Belt-Road Initiative and Belt-Road Forum: A New Model of Global Development

May 9, 2019

Belt-Road Initiative is Now Second Largest Trade Bloc

{Global Times} reports today that the BRI has become the second-largest trade bloc in the world, surpassing NAFTA, now second only to the EU. The BRI countries account for 13.4% of world trade, while the EU is about 20%.

In terms of investment, {Global Times} reports, the BRI countries have become the most important destinations for foreign capital inflows in the world, accounting for 31.6 percent of the total in 2017, exceeding the 23-percent share of NAFTA and the 21.2-percent share of the EU.

Chinese President Xi Jinping talks to United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres (not pictured) during the bilateral meeting of the Second Belt and Road Forum at the Great Hall of the People on 25 April 2019 in Beijing, China. (Credit: Getty Images/Getty Images News/Andrea Verdelli / Stringer)

Vladimir Yakunin: BRI is “A Future Model of Global Development-in-Solidarity”

Vladimir Yakunin, the former president of Russian Railways and the initiator of the Dialogue of Civilizations (DOC — the Rhodes Conference), has posted an article on the DOC Research Institute website titled: “The Belt and Road Initiative as a new model for global inclusive development and solidarity.”

Yakunin writes that the Second Belt and Road Forum “should be seen to represent significant global development amidst uncertain times.” He reviews the decay of the world economy that led to the 2008 financial crisis, where investments in infrastructure were drastically curtailed, while “the world economy became `financialized;’ i.e., the financial sector increasingly dominated the real sector. This uncontrolled imbalance eventually led to the financial crisis and later to the global systemic crisis.”

The DOC, founded in 2012, took on an effort to develop “a new approach to under-standing the role of infrastructure projects in global development,” which was published as: “Trans-Eurasian Belt Development: RAZVITIE project,” and presented at a specially organized conference in Milan in November 2012.

The developments at the Second Belt and Road Conference this past week, Yakunin writes, “showed an increasingly widespread unders-tanding that economic egotism and arrogance is giving way to rational collectivism and an orientation towards a new type of globalization, based on principles of equality, sovereignty, and mutual development.”

Yakunin notes that some Western officials are worried that the BRI, together with the new financial institutions like the AIIB, the BRICS’s NDB, and the Silk Road Fund, are challenging their “long-time dominant positions,” but notes that “the traditional international development institutions did not provide the necessary weight for developing countries to participate in the global financial system.”

He reviews the huge growth in the BRI, such as the 73% increase in China-Europe freight trains in 2018 over 2017, with 6,363 trips in 2018, connecting 59 Chinese cities and 49 cities in 15 European countries.”

His conclusion: “[T]he key idea of the Belt and Road initiative — equal and mutually beneficial cooperation without imposing any political conditions — clearly contradicts the currently dominant thesis in contemporary world politics. The new approaches could change the very essence of geopolitics and geo-economics by altering the outdated Cold War mentality of the past. Geopolitical theory has always been articulated through a lens of conflict, dividing the world into `us’ and `them’…. “The Belt and Road Initiative could be the source of a future model of global development-in- solidarity. The key here is the inability to return to the concept of a uni-polar or bipolar world, which can be seen today in global trends towards development of a truly multilateral world.”

Excerpts below:

“SEARCHING FOR A NEW PARADIGM OF SOCIO-ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT”

“Numerous studies conducted after the crisis demonstrated a positive correlation between investment in infrastructure and economic growth. Importantly, it was also shown that infrastructure projects play a positive role in short-term outcomes as well, due to their creation of new jobs and their development of local enterprises, which increase long-term regional development levels.[1] Another conclusion voiced by many prominent economists over the last ten years has been the necessity of developing a new economic model to replace the existing neo-liberal system because neo-liberalism no longer meets requirements. Such statements were difficult to imagine before the crisis, but now seem obvious”

“CHALLENGES ON THE PATH TO IMPLEMENTATION”

“Taking into account the scale of the Belt and Road Initiative and the amount of investment China put into it through the newly founded multilateral financial institutions like the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, the New Development Bank, and the Silk Road Fund, it is not surprising that major powers including the European Union and the US are expressing significant concerns.”

Read entire article

 

America’s Mission of Progress is Vitally Needed Today

Below is a political statement by Anton Chaitkin that was distributed at the McClendon Dinner at the National Press Club, Washington DC, on  May 1, 2019. Mr Chaitkin is a colleague of mine, who is also in the process of writing a new book, American Prometheus

I release this brief statement on my website because, I share Mr Chaitin’s  vision for a better America, founded on the profound principles of our Founding Fathers and those statesmen who followed in their footsteps. Today, more than ever, the United States of America needs leadership with a bold vision for the future that will benefit the entire world.

May 5, 2019

Return to America’s Mission of Progress

It has become necessary to speak plainly about the wrong path America has taken. In the half century since the assassinations of our President and other popular leaders, our country has disastrously changed its world strategy and its economic aims.

The United States formerly had the world’s highest standard of living. Our best leaders always fought for progress, towards a truly civilized standard of living for our own people and as the natural right of all mankind.

But we gave up our own productive industries, with their skills and high wages. And we stopped helping poor countries to become advanced, powerful societies. Yet a high standard of living is essential to a truly human life. Poverty and personal degradation are not natural conditions of a modern world.

