CHINA AND INTERNATIONAL SECURITY COOPERATION by Gen. Wei Fenghe, State Councilor and Minister of National Defense, PRC


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 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, zero-sum game makes no winner and harms the interests of both sides. Currently, over 150 countries and international organizations have proactively joined 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.

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.

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.

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 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 Asia-Pacific community with a shared future and safeguard peace and stability in the region.
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June 4 immunized China against turmoil

中国防长改口称六四为“政治动乱”

June 4 marks the 30th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square incident. The Communist Party of China and the Chinese government have determined the nature of the incident. Chinese society has also made a comprehensive summary of it. Dropping the incident thereafter has been aimed at helping the country leave the shadow behind, avoid disputes, and help all Chinese people face the future.

We consider such practice a political success, although some people have criticized it from the perspective of news governance. Merely afflicting China once, the incident has not become a long-term nightmare for the country. Neither has the incident’s anniversary ever been placed in the teeth of the storm. It has become a faded historical event, rather than an actual entanglement.

The Chinese government’s control of the incident in 1989 has been a watershed marking the differences between China and former Eastern European socialist countries, including the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia. Since the incident, China has successfully become the world’s second largest economy, with rapid improvement of people’s living standards. The policy of avoiding arguing has served as a contributor to the country’s economic take-off.

Today’s China obviously has no political conditions to suddenly reproduce the riot of 30 years ago. Chinese society, including its intellectual elite, is now far more mature than it was in 1989. In those years, China’s reform was carried out prior to those of the Soviet Union and Eastern European countries. China was completely inexperienced, with an intellectual circle filled with idealism. Chinese society today has seen enough of the political tragedies that occurred in the Soviet Union, Yugoslavia and some Arab countries.

Having become politically mature, we now understand the significance of the country’s continuous development through evolutions instead of revolutions. We are also aware of the difficulties and complexity at the practical level.

As a vaccination for the Chinese society, the Tiananmen incident will greatly increase China’s immunity against any major political turmoil in the future.

We have noticed that every year around June 4, certain forces outside the Chinese mainland stir up public opinion and attack China. Such forces consist of two groups of people: student leaders and dissidents who fled abroad after 1989, and Western politicians and media outlets.

The first group’s understanding of the incident remains fixed in 1989. They refuse to correct their understanding of China’s development and the changes that the world has been through. Their interests have been decoupled from the Chinese people and have merged with anti-China forces outside China. Their attitude toward the incident cannot represent those of today’s Chinese public.

Western politicians’ discussions of the incident are mainly influenced by their countries’ relations with China. Due to the deterioration of China-US ties, US officials have launched fierce attacks against China that have focused on the incident since last year. But Chinese people are clear that those officials are not genuinely concerned about Chinese human rights, but are making use of the incident as a diplomatic tool to challenge China.

However, all these noises will have no real impact on Chinese society. The actions of the external forces are completely in vain.

Read more:

Hollow claims by US on caring about Chinese human rights

The US offers its commiserations for so-called human
rights violations in China, yet in actions, it has been trampling on
China’s human rights for years. It is time for Mr Pompeo and his
colleagues to stop the self-contradictory moves.

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Yes to Belt and Road – Everyone will benefit from BRI


Centre of attraction: China’s President Xi Jinping greeting Dr Mahathir as he leaves with Russian President Vladimir Putin after the opening ceremony of the Second Belt and Road Forum in Beijing, China.

Dr M endorses the BRI – ‘Many countries are going to benefit from initiative’

With help from Chinese firms, Malaysia will have an AI park soon. That’s not all the good news that came from the Prime Minister’s trip to China. Businessmen are pleased that Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has given the thumbs up to the Belt and Road Initiative. He says countries in its route will be the beneficiaries. And that means Malaysia too. WITH all of China as his stage, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad gave a massive endorsement to the country’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), saying all will benefit from the ease of travel and communication the development strategy will bring.

The Prime Minister said that with trade driving the world, it was only natural that land and sea passages be better developed.

“The Silk Road, the land passage between East and West, has not received much attention. Yet it must be obvious that with modern technologies the passage can be improved.

“Without a doubt, the utilisation of these passages will enrich all the littoral states along the way, as much as the great nations of the East and West. I am fully in support of the Belt and Road Initiative. I am sure my country, Malaysia, will benefit from the project,” he said in his speech at the High-Level Meeting of the Second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation held at the China National Convention Centre here yesterday.

The forum attracted over 5,000 participants from 150 countries including leaders from around the world, such as Russian President Vladimir Putin, President Rodrigo Duterte (Philippine), President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi (Egypt) and Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc.

The BRI, also known as the One Belt One Road (OBOR) or the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st-century Maritime Silk Road, is a strategy adopted by the Chinese government involving infrastructure development and investments in 152 countries and international organisations in Europe, Asia, Middle East, Latin America and Africa.

Dr Mahathir said just as massive trade by ships helped spawn the development of huge bulk carriers, the land passage should also “respond” to the increased trade between East and West. He also suggested that bigger trains be built for the purpose.

“If ships can be built bigger, why can’t trains be equally big to carry more goods and raw material and people? Have we reached the limit in terms of the size and length of trains? I think not,” he pointed out.

Dr Mahathir, who is on his second visit to China since becoming the 7th Prime Minister last May, said the world has the technology and funds to bring about such improvements.

He said freedom of passage along these routes was important and warned against bureaucratic hassles slowing down the speed of travel.

