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Thread: CPEC and Developments

  1. #196
    Turbanator Senior Contributor Double Edge's Avatar
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    External goods and capital are still welcome in most parts of the world.

    Only the movement of labour part of the globalisation equation is being questioned but then it always was

    Distributors of imported goods can rent shelf spaces in stores and malls but they can't do the same on e-retail sites.
    Really ?

    I'd have said the exact opposite. The only way to get hold of imported good is via e-retail

    The only restriction is how many of one product can be bought per customer
    Last edited by Double Edge; 10 Dec 17, at 15:24.

  2. #197
    Turbanator Senior Contributor Double Edge's Avatar
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    Who are these terrorists ? why not name names

    Caution urged for Chinese in Pakistan | China Daily | Dec 09 2017

    By ZHANG YUNBI | China Daily | Updated: 2017-12-09 07:11
    Terrorists reportedly have planned to launch a series of attacks on Chinese agencies and personnel in Pakistan in the near future, the Chinese embassy in Pakistan said in an "important security notice" issued on its website on Friday.

    The embassy alerted Chinese agencies based in the South Asian country and Chinese citizens there to boost security awareness, strengthen internal precautions, minimize outdoor activities and avoid going to crowded places.
    The notice was issued at a time when terrorist threats continue to plague the country.

    On Dec 1, four terrorists launched an attack on a student hostel in Pakistan's northwestern city of Peshawar, killing at least nine people and injuring 35, said Xinhua News Agency, citing local Urdu media ARY.

    Zhang Daojian, the Chinese director of the Confucius Institute in Islamabad, said the teaching operations of his institute continue, though the institute has required faculty members to reduce the amount of time spent outdoors.

    "Our teachers are told to return by a car as soon as possible and avoid long-term stays after finishing teaching in places outside (the institute)," Zhang said.

    Chinese in the country are asked to cooperate if they are checked by the Pakistani military or police, the embassy notice said.

    In case of emergency, Chinese in the country should call the police and contact the Chinese embassy or Consulate General for help, according to the notice.

    In May, the embassy issued a security notice alerting Chinese citizens to minimize going outdoors and to boost security precautions after several cases of terrorist attacks or abductions were reported in the country's southwestern Balochistan province.

    Lin Minwang, a professor on South Asian studies at Fudan University, said the latest alert is a good reminder to Chinese travelers who plan to travel to the country but are not fully aware of the security situation there.

    As China and Pakistan enjoy a high level of bilateral political mutual trust, and their anti-terror cooperation has worked smoothly through numerous communication channels, the two sides should further boost their collaboration, Lin said.

    The possibility cannot be ruled out that attacks planned against Chinese in Pakistan would aim to alienate the two nations, Lin added.

    Boosting collaboration on security and anti-terror affairs has been high on the bilateral agenda of Beijing and Islamabad, as well as on the agenda for regional cooperation.

    Assistant Foreign Minister Kong Xuanyou told Pakistani Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa in Beijing on November 21 that China appreciates Pakistan's efforts in cracking down on the extremist and terrorist group East Turkestan Islamic Movement and championing security for the building of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.

    Eight Shanghai Cooperation Organization member countries held an anti-cyberterrorism joint drill on Wednesday in Xiamen, Fujian province-the first joint anti-terrorism drill attended by eight members since India and Pakistan joined the SCO in June.

  3. #198
    Turbanator Senior Contributor Double Edge's Avatar
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    Russian take on OBOR

    Belt and Road to Where? | Carnegie (Moscow) | Dec 08 2017

    The “Belt and Road” concept has become so inflated, that it’s no longer helpful in understanding anything about China’s relationship with the outside world, but only further obscures an already complicated picture.

    The embedded notion of China having a strategic culture dates back to Sun Zi and Zhuge Liang; forcing analysts to search for a Chinese strategy even when there is scarcely a hint of one. Tell-tale signs of strategy include stated goals, criteria of success, and a timeline. None of these are prominently part of the OBOR concept.

    The Belt and Road initiative lacks a clearly stated goal. Against this background, many analysts produce their own theories on what exactly Zhongnanhai had in mind with the Belt and Road idea. Some explanations point to geostrategic rationales.The spectrum of theories reflects not only the diverse backgrounds and research priorities of scholars outside of China looking at Belt and Road, but also the wide range of opinions and approaches toward this initiative taken within China.

    Most Chinese officials and analysts who advise Beijing would acknowledge in private conversations, that the top leadership has not given them much positive direction about what Belt and Road actually is. The only internal instructions that have come so far, have been from Zhongnanhai, and are about banning words like “project” (because the word connotes a goal and timeline, Beijing prefers the looser term “initiative”) as well as banning the publication of official maps purporting to show the scope of OBOR.

    Lack of stated goals is closely tied to the second feature of the Belt and Road, which distinguishes it from a strategy — the initiative doesn’t have any performance criteria. Beijing has not, identified any quantifiable indicators of success or progress. This means that a great many things can be presented as progress under OBOR.

    Scholars and the media often follow the official Chinese narrative in trying to calculate figures for trade and investment along the new Silk Road. However, the criteria used to qualify a particular project in a particular country for inclusion in OBOR have become extremely elastic. It appears that even a casual remark from a low ranking official about “support” for OBOR or suggesting a country’s “interest” in a project in a neighbouring country can be sufficient to see that country added as a participant in OBOR. The hundreds of random agreements listed as signed during the Belt and Road forum in Beijing, is the best testament to this approach.

