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Showing posts from March 29, 2019

Balochistan: A Geopolitical Powder Keg

MARCH 29, 2019 JAMES DORSEY   Gwadar (Shayhaq Baloch via Wikimedia Commons) by James M. Dorsey Balochistan should be oozing with optimism as Chinese and Saudi investment pours into the troubled Pakistani province. It is not. Instead, Balochistan, a key node in China’s Belt and Road initiative that borders Iran, is  gripped by anger, fear and uncertainty . Local residents are hardly awaiting with baited breath  Pakistani prime minister Imran Khan’s visit this week  for the Gwadar Expo 2019 and ground breaking of several infrastructure and development projects, including an international airport, a power plant, a vocational training institute and a hospital. Against the backdrop of a history of neglect and underdevelopment, resource-rich Balochistan struggles with a failing health and education system, drought, and lack of basic infrastructure. “The historical lack of investment in basic economic and social infrastructure in the province – except for extraction of natural gas fo

PM Imran performs ground breaking of Gwadar Int’l Airport

APP Fri, Mar 29, 2019 GWADAR: Prime Minister Imran Khan Friday launched work on New Gwadar International Airport (NGIAP) and announced various other development schemes for the city, what he believed would become an engine of growth for Pakistan. “What a pleasure it is to be in Gwadar. Insha Allah, in coming months, years, Gwadar would be, I see, as engine of growth for Pakistan,” he said addressing the ground breaking ceremony of the airport. The event was attended by federal ministers, Balochistan chief minister, parliamentarians, Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa and Chinese Ambassador in Pakistan Yao Jing besides huge number of Chinese workers and government officials. The airport was included among Early Harvest High Priority Project of China Pakistan Economic Corridor in January 2014. The Chinese government would assist Pakistan for construction of the airport under Chinese Grant Assistance. The project is part of overall infrastructure development of Balochist

Is China expecting an apology from New Zealand?

The New Zealand Herald  reports : Improving access to China for exports of New Zealand wood and paper products are among key areas of focus for Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in her talks in Beijing next Monday… Ardern said progressing the upgrade of the 11-year-old free trade agreement with China was among priorities… …Also on the agenda is likely to be New Zealand's decision to join other nations late last year in accusing Chinese government agencies of coordinated cyber attacks and the decision by the Government Communications Security Bureau's decision not to allow equipment from Chinese telecommunications provider Huawei to be included in the country's 5G, next generation internet infrastructure. Asked whether she would raise the cyber attacks, Ardern said she hadn't "finalized everything I intend to raise”… …With the eyes of the Muslim world on Ardern's response to the Christchurch mosque attacks, she said she would reassert New Zealand's consiste

Bluff Called Out: Experts Reject Imran Khan’s Claim Of ‘Major Oil, Gas Discovery’ In Pakistan

Swarajya Magazine, India by  Swarajya Staff  Mar 29 2019, 1:10 pm, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan (Subhendu Ghosh/Hindustan Times via Getty Images) Industry experts have rejected tall claims made by Imran Khan that Pakistan is going to make a major breakthrough in discovering its largest oil and gas reserves in the Arabian Sea. The Kekra-1 well, G Block where the discovery is expected to happen has already been drilled to a depth of 3,700 meters which is 1,800 meters away from the target of 5,500 meters. The spud drilling activities at Kekra-1 well was kicked off with $75-80 million by joint venture with 25 percent share each. ENI, an Italian company, is operator of the Kekra well-1. Exxon Mobile, OGDCL and Pakistan Petroleum Limited (PPL) are the sleeping partners of the joint venture. Advertisement A top official  said , "It is too early to claim a major discovery," he also added quoting the data of ENI, "Earlier the well was drilled to a depth of 4,900 mete

Xi tells skeptical European leaders to trust him

TRIVIUM CHINA To cap off his European sojourn, Xi Jinping met with French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker on Tuesday. The four discussed global governance. Xi suggested a four-pronged approach to address existing “deficits”  (Xinhua): “Firstly, the Chinese president called for fairness and reasonableness to address the governance deficit.” “Secondly, Xi called for consultation and understanding to address the trust deficit.” “Thirdly, he called for joint efforts and mutual assistance to address the peace deficit.” “Fourthly, Xi called for mutual benefit and win-win results to address the development deficit.” Get smart:  Nobody disagrees with these lofty sentiments. The problem is that many foreign governments do not think that China plays fair on the international stage. Merkel summed up the sentiment (Reuters): "We, as Europeans, want to play an active part [in the Belt and Road]."

How China sees the world

TRIVIUM CHINA The two-front fight  with the US and EU on trade and investment are making China more determined to shape global rules. The Government Work Report issued by Premier Li Keqiang on March 5 (see March 5 Tip Sheet) was explicit that China will be much more “proactive” in shaping global rules on trade: "China will be proactive about developing global partnerships, make full use of international platforms to enhance policy coordination, and expand converging interests with other countries." "We will actively take part in reform of the WTO, firmly uphold the multilateral trading regime, play a positive role in the formulation of multilateral trade rules, and promote the establishment of a fair, reasonable, and transparent system of international trade rules." Get smart:  China’s increased urgency reflects the fact that the US and EU – though employing vastly different approaches – are both trying to reform the global trading system to address perceived in

EU's evolving approach towards China

Not to be outdone by the US,  the EU is upping pressure on China as well. On March 12, the European Commission released a position paper to the European Parliament, the European Council, and the Council of the European Union titled “ EU-China – A strategic outlook.” “China is, simultaneously, in different policy areas, a cooperation partner with whom the EU has closely aligned objectives, a negotiating partner with whom the EU needs to find a balance of interests,  an economic competitor in the pursuit of technological leadership, and a  systemic rival promoting alternative models of governance.” The report complains about China’s “discriminatory” and “unpredictable” trade  and investment practices and calls for a more balanced and reciprocal economic relationship. To achieve this outcome, the paper urges the EU to: Push for WTO reform that would force China to get rid of subsidiesPass a proposed measure on procurement that would give the EU greater scope to negotiate reciprocal

Quotes on Belt and Road

ANUSORN TAMJAI (FORMER) BOARD MEMBER, BANK OF THAILAND On construction of the Thai-Chinese high-speed rail " Thailand must have a strategy to create a balance between investments of different countries, not to depend on or be biased toward just a certain country. If we lose the ability to maintain the balance, we could be overpowered and influenced by the Chinese capital. " KARIN KNEISSL MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS, AUSTRIA Speaking to  Nikkei Asian Review  about Chinese investment in Europe " China is getting influence in Southeast Europe. I am watching with great concern. It is a vacuum. I am very concerned about it. China is not only an investor; China is acting as a geopolitical player. " TESHOME TOGA CHANAKA ETHIOPIAN AMBASSADOR TO CHINA On Chinese lending for the Ethiopia-Djibouti railway project " We are negotiating with China as to how to manage the debt, to make it sustainable and try to reduce some distress that comes from debt … and