ARCID China Update Volume 2, No. 1 January - June 2019
Compiled by Tarida Baikasame Research Associate
Asian Research Center for International Development (ARCID) School of Social Innovation Mae Fah Luang University Thailand
ARCID CHINA UPDATE VOLUME 2, NO. 1 JANUARY-JUNE 2019 Â© All Rights Reserved Compiled by Tarida Baikasame ISSN: 2630-0885 First published in 2018 by ASIAN RESEARCH CENTER FOR INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT (ARCID) School of Social Innovation, Mae Fah Luang University 333 Moo1, Thasud, Muang, Chiang Rai 57100, Thailand Tel : +66 5391 7137 Fax : +66 5391 6685 Email : email@example.com Website : chinawatch.today, social-innovation.mfu.ac.th/arcid.php Facebook page : www.facebook.com/ARCIDTHAILAND www.facebook.com/chinawatch.arcid Printed by TECHNO PRINTING CENTER 643 Utarakit Road, Wiang, Muang, Chiang Rai 57000, Thailand Tel/ Fax : +66 5371 8841 Email : firstname.lastname@example.org
Cover Photo by Usukhbayar Gankhuyag on Unsplash
Part I: The Chronology (January-June 2019) Foreign Affairs
Part II: Selected Documentation (January-June 2019) (A) China’s Report on the Work of the Government
(B) Keynote Speech by President Xi Jinping at the Opening Ceremony of the Second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation
(C) Full text of Joint Communiqué of the Leaders’ Roundtable of the Second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation
(D) Keynote Speech by President Xi Jinping at the Opening Ceremony of the Conference on Dialogue of Asian Civilizations
(E) State Councilor and Defense Minister General Wei Fenghe’s Speech at the 18th Shangri-La Dialogue
(F) White Paper: China’s Position on the China-US Economic and Trade Consultations
(G) President Xi Jinping’s Speech at the 14th Group of 20 (G20) Summit
Part III: Selected Analysis (January-June 2019) v
Foreign Affairs (A) What holds back Myanmar’s development? Ding Gang
(B) Integrated strategies upgrade China-Cambodia ties Shen Shiwei
(C) Closer Vietnam relations will eliminate uncertainties Li Wei
(D) Neighborly advantages Hu Zhengyue
(E) Uncertainty in Thailand won’t stand in the way of cooperation with China Ge Hongliang
Political Affairs (F) Troubled waters Pianporn Deetes
(G) Will Vietnam make South China Sea COC talks tougher? Li Kaisheng
(H) Beyond US-China spat: Asean’s options Kavi Chongkittavorn
(I) Beijing saves Mekong islets Ploenpote Atthakor
(J) China-US rivalry not a clash of civilizations Song Wei
(K) Shangri-La Dialogue: How South-east Asia can navigate Sino-US competition Prashanth Parameswaran
(L) Shangri-La Dialogue: What China and Asean can do to maintain stability in South China Sea Liu Lin
(M) Seeing Asean straight as Thailand chairs
Thitinan Pongsudhirak Economic Affairs (N) What ECRL can teach Chinese firms Ge Hongliang
(O) Avoiding trade-war fallout Nareerat Wiriyapong
(P) Will Vietnam become the next ‘world’s factory’ as production moves away from China? Wang Jiamei
(Q) Beware of BRI debt trap Ploenpote Atthakor
(R) Rail deals must have accountability Thitinan Pongsudhirak
(S) Cross-border trade ‘a missed opportunity’ Nauvarat Suksamran
Socio-cultural Affairs (T) Evolutionary progress Wang Hangzui and Wu Peng
(U) Why waste trade should be on the Asean Summit agenda Lea Guerrero and Tara Buakamsri
With economic reforms and the opening up of the Peopleâ€™s Republic of China (PRC) to the outside world by Deng Xioaping and post-Deng leaders, China is now the largest economy (on a purchasing power parity basis). All indications show that China will be a superpower. The meteoric rise of China in the 21 st century signals the successful comeback of China in regaining its respectful place in regional and international affairs. It also means challenges as well as opportunities for other parts of the world, especially for countries in the Asia Pacific region. For many of us, the big question is: how should we deal with such a rising superpower? Other questions may include the following: Is Chinaâ€™s rise going to be sustained? What are the new directions mapped out by Xi Jinping to develop China? What sort of developmental challenges will it face? Is China a threat according to some analysts? How can we promote a winwin relationship with China? How can we manage our problems, if any, with China in order to preserve peace and development? To answer these questions, the Asian Research Center for International Development (ARCID) of the School of Social Innovation at Mae Fah Luang University has launched the China Watch Project with a grant from the Thailand Research Fund (TRF). We would like to express our thanks to the TRF for its funding support and suggestions in improving the project proposal. As part and parcel of the China Watch Project, ARCID has established a Monitor and Analysis (M & A) Unit surveying and analyzing major developments in China. Located in Northern Thailand, ARCID would take advantage of its geography and focus its research more on the Mekong region and its relations with East Asia, including China. We hope this strategy could help a young research center to establish a niche in the academic, intellectual and policy community. In this regard, the ARCID China Update, a biannual publication, is produced by the M & A Unit to keep track of the developments in China with special reference to its interactions with the Mekong region. The publication includes a chronology, selected documentation, selected analysis, and at times, viii
appendices. Inaugurated in mid-2018, the ARCID China Update is published twice a year with each issue covering developments in China for the immediate past six months. Essentially, the publication is a record of the events and issues under review.
Lee Lai To, Ph.D. Senior Professor and Director ARCID
Part I The Chronology
(I)The Chronology (January-June 2019) (A) Foreign Affairs January 8
The Lancang-Mekong Cooperation (LMC) anthem was officially released at the 4th LMC Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in Luang Prabang, Laos on December 17, 2018. The song title was “Lancang and Mekong, A River of Friendship.” It was performed by singers from six member countries. The lyrics were originally written in Lao and translated into English.
Cambodian Minister of Tourism Thong Khon, President of the National Olympic Committee of Cambodia, reports that a China-funded new national stadium has completed 40 percent of construction. The new stadium project began in August 2017, built by the China State Construction Engineering Corporation (CSCEC). China funded about US$160 million. The project created 580 jobs for Cambodian and Chinese workers. The stadium will be the venue for the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games, hosted by Cambodia in 2023.
Myanmar opens two visa application centers, comprising the Dehong Dai and Jingpo Autonomous Prefecture, in Mangshi and Ruili, Yunnan Province, which border Myanmar. They are authorized by the Consulate General of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar in Kunming to provide services, including visa application, business meeting arrangements, tour designs, and information consultations.
Vice Foreign Minister Kong Xuanyou, head of the Chinese government delegation, and Deputy Foreign Minister Lê Hoài Trung, head of the Vietnamese government delegation, hold the Plenary Meeting of the Governmental Delegation on Border Negotiation in Lao Cai City, Vietnam. Representatives from relevant departments and local governments of the two countries attend the meeting. They discuss their roles in the border negotiation mechanism for practical cooperation and agree to continue to
3 The Chronology
implement the major consensus reached by leaders of the two countries and the Agreement on the Basic Principles Guiding the Settlement of Sea-related Issues between China and Vietnam. The two vice foreign ministers also hold China-Vietnam consultation at vice-foreign ministerial level on the sidelines of the meeting. January 16-20
(1) Boao forum for Asia (BFA) Annual Conference 2019 agenda is released. The theme is “Shared Future, Concerted Action, Common Development”. The date is March 26-29 in Hainan Province. The forum will focus on the open economy, multilateral cooperation and innovation. (2) The China-Myanmar Cultural Week begins in Yangon, Nay Pyi Taw, and Mandalay, aiming to deepen the traditional friendship and strengthen the cultural exchanges between the two countries. It features different kinds of exhibitions and art performances. The event includes the 2019 Spring Festival gala on January 19 in Yangon with the theme “Celebration of China-Myanmar Friendship” to showcase a transnational Chinese New Year.
Laos holds the handover and opening ceremony of the China-aided comprehensive medical building of Lao Military Hospital 103 in Vientiane. China will send a number of medical staff to teach a local medical team in the Lao military hospital, according to He Wei, head of the Chinese medical team in Laos. The project will help develop the standard of medical services of the Lao army.
Prime Minister Hun Sen, at the invitation of Premier Li Keqiang, pays an official visit to China. Hun Sen meets with President Xi Jinping on January 21 at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse, calling for joint efforts to build a community of shared future and connect BRI with Cambodia’s development strategy. Xi says that the two countries should advance cooperation in 5 major areas, including transportation, production capacity, energy, trade, and people’s livelihoods. 4 The Chronology
Hun Sen holds talks with Premier Li Keqiang on January 22 at the Great Hall of the People. Li stresses high-level friendship and cooperation between the two sides. They will make joint efforts to build major cooperation projects, such as the Sihanoukville Special Economic Zone, and hold the ChinaCambodia Cultural Tourism Year event. After the talks, they sign 8 cooperative agreements, including the BRI, infrastructure, water supply, and transportation. Hun Sen also meets with Chairman of the National Committee of the CPPCC Wang Yang on the same day. Hun Sen attends the China-Cambodia Trade and Investment Promotion Forum 2019 in Beijing. He and Chinese Vice Premier Hu Chunhua address the eventâ€™s opening ceremony. The forum aims to explore ways to boost trade and investment ties between the two countries. January 25
China and Laos launch Visit Laos-China Year campaign in Vientiane to boost tourism cooperation in 2019. The key activities include cultural performances and an exhibition of Lao and Chinese tourism products. The Lao government expects more than 1 million Chinese to visit Laos in 2019. President Xi Jinping sends a congratulatory message on the launch of this campaign, expressing his hope for using the opportunities to expand people-topeople and cultural exchanges and deepen understanding and friendship between the two peoples.
President Xi Jinping exchanges greetings with Vietnamese President Nguyen Phu Trong in the coming Lunar New Year. They express the willingness to work together on high-level exchanges, promote development strategies and cooperation in various fields.
(1) President Xi Jinping sends condolences to Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on the blasts in the southern Philippine province of Sulu.
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(2) Cambodia and China jointly host a gala dinner to promote mutual tourism destinations and celebrate the launch of the China-Cambodia culture and tourism year 2019. Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister Hor Namhong, Tourism Minister Thong Khon, Culture Minister Phoeurng Sackona, Chinese Minister of Culture and Tourism Luo Shugang, and Chinese Ambassador to Cambodia Wang Wentian attend the event. February 3
President Xi Jinping addresses a Spring Festival reception at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, extending greetings to Chinese people all over the world. He calls for hard work to bring happy life for Chinese people and a great future for the country.
Thai Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn attends the opening ceremony of the Happy Chinese Lunar New Year 2019 at Chinatown in Bangkok. Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and Thai Tourism and Sports Minister Weerasak Kowsurat also attend the ceremony. Chinese Ambassador to Thailand Lyu Jian delivers a speech. He stresses that the Lunar New year serves the bond between Chinese and Thais. The festival starts from January 24 to February 18. Around 300 Chinese artists and performers perform in Bangkok during the festival.
Chinese Ambassador to Cambodia Wang Wentian and Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Prak Sokhonn sign the cooperation agreement, approving and financing 19 Cambodian projects under the Lancang-Mekong Cooperation (LMC) Special Fund 2018 with a total amount of 7.66 million dollars.
State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi at the invitation of Thai Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai visits Chiang Mai, Thailand for strategic consultation. They are willing to work together to push forward the integration between the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and ASEANâ€™s plan on connectivity, hold the China-ASEAN Year of Media Exchanges, speed up the Thai-Sino High-Speed Railway project, and strengthen win-win cooperation in the region. They 6 The Chronology
have an in-depth discussion on international and regional issues. February 16-18
Wang Yi visits the China-Myanmar border in Yunnan Province and inspects China-Myanmar border rivers and boundary posts, boundary facilities, Ruili port, the China-Myanmar oil and gas pipeline project, and the “One Village, Two Countries” border community. He discusses with grass-roots units and frontline workers to listen to their opinions and suggestions. He expresses the importance of the border area as it relates to the security and stability of China.
President Xi Jinping sends a congratulatory letter to the opening ceremony of the China-ASEAN Year of Media Exchanges 2019 event held in Beijing. He encourages the media to play a greater role to support friendship between China and ASEAN by promoting communication, cooperation and peopleto-people contacts.
February 25March 5
Chinese Special Envoy of Asian Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Sun Guoxiang visits Maungdaw District in Rakhine State of Myanmar and Cox’s Bazar of Bangladesh to inspect the preparation of repatriation of Rohingya people. He meets State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi and Commander-inChief of Defense Services Min Aung Hlaing of Myanmar, State Minister for Foreign Affairs Mohamed Shahriar Alam and Foreign Secretary Shahidul Haque of Bangladesh, and other leaders from the two countries. He expresses China’s willingness to provide assistance for the peace process on the Rakhine issues and repatriation.
The China Foundation for Poverty Alleviation (CFPA) reports that China plans to donate more than 200,000 panda-themed “care parcels”, which is a 105-item including bags, stationery, toys and daily necessities, to 11 Belt and Road countries. It aims to improve learning conditions and promote development of primary students in these countries.
Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. gives an exclusive interview with Global Times, a 7 The Chronology
Chinese newspaper. He says that the Philippines eyes closer cooperation with China in many aspects, such as the South China Sea issue, the BRI and the country’s economy. He refuses the accusations that the country is overreliant on China and being weak in dealing with it. He hopes that the country can learn from China in poverty alleviation. March 8
Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi meets the press on the sidelines of the second session of the 13th NPC in Beijing, showing China’s confident diplomacy. The highlights include diplomatic achievements in the last 70 years, bilateral relations with other countries, the BRI, the trade war with the US, multilateralism, and so on. For the negotiation on the COC in the South China Sea, he mentions that it will be sped up. The countries in the region should keep peace and stability in the South China Sea with their own hands.
The Lancang-Mekong Cooperation (LMC) Week is held in Thailand to celebrate the third anniversary of the cooperation. On March 18, Thai Deputy Foreign Minister Virasakdi Futrakul and Chinese Ambassador to Thailand Lyu Jian attend the Launching Ceremony of the Project “Capacity Building for National Coordinators of LMC” under the LMC Special Fund and deliver the opening remarks, pledging to promote the development of the Mekong Region. Two Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) are signed at the Foreign Ministry in Bangkok, comprising MOU on the Cooperation on Projects of the LMC Special Fund between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Chinese Embassy to Thailand and MOU between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Mekong Institute. From 2020, the LMC Week will be celebrated on March 23 of every year. To celebrate the 3rd LMC anniversary, Vietnam holds a seminar on LMC in Hanoi. Chinese and Vietnamese officials and scholars attend the seminar. They agree to promote regional cooperation. Lao Foreign Minister Saleumxay Kommasith sends a congratulation message, expressing the willing to continue to contribute to the LMC. Cambodian 8 The Chronology
Foreign Minister Prak Sokhonn also issues a statement for the LMC Week. In China, Assistant Foreign Minister Chen Xiaodong and ambassadors of the Mekong countries to China attend the reception celebrating the 3rd Anniversary of the LMC and LMC Week 2019 at the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs. March 19
(1) China and Vietnam officially open a new crossborder bridge, the Second Beilun River Bridge, linking Dongxing, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region of China and Mong Cai of Vietnam. The construction started in 2014 and was completed in September 2017. It aims to reduce traffic burden of the First Beilun River Bridge and improve capacity for border trade between China and Vietnam. (2) President of the Lao Front for National Construction Xaysomphone Phomvihane leads a delegation to visit China. He meets with Chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) Wang Yang and Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress Li Zhanshu in Beijing, calling for closer ties. China and Laos are willing to promote the development of relations, maintain efforts to deepen exchanges and cooperation. Laos is ready to build a Laos-China community with a shared future, according to Xaysomphone.
Philippine Foreign Minister Teodoro Locsin pays an official visit to China. He holds talks with Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi at Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing. They are willing to work together to further deepen bilateral relations and promote the integration of the BRI and the “Build, Build, Build” program of the Philippines, maritime cooperation, East Asia cooperation and multilateral cooperation. They want to complete the consultation on the COC in the South China Sea and finish the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) negotiations within 3 year. Locsin also praises China’s ruling Communist Party and development. 9 The Chronology
On the same day, a delegation of senior Philippine officials from key departments, including finance, infrastructure, and energy, led by Secretary of Finance Carlos G. Dominguez, holds the Philippine Economic Briefing in Beijing. Dominguez delivers a keynote speech, calling on Chinese investors to invest in the Philippines and dismissing Chinaâ€™s debt trap. March 21-23
Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Kong Xuanyou and Cambodian Secretary of State for the Ministry of Economy and Finance Vongsey Vissoth hold Secretary-General Meeting of the 5th ChinaCambodia Inter-government Coordination Committee in Cambodia. They are willing to work together to make full use of the mechanism of this meeting to implement the high-level consensus and formulate action plans for the China-Cambodia community with a shared future. On March 22, Kong Xuanyou, as the representative of the Chinese government and Prime Minister Hun Sen attend the ground breaking ceremony of the Phnom Penh-Sihanoukville expressway.
Lao Deputy Foreign Minister Khamphao Ernthavanh holds diplomatic consultations and exchange views on bilateral ties and regional and international issues with Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Kong Xuanyou in Luang Prabang. They want to push forward their cooperation, including the Laos-China community with a shared future, Laos-China Economic Corridor, Laos-China railway, and Laos-China traditional friendship. Kong Xuanyou also meets with Provincial Party Secretary and Governor of Luang Prabang Province Khamkhanh Chamthavisouk. He tours the site of Laos-China railway during his visit.
Premier Li Keqiang meets with Lao Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith at the Boao Forum for Asia Annual Conference 2019. Li remarks that this year is the 10th anniversary of the establishment of the China-Laos comprehensive strategic cooperative
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partnership. They will push forward the economic corridor and the China-Laos railway. March 29
Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister Sar Kheng holds talks with Guo Shengkun, a member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and head of the Commission for Political and Legal Affairs of the CPC Central Committee and Zhao Kezhi, State Councilor and Minister of Public Security. Zhao and Kheng attend the launch ceremony of the Year of Law Enforcement Cooperation, pledging to strengthen cooperation on cross-border criminal activities, including terrorism, cybercrime, and telecom fraud.
(1) Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi meets with King Norodom Sihamoni and Queen Mother Norodom Monineath Sihanouk of Cambodia in Beijing, pushing forward the traditional friendship and bilateral relations for development. (2) Wang Yi meets with Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn of Thailand in Beijing. This is the 48th visit to China for the Princess. They are willing to carry forward the traditional friendship and strengthen cooperation in various fields. China will support Thailand’s efforts in poverty reduction and people’s livelihood.
The 16th China-Brunei Diplomatic Consultation is held in Beijing. Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Kong Xuanyou holds talks with Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Hajah Dayang Siti Norishan binti Haji Awang Abdul Ghafor of Brunei. They are willing to integrate Brunei Vision 2035 and the BRI and work together to enhance economic cooperation and strengthen people-to-people exchanges. They exchange views on the South China Sea issues, China-ASEAN relations and reform of the World Trade Organization (WTO).
Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Kong Xuanyou holds the 4th round of China-Malaysia strategic consultation with Malaysian Secretary-General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Dato’ Sri Muhammad 11 The Chronology
Shahrul Ikram Yaakob in Beijing, expressing their willing to work together to promote China-Malaysia relations and exchanging views on issues, such as the South China Sea issue, China-ASEAN relations, the reform of WTO and the UN Security Council. Dato’ Sri Muhammad Shahrul Ikram Yaakob also meets with Wang Yi. Wang welcomes the participation of Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad to the 2nd Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation and appreciates Malaysia’s support for the BRI. April 24
(1) As the second Belt and Road Forum (BRF) for International Cooperation will be held on April 25-27 in Beijing, Chinese Leaders welcome foreign country leaders as follows; President Xi Jinping meets with State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi of Myanmar ahead of the 2nd BRF. Both sides are willing to work together on safeguarding security and stability in border areas, the development of the ChinaMyanmar Economic Corridor, and the BRI. State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi meets with Thai Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai, expressing the willing to cooperate with Thailand as ASEAN’s Chair on the negotiations on RCEP, China-ASEAN relations, the LMC, the BRI, and the New International Land-Sea Trade Corridor. Thai side also wants to strengthen the AyeyawadyChao Phraya-Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy (ACMECS) with the BRI. Wang Yi meets with Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi. They want to push forward China-ASEAN relations, expand bilateral trade and investment, and deepen cooperation under the BRI and other multilateral framework. Wang Yi meets with Second Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Dato Seri Paduka Haji 12 The Chronology
Erywan bin Pehin Datu Pekerma Jaya Haji Mohd Yusof of Brunei. They are willing to upgrade bilateral cooperation and promote the East ASEAN Growth Area. (2) Chinese Consul General in Songkla Ma Fengchun travels to Phuket, Phangnga, and Krabi to support tourism relations as there were boat tragedies in Phuket last year. He holds talks with Phuket Governor Pakkapong Tawipat, emphasizing the safety for Chinese tourists travelling in Thailand. (3) Xi Jinping sends a message of condolences to General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV) and President Nguyen Phu Trong over the passing away of former President Le Duc Anh of Vietnam. April 25
At the 2nd BRF, Chinese leaders meet with foreign leaders as follows; President Xi Jinping meets with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte. The two sides are willing to work together on the joint construction of the BRI and the “Build, Build, Build” program, maintain peace and stability in the South China Sea, and strengthen cooperation on maritime, drug control, and anti-terrorism. After the meeting, they jointly witness the signing of bilateral cooperation documents. Xi Jinping meets with Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc, focusing on aligning the BRI with Vietnam’s “Two Corridors and One Economic Circle” plan and advancing cooperation in areas, such as the maritime issues, infrastructure, and cross-border economic cooperation zones. Xi Jinping meets with Indonesian Vice President Jusuf Kalla, expressing the willing to work together on aligning the BRI with Indonesia’s Global Maritime Axis, implementing of the Jakarta-Bandung High-Speed Railway, and promoting multilateralism. 13 The Chronology
Xi Jinping meets with Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad. They promote ChinaMalaysia friendship, the joint industrial parks in Qinzhou, China and Kuantan cooperation, the BRI, and the New International Land-Sea Trade Corridor. They want to strengthen regional economic integration, the building of an open world economy, multilateral cooperation and upgrade the China-ASEAN cooperation. China supports Malaysia in hosting the Meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) next year. Premier Li Keqiang meets with Lao General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Lao People’s Revolutionary Party and President Bounnhang Vorachit, to promote the building of the China-Laos community with shared future, the China-Laos railway, the China-Laos Economic Corridor, the LMC, and align the BRI with the development strategies of Laos. Li Keqiang meets with Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad. They are willing to push the China-Malaysia comprehensive strategic partnership to new levels, align the BRI with Malaysia’s development strategies, support bilateral cooperation, and deepen regional cooperation with ASEAN, including the negotiation on the RCEP agreement and East Asia cooperation. After the meeting, they jointly withness the signing of bilateral cooperation documents including Malaysia’s East Coast Railway project, Bandar Malaysia project, and palm oil trade. Li Keqiang meets with State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi of Myanmar, promoting the ChinaMyanmar Economic Corridor, the domestic peace and national reconciliation of Myanmar, and bilateral cooperation. After the meeting, they jointly witness the signing of multiple bilateral cooperation documents.
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Li Keqiang meets with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte. China wants to align the BRI with the “Build, Build, Build” program of the Philippines. They will further jointly work on the negotiations on the COC in the South China Sea and safeguard peace and stability in the region. They want to improve the business environment and deepen cooperation exchanges in trade and investment. April 26
(1) At the 2nd BRF, Chinese leaders meet with foreign leaders as follows; Xi Jinping meets with Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, expressing the willing to strengthen the alignment of the BRI with Thailand’s development strategies, promote the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC), build the China-Thailand railway, and deepen ChinaASEAN relations. Prayut praises China’s achievements in fields, such as economic growth, poverty alleviation and environmental protection. Xi Jinping meets with Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah of Brunei. They want to align the BRI with Brunei’s Wawasan 2035, build the GuangxiBrunei Economic Corridor into a dualdemonstration project of cooperation between China and East ASEAN Growth Area, cooperate in the construction of the New International LandSea Trade Corridor, and deepen bilateral cooperation. They will set the year 2020 as the Year of Tourism between China and Brunei. Li Keqiang meets with Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, expressing China’s support to Thailand as the ASEAN chair. They promote the alignment of the BRI with Thailand’s development strategies, the China-Thailand railway, and cooperation under the framework of ASEAN and the LMC. Prayut also meets with Chinese Member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of
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the Communist Party of China (CPC) and Vice Premier Han Zheng on the same day. Li Keqiang meets with Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc, promoting the BRI with Vietnam’s “Two Corridors and One Economic Circle”, deepening practical cooperation, advancing the consultation on the COC in the South China Sea, and maintaining peace and stability in the region. After the meeting, they jointly witness the signing of multiple bilateral cooperation documents. Nguyen also meets with Chinese Member of the Standing Committee of the CPC and Member of the Secretariat of the CPC Central Committee Wang Huning on the same day. Chinese Member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC and Chairman of the Standing Committee of the NPC Li Zhanshu meets with Lao General Secretary of the Lao People’s Revolutionary Party Central Committee and President Bounnhang Vorachit, to strengthen bilateral relations. (2) On the sidelines of the 2nd BRF, Li Keqiang holds talks with Prayut Chan-o-cha. Prayut has pledged to finish the China-Thailand High-Speed railway project in time to connect with another route from China to Vientiane at the Thailand-Laos border. Thailand, Laos, and China signed a memorandum of cooperation (MOC) for the rail link as part of a network of the BRI on April 25. Thailand and China will increase bilateral trade to US$140 billion in 2021. Thailand will also support the negotiation of the RCEP to be concluded by this year. April 27
Chinese Member of the Standing Committee of the CPC and Member of the Secretariat of the CPC Central Committee Wang Huning meets with Cambodia Prime Minister, who is attending the 2nd BRF in Beijing. They are willing to align the BRI with Cambodia’s Rectangular Strategy and deepen cooperation in various fields.
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Premier Li Keqiang meets with Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen in Beijing. Hun Sen congratulates the Chinese side on successfully hosting the 2nd BRF. He wants to align the Rectangular Strategy with the BRI. The Chinese side supports Cambodia on investment and bilateral cooperation. After the meeting, they witness the signing of the action plan for the China-Cambodia community with a shared future and cooperation documents.
(1) President Xi Jinping meets with Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in Beijing, calling on both countries to maintain support for multilateralism, build cooperation between the BRI and the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity 2025, and promote economic integration in East Asia. (2) Xi Jinping meets with Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen. They are willing to deepen bilateral cooperation in building the BRI, special economic zones, infrastructure, and the construction of the New International Land-Sea Trade Corridor.
President Xi Jinping holds talks with Lao General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Lao Peopleâ€™s Revolutionary Party (LPRP) and President Bounnhang Vorachith in Beijing. They will maintain high-level exchanges and strengthen the leadership of the parties and the socialist cause. They promote the construction of the economic corridor, the ChinaLaos railway, the BRI, and cooperation with multilateral mechanism, such as the UN, the LMC, and East Asian cooperation. After the talks, they sign the action plan for building a community with a shared future between the two parties and attend the signing ceremony of relevant cooperation documents.
President Xi Jinping sends a congratulatory message to King Maha Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarangkun of Thailand on his coronation.
The Second Training Program for Lancang-Mekong Cooperation (LMC) National Secretariats and Coordination Units is held in Kunming, Yunnan 17 The Chronology
Province. Activities include lectures, exchanges with officials, group discussions and field trips. There are 35 participants from six LMC countries. May 10
China hands over the renovated Natmauk General Hospital to the Myanmar government. It is located in Natmauk, Magway region where General Aung San was born. The renovated project costs about US$900,000. It was conducted by the Chinese Embassy in Myanmar and Myanmar-China Exchange and Cooperation Association.
Cambodia has finished about 50 percent of the construction work on a China-funded national stadium, according to Thong Khon, president of the National Olympic Committee of Cambodia and tourism minister. It is expected to complete by the end of 2020. It is constructed by the China State Construction Engineering Corporation (CSCEC) with the cost of about US$160 million.
(1) President Xi Jinping meets with Singaporean President Halimah Yacob in Beijing. Halimah Yacob is in China for the Conference on Dialogue of Asian Civilisations (CDAC). Both sides agree to take the CDAC as an opportunity to jointly build positive development and benefit people of the world. They also mention high-level exchanges, bilateral cooperation, the BRI, and the New International Land-Sea Trade Corridor and the third party market cooperation. (2) Xi Jinping meets with King Norodom Sihamoni of Cambodia, who attends the CDAC. Xi calls for carrying forward the action plan on the building of the China-Cambodia community with a shared future. Cambodia side supports the BRI. Sihamoni says that the CDAC will play a major role in promoting cultural exchanges and mutual understanding among countries.
Premier Li Keqiang meets with President Halimah Yacob of Singapore in Beijing. Both sides are willing to work together on the BRI, multilateralism and a free trade system, deepening bilateral cooperation 18 The Chronology
on the New International Land-Sea Trade Corridor and the third party market cooperation, and promoting civilisation and cultural exchanges. May 19-20
The China and Vietnam Border Inhabitants Gala is held in Jingxi, a border city in Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. This is an annual gala held since 2009 in turn in a number of border cities in Guangxi. It aims to promote people-to-people exchanges. The activities include musical performances from the two countries, folksong festivals, tourist promotion, and discussing topics of cooperation by scholars and writers.
President Xi Jinping sends a congratulatory message to Indonesian President Joko Widodo on his reelection as President of Indonesia.
The 3rd Myanmar-China Think Tank Forum jointly organised by Myanmar Institute of Strategic and International Studies (Myanmar-ISIS), Chinaâ€™s Yunnan Academy of Social Sciences, Chinese Academy of South and Southeast Asian Studies (Kunming) and Dehong Dai and Jingpo Autonomous Prefecture is held in Yangon, focusing on the BRI and China-Myanmar Economic Corridor (CMEC). 40 experts from both countries attend the forum, exchanging views and discussions.
Vice Premier Han Zheng meets with Singaporean Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Heng Swee Keat in Beijing, expressing the willingness to advance bilateral ties and pragmatic cooperation in many fields and promote construction under the BRI.
Premier Li Keqiang meets with Heng Swee Keat in Beijing. Both sides are willing to strengthen highlevel exchanges and deepen practical cooperation in various fields, such as the BRI, the New International Land-Sea Trade Corridor and the third party market cooperation. Singapore is willing to play an active role in advancing ASEAN-China relations. Heng Swee Keat also meets with Member of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the 19 The Chronology
Communist Party of China (CPC) and Director of the Office of the Foreign Affairs Commission of the CPC Central Committee Yang Jiechi on the same day. May 27
(1) Vice Foreign Minister Kong Xuanyou goes to Malaysian Embassy in China to offer condolences to former Supreme Head Sultan Haji Ahmad Shah and left a message on the condolence book. (2) Chinese people are alleged to have been involved in Indonesiaâ€™s post-election turmoil. The unrest happened after poll results showed President Joko Widodo defeating Prabowo Subianto. The incident caused 8 people killed and more than 700 hurt. The turmoil and the anti-Chinese sentiment went viral on the social media. However, the rumors are proven false, according to Reuters report.