    Last but not least, OBOR doesn’t have a timeframe. No timeframe is to be found in the speeches of Xi Jinping and other officials, or in documents and roadmaps published by the Chinese government. Most of the time, when confronted directly over the timeline issue, Chinese officials and experts say that Belt and Road is a long-term goal that doesn’t have an underlying set of deadlines. Interestingly enough, not only does Belt and Road stretch into the indefinite future, it also reaches into the past. Some of China’s old projects, like the construction of Gwadar Port in Pakistan, which began in 2002, are now listed among the Belt and Road’s flagship achievements. This approach allows Beijing to re-package old deals and projects in OBOR wrapping, and present them to the world as Belt and Road deliverables.

    China’s current and prospective partners may find this uncertainty and lack of focus problematic. But for the Chinese political system, this lack of clarity around Belt and Road is actually a good thing. After all, the lack of performance criteria gives the government more latitude to declare positive outcomes and address the desire of all governments but, perhaps especially important to singleparty regimes, is the ability to appear successful, victorious and influential on the global stage.

    Russia’s experience also illustrates that OBOR is a multifaceted and adaptive tool for Chinese public diplomacy and overseas propaganda, but hardly a real strategy. The last two years have been a rude awakening for Russia and its EEU partners. The experience has been that adding the “OBOR” brand to a project did not elicit any additional concessions from the Chinese side, and that in most cases Beijing has looked for profitable projects with a good internal rate of return. For example, out of 40 projects that support transport connectivity between Western China and Europe through EEU states, Beijing declined to invest in a single one, citing unsustainable financial models and unclear prospects for returns.

    Setting aside the shortcomings of the Belt and Road concept, the ‘OBOR hype’ around the world points to a real and fundamental trend — the ascent of China as a truly global economic and military power. While there may be no well-calculated and informed strategy behind Belt and Road, the increase in China’s external trade, military power, overseas investment and its imprint on various fields of global governance is undeniable. The visibility of Belt and Road is not driven by its intrinsic merits but rather stems from the cumulative impact of three decades of fast economic growth, a transformed and digitalised PLA, the globalised and innovative Chinese companies and a new generation of confident and sophisticated Chinese officials, officers and businesspeople — particularly amid America’s gradual retreat from global engagement.

  4. #199
    Turbanator Senior Contributor Double Edge's Avatar
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    Paks need a bailout from the IMF

    Pakistan’s economic fortunes now in the hands of the IMF | Asia Times | Dec 17 2017

    WIth Islamabad running out of funds to service its debt payments and current account deficit, talks are underway with regard to a bailout package

  5. #200
    Turbanator Senior Contributor Double Edge's Avatar
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    Gwadar getting attention

    Hoping to extend maritime reach, China lavishes aid on Pakistan town | ET | Dec 17 2017

    Beijing and Islamabad see Gwadar as the future jewel in the crown of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a flagship of Beijing's Belt and Road initiative to build a new "Silk Road" of land and maritime trade routes across more than 60 countries in Asia, Europe and Africa.

    The plan is to turn Gwadar into a trans-shipment hub and megaport to be built alongside special economic zones from which export-focused industries will ship goods worldwide. A web of energy pipelines, roads and rail links will connect Gwadar to China's western regions.

    Port trade is expected to grow from 1.2 million tonnes in 2018 to about 13 million tonnes by 2022, Pakistani officials say. At the harbour, three new cranes have been installed and dredging will next year deepen the port depth to 20 metres at five berths.

    China's Gwadar project contrasts with similar efforts in Sri Lanka, where the village of Hambantota was transformed into a port complex - but was saddled with Chinese debt.

    Last week, Sri Lanka formally handed over operations to China on a 99-year lease in exchange for lighter debt repayments, a move that sparked street protests over what many Sri Lankans view as an erosion of sovereignty.

    The Hambantota port, like Gwadar, is part of a network of harbours Beijing is developing in Asia and Africa that have spooked India, which fears being encircled by China's growing naval power.

    But Pakistani officials say comparisons to Hambantota are unfair because the Gwadar project has much less debt.


    When China suggested a 7,000 metre runway for the new airport, Pakistan pushed for a 12,000 metre one that could accommodate planes as large as the Airbus 380 and be used for military purposes, according to Sajjad Baloch, a director of the Gwadar Development Authority.

    The scale of Chinese grants is extraordinary, according to Brad Parks, executive director of AidData, a research lab at the U.S.-based William and Mary university that collected data on Chinese aid across 140 countries from 2000-2014.

    Since 2014, Beijing has pledged over $800 million in grants and concessional loans for Gwadar, which has less than 100,000 people. In the 15 years before that, China gave about $2.4 billion in concessional loans and grants during this period across the whole of Pakistan, a nation of 207 million people.

    "Gwadar is exceptional even by the standards of China's past activities in Pakistan itself," Parks said.

    For its investment in Gwadar, China will receive 91 percent of revenues until the port is returned to Pakistan in four decades' time. The operator, China Overseas Ports Holding Company, will also be exempt from major taxes for more than 20 years.

    Pakistan's maritime affairs minister, Hasil Bizenjo, said the arrival of the Chinese in the region contrasted with the experience of the past two centuries, when Russia and Britain, and later the United States and the Soviet Union, vied for control of the warm water ports of the Persian Gulf.

    "The Chinese have come very smoothly, they have reached the warm waters," Bizenjo told Reuters. "What they are investing is less than a peanut for access to warm waters."

    When a U.S. Pentagon report in June suggested Gwadar could become a military base for China, a concern that India has also expressed, Beijing dismissed the idea.

