Chinese Wisdom

Facts belie Modi Xi Bonhomie …

Posted on April 29, 2018. Filed under: Chinese Wisdom, Personalities |

https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/economy/foreign-trade/despite-modi-xi-bonhomie-india-still-finds-it-tough-to-enter-the-chinese-bazaar/articleshow/63954519.cms?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Dailynewsletter&ncode=1373aa15166c50c837501c351faec094

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China’s OBOR …

Posted on April 23, 2018. Filed under: Books, Chinese Wisdom |

https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/international/business/imf-head-warns-china-on-exporting-debt-through-silk-road/articleshow/63726779.cms

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Xi Jinping – Statesman, Strongman, Philosopher, Autocrat …

Posted on April 3, 2018. Filed under: Chinese Wisdom, Personalities |

From Business Standard -Jeffrey Wasserstrom, Professor of Chinese and World History, University of California, Irvine

What kind of leader is Xi Jinping, who became general secretary of China’s Communist Party in November 2012 and China’s president in March 2013?Specialists are giving very different answers to this question now than they did five years ago.

One reason is that rules were in place then to make Xi step down from the presidency after serving two five-year terms. Now, the rules have been changed. He can rule as long as he likes.

In addition, there are now centers on Chinese campuses devoted to the study of “Xi Jinping Thought.” His name has been added to China’s Constitution. No living figure has gotten this treatment since the most famous Chinese Communist Party leader of all: Mao Zedong.

I am keenly aware of how dramatically Xi’s stature and the thinking about him have shifted due to my experiences working on two editions of  “China in the 21st Century: What Everyone Needs to Know,”  the most recent of which was just published.

My co-author Maura Elizabeth Cunningham and I finished writing the second edition just as Xi rose to power. We completed work on the third edition late last year, when term limits were still in place. Even then, it was already clear that Xi was a charismatic leader of a kind not seen in China for decades.

What Chinese leader is Xi most like? Analysts now answer that question very differently than they did in 2013. Then, when international commentators likened Xi to other leaders they generally only went back as far as Deng Xiaoping, who became China’s most powerful figure in 1978.

The main question many asked about Xi was this: Would Xi be much like Hu Jintao, the first-among-equals, stay-the-course technocrat who held power from 2002 until 2012. Or would he be a bolder figure like Deng, who had instigated major reforms that started stalling out around the turn of the millennium.

Whichever category Xi fell into, many thought, he would go down in history as the third leader in a row to govern for 10 years and then step down. Both Hu and Hu’s predecessor, Jiang Zemin, had done that. This would solidify a pattern of routine transfers of power that contrasted with the ruler-for-life one of Mao’s time.

Now, by contrast, some see Xi as the first leader of a new era of strongman rule, in which there are few constraints on the top leader.

Legal scholar Carl Minzner, for example, has titled his new book “The End of an Era: How China’s Authoritarian Revival Is Undermining Its Rise.” In tandem with this emphasis on Xi differing from his immediate predecessors, many foreign commentators argue that he is less like Hu and Deng than he is like Mao.

Some go much further back in time, seeing him as similar to the emperors of the imperial era that ended with the fall of China’s last imperial dynasty in 1912. Still others argue that Xi is best compared with the strongman leader of neighboring Russia who keeps extending his rule: Vladimir Putin.

Is Xi a bold thinker, a tireless anti-corruption crusader, a man who cares not about personal power but only about helping his country regain the position of greatness it once had? Yes, say the official Beijing media. No, say many articles in the international press – think of him instead as a 21st century emperor, or a thuggish Chinese counterpart to Putin.

To understand Xi, the Beijing official media suggest, read his “The Governance of China,” a two-volume collection of his speeches that detail his devotion to China’s people and traditional Confucian morals.

Critics call him, instead, a Big Brother figure. Read George Orwell’s “Nineteen Eighty-Four,”which describes a surveillance state whose leader demands complete obedience. My own sense, based on following closely Xi’s moves to maximize his power and crush civil society, is that the official Beijing media’s celebration of him distorts reality.

I also feel, though, that it is not completely fitting to instead compare him to Putin, Mao, an emperor or Big Brother. Those four analogies have uses – but also shortcomings. They should be treated, however, as “imperfect analogies,” meaning parallels that, while flawed, can still be illuminating. And we also should bring into the picture leaders, periods and books not yet mentioned.