“It is essential therefore for these passages to be free and open to all,” he said, adding that the passages must be made safe as terrorism and wars would render the modern marvels and also delivering the benefits promised.

“Yes, the Belt and Road idea is a great. It can bring the landlocked countries of Central Asia closer to the sea. They can grow in wealth and their poverty reduced.

“As the sea routes and land routes improve, trade and travel will grow, and with this, the wealth of the world will increase for the betterment of everyone.

Dr M in Beijing: Everyone will benefit from Belt and Road initiative

PETALING JAYA: Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has endorsed the Belt and Road initiative by China, saying everyone would benefit from the ease of travel and communication that it would bring about.

He said this in his speech at the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing on Friday (April 26).

“Today, trade drives the world. It is only natural that the land and sea passages have to be better developed.

“The Silk Road, the land passage between East and West, has not received much attention. Yet it must be obvious that with modern technologies, the passage can be improved.

“Without doubt, the utilisation of these passages will enrich all the littoral states along the way, as much as the great nations of the East and West,” said Dr Mahathir..

According to the Prime Minister, just as the massive trade by ships helped spawn the development of huge bulk carriers, the land passage should also respond to the need from the increased trade between East and West.

He suggested that bigger trains be built towards this end.

“Although trains can now connect China with Eastern Europe, current trains are not designed for the increases in goods and people needing to travel along this passageway.

If ships can be built bigger, why can’t trains be equally big to carry more goods and raw materials and people?

“Have we reached the limit in terms of the size and length of trains? I think not,” he added.

The Prime Minister said the world had the technology and money to bring about such improvements.

He said freedom of passage along these routes, which pass through many countries via both sea and land, was important and warned against bureaucratic hassles slowing down the speed of travel.

“It is essential therefore for these passages to be free and open to all,” said Dr Mahathir.

He added that the passages must be made safe as terrorism and wars would render the modern marvels that enabled the Belt and Road incapable of delivering the benefits they promised.

“Yes, the Belt and Road idea is great.

“It can bring the landlocked countries of Central Asia closer to the sea. They can grow in wealth and their poverty reduced.

“As the sea routes and land routes improve, trade and travel will grow, and with this, the wealth of the world will increase for the betterment of everyone.

“Everyone will benefit from the ease of travel and communication that the development of the Belt and Road project will bring.

“I am fully in support of the Belt and Road initiative. I am sure my country, Malaysia, will benefit from the project,” said Dr Mahathir.

PM’s BRI backing allays fears over KL-Beijing ties

KUALA LUMPUR: Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s full endorsement of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) will allay concerns over Malaysia-China relations and lead to greater cooperation between both countries, according to China watchers here.

RHB Research Institute Sdn Bhd vice-president and head of Economic Research Peck Boon Soon said Malaysia was trying to mend its relations with China.

“It is safe to conclude that relations between our two countries are back to normal,” he said, referring to the suspension and cancellation of several China-linked projects last year.

Peck said the revival of East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) and Bandar Malaysia projects and the Prime Minister’s presence at the Second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing yesterday would help restore confidence among businessmen from China.

He said it made perfect sense to have warm ties with China as the country was the largest export market for Malaysia.

ACCIM SERC Sdn Bhd executive director Lee Heng Guie said Malaysia’s expressed support of the BRI opened up mutual consultation, increased cooperation and connectivity benefits between both sides.

“With this strong endorsement, we expect the relationship to further deepen bilateral ties and enhanced economic relations based on the principles of mutual benefit,” he said.

Lee said Malaysia and its private sector could gain from the enlarged trade and investment opportunities along the passage and gateway of BRI, if the countries could adopt the freedom of passage along these routes through the easing of bureaucratic hassles.

National Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Malaysia president Tan Sri Ter Leong Yap, who attended the Belt and Road CEO conference which was the first such conference at the forum, said the conference provided huge business opportunities for many companies in the region.

“This is a timely boost for the global economy,” he said, adding that there were nearly 1,000 participants from 90 of the world’s Top 500 companies, 78 of China’s Top 500 companies, more than 100 state-owned enterprises and 200 private companies at the conference.

Businessman Datuk Liu Thim Soon, who is vice-chairman to the United Nations Maritime-Continental Silk Road Cities Alliance, said the BRI was a visionary, long range direction by Chinese President Xi Jinping. “It is an enabler and platform for many developing smaller countries to be linked to investments, trade and tourism.

“With about 140 million China tourists travelling yearly, smaller developing countries can benefit and derive great economic potential if they can tap into this market,” he said. – By Yimie Yong

Who should you believe about BRI?

https://youtu.be/uK3-dhLp2yU

Deal inked to develop M’sia’s first AI park

MALAYSIA is to develop its first artificial intelligence (AI) park.

The park will serve as a platform for the development of AI solutions such as speech recognition, robotics and smart city technology.

It is also planned to be a regional epicentre for data management, research and development and commercial ecosystem.

An agreement was signed yesterday between Malaysian company G3 Global Bhd (G3) and its Chinese partners SenseTime Group Ltd and China Harbour Engineering Co Ltd (CHEC) on the setting up of the AI park, with the total investment at US$500mil (RM2.07bil).

The location of the park has yet to be identified.

The agreement was signed between G3 executive chairman Wan Khalik Wan Muhammad, SenseTime president for Asia-Pacific Business Group Jeff Shi, and CHEC chairman Lin Yi Chong.

The ceremony was held after Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s visit to SenseTime’s office here.

The Prime Minister also tried his hands on the self-driving car system at the company, which specialises in AI technology.