Our best historic leaders saw war as an enemy. Our industrial and military strength were means to avoid war, not perpetrate it. Out best leaders cherished “peace among ourselves and with all nations.”

But we have come into war, constant and permanent war, breeding more terrorism and excusing more surveillance, brutality and revenge, degrading our society.

These policies came largely without debate, and with little protest. They reflect the interests of an Anglo-American financial establishment, not the reasoned judgement of citizens in a Constitutional republic.

We made progress when the profits of enterprise came from productive investment. That was our national strategy. But a vast gambling system now dominates the financial world, drawing off useful investment. As a result, our infrastructure is ruined, our transportation is decades behind the most advanced countries. Lawless offshore banking shelters fortunes from narcotics and other crimes. This system is kept in place through the financial and political power of those with ill-gotten wealth. It only floats until it sinks through systemic failure.

On our former road to peace and mutual prosperity, we sought cooperation with other nations for great enterprises, the universal spread of electricity and the manned exploration of our solar system. We are now told that those striving for advancement are our enemies, who must be strangled into weakness and forced to behave.

Accepting this nightmarish policy framework has brought our national politics to a dead end. Only a completely new path can now succeed.

America must return to its founding mission of progress.

To this end, we propose these first steps:

Re-enact the Glass Steagall law, to rein in lawless finance and guide banking to safe, productive investment.

Establish a National Infrastructure Bank, to reconstruct our shattered economy on modern lines.

Join with China’s Belt and Road Initiative, to bring modern times to our poor and backward planet.

Work with Russia on our common security and economic interests, to solve terrorism intelligently and prevent mutual extermination.

Reaffirm national sovereignty and cooperation for the common good, the principles which made America great and successful.

Though powerful interests will oppose these steps, only a return to national and global progress can unite our people and restore faith in our country.

We renounce the fear of speaking out.

We pledge ourselves to fight to restore America’s national mission of progress.

Second Belt & Road Forum: Infrastructure is the Bedrock of Development

April 30, 2019

2nd Belt & Road Forum-April 25-27, 2019 (courtesy TheNews.com)

Xi Jinping’s Keynote to Belt and Road Forum Emphasized Goals of the BRI

Chinese President Xi Jinping’s speech to the opening ceremony of the Second Belt and Road Forum on April 26, “Working Together To Deliver a Brighter Future For Belt and Road Cooperation,” broadly laid out the BRF approach and prospects for the future.

“Together, we will create an even brighter future for Beltand Road cooperation…. The joint pursuit of the BRI aims to enhance connectivity and practical cooperation. It is about jointly meeting various challenges and risks confronting mankind and delivering win-win outcomes and common development…. A large number of cooperation projects have been launched, and the decisions of the first BRF have been smoothly implemented. More than 150 countries and international organizations have signed agreements on Belt and Road cooperation with China….
“Infrastructure is the bedrock of connectivity, while the lack of infrastructure has held up the development of many countries. High-quality, sustainable, resilient, affordable, inclusive and accessible infrastructure projects can help countries fully leverage their resource endowment, better integrate into the global supply, industrial and value chains, and realize inter-connected development. To this end, China will continue to work with other parties to build a connectivity network centering on economic corridors such as the New Eurasian Land Bridge….

“Innovation boosts productivity; it makes companies competitive and countries strong…. China will continue to carry out the Belt and Road Science, Technology and Innovation Cooperation Action Plan and Technology Transfer.”

President Xi also used his speech to present a list of a half-dozen major policy steps China has undertaken as part of its Opening Up strategy:
“First, we will expand market access for foreign investment in more areas….
“Second, we will intensify efforts to enhance international cooperation in intellectual property protection….
“Third, we will increase the import of goods and services on an even larger scale. China has a vast potential for increasing
consumption….
“Fourth, we will more effectively engage in international macro-economic policy coordination. A globalized economy calls for global governance. China will strengthen macro policy coordination with other major economies and keep the RMB exchange rate basically stable….
“Fifth, we will work harder to ensure the implementation of opening-up related policies.”

President Xi Jinping Chairs Roundtable at 2nd BRI Forum– ‘Boosting Connectivity for New Sources of Growth’

The concluding day of the 2nd Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing, President Xi Jinping chaired the Roundtable discussion among the 39 guests–37 heads of state plus the leaders of the IMF and United Nations. A joint communiqué has been issued (see separate slug,) and the Chinese Foreign Ministry has also posted a summary of the “Deliverables” from the Forum.

After a day of presentations, as well as sideline bilateral meetings, Xi and his wife Peng Liyuan hosted a welcome banquet for the national leaders. The cordial, but high-level tone of the deliberations April 25-27, was set in Xi’s keynote opening yesterday, when he happily welcomed everyone, “Good morning! As a line of a classical Chinese poem goes, ‘Spring and autumn are lovely seasons in which friends
together to climb up mountains and write poems.’ On this beautiful spring day, it gives me great pleasure to have you with us here at the Second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation (BRF).”