For instance, Xi shares some traits with Putin. But as political scientist Maria Repnikova notes, there are significant differences. In China today but not Russia, for example, the strongman operates within a long-established political party.

There are other leaders with whom both Xi and Putin have much in common. Using imperfect analogies, we can place both men beside figures such as India’s Narendra Modi and Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Each of them, like Xi and Putin, have little patience for dissent, speak of returning their nations to past positions of glory and promote macho, muscular forms of nationalism.

As for past Chinese leaders, the veneration of Xi’s thought invites comparison to Mao and there are imperial aspects of his style of rule. Historian James Carter and I have argued, however, that Xi also bears a surprising resemblance to someone who held power between the last emperors and Mao’s day: Chiang Kai-shek.

Chiang, the Nationalist Party leader who governed the mainland from 1927 until 1949, headed a weak and poor, rather than strong and economically booming, China. He was fiercely anti-Communist.

Still, Chiang and Xi share some interesting traits in common. Both felt that revolutionary ideas and Confucian values could go hand in hand, in contrast to Mao who reviled Confucius as a “feudal” thinker. In addition, Chiang, unlike emperors and unlike Mao, had a wife who was a stylish hit in diplomatic settings – also true of Xi’s spouse Peng Liyuan.

Turning to books, China today has features that bring to mind “Nineteen Eighty-Four,” but also ones that seem more like the pleasure-mad dystopia described in Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World.” For example, journalist Christina Larson argues that, depending on what you are after, China’s internet can seem either the world’s best or worst. Limits on digital discussion of politics bring Orwell to mind, but the uncountable digital distractions available on smartphones fits in more with Huxley’s vision.

It is tempting to look for easy answers, one book to read or comparison to draw that will bring issues or people into focus. This desire for quick fixes is understandable. As the case of Xi illustrates, though, looking for multiple imperfect analogies and placing them side by side can get us closer to the truth than can any quick-fix approach.

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Xi Jinping is now Mao ZeDong …

Posted on March 11, 2018. Filed under: Chinese Wisdom, Personalities |

From NDTV –

Xi Jinping has joined the pantheon of Chinese leadership two decades after bursting onto the scene as a graft-fighting governor who went on to earn comparisons with Mao Zedong in his quest for unrestricted power.

The rubber-stamp parliament further enhanced Xi’s considerable power on Sunday when it approved a constitutional amendment abolishing presidential term limits.

The move allows the 64-year-old Xi to remain in power for as long as he wishes, ruling as a virtual emperor, and is the latest feather in the cap of a Communist “princeling” who is re-making China in his own image.

Xi, who was given a second term as the party’s general secretary at the five-yearly party congress in October, has amassed seemingly unchecked power and a level of officially stoked adulation unseen since Communist China’s founder Mao.

Even though his father Xi Zhongxun — a renowned revolutionary hero turned vice premier — was purged by Mao, Xi has remained true to the party that rules with an iron fist and over which he reigns supreme.

Xi is the first Chinese leader to have been born after 1949, when Mao’s Communist forces took over following a protracted civil war.

The purging of his father led to years of difficulties for the family, but he nevertheless rose through its ranks.

Beginning as a county-level party secretary in 1969, Xi climbed to the governorship of coastal Fujian province in 1999, then party chief of Zhejiang province in 2002 and eventually Shanghai in 2007. That same year, he was appointed to the Politburo Standing Committee.

Following Mao’s disastrous economic campaigns and the bloody 1966-76 Cultural Revolution, the Communist leadership sought to prevent further chaos by tempering presidential power through a system in which major personnel and policy decisions were hashed out by the ruling Politburo Standing Committee.

The move helped prevent political power from becoming too concentrated in the hands of a single leader but was also blamed for policy indecision that led to growing ills such as worsening pollution, corruption and social unrest.

But “Xi Dada” (“Big Uncle Xi”), as he has been dubbed by Communist propaganda, has broken sharply with that tradition since taking over as president in 2013 and now looms over the country in a deepening cult of personality.

He has used crackdowns on corruption and calls for a revitalised party to become the most powerful Chinese leader in decades. Fighting graft and upholding party leadership were already central to him when he spoke to AFP in 2000.

At the time, Xi vowed to root out corruption following a $10 billion smuggling scandal, but ruled out political reform to confront the problem, saying he would work within the one-party structure and system of political consultation and “supervision by the masses”.

