«Hong Kong has refused to renew a work visa for the Asia news editor of the Financial Times»
«Victor Mallet is also vice-president of the city’s Foreign Correspondents’ Club (FCC), which upset local and Chinese authorities by hosting a separatist speaker in August»
«China is highly sensitive about the territory’s sovereignty»
«Mr Mallet was acting president at the FCC when the event featuring young independence activist Andy Chan was held.»
«China’s ministry of foreign affairs urged the club to cancel it and Hong Kong’s top official, Carrie Lam, criticised the talk as “regrettable and inappropriate”.»
«In August, Hong Kong’s former leader CY Leung addressed an open Facebook letter to Mr Mallet, saying the FCC talk had “nothing to do with press freedom”»
«He expressed concerns that after Mr Chan’s talk the club could also invite Taiwanese separatist speakers»
* * * * * * * *
Andiamo al sodo.
Mr Victor Mallet, editor of the Financial Times for the Asia news, sparla ad ugula dispiegata contro la Repubblica Popolare Cinese, invita dissidenti che propugnano la secessione di Honk Kong dalla Cina ed infine vorrebbe invitare personaggi di Taiwan. E vorrebbe anche che i cinesi se fossero felici e contenti.
Se lo faccia a casa sua e non cerchi di farlo in Cina.
È il Financial Times che ha bisogno della Cina, non la Cina del Financial Times.
Vada a farsi consolare dalla proprietà del Financial Times.
Mr Mallet has been running the Financial Times’ Asia operations for almost two years.
“This is the first time we have encountered this situation in Hong Kong. We have not been given a reason for the rejection,” the news organisation said in a statement.
The FCC said: “Hong Kong rightly prides itself on its reputation as a place where the rule of law applies and where freedom of speech is protected by law. In the absence of any reasonable explanation, the FCC calls on the Hong Kong authorities to rescind their decision.”
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»
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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.”
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.
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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.
«Sina Weibo (新浪微博S, Xīnlàng Wēibó) è un sito di microblogging cinese. È un ibrido fra Twitter e Facebook, è uno dei siti più frequentati della Cina, si calcola che più del 30% delle persone che hanno accesso a internet in Cina usi Sina Weibo, quasi come la penetrazione di mercato di Twitter negli Stati Uniti. Nel 2012 contava più di 500 milioni di iscritti e 100 milioni di pubblicazioni giornaliere. Verso il terzo trimestre del 2015, Sina Weibo aveva 222 milioni di abbonati e 100 milioni di utenti giornalieri. Circa 100 milioni di messaggi sono postati ogni giorno su Sina Weibo.» [Fonte]
Il fatto che Weibo sia poco o punto noto in Occidente non toglie minimamente che in Cina sia estremamente diffuso: è il più frequentato sito di microblogging.
La fonte citata incorre in una svista. Peccato veniale, si intende, ma pur sempre peccato.
«Nel 2012 contava più di 500 milioni di iscritti»
«più del 30% delle persone che hanno accesso a internet in Cina usi Sina Weibo».
Ma se 500 milioni di iscritti sono il 30% degli utenti internet, il totale degli utenti dovrebbe essere circa 1,666 milioni: in pratica ci sarebbero più utenti internet che popolazione.
Accontentiamoci quindi di dire come Weibo sia estremamente diffuso in Cina.
«Weibo, China’s version of Twitter, is a powerful digital communications and marketing channel. Use of this real-time microblogging social technology in China has been unprecedented, and companies have a unique opportunity to use Weibo to reach and engage new audiences in China. Weibo has an estimated 300 million registered users in China. Users cover a broad swath of China’s internet population, including youth, domestic and international celebrities, CEOs, professionals, and media personalities. First developed as China’s answer to Twitter, Weibo has developed its own features that some would argue make it a unique marketing and communications proposition in China, and in many ways a more diverse and dynamic platform than Twitter. Because of these differences, international brands and companies cannot necessarily assume that their Twitter strategy will work for Weibo. Weibo requires its own strategy. For example, 140 Chinese written characters on Weibo can tell a full story, but the same number of characters in English on Twitter gets a sender only as far as a teaser message or a one-liner with a link» [China Business Reiew]
Questo passaggio è di importanza fondamentale: centoquaranta caratteri in cinese possono esprimere una esposizione completa, mentre in inglese consentono al massimo una sola piccola frase, di un succinto enunciato. Il fattore linguistico differenzia in modo sostanziale Weibo dagli analoghi occidentali.
L’ideologia liberal e quella socialista è condivisa da circa un trenta per cento della popolazione elettorale occidentale, ossia grosso modo dal 30% di un settimo della popolazione mondiale. In alcuni paesi dell’ovest essa è ancora saldamente al potere, ma in molti stati ha subito un consistente allontanamento dell’elettorato.
Uno dei metri più efficienti per misurare il potere residuo dei liberal è quello di andare a vedere quanto riescono ad imporre la propria ideologia, per esempio l’utilizzo delle ngo (ong) oppure il patrocinio dell’omosessualità e di tutto ciò che concerne questo argomento.
Ci si domanda: per quale strano motivo un ufficio statale cinese non dovrebbe utilizzare la propria lingua madre ed usare invece l’inglese? Forse che la White House dovrebbe scrivere le sue note in cinese invece che in americano?
In questo contesto è facile comprendere ciò che è accaduto.
«Sina Weibo, China’s popular microblogging platform, has announced it is banning content related to homosexuality»
«Chinese microblogging website Sina Weibo appeared on Saturday to censor a series of online protests decrying the platform’s decision to remove “illegal” content related to homosexuality»
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«Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) persons in China face social and legal challenges not experienced by non-LGBT residents. Same-sex sexual activity has been legal in China since 1997. Additionally, in 2001, homosexuality was declassified as a mental illness. However, China possesses no laws protecting LGBT people from discrimination. Same-sex couples are unable to marry or adopt, and households headed by such couples are ineligible for the same legal protections available to opposite-sex couples. ….
Federal ban on any display of “abnormal sexual behaviors” — including homosexuality — in online video and audio content ….
Banned regardless of gender and sexual orientation» [Fonte]
Il problema è semplicissimo.
A partire dagli anni novanta la Cina ricevette forti pressioni ad accogliere le ngo ed ad adottare una politica pro – gay. Erano tempi nei quali l’Occidente aveva la forza di imporsi.
La Cina, composta di persone sostanzialmente pragmatiche, si adattò cercando di fare il meno possibile. Vedeva infatti le ngo come emanazioni finanziate da potenze straniere e l’omosessualità era aliena dalla mentalità del popolo.