Read President Xi’s Key Note address

Second Belt & Road Forum Joint Communiqué States Development Commitments; Lists 35 Specific Economic Corridors–Including “The New Eurasian Land-Bridge”

The 37 national leaders were listed in the very first point of the Communiqué, and the following points identified the role of the “ancient Silk Road” to “the strengthening of the connectivity and the expansion of the world economy in the spirit of promoting peace and cooperation, openness, inclusiveness, equality, mutual learning and mutual benefit” and the role for today’s “Belt and Road cooperation” to do the same thing for the future. The remaining points were grouped under these headings: “Strengthening Development Policy Synergy”; and “Boosting
Infrastructure Connectivity”; and “Promoting Sustainable Development”; and “Strengthening Practical Cooperation”; and “Advancing People-to-People Exchanges”; concluding with, “Way Forward,” which stated, “We envisage the Belt and Road Forum on regular basis with possible follow-up events…[looking forward] to the 3rd Forum.”

Here is the full list of “Economic corridors” identified in the Communiqué:

(1) Addis Ababa-Djibouti economic corridor, including the
development of industrial parks along the economic corridor
(2) Agua Negra Pass International Tunnel
(3) Baku-Tbilisi-Kars new railway line and Alyat free
economic zone in Baku
(4) Brunei-Guangxi economic corridor
(5) China-Central Asia-West Asia economic corridor
(6) China-Europe Land-Sea Express Line
(7) China-Indochina Peninsula economic corridor, including
Laos-China economic corridor
(8) China-Kyrgyzstan-Uzbekistan International Highway
(9) China-Laos-Thailand Railway Cooperation
(10) China-Malaysia Qinzhou Industrial Park
(11) China-Mongolia-Russia economic corridor
(12) China-Myanmar economic corridor
(13) China-Pakistan economic corridor
(14) Eastern Economic Corridor in Thailand
(15) Economic corridor in Greater Mekong Subregion
(16) the EU Trans-European Transport Networks
(17) Europe-Caucasus-Asia International Transport corridor
and Trans-Caspian International Transport Route
(18) the Industrial Park “Great Stone”
(19) International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC)
(20) the Lake Victoria-Mediterranean Sea Navigation
Line-Linkage Project (VICMED)
(21) the Lamu Port-South Sudan-Ethiopia Transport corridor
(22) Malaysia-China Kuantan Industrial Park
(23) the Nepal-China Trans-Himalayan Multi-dimensional
Connectivity Network, including Nepal-China cross-border railway
(24) New Eurasian Land Bridge
(25) the New International Land-Sea Trade Corridor of the
China- Singapore (Chongqing) Demonstration Initiative on
Strategic Connectivity
(26) Northern Corridor Trade Route in Africa linking the
maritime port of Mombasa to countries of the Great Lakes region
of Africa and Trans-Africa Highway
(27) North-South Passage Cairo-Capetown Pass-way
(28) the Port of Piraeus
(29) Port Sudan-Ethiopia Railway Connectivity
(30) Regional Comprehensive economic corridors in Indonesia
(31) the Suez Canal Economic Zone
(32) Transcontinental shipment of cargo using the capacities
of the Northern Sea Route
(33) Transoceanic fiber optic cable
(34) “Two Corridors and One Belt” Framework
(35) Uzbekistan-Tajikistan-China International Highway

Read entire communique of Belt-Road Forum

Belt and Road Is Unstoppable: `Critics’ Are Strong Supporters

The extraordinary attendance of governments, heads of state and government, and thousands of businesses at the Second Belt and Road Forum, comparing with the largest international meetings in history, was already proof that the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has expanded greatly since the first BRF in 2017 and is now  an unstoppable new paradigm of economy. After the Second BRF, certain myths of “backfire” and “criticism” in Asia also fell away.

Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamed gave interviews in which he expressed full confidence in the BRI and surprise at its scope. Speaking to Bernama News Agency April 28, he said: “We feel that the [One Belt, One Road] OBOR initiative is not a domination plan by China, which would end up being controlled by China. Instead, it is a policy developed by all the countries, and not only focused on China. Previously … including the Trans-Pacific Partnership, developed countries made the proposals and asked us to accept them. This is not like that; the forum attendees are from small countries and they are sitting with China…They sit together at the same level, and talk about how to develop infrastructure projects.”

In an interview with China’s TV network CGTN, Dr. Mahathir said he had thought the Belt and Road was an infrastructure project for Asia.

“Now it is quite clear that it is, practially, a worldwide project …to improve connectivity and infrastructure development all over the world…I’m very glad I’m here, because now I understand better the character of the project. China has a lot of new technologies, and we need these new technologies.” He forecast large-scale Chinese investment and exports into Malaysia.

Indonesia’s investment minister, Harvard graduate Tom Lembong, who had been critical of China’s rail investments, told {South China Morning Post} that Indonesia has “found China’s openness to its feedback on improving the Belt and Road Initiative highly encouraging…. I believe in the next 5 to 10 years, BRI will stimulate additional investment in probably tens of billions of dollars [in Indonesia],” Lembong said.

In Europe, Italy and Austria are joining Portugal in planning issuance of “Panda Bonds” — infrastructure bonds issued by other countries in yuan, to be issued into China’s bond market. Even Germany Economics Minister Peter Altmaier found the Beijing forum “better than expected,” and is headed back with a Mittelstand delegation.