    "Talk that China is building a military base in Pakistan is pure guesswork," said a Chinese Defence Ministry spokesman, Wu Sian.

    Bizenjo and other Pakistani officials say Beijing has not asked to use Gwadar for naval purposes.

    "This port, they will use it mostly for their commercial interests, but it depends on the next 20 years where the world goes," Bizenjo said.
    In contrast Chabahr is being upgraded to handle 8 million tons from 2 millino with an eventual goal of 80 million tons. Much bigger than Gwadar

  6. #201
    Turbanator Senior Contributor Double Edge's Avatar
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    China's latest acquisition is former Prime Minister of Britain David Cameron.

    David Cameron takes senior role in China infrastructure fund | FT | Dec 16 2016

    UK former prime minister appointed to $1bn Belt and Road initiative

    Emily Feng in Beijing and Henry Mance in London
    DECEMBER 16, 2017

    David Cameron is to take a leadership role in a $1bn investment fund set up to back China’s Belt and Road infrastructure initiative.

    The state-endorsed fund will be led by private institutions in UK and China and employ the former UK prime minister in a leadership role that has yet to be defined.

    The fund was announced among a raft of new investment agreements finalised during a two-day visit to Beijing by UK Chancellor Philip Hammond as part of efforts to boost global trade ties before the UK leaves the EU in 2019.

    Mr Cameron revealed in September that he had discussed a UK-China fund with vice-premier Ma Kai during a trip to Beijing. Mr Cameron has kept a low profile since leaving office last July following the Brexit vote. He has not taken major commercial or diplomatic roles, instead opting to campaign on Alzheimer’s and chair a commission into the effectiveness of aid spending.

    The fund and other investment agreements are intended to kick off what both countries called a new phase in the golden era of UK-China relations.

    “The China-UK relationship is one of the most important bilateral relationships in the world,” said Mr Ma, part of reassurances from both sides intended to allay worries that ties between the two counties would diminish once the UK exits the EU in March 2019.

    Mr Hammond said the UK had committed to avoiding a cliff edge when it leaves the EU.

    “We’re committed as a result of the agreement we’ve made this week to creating an environment which will effectively replicate the current status quo so businesses can continue trading as they do now, borders will operate as they do now, and financial services will carry on conducting business across the board as they do now,” he said.

    The UK has been seeking greater engagement with Chinese financial institutions, and among the agreements announced on Saturday was a direct channel for trading China’s renminbi in London’s foreign exchange markets. R5, a London-based fintech firm, will provide the trading platform for Chinese banks.*

    There was no word from either side on a launch date for the Shanghai-London Stock Connect. When it was announced in 2015, the connect faced challenges on how to bridge the eight-hour time difference between China and the UK.*

    China and the UK had “accelerated final preparation” on the connect, said Mr Hammond, and the two countries would begin feasibility studies by allowing companies in each market to list depositary receipts in each other’s market

    The bulk of the trade agreements announced this weekend are pegged to Belt and Road infrastructure, a project to revamp Silk Road commerce between Asia and Europe. UK Export Finance, the export credit agency, will support up to £25bn in BRI projects across Asia.

    The UK also unveiled a $50m matching contribution with China for the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank to expand operations into less developed countries.

    The $100bn AIIB was begun in 2015 as China’s equivalent to the World Bank, with the UK as the first western nation to pledge support.*

    Mr Hammond announced the appointment of Douglas Flint, the former group chairman of HSBC, as the UK Treasury’s Belt and Road envoy, as well as the establishment of as new UK-led BRI expert board to guide investment.

    “China and the UK have a very close fit, where China has huge manufacturing and construction capability and huge pools of capital available,” Mr Hammond said. “Whereas UK has great expertise in project finance and legal skills.”

  7. #202
    Turbanator Senior Contributor Double Edge's Avatar
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    Can't attack the Chinese in Xianjiang because there are too many paras, but OBOR provides opportunities to kill Chinese abroad. Question is how many of these uighur
    veterans will make it back to China ? the trip to Syria appears to be a one way ticket

    it was impossible for Uighurs militants to liberate Xinjiang, currently blanketed with paramilitary forces and riot police. But he said Chinese President Xi Jinping's ambitious project to develop railway lines, ports, and other infrastructure linking various regions to China makes Beijing vulnerable to militant attacks abroad.

    The Islamic State took credit in June for kidnapping and killing two Chinese teachers in Pakistan's Baluchistan province, which is a cornerstone of Beijing's so-called Belt and Road infrastructure project. In Kyrgyzstan, state security say a suicide bombing of the Chinese embassy in Bishkek was ordered by Uighur terrorist groups active in Syria and financed by al-Qaida's Nusra Front.

    Chinese officials and Western analysts alike say that the Uighurs' experience in the Syrian jihadi melting pot will likely exacerbate violence against "soft" targets outside China. China's foreign ministry called the Turkistan Islamic Party a security threat for the Middle East.
    AP exclusive: Anger with china drives uighurs to syrian war | Dec 22 2017

    Fascinating read

    Dec 22, 12:14 AM EST

    AP EXCLUSIVE: ANGER WITH CHINA DRIVES UIGHURS TO SYRIAN WAR
    BY GERRY SHIH
    ASSOCIATED PRESS

    ISTANBUL (AP) -- It was mid-afternoon when the Chinese police officers barged into Ali's house set against cotton fields outside the ancient Silk Road trading post of Kashgar. The Uighur farmer and his cowering parents watched them rummage through the house until they found two books in his bedroom - a Quran and a handbook on dealing with interrogations.