“The people’s government must never forget the word the ‘people’ and we must do everything we can to serve the people, but to get all the government officials to do this is not easy, in some places this is not done very well and in other places it is done very badly,” Xi told AFP.

‘Chairman of everything’

Xi’s face now graces the front page of every paper in the country, while his exploits and directives headline each night’s evening news.

Shops sell commemorative plates and memorabilia with his image alongside Mao’s and he has accumulated so many political and military titles — from president, to Central Military Commission chairman and party “core” — that he has earned the nickname “Chairman of Everything”.

The Communist Party’s power-broking congress in October confirmed Xi’s induction into the leadership pantheon alongside Mao and market reformer Deng Xiaoping by writing his name and political ideology into the party’s constitution.

While calling for China’s “great rejuvenation” as a world power, Xi has cultivated a personal image as a man of the people who dresses modestly and buys his own steamed buns at an ordinary shop.

Following a divorce from his first wife, Xi married the celebrity soprano Peng Liyuan in 1987, at a time when she was much more famous than him. The couple’s daughter, Xi Mingze, studied at Harvard but stays out of the public eye.

But Xi has presided over a tough crackdown on civil society and freedom of speech that belies the chummy image — and he tolerates no ridicule or slander of his person.

Social media users who have dared to compare his round mien to that of the affable Winnie the Pooh have found their posts quickly deleted, and a man who referred to him as “Steamed Bun Xi” — a knock at his breakfast publicity stunt — was jailed for two years.

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China’s Massive Stride Forward …

Posted on January 24, 2018. Filed under: Chinese Wisdom |

US’s National Science Foundation and National Science Board have recently released their biennial science and engineering indicators which provide detailed figures on research and development (R&D), innovation and engineers.

But its true message is in a different direction, “China has become,” concludes Robert J. Samuelson in a column, “or is in the verge of becoming – a scientific and technical superpower.
This is not entirely unexpected given the size of the Chinese economy and its massive investments in R&D, even so, he says, “the actual numbers are breathtaking”.

1. China is the 2nd largest spender in R&D after the US, accounting for 21% of the world total which is $2 trillion. It has been going up 18% a year, as compared to 4% in the US. An OECD report says that China could overtake the US in R&D spending by 2020.

2. China has overtaken the US in terms of total number of science publications. Technical papers have increased dramatically, even if their impact, as judged by citation indices, may not be that high.

3. China has increased its technical workforce five times since 2000 to 1.65 million. It also has more B.Sc. degrees in science than any other country and the numbers are growing.

4. The US continues to produce more PhDs and attract more foreign students. But new international enrollment at US colleges was down for the first time in the decade in 2017. The Trump administration’s anti-immigration rhetoric and actions are scaring away students.

5. China has begun shifting from being an assembler of high-tech components, to a maker of super computers and aircraft and given the pattern of its investments in R&D and technology development, it is focusing on becoming the world leader in artificial intelligence (AI), quantum communications, quantum computing, biotechnology and electrical vehicles.

As of now, the US still continues to lead in terms of the number of patents and the revenue they generate.

China has also become a more attractive destination for foreign students and is now occupying the third slot after the US and the UK.
This year, it is likely to gain the second spot.

China now has a serious programme to attract its own researchers back to the country. The thousand talents plan targets scientists below the age of 40 who have PhDs from prestigious foreign universities. The government offers 500,000 RMB ($80,000) lump-sum to everyone enrolled in the programme and promises research grants ranging from one to three million RMB ($150,000-$300,000).

The funding for the programme is growing and in 2011, China awarded 143 scientists out of the 1,100 who applied, and in 2016, 590 from 3,048 applicants. Individual Chinese universities are offering several times that sum.

One specialist in advanced batteries from an MIT post-doctoral programme was offered a salary of $65,000, $900,000 as research grant and $250,000 to buy a house.

The report also flagged the serious deficiencies in US higher secondary education where in 2015, average maths scores for the 4th, 8th and 12th graders dropped for the first time.

In the field of R&D and patents and revenue accruing from them, the US remains ahead, but the recent anti-immigration trends pose a serious long-term risk to the American supremacy because in essence, the US has been the best in harvesting talent from across the world.

Of course, the quantity of money or the number of research papers by itself does not automatically translate into leadership.

