Investing in minds to stop brain drain


Beijing lures back foreign graduates with lucrative offers

BEIJING: As a young biologist at the University of Michigan, Chen Xiaowei had plenty to like about life in the United States.

He was paid well as a researcher and enjoyed raising his family in Ann Arbor, a town he remembers as beautiful, friendly and highly educated.

But an offer from a Chinese university for him to return home to Beijing was too generous not to consider.

In addition to a comparable salary, he was promised enough startup research money that he wouldn’t have to worry about pursuing grants.

So in 2014 he moved back with his wife and two children.

“I feel freer to pursue my best ideas,” Chen said.

He said he has received such generous support that he’s able to study a disease through symptoms in both the liver and muscles simultaneously – something he said he would not be able to do in the United States because of limitations on grants, which are often tied to projects instead of researchers.

Chen, who earned a doctorate in physiology at Michigan in 2008, has joined thousands of high achieving overseas Chinese recruited to come home through the 1,000 Talents programme, one of many state efforts to reverse a decades long brain drain.

China, the world’s second-largest economy and one of the fastest growing, sees a need to bring home more of its brightest as it works to transform its largely labourintensive, lowtech economy into one fuelled by innovation in science and technology.

More than 300,000 Chinese studied in the US alone in the 2014-2015 school year.

Most of those students return to China, but the country has had difficulty regaining the most coveted graduates – those with advanced degrees and experience in science and engineering.

A 2014 report by Oak Ridge Institute shows 85% of the 4,121 Chinese students who received doctorates in science and engineering from American universities in 2006 were still in the US five years later.

The 1,000 Talents programme offers recruits salaries several times more than what a Chineseeducated local hire would receive, as well as heavily subsidised education for children and millions in startup research funds. The signup bonus alone can be as much as US$150,000 (RM605,850).

Chen, now an assistant professor at Peking University, was given a US$1.5mil (RM6.05mil) research fund.

“In the States,” he said, “it’s very hard for young people to get money when they need it the most.” — AP

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Beijing is home to the world’s most billionaires, edging New York City out


Night view of Central Business District with the new CCTV Tower, right, and other skyscrapers and high-rise office buildings in Beijing. Beijing is home to the world’s most billionaires, pushing New York City out of the top slot. [Photo/IC]

Story Highlights:

–Beijing is home to 100 billionaires

–Wang Jianlin of Dalian Wanda is the richest Chinese

–China overtakes the US with the most billionaires

Beijing is home to the world’s most billionaires, pushing New York City out of the top slot it had held for years, according to a Shanghai-based research and media outlet that keeps track of the world’s wealthiest.

Despite a slowing economy, the Chinese capital added 32 billionaires, bringing its total to 100 and New York added four, giving it 95 billionaires, according to the Hurun Global Rich List 2016.

Moscow came in third with 66, and Hong Kong and Shanghai came in fourth and fifth with 64 and 50, respectively, Hurun said in its ranking of US dollar billionaires as of Jan 15.

Wang Jianlin of Dalian Wanda, one of China’s top real estate developers, was the wealthiest Beijing resident with a net worth of $26 billion.

New York’s top billionaires were businessman David Koch and Michael Bloomberg, the city’s former mayor and media company owner. His wealth increased $16 billion to $37 billion, according to Hurun. Another city resident whose wealth increased is Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump. He added $5 billion to go to $6.5 billion.

While China has passed the US with the most billionaires, the Hurun report noted that none of the richest billionaires are from China. Eight of the world’s 11 wealthiest, including Microsoft founder Bill Gates, the world’s wealthiest with $80 billion, Berkshire Hathaway’s Warren Buffett, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos and Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg are from the US.

And the combined net worth of US billionaires is still nearly double that of Chinese billionaires, for a total of $2.4 trillion, just a little less than the GDP of France, according to the report.

Rupert Hoogewerf, the founder of Hurun, said initial public offerings are behind the rapid expansion of Chinese wealth.

In October, China overtook the US for the first time as the country with the most billionaires within its borders. About 568 billionaires now live in China and 535 in the US.

Hoogewerf said the number of billionaires for the rest of the world was held back by a slowdown in the global economy, the strengthening of the US dollar and the drop in oil prices. – China Daily/Asia News Network
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Asian voice carries greater weight now


AIIB President_ Jin LiqunSelect head: Jin Liqun is the president-designate of the AIIB. – EPA pic >>

CHINA’S setting up of the AIIB (Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank) is a most significant event in contemporary history.