G3 Global banks on AI 



Driven by technology: SenseTime Group Ltd founder Prof Tang Xiaoou with Dr Mahathir during the premier’s visit to SenseTime’s Beijing office.
Driven by technology: SenseTime Group Ltd founder Prof Tang Xiaoou with Dr Mahathir during the premier’s visit to SenseTime’s Beijing office.

From jeanswear maker to one of Malaysia’s rising artificial intelligence (AI) companies. That is the interesting story ofG3 Global Bhd that is unravelling today.

While many companies can attempt to boast the AI buzzword as a business focus, it is not an easy area to venture into.

First you need super computers. Then you need the AI software or algorithms.

And then you need to use that software on vast amounts of data in order to build the AI applications for real use.

While G3 Global may have made some inroads into building its own Internet of Things (IoT) platform, it has yet to achieve anything big by itself in the AI space. That was until it signed a deal with China-based SenseTime Group Ltd, touted as the world’s most valuable AI startup.

On April 11, G3 Global told Bursa Malaysia that it will partner with SenseTime to set up Malaysia’s first AI park, in collaboration with China Harbour Engineering Company Ltd (CHEC).

The AI park is expected to see more than US$1bil (RM4.13bil) in investments over the next five years.

According to G3 Global executive chairman Wan Khalik Wan Muhammad, the AI park is vital in order to build AI research-related public service infrastructure as the base to promote AI technology in Malaysia.

“In addition, this becomes a place for talent to be trained on AI and machine learning,” he said.

On Friday, the culmination of the relationship between G3 Global and SenseTime took place, following Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s ongoing official visit to China.

Dr Mahathir, accompanied by several Malaysian ministers, visited SenseTime’s Beijing office where they got a first-hand experience of the latest AI technologies and its application in smart city solutions, autonomous driving technology and remote sensing, among others.

During this visit, G3 Global had inked memorandums of understanding (MoU) with SenseTime and CHEC in relation to the AI park project.

G3 Global said in a statement that as the local partner, it will coordinate efforts with the Malaysian authorities and regulators, form local partnerships as well as promote and develop the AI park project.

Meanwhile, SenseTime will serve as the AI technology provider for the partnership while CHEC will provide infrastructure engineering and construction services as well as management and maintenance of the park.

Valued at over US$4.5bil (RM18.67bil), SenseTime is the fifth national AI platform in China and is also the country’s largest AI algorithm provider.

Although it is only less than five years old, the company now serves over 700 customers and partners globally, including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Qualcomm, NVIDIA, Honda, Alibaba, vivo and Xiaomi, among others.

Based on SenseTime’s website, the startup leads the AI market in “almost all vertical industries” such as smart city, smartphone, mobile Internet, online entertainment, automobile, finance and retail.

“SenseTime has independently developed a deep learning platform, supercomputing centers, and a range of AI technologies such as face recognition, image recognition, object recognition, text recognition, medical image analysis, video analysis, autonomous driving and remote sensing,” it says.

According to a recent Bloomberg report, SenseTime has been profitable for two years and the company has recorded triple digit revenue growth for the past four years.

The collaboration between G3 Global and SenseTime aptly serves what both companies need. By setting up an AI park in Malaysia, SenseTime will be able to expand its global presence further while G3 Global gets to go big into the booming AI scene.

Overall, the AI hub in Malaysia is a nice sounding plan. But how real will it be and how extensive will it be?

Speaking with StarBizWeek over the telephone, Wan Khalik says that the move into AI has been a natural progression of the company.

“With IoT as our core business, the only logical next move was to get into the field of AI. We had been in search for a good partner to fast-track out entry into AI, which has a high entry barrier.

“That’s how we got to do a deal with Sensetime, which took much effort on our part, considering how successful Sensetime already is,” he says.

Perfect partner

Wan Khalik: With IoT as our core business, the only logical next move was to get into the field of AI

Wan Khalik adds that SenseTime is the perfect partner, considering that they are one of the biggest AI companies in the world and have their own AI algorithm as well as products and services.

“Their products are already deployed in the commercial world,” he points out.

While acknowledging that AI is still nascent in its growth in Malaysia and still suffers from a lack of understanding and appreciation, Wan Khalik points out two important aspects that the deal with Sensetime will bring about.

“First is that the lab will become an education tool to showcase what AI is all about and the benefits it brings. Second is the fact that we intend to address the issue of developing talent in Malaysia in the AI space.”

In the press release announcing the strategic partnership between G3 and SenseTime, it was revealed that SenseTime will be assisting in the development and deployment of training syllabus for universities in Malaysia.

Wan Khalik says that SenseTime has designed and developed part of the AI syllabus that is currently being taught in schools across China.

“The good news is that the Malaysian government has expressed strong interest in AI and it wants industry to get involved in AI. But we need to invest in buidling up the talent in this field,” he adds.

The little-known G3 Global’s journey is an impressive one.

Its diversification into the information technology scene began less than four years ago after G3 Global (formerly known as Yen Global Bhd) acquired IoT solution provider Atilze Digital Sdn Bhd in December 2015.

Green Packet Bhd , image: https://cdn.thestar.com.my/Themes/img/chart.png , a mobile broadband and networking solutions provider, emerged as a major shareholder in G3 Global after it acquired a 22% stake in August 2016.

A year later, Green Packet boosted its equity interest in G3 Global to 32%.

The G3 Global stock’s trend has been rather flattish since mid-2017. However, since the start of April this year, shares of G3 Global surged by 106% to its record-breaking high of RM1.62.