Ma adesso le cose stanno cambiando, ed anche molto velocemente.
Sina Weibo, China’s popular microblogging platform, has announced it is banning content related to homosexuality. A rallying cry by users saw the hashtag “I am gay” also blocked by Chinese internet censors.
Chinese microblogging website Sina Weibo appeared on Saturday to censor a series of online protests decrying the platform’s decision to remove “illegal” content related to homosexuality.
Outraged Weibo users rallied under the hashtag “I am gay” early on Saturday to protest the company’s announcement. By midday, it had reportedly gathered over 130 million views and generated some 153,000 comments. However, by the afternoon, Weibo appeared to have also banned the hashtag and deleted most of the related comments.
Weibo announced its latest censorship drive — or “clean-up campaign” — on Friday, saying it would be removing “illegal” content, including “manga and videos with pornographic implications, promoting violence or (related to) homosexuality.”
The new bans would “create a sunny and harmonious community environment,” the platform added.
Weibo, China’s Twitter-like platform, boasts some 400 million active monthly users — roughly 25 percent more than Twitter itself.
Users voice their outrage under the “I am gay” banner
Weibo’s announcement, however, provoked a flood of stunned and angry responses from Chinese users.
“You want to shut my mouth, but you can only delete my account,” one user posted using the “I am gay” hashtag.
Another said: “As a member of this group, I am proud, I am glorious … I refuse to be discriminated and misunderstood.”
Lu Pin, a prominent Chinese feminist and women’s rights activist, said some brands and influential users had already begun boycotting microblogging site.
According to What’s on Weibo, a site monitoring Chinese social media trends, some users also combined the “I am gay” with the hashtag “I am illegal.”
Weibo’s content ban is the latest attempt by the Chinese government to purge the internet of content it alleges deviates from socialism’s “core values” or criticizes the country’s established policies.
A 2013 Pew study found that only around 20 percent of Chinese respondents said the believed homosexuality should be accepted by society.
“There can be no homosexuality under socialism? It is unbelievable that China progresses economically and militarily but returns to the feudal era in terms of ideas,” one outraged Weibo commenter said.
China’s censorship laws not only allow authorities to closely monitor online user activity and purge the internet of any content it deems offensive. It also requires the websites themselves to hire their own censors to monitor content on their pages.
This week, Toutiao, one of China’s most popular news aggregator apps, was reprimanded by the government for allowing users to share lewd jokes and videos. The site subsequently promised to increase censorship to some 10,000 people.
Ma esistono anche forme ibride di lavoro forzato e schiavitù: dipende solo dal punto di vista da cui le si esamina. Un caso da manuale sono i Mini Arbeit tedeschi.
«Mini-jobs are a form of marginal employment offering a maximum monthly salary of €450. They are a particular form of dependent employment characterised by exemption from social security contributions and income tax; however, employers have to pay a flat-rate charge of approximately 30% on top of the 450 €. Since the same labour legislation applies to mini-jobs as it does to all other paid employment (such as dismissal protection, paid holiday, sick pay, etc.), mini-jobs are technically more expensive per hour than socially insured part-time employment, for which the employers’ contributions are around 20%. ….
Since mid-2003, the number of mini-jobs has increased by a good 1.7 million to 7.3 million (mid-2015), which represents a rise of 30.3%. This increase is due primarily to a sharp rise in the number of mini-jobs taken as second jobs (up almost 1.6 million or 159.4%). Mini-jobs are particularly common in the service sector. In December 2015, the retail industry, with more than 1.2 million mini-jobbers, had the most employees on marginal pay. Various business services, which includes temporary agency work and security and cleaning services came in second place, followed by the hospitality industry with 819,000 mini-jobs and then health and social services with around 703,000. Over 60% of mini-jobbers are women, with pensioners and school and university students making up the next biggest group.»
Se da un punto di vista i Mini Arbeit offrono una opportunità a quanti vogliano arrotondarsi le entrate e per periodi a termine, da un altro punto di vista diventano lavoro forzato e schiavitù quando surrogano e vicariano il normale rapporto di lavoro. Che nella Germania contemporanea il trenta per cento degli occupati lavori con Mini Arbeit dovrebbe dare ampi motivi di ripensamento. Da opportunità di lavoro occasionale e temporaneo, il Mini Arbeit è diventato l’unico modo di poter lavorare: ma quando si è esposti ai capricci del mercato e con una remunerazione di nemmeno cinquecento euro mensili di diventa totalmente dipendenti ed indifesi. Anche senza averne la denominazione giuridica, si è diventati schiavi addetti a lavori forzati. Che il sistema ospedaliero tedesco necessiti per funzionare di 819,000 Mini Arbeit la conta davvero lunga sulla sua solidità strutturale e sulla sua sostenibilità economica.
Ci si pensi bene, a mente fredda. Se è vero che un sistema ospedaliero necessiti di ottimi medici, è altrettanto vero che necessiti di infermieri/e professionali specializzati/e, ed è anche vero che necessiti del personale di appoggio per pulizie e casermaggio, tipologia lavorativa che rende conto di una larga quota del personale.
Ma il problema è ancor più sottile.
Come in molti altri paesi, in Germania le persone che lavorano con un Mini Arbeit sono classificate da Destatis, l’Istituto tedesco di statistica, come “occupati“. Si faccia grande attenzione. Una persona normale potrebbe considerare
“occupato” colui/ei che guadagna almeno quanto basti a sopravvivere: ma con cinquecento euro al mese è impossibile anche la mera sopravvivenza.
Orbene, se togliessimo i Mini Arbeit dalla voce degli “occupati” e li portassimo ove buon senso suggerirebbe, il tasso dei disoccupati tedeschi sarebbe 3.6 % + 30.3% = 33.9%: un po’ meno considerando i secondi lavori.. Cifra non certo lusinghiera per i pregressi governi tedeschi.
Vi è poi una forma di lavoro forzato e di schiavitù ancor meno appariscente, ma non per questo meno spietato.
Nei paesi così detti sviluppati si gode di un discreto tenore di vita perché molte materie prime e moltissimi manufatti sono di provenienza estera. Ma quando si prende in mano un cellulare di ultima generazione ci si dovrebbe ricordare di quei poveraccia che hanno estratto il litio, il cobalto, le terre rare per una ciotola di zuppa la giorno, lavorando come automi da mane a sera. Nessuno intende fare la morale a nessun altro, sia ben chiaro, ma la cosa in sé sembrerebbe non essere poi così virtuosa.
* * *
Né si pensi che la Cina sia immune da un problema del genere.