It represents another shift eastwards in the global balance of power, particularly from the US to China. However, other Asian – particularly Asean – countries have also to reflect on what it means to them.

The US AIIB dilemma is a useful point over which to ponder. It has very little to do with transparency, governance and environment. It has to do with the power equation with China. Predominance and control.

Clearly the US is struggling to come to terms with China’s rise. This is not to say America opposes it, but it is a hard thing for the US to swallow, to play second fiddle. And the AIIB is the first big test of that adjustment.

With the launch of the AIIB, China has also shown how it can make good things happen with support not just from Asia, but also beyond. It is becoming a global power with considerable reach and influence.

Controlling about 30% of the capital of the AIIB China, as the promoter, has shown itself as a leader that can control the future of other countries. How Beijing exercises that leadership remains to be seen, but insofar as member state expectations are concerned, they see Asian countries for the first time in living memory controlling an international institution of considerable weight – and with it their economic prospects.

To sustain Asian economic growth trajectory, US$8 trillion of national infrastructure development is needed up to 2020, not counting US$290bil in regional connectivity infrastructure. Indonesia alone needs US$230bil, Myanmar US$80bil. With the potential of the US$100bil AIIB, plus the US$40bil Silk Road Fund for “One Belt One Road”, there is for the first time some good hope of meeting this need.

The US, in its difficult adjustment, points to potential future problems rather than the promise of the AIIB. How “lean, clean and green” will the AIIB be? As if the US dominated Bretton Woods institutions have been pristine, but that does not mean it is a question that should not be asked about AIIB.

So, as the Asian countries get in line, eyes glued on the lolly, they should not hold back from asking questions and seeking answers on how the AIIB is going to operate.

Another issue raised primarily by the Americans is over procurement and personnel appointments. Again, as if the IMF, World Bank and ADB did not come with strings attached by largely senior Caucasian officials from the institutions. But, having suffered from such suppression in the past, Asian countries should want to know what the future holds with the AIIB on procurement and personnel.

With the AIIB headquartered in Beijing and China putting up most of the money, it is only to be expected there will be a Chinese bias on both scores. The president-designate Jin Liqun, however, is suave and affable, better than some of the boorish heads past and present of the Bretton Woods institutions. Nevertheless, it is not undignified to ask about other appointments and their distribution. This horse-trading occurs at international level.

On procurement, Chinese companies are already assuming they will have first-mover advantage contractual right – but this does not necessarily reflect what the Chinese government thinks or mean that the AIIB will be biased for them.

Indeed, Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang during his visit to France this week admitted China lacked advanced technologies and looked forward to “form joint ventures or cooperatives” with the developed world. This was stated on the occasion of a historic deal with France to carry out joint projects in Asian and African countries.

And it follows a considerable period during which China was intent on muscling out developed countries in its economic expansion to African and some Asian countries.

Thus, China’s tendency of blowing hot and cold has been a problem in gauging Beijing objectives and mode of operation.

A former US ambassador to the ADB recently related how the poorest Pacific countries failed to receive Chinese support at board level for projects as they had recognised Taiwan. Again, not that the US was ever reticent about such political power play.

Still, it would not be remiss to ask how far China would penalise countries on the wrong political wave-length, even if it would be too much to expect Beijing to support a state opposed to and in conflict with it.

How would the Philippines and Vietnam score in the AIIB on the Chinese political barometer given their adversarial position in the South China Sea dispute? Indeed, the other claimant states, such as Malaysia and Brunei. Of course, if they are willing to become vassals of the Chinese state in return for largesse, it is entirely up to them. But it is not to be expected the proud sovereign states of South-East Asia would stoop to this, but who knows.

In the AIIB, Asean states will each have a very small stake, even if Indonesia might be among the top ten shareholders. Together they might represent something a little more significant. Would they then not want to develop a common position in areas of infrastructure and connectivity development that would be of shared benefit?

Asean leaders do not seem to discuss strategic issues such as, now, the meaning and significance of the AIIB to future regional order. Generalised, but not inaccurate, assertions are made about its good in terms of infrastructure and economic development. But there is more to it than that.

