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Geo-Strategic Trend - 2. page

Russian Newspaper Criticizes China’s “One Belt, One Road”

Russia’s newspaper Nezavisimaya Gazeta (Independent Newspaper) recently carried a lengthy article that criticized China’s “One Belt, One Road” policy. The article stated that, the more actively China promotes the “One Belt, One Road” policy and the more money it puts in, the more local anti-China protests there are and the louder the anti-China slogans are.

Nezavisimaya Gazeta, a pro-government Russian daily newspaper, quoted from a Kazakhstan sociologist that, in 2007, only 18 percent of local people disliked Chinese immigrants. The figure rose to 33 percent in 2012. By 2017, as many as 46 percent of the local people hated Chinese immigrants.

The article stated that many people in Central Asian countries believe that China’s “One Belt, One Road” initiative exhibits the intention to occupy Central Asia. People who hold this mentality are not only concentrated in Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan where there is a strong anti-Chinese sentiment. Within a short 10 years, such an attitude has spread throughout Central Asia. It has expanded to different religions and different ethnic groups, becoming a very fashionable part of the public opinion in the region.

Anti-Chinese sentiment is also politicized. The elites in Central Asia have used anti-China sentiment as a tool and actively use it when battling for political power. In the future, political forces that oppose the ruling class will play the Chinese card to accuse the incumbents of selling out national interests. Anti-Chinese sentiment has even turned into a profitable business. Local politicians in Central Asia have learned to use this tool to make a fortune. In the near future, this “commodity” will also be sold internationally to any foreign geopolitical buyer.

The article also said that China’s implementation of the “Belt and Road” and its local business operations have destroyed the ecological environment of Central Asia and have become a hotbed for corruption. The Chinese people are very willing to hand over envelopes filled with money to local officials in order to solve problems, including tax issues.

The article quotes from analysts that China’s expansion of influence in Central Asia is seriously threatening Russia’s interests. However, it is still unclear whether the anti-China sentiment in Central Asia has links with Russia. China and Russia are fiercely competing for influence in Central Asia. China’s “One Belt, One Road” seems almost incompatible with Russia’s “Eurasian Economic Community.”

Source: Radio France Internationale, August, 6, 2018

Xinhua: The U.S. Plan of “Arab NATO” Faces Trouble

Xinhua recently published a commentary that offered an opinion on the planned mid-October Washington Leadership Summit which will include the U.S. and eight Arab countries including Saudi Arabia and Egypt. It appears the U.S. is planning to establish a NATO-like defense-oriented organization in the Arab world. However, this dream has three obstacles. First, these Arab countries have a lot of internal disagreements and they are not aligned with the U.S. vision and interests. Second, the relationship between the U.S. and the Arab “allies” is not all that good due to such facts as the U.S. often suspects them of having ties to terrorists. Third, it is very hard for the U.S. to apply control and limits to the function of an “Arab NATO,” especially regarding its relationship with Israel. It would be more realistic if the U.S. were not to  be a member of the organization and would not appoint its military commander. The bottom line is, the U.S. may have a lot to gain in terms of arms sales, but to turn this dream into a profit, it probably has a long way to go.

Source: Xinhua, August 1, 2018

Sputnik News: China’s Loans Saved Two South African Companies

On its Chinese Edition site, well-known Russian news agency Sputnik recently reported that the large amount of aid loans China provided South Africa during President Xi Jinping’s visit to that country will probably save two large South African state-owned companies, Eskom and Transnet. The South African newspaper City Press also reported that these two large companies will have significant relief from financial pain and will get their health back. In July, Eskom, as the national energy resource provider, just declared a financial loss of US$174 million and it will receive a US$2.5 billion loan from China Development Bank. Transnet, a major transportation company, will receive a large loan from the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China as well. According to South Africa President Cyril Ramaphosa, President Xi thinks China has significant special interests in Africa, especially in South Africa. President Xi will continue to provide aid to the region. Ramaphosa has been trying to save Eskom for many years. The company was deeply involved in political scandals during the time of the previous administration. Banks later stopped providing loans to Eskom.

