Russia, China agree to integrate Eurasian Union, Silk Road, sign deals

Russia and China have signed a number of energy, trade and finance deals on Friday aimed at strengthening economic ties. The two countries have multiple mutual projects which “achieved a unity of views on a wide range of issues.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese leader Xi Jinping have signed a decree on cooperation in tying the development of the Eurasian Economic Union with the “Silk Road” economic project.

“The integration of the Eurasian Economic Union and Silk Road projects means reaching a new level of partnership and actually implies a common economic space on the continent,” Putin said after the meeting with his Chinese counterpart. President Xi Jinping arrived in Moscow on Friday for the 70th anniversary celebration of the defeat of Nazi Germany in World War II.

China will also invest $5.8 billion in the construction of the Moscow-Kazan High Speed Railway, the Russian President said. The railway is to be extended to China, connecting the two countries through Kazakhstan. It can become part of the route of the new Silk Road project, which is aimed at tying China with European and Middle Eastern markets. The total cost of the Moscow-Kazan high speed railroad project is $21.4 billion.

Russia’s largest gas producer Gazprom and China’s National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) signed an agreement on the basic conditions of gas supplies from Russia to China through the Western route. The two companies decided to extend a strategic partnership agreement for five years, according to Gazprom’s CEO Aleksey Miller. The agreement provides for the construction of the first, second and third Altai pipelines.

Sberbank – Russia’s biggest lender – has signed a facility agreement with China’s Development Bank in the amount of $966 million. They also agreed on financing an industrial project by Sberbank to the tune of $256.4 million.

Read more » http://rt.com/business/256877-russia-china-deals-cooperation/#.VU02RKPqB40.facebook

Putin ratifies BRICS $100bn currency pool deal

Russian President Vladimir Putin has ratified a deal to establish a $100 billion foreign currency reserve pool for the BRICS group. The pool’s purpose is to protect national currencies from volatility in global markets.

The document was “to ratify the treaty on the establishment of a pool of foreign exchange reserves of the BRICS.”

On Wednesday the deal was ratified by Russia’s upper house of Parliament, the Federation Council. According to the deputy head of the Federal Council Committee for Budget and Financial Markets, Sergey Ivanov, the currency pool will primarily support the balance of payments of the BRICS member states.

“Realization of the agreement will also contribute to the effective protection of the national currencies against the volatility in the world currency markets,” Ivanov said.

The goal of the pool is so that BRICS member states can urgently replenish their liquidity from it in different proportions to resolve problems with their balance of payments.

China will make the biggest contribution to the pool – $41 billion. Russia, Brazil and India will donate $18 billion each, while South Africa’s investment will be $5 billion.

The fund is expected to be maintained by a managing council, a permanent committee and a coordinator who will be from the country of the current president.

In July Russia, Brazil, India, China and South Africa signed the document to a reserve currency pool worth over $100bn as well as $100bn BRICS Development Bank

BRICS represents 42 percent of the world’s population and roughly 20 percent of the world’s economy based on GDP, and 30 percent of the world’s GDP based on PPP, a more accurate reading of the real economy. Total trade between the countries is $6.14 trillion, or nearly 17 percent of the world’s total.

News courtesy: http://rt.com/business/255141-putin-brics-pool-currency/

Pakistan: Work on 2,400 MW power plant is underway at Thar

Karachi – Work on twenty-four hundred megawatt coal based power plant is underway at Thar Coal Field at a cost of two billion dollars. Our Karachi correspondent Altaf Pirzado reports that the project is a joint venture of Sindh Engro Coal Company and the Sindh government and has also been brought under the umbrella of Pak-China economic corridor. The project is expected to become operational by 2017.

Read more » Radio Pakistan
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ee more » http://radio.gov.pk/newsdetail/76207/1

India to sign deal with Iran on Chabahar port project soon

India is moving closer to finalizing a crucial plan to invest in Iran’s southern Chabahar port – a project that would open a new economic corridor rival to what China plans to do in Pakistan’s Gwadar port. 

India’s Union Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari is expected in Tehran within the next few days to formalize a deal for the project, the New Delhi-based Business Standard newspaper reported.

