National China News

CNN News
Date: May 16, 2018
By Ben Westcott, CNN

(CNN)The Chinese government is leveraging billions of dollars in debts to gain political leverage with developing countries

Sri Lanka’s Minister of Ports & Shipping Mahinda Samarasinghe exchanges souvenirs during the Hambantota International Port Concession Agreement at a signing ceremony in Colombo in 2017.

across Asia and the Pacific, a new report presented to the US State Department claims.

The independent report, written by a pair of Harvard University scholars, identified 16 countries targeted by the Chinese government for “debtbook diplomacy, ” with Pakistan, Djibouti and Sri Lanka identified as being most vulnerable.

According to the report, in some cases the huge debts grow to a size too large to pay back, allowing Beijing to leverage the loans to “acquire strategic assets or political influence over debtor nations.”

This could allow the Chinese government to extend its influence across the Indian Ocean and the Pacific, encircling India and Australia as well as helping to consolidate its position in the South China Sea, the report said.

Last month, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said he viewed “with great concern” any foreign military bases being built in the South Pacific, following reports Beijing was in talks with Vanuatu to host Chinese forces.

According to the new report, Vanuatu, just 2,500 kilometers (1,553 miles) off Australia’s coast, has taken at least $270 million in Chinese loans in the past decade, worth 35% of its GDP. Both China and Vanuatu have strongly denied there were ever discussions over a PLA military presence on the island.

There is also concern in Washington that China is poised to gain control of a major commercial port in Djibouti, where the US and China have military bases.    [FULL  STORY]

China’s Cosco Shipping Ports Ltd., which operates around 180 container berths at ports worldwide, is purchasing a stake in Euromax Terminal Rotterdam BV.

Bloomberg
Date: April 23, 2018
By: Andre Tartar, Mira Rojanasakul and Jeremy Scott Diamond

For more than a decade, Chinese political and corporate leaders have been scouring the globe with seemingly bottomless wallets in hand. From Asia to Africa, the U.S. and Latin America, the results are hard to ignore as China has asserted itself as an emerging world power. Less well known is China’s diffuse but expanding footprint in Europe.

Bloomberg has crunched the numbers to compile the most comprehensive audit to date of China’s presence in Europe. It shows that China has bought or invested in assets amounting to at least $318 billion over the past 10 years. The continent saw roughly 45 percent more China-related activity than the U.S. during this period, in dollar terms, according to available data.

The volume and nature of some of these investments, from critical infrastructure in eastern and southern Europe to high-tech companies in the west, have raised a red flag at the European Union level. Leaders that include German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron are pressing for a common strategy to handle China’s relentless advance into Europe, with some opposition from the EU’s periphery.

Note: Seven deals are assigned to multiple European countries and are therefore double counted.

We analyzed data for 678 completed or pending deals in 30 countries since 2008 for which financial terms were released, and found that Chinese state-backed and private companies have been involved in deals worth at least $255 billion across the European continent. Approximately 360 companies have been taken over, from Italian tire maker Pirelli & C. SpA to Irish aircraft leasing company Avolon Holdings Ltd., while Chinese entities also partially or wholly own at least four airports, six seaports, wind farms in at least nine countries and 13 professional soccer teams.
[FULL  STORY]

As Donald Trump surrenders America’s global commitments, Xi Jinping is learning to pick up the pieces.

The Newyorker
Date: January 8, 2018
By: Evan Osnos
Illustration by Paul Rogers

In an unfamiliar moment, China’s pursuit of a larger role in the world coincides with America’s pursuit of a smaller one.

When the Chinese action movie “Wolf Warrior II” arrived in theatres, in July, it looked like a standard shoot-’em-up, with a lonesome hero and frequent explosions. Within two weeks, however, “Wolf Warrior II” had become the highest-grossing Chinese movie of all time. Some crowds gave it standing ovations; others sang the national anthem. In October, China selected it as its official entry in the foreign-language category of the Academy Awards.

