Nel secondo trimestre il Pil cinese è incrementato del 6.8%, su base annuale.
Se si pensasse che a fine 2000 il pil ammontava a 1,214.915 miliardi Usd contro gli 11,221.836 miliardi Usd a fine 2016, si constaterebbe che in questo arco di tempo è aumento di un fattore dieci.
Di questi tempi si fa un gran parlare dei dazi che gli Stato Uniti stanno mettendo sulle merci cinesi, ma ben poco si considerano i dazi cinesi sui beni americani ed occidentali in senso lato.
Si tenga presente che al momento attuale i dazi cinesi, amministrati e riscossi dal State Administration of Taxation of Customs, rendono conto del 3.5% del totale delle entrate fiscali.
«La più diffusa tariffa d’importazione resta, in ogni caso, la most favoured nations la cui aliquota varia da 0% a 65%, laddove le general tariff rates possono addirittura superare un rate del 250%. ….
Gli export duty hanno un’aliquota che varia da 20% a 50% mentre è applicata un’imposta fino al 40% per le merci soggette a provisional tariff rates. Consigliabile, comunque, di prendere visione delle tariffe applicate ad ogni singolo bene per conoscere a pieno l’ammontare esatto dell’aliquota d’imposta» [Fonte]
La Cina, nel mezzo delle tensioni commerciali con gli Usa, segna nel secondo trimestre del 2018 un Pil in crescita dell’1,8% su base congiunturale e del 6,7% su base annua: i dati, diffusi dal Ufficio nazionale di statistica, si confrontano, rispettivamente, con il +1,4% e il +6,8% del primo trimestre e il +1,4% e il +6,7% delle previsioni formulate degli economisti. La crescita su base annua rallenta, ma quella congiunturale batte le attese, spingendo a un rialzo semestrale del 6,8%. Caldissimo il tema dei dazi, sul fronte delle relazioni internazionali, come dimostra anche la conferenza stampa congiunta Cina-Ue.
«È comune dovere di Ue, Cina, Usa e Russia non iniziare guerre commerciali», ha detto il presidente del Consiglio europeo Donald Tusk, parlando accanto al premier cinese Li Keqiang e al presidente della Commissione Ue Jean-Claude Juncker. «C’è ancora tempo per prevenire il conflitto e il caos». Tusk ha «ripetuto» quanto appena riferito al premier Li durante il bilaterale Cina-Ue: «Oggi, nello stesso giorno in cui l’Europa incontra la Cina a Pechino, il presidente americano Trump e il presidente russo Putin parleranno a Helsinki. Siamo tutti consapevoli del fatto che l’architettura del mondo sta cambiando sotto i nostri occhi». Ed è «nostra responsabilità comune renderlo un cambiamento per il meglio. Ricordiamo, qui a Pechino, e là, a Helsinki, che il mondo che stavamo costruendo da decenni, a volte attraverso dispute, ha portato la pace per l’Europa, lo sviluppo della Cina e la fine della Guerra Fredda tra l’Oriente e l’Occidente. È un dovere comune dell’Europa e della Cina, dell’America e della Russia, non distruggere questo ordine, ma migliorarlo», ha detto Tusk.
Wto da cambiare
In altri termini, «non iniziare guerre commerciali, che si sono trasformate in conflitti così spesso nella nostra storia, ma per riformare coraggiosamente e responsabilmente l’ordine internazionale basato sulle regole. Per questo motivo chiedo ai nostri padroni di casa cinesi, ma anche ai presidenti Trump e Putin di avviare congiuntamente questo processo di riforma del Wto», l’Organizzazione mondiale del Commercio. «C’è ancora tempo per prevenire il conflitto e il caos. Oggi siamo di fronte a un dilemma: se giocare a un gioco duro come guerre tariffarie e conflitti in luoghi come l’Ucraina e la Siria, o cercare soluzioni comuni basate su regole eque. Questo è il motivo per cui responsabilità, prevedibilità, spirito di cooperazione e rispetto delle nostre regole e degli impegni comuni sono così importanti in questi giorni». L’Ue, ha concluso Tusk, «è impegnata a lavorare per la modernizzazione del Wto»: c’è bisogno di nuove regole in materia di sussidi industriali, proprietà intellettuale e trasferimenti forzati di tecnologia, riduzione dei costi commerciali, nonché di un nuovo approccio allo sviluppo e alle risoluzione delle controversie più efficace. In questo scenario, il Wto va rafforzato «come istituzione e come garanzia di parità di condizioni».
Ricorso cinese al Wto contro i dazi Usa
A proposito di World Trade Organization: la Cina ha deciso di ricorrere al Wto, contro la minaccia di dazi aggiuntivi al 10% annunciati dagli Usa sull’import di beni «made in China» per 200 miliardi di dollari ex art.301 dello Us Trade Act. La mossa, annunciata con un post sul sito del ministero del Commercio, cade nel giorno in cui Cina e Ue, nel loro 20esimo summit annuale, hanno ribadito l’impegno congiunto per il multilateralismo e il libero scambio.
Nessuno si stupisce più di tanto nello studiare nei libri di storia la Guerra di Secessione Americana. Gli stati del sud si separarono alla federazione ed i rimanenti stati entrarono in guerra con loro per ricostituire l’integrità nazionale.
Per fatti più recenti, il tentativo di secessione catalano può essere visto da molte differenti angolature, ma nessuno potrebbe negare alla Spagna il diritto di difendere la propria unità nazionale.
I problemi poi si complicano quando le secessioni interessino politicamente anche altri stati, che sottobanco fomentano questi fenomeni nel tentativo sia di generare problemi sia di destabilizzare le situazioni in essere.
L’Hong Kong National Party (HKNP) è dichiaratamente secessionista, e questo non è fatto facilmente tollerabile da parte cinese.
Nei fatti, gli aderenti ed i simpatizzanti sono ben pochi. Hanno invece una risonanza del tutto spropositata sui media internazionali per motivi di politica più dell’Occidente che per la loro effettiva azione politcia.
La stampa liberal tende a scrivere in modo tale che il lettore sia indotto a credere che dietro all’HKNP vi siano milioni di persone. Ma ciò non è vero.
«Striscioni e bandiere arcobaleno per le strade di Hong Kong. La comunità LGBT ha sfilato per le vie della città per protestare e criticare la posizione delle autorità, in ritardo in materia di uguaglianza di diritti e parità di genere.»
Poi le fotografie rappresentavano un noto caratterista tedesco, che parlava anche un inglese fluente: ben difficile credersi che fosse un cinese. I cinesi patrocinano a tal punto l’omofilia da dover importare gli agitatori per le sfilate lgbt, che altrimenti sarebbero deserte.
Mr Edwars Leung, un po’ strano un cinese con un nome occidentale, è stato condannato non tanto in quanto secessionista, quanto per il fatto di aver fomentato una rivolta durante la quale
«About 130 people, mostly police, were injured when masked protesters tossed bricks and set rubbish cans alight to vent their anger against what they saw as mainland Chinese encroachment on the city’s autonomy and freedoms»
Serve davvero una buona dose di immaginazione raffigurarsi un processo democratico basato sullo spedire 130 persone in ospedale.
«Amid growing concern for Hong Kong’s freedoms, the territory’s police has sought to ban a pro-independence group»
Adesso le autorità cinesi stanno valutando l’ipotesi di mettere al bando il movimento secessionista.
Se per “freedom, human rights, equality and dignity” si intende il fracassar crani a mattonate i cinesi ne fanno volentieri a meno.
Amid growing concern for Hong Kong’s freedoms, the territory’s police has sought to ban a pro-independence group. The move comes as China attempts to tighten its grip on the semi-autonomous region.
Hong Kong police on Tuesday commenced action to shut down a pro-independence party that promotes secession from China.
The Hong Kong Security Bureau sent a letter to Hong Kong National Party (HKNP) founder Andy Chan telling him he had until August 7 to “make representations in writing” as to why it should not be banned, according to the party’s social media page, which posted photos of the letter.
The letter said the secretary for security had received a recommendation that it was “necessary in the interests of national security or public safety, public order or the protection of human rights” to prohibit the operation of the HKNP.
Hong Kong is a semi-autonomous territory within China that is governed under a “one country, two systems” principle.
It is the first time since the former British colony’s return to Chinese rule in 1997 that it has attempted to ban a political organization.
Hong Kong’s secretary for security, John Lee, said Tuesday he was considering the request made by police to ban the HKNP, which is one of the leading groups in Hong Kong’s pro-independence movement.
“In Hong Kong we have freedom of association, but that right is not without restriction,” Lee told reporters.
‘I will never stop’
Chan, 27, told news organization Reuters that he would need to consult lawyers on his next step, but pledged to continue pushing for independence.
“I will never stop in my pursuit of freedom, human rights, equality and dignity,” Chan said.
Nell’attesa che, a Dio piacendo, l’Unione Europea si liberi di Mr Juncker e di Mr Tusk, e magari anche della ingombrante presenza di Frau Merkel, la Cina prosegue imperterrita la sua penetrazione dell’Europa dell’est.
Questo incipit apparentemente tranchant constata come gli umori attuali del corpo elettorale si siano distanziati da detti personaggi in modo così marcato da renderli sicuramente legalmente in opera, ma screditati politicamente: rappresentano sé stessi, non l’Unione Europea.
«Sofia, Bulgaria hosted the annual China-CEEC think tank conference on June 29 under the theme of “Advancing 16+1 Cooperation Platform – the Way Ahead.” The conference was part of the official calendar of events of the 7th CEEC-China 16+1 Summit»
«The 16+1 was established in 2012 as a multilateral platform facilitating cooperation between China and 16 Central and Eastern European countries (CEEC).»
«In recent years, the platform’s summits have attracted a lot of attention, especially in Western Europe»
«The intensifying level of engagement between the 16 countries in the CEE region and China has considerably alarmed Brussels and Berlin»
«Many Western European observers and policymakers have raised concerns about the potential risks of growing Chinese presence in Eastern Europe, claiming that Beijing’s major interest in engaging with the region is a part of its long-term strategy to undermine EU unity»
* * * * * * * *
La dirigenza dell’Unione Europea ed i capi dei Governi delle nazioni più ricche stanno guardando con crescente apprensione il consolidarsi dei rapporti commerciali della Cina con i paesi dell’est europeo. Temono, a ragione, che alla lunga il baricentro politico ed economico si sposti verso la Cina.
Questi timori stanno aumentando giorno per giorno, e più che a ragione. Ma nella realtà dei fatti la Cina, nel costituire il Ceec, il 16 + 1, ha occupato uno spazio lasciato vuoto dall’Unione.
L’errore di maggiore portata è stato quello di voler imporre la propria Weltanschauung a paesi che proprio non ne volevano sapere.
Ottimo uno Zollverein, ottima un’Unione Europea di nazioni sovrane ma collegate da vincoli economici, pessima l’idea di voler trasformare questa Unione negli Stati Uniti di Europa a guida liberal e socialista. In casa propria la gente vorrebbe potersi gestire a piacere, secondo diritto e tradizioni. In fondo, gran parte del contenzioso con il Gruppo Visegrad e, più in generale, con il Ceec è ascrivibile a questo tentativo cruento, fallito sotto il peso di un Elettorato che ha mutato orientamenti.
