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Showing posts from February 10, 2019

Mahathir’s view of Beijing stuck in time warp, say observers

TODAY file photoDr Mahathir’s remarks about China since coming to power do not quite match China’s own understanding of itself as a modern superpower entering a new stage of development, say observers. Published11 FEBRUARY, 2019 KUALA LUMPUR — Analysts of China-Malaysia ties are still trying to get a handle of how Putrajaya, under Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad for the second time, views Beijing after shelving costly projects under its One Belt, One Road initiative. Though bilateral ties were formed in 1974 and remained warm under Dr Mahathir’s first 22 years as prime minister, the 93-year-old statesman criticised Putrajaya's huge investments in the projects under his predecessor Najib Razak, which Pakatan Harapan said contributed to the national debt ballooning to RM1 trillion (S$333.6 billion). After the May 9 elections last year, the new government under Dr Mahathir said it would cancel the RM83 million East Coast Rail Link (ECRL), as well as oil and gas pipelines in Sab

How the Pentagon Countered China’s Designs on Greenland

Washington urged Denmark to finance airports that Chinese aimed to build on North America’s doorstep By  Drew Hinshaw and Jeremy Page Feb. 10, 2019 10:24 a.m. ET NUUK, Greenland––The Pentagon raised an alarm last year over what it deemed a troubling development in  this ice-cloaked territory : China was looking to bankroll and build three airports that could give it a military foothold off Canada’s coast. Greenland’s prime minister had flown to Beijing in 2017 and asked Chinese state-run banks to finance the new commercial airports, including a big one for one of the smallest capitals on earth, Nuuk, which can now be served only by propeller planes. The bankers were interested, people at the meetings said, so long as a Chinese company constructed the airports. When word of the incipient offer reached then-U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis early last year, he called on Denmark—whose kingdom includes Greenland as a self-governing territory but whose government had been reluctant

Dream of becoming great power deters India from joining CPEC

By  Shakeel Ahmad Ramay Published: February 11, 2019 It can pave way for regional connectivity, improvement in regional trade. PHOTO: FILE ISLAMABAD:  India has been sceptical about the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) from its inception. It considers CPEC a stumbling block in the way of realising its dream of a great power in Asia. For the past two decades, India has been trying to achieve high economic growth, which is a pre-requisite for gaining the status of great power. India has also expressed immense interest in matching economic advancement of China but with no success. Although India now boasts of being able to cross China’s growth rate, it could not achieve the goal of economic development similar to the rapid progress in China. In 2018, India notched up 7.5% growth, suggesting that it had beaten China where the economy grew 6.5%. In mathematical terms, it seems fascinating, but its translation into real development does not make any difference. Calculations pu

Is the Belt & Road Initiative based on unequal treaties?

Is the Belt & Road Initiative based on unequal treaties? In May 2018, just after being elected, Malaysia’s Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad stated that ‘China has a long experience in dealing with unequal treaties and China resolved it by renegotiation. So, we feel we are entitled to study, and if necessary, renegotiate the terms’. He was referring to the terms of a Chinese loan for East Coast Rail Link (ECRL), a US$20 billion project which is 85%-financed by the Chinese Ex-Im Bank. The China Communications Construction Company is the lead contractor for the construction work. As is reported by the South China Morning Post, there is considerable confusion regarding the current status of this project  [Malaysia’s ECRL: US$20 billion rail deal still ‘being negotiated’, says Mahathir Mohamad] . However, it is clear that the current Malaysian government regards the terms of the loan unfavourable. The term ‘unequal treaties’ is closely associated with the history of imperialism in Asi