The hero, Leng Feng, played by the action star Wu Jing (who also directed the film), is a veteran of the “wolf warriors,” special forces of the People’s Liberation Army. In retirement, he works as a guard in a fictional African country, on the frontier of China’s ventures abroad. A rebel army, backed by Western mercenaries, attempts to seize power, and the country is engulfed in civil war. Leng shepherds civilians to the gates of the Chinese Embassy, where the Ambassador wades into the battle and declares, “Stand down! We are Chinese! China and Africa are friends.” The rebels hold their fire, and survivors are spirited to safety aboard a Chinese battleship.

Leng rescues an American doctor, who tells him that the Marines will come to their aid. “But where are they now?” he asks her. She calls the American consulate and gets a recorded message: “Unfortunately, we are closed.” In the final battle, a villain, played by the American actor Frank Grillo, tells Leng, “People like you will always be inferior to people like me. Get used to it.” Leng beats the villain to death and replies, “That was fucking history.” The film closes with the image of a Chinese passport and the words “Don’t give up if you run into danger abroad. Please remember, a strong motherland will always have your back!”

When I moved to Beijing, in 2005, little of that story would have made sense to a Chinese audience. With doses of invention and schmalz, the movie draws on recent events. In 2015, China’s Navy conducted its first international evacuation, rescuing civilians from fighting in Yemen; last year, China opened its first overseas military base, in Djibouti. There has been a deeper development as well. For decades, Chinese nationalism revolved around victimhood: the bitter legacy of invasion and imperialism, and the memory of a China so weak that, at the end of the nineteenth century, the philosopher Liang Qichao called his country “the sick man of Asia.” “Wolf Warrior II” captures a new, muscular iteration of China’s self-narrative, much as Rambo’s heroics expressed the swagger of the Reagan era.

Recently, I met Wu Jing in Los Angeles, where he was promoting the movie in advance of the Academy Awards. Wu is forty-three, with short, spiky hair, a strong jaw, and an air of prickly bravado. He was on crutches, the result of “jumping off too many buildings,” he told me, in Chinese. (He speaks little English.) “In the past, all of our movies were about, say, the Opium Wars—how other countries waged war against China,” he said. “But Chinese people have always wanted to see that our country could, one day, have the power to protect its own people and contribute to peace in the world.”

As a favored son of China, celebrated by the state, Wu doesn’t complain about censorship and propaganda. He went on, “Although we’re not living in a peaceful time, we live in a peaceful country. I don’t think we should be spending much energy thinking about negative aspects that would make us unhappy. Cherish this moment!”

China has never seen such a moment, when its pursuit of a larger role in the world coincides with America’s pursuit of a smaller one. Ever since the Second World War, the United States has advocated an international order based on a free press and judiciary, human rights, free trade, and protection of the environment. It planted those ideas in the rebuilding of Germany and Japan, and spread them with alliances around the world. In March, 1959, President Eisenhower argued that America’s authority could not rest on military power alone. “We could be the wealthiest and the most mighty nation and still lose the battle of the world if we do not help our world neighbors protect their freedom and advance their social and economic progress,” he said. “It is not the goal of the American people that the United States should be the richest nation in the graveyard of history.”    [FULL  STORY]

The country has become repressive in a way that it has not been since the Cultural Revolution. What does its darkening political climate—and growing belligerence—mean for the United States?

The Atlantic
Date: December 2016
By: James Fallows

What if china is going bad? Since early last year I have been asking people inside and outside China versions of this question. By “bad” I don’t mean morally. Moral and ethical factors obviously matter in foreign policy, but I’m talking about something different.

Nor is the question mainly about economics, although for China the short-term stability and long-term improvement of jobs, wages, and living standards are fundamental to the government’s survival. Under China’s single-party Communist arrangement, sustained economic failure would naturally raise questions about the system as a whole, as it did in the Soviet Union. True, modern China’s economic performance even during its slowdowns is like the Soviet Union’s during its booms. But the absence of a political outlet for dissatisfaction is similar.

