liz Lee KUANTAN, Malaysia (Reuters) - When Malaysia’s political parties unfurled their election flags and banners this month, Prime Minister Najib Razak’s critics sniggered on social media that the manufacturer named on banners of his ruling coalition was Chinese. FILE PHOTO: A view of a newly built hotel which houses many Chinese prospects who come to visit the Country Gardens' Forest City development in Johor Bahru, Malaysia February 21, 2017. REUTERS/Edgar Su/File Photo Mahathir Mohamad, who heads an alliance hoping to oust Najib, has seized on popular disquiet about Chinese investment pouring into Malaysia and turned it into an election issue. Najib, he says, is selling Malaysia out to China. This could matter for Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and for Malaysia’s economy because Mahathir, who was the country’s prime minister for more than two decades, has vowed to reconsider Chinese contracts if the opposition wins on May 9. “Coming in here, buying land, develop

Who Will Win the New Great Game?

By Jochen Bittner Mr. Bittner is a political editor for the weekly newspaper Die Zeit. April 26, 2018 查看简体中文版 查看繁體中文版 Image CreditEdmon de Haro HAMBURG, Germany — To claim we are living through a new Cold War is both an understatement and a category mistake. The 20th-century face-off between the Communist East and the Capitalist West was, ideology aside, about two superpowers trying to contain each other. The global conflict of today is far less static. What we are witnessing instead is a new Great Game, a collision of great powers that are trying to roll back one another’s spheres of influence. Unlike the Great Game of the 19th century between the British and the Russian Empire that culminated in the fight for dominance over Afghanistan, today’s Great Game is global, more complex and much more dangerous. Call it the Game of Threes. It involves three prime players, Russia, China and the West, which are competing in three ways: geographically, intellectually and economically.

Grand strategy: all along the polar silk road

27 Apr 2018|  Mike Scrafton Under  Xi Jinping , China has a  grand strategy  to reshape the current geopolitical landscape. Xi has set out an integrated and coherent set of ideas about China’s ultimate objectives in the international system, and how it should go about achieving them over the coming decades. That’s the  Belt and Road Initiative  (BRI). The  Chinese government  ‘has mobilized the country’s political, diplomatic, intellectual, economic and financial resources’ to meet ‘the most pressing internal and external economic and strategic challenges faced by China’. The effective power of China’s political–economic model to implement a grand strategy is evident in the Arctic. The release of  China’s Arctic Policy white paper  in January coincides with what the US National Snow and Ice Data Center describes as ‘the second lowest Arctic  maximum [extent of Arctic sea ice]  in the 39-year satellite record’. The Chinese white paper outlines a proposal ‘to jointly build a “Polar

China's Belt and Road initiative: Lenders on the front line

NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2017 (MAGAZINE)BY CHRISTOPHER O'DEA Do the multilateral development banks, led by the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), provide the answer to getting private institutional capital invested in Belt and Road projects?  Christopher O’Dea  reports Many projects along the New Silk Road are unsuitable for institutional investors, who are constrained by credit quality limits, performance objectives and portfolio risk metrics. Multilateral Development Banks (MDBs) – led by the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), but including western institutions – are working to change that. The MDBs are pressing ahead with programmes and procedures aimed at reducing the risks – and costs – of bidding to design, build and operate roads, water systems and other critical assets in countries that might suffer from weak legal systems, political strife or volatile budgets. In general, the programmes provide credit insurance or other forms of protection to attract priva

Balochistan: Basic Rights Concern People not Senate Chairmanship

By: Syed Junaid Shah The most neglected province of the country is being galvanized by trespassers again. The whole dynamics depict that Balochistan is at the centre of every political equation in country and is dominating everyday headlines. Politicians, bureaucrats and the civil-military leadership are preparing to redress the wrongs, done to this province. But, the question arises, are the people of this ghetto being tricked again? Well, think of the past and you will know the future. Can a senate chairman from Balochistan be the ransom for 70 years miseries? If so, we have been tricked before when Zafarullah Jamali became first Prime Minister from this province. Ironically, no changes were noticed during his tenure. The axe forgets but the forest remembers. Thus, it would be like living in fool’s paradise to cheer that, merely a senate chairman from our province can bring us great days. It is true that Balochistan has become a laboratory of experiments for those who want to per

