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Geo-Strategic Trend

LTN: China’s “The Belt and Road” Plan Faces Many Real-World Challenges

Major Taiwanese news network Liberty Times Network (LTN) recently reported that China’s grand plan of “The Belt and Road,” which started in 2013, is now facing difficulties across the board. The US$1 trillion investment plan in 65 countries is being challenged in its implementation phase. Many processes have been disrupted by rebels, autocracy, political stability issues and legal challenges such as land ownership disputes. For example, The Jakarta section of the Indonesian high-speed railway hasn’t started construction since 2015 {when Indonesia awarded the rail project to China}. The construction of the railway from China to Singapore got stuck in Thailand due to labor movements. Debates over the high cost have slowed down the Laos section of the same railroad. The construction of the Cooperation Center at the border between China and Kazakhstan received complaints from the locals for benefiting only the Chinese. The new political leader of Kyrgyzstan has now stopped the railway from China to Uzbekistan. Even the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project is being disrupted as rebels along the way have blown up natural gas pipelines and trains. Chinese engineers were also attacked.

Source: LTN, November 14, 2017
http://news.ltn.com.tw/news/world/breakingnews/2253376

Hong Kong Version of Taipei Universiade Documentary Covered Taiwan National Flag with Digital Mosaic

The Central News Agency published an article about covering the Taiwan National flag with a digital mosaic during the Hong Kong version of the Taipei Universiade documentary. The article pointed out that Hong Kong continues to follow the mainland’s strategy of demoting Taiwan’s status on the international stage. The Central News Agency article reported that, when a Taipei Universiade documentary that Taipei and the National Geographic produced was aired in Hong Kong, the Taiwan national flag in the documentary was covered with a digital mosaic. According to the Department of Taipei Tourism, the Hong Kong National Geographic channel applied the digital mosaic in order to “comply with local regulations.” The Department of Taipei Tourism stated that the change was unilateral and violated its contract agreement. It requested that the Taiwan National Geographic channel take legal responsibility for providing the necessary compensation or ensure that the correct version of the documentary will be replayed in Hong Kong. The Taipei Universiade documentary was first aired on the Taiwan National Geographic channel on October 31, followed by 43 countries including Japan, Korea, and Hong Kong.

Source: Central News Agency, November 17, 2017
http://61.219.29.200/gb/www.cna.com.tw/news/firstnews/201711170220-1.aspx

The Americans Entered Russian Nuclear Submarine in India

Well-known Chinese news site Sina recently reported, based on Russian media sources, that representatives from the U.S. Navy were allowed to enter the Russian nuclear submarine Chakra, which has been serving in the Indian Navy under a long-term lease agreement. Earlier, the Americans had been allowed to visit the Vikramaditya aircraft carrier (formerly named Admiral Gorshkov), which caused Russia to protest. However, it is India that owns the aircraft in its entirely. The Russians considered the Chakra entry to be a political gesture and questioned why the Indians created such an unfriendly incident. Some members of the U.S. Navy delegation were well-trained submarine experts. Observers expressed their concerns about any serious impact it might have on the on-going negotiations between India and Russia for a second submarine lease as well as the plan for the joint construction of fifth-generation fighter jets.

Source: Sina, November 10, 2017
http://news.sina.com.cn/o/2017-11-10/doc-ifynsait6953976.shtml

South Korean Newspaper: China Arrested North Korean Agents

According to South Korea’s JoongAng Ilbo (English: The Central Times), China arrested two North Korean agents who attempted to murder Kim Han-sol, son of Kim Yong-nam. Kim Yong-nam was Kim Jong-un’s elder brother. North Koreans murdered him in Malaysia in February.

Seven members of North Korea’s intelligence agency tried to carry out the murder plan against Kim Han-sol. China tightened its security control during the 19th National Communist Party Congress, which helped the discovery of this attempt.

Source: DW News, October 30, 2017
http://news.dwnews.com/global/news/2017-10-30/60020546.html

Lianhe Zaobao: 27 Countries on “The Belt and Road” Have “Garbage” Level Sovereign Credit Ratings

Singapore’s primary Chinese language newspaper Lianhe Zaobao recently reported that a number of international studies have shown that most of the projects under China’s grand “The Belt and Road” plan do not show sound financial returns. When the top three international rating agencies ranked the 68 partner countries China included in “The Belt and Road” plan, 27 showed they suffered from “Garbage” level sovereign credit. Among the rest of the countries, 14 (including Afghanistan, Iran and Syria) either were not rated, or the respective governments withdrew their rating requests. “The Belt and Road” plan estimates that, over a ten year period, it will achieve a spending level of US$1.2 trillion on such infrastructure projects as railways, roads, ports, and power grids. Financial and banking experts suggested that it would be a better idea to classify the plan as a geopolitical investment rather than a profitable financial program. China has so far spent or committed to spend over US$500 billion, which does not include large commercial bank loans. The source for most of this spending is China-backed investment funds.

Source: Lianhe Zaobao, October 28, 2017
http://www.zaobao.com.sg/finance/china/story20171028-806533

North Korean Nuclear Test Site Collapses Causing 200 Deaths

Major Taiwanese news group Eastern Media International recently reported, based on sources from North Korea, South Korea, and Japan that North Korea’s Punggye-ri Nuclear Test Site suffered a major mountain structural change. This resulted in large-scale collapses of the underground tunnels for nuclear tests. North Korea completed its sixth nuclear test on September 3. A collapse occurred around September 10 burying around 100 workers. During the rescue mission, a second collapse took the lives of roughly another 100, mainly rescue staff. South Korean officials thought that, after the last test, the nuclear site had a big hole, the size of around 100 meters. If North Korea conducts more nuclear tests under the current conditions, serious radioactive leaks may occur. Three small scale earthquakes occurred after the last nuclear test. Scientists expressed the belief that structural collapses caused those quakes.

Sources: Eastern Media International, October 31, 2017
https://www.ettoday.net/news/20171031/1042620.htm

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