India is also likely to engage in discussions with the US to secure a waiver of sanctions on activities at Chabahar, the report added.

“Talks about the proposed speed and manner in which the US government plans to free up the sanctions might also be on the cards, so that India does not run the risk of attracting punitive sanctions,” it said.

Read more » Press Tv
See more » http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2015/04/25/408007/Iran-India-Chabahar-Corridor-Trade-economy-sanctions-washington-zarif-kerry

Punjab: Did you hear what the Chinese president said?

BY MUSHTAQ SOOFI

Would the prime minister, the cabinet ministers, the members of the National Assembly, the senators and other power wielders pause for a moment and ponder over what the president of the People’s Republic of China said in the beginning of his address to the joint session of Parliament held this week in Islamabad.

He described Pakistan as a country ‘young and ancient’. In the euphoria created by a huge pile of MOUs (which definitely would have economic bearings on our future) no one would care to understand the implied suggestion this apparently simple statement carried. But anyone who knows how Chinese are subtle in the matters of statecraft, politics and diplomacy will not miss how significant is the unsaid in what he said.

We all know we are a young country. The president reminded us that though a young country we have been a product of a brilliant ancient society spanned over thousands of years. What prompted him to iterate that is obvious? Our attitude towards the past and what it offers! Our past and what it offers constitutes ‘ancient’.

It’s precisely this very ‘historical mess’ that we abhor and are scared of, thus exposing an unbridgeable gulf between our being ‘young’ and ‘ancient’. So far we have tried though not successfully to build everything around the fact of our being young in search of ideology driven utopia that has landed us in a grey zone of historical dis-orientation.

With the emergence of Pakistan in 1947 our ruling elite strengthened the faith-based narrative, exclusive and monolithic, which was and is still being touted as a raison deter of the new state. Such an unnatural and a historical thinking caused an almost complete rupture with our long past especially the shared one spread over at least five thousand years.

In our world of make-belief we thought as if we came into being out of thin air of abstraction forgetting that we are what we have been and what we have been belongs to the irretrievable, the past. One can interpret and re-interpret the past but cannot change it.

It does not in way mean that humans are mere prisoners of history. On the one hand they are product of history and on the other they are capable of making history. However it is to be remembered that though ‘men make their own history they do not make it as they please. They do not make it under the circumstances chosen by themselves but under the circumstances existing already, given and transmitted from the past’. Our elders made history by creating a new state but they did this under the circumstances created by history itself which made the peaceful co-existence of Hindu and Muslim communities a distant dream cherished by many.

The new state while endeavouring to realize a different and secure future for its citizens suffered from a fatal fallacy. That is that the past can be declared an alien territory having no presence in the collective conscious and subconscious of people and hence one can have absolutely clean break with it.

The past, to the dismay of ideologues, is not something completely solid that can be demolished and buried under the debris of intellectual claptrap. What is most tangible about the past is its ever present intangibility as submerged experience at subterranean level that refuses to fade out from the psychic space.

Pakistani state and the elite with a deep sense of insecurity have been trying to build an exclusive national identity based on the denial of the past that we shared and still share with India.

The irony is that what is conceived as Indian and debunked is the cultural and intellectual manifestation of our ancient culture. What is the Indian civilization san Indus valley?

Can you imagine Indian civilization without Harappa and Mohenjo Daro, Rig-Veda (composed by Rishis at the banks of river Ravi), Gandhara and Taxila? Can you write the history the political science ignoring the Chanakya Kautilya’s Arthshastra, the first book on statecraft and art of politics?

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Investing with confidence: Chinese say their money is safe in Pakistan

By Shahram Haq

ISLAMABAD: Chinese businessmen have said investments they are putting in Pakistan are safe as both the countries enjoy excellent relations at government and public level.

“The global investments we make in any country depend on the nature of relationships between China and the particular country,” said Orient Evertrust Capital Group’s Chairman Jiang Xue Ming, while talking with The Express Tribune.

“Since Pakistan and China have excellent relationships, so we feel our investments in this country are completely safe,” he added.