On April 25, the company hit limit-up and was issued with an unusual market activity query from Bursa Malaysia, in relation to the rapid advances in its share price.

While the reasons behind the sharp increase in G3 Global’s share price were unclear, it seems to have some correlation with G3 Global’s partnership with SenseTime.

G3 Global also saw the entry of Wan Khalik as shareholder, after he assumed control of private vehicle Global Man Capital Sdn Bhd, which currently has the largest stake in G3. Global Man Capital increased its holdings of G3 Global to a 32.04% stake following an acquisition of 32.15 million shares in April, edging out Green Packet’s 32% stake.

On April 5, G3 Global appointed Wan Khalik as its new executive chairman.

Wan Khalik, who is also a substantial shareholder in DWL Resources Bhd, has some notable Sarawak connections, having been the principal private secretary to the Sarawak State government between 2013 until July 2018.

Wan Khalik’s background also includes experiences in corporate planning, public administration, IT strategic planning, and business development.

When asked on why did he pick DWL and G3 Global as companies to invest into, he says, “For DWL we see opportunities in project management of jobs of major infrastructure projects that the country is embarking on. That is why we have teamed up with the likes of Gadang to prepare to jointly bid for such jobs. As for G3 Global, it is even more interesting because of the future of AI. As you probably already know, AI is the world’s next great technological revolution. It is changing the way information is gathered, stored and used. We will not be able to do without it, whether as individuals, organisations, companies and governments. We believe our deal with Sensetime puts G3 Global on solid footing to bring AI to Malaysia and the Asian market.”

G3 Global recorded a net loss of RM17.15mil in the financial year of 2018 ended Dec 31, against a turnover of RM29.4mil. Both of its apparel and ICT business segments were in the red for the 12-month period.

“The ICT business continues to show growth potential despite incurring losses due to business development costs and we hope to see better contribution to sales from this division in the new financial year.

“The setting up of various new subsidiaries will drive the growth in the ICT business including the provision of IoT solutions and services like connected commercial vehicles and sensor hubs, and AI smart cameras. The group will be well positioned to take advantage of improving prospects of the ICT industry for the current financial year,” G3 Global said in a filing.

Moving forward, with the AI venture with SenseTime, the company is clearly on a new trajectory, especially considering the way AI is going to flood all our lives.

According to a recent study by Microsoft and IDC Asia Pacific, only 26% of organisations in Malaysia have embarked on their AI journeys, although about 70% of the business leaders polled agreed that AI is instrumental for their organisations’ competitiveness.

The immense untapped potential in the domestic AI market offers promising opportunities for local AI companies, including G3 Global.

With a strong backing from SenseTime, G3 Global could rise to become a leading AI solutions provider in the region.

By ganeshwaran kana The Star

Related post:

Deal inked to develop M’sia’s first AI park

MALAYSIA is to develop its first artificial intelligence (AI) park.

The park will serve as a platform for the development of AI solutions such as speech recognition, robotics and smart city technology.

It is also planned to be a regional epicentre for data management, research and development and commercial ecosystem.

An agreement was signed yesterday between Malaysian company G3 Global Bhd (G3) and its Chinese partners SenseTime Group Ltd and China Harbour Engineering Co Ltd (CHEC) on the setting up of the AI park, with the total investment at US$500mil (RM2.07bil).

The location of the park has yet to be identified.

The agreement was signed between G3 executive chairman Wan Khalik Wan Muhammad, SenseTime president for Asia-Pacific Business Group Jeff Shi, and CHEC chairman Lin Yi Chong.

The ceremony was held after Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s visit to SenseTime’s office here.

The Prime Minister also tried his hands on the self-driving car system at the company, which specialises in AI technology.

G3 Global banks on AI

Driven by technology: SenseTime Group Ltd founder Prof Tang Xiaoou with Dr Mahathir during the premier’s visit to SenseTime’s Beijing office.
Driven by technology: SenseTime Group Ltd founder Prof Tang Xiaoou with Dr Mahathir during the premier’s visit to SenseTime’s Beijing office.
From jeanswear maker to one of Malaysia’s rising artificial intelligence (AI) companies. That is the interesting story ofG3 Global Bhd that is unravelling today.

While many companies can attempt to boast the AI buzzword as a business focus, it is not an easy area to venture into.

First you need super computers. Then you need the AI software or algorithms.

And then you need to use that software on vast amounts of data in order to build the AI applications for real use.

While G3 Global may have made some inroads into building its own Internet of Things (IoT) platform, it has yet to achieve anything big by itself in the AI space. That was until it signed a deal with China-based SenseTime Group Ltd, touted as the world’s most valuable AI startup.

On April 11, G3 Global told Bursa Malaysia that it will partner with SenseTime to set up Malaysia’s first AI park, in collaboration with China Harbour Engineering Company Ltd (CHEC).

The AI park is expected to see more than US$1bil (RM4.13bil) in investments over the next five years.

According to G3 Global executive chairman Wan Khalik Wan Muhammad, the AI park is vital in order to build AI research-related public service infrastructure as the base to promote AI technology in Malaysia.

“In addition, this becomes a place for talent to be trained on AI and machine learning,” he said.

On Friday, the culmination of the relationship between G3 Global and SenseTime took place, following Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s ongoing official visit to China.

Dr Mahathir, accompanied by several Malaysian ministers, visited SenseTime’s Beijing office where they got a first-hand experience of the latest AI technologies and its application in smart city solutions, autonomous driving technology and remote sensing, among others.

During this visit, G3 Global had inked memorandums of understanding (MoU) with SenseTime and CHEC in relation to the AI park project.