    Ali knew he was in trouble.

    By nightfall the next day, Ali had been tied against a tree and beaten by interrogators trying to force him to say he took part in an ethnic riot that killed dozens in western China. They held burning cigarette tips to Ali's face, deprived him of sleep and offered him only salt water. When he asked for fresh water, they gave it to him - in buckets poured over his head.

    That winter night in 2009, Ali recalled years later, would set him on a path that ended on northern Syria's smoldering plains, where he picked up a Kalashnikov rifle under the black flag of jihad and dreamed of launching attacks against the Chinese rulers of his homeland.

    Since 2013, thousands of Uighurs, a Turkic-speaking Muslim minority from western China, have traveled to Syria to train with the Uighur militant group Turkistan Islamic Party and fight alongside al-Qaida, playing key roles in several battles. Syrian President Bashar Assad's troops are now clashing with Uighur fighters as the six-year conflict nears its endgame.

    But the end of Syria's war may be the beginning of China's worst fears.

    "We didn't care how the fighting went or who Assad was," said Ali, who would only give his first name out of a fear of reprisals against his family back home. "We just wanted to learn how to use the weapons and then go back to China."

    Uighur militants have killed hundreds, if not thousands, in attacks inside China in a decades-long insurgency that initially targeted police and other symbols of Chinese authority but in recent years also included civilians. Extremists with knives killed 33 people at a train station in 2014. Abroad, they bombed the Chinese embassy in Kyrgyzstan in September last year; in 2014, they killed 25 people in an attack on a Thai shrine popular with Chinese tourists.

    China is just like the West, its officials say: the country is a victim of terror, and Uighur men are pulled by global jihadi ideology rather than driven by grievances at home. Muslims in the Uighur homeland of Xinjiang, as one Chinese official declared in August, "are the happiest in the world."

    But rare and extensive Associated Press interviews with nine Uighurs who had left China to train and fight in Syria showed that Uighurs don't neatly fit the profile of foreign fighters answering the call of jihad.

    There was a police trainer who journeyed thousands of miles with his wife and children to Syria, a war zone. A farmer who balked at fundamentalist Islam even though he charged into battle alongside al-Qaida. A shopkeeper who prayed five times a day and then at night huddled with others in a ruined Syrian neighborhood to study Zionist history.

    And there was Ali, a short, soft-spoken 30-year-old with a primary school education who knew little of the world beyond his 35-acre farm when he left China, a home that had become unlivable.

    Sitting cross-legged one recent evening in an empty apartment overlooking a kickboxing gym in Istanbul, he recalled the vow he made the night Chinese police beat him for participating in a riot he never joined.

    "I'll get revenge," he said.

    ---

    SELF-FULFILLING PROPHECY

    Ali's parents eventually got him out of detention - but it cost them 10,000 yuan ($1,500) in bribes to local officials, no small amount for the family of farmers.

    Despite his release, Ali was not free.

    It was late 2009, and Xinjiang was in lockdown. Four months earlier, hundreds of Uighurs had rioted in Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang, and attacked the Han, China's dominant ethnic group. An estimated 200 people died in the unrest that night, the bloodiest ethnic violence the country had seen in decades and an event that would change Ali's life and that of 10 million Uighurs in Xinjiang.

    The government, caught off-guard by the unrest, rolled out an expansive security crackdown and surveillance programs in the region that have accelerated in the last year . Thousands of Uighurs, including moderate Uighur intellectuals, are believed to have been arrested or detained, some of them without trial.

    Ali was constantly stopped and questioned wherever he went. He couldn't check into a hotel, buy a train ticket or get a passport.

    "I had nowhere to go," he said. "Except out."

    As the repression mounted, what began as a trickle of Uighurs fleeing China grew into a mass exodus. In 2013, more than 10,000 left across southern China's porous borders, according to Uighur exiles. Nearly all the Uighurs who spoke to the AP after returning to Turkey from Syria recounted being persecuted by Chinese authorities as a motive for taking up arms.

    "The Chinese government had been accusing Uighurs of militancy for a long time when there hasn't been much of a threat," said Sean R. Roberts, an expert on Uighur issues at George Washington University. "That changed after the 2009 crackdown. It's become a self-fulfilling prophecy."

    ---

    ESCAPE AND ROAD TO SYRIA

    Desperate to leave China, Ali paid more than 100,000 yuan ($15,000) to human smugglers and made his way overland through Laos, Cambodia, Thailand and Malaysia, where he received a Turkish travel document.

    In Turkey, Ali drifted in Istanbul, working construction and electrical jobs for $300 a month. Within two months, his brother said he had met people who could take them to Syria, where they could learn weapons training and return to China to "liberate" their friends and family.

    "We'll avenge our relatives being tortured in Chinese jail," he said.

    Ali agreed, thinking they would go for a few weeks. They ended up spending two-and-a-half years in Syria.

    The story of how Ali ended up in a distant war zone echoed the experiences of other Uighurs the AP spoke to in Turkey, who said they joined religious militant groups at first because of grievances against Beijing or support for the idea of a Uighur nation. Most knew little about political Islam that fueled jihadis in other countries, and none said they met with recruiters inside China.

    But that changed as soon as they left China's borders. As Uighur refugees traveled along an underground railroad in Southeast Asia, they said, they were greeted by a network of Uighur militants who offered food and shelter - and their extremist ideology. And when the refugees touched down in Turkey, they were again wooed by recruiters who openly roamed the streets of Istanbul in gritty immigrant neighborhoods like Zeytinburnu and Sefakoy, looking for fresh fighters to shuttle to Syria.