A group of Chinese investors is currently in Islamabad as the Chinese president is arriving in Pakistan today (Monday) to sign some 50 different accords worth $46 billion, majority of which are energy based.

Read more » The Express Tribune
See more » http://tribune.com.pk/story/872766/investing-with-confidence-chinese-say-their-money-is-safe-in-pakistan/

China Readies $46 Billion for Pakistan Trade Route

Beijing plans to pour $46 billion into infrastructure projects, open new trade routes

By SAEED SHAH in Islamabad and JEREMY PAGE in Beijing

Chinese President Xi Jinping is set to unveil a $46 billion infrastructure spending plan in Pakistan that is a centerpiece of Beijing’s ambitions to open new trade and transport routes across Asia and challenge the U.S. as the dominant regional power.

The plan, known as the China Pakistan Economic Corridor, draws on a newly expansive Chinese foreign policy and pressing economic and security concerns at home for Mr. Xi, who is expected to arrive in Pakistan on Monday. Many details had yet to be announced publicly.

“This is going to be a game-changer for Pakistan,” said Ahsan Iqbal, Pakistan’s planning minister, who said his country could link China with markets in Central Asia and South Asia.

“If we become the bridge between these three engines of growth, we will be able to carve out a large economic bloc of about 3 billion living in this part of the world…nearly half the planet.”

Read more » THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
See more » http://www.wsj.com/articles/china-to-unveil-billions-of-dollars-in-pakistan-investment-1429214705?mod=e2fb

China to build Pakistan-Iran gas pipeline: report

ISLAMABAD: In an attempt to curtail Pakistan’s severe energy shortage, China has agreed to build a pipeline bringing natural gas from Iran to Pakistan. The final deal is to be signed during the long-sought visit of the Chinese President Xi Jinping to Islamabad in April, Pakistani officials said.

Read more » The Express Tribune
See more » http://tribune.com.pk/story/866893/china-to-build-pakistan-iran-gas-pipeline-report/

Chinese president to visit Pakistan, hammer out $46-billion deal

By REUTERS | MATEEN HAIDER

ISLAMABAD: Chinese President Xi Jinping will launch energy and infrastructure projects worth $46 billion on a visit to Pakistan next week as China cements links with its old ally and generates opportunities for firms hit by slack growth at home.

Also being finalised is a long-discussed plan to sell Pakistan eight Chinese submarines. The deal, worth between $4 billion and $5 billion, according to media reports, may be among those signed on the trip.

Know more: Pakistan to buy eight submarines from China.

Xi will visit next Monday and Tuesday, Pakistan’s foreign office said.

“China treats us as a friend, an ally, a partner and above all an equal – not how the Americans and others do,” said Mushahid Hussain Syed, chairman of the parliament’s defence committee.

Pakistan and China often boast of being “iron brothers” and two-way trade grew to $10 billion last year from $4 billion in 2007, Pakistani data shows.

Xi’s trip is expected to focus on a Pakistan-China Economic Corridor, a planned $46-billion network of roads, railways and energy projects linking Pakistan’s deepwater Gwadar port on the Arabian Sea with China’s far-western Xinjiang region.

It would shorten the route for China’s energy imports, bypassing the Straits of Malacca between Malaysia and Indonesia, a bottleneck at risk of blockade in wartime.

If the submarine deal is signed, China may also offer Pakistan concessions on building a refuelling and mechanical station in Gwadar, a defence analyst said.

China’s own submarines could use the station to extend their range in the Indian Ocean.

“China is thinking in terms of a maritime silk road now, something to connect the Indian Ocean and Pacific Ocean,” said a Pakistani defence official, who declined to be identified.

For Pakistan, the corridor is a cheap way to develop its violence-plagued and poverty-stricken Balochistan province, home to Gwadar.

China has promised to invest about $34 billion in energy projects and nearly $12 billion in infrastructure.

Xi is also likely to raise fears that Muslim separatists from Xinjiang are linking up with Pakistani militants, and he could also push for closer efforts for a more stable Afghanistan.