The US remains the world leader in investment in basic research (17%) versus 5% in China.

It remains the leader in top quality research, attracting the best and the brightest of international students and in its ability to translate basic research into revenue-generating intellectual property.

But the Chinese have been putting serious money into key areas which they aim to become world leaders in the next decade or so.

One of these is AI where the government and Chinese corporates are moving in a big way.

Just recently, Chinese tech major Baidu announced its decision of setting up two more AI labs in the US, one focusing on business intelligence and the other on robotics and autonomous driving.

There is little point in flagellating ourselves by putting the Indian figures alongside those of the US and China.

Given the profoundly anti-science attitude of our government leaders, things are not likely to change in a hurry.

But it is worth looking at the latter’s trajectory because some in India still see themselves as competing with China.

With Prime Minister Narendra Modi visiting Davos to attract investment, presumably in high-tech areas, it is worth reminding ourselves that Science and Technology is the Core of the Economic Foundations of an Advanced Country, which China says it intends to become by 2050.

Manoj Joshi is a Distinguished Fellow, Observer Research Foundation.

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Sun Tzu – Grand Daddy of War …

Posted on January 16, 2018. Filed under: Chinese Wisdom, Personalities |

Sun Tzu’s Classic ‘On War’ was placed at the head of China’s Seven Military Classics on the collection’s creation in 1080 by Emperor Shenzong. It has long been the most influential strategy text in all East Asia Here are some noteworthy maxims …

1. Supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy’s resistance without fighting.

2. If you know the enemy and know yourself you need not fear the results of a hundred battles.

3. Be extremely subtle, even to the point of formlessness. Be extremely mysterious, even to the point of soundlessness. Thereby you can be the director of the opponent’s fate.

4. He who knows others is wise. He who knows himself is enlightened. To see things in the seed, that is genius.

5. He will win who knows when to fight, when not to fight.

6. To fight and conquer in all our battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy’s resistance without fighting.

7. What is of supreme importance in war is to attack the enemy’s strategy. Pretend inferiority and encourage his arrogance.

8. Victorious warriors win first and the n go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win.

9. The art of war teaches us to rely not on the likelihood of the enemy’s not coming, but on our own readiness to receive him. Not on the chance of his not attacking, but rather on the fact that we have made our position unassailable.

10. The opportunity to secure ourselves against defeat lies in our own hands, but the opportunity of defeating the enemy is provided by the enemy himself.

11. Invincibility lies in the defence; the possibility of victory in the attack. If your opponent is of choleric temper, irritate him.

12. All men can see these tactics whereby I conquer, but what none can see is the strategy out of which victory is evolved.

E.

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China and Realpolitik …

Posted on November 19, 2017. Filed under: Chinese Wisdom, Searching for Success, Uncategorized |

Times of India –

After a decade’s hibernation Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s plan to rally Asia’s four democratic nations is again on the table. The name ‘China’ may not be in the mission of the Quadrilateral – comprising the US, Japan, Australia and India – but Beijing is understood by all to be the group’s core concern.

The rather low key launch of the Quad in Manila this week highlighted the caution of the once-bitten-twice-shy crowd. While the menace from a resurgent China has multiplied since Japan’s last attempt to bring together this loose union of democratic countries, so too have the risks of such a venture. The Quad’s members today face greater economic and even military consequences from antagonising China than they did a decade earlier.

In August 2007, fresh from his first electoral victory, Abe came to New Delhi and to the applause of Indian Parliament announced his plan for Quadrilateral Security Dialogue. The initiative had already led to its first quiet meeting on the sidelines of the Asean Regional Forum (ARF) gathering in Manila in June 2007.

Soon after Abe’s India visit, however, his government lost power and amid the more pressing priorities of the global financial crisis, the Quad project was shelved.

Strengthened by a strong new electoral mandate for his government and galvanised by China’s relentless advance towards a dominant position in east Asia, Abe has once again taken the lead in pushing for the Quad. Perhaps to avoid provoking China, at least in the initial stage, the launch was low key.

While the leaders of the four countries held consultations, they avoided a showy summit meeting. However, their differing perspectives on the Quad’s mission were revealed in the subtly different statements that they issued.