Source: Sputnik Chinese Edition, July 26, 2018

ASEAN-China Single Draft South China Sea Code of Conduct to Weaken U.S. Influence

On August 3, the foreign ministers of the 10 member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and their Chinese counterpart announced agreement on a Single Draft South China Sea Code of Conduct Negotiating Text (SDNT) that will serve as the basis for the adoption of a Code of Conduct in the South China Sea.

Among the proposals that China made, two of them are notable. The first is on cooperation on the marine economy and states that cooperation is to be carried out by the littoral states “and shall not be conducted in cooperation with companies from countries outside the region.” In contrast, Malaysia proposed that nothing in the Code of Conduct (COC) “shall affect… rights or ability of the Parties to conduct activities with foreign countries or private entities of their own choosing.” The marine economy includes aquaculture and oil and gas cooperation, and marine culture.

Another proposal is about joint military exercises. “The Parties shall establish a notification mechanism on military activities and will notify each other of major military activities if deemed necessary. The Parties shall not hold joint military exercises with countries from outside the region unless the parties concerned are notified beforehand and express no objection.”

China’s move is perceived at an attempt to weaken further any U.S. intervention in the South China Sea as the U.S. is considered as being among “countries outside the region.”

Shen Shishun, a scholar from the China Institute of International Studies, made it very clear in his interview with Russian based Sputnik News. “The so-called interference or factors of uncertainty mainly mean that some countries outside the region, out of a cold war mentality, are worried about the rise in influence of other countries in the region, and the decline of their own. They have adopted cold war tactics to provoke dissension among the countries in the region and to disrupt the situation in the South China Sea. It should be said that the interference of external forces is mainly from the United States. The U.S. global strategy is simple. It is to prevent any country from challenging its hegemonic status. The rise of China naturally has become its greatest threat. In fact, what the U.S. is doing does no good for Sino-U.S. relations, nor for regional peace and stability.”

Source: Sputnik News, August 4, 2018

The Paper: The New US-EU Zero-Tariff Trade Deal So Far Is Just Talk

The well-known Chinese news site The Paper recently reported that the newly reached zero-tariff trade deal between the U.S. and the European Union (EU) sounded a lot better than the outcome of the G7 and the NATO summits. It is understandable and logical that these old allies wanted to avoid an ugly final show-down on trade when both sides were under heavy internal pressure. However, the actual negotiation, as the result of the agreed framework, will be very tough and will drag on for a long time. Only one day after the announcement, the world started to hear different interpretations of the deal. The Germans were more optimistic about the trade deal, but France sounded very cautious and immediately excluded agricultural topics from any future negotiation. The soon-to-start negotiation rounds most likely will be a long and tedious process since it is naturally hard to get 28 EU members to agree on anything. Chinese trade experts expressed the belief that it seems the developed countries now think that the WTO trade framework no longer serves their best interests. That sounded a lot like the TTIP negotiation Obama started with the EU, which ended up going nowhere. The spokesperson of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs commented in a press briefing that China expects the efforts between the U.S. and the EU will follow the international multilateral trade rules, such as the non-discrimination principle.

Source: The Paper, July 28, 2018

People’s Daily: China Launched Television and Movie Showings Dubbed in French in French Speaking Regions in Africa

People’s Daily reported that, on the afternoon of July 19, the State Council Information Office, the State Administration of Radio and Television, the Chinese Embassy in Senegal, and the Senegalese Ministry of Information jointly organized the opening ceremony of the “China Film and Television African Screening Program (French Region)” in Dakar City in Senegal. The StarTimes Media Company in Senegal and Senegal Radio and Television hosted the ceremony. At the launching ceremony, the guests watched the promotional film for the “China Film and Television African Projection Program (French Region).” According to the plan, 26 Chinese films and 20 Chinese TV dramas dubbed in French will be screened in several French-speaking countries in Africa such as Senegal. The selected programs will be aired through the mainstream media of Senegal, the platform of the “African Satellite TV Project,” the satellite TV platform of the Star Times Group, and its “Mobile Cinema” stations.

Source: People’s Daily, July 28, 2018

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