Earlier, the Foreign Office (FO) on Thursday announced that Chinese President Xi Jinping will be visiting Pakistan from April 20 to April 21 on a two-day state visit.

“I can confirm that the Chinese president will be visiting Pakistan from April 20 to 21,” FO spokesperson Tasneem Aslam said during a weekly media briefing in Pakistan.

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Pakistan’s all-weather friend counsels caution

By M.K. Bhadrakumar

The opinion of an “all-weather friend” should always count. Will Pakistan take China’s estimation of the Yemen situation seriously before crossing the Rubicon to meet Saudi Arabia’s expectations from it? Pakistan’s Defence Minister Khawaja Asif, who just returned from a visit to Riyadh leading a military delegation, told the parliament in Islamabad on Monday, “Saudi Arabia has asked for combat planes, warships and soldiers.”

Yet, in an extraordinarily frank assessment, Xinhua news agency flagged over the weekend that Saudi Arabia’s intervention in Yemen is motivated by its narrow self-interests and do not rest on any principles. The commentary attributes four motives to the Saudi intervention, which it says, was “by no means an impulse (sic) decision by Saudi leaders, but reflects their strategic consideration in various aspects.”

One, heightened security concerns over a possible spillover of terrorist (read al-Qaeda) activities in Yemen would have worked on the Saudi mind. Two, the intervention in Yemen serves “to divert attention from the increasingly fierce power struggle among the royals, and provides the new leader (King Salman) a chance to establish his authority.” (Emphasis added.)

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Greece looks to China and Russia for help but cannot get around its euro zone partners

Running out of room

ALEXIS TSIPRAS, the Greek prime minister, and his radical Syriza party are beginning to feel the heat. Two months of bluster by Greece’s first left-wing government have failed to produce the results it wanted. Those include an injection of fresh cash from the country’s current €172 billion ($185 billion) bail-out programme, and a new deal with the European Union and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that would allow Athens, not its creditors, to decide on future economic reforms.

Greece’s eurozone partners are still waiting for Athens to come up with details, promised two weeks ago, on the country’s deteriorating public finances. Mr Tsipras has promised Greek voters that Syriza has banned the hated “troika” of bail-out monitors (from the European Commission, the IMF and the European Central Bank) from Athens. To protect that political narrative, a team of mid-level officials from the three institutions sits ensconced in a four-star Athens hotel, gathering information by exchanging e-mails with their finance ministry counterparts. The ministry itself is strictly off-limits. “This system works quite well,” claims Dimitris Mardas, the budget minister. The visitors disagree, complaining about delays and inaccurate replies that could be avoided if they were allowed to meet Greek colleagues face-to-face.

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China plans huge solar power station in space

By PTI 

BEIJING: China plans to build a huge solar power station 36,000km above the ground in an attempt to battle smog, cut greenhouse gases and solve energy crisis, much on the lines of an idea first floated in 1941 by fiction writer Isaac Asimov, state media reported on Monday.

If realized, it will surpass the scale of the Apollo project and the International Space Station, and be the largest-ever space project.

The power station would be a super spacecraft on a geosynchronous orbit equipped with huge solar panels. The electricity generated would be converted to microwaves or lasers and transmitted to a collector on Earth, staterun Xinhua news agency reported.

In 1941, American science fiction writer Isaac Asimov had published a short story “Reason”, in which a space station transmits energy collected from the sun using microwave beams.

Wang Xiji, an academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and an International Academy of Astronautics member, says Asimov’s fiction has a scientific basis.

After devoting over 50 years to space technology research, Wang, 93, is an advocate for the station: “An economically viable space power station would be really huge, with the total area of the so lar panels reaching 5 to 6 sq km.”

That would be equivalent to 12 of Beijing’s Tian’anmen Square, the largest public square in the world.”Maybe people on Earth could see at night, like a star,” says Wang.