When they meet, Asean leaders follow a well-scripted agenda that does not include a free flow of discussion. Foreign ministries often are hell-bent on avoiding this, because they think strategy and state secrets must at all cost be protected. They should give the leaders greater credit than assumed stupidity. These discussions must take place beyond other broad issues, such as the Middle East etc, or immediate issues, such as refugees and migrants.

Strategic issues are so critical to Asean’s future place in the regional order. Deficient discussion, or avoidance of it altogether, erodes Asean role in the evolving system. More time must be set aside at Asean summits for discussion on these issues.

The economic ministries too must not just look at issues and targets one by one and in a rush without presenting the bigger picture. There is great strategic content in the minutiae which is hardly highlighted or discoursed.

If Asean meetings and summits go on like this, community or no community, the region will miss the wood for the trees.

Comment by Munir Majid The Star/Asian News Network

Tan Sri Munir Majid, chairman of Bank Muamalat and visiting senior fellow at LSE Ideas (Centre for International Affairs, Diplomacy and Strategy), is also chairman of CIMB Asean Research Institute.

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China surpasses US as world’s top corporate borrower; Will the IMF headquarters move to Beijing?


Corporate debts_Eurozone_US_China

 

The Chinese mainland has surpassed the US as the world’s top corporate borrower, and higher debt risk in the world’s second-largest economy may mean greater risk for the world, a report said on Monday.

However, Chinese economists noted that the debt risk in China’s corporate sector is still well under control.

Nonfinancial corporate debt in the Chinese market was estimated at around $14.2 trillion by the end of 2013, overtaking the $13.1 trillion debt owed by the US corporations, a progress happening sooner than expected, said a report from the Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services on Monday.

The report expects that by the end of 2018 debt needs of mainland companies will reach $23.9 trillion – around one-third of the almost $60 trillion of global refinancing and new debt needs.

“It [the mainland surpassing the US as the largest corporate borrower] is not surprising at all, as the [size of] mainland non-service sector has already surpassed that of the US,” Tian Yun, an economist with the China Society of Macroeconomics under the National Development and Reform Commission, told the Global Times on Monday.

Cash flow and leverage at mainland corporations has worsened after 2009, and debt risks in the property and steel sectors remain a particular concern, the report said.

Private companies are facing more challenging financing conditions – highlighted by China’s first corporate bond default case of Shanghai Chaori Solar Energy Science and Technology Co in March and another case of default of leading private steel maker Shanxi Haixin Iron and Steel Group.

“The capital market has been sluggish during the past few years, leading to the fast growth in corporate debts,” Xu Hongcai, director of the Department of Information under the China Center for International Economic Exchanges, told the Global Times Monday.

Experts noted that the rapid growth in debt reflected some problems of the  Chinese economy, but the size of the debt is still in a safe range and will not cause major risks as the economy remains stable.

“The problems of the Chinese economy are institutional and structural,” Tian said, “By addressing these issues, debt risks can be managed.”

Tian further noted that most corporate debts in China are internal debts, thus debt problems in the country will have limited impact on the rest of the world.

The report also said a possible contraction in “shadowing banking” will be detrimental to businesses as general.

But Xu noted that China’s tighter supervision of the “shadow banking” sector will make it more transparent and better-regulated, which will reduce the potential risks in the sector.

Local governments face massive debt repayment pressure

China’s local governments are facing huge debt repayment pressure this year with 2.4 trillion yuan ($390 billion) of debts due in 2014, China Business News reported Monday.

From 2009 to 2013, China issued 94 local government bonds raising 850 billion yuan, the report said.

With another 400 billion yuan worth of bonds to be issued this year, the total financing since 2009 will reach 1.25 trillion yuan, according to the report.

However, the total local government debt is much higher than the amount raised through the bonds, the report said, noting that major debt came from bank loans.

Although the central government has stated several times that the overall debt risk is under control, the statistics from China’s National Audit Office show that some local governments have a debt-asset ratio of more that 100 percent and are facing huge repayment pressure, the report said.

Market analysts hold the view that local governments may borrow new debts to pay for the old ones.

The central government allowed local authorities to raise funds since 2009 in the wake of the global financial crisis, while the central government also issued bonds and repaid debts on behalf of the local governments, a practice criticized by some as not conforming to market economy principles.