May 30- June 1
Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Prak Sokhonn pays an official visit to China at the invitation of State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi. On May 31, Premier Li Keqiang meets with Prak Sokhon, promoting the building of a China-Cambodia community with a shared future and cooperation in key areas under the framework of China-ASEAN and the LMC and jointly advancing the negotiations for the COC in the South China Sea. On the same day, Wang Yi holds talks with Prak Sokhon. They are willing to work together to advance the joint construction of the BRI, promote high-level exchanges, ensure the success of the ChinaCambodia Law Enforcement Cooperation Year and the China-Cambodia Cultural and Tourism Year, expand the LMC Mechanism and deepen cooperation under the ASEAN-China framework.
(1) President Xi Jinping and Supreme Head Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah of Malaysia exchange congratulation messages on the 45th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Malaysia. 20 The Chronology
(2) Premier Li Keqiang and Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad exchange congratulation messages on the 45th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Malaysia, promoting bilateral cooperation (3) Vice Foreign Minister Luo Zhaohui goes to the Thai Embassy in China to offer condolences to Privy Council President Prem Tinsulanonda and left a message on the condolence book. June 3
The China and Tourism and Culture Week is inaugurated in Yangon, aiming to deepen tourism and cultural exchanges and cooperation and promote friendship between people of the two countries. The event is organised by the Chinese Embassy in Myanmar, Yunnan Provincial Department of Culture and Tourism and the China Cultural Center in Yangon.
Li Xi, a member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and secretary of the CPC Guangdong Provincial Committee, leads 208 executives from 146 local companies to visit Thailand. On June 10, they meet with Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha in Bangkok. Both sides agree to further expand cooperation in various areas, such as investment, trade, tourism, education and science and technology. Guangdong Province is a part of the Greater Bay Area (GBA), including 9 cities in Guangdong â€“ Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Zhuhai, Foshan, Zhongshan, Dongguan, Huizhou, Jiangmen and Zhaoqing â€“ and the special administrative regions of Hong Kong and Macau. Li also meets with Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak, negotiating about business linkage between the GBA and the EEC, the BRI, and bilateral ties. A Chinese investor group is interested in investing in a digital park facility in the EEC.
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The â€œNight of Chinese Culture and Tourism,â€? an important event of the Visit Laos-China Year 2019 is held at the National Cultural Hall in Vientiane. About 1,200 guests, including Chinese Vice Minister of Culture and Tourism Zhang Xu and Lao Vice Minister of Information, Culture and Tourism Ounethouang Khaophanh attend the event. The event aims to promote friendship between the two countries and contribute to tourism.
Premier Li Keqiang sends a message to Prayut Chano-cha on his re-election as Prime Minister of Thailand. He expresses the willing to deepen the comprehensive strategic cooperation.
Li Xi, a member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and secretary of the CPC Guangdong Provincial Committee, leads a CPC delegation to visit Malaysia. On June 13, he meets with Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, aiming to strengthen party-toparty exchanges and promote the pragmatic cooperation between Guangdong Province and Malaysia. Mahathir expresses that he does not agree with the crackdown on Chinese companies by the US and is willing to work with China to uphold multilateralism and globalization.
China donates mine-clearance equipment, vans, and motorcycles to Cambodian Mine Action Authority (CMAA) to help reduce landmine and unexploded ordnance (UXO) casualties in Cambodia. China is committed to help Cambodia to eliminate all types of mines and explosive remnants of war by 2025.
As the collapse of a building under construction in Sihanoukville that caused 28 people died and 26 injured, the Preah Sihanouk provincial court has charged 4 Chinese for the casualties. The construction owner was charged with unintentional homicide and other three were charged with conspiracy.
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President Xi Jinping meets with Indonesian President Joko Widodo on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Osaka, Japan. Xi mentions that next year marks the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries. Both sides are willing to work together to strengthen bilateral ties, implement the Jakarta-Bandung HighSpeed Railway and regional economic corridor, and cooperate with ASEAN in developing smart cities and the digital economy.
(B) Political Affairs January 7
(1) The Xinhua News Agency reports that diplomats from Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Kuwait, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand visited Xinjiang on December 20-30 at the invitation of the Xinjiang government. They visited the vocational training and education centers and found that the situation and environment in Xinjiang were different from Western media reports. Thailandâ€™s Ambassador to China Piriya Khempon attended this visit. (2) US guided-missile destroyer USS McCampbell sails near the Paracel Islands in the South China Sea under the pretext of upholding freedom of navigation. China warns it off and lodges a solemn representation with the US to protect its national sovereignty and security. (3) Guancha. cn, a Chinese news site, reports that Former Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has become the chairwoman and legal representative of Shantou International Container Terminals (SICT) in Guangdong Province.
The 30th fleet of the Chinese navy escort arrives at Sihanoukville Autonomous Port for a four-day friendly visit to Cambodia. It aims to boost ties and military cooperation, according to Cambodian Defense Ministry Spokesperson Chhum Socheat. The Chinese Navy delegation meets with Cambodian
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Commanders and Defense Minister Tea Banh during the visit. January 12-18
Thailand, as chair of ASEAN in 2019, hosts the first ASEAN Senior Economic Meeting (SEOM) in Bangkok. The meeting highlights 12 key economic issues, including the progress for the conclusion of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) within this year, the BRI, and the preparation to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).
(1) Chinese police would like to strengthen cooperation with their counterparts in Southeast Asian and African countries on cross-border telefraud, according to Deputy Director of the Ministry’s Criminal Investigation Bureau Chen Shiqu. On January 11, 191 suspects were escorted back from Laos to Henan Province. They were linked to more than 800 fraud cases. The law enforcement officers in China and other countries will establish mechanism and exchange information to deter cross-border crimes. (2) Four advanced warships under the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Southern Theatre Command’s South China Sea Fleet set sail for deep water exercise with the PLA’s Air Force, Rocket Force and Strategic Support Force. This is a far-sea joint drill, focusing on testing and research of these subjects.
ASEAN foreign ministers hold a meeting in Chiang Mai Province to discuss contentious issues. They discuss on the negotiation process on the Code of Conduct (COC) of the South China Sea, demonstrate the progress supporting the talks for a trade agreement on the RCEP, and explore the possibility of finding a common ground to deal with the IndoPacific Strategy.
The Royal Thai Army will purchase 14 more VT4 tanks and ammunition from China. It costs 2.3 billion baht. On January 6-9, Army Chief Gen Apirat Kongsompong held talks with the Commander of the 24 The Chronology
PLA Gen Han Weigo and arranged the procurement. On January 7, Gen Apirat also met with Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe. Thai Army purchased the first batch of 28 VT4 tanks in 2016, at a cost of 4.9 billion baht and the second batch of 11 tanks in 2017, at a cost of 2 billion baht form China. January 23
Thailand’s His Majesty King MahaVajiralongkorn has issued a royal decree for a general election. The election date will be announced within 5 days. The royal decree has been promulgated in the Royal Gazette. After that, the Election Commission set March 24 as the election date, one month later than the earlier schedule on February 24.
Two US warships, USS Spruance and USS Preble, sail within 12 nautical miles of China’s Ren’ai Reef (the Second Thomas Shoal) and Meiji Reef (Mischief Reef) in the Spratly Islands without permission. They are identified and warned off by the Chinese navy. China urges the US to stop provocative actions in the South China Sea.
State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi holds strategic consultations with Thai Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai in Chiang Mai Province. They exchange in-depth views on the South China Sea issue. They agree that all parties should work together to solve the disputes through consultation and negotiation in peaceful ways. They will safeguard the freedom of navigation and overflight in the South China Sea in accordance with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. They will speed up the negotiations on the COC in the South China Sea within 3 years.
7 Uighurs escaped from an immigration police detention cell in Mukdahan Province, the northeastern border of Thailand, on February 12. They are recaptured with clues provided by local people, according to Pol Col Komen Suphap, chief of the Mukdahan immigration police.
The 79th joint patrol on Mekong River, led by China, Laos, Myanmar and Thailand, is held at the Guanlei 25 The Chronology
Port, Dai Autonomous Prefecture of Xishuangbanna, Yunnan Province. 154 law enforcement officers with 9 vessels from 4 countries participate in the mission. February 22
(1) Indonesia plans to open a fishing zone in the Natuna Sea this year to prevent Chinese trespasses, according to Maritime Minister Luhut Pandjaitan. The Natuna Sea is Indonesia’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in the South China Sea that China claims as its traditional fishing grounds.
A total of 11 reporters from Malaysia and Indonesia visits Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region over the week. They travel to re-education centers and mosques to learn about China’s counter-terrorism and de-extremism measures. They also visit vocational training centers, dormitories, canteens and entertainment rooms in different centers. They see the people’s daily life and talk to some of them.
The 27th Meeting of the China-ASEAN Joint Working Group on the Implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (JWGDOC) is held in Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar. This is the first meeting of the year. They hold an in-depth talks and exchange views on the implementation of the DOC and the consultations on the COC.
The 7th Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Intersessional Ministerial Meeting is held in Siem Reap, Cambodia. Trade ministers of 16 member countries attend the meeting. They vow to speed up the achievement of the negotiations for the trade pact this year. They are negotiating in 18 areas, including tariffs, intellectual property rights, legal and institutional issues, and industrial products.
The second session of the 13th National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) opens at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. President Xi Jinping and Chinese leaders attend the opening meeting. Chairman of the 13th CPPCC National Committee Wang Yang delivers a work report to more than 2,000 political advisors. The CPPCC focuses on the central tasks of the Party 26 The Chronology
and country, including conducting consultations on fighting the three battles, namely, potential risk, poverty, and pollution. Wang also reports on the major tasks of the CPPCC for this year, such as studying and implementing Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era, offering high-quality suggestions, building a prosperous society and deepening supply-side structural reforms. March 5
(1) The second session of the 13th National Peopleâ€™s Congress (NPC) opens at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. President Xi Jinping, Chinese leaders, and nearly 3,000 NPC deputies attend the meeting. Premier Li Keqiang delivers the Government Work Report. The GDP growth target, one of the highlights of the report, is set at between 6 percent and 6.5 percent for this year. The consumer inflation growth is at 3 percent. The fiscal deficit target is up to 2.8 percent of GDP. Other highlights include high-tech growth, green measures, reform and opening-up, and employment. He also stresses that this year marks the 70th anniversary of the founding of China. (2) China increases its military budget to 7.5 percent for this year, lower than the 8.1 percent in 2018, as the country faces an economic slowdown. The defense budget will be 1.19 trillion RMB (US$177.6 billion), according to the Government Work Report presented at the meeting of the NPC. (3) Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana reveals that the Philippines is concerned that it may get involved in a war in the South China Sea for the US due to the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty. The treaty states that they have to help each other to defend against an external attack. The Philippines wants to re-examine the treaty to make it clear. It tries to avoid joining a war that it does not want, as the US has been patrolling the strategic waterway in Southeast Asia under the pretext of freedom of navigation.
VNExpress (Vietnamese newspaper) reported on March 6 that Chinese vessel sank a Vietnamese 27 The Chronology
fishing boat near Discovery Reef of the Paracels, and the crew were rescued by another Vietnamese fishing boat. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang refuses the media report and explains that a Chinese vessel rescued the Vietnamese fishing boat and its crew. March 8
State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi tells a press conference on the sidelines of the second session of the 13th NPC that China and ASEAN will finish negotiations of the COC in the South China Sea on the basis of consensus by 2021. They focus on maintaining peace and stability in the region.
China has agreed to drop a plan to blast islets in the Mekong River during Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s visit to Chiang Mai, Thailand in February, according to Thai Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai. China accepted the concerns on the negative effects from Thailand, Laos, and Myanmar, especially from local people and environmentalists. However, the local people urge the government to make known the public document to confirm the plan.
The Second Session of the 13th National Committee of the CPPCC is concluded in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. President Xi Jinping and other Chinese leaders attend the closing meeting. Chairman of the CPPCC National Committee Wang Yang addresses the meeting, calling for upholding and strengthening unity, asking the CPPCC to carry out its responsibility and serve the central tasks of the Party and the country.
China and Cambodia hold a joint military exercise called “Golden Dragon” in Kampot Province, Cambodia, aiming to strengthen their ties. China’s Major General Feng Xiang and Royal Cambodian Armed Forces commander-in-chief General Vong Pisen attend the opening ceremony. 257 Chinese soldiers and 2,542 Cambodian soldiers attend the exercise. The exercise focuses on counter-terrorism, hostage rescue, natural disaster response, UN missions, and infantry engineering. 28 The Chronology
(1) China’s national legislature approves the foreign investment law at the closing meeting of the second session of the 13th NPC. The law will become effective on January 1, 2020. The law will dismiss the requirement of transferring proprietary technology to Chinese partners for foreign firms. It will protect illegal government interference and improve the transparency of foreign investment policies. Experts think it may support trade talks with the US. (2) The Second Session of the 13th NPC is concluded. President Xi Jinping and other Chinese leaders attend the closing meeting at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. Premier Li Keqiang meets the press after the conclusion of the annual session. He highlights economic growth, tax cuts, reform and opening up and bilateral ties with other countries.
As Reuters reported that Vietnam’s Foreign Ministry claimed that a Vietnamese fishing boat was sunk by a Chinese vessel near the Paracel Islands on March 6, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Geng Shuang reveals that the fishing boat had already sunk before the Chinese vessel arrived. He urges Vietnam to stop changing facts.
Chinese Special Envoy for Asian Affairs of the Foreign Ministry Sun Guoxiang visits New York. He meets with members of the Security Council, seeking to solve the Rakhine crisis. He reveals his visit to crisis areas in Myanmar and Bangladesh and China’s policy on solving the crisis through political dialogue between the two countries to the Security Council. He meets with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and urges the UN to push forward the dialogue and support for refugee repatriation. He holds bilateral talks with representatives from the missions of Myanmar, Bangladesh, the United Kingdom and Russia to exchange views on the crisis.
The Boao Forum for Asia (BFA) Annual Conference 2019 is held in Hainan Province under the theme “Shared Future, Concerted Action, Common Development.” The key highlights of this year’s 29 The Chronology
conference are openness, multilateral cooperation, and innovation. The annual conference releases 3 annual reports, comprising Progress of Asian Economic Integration, Asian Competitiveness, and Development of Emerging Economies. This year, BFA also releases the first report on Asian financial cooperation called the Asian Financial Development Report on Infrastructure Finance. Experts from the forum call on Asian countries to work together against the global economic uncertainties, strengthen regional cooperation, and support innovation. Premier Li Keqiang attends the opening ceremony of the BFA on March 28 and delivers a keynote speech titled â€œJointly Tackling Challenges for Common Development.â€? He calls for cooperation and safeguard for the rule-based multilateral trading system. He also mentions the foreign investment law that will be effective on January 1, 2020. He points out that China will continue to open up. April 1
The Philippines has protested against more than 200 Chinese vessels that were sighted from January to March this year near Thitu Island in the Spratly Islands, according to Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo. It raises security concerns for the Philippines. Both China and the Philippines claim ownership of Thitu.
China and the Philippines hold the 4th Meeting of the Bilateral Consultation Mechanism (BCM) on the South China Sea in Manila, led by Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Kong Xuanyou and Filipino Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary Meynardo LB. Montealegre of the Office of Asian and Pacific Affairs. Both sides raise concern issues on recent developments and actions in the South China Sea and propose ways to cooperate and strengthen mutual trust and confidence. They are willing to enhance maritime cooperation including oil and gas development and work on the conclusion of a COC on the South China Sea.
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The 5th ASEAN Finance Ministers’ and Central Bank Governors’ Meeting (AFMGM) is held in Chiang Rai. The ministers push forward the conclusion of the financial services annex of the RCEP negotiations by the end of this year, according to a joint statement from the meeting.
(1) Around 1,000 Filipinos protest in front of the Chinese Embassy in Manila, opposing the Chinese invasion in the Philippines. This is because of the use of China’s power and tensions of the disputed South China Sea as hundreds of Chinese vessels approach near Thitu Island recently. Protestors also mention the Chinese loans for the infrastructure in the country and the dam building project, the Kaliwa dam. They are concerned that these loans will push them into a debt trap. (2) The South China Sea Strategic Situation Probing Initiative, a think tank under Peking University’s Institute of Ocean Research, publishes the South China Sea Situation Report. It suggests that China should enhance maritime strategic dialogue with the US, monitor the moves of some ASEAN countries in the region, and persuade extra-regional powers to help ease tensions.
President Xi Jinping meets with Myanmar’s Commander-in-Chief of Defense Services Min Aung Hliang in Beijing. They are willing to work together to build a military-to-military relationship on the basis of mutual trust and benefit, safeguard the common security and development interests, and take practical measures to maintain stability in the border areas between two countries. The Chinese side supports the peace process of the Rakhine issue. The Myanmar side welcomes Chinese support for the country and promote the building of the BRI.
China has agreed to share Mekong management data with Thailand in an agreement after the 17th meeting of the Joint Committee in Coordination of Commercial Navigation on the Lancang-Mekong River (JCCCN) on March 26-28, according the Office
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of the National Water Resources (ONWR). This agreement will boost boat transport safety. April 22-23
The 25th ASEAN Economic Ministersâ€™ Retreat (AEMR) is held in Phuket. The member countries discuss on economic integration issues in the region, including the conclusion of the RCEP negotiations. Thailand has set this issue as one of its 13 economic deliverables as ASEAN chair. The issue is the biggest challenge to Thailand as there are some issues on the trade pact that ASEAN members cannot establish a common position and have different views. Moreover, there are local politics in some member countries that delay the negotiations such as elections happening in the region, including Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines, Australia and India.
The multinational navy celebrations for the 70th anniversary of the founding of the Peopleâ€™s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy are held in the port city of Qingdao, Shandong Province. A naval parade is held on April 23, marking the 70th founding anniversary of the PLA Navy. The event also includes high-level seminars, joint military music performances, and cultural and military exchanges. A total of 18 vessels from 13 countries, including Singapore, Brunei, Thailand, Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, and Myanmar, participates in the event. China displays 32 vessels and 39 warplanes, including the Liaoning (the first aircraft carrier) and latest nuclear submarines, destroyers and fighter jets. Naval delegations from more than 60 countries attend the activities. On April 23, President Xi Jinping holds a group meeting with heads of foreign delegations. He encourages countries to coordinate to safeguard maritime peace, build a maritime community with a shared future, and address common threats, challenges, and better consultation when issues arise.
China conducts a joint naval exercise with 6 Southeast Asian countries, including Thailand, 32 The Chronology
Singapore, Vietnam and the Philippines (the other two countries are not named) in Qingdao, Shandong Province. The exercise focuses on handling pirate threats and maritime emergency rescues. 13 warships and 4 helicopters take part in the drills. April 25-27
The 2nd Belt and Road Forum (BRF) for International Cooperation is held in Beijing under the theme “Belt and Road Cooperation, Shaping a Brighter Shared Future.” The forum includes 12 sub-forums, focusing on practical cooperation and a conference for the business community. On April 26, President Xi Jinping attends the forum and delivers a keynote speech on “Working Together to Deliver a Brighter Future for Belt and Road Cooperation.” He calls for advancing high-quality development of the BRI. China will take a series of major reforms and opening-up measures, including expanding market access for foreign investments in more areas, enhancing international cooperation in intellectual property protection, increasing the import of goods and services on a larger scale, promoting more international macroeconomic policy coordination, and ensuring the implementation of opening-up policies. Xi also stresses open, green and clean approaches and livelihood-improving and sustainable development. He ensures that the BRI is not an exclusive club. Vice Premier Han Zheng presides over the opening ceremony. About 5,000 participants from more than 150 countries and 90 international organizations attend the event. On April 27, the leaders’ roundtable of the 2nd BRF is held under the theme “Belt and Road Cooperation: Shaping a Brighter Shared Future.” President Xi Jinping chairs and addresses the roundtable. Leaders from 40 countries and international organizations attend the event. They exchange views on issues, such as connectivity, policy synergy and
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green and sustainable development, and adopt a joint communiqué. The participants achieve a total of 283 items of practical outcomes, worth more than US$64 billion. April 26
On the sidelines of the 2nd BRF, China, Laos and Thailand sign a Memorandum of Cooperation (MOC) on the Nong Khai-Vientiane Railway Connecting Line with China and Laos. Thai Transport Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith, Laotian Minister of Public Works and Transport Bounchanh Sinthavong, and Chinese Vice Chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) Hu Zucai attend the signing ceremony. The railway will be built close to the first Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge.
China and Thailand hold joint naval training codenamed Blue Commando-2019 at a military port in Zhanjiang, Guangdong Province, aiming to improve friendly and pragmatic cooperation and enhance capability to safeguard maritime security. 7 naval ships, 5 observers and more than 1,000 soldiers from the two countries participate in the program.
The Philippine Supreme Court has ordered the government and security agencies to protect reefs and marine life in the country’s 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ), covering 3 disputed areas in the South China Sea: the Scarborough Shoal, the Philippine-occupied Second Thomas Shoal, and Mischief Reef. The order responds to fishing communities’ complaints of inaction against illegal Chinese activity in the areas.
China opposes two US warships, US guided-missile destroyers Preble and Chung Hoon, sailing near the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea. The navy identifies and verifies the US warships and warns them to leave, according to the Southern Theater Command of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Spokesperson Senior Colonel Li Huamin.
President Xi Jinping and his wife Peng Liyuan host a banquet to welcome foreign leaders and their 34 The Chronology
spouses as well as guests attending the Conference on Dialogue of Asian Civilisations (CDAC) in Beijing. Xi delivers a speech that the CDAC is held in line with the general trend of cooperation and development in Asia and the expectations of people for exchanges and mutual learning among civilisations. May 15-22
(1) The CDAC is held in Beijing, with the theme on “Exchanges and Mutual Learning among Asian Civilisations and a Community with a Shared Future.” The CDAC focuses on cultural diversity, exchanges and mutual learning. The activities include the opening ceremony, sub-forums, the Asian Civilisation Week, the Asian Culture Carnival, and the Asian Food Festival. More than 2,000 officials and representatives from 47 Asian countries and countries outside the region attend the opening and related forums. President Xi Jinping attends the opening ceremony and delivers a keynote speech titled “Deepening Exchanges and Mutual Learning among Civilisations for an Asian Community with a Shared Future.” He makes a four-point proposal to jointly build a community with a shared future: treat each other with respect and as equals; appreciate the beauty and diversity of all civilisations; adhere to openness and inclusiveness; and advance with the times and explore new ground in development. He also declares that there is no clash of civilisations amid the China-US trade war, disclaiming the US official claim on the rivalry between the US and China. In the evening, Xi Jinping and Peng Liyuan as well as couples of foreign leaders attend the Asian Culture Carnival at the National Stadium. (2) At the CDAC parallel forum on culture, tourism and people-to-people exchanges on the same day, Chinese Culture and Tourism Minister Luo Shugang meets with his foreign counterparts, including Head of the Thai-Chinese Cultural and Relationship Council Phinij Jarusombat, Cambodian Tourism Minister Thong Khon, and Brunei Minister of Culture, Youth and Sport Aminuddin Ihsan Abidin, to 35 The Chronology
promote tourism, to boost the economy and to enhance friendships. May 18
The 17th Senior Officialsâ€™ Meeting on the Implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) is held in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province. Chinese Assistant Foreign Minister Chen Xiaodong attends the meeting with the senior officials from the 10 member countries of ASEAN. They confirm the outcomes of the reading of the single draft negotiating text of the COC for the current stage. They agree to speed up the negotiation of the COC. They also review and update the DOC implementation plan for 2016-2021.
The 25th China-ASEAN Senior Officialsâ€™ Consultation is held in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province. It is cochaired by Assistant Foreign Minister Chen Xiaodong and Undersecretary of Department of Foreign Affairs Enrique A. Manalo of the Philippines. They are willing to work on promoting high-quality cooperation under the BRI, drawing up the Plan of Action to Implement the Joint Declaration on ASEAN-China Strategic Partnership for Peace and Prosperity 2021-2025, strengthening cooperation in both traditional and non-traditional areas, and working to complete the negotiations on the RCEP at an early date.
The destroyer USS Preble sails within 12 nautical mile of Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea without permission. The Chinese Navy identifies it and warns the US ship in accordance with laws and regulations, according to the Southern Theater Command of the PLA Spokesperson Senior Colonel Li Huamin.
At the invitation of the Vietnamese defense minister, Chinese State Councilor and Defense Minister Wei Fenghe pays an official visit to Vietnam. He meets with Vietnamese National Assembly Chairwomen Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan, to develop military ties between the two countries. He meets with Vietnamese Defense Minister Ngo Xuan Lich on the same day. 36 The Chronology
The ministerial meeting of the 75th session of UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) is held in Bangkok. A Chinese delegation led by Assistant Foreign Minister Zhang Jun attends the meeting. On the sidelines of the session, China co-hosts a thematic meeting on the BRI with Thailand, Kazakhstan and the ESCAP secretariat. The participants agree that the BRI is an opportunity promoting prosperity and sustainable development and they would support high-quality BRI cooperation.
Chinese State Councilor and Defense Minister Wei Fenghe holds substantive talks with Singaporean Defense Minister Ng Eng Hen. Wei is in Singapore for the 18th Shangri-La Dialogue held from May 31 to June 2. Both sides agree to deepen defense ties and expand bilateral engagements. They agree to revise the Agreement on Defence Exchanges and Security Cooperation (ADESC) between Singapore and China signed on 2008.
Chinese State Councilor and Defense Minister General Wei Fenghe meets with Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong ahead of the 18th ShangriLa Dialogue. They agree to work on promoting strategic mutual trust and bilateral ties and maintaining regional peace and stability.
May 31-June 2
The 18th Shangri-La Dialogue is held in Singapore, focusing on the security situation and relevant challenges in the Asia-Pacific. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong delivers a keynote speech. He says that it is neither possible nor wise for countries to prevent China from growing and the tension and uncertainty between China and the US will cause damage to the world economy. He calls for building a broader regional cooperation and multilateral arrangements. On June 2, General Wei Fenghe delivers a keynote speech at the plenary session titled “China and International Security Cooperation.” This is the first time in 8 years that China attends the Dialogue. Wei’s 37 The Chronology
speech responds to questions about Taiwan, South China Sea and other sensitive issues. He mentions that the construction on South China Sea islands and reefs is the legitimate right of China and it is defensive in nature. He also refutes the word “militarization” in the area. He says that the PLA supports regional and world peace and China adopts a strategy of active defense, for self-defense and it does not threaten anyone. However, China will not be afraid of any challenge and it will take action to defeat all enemies. He rebukes foreign militaries for destabilizing the South China Sea under the pretext of freedom of navigation. June 15
A Chinese fishing boat hit and sank the Philippine fishing boat, carrying 22 fishermen near Reed Bank in the South China Sea on June 10. The Philippine sides claims that the Chinese vessel sank the Philippine boat and abandoned the fishermen. The fishermen were rescued by a Vietnamese boat. China confirms that a Chinese vessel was involved in an incident, but denies that it was a hit-and-run as it was confirmed that the Filipino fishermen were rescued by the Chinese boat. China will continue to investigate the incident carefully, according to Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Lu Kang. The collision has increased tensions in the disputed South China Sea. The Philippines has asked the United Nations and its International Maritime Organization to protect life at sea.
President Xi Jinping holds telephone talks with US President Donald Trump. They agree to meet each other at the G20 Summit in Japan and maintain contact between the two countries’ trade teams on trade negotiations.
The 83rd Mekong River joint patrol led by China, Laos, Myanmar and Thailand is held at Guanlei Port, Xishuangbanna Dai Autonomous Prefecture, Yunnan Province. A total of 209 law enforcement officers and
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7 vessels participate in the mission, according to the Yunnan provincial public security department. June 21
The Bloomberg ASEAN Business Summit 2019 (Bangkok Summit) is held in Bangkok ahead of the 34th ASEAN Summit. Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha delivers a speech, calling for the regional countries to cooperate to cope with the geopolitical shift and the US-China trade dispute. He states that Thailand will seek the conclusion of the RCEP negotiations this year. At the forum, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad suggests that ASEAN region should not take sides in the US-China trade war. ASEAN countries need to understand China’s policies and strategies and make adjustments to gain benefits from them.
The 34th ASEAN Summit kicks off in Bangkok under the theme of “Advancing Partnership for Sustainability.” The ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AMM), the Special ASEAN Economic Ministers’ Meeting on the RCEP, and the plenary 34th ASEAN Summit are held on June 22. The opening ceremony of the 34th ASEAN Summit and the ASEAN Summit Retreat are held on June 23. The summit focuses on the speeding of long-delayed RCEP negotiations, the disputes in the South China Sea, the Rohinya crisis, and the plastic pollution in the seas. The fallout from the US-China trade war has dominated the talks. The leaders are willing to work together on regional economic and security issues to strengthen their positions during the ongoing USChina trade war. They vow to conclude the RCEP, a China-led trade pact, this year. They reach a consensus to fight against trade protectionism and maintain multilateral trade system. As for the South China Sea issues, ASEAN welcomes China’s role in concluding the COC negotiations. The member states expect to finish the first reading of the Single Draft COC Negotiations Text by 2019.
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The leaders adopt the ASEAN Leaders’ Vision Statement on Partnership for Sustainability, the Bangkok Declaration on Combating Marine Debris in the Region, the ASEAN Leaders’ Statement on ASEAN Cultural Year 2019, and the ASEAN Framework of Action on Marine Debris. They also endorse the ASEAN Outlook on the IndoPacific. This is ASEAN’s own version of the IndoPacific strategy as the group seeks the middle path and elevate tensions between China and the US. June 28-29
The 14th Group of 20 (G20) Summit is held in Osaka, Japan. At the invitation of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, President Xi Jinping attends the meeting from June 27-29. The meeting focuses on the global economy, multilateral trade and development, and environmental issues, especially climate change. Xi delivers a speech titled “Working Together to Build a High-Quality World Economy,” calling on the G20 to promote international innovation cooperation, improve global governance, move beyond border limitation and man-made fences, and uphold the spirit of partnership and properly address differences. He pledges that China will further open up its market, expand imports, improve business environment for foreign enterprises, extent equal treatment to foreign investment, and push greater efforts to advance trade talks. On June 29, Xi Jinping meets with US President Donald Trump on the sidelines of the G20 Summit. They agree to have truce in the trade war and restart trade negotiations on the basis of equality and mutual respect. Trump confirms that the US will not impose new tariffs on China and ease the antiHuawei campaign. China will buy more farm products from the US. The two countries’ economic and trade negotiating teams will work on specific issues.
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(C) Economic Affairs January 2
Beijing Youth Daily reported that outbound tour reservations rise 32 percent during the week-long holiday of Lunar New Year. The outbound prices are up almost 10 percent. The top 10 destinations are Thailand, Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Vietnam, Indonesia, Mauritius, the US, Australia, and France.
(1) The China-Vietnam international train, connecting Nanning City, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region and Hanoi, has recorded over 400,000 passenger trips since it has launched in January 2009. On the average, it is an annual growth of 20 percent, according to China Railway Nanning Group. (2) Thai officials report that tens of thousands of tourists have fled the Thai resort islands of Koh Phangan and Koh Tao as Tropical Storm Pabuk is set to bring heavy rain, wind and high waves. Pabuk is the first tropical storm outside of the monsoon season for the last 30 years. It is packing winds of 104 kilometers per hour. It will hit the islands before cutting into the mainland. (3) Malaysian Transport Minister Anthony Loke Siew Fook visits the rolling stock center of Chinese locomotives manufacturer CRRC in Malaysia. He welcomes Chinese companies to bring in expertise and investment to support and increase the capacity of the railway industry. It aims to become the hub of the rolling stock center of ASEAN.