Wang says the electricity generated from the ground-based solar plants fluctuates with night and day and weather, but a space generator collects energy 99% of the time.Space-based solar panels can generate ten times as much electricity as ground-based panels per unit area, says Duan Baoyan, a member of the Chinese Academy of Engineering.”If we have space solar power technology”, hopefully we could solve the energy crisis on Earth,” Duan said. Wang says whoever obtains the technology first “could occupy the future energy market.” However, many hurdles lie ahead: A commercially viable space power station would weigh 10,000 tons. But few rockets can carry a payload of over 100 tons to low Earth orbit. “We need a cheap heavy-lift launchvehicle,” says Wang, who designed China’s first carrier rocket more than 40 years ago. “We also need to make very thin and light solar panels.”

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Accord signed to teach Chinese in Sindh schools

KARACHI: The Sindh education department on Tuesday signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Chinese education department of Sichuan province of China for their cooperation in teaching the Chinese language in schools of Sindh.

The ceremony was held in the committee room of the Sindh Assembly and the MoU was signed by Sindh Education Secretary Dr Fazalullah Pechucho and Liu Dong, vice director general of the education department of China. Sindh Senior Minister for Education Nisar Ahmed Khuhro, Consul General of China Ma Yaou and other officials also attended the ceremony.

According to the MoU, the teaching of Chinese would be made compulsory from class six onwards in all schools of Sindh within three years. Students learning the language will get extra marks, scholarships and foreign visit opportunities for education and skills training in China for those students who would pass Chinese as a subject till matriculation and higher classes.

Take a look: Sindh to teach Chinese language in schools from 2013

Education Minister Nisar Khuhro said that making the teaching of Chinese compulsory was aimed at promoting Chinese language and culture in Pakistan as “we have over the years maintained long-lasting culture and economic relations in China”.

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How China used more cement in 3 years than the U.S. did in the entire 20th Century

By Ana Swanson

China used more cement between 2011 and 2013 than the U.S. used in the entire 20th Century.

It’s a statistic so mind-blowing that it stunned Bill Gates and inspired haiku. But can it be true, and, if so, how? Yes, China’s economy has grown at an extraordinary rate, and it has more than four times as many people as the United States. But the 1900s were America’s great period of expansion, the century in which the U.S. built almost all of its roads and bridges, the Interstate system, the Hoover Dam, and many of the world’s tallest skyscrapers. And China and the U.S. are roughly the same size in terms of geographic area, ranking third and fourth in the world, respectively.

Read more » The Washington Post
See more » http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2015/03/24/how-china-used-more-cement-in-3-years-than-the-u-s-did-in-the-entire-20th-century/

Toronto becomes first renminbi (Yuan) trading hub in North America

Direct exchange hub could smooth way for businessess doing deals in China

By Pete Evans, CBC News

After stock markets closed on Monday, Toronto became the first trading hub in North America for China’s currency, known as the renminbi or yuan.

Chinese government dignitaries, Federal Finance Minister Joe Oliver and his Ontario compatriot Charles Sousa attended a ceremony in Toronto Monday evening to formally announce the first conversion from yuan to Canadian dollars.

The announcement makes Toronto the first such trading hub in the Americas that has permission to be a clearinghouse for Chinese renminbi (which means “people’s money” in Chinese). There are currently only a handful of such hubs outside China, including Paris, London, Moscow, Singapore, Tokyo, Seoul and Sydney, Australia.

In practical terms, such hubs make it easier to do business with China because without one, Chinese money has to first be converted into a currency like the U.S. dollar before being again converted into loonies to make investments here, or even pay for supplies.

“What the hub does is it provides the potential to get a good price,” says David Watt, the chief economist of HSBC. “It sets up a way for Canadian businesses to call their local banker and say “we’ve got a deal to import Chinese material and we’d like to pay for it in RMB not U.S. dollars.”

The hub eventually will allow people on both sides to take out that middle man and convert renminbi directly into Canadian dollars and vice versa. “It should give Canadian businesses the confidence to increase trade.”

Read more » CBC
See more » http://www.cbc.ca/news/business/toronto-becomes-first-renminbi-trading-hub-in-north-america-1.3005726

It’s On: Asia’s New Space Race

While NASA and the European Space Agency gets most of the world’s attention, China, Japan and India are racing for the heavens.