As the bond issuing backed by the central government is limited and could not fully meet the local needs, the local governments also turned to opaque financing channels including shadow banking activities, the report said.

Despite the big debt pileup, no local government default has so far taken place.

– By Liang Fei Source:Global Times Published: 2014-6-16 23:43:09

 

Will the IMF headquarters move to Beijing?

 

The International Monetary Fund’s headquarters may one day move from Washington to Beijing, aligning with China’s growing influence in the world economy, the fund’s managing director Christine Lagarde said early this month.

Attaching importance to China

Christine Lagarde made the statement at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), saying that the IMF rules require that the institution should be headquartered in the country that is the biggest shareholder. This has always been the U.S. since the fund was formed.

“But the way things are going, I wouldn’t be surprised if one of these days, the IMF was headquartered in Beijing,” she said.

Lagarde remarked that the IMF had a good relationship with China, the world’s second largest economy, and she praised the Chinese government’s commitment to fighting corruption.

Lagarde added that she did not think the IMF should be controlled by Europeans in its first place. Since its establishment in 1945, the IMF headquarters has been headed by Europeans and located in Washington, while the World Bank has been headed by the Americans.

Not satisfied with the U.S.

Lagarde also pointed out that the U.S. government is an “outlier” among the G20 in refusing to approve IMF reform, and the IMF was trying to give emerging economies like China and Brazil a bigger voice through reform.

According to Lagarde, on the part of countries like China, Brazil, and India, there is frustration with the lack of progress in reforming the IMF by refusing to adopt the quota reform that would give emerging economies a bigger voice, a bigger vote, and a bigger share in the institution. “I share that frustration immensely,” she said.

She also claimed that the credibility and the importance of the IMF are closely related to proper representation among the membership. “We cannot have proper representation of the membership if China has a tiny share of quota and the voice, when it has grown to where it has grown,” she said.

The IMF agreed to reform its management structure in 2010 so that emerging economies could play a bigger role, and made China the third largest member. The U.S. is the only member with control weight in the voting; meaning that any major reform must be approved by the United States.

Hello headquarters

Lagarde has no specific schedule for the headquarters’ shift. However, this once again reminds China that there are few international organizations headquartered in its country, which is disproportionate to China’s status as the world’s second largest economy.

This article is edited and translated from 《IMF总部要搬北京?》,source:Beijing Youth Daily, author: Bu Xiaoming. (People’s Daily Online)

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The new Beijing beckons


New Beijing
Customers with bags containing first day purchases from a H&M fashion collection designed by French fashion designer Isabel Marant at a window display at a H&M store branch in Beijing, China. — EPA

Here, you are surrounded by optimistic and enthusiastic young people with the zeal to do well not only in China, but in the globalised world.

I JUST took a short trip to Beijing to attend a conference on women. It has been seven years since my last trip and 28 years since my first. In 1985, China was gingerly opening up to the world. People still wore blue Mao jackets and rode around mostly on bicycles. There were few hotels of the standard we were used to in Malaysia.

Today, so little of that Beijing remains. Tall glittery skyscrapers abound. Shopping malls carry every type of international luxury brand and people dressed as if they had just walked out of the pages of Vogue China that just celebrated its 100th edition by commissioning the photographer Mario Testino to shoot the entire issue.

Sitting at the French bakery chain Comptoirs du France, I saw a fashionable young couple walk by with their miniature dog. The dog wore a Chanel sweater….

When I arrived at the vast modern Beijing Capital airport, a young volunteer from the conference received me. She was a graduate student at Beijing University, spoke perfect English and was extremely efficient in getting me to my hotel and comfortably settled.

In fact, throughout the conference, a whole bevy of eager young volunteers shepherded us through the programme with remarkable efficiency, politeness and charm. Whenever a special request was made, they followed through until it was fulfilled.

I also met some impressive young female entrepreneurs and corporate leaders. There is now a generation of young Chinese who had been educated abroad and who are returning to start their own businesses or head companies.

The head of McKinsey in China is a Beijing-born woman as is the head of SK China, South Korea’s third largest company. Additionally, young women are using their cosmopolitan education to start businesses. The organiser of the conference was a 27-year-old former chess champion born in Chengdu.