    Uighur activists and Syrian and Chinese officials estimate that at least 5,000 Uighurs have gone to Syria to fight - though many have since left. Among those, several hundred have joined the Islamic State, according to former fighters and Syrian officials.

    As Uighurs streamed out of China, militant leaders have seized upon China's treatment of Muslims as a recruiting tactic. The Islamic State, for instance, regularly publishes Uighur-language editions of its radio bulletins and magazines, while the Turkistan Islamic Party has been releasing videos on a near-weekly basis, said Rita Katz, director of the SITE Intelligence monitoring group.

    "How can those who are imprisoned due to their faith be freed? How can they be saved from this humiliation?" a masked Uighur fighter says in a Turkestan Islamic Party video released last year. "Words from our mouths won't help, but jihad for Allah will."

    ---

    A FARAWAY WAR

    From Istanbul, several of the former fighters described taking buses or being driven to the border region of Hatay, where they would cross on foot at night through lightly guarded hills. After a three-hour hike into Syria, cars waited in a forest clearing to whisk them to separate camps dotting the country's north. One fighter said he simply drove in, unobstructed, on the highway from the Turkish city of Gaziantep.

    When the Uighurs arrived in Jisr al-Shughour, a strategic town on the edge of Assad's stronghold of Latakia region, men with families, like Ali, moved into a ruined neighborhood of single-story brick homes where 150 families stayed. Single men lived together in larger apartment buildings.

    The men undertook three-month training sessions in the use of Soviet AKM rifles, shoulder-mounted rocket-propelled grenade launchers, physical conditioning and mapping.

    At the beginning of the course, the trainers showed off their prized cache of captured American M-16s and German G3 rifles, but each fighter received a battered AKM and cheap Chinese ammunition. Boys as young as 12 and 13 - mostly orphans - were taken to a separate camp for religious classes and physical training.

    Two fighters said they received boxes of food from IHH, a Turkish Islamic charity group, that included rice, flour, meat and even fish imported from Thailand. One of the fighters said the food supplies were labeled with the foreign fighting group they were being shipped to - for example, "Turkistanis (Uighurs) or Uzbeks."

    IHH spokesman Mustafa Ozbek said the group distributes aid in refugee camps near the Syrian border to civilians, but not armed groups.

    "All of our aid is conducted officially, documented and reported," Ozbek said.

    The Uighurs in Syria have a reputation for administering their territory with a light touch, said Aymenn Jawad al-Tamimi, a British researcher at the Middle East Forum who has extensively interviewed jihadis in Syria, including Uighur fighters. They don't enforce an Islamic court system or replace local councils - unlike their close allies, the al-Qaida-linked Hay'at Tahrir al-Sham, Arabic for Levant Liberation Committee.

    Instead, an older Uighur would convene young fighters in the evenings to discuss history and politics. They looked to an improbable model for building an independent homeland: Israel and the Zionist movement.

    "We studied how the Jews built their country," Ali said. "Some of them fought, some of them provided money. We don't have a strong background of that."

    Few Uighurs spoke Arabic and most didn't mingle with locals, but at one point some residents joked that Uighurs should rename the city Shughuristan, a play on "East Turkistan," the Uighur exiles' preferred name for their homeland. The Uighurs were unconvinced.

    "This is not our homeland," Ali and his comrades told the Arabs. "We want our homeland, we don't need yours."

    ---

    FEARLESS 'PAWNS'

    Like Ali, Rozi Mehmet wanted to do something to help his people fight Chinese oppression. His grandfather, a wealthy Uighur farmer, had been executed in the tumult of China's Cultural Revolution in the 1960s.

    Three years ago, Mehmet left the ancient oasis town of Hotan and hiked into Syria to join a class of 52 Turkistan Islamic Party trainees.

    Within six months, he would be on the front lines with a rocket-propelled grenade launcher strapped to his skinny back, sprinting toward government positions near Jisr al-Shughour.

    Jihadi clerics have exhorted Uighurs to take up holy war and reap the rewards of martyrdom. But if he would take a bullet, Mehmet thought as he rushed into battle, he wasn't dying for Islam - or the virgins that the preachers promised. His homeland was the only thing on his mind.

    "I didn't feel fear," he told the AP. "If I felt fear, how could I be able to build my country?"

    As fighting escalated in 2015 and 2016, hundreds of Uighurs died in its campaigns alongside al-Qaida's Nusra Front, according to two former fighters who fought in northern Syria.

    Radical groups have aggressively recruited Uighurs. Al-Qaida's leader promised in a video that Islamic militants would repay the Uighurs by striking at "atheist Chinese occupiers" after the Syrian war. The Islamic State has echoed similar pledges and the group in March released a Uighur-language propaganda video vowing to one day shed Chinese blood if Uighurs would join the Syrian struggle.

    As the chaotic opposition splintered and reorganized, groups vied for the Uighurs' support and lauded them for their suicide attacks that often kept the Syrian army off-balance, Mehmet boasted.

    An older fighter, also from Hotan, chided the young man, saying he was more cynical about why the Arab jihadis lavished them with praise.

    "They praise us, which means they want us to follow them and fight for them," said Rozi Tohti, 40, who fought near the city of Idlib. They "are trying to lure us to become their pawns."