The number of inbound tourists in Dongxing City, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, the border city connecting Mong Cai City, Vietnam, reached 12.19 million, up 18.24 percent year on year. According to the city government, China has allowed foreigners to apply for the visa in the city since 2013. As a result, the city has an increased the number of foreigners who want to enter Southeast Asia through the city.
Eight western Chinese provinces and regions, comprising Chongqing, Guizhou, Gansu, Qinghai, 41 The Chronology
Yunnan, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, Xinjiang, and Ningxia, sign a framework agreement to build the New International Land-Sea Trade Corridor. It was jointly built by western China provinces and ASEAN countries under the ChinaSingapore (Chongqing) Demonstration Initiative on Strategic Connectivity, enabling transportation from China to more regions across the world. This trade corridor connects the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st - Century Maritime Silk Road, linking 155 ports in 71 countries and regions. January 7-9
China and the US hold the first trade talks in Beijing. The Chinese team is led by Vice Premier Liu He. The US delegation is led by Deputy US Trade Representative Jeffrey Gerrish, including officials from the Treasury, Commerce, Agriculture and Energy departments. No details were announced and an official statement would be issued later, according to Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Lu Kang.
(1) Data of the China Tourism Academy (CTA) shows that the total of Chinese outbound trips reached 140 million, up 13.5 percent from 2017. They spent more than US$ 120 billion in 157 countries and regions. The top popular destinations remain Thailand, Japan, and South Korea. Chinaâ€™s tourism consumption has become a main source to GDP growth, accounted for 10 percent of the total economy. (2) The World Bank warns in its semi-annual Global Economic Prospects report that the China-US trade disputes is already inflicting collateral damage to the global economy as the two powers account for about a third of the global GDP and 20 percent of the global trade. The global slowdown is beginning. The growth of the world economy is expected to slow to 2.9 percent in 2019, and 2.8 percent in 2020, decreasing from the previous forecast. Chinaâ€™s economic growth should slow to 6.2 percent in 2019 and 2020. The US economic growth will fall to 2.5 percent in 2019 and 1.7 percent in 2020. The report
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is also concerned with big borrowings by the poorest countries and increasing debt. (3) Thai government approves the Finance Ministry’s proposal to borrow 166.34 billion baht from overseas financial institutions to support the Thai-Chinese high-speed railway from Bangkok to Nongkhai, according to Nathporn Jatusripitak, an adviser to the minister of the Prime Minister’s Office. The government wants to borrow 15 percent of the loans from domestic sources and 85 percent from abroad. (4) The Tourism and Sports Minister Veerasak Kowsurat reports that Thai government extends the visa on arrival fee waiver for 20 nationals, including China until the end of April this year. This visa is for tourists travelling in the country for not more than 15 days. It aims to boost tourism and draw tourists back to the country during the Chinese New Year and the Songkran festival. January 11
(1) China releases a five-year blueprint (20192023), jointly published by the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) and another 12 departments, to seek greater cooperation between Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region and ASEAN countries and promote international use of the Renminbi (RMB) in the region. The plan will facilitate cross-border trade settlement, currency transactions, investment and financing in RMB. (2) Statement of Chinese Council for the Development of Cambodia (CDC) reports that exports from Chinese-invested Sihanoukville Special Economic Zone (SSEZ) are worth US$372 million in 2018, up 68 percent from 2017. SSEZ has 161 factories with investment capital of about US$918 million, creating 22,495 jobs. (3) Lao government is cooperating with a Chinese firm on a clean agriculture development project to expand trade opportunities between the two sides by carrying out clean agriculture products in Vientiane and provinces along the Laos-China 43 The Chronology
railway line, according to Lao Deputy Director of Department of Agriculture under Lao Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry Bounchanh Kombounyasith. The project will also strengthen the knowledge and skills of technical staff and farmers and build modern greenhouses. January 14
(1) China’s General Administration of Customs (GAC) reports that China’s foreign trade volume increases 9.7 percent in 2018, reaching 30.51 trillion RMB (about US$4.5 trillion). Exports rise 7.1 percent and imports grow 12.9 percent. China’s imports and exports to the US and ASEAN increase by 5.7 and 11.2 percent, respectively in 2018. However, the trade surplus reaches 2.33 trillion RMB, falling 18.3 percent. (2) Thai International Trade Promotion Department of Commerce Ministry reports that China has reduced import tax from an average of 10.5 percent to 7.8 percent on 1,585 products to increase Thai exports to China. (3) Cambodia starts the construction of the third ring road encircling Phnom Penh funded by the Chinese government. Shanghai Construction (Group) General Company will undertake the construction. Prime Minister Hun Sen and Ambassador to Cambodia Wang Wentian preside over the ceremony.
(1) The World Bank publishes the twice-yearly Thailand Economic Monitor. It reduces the Thailand’s economic growth this year to 3.8 percent from 3.9 percent estimated earlier because of a global slowdown and the China-US trade tensions. (2) The report, jointly released by the Center for China and Globalization, Ctrip – a Chinese online travel services – and thepaper.cn, shows that China’s outbound travel will exceed inbound travel by 100 million trips in the next five years as it is easier to get tourist visas globally. The report calls for more policies to reform the application process for Chinese tourist visas, establish self-service visa 44 The Chronology
application platforms, and improve promotion activities in foreign countries to attract more tourists to China. January 20
(1) The sticky rice and mangoes event is held at Impact Muang Thong Thani in Nonthaburi. 10,000 Chinese have been invited to the event. It is a part of the “We Care About You” project by the tourism panel of the National Legislative Assembly, coordinated by the Association of Thai Travel Agents (ATTA). The event aims to attract Chinese tourists to visit Thailand, especially during the Lunar New Year. The organisers prepare 5,000 mangoes and 1.5 ton of sticky rice, claiming to be the world’s largest sticky rice and mangoes feast. They want to submit it to Guinness World Records. (2) Ctrip’s statistics show that Chinese tourists will make about 7 million trips to 90 countries and regions during the upcoming Spring Festival. They are booking holidays in both warm island countries, such as Thailand, Indonesia, and Mauritius, and cold weather countries, such as Japan, the South Pole, and northern European countries. (3) The official Global New Light of Myanmar reports that the first China-Myanmar Border Economic Cooperation Zone will be developed along the Kunlong-Chinshwehaw border area in Shan state. Minister of Commerce Than Myint says that the project plans to be implemented in Kanpaiktee, Muse, Kyinsamkyawt, and Bahmo in Kachin state.
(1) The Commerce Ministry of Thailand states that the exports in December 2018 fall 1.72 percent year on year because of the trade tension between China and the US and lower gold exports. The exports to the US rose 0.6 percent, but to China fell 7.3 percent. However, the ministry sets the export growth of 8 percent in 2019, while the Bank of Thailand forecasts the growth at 3.8 percent. (2) According to China’s National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), China’s economy grew at the slowest pace in 28 years in 2018. The growth is 6.6 45 The Chronology
percent in 2018, beating the official target of 6.5 percent. However, it is down from the 6.8 percent in 2017. It is because China has to battle with the massive debt levels and the trade war with the US. (3) At the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has cut its forecast for world economic growth in 2019 from 3.7 percent to 3.5 percent due to trade tensions and rising US interest rates. The Chinese economy is expected to slow to 6.2 percent in 2019, down from 6.6 percent in 2018 and the slowest since 1990. January 23
According to Thailand’s Fiscal Policy Office (FPO), Thailand’s economic growth was 4.1-4.2 percent in 2018, down from the Finance Ministry’s target of 4.5 percent. It is because exports grew at 6.7 percent, lower than the ministry’s target of 8 percent. The FPO predicts the growth of 2019 at 4 percent and exports will grow 5 percent. The trade tensions between China and the US have affected the Thai economy this year.
(1) Thailand could bring back Chinese tourists to the country as the number of Chinese arrivals was 10.6 million in 2018, according to the Association of Thai Travel Agents (ATTA). The ATTA expects Chinese visitors to Thailand will be 11-11.5 million this year. They will be free independent travelers (FITs), rather than group tours. The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) predicts 1.03 million foreign visitors during the Chinese New Year holiday, up 8 percent from the same period last year. (2) Thai official at the Public Debt Management Office (PDMO) says that Thailand will finance the Thai-Sino high-speed railway project by using Chinese loans in case that it is needed and the rate is lower than that of the Thai’s government’s 12.5year-tenor bond in securing funding from China. (3) The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) joins with China’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism and Chinese Embassy to hold Chinese New Year Eve 46 The Chronology
celebration in Bangkok’s China Town. The TAT’s Chinese New Year 2019 celebrations are held in Bangkok’s Siam Square, Chiang Mai, and Phuket. It expects more than 330,000 Chinese tourists visiting the country during the Chinese New Year holiday on February 4-10, spending more than US$314 million. January 25
China and Laos officially launch the Visit Laos-China Year 2019 in Vientiane, aiming to become more attractive holiday destinations for tourists.
Malaysian Economic Affairs Minister Mohamed Azmin Ali says that Malaysia made a decision on January 24 to reject the US$20 billion China-backed East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) Project with the China Communications Construction Co. Ltd, as the cost was too high and beyond the government’s financial capability. The compensation for cancelling the project is not revealed and will be determined by the Finance Ministry.
(1) HBIS Group, a Chinese steel company based in Hebei, signs a deal with TS Global Holdings Private Limited, a subsidiary of Indian Tata Steel, to get 70 percent of Tata’s steel assets in Thailand, Singapore, Vietnam, and Malaysia, worth US$327 million. The Southeast Asian steel project aims to get opportunities from the region’s demand on steel and further global competitiveness. The two groups will seek cooperation in other areas based on this project as well. (2) Lao Vice President of National Chamber of Commerce and Industry Daovone Phachanthavong calls for local tourism businesses to improve services for more Chinese tourists. He expresses the hope that Chinese and Lao officials will have indepth discussions to earn more benefits from the Visit Laos-China Year 2019.
(1) China becomes Vietnam’s biggest foreign investor in January with US$221.6 million, accounting for 27.5 percent of total registered capital, according to Vietnam’s Foreign Investment Agency, the Ministry of Planning and Investment. 47 The Chronology
(2) Thai Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan announces an electronic visa on arrival (eVOA) facility at Suvarnabhumi Airport. The eVOA will be launched for passengers from 20 economies, including China. It aims to reduce congestion and inconvenience. The Immigration Bureau joins with VFS Global, a visa service provider, to design and develop eVOA and ePayment. The passengers can apply for Thailand eVOA via the website: thailandevoa.vfsvisa.com by filling in personal and travel information with ePayment. The eVOA will be launched on February 15. January 30-31
Chinese Vice Premier Liu He leads a delegation of 30 officials to meet with US President Donald Trump for high-level trade talks in Washington. The talks are about China’s intellectual property and technology transfer practices and the long tariff war. However, there is no final deal after the talks as Trump wants to discuss on more difficult points with Chinese President Xi Jinping in the near future. The trade war started 3 years ago when China launched a strategic plan called “Made in China 2025”, aiming to become a global leader in the sectors of aerospace, robotics, artificial intelligence, and other areas which are the main areas of American technology and innovation. The US blamed China for practicing unfair trade.
The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) forecasts over 1 million foreign arrivals during the Lunar New Year holiday, from February 4-10, up 8 percent from 2018. 330,000 of total arrivals are expected from China, rising 4 percent from the last season.
China’s National Immigration Administration (NIA) reports that Chinese people made more than 12 million entry and exit trips during Spring Festival holiday, started on February 4. It increased 11 percent from 2018. The outbound trips increased by nearly 12.5 percent from last year to over 6.31 million. The popular destinations included Thailand, Japan, Vietnam, South Korea, Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Macao, Taiwan, and the US.
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US President Donald Trump tells reporters at the White House that he will consider to extend the deadline for a trade deal with China, as the trade negotiations will resume. Moreover, he still could not make a decision on the day he will meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping for high-level trade talks. The US stops a plan to increase tariffs on US$200 billion worth of Chinese imports from 10 percent to 25 percent for 3 months to negotiate with China. The deadline is on March 1.
(1) Ctrip, a Chinese online travel agency, revealed a report at the conclusion of the Spring Festival holiday. It showed that Chinese visited 97 overseas countries and regions, up from 82 in 2018. The outbound trips increased by nearly 12.5 percent. Thailand was the most popular destination, followed by Japan. (2) Singapore Tourism Board announces that the mainland Chinese visiting the country reached 3.42 million in 2018, increasing 6 percent year on year. It is Singapore’s top visitor arrival source market. (3) The Laos-China Railway Company Limited (LCRC) announces at the China-Laos Railway Construction Working Conference that the railway’s roadbed and bridge projects will be 95 percent complete and the tunnel projects will be 90 percent complete at the end of this year. The 414 kilometerlong railway, with 62 kilometer-long bridges and 198 kilometer-long tunnels, links Mohan-Boten border gate and Vientiane Province.
(1) According to China’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism, mainland Chinese tourists registered 149.72 million outbound visits in 2018, increasing 4.7 percent from 2017. Mainland China welcomed 141 million inbound visits, up 1.2 percent year on year. The country’s tourism industry revenue was US$880 billion last year, contributing 11.04 percent to China’s GDP in 2018. (2) Data of the General Administration of Customs shows that China’s foreign trade goes up 8.7 percent 49 The Chronology
in January. Exports rises 13.9 percent and imports increases 2.9 percent year on year. The trade with ASEAN countries grows 7.8 percent. February 14-15
Chinese Vice Premier Liu He holds trade talks with US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin in Beijing. The US delegation arrived in Beijing on February 11. There are no announcements from the meeting. President Xi Jinping also meets the US delegation on February 15.
The US-China trade talks resume in Washington. This is the 7th round since the trade war began in 2018. The deputy-level meetings are on February 19-20. For this level, the US side is led by Deputy United States Trade Representative Jeffrey Gerrish. The senior officials hold another round of talks on February 21-22. Chinese delegation is led by Vice Premier Liu He. The US delegation is led by Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, including Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, economic policy adviser Larry Kudlow and trade adviser Peter Navarro. President Donald Trump meets with Liu He on February 22 at the White House. The trade talks aim to end the US-China trade war, which have imposed tariffs on more than US$360 billion in two-way trade since July 2018. This round of the talks is extended to February 24, as officials hurry to reach a deal before the deadline on March 1.
Thailandâ€™s Commerce Ministry reports that January exports fall 5.7 percent year on year due to the global economic slowdown, the strong baht, and the USChina trade war. Imports increased 14 percent from 2018. There was a trade deficit of US$4.03 billion. Exports to the US rose 8.3 percent, but exports to China was down 16.7 percent in January.
The US announces that it would delay a deadline to increase tariffs on Chinese products, as the latest round of the talks in Washington has made progress on important issues, including intellectual property 50 The Chronology
protection, technology transfer, agriculture, currency, and so on. President Donald Trump says in his Twitter that officials will plan a summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping at Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida to conclude an agreement. However, there is no more information and details about the summit. February 27-28
Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam visits Thailand. She meets with Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak. They hold a seminar and attend an MOU signing ceremony at Centara Grand Central Plaza, Bangkok. The four MOUs are signed, including Innospace Thailand and Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC), Innospace and Hong Kong Cyberport, Innospace and Ho & Partners Architects Engineering & Development Consultants, and Thailand’s Board of Investment and HKTDC. This visit aims to promote collaboration among the Greater Bay Area (GBA), Thailand, and the ASEAN region. Lam also announces that Hong Kong officially open the 13th economic and trade office in Bangkok on February 28.
February 27March 1
Thai and Chinese authorities hold a meeting on the Thai-Sino high-speed railway project in Beijing. They fail to sign a “Contract 2.3”, one of 14 separate contracts for the section from Bangkok to Nakhon Ratchasima. They cannot make a deal on the value of the contract, type of train, and warranty. The agreement is expected to be signed next month.
Malaysian Tourism Promotion Board reports that 2.9 million Chinese visited the country in 2018, increasing 28.9 percent year on year. China is the third largest tourist arrival country of Malaysia, after Singapore and Indonesia.
Thailand’s Foreign Trade Department reveals that transit trade with southern China was up 49 percent to 10 billion baht in January. In-transit imports were 7.15 billion baht and in-transit exports were 2.85 billion baht. Thailand trades with China through northern Laos and Yunnan Province. The department expects border and transit trade at 1.6
51 The Chronology
trillion baht this year, increasing 15 percent from 2018. March 5
(1) China sets GDP growth target at 6.0-6.5 percent for 2019, lower than last yearâ€™s target of 6.5 percent, according to Premier Li Keqiangâ€™s annual Government Work Report to the National Peopleâ€™s Congress, as it aims to promote high-quality development and maintain stable growth. China also faces pressures, including the crackdown on debts, the rising trade tensions and global economic slowdown. It maintains a consumer inflation level at around 3 percent. It will create 11 million new jobs this year. It increases the fiscal deficit target to 2.8 percent of GDP from 2.6 percent in 2018. It also cuts value added tax (nearly US$298 billion) for companies to stabilise growth and ease their burden. (2) Nathporn Chatusripitak, a spokesperson for Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak, reveals that officials have informed the progress of the ThaiSino high-speed railway project to the cabinet. The project is divided into two phases, comprising the 253 kilometer-long section from Bangkok to Nakhon Ratchasima, which has 14 civil work contracts, and the 355 kilometer-long section from Nakhon Ratchasima to Nong Khai. The government will finish the project by 2023. The route will be extended to connect with another high-speed rail project in Laos. Thailand will invest in all of the civil work while China will install the operating system. China will hold training sessions to transfer highspeed train technology to Thai personnel.
(1) The Ministry of Hotel and Tourism of Myanmar reports that there are over 380,000 foreign visitors visiting in January, increasing 17 percent from the same period of last year. China is the top Asian tourist, accounting for 41,860 visitors. Myanmar provides visa on arrival for visitors from China. (2) The Civil Engineering Company, the Thai constructor, has been awarded the second contract of the first phase of the Thai-Sino high-speed railway. This contract involves an 11 kilometer 52 The Chronology
section from Sikhiu district to Kut Chik subdistrict, Sung Noen district in Nakhon Ratchasima. The construction will begin in April. The first contract of a 3.5 kilometer-long section from Klang Dong to Pang Asok, Pak Chong district, Nakhon Ratchasima, began in December 2017. It is 45 percent completed, according to the State Railway of Thailand (SRT). March 8
The data of China’s General Administration of Customs shows that China’s foreign trade was down 13.8 percent year on year in February. Exports decreased 20.7 percent, while imports decreased 5.2 percent. During the January-February period, China’s foreign trade falls 3.9 percent year on year to US$622.72 billion. Exports decreased 4.6 percent. Imports were down 3.1 percent. The trade surplus was at US$43.7 billion, decreasing 13.6 percent from 2018. China’s trade with ASEAN countries in the first two months increased 1.9 percent.
(1) Chinese Vice Premier Liu He holds phone talks with US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to discuss key issues on trade and future steps. However, the details of the talks and the date of Trump-Xi summit are not revealed. (2) The Philippines’ imports from China increased 24.5 percent from 2018, amounting to US$2.01 billion. Its imports from China accounted for 22.2 percent of the total imports in January 2019. As a result, China became the Philippines’ biggest supplier of imports in January, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA).
(1) The China Tourism Academy and Ctrip release a report. It shows that China is the world’s biggest outbound tourism market with nearly 150 million outbound visits made by Chinese tourists in 2018, increasing 14.7 percent year on year. Top 10 destinations for Chinese tourists in 2018 include Thailand, Japan, Vietnam, Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, the US, Cambodia, Russia, and the Philippines.
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(2) Trade volume between China and ASEAN countries reached US$587.7 billion in 2018, increasing 14.1 percent year on year, according to Chinaâ€™s Ministry of Commerce. March 14
Chinese Vice Premier Liu He holds a third phone call with US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to further progress on the trade document. After that, President Donald Trump tells reporters at the White House that he expects the trade negotiations with China should be finished within three to four weeks.
The Industrial Estate Authority of Thailand (IEAT) governor Somchint Pilouk revealed that the Chinese government and investors have expressed interest in buying 10,000 rai (16 square kilometers) of industrial land in the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) to build their own community and support supply chains from China to ASEAN. However, Ms. Somchint said that it will be difficult to find a large single plot for China.
China amends regulations to facilitate cross-border investment and financing for multinational companies, according to the State Administration of Foreign Exchange (SAFE). China will reduce the registration management of foreign debts and offshore loans and prevent risks of cross-border capital flow.
The trade volume between Yunnan Province and Mekong countries reached US$12.8 billion in 2018, an increase of 7.28 percent, according to the LMC China Secretariat Li Jiming.
The number of Chinese tourists visiting Thailand falls 12.29 percent from the same period last year in February, according to the Tourism and Sports Ministry of Thailand.
(1) Ant Financial Services Group, formerly known as Alipay, urges the Thai government to offer more online services for value-added tax (VAT) refunds and immigration processing to facilitate tourists. 54 The Chronology
Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak assigns the Revenue Department and the Immigration Bureau to study the feasibility to support Alipay and attract more Chinese visitors. (2) Vice President of Lao People’s Revolutionary Party Central Committee’s Inspection Committee Khamsouk Bounyavong and Chairman of the LaosChina Railway Company Limited Ju Gaojiang attend the drilling-through ceremony of Boten Tunnel, the first major tunnel over 5,000 meters along the LaosChina railway in Boten Province. March 22
(1) Cambodia holds the groundbreaking ceremony of the first expressway connecting the capitol Phnom Penh and the deep-sea port province of Preah Sihanouk. This project is worth US$2 billion, funded by China. Prime Minister Hun Sen addresses the ceremony and refuses to accept that China is colonizing the country through increasing investments. (2) The Chinese government makes the decision to extend the May Day holidays from 3 to 4 days, from May 1-4 this year. Chinese travelers are expected to make more trips during this period.
Chinese Vice Premier Liu He resumes trade talks with US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin in Beijing, the first time since China approved the new foreign investment law. There are some positive signs from the talks. However, there are remaining differences that they have to negotiate, including China’s subsidies to state-owned firms and policies to build companies in strategic sectors. US officials want China to enforce laws to protect American companies’ intellectual property rights.
(1) WHA Group, the China-based tyre manufacturer and an industrial development and logistics firm, chose Thailand as its regional manufacturing base. The group launches the WHA Eastern Seaboard Industrial Estate 3 located in the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC). It signed the first contract with Prinx 55 The Chronology
Chengshan Tire (Thailand) Company Limited, a subsidiary of China-based Chengshan Group, to build a 280 rai (44.80 hectares) manufacturing facility. The facility is expected to operate from mid2020. (2) Thailandâ€™s local authorities and businessmen in Tak Province, bordering with Myanmar, call for the government to develop a Special Economic Zone (SEZ) in Tak, including Mae Sot, Phop Phra, and Mae Ramat districts, after China has a plan to turn the border village of Kokko in Myanmar into a new Chinatown, according to Mae Sot Mayor Thoetkiat Chinsaranan. April 2
About 200 Japanese and Chinese companies visit Thailand to study the business feasibility of 5 infrastructure projects in the EEC. Japan External Trade Organisation (Jetro) and the China Council of the Promotion of International Trade hold seminars and business matching events for the EEC in Bangkok. The Federation of Thai Industries and the Thai Chamber of Commerce, as well as 100 local companies attend the event. The Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) will offer financing for Japanese and Chinese companies that join the 5 megaprojects in the EEC, comprising a high-speed railway connecting 3 airports, Map Ta Phut port, Laem Chabang port, an aviation maintenance, overhaul and repair center, and U-tapao airport.
(1) The EEC Office is confident that it can finish the 5 infrastructure projects in the EEC, including a highspeed railway linking 3 airports, U-Tapao aviation city, a maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) center, the 3rd phase of Laem Chabang seaport, and the 3rd phase of Map Ta Phut seaport, by the end of April without financial problems as it will get financial support from China and Japan. On April 2, the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade and the Japan External Trade Organization (Jetro) held a seminar on business cooperation in Thailand. The Federation of Thai Industries, the Thai Chamber of Commerce, Thai 56 The Chronology
local companies, and 260 companies from Japan and China attended the event. Moreover, the EEC Office plan to establish a new department to facilitate investors from Japan and China, according to the office’s secretary-general Kanit Sangsubhan. (2) The Joint Standing Committee on Commerce, Industry and Banking (JSCCIB) of Thailand reduces its forecast for economic growth of 2019 to between 3.7 and 4 percent from a range of 4 to 4.3 percent predicted in December 2018 because of domestic political uncertainty and the impact of the US-China trade war. (3) China passes the draft amendment laws and regulations related to foreign investment laws at the State Council executive meeting presided over by Premier Li Keqiang. It will be submited for consideration by the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress. The amendments are on administrative licensing law, trademark law, construction law and electronic signature law. April 3-5
China and the US hold the 9th round of high-level trade talks in Washington. Chinese Vice Premier Liu He co-hosts the talks with US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. They discuss the agreement text on technology transfer, protection of intellectual property rights, non-tariff measures, the services industry, agriculture, trade balance and enforcement mechanism and achieve some progresses. President Xi Jinping sends a message conveyed by Liu He to President Donald Trump that new substantial progress has been made on the text of the China-US economic and trade agreement.
The finance and economic ministers from ASEAN countries invite a leader from the fintech industry to the ASEAN Finance Ministers’ Retreat for the first time to share knowledge and experiences. Chairman and CEO of Ant Financial (that runs Alipay) Eric Jing attends the meeting, to work with ASEAN countries 57 The Chronology
to promote technology and innovation to boost economic growth and people’s livelihood. April 5
(1) President of Laos Bounnhang Vorachith inspects the China-Laos Railway construction site around Vientiane and visits a beam fabrication yard of China Railway No. 2 Engineering Group (CREC-2), the project’s construction company. He says that the railway will benefit Lao people and promote economic development. (2) The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) has approved the first project in Laos with a loan of US$40 million to improve the 58-kilometer National Road 13. It will benefit local people in Vientiane Province and people who travel to and from the 8 northern provinces of Laos and to Thailand, Vietnam, and China.
A group of 1,000 Chinese tourists, organised by Chinese Ministry of Culture and Tourism, Chinese Embassy in Laos and Lao Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism, visits Laos to promote Visit China-Laos Year 2019. They visit Vientiane and some of provinces during their stay. Travel agents from both countries hold a seminar to discuss cooperation potentials. The Lao government has reduced the tourist visa fee for Chinese nationals from US$20 to US$10 to attract more Chinese visitors.
(1) The ancient city of Luang Prabang, the UNESCO World Heritage Site listed in 1995, attracts more Chinese tourists, according to Vientiane Times. Laos’ local authorities expect Chinese tourists to be the top visitor of the city in 2019. Officials forecast that more than 1 million Chinese will visit Laos in 2019 under the ongoing Visit Laos-China Year campaign. (2) The International Monetary Fund (IMF) releases the new World Economic Outlook (WEO) report. It decreases the global growth forecast for 2019 to 3.3 percent, down 0.2 percentage point from January’s forecast, because of the ongoing global trade tensions and other specific factors. For China, the 58 The Chronology
growth rate will be 6.3 percent in 2019, up 0.1 percent from Januaryâ€™s estimation, and will expand 6.1 percent in 2020. (3) Economic and Commercial Counsellor of the Chinese Embassy in Laos Wang Qihui and Saysana Sithiphone, chief cabinet of Laos-China Cooperation Commission sign the minutes of site inspection over feasibility study of China-aided poverty reduction demonstration villages project in Laos. China will assist 30 villages in Luang Prabang and central Vientiane Province to improve the infrastructure, such as water supply, medical service, and digital TV access. April 10
China will decline imports of rare earths from Myanmar next month, as Beijing wants to improve the oversupply of rare earths in the country. It will decrease exports of rare earths as well, because the exports increase environmental costs. China is also concerned with illegal mined materials that smuggle into Myanmar and then return to China. China sets the mining output for the first half of 2019 at 60,000 tons, a decrease of 18.4 percent year on year.
Malaysia resumes a China-backed rail link project, as the construction cost will be cut by one-third. The construction cost of the first two phases of the project will be cut to US$10.7 billion from US$15.9 billion. Malaysia Rail Link Sendirian Berhad signs a supplementary agreement with China Communications Construction Company (CCCC) Limited, a state-owned company, to revive the project. The rail linkâ€™s length will be reduced by 40 kilometers to 648 kilometers.
Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad says at a press conference in Putrajaya that the government chose to resume the China-backed railway project with the cut cost rather than pay compensation of US$5 billion. CCCC will establish a joint venture company with Malaysia Rail Link to provide technical support and share the operation risk. The project is mainly financed by China and will be completed by the end of 2026. 59 The Chronology
(1) Representatives from public and private sectors in Thailand suggest that the US-China trade war has become a long-term problem for Thai exporters. As a result, they should seek new markets and opportunities to replace China’s goods in the US market. They should also find opportunities to expand their production base in Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and Vietnam, where labour costs are lower than Thailand. (2) China’s National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) data shows that the first quarter of GDP rises 6.4 percent during the ongoing trade war, beating expectations of 6.2-5.3 percent. The GDP expansion shows stable performance with growing positive factors, confidence, and strong market expectations. However, the government still has to work hard on reform and development, because of the economic slowdown, global uncertainties, and domestic structural issues.
(1) China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) data shows that the trade volume of China and the BRI countries reaches over US$6 trillion from 2013 to 2018. It has signed 173 cooperative documents with 125 countries and 29 international organisations. (2) China establishes the Belt and Road Initiative Tax Administration Cooperation Mechanism (BRITACOM) in Wuzhen, Zhejiang Province. This multilateral tax cooperation mechanism includes tax authorities from 34 countries and regions, aiming to facilitate cross-border trade and investment and resolve tax disputes. (3) Thailand, Indonesia and Vietnam are the most popular destinations for Chinese tourists during the China’s extended May Day holiday from May 1-4, according to Ctrip, China’s online travel agency.
(1) Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad reveals that the government plans to revive another Chinese project called “Bandar Malaysia.” It is a 60 The Chronology
property project to promote innovative urban development. It is expected to cost US$33.8 billion and 40 percent owned by the government. The consortium partners are the Iskandar Waterfront Holdings of Malaysia and China Railway Engineering Corporation. (2) The Bank of Thailand (BOT) has lowered its GDP forecast for 2019 from 4 percent to 3.8 percent, as the country faces the rising uncertainties for delaying in the formation of the new government and the US-China trade war. April 22
(1) Thailand’s Commerce Ministry reports that the total worth of exports were US$21.44 billion in March 2019, a decrease of 4.9 percent compared to the same month last year and the total worth of imports were US$19.43 billion, down 7.6 percent, as a result from the ongoing US-China trade war. (2) The Lao state-run Electricite du Laos (EDL) and the China Electric Power Equipment and Technology Company Limited collaborate on the new power line project to transmit electricity from hydropower dams for use in Vientiane and sale to other countries, according to Vientiane Times.
(1) The World Bank revises Thailand’s economic growth in 2019 from 3.9 percent to 3.8 percent, because of the effect of the trade war on the export growth this year and also next year. Thailand’s growth rate is expected to be slower than the regional average. (2) Thailand’s cabinet approves the extension of the waiver of visa on arrival fees from May 1 until October 31 for visitors from 21 countries and regions.
Beijing’s municipal government will increase its non-government exchange programs with other countries. It will connect Chinese companies and cooperative projects in Silk Road countries, enhance cooperation in commerce, technology, culture, education, and urban management, according to 61 The Chronology
Xiong Jiuling, Director of Foreign Affairs Office of the Peopleâ€™s Government of Beijing Municipality. April 26-29
A delegation led by Thai Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak visits Zhengzhou, Henan Province, as a representative of the EEC. Both sides sign two Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs). First is the MOU on the cooperation between the EEC Office and an executive committee of the Zhengzhou Airport Economy Zone (ZEAZ), involving the exchange of information and the planning and management of airport cities of both countries. Second is the MOU on the cooperation on trade and economic relationship between the EEC Office and Henan Province, involving the development of the Aviation Dual Hub Project between central China and ASEAN.