Another 27-year-old has combined the experience of her education at both a Swiss finishing school and Harvard Business School to start a business giving etiquette lessons to Chinese wanting to venture out into the world beyond their own country. They have an acute sense that to succeed in this globalised world, they need to discard provincial habits and tastes.

The most impressive person I met, however, was Zhang, a taxi driver. I hopped into his taxi at my hotel and asked him to take me to Panjiayuan, the flea market. Taxis in Beijing are very clean and neat except that they tend to smell of cigarettes. But they are safe and as long as you get someone to explain to the taxi driver where you want to go in Mandarin, you will get there in one piece.

So I was not expecting Zhang to turn round and wish me a good afternoon. It turned out Zhang spoke pretty decent English. When I asked him why, he said he decided to learn it because he wanted to communicate with his international passengers and he loved to practise with them.

Indeed, Zhang proved to be a gem, not only did he take me to the flea market and wait until I was done but he also took me to find some other items I was looking for, drove me around Tiananmen Square so I could take photos and then took me back to my hotel, all the while chatting merrily in English.

(Some were however a bit cynical about Zhang, that he should by coincidence have picked me up that day. Apparently, there are no such coincidences in China.)

China does still have many problems, Beijing’s terrible pollution being just one. And no doubt there are huge gaps between the cities and the countryside. But there are enough eager young educated and entrepreneurial Chinese today ready to take the lead in almost everything, both domestically and perhaps even internationally. The socialist slogans are now found only on posters you can buy at the flea market.

For a few days, I had a break from home news because there is no Facebook or Twitter in China. It was nice to be with optimistic and enthusiastic young people wanting to do so much, instead of the angst-filled navel-gazing we indulge in back home and the thousands of ways we find to bring people down.

We seem to think that our country is special when we should be worrying about how this giant country only a few hours away is poised to leave us in the dust, despite our headstart.

I did meet one young Malaysian currently working in Shanghai who wants to come home to start a new IT enterprise. It was so refreshing to meet someone who is still eager to invest in his own country. I just hope that our daily nonsense does not crush his eagerness.

Contributed by Marina Mahathir

> The views expressed are entirely the writer’s own.

No easy path to ‘Chinese dream’


Chinese-dream-symbolChina’s new President last week reaffirmed his aim to achieve the ‘Chinese dream’, but the country faces many challenges on the road to fulfilling this dream.

LAST week saw the completion of China’s leadership transition, with Xi Jinping as the new president and Li Keqiang the new premier.

President Xi set the world speculating when he spoke of “striving to achieve the Chinese dream of great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation”.

One Western newspaper commented it was a collective national dream, contrasting it, unfavourably, to the “American dream” of giving individuals equal opportunities.

But to the Chinese, the promised renaissance of the nation is a reminder of the collective humiliation during the colonial era and the “dream” to win back its previous place as a world leader in science, technology, economy and culture.

High growth in recent decades has boosted China’s economy and confidence. Nevertheless, China’s new leaders face many serious challenges ahead which need to be tackled if the “Chinese dream” is to be realised.

First is the need to fight widespread corruption. Making this his main priority, Xi warned that corruption could lead to “the collapse of the Party and the downfall of the state.”

New leaders usually vow to get rid of corruption, but few have succeeded. If Xi wins this battle, it would be a great achievement.

Second are administrative procedures and abuse of official power that cause inefficiency and injustices right down to the local level.

At his first press conference, premier Li promised to shake up the system, acknowledging the difficulties of “stirring vested interests.” He promised that a third of 1,700 items that require the approval of government departments would be cut.

Frugality is to be the new hallmark. Spending will be reduced in government offices, buildings, travel and hospitality and the savings will be redirected to social development.

Third are the complexities of running China’s large and complicated economy. China aims to grow continuously by 7-8% a year. The rest of the global economy is, however, in a bad shape.

The country has thus to shift from export-led to domestic-demand led growth, and from investment-led to consumption-led domestic growth. Implementation of this new growth strategy, which the government has accepted, is not easy.

There are also the challenges of managing the currency, the huge foreign reserves and the regulation of capital flows, with the aim of having finance serve the real economy while not becoming a source of new instability.

In foreign trade, China has been very successful in building up a powerful export machine. But growth of exports to the West is slowing due to the near-recession, and new forms of protection (such as tariff hikes using anti-dumping and anti-subsidy measures) are increasingly used on Chinese imports.