Non a caso nel suo discorso ala Congresso del Partito Comunista Cinese il premier Xi si è focalizzato sulla lotta alla povertà.
Forced labor in China receives remarkably little attention despite decades as the world’s factory floor.
In China, forced labor is sensitive topic. Years pass between the odd case of forced labor that sees the light of day in local media. Local labor NGOs rarely approach incidents of serious coercion in forced labor terms. Nobody knows the real extent, and surprisingly few, from China as well as abroad, prioritize exploring this issue. Within the last decade, a handful of cases amounting to forced labor in China have been brought to light, all with certain characteristics in common pointing to a need for closer scrutiny.
Brick Kiln Slavery
The first, and worst, was the incident of enslaved young and elderly people as well as adults with disabilities in brick kilns. Over a decade ago, during the summer of 2007, it became publicly known that people – many people – from rural areas were being kidnapped and forced to work in kilns in Shanxi province. The affair was, uniquely, kicked off by parents mobilizing together in search for their missing children. These parents scoured the countryside and, sometimes, found their children working in the kilns.
Chinese media covered the events unfolding and extensively documented the regular, traditional slavery conditions in the kilns, the organized trafficking and how local communities and authorities knew about it — and sometimes were directly involved. Eventually, the national government launched an investigation into the kilns of Shanxi, resulting in inspections of almost 5,000 kilns and rescues of hundreds of enslaved workers, who spoke about abductions, captivity, beatings, and inhumane conditions. In the following years the practice was documented in several other provinces. The practice of forced labor in brick kilns has never been fully eradicated.
”Even if today the archipelago of ’black kilns’ that came to light in 2007 does not exist anymore, that kind of extreme situation periodically resurfaces on the Chinese media,” says Ivan Franceschini, a fellow at the Australian National University who authored a book about the kiln slavery. “In particular, people with mental problems often fall victim to human traffickers and are sold as slave labor to kilns and other harsh realities that rely on a cheap, pliable slave workforce to make a profit.”
Forced Electronics Internships
Other industries also rely on a cheap and pliable workforce amounting to forced labor by the exploitation of a large numbers of student interns from vocational schools. While company-based learning is supposed to be a crucial component of vocational educations, students are forced to accept internships in manufacturing industries — irrespective of the relevance of the industry for the students’ education — under the threat of failing to graduate if they decline.
Whereas such company-school partnerships have been practiced for many years, international attention was raised only in 2012, when forced internships were linked to global electronics supply chains.
“Vocational school students are sent to electronics factories, such as Foxconn and Quanta, to work as ordinary production line workers in the name of compulsory internship. Many, we met, were studying subjects irrelevant to electronics and told about threats by schools that they will not graduate from schools, if they refuse the internships,” says Michael Ma, project manager for Students and Scholars Against Corporate Misbehavior (SACOM), a Hong Kong based nonprofit behind several investigations.
New cases continue to be documented in electronics factories supplying brands like Apple, Sony, Dell, HP, and Acer. The practice seems unchanged by schools and electronics manufacturers, while brands dodge the issue.
Withheld Wages in Construction
In recent months, because of Chinese New Year on February 16, annual wage arrear protests have peaked because of withheld payments. Especially in construction, wages are withheld for up to a year and together with widespread lack of employment contracts, excessive and illegal overtime, and the dependency on employers for housing and food for many of the unpaid workers could amount to forced labor, I recently argued in an article for openDemocracy. Most construction workers caught up in this practice are rural migrants systematically discriminated because of China’s household registration system (hukou).
“Withholding wages contains a substantial coercive element by itself. In other industries, and countries, such conditions combined are debated as potential indicators of forced labor,” says Matt Friedman, a former UN regional manager of anti-trafficking in Asia.
Half of all construction workers are estimated to have been deprived of payment at least once in their lifetime, according to Chinese scholars and labor groups. Workers rarely protest while construction is ongoing. Easy to replace, they stick to the promise of payment at New Year or at the end of the project.
“What can you do? If you complain while work is ongoing, you get fired and never see any money,” says Chang, a former construction worker-turned activist.
The practice of withholding wages has been going on for decades and is acknowledged by the government. Each year authorities campaign to collect overdue pay. In Zhejiang province alone, $460 million was recovered for distribution among 258,000 workers in 2016. Yet, many more workers are left without assistance. New measures and deadlines are regularly put forward, but enforcement is lacking. The Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security announced in 2017 that wage arrears would be eradicated in 2020. Recently, in the U.S. Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, a settlement was reached for four China-based construction firms to pay nearly $14 million in back wages and damages to over 2,400 workers.
Forced Domestic Work
In recent years, media and local NGOs have focused increasingly on the abuse of foreign domestic workers in Hong Kong, a city with one of the world’s highest densities of foreign domestic workers, comprising 10 percent of its labor market and enjoying some statutory labor rights. The abuses have been addressed mainly through the lenses of trafficking, especially of Indonesian and Philippine women, despite research documenting that as many as one in six foreign domestic workers experience forced labor — of which 14 percent were trafficked.
“The growing momentum of the anti-trafficking movement in Hong Kong must not disregard the importance of forced labor. Trafficking is often the means to forced labor, but forced labor does often exist independently of trafficking. We must consider a response to forced labor alongside a response to trafficking so as to not cause more damage than good in the long term,” says Archana Kotecha, head of legal in Liberty Asia, an anti-slavery organization.
Debt bondage because of illegal and excessive recruitment fees is a main driver. The threat of getting fired, which gives a worker only two weeks to find alternative employment or else leave the country, is a contributing factor.
Profiting on Vulnerability
Despite immense differences in professions, industries, employment relations, and worker backgrounds, the above cases of forced labor have some common features: Workers are vulnerable in their local contexts (youth, elderly, disabled, foreigners, rural migrants). Workers are strongly tied to employers, in the sense that there is a substantial menace of leaving or trying (losing up to a year’s wage, failing to graduate, risking physical abuse or worse). The coercion is persistent and widespread within the respective industries, despite years of awareness raising by NGOs and media.
Given the general sensitivity of labor protests and organizing workers and the clampdowns in recent years on labor NGOs and activists, one might legitimately ask how far such coercive practices penetrate other parts of China’s labor market.
Even though wage arrears in the construction sector account for over one-third of all protests in China registered and published online by China Labor Bulletin, a Hong Kong-based organization, many other sectors also face annual protests because of delayed or lack of payments. Though not itself a proof of forced labor, it is a relevant indicator to explore, according to ILO, the UN labor agency.