The United Overseas Bank Limited, Singapore Exchange Limited and China Chamber of International Commerce sign a MOU to help Chinese firms expand into ASEAN countries.
April 29-October 7
The International Horticultural Exhibition 2019 is held in Beijing. Thailand attends the exhibition at the Thailand Pavilion, displaying horticultural products and rotating exhibitions of Thai flowers, vegetables, and fruits, including durian, mangosteen, mango, longan, orchids, and pot plants.
April 30-May 1
Vice Premier Liu He holds the 10th round of trade talks with US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin in Beijing. The talks are expected to focus on Chinaâ€™s industrial subsidies. The US wants China to further open its market to foreign firms, stop subsidies to state-owned companies and theft of intellectual property and American technology.
The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) cooperates with Alipay of Ant Financial Services Group to facilitate Alipay members visiting Thailand via 2 applications, namely Zhima and Huabei. These applications help Alipay members complete visa on arrival and immigration procedures, as well as value 62 The Chronology
added tax (VAT) refund without waiting in a long queue. May 2
Thitiwat Teerakulthanyaroj, chief business development officer of Century 21 Thailand, reveals that the Chinese have more demand for condos in Bangkok, especially for those studying in the city and couples expecting babies by IVF (In-vitro Fertilization). Most of the students come from Guangxi, Guangdong, and Yunnan Provinces. They are interested in condos near universities. For couples expecting a child, they choose condos near IVF centers or hospitals. This is the latest trends of the Chinese in buying condos in Bangkok.
US President Donald Trump announces that the US will raise tariffs on US$200 billion of Chinese goods from 10 percent to 25 percent on May 10, as the trade talks are going too slowly. The warning aims to increase pressure on the next round of the talks.
The EEC smart city initiative will be the second project involving collaboration with China and Japan, following the high-speed railway linking the 3 main airports, according to Kanit Sangsubhan, secretary-general of the EEC Office. The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) is studying the feasibility of the project. The China Development Bank also pledged to finance investment in the project.
(1) China’s Ministry of Commerce responds to the US announcement that the Chinese side will take necessary countermeasures if the US tariffs increase take effect. (2) According to China’s General Administration of Customs (GAC), China’s foreign trade went up 4.3 percent to US$1.41 trillion during the January-April period. Exports increased by 5.7 percent and imports increased by 2.9 percent year on year. The trade volume with ASEAN grew by 9 percent. The trade surplus expanded by 72.2 percent. Trade with BRI countries and regions increased 9.1 percent year on year. 63 The Chronology
(1) Chutima Bunyapraphasara, the acting commerce minister, says that a study found that Thailand lost an estimated US$780 million worth of export revenue in 12 months ending on March 31 because of the trade spat between China and the US. Exports to the US fell by US$316.5 million and shipments to China down by an estimated US$1.10 billion. (2) Wang Wenzhong, vice President of the China Railway Construction Corporation Limited (CRCC) meets with Cambodian Transport Minister Sun Chanthol, preparing for the feasibility study on improving the countryâ€™s railways. CRCC teams up with the local company Royal Railways to revamp railways, according to the Khmer times.
The 11th round of trade talks is held in Washington by Chinese Vice Premier Liu He, US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. After the talks, Liu reports that the talks have been productive, however, there are areas that they cannot make a deal. The 3 major areas of disagreement are lifting all additional tariffs after they reach an agreement, the exact size of Chinese purchases of US goods, and a balanced agreement text.
(1) China releases a statement indicating that China deeply regrets that the US has increased additional tariffs on US$200 billion worth of Chinese goods from 10 percent to 25 percent. China vows to take necessary countermeasures. (2) Arkhom Termpittayapaisith, Transport Minister of Thailand, reveals that the government is working on infrastructure projects. The projects are worth 100 billion baht. The government aims to turn Thailand into a transport hub for six countries in the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS). The infrastructure includes a double-track railway, bridges and roads. (3) There were about 683,436 Chinese tourists visiting Cambodia in the first four months this year, 64 The Chronology
an increase of 35.1 percent over the same period last year, according to the report of the Tourism Ministry of Cambodia. Tourism Minister Thong Khon said the country is expected to attract more 3 million Chinese tourists in 2020 and 5 million in 2025. May 11-15
The Silk Road International Exposition themed “New Era, New Pattern, and New Development” is held in Xi’an, Shaanxi Province. The highlight is an international forum on poverty relief. The activities also include forums, conferences, and investment and trade activities. More than 200 enterprises from 25 countries attend the event.
China’s Finance Ministry says in a statement that China will impose tariffs on a total of 5,140 US products, worth US$60 billion from June 1 in response to US tariffs. China will impose retaliatory tariffs at the following levels: up to 25 percent tariffs on 2,493 items from 10 percent, up to 20 percent tariffs on 1,078 items from 10 percent, up to 10 percent tariffs on 974 items from 5 percent, and 5 percent tariffs to continue on 595 items.
Thai Deputy Prime Minister says that Thailand’s economic growth is expected to slow down this year because of the escalation of the US-China trade war and domestic political uncertainty. The government is closely monitoring the effect of the trade spat on business sectors, especially on exports as this sector contributes 70 percent to the country’s GDP. The main export sectors are automotive, electronics and related components.
(1) China’s Ministry of Commerce calls on the US to stop the plan imposing up to 25 percent tariffs on about US$300 billion worth of Chinese imports. The ministry also warns that China will take all necessary measures to respond and safeguard the legitimate rights of Chinese enterprises. (2) Philippine Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon Lopez says at a press conference organised by the Philippine Presidential Communications Operations Office that China is the country’s top trade partner 65 The Chronology
and the BRI brings more trade and investments to the country. May 17
The China-Myanmar Economic Corridor office of the China Enterprises Chamber of Commerce in Myanmar (CECCM) is inaugurated in Nay Pyi Taw, aiming to promote communication and cooperation between the CECCM and relevant Myanmar government departments.
The 25th Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Ministers Responsible for Trade Meeting is held in Viña del Mar, Chile. Thai Deputy PermanentSecretary of the Commerce Ministry Arunee Poolkaew says that the escalating US-China trade war helps the APEC members speed up their efforts to establish the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP).
Thailand’s National Economic and Social Development Council (NESDC) forecasts that the economic growth will be in a range of 3.5-4.5 percent this year. However, Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak says that the growth is likely to stay below 3.5 percent.
(1) Thailand’s Commerce Ministry says that the country’s exports fell 2.6 percent year on year in April. Exports to China decreased 5 percent from 2018, but exports to the US rose 4.7 percent in April. Imports dropped 0.72 percent from 2018. In January to April, exports reduced 1.9 percent from 2018, the lowest level in 24 months, while imports decreased 1.1 percent. (2) NESDC reports that Thailand’s GDP rose 2.8 percent in the first quarter. It has lowered the country’s full-year GDP growth forecast from 3.5-4.5 percent to 3.3-3.8 percent. It also decreases export growth from 4.1 percent to 2.2 percent. The economy grows at its slowest pace in more than 4 years due to the economic slowdown and the impact from the trade war between China and the US. The delay in the new government’s establishment also
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affects the confidence of the private sector and expenditure. According to NESDC’s Deputy Secretary-General Wichayayuth Boonchit, the trade war has impacted the country in three ways. First, it slows down global trade. Second, the imposed tariffs affect the country as Thailand is a part of the supply chain. Third, the trade war creates uncertainty. NESDC suggests that the government should come up with more attractive investment packages to attract more foreign companies to relocate to the country. (3) The EEC Office signs a MOU with the China Development Bank (CDB) and the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) for financial support to investment projects at a workshop titled “Japan-China Cooperation in Third Countries” in Beijing. (4) The Laos-China Railway Company Limited reports that the China Railway No.8 Engineering Group (CREC-8) completes the first span of the Luang Prabang cross-Mekong River railway bridge, a key project of the China-Laos railway. May 24
Myanmar announces publicly at the event entitled, “Myanmar Indoor Coverage Digitalisation Summit 2019” that it will support Huawei despite the US ban, according to Myanmar Deputy Director General of the Posts and Telecommunications Department Soe Naing.
The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) signs a letter of intent of the 1-year cooperation with Alipay (Hangzhou) Technology Company to increase number of high-quality visitors from mainland China. The TAT will support Chinese tourists using Alipay to easily access more services during traveling in Thailand. Alipay will in turn create promotions of Thailand as a tourist destination for the Chinese.
(1) The launching ceremony of the International Road Transport in the GMS is held at the Nanning 67 The Chronology
Comprehensive Bonded Zone in Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. The project runs on the basis of the Agreement on Cross-Border Transportation of People and Goods in the GMS (CBTA) signed in 2007. It aims to boost ties among GMS countries and enhance connectivity. (2) Oudet Souvannavong, president of the Lao National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LNCCI) and Xu Lejiang, executive vice chairman of All-China Federation of Industry and Commerce (ACFIC) sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in Vientiane to promote cooperation in future investment projects. May 28-29
The Mekong Tourism Forum is held in Dali, Yunnan Province, deepening tourism ties and discussing on tourism as a driver for cultural heritage preservation and poverty alleviation. The six member countries of the GMS attend the forum.
The China-Malaysia Qinzhou Indutrial Park (CMQIP) signs a framework agreement with an industrial development and operation union under China Communications Construction Company (CCCC) in Beijing to attract leading companies in high technology, biomedicine and other sectors and funds to upgrade the park.
Malaysian Prime Minister expresses the support for Huawei at the Future of Asia Forum in Tokyo. He says that Malaysia will use Huawei as much as possible, because it is more advanced than American technology. The US blacklisted Huawei and pressured telecom operators around the world not to support Huawei during the trade war. The US claimed that the company has close relationship with the Chinese government. Mahathir also warns that a failed negotiation of the trade spat can lead to a military conflict.
May 30-June 2
The 2019 Guangdong-ASEAN Agricultural Trade Expo is held in Zhanjiang. It is an annual event launched in 2016. 1,272 enterprises from 35 countries join the event to showcase products and 68 The Chronology
agricultural technologies. The event aims to boost agricultural exchanges and cooperation. May 31
The Thai government cut its export growth target from 8 percent to 3 percent due to the ongoing trade war, the global economic slowdown, and Europe’s political uncertainties, according to Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak. He suggests that the country needs to focus on other potential markets, such as India. The development should focus on technology and innovations. The government pledges to reduce logistic costs, improve the customs process, and promote the use of local currencies in trading with neighbouring countries.
China officially increases tariffs on US$60 billion worth of US goods. It is in preparation to release a blacklist of unreliable foreign companies that break their commercial contracts and stop supplying parts to Chinese firms. Analysts say that it aims to punish the US for cutting off supplies to Huawei. On the same day, Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan speaks at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore that Huawei has very close relationship with the Chinese government. That makes it difficult to trust the company. The US Commerce Department put Huawei on its “Entity List” on grounds of national security on May 16.
China’s State Council Information Office releases the white paper, titled “China’s Position on the China-US Economic and Trade Consultations.” The white paper criticises the US in trade talks with China. It provides a comprehensive picture of the economic and trade consultations and China’s policy position.
The World Bank cut its global growth forecasts for 2019 to 2.6 percent in a semi-annual report, the Global Economic Prospects report, as a result of the global trade slowdown and the prospect of worsening trade clashes between major economies. This is the slowest pace since the global financial crisis.
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The Thai National Shippers’ Council (TNSC) has reduced its export growth to 1 percent for this year from 3 percent in April’s forecast because of the ongoing US-China trade war and the global economic slowdown. TNSC suggests the new government of Thailand should open new markets and negotiate free trade agreements with major trading-partner countries.
Vietnam’s customs department cracks down on Chinese goods being shipped to the US as they have fraudulent certificates of product origin and illegally relabeled as made-in-Vietnam to avoid higher US tariffs. Vietnam said that it will impose higher penalties on Chinese goods transferred to the country with illegal practices.
(1) China’s General Administration of Customs (GAC) data shows that the foreign trade of goods rose 4.1 percent year on year in the first five months of this year to US$1.76 trillion. Exports increased 6.1 percent and imports rose 1.8 percent during this period. Trade surplus expanded 45 percent. The trade volume with the ASEAN was up 9.4 percent. (2) The 2019 GMS Economic Corridor Governors’ Forum is held in Yunnan. The participants are willing to work together on green economic cooperation and the construction of regional “Digital Silk Road” and industrial parks. The total trade volume between Yunnan and GMS countries (Thailand, Laos, Myanmar, Cambodia and Vietnam) was up 5.6 percent in 2018, according to Yunnan Governor Ruan Chengfa. Thai Deputy Governor of Udon Thani Province Sithichai Jindaluang attends the forum.
Chinese senior executives from more than 100 companies in Guangdong visit the EEC, seeking for investment opportunities and creating a business link between the Greater Bay Area (GBA) and the EEC production bases. On June 11, they attend the China (Guangdong)-Thailand Economic and Trade Cooperation Conference co-organised by Thailand Commerce Ministry, the Board of Investment, the
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EEC Office and the Thai-Chinese Chamber of Commerce. June 12
(1) China’s cheap rice has affected Thai rice exports. China exports more aged rice from 1.5-2 million tons to 3 million tons this year. Africa is the target market. China’s 5 percent white rice is at US$300 a ton, while similar variety from Thailand is at US$390 a ton. Chookiat Ophaswongse, honorary president of Thai Rice Exporters Association, suggests that the government should support more research and development to add value to Thai rice, reduce production costs, and promote development of new rice varieties. (2) Cambodia’s state-run electricity supplier Electricite Du Cambodge (EDC) has signed an agreement with two Chinese firms, comprising CGGC (China Gezhouba Group Corporation)-UN POWER Company Limited and China National Heavy Machinery Corporation (CHMC) to build the power plants in Lvea Em District, Kandal Province, according to the Khmer Times.
The 2019 South and Southeast Asia Commodity Expo and Investment Fair (SSACEIF) is held in Kunming, Yunnan Province with the theme of “A better gateway and powerhouse for shared development and prosperity.” The expo displays products, and investment projects of more than 3,000 companies from China and 74 other countries and regions. It aims to boost trade, investment, and people-to-people exchanges between China and South and Southeast Asian countries. The main guest country of this year is Cambodia which has close cooperation with Yunnan Province in many aspects.
Mainland China buyers decrease condo purchases in Bangkok due to the strong Baht, overpriced units, and the escalation of US-China trade war, according to Simon Lee, co-founder and president of property brokerage Angel Real Estate Consultancy Company. 500 units of condos in Bangkok were sold to Chinese buyers in the first five months of this year, decreasing from 900 units in the same period. 71 The Chronology
The US Department of Homeland Security has inspected and fined a number of companies that export goods through Sihanoukville Special Economic Zone, a Chinese-owned SEZ in Cambodia, to avoid tariffs as a result from the ongoing trade war, according to US Embassy spokesperson Arend Zwartjes.
Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha meets with Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) Jin Liqun, who attend the 5th Bloomberg ASEAN Business Summit in Bangkok. Prayut urges the AIIB to become a partner in infrastructure development projects in ASEAN and Ayeyawady-Chao PhrayaMekong Economic Cooperation Strategy (ACMECS). Jin says that the bank is ready to invest in infrastructure.
Chinese Vice Premier Liu He holds telephone talks with US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin ahead of the meeting between Chinese President Xi Jinping and US President Donald Trump at the G20 summit. They exchange views on economic and trade issues, according to the official Xinhua news agency. The call is at the request of the US side. Both sides agree to maintain contact and further communications on disputes.
The 13th ASEAN-China Forum on Social Development and Poverty Reduction is held in Nanning, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. More than 200 government officials, scholars and business representatives from China and ASEAN countries attend the forum, discussing ways of enhancing poverty reduction partnerships to realize the sustainable development goals (SDGs) in the region and sharing experiences on poverty reduction and social development.
The US urges Cambodia to investigate a Chineseowned special economic zone in Sihanoukville after it found illegal shipping goods through the SSEZ.
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However, SSEZ officials says internal investigation had found no evidence of illegal transshipment.
(D) Socio-cultural Affairs January 2
Universities in China, South and Southeast Asia form an alliance. The alliance includes over 100 universities, such as 45 top Chinese universities and 14 South and Southeast Asian countries, including Thailand, Singapore, and India. It aims to raise the quality and efficiency of higher education. The secretariat will be located at Yunnan University.
The China Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) publishes the latest edition of the “Green Book of Population and Labor”, reporting that China’s population is expected to experience unstoppable decline in 2030. The population is set to reach a peak of 1.44 billion in 2029 and fall back to 1.36 billion by 2050 and 1.17 billion in 2065. The decrease number of the working population and the rising number of elderly people will have impact on the social and economic development in the country. China decided to relax the “one-child” policy to rebalance the country’s age structure in 2016. However, the birth rate still fell 3.5 percent in 2017.
TEAM Consulting Engineering and Management Public Company Limited, representing the Chinese owner (the China Communication Construction Company Second Harbour Consultants Company Limited) of a project to blast islets in the Mekong River, holds a public hearing in Wiang Kaen, Chiang Khong and Chiang Saen Districts, Chiang Rai Province to collect information as part of an environmental impact assessment study. The project is part of the “Development Plan of International Navigation on the Lancang-Mekong River: 20152025”, aiming to blast the river to allow large ships to pass and navigate. However, local people is concerned with the impact on the river’s ecology and their livelihood.
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According to Thailand’s Department of Livestock Development, the officials found a virus strain of African Swine Fever (ASF) in the processed pork products from a Chinese tourist, who flew from Chengdu, Sichuan Province to Phuket international airport. The department has measures to check pork products from China. They invited the Association of Thai Travel Agents and the Thai-Chinese Tourism Alliance Association to cooperate in preventing tourists from bringing pork products into the country without permission. The tourists will be required to declare pork products when entering Thailand.
The data of China’s National Bureau of Statistics shows that the number of babies born fell by some 2 million from 2017 to 15.23 million in 2018. It is the lowest level since 1961.
An exhibition of intangible cultural heritage from Yunnan Province is held at China Cultural Center in Yangon, Myanmar, under the theme “Recalling of the Beauty of Colorful Yunnan.” It is jointly organised by Yunnan Provincial Department of Culture and Tourism, Yunnan Provincial Cultural Heritage Protection Center and China Cultural Center in Myanmar.
The speedboat, the Black Marlin 8888, capsizes off Koh Samet Island, Rayong Province, Thailand. It carries 23 Chinese tourists, one tour guide and two crew members. Two Chinese tourists are injured but not in critical condition. All tourists are recued safely. The cause of the accident is that the boat hit some rocks.
The speedboat, Sai Nam, hits the oil barge near Koh Rang, Phuket Province. It carries 10 Chinese tourists, including 8 adults and 2 children and 2 employees. 5 Chinese, the boat captain, and a boat employee are injured at the accident. The nearby boats rescue them. They are sent to the Thalang and Mission Phuket hospitals.
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70 Thai students get full scholarships from China’s Tianjin Municipal Education Commission to study in vocational colleges for 3 years. Thailand’s Maritime Silk Road Confucius Institute and its partners hold an opening ceremony of a short-term orientation for selected students at the Office of the Vocational Education Commission in Bangkok.
China’s General Administration of Customs and Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs announces that China has banned the import of pig, wild boars and related products from Vietnam due to the spread of African swine fever (ASF).
The Philippines opens the first China book center in the Asian Center of the University of the Philippines Diliman, aiming to promote cultural exchange. It was jointly established by the Chinese Embassy in the Philippines, China International Publishing Group (CIPG) and the University of the Philippines (UP). There are around 1,000 books in English and Chinese available for local readers.
China will recruit about 100 college students to provide volunteer services in areas along the Mekong River. The recruitment process will be led by the School of International Studies of Peking University. This project aims to promote communication among young people from LMC member countries under the LMC framework.
The 2019 ASEAN-China Environmental Cooperation Week is held in Beijing by China’s Ministry of Ecology and Environment. It focuses on issues, such as environmental cooperation, eco-friendly cities, information sharing, and climate change policies and actions. The event has been held 8 times since 2011.
(1) Chinese and Thai vocational colleges jointly inaugurate the establishment of the “Lu Ban HighSpeed Railway Institute” to develop Thai high-speed railway technicians. It is set up at Banphai Industrial and Community Education College in Ban Phai district, Khon Kaen Province. It is supported by Wuhan Railway Vocational College of Technology 75 The Chronology
(WRC) with the donation from its partner, Zhengzhou J&T Hi-Tech Company Limited. (2) China’s “Green Super Rice (GSR)” project is supported by Chinese government and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to breed new rice varieties for developing countries in Africa and Asia, such as the Philippines, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, and Indonesia. GSR varieties can produce high and stable yields, need less chemical fertilizers, pesticides and water, and are more tolerant to pests, diseases, drought, and so on. As a result, they can reduce hunger and increase the income of farmers. April 5
The member countries of the Mekong River Commission (MRC), including Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam, have raised concerns with Laos’ Pak Lay Dam project. They ask the Lao government to make efforts to prevent disturbance to the ecosystems and mitigate the cross-border impacts of the dam, including monitoring the impacts and sharing information among the MRC members. The Lao side accepts the request and support future joint cooperation to improve the project.
According to Chinese Ministry of Education, there were 492,185 international students from 196 countries and regions studying in China in 2018, an increase of 0.62 percent from 2017. 87.19 percent of the total have been self-funded. South Korea ranked the first in terms of the number of students with 50,600 students, followed by Thailand with 28,608 students.
(1) The Belt and Road News Network (BRNN) First Council Meeting is held in Beijing. BRNN was proposed by President Xi Jinping in May 2017 at the first BRF and initiated by People’s Daily. It has 182 members from 86 countries so far. It aims to promote media cooperation and to be a platform for information sharing, exchanges, news distribution, and copyright trading among the media along the BRI.
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(2) Environmentalists call for greater transparency in the global waste trade. After China’s import waste ban, it increased import waste in Asian countries, such as Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam, leading to illegal dumping and open-burning, according to a report by Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) and Greenpeace East Asia. China’s import waste ban ruined the flow of more than 7 million tons of plastic a year, worth at about US$3.7 billion. April 24
The Belt and Road Studies Network (BRSN), jointly established by Xinhua Institute and 15 other think tanks, is inaugurated in Beijing, aiming to support academic exchanges and cooperation. It plans to hold an academic exchange event each year, organise seminars and field trips, and set up an international research fund.
Mongla, the Myanmar-China border, becomes a place of sex, drugs, and gambling, as well as a “wildlife supermarket” for illegal wildlife trade. This area has its own rules and cut off from the rest of the country. It looks to China and uses Renminbi. Most people there speak Mandarin and phones are connected to Chinese networks, according to a report by Agence France-Presse (AFP).
9 Chinese men have been arrested in Pattaya, Chon Buri Province, as they worked illegally as brokers for gold and stock market trades. They will be blacklisted and deported to China, according to Acting Bureau Chief Police Lieutenant General Sompong Chingduang.
A China-Vietnam customs wildlife crime enforcement workshop co-organised by China customs and the International Fund for Animal Welfare is held in Shenzhen, Guangdong Province. It aims to promote anti-wildlife trafficking coordination and cooperation between the two countries, engaging with customs of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. The customs officials agree to develop a more structured sharing mechanism and a joint operation plan. 77 The Chronology
The International Conference on Silk-road Disaster Risk Reduction and Development is held in Beijing. May 12 marks Chinaâ€™s 11th National Disaster Prevention and Reduction Day, an annual event since 2009 after the Sichuan earthquake on May 12, 2008, causing more than 87,000 dead or missing. More than 700 scientists from China and around 40 BRI countries, regions and international organisations attend the conference. The participants adopt a joint declaration to work together to enhance cooperation on disaster prevention and mitigation. The China Earthquake Administration reveals that China will hold more than 1,000 lectures on earthquake resistance and disaster relief nationwide in schools, government agencies, enterprises, communities and villages this year to raise public awareness and capability on disaster reduction.
The 2019 ASEAN-China Media Cooperation Forum is held in Beijing, focusing mainly on Chinaâ€™s media cooperation with ASEAN countries. The participants agree that media should promote peace and stability in the region and help better understanding each other. They explore innovative ways to report on the economic and social development of China and ASEAN countries. The forum is organised by China Report ASEAN of China Report Press and supported by the Academy of Contemporary China and World Studies (ACCWS). Vice Minister of the State Council Information Office of China Guo Weimin attends the forum.
Director General of Lao National Television Bounchao Phichit and Chairman of the Yunnan Media Group He Yaning sign the agreement to collaborate on the creation of more digital channels in Laos. The new channels will be available in both the Lao and Chinese languages. It aims to give more options on Lao Digital Television systems and promote mutual understanding of the politics and cultures of the two people, according to Bounchao.
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The 2nd Yunnan-South Asia and Southeast Asia Education Cooperation Forum is held in Kunming. More than 500 experts and scholars from 31 countries and regions attend the forum. They sign 11 agreements to deepen educational cooperation between Yunnan and neighboring countries. The forum provides cultural exchange, vocational education cooperation, and the establishment of a university alliance. Yunnan has built vocational education centers in Thailand, Laos, Myanmar and Bangladesh. It is also establishing the LancangMekong vocational education alliance.
Nine Chinese men have been arrested in Bangkok as they made illegal transactions for online gamblers in China, according to Thai immigration police. They had been blacklisted and deported to China.
Chinese police in coordination with Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam rescued 1,130 abducted foreign women and 17 children and arrested 1,332 suspects, including 262 foreign nationals as a result from demand for foreign brides in China. They jointly busted 760 human trafficking and false marriage cases in the second half of 2018, according to Chinaâ€™s Ministry of Public Security (MPS). Most of the cases are Vietnamese and Cambodian women.
4 Chinese tourists are injured as the bus, carrying 12 Chinese tourists from Guangzhou, overturns in Chiang Mai, according to the Consulate General of China in Chiang Mai. The injured tourists are treated at a local hospital.
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Part II Selected Documentation
(II) Selected Documentation (January-June 2019) March (A) Chinaâ€™s Report on the Work of the Government For detail see: http://english.gov.cn/premier/speeches/2019/03/16/content_ 281476565265580.htm Released on: March 16, 2019
April (B) Keynote Speech by President Xi Jinping at the Opening Ceremony of the Second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation Source: https://www.fmprc.gov.cn/mfa_eng/wjdt_665385/Zyjh_665391/t165 8424.shtml Released on: April 26, 2019 Working Together to Deliver a Brighter Future For Belt and Road Cooperation Keynote Speech by H.E. Xi Jinping President of the People's Republic of China At the Opening Ceremony of the Second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation Beijing, 26 April 2019 Your Excellencies Heads of State and Government, Your Excellencies High-level Representatives, Your Excellencies Heads of International Organizations, Ladies and Gentlemen, Friends, Good morning! As a line of a classical Chinese poem goes, "Spring and autumn are lovely seasons in which friends get together to climb up mountains and write poems." On this beautiful spring day, it gives me great pleasure to have you with us here at the Second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation (BRF). On behalf of the Chinese government and people and in my own name, I extend a very warm welcome to you all!