$50 Billion to Recharge Lake Chad; Pres Trump Should be at China’s Belt-Road Forum

April 25, 2019

Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari-left and UN General Secretary  Antonio Guterres-right  (courtesy LEADERSHIP)

UN Promises To Help Raise $50 Billion for Lake Chad Water Transfer

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari enrolled UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in the effort to raise the $50 billion needed to finance the construction of the Transaqua project to refill Lake Chad, Nigerian media report. That figure was proposed at the International Conference on Lake Chad in February 2018. Here is one such report from the Nigerian daily {Leadership}. Transaqua is an “inter-basin water transfer” project that I have advocated for over 20 years and discussed with President Buhari shortly after he was elected in March 2015. True to his word, President Buhari has remained committed to this inter-basin water transfer project, which would transform the living conditions for over 30 million Africans trying to survive in Lake chad Basin.

“There is a glimmer of hope for the revival of the shrinking Lake Chad after the United Nations yesterday agreed to help in efforts to raise $50 billion for its recharge.” President Muhammadu Buhari revealed yesterday that  UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, had accepted to co-chair a special fundraising session to raise $50 billion (or £38.65 billion) for a project to help revive the drought stricken Lake Chad.”

{Leadership} reports that President Buhari had written to the UN scribe to co-chair the fundraising session with him, which the UN chief accepted. The response of the UN Secretary-General was presented to President Buhari by Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, president of the African Development Bank-(AfDB), at the State House, Abuja yesterday.

In a statement by his press spokes person, Garba Shehu, Buhari  said such a special forum was necessary in view of the size of capital required for the project, which was unavailable to the Lake Chad Basin countries. “President Muhammadu Buhari has welcomed the acceptance of the United Nations Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres to co-chair a Special Session to raise $50 billion to fund the inter-basin water transfer from Central Africa to revive Lake Chad,” Buhari said in the statement.

{Leadership} reports that the Lake, which borders Nigeria, Niger, Chad and Cameroon, has lost 90% of its size due mainly to climate change, leading to fear of famine and throwing the economic life of the 30 million population around it into jeopardy. The shrinking Lake is part of the reason why insurgency and terrorist activities thrive in the region, with militant groups including Islamic State in West Africa (ISWA) and Boko Haram having their strongholds there….”

Read the full article

China Ambassador: `Why U.S. Shouldn’t Sit Out the Belt and Road’

Under the headline above, China’s Ambassador in Washington Cui Tiankai wrote a column in {Fortune} magazine on the eve of the Second Belt and Road Forum in Beijing. “Don’t miss all the winning” involved in the Belt and Road, Cui admonishes, perhaps referring to one of President Donald Trump’s favorite phrases.

The ambassador starts with a very direct challenge: “Imagine the potential of China and the United States, the world’s two largest, most vibrant economies, collaborating on the most ambitious development project in history. The scenario is no fantasy: China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), which kicked off almost six years ago, will eventually connect a vast swath of the world, creating huge yields in economic activity, and wiring the world together as never before. However, the United States remains on the sidelines, and this has implications not only in terms of missed opportunities for growth in the U.S., but for the cause of global development, which needs the ingenuity of US industry.”

Cui gives many arguments for the BRI which reflect those of Xi Jinping. He cites total benefits to the 126 countries now in relationship to it: $6 trillion in total trade, $80 billion in direct investment by China; 300,000 new “local jobs” in those countries; Kazakhstan’s first-ever access to the Pacific Ocean; 6,000 new jobs in Europe’s largest inland port, Duisburg; Kenya’s beginning of economic development and industrial-ization; and so on, with citations from national leaders.

“So where is the U.S. amid all of this winning?” he concludes. “There are countless opportunities to U.S. corporations available through BRI projects. Honeywell International is already working with partners to further oil and gas development along the Belt and Road. General Electric has signed a number of deals with partners of the BRI which will help to provide reliable power and energy to critical regions throughout the world. Caterpillar is working with China’s initiative to help solve Pakistan’s severe power shortages. Meanwhile, Citibank is actively providing financing for projects through the markets along the Belt and Road. We certainly welcome more taking part…. My suggestion is that the U.S. embrace this opportunity.”

China’s Belt and Road Aids Africa’s Growth in New Globalization

(China’s CGTN published my article today, on the eve of the historic 2nd Belt and Road Forum)
Opinion-April 24, 2019

Belt and Road Initiative: Another path to globalization

by Lawrence Freeman

Editor’s note: Lawrence Freeman is a Political-Economic Analyst for Africa, who has been involved in economic development policy of Africa for 30 years. The article reflects the author’s opinion, and not necessarily the views of CGTN.

On the eve of the second Belt and Road Forum (BRF), it is irrefutable that the world has been transformed in the five years since Chinese President Xi Jinping announced the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).China’s archetype for global development is based on the more elevated concept of each country contributing to the “common destiny of all nations” and mankind’s “shared future.”

By focusing on “global connectivity” through massive investments in infrastructure, linking China to the rest of the world through its land and maritime new Silk Roads, China has presented the world with a new paradigm for development – in effect, redefining globalization.

According to the World Economic Forum (September 2018), “the BRI will encompass 70 percent of the world’s population (4.4 billion) and 63 percent of the world’s GDP (21 trillion U.S. dollars),” primarily from construction of rail lines, highways, ports, airports, hydro-energy plants and pipelines.

The first BRF held in May 2017 included 29 foreign heads of state, 11 heads of international organizations and over two dozen attendees on the ministerial level. Because of the expansion of the BRI over the last two years, already 40 world leaders have confirmed their attendance for this year’s conference.

