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Pakistan PM Abbasi — BRI More Than Infrastructure

Pakistani Prime Minster Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, speaking at the Davos World Economic Forum (WEF) Wednesday, praised the quality and scope of the BRI.

“We strongly recognize the vision of China and President Xi Jinping…. We believe the Belt and Road Initiative is perfectly in sync with the WEF theme of creating `shared future in a fractured world.’ It is much more than just a partnership on infrastructure and it will cause significant improvement in lives of people from different countries.” He said half of humanity lives in the region of the Silk Road. He said the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor has started to show results in Pakistan with a major increase in manufacturing and exports. “The key principles are financial stability and lessening of environmental impact and Pakistan being a more responsible global citizen,”

One-Third of Global GDP Growth Past Year Occurred in China, According to UN Report

The Chinese economy alone contributed about one-third of global growth in 2017, as measured in GDP monetary terms, according to the “World Economic Situation and Prospects 2018” released last month by the United Nations.

The UN report points to the transformation which the Chinese economy has undergone, from the former global leader in cheap mass-producted exports, to an increasing producer and exporter of
high-value goods:

The first half of 2017 witnessed a surge of 93.4% in exports of drones, for example. There was a rise of 32.5% in automobile exports, and a considerable increase in the export of other high value-added products such as mechanical and electronic equipment for manufacturing. By providing medium and high-end products of high quality at reasonable prices, China is delivering larger dividends to the world. In recent years, many foreign media have paid attention to China’s advances in science and technology. World-leading technologies, including the mobile internet, artificial intelligence and Big Data, are serving not only as new drivers of China’s growth, but also contributing to global scientific and technological progress. Meanwhile, China’s telecommunications, computer and information services are being exported, creating new miracles of economic development in other developing economies including those of Africa.

On the other hand, China’s vast market and economic vitality have created huge demand for the goods of other countries—which is important, the UN report states, because world economic growth remains “sluggish” (sic) and de-globalization keeps growing. The Belt and Road Initiative and other public goods, offered by China to the world, have greatly promoted international trade and investment and, at the same time, provided new guidance for economic globalization, the said United Nations report documents. In 2017, China announced an additional 100 billion yuan investment in the Silk Road Fund, and, in the first 11 months of the year, China invested more than $12 billion in countries along the Belt and Road, making an important contribution to world economic development.

The Central Economic Work Conference recently held in Beijing stressed high-quality development, sending a clear message that China continues to be a main driver powering world economic growth and stabilizing world economic development, sharing the dividends of China’s economic development with the rest of the world.

China Stresses Importance of Scientific-Technological R&D

Dec. 30 -Leading officials in China’s science sector have announced in the past days that now, after the 19th Party Congress, the country will focus even more on research and development in pioneer areas of science and technology. This will make the vitality of innovations in China even stronger than what was done in the previous five-year plan.

“Following more than 30 years of accumulation, China’s science and technology sectors have been transformed from quantity to quality, Prof. Huo Guoqing of the University of the Chinese Academy of Sciences is quoted by Xinhua. “Now is the time for breakthroughs.” Also Minister of Science and Technology Wan Gang stressed that his country is developing “a new understanding of innovation as the prime driver of development.”

China is proud of having achieved leading status internationally in five landmark innovations since 2015: the dark matter project carried out by the “Wukong” satellite; the quantum research satellite; the space laboratory Tiangong-2; the radio telescope FAST; the deep ocean submarine Jiaolong.

Ethiopia-Djibouti Railroad Officially Opens

Jan. 2 – The Ethiopia-Djibouti railroad officially began commercial operations yesterday. Built by the China Rail Engineering Corporation (CREC) and China Civil Engineering Construction Corp. (CCECC) with a $4 billion investment, the 750 km electrified rail line connects landlocked Ethiopia to Djibouti and is seen as a crucial contribution to the development of both nations, promoting their economic integration as well, Xinhua reported.During yesterday’s inaugural ceremony in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s Transport Minister Ahmed Shide hailed the project as a milestone of China-Africa cooperation. It will have major positive impact on the efforts to build a new Ethiopia, he proudly stated.

China’s Ambassador to Ethiopia Tan Jian emphasized that the project would contribute to the industrialization and diversification of Ethiopia’s economy. “This is the first trans-border and longest electrified railway on the African continent,” he said. “We, the Chinese, see this an early beneficial product of the Belt and Road Initiative. It is regarded by many as a lifeline project … for Ethiopia and for Djibouti. And we see this as a railway of development; as a railway of cooperation, and as a railway of friendship.”