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Two years ago, it was here that we met for the First Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, where we drew a blueprint of cooperation to enhance policy, infrastructure, trade, financial and people-to-people connectivity. Today, we are once again meeting here with you, friends from across the world. I look forward to scaling new heights with you and enhancing our partnership. Together, we will create an even brighter future for Belt and Road cooperation. Dear Colleagues and Friends, The joint pursuit of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) aims to enhance connectivity and practical cooperation. It is about jointly meeting various challenges and risks confronting mankind and delivering win-win outcomes and common development. Thanks to the joint efforts of all of us involved in this initiative, a general connectivity framework consisting of six corridors, six connectivity routes and multiple countries and ports has been put in place. A large number of cooperation projects have been launched, and the decisions of the first BRF have been smoothly implemented. More than 150 countries and international organizations have signed agreements on Belt and Road cooperation with China. The complementarity between the BRI and the development plans or cooperation initiatives of international and regional organizations such as the United Nations, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, the African Union, the European Union, the Eurasian Economic Union and between the BRI and the development strategies of the participating countries has been enhanced. From the Eurasian continent to Africa, the Americas and Oceania, Belt and Road cooperation has opened up new space for global economic growth, produced new platforms for international trade and investment and offered new ways for improving global economic governance. Indeed, this initiative has helped improve people's lives in countries involved and created more opportunities for common prosperity. What we have achieved amply demonstrates that Belt and Road cooperation has both generated new opportunities for the development of all participating countries and opened up new horizon for China's development and opening-up. An ancient Chinese philosopher observed that "plants with strong roots grow well, and efforts with the right focus will ensure success." The Belt and Road cooperation embraces the historical trend of economic globalization, responds to the call for improving the global governance system and meets people's longing for a better life. Going ahead, we should focus on priorities and project execution, move forward with results-oriented implementation, just like an architect refining the blueprint, and jointly promote high-quality Belt and Road cooperation. - We need to be guided by the principle of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits. We need to act in the spirit of 84 Selected Documentation
multilateralism, pursue cooperation through consultation and keep all participants motivated. We may, by engaging in bilateral, trilateral and multilateral cooperation, fully tap into the strengths of all participants. Just as a Chinese proverb says, "A tower is built when soil on earth accumulates, and a river is formed when streams come together." - We need to pursue open, green and clean cooperation. The Belt and Road is not an exclusive club; it aims to promote green development. We may launch green infrastructure projects, make green investment and provide green financing to protect the Earth which we all call home. In pursuing Belt and Road cooperation, everything should be done in a transparent way, and we should have zero tolerance for corruption. The Beijing Initiative for Clean Silk Road has been launched, which represents our strong commitment to transparency and clean governance in pursuing Belt and Road cooperation. - We need to pursue high standard cooperation to improve people's lives and promote sustainable development. We will adopt widely accepted rules and standards and encourage participating companies to follow general international rules and standards in project development, operation, procurement and tendering and bidding. The laws and regulations of participating countries should also be respected. We need to take a peoplecentered approach, give priority to poverty alleviation and job creation to see that the joint pursuit of Belt and Road cooperation will deliver true benefits to the people of participating countries and contribute to their social and economic development. We also need to ensure the commercial and fiscal sustainability of all projects so that they will achieve the intended goals as planned. Dear Colleagues and Friends, Connectivity is vital to advancing Belt and Road cooperation. We need to promote a global partnership of connectivity to achieve common development and prosperity. I am confident that as we work closely together, we will transcend geographical distance and embark on a path of win-win cooperation. Infrastructure is the bedrock of connectivity, while the lack of infrastructure has held up the development of many countries. High-quality, sustainable, resilient, affordable, inclusive and accessible infrastructure projects can help countries fully leverage their resource endowment, better integrate into the global supply, industrial and value chains, and realize inter-connected development. To this end, China will continue to work with other parties to build a connectivity network centering on economic corridors such as the New Eurasian Land Bridge, supplemented by major transportation routes like the China-Europe Railway Express and the New International Land-Sea Trade Corridor and information expressway, and reinforced by major railway, port and pipeline projects. We will continue to make good use of the Belt and Road Special Lending 85 Selected Documentation
Scheme, the Silk Road Fund, and various special investment funds, develop Silk Road theme bonds, and support the Multilateral Cooperation Center for Development Finance in its operation. We welcome the participation of multilateral and national financial institutions in BRI investment and financing and encourage third-market cooperation. With the involvement of multiple stakeholders, we can surely deliver benefits to all. The flow of goods, capital, technology and people will power economic growth and create broad space for it. As a Chinese saying goes, "The ceaseless inflow of rivers makes the ocean deep." However, were such inflow to be cut, the ocean, however big, would eventually dry up. We need to promote trade and investment liberalization and facilitation, say no to protectionism, and make economic globalization more open, inclusive, balanced and beneficial to all. To this end, we will enter into negotiation with more countries to conclude highstandard free trade agreements, and strengthen cooperation in customs, taxation and audit oversight by setting up the Belt and Road Initiative Tax Administration Cooperation Mechanism and accelerating international collaboration on the mutual recognition of Authorized Economic Operators. We have also formulated the Guiding Principles on Financing the Development of the Belt and Road and published the Debt Sustainability Framework for Participating Countries of the Belt and Road Initiative to provide guidance for BRI financing cooperation. In addition, the Second China International Import Expo will be held this year to build an even bigger platform for other parties to access the Chinese market. Innovation boosts productivity; it makes companies competitive and countries strong. We need to keep up with the trend of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, jointly seize opportunities created by digital, networked and smart development, explore new technologies and new forms and models of business, foster new growth drivers and explore new development pathways, and build the digital Silk Road and the Silk Road of innovation. China will continue to carry out the Belt and Road Science, Technology and Innovation Cooperation Action Plan, and will work with our partners to pursue four major initiatives, namely the Science and Technology People-to-People Exchange Initiative, the Joint Laboratory Initiative, the Science Park Cooperation Initiative, and the Technology Transfer Initiative. We will actively implement the Belt and Road Initiative Talents Exchange Program, and will, in the coming five years, offer 5,000 opportunities for exchange, training and cooperative research for talents from China and other BRI participating countries. We will also support companies of various countries in jointly advancing ICT infrastructure building to upgrade cyber connectivity. Imbalance in development is the greatest imbalance confronting today's world. In the joint pursuit of the BRI, we must always take a development-oriented approach and see that the vision of sustainable development underpins project 86 Selected Documentation
selection, implementation and management. We need to strengthen international development cooperation so as to create more opportunities for developing countries, help them eradicate poverty and achieve sustainable development. In this connection, China and its partners have set up the Belt and Road Sustainable Cities Alliance and the BRI International Green Development Coalition, formulated the Green Investment Principles for the Belt and Road Development, and launched the Declaration on Accelerating the Sustainable Development Goals for Children through Shared Development. We have set up the BRI Environmental Big Data Platform. We will continue to implement the Green Silk Road Envoys Program and work with relevant countries to jointly implement the Belt and Road South-South Cooperation Initiative on Climate Change. We will also deepen cooperation in agriculture, health, disaster mitigation and water resources; and we will enhance development cooperation with the United Nations to narrow the gap in development. We need to build bridges for exchanges and mutual learning among different cultures, deepen cooperation in education, science, culture, sports, tourism, health and archaeology, strengthen exchanges between parliaments, political parties and non-governmental organizations and exchanges between women, young people and people with disabilities in order to facilitate multi-faceted people-to-people exchanges. To this end, we will, in the coming five years, invite 10,000 representatives of political parties, think tanks and non-governmental organizations from Belt and Road participating countries to visit China. We will encourage and support extensive cooperation on livelihood projects among social organizations of participating countries, conduct a number of environmental protection and anti-corruption training courses and deepen human resources development cooperation in various areas. We will continue to run the Chinese government scholarship Silk Road Program, host the International Youth Forum on Creativity and Heritage along the Silk Roads and the "Chinese Bridge" summer camps. We will also put in place new mechanisms such as the Belt and Road Studies Network and the Belt and Road News Alliance to draw inspiration and pool our strength for greater synergy. Dear Colleagues and Friends, This year marks the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China. Seven decades ago, through the arduous struggle carried out by several generations of Chinese people and under the leadership of the Communist Party of China, New China was founded. We Chinese have since stood up and held our future in our own hands. Over the past seven decades, we in China have, based on its realities, constantly explored the way forward through practices, and have succeeded in following the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics. Today, China has reached a new historical starting point. However, we are keenly aware that with all we 87 Selected Documentation
have achieved, there are still many mountains to scale and many shoals to navigate. We will continue to advance along the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics, deepen sweeping reforms, pursue quality development, and expand opening-up. We remain committed to peaceful development and will endeavor to build a community with a shared future for mankind. Going forward, China will take a series of major reform and opening-up measures and make stronger institutional and structural moves to boost higher quality opening-up. First, we will expand market access for foreign investment in more areas. Fair competition boosts business performance and creates prosperity. China has already adopted a management model based on pre-establishment national treatment and negative list, and will continue to significantly shorten the negative list. We will work for the all-round opening-up of modern services, manufacturing and agriculture, and will allow the operation of foreigncontrolled or wholly foreign-owned businesses in more sectors. We will plan new pilot free trade zones and explore at a faster pace the opening of a free trade port. We will accelerate the adoption of supporting regulations to ensure full implementation of the Foreign Investment Law. We will promote supply-side structural reform through fair competition and open cooperation, and will phase out backward and excessive production capacity in an effective way to improve the quality and efficiency of supply. Second, we will intensify efforts to enhance international cooperation in intellectual property protection. Without innovation, there will be no progress. Full intellectual property protection will not only ensure the lawful rights and interests of Chinese and foreign companies; it is also crucial to promoting China's innovation-driven and quality development. China will spare no effort to foster a business environment that respects the value of knowledge. We will fully improve the legal framework for protecting intellectual property, step up law enforcement, enhance protection of the lawful rights and interests of foreign intellectual property owners, stop forced technology transfer, improve protection of trade secrets, and crack down hard on violations of intellectual property in accordance with law. China will strengthen cooperation with other countries in intellectual property protection, create an enabling environment for innovation and promote technological exchanges and cooperation with other countries on the basis of market principles and the rule of law. Third, we will increase the import of goods and services on an even larger scale. China is both a global factory and a global market. With the world's largest and fastest growing middle-income population, China has a vast potential for increasing consumption. To meet our people's ever-growing material and cultural needs and give our consumers more choices and benefits, we will 88 Selected Documentation
further lower tariffs and remove various non-tariff barriers. We will steadily open China's market wider to quality products from across the world. China does not seek trade surplus; we want to import more competitive quality agricultural products, manufactured goods and services to promote balanced trade. Fourth, we will more effectively engage in international macro-economic policy coordination. A globalized economy calls for global governance. China will strengthen macro policy coordination with other major economies to generate a positive spillover and jointly contribute to robust, sustainable, balanced and inclusive global growth. China will not resort to the beggar-thyneighbor practice of RMB devaluation. On the contrary, we will continue to improve the exchange rate regime, see that the market plays a decisive role in resource allocation and keep the RMB exchange rate basically stable at an adaptive and equilibrium level. These steps will help ensure the steady growth of the global economy. Rules and credibility underpin the effective functioning of the international governance system; they are the prerequisite for growing international economic and trade relations. China is an active supporter and participant of WTO reform and will work with others to develop international economic and trade rules of higher standards. Fifth, we will work harder to ensure the implementation of opening-up related policies. We Chinese have a saying that honoring a promise carries the weight of gold. We are committed to implementing multilateral and bilateral economic and trade agreements reached with other countries. We will strengthen the building of a government based on the rule of law and good faith. A binding mechanism for honoring international agreements will be put in place. Laws and regulations will be revised and improved in keeping with the need to expand opening-up. We will see that governments at all levels operate in a wellregulated way when it comes to issuing administrative licenses and conducting market oversight. We will overhaul and abolish unjustified regulations, subsidies and practices that impede fair competition and distort the market. We will treat all enterprises and business entities equally, and foster an enabling business environment based on market operation and governed by law. These measures to expand opening-up are a choice China has made by itself to advance its reform and development. It will promote high-quality economic development, meet the people's desire for a better life, and contribute to world peace, stability and development. We hope that other countries will also create an enabling environment of investment, treat Chinese enterprises, students and scholars as equals, and provide a fair and friendly environment for them to engage in international exchanges and cooperation. We are convinced that a more open China will further integrate itself into the world and deliver greater progress and prosperity for both China and the world at large. 89 Selected Documentation
Dear Colleagues and Friends, Let us join hands to sow the seeds of cooperation, harvest the fruits of development, bring greater happiness to our people and make our world a better place for all! In conclusion, I wish the Second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation a full success! Thank you! (C) Full text of Joint CommuniquĂŠ of the Leadersâ€™ Roundtable of the Second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation For detail see: http://www.brfmc2019.cn/en/441.shtml Released on: April 27, 2019
May (D) Keynote Speech by President Xi Jinping at the Opening Ceremony of the Conference on Dialogue of Asian Civilizations Source: https://www.fmprc.gov.cn/mfa_eng/zxxx_662805/t1663857.shtml Released on: May 15, 2019 Deepening Exchanges and Mutual Learning Among Civilizations For an Asian Community with a Shared Future Keynote Speech by H.E. Xi Jinping President of the People's Republic of China At the Opening Ceremony of The Conference on Dialogue of Asian Civilizations Beijing, 15 May 2019 Your Excellencies Heads of State and Government, Your Excellencies Heads of International Organizations, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen, Friends, In this lovely season of thriving green, I am delighted to join you, distinguished guests from 47 Asian countries and five continents, in a dialogue on deepening exchanges and mutual learning among civilizations. On behalf of the Chinese government and people and in my own name, I extend sincere congratulations 90 Selected Documentation
on the opening of the Conference on Dialogue of Asian Civilizations and a very warm welcome to all of you! The world today is moving toward greater multi-polarity, economic globalization and cultural diversity, and is becoming increasingly informationoriented. All this points to promising prospects for the future. Meanwhile, instability and uncertainties are mounting and the global challenges faced by humanity are becoming ever more daunting, calling for joint responses from countries around the world. To meet our common challenges and create a better future for all, we look to culture and civilization to play their role, which is as important as the role played by economy, science and technology. The Conference on Dialogue of Asian Civilizations is convened just for this purpose, as it creates a new platform for civilizations in Asia and beyond to engage in dialogue and exchanges on an equal footing to facilitate mutual learning. Ladies and Gentlemen, Friends, Asia is home to one of the earliest human settlements and an important cradle of human civilizations. This vast and beautiful continent covers a third of the earth's land mass and has two-thirds of the world's population. It has more than 1,000 ethnic groups living in 47 countries. For several thousand years before the Common Era, our forefathers living along the Tigris and the Euphrates, the Indus and the Ganges, the Yellow River and the Yangtze, tilled and irrigated the land, made tools and utensils, and built homes to live in. Generation after generation, our ancestors in Asia, with their tireless endeavors, created a time-honored history and profound and rich civilizations. Our vast and fertile plains, beautiful river basins, large steppes, immense deserts, mighty rivers and oceans, and lofty mountains have nourished and enriched diverse and colorful civilizations across Asia. In building our civilizations over the course of several millennia, we the people of Asia have made splendid achievements. I think of literary classics such as The Book of Songs, The Analects of Confucius, The Talmud, One Thousand and One Nights, The Rigveda and Genji Monogatari; of inventions such as the cuneiform script, maps, glass, Arabic numerals, paper making and printing techniques; and of majestic structures like the Great Wall, the Great Mosque of Mecca, Taj Mahal and Angkor Wat. They are all invaluable assets of human civilization. Through interactions on this continent, Asian civilizations have enriched each other and written an epic of development.
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Our forefathers in Asia have long engaged in inter-civilizational exchanges and mutual learning. The ancient trade routes, notably the Silk Road, the Tea Road and the Spice Road, brought silk, tea, porcelain, spices, paintings and sculpture to all corners of Asia, and witnessed inter-civilizational dialogue in the form of trade and cultural interflow. Today, the Belt and Road Initiative, together with the Two Corridors and One Belt, the Eurasian Economic Union and other initiatives, have greatly expanded inter-civilizational exchanges and mutual learning. Cooperation among nations in science, technology, education, culture, health and people-to-people exchanges are thriving like never before. Thanks to exchanges and mutual learning among themselves and with other civilizations in the world, Asian civilizations have grown from strength to strength. The great Asian civilizations have a special place in the annals of world civilizations, and they have added to the diversity of human civilizations. Think of what Asia stands to offer in terms of religion, philosophy, ethic code, law, literature, painting, drama, music, and even the building of towns and villages. They speak volumes for Asia's proud achievements: extensive systems of social customs, immortal classics that have endured for millennia, the fine pool of exquisite art, and diverse institutions, among others. All these offer rich choices for civilizations the world over to draw on. As we review our past and look beyond Asia, we should have greater confidence in our civilizations. We may build on the rich heritage of our forefathers, stay engaged with other civilizations and increase mutual learning. By doing so, we will add new glory to Asian civilizations. Ladies and Gentlemen, Friends, We Asian countries are closely connected and share a natural bond of affinity. We went through similar historical trials and hold the same dream for the future. Going forward, we need to see where the world is going, ride on the trend of the times and turn our people's longing for a better life into reality. - We Asian people hope to see peace and stability across Asia. Upholding peace is the responsibility of every country. When peace is interrupted by conflict or war, economic growth, decent lives, social stability and people-topeople exchanges will all be out of the question. We the people of Asian countries wish to live and work in content and security free from fear. We hope that all countries will respect and trust each other, live in harmony, and interact with each other in a manner that transcends national boundaries, time and space, as well as the difference between civilizations. We should work together and jointly safeguard peace, something that is even more precious than gold.
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- We Asian people hope to see common prosperity in Asia. Economic growth sustains a civilization, and prosperity underpins the progress of a nation. In some parts of Asia, people, women and children in particular, are still suffering from poverty, hunger and disease. This must change. We Asian people long for decent lives free of poverty. We hope that countries will work together to promote economic globalization and make it more open, inclusive, balanced and beneficial to all. Doing so will enable us to eradicate poverty and backwardness that still plague people in some countries. It will make life carefree for our children and bring happiness to all families. - We Asian people hope to see an open and better-connected Asia. Asia's rapid development over the past decades shows that it is important to open one's door to the outside world and ride on the trend of global economic development. If countries choose to close their doors and hide behind them, human civilizations would be cut off from each other and lose all vitality. We Asian people hope that all countries will reject self-exclusion, embrace integration, uphold openness and promote policy, infrastructure, trade, financial and people-to-people connectivity. This way, we can jointly foster a community with a shared future for both us Asians and all humanity. Ladies and Gentlemen, Friends, Diversity spurs interaction among civilizations, which in turn promotes mutual learning and their further development. We need to promote exchanges and mutual learning among countries, nations and cultures around the world, and strengthen popular support for jointly building a community with a shared future for both Asia and humanity as a whole. To that end, I believe it is imperative that we act in the following ways: First, we need to respect each other and treat each other as equals. All civilizations are rooted in their unique cultural environment. Each embodies the wisdom and vision of a country or nation, and each is valuable for being uniquely its own. Civilizations only vary from each other, just as human beings are different only in terms of skin color and the language used. No civilization is superior over others. The thought that one's own race and civilization are superior and the inclination to remold or replace other civilizations are just stupid. To act them out will only bring catastrophic consequences. If human civilizations are reduced to only one single color or one single model, the world would become a stereotype and too dull a place to live in. What we need is to respect each other as equals and say no to hubris and prejudice. We need to deepen understanding of the difference between one's own civilization and others', and work to promote interaction, dialogue and harmony among civilizations. 93 Selected Documentation
In the many places I have visited around the world, what fascinates me the most is civilizations in their rich diversity. I cannot but think of the Central Asian city of Samarkand, the Luxor Temple in Egypt, Sentosa in Singapore, Wat Phra Kaew in Bangkok, and the Acropolis in Athens, to mention just a few. China is ready to work with other countries to protect Asian cultural heritage and better preserve and sustain our civilizations. Second, we need to uphold the beauty of each civilization and the diversity of civilizations in the world. Each civilization is the crystallization of human creation, and each is beautiful in its own way. The aspiration for all that is beautiful is a common pursuit of humanity that nothing can hold back. Civilizations don't have to clash with each other; what is needed are eyes to see the beauty in all civilizations. We should keep our own civilizations dynamic and create conditions for other civilizations to flourish. Together we can make the garden of world civilizations colorful and vibrant. The beauty of a civilization finds concrete expression in the classic works of philosophy and social sciences and works of literature, music, film and TV drama. Now, a large number of outstanding cultural works from other countries are brought into China, and a lot of fine Chinese cultural products are introduced to other countries. China is happy to launch initiatives with relevant countries to translate Asian classics both from and into Chinese and promote film and TV exchanges and cooperation in Asia. This will help people in Asia better understand and appreciate each other's cultures and build a platform of exchange and mutual learning for the best of Asian civilizations to spread and be known to more in the world. Third, we need to stay open and inclusive and draw on each other's strengths. All living organisms in the human body must renew themselves through metabolism; otherwise, life would come to an end. The same is true for civilizations. Long-term self-isolation will cause a civilization to decline, while exchanges and mutual learning will sustain its development. A civilization can flourish only through exchanges and mutual learning with other civilizations. Such exchanges and mutual learning should be reciprocal, equal-footed, diversified and multi-dimensional; they should not be coercive, imposed, onedimensional or one-way. We need to be broad-minded and strive to remove all barriers to cultural exchanges. We need to be inclusive and always seek nourishment from other civilizations to promote the common development of Asian civilizations through exchanges and mutual learning. People are the best bridge for exchanges and mutual learning among civilizations. Closer people-to-people exchanges and mutual learning, for that matter, is a sure way to eliminate estrangement and misunderstanding and promote mutual understanding among nations. Over the years, China has, in collaboration with other countries, established many platforms and channels for 94 Selected Documentation
cooperation in education, culture, sports, health and other fields. China will work with other countries to step up exchanges among the youth, nongovernmental organizations, subnational entities and media organizations, create a network of exchanges and cooperation between think tanks, explore new models of cooperation, and deliver more solid outcomes in diverse forms. Such efforts will boost exchanges and mutual learning among civilizations. Fourth, we need to advance with the times and explore new ground in development. For a civilization to endure, efforts must be made to keep it alive and build on its heritage from one generation to the next. More importantly, a civilization needs to adapt itself to the changing times and break new ground. The history of world civilizations tells us that every civilization needs to advance with the times and take in the best of its age in order to develop itself. We need to come up with new ideas to add impetus and inspiration to the development of our civilizations. With these efforts, we will deliver achievements for our civilizations to transcend time and space and have a lasting appeal. To spur people's innovation and creativity, the best way is to come into contact with different civilizations, see the strengths of others and draw upon them. Last year, Chinese tourists made over 160 million overseas trips and more than 140 million foreign tourists visited China. These visits played an important role in promoting exchanges and mutual learning between China and the rest of the world. In this connection, China will work with other countries to implement a plan to promote tourism in Asia. This will further boost economic development in Asia and deepen friendship among the Asian people. Ladies and Gentlemen, Friends, Being an inseparable part of Asian civilizations, Chinese civilization has, since its early days, evolved and grown by drawing on its past achievement, exploring new ground and adapting to changes. It represents the profound pursuit of the Chinese nation and provides a rich source of strength for its lasting development. Chinese inventions such as paper making, gunpowder, printing and the compass as well as China's astronomical knowledge, calendar system, philosophy and the people-centered doctrine have all had a global impact and propelled the development of human civilizations. Chinese civilization, as an inclusive and integrated whole, has become what it is today through constant interactions with other civilizations. It has been enriched by the introduction of Buddhism and the confluence of Islam and Confucianism in the old days, and by the introduction of Western learning, the launch of the New Culture Movement and the introduction of Marxism and socialism in modern times. All-round opening-up of the country, starting with the reform and opening-up program, has added to its vitality today. For Chinese 95 Selected Documentation
civilization, amity and good neighborliness is the principle guiding our interactions with other countries; and to deliver prosperity and security to the people is the overarching goal, to keep pace with the times through reform and innovation the abiding commitment, and to achieve harmony between man and nature the underlying philosophy. China today is more than the country itself; it is very much a part of Asia and the world. In the time to come, China will open its arms wider to embrace the world and contribute the dynamic achievements of Chinese civilization to a better world in the future. Ladies and Gentlemen, Friends, The Conference on Dialogue of Asian Civilizations has a wide-ranging agenda, and I look forward to your keen perspectives and insights. By putting our heads together, we will create an even better tomorrow for civilizations in Asia and beyond! To conclude, I wish this conference every success! Thank you.
June (E) State Councilor and Defense Minister General Wei Fengheâ€™s Speech at the 18th Shangri-La Dialogue Source: http://eng.mod.gov.cn/focus/2019-06/02/content_4842880.htm Released on: June 2, 2019 Speech at the 18th Shangri-La Dialogue by Gen. Wei Fenghe State Councilor and Minister of National Defense, PRC 2 June, 2019 It gives me great pleasure to attend the 18th Shangri-la Dialogue. I would like to thank Dr. John Chipman for inviting me here and thank the Singapore government, the Ministry of Defense in particular, for the warm hospitality. I would also like to congratulate His Excellency Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on his excellent keynote address the other day. This is my first attendance at the 96 Selected Documentation
Shangri-la Dialogue as China's defense minister. I am here for mutual confidence, cooperation and peace. I am glad to speak on China and International Security Cooperation. I. Humanity is at a crossroad. Building a community with a shared future for mankind is the right path forward and the trend of the times. The world today is undergoing profound changes unseen in a century. Destabilizing, uncertain factors and challenges continue to rise. President Xi Jinping's great vision of building a community with a shared future for mankind is the answer to harmonious coexistence of people across the world, the effective solution to global problems and the right path towards world peace and human progress. We take note that the US expounded on its perspective on regional affairs yesterday. We believe that any such perspective should take into account the common security and interests of regional countries. No approaches to regional issues should resort to military blocs, nor should they undermine the interests of others. We hold different views with the US side on several issues, and firmly oppose its wrong words and actions concerning Taiwan and the South China Sea. Now let's think about the following questions: First, which should we choose, peace and development or conflict and confrontation? Peace and development remain the call of our times and the trend of history. However, global and regional hotspots flare up one after another and the risk of conflict and war persists. What is the cause for regional wars and conflicts, the spread of terrorism, the chaos in the Middle East and the refugee crisis in Europe? Who are behind all these and what is the root cause? These are the questions to be reflected on. Some deliberately create division and hostility, provoke confrontation, meddle with regional affairs, interfere in internal affairs of others, and frequently resort to arms. Whose interests on earth do they serve and whose do they harm? Second, which should we choose, openness and inclusiveness or isolation and exclusiveness? See the world with an open and inclusive mind, and there will be friends and partners everywhere. See the world with a narrow and exclusive mind, and there are only enemies and adversaries. This is a self-fulfilling prophecy. However, lately we see a growing backlash against globalization and a surge of protectionism. A certain country champions unilateralism, puts its own interests before others, withdraws from international treaties and organizations. Aren't there many countries suffering from the willful infringement and sanctions? Third, which should we choose, win-win cooperation or zero-sum game? Win-win cooperation makes the pie bigger and brings more benefits to all. However, zerosum game makes no winner and harms the interests of both sides. Currently, over 150 countries and international organizations have proactively joined 97 Selected Documentation
China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Not long ago, over 6,000 delegates from 150 countries and 92 international organizations gathered in Beijing for the second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation. People can tell what is right. Fourth, which should we choose, mutual learning among civilizations or arrogance and prejudice? A few days ago, China successfully hosted the Conference on Dialogue of Asian Civilizations. We believe that human civilizations are and should be colorful, equal, inclusive and willing to learn from each other. Not a single civilization should be worshiped or belittled. There are scars and tragedies in the history of human civilization which do not go away, to name only a few, the enslavement of Africans, the expulsion of native American Indians, the colonization in Asia, Africa and Latin America, and the killing of Jewish people. Unfortunately, some people recently pick up the decadent idea of "clash of civilizations". As racist and narrow-minded as it is, this is not right. How can we tolerate such a regress of history? II. Facing complex and volatile international security situation, the Chinese government and armed forces stay committed to regional and world prosperity and stability. Those who are familiar with China's modern history must know that the country was once poor and weak and went through enormous misery. The Chinese people know only too well the value of peace and the cruelty and destructiveness of war. Over the years, some have been recklessly hyping up, exaggerating and dramatizing the "China threat theory", partly due to the lack of understanding of China's history, culture and policies, but more likely due to misunderstanding, prejudice, or even a hidden agenda. China sticks to the path of peaceful development. Such a commitment is underpinned by China's socialist system, the independent foreign policy of peace, and the cultural tradition that values peace and harmony. China shall follow the path of peaceful development, which is a solemn commitment to the people of China and the world. This has been written into the Constitution of the Communist Party of China and the Constitution of the People's Republic of China, thus reaffirmed as the will of the CPC and the state. If this is not even convincing enough for some people, then we don't know what they would believe? Over the past 70 years since the founding of the P.R.C., China has never provoked a war or conflict, nor has it ever invaded another country or taken an inch of land from others. In the future, no matter how strong it becomes, China shall never threaten anyone, seek hegemony or establish spheres of influence. History has proven and will continue to prove that China will not follow the beaten path of big powers seeking hegemony when it grows strong. Hegemony does not conform to China's values and national interests. 98 Selected Documentation
China adopts a military strategy of active defense. China's military strategy adheres to the principles of defense, self-defense and post-strike response. It stresses that "we will not attack unless we are attacked, but we will surely counterattack if attacked". China develops its military entirely for self-defense. The purpose is to defend the country and provide the people with a peaceful working environment, and ensure that our people are free from the disasters of war and enjoy a better life. We have never bullied or preyed on others, and we shall not let others bully or prey on us either. China develops its military to cope with security threats. Similar scenario can be found in the past when China had to develop nuclear capabilities of its own under nuclear threat. China's defense expenditure is reasonable and appropriate. China enhances national defense in order to meet the legitimate needs to defend its own security as well as contribute to the world force for peace. The Chinese military is dedicated to safeguarding national sovereignty, security and development interests. The PLA is the people's force under the leadership of the CPC. The PLA has fought many battles and is not afraid of sacrifice. In face of aggression, coercion or hardships, it has stridden forward from victory to victory. The more severe the pressure and difficulties are, the stronger and braver the Chinese people become. Adversity only brings our nation greater solidarity and strength. As the lyrics of the Chinese national anthem go, "Arise, all those who do not want be enslaved. Let's build the new Great Wall with our flesh and blood." Faced with daunting and complex security challenges, the PLA vows not to yield a single inch of the country's sacred land, but it shall not seize anything from others either. The PLA has no intention to cause anybody trouble, but it is not afraid to face up to troubles. Should anyone risk crossing the bottom line, the PLA will resolutely take action and defeat all enemies. The Chinese military stays committed to safeguarding regional and world security and stability. China is an active supporter of UN Peacekeeping Operations. It is the largest troop contributor among the permanent members of the UN Security Council and a major contributor of funds. We have established a peacekeeping standby force of 8,000 troops that is ready to be deployed. For years, China has been active in promoting bilateral and multilateral security cooperation. The China-Russia Comprehensive Strategic Partnership of Coordination has been running at a high level. The state-to-state and military-to-military relations between China and the US remain generally stable, despite twists and difficulties. We have strengthened the sense of shared destiny with ASEAN countries, deepened traditional friendship with India, Pakistan and other South Asian countries, maintained peaceful coexistence and good-neighborliness with surrounding countries, and built good relationship with the countries and militaries of Africa and Latin America. In October this year, China will host the 9th Beijing Xiangshan Forum. We welcome defense and military leaders and scholars from all over the world to attend the Forum. 99 Selected Documentation
III. While striving for common prosperity in the Asia-Pacific, we must respect the core interests and accommodate the security concerns of all. China advocates that all countries, big or small, strong or weak, rich or poor, are equal members of the international community. We should respect and accommodate the legitimate security concerns of one another. China understands and respects the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of all countries, and supports the social systems and development paths they independently choose. China is not able to progress in isolation from the rest of the world; the world also needs China to prosper. We in China do not covet the interests, nor envy the development, of others. However, we shall never give up our legitimate rights and interests. No country should ever expect China to allow its sovereignty, security and development interests to be infringed upon. As for the recent trade friction started by the US, if the US wants to talk, we will keep the door open. If they want a fight, we will fight till the end. As what the general public of China says these days, "A talk? Welcome. A fight? Ready. Bully us? No way." I would like to further illustrate China's position on a few issues you may be interested in. First, on Taiwan. The Taiwan question bears on China's sovereignty and territorial integrity. Not a single country in the world would tolerate secession. I visited the US last year. American friends told me that Abraham Lincoln was the greatest American president because he led the country to victory in the Civil War and prevented the secession of the US. The US is indivisible, so is China. China must be and will be reunified. We find no excuse not to do so. If anyone dares to split Taiwan from China, the Chinese military has no choice but to fight at all costs for national unity. Hereby, I have a message for the DPP authorities and the external forces. First, no attempts to split China shall succeed. Second, foreign intervention in the Taiwan question is doomed to failure. We took note that the US side mentioned the Taiwan Relations Acts in yesterday's speech. Is it of Taiwan or the US? Is it a Chinese law or an international law? We can find no justifiable reasons for the US to interfere in the Taiwan question by its domestic law. Third, any underestimation of the PLA's resolve and will is extremely dangerous. We will strive for the prospects of peaceful reunification with utmost sincerity and greatest efforts, but we make no promise to renounce the use of force. Safeguarding national unity is a sacred duty of the PLA. If the PLA cannot even safeguard the unity of our motherland, what do we need it for? Second, on the South China Sea. The current situation in the South China Sea is improving towards greater stability. It is attributed to the common efforts of the countries in the region. However, there are always people trying to rake in profits by stirring up troubles in the region. Before the Dialogue, I paid a visit to Vietnam and Singapore and reached broad consensus with Gen. Ngo Xuan Lich and Dr. Ng Eng Hen on maintaining the stability in the South China Sea. I have a few questions concerning the issue to discuss with you. 100 Selected Documentation
First, who on earth is threatening security and stability in the South China Sea? Over 100,000 ships sail through the South China Sea each year. None has been threatened. The problem, however, is that in recent years some countries outside the region come to the South China Sea to flex muscles, in the name of freedom of navigation. The large-scale force projection and offensive operations in the region are the most serious destabilizing and uncertain factors in the South China Sea. Second, who would benefit and who would suffer from the chaos in the South China Sea? In case of chaos in the South China Sea, we, the regional countries, are the ones to take the blunt. What are the purposes for certain countries to send military vessels and aircraft all the way from afar to the region? Aren't there enough examples that some big countries intervene in regional affairs, make troubles, walk away and leave a mess behind? Third, should the stability in the South China Sea be maintained by countries in the region or outside the region? China and ASEAN countries have made positive progress in negotiating the COC. We hope that relevant parties will not underestimate the wisdom and ability of regional countries to properly handle differences and maintain peace. However, we welcome constructive suggestions from all countries. Fourth, is China's construction on its South China Sea islands and reefs militarization? It is the legitimate rights of a sovereign state to carry out construction on its own territory. China built limited defense facilities on the islands and reefs for self-defense. Where there are threats, there are defenses. In face of heavily armed warships and military aircraft, how can we stay impervious and not build some defense facilities? Third, on the DPRK nuclear issue. China is committed to denuclearization, peace and stability of the Peninsula and to a negotiated solution through dialogue and consultation. In recent years, the Chinese side has made active efforts in promoting peace talks and played an irreplaceable and constructive role. We hope that the US and the DPRK will accommodate each other's concerns with cool heads and patience, work towards the same goal and resume the dialogue for peace at an early date. The US and the DPRK should follow the dual-track approach and combine denuclearization with the establishment of a peace mechanism. We hope that the international community will positively respond to the legitimate concerns of the DPRK, trigger the reversible clause of the UN Security Council resolutions in due course, push for a declaration on the end of the war, and actively build trust among all parties. Fourth, on China-US relations. This year marks the 40th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between China and the US. Despite all the ups 101 Selected Documentation
and downs, China-US relationship has been steadily growing in the past 40 years. The most valuable lesson we have learned from the 4-decade-long relationship is that cooperation benefits the two sides while confrontation hurts both. Looking forward, the two countries should follow the consensus by the two heads of state and promote a China-US relationship featuring coordination, cooperation and stability. Through continued communication, the militaries of the two countries have agreed on many important issues. First, in terms of implementing the consensus of the heads of state, the two militaries agreed on building their relationship a stabilizer for the overall relations. Second, we agree on maintaining regular communication on the strategic level. The day before yesterday, I had a candid and practical discussion with Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan. We reaffirmed the importance of maintaining communication and to develop a constructive military-to-military relationship. Third, in terms of managing risks and preventing conflicts, the two sides recognize that military conflicts or even a war between them would bring disasters to both countries and the world. It takes two to cooperate, but only one to start a fight. We hope that the US side will work with us towards the same goal, follow the principles of non-conflict, non-confrontation, mutual respect and win-win cooperation, and steer the China-US relations in the right direction. The achievement China has made in the past 70 years since the country was founded is not a windfall or a handout from others. Neither was it made by engaging in military expansion or colonial exploitation. Instead, the country has developed through its people's hard work, wisdom and bravery as well as the win-win cooperation with the world since reform and opening-up. At present, under the strong leadership of the CPC Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at its core, China enjoys political stability, social cohesion and steady economic growth. Blessed with peace, harmony, prosperity and good governance, the country is making progress on all fronts. The Chinese people are committed to realizing the Chinese Dream of great national rejuvenation. The Chinese military is ready to work with the armed forces of other Asia-Pacific countries to jointly respond to challenges, promote the building of an AsiaPacific community with a shared future and safeguard peace and stability in the region. (F) White Paper: Chinaâ€™s Position on the China-US Economic and Trade Consultations For detail see: http://www.scio.gov.cn/zfbps/32832/Document/1655934/16 55934.htm Released on: June 2, 2019 (G) President Xi Jinpingâ€™s Speech at the 14th Group of 20 (G20) Summit Source: https://www.fmprc.gov.cn/mfa_eng/wjdt_665385/zyjh_665391/t1 676619.shtml 102 Selected Documentation
Released on: June 28, 2019 Working Together to Build a High-Quality World Economy Remarks by H.E. Xi Jinping President of the People's Republic of China On Global Economy and Trade at the G20 Summit Osaka, 28 June 2019 Dear Colleagues, It is my great pleasure to join you here in Osaka. Ten years after the 2008 international financial crisis, the global economy has again reached a crossroads. Protectionism and unilateralism are spreading, and trade and investment tensions are on the rise, bringing disruptions to the global industry landscape and financial stability. The world economy is confronting more risks and uncertainties, dampening the confidence of international investors. The G20 is the premier forum for international economic cooperation. We, as the leaders of major economies, are duty bound to re-calibrate the direction of the world economy and global governance at this critical juncture, work together to boost market confidence, and bring hope to our people. - We must respect the objective laws of the economy. Economic operation has its underlying laws. Fully respecting these laws, leveraging the role of the market and removing man-made obstacles represent a sure way to raise productivity, boost trade and revitalize all industries. - We must tap into the prevailing trend of development. The history of human society is marked by a transition from isolation and exclusion to openness and integration. This is an unstoppable trend. We must open up further to embrace opportunities of development and seek win-win outcomes through closer cooperation. We must work together to shape and steer economic globalization in the right direction. - We must keep in mind our shared future. In today's world, all countries' interests are closely intertwined. We have a high stake in each other's future. By expanding common interests and taking a long-term view, we can realize enduring peace and prosperity in the world and deliver a better life to all our people. We must not allow ourselves to become prisoners of short-term interests and make irrevocable mistakes of historic consequences. 103 Selected Documentation
Based on these principles, I would like to share with you a few suggestions: First, we need to persist in reform and innovation to find more impetus for growth. The world economy is in a transition from old to new drivers of growth. We must find the best way to advance structural reform. We must develop a future-oriented industry structure, policy framework and management system through promoting the digital economy, enhancing connectivity and improving social security, so as to enhance the efficiency and resilience of our economies and strive for high-quality development. We must capitalize on the historic opportunities brought by new technologies, industries and forms of business to foster an enabling market environment where innovation is respected, protected and encouraged. We must champion international collaboration on innovation and rise above geographic and man-made fences. When we put our heads together to resolve the common challenges and spread the fruits of innovation, we can make a difference for more countries and for the life of their peoples. Second, we need to progress with the times and improve global governance. With economic globalization facing headwinds, we must reflect on the important question of how best to improve global governance. The G20 should continue to take the lead in making the world economy open, inclusive, balanced and beneficial for all. We must strengthen the multilateral trading system and pursue WTO reform as necessary. The goal of the reform is to bring the WTO up to date and make it better able to deliver its mandate of enhancing market openness and boosting development, and the results should be conducive to upholding free trade and multilateralism and to narrowing the development gap. At the same time, the G20 must also anticipate future systemic financial risks and challenges at the global level. We must ensure sufficient resources for the financial safety net and see to it that the representativeness of the international financial architecture makes more sense and better reflects the realities of the world economy. This not only is a matter of fairness, but also affects our ability to take targeted and effective measures to meet challenges and navigate crises when they come our way. It is also very important for the G20 to implement the Paris Agreement and improve energy, environmental and digital governance. Third, we need to rise up to challenges and break bottlenecks in development. The myriad challenges facing the world today are all related in one way or another to the development gap and deficit. The gaping shortfall in global development financing means that the realization of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development remains a daunting task for us. It is against such a backdrop that China proposed the Belt and Road Initiative. The Initiative is designed to mobilize more resources, strengthen connectivity links, leverage potential growth drivers, and connect the markets with a view to integrating more countries and regions into economic globalization and achieving shared 104 Selected Documentation
prosperity through mutually beneficial cooperation. The success of the Second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation demonstrates the broad welcome and support for this Initiative from the global community, as it effectively responds to the aspirations of our people and the trend of our times. It is important that the G20 continue to prioritize development in macroeconomic policy coordination, scale up input in development, and lead development cooperation through concrete actions. By doing so, we can live up to the expectations of developing countries and secure a lasting driving force for global growth. Fourth, we need to uphold our partnership and resolve differences properly. The G20 is a grouping of major advanced economies and emerging markets, accounting for nearly 90% of the global economy. Given the different development stages of G20 members, it is only natural that we may have diverging interests and views on some issues. The important thing is to always promote our partnership and treat each other with respect and trust, and in that spirit, engage in consultation as equals, manage differences while seeking common ground, and build greater consensus. If this can be achieved between major countries, it will serve not only our own interests but also peace and development in the world. Colleagues, The Chinese economy has continued its stable and sound performance, with its GDP growing within a proper range of more than 6% for years running. On top of the steps we have taken recently, China will further unveil major measures aimed at breaking new ground in opening-up and delivering high-quality development. First, more will be done to open up the Chinese market wider. We will release the 2019 edition of the negative list on foreign investment. The focus will be on greater openness in the agriculture, mining, manufacturing and services sectors. We will set up six new pilot free trade zones and open a new section of the Shanghai Pilot Free Trade Zone, and will speed up exploration of building a free trade port in Hainan province. Second, greater initiative will be demonstrated in expanding imports. We will further bring down China's overall tariff level, strive to remove non-tariff trade barriers, and slash institutional costs of imports. We will ensure the success of the Second China International Import Expo. Third, more steps will be taken to improve the business environment. In the new legal framework for foreign investment that is to take effect on 1 January next year, we will introduce a punitive compensation mechanism for intellectual 105 Selected Documentation
property infringement cases and make the relevant civil and criminal laws more stringent to deliver better IP protection. Fourth, equal treatment will be extended to all foreign investment. We will lift all foreign investment restrictions beyond the negative list, and provide equal treatment to all types of businesses registered in China in the postestablishment phase. A complaint mechanism will be set up for foreign companies to air their grievances. Fifth, greater efforts will be made to advance trade talks. We will push for an early conclusion of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and for faster progress in the negotiations on a China-EU investment agreement and a China-Japan-ROK free trade agreement. Let me conclude by saying that China has full confidence in following its path and running its own affairs well. At the same time, China will work in the spirit of peaceful co-existence and win-win cooperation with all other countries to build a community with a shared future for mankind and to tirelessly pursue a brighter future of the global economy. Thank you.