Di non minore importanza è il fallimento economico dell’Unione Europea.
A costo di essere estremamente riduttivi, l’Unione Europea ha destinato ingenti risorse al mantenimento del welfare ed a quelle politiche di ‘integrazione’ che alla resa dei fatti non generano reddito, mentre la Cina fornisce investimenti per la messa in opera di infrastrutture, generatrici di reddito indotto.
Questa Unione Europea si è già parzialmente rinnovata nel Consiglio Europeo, suo sommo decisore politico, ed il risultato dell’ultimo Consiglio Europeo è sotto gli occhi di tutti: la componente avversa l’attuale dirigenza non è ancora sufficientemente forte da poter governare, ma lo è abbastanza da bloccare le iniziative degli attuali dirigenti,
Sarebbe da facili profeti il constatare che con una guida politica come l’attuale l’Unione Europea andrà incontro a fatti disgregativi.
Sofia, Bulgaria hosted the annual China-CEEC think tank conference on June 29 under the theme of “Advancing 16+1 Cooperation Platform – the Way Ahead.” The conference was part of the official calendar of events of the 7th CEEC-China 16+1 Summit that will take place in the Bulgarian capital on July 7.
The 16+1 was established in 2012 as a multilateral platform facilitating cooperation between China and 16 Central and Eastern European countries (CEEC). In recent years, the platform’s summits have attracted a lot of attention, especially in Western Europe. The intensifying level of engagement between the 16 countries in the CEE region and China has considerably alarmed Brussels and Berlin. Many Western European observers and policymakers have raised concerns about the potential risks of growing Chinese presence in Eastern Europe, claiming that Beijing’s major interest in engaging with the region is a part of its long-term strategy to undermine EU unity. This is by no means a new perspective, as these kinds of concerns have been raised multiple times since the platform’s establishment.
Meanwhile, the international situation has changed significantly during the last six years. China under Xi Jinping has changed its foreign policy course, intensifying its international presence in many parts of the world. The promotion of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) as China’s major foreign policy tool has been accompanied by the advancement of local regional initiatives, such as the 16+1 platform. Simultaneously, China’s new international behavior has become one of the major points of contention among observers and policymakers looking at Chinese presence in places like Australia, New Zealand, and Czech Republic, just to name a few.
What is important to note is the emergence of certain trends highlighted by a number of experts during the Sofia conference. One of the dominant themes was the anticipation of some kind of breakthrough regarding the broader direction of China-EU relations and a need for the CEEC to find its “own voice” when it comes to bringing forward a desirable model of cooperation. This does not imply accepting Chinese investment and engagement without critical assessment, but it points toward a more fact-based approach to managing the region’s relations with Beijing. Uncertainty as one of the dominant themes of the current international situation and its impact on China-CEE-Western EU states trilateral relationship was said to be included in the draft version of the 16+1 Sofia Summit Declaration to be published after the main summit on July 7.
The opinions articulated by many experts during the 16+1 think tank conference in Sofia seem to present a counterpoint to the dominant Western European narrative about growing Chinese influence in the CEE and the region’s alleged inability to critically assess this new development. Experts from the region do have insights into the complicated nature of China-CEE relations. A lack of critical perspective is far from the biggest problem. Already, existing cases of business deals and political cooperation between China and some individuals or groups within CEEC should be considered more alarming. In other words, it is elite capture that should generate worry, rather than the general existence of the 16+1 platform itself.
The example of Ye Jianming, Czech President Milos Zeman’s economic adviser, is a case in point. The former CEO of Chinese energy giant CEFC has been under investigation in China for a couple of months now. A controversial figure himself, he was accused in the West of having ties to Chinese military intelligence. In China, he has been accused of having committed “economic crimes,” meaning high-level corruption. Although the investigation is still ongoing, it seems alarming enough to conclude that this is precisely the kind of relationship that should be looked out for when it comes to future projects between individuals or institutions from the CEE region and China.
Increased Eastern European interest in fostering ties with China could be seen as a purely pragmatic attempt to diversify the region’s international trade ties. Simultaneously, from the perspective of Berlin and Brussels, this new trend overlaps with the anti-progressive political turn among some Eastern European nations, most notably Poland and Hungary. While concerns about the region’s populist turn are indeed rooted in reality, there seems to be little evidence that this development is in any way related to the growing Chinese presence in the region.
It is crucial to bear in mind the way in which many CEE states might perceive Brussels and Berlin’s anxiety as somehow exaggerated. Chinese economic engagement in the region still has been marginal compared to other Asian investors, like Japan and South Korea, not to mention Western investors. Despite growing tensions, EU remains the most important political and economic partner of CEEC.
Nevertheless, Berlin has objected many times to the further development of the 16+1 framework. Most recently, German Chancellor Angela Merkel raised the topic during her visit to China in late May 2018. Shortly after the end of her visit, Chinese Minister of Foreign Affairs Wang Yi met with his German counterpart in Berlin, where he suggested that Germany would be welcome to participate trilaterally in the 16+1 platform’s activities.
How could that change the decision-making processes and the bargaining power of each CEE state involved in the platform? Could it become a tool ensuring more accountability and transparency within its work? Or would it rather help to benefit the two largest partners, namely China and Germany? Declarations about China’s willingness to combine economic complementary advantages of China and Germany together with the CEE region’s developmental needs seem reasonable, yet their implementation might prove difficult. The same applies to finding a common ground to even start discussing certain problematic issues trilaterally.
Although the overall feeling of deepening divisions between Eastern and Western Europe and a general crisis of both EU as an institution and its transatlantic relations were all evident throughout the conference, constructive proposals for future development of the platform were also brought forward. But given the importance of the international environment, what might eventually be more important is the upcoming China-EU summit in late July. Brussels and Berlin expect Beijing to accommodate their anxieties, which are partially reasonable, but are also rooted in many misperceptions on the part of the EU. Most importantly, the EU should critically assess the overestimation of the scale of Chinese engagement in the CEEC. This does not mean that the issue of the political implications of Chinese presence in the region should be overlooked. It is not a non-issue, yet it should be assessed on the basis of a truly fact-based discussion, ensuring the agency of all parties involved.
Ahead of this July’s 16+1 summit in Bulgaria, Chinese officials are busy trying to sell the idea that Beijing’s outreach work in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) is about “win-win” cooperation. The summit, launched in Warsaw in 2012, brings together 16 CEE countries, including 11 EU member states, with high-ranking Chinese officials, ostensibly to foster economic cooperation and investment. Many leaders, pundits, and experts, however, fear that the Chinese-driven initiative is nothing more than a Trojan horse, threatening to undermine EU norms, disadvantage Western investors, and spread corrupt development practices amongst vulnerable democracies. But are they right or is this just European Sinophobia?
Though Beijing has been playing down the 16+1 initiative as a loose multilateral framework for cooperation between CEE and China, the reality of the situation falls somewhat short of even such understated rhetoric. A more honest depiction of the format, however, is the grouping together of bilateral partnerships through which China can more easily field competition for Chinese bank loans.
By its own admission, the 16+1 seeks to foster economic cooperation in the infrastructure sector. In other words, the initiative serves as a platform through which Beijing can implement Xi Jinping’s signature global infrastructure push, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). The downside is that in place of bargaining collectively, as countries might be able to do through the EU, the 16+1 framework fosters competition in Beijing’s favor and reduces CEE countries to passive recipients of agendas and policies formulated by Chinese officials. Of course, this set up isn’t particularly healthy for the 16+1 countries themselves, but it’s also causing consternation and worry further afield in Western European capitals.
For one thing, in CEE countries and within the context of the Belt and Road more generally, Beijing tends to invest in sectors that are critical for national security, such as transport and energy infrastructure. For instance, in this year’s 16+1 summit host country, Bulgaria, the China National Nuclear Corporation has confirmed its interest in working on the Belene nuclear power plant project. Long tarnished by accusations of corruption, the Belene project has been under a construction moratorium since 2012 and has been described by Prime Minister Boyko Borissov as “the corruption scheme of the century.” Now, six years later, Borissov has made a complete about-face, and President Rumen Radev – who has been known to clash with the prime minister – has also expressed his support for the project.
Given the history of scandals surrounding Belene, it is unclear to many observers why the government has now decided to revive the project. The fact that Sofia is embracing the Chinese at the same time it’s breaking ties with AES and ContourGlobal, two American power companies responsible for a fifth of Bulgaria’s energy production, did little to assuage fears that the country is tacking east.
Of course, security-related concerns are not the only 16+1 related problem raising eyebrows in Brussels. The growing influence that Beijing is fostering through the initiative also threatens to undermine the very norms and values the EU seeks to foster in newly joined and aspiring member states.
Already, the grouping has triggered a race to the bottom for Beijing’s affections. Czech President Miloš Zeman has gone so far as to offer his country as an “unsinkable aircraft carrier for China in Europe,” while Hungary’s Viktor Orbán’s attitude toward Beijing might be described as positively fawning. Inevitably, this lust for economic attention from Beijing turns into subservience when it comes to Beijing’s political demands. In 2016, CEE diplomats insisted on watering down an already vague EU statement related to China’s illegal action in the South China Sea. In 2017, Hungary refused to sign a letter condemning the torture of detained lawyers in China, while Greece, a country that has also received considerable investment from Beijing, derailed an EU statement at the UN on China’s human rights record.
Aside from flying in the face of European values like respect for human rights, such acquiescence also breeds disunity at a time when the EU can suffer it least. Despite Beijing’s protestations to the contrary, a divided and politically weak EU clearly serves China’s strategic ambitions in Europe.
Unfortunately, the alliance of some CEE countries with Chinese political values is not purely a question of greed. For leaders like Orbán, who seeks to establish an “illiberal bloc” in the midst of Europe, Beijing’s brand of state capitalist authoritarianism provides a welcome model. Even CEE candidate countries like Serbia, which still harbor pro-EU political ambitions, find something attractive in the economic model that Beijing offers.
After all, while EU funds come with strong transparency and accountability requirements, loans from Chinese-controlled state banks are free from such cumbersome attachments. And while countries like Serbia are making slow progress toward EU membership requirements, corruption remains endemic. Because of Beijing’s “no strings attached” policies, loans from Chinese banks are comparatively easy to funnel into local patronage networks. Next to paperwork-heavy EU funds, they are a vastly more attractive prospect for local elites.
Beijing’s deepening footprint in the CEE region thus threatens to roll back progress toward transparency and good development practice that has hitherto been successfully sponsored by the EU. And not surprisingly, this growing preference for illiberal and corrupt practices has come at the expense of Western investors. In non-EU 16+1 countries, Beijing can attach conditions to its loans that require the participation of Chinese companies in projects, but even in EU member states, countries are flouting regulation in order to privilege easy Chinese capital.