Another major CPEC project delayed

APRIL 27, 2018 ISLAMABAD:  The Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the federal cabinet decided to extend the financial close of the 660 kilovolt high-voltage direct current (HVDC) Matiari-Lahore transmission line by seven months till the 1 st  of December, 2018. The extension means that the project—initially slated to become operational in September 2017—now faces a three year delay, ostensibly to align it with the coal-fired projects under development in Thar and near Karachi. The project is also plagued by squabbling over wheeling charges and tax concessions, and the initial cost of the project has now risen from US$1.5 billion to US$1.7 billion. The Chinese companies China Electric Power Equipment and Technology Company Limited (CET) of State Grid Corporation of China (SGCC) are executing the project. Moreover, the ECC also borrowed Rs 100 billion from commercial banks to ease the circular debt that had started creeping up a mere month before Ramazan. This is the second

CPEC is not a new East India Company

Islamabad: Federal Minister of Interior and Planning, Development & Reforms Ahsan Iqbal has said that only continuity of policies, political stability, peace and unity in our ranks can promise successful, brighter and prosperous future of Pakistan. The minister was addressing the inaugural session of Special Seminar on ‘Five years of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) -- a story of success and opportunities,’ organised here by Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) in collaboration with Planning Commission and Chinese Embassy. Ahsan Iqbal said that the spirit of the CPEC is shared destiny and shared prosperity adding that unless we preserve continuity, stability and peace we may not be able to gain the dividends of the CPEC. He said that China-Pakistan Economic Corridor is one of the biggest success stories that we have had in our whole history and it has become a biggest global brand of Pakistan that has grabbed the attention of the world leaders and every big econ

CPEC dominates transport sector

Th e ‘transport and communication’ (T&C) sector remained heavily influenced by projects related to China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) during the outgoing fiscal year with focus not only on building roads and improving the rail network but also on establishing new communication lines. Kalbe Ali Updated April 27, 2018 ISLAMABAD: The ‘transport and communication’ (T&C) sector remained heavily influenced by projects related to China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) during the outgoing fiscal year with focus not only on building roads and improving the rail network but also on establishing new communication lines. Amongst the new initiatives in the sector includes the implementation of 820km-long cross-border fibre optic project (Khunjerab-Rawalpindi) whose completion is expected in August 2018. Transport and communication sector has been considered as a driving force for overall economic and social development of the country in the Economic Survey 2017-18. The survey st

Pakistan learning CPEC lessons the hard way, losing the plot

The alternative for the country would be to relinquish the control of some ambitious CPEC projects to China as was the case in Sri Lanka – with a debt for equity swap formula coming into play Ashis Biswas Published at 01:22 AM April 27, 2018 Picture shows Chinese trucks stand on a pontoon AFP Lately, China has launched a well orchestrated publicity blitz targeting dissenting opinion in Pakistan, outlining how the CPEC (China Pakistan Economic Corridor) project will improve the living standards of millions of people in the region. This will be achieved through increased earnings, job creation and higher industrial production, year on year. In three phases, China proposes to invest over $56 billion in CPEC. Apart from building spanking new highways, rail and air links between Gwadar port in Pakistan and Xinjiang province, the construction of power plants, tourism facilities, agro processing units, and mines are also planned. Predictably, the new spin by Chinese media counters the

