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Geo-Strategic Trend

China-Owned German Robotics Giant Kuka Let Go of Its CEO

Jiemian News, the online news site under the Shanghai United Media Group, recently reported that German robotics giant Kuka AG officially announced the leave of its Global CEO, Till Reuter, who has served the company for the past decade. His original term had been extended to 2022. Sources explained that Reuter did not intend to leave the company. However, he had a major disagreement with the company Supervisory Board Chairman, Gu Yanmin, and decided to move on. Gu is the Deputy President of China’s Midea Group that acquired Kuka in 2016. The Midea Group currently holds 94.55 percent of Kuka. Kuka announced its major investment plan in China this past March. The plan will establish a new manufacturing base in Guangdong China to deliver an annual Chinese operation capacity to make 100,000 industrial robots by the year 2024. Kuka’s latest announcement indicated that there is no change in terms of intellectual property protection agreements it had with China.

Source: Jiemian News, November 27, 2018

China Times: Primary iPhone Manufacturer Foxconn Setting Up Operations in Vietnam

Major Taiwanese newspaper China Times recently reported that, based on Vietnamese media reports, the primary Apple iPhone manufacturer Foxconn started a cooperative process with the City of Hanoi to establish its manufacturing operations in Vietnam. The move is reportedly in response to the on-going China-U.S. trade war. In fact, in October, the company’s subsidiary Foxconn Interconnect Technology had already completed a US$130 million acquisition of the Vietnamese company named New Wing Interconnect Technology, which is located in Bac Giang Province. Another possible reason for the Foxconn move could be the weakness of the new Apple iPhone sales trend, which has caused concern about reduced supply chain profits. Foxconn refused to validate this Vietnam move, citing its company policy of not commenting on matters directly related to its clients.

Source: China Times, December 4, 2018

Ballet Promoting Communist Party Ideology Performed at Madrid International Dance Festival

Xinhua reported that, on December 5, at the 33rd Madrid International Dance Festival and upon the invitation of the Ministry of Culture of Madrid, the China Central Ballet performed “Red Detachment of Women.” A total of three more performances are planned, from the 5th to the 7th. This is the first time since its establishment that the China Central Ballet has performed in Spain.

According to Wikipedia, “Red Detachment of Women” is a Chinese ballet which premiered in 1964 and was made one of the Eight Model Operas which dominated the national stage during the Cultural Revolution. It depicts the liberation of a peasant girl from Hainan Island and her rise in the Chinese Communist Party.

Chinascope reported that, in February 2017, prior to the “Red Detachment of Women” performance at the Melbourne Arts Festival, the Australian Values Alliance called for a boycott of the ballet, saying that the ballet promoted hatred and violence using the form of ballet and that Western countries should be alert to China’s use of cultural exchanges to infiltrate Western society.

According to Voice of America, “Red Detachment of Women” was performed in Pyongyang in April 2018. Kim Jong-un and his wife attended the performance.

1. Xinhua, December 7, 2018
2. Chinascope, February 6, 2017

Duowei: Australian Chinese to Boycott Chinese Ballet “Red Detachment of Women”

3. Voice of America, October 24, 2018

The 13th Confucius Institute Conference

On December 4 and 5, the 13th Confucius Institute Conference was held in Chengdu, Sichuan Province. During the two-day session, the conference held two panel discussions, eight presidents’ forums, and 20 workshops. According Hanban, the global headquarters of the Confucius Institute, more than 1,500 representatives from more than 150 countries and regions attended the conference.

Sun Chunlan, Vice Premier of the State Council and Chairman of the Headquarters Council of the Confucius Institute, attended and delivered a speech at the opening ceremony. Chen Baosheng, the Minister of Education and Vice Chairman of the Headquarters Council of the Confucius Institute, hosted the opening ceremony. Vice Minister of Education Tian Xuejun attended the closing ceremony and delivered a speech. Forums and workshops had 460 participants who made a total of 220 speeches.

At present, 154 countries and regions have established 548 Confucius Institutes, 1,193 Confucius Classrooms in primary and secondary schools, and 5,665 Chinese teaching centers. 46,000 full-time and part-time teachers have been teaching the Chinese language to 11 million students.

