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Thread: CPEC and Developments

  1. #76
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    China’s economic corridor is pushing Pakistan towards an economic nightmare

    There is a fairy tale story that says Islamabad, following the yellow bricks of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), will find prosperity in the embrace of Beijing. The plot line says Chinese funds will flow into Pakistan and help modernise the latter’s infrastructure; this in turn will usher in a boom period for Pakistan’s domestic economy, part of which will derive from an ability to export more. While Pakistan’s external debt and even current account deficit may rise sharply initially as it sucks in Chinese capital and machinery, this will all be capacity-building investment and will provide future returns that will more than compensate for the original payout.

    Trade figures for the first half of 2016 show that Chinese imports into Pakistan have surged by nearly 30%. This reflects a huge surge in power-generating material, construction and mining equipment and agricultural machinery – more or less what would be expected going by the above script.

    However, there has also been an 8% drop in Pakistan’s exports to China – a surprise given the improving transport links between the two countries. Islamabad has publicly blamed barriers to Pakistani exports that Beijing has put in place and a free trade agreement that is tilted against Pakistan, throwing into question Beijing’s motives in building the corridor.

    The Chinese imports have contributed to a surge in Pakistan’s trade deficit: This rose 77.34% in March, year on year. Worse, Pakistan’s current account deficit widened a staggering 121% between July last year and February. Pakistan is heading for a current account deficit, as a percentage of GDP, about double that of India’s. The deficit is also remarkable given the supposed billions of dollars of Chinese investment that was supposed to come into the country with the corridor. In fact FDI into Pakistan during that same eight-month period was less than $1.3 billion, underlining how much of the corridor is being financed by debt or by intra-Chinese transfers.

    Some Pakistani economists are already fretting about what this could mean. Estimates show Pakistan will have to pay $90 billion back to China over the next 30 years because of the corridor. This is not impossible, so long as Pakistan attracts capital and exports more during that time. The present export and FDI figures, however, show no evidence of this happening.

    So far, the benefits seem to be accruing solely on Beijing’s side of the ledger. If this trend continues as the CPEC expands and develops, Pakistan’s fairy tale may slowly metamorphose into a horror movie.

  2. #77
    Senior Contributor DOR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Oracle View Post
    Slavery: A 21st Century Evil - Prison slaves



    DOR, your comments are welcome.
    I’m Not sure what this has to do with anything in this thread. And, I'm not all that well informed on the subject.
    So, I looked up modern slavery in Wikipedia (you may want to find your own sources).
    India: 14 million slaves
    China: 2.9 million
    Pakistan: 2.1 million
    Followed by Nigeria, Ethiopia, Russia, Thailand, DR Congo, Burma and Bangladesh.
    As a share of population, the highest proportions were in Mauritania, Haiti, Pakistan, India and Nepal.

    Is this somehow relevant to the current discussion?
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  3. #78
    Senior Contributor DOR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Oracle View Post
    A mason friend who has a friend in the local bank and the communist office decides to use his contacts, takes a huge loan and builds some amazing infrastructure.

    #1. Does he not need to sign any collateral for that loan?

    #2. After building the infrastructure, those need to be sold. If there are no buyers, they aren't sold. So how does he make profit? What I mean is, say the local mason takes 100 yuan as loan. 10 bucks each goes to the bank staff and the local communist politician, so he is left with 80 yuan. He further takes out his cut, say another 20 yuan from the remaining 80 yuan. So, with 60 yuan the construction is done. All parties get their cut, but since there is no selling, there is no profit. Does it not raise red flags? OK, did it not raise red flag when it happened for the first time, and the many times it happened since? If it does not, then corruption might be high up the list in the CPC.
    1. No.
    2. Why would one need to sell the infrastructure? Homes can be leased, roads can be paid back by tolls, and water/power utilities can be BOT (build-operate-transfer), BTO (build-transfer-operate), BOOT, BOO, BLT (build-lease-transfer), or some other arrangement.

    In general, stop thinking that everything has to have a profit motive. Life in China is a bit more complicated than that.
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    Quote Originally Posted by DOR View Post
    1. No.
    2. Why would one need to sell the infrastructure? Homes can be leased, roads can be paid back by tolls, and water/power utilities can be BOT (build-operate-transfer), BTO (build-transfer-operate), BOOT, BOO, BLT (build-lease-transfer), or some other arrangement.