Why CPEC could be the end of China-Pakistan relationship

There appears to be a disconnect between what Beijing expects from it and what Islamabad makes of this grand scheme. 27-04-2018 SUSHANT SAREEN  @sushantsareen The China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is best described by the Trumpian expression "covfefe": everyone has some idea of what it is, but no one is quite sure what it is. No surprise then that while some people in Pakistan are excited over what they think CPEC means, others are apprehensive. In December 2015, the governor of State Bank of Pakistan admitted that he had no idea about how much of the money that the Chinese were committing on CPEC was debt, how much was equity and how much was in kind. More than two years later, it now transpires that even the government of Pakistan is not clear about the composition of funding for CPEC projects. A couple of weeks ago, the federal cabinet was informed that “the amount of money, whether in the form of loan or grant, coming through CPEC is not known”. Clearly, if ev

First Belt and Road graduate school to open in September

2018-04-27 08:47 China Daily  Editor: Li Yan The first graduate school in China named after the Belt and Road Initiative will welcome its first international students in September, its founder said on Thursday. Founded by Beijing-based Renmin University of China, the school aims to cultivate high-end international talent and future leaders from countries and regions involved in the Belt and Road Initiative who are passionate about Chinese culture and have a deep understanding of China's development path, models and experiences, the director of the university's development planning branch, Zhu Xinkai, said. The Belt and Road School, at the university's Suzhou campus in Jiangsu province, plans to enroll 50 to 100 students from Belt and Road countries and regions in September, Zhu said, adding enrollment numbers will gradually increase. The two-year program will offer master of laws degrees to international students, who will be exempt from tuition, accommodation and medic

ECNEC approves Gwadar drinking water, Mohmand Dam Hydropower projects

ISLAMABAD: The Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC) Thursday approved three major projects, including supply of drinking water to Gwadar, a hydropower project at Mohmand Agency and Metro Bus service for the new Islamabad International Airport. The meeting, chaired by Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi here, accorded approval to these projects. The ECNEC gave approval for the Rs 309.558 billion multi-purpose Mohmand Dam Hydropower Project. Besides producing 800 mv electricity, it would also have a storage capacity of 1,594 million cubic meters of water that could be used for irrigation, flood mitigation and supply of drinking water to Peshawar and FATA. The ECNEC gave approval for the construction cost of infrastructure and allied works for Metro Bus Services from Peshawar Morr interchange to the New Islamabad International Airport. The Central Development Working Party had recommended the review of the project by the ECNEC. The 25.6 km long project, which

Balochistan to get better 3G and broadband services, MoIT

By  Aqsa Khunshan  on April 26, 2018 Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunication (MoIT) is fully committed to providing ultra-high frequency  internet services to Balochistan  to bring the tech evolution and prosperity in the province. Ministry of IT has started various projects of worth Rs 26 billion to provide 3G service to the people of Balochistan. This broadband service will make the communication easy with more reliability and security. This is one of the biggest investment in the history of the Balochistan that aims to connect different villages via 3G broadband service. Ministry official told, an un-served population of about 196,177 people, covering 269 un-served villages and an un-served area of 39,434 sq km will get modern broadband facilities through this project. The project would cover Awaran, Jhal Jao and Mashkai tehsils/sub-tehsils of Awaran district and Bela, Lakhra, Liari, Uthal, Dureji, Hub, Sonmiani and Kanraj of Lasbel district, he added. After the

EU-China FDI: Working towards reciprocity in investment relations

17/04/2018 EU-China FDI: Working towards reciprocity in investment relations A report by Rhodium Group (RHG) and the Mercator Institute for China Studies (MERICS) By  and  Key findings and recommendations Europe continues to be a favorite destination for Chinese investors . China’s global outbound investment declined in 2017 for the first time as Beijing enacted capital controls. Chinese FDI in the EU followed the global trend and dropped to EUR 35 billion, a 17% decline compared to 2016. However, the pace of Chinese deal making in Europe is more resilient than in other advanced economies, and state-related investors are staging a comeback.  European FDI in China remains lackluster because of slowing growth and persistent market access hurdles.  The level of European FDI in China has hovered around EUR 10 billion per year in the past five years before 2015 and has further declined in 2016 and 2017 to EUR 8 billion per year. Despite promises to level the playing field, European c