In separate statements issued by Quad partners they showed their preference and concerns in the a la carte selection of varied missions. For example, the Indian statement avoided mention of freedom of navigation and overflight – an issue that was highlighted by the others but one that is bound to raise Chinese hackles.

China has strongly criticised US Freedom of Navigation Operations (FONOPS) in South China Sea. India was silent on respect for international law and the peaceful resolution of disputes, also shying away from mentioning one of the key objectives sought by the other partners – upholding or coordinating maritime security in the Indo-Pacific. For its part, Japan was silent on “enhancing connectivity” sought by the other three, perhaps to avoid commitment on responding to China’s Belt and Road Initiative.

Behind the partners’ hesitant responses lies the hard reality of economics. While all are concerned by China’s aggressive moves in the South China and East Seas, along Sino-Indian border, and its heavy-handed moves vis-à-vis other neighbours, they cannot ignore the weight of their trade and investment relations.

In 2015-16, China ranked number one among Australia’s export markets, accounting for fully 28% of exports. China remains a major export destination for both Japan and India, and has shown no hesitation in administering economic punishment in response to what it views as hostile actions. Economic dependence on China is accentuated by economic disarray thrown by President Donald Trump among east Asian allies with his rejection of TPP.

In his single-minded transactional calculus, Trump seems to value bilateral relationships not based upon strategic or political consideration, but by some notional dollar value of a given business deal. Trump has stopped disparaging the US-Japan alliance after promise of, as Trump tweeted, “massive amounts” of military equipment purchase from the US.

Australia too has pleased Trump by ordering $1.3 billion worth of spy planes. Trump may well tweet that US support for the Quad will be contingent on American military sales to these countries.

Close economic ties form the backbone of any security cooperation and Trump’s disdain for multilateral trade pacts in favour of bilateral deals, as shown during the latest Apec summit, does not bode well for the Quad.
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And yet there may be Hope —

https://www.wsj.com/article_email/trumps-south-china-sea-messagetrumps-south-china-sea-message-1510791502-lMyQjAxMTA3NjE1NjgxODYzWj/

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China and Doklam …

Posted on September 16, 2017. Filed under: Chinese Wisdom, Searching for Success |

Pranab Dhal Samanta in ET

How to deal with China? This is easily the biggest foreign policy question for most governments in today’s global power order.

While China’s larger interest on the success of the Brics Summit in Xiamen did help expedite an end to the two-month DOKLAM stand-off, the fact that India could manage to successfully stave off a strong and shrill Chinese challenge has reverberated across world capitals.

The understanding was arrived at after some 13 rounds of negotiations done through established diplomatic channels. No back channel, no false assurances. This is quite an out-of the-ordinary experience for all countries with a Beijing problem, specifically those that share land and maritime boundaries with China.

So, is there now an India model to emulate while dealing with a confrontational China? While that would receive some detailed attention in the days ahead, what’s clear is that there were certain distinctive contours to the Indian approach. And while these worked for India, it’s also a fact that they proved effective because of a larger context that continues to weigh heavily on China.

The context is now becoming increasingly embarrassing for China. The North Korean tests, including the missile that was fired over Japanese territory on the day Doklam issue was resolved, underline the weight of that embarrassment.

The other country pulling down China in a similar manner is Pakistan, which is under fire for sponsorship of terrorism not just by India alone, but by now a growing spectrum of countries. These start with Afghanistan and go on to include countries in West Asia, Europe, and the US, as exemplified in President Donald Trump’s South Asia strategy address.

In short, North Korea and Pakistan are not the best advertisements of friends for a country aspiring global economic leadership. At a time when the US is looking insular as an economic power, China has thrown in its hat to lead the free trade pitch. The Brics, for instance, is a key forum to strengthen this claim. And just then, to have Pyongyang set off a nuclear device doesn’t help matters.

This kind of ‘Notoriety Club’ had a utility for China, but that time may have passed. This is a conclusion only Beijing can make. But it cannot stop other countries drawing their own meanings in their national interest.

It’s in this context that the shrill rhetoric on Doklam did not help. There were very few takers for China’s case, frankly, even before it was articulated. The reason for that being China’s lack of credibility in sub-continental matters, given its own long-term strategic commitment with Pakistan. Further, the tone and content of the official attack did not help either, sending signals that made others equally insecure.