    In general, stop thinking that everything has to have a profit motive. Life in China is a bit more complicated than that.
    Explain please.

    Quote Originally Posted by DOR View Post
    I’m Not sure what this has to do with anything in this thread. And, I'm not all that well informed on the subject.
    So, I looked up modern slavery in Wikipedia (you may want to find your own sources).
    India: 14 million slaves
    China: 2.9 million
    Pakistan: 2.1 million
    Followed by Nigeria, Ethiopia, Russia, Thailand, DR Congo, Burma and Bangladesh.
    As a share of population, the highest proportions were in Mauritania, Haiti, Pakistan, India and Nepal.

    Is this somehow relevant to the current discussion?
    This is how China probably keeps cost low of its manufactured goods along with state subsidies. Not the entire workforce, but some prison labor. Already Pak textile units are on the brink of closure, with CPEC it will be the death of Pak industry. This is how it is related to the thread.

    ‘CPEC posing challenges to domestic industry’

    Local Industry and the CPEC Promise

    Chinese textile park to further weigh on struggling Pak exports

    ‘CPEC could become another East India Company’

    Death By China: How America Lost Its Manufacturing Base (Official Version)


    Last edited by Oracle; 05 Aug 17, at 16:43.

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    Turbanator Senior Contributor Double Edge's Avatar
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    Problem i have with this article is its too micro and overly cynical. It is basically anti-investment everything. How are countries to develop in that case? they don't or very gradually.

    Show me the results after a longer span of time. There are early harvest projects due next year where the Chinese will be assessing the returns they have made to date and reassess their commitment. It's ok if there are losses, question is how much will they tolerate.
    Last edited by Double Edge; 05 Aug 17, at 14:12.

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    Turbanator Senior Contributor Double Edge's Avatar
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    Observers in Islamabad believe that Pakistan will gradually become a colony of China and the civilian leadership should refrain from falling into the debt trap of Beijing as China has offered massive loans at six per cent interest rates to Pakistan, excluding insurance cost which is far higher than what is being offered by the world financial institutions. Pakistan will have to cough up $2billion to China annually to repay the loans.
    Where has this six percent figure come from ? reuters article i posted earlier said that the g t g loans came with a 2% rate.

    Ontop of this six percent there apparently is an insurance cost which is far higher than is offered by world financial institutions ? what ?
    Last edited by Double Edge; 05 Aug 17, at 14:19.

  7. #82
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    Quote Originally Posted by Double Edge View Post
    Problem i have with this article is its too micro and overly cynical. It is basically anti-investment everything. How are countries to develop in that case? they don't or very gradually.

    Show me the results after a longer span of time. There are early harvest projects due next year where the Chinese will be assessing the returns they have made to date and reassess their commitment. It's ok if there are losses, question is how much will they tolerate.
    The trade deficit gap will widen with years to come. The issue here is countries have seen examples of Chinese dumping their products at very low rates. In India, 12 Chinese products/companies are being investigated. Many think Pak will have the same fate, and with it the demise of anything Pak exports. I agree that effects will be visible after some years, but the job of the media is to warn and for us to argue. Chinese expect to tolerate 80% losses in Pak, we discussed this earlier. First rule of business, protect your investment. The question is, if CPEC is for trade, why absorb 80% in losses.

    Edit: This is what DOR said -
    In general, stop thinking that everything has to have a profit motive. Life in China is a bit more complicated than that.
    Let's wait for DORs' insight and see if it fits the CPEC narrative.

    Quote Originally Posted by Double Edge View Post
    Where has this six percent figure come from ? reuters article i posted earlier said that the g t g loans came with a 2% rate.

    Ontop of this six percent there apparently is an insurance cost which is far higher than is offered by world financial institutions ? what ?
    Different media outlets have different take on this. One reason is a hushed up tendency of the Chinese as well as the Paks. I have seen a Pak talk show where Musharraf says that the interest rate is 7.5%, IIRC, and the talkshow host says it is 17% and Musharraf agreeing with the host. Who and what to believe? I have also read that total outgo would be $5 billion per year, not $2 billion.