    ---

    DISSENT IN SYRIA; THREAT TO CHINA

    But several Uighur fighters insisted that, in their minds, there was a distinct line between themselves and the Islamic militants they fought beside. Some Uighurs complained about being stuck in Syria instead of attacking China, as they had been promised.

    "We fight for them and help them control the country, and then Uighurs are left with nothing," Mehmet said.

    After joining the TIP in mid-2015, Uighur fighter Abdulrehim visited a graveyard for fallen militants and wondered why there were no Uighur national banners. At one point, he openly challenged a TIP senior leader, Ibrahim Mansour, about what they were doing in Syria, he recalled.

    "We haven't fired a bullet against our enemy, China," he told a group of gathered Uighur fighters. "We always fight alongside international terrorists. What's going on here?"

    Many Uighur militants have grown tired of the war and are looking to leave particularly as Assad's forces gain the upper hand, says Seyit Tumturk, a Uighur activist in Turkey who often speaks to fighters in Syria.

    He said it was impossible for Uighurs militants to liberate Xinjiang, currently blanketed with paramilitary forces and riot police. But he said Chinese President Xi Jinping's ambitious project to develop railway lines, ports, and other infrastructure linking various regions to China makes Beijing vulnerable to militant attacks abroad.

    The Islamic State took credit in June for kidnapping and killing two Chinese teachers in Pakistan's Baluchistan province, which is a cornerstone of Beijing's so-called Belt and Road infrastructure project. In Kyrgyzstan, state security say a suicide bombing of the Chinese embassy in Bishkek was ordered by Uighur terrorist groups active in Syria and financed by al-Qaida's Nusra Front.

    Chinese officials and Western analysts alike say that the Uighurs' experience in the Syrian jihadi melting pot will likely exacerbate violence against "soft" targets outside China. China's foreign ministry called the Turkistan Islamic Party a security threat for the Middle East.

    "We hope our brothers, including Syria and Turkey, will work with us, strengthen cooperation and cut off the terrorists' cross-border movements and safeguard regional stability," the ministry said in a faxed statement in response to questions from the AP.

    The ministry did not address questions about the causes of radicalization but said that China's government has invested heavily in Xinjiang's economic development, protected its minorities' rights and treated them just as every other ethnic group.

    "Of course, when there are those who try to create tension in Xinjiang, the Chinese government's commitment to striking against violent terror and ethnic splittism is unquestioned," it said.

    ---

    RETURN TO TURKEY AND AN UNCERTAIN FUTURE

    By June of this year, Ali had tired of Syria and wanted to get out. For him, the war consisted of spending months at a time manning checkpoints and patrolling borders.

    But like many other Uighurs who sought to return to Turkey, he struggled to find a way back. Ali walked for a week to get around a wall built by the Turkish government on the border. He's now back in Istanbul and selling milk.

    Although some of the Uighur returnees said they would attack China if the opportunity arose, others balked at the idea.

    Uighur community workers are concerned that many of those cast back into Turkish society would struggle to integrate and be easily pulled back into radical groups. Many of the men make $200 to $300 a month, barely enough to cover rent in Istanbul, and spoke poor Turkish. Many faced daily discrimination.

    Activists also worry about TIP recruitment continuing unchecked in Turkey, where it appears to have a degree of official support.

    This year, Turkish authorities detained TIP members including a former top commander, ostensibly for his own safety, said a diplomat in Beijing and a Uighur activist who was allowed by Turkish officials to speak with him. But Turkey refused to allow Chinese intelligence to interrogate the former commander, deeply frustrating Beijing, the diplomat said.

    Uighur leaders say Turkish police also have released several well-known Uighur jihadi recruiters even after the community offered tips that led to their arrest.

    "There are suspicions that these recruiters have links with some individuals or agencies within the government," said Omer Kanat, director of the Uyghur Human Rights Project in Washington. "They're turning a blind eye."


    Rozi Tohti, the middle-aged fighter from Hotan, sat in a meadow facing the ruined walls of old Constantinople and ruminated on the choices facing his compatriots in Turkey: give their lives to a radical Islamic movement that they did not believe in or struggle to settle into a Turkish society where they did not fit in.

    One thing was clear. Returning to their homeland was out of the question.

    "Who wants to live in a war zone?" Tohti said. "We once had paradise in our country. But it was being erased by the Chinese, so instead we looked for paradise in Syria."

  8. #203
    Senior Contributor
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    Quote Originally Posted by anil View Post
    Whisper talk says that globalisation already peaked and the oil prices are an indication of the coming change

    The after-effects will be felt more by developing countries such as India & China. We already are seeing a huge change in the way visas are given out by the first world. It started with the UK, many many years back. Now Singapore, Australia, US - all are cutting visas or has put stringent regulations so that locals get those jobs in their home countries. Not a bad thing IMV.

    What countries like India needs to do is to train and market, skilled resources in medicine and elderly care. Countries like Japan and China, EU are getting old. The old will need care.

    Quote Originally Posted by anil View Post
    As it would turn out, the rise of e-commerce retail has allowed local and regional manufacturers to promote and distribute their goods more easily. This is cutting into sales of imported goods.
    How many local players do we see on Flipkart or Amazon? It's a miniscule compared to what the big players have to offer interms of cost arbitrage as well as quality. And no, they are not cutting into the sale of imported goods.

    Patanjali is an exception, but what do they sell? They sell FMCG products, rice, wheat, oil, spices etc - basically everything that a Kirana shop sells. Godrej have been manufacturing these products in India for a long time. As for an air-conditioner or a refrigerator or an HDTV, there's hardly anything locally manufactured in India to even make a dent.