Awakening the Sleeping Giant, Africa

Nowhere, outside of China itself, are the positive effects of China’s BRI more evident than on the African continent. At the 2017 BRF, the only African heads of States who attended were Ethiopia and Kenya, and ministers from Egypt and Tunisia. With Nigeria, the most populated nation in Africa, officially joining the BRI in 2019, and increased collaboration with China throughout all geographical sections of Africa, participation at this year’s BRF from Africa will undoubtedly be higher.

Engineers from the Addis Ababa Information & Communication Technology Development Agency in Ethiopia, Africa, train on Huawei’s networking equipment at the training center at Huawei headquarters in Shenzhen, China, September 15, 2011. /VCG Photo

Prior to the announcement of the BRI, China had already forged a close working relationship with Africa by convening China-Africa Summits (Forum on China-Africa Cooperation) every three years beginning in 2000, rotating the venues between China and Africa.  At the seventh summit held last year in Beijing, all but one of the 54 African nations attended.

Unfortunately, the West lost its vision of development for Africa after the death of President John F. Kennedy, instead adopting a no-infrastructure policy. What Africa has needed most since the 1960s “Winds of Change” liberation from colonialism is infrastructure, water, energy, rail and roads. China has a different view on this.

Ambassador David Shinn, a respected scholar on Africa, wrote last month: “China has been indisputably the single most important builder of infrastructure in Africa since the beginning of the 21st century.”

Take, for example, Djibouti, which is a BRI hub. China is building the Doraleh Multi-Purpose Port and international free trade zone in this northeast African nation, strategically located right off the Indian Ocean and on the Gulf of Eden. It is estimated that one-third of global shipping passes by this port.

In 2016, the first electrically driven train in sub-Saharan Africa, connecting Addis Ababa, the capital of landlocked Ethiopia, to the port city of Djibouti was inaugurated. This rail line built by Chinese companies utilizing and training African laborers and engineers is key to the develop-ment of the Horn of Africa, providing Ethiopia a port to export the products of its nascent manufacturing sector.

Aboubaker Omar Hadi, chairman of Djibouti Ports and Free Zone Authority, told Xinhua that “projects involving cooperation with China are helping Djibouti promote trade in Africa as well as distribution across the East African region… which couldn’t be achieved without developing proper infrastructure, such as seaports and railway connections.”

Chinese workers help to build a new train station in Beliatta in a southern province near Hambantota, which is Chinese managed and designed in Beliatta, Sri Lanka, November 18, 2018. /VCG Photo‍

Hadi called the “debt-trap” propaganda against the BRI, “complete nonsense, as benefits generated from infrastructure construction will far exceed the investment.”

African nations are attempting to industrialize their economies with growth in their manufacturing sectors. China is assisting by creating special economic zones, industrial parks, and industrial zones in Nigeria, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Egypt, Morocco, and Rwanda. Industry and infrastructure generate jobs, raise skill levels and transfer technology.

Will the West Join the BRI?

Africa’s requirement for infrastructure is enormous, allowing Western nations the opportunity to join with China to industrialize this vast undeveloped continent, which is projected to have 2.5 billion people by 2050. President Xi, at the first BRF, said: “We should foster a new type of international relations featuring win-win cooperation” and “development holds the master key to solving all problems.” Regrettably, western nations have been hostile to joining the BRI. However, last month’s ground-breaking signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) by Italy – the first G-7 nation to join China’s BRI – portends a potential change towards a new constructive dynamic.

Read: China’s New Approach to Globalization

China, Belt & Road: Eliminate Poverty, Not “Debt-Trap”

April 21, 2019

President Xi Jinping Hands-on Drive to Eliminate Poverty

As part of his government’s plan to entirely eliminate poverty from China by the end of 2020, President Xi Jinping carried out “an inspection tour to southwest China’s Chongqing Municipality” earlier this week, Xinhua reported, in which he pledged to address the issue like “a hammer driving a nail.” Xi first flew to Chongqing, China’s fourth largest city, and then spent another three hours, first by train and then by road, to reach Huaxi Village, where 302 people living in 85 households are registered as living below the poverty line.

Xinhua added: “Huaxi Village is a typical case of China’s impoverished regions. The basic needs for food and clothing have been met, but more efforts are needed for compulsory education, basic medical care and safe housing.”

It is to be noted that China’s criteria for poverty reduction are not strictly monetary, but include key physical-economic parameters such as education, health, and housing. As of 2018 there were still 16.6 million rural residents living in poverty in China. The government plans to lift about 10 million of those out of poverty during 2019. Xinhua then quoted Xi during his tour:

“The battle against poverty has entered a decisive and critical stage. We must press ahead with our full strength and strongest resolve and never stop until we secure a complete victory. After visiting the village, I feel reassured. We may have about 6 million impoverished people and 60 impoverished counties left at the beginning of 2020. If we make sure this year’s work is well-implemented and push ahead next year, we will eliminate poverty. We are confident about accomplishing the mission.

“Less than two years are left before fulfilling the objective of poverty alleviation. This year is particularly crucial,” Xi said at a symposium held Tuesday afternoon in Chongqing. “The most important thing at this stage is to prevent laxity and backsliding.” Xinhua’s account emphasized the top-down involvement of government officials in achieving this national goal. “Throughout the years, more than three million officials from governments above the county level, state-owned enterprises and public institutions have stayed in impoverished villages to offer assistance.