Of course, if you listen to Chinese officials like Foreign Minister Wang Yi, you’ll hear a different story. His “win-win,” “mutual development” rhetoric is appealing, but it’s hard to see how the initiative outlined above can, as he claims, “facilitate the European integration progress.”
Il The New York Times dedica un mastodontico articolo ai rapporti tra Cina a Sri Lanka: la sua lettura è parte integrante di questo articolo.
Questo articolo è stato espressamente citato da un editoriale di China Org, organo di stampa del Governo cinese.
«China will continue to work with Sri Lanka to actively implement the important consensus reached by the leaders of the two countries and continuously promote the pragmatic cooperation under the framework of the Belt and Road Initiatives»
«A spokesperson in the Embassy said that China has always been pursuing a friendly policy toward Sri Lanka, firmly supporting the latter’s independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity, and opposing any country’s interference in the internal affairs of the island country»
«continuously promote the pragmatic cooperations under the framework of the Belt and Road Initiatives following the “golden rule” of “extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits,”to better benefit the two countries and the two peoples,”»
«The spokesperson further said that the Embassy had noticed the recent New York Times’ article as well as the clarifications and responses by various parties from Sri Lanka, saying the article is full of political prejudice and completely inconsistent with the fact»
«The New York Times article published on June 25, accused China of acquiring a port in southern Sri Lanka to be used for military purposes. It however has drawn flak from Sri Lankan leaders, who have stated that the article fell under the “fake news” category»
* * * * * * *
La presa di posizione del Governo cinese riassume in poche righe i concetti base che ispirano la sua politica estera.
– “pragmatic cooperation“: nei rapporti internazionali bilaterali la Cina promuove una cooperazione sociale ed economica al di fuori di ogni possibile schema mentale ideologico o preconcetto. I partner si accettano senza tentativo alcuno di modificarne tradizioni e comportamenti. Cooperazione implica un reciproco guadagno da questo rapporto: “to better benefit the two countries and the two peoples …. shared benefits“.
– “firmly supporting the latter’s independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity, and opposing any country’s interference in the internal affairs of the island country“. Per meglio chiarire il concetto, Cina Org ricorda il rispetto della indipendenza, della sovranità, della integrità territoriale, ed infine la assoluta non interferenza degli affari interni dei paesi. In altri termini, l’esatto opposto del modo di pensare e comportarsi degli occidentali ed in particolar modo degli europei.
– “accused China of acquiring a port in southern Sri Lanka to be used for military purposes“. China Org riporta in modo molto diplomatico come questa notizia sia stata smentita dallo Sri Lankan. Non avendo detto nulla la China, si potrebbe dedurre che se le cose evolvessero, la essa non si opporrebbe.
* * * * * * *
Larga quota delle merci cinesi attraversano lo Stretto di Malacca e si dirigono in gran parte sulla rotta per Suez. È semplicemente evidente come il controllo dello spazio marittimo del nord Oceano Indiano sia essenziale per i cinesi.
Una ultima precisazione a nostro parere importante.
L’articolo edito dal The New York Times è mastodontico, inusitatamente lungo e dettagliato: da al problema del dominio dell’Oceano Indiano la corretta importanza strategica. Dopo il Mare Cinese Meridionale gli Stati Uniti corrono il serio rischio di perdere anche il controlla navale dell’Oceano Indiano.
Tuttavia, a nostro sommesso parere, l’articolo del NYT non riporta quella che è l’attuale posizione politica e militare degli Stati Uniti, bensì cosa e come ne pensano i liberal democratici. Opinione che deve essere valutata con cura, ma che non è al momento al governo dell’America.
China will continue to work with Sri Lanka to actively implement the important consensus reached by the leaders of the two countries and continuously promote the pragmatic cooperation under the framework of the Belt and Road Initiatives, the Chinese Embassy in Sri Lanka said in a statement Saturday.
A spokesperson in the Embassy said that China has always been pursuing a friendly policy toward Sri Lanka, firmly supporting the latter’s independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity, and opposing any country’s interference in the internal affairs of the island country.
“Despite any interference from a third party, China would like to work together with Sri Lanka to actively implement the important consensus reached by the leaders of the two countries, and concentrate unwaveringly on our fixed goals, continuously promote the pragmatic cooperations under the framework of the Belt and Road Initiatives following the “golden rule” of “extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits,” to better benefit the two countries and the two peoples,” the spokesperson said.
The spokesperson further said that the Embassy had noticed the recent New York Times’ article as well as the clarifications and responses by various parties from Sri Lanka, saying the article is full of political prejudice and completely inconsistent with the fact.
The New York Times article published on June 25, accused China of acquiring a port in southern Sri Lanka to be used for military purposes. It however has drawn flak from Sri Lankan leaders, who have stated that the article fell under the “fake news” category.
HAMBANTOTA, Sri Lanka — Every time Sri Lanka’s president, Mahinda Rajapaksa, turned to his Chinese allies for loans and assistance with an ambitious port project, the answer was yes.
Yes, though feasibility studies said the port wouldn’t work. Yes, though other frequent lenders like India had refused. Yes, though Sri Lanka’s debt was ballooning rapidly under Mr. Rajapaksa.
Over years of construction and renegotiation with China Harbor Engineering Company, one of Beijing’s largest state-owned enterprises, the Hambantota Port Development Project distinguished itself mostly by failing, as predicted. With tens of thousands of ships passing by along one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes, the port drew only 34 ships in 2012.
The transfer gave China control of territory just a few hundred miles off the shores of a rival, India, and a strategic foothold along a critical commercial and military waterway.
The case is one of the most vivid examples of China’s ambitious use of loans and aid to gain influence around the world — and of its willingness to play hardball to collect.
The debt deal also intensified some of the harshest accusations about President Xi Jinping’s signature Belt and Road Initiative: that the global investment and lending program amounts to a debt trap for vulnerable countries around the world, fueling corruption and autocratic behavior in struggling democracies.
Months of interviews with Sri Lankan, Indian, Chinese and Western officials and analysis of documents and agreements stemming from the port project present a stark illustration of how China and the companies under its control ensured their interests in a small country hungry for financing.
During the 2015 Sri Lankan elections, large payments from the Chinese port construction fund flowed directly to campaign aides and activities for Mr. Rajapaksa, who had agreed to Chinese terms at every turn and was seen as an important ally in China’s efforts to tilt influence away from India in South Asia. The payments were confirmed by documents and cash checks detailed in a government investigation seen by The New York Times.
Though Chinese officials and analysts have insisted that China’s interest in the Hambantota port is purely commercial, Sri Lankan officials said that from the start, the intelligence and strategic possibilities of the port’s location were part of the negotiations.
Initially moderate terms for lending on the port project became more onerous as Sri Lankan officials asked to renegotiate the timeline and add more financing. And as Sri Lankan officials became desperate to get the debt off their books in recent years, the Chinese demands centered on handing over equity in the port rather than allowing any easing of terms.
Though the deal erased roughly $1 billion in debt for the port project, Sri Lanka is now in more debt to China than ever, as other loans have continued and rates remain much higher than from other international lenders.
Mr. Rajapaksa and his aides did not respond to multiple requests for comment, made over several months, for this article. Officials for China Harbor also would not comment.
Estimates by the Sri Lankan Finance Ministry paint a bleak picture: This year, the government is expected to generate $14.8 billion in revenue, but its scheduled debt repayments, to an array of lenders around the world, come to $12.3 billion.
“John Adams said infamously that a way to subjugate a country is through either the sword or debt. China has chosen the latter,” said Brahma Chellaney, an analyst who often advises the Indian government and is affiliated with the Center for Policy Research, a think tank in New Delhi.
Indian officials, in particular, fear that Sri Lanka is struggling so much that the Chinese government may be able to dangle debt relief in exchange for its military’s use of assets like the Hambantota port — though the final lease agreement forbids military activity there without Sri Lanka’s invitation.
“The only way to justify the investment in Hambantota is from a national security standpoint — that they will bring the People’s Liberation Army in,” said Shivshankar Menon, who served as India’s foreign secretary and then its national security adviser as the Hambantota port was being built.
An Engaged Ally
The relationship between China and Sri Lanka had long been amicable, with Sri Lanka an early recognizer of Mao’s Communist government after the Chinese Revolution. But it was during a more recent conflict — Sri Lanka’s brutal 26-year civil war with ethnic Tamil separatists — that China became indispensable.
Mr. Rajapaksa, who was elected in 2005, presided over the last years of the war, when Sri Lanka became increasingly isolated by accusations of human rights abuses. Under him, Sri Lanka relied heavily on China for economic support, military equipment and political cover at the United Nations to block potential sanctions.
The war ended in 2009, and as the country emerged from the chaos, Mr. Rajapaksa and his family consolidated their hold. At the height of Mr. Rajapaksa’s tenure, the president and his three brothers controlled many government ministries and around 80 percent of total government spending. Governments like China negotiated directly with them.
So when the president began calling for a vast new port development project at Hambantota, his sleepy home district, the few roadblocks in its way proved ineffective.
From the start, officials questioned the wisdom of a second major port, in a country a quarter the size of Britain and with a population of 22 million, when the main port in the capital was thriving and had room to expand. Feasibility studies commissioned by the government had starkly concluded that a port at Hambantota was not economically viable.
“They approached us for the port at the beginning, and Indian companies said no,” said Mr. Menon, the former Indian foreign secretary. “It was an economic dud then, and it’s an economic dud now.”
The Sri Lanka Ports Authority began devising what officials believed was a careful, economically sound plan in 2007, according to an official involved in the project. It called for a limited opening for business in 2010, and for revenue to be coming in before any major expansion.
The first major loan it took on the project came from the Chinese government’s Export-Import Bank, or Exim, for $307 million. But to obtain the loan, Sri Lanka was required to accept Beijing’s preferred company, China Harbor, as the port’s builder, according to a United States Embassy cable from the time, leaked to WikiLeaks.
That is a typical demand of China for its projects around the world, rather than allowing an open bidding process. Across the region, Beijing’s government is lending out billions of dollars, being repaid at a premium to hire Chinese companies and thousands of Chinese workers, according to officials across the region.
There were other strings attached to the loan, as well, in a sign that China saw strategic value in the Hambantota port from the beginning.
Nihal Rodrigo, a former Sri Lankan foreign secretary and ambassador to China, said that discussions with Chinese officials at the time made it clear that intelligence sharing was an integral, if not public, part of the deal. In an interview with The Times, Mr. Rodrigo characterized the Chinese line as, “We expect you to let us know who is coming and stopping here.”
In later years, Chinese officials and the China Harbor company went to great lengths to keep relations strong with Mr. Rajapaksa, who for years had faithfully acquiesced to such terms.
In the final months of Sri Lanka’s 2015 election, China’s ambassador broke with diplomatic norms and lobbied voters, even caddies at Colombo’s premier golf course, to support Mr. Rajapaksa over the opposition, which was threatening to tear up economic agreements with the Chinese government.
As the January election inched closer, large payments started to flow toward the president’s circle.