    Patanjali = Godrej + Ayurveda + Nationalism

    Quote Originally Posted by anil View Post
    Distributors of imported goods can rent shelf spaces in stores and malls but they can't do the same on e-retail sites.
    They can, i.e if they want to.

    E-comm sites are a common marketplace where sellers and buyers, sell and buy products and services respectively, while the operational costs of managing the marketplace, transactions, dispute resolutions etc are under the sole purview of the e-comm operator.
    Last edited by Oracle; 23 Dec 17, at 13:52.

  9. #204
    Turbanator Senior Contributor Double Edge's Avatar
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    Looks like they got a good roasting. Same idea with the quad

    China Faces Pushback in the UN on Belt-Road Initiative, Retreats Quietly | The Wire | Dec 17 2017

    The laudatory language about OBOR inserted last year by hyperactive Chinese diplomats was dropped as more and more countries asked for details on China’s financing mechanisms and environmental standards in pushing the gargantuan scheme.

    The hard work of coalition building over the last two months was done by a team of young Indian diplomats from India’s permanent mission. Japan and several members of the EU joined in to raise questions and counter China’s narrative.

    The results were there for all to see when on December 11, the UN General Assembly adopted the two resolutions minus the language used in 2016 that had essentially equated world peace with promoting OBOR.

    What it proved – in however small a measure – is that China is not invincible, especially if others can present a united front. “It is possible to fight the dragon,” a UN observer commented. “Success comes to those who dare.”

    India took the lead in questioning the language, the US joined in, and the others slowly followed, including many EU members. Some in the EU are more aware or are less beholden to the Chinese than some others, making the internal debates rancorous and time-consuming. But the clear US position is important in influencing the more recent EU members who are more prone to falling under Chinese influence.

    Beijing chose not to go to battle to force the issue at the UN, diplomatic sources said. It didn’t want to answer the many questions on transparency and environmental standards, or have to explain the intricacies of OBOR’s dicey finance mechanisms to well-informed UN representatives who keep up with the news.

    The Chinese would have been quizzed about the 99-year lease with Sri Lanka on the Hambantota port, a development that opened many eyes around the world because it is seen as a threat to the island nation’s sovereignty. India and the US were more than ready for a full-fledged debate on the merits and demerits of OBOR.

    China clearly wasn’t. It chose to quietly back away from a fight and let the pro-OBOR language be deleted from the two resolutions. “They got scared and ran. We know how to play the system too,” a coalition member said.

    This was the second time in a month that the India-US combine worked together effectively. In November, Washington essentially sided with India on the election of Dalveer Bhandari as a judge on the International Court of Justice against a British candidate, breaking from its traditional ally.

    Remarkable as it was for the US to abandon the British, the evolution of American thinking on China is more consequential from India’s point of view. A consensus is building among Republicans and Democrats that China takes advantage of the open, democratic system in the US while intimidating foreign companies to do its bidding in China.

    Washington appears to be opening several fronts against China, ranging from questioning its policies in the WTO to investigating Beijing’s sophisticated “influence” peddling across university campuses. It has closely followed developments in Australia and New Zealand, where China’s deep penetration of domestic politics has become an issue.

    The synergy of thought between India and the US regarding China has grown steadily and joint ventures such as the one the UN witnessed last week are likely to increase in number.
    Last edited by Double Edge; 24 Dec 17, at 10:15.

  10. #205
    Turbanator Senior Contributor Double Edge's Avatar
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    Thought China Kazakh relations were good. Khorgos, a XJ border town w/Kazakhstan that is supposed to be a model of silk road connectivity and has instead become a showcase for tensions between China and Central Asia/Russia

    China-Kazakhstan border woes dent Silk Road ambitions | FT | Dec 21 2017

    Emily Feng in Khorgos and Henry Foy in Moscow

    DECEMBER 21, 2017 25
    Soaring mountains and golden plains surround the nascent city of Khorgos, one of the most important land transport hubs planned for China’s new Silk Road.

    But despite hundreds of millions of dollars of investment, the majority of traders here on China’s border with Kazakhstan, among the planet’s furthest points from the ocean, still rely on maritime routes to receive imported goods.*

    “I would rather my goods take 10 times as long to get to Khorgos but be sure they arrive on time,” says Jia Xiubing, who imports European snacks through the Chinese ports of Qingdao and Tianjin, which lie about 4,000km east by road or rail.*Traders say Khorgos’s showpiece free trade zone is blighted by chronic delays, high costs and limits on what can be imported.

    With investments ranging from ports in Pakistan and Sri Lanka to high-speed railways in east Africa to gas pipelines crossing central Asia, China’s $900bn Belt and Road Initiative is arguably the largest overseas investment drive ever launched by a single country.

    But the problems, along with other logistical difficulties of transporting goods through central Asia to Europe, illustrate the shaky ground beneath China’s ambitious plans to boost its global influence and bolster slowing economic growth at home.

    Khorgos is a crucial hub in the transport network linking China and Europe. By 2020 it will house the world’s largest “dry port”, where 4m tonnes of goods a year can be stored and transferred between Chinese and Kazakh trains, which run on a different gauge.




    However, it is one of China’s slowest outbound border crossings. Goods take an average of 10.6 hours to cross into Kazakhstan — almost twice as long as those moving in the opposite direction, according to the Central Asia Regional Economic Co-operation (Carec) programme, a trade organisation.