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FOCAC Summit 2018 (courtesy africa.cgtn.com)
I am posting the following article even though it is from last year, because the author accurately disproves the “debt-trap” propaganda being used by western institutions against China-Africa cooperation.

“2018 FOCAC: Africa in the New Reality of Reduced Chinese Lending”

August 31, 2018

W. Gyude Moore is a visiting fellow at the Center for Global Development. He previously served as Liberia’s Minister of Public Works with oversight over the construction and maintenance of public infrastructure from December 2014 to January 2018.

Debt Trap or Much-Needed Investment?

The debt trap diplomacy case, however, has never been convincingly argued and its application in Africa is, at best, tenuous. The reality of Africa’s debt to China is not particularly remarkable when taken against the sources of continent’s external debt stock (see figure below). A number of African countries’ (Djibouti, Kenya, and Angola) debt obligations to China are alarming—as they would be regardless of creditor. China’s $115 billion credit to Africa between 2000 and 2016 is still less than 2 percent of the total $6.9 trillion of low and middle income countries’ debt stock. Recent studies have shown that China is not a driver of debt distress in Africa—yet. The language of debt trap diplomacy resonates more in Western countries, especially the United States, and is rooted in anxiety about China’s rise as a global power rather than in the reality of Africa.

A column chart of external government debt for Sub-Saharan Africa by official, private, and Chinese creditors

Continue reading entire article

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China’s Belt And Road Forum to Gather 37 World Leaders, and Representatives from Five Continents

There will be no less than 37 heads of state and government attending China’s Second Belt and Road forum in Beijing next week, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Friday. In addition there will be 360 attendees at ministerial level, 100 leaders of international organizations and 5,000 participants. 4,000 reporters will also be attending the Forum, whose theme is “Belt and Road Cooperation, Shaping a Brighter Shared Future.”

“The second Belt and Road Forum will be held in Beijing on April 25-27. It will become China’s largest international event this year. Thirty-seven leaders of state and government will participate in the forum,” Wang told a press conference.  This will include the leaders of Austria, Egypt, Hungary, Italy, Russia, the United Arab Emirates and others. “Senior representatives” of France, Germany, Britain, Spain, Japan, the Republic of Korea and the European Union will also participate; other diplomatic representatives of the United States and North Korea will also be there. International Monetary Fund Managing Director, Christine Lagarde, and Antonio Guterres, the UN secretary- general, are also expected to participate, according to Wang.

This is the highest level event for cooperation on the Belt and Road Initiative, Minister Wang said. He said this year’s event will be characterized by a clear direction, a solid foundation, a warm response from participants, a program of practical cooperation and clearly defined results. A Leaders’ Round-Table Summit will issue a Joint Communique to show the political consensus of the leaders in building the Belt and Road.

The long-term effects of the Initiative will be to strengthen multilateralism, to enrich the principles of cooperation, to build a network of partnership and to build a strong support system for continued development. Wang Yi also underlined the connection between the BRI and China’s new phase of “opening up.” The new phase of  China’s “reform and opening up” will “bring more opportunities for promoting the ‘Belt and Road Initiative’ and the common development of all countries,” he said. “I believe that the forum will inject stronger impetus into the world economy, open even broader horizon for the development of the countries, and contribute to the building of a community with a shared future for humanity,” Wang continued.

China’s Belt & Road New Paradigm for Development: United States Should Join

April 18, 2019

Belt and Road Creates New Asian Paradigm for Global Economic Integration and Inclusiveness

That is the headline on an April 15 {Global Times} op-ed by Toumert Al, the director of Education, International Bachelor Program at the International School under the China Foreign Affairs University. The article provides a tour d’horizon of BRI achievements to date in infrastructure projects on various continents.

“In South Asia, the Belt and Road Initiative is seen as a main driver for infrastructure construction in a region that must bridge the ever-growing gap between its economic potential and the realities of its insufficient infrastructure. According to the World Bank, South Asia requires about 2 trillion dollars of investment in infrastructure construction from 2011 to 2020 if the region wants to be part of the new economic order shaping the future.” The article then discusses a couple of key projects, such as the Padma bridge in Bangladesh and Gwadar port in Pakistan.

Nigeria’s Mambilla Hydro-Electric Dam-3,000 megawatts (courtesy nigerianmuse.com)

“True to its global status and inclusive nature, the BRI is not merely a regional initiative. Africa can be considered a major beneficiary of  China’s economic drive to support the continent’s development and to help its infrastructure and economy achieve targeted growth plans. The year 2018 could be considered the turning point for the BRI in Africa as the signing of the MOU of cooperation between China and 37 African countries and the African Union raised the initiative to a new level. Infrastructure financing provided by China to Africa averaged $11.5 billion between 2012 and 2016.” Examples cited include the $5.8 billion Mambila Hydropower Plant in Nigeria, the Addis Ababa-Djibouti railway, the $11 billion port in Bagamoyo, Tanzania now under construction, and the Nairobi-Mombasa railway project. “Another project that is moving forward and may have the same implications as CPEC (China Pakistan Economic Corridor) has in South Asia is the Suez Canal corridor in Egypt,” the Toumert wrote. In short, the BRI “is a truly new paradigm in international cooperation.”