At the same time, other developing countries are becoming wary of their increasing imports of cheap Chinese goods. How can China be sensitive to their concerns and strive for more balance and mutuality of benefits?

Fourth are China’s social problems. Poverty is still significant in many areas. Social disparities have worsened, with wide gaps in rich-poor and urban-rural incomes that are politically destabilising.

Redistributing income towards the lower income groups can meet two goals: reducing social inequalities and providing the demand base for consumption-led growth. The policies can include wage increases, provision of social services and income transfers to the poor.

Fifth is the need to tackle China’s environmental crises, which include emerging water scarcity, increased flooding, climate change and urban air pollution. Recent studies show the health dangers of the worsening air pollution, including links to the 2.6 million who die from cancers annually.

Many of the protests in China in recent years have been over environmental problems, including polluting industries located near communities. How can China integrate ecological concerns into its development strategy?

Sixth is China’s foreign relations. Xi last week reaffirmed China’s principle of “peaceful development” and that the country would never seek hegemony.

There is need to settle the different claims by China and other East Asian countries on the South China Sea in a proper and peaceful way and build confidence of its neighbours on this principle.

China, which is still very much a developing country in terms of per capita income and other characteristics, also need to stand with the rest of the developing world in international negotiations and relations.

At the same time, it is expected to provide preferences and special assistance to poorer countries and its investors abroad are expected to be socially and environmentally responsible.

Most difficult for China is the ability to manage foreign relations with developed countries, especially the United States. China is a rising or risen power, and viewed with some envy as a rival by those who fear losing their previous dominance.

Maintaining political stability with these powers is important; but of course this does not depend on China alone.

The above are only some of the hurdles facing China on its road to realise its dream of rejuvenation. As with any dream, it is not impossible to achieve but the road is long and difficult.

 GLOBAL TRENDS By MARTIN KHOR
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President Xi: Russia ties ensure peace; foreign debut illuminates China’s ‘world dream’


Xi-Jinping-wife1

Chinese President Xi Jinping and his wife Peng Liyuan arrive in Moscow Photo: AP

Freshly elected President Xi Jinping chose the Russian capital as the first foreign city he will visit as China’s head of state, as Moscow and Beijing move toward a full-fledged partnership for the next decade.

On the global arena, both Russia and China have a similar approach, and Jinping’s visit has been interpreted as a sign that the new Chinese administration is keen to re-inforce ties with Russia.

In the past, the two countries had a difficult and politically ambiguous relationship and were once Cold War rivals but their international interests are becoming more aligned.

The two countries have often jointly used their veto powers at the United Nationa Security Council, most recently with issues related to the Middle East, where they have blocked Western-backed measures regarding the Syrian conflict.

China and Russia also share a sizeable border and have tried to bolster their regional clout as a counterweight to a United States that is ‘pivoting’ towards Asia.

And as well as being permanent members of the Security Council, the two countries have worked shoulder-to-shoulder on the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and the so-called G20.

President Xi Jinping will also be talking trade on his visit in Moscow. The two countries have burgeoning business interests.

Bilateral trade has more than doubled in the last five years and reached $83bn in 2012 but the volume of trade is still low compared to their other trade partners. It is five times smaller than Russia’s trade with the European Union, and also far smaller than China’s trade with the United States; but the trade in energy is seen as a growth market for the two countries.

Russia is of course the world’s largest energy producer and China the biggest consumer. The two countries are in discussion about a gas pipeline that could eventually deliver 38bn cubic metres of Russian gas a year to China

So, how significant is this visit? Will it shape a new relationship between Moscow and Beijing?

To discuss this Inside Story, with presenter Hazem Sika, is joined by guests: Victor Gao, the director of China National Association of International Studies, who was also a former China policy advisor; Dimitry Babich, a political analyst at Russia Profile magazine; and Roderic Wye, a China analyst at Chatham House and senior fellow with the China Policy Institute at Nottingham University.

“Obviously there is a lot of substance [in the meeting] about the energy relationship, there are big issues to talk about on the international stage – not least, North Korea and the problems there – but also it is an important symbol to show for both Russia and China that they have independent foreign policies … and that they are not beholden to the United States in any particular way.”

