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Underground Church Frustration on the Rumored China–Vatican Deal

It has been reported that China and the Vatican will soon sign a bishop appointment agreement. Members of the underground church responded with dissatisfaction. Some question whether the government will need to approve the content of the future priest’s sermons; some priests expressed that if there is no underground church, they will quit being priests.

The expectation was that, with the deal inked at the end of the month, Beijing would recognize the Pope as head of China’s Catholics in return for the Vatican’s recognition of excommunicated Chinese bishops. In addition, the Pope also has a veto power over the appointment of Chinese bishops and China will promote the integration of the official church and the underground church.

Some Chinese underground churches believe that the appointment of bishops is one of the most important and sacred powers of the Holy See. The Pope sharing this power with an atheistic government is not in line with Catholic teachings. Moreover, the Vatican’s move may be seen as the acquiescence to Beijing’s increasingly austere religious policy.

One priest from an underground church in Shanghai said that, “It’s impossible that China and Vatican could reach an agreement” on the grounds that the Chinese Communists oppose foreign forces from interfering in religious affairs, but in the event of an agreement, “I don’t need to be a priest since there will be no underground church.”

A Beijing Catholic Church member questioned whether the content of the priest’s preaching would require government approval. He feared that this would lead to the splitting of the Catholic Church. At present, in the officially recognized churches in China, the content of the sermon of a pastor or a priest must be submitted for official approval beforehand.

Although the Vatican may wish to use this agreement to guarantee the religious rights of Catholic Church members in China, China’s ultimate goal is to establish diplomatic relations with the Vatican, digging away Taiwan’s last diplomatic ally in Europe.

Zhang Ming, a professor at Renmin University of China, said that the compromise between the mainland and the Vatican was “more importantly in consideration of Taiwan.” As long as the bishop’s appointment deal is negotiated, the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries “will have no major obstacles.”

Source: Central News Agency, September 16, 2018

Malaysia Formally Shut Down Three Chinese Oil and Gas Pipeline Projects

The Malaysian online Chinese news site Seehua recently reported that the China Petroleum Pipeline Engineering Company (CPP) officially announced that it received notification from the Malaysia government that three Chinese oil and gas pipeline projects (MPP, TSGP and Petronas) were formally closed. CPP respected the Malaysian decision, which is based on economic and financial reasons, and the two parties will discuss fair and reasonable compensation arrangements. These three projects all completed only less than 15 percent of the work but most of the payments had been made to China. Some projects are still under investigation. The Malaysian Ministry of Finance paused two of the three projects in July. The new Malaysian administration had delivered on over 20 campaign promises (around 35 percent) in its first 100 days in power.

Source: Seehua, September 12, 2018

China-Russian Regional Cooperation Fund

The China-Russia Investment Forum held a meeting on September 15. Wang Feng, chairman of the China-Russia Regional Cooperation and Development Investment Fund, said at the meeting that the Fund has the potential for 100 some major projects including infrastructure and nuclear technology.

The total scale of the Fund is expected to be 100 billion yuan (US$ 14.6 billion), with a first phase of 10 billion yuan (US$ 1.5 billion).

The focus of the investments will be infrastructure, nuclear technology, the modern service industry, natural resources, clean energy, and agriculture.

The fund set up a policy steering committee which is composed of representatives from the National Development and Reform Commission, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Commerce, and the Central Bank. It provides macro guidance on fund investment operations, makes recommendations on key areas of fund investment, and coordinates and resolves major issues.

The initiative to establish the fund was part of the proposals made in the July 2017 Joint Statement between China and Russia on Further Deepening the China-Russia Comprehensive Strategic Partnership of Coordination, as well as an explicit requirement of the joint communique of the 22nd China-Russia Prime Ministers’ Regular Meeting in November 2017. It is included in the list of results of the “Belt and Road” International Cooperation Summit Forum in May 2017.

In June 2018, the National Development and Reform Commission of China approved the establishment of the fund. Led by the China National Power Investment Group Co., the China National Nuclear Industry Group Co. and the China Overseas Development Association were among the founding sponsors. On August 21, 2018, the Fund’s General Partnership Company and the Fund Management Co., Ltd. were formally incorporated in Shenzhen. The investors in the fund in the first phase included more than 10 organizations, including state banks, state-owned enterprises, financial institutions, and local governments.