    Last edited by Oracle; 05 Aug 17, at 16:44.

  8. #83
    Turbanator Senior Contributor Double Edge's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Oracle View Post
    Different media outlets have a different take on this. One reason is a hushed up tendency of the Chinese as well as the Paks. I have seen a Pak talk show where Musharraf says that the interest rate is 7.5%, IIRC, and the talkshow host says it is 17% and Musharraf agreeing with the host. Who and what to believe? I have also read that total outgo would be $5 billion per year, not $2 billion.

    17% is the return on some projects Pakistan has put up for investment. They are sweetners to encourage further investment. Early harvest. Possible there may be commercial banks involved. These projects have been on the table since 2013, but in those days nobody wanted to invest in Pakistan. These articles want to continue this perception. Why ?

    Do you see how these figures get mixed up depending on who reports. Commingling Chinese govt loan rates with development bank and commercial banks. Generally higher because it suits their narrative. Pak opposition who isn't seeing their side looked after meaning they are lobbying for better terms or other interests against CPEC. All noise.

    The Chinese govt rate is 2%, hear this same figure quoted a few times now. Development bank rates from AIIB or other orgs will be higher but not too high. Commercial banks are not too interested in these projects for the same reason they baulk in India, the payback takes too long. Though i imagine some commercial banks would be interested in the early harvest projects.

    Sovereign loans do have risk attached to them, when the Greeks defaulted on loans made by the German govt over a century ago they got into hot water. In those days sovereignty was at risk. One of the reasons orgs like IMF and WB were set up after WW2 was to reduce the downsides of these sovereign loans. All depends on how well a country's debt is managed and there are strong incentives to do so as getting downgraded by the ratings agencies increases the cost of future borrowing.

    Pakistan has a power generation problem. Many reasons but the most fundamental is their power stations are oil fired. Bad choice if oil doesn't bubble to the surface in your country forcing imports at market rates. Oil prices went up significantly in the last decade. They couldn't afford to buy so that is why the 18h power cuts. They are moving to coal fired and other sources now. Problem is intl orgs do not want to fund coal fired plants anymore due to climate change. This btw is one of the reasons India joined the AIIB. We too want more coal fired power plants. So here are the Chinese offering to fund those projects at low rates and long periods.
    Last edited by Double Edge; 05 Aug 17, at 17:19.

  9. #84
    Senior Contributor DOR's Avatar
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    There’s a concept in social investing called the “triple bottom line.” The thinking is that an investment decision can be beneficial for (a) the investor; (b) the employees; and (c) society at large. Sometimes the environment or government policy is substituted for "society," but the concept is the same: it isn’t always and only about profit.

    In addition, the entire BOT (et al) concept makes it unnecessary to have a sale price built into the project. Money can be made from leasing, operating fees or other kinds of returns.

    RE: slavery, stop reading propaganda.
    First, over 50% -- closer to 60% -- of China’s exports are made by foreign-invested companies. They are not about to risk their reputations by employing actual slave labor (which, by the way, would be illegal in China). They would not be able to access key foreign markets if they used slave labor. And, very few people have ever seriously argued that manufacturing slave labor is economic.

    Second, defining prison labor as slave labor begs the question of where on the list the US (et al) would be ranked. Prison labor isn’t the same as slavery, and the output quality is probably not exportable.

    Third, if Pakistan textile exports are uncompetitive, it doesn’t necessary follow that China is the blame. Pakistan textile sector productivity sucks (8.5% of GDP, achieved with "only" 45% of the labor force …). Thirsty cotton is a poor crop to grow in arid climates. And, here are massive differences in some socio-economic basics between China and Pakistan, such as women in the workforce; literacy; transport infrastructure; and so on.

    About 20 years ago, I was invited to give a speech in Karachi about why Pakistan wasn’t doing as well as East Asia. Not being particularly stupid, I decided instead to focus on what East Asia had done right. As I proceeded through the list, the (businessman) audience began to laugh, and finally I had to stop and ask what was so funny.