At least $7.6 million was dispensed from China Harbor’s account at Standard Chartered Bank to affiliates of Mr. Rajapaksa’s campaign, according to a document, seen by The Times, from an active internal government investigation. The document details China Harbor’s bank account number — ownership of which was verified — and intelligence gleaned from questioning of the people to whom the checks were made out.
With 10 days to go before polls opened, around $3.7 million was distributed in checks: $678,000 to print campaign T-shirts and other promotional material and $297,000 to buy supporters gifts, including women’s saris. Another $38,000 was paid to a popular Buddhist monk who was supporting Mr. Rajapaksa’s electoral bid, while two checks totaling $1.7 million were delivered by volunteers to Temple Trees, his official residence.
Most of the payments were from a subaccount controlled by China Harbor, named “HPDP Phase 2,” shorthand for Hambantota Port Development Project.
After nearly five years of helter-skelter expansion for China’s Belt and Road Initiative across the globe, Chinese officials are quietly trying to take stock of how many deals have been done and what the country’s financial exposure might be. There is no comprehensive picture of that yet, said one Chinese economic policymaker, who like many other officials would speak about Chinese policy only on the condition of anonymity.
Some Chinese officials have become concerned that the nearly institutional graft surrounding such projects represents a liability for China, and raises the bar needed for profitability. President Xi acknowledged the worry in a speech last year, saying, “We will also strengthen international cooperation on anticorruption in order to build the Belt and Road Initiative with integrity.”
In Bangladesh, for example, officials said in January that China Harbor would be banned from future contracts over accusations that the company attempted to bribe an official at the ministry of roads, stuffing $100,000 into a box of tea, government officials said in interviews. And China Harbor’s parent company, China Communications Construction Company, was banned for eight years in 2009 from bidding on World Bank projects because of corrupt practices in the Philippines.
Since the port seizure in Sri Lanka, Chinese officials have started suggesting that Belt and Road is not an open-ended government commitment to finance development across three continents.
“If we cannot manage the risk well, the Belt and Road projects cannot go far or well,” said Jin Qi, the chairwoman of the Silk Road Fund, a large state-owned investment fund, during the China Development Forum in late March.
In Sri Lanka’s case, port officials and Chinese analysts have also not given up the view that the Hambantota port could become profitable, or at least strengthen China’s trade capacity in the region.
Ray Ren, China Merchant Port’s representative in Sri Lanka and the head of the Hambantota port’s operations, insisted that “the location of Sri Lanka is ideal for international trade.” And he dismissed the negative feasibility studies, saying they were done many years ago when Hambantota was “a small fishing hamlet.”
Hu Shisheng, the director of South Asia studies at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, said that China clearly recognized the strategic value of the Hambantota port. But he added: “Once China wants to exert its geostrategic value, the strategic value of the port will be gone. Big countries cannot fight in Sri Lanka — it would be wiped out.”
Although the Hambantota port first opened in a limited way in 2010, before the Belt and Road Initiative was announced, the Chinese government quickly folded the project into the global program.
Shortly after the handover ceremony in Hambantota, China’s state news agency released a boastful video on Twitter, proclaiming the deal “another milestone along the path of #BeltandRoad.”
A Port to Nowhere
The seaport is not the only grand project built with Chinese loans in Hambantota, a sparsely populated area on Sri Lanka’s southeastern coast that is still largely overrun by jungle.
Mr. Rajapaksa’s advisers had laid out a methodical approach to how the port might expand after opening, ensuring that some revenue would be coming in before taking on much more debt.
But in 2009, the president had grown impatient. His 65th birthday was approaching the following year, and to mark the occasion he wanted a grand opening at the Hambantota port — including the beginning of an ambitious expansion 10 years ahead of the Port Authority’s original timeline.
Chinese laborers began working day and night to get the port ready, officials said. But when workers dredged the land and then flooded it to create the basin of the port, they had not taken into account a large boulder that partly blocked the entrance, preventing the entry of large ships, like oil tankers, that the port’s business model relied on.
Ports Authority officials, unwilling to cross the president, quickly moved ahead anyway. The Hambantota port opened in an elaborate celebration on Nov. 18, 2010, Mr. Rajapaksa’s birthday. Then it sat waiting for business while the rock blocked it.
China Harbor blasted the boulder a year later, at a cost of $40 million, an exorbitant price that raised concerns among diplomats and government officials. Some openly speculated about whether the company was simply overcharging or the price tag included kickbacks to Mr. Rajapaksa.
By 2012, the port was struggling to attract ships — which preferred to berth nearby at the Colombo port — and construction costs were rising as the port began expanding ahead of schedule. The government decreed later that year that ships carrying car imports bound for Colombo port would instead offload their cargo at Hambantota to kick-start business there. Still, only 34 ships berthed at Hambantota in 2012, compared with 3,667 ships at the Colombo port, according to a Finance Ministry annual report.
“When I came to the government, I called the minister of national planning and asked for the justification of Hambantota Port,” Harsha de Silva, the state minister for national policies and economic affairs, said in an interview. “She said, ‘We were asked to do it, so we did it.’ ”
Determined to keep expanding the port, Mr. Rajapaksa went back to the Chinese government in 2012, asking for $757 million.
The Chinese agreed again. But this time, the terms were much steeper.
The first loan, at $307 million, had originally come at a variable rate that usually settled above 1 or 2 percent after the global financial crash in 2008. (For comparison, rates on similar Japanese loans for infrastructure projects run below half a percent.)
But to secure fresh funding, that initial loan was renegotiated to a much higher 6.3 percent fixed rate. Mr. Rajapaksa acquiesced.
The rising debt and project costs, even as the port was struggling, handed Sri Lanka’s political opposition a powerful issue, and it campaigned heavily on suspicions about China. Mr. Rajapaksa lost the election.
The incoming government, led by President Maithripala Sirisena, came to office with a mandate to scrutinize Sri Lanka’s financial deals. It also faced a daunting amount of debt: Under Mr. Rajapaksa, the country’s debt had increased threefold, to $44.8 billion when he left office. And for 2015 alone, a $4.68 billion payment was due at year’s end.
Signing It Away
The new government was eager to reorient Sri Lanka toward India, Japan and the West. But officials soon realized that no other country could fill the financial or economic space that China held in Sri Lanka.
“We inherited a purposefully run-down economy — the revenues were insufficient to pay the interest charges, let alone capital repayment,” said Ravi Karunanayake, who was finance minister during the new government’s first year in office.
“We did keep taking loans,” he added. “A new government can’t just stop loans. It’s a relay; you need to take them until economic discipline is introduced.”
The Central Bank estimated that Sri Lanka owed China about $3 billion last year. But Nishan de Mel, an economist at Verité Research, said some of the debts were off government books and instead registered as part of individual projects. He estimated that debt owed to China could be as much as $5 billion and was growing every year. In May, Sri Lanka took a new $1 billion loan from China Development Bank to help make its coming debt payment.
Government officials began meeting in 2016 with their Chinese counterparts to strike a deal, hoping to get the port off Sri Lanka’s balance sheet and avoid outright default. But the Chinese demanded that a Chinese company take a dominant equity share in the port in return, Sri Lankan officials say — writing down the debt was not an option China would accept.
When Sri Lanka was given a choice, it was over which state-owned company would take control: either China Harbor or China Merchants Port, according to the final agreement, a copy of which was obtained by The Times, although it was never released publicly in full.
China Merchants got the contract, and it immediately pressed for more: Company officials demanded 15,000 acres of land around the port to build an industrial zone, according to two officials with knowledge of the negotiations. The Chinese company argued that the port itself was not worth the $1.1 billion it would pay for its equity — money that would close out Sri Lanka’s debt on the port.
Some government officials bitterly opposed the terms, but there was no leeway, according to officials involved in the negotiations. The new agreement was signed in July 2017, and took effect in December.
The deal left some appearance of Sri Lankan ownership: Among other things, it created a joint company to manage the port’s operations and collect revenue, with 85 percent owned by China Merchants Port and the remaining 15 percent controlled by Sri Lanka’s government.
But lawyers specializing in port acquisitions said Sri Lanka’s small stake meant little, given the leverage that China Merchants Port retained over board personnel and operating decisions.
When the agreement was initially negotiated, it left open whether the port and surrounding land could be used by the Chinese military, which Indian officials asked the Sri Lankan government to explicitly forbid. The final agreement bars foreign countries from using the port for military purposes unless granted permission by the government in Colombo.
That clause is there because Chinese Navy submarines had already come calling to Sri Lanka.
China had a stake in Sri Lanka’s main port as well: China Harbor was building a new terminal there, known at the time as Colombo Port City. Along with that deal came roughly 50 acres of land, solely held by the Chinese company, that Sri Lanka had no sovereignty on.
That was dramatically demonstrated toward the end of Mr. Rajapaksa’s term, in 2014. Chinese submarines docked at the harbor the same day that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan was visiting Colombo, in what was seen across the region as a menacing signal from Beijing.
When the new Sri Lankan government came to office, it sought assurances that the port would never again welcome Chinese submarines — of particular concern because they are difficult to detect and often used for intelligence gathering. But Sri Lankan officials had little real control.
Sri Lankan officials are quick to point out that the agreement explicitly rules out China’s military use of the site. But others also note that Sri Lanka’s government, still heavily indebted to China, could be pressured to allow it.
And, as Mr. de Silva, the state minister for national policies and economic affairs, put it, “Governments can change.”
Now, he and others are watching carefully as Mr. Rajapaksa, China’s preferred partner in Sri Lanka, has been trying to stage a political comeback. The former president’s new opposition party swept municipal elections in February. Presidential elections are coming up next year, and general elections in 2020.
Although Mr. Rajapaksa is barred from running again because of term limits, his brother, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, the former defense secretary, appears to be readying to take the mantle.
“It will be Mahinda Rajapaksa’s call. If he says it’s one of the brothers, that person will have a very strong claim,” said Ajith Nivard Cabraal, the central bank governor under Mr. Rajapaksa’s government, who still advises the family. “Even if he’s no longer the president, as the Constitution is structured, Mahinda will be the main power base.”
L’Unione Europea e, più in generale, l’Europa, sta attraversando un periodo di metamorfosi.
Quella eurodirigenza liberal socialista che sarebbe sembrata invincibile ha dimostrato tutta la sua incapacità ed inconsistenza. L’ultimo Consiglio Europeo ne è stato teatro sotto gli occhi di tutti.
È stata sufficiente la ferma presa di posizione dell’Italia e dei paesi del Visegrad per paralizzare il potere decisionale dell’Unione.
Mr Macron non è riuscito a realizzare un epsilon piccolo a piacere del piano sull’Unione Europea del quale tanto vanto si era fatto durante la campagna elettorale. Frau Merkel è il pallido sembiante di ciò che in passato era stata la potenza impositiva della Cancelleria tedesca.
In massima parte un così clamoroso fallimento è da ascriversi proprio all’ideologia professata dagli eurocrati. Sono schiavi dei paraocchi che si sono voluti mettere. Sono liberi di mettere in pratica l’idealogia che professano a mo’ di credo religioso.
Di tutte le ubbie una spicca paramount: il diniego a voler intrattenere rapporti con quanti non condividano la ideologia professata, da cui discende la ferma volontà di imporre degli Stati Uniti di Europa, ovviamente a loro guida.