    “Customs processes are actually very fast on the China side. It is getting goods through the Kazakh side that can be very unpredictable and costs twice as much in customs fees,” says Alim, a Chinese Uighur confectionery trader.

    Most goods have to be unloaded and stored in bonded warehouses, sometimes for days, as they await clearance from the customs regimes either side of the border. The cost of unloading train cargo remains the highest among trade corridors Carec monitors, putting Khorgos among central Asia’s most expensive border crossings.*

    And the problems are not limited to Khorgos, which lies in the Chinese frontier region of Xinjiang that borders three central Asian nations.


    A free-trade zone set to open this year in the regional capital of Urumqi has been delayed “because the local government has not been able to decide on logistics operations and a customs regime with partners”, according to a zone employee who declined to be named because of a lack of authorisation to discuss the matter.*

    Jonathan Hillman, a fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, says: “More efficient border procedures will be key — even more important than building new roads.”


    Kazakh officials deny that shipments from China pass into Kazakhstan more slowly than into other countries and the government in Astana remains bullish on bilateral ties. Cross-border trade between the two countries increased a hundredfold in the five years to 2016 and is on track to double this year to 200,000 containers a year, according to Kazakhstan’s foreign ministry. Kazakh officials say their country accounts for 70 per cent of China-Europe transit traffic.

    “The government of Kazakhstan wants to ensure that it continues to develop as a key transportation hub in Eurasia that plays a crucial role in connecting and enabling trade between east and west,” says Roman Vassilenko, deputy foreign minister.

    But the positive sentiments are not universally shared across the border in China, where critics believe Kazakhstan has been freeriding on China’s goodwill.

    Chinese development in Khorgos dwarfs that on the Kazakh side, where only 25 of 63 projects have investors, according to Ravil Budukov, the zone’s former press secretary. “China has provided all the money” for Kazakhstan’s roads and high-speed rail links, says a Chinese trade official in Xinjiang. “And we do not expect anything back.”*

    While Kazakhstan’s leaders have welcomed Chinese investment, analysts say the country remains deeply suspicious of Beijing’s motives.*


    “The larger the Chinese presence in central Asia, the stronger the anti-China sentiments,” says Daniyar Kosnazarov, of Narxoz University in Almaty, Kazakhstan’s biggest city. “Nationalist sentiments and enthusiasm for Chinese investment are living an uneasy coexistence but the ice is getting thinner and thinner.”*

    In April last year, thousands took to the streets over concerns about legal changes that would allow Chinese investors would buy up valuable real estate. “There is a lot of fear among Kazakhs about the country being overrun by Chinese,” says Dmitriy Frolovskiy, a Moscow-based central Asia analyst. “It has to face the world’s second economy and one of the strongest armies, which could conquer it within days.”*

    Kazakhstan has traditionally gravitated towards Russia, itself wary of China’s growing clout in central Asia, for political and economic patronage. A deeply Russified cultural legacy remains in the former Soviet republic, with most ethnic Kazakhs on the border using Russian, rather than Mandarin, as the lingua franca of trade.*


    “People are always going to look after their own interests,” says Su Gang of the Xinjiang Uighur Logistics Association, which monitors trade in the region. “That’s what we call trade protectionism.”

    That extends to the Khorgos free-trade zone.

    Kazakhstan, as a member of the Russia-led Eurasian Economic Union, limits imports to 50kg or €1,500 worth of undeclared goods per person per month. China, worried that cheap Kazakh imports could hurt domestic producers, bans most agricultural products from entering through the tax-free zone.*

    That limits all but small-scale trade from surviving in Khorgos, where buyers and sellers haggle over socks, bedding and packaged food in dimly lit malls.*

    This falls far short of what many traders had in mind when they set up shop, says Xiang Wu, a textile trader: “No matter how hard you work, there is a glass ceiling on how much money you can make here.”

    Bribe culture threatens Silk Road dreams
    Once a sleepy mountain village ringed by the tents of nomadic herders, Tashkurgan has grown rapidly in the past decade as a trade waypoint between China and Pakistan.

    The Chinese town’s location has also given rise to a new side-business: skimming off customs fees on goods that pass through, highlighting the corruption that hinders China’s plan to set up trade corridors branching into central Asia and Europe.*

    “One needs to know someone here to get the special customs prices. The customs office is all staffed by locals from Tashkurgan and Kashgar,” a nearby city, says Abdullah, a Tajik businessman native to Tashkurgan.*

    Carec, a regional trade body, warns that unofficial payments remain a significant challenge to the smooth operation of all central Asian trade corridors.*

    “There is no set list of customs fees. One day, it will cost about 5 per cent [of the value of goods in a container], another day 20,” says Wassim Abbas, echoing sentiments of dozens of Pakistani traders who run import-export businesses throughout the region.

    Traders at Khorgos, another important transit point along China’s New Silk Road stretching across Asia, also complain of being forced to pay bribes.*

    “Kazakhstan is like China in the 1980s. There is no rule of law, only rule by law over there,” says one Chinese trader at Khorgos. “Money is the only thing that has any influence there.”*

    Kazakhstan’s customs authorities said in a statement that “isolated cases [of bribes] have been identified that are not systemic in nature”.

  11. #206
    Turbanator Senior Contributor Double Edge's Avatar
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    Where’s the “Development” in China’s Global Development Finance? | Third pole | Jan 08 2018

    Analysis of China’s foreign “aid” misses the fact that much of it is in the form of commercial loans and little of it seems to have helped the recipient countries develop, argues Matt Ferchen

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