    “The list is the exact opposite of what we have here in Pakistan.”
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  10. #85
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    Quote Originally Posted by DOR View Post
    There’s a concept in social investing called the “triple bottom line.” The thinking is that an investment decision can be beneficial for (a) the investor; (b) the employees; and (c) society at large. Sometimes the environment or government policy is substituted for "society," but the concept is the same: it isn’t always and only about profit.

    In addition, the entire BOT (et al) concept makes it unnecessary to have a sale price built into the project. Money can be made from leasing, operating fees or other kinds of returns.
    But that is the point I was making. Those are called ghost cities for a reason. No one lives there. Which means no one leases anything, leave alone buy or rent it.

    Quote Originally Posted by DOR View Post
    RE: slavery, stop reading propaganda.
    What propaganda? People are on record saying they don't even get money for working.

    Quote Originally Posted by DOR View Post
    First, over 50% -- closer to 60% -- of China’s exports are made by foreign-invested companies. They are not about to risk their reputations by employing actual slave labor (which, by the way, would be illegal in China). They would not be able to access key foreign markets if they used slave labor. And, very few people have ever seriously argued that manufacturing slave labor is economic.

    Second, defining prison labor as slave labor begs the question of where on the list the US (et al) would be ranked. Prison labor isn’t the same as slavery, and the output quality is probably not exportable.
    Do you have any data for the bold part? I agree that the West would shun products if they were to know that those were made by China's prison slave labor. But how would those countries know? China is not known to be very opaque, ain't it?

    And we are not talking about the US here, but China. And if you insist that US does the same, can you share any sources? There are prisons in India, where convicts work and get paid monthly. And the wiki source you posted about India, is about forced labor mostly not prison slave labor. Many are forced and police take action against their employers. It's not a state assisted human rights violation, whereas in China it's the opposite.

    And DOR, I was talking about prison slave labor, not the general slave labor. Prison slave labor was what the video was about. Wiki doesn't give the whole picture.

    These individuals are two of an estimated 18.4 million Indians who live in contemporary slavery, according to a new report from the Walk Free Foundation, an Australia-based organization. The group’s Global Slavery Index, released Tuesday, estimates a total of 45.8 million people are in some form of contemporary slavery in 167 countries. Nearly 60 percent of those live in just five nations: India, the country with the highest number of slaves, followed by China (3.4 million), Pakistan (2.1 million), Bangladesh (1.5 million), and Uzbekistan (1.2 million).
    But,
    North Korea has the most people enslaved in proportion to population, with 4.4 percent of the country’s population living in conditions of slavery. That equals about 1.1 million people out of 25 million. Uzbekistan is next with 4 percent of its population, followed by Cambodia (1.6 percent), India, (1.4 percent), and Qatar (1.4 percent).
    NK and Pak, China's best mates. :-)

    People who are forced into labor most often work in the agriculture, food production, fishing, manufacturing, and construction industries. Migrant workers and indigenous people are among the most vulnerable. Women and girls are forced into sex work and marriages in nearly every country. There are as many as 20,000 North Korean workers in Russia who are required to hand over nearly all of their wages to the North Korean government. Victims of trafficking in Europe often come from Eastern European countries, forced to work abroad in dangerous conditions for little pay. In Syria, Iraq, Yemen, and the Palestinian territories, children have been forced into armed conflicts, coerced into become informants and suicide bombers.
    Where the US would be ranked you asked.
    The Global Security Index also ranks the responses of national governments to contemporary slavery inside their borders, based on laws, the availability of services for victims, labor standards, and other factors. At the top of the list are Western nations, including the Netherlands, the United States, the United Kingdom, Sweden, and Australia. The worst are North Korea, Iran, Eritrea, Equatorial Guinea, and Hong Kong.
    NKorea and Hong Kong.

    Exact numbers of today’s victims of contemporary slavery are impossible to obtain, and estimates can vary by year and organization. Kevin Bales, a leading researcher of contemporary slavery and author of several books on the topic, estimates 35.8 million people are trapped in slavery. The International Labor Organization, a United Nations agency, puts the number at nearly 21 million.
    Where the World’s Slaves Live

    Made In China — But Was It Made In A Prison?

    An Oregon woman was looking at her Halloween decoration last year when she found a letter written by an inmate from one of China's re-education-through-labor camps. The letter spoke of brutal forced labor in the camp.