Forced internships take place in many other industries besides electronics. An intern studying fashion design told SACOM during its recent investigation that “after leaving Quanta [an electronics manufacturer] we’ll be sent to a factory for repairing automobiles.”
And then there is the question of coercive practices in global supply chains. Auditors of multinational companies say, anonymously, that efforts beyond direct suppliers are lacking. The same holds often true for corporate watchdogs trying to shed light on labor conditions among suppliers of Western brands. The risks and difficulties digging into such issues in China entail most often a focus on first-tier suppliers only.
Root causes of forced labor have been debated for years. Poverty is often referred to as a main driver from the “push perspective,” meaning factors that motivate workers, sometimes into far from ideal employment circumstances. However, this was recently expanded by an openDemocracy report stressing four prominent root characteristics of workers: Poverty, understood as the “working poor,” was discussed first but discrimination, limited labor protection, and restrictive mobility are also notable characteristics of workers. The report focuses on global supply chains in general, but its conclusions seem strikingly relevant to explore in a Chinese labor force context, where over 250 million have migrated to work outside their rural districts, are systematically discriminated against because of the hukou system in accessing housing, social, educational, and health support, and are restricted in terms of labor protection and collective bargaining rights.
Protecting the Working Poor
What explains the lack of attention to coercive labor practices in China, the world’s factory floor?
Forced labor is illegal in China, but local authorities such as labor departments and courts rarely have adequate understanding of forced labor indicators, including and especially the aspects of psychological coercion. While local experts note improved labor laws and improved interdepartmental cooperation within authorities, they still are looking for adequate enforcement of existing laws.
Most labor NGOs have limited capacity. Issues are addressed individually and always after the damage has been done — such as lack of pay, compensation for overtime, compensation for workplace injuries — instead of combined as cases of forced labor. Within the dominating, authoritative discourse such issues are addressed as simply labor disputes.
Outside China, there is not much attention either. International attention is scarce. Many human rights organizations do not prioritize modern slavery in terms of forced labor in China because of the challenges of doing investigations on the ground and the long list of other human rights issues in the Chinese context. Anti-slavery organizations mainly focus on trafficking, instead of forced labor, for similar reasons.
“The difficulties investigating such issues in China make it hard to document the extent and forms of forced labor there, so opening up for scrutiny has to be the first step to addressing these problems,” says Jakub Sobik, spokesperson for Anti-Slavery International.
Closer scrutiny of serious coercion in China’s labor market is not only justified because of the seeming lack of attention. More important is the apparent lack of adequate protection of the most-exposed workers, because of a lack of capacity among local authorities. A better understanding of forced labor indicators and especially its invisible psychological mechanisms in local contexts would help. Authorities are already taking action, but clearly not enough.
In many Asian countries, and around the world, the concept of psychological coercion is far from effectively understood, since human trafficking has been the most prominent form of exploitation. This has resulted in legislation, policies, and a growing jurisprudence on the subject. Forced labor, along the same continuum of exploitation, has remained undefined in many jurisdictions and is often considered by courts to be a difficult concept to grapple with.
“The concept of psychological coercion is really about those invisible but nevertheless very powerful constraints that limit the ability of a vulnerable worker to seek redress,” says Archana Kotecha of Liberty Asia, referring to constraints such as nonpayment of wages or significant wage deductions, payment of broker fees and the resulting debt bondage, the retention of identity documents and the lack of written terms or existence of terms that are not respected.
“These traits, compounded by the worker’s commitments to his family and the cost of finding new employment, often serve to bind an employee to a particular employer, as the cost of walking away is unaffordable to the worker,” she says.
«As the German government is trying to prevent German companies in strategic industries from being acquired by foreign investors, especially from China, we take a look at some prominent takeovers from recent years.»
«Germany continues to be a favorite destination for Chinese investors. According to Berlin-based Mercator Institute for China Studies, foreign direct investment (FDI) in Germany started soaring in 2015 and hit a record of 11 billion euros ($12.6 billion) of completed deals last year. This makes Germany the largest recipient of Chinese FDI in Europe.»
«Chinese appliance manufacturer Midea’s purchase of German robot manufacturer Kuka for 4.4 billion euros was by far the largest transaction last year. As German daily Süddeutsche Zeitung reported, the German government’s plan to veto the sale of critical technology is a direct response to the Kuka takeover.»
«In October of last year, China’ sovereign wealth fund CIC invested one billion euros in German property group BGP. The transaction was the first major Chinese investment in German homes. According to Reuters, CIC and its co-investors beat out German property groups Vonovia and Deutsche Wohnen in the auction for BGP»
«However, Audretsch also said that Economics Minister Sigmar Gabriel would seek to initiate a public debate about how “Europe’s open societies” would deal with unfair competition in future.»
«Chinese appliance giant Midea has secured a stake of more than 90 percent in the German industrial robotics supplier Kuka, with a multi-billion-euro offer that stoked controversy in Europe.»
Ma il problema non è solo economico: è anche politico.
«The report deals primarily with political issues but it also urges EU action on some economic fronts, notably on how the bloc deals with Chinese investment.»
«It says that the EU “needs to continue providing alternatives to the promises of Chinese investments in European countries” and needs to avoid scenarios where falls in its own structural funding opens the door for Chinese investment.»
«The report also says that the EU should employ a “screening” mechanism which prevents any Chinese investment that is deemed to “run against European interests”.»
«”While the EU should welcome foreign investment in general, it must be able to stop any state-driven takeover of companies in systemically important sectors,”»
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Toh!! L’Unione Europea inizia ad adottare il protezionismo.
In 2016, Chinese investors took over more companies in Europe than in the previous four years combined, most of them in Germany. The trend did not continue in 2017 but that was not due to any tightening of Chinese belts.
That year, Germany was the most popular investment destination for Chinese companies in Europe, hosting 68 acquisitions. As Sun Yi explains, that number fell last year, as did the overall volume of transactions.
By her account, there is one clear reason for all of this. “In November 2016, the Chinese government agreed to strictly control the flow of capital abroad,” she tells DW. Since then, German sellers have demanded higher sums as collateral than previously. “Money now has to be deposited into an account in Germany, or else a bank has to give a guarantee,” she says. “Some planned deals have failed since.”
“We are seeing the growing influence of the Chinese Communist Party on individual companies, exactly the opposite of what we heard in Davos last year. That’s what annoys us,” Dieter Kempf of the Federation of German Industry (BDI) told DW, referring to Chinese President Xi Jinping’s championing of free trade at the 2017 World Economic Forum annual meeting.
