THE deadline of March 31 has passed, and 52 countries are now on the list of would-be founders of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB).
The China-led bank was launched in October last year at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, a year after Chinese President Xi Jinping proposed a bank to offer funds for development projects during his official visit to Indonesia.
The initiative would promote regional inter-connectivity and economic integration, he said when delivering a speech at the Indonesian Parliament.
In the past few days leading up to the deadline, news of more countries hurrying to join the AIIB made headlines, especially when a few of them announced the decision at the recently concluded Boao Forum in Hainan province, which Xi officiated.
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China and South Korea are inching closer to implementing a bilateral free trade agreement (FTA) with a draft agreement, the two countries announced on Wednesday, a move that experts said will help promote China’s similar negotiations with other countries and regions.
China and South Korea confirmed the draft agreement on Wednesday, China’s Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) announced on its website on Wednesday, noting all FTA negotiations have been completed.
The English-language draft agreement will be translated into Chinese and Korean before being signed, South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency reported on Wednesday.
The two governments have agreed to work toward signing the FTA in the first half of 2015, South Korea’s Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy was quoted as saying.
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Dalian, in China is blessed with reputable Maritime University affiliated with World Maritime University Malmo, Sweden. The product of Dalian University is compatible to world standard, so is the ship building industry which has grown to the extent that newly-built ships are competing with South Korea and Japan. The stringent quality standard of international classification societies are complied to deliver a product inferior to none.
It was also amazed to see the Shenzhen Port, a marshy land, transformed into container port handling 10 million TEU, with only 3.7 square kilometres of land. The port has 22-metre draft and handled largest container ship of China Shipping of 19100 TEUs. The technology is the most up-to-date as sitting in Yantin International Container Terminal (YICT) play with joy sticks to control the handling containers with no gantry’s operators. The in-house built software is used, instead of branded ones, promising efficiency. The maximum time of a trailer in port is restricted to 30 minutes, whilst train logistic is connected to port as well.
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In the continent, unlike in the US, China is not seen as a major strategic competitor, says academic expert
Timothy Garton Ash believes China and Europe have the opportunity to forge one of the great-power relationships over the next few decades.
The internationally renowned historian and commentator says such an alliance has far more potential than any the world’s second-largest economy may have with the United States since it would be devoid of superpower rivalry.
“I think the Europe-China relationship is the neglected great-power relationship. Europe is China’s largest trading partner so there is a massive economic relationship,” he says.
“It is also a less difficult relationship than that with the United States, which is not taking kindly to relative decline. It is finding it more difficult to accommodate a rising China.”
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Two major new developments between China and Canada/North America took on new meanings for me after a recent trip to China to introduce my new Chinese-Canadian grandson to his Chinese relatives.
My trip was much enriched by a simultaneous reading of Martin Jacques’ political page-turner: When China Rules the World. As The Economist reviewer commented on Jacques’ insights, “The West hopes that wealth, globalization and political integration will turn China into a gentle giant … Time will not make China more Western; it will make the West, and the world, more Chinese.”
That was illustrated to me by the recent signing of the U.S.-China climate change agreement and by Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s signing a deal to set up a Chinese currency-trading hub in Toronto. Harper’s approach to China itself is indicative of the West becoming more Chinese. Gone are his earlier principled objections to human rights violations, a reflection of western Christian democracies’ legal rights and constitution-based approach to politics.
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With the inevitable rise of China as no. 1 in the world economy it is important that we re-examine our foreign policy about it. I find it useful to quote once again from a talk by Martin Jacques, a British author who came to Manila in November 2012. He predicted that in a decade, China would surpass the American economy.
Well, with the news that it is now no.1 according to IMF figures, it has come sooner than expected. Jacques’ talk then was about findings that he put together in a book that became a world best seller “When China Rules the World: The End of the Western World and the Birth of a New Global Order.” It was published in 2009 and it has continued to enjoy a wide readership. It has since sold over a quarter of a million copies and translated into 11 languages.
Jacques also has a blog where his lectures are posted. I was able to talk to him while in London recently and his position about China’s rise was unchanged. In his talk in Manila, he was keen to impart to Filipinos that we ought to be ready for the Chinese economic supremacy. The author had the credentials to deal with both Eastern and Western culture and developments.
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As Hong Kong’s student protests continue to heat up this week, protest leaders plan to visit China’s capital city to bring the issue directly to Premier Li Keqiang.
But the planned trip to Beijing may be thwarted before it can begin. China’s Chief Secretary Carrie Lim says that students would be wasting their time coming to the capital if they were only going to repeat their same demands.
But the secretary general of the Hong Kong Federation of Students, Alex Chow, told reporters that Saturday’s planned trip to Beijing “symbolises that Hongkongers are not afraid of Beijing’s manipulation.”
These student protests, also referred to as the Umbrella Movement to convey how umbrellas are being used to deflect tear gas canisters and batons, started in September of this year to fight China’s decision on proposed electoral reform for the 2017 elections. The country’s Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPCSC) announced that it would disallow civil nominations, essentially allowing the committee to elect two to three candidates before the general public could vote. This angered the Hong Kong Federation of Students and the protesters took to the streets to show their disapproval.
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