Source:Al Jazeera – Roderic Wye, China analyst at Chatham House

Xi’s foreign debut illuminates China’s “world dream”

On Friday, Chinese President Xi Jinping embarked on his first overseas trip since taking office last week, and experts here believe the trip will clarify Xi’s recent references to China’s “world dream.”

Shi Yinhong, a professor of international relations at Renmin University of China, said, “The trip will reveal some important features of Xi’s concept of world order.”

“From the destinations of Xi’s first foreign trip, we can tell that China is committed to promoting democratization in international relations as well as a more just and reasonable international order and system,” he said.

In a joint interview on Tuesday with reporters from BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa), Xi said China hopes that countries and cultures around the world will carry out exchanges on equal footing, learn from each other and achieve common progress.

He also voiced his hope that all countries will make joint efforts to build a harmonious world featuring enduring peace and common prosperity.

“This is Xi’s version of China’s ‘world dream,'” Shi said.

“It is in line with the common aspirations of people from different countries and closely related to the ‘Chinese dream’ put forward by Xi,” he said.

Pursuing the “Chinese dream” of the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation is conducive to realizing the “world dream,” and if the “world dream” comes true, it could offer a sound external environment for the country to achieve the “Chinese dream,” Shi said.

NEW TYPE OF INTER-POWER TIES

Based on Xi’s first foreign trip and his interactions with other foreign leaders in the past week, analysts believe China is committed to developing a new type of “inter-power relations” in an all-around and open way, with hopes of breaking the zero-sum theory by promoting win-win cooperation.

Unlike past inter-power ties that have mainly targeted certain world powers, China now advocates a new type of cooperative relationship among all major powers, including leading powers among developing countries, said Ruan Zongze, deputy head of the China Institute of International Studies.

“We should adopt a new and open attitude toward all powers,” he said, adding that the word “new” here means regarding the development and growth of other countries as an opportunity for one’s own country.
“Only by doing this can state-to-state relations develop in a sound and sustainable way,” he said.

In the joint interview Tuesday, Xi said his visit to Russia shows the “high level and special nature” of the comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership between the two countries.

Ruan said China’s relations with Russia, the first leg of Xi’s trip, have already reached a stage featuring a “high level of mutual trust,” with both countries seeing each other’s development as an opportunity.

“The zero-sum mentality, namely believing one party’s success means the other’s failure, has been one of the major factors hampering mutual trust and creating conflicts between major powers,” he said.

Ruan pointed out that although Sino-Russian relations have seen marked progress in the past decade, this does not mean there are no problems in the bilateral relations.

“Both sides, however, agree not to let these differences restrain the development of bilateral relations,” Ruan said.

MAIDEN TRIP NOT TARGETING A THIRD PARTY

Analysts here also point out that Xi’s maiden overseas voyage as China’s head of state is not of an exclusive nature and does not target a third party.

Zhang Yuanyuan, former Chinese ambassador to Belgium, said China’s foreign policy is inclusive.

During his nine-day tour, Xi is scheduled to pay state visits to Russia, Tanzania, South Africa and the Republic of Congo. He is also expected to attend the fifth leaders’ summit of BRICS countries in Durban, South Africa.

Zhang said the visits involve multiple factors, including a world power and a neighboring country, developing countries and multilateral cooperation, all of which have been among China’s foreign policy priorities.

During the week since Xi was elected president, other Chinese leaders have received important guests and maintained contact with leaders from other countries.

In a phone conversation on March 14, Xi and U.S. President Barack Obama both promised to make efforts to achieve the goal of building a new type of inter-power relationship.

While meeting with U.S. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew here on March 19, Xi urged the two nations to objectively view each other’s development stages, respect each other’s interests for further development and regard the other party’s opportunities and challenges as its own.

Zhang pointed out that building a new type of inter-power relationship and exploring ways for the two major powers to get along with each other could straighten out Sino-U.S. relations and break the historical curse in which “conflicts between major powers are inevitable.”

Meanwhile, Ruan Zongze dismissed concerns about Xi’s itinerary, saying such concerns are “totally unnecessary.”

“The reason for China to pursue the building of a new type of inter-power relationship is that it will not embark on the path of alliance,” he said.

“The age of old-school alliances or jointly targeting a third party has long passed,” Ruan said.- Xinhua

 

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