    It was the latest in a series of incidents dating back to at least to the 1990s in which Chinese prisoners in such camps smuggled out letters in products assembled for export to the U.S.

    And though the U.S. maintains a list of goods made by forced labor in China, including electronics, shoes and clothes, these products still find their way into the U.S. — and American homes.
    China’s labor camps close, but human rights groups say grim detention conditions linger

    Forced Prison Labor in China

    Chinese and Tibetan dissidents are either locked up in prison, forced into hiding, or silenced by fear of police retaliation against their families. All the happiness about China’s economic growth has made many Americans forget that police clubs and guns and the Laogai system keep the Communist Party in power. Moreover, it is still little recognized how American resources help to sustain that power through trade, investments, and the transfer of technology... It is only when the Laogai is abolished in China that real change will come about.” — Hongda Harry Wu
    Here's a PDF, Prison Labor Exports from China and Implications for U.S. Policy

    China used prisoners in lucrative internet gaming work

    As a prisoner at the Jixi labour camp, Liu Dali would slog through tough days breaking rocks and digging trenches in the open cast coalmines of north-east China. By night, he would slay demons, battle goblins and cast spells.

    Liu says he was one of scores of prisoners forced to play online games to build up credits that prison guards would then trade for real money. The 54-year-old, a former prison guard who was jailed for three years in 2004 for "illegally petitioning" the central government about corruption in his hometown, reckons the operation was even more lucrative than the physical labour that prisoners were also forced to do.

    "Prison bosses made more money forcing inmates to play games than they do forcing people to do manual labour," Liu told the Guardian. "There were 300 prisoners forced to play games. We worked 12-hour shifts in the camp. I heard them say they could earn 5,000-6,000rmb [£470-570] a day. We didn't see any of the money. The computers were never turned off."
    U.S. steps up pressure on China over prison labor

    U.S. authorities have blocked imports they suspect were made with convict labor linked to three Chinese firms, detaining goods including chemicals, textile fibers and sweetener.

    The recent enforcement orders are the first since the U.S. closed a decades-old loophole in March. A trade law from 1930 had previously allowed goods "made with convict labor, forced labor or indentured labor" to be imported if they were in short supply.

    Prison labor has long been an ugly and opaque corner of China's giant manufacturing and trade sector. U.S. efforts to tackle the problem have run up against a lack of transparency and cooperation from the Chinese government.
    So, prison slave labor, discounting other forms of slave labor is what keeps Chinese manufacturing costs lower, among other factors.

    Quote Originally Posted by DOR View Post
    Third, if Pakistan textile exports are uncompetitive, it doesn’t necessary follow that China is the blame. Pakistan textile sector productivity sucks (8.5% of GDP, achieved with "only" 45% of the labor force …). Thirsty cotton is a poor crop to grow in arid climates. And, here are massive differences in some socio-economic basics between China and Pakistan, such as women in the workforce; literacy; transport infrastructure; and so on.
    That is the whole point. Even if all the terms you have mentioned works out in favor of China, it decimates Pak's textiles units. Many Paks are unhappy and these are people that don't rely on data. They are blaming Chinese imports and Pak government. In future, there would be killings a.k.a CPEC.

    Quote Originally Posted by DOR View Post
    About 20 years ago, I was invited to give a speech in Karachi about why Pakistan wasn’t doing as well as East Asia. Not being particularly stupid, I decided instead to focus on what East Asia had done right. As I proceeded through the list, the (businessman) audience began to laugh, and finally I had to stop and ask what was so funny.

    “The list is the exact opposite of what we have here in Pakistan.”
    So you see, majority of Paks are not exactly stupid.
    Last edited by Oracle; 06 Aug 17, at 14:30.

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    The same policy.

    TARGETING SINGAPORE’S PROPERTY MARKET, CHINESE DEVELOPERS LEAVE A TRAIL OF UNEASE


    They bring their own people in, source their own labourers and import their materials into the country,” said the company’s boss.

    Another civil engineering firm said Chinese firms were able to undercut local ones for public sector projects because of economies of scale.

    It’s like having a heavyweight beat up a welterweight boxer. When they come here, they have no restrictions. But when we go to China, we have to cross several hurdles to bid for projects. How is this fair?” asked the firm’s senior manager.