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Part III Selected Analysis
(III) Selected Analysis (January-June 2019) Foreign Affairs (A) What holds back Myanmar’s development? With the progress of China-Myanmar relations, the resumption of the Myitsone Dam project in northern Myanmar can be placed on the agenda of both parties. The Myitsone Dam is a hurdle in the way of China-Myanmar relations and an obstacle to Myanmar’s economic development and attracting foreign investment. Both sides need to work together to resolve this. On September 30, 2011, Myanmar’s ex-president Thein Sein wrote to the parliament abruptly announcing the temporary suspension of the project. The sudden move caused huge economic losses to China. Chinese companies had invested in the $3.6 billion project with a total installed capacity of 6 million kilowatts that began construction in 2009. The stalled Myitsone Dam project is a symbol of slow economic development in the northern region in the past seven years. Compared with changes in China’s Yunnan Province across the border during the same period, the contract is stark. Yunnan, which was previously a slower-growing province of China, almost doubled its GDP per capita to nearly 35,000 yuan ($5,200) in seven years, making it a national fastest runner. Another example is the China-Vietnam border region, which has become Asia’s most dynamic border trade zone. The port of Chongzuo in Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region in China imported 1.6 million tons of fruits with a sales volume of over 7.5 billion yuan ($1.1 billion) in 2017. Along the border, several trade processing zones are rapidly developing with a growing Vietnamese work force. There is some semblance of stability in northern Myanmar with the ethnic armed groups and government forces seeking a negotiated settlement after clashes reduced. The three ethnic armed groups who recently held talks in Kunming, China, also expressed their willingness to suspend military operations. Together with the cease-fire negotiations and the subsequent political talks, promoting economic development benefited not only local people, but laid a
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solid foundation for further talks and finally helped the ethnic groups cast aside the armor and pick up the hoe. Economic stagnation is not conductive to regional development and peace talks. Economic development fits the interests of people in northern Myanmar. A solution to power shortage in the region is therefore vital. Only 30 percent of households in Myanmar have electricity, which is one of the lowest power supply rates in the world. But the countryâ€™s potential generating capacity is 100,000 megawatts â€“ 30 times of what it currently produces. There are always contradictions between rapid development and environment protection, and it is usually hard to make decisions Because of the increase in electricity demand and the improvement in environmental technology, the World Bank has resumed financial support to hydropower stations in some underdeveloped countries. In 2015, the World Bank said that it would assist Myanmar to develop hydropower projects and help reduce damage to environment. The Myitsone Dam met the same problem. However, the project saw environmental issues turn political. Going by Western media, the dam has become a problem of democracy and a threat from China. With the help of Western NGOs and even support from the US embassy, local ethnic groups used the issue as a weapon against the government and to rally against China. The findings of some Western NGOs and environmental organizations are more politicized. They claim that the Myitsome Dam has exacerbated the conflict between ethnic groups and government forces. This is untrue. The fact is that the conflict between ethnic armed forces and the government is one of the main reasons behind suspension of the dam project. The construction of the dam can bring economic benefits to the area and help ease conflicts. In fact, Myanmarâ€™s government formed a committee in 2016 to investigate environmental and ecological issues attributed to the dam. The report submitted to the government was never released. No one knows why. The political factors that interfere with this problem must be eliminated, especially the tendency of some Western organizations to mislead. Let people know the actual role of the dam in development and how China uses advanced environmental technologies for dam building and management. Starting this 110 Selected Analysis
process as soon as possible will facilitate further cooperation between China and Myanmar and accelerate the development of Myanmar Written By: Ding Gang Source: Global Times Published: 16 January 2019 The author is a senior editor with People’s Daily, and currently a senior fellow with the Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies at Renmin University of China.
(B) Integrated strategies upgrade China-Cambodia ties “To build a community of shared future with strategic significance between China and Cambodia.” It is an important expression for China and Cambodia’s decades long friendship and cooperation. Indeed, integration between Cambodia’s “Rectangular Strategy” and “Belt and Road” initiative (BRI) has injected new impetus. At the China-Cambodia Trade and Investment Promotion Forum 2019 in Beijing, Cambodian Prime Minister Samdech Techo Hun Sen emphasized that the Chinese investment has played an important role in infrastructure urgently needed for Cambodia’s economic transformation and industrialization. The 400-megawatt Lower Sesan II hydroelectric power dam, Cambodia’s largest hydropower project completed by Chinese company, recently has become a symbol of that. The power project contributes around 20 percentage of Cambodia’s total installed capacity. It has greatly relieved electricity shortages, increasing energy independence, reducing reliance on oil-fueled power plants and alleviating poverty. Moreover, it makes lowering the electricity price possible and not increasing debt burden to Cambodia via the built-operation and transfer (BOT) model. With more reliable and stronger energy support, coupled with Cambodia’s Industrial Development Policy 2015-2025, Phnom Penh decided to gradually lower electricity prices this year. At present, Cambodia is on a fast track to jumpstart industrial expansion and socioeconomic development. This will accelerate the BRI and Cambodia’s Industrial Development Policy 2015-2025 development, aiming to further clarify cooperation priorities like transport, production capacity, energy, trade and people’s livelihood. Last week, Prime Minister Hun Sen attended the groundbreaking ceremony for Phnom Penh’s third ring road construction, financed by China’s concessional loans.
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As Cambodia’s biggest foreign investor and trading partner in recent years, China is a sincere and true friend in Cambodia’s economic diversification and participation in the global value chain. A statement from the Council for the Development of Cambodia (CDC) shows that the Chinese-invested Sihanoukville Special Economic Zone (SSEZ) exported $372 million in 2018, a 68 percent increase year-on-year. By late 2017, Chinese investment in Cambodia had reached $5.45 billion, about 36 percent of the total investment in the country, according to Chinese Ministry of Commerce. Bilateral trade reached $5.79 billion in 2017, a rise of 21.7 percent year-on-year. Indeed, there remains great potential for Cambodia to export more qualified high-tech products to China including agriculture products. Both countries have aimed to increase the annual trade volume to $6 billion by 2020. China and Cambodia are “good brothers,” “good friends” and “good neighbors.” Intensive economic cooperation promotes intensive people-to-people exchanges. China is Cambodia’s biggest source of tourists with more than 1.6 million visiting in 2018, accounting for one third of Cambodia’s total foreign tourists and a more than 30 percent increase over the same period in 2017. The recently opened direct air link between Beijing and Phnom Penh reflects the increasing momentum. There are more flights between China and Cambodia each week than a few years ago. On the occasion of Prime Minister Hun Sen’s official visit, both sides announced that 2019 would be China-Cambodia culture and tourism year and signed relevant agreements. Phnom Penh set a clear goal to attract two million Chinese tourists by 2020 and five million by 2025. Sincerely, China and Cambodia are integrating China’s BRI and the “Rectangular Strategy” set forth by the Cambodian government, aiming at providing tremendous new opportunities for both sides and the region as a whole. Written By: Shen Shiwei Source: Global Times Published: 24 January 2019 The author is a research fellow of the Charhar Institute and former government relations and investment consultation for Chinese enterprises overseas business.
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(C) Closer Vietnam relations will eliminate uncertainties Last year was marred by a series of economic shocks. In 2018, the World Trade Organization faced an unprecedented crisis, and the global trade order suffered clashes because of a tariff war launched by the US. Against this backdrop, Vietnam’s position on the global economic chain has advanced. China needs to enhance economic diplomacy and cooperation to counter the side effects of a declining international economy. Vietnam, amid the current complicated international economic situation, has acquired its share of benefits. For one, with lower labor costs and strong economic growth, the country is the latest destination for developed countries to relocate their processing and manufacturing facilities. As the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) and Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) came into force, Vietnam’s role among the global free trade network has also become more prominent. China, as the second largest economic entity in the world, faces pressure maintaining and expanding economic growth. On the one hand, China has to reinforce its major manufacturing power by improving its investment environment and further opening up. On the other hand, it should pay attention to economic diplomacy with Vietnam, making closer ties with Vietnam a breakthrough point of the current global predicament. China needs to position its relationship with Vietnam on a strategic level, switching the focus of bilateral relations from the South China Sea to economic cooperation. Though the spat hasn’t damaged bilateral economic cooperation, it could be a potential barrier to lifting bilateral relations to the next level. To share the dividends from Vietnam’s rising position, China should consider downplaying the South China Sea issue without compromising territorial integrity. The move would reduce uncertainties in bilateral relations. China should further its research and launch China-Vietnam free trade zone negotiations to connect with a broader trade network, which would help achieve higher trade standards. Based on the differences in economic volume, opening the market to Vietnam will not jeopardize Chinese industries. China can expand its overseas market by getting into developed markets such as the EU or Japan through Vietnam. The geographical advantages Vietnam offers 113 Selected Analysis
have made it an emerging hub of international trade after Singapore and China’s Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. China is Vietnam’s largest trading partner, with bilateral trade volume exceeding $100 billion in 2018, accounting for more than 20 percent of the total volume of Vietnam foreign trade. This is a favorable foothold to start negotiations for a free trade agreement. Chinese companies should be encouraged to establish factories in Vietnam to bypass high tariffs targeted at them. Compared with Japan, South Korea, and Singapore, China is a latecomer in Vietnam investment. Under the new international economic situation, China should accelerate local investment to create substantial interest for the country. China could transfer relatively low labor costs into price advantages. Launching factories in Vietnam can also extend China’s corporate brand influence. “Made in China” will become “Made in Vietnam,” helping China avert unfair tariffs. The free trade network in Vietnam would help Chinese products sell on other overseas markets. Companies, domestic or international, relocating to Vietnam will motivate Chinese industries to upgrade and transform, eventually playing a different role in the global production chain. Both countries need to increase their cooperation in the financial sector to facilitate bilateral trade and investment. The Chinese yuan and Vietnamese dong swap agreement and clearing system need to be pushed forward to reduce their dependence on US dollars and risks from exchange rate fluctuations. More Chinese banks can move into Vietnam and provide better financial services there. The two countries also need to build high-level dialogue so different opinions can be exchanged. Both countries need to strengthen people-to-people exchanges to pave the road for long-lasting peace and stability between them. China should increase public diplomacy by promoting tourism to Vietnam, providing scholarships to the country’s students and encouraging inter-marriage between young people. Such cultural exchanges can help resolve negative sentiments and build mutual trust. Written By: Li Wei Source: Global Times Published: 25 March 2019 The author is professor with the School of International Studies and research fellow at the Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies at Renmin University of China.
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(D) Neighborly advantages Close political and geographic links provide a solid platform on which China and ASEAN can enhance cooperation on the Belt and Road Over the past six years, the Belt and Road Initiative has become a global public good with great vitality and creativity. To date, more than 150 countries and international organizations in total have signed Belt and Road cooperation agreements with China. Under the framework of the initiative, 82 overseas economic cooperation zones have been set up in participating countries. Trade between China and the Belt and Road partner countries has exceeded $6 trillion. The more than $80 billion of Chinese investment in these countries has created 240,000 local jobs. Why has the Belt and Road Initiative won so much support? To sum up, it follows the principle of equality and mutual benefit, aiming for win-win outcomes. It is an open, inclusive and rules-based initiative, ready to synergize the development strategies of partner countries. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations is an important participant in the Belt and Road Initiative. In the past six years, a large number of cooperation projects between China and ASEAN members have been incorporated into the cooperation framework of the Belt and Road Initiative. More and more practical plans are being actively explored. Belt and Road cooperation requires solid political mutual trust. Despite their differences on some issues, the political relationship between China and ASEAN is very strong. China was the first dialogue partner of ASEAN to accede to the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia and the first country to forge a strategic partnership with ASEAN. In 2018, both sides issued the China-ASEAN Strategic Partnership Vision 2030, which lays out a medium-and long-term blueprint for future relations. Leaders from China and the ASEAN countries have maintained close exchanges. At the China-ASEAN Summit held every year, the leaders hold candid discussions on major issues of common concern and make decisions to ensure that bilateral cooperation is proceeding on the right path. Strengthening synergy between the ASEAN development strategy and the Belt and Road Initiative has become a consensus among the leaders of both sides. Under the China-ASEAN cooperation mechanism, the two sides have developed effective cooperation in more than 20 fields such as connectivity, finance, agriculture, information and communication technology, human resources 115 Selected Analysis
development, investment, energy, culture, tourism, public health, the environment and subregional development. China and ASEAN should strengthen their cooperation to bring these dialogue mechanisms into full play. China has established a dialogue mechanism at the vice-premier or ministerial level with several ASEAN countries. Any bilateral cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative can be fully coordinated and promoted through intergovernmental dialogue. China has also signed bilateral investment agreements with several ASEAN countries. There are multiple insurance mechanisms for bilateral cooperation, and there are no so-called debt traps, as claimed by the West. China and the ASEAN countries are close neighbors that share weal and woe on the road to common development and prosperity. This has been fully verified by their handling of the two financial crises in 1997 and 2008. In a world with increasing trends of unilateralism and trade protectionism, China and ASEAN need to work together to seek common development. It is of overriding importance they seek self-development, mutually beneficial cooperation and maintain regional sustainable development and prosperity. ASEAN is committed to promoting the implementation of the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity (MPAC) 2025, which is consistent with the goal of the Belt and Road Initiative to promote regional connectivity. If these are successfully synergized, the ASEAN connectivity project will gain more support from China and the rest of the world, which will improve its commercial value and meet its long-term development goals. China and ASEAN combined are a huge market with a population of more than 2 billion. At present, trade between the two sides is close to $600 billion per year, and total mutual investment has exceeded $200 billion. Financial cooperation, including currency swap arrangements, has also achieved remarkable results. People-to-people exchanges have exceeded 50 million trips per year. This is a huge improvement compared to the past. But considering the market potential of both sides, it may be just the beginning. In the next 15 years, China's imports of goods are expected to exceed $30 trillion and its imports of services $10 trillion. For ASEAN, it is an important opportunity to expand cooperation with China and accelerate its own development. Belt and Road cooperation provides a viable opportunity for the integration of the two markets. The two sides have the ability and conditions to tap their 116 Selected Analysis
market potential, mobilize various resources and expand their cooperation in various fields. China and ASEAN countries have similar cultures and customs. Belt and Road cooperation can help improve infrastructure, expand trade exports, improve people's employment and living standards, and thus it will certainly gain the understanding and support of the people of both sides. At present, nearly 30 million Chinese tourists visit Southeast Asia every year. This number will rise with the improvement of infrastructure connectivity. The number of ASEAN tourists visiting China will also increase quickly. Youth is the future and hope for the development of China-ASEAN relations. There are currently about 200,000 Chinese and ASEAN students studying in each other's countries. Belt and Road cooperation has built a new platform and points to a new direction for future comprehensive and pragmatic cooperation between China and ASEAN. Written By: Hu Zhengyue Source: China Daily Published: 10 April 2019 The author is vice-president of China Public Diplomacy Association. The author contributed this article to China Watch, a think tank powered by China Daily.
(E) Uncertainty in Thailand won’t stand in the way of cooperation with China On the evening of June 5, current Thailand’s Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha was elected the country’s next prime minister by members of the Lower and Upper Houses of Parliament. What course will Sino-Thai cooperation take as Prayut starts a fresh term in office? In my view, Sino-Thai cooperation during the Prayut administration will depend on how the Southeast Asian nation’s polity looks at relations with China. Friendly and pragmatic Sino-Thai cooperation, which has historical roots, is also based on realistic demands. Currently, there is interest within Thailand advocating cooperation with China over political security and development. Talking of political security, with strong mutual trust, China and Thailand have made strides in political dialogue and security cooperation under the comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership. For Thailand, developing good relations with China in the field of political security on the one hand is 117 Selected Analysis
based on domestic demand, including national development and defense; on the other, it shows the adoption of equilibrium strategy among major powers. Promoting cooperation with China has become an important way of Thailand to balance its position in ties with the US. As for economic development, strong relations with China have been of great practical significance to all previous Thai governments, and the Prayut administration will be no exception. In recent years, especially since China’s trade frictions with the US, the Thai economy hasn’t been upbeat. Latest data shows that due to slow growth in exports and tourism, Thailand’s GDP increased by 2.8 percent in the first quarter of 2019, marking the lowest rate of growth since the fourth quarter of 2014. Under such circumstances, Prayut is bound to come under pressure to boost the economy and fulfill his promises, including that of improving the state’s economic situation and raising the minimum wage. Therefore, the new Prayut government will not loosen economic ties with China. Instead, Bangkok will consider more about strengthening economic relations and attracting more Chinese enterprises to invest and participate in the development of long-term projects in the Southeast Asian nation such as the Eastern Economic Corridor under the Thailand 4.0 industrial plan and digital economy development. People of China and Thailand share similar social and cultural backgrounds, and enjoy long-term friendly contacts. In the new era, cultural exchanges between the two states have received a boost from a series of frameworks like Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) cooperation and Lancang-Mekong Cooperation mechanism. Bilateral cooperation in culture, language teaching, tourism and youth exchanges can expect brighter prospects. Different voices on promoting ties with China can be heard in Thailand. First, the new political situation will have a profound impact on bilateral cooperation during Prayut’s new term of office. Symbolized by the March 24 general election this year, Thai politics has shown two distinct characteristics: For one, there’s sharp division between the camp led by the Palang Pracharath Party (PPP) with Prayut as the representative and the camp led by the Pheu Thai Party (PTP); the other is the rift in the House of Representatives of National Assembly of Thailand after the election. Under such circumstances, widespread uncertainty pervades Thailand’s domestic affairs. Second, influenced by Western media’s hype on the uncertainties that the BRI may bring, coupled with the inappropriate behavior of some Chinese tourists in Thailand, the attitudes of some Thai people on China have been negatively affected. 118 Selected Analysis
In view of the aforesaid points, during Prayut’s new term, China and Thailand will not only keep cooperating in the fields of political security and economic development, but also have to face the challenges brought about by the new situation. Therefore, the two countries should strengthen coordination while maintaining dialogue, and highlight the pragmatic and mutually beneficial feature of joint projects, so as to lessen the impact on bilateral cooperation caused by looming uncertainty of Thailand’s internal affairs. Written By: Ge Hongliang Source: Global Times Published: 13 June 2019 The author is a research fellow at the Charhar Institute and the College of ASEAN Studies at Guangxi University for Nationalities.
Political Affairs (F) Troubled waters Mekong’s future remains uncertain as Thailand lights fuse on rapidsblasting project As a new year dawns, the waters of the Mekong River remain turbulent with uncertainty. While many take holidays and prepare for the new year, the people of the Mekong face an unknown future. Earlier this month, residents along the Mekong in Chiang Rai were preparing to participate in a public hearing about a project to canalise the Lancang-Mekong, popularly known as the Mekong “rapids-blasting” project. The Chiang Khong Conservation Group, a local environmental organisation, was informed by the Marine Department that eight hearings would be organised in districts along the Mekong in Chiang Rai from December 12-18. However, just one day before the meetings were due to begin, the group received a letter advising that the hearings would be postponed indefinitely. Shocking change of direction Just at the new year, an announcement was made that the hearings would be during this week (3-5 January). The sudden change of plans took the community group by surprise. This latest twist follows a pattern of contradictory statements regarding the plans for the rapids-blasting project.
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Nearly two decades ago, China, Myanmar, Laos and Thailand signed the Agreement on Commercial Navigation on the Lancang-Mekong River. The agreement aims to enable navigation of 500-tonne freighters between southern China’s Yunnan to the Thai-Lao border and on to Luang Prabang. The agreement has provided a basis for proposals for canalisation of rapids to enable yearround traffic of commercial barges. Under this plan, the Mekong would eventually be converted into a waterway for commercial navigation. The project has already been implemented along Myanmar-Laos border, up to the Thai border at the Golden Triangle. For Thai communities, the plans raise grave concerns over the threat to the river ecosystem, critical fish habitat and breeding grounds, and local livelihoods. The proposed canalisation in Thailand was suspended for more than 10 years by previous Thai governments. Major concerns were the project’s environmental impacts and issues of national security and sovereignty at the Thai-Lao border. Then, in late 2016, the developer, China CCCC Second Harbor, requested to meet the Chiang Khong Conservation Group and proposed to share information about the Mekong canalisation project, indicating that it had been revived. Within days of the meeting, the Thai Cabinet adopted a resolution supporting the plans for “survey and design”. This was a highly unexpected decision and a huge shock to the Mekong communities of Chiang Rai. Following a sustained campaign by local communities, in late 2017, Foreign Minister Don Pramudwina, after attending the 3rd Mekong-Lancang Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in Yunnan in December, announced that China had decided to step back from its plan for rapids blasting. The minister reported that the Chinese government acknowledged that the rapid blasting project would hurt communities living along the river. He called it a “New Year’s gift” for Thai people. Communities left in limbo But the recently announced hearings, while currently postponed, reveal that the project is still very much alive and is expected to move forward. The years of suspensions and contradictory announcements continue, and create a prolonged sense of uncertainty for local communities fighting to conserve the character and rich resources of their river. The question remains, why is the Mekong-rapids blasting project still being pushed forward, despite the previous suspensions and contrary statements? The Mekong in Chiang Rai has already experienced severe ecological devastation in recent years due to dam construction on the river’s upper reaches in China. At 120 Selected Analysis
least 10 dams have been completed on the Lancang, or upper Mekong, with the Jinghong Dam closest to the Thai border, 340 kilometres away. Three more Mekong dams are slated for construction in neighbouring Laos, including the Pak Beng dam, proposed for development by a Chinese company in Oudomxay, just 90 kilometres from the Thai border. Plans for Pak Beng dam include navigation locks to enable passage of commercial barges downstream. Looking at the bigger picture, the canalisation proposal can therefore be seen in the context of a much larger plan for the river, converting it from a watershed with fast-flowing rapids to a waterway and powershed in the form of a series of reservoirs and canals â€“ producing energy and profit while facilitating increased cross-border trade and commercial activity. The Chinese developer of Pak Beng dam has also tried to engage Thai communities campaigning on the projectâ€™s adverse environmental impacts. In late 2017, Pak Beng project developer, Datang Corporation, contacted the Chiang Khong Group and asked for a meeting to share information about the proposed dam. A meeting took place in Chiang Khong in January, followed by a technical consultation in November convened at Chiang Mai University. During the meeting, the Network of Thai People in Eight Mekong Provinces proposed that a new transboundary impact assessment be carried out to reassess its ecological impacts, and the likelihood of extensive damage to fishing, culture, livelihoods and natural resources in the Mekong. The Mekong River Commission has found that the existing study for the Pak Beng dam is seriously flawed, based on outdated data. The company is yet to respond to this proposal. As a Mekong dweller who has been working to protect the river for two decades, I foresee major concern over the impacts of projects being pushed forward and confusion and fear as people await the next development. Millions of people are watching as the Chinese companies developing these projects try to engage local people in meetings and dialogue. These attempts could be attributed to political considerations, as China looks to increase influence downstream through the auspices of the Lancang-Mekong Cooperation framework, a miniature of the ambitious Belt and Road Initiative, which has raised major environmental concerns globally. They could also be explained by legal obligations, with Chinese laws increasing in stringency with regard to the adverse environmental impacts of investments abroad. But approaching people of the lower Mekong simply to inform them about incoming projects is meaningless unless it involves real dialogue based on a mutual understanding that we treat the Mekong River as a shared resource.