Aerospace is one. That might explain why the German Ministry of Economics wants to probe the planned takeover of German aerospace supplier Cotesa by a Chines state-owned company.
“Since the introduction of investment auditing in Germany in 2004, no acquisition has been prohibited,” the Ministry says. But last year the rules were tightened. “Since July 2017, around 30 acquisitions have been audited — equivalent to around half the revenue for the whole year,” the Ministry confirmed to DW.
The report deals primarily with political issues but it also urges EU action on some economic fronts, notably on how the bloc deals with Chinese investment.
It says that the EU “needs to continue providing alternatives to the promises of Chinese investments in European countries” and needs to avoid scenarios where falls in its own structural funding opens the door for Chinese investment.
The report also says that the EU should employ a “screening” mechanism which prevents any Chinese investment that is deemed to “run against European interests”.
“While the EU should welcome foreign investment in general, it must be able to stop any state-driven takeover of companies in systemically important sectors,” it says.
“KUKA is a key player in industry 4.0,” says Oliver Emons of the Hans Böckler Foundation, a research body of the German Trade Union Confederation.
To see such a respected, high-tech company fall into Chinese hands hurts. On the other hand, it was just the rule of the market in action — KUKA needed money, Midea needed the tech and in a form of economic OK-Cupid, they found each other.
As well as this kind of natural coupling, Chinese companies have in recent years cultivated an image of being seen to genuinely care about the long-term well-being of the German companies they invest in.
A study by the Hans Böckler Foundation found Chinese investment, on the whole, to be a positive thing. “If you look at the investments, we see that a large proportion of companies remain committed to their investments and to the staff,” Emons, author of the study, told DW.
China’s investment image takes a hit
There is another side to this though. When that study was being written, the first cases of job cuts were not yet known. For example, the former Osram subsidiary Ledvance, now in Chinese hands, cut 1,300 jobs recently.
KUKA also reportedly wants to cut around 250 jobs at its Augsburg headquarters, around a third of the workforce. Midea has given a jobs guarantee and KUKA boss Til Reuter says any job losses are unrelated to the Chinese presence.
Emons has his doubts. “Would he have done that were the Chinese not there?” he wonders. He believes that these kinds of cases will harm the image of Chinese investors and will fuel the already latent fear that exists over selling German technology to the Chinese.
For Sun Yi over at EY, such fears are unfounded. “First of all, the Chinese are not the biggest investors in Germany. The USA, Britain and the Swiss are all ahead of them,” she explains.
“Secondly, with a few exceptions, the companies in Germany and Europe that Chinese firms have invested in generally have had nowhere left to grow within their own markets.”
Si è oramai abituati che quando i media parlano della Cina ci si domanda di chi stiano parlando: sembrerebbero essere del tutto scollati dalla realtà dei fatti, imprigionati in un idealistico universo onirico pregno di bucoliche rimembranze.
Eppure la realtà dovrebbe essere estremamente semplice: la si può capire ricordandosi le operazioni che si sarebbero dovute imparare in prima elementare.
È un fatto stupefacente, che forse potrebbe essere meglio spiegabile ammettendo che i media scrivano in perfetta malafede.
Cerchiamo di ragionare.
Se è vero che nel 1960 il pil procapite cinese era 90 Usd, è altrettanto vero che negli ultimi trenta anni l’economia cinese si è espansa ad incredibile velocità, e ad oggi il pil ppa cinese ammonta a 23,122.027 miliardi Usd contro i 19,362.129 americani.
La Repubblica Popolare Cinese ha circa cinque volte gli abitanti degli Stati Uniti: nulla da stupirsi quindi se la Cina abbia bisogno di risorse energetiche cinque volte maggiori quelle statunitensi.
Reperire una simile quantità di prodotti energetici nel breve volgere di trenta anni è stata impresa degna di menzione: non era assolutamente detto che la Cina ce la avrebbe fatta.
The World Bank riporta come nel 2007 l’80.95% dell’energia fosse prodotta da centrali alimentate a carbone.
Ovvio quindi il tentativo di diversificazione rafforzando il nucleare
In questo ultimo novembre, il gas importato via pipelines è incrementato del 27.4%, mentre quello liquefatto del 53%.
Dovrebbe essere cosa evidente come la Cina non sia al momento nella condizione di ristrutturare il proprio comparto energetico. Con un pil in crescita al ritmo del 7% annuo la Cina ha non solo un disperato bisogno di energetici, ma soprattutto di poterli ottenere a prezzi più bassi il possibile. In pochissime parole: deve utilizzare ciò che ha e che può acquisire.
Sotto questa ottica di lettura, l’ultimo articolo di Bloomberg in materia è surreale al limite del patetico. Sembrerebbero essersi dimenticati quanto poco sia ecologica l’estrazione del gas naturale.
«The world’s largest energy user is facing a winter supply crunch after demand surged this year amid President Xi Jinping’s fight against smog, which has focused on cutting the use of coal in favor of cleaner-burning gas»
«Parts of the country started facing shortages just two weeks into winter, with Hebei and Shandong provinces in the north and central Hubei reporting supply shortfalls last month and curtailing supplies to businesses and factories in order to keep homes warm.»
«China’s surging winter heating needs will create larger summer-winter splits in the global LNG market and exacerbate price swings»
* * *
Il furor ‘ecologico‘, il tarlo liberal di energie ‘pulite‘ spinge alla demonizzazione delle centrali a carbone che peraltro restano al momento essenziali per vivere. Gli inverni cinesi non sono per nulla miti, e le persone assiderate ben poco se ne fanno dell’aria pulita. I morti non necessitano del riscaldamento.
Viene alla mente il dialogo tra Babieca e Ronzinante:
– LNG imports rise 53% y/y to record 4.06 million tons: GAC
– November Pipeline supplies up 27.4% y/y to 2.5 million tons
China’s imports of liquefied natural gas in November surged 53 percent to a record as the nation scrambles to meet fuel shortages amid peak winter demand and government’s drive to cut coal use.
– LNG imports rose 53 percent from the same month last year to 4.06 million metric tons, according to data posted Saturday on the website of the General Administration of Customs. Shipments in the first 11 months of the year are up 48.4 percent.
– Pipeline gas imports advanced 27.4 percent to 2.5 million tons
“Terminal operators have been maximizing their capacities to import as much as they can,” Liu Guangbin, an analyst with SCI International, said before the data release.
The world’s largest energy user is facing a winter supply crunch after demand surged this year amid President Xi Jinping’s fight against smog, which has focused on cutting the use of coal in favor of cleaner-burning gas. Parts of the country started facing shortages just two weeks into winter, with Hebei and Shandong provinces in the north and central Hubei reporting supply shortfalls last month and curtailing supplies to businesses and factories in order to keep homes warm.