The general public in the West largely views the exploration of space as dominated by the United States and perhaps Russia. Sometimes, as in the case of the Rosettamission, they may give thought to Europe’s capabilities. Few people think of India when it comes to missions to Mars, but popular joy erupted across India in September 2014 after its Mangalyaan scientific spacecraft successfully achieved orbit around the red planet. One Indian reader responded to the story on a major online news outlet by posting: “It is [a] moment of pride as India becomes [the] 1stAsian nation to reach Mars.” And understood to all Indian readers was the point that China had—after a series of Asian firsts in space—finally been surpassed.Since China’s first human spaceflight in 2003 and its threatening anti-satellite test in 2007, Asia has seen a surge in space activity, with budgets increasing rapidly across the region. While few officials admit to the term, a “space race” is emerging in Asia.

The surge of Asian countries joining the ranks of major space powers mirrors the rise of Asian economies and their militaries more generally since the end of the Cold War. But following the political drivers of these trends leads most often to regional rivalries, not a desire to compete with the United States or Russia. Being first in Asia to do anything in space brings prestige, lends credibility to governments in power, and helps stimulate Asia’s young population to study science and technology, which has other benefits for their national economies.

The responses to China’s rise have included the sudden development of military space programs by two countries that previously shunned such activities—Japan and India—and dynamic new activities in countries ranging from Australia to Singapore to Vietnam. On the Korean Peninsula, both North and South have orbited satellites in the past three years and both have pledged to develop much larger rockets. Many of these countries realize that they can’t “win” Asia’s space race, but they also know that they cannot afford to lose.

China’s rapid expansion in space activity has also raised serious concerns within U.S. military circles and in NASA. But these developments pose an existential threat to China’s neighbors, some of whom see Beijing’s space program as yet another threatening dimension to their deep-seated historical, economic, and geo-political rivalries for status and influence within the Asian pecking order. Even more, space achievements affect the self-perceptions of their national populations, challenging their governments to do more.

How this competition will play out and whether it can be managed, or channeled into more positive directions, will have a major impact on the future of international relations in space. The U.S. government has thus far responded with a two-track strategy, seeking a bilateral space security dialogue with Beijing, while quietly expanding space partnerships with U.S. friends and allies in the region, adding a space dimension to the U.S. “pivot” to Asia.

Read more » The Daily Beast
See more » http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/01/17/why-china-will-win-the-next-space-race.html

China’s Double-Digit Defense Growth

What It Means for a Peaceful Rise

By Richard A. Bitzinger

China has done it again. In early March, it released its defense budget for 2015, and as in almost every year for over almost two decades, it increased its military expenditure by double-digit percentages. This year, the Chinese defense budget will rise by 10.1 percent, to roughly $145 billion. And it seems likely that the trend will continue, much to the concern of Washington and regional capitals.

Already, China is the second-biggest military spender in the world, having surpassed the United Kingdom in 2008. China’s new budget for the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is more than three times those of other big spenders such as France, Japan, and the United Kingdom, and nearly four times that of its rising Asian rival, India. It is also the only country besides the United States to have a triple-digit defense budget (in billions of U.S. dollars).

This level of spending is all the more remarkable given where China started. In 1997, Chinese military expenditures totaled only about $10 billion, roughly on par with Taiwan and significantly less than that of Japan and South Korea. Beginning that year, however, China’s defense budget began to rise. There were two economic factors that made this growth possible. First, the country’s economy soared; in 1997, defense spending made up less than two percent of GDP, which remains roughly the same share today, at least according to Beijing. Second, low inflation rates over the past two decades have meant that real growth in defense spending has nearly matched nominal growth; even the most conservative estimate of actual growth rates (accounting for inflation) reveal a five-fold real increase in military expenditures since 1997.

What is particularly striking about the growth in defense spending over the last two decades is that it has almost always outpaced GDP growth. Between 1998 and 2007, China’s economy grew at an average annual rate of 12.5 percent, while its defense spending increased at an average of 15.9 percent per annum. Given that the economy is likely to grow by only seven percent in 2015, and its defense spending is growing at double digits, the disconnect between economic performance and defense spending is becoming more pronounced.