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Also critical to meaningful dialogue is acknowledgement by Mekong states of the damage that is already being inflicted on the river due to dam construction, canalisation and other developments. So far, political will has not been forthcoming in exploring collective solutions among the states. Instead, governments appear busy serving the vested interests of the private sector, at times with a reckless disregard for environmental and social costs. In his visit to Laos earlier this month, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha discussed the purchase of cheap power from Laos, almost all of which will be generated by dams on the Mekong and its tributaries, with severe environmental impacts on the river system. At the same time, Thailand is enjoying an unprecedented power glut, and alternative renewable energy technologies are increasingly feasible and cost-competitive. As we turn the page on a new year, the voice of Mekong communities must be heard: by governments, developers and investors. Do we really need to exploit priceless natural resources for today’s profit without regard to the irreversible consequences – for the river and for current and future generations? Written By: Pianporn Deetes Source: The Nation Thailand Published: 3 January 2019 The author is Thailand and Myanmar campaigns director with International Rivers, a global NGO working to defend the rights of rivers and communities. Since 2002, she has worked to protect Southeast Asia’s major rivers, the Mekong and Salween.
(G) Will Vietnam make South China Sea COC talks tougher? The next round of negotiations between China and ASEAN on the Code of Conduct (COC) in the South China Sea is expected in the first quarter of this year. According to Reuters, which claimed to have seen a negotiating draft of the COC, Vietnam hopes the agreement will outlaw China’s many steps across the disputed waters recently, consisting of artificial island construction and missile deployment. It also reveals Vietnam is trying to prohibit any new Air Defense Identification Zone. Additionally, Vietnam wants to clarify the “nine-dash line” according to international laws in the COC, which is proposed by China. There is difference in China and Vietnam’s positions on the South China Sea. China adopts a comprehensive stance in dealing with the dispute, taking historical claims as well as UNCLOS into account. Vietnam’s claim relies more on Western ideas, such as UNCLOS, instead of referring to history, which Hanoi used to base its proposals on. Vietnam is trying
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to internationalize the dispute by seeking support of other claimants and international powers like the US to contain China. Vietnam’s new claim on the COC is consistent with this shift. The provisions that Vietnam is pushing for reflect its security concerns toward China and its opposition against Beijing’s construction of artificial islands, although recent friendly ties mask these conflicts. Last November, China appealed to complete negotiations before 2021. In 2020, Vietnam will hold the ASEAN chair, which will be a significant time for COC negotiations. Hanoi will be under certain diplomatic and political pressure then. It is Vietnam’s tactics to put forward its claims first to have the upper hand in negotiations. Obstacles, such as Vietnam’s recent claims, are inevitable with the further development of the COC. In other ASEAN countries, like the Philippines, there are a group of people asserting that Manila and other bloc nations should fully support Vietnam’s stance against China in negotiating the COC. Albert Del Rosario, who was foreign affairs secretary of the Philippines and led efforts to take the dispute with China before an international arbitration tribunal, is one of them. However, the Philippines under President Rodrigo Duterte has adopted a relatively friendly attitude toward China. Hence, the country is unlikely to back Vietnam’s proposal. Beijing has close economic and trade ties with Manila and is its largest trading partner. The Philippines tends to be neutral in diplomacy, including in disputes between China and the US. Therefore, Manila is unwilling to alienate China and ferment more tensions on the South China Sea. Another important claimant is Malaysia, which has always adopted practical diplomacy, especially after Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad took office. Mahathir is likely to support Vietnam’s proposals but it is impossible for him to take the lead and strongly back them. Last July, Mahathir announced the cancellation of three Belt and Road initiative projects: the East Coast Rail Link and two gas pipelines, the Multi-Product Pipeline and Trans-Sabah Gas Pipeline. Currently, Kuala Lumpur is experiencing a run-in period with Beijing. But a big row with China on the South China Sea is not consistent with Malaysia’s interests. When dealing with the divergence with ASEAN in COC negotiations, China should achieve trade-offs. Faced with the strategic environment of fierce ChinaUS competition, strengthening ties with neighboring countries is China’s basic strategy. The South China Sea issue cannot be avoided when communicating with ASEAN members. Except for maintaining some fundamental principles, 123 Selected Analysis
including historical claims, artificial islands under construction, which Beijing cannot make a compromise with, China can ease tensions on other fronts to win ASEANâ€™s trust. For example, China can provide an institutional guarantee for regional peace to convince surrounding countries that it will not take the initiative to resort to force to resolve disputes. China can make more contribution in bringing about flexible and creative initiatives on related solutions to address disputes. Written By: Li Kaisheng Source: Global Times Published: 13 January 2019 The author is a research fellow at the Institute of International Relations, the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences.
(H) Beyond US-China spat: Aseanâ€™s options Despite all the pleasantries in Washington, DC surrounding the latest US-China trade talks over the past week, the rivalry between the world's two largest economies will not subside anytime soon. For years, US-China relations have been on top of the agenda in most of the countries in the Southeast Asian region, but never before have those ties stooped to the present level of animosity. As key strategic partners of Asean, the US and China must realise that whether they cooperate or confront each other, it will have serious repercussions on the bloc. At this juncture, instead of waiting for the outcome of the talks in a passive manner, Asean should take the bull by the horns by reassessing its ties with the superpowers and identifying strategies that would go beyond this rivalry. Otherwise, Asean will become a sitting duck. Yan Xuetong, a professor at Tsinghua University in Beijing, said in Bangkok last week that the US-China trade war and strategic contest will continue unabated and will replace the South China Sea dispute as the region's hottest issue. At present, both China and Asean are working on a single draft of a code of conduct (COC) for the South China Sea. It is still a work in progress, although both Asean and China expect the COC to be completed by 2021. Mr Yan pointed out that in the future, US-China relations will be more fluid, with issue-specific alliances rather than rigid opposing blocs along clear ideological lines, as in the past. These issues will include market access, technological advantages, and rules and norms governing trade, investment, employment, exchange rates and intellectual property. In such circumstances, Mr Yan said, most countries will adopt a two-track foreign policy, siding with the US on some
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issues and with China on others. This would allow Asean to increase its role in the regional scheme of things via Asean-led mechanisms. From Asean's perspective, the US-China confrontation does not augur well for community-building in the region, which requires a stable political and security environment. Before the Trump administration, the US-China relationship was manageable, despite some tensions, as well as policy rebalancing and shifts, but without the threat of war. Asean has been able to plod along, protecting its interests without choosing sides. In the coming months, it remains a huge challenge for Asean as to how the bloc can maintain that status quo as Washington continues to ramp up the rhetoric. A recent survey conducted by a Singapore-based think tank, the Yusof Ishak Institute, showed high anxiety about US-China relations. Some 73% of 1,008 respondents in Southeast Asia believe China has more political and strategic influence in the region than the US. But at the same time, they expressed concern about China's geostrategic ambitions. It is interesting to note that, according to the survey, fewer that one in 10 saw China as "a benign and benevolent power", with nearly half saying Beijing possesses "an intent to turn Southeast Asia into a sphere of influence". In the case of Thailand, China and the US are the country's top two export markets, comprising 22% of foreign trade. The country is wooing both superpowers as the current tension has already affected production chains existing between Thailand and China and their exports to the US. Thailand is looking beyond the US-China trade war by forging free trade relations with countries near and far. At the moment, Bangkok is eager to conclude a free trade agreement with the EU, Turkey, Sri Lanka and Argentina. Now is an opportune time for Asean to go beyond the US-China squabbling. As the current chair, Thailand has already used the decade-old building-block strategy of Asean by promoting the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia (TAC). One of the priorities is to encourage more UN members to accede to the TAC, which now has 35 signatories from all four corners of the world. Peru and Saudi Arabia plan to do so this year. The next step for the regional bloc is to strengthen all Asean-led mechanisms and rules-based orders both regionally and internationally. At the Chiang Mai retreat last month, the Asean foreign ministers agreed to push forward the regional grouping's version of the Indo-Pacific concept. This would represent the first concrete collective effort by the bloc since the adoption of the Asean Charter in 2008 to push forward Asean-based rules and norms beyond the region. 125 Selected Analysis
In addition, Asean's response to myriad Indo-Pacific initiatives shows the bloc's enthusiasm to engage more in shaping the regional and global strategic environment. Senior Asean officials will meet next month in Chiang Rai to finalise the bloc's version of the Indo-Pacific's future. There could be a name change so as to distinguish the Asean version from others. The Asean concept has outlined three major challenges. First, Asean wants to create an enabling environment for countries in the region to live in peace through frequent dialogue with respect to international laws and norms. Second, by pushing forward its Indo-Pacific initiative, Asean wants to ensure its centrality in tackling transnational security challenges, including crime, radicalism and terrorism, drugs and human trafficking, and of course piracy. The bloc has developed many mechanisms that could address these external challenges. These exist with various hierarchies, including at the government head, foreign ministry, inter-sessional, and working group levels. Strengthening such cooperation among these higher-echelon bodies is increasingly imperative. Asean leaders must not be shy in addressing strategic issues affecting the region. Finally, Asean can be more assertive in supporting an open and fair economic system. That helps explain why the conclusion of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, a proposed FTA between the 10 Asean members and six Asia-Pacific states, under the Thai chair is crucial. That would send a strong signal of Asean's centrality in ensuring free trade and wider connectivity. Written By: Kavi Chongkittavorn Source: Bangkok Post Published: 5 February 2019 The author is a veteran journalist on regional affairs.
(I) Beijing saves Mekong islets The revelation that China is backing away from its plans to blow up islands and outcroppings in the Mekong River is welcome news. Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai said he had raised the issue last month during a visit by Chinese counterpart Wang Yi. It is a wise move by Beijing. It comes more than two years after all riverside communities and civil society in four countries had registered strong opposition. China's plan to destroy inconvenient Mekong features was to facilitate commerce. In particular, China wanted a clearer river channel from Yunnan 126 Selected Analysis
province to Luang Prabang in central Laos. And to achieve that, Beijing claimed it had to blast numerous islets in Chiang Rai province. Of course, as Beijing now appears to admit, there are numerous alternatives to such destruction. It is notable that during the intimidating two years of insistence by China on environmental destruction that the government carefully chose to stay aloof. On two occasions, the government asked China to hold off. But Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, Mr Don and the cabinet never directly opposed the Chinese plan. Not so residents of Chiang Rai and a large portion of Thai civil society. They have actively opposed plans that would have made a particularly picturesque Mekong channel desolate. But China's plan to put TNT under numerous small islands threatened far more than aesthetics. Communities all along the Mekong depend on the "mother of rivers" for life. Among the first negative results of blasting would be the removal of the thousands of places fish spawn and live. Fishermen would be the first casualties. One hopes Beijing will quickly confirm Mr Don's happy news. It will be greeted enthusiastically from Yunnan to Vietnam's Mekong Delta. Mr Don himself credited environmentalists from four downstream countries for helping to influence the Chinese decision -- Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. According to the Thai foreign minister, the governments of these four countries also appealed to China to reconsider plans to dynamite their way to a wider, deeper Mekong that would affect the entire river. It also must be hoped that Beijing now is more vitally aware that the Mekong is not a Chinese river. While Chiang Rai people and the Rak Chiang Khong Conservation Group focused on a relatively short section of the Mekong, the fact is that destroying the Chiang Khong district islets would affect those far downstream. As recently as January, the military regime allowed public hearings on the issue. A Chinese government-approved company, CCCC Second Harbour Consultants, was designated by Beijing to take part. But there was no apparent participation by the government of Thailand. In fact, in December of 2016, the government approved the "development plan" of the Mekong foisted on Thailand by Chinese authorities -- including the clearing of a Mekong channel by explosives. At the weekend, Mr Don appeared clearly relieved that China had dropped its destructive plans. He praised the "positive response" and "constructive decision" expressed by Mr Wang. All thoughtful people will agree, but the government should take a more forceful stance to protect the national environment. 127 Selected Analysis
Written By: Ploenpote Atthakor Source: Bangkok Post Published: 12 March 2019 The author is Bangkok Post Editorial Page Editor.
(J) China-US rivalry not a clash of civilizations Kiron Skinner, director of policy planning at the US Department of State, argued on April 29 that China-US competition is a “clash of civilizations.” This has triggered dissenting voices in the US as well as internationally. Skinner described competition with China as, “a fight with a really different civilization and a different ideology, and the United States hasn’t had that before.” She said “when we think about the Soviet Union and that competition [the Cold War], in a way, it was a fight within the Western family,” but China “poses a unique challenge because the regime in Beijing isn’t a child of Western philosophy and history.” Skinner’s provocative statement can hardly stand scrutiny. As current China-US ties are getting more intense, escalating disputes between the two sides into a clash of civilizations will only worsen the relations. It will not help the US formulate reasonable policies toward China and will harm both countries’ interests in the long run. Since the end of the Cold War, competition and cooperation have coexisted in China-US relations, with cooperation being dominant part. After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, China and the US lost their strategic base of a quasi alliance. However, the two still maintained good momentum in cooperation. Their economic and trade relations, for example, are regarded as the ballast stone for bilateral ties. China and the US also actively cooperate in combating international terrorism and UN peacekeeping mission. There have been disputes between China and the US, including trade disputes, the South China Sea issue and the Taiwan question. This is natural because the two countries’ interests differ on these issues. Washington has all kinds of conflicts even with its allies. As such, China-US relations were positive and healthy for quite a while after the end of the Cold War. However, ties between Beijing and Washington have been tense since 2010. The main reason was that Washington started to regard Beijing as its strategic rival. Before 2010, the US did not believe China’s national strength could pose a threat to it, nor did it think China was a challenge to the US-led international order.
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But since China surpassed Japan to become the world’s second-largest economy in 2010, US political elites started to worry that Beijing could challenge Washington’s status and the international order. China has explained a lot on this. On one hand, China’s GDP accounts for around 60 percent of that of the US’, and the gap may even be larger between the two countries when it comes to comprehensive strength. So, China is not a threat to the US’ position of strength. On the other hand, China is building and protecting the international order instead of challenge it. China benefits from free trade and is a permanent member of the UN Security Council. Although the US labels China a strategic competitor, this is normal in political games among major powers. A rival is not necessarily an enemy. Enemies fight in cutthroat competitions, strategic rivals compete for power and interests. But Skinner’s statement – a so-called “clash of civilizations” – refers to a struggle between enemies rather than rivals. Because different civilizations mean different outlooks on the world, different social beliefs and different lifestyles. Skinner’s vague statements imply that she has separated civilizations from ideologies. She thinks the US-Soviet Union rivalry was not a clash of civilizations. But in fact, it included competition on status, international order, as well as ideological disputes. There are undoubtedly ideological disputes between Beijing and Washington. If she puts ideologies on a par with civilizations, she would not distinguish the Cold War from China-US competition. Consequently, Skinner’s “clash of civilizations” should be interpreted as conflict between two completely different perspectives on the world, social beliefs and different lifestyles. In this context, China-US competition does not comply with characteristics of clash of civilizations. Despite different ideologies, there is no irreconcilable contradiction on civilizations between the two. China’s traditional culture including Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism all prefer to separate religion from public life, oppose the unification of the church and state, and is not against other civilizations. Moreover, after more than 40 years of reform and opening-up, China and the US have many things in common. Today economic globalization has profoundly influence on all aspects of Chinese people’s life. American culture and lifestyle are welcomed in China.
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Indeed, there are differences between Chinese and American culture, but the two complement rather than oppose each other. For example, China may need more individualism to boost its society’s vitality, while the US needs more collectivism to eliminate increasingly tense disputes among different social class and ethnic groups. Labeling China-US competition as “a clash of civilizations” will only stir up anti-China sentiment. It cannot help the two countries resolve their disputes. Written By: Song Wei Source: Global Times Published: 12 May 2019 The author is research fellow at the National Academy of Development and Strategy and professor at the School of International Studies, Renmin University of China.
(K) Shangri-La Dialogue: How South-east Asia can navigate Sino-US competition Given the ongoing tensions between the United States and China, it is a safe bet that the Shangri-La Dialogue (SLD) that kicks off this weekend will include another round of US-China barb-trading. But beyond the expected headlines this will generate, it is worth thinking about what rising US-China competition means for South-east Asia and how the region can navigate it. South-east Asia is no stranger to managing changes in major power relations. Asean was founded in the midst of the Cold War between the US and the Soviet Union. And South-east Asian states have had to recalibrate their own approaches amid changes in US-China relations, be it the full normalisation of ties in 1979 or in the aftermath of the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989. But fears about US-China competition have intensified over the past few years. The combination of China's growing assertiveness under President Xi Jinping and America's chequered reliability, heightened under President Donald Trump, have raised questions about whether both sides will be able to accommodate each other's interests and how this may affect the future evolution of the regional order. Rising US-China competition is now showing signs of crystallising into confrontation. While this is by no means inevitable, efforts to manage aspects of relations, including the quest for a trade deal, obscure a broader reality where the outlines of wider, long-term US competition are being drawn out across a range of areas, including economics, security, technology and values. 130 Selected Analysis
Some of the dynamics of rising US-China competition will no doubt be on display at this year's SLD. Indeed, the fact that China's Defence Minister will be at the forum for the first time in nearly a decade, and that the US is expected to lay out specifics on the defence aspect of its Free and Open Indo-Pacific strategy, sets up the potential for US-China fireworks at a high level. For South-east Asia, heightened US-China competition today is a worrying prospect for security, sovereignty and prosperity. While competition between major powers is commonplace in international relations, if not properly managed, it can upset regional stability, force countries into false choices in their alignments, and result in unrealised cooperation and missed opportunities. Additionally concerning is the reality that while South-east Asian states would ideally be able to exploit US-China competition for their own gain, a series of other challenges today may limit their ability to do so. Stresses in domestic politics, fraying Asean unity and uncertainty about the future direction of both China's assertiveness and US reliability are all complicating factors in this respect. SOME SUGGESTIONS But that does not mean that managing heightening US-China competition in the coming years is beyond the ability of South-east Asian states. Indeed, there is still much that the region can do to both shape the nature of that competition in a more positive direction as well as better insulate itself from potential negative fallout. First, more South-east Asian governments should candidly reiterate concerns about the regional implications of US-China competition to Washington, Beijing and wider audiences. On emerging areas of competition such as 5G, there is still little international understanding about how South-east Asian states are viewing this domain, with individual actions being viewed simplistically as leaning either towards or away from China, when, in many cases, options are still being weighed and the competitive environment is still being shaped. While countries such as Thailand and Singapore have been more outspoken about the criteria they are using to consider alternatives, greater clarity on the part of other South-east Asian states would help contribute to a better understanding of the broader regional environment beyond just the prism of USChina rivalry. 131 Selected Analysis
Second, South-east Asian countries should intensify efforts to engage other major powers beyond the US and China to work out more inclusive solutions to regional challenges. On issues such as infrastructure, engaging with actors such as Japan can help put the focus on addressing Asia's real development needs rather than US-China debates about aspects of Beijing's Belt and Road Initiative. Third, regional states must be active in ensuring that South-east Asia remains central to ongoing conversations about shaping the future of the regional security architecture. Recent efforts by countries such as Indonesia to distil a South-east Asian vision of the Indo-Pacific in response to Washington's articulation of its Free and Open Indo-Pacific strategy is a good example of this in practice. Fourth, the region must reinforce regional and international rules and norms that can help manage US-China competition, even if Washington or Beijing is reluctant to do so. That includes strengthening Asean-centred institutions that are critical to the rules-based order as well as reiterating the importance of norms such as the freedom of navigation in the South China Sea. Fifth, South-east Asian countries should accelerate efforts to integrate among themselves to mitigate divisions that may arise with rising US-China rivalry. Particular attention should be paid to developing links between the rest of South-east Asia and the Mekong subregion given the integration challenges therein, and this can be advanced under the Asean chairmanships of Thailand this year and Vietnam next year. Sixth, South-east Asian states should better insulate their countries from the negative effects of major power penetration, which can range from rising US protectionism or Chinese influence operations. That involves not just reacting to individual developments but also cultivating alternatives, building resilience, raising awareness and planning ahead for contingencies. To be sure, this is easier said than done. It will require South-east Asian states to operate beyond narrow self-interest, and to think comprehensively about the full range of tools available to them. But given both the importance of US-China relations to South-east Asia as well as the difficulty of managing competition between the two sides, such an immense effort is certainly warranted. During his last keynote address at the SLD in 2015, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong usefully framed the challenge for South-east Asia when he said that while competition between major powers may be unavoidable, the question is what form this competition will take.
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If they play their cards right, South-east Asian states need not consign themselves to the role of hapless bystanders or pawns. Collectively, they can try to shape the course of heightened US-China competition while better managing its effects. Written By: Prashanth Parameswaran, PhD Source: The Straits Times Published: 31 May 2019 The author is a fellow with the Wilson Centreâ€™s Asia Programme and a senior editor at The Diplomat Magazine.
(L) Shangri-La Dialogue: What China and Asean can do to maintain stability in South China Sea The situation in the South China Sea has stabilised in the past two years, thanks to the joint efforts of China and Asean to resolve disputes through consultation and cooperation. Now, in an effort to reinforce what has been achieved, both sides are actively working on establishing a Code of Conduct (COC). Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said last November at the 44th Singapore Lecture that Beijing hopes to complete talks on a COC for the South China Sea within three years, clinching a final deal that will lead to enduring peace in the region. In addition to such efforts, China and the Philippines have established a bilateral consultation mechanism on the South China Sea, a joint coastguard committee on maritime cooperation and signed a memorandum of understanding on joint oil and gas development. Separately, China and Vietnam have agreed to explore various means of cooperation, including joint development, in the South China Sea. China, the Philippines and Vietnam are among countries that have conflicting claims in parts of the waterway. Despite the progress made and the positive moves to ease tensions, the situation remains complicated and is vulnerable to destabilisation by a number of disruptive factors. One prominent factor is the United States and its increasing rivalry with China; this can be seen in its regularising of freedom of navigation operations in the South China Sea. The increasing involvement of other extra-regional powers is another factor. The domestic situation of claimant states could also potentially affect efforts to resolve territorial disputes. Given the circumstances, China and Asean should continue to play a key stabilising role in the South China Sea and stick to the general direction of dialogue and cooperation. 133 Selected Analysis
At this year's Boao Forum for Asia annual conference, Mr Yi Xianliang, director of the department of boundary and ocean affairs of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, pointed out that priority should be given to the security of the littoral states of the South China Sea and their people. Cooperation is the main method to defend and promote security. It is in the interests of the littoral states to join efforts to safeguard security through cooperation. In other words, China and Asean member states should put aside differences, focus on common interests and develop cooperation in various fields. These are some of the ways it can be done. First, China and Asean should accelerate the COC negotiation process. In the past several years, China and Asean have made great progress in COC negotiations. With the adoption of the COC single draft negotiating text last year, the consultation has now entered into what might be termed the "deep water" phase. There are some tough issues that will have to be tackled, including whether the code will be legally binding and what is the geographic scope covered by the code. The proper way forward is to exclude external interference, narrow differences and expand consensus as they work towards a final text that is acceptable to both parties and is helpful to the establishment of a regional order or rules that align with the common interests of regional countries. Second, China and Asean should promote pragmatic maritime cooperation and aim for greater progress and even breakthroughs. They have talked for some time about cooperation in less sensitive fields, such as fishing, maritime environment protection, search and rescue, maritime scientific research, and oil and gas exploration. The improvement of bilateral relations between China and South-east Asian claimant states provides favourable conditions for enhancing cooperation in such areas. For example, China and Asean can discuss the possibility of conducting joint surveys of fishing resources, and share the information and adopt common conservation measures; these measures will help establish a fishing cooperation mechanism among countries surrounding the South China Sea. Another important area for cooperation is maritime law enforcement. China and Asean can strengthen coastguard cooperation through ship visits, personnel training, capability building, hotlines, joint exercises and other measures. China and Asean claimants can also start one or two pilot oil and gas joint exploration projects and make them a model to follow. There is also great promise in China's Belt and Road Initiative and its plan to establish Hainan as a free trade zone; China and Asean can make use of the opportunities they offer to discuss how to cooperate in port building, cruise ship tourism, shipping industry, etc. Both sides 134 Selected Analysis
could also explore the possibility of establishing a pan-South China Sea economic cooperation framework to better coordinate with each other and to enhance regional connectivity. Third, China and Asean should enhance maritime security cooperation. This field, too, has great potential for China and Asean to work together. More bilateral or multilateral maritime military exercises between China and Asean member states can be conducted. Last year, the People's Liberation Army Navy, for the first time, held a maritime exercise with all Asean navies in two phases in Singapore and Zhanjiang, China. The exercise is a reflection of the increasing mutual trust between China and Asean militaries and is conducive to the stability of the South China Sea. China and Asean can explore the possibility of institutionalising such drills and expanding the scale. As Singapore's Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen noted at the Zhanjiang exercise, the way forward for the Asean-China maritime exercise is to have more of them, and larger ones, so that confidence can be built. He said the exercise was important to the region as it was "not a given" that militaries will always cooperate, or that they would agree on everything. Fourth, China and Asean should highlight confidence-building measures and crisis management. In recent years, during the COC negotiation, China and Asean have accelerated efforts at strengthening such measures with the aim of preventing incidents at sea. For instance, at the China-Asean summit in 2016, China and Asean jointly reviewed and approved a set of guidelines for hotline communications among senior officials in the event of maritime emergencies. At the same meeting in September, the Joint Statement on the Application of the Code for Unplanned Encounters at Sea in the South China Sea was also adopted. These measures will improve the operational safety of naval ships and aircraft during encounters in the South China Sea, and that in turn will enhance mutual trust among China and Asean member states. China and Asean ought to make full use of the existing agreements and ensure their implementation, as well as explore the prospects of establishing new mechanisms that will help avoid incidents from arising; and if they do, to prevent their escalation. In conclusion, China and Asean should cherish the present hard-won calm over the troubled waters of the South China Sea and build on that by enhancing cooperation in various fields. By doing so, both sides will advance the momentum of peace and stability in the region. Written By: Liu Lin Source: The Straits Times
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Published: 31 May 2019 The author is an associate research fellow with the War Studies College, PLA Academy of Military Sciences.
(M) Seeing Asean straight as Thailand chairs When Asean organises big meetings, the tendency for the host is to talk up a brouhaha. So it goes with the 34th Asean summit under Thailand's rotating chairmanship this year. By year's end, several hundred Asean-related meetings will have taken place, highlighted by the final annual summitry in OctoberNovember that will include top leaders from China, India, Japan, Russia, the United States, among others. Seeing Asean straight without talking it up or down reveals an entrenched and enduring regional organisation that now faces myriad challenges reminiscent of its past. Taking Asean forward and rebooting the 52-year-old regional vehicle requires a sobering account of its problems and dilemmas. While it has much to answer for, Asean is needed in Southeast Asia more than ever, as global headwinds among the major powers are likely to stiffen. Thailand as host this year signifies a major Asean shortcoming in recent years. The organisation has too often been taken hostage by the domestic politics of its member states. When it last chaired Asean a decade ago, Thailand was unable to hold top gatherings on time with safety and security, as protesters on one side of the country's divide took over the meeting venue. The good news this time is no such disruption is in the offing. But the bad news is that Thailand is unable to come up with an elected government with a clear policy direction or a semblance of regional leadership three months after it held a poll. Fellow Asean members had cut the host country some slack and agreed to a later summit in June just to allow Thailand time to form a government. It is also unclear what kind of governmental stability Thailand will have when the final summit round takes place later this year. On the one hand, Asean's menu of priorities and issues to address is long and daunting. In no particular order, here are some of them. Perhaps it is apt to start with the domestic. Rising authoritarian practices in the region at the expense of popular rule and basic rights and fundamental freedoms from Thailand and the Philippines to Cambodia and Myanmar are consequential for Asean. It makes Asean increasingly a club of authoritarian regimes that gravitate towards China's model of centralised authority and a successful economy.
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Because of Asean's rising authoritarianism and Thailand's own military government, civil society organisations may not be allowed voice and representation in an "interface" with Asean leaders this year. A decade ago, despite domestic political tumult, the highlight of Thailand's chairmanship was a half-hour interaction between civil society representatives and Asean leaders. The Thai government under the Democrat Party at the time insisted on such an interface and carved out time for Myanmar and Cambodian civil society representatives to meet with the chair without antagonising leaders from these two countries. Civil society is increasing marginalised in Asean summitry. This betrays the Asean rhetoric about being a "people-centred community". The new Thai government, especially if the foreign ministry is not run by pro-military representatives, should ensure a greater and more salient role for Asean civil society groups. Hard issues, such as the Rohingya humanitarian crisis in Myanmar's Rakhine state should also be addressed in this context. In addition, Asean governments' apparent collaboration that has resulted in mysterious "disappearances" and the deportation of dissidents deserves attention. Apart from the domestic realm, the second cluster of issues and challenges centres on fluid geopolitics and geoeconomics, underpinned by US-China trade and technological rivalry. Similar to its formative period, Asean risks being divided and overwhelmed by competition among the two pre-eminent superpowers. Back in the 1970s-80s, the standoff was between the US and the Soviet Union. This time, the US and China threaten to pick apart Southeast Asia's regional organisation. China is armed with its Belt and Road Initiative for Eurasian dominance, while the US's countervailing Free and Open Indo-Pacific strategy is set out to hem in China's assertive rise. Asean needs BRI projects but these should be implemented in smart hedging ways that do not make Asean governments beholden to China. Asean can also reconceptualise the FOIP to make it compatible with regional peace and stability. The point for Asean will be to keep the superpower slugfest manageable at arm's length without having to choose one side or the other. The South China Sea will be critical to Asean's effectiveness in the near term. Now that China is being pressed by the US, Beijing appears more pragmatic and accommodating to regional concerns. It is an opportune time for Asean and China to conclude the Code of Conduct for the South China Sea. As it is an ideal broker for the CoC because it is not a claimant, Thailand should risk whatever remains of its political capital to finalise the agreement. In addition, Thailand should also entice China to be more flexible in its dominant role in the Mekong 137 Selected Analysis
Region by harmonising Beijing's Lancang-Mekong Cooperation with existing mechanisms, such as the Mekong River Commission within the Greater Mekong Subregion. Asean is not monolithic and self-contained. The recent part has shown certain Asean members doing the bidding for China, whereas others have been favourable towards the US. This division can only be bridged by stronger leadership from the Asean chair and the Asean secretary-general. If divisions widen, Asean will become more perfunctory, rhetorical and bureaucratic without effective functionality and regional autonomy from the major powers. It is time to revamp the Asean secretary-general's position. The Asean secretarygeneral should no longer be alphabetically rotated among member states, reserved more or less for uncharismatic foreign policy bureaucrats close to retirement age. Surin Pitsuwan set a high bar as an effective global spokesman for Asean. But there are outspoken and plain-speaking diplomats in Surin's mould around the region who could elevate Asean's status on the global stage. The third cluster of challenges comprises non-traditional security concerns, such as transnational crime, human and drug trafficking, even the haze that Thailand has faced recently. These are lower hanging fruits that Asean can do much more about for collective benefit. Much is riding on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership as a consolidation of Asean's free-trade agreement with major regional economies, namely Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea. RCEP is a solid building block towards deeper and wider trade liberalisation, such as the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Beyond its chairmanship, Thailand should aim to join the CPTPP at the earliest opportunity. Going forward, the Asean chair should promote intra-Asean investment as the locomotive of growth and regional integration. Intra-regional trade has plateaued by more integration of supply chains and production networks can take place on the investment side. Asean is full of constraints and challenges at home within each member state and across the region in geopolitical and geoeconomic terms. Yet with the deteriorating situation of superpower competition, Asean has nowhere to turn but towards its own region. Doing so effectively requires facing issues and challenges head on with minimal self-congratulatory inclinations. Written By: Thitinan Pongsudhirak, PhD Source: Bangkok Post Published: 21 June 2019 The author is an associate professor and director of the Institute of Security and International Studies, Faculty of Political Science, Chulalongkorn University and the Sir Howard Kippenberger Chair at the Centre for Strategic Studies, Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand.