The Belt and Road Initiative Keeps Growing

China is now engaged in heavy organizing in the countdown to the April 26-27 Second Belt and Road Forum in Beijing, which will bring together representatives of over 100 countries and 29 international organizations. Just how powerful a draw the BRI is to nations across the planet, was shown earlier this week when the tiny Caribbean nation of Jamaica announced that they had signed an MOU with China on the BRI –notwithstanding the withering pressure that Washington and London have brought to bear. A similar, if strategically weightier example of this process was Italy’s signing an MOU with visiting Chinese President Xi Jinping last month.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang yesterday discussed China’s approach to the upcoming Forum: “While the BRI was proposed by China, it has grown into an international public good. The success of the first BRF together with the bumper practical outcomes speaks volumes. The fact that more countries and international organizations are taking an active part in the second forum is further proof to its success.”

Asked about media accounts that India would not be sending a delegation–as they hadn’t to the First Belt and Road Forum–because they view the BRI’s China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) as infringing on Indian sovereignty, Lu responded:

“I would like to reiterate that the BRI is an open and inclusive initiative for economic cooperation. It never concerns territorial disputes. In pursuing BRI cooperation, China and partner countries are committed to equality, openness and transparency, to business operations centered around enterprises and to market rules and international norms. For those with inaccurate judgment on the BRI based on misunderstandings due to lack of knowledge of the real situation, I would like to reassure them that China is sincerely and resolutely committed to the principle of consultation and cooperation for shared benefit, equality and mutual benefit. Since its initiation, the Belt and Road cooperation has been inclusive and open to all countries that are interested in joining and working for win-win cooperation. It excludes no one. If the relevant country would like to take some time to see, we can wait.”

Meanwhile, Xinhua interviewed Cambodia’s Information Minister Khieu Kanharith who said that “the BRI forum will also further promote cooperation between China and ASEAN and between China and Cambodia…. For Cambodia, with Chinese assistance, we can build mega-infrastructure projects, and those projects are crucial to boosting economic growth and making communication easier and faster…. Our first priority is to boost economic growth and to make everybody have a fair share of the economic growth, The BRI can help us through sup-porting infrastructure projects and human resources development.”

He continued: “China has assisted us on equal footing, meaning that although China is a big country and Cambodia is a small country, China always treats us equally. With Chinese support, Cambodia has gained confidence in ourselves and our people are proud and confident in rebuilding the country.”

Chinese Insist the U.S. Should Join the Belt and Road

Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank President Jin Liqun told last weekend’s Harvard China Forum that the “infrastructure bottlenecks are the sewage problems of development. I would say that that’s also a problem for the United States”–a statement Americans can agree with. He presented the Belt and Road Initiative as “a platform for all participating countries to work together, including on connectivity,” which he called a matter not only of regional development, but also of “world peace and prosperity.”

When a discussion arose on how China had gone from being a debtor nation dependent on foreign development assistance, to one of the largest contributors to the World Bank’s International Development Assistance facility today, Jin pointedly commented that how much money a country has is not the issue.

“Accumulated wealth cannot buy you respect unless you help do good things for the rest of the world. So China has been trying to invest and help other countries through its own experience,” Jin stated.

At a Center for China and Globalization conference in Beijing over the same weekend, Jin Xin, director of the China Center for Contemporary World Studies of the Communist Party’s International Liaison Department, took on the arguments of former U.S. Ambassador Terry Miller (from the G.W. Bush days), who asserted the U.S. had no interest in participating in the Belt and Road Initiative, which is viewed as “a Chinese show” that “doesn’t have much to do with us.” Jin Xin countered that the U.S. should work with China in third-country markets under the BRI. If it decides not to do so, the U.S. will again find itself “excluded,” just as it excluded itself from the AIIB, in which more than 90 countries are now members, Jin said.

Nigeria to Expand Manufacturing; UN Praises China’s Belt and Road

APRIL 11, 2019

Nigeria plans special economic zones to double manufacturing by 2025

(courtesy thisdaylive.com)

Nigeria is Africa’s biggest economy but it lacks a strong manufacturing base, which contributes less than 10 percent to its total gross domestic product (GDP). The country has maintained a strong currency to ensure it can keep imports pouring in, with a growing proportion coming from China.

 

“Project MINE’s (Made in Nigeria for Export) strategic objectives are to increase (the) manufacturing sector’s contribution to GDP to 20 percent … and generate over $30 billion annually by 2025,” the ministry of industry, trade and investment said in a statement.

The government has set up Nigeria SEZ Investment Company, which will finance industrial parks in special economic zones in the commercial capital of Lagos, southeastern state of Abia and northern state of Katsina.

The government is currently raising capital of $250 million for Nigeria SEZ Investment Company. It plans to double its equity to $500 million over four years, the ministry said.

The West African country’s manufacturing and agricultural sectors have been neglected since the 1970s oil boom, when Nigeria began making easy money from crude oil sales.

Nigeria, where the vast majority of the population lives on less than $2 a day, recently emerged from a recession but growth is fragile and the government is trying to diversify its revenue away from its reliance on oil.

