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China Promised US$60 billion at the China-African Summit

On September 3, Chinese President Xi Jinping delivered a keynote speech at the opening ceremony of the 2018 Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation.

Xi promised that, over the next three years, China will implement eight initiatives in terms of China-Africa cooperation in the fields of industrial promotion, infrastructure, trade, green development, capacity building, health, cultural exchanges, peace, and security.

China said it would establish a China-Africa Economic and Trade Expo and provide 1 billion yuan (US$146.3 million) in emergency aid to disaster-affected African countries. China will also implement 50 projects on trade facilitation and establish 50 aid projects on green development and environmental protection. In addition, China proposed that it would provide vocational training for African youth and upgrade 50 medical and healthcare assistance projects in Africa. Also, China plans to establish a China-Africa fund on peace and security cooperation for joint peacekeeping.

In total, China is to provide US$60 billion in financial support to Africa to accomplish the above initiatives.

In his speech, Xi said that China and Africa should expand their political dialogue and policy communication at all levels, strengthen mutual understanding and mutual support on issues involving core interests and major concerns, and maintain close cooperation on major international and regional issues.

Source: Xinhua, September 4, 2018
http://www.xinhuanet.com/politics/2018-09/04/c_1123374166.htm

Malaysia Air Asia Cancelled Its China Investment Plan

Well-known Chinese news site Tencent News recently reported that Malaysia’s airline company Air Asia just announced it is cancelling its plan to establish a joint venture airline in Zhengzhou, Henan Province, China. In May 2017, Air Asia signed a deal with the China Everbright Group and the Henan government in Beijing to form the new airline focusing on the low-cost passenger air travel market. Air Asia was committed to investing in infrastructure construction, pilot training, airline crews, and logistics. However, Air Asia’s latest announcement said the signed memo had “expired” and it would not be renewed. The Malaysian airline did not explain the reason. The Malaysia government recently just called off two major infrastructure plans which were to be funded with loans from China. That move was widely considered as a major setback for the Chinese One Belt One Road initiative.

Source: Tencent News, September 1, 2018
https://xw.qq.com/cmsid/20180901A1M6DL00

Russian Media Critical of China’s GDP Bragging

In 2010, China overtook Japan and became the world’s second largest economy. However, Russian media commented that this happened because China artificially inflated its GDP figures.

Kommersant (The Businessman), Russia’s nationally distributed daily newspaper, published a long commentary on August 25, entitled “The Deception of the GDP.” The article claimed that some of the powerful ruling class have used GDP as a tool to achieve its goals. Although GDP shows the total economic activity of a country or a region for a period of time, can it really represent national strength?

For example, the article says that modern China is a vivid example of GDP worship. The amount of non-productive economic activity in China is huge, which artificially increases the GDP figure. To a certain extent, this is very similar to the practices of the former Soviet Union and Japan in 1980. Everyone knows what happened to those two countries.

According to the article, Beijing is using this at least discounted GDP figure to compare with and confront Western GDP figures and the results can be imagined. This is not to say that there is no unproductive economic activity in the western market economies, but it is far less than such economic activities in China.

The article explained that the growth of GDP does not mean the growth of economic strength. For example, a company built a large stadium. This investment activity did contribute a huge amount to GDP, but it did not create wealth for the company. On the contrary, it reduced the company’s wealth and even contributed to its financial difficulties. In this case, the growth of GDP negatively impacted economic power.

An economic analyst and TV show host commented on the Chinese economy, saying that it is a huge bubble and it may crash at any time. He once said at a seminar, “There is a very simple statistic to know: 75 percent of the Chinese people’s wealth is in the property market. You don’t need to explain anything else. The Chinese leaders think they are the smartest and can shrink the bubble slowly and painlessly.”

Russian experts said that many Chinese economics experts have graduated from American universities and they should understand the economy. The calculation of real economic strength should exclude non-productive financial investment from GDP, make adjustments for income distribution, and replace the GDP value with calculations of the basic assets of the society.

The problem in China is that the ruling class has its own purposes. Using data to show economic growth seems more important. Gradually, they have come to believe in the data that they themselves artificially inflated.

Source: Radio Free Asia, August 28, 2018
https://www.rfa.org/mandarin/yataibaodao/junshiwaijiao/lxy-08282018095756.html

Authorities Set Up Website to Stamp out Rumors

China recently launched a web platform, dedicated to clarifying and battling online rumors. Last year, Chinese President Xi Jinping asked to build a bright and clear cyberspace.

The platform (http://www.piyao.org.cn/) encourages netizens to report online rumors. It is also connected with Weibo and WeChat platforms by setting up corresponding accounts. Weibo is the Chinese counterpart of a Twitter like service, while WeChat is a popular Chinese multi-purpose messaging, social media, and mobile payment app.

The official media said that the campaigns to battle rumors are based upon the official news media, which reports the “truth facts.”

An officially released video trailer said that rumors “violate individual freedom, trigger social fears, affect the stock market, and impact the economy.” “The rumors also blaspheme revolutionary heroes.”

China has stepped up judicial punishment for spreading rumors, with the highest penalty being up to seven years in prison. Earlier, the officials warned that, if 5,000 netizens read a rumor and reposted it more than 500 times, there would also be the danger of a jail term.

The platform is a direct subsidiary of the state cyber regulating authority and is connected with the official Xinhua News Agency. It has consolidated more than 40 online similar websites to investigate and suppress rumors more effectively and to search for the source of rumors or manufacturers of false information more effectively.

Source: Radio France International, August 30, 2018
http://rfi.my/33dc.T

Shaolin Temple Raised National Flag; First Time in 1500 Years

China’s Shaolin Temple, with a history of more than 1,500 years, is located at Song Mountain in Henan Province. On Monday August 27, at 7:00 am, the temple held its very first national flag-raising ceremony. The abbot, Shi Yongxin, led the ceremony. A number of local officials, including a CCP Standing Committee member from Dengfeng City, participated in the flag-raising ceremony.

The official media stated that the raising of the national flag in religious venues matches with the theme of the Shaolin Temple, which is “patriotism and love for the religion.” The Shaolin Temple has taken the lead. It is hoped that religious people and religious believers will continue to enhance their respect for the national flag and adhere to the Sinicization of religion in mainland China.

Radio Free Asia contacted a monk from the Shaolin Temple who said that the authorities demanded that the national flag should be hung. There was no way for the temple not to obey. He did not dare to make too many comments.

Chen Shiqi, a senior lecturer at the Department of Religion and Philosophy of Hong Kong Baptist University said, “The authorities want to look for a role model in Buddhism. Of course, the best candidate is the Shaolin Temple. Because of its fame and its martial arts, the authorities use the Shaolin Temple as a symbol. If the Shaolin Temple follows their lead, all other Buddhist temples will also follow suit and hang the national flag. In the end the Christians and Catholics will also raise the flag.”

On July 31, the sixth assemblage of the joint meeting of national religious groups was held in Beijing. It issued the “Initiative on Raising the National Flag at Religious Venues.”

Source: Radio Free Asia, August 28, 2018
https://www.rfa.org/cantonese/news/shaolin-08282018093931.html

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