Non è certo etichettando come “lebbra” le idee altrui che si possono tenere rapporti cordiali e collaborativi.
Ma in politica, così come in economia, gli spazi lasciati vuoti sono immediatamente riempiti da altri.
La Cina ha fondato il Ceec, il 16 + 1, ove i paesi dell’est europeo trovano un ambiente di paritetico rispetto reciproco, ove è possibile intessere rapporti economici e finanziari senza dover subire ingerenza alcuna negli affari interni degli stati.
Nel contempo, proprio per il loro comportamento di chiusura ideologica, Germania e Francia non sono collaboratori graditi ai cinesi, che li hanno educatamente messi all’uscio, cosa di cui Frau Merkel e Mr Macron son rimasti esterrefatti e sconcertati. Adesso son quei villan rifatti a non volere gli illuminati.
La reazione dei liberal è la usuale: scherniscono il progetto Ceec perché, essendo agli inizi, non ha ancora dispiegato le proprie potenzialità. Sono dimentichi anche del fatto che la Cina non intende schiacciare l’acceleratore, per non entrare in una vistosa rotta di collisione con l’Unione Europea.
«Despite the substantial rise in Chinese investment in CEE nations in recent years, the region accounts for less than 10 percent of total Chinese money inflows into Europe»
«Nevertheless, some CEE leaders like Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban see closer economic ties with Beijing as an alternative to EU cooperation. “Central Europe needs capital to build new roads and pipelines. If the EU is unable to provide enough capital, we will just collect it in China,” Orban said»
«Ever since its launch in 2012, the format has been viewed by Western critics as an instrument for Beijing to divide and undermine the EU by dangling the CEE states closer trade and investment opportunities with China.»
«EU fears divisions as China woos Eastern European nations»
* * * * * * * *
Almeno nella ultima frase si è costretti a dire un qualcosa di vero.
Con circospezione e discrezione, la Cina sta facendosi amici gli stati dell’est europeo, che fanno il paragone tra il comportamento dei cinesi e quello degli attuali occupanti di Bruxelles.
The Chinese premier is meeting with leaders from Central and Eastern European countries at a summit in Sofia as he aims to boost Beijing’s trade interests in the region. But Li cannot afford to offend the European Union.
China also threatened it could launch “the biggest trade war in history.”
‘By no means a geopolitical platform’
China, which seeks the EU’s support in its trade battles with US President Donald Trump, has thus been careful in its dealing with Central and Eastern European nations.
“The 16+1 cooperation is by no means a geopolitical platform. Some say such cooperation may separate the EU, but this is not true,” Li told a joint press conference on Friday with Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov.
“We hope that through our cooperation, we will improve the development of all countries involved and help them better integrate into the European integration process,” said Li, who will visit Germany after the summit.
The 16+1 summit brings together China and 16 Central and Eastern European countries (CEEC), including 11 EU member states.
Besides China, the 16 countries that participate in the summit include EU members Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia, as well as non-EU states Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia.
Importance of EU for China
Ever since its launch in 2012, the format has been viewed by Western critics as an instrument for Beijing to divide and undermine the EU by dangling the CEE states closer trade and investment opportunities with China.
But analysts say that in Sofia, the Chinese premier will try to avoid issues that might irk western capitals and the European Commission in Brussels.
“I think that Premier Li Keqiang will adopt a low profile on the issues that might infringe on community affairs of the EU this time around,” Francois Godement, director of Asia and China program at the European Council of Foreign Relations, told Reuters news agency.
Despite the substantial rise in Chinese investment in CEE nations in recent years, the region accounts for less than 10 percent of total Chinese money inflows into Europe. Most Chinese investment still goes to Western European countries like the United Kingdom, Germany, France and Italy.
The EU and the United States, meanwhile, account for around 90 percent of investment flows to the CEE region, highlighting their far greater importance to the region.
China – a free trade champion?
With Trump adopting protectionist trade and economic policies, China is increasingly positioning itself as a proponent of free trade.
Li said on Saturday that Beijing will stay on the path of economic reform, and would be more flexible about allowing foreign products to enter its domestic market.
“For foreign products which meet Chinese consumer needs, we will open the door wider to them to come into the Chinese market,” he told the 16+1 summit participants. “We will lower overall import tariffs to the Chinese market,” adding that his country would uphold free trade agreements.
As the world prepares to tackle trade tensions and tit-for-tat tariffs, the summit between leaders of China and Central and Eastern European nations offers a chance for Beijing to present itself as a free trade champion.
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang is meeting with leaders of Central and Eastern European countries in the Bulgarian capital Sofia as part of the seventh “16+1” summit, which brings together China and 16 Central and Eastern European countries (CEEC), including 11 European Union (EU) member states.
Besides China, the 16 countries that participate in the summit include EU members Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia, as well as non-EU states Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia.
Ever since its launch in 2012, the format has been viewed by Western critics as an instrument for Beijing to divide and undermine the EU by dangling the CEE states closer trade and investment opportunities with China.
Policymakers and analysts from China and some CEE countries, however, reject such assessment. They say that the purpose of the platform is to cultivate good relations and foster economic cooperation.
“The cooperation between China and Central and Eastern Europe is an integral part of China-EU cooperation. It sends a positive signal on the world stage in support of free trade,” Jin Ling, an expert on European affairs at the China Institute of International Studies, told DW.
Growing trade ties
Trade between the two sides has seen rapid growth over the past decade, with total commerce amounting to about $68 billion (€58 billion) in 2017. Over the past several years, China has pledged massive sums for infrastructure projects worth billions in the region, including in sectors that are critical for national security such as roads, railways and power stations.
In a bid to draw more Chinese money into the region, a special economic forum is being organized alongside this year’s summit. Over 250 Chinese firms and 700 business executives from CEE nations are taking part in it. “Our main goal is to increase Chinese business presence in Bulgaria and in the whole region of Central and Eastern Europe,” Bulgaria’s Deputy Foreign Minister Georg Georgiev told Reuters.
This enthusiasm, however, is not shared uniformly across Europe, particularly in Brussels where Beijing’s growing leverage over these countries is viewed as a threat to EU unity, norms and values.
Many European officials worry that, in exchange for Chinese investment, CEE countries would be willing to side with Beijing and hamper the EU from taking a unified stance on key global issues such as upholding the international rule of law and human rights.
Taking Beijing’s side
They point to instances such as Hungary’s refusal to sign a letter in 2017 condemning the torture of detained lawyers in China. Likewise, in 2016, Greece — which is an observer in the 16+1 grouping and major beneficiary of Chinese money in recent years — blocked a strong EU declaration against Beijing’s activities in the South China Sea.
In June 2017, Athens again blocked an EU statement at the UN Human Rights Council criticizing Beijing’s human rights record. CEE states have since blocked similar EU statements against China.
The leaders of these countries have also embraced Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), President Xi Jinping’s ambitious plan to build and expand transport and trade links between China and countries in Asia, Europe and Africa. BRI is widely seen as helping to cement Beijing’s position as a new global superpower.
Despite the substantial rise in Chinese investment in CEE nations in recent years, the region accounts for less than 10 percent of total Chinese money inflows into Europe. Most Chinese investment still goes to Western European countries like the United Kingdom, Germany, France and Italy.
The EU and the United States, meanwhile, account for around 90 percent of investment flows to the CEE region, highlighting their far greater importance to the region.
Nevertheless, some CEE leaders like Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban see closer economic ties with Beijing as an alternative to EU cooperation. “Central Europe needs capital to build new roads and pipelines. If the EU is unable to provide enough capital, we will just collect it in China,” Orban said in Berlin earlier this year.
Despite the ambitious rhetoric about deepening partnership, some countries complain about the underwhelming results in terms of executing the announced projects.
The list of finished projects remains short, with just a bridge in Serbia and a motorway in Macedonia completed as of late 2017. “Some large-scale projects have been delayed, reflecting some of the current trust deficits between Europe and China. These should be resolved through dialogue,” Chinese analyst Jin Ling said.
Some have also started to grumble about financing and contractual terms. Observers say Chinese infrastructure loans have often been linked to Chinese contractors and labor doing the work using Chinese materials, thus contributing little to local economic development.
Some Chinese investments in CEE countries could also create risks to their financial stability, they say. “Easy access to Chinese money could be particularly risky for smaller 16+1 players, where uncontrolled growth of debt could pose threats to the fiscal stability of their economies,” Micha Romanowski, an expert in Eurasian affairs at the German Marshall Fund of the United States, wrote in a report published last year by YaleGlobal Online.
“When Montenegro signed a highway contract with China in 2014, it saw its public debt grew by 23 percent,” he pointed out.
«The pomp and circumstance that accompanied Putin’s recent visit to China obscure the real significance of the bilateral deals and statements it yielded»
«While in Beijing, Chinese President Xi Jinping awarded Putin the first-ever “Order of Friendship” for his role in guiding and shaping Sino-Russian relations»
«While the G7 summit proved a fantastic show of disunity and petty division due to U.S. President Donald Trump, two of the world’s leading authoritarian states managed to display unity.»
«Putin’s coterie ambled into town ready to discuss a framework trade agreement that would ideally lead to a bilateral trade deal in about two-and-a-half years»
«Sources at the Ministry of Economic Development (MinEkonomiki) called the future deal an analogue of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)»
«Chinese investors want Russia to better protect their investments, their property rights, and let Chinese firms compete for market share»
«The first is unlikely since the Kremlin’s political constituencies of rich businessmen and state firms crucial to the budget enrich themselves at the expense of efficiency, sustainable growth, and partners when possible»
«The second is even less likely for a similar reason: the power to seize assets is vital to the contract governing Russia’s politics»
«The third is simply impossible because Russia’s manufacturers employ over 14 percent of Russia’s workforce, often in less populated regions that form a core political constituency for Putin»
«Regarding high-speed rail, the proposed Moscow-Kazan route is estimated to cost $20.1 billion thanks to Russia’s inflated construction costs»
* * * * * * * * * * *
Riassumendo, in estrema sintesi.
Russia e Cina sono al momento in una particolare sintonia di obiettivi comuni, facilitate in questo anche, e forse soprattutto, dalla scomposta politica occidentale.
Ma non è certo detto che le contingenze delle situazioni attuali si perpetuino nel tempo, né, tanto meno, che il quadro geopolitico mondiale non vari anche esso.
Over the last few years it’s become commonplace for Russia watchers and political scientists to compare Vladimir Putin to Leonid Brezhnev. Both leaders held power over the course of an entire generation and, now for Putin, share the misfortune of having overseen deepening economic and social stagnation. After Putin issued decrees naming his new presidential administration, Carnegie Moscow fellow Alexander Gabuev quipped on Twitter that since 80 percent of the team wasn’t changing, “it’s brezhnevization, but with more advanced medical services for the top leadership.”