Spot LNG prices in Northeast Asia rose this week to $10.90 per million British thermal units, the highest in three years, according to industry publication World Gas Intelligence.
The National Development & Reform Commission, China’s top economic planner, last week reiterated its call for gas suppliers including China National Petroleum Corp. and China National Offshore Oil Corp. should speed up LNG imports to meet winter demand.
– Market to swing from tight winters to loose summers: WoodMac
– China’s LNG imports are up 48% this year through October
China’s self-inflicted heating crisis this winter signals deeper seasonal price swings that may be a boon for liquefied natural gas traders.
The arrival of a price-depressing glut of the fuel is no longer seen as inevitable. Instead, China’s surging winter heating needs will create larger summer-winter splits in the global LNG market and exacerbate price swings. That’s what has happened this year, as the cost of spot cargoes has nearly doubled since June.
It’s yet another ripple effect of China’s quest for cleaner skies, as policies forcing homes and factories to switch from burning coal to natural gas have reduced smog in Beijing while also creating shortages of the heating fuel in frigid northern cities. Traders and energy companies with access to tankers and uncommitted supply are positioned to benefit, Kerry-Anne Shanks, an analyst at Wood Mackenzie Ltd., said in an interview in Singapore.
“We see a market developing that’s quite strong in the winter, and in the summer is loose,” Shanks said. “It plays to the strengths of portfolio players who have the flexibility to deliver supplies to the premium markets.”
Spot LNG in Singapore was priced at $10.26 per million British thermal units on Monday, according to a Singapore Exchange Ltd. assessment, almost double the $5.141 it cost in early June.
Until this year, market consensus was that a flood of new gas export projects coming online in Australia, Russia and the U.S. would engulf a market marked by tepid demand growth.
Then China’s President Xi Jinping decided to make clearing smoggy skies a key part of his agenda. Government agencies converted millions of homes and tens of thousands of factories from coal to gas this year. LNG imports jumped by 48 percent over the first 10 months of the year, putting China on the verge of passing South Korea to become the world’s second-largest importer after Japan.
At the same time, construction problems have delayed some new production projects, such as Inpex Corp.’s Ichthys and Royal Dutch Shell Plc’s Prelude in Australia, said Graeme Bethune, chief executive officer of consultant EnergyQuest. Several LNG developments in the U.S. have also been pushed back to 2019 from next year, he said.
“Conventional wisdom said there would be a tsunami of new LNG coming that will force down LNG prices,” Bethune said. “Instead, moves by China are boosting prices. The question going forward is how much of these elevated prices are due to secular reasons and how much is due to seasonal demand.”
China’s rising need for gas, as well as new demand from emerging markets spurred by lower prices, mean that a forecast glut of the fuel next year may be smaller and end sooner than earlier forecast. That’s an incentive for exporters from Australia to Qatar to reconsider projects that have been delayed or canceled.
“The strength of global LNG demand growth has surprised in 2017, and that could happen again in 2018,” Australia’s Woodside Petroleum Ltd. said in a statement. “That indicates that both LNG suppliers and LNG buyers are going to have to get to work to underpin new LNG supply projects, perhaps sooner than some expected.”
Most LNG demand is either from power and industrial use that is relatively flat through the year, or residential use that peaks in the winter when homes need to be heated. Many of the world’s largest LNG importers are in the northern hemisphere, so the peaks tend to arrive at the same time. Less storage space in China compared to countries like the U.S. limits its winter supply buffer and has contributed to the need for more imports.
Natural gas demand in China will be driven by coal-to-gas switching by industrial users, analysts at Goldman Sachs Group Inc. said in a report earlier this month, forecasting that the country’s heating challenges will keep markets tight for the next two to three winters.
All that adds up to a market that will be over-supplied in summer months and tight in winter, said Kittithat Promthaveepong, a gas analyst with industry consultant FGE in Singapore. In the summer, spot prices could drop low enough that some plants have to curtail production.
“The moment you reach the winter periods, there will be a lot of demand pull again,” he said. “We definitely think we’re going to see tight winters again in 2018 and 2019. The prices will spike up again in the winter months, but the extent should be lower due to the new U.S. and Australian supplies.”
Currently, Nepal is at the helm of a parliamentary election, the first of its kind after the new constitution. As the nation is gripped by the election fever, an alliance of two major communist parties — CPN (Maoist Centre) and CPN (UML) — has generated heated debates on infrastructure developments. The first and second phases of polling are over, and the preliminary results have clearly shown landslide victory of the communist parties.
During the nationwide campaigns, two top leaders of Nepal’s major communist parties Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’ and KP Sharma Oli have repeatedly promised to link Nepal and China via rail services. Excited after the polls suggest the possibility of a landslide victory for the communist parties, the two former communist prime ministers have received warm applauds from the general public and the private sector for vowing to bring in more Chinese investments to Nepal.
Following the election alliance, the two communist parties have also issued a joint election commitment paper where they have promised to connect the eastern part of Nepal to the western belt and Rasuwa-Kathmandu-Pokhara-Lumbini via electronic rail services in the coming five years.
Railway services are a long-awaited yet unfulfilled dream for the Nepalis. This is a serious issue since if Nepal were to use China’s existing high-speed train of 300 km per hour, Nepal’s east to west could be covered in about three hours while the journey from Kerung to Kathmandu, Kathmandu to Pokhara, and Pokhara to Lumbini could take only half an hour each.
Currently, the development of railway infrastructure has become a hot issue in discussions among scholars, university teachers and students, journalists and politicians too. In its editorial titled “A Rail to China” on November 12, Nepal’s popular vernacular newspaper NayaPatrika daily stated that railway in Nepal has become an image; an opportunity and an impression of strangeness among folks. But recently, the possibility of railway services has emerged as a tangible and achievable reality, ending decades-long gossip, further states the editorial.
At a news conference in Kathmandu on November 17, Chinese Ambassador to Nepal Yu Hong said China is willing to become connected to Nepal via road and rail services. In the press brief organized after the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China to familiarize the Nepali media about the concept of Chinese President Xi Jinping, the Chinese ambassador also said China was committed to developing road and railways for deeper integration in economic, social, cultural and trade issues between the two countries.
Constructing the railways from China to Nepal is obviously an arduous task given the adverse geographic terrain. But, the Nepali dream for the railway is expected to materialize due to Nepal’s participation in BRI, age-old close ties with China, Nepal’s political commitment to development followed by an upcoming stable communist government and, most importantly, Nepalese citizens’ deep rooted psyche to end the Indian high-handedness in Nepal that manifested in the economic blockade in 2015.