G3 Global said in a statement that as the local partner, it will coordinate efforts with the Malaysian authorities and regulators, form local partnerships as well as promote and develop the AI park project.

Meanwhile, SenseTime will serve as the AI technology provider for the partnership while CHEC will provide infrastructure engineering and construction services as well as management and maintenance of the park.

Valued at over US$4.5bil (RM18.67bil), SenseTime is the fifth national AI platform in China and is also the country’s largest AI algorithm provider.

Although it is only less than five years old, the company now serves over 700 customers and partners globally, including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Qualcomm, NVIDIA, Honda, Alibaba, vivo and Xiaomi, among others.

Based on SenseTime’s website, the startup leads the AI market in “almost all vertical industries” such as smart city, smartphone, mobile Internet, online entertainment, automobile, finance and retail.

“SenseTime has independently developed a deep learning platform, supercomputing centers, and a range of AI technologies such as face recognition, image recognition, object recognition, text recognition, medical image analysis, video analysis, autonomous driving and remote sensing,” it says.

According to a recent Bloomberg report, SenseTime has been profitable for two years and the company has recorded triple digit revenue growth for the past four years.

The collaboration between G3 Global and SenseTime aptly serves what both companies need. By setting up an AI park in Malaysia, SenseTime will be able to expand its global presence further while G3 Global gets to go big into the booming AI scene.

Overall, the AI hub in Malaysia is a nice sounding plan. But how real will it be and how extensive will it be?

Speaking with StarBizWeek over the telephone, Wan Khalik says that the move into AI has been a natural progression of the company.

“With IoT as our core business, the only logical next move was to get into the field of AI. We had been in search for a good partner to fast-track out entry into AI, which has a high entry barrier.

“That’s how we got to do a deal with Sensetime, which took much effort on our part, considering how successful Sensetime already is,” he says.

Perfect partner

Wan Khalik: With IoT as our core business, the only logical next move was to get into the field of AI
Wan Khalik adds that SenseTime is the perfect partner, considering that they are one of the biggest AI companies in the world and have their own AI algorithm as well as products and services.

“Their products are already deployed in the commercial world,” he points out.

While acknowledging that AI is still nascent in its growth in Malaysia and still suffers from a lack of understanding and appreciation, Wan Khalik points out two important aspects that the deal with Sensetime will bring about.

“First is that the lab will become an education tool to showcase what AI is all about and the benefits it brings. Second is the fact that we intend to address the issue of developing talent in Malaysia in the AI space.”

In the press release announcing the strategic partnership between G3 and SenseTime, it was revealed that SenseTime will be assisting in the development and deployment of training syllabus for universities in Malaysia.

Wan Khalik says that SenseTime has designed and developed part of the AI syllabus that is currently being taught in schools across China.

“The good news is that the Malaysian government has expressed strong interest in AI and it wants industry to get involved in AI. But we need to invest in buidling up the talent in this field,” he adds.

The little-known G3 Global’s journey is an impressive one.

Its diversification into the information technology scene began less than four years ago after G3 Global (formerly known as Yen Global Bhd) acquired IoT solution provider Atilze Digital Sdn Bhd in December 2015.

Green Packet Bhd , image: https://cdn.thestar.com.my/Themes/img/chart.png , a mobile broadband and networking solutions provider, emerged as a major shareholder in G3 Global after it acquired a 22% stake in August 2016.

A year later, Green Packet boosted its equity interest in G3 Global to 32%.

The G3 Global stock’s trend has been rather flattish since mid-2017. However, since the start of April this year, shares of G3 Global surged by 106% to its record-breaking high of RM1.62.

On April 25, the company hit limit-up and was issued with an unusual market activity query from Bursa Malaysia, in relation to the rapid advances in its share price.

While the reasons behind the sharp increase in G3 Global’s share price were unclear, it seems to have some correlation with G3 Global’s partnership with SenseTime.

G3 Global also saw the entry of Wan Khalik as shareholder, after he assumed control of private vehicle Global Man Capital Sdn Bhd, which currently has the largest stake in G3. Global Man Capital increased its holdings of G3 Global to a 32.04% stake following an acquisition of 32.15 million shares in April, edging out Green Packet’s 32% stake.

On April 5, G3 Global appointed Wan Khalik as its new executive chairman.

Wan Khalik, who is also a substantial shareholder in DWL Resources Bhd, has some notable Sarawak connections, having been the principal private secretary to the Sarawak State government between 2013 until July 2018.

Wan Khalik’s background also includes experiences in corporate planning, public administration, IT strategic planning, and business development.

When asked on why did he pick DWL and G3 Global as companies to invest into, he says, “For DWL we see opportunities in project management of jobs of major infrastructure projects that the country is embarking on. That is why we have teamed up with the likes of Gadang to prepare to jointly bid for such jobs. As for G3 Global, it is even more interesting because of the future of AI. As you probably already know, AI is the world’s next great technological revolution. It is changing the way information is gathered, stored and used. We will not be able to do without it, whether as individuals, organisations, companies and governments. We believe our deal with Sensetime puts G3 Global on solid footing to bring AI to Malaysia and the Asian market.”

G3 Global recorded a net loss of RM17.15mil in the financial year of 2018 ended Dec 31, against a turnover of RM29.4mil. Both of its apparel and ICT business segments were in the red for the 12-month period.

“The ICT business continues to show growth potential despite incurring losses due to business development costs and we hope to see better contribution to sales from this division in the new financial year.