In contrast, India had a more nuanced approach, which can now be fleshed out along few parameters. To begin with, there was a conscious, clear decision to halt Chinese construction activity and stand by Bhutan regardless of how the situation evolved. This was a departure from the past practice to avoid direct confrontation. But this time, the overall military assessment was that China had come too close for comfort.

The initial action was done swiftly. Thereafter, India decided to keep quiet, not aggravate matters. So, New Delhi had, early in the day, recognised the principle that there could be no gain made by humiliating China.

New Delhi followed this edict to the point that it did not allow itself to be provoked by any Chinese humiliation. The next principle at play was that China has much bigger stakes in the international system and the global commons for it to just abandon all of that in favour of military action against a global systems-compliant country and emerging economy like India. That assumption was correct. Which is why China did not cross the Brics deadline.

And, finally, it was assessed that in the bigger picture, Beijing’s aspirations require cultivating more positive relations with New Delhi. Which is why the condemnation of Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed in the Brics statement is better understood as a rethink in China than a victory for India.

The Doklam handling tells us that there’s indeed an effective way to talk tough issues with China – and not by giving in or speaking out, but by showing up and conversing relentlessly to find convergences.

China, after all, cannot have an ambition at the cost of everyone else.

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China’s way of Expansion…

Posted on September 13, 2017. Filed under: Chinese Wisdom, Searching for Success |

A New City Out In The Desert Of Oman – Forbes Now: Wade Shepard –
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Oman intends to change things by building an entirely new, $10.7 billion transit-oriented industrial city on the desertified coast of the Arabian Sea, 550 kilometers south of Muscat. More accurately, China is going to do it!
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A year ago, Oman signed a deal and opened the doors for a Chinese consortium to move in and do what they seemingly like to do best: build a new boomtown. After constructing dozens of full-scale new cities and completely re-developing dozens more in their own country, Chinese firms are now moving out along the tendrils of the Belt and Road to construct new cities across Asia, the Middle East, and Africa. Duqm is among the most ambitious of such projects.
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China’s new city in the Oman desert has been pragmatically dubbed the Sino-Oman Industrial City, and the ambition is to turn a remote and underutilized Middle East seaport into a vital nerve center of global trade and manufacturing.
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The 11-square-kilometer endeavor, which sits within the giant Duqm Special Economic Zone (SEZAD), is expected to have not only a vibrant port but an array of other “mega-ventures,” which include an oil refinery, a multi-billion dollar methanol plant, a giant solar energy equipment manufacturing operation, an automobile assembly factory, an oil and gas equipment production site, and a $100+ million building material distribution enterprise.
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In addition to being a cluster of industrial operations, the Sino-Oman Industrial City will also have a more human element as well, providing homes for 25,000 people, complete with schools, medical facilities, office complexes, and entertainment centers — which includes a $200 million 5-star tourism zone.
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The Chinese consortium has promised to develop 30% of the project area in just five years, with financing and construction firms coming straight from the mainland.
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Oman Wanfang, the Chinese consortium that is putting up the money, know-how, and boots on the ground to carry out this massive endeavor, is made up of six companies, most of which are from the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region — which is largely populated by Chinese Muslims, demonstrating a cultural link with Oman that may help facilitate such deals.
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But unlike many other Chinese investor consortiums that are active along the Belt and Road, all of these firms are private, as opposed to being commercial extensions of the Chinese state, and claim that they are not being provided with direct funding from their government to carry out their individual projects in Duqm. However, this doesn’t mean that they don’t have the full backing of Beijing, who is reputedly supporting the venture via its National Development and Reform Commission, who has oddly already enthroned the project as a “Top Overseas Industrial Park.”
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Laying right on the Arabian Sea between the Gulf of Oman and the Gulf of Aden, the location of the port/SEZ combo at Duqm fits snuggly into the bosom of China’s Maritime Silk Road — Beijing’s vision of three supercharged sea routes between China and Europe and Africa that are serving as a framework for the development of a plethora of Chinese-owned ports and other mega-projects. From an established base camp at Duqm, China will be able to better access and secure their energy and trade supply lines throughout the Middle East and East Africa.
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It is also probably no coincidence that 77.1% (2015) of Oman’s crude oil and condensates exports go to China.
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The Sino-Oman Industrial City is just one of a network of new cities that Chinese firms are currently busy at work constructing along the land and sea routes of the Belt and Road — another entry into a portfolio that now includes Colombo Financial City and Hambantota in Sri Lanka, Forest City and Robotic Future City in Malaysia, a massive port and SEZ project in Abu Dhabi, the $10 billion Kyauk Pyu Special Economic Zone in Myanmar, along with large-scale new developments in western Chinese cities like Horgos, Urumqi, Lanzhou, and Xi’an.
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Via its Belt and Road Initiative, China has become a prime partner of countries that are going through three kinds of economic transitions:
Emerging markets trying to build up their economies and develop a framework of modern transport infrastructure, energy, and technology.
Stagnant or retracting developed economies, like Greece, Spain, and the Brexit-riddled U.K, who are in dire need of additional sources of economic sustenance.
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Energy resource dependent nations who are trying to diversify their economies to bolster long-term sustainability. Oman joins countries like Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan right in the midst of the third type of transition.
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Currently, Oman’s economy is firmly entrenched in a cycle of hydro-carbon dependency. In Oman, oil and gas accounts for nearly 50% of GDP, 70% of exports, and 71% of total government revenue.
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This reliance on oil and gas has been posited as Oman’s biggest risk, and the country has been on an all out mission to develop other sectors of its economy, aiming to cut its share of hydro-carbon derived GDP in half by 2020. To these ends, the country has earmarked roughly $106 billion to invest in industries like transportation, tourism, and real estate, with projects to create a new railway network, new airports, enhanced seaports, new cities — a la Duqm — currently underway.