Djibouti’s Ambassador Mohamed Idriss Farah said that the rail line “is an important corridor … we are working for economic integration between our two countries.”

Former German Ambassador to China Calls for Joining Silk Road

Jan. 4–Former German Ambassador to China and current head of the Herbert Quandt Foundation (BMW) Michael Schaefer, calls on Europeans to accept China’s offer of partnership in the New Silk Road in an interview with “Deutsche Wirtschaftsnachrichten.”

Schaefer blasts Europe’s reaction to the New Silk Road policy and accuses the Europeans of projecting their own thinking when they accuse China of hegemonic intentions. Even if not in explicit terms, he calls for rejecting the wrong geopolitical approach in favor of a win-win relationship.

“The geostrategic significance of the Silk Road cannot be underestimated. The Middle Kingdom has set itself to deploy its giant material resources for the expansion of the Chinese economy on the world market. China is carrying out this strategy in an intelligent way, not aggressively but by offering participation to all states– an offer that slowly is being accepted by the small Asian and central Asian countries, whereas in Europe we have a mostly negative reaction, if not a rejection. Here they accuse China of hegemonic intentions– a projection of our own behavior in the last century?”

“Many Europeans make the big mistake of looking at the relationship with the USA and China as a zero-sum game. But a close relationship with the USA does not at all exclude an interest-based relationship with China. We should not see China as a rival, but rather as a partner in key sectors. I am convinced that China wants to be a partner of the West. At least, China does not pursue military dominance and a geostrategic hegemonic position, but it will defend what it believes are its legitimate interests, in particular its territorial interests, with energy, if necessary also through a projection of its military power.”

Schaefer has met Xi Jinping several times, and in 2009, he accompanied him on five-day visit in Germany. Xi, Schaefer says, “radiates an impressive interior calm, fitting with his policy. He proceeds calmly, unagitated and strategically, making China fit for the challenges in the future. Don’t expect a rush job from him. He, like many Chinese, thinks in long time-periods. He is driven by the knowledge that China was the largest national economy in the world until the middle of the nineteenth century, and it will be so again in the future. For the Chinese it is not a matter of ten or twenty years. During his visit to Germany, he showed interest in our development, especially in economic-technological but also in social areas, like no one else I have ever seen.”

The Chinese system is one capable of learning, Schaefer says, explaining how it can react more quickly and better than western systems in changing its economic model. Political stability in China will depend on whether the system delivers on its promises. “Basically, we must presume that even a communist single party will be accepted as long as it delivers stability and welfare. Chinese culture is strongly influenced by Confucianism. This is no religion, but a regulatory philosophy. One of its main features is respect. For instance, respect of children for their parents, but also respect for higher entities. They pursue a harmonically functioning society where– differently from us–no excessive significance is attributed to individual self-realization.”

Japan Seeks Cooperation with China in Africa

Jan. 2 -As reported in the {Yomiuri Shimbun}, the government of Japan will ask China to join in Japan’s development projects in Africa. This is a substantial shift in Japan’s traditional practice to only fund Japanese projects abroad. (It would fit Europe as well to also begin such kind of cooperation with China and Japan in African projects. So far, Europe has been more than reluctant to do so.)

The four projects Tokyo is considering for Chinese participation are: the “Growth Ring” plan to link West African nations via major roadways; development and improvement of roads and bridges in Kenya; development and improvement of the “International Corridor” road that connects cities in Cameroon and the Republic of Congo (Brazzaville); and road improvement in Rwanda.

The “Growth Ring” project is a 3,200 km road running in a huge loop from north to south, linking Burkina Faso with Ivory Coast, Ghana, and Togo, and the 1,000 km road stretching east to west, connecting five countries from Nigeria to Ivory Coast. The project is expected to create a new economic bloc by connecting Nigeria, which has a relatively large economy, with other countries in the region.

Improving Kenya’s transportation system is part of the Japanese development assistance for Mombasa Port, which serves as an international trade hub in the eastern region of the continent. Japan has dominated the work for the port’s development project, but now hopes to divide responsibilities with China on the project to develop and improve a road and a bridge connecting the port with the adjacent area.
For the “International Corridor” project and the road work in Rwanda, Japan will partially finance them and encourage Chinese entities to take part in the projects.