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Economic Affairs (N) What ECRL can teach Chinese firms According to media outlets, Malaysia is having government-to-government level negotiations with China over the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) project and no final decision has been made, following Sin Chew Daily’s reports which noted Malaysian cabinet cancelled the project on January 24. Since the new government took office last May, the fate of the ECRL project has been a subject of concern. It was suspended last July. On August 21, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said the project will be cancelled “for new” after he visited China. At the moment, the project will likely become another Chinese venture to suffer a setback in Southeast Asia after the Myitsone hydropower dam. It is a lesson for Chinese companies. Although Malaysia decided to suspend ECRL, two issues remain to be addressed by the government. First, they need to deal with compensation. Second, what is to be done to part of the project that has been completed? The compensation cannot be determined by the cabinet, but depends on negotiations between Malaysian authorities and their subsidiary and China Communications Construction Co., Ltd (CCCC). Mahathir said on January 24 that negotiations were still in progress. He said: “I don’t know if the contractor has had the contract terminated or not. But one of the ways to handle the matter is by terminating the contract but we have to pay billions in compensation.” Therefore, it is still uncertain how much compensation Malaysia has to pay. Chinese companies should insist on several things while discussing compensation. First is to protect their interests. They should seek clarity on the amount and method of compensation. Malaysia and Singapore reached an agreement on postponing the construction of Kuala Lumpur-Singapore highspeed rail and Malaysia is required to pay the latter S$15 million (around $10.88 million) because of the delay. It is a good example for CCCC. Second, Chinese firms should be flexible on China-Malaysia cooperation. In spite of the suspension of ECRL, there is more to bilateral cooperation. Both countries seek to cooperate in fields such as information technology, data analysis, design, research and development, internet of things, cloud computing and artificial intelligence. Like the suspension of the Myitsone hydropower dam in Myanmar, the suspension of the ECRL is a setback for China-Malaysia cooperation, but not a barrier to cooperate in other areas. 139 Selected Analysis
The ECRL project had been undertaken by CCCC since 2016. The rail line was planned to be 688 km long, from Port Klang to Gombak and to Tumpat in Kelantan. This project was 14 percent complete when the Mahathir administration wanted to scrap it. According to the information released by financial newspaper the Edge, “The government has terminated the engineering, procurement, construction and commissioning contract awarded to CCCC.” However, the potential scrapping of the project doesn’t mean that Malaysia cannot award it to another contractor. Preventing sovereign default risks is a systematic issue and the causes may be political, economic or could emanate from the project itself. A combination of the three factors led to the suspension of ECRL. First, change of government in Malaysia led the new administration to review key programs. Second, the national debt is another reason for Malaysian new government’s plan to scrap the project. The third reason is the project cost that controversially shot up from 55 billion ringgit ($13.6 billion) to 81 billion ringgit ($20 billion). Chinese companies have to examine the political risks and business environment of host countries, including their political systems, policies, ideologies, social order and religious disputes. They should evaluate the risks and choose the right investment in right industries. Chinese firms are also required to strengthen their interaction with host countries’ central governments and local communities, take more responsibility and increase supervision. Although the suspension of ECRL and Myitsone hydropower dam did not severely impact China’s relations with Malaysia and Myanmar, we need to learn lessons and analyze the problems of “go-out policy” and overseas investment in Belt and Road initiative (BRI). Written By: Ge Hongliang Source: Global Times Published: 31 January 2019 The author is a senior researcher with The Charhar Institute and director of the Institute of Malaysian Studies at Guanxi University for Nationalities.
(O) Avoiding trade-war fallout The United States and China ended their latest round of trade talks in Washington on a hopeful note last week, but negotiators are still racing against a March 1 deadline when US tariffs on US$200 million in Chinese goods will rise unless a deal is reached.
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It was the second round of talks since presidents Donald Trump and Xi Jinping met in Argentina in November and agreed to negotiate in the hope of defusing an escalating tariff war. However, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has conceded that "complicated issues" remain to be resolved in the six-month trade war that has weakened both sides, shaken financial markets and clouded the outlook for the global economy. Mr Trump sounded more upbeat, saying he planned to meet his Chinese counterpart soon to try to seal a comprehensive trade deal. However, no specific details were forthcoming. But a new complication has injected itself into US-China relations now that the Justice Department has brought criminal charges against the Chinese tech giant Huawei, accusing it of stealing technology secrets and violating sanctions against Iran. Beijing shot back by demanding that the Trump administration pull back from what it called an "unreasonable crackdown" on the Chinese company. Until we see a Trump-Xi handshake, fear will persist of a US-China confrontation dragging down the global economy this year. China is feeling some effects already but the manufacturing sector seems to be resilient so far, and the government is rolling out more policies to support domestic demand, especially tax cuts, to cushion the impact on economic growth. The United Nations forecast recently that growth in China should remain solid, but will ease to 6.3% this year from 6.6% in 2018. US tariffs will dampen exports, while ongoing economic rebalancing will weigh on industrial sectors with excess capacity. What about Asean? What can we can do to safeguard ourselves from macroeconomic headwinds? So far, East and South Asia remain the world's most dynamic regions, but obviously risks are increasing. Growth in East Asia is projected to moderate to 5.6% this year from 5.8% in 2018, before sliding further to 5.5% in 2020. The UN said private consumption, supported by healthy job creation, would be key growth drivers. In most countries, infrastructure investment is also expected to remain strong as governments focus on expanding productive capacity and easing bottlenecks. The region's export growth, however, is likely to slow, amid a softening of the global electronics cycle and elevated trade tensions. To partly offset any trade downturn, Asean should focus on improving intraregional flows of goods and services. In this regard, it's essential to make it easier for goods and services to cross borders. Despite all the talk of regional integration, this is not always the case. 141 Selected Analysis
Yea, there is a region-wide scheme that allows qualified exporters to self-certify the origin of their products. And the Asean Single Window, which digitises intraAsean trade documents, began operating in Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam and Singapore early last year. But more needs to be done. Expanding the single window to all 10 regional economies will help, along with standardising the cost and time of customs clearance. Free movement of professionals across the region is also vital but nearly every country still puts up roadblocks to protect certain groups. Meanwhile, Asean should try harder to attract inbound investment, especially to countries where supply chains are expected to grow in the future such as Thailand and Indonesia. That means offering reasonable production costs, clear and stable regulations, better technology innovation, cutting tariff and import barriers and upgrading labour skills. Expanding free trade agreements will be critical to attract investment. Bringing new members into the new Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) and concluding the long-overdue Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) will strengthen Asean's appeal in the eyes of investors from outside the region. At the same time, Asean has to press forward with the e-commerce agreement its leaders announced last November, and invest more in digital connectivity. That would enhance trust and confidence in cross-border transactions and in turn facilitate more regional collaboration to drive economic growth. This will require more investments in regional electronic payment infrastructure, further enhancing cross-border movements of businesses as well as cooperation on cyber security to strengthen consumer confidence. We can turn crisis into opportunity by making further reforms to ensure greater sustainability across the region. Then when the outside dust settles, Asean will be the one that reaps the most benefits, I believe. Written By: Nareerat Wiriyapong Source: Bangkok Post Published: 4 February 2019 The author is Acting Asia Focus Editor.
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(P) Will Vietnam become the next ‘world’s factory’ as production moves away from China? The Vietnam economy has been touted as a major beneficiary of the US-China trade war as companies are reportedly relocating factories to Vietnam to rebuild their supply chains. Whether the Southeast Asian country can replace China to become the next “world’s factory” has become a hot topic of discussion. Vietnam’s GDP grew 6.79 percent in the first quarter of this year thanks in large part to the growth in its processing and manufacturing sector. Though its economic growth rate slowed from the 7.31 percent gain in the previous quarter, the country is still likely to be the fastest-growing economy in Asia during the period. In the past, Vietnam attracted capacity transfers from many manufacturers in textiles, garments and other low-end industries that have fled China over the past decade due to rising labor costs. In 2010, Vietnam surpassed China for the first time as the leading producer of Nike shoes. Now against the background of the trade war, the Southeast Asian country seems well poised to become a new regional manufacturing hub across a variety of sectors. In order to bring high-tech manufacturing back to the US, the Trump administration has taken a series of actions, including initiating the trade war with China, to reshuffle global supply chains. Multinational companies have also been moving their operations to countries with lower costs, such as Vietnam, partially under the cost pressure caused by US tariffs on Chinese exports. With geographical proximity to China, Vietnam boasts the largest industrial manufacturing system in Southeast Asia. A young population and low labor costs also add to its appeal to multinational companies. As international electronics giants are relocating to Vietnam, the country is set to become the new manufacturing center for the global electronics industry. In 2018, South Korea’s Samsung and Japan’s Olympus closed their respective factories in Shenzhen, South China’s Guangdong Province, and transferred their operations to Vietnam. Samsung has already invested billions of dollars in building a grand manufacturing base in the Saigon High-Tech Park in Ho Chi Minh City. The park has also received heavy investment from other high-profile tech giants like Intel, Schneider and Jabil. Moreover, in 2015, Microsoft moved its Nokia manufacturing from Beijing to Hanoi, the Vietnamese capital. Many observers often cite low labor costs as a major factor behind Vietnam’s growing appeal to multinationals. The labor costs in Vietnam are generally about one-third to one-quarter of those in most areas in China, representing a significant advantage for labor-intensive manufacturing industries. However, 143 Selected Analysis
these observers often overlook other key factors attracting global manufacturers, such as a young population, the country’s proximity to China, a supportive policy environment and solid economic growth. Moreover, China’s industrial upgrading and transformation have also played an important role in facilitating the transition of manufacturing work to Vietnam. As China accelerates its steps in moving into medium and high-tech manufacturing due to rising labor costs, low-cost manufacturing will inevitably flow to Vietnam and other economies. While the question of whether Vietnam can replace China to become the world’s next top hub for low-cost manufacturing has caused a clamor, it remains unrealistic to expect Vietnamese manufacturing to completely replace Chinese manufacturing. Despite the distinctive advantages in attracting foreign manufacturers, there are still limitations to Vietnamese production. To name just a few, the Southeast Asian country’s industrial and supply chains can’t be compared to China’s in terms of both completeness and comprehensiveness. After years as the world’s factory, China has developed the most complete industrial and supply chains in the world, with thousands or even tens of thousands of suppliers available for manufacturing sophisticated products. And Vietnam is still far from having such a foundation of suppliers. Moreover, China’s infrastructure – including roads, ports and other logistical support – also outperforms Vietnam’s infrastructure, which is equivalent to that of China’s decades ago. In short, because of the industrial chain problem, it is basically impossible for Vietnam to completely take over China in terms of manufacturing capacities. There is no need to panic about the current manufacturing shift to Vietnam, which is totally normal, and inevitable, in the market economy. Yet, it is worth noting that the biggest concern in the production transfer may be the unemployment problem. Some experts believe that since all industrial countries have experienced similar situations in the course of their development, China can also pull through it. Nevertheless, the difference for China lies in the fact that its working population is just too large. That should be the main issue deserving attention and caution during the transition. Written By: Wang Jiamei Source: Global Times Published: 9 April 2019 The author is a reporter with the Global Times.
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(Q) Beware of BRI debt trap Amid concerns about China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) leaving more developing countries in a debt trap, Thailand cannot be complacent about the Thai-Sino high-speed rail project in its negotiations with China. At the BRI forum in Beijing on Thursday, the Thai government demonstrated its eagerness to cement the project by signing a new deal with China and Laos to develop a rail link between Nong Khai and Vientiane connecting the area with China's BRI. Since Chinese President Xi Jinping initiated the BRI in 2013, there have been worries and complaints that most of the benefits flow to China while developing countries have to bear the burden of high costs. Many Belt and Road projects are built by Chinese state-owned companies and are paid for with loans from government banks, which has pushed some countries into a debt trap. Compared with projects in some countries which have fallen into debt, the ThaiSino project has not flashed such red lights. The Thai government has also insisted that 80% of the 166 billion baht set to be borrowed to fund the first phase of the project, from Bangkok to Nakhon Ratchasima, will come from domestic sources. But about 85% of the financing for the 211-billion-baht development of the second phase, from Nakhon Ratchasima to Nong Khai, will come from international loans and China stands to be the key lender. Earlier, the government said that loans from the Export-Import Bank of China (Cexim) were lower than those offered by domestic financial institutions. But it has not revealed any details about its negotiations with Cexim. The public, which has been largely kept in the dark over loan deals with China, has the right to worry that the devil could lie in the details of the making of these deals. More importantly, it has to look for the possibility that the costs of the project will balloon multiple times above the originally planned budgets. This is a common occurrence during the development of major infrastructure projects. Even though the high-speed rail project will bring about other indirect social and economic benefits to people in addition to direct revenue from passengers, it
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will likely end up loss-ridden when it commences operations given the modest passenger forecasts and its limited benefits. This is partly the result of the government's development of the double-track rail system that will cover the same route. Unlike the high-speed project, the double-track system will provide both passenger and freight services. The government's approval of a motorway nearby will also likely lower the number of high-speed train commuters. Given all this uncertainty, the government must take more cautious steps and come up with plans to deal with potential losses and debt repayment for possibly skyrocketing project costs. It must disclose as many details about its financial negotiations with Beijing to the public, especially the exact terms of the loans. At the same time, overseas loans must also be diversified. This must be done to ensure that Thailand will not end up becoming another debt-ridden mark in China's global BRI project. Written By: Ploenpote Atthakor Source: Bangkok Post Published: 27 April 2019 The author is Bangkok Post Editorial Page Editor.
(R) Rail deals must have accountability Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha's recent participation in the second Belt and Road Forum (BRF) in Beijing was problematic on many levels. On what basis did Gen Prayut negotiate a rail deal between Thailand and China? What are the details and cost-benefit considerations of this deal? The lack of transparency and public accountability surrounding the Thailand and China rail plan is likely to pose future questions and problems for a huge infrastructure project Thailand can use, but according to whose terms its people must be the main beneficiary. When Chinese President Xi Jinping hosted the first BRF last year to build international cooperation and support around his signature geo-strategy, known as the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), Thailand was not invited. At the time, it was viewed in some quarters that Thailand was not included because it had been decidedly slow to develop its 607-kilometre rail line from Bangkok to Nong Khai, to connect with the Kunming-Vientiane rail network being built and readied for 2022. The Kunming-Vientiane rail is the BRI's pilot project of sorts, as it would connect southern China with mainland Southeast Asia in one of six pathways known as the China-Indo-China Peninsular Economic Corridor.
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As China has recalibrated its BRI strategy to address and overcome global pushback against the so-called "debt traps" from countries such as Sri Lanka, the Maldives and Malaysia, Beijing has become more inclusive and conciliatory. The BRI has gained a second wind in a "2.0" version, still intact and on track, with new emphases on anti-corruption and debt sustainability in accordance with international standards. China's interests in the BRI are loud and clear. Its superpower role and reception in international affairs will hinge on this colossal infrastructure and connectivity project, formally known as the Silk Road Economic Belt (SREB) and 21st Century Maritime Silk Road (MSR). The BRI's huge size and scope straddle the Eurasian landmass and waterways from the South China Sea through the Indian Ocean to eastern Africa, with an estimated long-term funding to the tune of at least US$900 billion, and probably a lot more. Yet China's monumental geostrategic developmental project across oceans and continents has been around for just under six years. And the BRI so far has not gone down well with partner countries. Like its other ventures, such as the Lancang-Mekong Initiative around the Mekong River in mainland Southeast Asia and weaponised artificial islands in the South China Sea, China has a tendency to make and shape outcomes on the ground as done deals, and then expect others to adjust to them. What China has needed to do is be more bottom-up and consultative, listen to others and incorporate what they think and say into decision-making processes. Ramming infrastructure projects down the BRI pipes has proved counterproductive, undermining China's global standing as it tries to stand its ground vis-Ă -vis the United States. Evidence suggests China is learning by doing, making it up as it goes along with the broad BRI blueprint in mind. Indeed, the second BRF summit is China's answer to global demands for transparency and sustainability. It is Thailand, however, whose interests are unclear due to a lack of representative government. Having seized power in a 2014 coup, Gen Prayut is deprived of the domestic political legitimacy needed to make such a costly and far-reaching deal with China. Yet he has reportedly signed a memorandum of cooperation with China, thereby committing Thailand to build the rail route from the capital to Nong Khai, first starting with a 252km connection between Bangkok and Nakhon Ratchasima worth 179 billion baht. The other 355km stretch to Nong Khai is estimated to cost 211 billion baht. The project financing may involve large loans with interest from China's development banks. If this is the case, the full terms of these loans must be revealed and compared to international financing benchmarks. 147 Selected Analysis
Thailand is no stranger to governments making dubious deals without public accountability. In the early 2000s, the government under then-prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra conducted a series of bilateral free-trade agreements that involved conflicts of interest in favour of Thai big businesses, including his own. These deals became a basis for public scrutiny, street protests, and the overthrow of the Thaksin government in 2006. Somehow the people who demonstrated against the shady and shoddy deals then appear to be muted now. It is unacceptable to have a Thai government that does not truly represent the Thai people making deals abroad at its own behest and discretion without transparency and accountability, especially because a general election had just been held and a new incoming government is being expected. If Gen Prayut and his loyalists electorally manoeuvre their way into office again, Thailand's international agreements, with China as well as with other countries, would be justified and underpinned by domestic political legitimacy. Until then, footdragging should be the Thai response to the Chinese rail overture, just as it has been the case over the past several years, which has seen the kingdom stuck building a symbolic 3.5km of rail in Pak Chong district of Nakhon Ratchasima to show its interest in such projects to the Chinese. Dealing with China as an authoritarian government that took power by force is a weak hand. China has the upper hand vis-Ă -vis Thailand because Beijing knows the junta-led government is not fully welcome, embraced or engaged by other major powers. The authoritarian space in international diplomacy is where China can squeeze concessions and impose leverage. While China is shrewd to recalibrate its BRI to meet global expectations, current Thai leaders are being much less smart to kowtow to China. Written By: Thitinan Pongsudhirak, PhD Source: Bangkok Post Published: 3 May 2019 The author is an associate professor and director of the Institute of Security and International Studies, Faculty of Political Science, Chulalongkorn University and the Sir Howard Kippenberger Chair at the Centre for Strategic Studies, Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand.
(S) Cross-border trade â€˜a missed opportunityâ€™ The ongoing trade war between the US and China poses potential threats to our economy, which has been stagnating for many years. But there is still hope for the new coalition government of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha to revive the country's economy -- by boosting border trade.
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The multi-billion-baht border trade has been one of the casualties of our ailing economy, having suffered from declines in both exports and tourism. The state has not done enough to promote and support trade and investment in border areas. And so the private sector has taken the matter into their own hands. Recently, a Thai airline launched a new route linking Chiang Rai in the North with Myanmar's Taunggyi district in Shan State. It is a pilot project aimed at boosting the country's border trade with Myanmar, as well as the southern region of China. Without state support, the private sector has for years been at the forefront of the promotion of border trade -- meeting and discussing investment opportunities in megaprojects and trade expansion in Shan state with Myanmar officials. They have done so in the hope of reviving the economy. Geographically linked to Thailand, China and India, Shan state is Myanmar's second-most populated state. Even though investments from Japan, South Korea, Singapore and Thailand have been flowing into this state, the sum is still insufficient. Thailand could have capitalised on its geographic advantage. But there has not been much progress on border trade given a lack of government support. As a result, the Thai Chamber of Commerce has to set up a specific task force to promote trade in border areas. Even though a number of "special economic zones" have been established in Chiang Rai to cater for businesses along the border, they have turned out to be "especially quiet zones" instead. This is the exact opposite to what has been occurring in our neighbouring countries' border areas. For instance, just 150 kilometres away from the Thai border, is the Boten-Bohan cross-border area, which was jointly-developed by Laos and China as an "economic cooperation zone". Boten is located in Louangnamtha province in northern Laos while Bohan lies within China's Yunnan province. With a total area equivalent to Bangkok, it accommodates traders and businesses from China, some of whom have moved there, attracting in turn more investors from around the world. The area is thriving, just like a big city -- complete with numerous residential complexes, shopping centres, hotels, and other amenities. Additionally, the construction of a high-speed rail project that connects Kunming to the Boten-Bohan area has been completed. It will be fully operational once the construction of the sections within Laos and Thailand are finished. The zone is also linked to the R3A Highway, which is a significant logistics corridor for shipping produce and goods to and from Chiang Rai's Chiang Khong district onward to both Kunming and Bangkok. 149 Selected Analysis
Chiang Khong is a designated special economic zone (SEZ), but it is not thriving with economic activity. The same goes for the so-called SEZs in Chiang Saen and Mae Sai districts of Chiang Rai. Chiang Saen is simply not developed enough to take advantage of opportunities that come to the area. The district's commercial activities are mainly dependent on cargo traffic coming from China along the Mekong River. Meanwhile, Mae Sai has ended up being a mere transit hub for consumer goods for our neighbouring countries. This is because the state has not invested in infrastructure the area needs to benefit from the constant flow of goods and people. Many are hoping that the new government can capitalise on the opportunities that come with the US-China trade war. With China increasing tariffs on imported US goods, it will increase the likelihood of China opening up its market to Thai goods. Thailand could have also benefited from economic activities between Chiang Rai and Xishuangbanna in China's Yunnan province. Unfortunately, it is the private sector -- not the state -- that dominates trade in this strategic intersection. The government must be more proactive in promoting border trade. The ongoing US-China trade spat will provide new opportunities for Thailand, we should have capilitalised on our good relations with our neighbours and our geographic location to boost trade and investment in border areas. The new government must not overlook untapped opportunities in special economic zones. Instead of spending funds on populist schemes, it should promote border trade, which can generate increased revenues and attract investments. In return, this will help bring about stability for the nation. Written By: Nauvarat Suksamran Source: Bangkok Post Published: 13 June 2019 The author is Assistant News Editor.
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Socio-cultural Affairs (T) Evolutionary progress China's NGOs are playing an irreplaceable role in enhancing people-to-people exchanges in the Belt and Road countries. The Belt and Road Initiative, proposed by President Xi Jinping in 2013, is committed to building a new type of international relations and a community with a shared future for mankind. The Belt and Road Initiative is made to enhance political communication and facilitate connectivity, to keep open channels for trade and investment and to assist people-to-people exchanges. The people-to-people exchanges act as an important foundation for the rest of the goals, which requires the joint efforts of all related governments, enterprises, citizens, academies, media and nongovernmental organizations. China has already experienced the problems that most other developing countries are encountering now. And with 30 years' accumulated project experience in health, education, poverty alleviation and environmental protection, China's NGOs are capable of meeting the needs of the countries along the Belt and Road routes. There are a great number of projects that have been carried out for many years in China and which have developed into matured models and achieved great results. For example, the Brightness Action Activity (free cataract operations) and Happy Spring (safe drinking water) by China Foundation for Peace and Development, the methane project by Global Environmental Institute, and the supported teaching project by Linshan Charity Foundation. China's NGOs, which possess the characteristics of being professional, neutral, innovative and have the advantage of local community involvement, are playing an irreplaceable role in enhancing people-to-people exchanges along the Belt and Road routes. Many of China's NGOs have set up project offices in recipient countries, and have worked in the poorest local communities for years. They recruit local workers and volunteers and provide face-to-face services. The hepatitis B Screening project carried out by the China Foundation for Poverty Alleviation in the Pokhara region in Nepal has successfully tested the blood of 50,000 local people and found 132 people that were infected. It is actually easier for NGOs to build connections with their local peers, and make broader and deeper connections with the local community. For example, 151 Selected Analysis
the Chinese Red Cross Foundation, with the help of the network of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, has actively carried out projects such as disaster rescue, congenital heart disease treatment, refugee assistance, and first aid facilities assistance in Belt and Road countries. Also, Chinese NGOs have complementary advantages in foreign aid projects to governments. They have contributed to the diversity of aid, introduced competition to enhance work efficiency. The Chinese government has provided great amounts of foreign aid through large infrastructure projects, such as roads, hospitals and schools. However, the small paths connecting counties, doctors sent to the hospitals, follow-up school education, which are of the same importance to realize aid effects need to be provided by NGOs. Moreover, NGOs have great mobilization capacity by nature, and therefore can bring more resources to foreign aid, expand the scale and enhance the result. Take the China Foundation for Poverty Alleviation as an example, by the end of 2018, the foundation had carried out international rescue and development projects in more than 20 countries and regions, with total investment exceeding 160 million yuan ($23.9 million), benefiting thousands of local people. Since the first Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation held in May, 2017, the CFPA has invested more than 60 million yuan in total in Belt and Road countries, benefiting thousands of local people. On Feb 26, 2019, the "Love Package Project" was initiated by CFPA and the Alibaba Foundation, which will invest more than 100 million yuan to send more than one million love packages to countries along the Belt and Road routes and facilitate the people-to-people communication over the next three years. Frankly, it is an evolutionary process for China's NGOs to have an international presence. At the early stage, charity projects, with mature models, easy management and which are able to solve immediate problems, lead the way. With more experiences, development projects which have achieved great results in China will be carried out in other countries gradually in the future. The following efforts are needed for China's NGOs to be promising in assisting the people-to-people communication along the Belt and Road routes. First, China's NGOs need to coordinate with each other to form scale effects. In May 2018, the China NGO Network for International Exchanges coordinated 20 NGOs to visit Cambodia and conduct exchanges with the local civil sector. Ten Chinese NGOs signed agreements or memorandums of understanding with 11 local NGOs during this visit, covering people's livelihoods, healthcare, education, environmental protection, child protection and volunteer exchanges, with measurable investment of more than 6.5 million yuan. The same year in July, at the project meeting between the China NGO Network for International Exchanges and Nepali Social Welfare Council, 25 Chinese NGOs and 34 local NGOs outlined their projects covering education, poverty alleviation, healthcare, 152 Selected Analysis
and disaster prevention and relief. By the end of this meeting, 11 Chinese NGOs had shown cooperative intention and signed 13 agreements and memorandums. These cooperation agreements contributing to the improvement of Cambodian and Nepali people's livelihoods, enhanced friendship with China, and were widely welcomed and highly appraised by the two countries' governments and civil sectors. Second, China's government needs to complete related laws and regulations. It has been a short period of time since China's NGOs started working abroad, and the related laws and regulations are not perfect yet. For example, the establishment of overseas offices, the channels for the appropriation of funds, the custom clearance for overseas donations, and the classification of the foreign aid money have no relevant legal provisions to follow. We advise the government to complete this legal framework as soon as possible to guarantee the smooth operation of NGO's overseas projects. Also, we advise the government to launch a fund for South-South development cooperation as soon as possible to increase support for China's NGOs to go abroad. Written By: Wang Hangzui and Wu Peng Source: China Daily Published: 24 April 2019 Wang Hangzui is executive vice-chairman of the China Foundation for Poverty Alleviation. Wu Peng is director of the International Department of the foundation. The authors contributed this article to China Watch, a think tank powered by China Daily.
(U) Why waste trade should be on the Asean Summit agenda Asean leaders meet this week in Bangkok as their countries reel from an unprecedented deluge of foreign waste dumping. Yet neither waste trade nor waste is on the agenda, especially considering the summit’s stated theme, “Advancing Partnership for Sustainability”. Matters concerning sustainable development, in the face of the region’s rapid growth, are worryingly missing. Instead, discussions will focus on trade, economic and security issues. In the past two years, countries in the region – both poor and prosperous – have been faced with record shipments of plastic waste from richer nations. Between 2016 and 2018, the region saw plastic waste imports grow by a staggering 171 per cent. Most of these shipments were labelled “recyclable”, but were found to be unrecyclable mixed and contaminated waste. With little or no infrastructure to deal with all this garbage, the shipments of foreign trash began piling up. This led to import restrictions and other measures by affected countries, culminating 153 Selected Analysis
in May and June with the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia threatening to repatriate the waste. The current waste-trade crisis faced by the region is largely due to China’s 2018 ban on trash imports. Earlier, many Southeast Asian countries had been importing waste, but at a much smaller scale; and they never had to return shipments until the situation reached crisis proportions. But with global plastic waste generation showing no signs of letting up, the question is, should Asean nations continue to receive the world’s waste? It’s outrageous that some countries in the West still believe that Southeast Asia should keep welcoming their waste imports, and that some businesses and governments here still believe that waste trade is profitable. However, the current situation shows that plastic waste recycling is a myth. If it were technically feasible, why isn’t waste processed in the “advanced” recycling facilities in the country of origin? To say that Southeast Asia should use this opportunity to develop its own recycling facilities smacks of toxic colonialism, rationalising the injustice of how poorer countries are burdened with pollution generated by the First World. At the same time, governments urgently need to rethink their own domestic waste policies. An effective waste policy would be to consider materials from the moment they are designed. In the case of plastic waste, it means tackling singleuse plastic products and packaging at source. Limiting, and eventually eliminating, single-use plastics will dramatically reduce waste generation. This is important to consider as many Southeast Asian countries are heavy plastic bag users, and are markets for unrecyclable sachet packaging. In all this, Asean has an important role to play in addressing both waste trade and plastic production. Currently, we are seeing only small pockets of national bans and plastic regulations as knee-jerk reactions to the two waste crises. But these measures, although laudable, need to be strengthened. Evidence suggests that as countries enact bans and launch contingency plans, they only move the problem to places where regulations and restrictions are weaker. An Asean-level response can ensure an extra layer of protection. For example, the Asean can use its influence as a trading bloc to ensure no trade in waste transpires within the region. The Asean can further be a global leader in innovation. A holistic regional policy geared toward massively reducing the production of single-use plastic packaging and products, and facilitating innovation on reusable packaging and alternative delivery systems will create new and sustainable business models to replace the outdated and dirty waste-recycling industry with greener and healthier businesses. 154 Selected Analysis
Given Thailandâ€™s stated focus on sustainability for this yearâ€™s summit, Asean people should demand no less than for their leaders to put waste and waste trade on the table. This is a timely opportunity and a test of Asean leadership and relevance. By stopping waste imports and implementing strong plastic reduction policies, the Asean region is in an ideal position to help spur a transformation of the global economy, forcing the West to rethink their waste generation and end all waste exports. Written By: Lea Guerrero and Tara Buakamsri Source: The Nation Thailand Published: 21 June 2019 Lea Guerrero is Philippines country director for Greenpeace Southeast Asia. Tara Buakamsri is Thailand country director for Greenpeace Southeast Asia.
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ARCID CHINA UPDATE SERIES 1. ARCID China Update Volume 1, No. 1 (January-June 2018) 2. ARCID China Update Volume 1, No. 2 (July-December 2018) 3. ARCID China Update Volume 2, No. 1 (January-June 2019)
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