To quote the statements of Nepal’s former Prime Minister, who is also a renowned architect, seems relevant here. “The extreme geography cannot limit us. Modern infrastructure technologies have offered many things for us. The Qinghai-Tibet Railway has already shown how modern railway technologies can link the most remote and difficult to reach places. So, linking China’s Tibet autonomous region and Nepal is possible both through technical and economic means,” Dr Bhattarai said in his speech made in the “21st Century Maritime Silk Road International Expo” in China’s Guangdong Province.
Likewise, the dream for China’s train to Nepal has come further closer after a high-level 35-member Chinese team visited Rasuwa, Kathmandu, Pokhara and Lumbini, to carry out the preliminary feasibility study of a railway in Nepal in the second week of November.
China’s National Railway Administration Deputy Chief Zheng Jian and other high-ranking officials visited Nepal and had interactions with top-level bureaucrats of the Ministry of Physical Infrastructure and Transport in Kathmandu. As the alignment of the railways was an issue of discussions among others, the team shall prepare estimates for the total cost after working on the feasibility study. However, based on the preliminary survey, the construction is forecast to cost NPR 270 billion for the 100 km railway from the Chinese border town of Kerung to Kathmandu.
China is expected to construct a railway to Kerung, a small town along the Nepal-China border, by 2020 which will then stretch to connect to Nepal, given Nepal’s political commitment. So, enhancing road links between Nepal and China is not only related to reducing transportation costs or trade promotion, rather it should be viewed in a bigger framework to overhaul the economies of the peoples in both the countries. The railway shall create a huge market and this in turn would yield productivity growth and cultural connectivity. And, China’s role in railway development would be a landmark support for Nepal’s stability and prosperity. This is what the Nepalis are expecting from their northern neighbor.
Fare paragoni è sempre cosa antipatica, ma alla fine si è obbligati a farlo.
Mentre non passa giorno che non si legga come la Cina abbia ampliato il proprio programma One Belt One Road, investendo oltre 1,500 miliardi Usd in infrastrutture in Asia, in Africa ed adesso anche nei paesi dell’est europeo, sembrerebbe lecito domandarsi cosa abbia mai fatto l’Unione Europea per i paesi confluiti nell’Unione dopo l’implosione del comunismo.
La figura dovrebbe essere esplicativa.
L’Unione Europea ha esportato solo la sua Weltanschauung liberal e socialista ideologica: tutti omosessuali oppure nessuno aiuto; accettare le ngo (ong) oppure nessun aiuto; accettare la Corte di Strasburgo oppure nessun aiuto. Fondi in gran parte per personale, molto scarsi per gli investimenti, specie nelle infrastrutture.
Alla resa dei conti, ad oggi la Cina ha investito nelle infrastrutture nei paesi ex-est europeo una cifra quattro volte maggiore di quella erogata dall’Unione Europea.
«Around half of Romanians say they have problems such as affording heat or food»
«Romania may have the European Union’s fastest-growing economy, but it’s also unrivaled in a less flattering indicator: social deprivation»
«inability to keep their homes warm or afford a meal with meat or fish every other day»
* * * * * * * *
È troppo facile ripetere che la colpa è dei Rumeni.
È troppo facile dare sempre la colpa agli altri.
Ad oggi, investe in Romania, in infrastrutture, più la Cina che non l’Unione Europea.
Around half of Romanians say they have problems such as affording heat or food.
Romania may have the European Union’s fastest-growing economy, but it’s also unrivaled in a less flattering indicator: social deprivation.
One in two Romanians cited problems including an inability to keep their homes warm or afford a meal with meat or fish every other day, according to a Eurostat report this week. That’s more than three times the EU average. Romania’s economy grew 8.8 percent in the third quarter, the most in almost a decade.
Despite Bulgaria being the bloc’s poorest country in terms of gross domestic product per capita, Romania fared worse than its neighbor in the annual deprivation survey. The data show some ex-communist EU members will need to maintain their recent economic outperformance to significantly narrow the wealth gap with the continent’s richer west. That may not be easy.
Romania’s government “cut investment to the lowest level on record, failed to absorb EU funds and stoked uncertainty in the private sector by changing taxation,” said Dan Bucsa, a London-based economist at UniCredit Bank AG. “All these will weigh on potential growth and will prevent a faster convergence in living standards.”
It wasn’t all bad news for eastern Europe. Levels of deprivation in the Czech Republic and Poland dropped below those of France and the U.K. That may provide hope for Romania and others still struggling.
Klyuchevskoye è un paese posto a 50.75 latitudine nord, posto al confine tra Russia e Mongolia.
Dire che sia un posto freddo di inverno sarebbe riduttivo: ci si gela. Facilmente il termometro scende sotto i -50°C.
Però questa zona dispone di giacimenti auriferi, non troppo ricchi, ma degni di essere utilizzati. I costi di estrazione sono alquanto elevati in comparazione con quelli delle miniere del South Africa, ma con le attuali quotazioni dell’oro lo sfruttamento inizierebbe ad essere remunerativo.
Ma il discorso non si estingue nel mero aspetto economico.
Gran ruolo svolge quello politico.
«The purpose of the agreement is to implement the investment project to develop the Klyuchevsky gold deposit in the Trans-Baikal Territory»
«Concluding the agreement will facilitate the formation and development on an integrated complex for mining and processing minerals and help create about 3,000 jobs in the region»
«By signing the directive, Russia approved the draft Agreement between the Government of the Russian Federation and the Government of the People’s Republic of China on Cooperation to Implement the Project to Develop the Klyuchevskoye Gold Deposit (hereinafter referred to as the Agreement).»
«The Agreement consolidates the terms allowing the company China National Gold Group Hong Kong Limited (Hong Kong, People’s Republic of China) or any other company it fully controls (either directly or indirectly) to acquire no less than 60 percent and no more than 70 percent of the voting shares of the Rudnik Zapadnaya-Klyuchi joint stock company»
«including the formation and development on an integrated complex on mining and processing minerals»
«The Agreement provides for the production of precious metals on Russian territory. It also includes measures to support Russian producers of mining and other auxiliary equipment»
* * * * * * * *
La Cina controllerebbe il pacchetto di maggioranza, ma ad agire sarebbe un consorzio.