Instead the question is whether something basic has changed in the direction of China’s evolution, and whether the United States needs to reconsider its China policy. For the more than 40 years since the historic Nixon-Mao meetings of the early 1970s, that policy has been surprisingly stable. From one administration to the next, it has been built on these same elements: ever greater engagement with China; steady encouragement of its modernization and growth; forthright disagreement where the two countries’ economic interests or political values clash; and a calculation that Cold War–style hostility would be far more damaging than the difficult, imperfect partnership the two countries have maintained.

That policy survived its greatest strain, the brutal Tiananmen Square crackdown of 1989. It survived China’s entry into the World Trade Organization in 2001 and the enormous increase in China’s trade surpluses with the United States and everywhere else thereafter. It survived the U.S. bombing of the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade in 1999 (an act assumed to be intentional by every Chinese person I’ve ever discussed it with), periodic presidential decisions to sell arms to Taiwan or meet with the Dalai Lama, and clashes over censorship and human rights.    [FULL  STORY]

  • A territorial dispute between China and Japan in the East China Sea carries more risk of an international conflict than the South China Sea, according to Ryan Hass from Brooking’s
  • One big factor that increases the threat of conflict is repeated close encounters between Chinese and Japanese vessels, he said

CNBC
Date: 12-21-2017
By: Nyshka Chandran

When it comes to territorial disputes in Asia, the South China Seatypically commands the bulk of

JAPAN POOL/AFP/Getty Images
A Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force flying over the disputed islets known as the Senkaku islands in Japan and Diaoyu islands in China, in the East China Sea.

attention. But the East China Sea, a lesser-known hotbed of tensions, might be more likely to trigger an international conflict.

“Despite the lower profile, the dispute in the East China Sea may carry greater risk of drawing the United States into conflict with China than the various disputes in the South China Sea,” Ryan Hass, David M. Rubenstein Fellow at Brooking’s foreign policy program, wrote in a note on Wednesday.

Both China and Japan lay claim to a set of islands in the East China Sea that cover around 81,000 square miles. Called Senkaku in Tokyo and Diaoyu in Beijing, the area is near major shipping routes and rich in energy reserves.

“There is greater risk of an unintended incident between Chinese and Japanese forces operating in the East China Sea,” Hass explained, citing “the frequency of close-in operations involving Chinese and Japanese assets, the absence of mature risk- reduction mechanisms, and the lack of consensus between Beijing and Tokyo on acceptable behavior.”

Japan is a close ally of the U.S so if a Chinese-Japanese conflict occurs, the world’s largest economy may have to step in given that it seeks to protect allies as well keep sea and air space open, Hass explained. If Beijing were to deny access to ships or planes which are operating in accordance with international law, that could also trigger a reaction from the White House, he added.
[FULL  STORY]

Quartz Media
Date: Dec 21, 2017
By: Echo Huang

Perhaps no other country felt the economic cost of China’s wrath as South Korea did this year.

By one estimate, China’s decision to boycott South Korea’s tourism industry over Seoul’s decision

to install a US-made anti-missile system cost the economy some 7.5 trillion won ($6.8 billion), according toSouth Korea’s National Assembly’s Budget Office.

Since 2013, China has been the largest source of foreign tourists to South Korea, and made up around half of the 17 million people from overseas who visited the country in 2016. But since Seoul and Beijing’s falling out, the number of Chinese tourists visiting South Korea between March to October this year plunged more than 60% from the same period last year.

Relations between the two countries hit a low in March after Seoul refused to halt the deployment of the anti-missile system, known as Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD), which Beijing deems a threat to its national security. As a result, China’s national tourism administration told travel agencies to suspend selling group packagesto South Korea.

Beijing also directed its ire more specifically against Korean conglomerate Lotte, after the company agreed to provide one of its golf courses near Seoul for the deployment of THAAD. For example, China has fined Lotte over its advertising practices, and shut down a large number of its supermarkets in the country for reasons like fire-code violations.    [FULL  STORY]

China continues its island-building campaign on the South China Sea under the watchful eye of satellites.

The News Lens
Date: 2017/12/21
By: The Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative

International attention has shifted away from the slow-moving crisis in the South China Sea over

Fiery Cross Reef

the course of 2017, but the situation on the water has not remained static.