The research firm BMI forecasted that the Sino-Oman Industrial City will be a major factor in the rise of Oman’s construction sector, which is predicted to double its growth rate by 2019.

For the record, Oman didn’t go running straight to China with their economic woes, begging the emerging superpower to the east to step in and fund their diversification program. No, as was the case with Sri Lanka, Oman initially tried to secure additional funding for its big development projects from other countries, like Iran, but it was to no avail.

China was the only taker, and probably the only country in the world with the capital, political will, and motive for carrying out such long-term, costly developmental endeavors.
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Under the framework of the Belt and Road, China is going around salving the world’s economic deficiencies with bags of money and bulldozers in exchange for long-term engagements:
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These new port holdings also further enmeshes China into the political and economic fabric of the world. While seemingly irrational, inflated amounts of money are being passed over the table today, what China is receiving are strong footholds in the international arena that they will be able to stand upon for decades, creating a new geo-economic paradigm in the process.
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While national leaders put on smiley faces and talk about “win-win” partnerships, international infrastructure projects like China’s maritime developments are drawing up the new front lines of the 21st century, where economic leverage is the weapon of choice.

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China – Malaysia Stands Up …

Posted on September 12, 2017. Filed under: Chinese Wisdom |

When Indonesia recently — and quite publicly — renamed the northernmost waters of its exclusive economic zone in the South China Sea despite China’s claims to the area, Beijing quickly dismissed the move as “meaningless.” It is proving to be anything but.

Indonesia’s increasingly aggressive posture in the region — including a military buildup in its nearby Natuna Islands and the planned deployment of naval warships — comes as other nations are being more accommodating to China’s broad territorial claims in the South China Sea.

The two countries had three maritime skirmishes in 2016 involving warning shots, including one in which Indonesian warships seized a Chinese fishing boat and its crew.

Indonesia is challenging China, one of its biggest investors and trading partners, as it seeks to assert control over a waterway that has abundant resources, particularly oil and natural gas reserves and fish stocks.

The pushback from Indonesia takes direct aim at Beijing’s claims within the so-called “nine-dash line,” which on Chinese maps delineates the vast area that China claims in the South China Sea. It also adds a new player to the volatile situation, in which the United States Navy has been challenging China’s claims with naval maneuvers through waters claimed by Beijing.

Indonesia “is already a party to the disputes — and the sooner it acknowledges this reality the better,” said Ian J. Storey, a senior fellow at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies in Singapore, where he researches South China Sea issues.

The dispute largely centers on the Natuna Sea, a resource-rich waterway north of Indonesia that also lies close to Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone.

Before naming part of the contested waterway the North Natuna Sea “to make it sound more Indonesian,” Mr. Storey said, Indonesia last year began beefing up its military presence in the Natunas. That included expanding its naval port on the main island to handle bigger ships and lengthening the runway at its air force base there to accommodate larger aircraft.