President Muhammadu Buhari, who is due to start a second four-year term next month, has pledged to revive the economy and is focused on building roads and expanding the railway network to lower production costs…

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UN Africa Official Vera Songwe Calls BRI ‘Probably One of the Biggest Growth and Development Initiatives in the World’

In an interview with the Xinhua that appeared on April 10, Vera Songwe, executive secretary of the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), hailed the role that the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) would play in addressing Africa’s problems in infrastructure and job creation. She told Xinhua that the BRI will positively affect hundreds of millions of people in different countries, while it helps Africa develop infrastructure connectivity of varied types and creates job opportunities that are pressing issues on the continent.

“This (BRI) is probably one of the biggest growth and development initiatives that we have in the world,” the UN official said, adding that the BRI is essential to the continent. She believes that the initiative, in which many African countries “infrastructure today is one of the necessary requirements for Africa’s growth,” Xinhua reported.

African Union Affirms High Speed Rail For Africa Moving Forward

FILE - A train conductor walks inside a carriage as passengers ride inside a Nairobi Commuter Rail Service train from the Mutindwa station in Nairobi, Kenya, Nov. 12, 2018.
FILE – A train conductor walks inside a carriage as passengers ride inside a Nairobi Commuter Rail Service train from the Mutindwa station in Nairobi, Kenya, Nov. 12, 2018 

“Plans are on track for a high-speed rail network connecting the continent’s borders by 2063, the African Union’s Development Agency says. The ambitious multi-billion-dollar project aims to ease the movement of goods and people across African borders, but the AU warns that corruption could derail that goal.Road, rail, and air traffic connections are so poor between some African countries that it is better to transit through Europe than to travel directly between neighbors.

Intra-African trade is less than 15% of total trade, says Adama Deen, the head of infrastructure at the AU’s Development Agency.

“You cannot have integration without connectivity, whether it is road or rail connectivity, especially when we are talking about the Africa Continental Free Trade Area, where you need a single market and connectivity to move goods, persons within the market,” Deen said

READ: African Union High Speed Rail Network On Track

 

Is There A Plan For A Venezuela Type Regime Change for Nigeria?

April 11, 2019

I cannot verify all the information in the article below, nor do I think President Buhari will be removed from office and replaced by Atiku Abubakar. However, the machinations presented in this article are plausible. Although, President Trump has spoken out against regime change, his administration, led by National Security Adviser, John Bolton, and Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, is in fact attempting to do just that in Venezuela. There, they are endeavoring to replace the current President of Venezuela by installing a member of the National Assembly as head of state, who was never elected as President. Some people in and around the Trump administration are trying to use this precedent in Venezuela to establish a new precedent for regime change.  If the cited article below is true, it appears that there are unscrupulous people,  who are being handsomely paid by the defeated, but wealthy Atiku, to make him President of Nigeria.

Atiku Abubakar-left. President Buhari-right. (courtesy nigerianpilot.com)

The idea of removing President Buhari from office-Venezuelan style, would not only illegally overturn the will of the Nigerian people, but it would be a catastrophe for all of Africa. Africa, especially North Africa, is still suffering horribly from the 2011 regime change and assassination of Libyan President, Muammar Gaddafi. Contrary to the misguided apologists of the Obama administration, there is no escaping the truth; Samantha Powers, Susan Rice, Hillary Clinton, and President Obama are responsible for the death and destruction of North Africa by their reckless action in overthrowing President Gaddafi and then killing him. Following the regime change collapse of Libya, thousands of Tuaregs, along with various extremists, drove out of Libya in their pick-up trucks filled with modern weapons and munitions. As a result, following the collapse of Libya, Mali’s sovereignty was undermined, the nation destabilized, and remains so today!

Nigeria is already familiar with the effects of western inspired regime change. Boko Haram’s growth and sophistication in lethality was also caused by the influx of new terrorist actors streaming across the desert after President Gaddafi was eliminated.  Were those lunatics in the cited article ever to succeed in their fantasy to remove President Buhari, civil war accompanied by an exodus of millions of Nigerians would overwhelm West Africa especially, drawing the continent into new and deadly regional conflicts and massive internal displacement of people.

For the sake of Africa and the world, let’s put end to regime change, now!

Excerpts:

“Enlisting the assistance of two high-powered Washington, D.C. lawyers, a Nigerian presidential candidate is looking for help in his legal challenge after his election loss. Atiku Abubakar, former vice president of Nigeria, lost in the country’s February presidential election to incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari. However, Abubakar swiftly filed a legal suit challenging the election results due to allegations of voting irregularities and violence.

“Abubakar has ties to those in Trump’s orbit, having hired political consultants like Riva Levinson, who worked with Paul Manafort, and Brian Ballard, a major Trump fundraiser. Like many other foreign leaders looking to bolster their standing with Trump, Abubakar stayed at the Trump International Hotel in Washington D.C”

“Abubakar himself has a rocky legal history. A Senate subcommittee report on foreign corruption cited Abubakar as a case study regarding his transfer of millions of dollars into the U.S. through shell companies. He was never prosecuted. In 2009, the FBI alleged that Abubakar demanded bribes from former Rep. William Jefferson (D-La.), who was convicted of corruption charges. At one point, Jefferson stored $90,000 in cash for Abubakar in his freezer.”

READ: Failed Nigerian Presidential Candidate Lobbying US to Recognize Him as Authentic President