The parallels between the two are strong, but Putin faces a different geopolitical and economic environment. Russia is politically isolated from the West and under financial and economic sanctions due to its war in eastern Ukraine and illegal annexation of Crimea. Russia’s lackluster economic growth and development has rendered it increasingly dependent on China for natural resource demand and financing, a situation Brezhnev never faced. But as Brezhnev’s doctors might have joked, different strokes for different folks.
The pomp and circumstance that accompanied Putin’s recent visit to China obscure the real significance of the bilateral deals and statements it yielded. The asymmetries in the relationship are by some turns accelerating and others, stagnating.
Xi and Kasha
While in Beijing, Chinese President Xi Jinping awarded Putin the first-ever “Order of Friendship” for his role in guiding and shaping Sino-Russian relations. The visual was somewhat reminiscent of Brezhnev, known for his love of medals, but was a valuable symbol for domestic and international audiences. While the G7 summit proved a fantastic show of disunity and petty division due to U.S. President Donald Trump, two of the world’s leading authoritarian states managed to display unity. Though significant news emerged from the Beijing visit, details don’t suggest relations are necessarily improving.
Putin’s coterie ambled into town ready to discuss a framework trade agreement that would ideally lead to a bilateral trade deal in about two-and-a-half years. Sources at the Ministry of Economic Development (MinEkonomiki) called the future deal an analogue of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). That’s a far cry from reality. Certain agreements will likely be reached, but Chinese investors want Russia to better protect their investments, their property rights, and let Chinese firms compete for market share.
The first is unlikely since the Kremlin’s political constituencies of rich businessmen and state firms crucial to the budget enrich themselves at the expense of efficiency, sustainable growth, and partners when possible. The second is even less likely for a similar reason: the power to seize assets is vital to the contract governing Russia’s politics. The third is simply impossible because Russia’s manufacturers employ over 14 percent of Russia’s workforce, often in less populated regions that form a core political constituency for Putin. Introducing competition may threaten the Kremlin’s strategy of maintaining higher employment at the expense of efficiency to prevent protests and dissent from spreading.
The best that can be hoped for is improving market access for sectors in a manner that won’t threaten support. Things like consumer services and e-commerce come to mind.
In big financial news, China Development Bank (CDB) loaned Vneshekonombank (VEB) more than 600 billion rubles ($9.6 billion). The agreement for the loan was predicated on providing financing for projects linked to Eurasian integration initiatives. VEB mentioned Arctic infrastructure for the Northern Sea Route (NSR) in its press release. Some have perked up at the thought that the money could finance the Moscow-Kazan high-speed rail line that’s been kicked around for several years now.
But there are few concrete projects in the pipeline to develop the NSR, nor is legislation regarding legal responsibility for the NSR even finalized. The route has been given to nuclear giant Rosatom, but many questions remain as to what its powers actually are. Regarding high-speed rail, the proposed Moscow-Kazan route is estimated to cost $20.1 billion thanks to Russia’s inflated construction costs. The money likely has a different purpose despite naming 70 potential projects for joint investment.
Igor Shuvalov, first deputy minister in Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev’s cabinet until May, now heads VEB. The bank has been tasked with becoming a driver of development meant to help realize Putin’s May decrees concerning various socioeconomic development goals. The reality is that most of the relevant investments into infrastructure do not qualify as pertinent to Eurasian integration. Further, Shuvalov is expected to oversee laying off 40-50 percent of the bank’s employees to improve its efficiency.
Efficiency has become a pressing priority given that VEB has been a clearinghouse for insider deals aimed at maximizing costs to transfer money to friends of the Kremlin. China knows this, which is why VEB is only being given five years to service the loans. Such terms should force VEB to spend on projects, particularly as it’s stipulated by the agreement that they won’t invest more than 30-40 percent of the financing needed for each project to encourage bringing in partners.
But the likeliest scenario is that the bank will funnel the money toward projects whose costs will spiral, thus creating a loop where more money will be loaned via VEB to contractors who should then service that debt to make it appear as though the bank is generating profits. With those profits, they can then argue that efficiency is rising regardless of what gets built or which foreign partners, if any, are involved. Odds are low, particularly with higher oil prices providing more revenues to finance domestic contractors.
By the terms of the loan agreement, it’s clear CDB doesn’t trust Russia to build what it says it will. VEB will have to get creative so it can take the money and run. That’s a template Rosneft – Russia’s largest oil producer – had, until recently, mastered with China.
You’re SOE Vain
Before Putin arrived in Beijing, Rosneft CEO Igor Sechin met with China’s Minister of Commerce Zhong Shan. Although Rosneft’s press release stated that China would “give full support to mutually beneficial investment projects,” the meeting was proof of Rosneft’s declining political stock. The Ministry of Commerce oversees China’s foreign investments. That means the ministry was involved in scuttling CEFC China Energy’s deal to acquire 14.2 percent of Rosneft’s shares last year. No other Chinese firms expressed interest in Rosneft; likely any acquisition of shares in Rosneft was a poor investment. No oil and gas delegations met with Sechin. Rosneft is too politicized, unprofitable, and unwilling to allow large-scale investments into Russian oil and gas fields.
Rosneft’s corporate approach to China may have served the Kremlin’s interests in increasing Russia’s share of China’s oil market, but working with a private sector actor reliant on bad credit without improving its own profitability for shareholders worked at cross purposes to political relations between Moscow and Beijing. China will likely now demand more guarantees of profitability and access to fields, evidenced by reported interest from China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) in an LNG project with Novatek – a privately-owned natural gas producer in Russia.
Hairsplitting the Atom
Russian nuclear monopoly Rosatom reached deals with China National Nuclear Power Co. Ltd (CNNPC) to build four reactor units worth an estimated $3.62 billion. The announcement was heralded as Rosatom had successfully beaten out U.S. firm Westinghouse for the contracts. However, the agreement likely came due to pressures facing Rosatom.
In February, the company requested a trillion rubles ($16 billion) to fund the modernization of existing plants and transmission systems. Rosatom aims to match or exceed Gazprom and Rosneft’s investment programs’ annual expenditures by 2023, a pressing priority to position itself to build abroad to advance Russia’s foreign policy aims.
However, the company’s international projects are frequently unprofitable. Oil and gas companies provide real tax revenues, meaning they’re frequently likelier to get what they ask for from Moscow. These deals would likely provide Rosatom a quick cash infusion while providing China another avenue to steal Russian intellectual property and replace Russian expertise and technology domestically over time.
Putin’s visit to Qingdao for the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit offered virtually nothing of substance to assess. Russia’s bilateral agenda with China dwarfs any of the other considerations from the summit. The Qingdao Declaration – the summit’s closing communique – is largely a puff piece filled with hypocritical teeth-gnashing. The tartuffery on display in Qingdao reflected the large gap between Russia’s multilateral rhetoric and the reality of its bilateral relationship with China.
Addressing the summit, Putin noted that “Russia and China are also preparing an agreement on the Eurasian Economic Partnership, which, of course, will be open to all the SCO countries.” Talk of trade multilateralism is farcical for now. Russia lacks proper institutional capacity to carry out trade negotiations with China, let alone the entire bloc simultaneously.
There are no notable China hands within Putin’s presidential administration, there’s no clear organization to the China policy community in Moscow, nor is MinEkonomiki well suited to the task. The ministry has been gutted of much of its institutional heft, likely being handed trade talks so as to hang a sword of Damocles over Minister Maxim Oreshkin’s head. Any trade deal involving the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) only adds yet more lobbying considerations and threats to Russian firms’ competitiveness.
A mix of growing dependence on financing, status quo stagnation in energy relations, and stale rhetoric is all Putin could deliver in Beijing and Qingdao. In June of 1978, Brezhnev excoriated Jimmy Carter and the United States for trying to “play the China card” against the Soviet Union. “Its architects may bitterly regret it,” Brezhnev declared. Putin faces no such pressure today but seems happy to play the China card himself. The question remains when he’ll regret it.
«Xinhua News Agency or New China News Agency is the official state-run press agency of the People’s Republic of China. Xinhua is the biggest and most influential media organization in China, as well as the largest news agency in the world in terms of correspondents worldwide. Xinhua is a ministry-level institution subordinate to the Chinese central government, and is the highest ranking state media organ in the country alongside the People’s Daily. Its president is a member of the Central Committee of China’s Communist Party.»
Aiib,( Asian infrastructure investment bank) è la banca di sviluppo dei Brics nata nell’ottobre 2014, a sostegno dell’Obor (nuova via della seta). C’è poi il Silk Road Fund.
Progetto cinese Obor, One belt One Road, coinvolge più di un terzo del pil mondiale, per ora.
«Obor coinvolgerebbe fino a 65 nazioni: più della metà della popolazione mondiale, tre quarti delle riserve energetiche e un terzo del prodotto interno lordo globale, rappresenterebbe il più grande progetto di investimento mai compiuto prima, superando, al netto dell’inflazione odierna, di almeno 12 volte l’European Recovery Program, il celebre Piano Marshall»
«The third annual meeting of Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) kicked off in India’s financial hub Mumbai on Monday with the theme “Mobilizing Finance for Infrastructure: Innovation and Collaboration.”»
«At AIIB Governors’ seminar during the event on Monday, AIIB President Jin Liqun stressed the need to increase the private-sector investment in financing the infrastructure in developing countries of Asia»
«We are trying to work with the private sector to do infrastructure projects and investments in other productive sectors so that we don’t have to put pressure on the balance-sheet of the government»
«I believe that we are not just financers, we are problem solver for the government, for the private sector»
«Lean, clean and green is the way we work. We invest in sustainability and are guided by those priorities. Our bank is apolitical and all projects have to pass our test on sustainability»
«According to the latest AIIB annual report, the bank has financed 23 projects worth 4.2 billion U.S. dollars, a significant increase from 2016»
«It was estimated that Asia’s infrastructure needs will be over 1.7 trillion U.S. dollars per year till 2030»
* * * * * * *
Aiib è uno dei tanti veicoli finanziari tramite i quali la Cina finanzia il suo piano di infrastrutture asiatiche.
Nella sua globalità, questo progetto abbisogna di circa 1,700 miliardi Usd ogni anno: sono cifre da capogiro.
L’approccio cinese è linearmente semplice ed empirico.
Finanziano progetti che abbiano immediate o future ricadute in termini di resa economica: alimentano soltanto investimenti produttivi, che producano guadagni sia per la Cina sia per i paesi coinvolti. Tutti devono guadagnare qualcosa.
Nello stipulare gli accordi, i cinesi trattano su scala paritetica, non pongono vincoli politici e ben si guardano da vincoli etici e/o morali. Tanto meno la Cina gradisce intromettersi nei problemi di gestione interna degli stati partner.
Come detto, ma sembrerebbe opportuno ripeterlo data la importanza, mentre gli occidentali contraggono debiti sempre più consistenti per alimentare il loro welfare, i cinesi investono quasi soltanto nel comparto produttivo, dando al welfare solo il minimo indispensabile alla dignitosa sussistenza. E questa è la strategia vincente.
MUMBAI, June 25 (Xinhua) — The third annual meeting of Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) kicked off in India’s financial hub Mumbai on Monday with the theme “Mobilizing Finance for Infrastructure: Innovation and Collaboration.”