“The setting up of various new subsidiaries will drive the growth in the ICT business including the provision of IoT solutions and services like connected commercial vehicles and sensor hubs, and AI smart cameras. The group will be well positioned to take advantage of improving prospects of the ICT industry for the current financial year,” G3 Global said in a filing.

Moving forward, with the AI venture with SenseTime, the company is clearly on a new trajectory, especially considering the way AI is going to flood all our lives.

According to a recent study by Microsoft and IDC Asia Pacific, only 26% of organisations in Malaysia have embarked on their AI journeys, although about 70% of the business leaders polled agreed that AI is instrumental for their organisations’ competitiveness.

The immense untapped potential in the domestic AI market offers promising opportunities for local AI companies, including G3 Global.

With a strong backing from SenseTime, G3 Global could rise to become a leading AI solutions provider in the region.

By ganeshwaran kana The Star

Related post:

Highlights of Xi’s keynote speech at second Belt and Road Forum
https://youtu.be/qB80PG8C-I0 https://youtu.be/VWid1poNGuk https://youtu.be/L67WJiO_CQk https://youtu.be/eWOMhvTrrOg C

The price we pay to axe East Coast Rail Link (ECRL)


KUALA LUMPUR: Loss of jobs, harm to diplomatic ties with China, damage to the economy plus a RM20bil compensation are awaiting Malaysia if the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) project is cancelled.

The billion ringgit 688km long track linking Selangor, Pahang, Trengganu and Kelantan is already 20% completed, says MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong on the trail of potential damage if the project set for completion in 2024 is axed now.

The Ayer Hitam Member of Parliament who issued an open letter to Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Cabinet Ministers on the matter, said he earnestly hoped the Cabinet can explore the effects of axing the project.

The ECRL project whose construction contract was awarded to China Communications, Construction Co Ltd (CCCC) and financed by China is a hot topic in the past few days, and its fate is expected to be made known officia­lly this week.

Yesterday, Dr Mahathir said Malaysia will be “impoverished” if the government proceeds with the ECRL project.

While not confirming that the project has been scrapped, Dr Mahathir said paying compensation is cheaper than bearing the cost of the project.

Below is Dr Wee’s letter in full:

An open letter to YAB Prime Minister and Cabinet Ministers

The cancellation of the ECRL project and the bickering between two Cabinet ministers over the issue has become the talk of the town. I foresee this issue to be a hot topic in the Cabinet meeting this Wednesday (Jan 30).

Whether the cancellation of ECRL was discussed in previous Cabinet meetings or not, I earnestly hope the Cabinet can explore the effects of axing this project.

Take a moment to consider factors such as the friendship between the people of both countries, jobs and economy, diplomatic ties and the reputation of Malaysia.

On the bilateral relations between Malaysia and China, I can safely say that putting a stop to the ECRL project will harm the diplomatic ties between Malaysia and China.

If we put ourselves in China’s shoes, we will surely respond negatively as well if our overseas investment is treated as such.

A nightmare looms should China take any retaliatory action, such as reduce or even halt the import of commodities (palm oil in particular) from us.

If that happens, Felda, Sime Darby and other big corporations will be the first to feel the heat.

The livelihood of some 650,000 smallholders and their families will be directly affected.

From the economic perspective, the ECRL project is likely to boost the GDP growth of three east coast states by 1.5%.

It will also spur the development of the east coast, enhance connectivity between the east and west coast, and close the economic divide between the two coasts.

Through bridging the rural-urban divide, the overall development of Malaysia will be more balanced and comprehensive.

The rail link is 20% completed, with several tens of billions paid to the contractor.

On top of that, Malaysia will be penalised for cancelling the RM30bil loan from the EXIM Bank of China.

We will have to repay the loan and compensation within a short period of time.

From my experience in administering engineering projects, any breach of contract will result in a hefty penalty. The compensation for cancelling ECRL could reach RM20bil.

Financial losses aside, scrapping the ECRL will also bring a negative impact to Malaysia’s reputation in the international arena and erode Malaysia’s trustworthiness.

Judging from my past experience dealing with China and its officials, as well as the friendly gestures displayed by China so far, I can conclude that China is willing to achieve a win-win solution instead of situation where both sides lose out.

The Malaysian government can consider restructuring the project timeline or reducing the project scale, which are alternatives that work in Malaysia’s favour while maintaining the amicable ties between Malaysia and China.

The government should also keep the small and medium enterprises in mind.

Business owners in 150 related industries, including tens of thousands of contractors who have taken a loan to purchase equipment, will suffer greatly should ECRL be cancelled.

China is Malaysia’s largest trading partner since 2009, with bilateral trade figures reaching US$100bil. Business linkages and people-to-people exchanges have also flourished over the years.

Products such as palm oil, bird’s nest, Musang King, white coffee, etc, are exported to China, while people from both countries visit each other for vacations and academic exchanges, benefitting Malaysians of all races.

All these have contributed to the income of various communities and brought in foreign exchange earnings for the country.

It takes years to build a bilateral relationship, and only seconds to destroy it.

The Malaysian government should appreciate our friendship with China and try its best to achieve mutual benefits and common prosperity with China.

Prioritise the economy and the livelihood of the people, and put an end to the political game to discredit your opponents.

For the sake of the people in the east coast as well as the whole of Malaysia, the government should not cancel the ECRL project.- The Star

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Import expo to improve trade balance: Xi addresses opening ceremony of the CIIE; When realities hit the ‘Road’


The first ever China International Import Expo (CIIE) kicks off in Shanghai today. President Xi Jinping attends the opening ceremony and delivers a keynote speech at the ceremony.