    Property consultant Ku Swee Yong said that the ability to source cheaper materials and labour was part of the reason why Chinese developers had been bidding aggressively for land.

    It’s a strategic imperative. They have spare capacity and can get steel, sand and other materials cheaply, compared to a local firm,” said the CEO of International Property Adviser. “So after accounting for cheaper materials, they can still price their units competitively.

    He also warned that the Chinese firms’ preference to rely on their own managers could spell trouble for local white-collar professionals in the real estate industry.
    Last edited by Oracle; 06 Aug 17, at 13:33.

  13. #88
    Senior Contributor DOR's Avatar
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    Ghost cities vs. infrastructure projects. Granted, no (little) return is generated on ghost cities. But, the conversation shifted to infrastructure and so did the potential ROI.

    Slavery: yes, lots of people claim China uses slave labor. That doesn’t make it true, however. And, if “slave” is defined as prisoners, it doesn’t make China unusual, either.

    How would foreign governments (consumers) know that products were made by unacceptable employment structures? The same way that companies like Nike got into trouble when their sub- sub-contractors didn’t follow the rules laid down by headquarters. Ask any Bangladeshi employer of 14 year-olds: can’t exports to almost all major markets.

    “China” may not be very opaque, but why in the world would that matter? If Apple wants to know the working conditions at Foxconn, it doesn’t need any government approval to find out.

    Prison slave labor is only prison slave labor if one is trying to make a political point, and isn’t too worried about being challenged. Lots of prisoners work, and get paid peanuts. Some work and don’t get paid. Then, in an entirely different category, there’s “living in conditions of slavery,” and finally, “slave labor.”

    Standards “based on laws, the availability of services for victims, labor standards, and other factors.” In other words, Western standards.

    50-60% foreign exports: Divide Table 11-10 by table Table 11-9 (http://www.stats.gov.cn/tjsj/ndsj/2015/indexeh.htm).
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    Quote Originally Posted by DOR View Post
    Ghost cities vs. infrastructure projects. Granted, no (little) return is generated on ghost cities. But, the conversation shifted to infrastructure and so did the potential ROI.

    Slavery: yes, lots of people claim China uses slave labor. That doesn’t make it true, however. And, if “slave” is defined as prisoners, it doesn’t make China unusual, either.

    How would foreign governments (consumers) know that products were made by unacceptable employment structures? The same way that companies like Nike got into trouble when their sub- sub-contractors didn’t follow the rules laid down by headquarters. Ask any Bangladeshi employer of 14 year-olds: can’t exports to almost all major markets.

    “China” may not be very opaque, but why in the world would that matter? If Apple wants to know the working conditions at Foxconn, it doesn’t need any government approval to find out.

    Prison slave labor is only prison slave labor if one is trying to make a political point, and isn’t too worried about being challenged. Lots of prisoners work, and get paid peanuts. Some work and don’t get paid. Then, in an entirely different category, there’s “living in conditions of slavery,” and finally, “slave labor.”

    Standards “based on laws, the availability of services for victims, labor standards, and other factors.” In other words, Western standards.

    50-60% foreign exports: Divide Table 11-10 by table Table 11-9 (http://www.stats.gov.cn/tjsj/ndsj/2015/indexeh.htm).
    If that is your argument, then I have nothing more to debate. Quoted for future reference.
    Last edited by Oracle; 07 Aug 17, at 15:10.

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    Turbanator Senior Contributor Double Edge's Avatar
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    Articles posted here have a common theme -- CPEC bad and that too from both sides of the border. But the motivations are different.

    Could the Pak motivation be as simple as different parties gearing up for the elections next year. Nawaz has been taken out, so PML(N) is also just as corrupt.

    If so then anything and everything the incumbent is doing is bad. So due diligence in reporting isn't important, just emotional will do.

    Whichever party wins will continue the same with a few tweaks to justify their earlier opposition. So CPEC not so bad then just the way the previous administration did it.

    Taking China to court over terms strikes me as nothing more than the usual domestic politicking. Does not matter win or lose but important to look busy : D
    Last edited by Double Edge; 07 Aug 17, at 16:02.

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