Over 3,000 delegates from over 80 members as well as varied multinational organizations are attending the two-day event, which will see brainstorming sessions on how to mobilize finance for huge infrastructure needs in developing countries in Asia and beyond.
Policy-makers, officials from AIIB members, and participants from partner organizations, private sector and civil society organizations will share their insights on addressing the huge infrastructure-deficit in a sustainable, environment and society-friendly manner.
At AIIB Governors’ seminar during the event on Monday, AIIB President Jin Liqun stressed the need to increase the private-sector investment in financing the infrastructure in developing countries of Asia.
“We are trying to work with the private sector to do infrastructure projects and investments in other productive sectors so that we don’t have to put pressure on the balance-sheet of the government,” said Jin.
He called upon all the governments in Asia in particular to clear hurdles in the way of private-sector investment for building infrastructure.
He also hoped that the private sector will be more than willing to pour money into infrastructure projects if government clears practical hurdles in the way of investment.
He said that AIIB wants to work as a bridge between private sector and governments.
Jin also shared the best practices adopted by the Chinese government in clearing hurdles for building massive infrastructure across China. “We must be innovative and we must be responsive to the needs of the (local) people,” he said.
He also termed the Beijing-based bank as a problem-solver in order to forge a win-win partnership. “I believe that we are not just financers, we are problem solver for the government, for the private sector,” he said.
At a media-briefing during the event, AIIB Vice President Danny Alexander also enumerated priorities and lending norms of the AIIB. “Lean, clean and green is the way we work. We invest in sustainability and are guided by those priorities. Our bank is apolitical and all projects have to pass our test on sustainability and environment,” he said.
He also said that AIIB would consider investing in projects outside Asia as long as they serve to benefit Asian regions too.
This year, AIIB also launched an inaugural Asian Infrastructure Forum during the Mumbai meeting, drawing investors from private companies around the globe. Speakers at the forum called upon multinational companies to follow public-private partnership model in order to build cross-country connectivity in Asia.
On the sidelines of the AIIB meeting, an “India Infrastructure Expo 2018” was also organized by the host country to highlight the tremendous scope of building infrastructure in India.
While inaugurating the expo on Sunday, India’s Finance Minister Piyush Goyal welcomed AIIB guests from around the world. “We’re extremely delighted at the progress that the Bank has made,” he said.
The indian minister has also lauded AIIB for its achievements in a short time-span of three years.
“The Asian Infrastructure Investment bank has really matured in a short period of time, and is rapidly progressing to become one of the most important infrastructure financiers across the world,” said the minister, who is also on the board of governors at AIIB.
Various private companies and international agencies are showcasing their latest solutions, advanced technologies and other offerings in the arena of infrastructure development at the India Infrastructure Expo.
Among others, International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), a UN agency headquartered in Rome is also ready to join hands with AIIB in the area of rural-infrastructure in countries like India and China.
Alexander Boehm, IFAD’s representative and technical specialist at the Global Engagement Knowledge and Strategic Division, told Xinhua at the sidelines of the meeting that China and India share the responsibility to lead new international institutions.
“Given their size, given their market size and enormous potential, it only makes sense to these countries to be more active internationally,” he said, while highlighting the potential scope in building rural-infrastructure in India and China as well as other developing nations.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to address the gathering on Tuesday.
During the annual AIIB meeting, 22 seminars focusing on building infrastructure in Asia and beyond, gender and infrastructure and finding ways to fund infrastructure are being organized.
According to the latest AIIB annual report, the bank has financed 23 projects worth 4.2 billion U.S. dollars, a significant increase from 2016.
It was estimated that Asia’s infrastructure needs will be over 1.7 trillion U.S. dollars per year till 2030.
India has emerged as the biggest beneficiary of the multilateral bank with the country already garnering 1.2 billion U.S. dollars of funds. Another 1.9 billion U.S. dollars of fund to finance various projects in India has also been approved by the bank.
While 75 percent of the bank’s capital comes from Asia, some members from non-Asian regions like Europe, North America, and East Africa, among others, have also joined the bank.
L’Himalaya è uno dei posti più attrattivi dal punto di vista turistico, ma difficile da abitarci e lavorarci. Il Nepal poi è in una situazione quasi isolata dal resto del mondo. Senza trasporti sarebbe impensabile impiantare una qualche attività di produzione industriale: l’inoltro delle merci prodotte avrebbe costi al momento proibitivi.
A quanto sembrerebbe, però, i cinesi non si son mica poi troppo formalizzati: i problemi ci sono ben per essere risolti.
Così è nato il progetto Cross-Himalayan Connectivity Network.
«China and Nepal are friendly neighbors sharing weal and woe, ….Since the establishment of diplomatic ties between China and Nepal, the two countries have always carried out mutually beneficial cooperation on the basis of the ‘Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence.’»
«A railway was put in operation in 2014 linking Xigaze with the autonomous region’s capital Lhasa, which is also at one end of the lengthy Qinghai-Tibet Railway.»
China will build a railway connecting the western region of Tibet with Nepal, the China Daily reported on Friday, one of several bilateral deals signed during Nepali Prime Minister Khadga Prasad Sharma Oli’s visit to Beijing.
The link will connect the Tibetan city of Xigaze with Nepal’s capital, Kathmandu, the paper said.
The two sides signed more than 10 agreements involving technology, transportation, infrastructure and political cooperation, according to a notice posted on China’s official government website (http://www.gov.cn) on Thursday.
China would also like to work with Nepal to build a “cross-Himalayan connectivity network” through aviation, trading ports, highways and telecommunications, China Daily quoted Chinese Premier Li Keqiang as saying.
In an interview with state-run Chinese tabloid Global Times on Friday, Oli said “cross-border connectivity” was Nepal’s top priority, and he called for the two countries to work together to develop Nepal’s hydropower resources.
Nepal has already scrapped a $2.5 billion deal with China’s state-owned Gezhouba Group to build a hydropower facility in the west of the country.
A $1.6 billion deal with China’s Three Gorges Project Corporation to build the West Seti hydropower plant in Nepal has also been put in doubt, with officials saying the Chinese company has been haggling for better terms.
Oli told the Global Times that nothing had been decided yet and the West Seti project was still under consideration by Nepal’s investment board.
Li envisions nations cooperating on constructing linking infrastructure
China and Nepal will build a cross-border railway connecting the Tibet autonomous region with Kathmandu, as agreed on in more than 10 cooperative documents signed on Thursday.
The signing was witnessed by Premier Li Keqiang and his visiting Nepali counterpart Khadga Prasad Sharma Oli at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. Oli is on a six-day visit to China.
The new line will connect the Gyirong trading port in the city of Xigaze, Tibet, with the Nepali capital Kathmandu, Vice-Foreign Minister Kong Xuanyou said at a briefing after the two leaders’ meeting. A railway was put in operation in 2014 linking Xigaze with the autonomous region’s capital Lhasa, which is also at one end of the lengthy Qinghai-Tibet Railway.
“Over the past two years, China-Nepal relations have made new progress. Nepal is undertaking political transformation, and we respect your choice of social system and development path and support Nepal in safeguarding national sovereignty, independence and rightful interests,” Li said during their meeting. “We highly appreciate Nepal’s adherence to the one-China policy.”
China would like to work with Nepal on building a cross-Himalayan connectivity network via projects in trading ports, railways, highways, aviation and telecommunications, Li said. The two countries should also deepen cooperation in trade, production capacity, investment and agricultural goods, to develop their own advantages, he said. Chinese companies are supported to make investments in the South Asian neighbor, which is also expected to facilitate their businesses, he said.
Li called for a start of negotiations on a free trade agreement between the two neighbors as soon as possible. He said both countries uphold multilateralism and free trade, and they should resort to multilateralism to tackle increasing uncertainties in the international context.
Both countries have developed friendship and cooperation based on the five principles of peaceful coexistence, Li said. Development of bilateral ties is beneficial to the two countries, and regional peace, stability and prosperity, he said.
China would like to strengthen exchanges and coordination with Nepal in multilateral organizations, such as the United Nations and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, to safeguard common interests, Li said.
Oli said the two countries have had a close connection over the long term and adhere to the five principles of peaceful coexistence with respect to each other’s core interests and major concerns. Nepal firmly sticks to the one-China policy and promises not to tolerate anti-China activities on its territory, he said. The South Asian country will further strengthen ties and cooperation with China and proactively participate in the Belt and Road Initiative, he said.
* * * * * * *
Le difficoltà tecniche saranno non da poco. Gli sbalzi termici sono molto ampi ed i coefficienti di dilatazione dei metalli impongono tra i binari degli interspazi adeguati, che però impediscono alte velocità ed impongono alte sollecitazioni ai convogli.
Molti tratti imporranno l’uso di trafori in montagne con rocce particolarmente compatte, e molte tratte all’aria aperta dovranno essere rivestite per ridurre il lavoro dei locomotori spazzaneve.
Alcune considerazione sono d’obbligo.
– Questa nuova tratta ferroviaria si incasella nel più vasto piano di una efficiente linea ferroviaria trans-himalayana, collegando così la Cina all’India attraverso il Nepal. Non potrà essere un’alta velocità nel senso esatto del termine, ma, se si tengono conto dei tempi necessari per percorrere le vie alternative, sarà pur sempre di enorme vantaggio.
– Si può facilmente prevedere un grande sviluppo economico di tutte le zone toccate da questa tratta ferroviaria: certo, non nell’immediato, ma nel futuro sicuramente.
– Problema tecnico ma non per questo trascurabile, la Cina perfezionerà il know-how per la costruzione di strade ferrate moderne in climi avversi. Ci si ricordi che per la dilatazione termica, i binari si accorciano nei periodi di freddo e si allungano durante quelli di caldo: questo è il motivo per cui le rotaie sono messe in opera distanziate tra di esse. Più queste soluzioni di continuo dei binari siano ampie e maggiore è l’usura dei convogli e minore la velocità massima consentita.
– Infine, constatiamo ancora una volta come l’Occidente si sia autoescluso da quel grandioso progetto che è il Belt and Road.
Una ferrovia himalayana per collegare la Cina al Nepal. Si parla da anni di questo progetto ardito, forse temerario, ma i tecnici di Pechino sono sicuri di poterlo realizzare e ora il premier nepalese Khadga Prasad Sharma Oli e il collega cinese Li Keqiang hanno firmato un’intesa per la costruzione della linea. Per raggiungere Kathmandu, circondata dalle montagne più alte del mondo, sono possibili due direttrici, una che passa da Gyirong e l’altra che scorre ai piedi dell’Everest (Qomolangma in lingua locale): in ogni caso bisognerà scavare una lunga galleria, dice Wang Menshu, esperto dell’Accademia di scienze ingegneristiche.