The China International Import Expo (CIIE), the world’s first import-themed national expo, kicks off on Monday. More than 3,000 enterprises from some 130 countries and regions will exhibit their products, taking this as a premier opportunity to enter or expand their presence on the Chinese market.

But there are still fault-finding reports about the event. Some say sarcastically that no state leader or government head from the G7 will attend the expo. Some even link the CIIE with the China-US trade war in spite of the fact that China announced the CIIE in May 2017 at the Belt and Road Initiative on International Cooperation, before the trade war hadn’t started.

Why do these media always want to dig out some political ends from the CIIE, which is in any way a good thing for global trade as well as the exports of Western countries?

CIIE is being held to serve enterprises and exporters worldwide, not Western leaders. Japan ranks first in terms of the number of participating companies, followed by South Korea, the US, Australia, Germany and Italy. This fully demonstrates how much passion companies from developed countries hold toward the expo and heralds the expo’s success.

If more countries and regions with a trade surplus can host import expos, that will promote global trade balance. Those with a trade deficit should not blame others, but encourage their enterprises to grasp every opportunity to promote their products. Sometimes the problem lies in information asymmetry and an import expo can provide a platform for suppliers and buyers to communicate at a low cost.

China has long had a trade surplus and too much of it is not helpful for the country. More imports of high-quality products can help Chinese to upgrade their consumption and advance the production. The inherent drive for hosting CIIE is to translate part of China’s foreign exchange reserve into social progress.

China started very early by holding trade fairs in Guangzhou and later became a leading exporter in the world. Now we are holding the import expo in the hope of promoting our imports.

Tangled in a trade war with the US, China could have shut US companies out of the expo as a way of pressuring, but it has acted the other way around. By contrast, the US now thinks everything about the Chinese economy is wrong and whatever China does is a trick. The two countries differ in their visions.

We believe that the CIIE, if held regularly, will help China enhance the quality of its imports and balance its imports and exports. China doesn’t need to care what the outside world thinks of the expo, nor should it intentionally enhance the volume of transactions as a proof of kindness.

As long as the Chinese market grows larger, CIIE will attract more attention and will be remembered in world trade history as a positive event.

Countries, businesses look forward to CIIE

As the first China International Import Expo (CIIE) nears, officials and entrepreneurs around the world aim to seize the opportunity to explore the Chinese market, voicing greater confidence in China’s further opening up.

“We understand the CIIE as … showcasing China’s greater openness to importers. These are all moves in the right direction,” World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim said. “We support what China is doing to expand imports and address global trade imbalances.”

Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite told Xinhua that “the expo is a ‘win-win’ event for both, China and the world, as it provides new opportunities for cooperation, helps companies across the globe enter the Chinese market and paves the way for China to satisfy its growing demand for high-quality products.”

Pakistan is confronted with current account deficit and the CIIE “is a great opportunity for Pakistan to have a pavilion where we will be exhibiting our exports,” Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan said.

Khan hailed China’s reform and opening up policy which provides Chinese industries a better environment to compete in international trade. “China has set a good example,” he said.

Madagascar will showcase products such as vanilla, cocoa beans, coffee beans and minerals at the CIIE. China offers a great opportunity for everyone, and everyone must know how to seize this opportunity, Minister of Tourism Jean Brunelle Razafintsiandraofa told Xinhua.

“Australia thinks it (the CIIE) is a great celebration of … the economic contribution that China makes to the region and the world. That is why we’re delighted that some 180 Australian businesses and brands are participating,” said Australian Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment Simon Birmingham.

“We are in global markets, we are all together and we want to cooperate,” Israeli Scientific Minister Ofir Akunis said, adding that it is a “very good idea” and the “right way” that China hosts the CIIE where people from all over the world will meet meet on cooperation in the future.

“I think (the CIIE) is a great opportunity to show the players in the global economic environment the opening of China to world trade, and it is also a contribution to the growth of the global market,” Marco Tronchetti Provera, CEO of Italian-Chinese tyre maker Pirelli, told Xinhua.

The CIIE, a significant move by the Chinese government to further open the Chinese market, has attracted about 2,800 exhibitors from over 130 countries and regions. Economic and trade exchanges are bringing more benefits to all sides.

“We are going to Shanghai to represent more than 89 of our members who are able to export a range of products (to China),” Sandile Ndlovu, Executive Director of the South African Aerospace, Maritime and Defence Export Council, said. “China could be one of our biggest customers as there is so much potential for trade with China.”

Marathon Ginseng, a U.S. Wisconsin-based ginseng grower, will have a stall at the CIIE. It registered for the expo the first time it heard of the fair.

“It is a big event in China,” Jiang Mingtao, founder of Marathon Ginseng, told Xinhua. “We hope to enhance the reputation of ginseng produced in the state of Wisconsin … and let more Chinese consumers know our products – Global Times

Highlights of Xi’s keynote speech at import expo – Chinadaily.com.cn

When realities hit the ‘Road’

 

JUST 11 weeks into his election victory, Pakistan’s new Prime Minister Imran Khan has already had to accomplish a task that seriously tests his diplomatic skills.

More than that, it is a task that would tax his diplomatic creativity. And that is in addition to the dire economic challenges he already faces at home.

Confronted with multiple needs and demands, it has taken some time for the new Government to form a Cabinet. Pakistan’s economy has taken some beating. Imran’s opposition party won the August election on a tide of change, against an incumbent party in government whose leaders had been charged with corruption.