China eyes a strategic port in the Philippines

An aerial view of port facilities at Subic Bay in a file photo. Photo: Wikipedia Chinese companies look to win control of a bankrupt but strategic shipyard at Subic Bay, the ex-site of US military bases and a potential key outpost on the South China Sea ByRICHARD JAVAD HEYDARIAN, MANILA A sudden and unexpected bankruptcy has provided China with a unique opportunity to win control of a Philippine port facility at Subic, the former site of US military bases that were closed in 1991 amid a surge of anti-American nationalism at the end of the Cold War. The local subsidiary of South Korean shipbuilding giant Hanjin Heavy Industries and Construction recently defaulted on more than US$400 million in loans from local banks, representing the largest ever corporate default in Philippine history. Hanjin’s owners sought help from the Philippine government to find new investors to prevent the firing of some 3,000 workers. The company owes an additional $900 million to South Korean banks, acco

East Africa's joint mega railway project at the crossroads

Ongoing works at the Standard gauge Railway (SGR) Project, Phase 2A of Nairobi to Naivasha at the Inland Container Deport (ICD) on June 23, 2018. Its construction is funded by China. FILE PHOTO | NMG  In Summary The planned 1,500km-long railway from Mombasa to Kigali was expected to be completed by 2018, but only Kenya has completed the initial phase of the project from Mombasa to Nairobi.It is understood that China had offered to finance the entire joint railway project connecting Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda, but the idea was dropped after Kampala changed its mind.The standard gauge railway is part of the Northern Corridor infrastructure project designed to connect Mombasa to Malaba on the border with Uganda, and onward to Kampala, Uganda’s capital city and eventually Kigali in Rwanda. ADVERTISEMENT By JAMES ANYANZWA More by this Author East Africa's ambitious standard gauge railway line linking the port of Mombasa to the landlocked countries in the region has fallen behind s

Geographical imaginations of the Belt and Road Initiative

  January 31, 2019 Sarah Hall The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is best known for its implications for large infrastructure projects. However, its geopolitical and geo-economic importance reaches far beyond this to include questions of foreign relations, wider economic developmental trajectories and issues of security. One area of particular significance that has received far less attention than aspects of infrastructure is the financial relations that underpin the BRI. Indeed, the cost of the BRI and the affordability (or not) of this for China have become keenly debated as questions continue to surround China’s own domestic growth rates. The total planned cost for the BRI is currently estimated to be more than US$1trillion, although no accurate figures exist in terms of how much has been spent to date, meaning that putting a figure on the total budget is virtually impossible. Given this, more interesting – and, I would argue, equally significant – questions emerge if, rather t

Planning for a 1000-year empire in a changeable world: hits and misses of China’s Belt and Road Initiative

10 February 2019 13:00   Alexander Zwagerman The Chinese government is known to value stability above everything. That goes for the Communist Party’s managing of the people in whose name it supposedly rules, but also for the way it approaches its near abroad. They value predictable enemies as much as they appreciate loyal vassals. Shifting alliances and changing attitudes in countries, that is something that makes Beijing’s foreign policy establishment nervous. File photo: Wikicommons. Just as the central planners in charge of the economy are charged by the Party to think long term, so the foreign policy wonks are expected to plan for a Thousand Year Empire. Apologists for China used to admire the long term visions of the people they regarded as meritocratic benevolent rulers. It was a good thing that China did not have to worry about election cycles. Yes, who needs that? Pesky people who throw out their rulers on a whim? Unfortunately for China’s so-called meritocrats, some

Saudi investments to aid cash-strapped Pakistan

FEBRUARY 10, 2019 @ 12:29PM  BY AFP A record investment package being prepared by Saudi Arabia for Pakistan will likely provide welcome relief for its cash-strapped Muslim ally, while also addressing regional geopolitical challenges, analysts say. (File pic: For Illustration purposes only) DUBAI: A record investment package being prepared by Saudi Arabia for Pakistan will likely provide welcome relief for its cash-strapped Muslim ally, while also addressing regional geopolitical challenges, analysts say. At the heart of the investment is a reported $10 billion refinery and oil complex in the strategic Gwadar Port on the Arabian Sea, the ultimate destination for the massive multi-billion dollar China Pakistan Economic Corridor, which lies not far from the Indo-Iranian port of Chabahar. Two Saudi sources have confirmed to AFP that heir apparent to the Gulf kingdom’s throne, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, will visit Islamabad shortly, without giving a date. And a number of majo