Le ricognizioni sono già state effettuate, il tracciato parte dal polo commerciale tibetano di Xigaze e dovrà percorrere più di 700 chilometri in alta quota. Dal 2014 una linea ferroviaria collega Xigaze alla capitale della regione cinese del Tibet, Lhasa, capolinea della ferrovia Qinghai-Tibet. Si tratta di 1.900 chilometri e con l’esperienza acquisita i cinesi sostengono che anche la nuova tratta verso il Nepal «è tecnicamente ed economicamente fattibile». Agli scettici, che ricordano come Kathmandu sia 1.800 metri sopra il livello del mare e Gyirong, alla frontiera tra i due Paesi, sia ad un’altitudine di 2.800 metri, viene risposto con il dato di fatto che Lhasa e Xigaze, sono rispettivamente a 3.700 e 3.800 metri.
La Repubblica popolare cinese è all’avanguardia nella tecnologia ferroviaria: si è dotata in poco più di dieci anni di circa 20 mila chilometri di linee ad alta velocità, con treni che percorrono enormi distanze a una media di 350 km all’ora. Ma per i 700 chilometri verso la capitale del Nepal si prevede di non poter superare i 120 sul versante cinese e i 160 su quello nepalese. Tempi di costruzione previsti quattro anni. Costi non ancora precisati.
Si tratta anche di una sfida geopolitica, oltre che ingegneristica, perché il Nepal è considerato strategico dai due grandi rivali Cina e India. Xi Jinping ha impegnato il suo Paese nel progetto delle Nuove Vie della Seta e New Delhi lo osserva con sospetto, temendo un piano egemonico. A Pechino replicano che collegare Tibet e Nepal servirà lo scopo di incrementare gli scambi commerciali, far uscire la popolazione del piccolo Stato himalayano dalla povertà e aprirlo alla modernità.
Il premier Khadga Prasad Sharma Oli è in Cina da una settimana, con una delegazione di ministri che hanno firmato una decina di intese che prevedono il miglioramento dei collegamenti stradali, la costruzione di altri nove varchi alla frontiera, 50 chilometri di cavi a fibra ottica per le telecomunicazioni in territorio nepalese e cooperazione agricola e industriale. Il Nepal nel 2015 ha subito un terremoto devastante, costato la vita a 9 mila persone e la potenza economica cinese si offre di intervenire, prendendo il posto dell’India. Nella visita del premier nepalese si è discusso anche di due progetti per una centrale idroelettrica da 2,5 miliardi di dollari e una diga da 1,8 miliardi. Erano stati accantonati ma ora il premier Oli ha detto alla stampa di Pechino che il suo governo di ispirazione marxista-leninista, insediato a febbraio, è pronto a rivitalizzarli.
La Cina sta esportando la sua tecnologia ferroviaria nel mondo: ha aperto nel 2016 la prima linea completamente elettrificata in Africa Orientale, tra Addis Abeba a Gibuti: 760 chilometri costruiti in tre anni e mezzo a un costo di circa 4 miliardi di dollari. Ha firmato i contratti per completare una linea ad alta velocità tra Mombasa in Kenya e Malaba, al confine con l’Uganda. Xi ha proposto anche di costruire una tratta tra la costa del Perù sul Pacifico e quella del Brasile sull’Atlantico. Le Vie della Seta sono infinite.
I mercati finanziari delle grandi potenze economiche ci hanno abituato a trattare cifre da capogiro, che difficilmente mente umana può comprendere appieno.
Il mercato cinese dei bond ammonta ad undici trilioni di dollari americani, e di questi 1.3 trilioni Usd va in scadenza entro dodici mesi.
Nulla da stupirsi se gli investitori stiano domandandosi, alcuni anche in modo accorato, se potranno mai rivedere indietro i soldi impiegati.
Se è vero che a differenza dell’occidente gran parte del debito cinese è stato contratto per finanziare attività produttive, che una volta avviate rendono economicamente, sarebbe altrettanto vero che la guerra sui dazi potrebbe danneggiare almeno alcuni settori, mettendoli in difficoltà con la refusione.
«Given the massive size of the market — now more than $11 trillion, with a further half trillion or so in dollar bonds — it was always going to be a delicate transition»
«Potential refinancing of $1.3 trillion looms in coming year»
«China’s efforts to connect the world’s third-biggest bond market with the international financial system are hitting dual headwinds — a climb in global borrowing costs, and the country’s own campaign to reduce financial leverage»
«The dynamics have contributed to defaults by 12 bond issuers in 2018 through June 4, after 18 for the whole of 2017, according to Fitch Ratings»
«But with about 8.2 trillion yuan ($1.3 trillion) of domestic corporate and local-government securities due to mature in the coming 12 months, it’s an open question whether China is prepared to let chips fall where they may»
«Authorities started shifting away from the old model of implicit guarantees for practically all debt securities in 2014, allowing defaults for the first time»
«Where would the lines be drawn on who goes bust?»
«As the U.S. Federal Reserve keeps raising interest rates, and China’s monetary overseers pursue a separate campaign to rein in shadow banking, the coming year may prove decisive in shifting investors away from relying on assumptions of state support — instead forcing them to value bonds based on how likely they are to get their money back.»
«Better differentiation between borrowers based on their risk has been long absent in China»
«Despite its size, the near-absence of defaults in China’s market until relatively recently was one quirk that kept it out of sync with the rest of the world»
* * * * * * *
Se è vero che i default in Cina sono stati eventi del tutto rari, è altrettanto vero che il passato potrebbe non riproporsi nel futuro. Né è detto che la Cina si astenga dall’usare i default come arma finanziaria.
La Fed ha già iniziato, e proseguirà, ad aumentare i tassi di interesse, e questo fatto potrebbe spostare molte risorse finanziarie dallo yuan al dollaro americano.
Poi, che sia in corso una guerra economica e finanziaria dovrebbe essere sotto gli occhi di tutti, ed in guerra diventa lecito utilizzare anche armi altamente distruttive.
Riassumendo, nessuna idea catastrofista, ma un caldo suggerimento ad usare sana prudenza: nella vita non si sa mai.
– Local idiosyncracies challenge global funds eyeing China
– Potential refinancing of $1.3 trillion looms in coming year
China’s efforts to connect the world’s third-biggest bond market with the international financial system are hitting dual headwinds — a climb in global borrowing costs, and the country’s own campaign to reduce financial leverage.
The dynamics have contributed to defaults by 12 bond issuers in 2018 through June 4, after 18 for the whole of 2017, according to Fitch Ratings. Firms from JPMorgan Chase & Co. to Fidelity International are warning to prepare for more. But with about 8.2 trillion yuan ($1.3 trillion) of domestic corporate and local-government securities due to mature in the coming 12 months, it’s an open question whether China is prepared to let chips fall where they may.
Authorities started shifting away from the old model of implicit guarantees for practically all debt securities in 2014, allowing defaults for the first time. The idea: tap market discipline to punish inefficient companies and encourage a more productive capital allocation. Given the massive size of the market — now more than $11 trillion, with a further half trillion or so in dollar bonds — it was always going to be a delicate transition. Where would the lines be drawn on who goes bust? A global-standard credit-ratings industry could hardly be engineered overnight. And who would staff credit-research teams and risk-control desks? Not to mention creating a derivatives market to hedge risks.
Great Wall of Maturities
A total of 8.2 trillion yuan of bonds are set to mature next 12 months
And with China’s door at its most open yet to overseas investors, the global spotlight is shining like never before on these securities.
“The pace is so much faster today, that’s one of the things that’s missed from many investors” looking at China’s capital markets, said Brendan Ahern, chief investment officer at Krane Funds Advisors, which is expanding its line of fixed income products as China’s bond market opens. “If you have to take your eye off China, it moves so quickly that it’s way ahead of you.”
As the U.S. Federal Reserve keeps raising interest rates, and China’s monetary overseers pursue a separate campaign to rein in shadow banking, the coming year may prove decisive in shifting investors away from relying on assumptions of state support — instead forcing them to value bonds based on how likely they are to get their money back.
And about time too, says Ashley Perrott, the Singapore-based head of pan-Asia fixed income at UBS Asset Management. Better differentiation between borrowers based on their risk has been long absent in China.
“It had to happen if they’re going to become a more mature market,” Perrott said. Despite its size, the near-absence of defaults in China’s market until relatively recently was one quirk that kept it out of sync with the rest of the world. There are many more that have made it idiosyncratic.
China.org.cn offers broad access to up-to-date news about China, with searchable texts of government position papers and a wealth of basic information about Chinese history, politics, economics and culture.
The authorized government portal site to China, China.org.cn is published under the auspices of the State Council Information Office and the China International Publishing Group (CIPG) in Beijing.»
* * *
«Errors found in handling of Clinton email probe»
«Ex-FBI Director James Comey deviated from norms of the agency and the Department of Justice (DOJ) in handling the probe of Hillary Clinton’s use of private email server»
«Comey’s decisions during the 2016 U.S. presidential election race were not driven by political bias to help either side»
«report found that Comey was insubordinate when making some key decisions with regard to the probe of Clinton’s email use while she was secretary of state, including his public announcement in July 2016 that there would be no charges against Clinton»
«The former FBI chief was accused of violating DOJ policy by revealing days before the election that the agency was examining new materials possible relevant to the Clinton probe»
«Comey tweeted that he respects the Inspector General’s office and the “conclusions are reasonable”»
* * * * * * *
Come da consolidata abitudine, China Org usa parole misurate e pacate, riportando i fatti senza commento alcuno.
Ma il fatto stesso che abbia riportato la notizia nella finestra destra ed il titolo come articolo di spalla rende bene l’idea dell’importanza annessa alla notiza.
Ex-FBI Director James Comey deviated from norms of the agency and the Department of Justice (DOJ) in handling the probe of Hillary Clinton’s use of private email server, according to an internal report released on Thursday.
The report, conducted by Inspector General Michael Horowitz, also concluded that Comey’s decisions during the 2016 U.S. presidential election race were not driven by political bias to help either side.
The highly-anticipated report found that Comey was insubordinate when making some key decisions with regard to the probe of Clinton’s email use while she was secretary of state, including his public announcement in July 2016 that there would be no charges against Clinton.
The former FBI chief was accused of violating DOJ policy by revealing days before the election that the agency was examining new materials possible relevant to the Clinton probe, a decision that, as Clinton has argued, contributed to her loss in the race.
In addition, the report was highly critical of two FBI staff members who exchanged highly charged political messages, finding that their texts created the appearance of bias and cast cloud over the FBI.
“While we did not find that these decisions were the result of political bias on Comey’s part, we nevertheless concluded that by departing so clearly and dramatically from FBI and department norms, the decisions negatively impacted the perception of the FBI and the department,” the report read.
In response to the report, Comey tweeted that he respects the Inspector General’s office and the “conclusions are reasonable,” even though he disagreed with some of them. He said that “people of good faith” can see the “unprecedented situation differently.”
Comey was fired by President Donald Trump in May 2017, which led to the appointment of special counsel Robert Mueller, who is looking into whether the president obstructed justice in the Russia probe, among other things.
Trump has repeatedly criticized Comey for his handling of the Clinton probe and also targeted the FBI and the DOJ, which analysts say were intended to undermine the Mueller probe.
At the White House briefing Thursday, press secretary Sarah Sanders said the report is reaffirming Trump’s suspicions about the “political bias among some of the members of the FBI.”