Africa is expected to see explosive population growth and is deemed to be the last mega-market.

China’s Ningbo-Zhoushan Port Reaches Record 1 Billion Tons in Annual Cargo

Dec. 27, 2017 – Xinhua reports, today, that the port of Ningbo-Zhoushan, located in the eastern Chinese province of hejiang, has reached the unprecedented rate of 1 billion tons of annual cargo; it will be the first port in the world to exceed such volume by year’s end.

According to Mao Jianhong, chairman of the Ningbo-Zhoushan Port Group, the port has expanded cooperation with major shipping companies and harbors along the Belt and Road, and has added five new sea routes to bring its total to 86. It has also signed cooperation agreements with twenty other ports.

The Ningbo-Zhoushan port is located at the meeting point of the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, directly south of Shanghai and southeast of the port of Hangzhou. It is China’s busiest port, with 242 sea routes linking more than 600 harbors around the world, Xinhua reports.

In the course of 2017, Mao explained, Ningbo-Zhoushan handled over 10 million standard containers from countries and regions along the Belt and Road, a 16% year-on-year increase.

Moreover, the port launched sea-rail transport services with 11 trains providing services to 36 cities in 14 Chinese provinces, as well as to countries in central and northern Asia and Eastern Europe. In 2018, container and handling volume of the port’s sea-rail transport is expected to exceed 400,000 standard containers, a 60% increase year on year.

Ethiopia-China Cooperation Deepening

Dec. 23 -As the Ethiopia-China Economic, Trade and Cultural Cooperation Forum is currently underway in Hangzhou, China, the Ethiopian government envisaged the forum to provide a new impetus to the comprehensive partnership  between the two countries. The forum kicked off on Dec. 20. According to the Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the forum is one major result of the longstanding relations that the two countries have enjoyed for many years. “Since the establishment of diplomatic relations, the two countries have steadily strengthened a relationship based on their common interests. The two countries have also been and are working closely together in regional and international matters,” the Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement on Dec. 21.

Foreign Minister Aklilu Hailemichael praised the government and people of China for playing a prominent role in his country’s economic boom. “The Ethiopia-China Economic, Trade and Cultural Cooperation Forum will further enhance the multifaceted ties between the two countries,” the statement quoted Hailemichael as saying.

Hailemichael has also briefed participants of the forum regarding Ethiopia’s untapped human and natural resources,  together with Addis Ababa’s commitment to promoting investment schemes in the East African country.

China, Ethiopia’s largest trading partner, is a major player in Ethiopia’s investment, trade and diplomatic landscape. In just the past two decades, Chinese companies have invested close to $4 billion in Ethiopia. According to the Ethiopian Investment Commission, the bilateral trade volume also reached $6.37 billion in 2015.

The recently published McKinsey report also indicated that Ethiopia, together with South Africa, has developed a robust partnership” with China, along with a high degree of economic engagement in the form of investment, trade, loans, and aid.

China Signed 100 Agreements with 86 Countries in 2017

Dec. 23 -Some 86 countries and international organizations have signed 100 cooperation agreements with China under the Belt and Road Initiative. He Lifeng, head of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) said the initiative made major headway in 2017, citing progress in key areas including capacity, investment and the Digital Silk Road.

Steady progress was made in the building of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, the Mombasa-Nairobi railway has been put into operation, construction has begun on the Belgrade-Stara Pazova section of the Hungary-Serbia railway and the Khalifa Port in the United Arab Emirates, the operation of the Hambantota Port has also been transferred to a Chinese firm, said He. So far, cargo train have made more than 7,000 trips between China and Europe, according to He.

Silk Road Hub in Vienna Will Create Up to 140,000 New Jobs

Dec. 22, 2017 -The connection of the Austrian capital via a broad-gauge rail track with the Slovakian city Kosice, and the construction of large freight logistics facilities at Parndorf, near Vienna, will create up to 140,000 new permanent jobs, transport experts working for the implementation of the project are forecasting. The project is named as a priority in the national infrastructure development plan of the new Austrian government. Once completed, the Parndorf freight terminal will handle 54 container freight trains from China weekly. Now: Will the EU give its member Austria financial support, or will the Austrians have to rely on China–as do numerous countries in Eastern and Southeastern Europe, with their own infrastructure projects?

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