Worse, the novice Prime Minister also has to contend with unfavourable terms that the previous government had agreed to with China in its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) projects.

Imran is in Beijing this weekend to try to negotiate those terms.

He is a self-confessed fan of Malaysian Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad. Even so, he could not possibly have planned to follow in Dr Mahathir’s footsteps so closely. Imran’s toughest task is to present his case in China so persuasively as to avoid a cynical sense of déjà vu among China’s leaders. But what can this new Prime Minister say that has not already been said by his much more experienced Malaysian counterpart, to any greater effect?

One theme Imran’s delegation may be pursuing is explaining to Beijing the plight currently facing Pakistan: in its dire economic straits, Islamabad has to choose between negotiating terms with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) or renegotiating terms with China.

Neither option is ideal by any means. Going with the IMF may even be a worse debt trap than China has ever been accused of fostering. The fact that Imran is in Beijing shows that the lesser evil may be to renegotiate the BRI terms, such as reducing the costs to Pakistan by a couple of billion US dollars.

If Pakistan opts to go with China, it would prove that any conceivable terms with the IMF would be more onerous and risky. Both the new Finance Ministry and Imran’s task force are leaning that way.

Alternatively the BRI projects could be deferred, but would China agree? Much of that remains to be seen, or heard, in the following days. For now, it is important to remember that such situations are prone to misinterpretation and misrepresentation – including of the deliberate kind.

Predictably, the largely Western international media have already portrayed Pakistan as “saying no” to the China-led BRI.

But why would Pakistan ever do that? The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) as a vital segment – indeed, the flagship – of the BRI is of far greater value and importance to Pakistan than to China.

Whatever strategic or symbolic significance the US$62 bil (RM258bil) CPEC may have or be said to have for China, it is dwarfed by the immediate and tangible benefits for Pakistan’s development.

It is situated fully and squarely in Pakistan, not China, covering much of Pakistani territory and set to boost such sectors as energy, telecommunications, tourism, trade and transportation. Pakistan’s Railways Ministry calls CPEC the “backbone” of the country.

Its strategic value to China is access to the Arabian Sea at the corridor’s south-western corner in the port of Gwadar. It is access that China does not need now, and may or may not need sometime in the future. China is comfortable investing heavily in Pakistan’s development because the two countries have a special relationship in South Asia. Western observers who still consider Pakistan a Western ally need to have their perspective of Asia updated. Casting Islamabad as a US ally is merely harking back to the 1950s era of the US-led South-East Asia Treaty Organisation (Seato) in the early phase of the Cold War.

Times have moved on, as have China and Pakistan. Their leaders have repeatedly declared their respective countries “all-weather friends” – perhaps even allies.

To India, China and Pakistan have no common border, their link being only Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK). The territory is bitterly disputed with India following the 1963 China-Pakistan boundary agreement.

Controversy with India flared again two days ago when a bus service was launched linking Lahore with Kashghar in Xinjiang, with the route running through contested PoK.

The term “debt trap” in reference to allegedly risky China-led projects was not coined by China, Pakistan or even Sri Lanka. It was coined by an Indian economist.

If any doubt still lingers over the China-Pakistan relationship, BRI cooperation continues between them and may even expand. Both countries are now seeking to extend CPEC into Afghanistan.

On a stellar scale, China helped Pakistan launch two satellites this year. By 2020, Pakistan hopes to send its first astronaut into space under China’s space programme.

India’s problem with the BRI is essentially its passage through territory disputed with Pakistan. That has now been conflated with what is said to be “Pakistan’s problem” with the BRI.

Western pundits in particular tend to draw such hasty and hazy conclusions since they accord with preconceived US notions of a rising China threat. Such misperceptions are not only wrong but misleading.

Asian countries have a different perspective because a rising China as Asia’s main economy also means a rising Asia. It is the proverbial rising tide that lifts all boats in this region of the continent.

Even the classic anecdotal “debt trap,” Sri Lanka’s Hambantota Port, was never quite the disaster its detractors claimed it to be. That controversy was built up principally between Sri Lanka’s contending political parties and their different positions on China at the time.

Now that Mahinda Rajapaksa – prime mover of the Hambantota project and defeated in the 2015 presidential race – has returned as Prime Minister nine days ago, punditry should be buzzing.

The point, however, is to arrive at reasoned analysis away from wild speculation. China is a rational player whatever the objective may be, so that a rational approach can only help understanding.

For its part, China should also empathise with its BRI partners in the conditions they find themselves in. Financially strapped and economically challenged, nations that wish to work with the BRI are constrained by factors beyond their control.

First, these countries may have new governments that have inherited a broken economy from their predecessors. Much urgent repair work first needs to be done. Second, BRI projects are largely about massive infrastructure, usually the most expensive public projects to be undertaken by any government. Third, much of the BRI runs through developing countries and regions that may not have the largest financial resources even at the best of times.

How will Pakistan’s appeal to China for revised terms hold out? Prime Minister Imran Khan should be able to win some concessions.

After all, China has helped other Asian countries before in times of need, even at some expense to itself. When the 1997-98 Asian Financial Crisis struck, China postponed its scheduled currency revaluation to absorb some of the cost so that the afflicted countries do not go under from excessive loan repayments. Such a generous gesture from Beijing would not be out of character, whether the beneficiary is Pakistan or Malaysia.

After all, each boasts a special relationship with Beijing.

Bunn NagaraBy  bunn nagara

 

Martin Jacques – Big Picture: China’s Belt & Road Initiative will change the world as we know it

 


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