Source: Sputnik News, September 15, 2018

ABC News Chinese: China Blocked ABC News but Still Claims “Openness”

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) News Chinese Edition recently reported that China has blocked its website since the day after Australia banned Huawei and ZTE from participating in the national 5G communications infrastructure initiative. In the past Chinese readers could freely access ABC NewsChinese Edition via its website and mobile app without blockage from China’s “Great Firewall.” Under high pressure, the Chinese government explained that China’s internet is always “sufficiently open.” However, “some foreign websites” may be banned if the content violates Chinese laws, such as distributing information promoting pornography, gambling, and activities threatening Chinese national security. There was no example of any content in ABC News that met such criteria. In the meantime, other Australian news websites are still accessible from within China. ABC News English Edition is occasionally available in China. ABC News is a public broadcasting organization established under the Australian Broadcasting Corporation Act of 1983.

Source: ABC News Chinese, September 3, 2018

Taiwan Defense Ministry: PLA to Complete Operational Preparations for “Full Military Attack against Taiwan” by 2020

According to an article that Deutsche Welle published, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) will complete its operational preparations for a “full military attack against Taiwan” by 2020.” This is the main conclusion from the “Report on the Military Power of the Chinese Communist Party” that the Taiwan Defense Ministry recently submitted. The report pointed out that “unifying Taiwan” remains a constant mission for Beijing. If any of the following possibilities becomes a reality, it will trigger China’s attack of Taiwan: Taiwan explicitly declares independence, Taiwan has internal turmoil, Taiwan’s acquires nuclear weapons, a delay occurs in the peaceful cross-strait dialogue, foreign forces’ get involved in Taiwan affairs, or foreign troops are stationed in Taiwan. However, the report also mentioned that, currently, the mainland is still limited by Taiwan’s geographic environment, landing vehicles, and insufficient logistical capabilities and does not have the full combat capability to carry out the military action.

According to the Deutsche Welle article, in April of this year, the Taiwan Democracy Foundation announced its annual poll. The data showed that, if the mainland military force attacked Taiwan because Taiwan issued a declaration of independence, 55 percent of the people would be willing or very willing to defend Taiwan and 35.9 percent of the population would not. If the mainland unified Taiwan by force, 67.7 percent of the people would be willing to fight to defend Taiwan, and 24.9 percent would not be willing.

Source: Deutsche Welle, September 1, 2018

China-Africa Financial Cooperation Bank Consortium

On September 5, the China-Africa Financial Cooperation Bank Consortium was launched in Beijing. China Development Bank (CDB), a government bank whose primary responsibility is to raise funds for large infrastructure projects, and a dozen member banks, signed an agreement, marking the debut of multilateral financial cooperation between China and Africa.

Since the launch of financial cooperation with Africa in 2006, CDB has provided more than $50 billion in investment and financing to nearly 500 projects in 43 African countries.

The Consortium is led by CDB. The founding members from the African side include 16 regional financial institutions, such as the Amalgamated Bank of South Africa, the Attijariwafa Bank in Morocco, the Commercial and Investment Bank of Mozambique, Banque Misr (The Bank of Egypt), the Development Bank of the Central African States, the Development Bank of Ethiopia, Ecobank (pan-African Bank), the Equity Bank of Kenya, the First Bank of Nigeria, Rawbank (Democratic Republic of the Congo), the State Bank of Mauritius, the Standard Bank of South Africa, the Eastern And Southern African Trade And Development Bank, Uganda Development Bank Limited, the United Bank for Africa, and the West African Development Bank.

The Beijing Summit of the 2018 Forum on China–Africa Cooperation was held in Beijing on September 3rd and 4th. Chinese President Xi Jinping delivered a keynote address. Xi Jinping proposed that China should provide 60 billion U.S. dollars in support to Africa and exempt the interest-free loan debts that were outstanding, as of 2018, of the least developed countries that had diplomatic relations with China.

Source: Sputnik News, September 5, 2018

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