While pursuing diplomatic outreach toward its Southeast Asian neighbors, Beijing continued substantial construction activities on its dual-use outposts in the Spratly and Paracel Islands. China completed the dredging and landfilling operations to create its seven new islands in the Spratlys by early 2016, and seems to have halted such operations to expand islets in the Paracels by mid-2017. But Beijing remains committed to advancing the next phase of its build-up—construction of the infrastructure necessary for fully-functioning air and naval bases on the larger outposts.

AMTI has identified all the permanent facilities on which China completed or began work since the start of the year. These include buildings ranging from underground storage areas and administrative buildings to large radar and sensor arrays. These facilities account for about 72 acres, or 290,000 square meters, of new real estate at Fiery Cross, Subi, and Mischief Reefs in the Spratlys, and North, Tree, and Triton Islands in the Paracels. This does not include temporary structures like storage containers or cement plants, or work other than construction, such as the spreading of soil and planting of grass at the new outposts.    [FULL  STORY]

Fortune
Dte: December 6, 2017
By: Chris Morris

The increasingly tense stand-off between the U.S. and North Korea may have hit a new high this week.

As U.S. and South Korean military units conducted an annual air power exercise over the Korean Peninsula, China’s air force reportedly staged exercises in “routes and areas it has never flown before” over the Yellow and East Seas. The exercise involved reconnaissance planes, fighter jets, an early warning and control aircraft, and a joint operation with surface-to-air missile units.

The South China Morning Post quotes Li Jie, a Beijing-based military expert, as saying the drills were done specifically to send a message to Donald Trump.

“The timing of this high-profile announcement by the [People’s Liberation Army] is also a warning to Washington and Seoul not to provoke Pyongyang any further,” Jie told the Post.

The U.S. and South Korea used over 200 aircraft in their recent drills. North Korea has protested the exercise as an “all out provocation.”    [FULL  STORY]

It seems that China has not actually taken any action to influence this decision, but publishers are still playing it safe.

The News Lens
Date: 2017/11/19
By: Merriden Varrall 

The recent decision by Allen & Unwin to drop Clive Hamilton’s book on Chinese influence illustrates that China need not exert much effort in influencing Australia. We’re doing the job ourselves.

Hamilton’s book Silent Invasion: How China is Turning Australia into a Puppet State was pulled, according to an email from the publishers, because of “potential threats to the book and the company from possible action by Beijing.”

That’s a fair few “potentials” and “possibles.” From the information available, it seems that China has not actually taken any action to influence this particular decision at all. With the heated debate in Australia at the moment about Chinese influence, Allen & Unwin have made an enormously controversial decision, especially given recent events with Cambridge University Press and Springer Nature.

This is an important point — no actual pressure has been exerted by China. Rather, the publisher appears to have chosen to self-censor, just in case.    [FULL  STORY]

The Washington Post
Date: November 16 at 1:28 PM 
By: Adam Taylor 

As Xi Jinping visited Zimbabwe during a tour of Africa in 2015, Robert Mugabe offered the

Zimbabwe’s president, Robert Mugabe, greeted Xi Jinping as the Chinese president arrived in Harare in 2015. (Jekesai Njikizana/AFP/Getty Images)

Chinese president a warm welcome and portrayed the two nations as deep allies. “China is Zimbabwe’s all-weather friend,” the Zimbabwean president told reporters.

Now, a little less than two years after that visit, the 93-year-old Mugabe, who has ruled Zimbabwe for nearly 40 years, is under house arrest in the capital as his own military patrols the streets and rumors circulate that Beijing may have given coup plotters its blessing.

Less than two weeks before political turmoil hit Harare, Zimbabwean army chief Constantino Chiwenga visited Beijing for a meeting with Chinese Defense Minister Chang Wanquan. China’s Foreign Ministry has said the Nov. 5 meeting was a “normal military exchange as agreed by the two countries,” but there is speculation that Chiwenga, now a leading figure in the suspected coup, was seeking China’s support for a move against Mugabe.  [FULL  STORY]

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