«A consortium made up of the Chinese state-owned mining firm China National Gold Corporation, India’s SUN Mining Group and the Russian Far East Development Fund, as well as funds from South Africa and Brazil is prepared to invest up to $500 million in the development of the Klyuchevskoye gold field in the Transbaikal region (over 4,000 miles east of Moscow).»
Al di là degli aspetti su citati, sarebbe da mettere in evidenza il rapporto collaborativo che si sta instaurando tra i paesi afferenti il Brics.
Sono solitamente accordi nei quali tutte le componenti devono poter godere di una propria parte.
The purpose of the agreement is to implement the investment project to develop the Klyuchevsky gold deposit in the Trans-Baikal Territory. Concluding the agreement will facilitate the formation and development on an integrated complex for mining and processing minerals and help create about 3,000 jobs in the region.
Submitted by the Ministry of Industry and Trade.
By signing the directive, Russia approved the draft Agreement between the Government of the Russian Federation and the Government of the People’s Republic of China on Cooperation to Implement the Project to Develop the Klyuchevskoye Gold Deposit (hereinafter referred to as the Agreement).
The Agreement consolidates the terms allowing the company China National Gold Group Hong Kong Limited (Hong Kong, People’s Republic of China) or any other company it fully controls (either directly or indirectly) to acquire no less than 60 percent and no more than 70 percent of the voting shares of the Rudnik Zapadnaya-Klyuchi joint stock company with a view to creating favourable terms for investment cooperation in developing the Klyuchevskoye gold field.
Implementation of the investment project to develop the Klyuchevskoye gold deposit will support the deposit’s geological exploration and mining, including the formation and development on an integrated complex on mining and processing minerals. The Agreement provides for the production of precious metals on Russian territory. It also includes measures to support Russian producers of mining and other auxiliary equipment.
The Agreement will facilitate the creation of jobs in the Trans-Baikal Territory (about 1,000 direct jobs and about 2,000 related jobs), higher tax revenues for the budgets of the Russian Federation, and the development of the region’s infrastructure.
In accordance with the federal law On International Treaties of the Russian Federation, after it is signed the Agreement must be ratified because it establishes rules that differ from those stipulated by Russian law.
A new agreement to restart exploration and extraction at a mine in Siberia marks a milestone in the development of economic ties among the BRICS nations.
A consortium made up of the Chinese state-owned mining firm China National Gold Corporation, India’s SUN Mining Group and the Russian Far East Development Fund, as well as funds from South Africa and Brazil is prepared to invest up to $500 million in the development of the Klyuchevskoye gold field in the Transbaikal region (over 4,000 miles east of Moscow). The agreement was signed during the most recent BRICS summit, which that took place in the Indian resort of Goa on Oct. 15-16. According to plans for the site, Klyuchevskoye will become operational three years after investment becomes available and will yield some 6.5 tons of gold per year.
This is the first mining deal in the history of BRICS that involves all five member states, which makes it particularly significant, says Wiktor Bielski, global head of commodities research at VTB Capital. Bielski adds that the agreement paves the way for bigger projects in the future that can benefit a wide range of BRICS investors.
Benefits for the partners
The Klyuchevskoye gold deposit was explored a long time ago, however, the bulk of the gold was not extracted because of the costly development process that was halted some 20 years back,according to Alexei Kalachev, an expert analyst with FINAM investment firm in Moscow. The China National Gold Corporation, however, has the relevant technological experience to extract and process the gold, Kalachev said.
The deposit is currently owned by India’s SUN Gold, Ltd., part of the SUN Mining Group, which has not begun to develop it. In August 2016, the Russian Federal Antimonopoly Service said that the China National Gold Group intended to buy 70 percent in the deposit from SUN Gold. According to Kalachev, the idea of a consortium may have evolved from an attempt to speed up the deal at the highest levels.
The Klyuchevskoye gold deposit is not especially rich; at its stated production volumes and reserves, it will have a life cycle of 11-12 years, while the average life cycle of gold mines worldwide is 15-16 years, says Artem Kalinin, a portfolio manager at Leon Family Office. Additionally, the cost of production at Klyuchevskoye is being forecast at the average global level. “That said, the Chinese are used to operating in this mode: the country’s steel and coal industries have very weak production costs, but they have so far been feeling quite alright thanks to cheap financing and state support,” Kalinin said.
Russian gold mining companies are currently not taking part in developing Klyuchevskoye, but according to Kalinin, Russia stands to gain regardless of who develops the site. “The Russians will get an opportunity to borrow new technologies and to get an infrastructure that the Chinese will build,” he said.
Alexei Kalachev notes that other obvious upsides for Russia include a rise in tax revenues, new jobs and an inflow of foreign investment.
What’s in it for China?
Despite the fact that China is the world’s leader in gold mining and one of the world’s largest consumers of the precious metal, its resource base is rather weak, says Kalinin. The CIS countries host the majority of the world’s gold reserves — 28 percent. Another 20 percent of the reserves are located in North America while Asian reserves make up just 11 percent.
Oleg Remyga, head of China studies at the Moscow School of Management Skolkovo, notes that China’s gold production is falling — it was down 0.4 percent in 2015 — while consumption is rising — up + 3.7 percent in 2015. “Hence, the clear ambition of Chinese companies to enter international markets,” Remyga explained.
According to Remyga, the China National Gold Group’s investment in the Klyuchevskoye deposit is part of this bigger drive for resources. Chinese companies have already purchased shares in Canada’s Pinnacle Mines, Ltd. as well as 50 percent of shares in a deposit in Papua New Guinea owned by Barrick Gold Corp. “I am convinced that it is just the beginning of acquisitions of Russian gold-mining assets by Chinese companies, such as Zijin Mining, China Gold, Zhaojin Mining Industry, and Shandong Gold,” Remyga said, adding that negotiations with them have been going on already for five years.
The project to be presented at the Eastern Economic Forum in September
The Kamchatka Terrotiry will boost gold mining fourfold from 4.2 tons in 2015 to 18 tons by 2025, with the bulk of it provided by a concentration mill at the Ozernovskoe goldfield. This project will be presented at the second Eastern Economic Forum, Kamchatka Governor Vladimir Ilyukhin said on Aug. 29.
“The Ozernovskoe goldfield is the largest among those explored in Kamchatka. Its area is 100 square km and its gold volume is around 10 tonnes yearly. We plan to attain gold mining levels of around 15-18 tons yearly,” the governor stated.
Apart from the Ozernovskoe goldfield concentration plant, Kamchatka will also present its air terminal, battery farm and greenhouse projects at the EEF.
The second Eastern Economic Forum is scheduled to take place on Sept. 2-3 in Vladivostok.