Source: Hanban, December 5, 2018

RFI: “Sponsored” Journalists from Asia and African Countries Were Told They Could Only Write Positive Reports about China

Radio France Internationale reported that, according to The Print, an Indian Media, in order to cooperate with Chinese President Xi Jinping’s “One Belt and One Road” project, Beijing formulated a plan to target media in South Asia, Southeast Asia and Africa. The plan was to set up a “scholarship program” to host foreign journalists in China free of charge, including living in a luxury residence outside Beijing’s Jianguomen which is normally reserved for diplomats. Once these journalists finished the program, they would receive a certificate from a Chinese university and tour other regions in China. A requirement is that they must write positive reports on Beijing’s authorities.

According to The Print, starting from 2016, the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs has hosted about 100 journalists from Asian and African media to complete a so-called scholarship program which lasted for ten months. These foreign journalists would receive red carpet-style hospitality and live free of charge in the residences reserved for diplomats. The monthly rent for a two-bedroom unit in the area normally is 22,000 yuan (US$3,200). The journalist could travel to other provinces free of charge every month and earn an allowance of 5,000 yuan (US$728) per month. At the end of the program, a Chinese university would issue a certificate in international relations and they would be given the right to interview Chinese government officials and ministers. As part of the program, China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Public Diplomacy Association jointly set up the China Africa News Center, the China Southeast Asia News Center, and the China South Asia News Center. These centers granted a press permit to the sponsored foreign journalists. The journalist identity of the original news organization did not work in China. During the 10-month stay, they were not allowed to do interviews about sensitive topics such as human rights, Tibet, and Xinjiang.

According to The Print, in the past three years, journalists participating in the program have come from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, the Philippines, and other countries and regions. These journalists’ news organizations published most of their news reports, but those media wouldn’t disclose that China gave their journalists special treatment. India, however, was an exception. According to The Print, the Indian Embassy in Beijing clearly separated these journalists from the rest of the Indian journalists who are independently registered to work in China. Indian Journalists who attended China’s sponsored program were not allowed to participate in official Indian events or obtain official background information. Those China sponsored journalists were told that, when they wrote their reports, they had to bear in mind that China has a friendly relationship with their countries, especially about the “one belt and one road” project. One journalist from a Southeast Asia country told The Print that they were specifically informed that they could not report about the conflicts in the South China Sea. The Print quoted one as saying, “We were told that if we wished to complete the sponsorship program, we must write positive reports about China.”

Source: Radio France Internationale, December 1, 2018

Chinese Companies in Panama

On June 13, 2017, Panama dropped Taiwan and established diplomatic relations with China. Since then, many Chinese companies have entered Panama. At present, the Panamanian Chinese Chamber of Commerce has 40 members.

China Harbour Engineering has moved its regional headquarters to Panama and taken over an expansion project of the Colon Port and a cruise terminal project. Not long ago, China Harbour also won the bid for the project of the fourth bridge over the Panama Canal. In 2017, China’s Lan Bridge Group also started the Colon Margarita port expansion project. China State Construction Engineering has successively undertaken infrastructure projects such as the Panama government’s “City of Hope” Housing Project, the Amador Convention Center, and Panama City’s San Isidro Bus Station.

China CAMC Engineering also established an overseas warehouse in the Panama Free Trade Zone in Colon. Goldwind Technology supplies equipment for the Panama wind power project and drives the export of Chinese equipment.

The Bank of China, Huawei, and Nuctech have also made considerable progress in their respective fields. At present, China Railway Engineering Corporation is conducting a feasibility study related to passenger and freight transportation.

Wei Qiang, China’s first ambassador to Panama, said that the enormous energy accumulated during the long-term relationship between China and Pakistan is to be fully released and will comprehensively be promoting cooperation in trade, investment, shipping, civil aviation, finance, agriculture, tourism, and infrastructure. The two sides signed a memorandum of understanding on jointly promoting the construction of the “Belt and Road.” Panama is the first Latin American country to sign this memorandum with China.

The Panamanian Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Luis Miguel Hincapie said that Panama hopes to become China’s gateway to other parts of Latin America.

Source: Xinhua, December 3, 2018