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Deutsche Welle: Malaysia to Reassess Belt and Road Project

Prior to embarking on a five-day trip to China, Malaysia Prime Minister Mahathir once again expressed his intent to cancel two major infrastructure projects in Malaysia that a Chinese company had funded. The Chinese side responded with concern that the cancellation of the projects will cause the Chinese company to suffer a significant financial loss and will also cause a setback in the “belt and road” project. Deutsche Welle reported that, In July, Mahathir said that there was some unfairness in a few of the projects in which the Chinese companies had invested. It will be an important issue that he will bring up when he visits China. On August 13, Mahathir stated again that he intends to cancel several agreements that the previous administration had signed for infrastructure projects that would cost billions of dollars. He stated, “Malaysia does not need these projects.” One high ranking Chinese  bank official who participated in sourcing the funding for the Malaysia projects told Deutsche Welle that cancelling the project would be a major setback for the development of China’s Belt and Road project overseas. It would result in a huge financial loss to the Chinese investors and would result in the loan becoming a bad debt. Mahathir also stated that he will demand that China respect freedom of navigation in the South China Sea, “No one should develop a permanent station in the disputed region in the South China Sea and cause an unnecessary increase in tension.”

Source: Deutsche Welle, August 14, 2018 马来西亚喊停 “一带一路”将受挫

Head of China’s Buddhist Association Resigned after Sexual Harassment Allegations

Radio France Internationale reported that the head of China’s Buddhist Association resigned on August 15 after his female disciples lodged allegations of sexual harassment against him. As a Communist Party member and head monk of Longquan Temple in Beijing, Shi Xuecheng has been accused of sexual misconduct against at least six female disciples. A 95 page long document shows the text messages and online chat records of his improper exchanges with the female disciples. China’s Buddhist Association said it will launch an investigation into the allegations. Shi is a member of the National Political Consultative Committee and has several million devoted Buddhist believers who follow him on WeChat. According to an Aboluowang article, Shi has close connections with high ranking officials, while the United Front Department manages him. After the sexual allegation scandal was exposed, any online postings containing words such as “Longquan Temple” or “Shi Xuecheng” disappeared from Sina Weibo. All that is left is Shi’s denial statement. An Epoch Times article quoted reports from an August 16 article in Hong Kong’s Sing Tao Daily which stated that the sex scandal had been brought to Xi Jinping’s attention. The Party’s United Front Department got involved in the investigation and ordered Shi to resign immediately to limit the negative publicity.

1. Radio France Internationale, August 15, 2018
2. Aboluowang, August 15, 2018
3. Epoch Times, August 18, 2018

The Paper: China to Cooperate with Panama to Build “21st Century Maritime Silk Road”

The Paper reported that Transportation Minister Li Xiaopeng visited Panama from August 8 to August 11 to attend the signing ceremony of the “Memorandum of Understanding on Maritime Cooperation between the Ministry of Transportation of the Maritime Bureau of the People’s Republic of China and the Republic of Panama.” During his meeting with Li Xiaopeng, Juan Carlos Varela, Panama’s President, expressed the desire to strengthen the pragmatic cooperation between Panama and China in the fields of maritime transportation, air transportation, and transportation infrastructure construction and to utilize the advantage of Panama’s location to build a “21st Century Maritime Silk Road” with China. Currently, Panama’s ships receive preferential tax treatment in China; there are also direct flights between these two countries; and China also participates in canal, railway, and subway construction projects in Panama.

Source: The Paper, August 12, 2018

China Unicom to Build 300 5G Test Stations in Beijing by Years’ End

On August 13, China Unicom’s Beijing branch officially released the “5G NEXT” plan. At the same time, it launched the first batch of 5G sites. As one of China Unicom’s 16 5G pilot cities, Beijing Unicom took the lead in rolling out 5G scale tests for commercial use. It plans to build 300 stations by the end of 2018, covering a wide range of applications such as large scale network testing, the application of ecological services, and business experience promotion.

A Beijing Municipal official said that, in the next five years, in key areas including Beijing City’s Second Center, Beijing’s New Airport, the 2019 Beijing World Expo, the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, and Chang’an Street, there will be demonstrations of applications of automatic driving, big data health and medical care, industrial grade Internet, smart city, and ultra-high definition video.

Source: Sputnik News, August 13, 2018

PetroChina Plans to Increase Price of Natural Gas by 40 Percent This Winter

China Energy Network, a news network that People’s Daily sponsors, recently reported that PetroChina announced its new winter natural gas pricing structure. All customers can expect a minimum 20 percent price increase this winter. This minimum percentage was set by the Chinese government as the baseline price. In Eastern China, the PetroChina price increase will be 38 percent, across all types of customers, including the consumer market. In Southern China, the increased number will be 40 percent. Natural gas related stocks skyrocketed after the announcement. The Chinese government officially increased the tariff against U.S. liquid natural gas (LNG) by 25 percent. In the past 12 months, China became the second largest U.S. LNG buyer (after South Korea). After China’s tariff announcement, in the month of July, China’s import volume from the U.S. already dropped in half.

Source: China Energy, August 8, 2018

China Has Second Largest Number of Cultural Centers in Africa

Development Reimagined, a Beijing based consulting Company, announced that China ranked second in terms of the number of cultural centers in Africa, only behind France.

Currently the region has 48 Confucius Institutes, which debuted in 2004. This is the second largest foreign cultural system in Africa. France ranks first with 180 cultural institutions. The others are the United States (40), the United Kingdom (38), Portugal (34) and Germany (21).

What makes the Confucius Institute different is that it is seated inside the campus of universities and its courses are part of the academic programs.

According to Dr. Ishmael Mensah, Dean of the Confucius Institute in Ghana, courses offered by Confucius Institutes are becoming more and more popular, with 2,000 students attending classes during the semester.

Source: Sputnik News, August 14, 2018

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