For decades, Indonesia’s official policy has been that it is not a party to any territorial disputes with China in the South China Sea, unlike its regional neighbors Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam. Last year, however, Indonesia and China had the three maritime skirmishes within Indonesia’s 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zone off its Natuna Islands, which lie northwest of Borneo.

After the third skirmish, in June 2016, China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement in which it claimed for the first time that its controversial nine-dash line included “traditional fishing grounds” within Indonesia’s exclusive economic zone.

The administration of the Indonesian president, Joko Widodo, whose top administrative priorities since taking office in October 2014 include transforming his country into a maritime power, has ordered the authorities to blow up hundreds of foreign fishing vessels seized while illegally fishing in Indonesian waters.

Mr. Joko, during a visit to Japan in 2015, said in a newspaper interview that China’s nine-dash line had no basis in international law. He also chaired a cabinet meeting on a warship off the Natunas just days after last year’s third naval skirmish — a move analysts viewed as a show of resolve to Beijing.

On July 14, Indonesia’s Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries held a conspicuously high-profile news conference to release its first national territorial map since 2005, including the unveiling of the newly named North Natuna Sea. The new map also included new maritime boundaries with Singapore and the Philippines, with which Indonesia had concluded agreements in 2015.

Arif Havas Oegroseno, a deputy minister at Indonesia’s Coordinating Ministry of Maritime Affairs, told journalists that the new Indonesian map offered “clarity on natural resources exploration areas.”

That same day, Indonesia’s Armed Forces and Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources signed a memorandum for warships to provide security for the highly profitable fishing grounds and offshore oil and gas production and exploration activities within the country’s exclusive economic zone near the Natunas.

Gen. Gatot Nurmantyo, the commander of the Indonesian Armed Forces, said at the time that offshore energy exploration and production activities “have often been disturbed by foreign-flagged vessels” — which some analysts took as a reference to China.

Although several countries take issue with China’s territorial claims in the South China Sea, few do so publicly, and the Trump administration has recently sent mixed signals about how willing it is to challenge China on its claims. That has made the Indonesian pushback more intriguing.

Frega Ferdinand Wenas Inkiriwang, a lecturer at the Indonesian Defense University, said Indonesia’s public naming of the North Natuna Sea “means that Indonesia indirectly becomes a claimant state in the area, perhaps due to territorial integrity issues.”

“It’s in the vicinity of the Natunas,” he said, “and the Natunas contain natural resources which are inherited and will be beneficial for Indonesia’s development.”

Analysts say that the Indonesian Navy would be no match for the Chinese Navy in a fight, although the first of last year’s clashes involved only a Chinese Coast Guard ship and an Indonesian maritime ministry patrol boat. It is unlikely that the two countries’ navies would clash within Indonesia’s exclusive economic zone, according to analysts.

Members of the 10-state Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or Asean, have repeatedly expressed concern about China’s aggressive posture in the South China Sea, including its naval standoffs and land reclamation projects in disputed areas, and the stationing of military personnel and surface-to-air missiles in the Paracel Islands — which are controlled by China but are also claimed by Taiwan and Vietnam.

Indonesia, the grouping’s largest member and de facto leader, had in the past remained on the sidelines of the various South China Sea disputes and offered to help mediate between Asean claimant states and Beijing.

Given that China is among Indonesia’s biggest investors and trade partners, some analysts say Jakarta will go only so far in challenging China’s territorial claims, at least publicly. But its more aggressive military posture and other moves regarding the Natunas are nonetheless sending signals to China.

“It doesn’t make Indonesia a claimant state,” said Aaron Connelly, a research fellow at the Lowy Institute for International Policy in Sydney, Australia, who follows the South China Sea disputes. “They’ve never accepted the legitimacy of the nine-dash line, which is why they say there’s no overlap” with its exclusive economic zone.

“China says it has ‘traditional fishing rights,’ but Indonesia is doing things in a legalistic way right now,” Mr. Connelly said. “This is a more effective way of challenging it.”

Evan A. Laksmana, a senior researcher on security affairs at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Jakarta, agreed that the naming of the North Natuna Sea was not specifically done to trigger a dispute with China.

“But the international legal basis underpinning Indonesia’s new map is clear,” he said.

“We do not recognize China’s claims in the Natuna waters — we don’t feel like we should negotiate our map with Beijing or ask their

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