Read more » FOREIGN AFFAIRS
See more » http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/143275/richard-a-bitzinger/chinas-double-digit-defense-growth

Are superfast trains speeding down the tracks?

At the time the UK was completing its first stretch of high-speed rail in 2007, China had barely left the station. Nearly a decade on, Britain still has only that same 68-mile (109km) stretch of track, but China has built itself the longest high-speed network in the world.

At more than 12,000km (7,450 miles) in total, it is well over double the length of the European and Japanese networks combined.

So if you want to get a sense of what the future of rail travel might look like, China would seem to be the place to come.

Vacuum velocity

As it stands, train technology doesn’t seem to have changed much for decades.

The UK may have just received its first Hitachi-made Super Express high-speed train capable of running at up to 140mph (225km/h), but this is hardly a quantum leap forward.

The much-loved InterCity 125 – as its name suggests – could do 125mph back in the 1970s. And France’s TGV and Spain’s AVE travel at more than 190mph.

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China to invest $50bn in Pakistan by 2017

ISLAMABAD: China intends to invest as many as $50 billion by 2017 in various sectors of Pakistan’s economy, particularly in energy sector to help the country overcome power crisis and help sustainable economic growth, President Pak-China Joint Chamber of Commerce and Industry Shah Faisal Afridi said.
“China has planned to replicate the model of Shanghai Free Trade Zone (SFTZ) by investing $50 billion into a number of projects including coal, solar and wind energy till 2017 under Early Harvest Programme,” Faisal said.
These projects would enable Gawadar to create a nexus between Pakistan, Iran, China and Central Asian States that would ultimately generate billions of dollars in revenues along with huge job opportunities in the region.
Afridi said that SFTZ is a perfect model to be implemented at Gwadar, asserting, the SFTZ was first used as a testing ground for a number of economic sectors.
The zone, he said, incorporated numerous relaxations in different sectors, under the FTZ’s new capital registration system, foreign investors were no longer required to contribute 15 percent capital within three months and full capital within two years of the establishment of a foreign invested enterprise (FIE).
Meanwhile, official sources said that in addition to invest in power projects, China was also interested in already working in various projects of motorways and railways.
On energy front, Pakistan has been already working to generate about 10400 megawatt electricity with the help of Chinese investment and several projects were already underway to overcome energy crisis.
Beijing has designated three banks including Exim Bank that will provide loans to Chinese companies for investment in power, railway and transport sectors in Pakistan.

Read more » http://defence.pk/threads/china-to-invest-50bn-in-pakistan-by-2017.333769/

A Strategic Seaport – Is Pakistan Key to China’s Energy Supremacy?

By Syed Fazl-e-Haider

A seaport in southwest Pakistan may hold the key to China’s energy supremacy. At least, that’s what China hopes. The Gwadar port, which China has built and will operate in the province of Balochistan, is situated near the Strait of Hormuz, a major oil-shipping lane that can serve as an energy corridor from western China through Pakistan to the Persian Gulf.

Beijing’s pivot to Pakistan is a substantial one. The story goes back to 2008, when Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf proposed a railroad and an oil pipeline to link Gwadar to the Kashi port in Xinjiang—allowing China to take advantage of the shortest possible route to the Middle East. In exchange, Pakistan would get an influx of Chinese investment. Indeed, in 2014, the Chinese government committed to spending $45.6 billion over the next six years to build the China–Pakistan Economic Corridor, which will include the construction of highways, railways, and natural gas and oil pipelines connecting China to the Middle East. China’s stake in Gwadar will also allow it to expand its influence in the Indian Ocean, a vital route for oil transportation between the Atlantic and the Pacific.

Another advantage to China is that it will be able to bypass the Strait of Malacca. As of now, 60 percent of China’s imported oil comes from the Middle East, and 80 percent of that is transported to China through this strait, the dangerous, piracy-rife maritime route through the South China, East China, and Yellow Seas.

The United States fears that China will come out of its dealings with Pakistan with more power. But it need not be worried: China’s involvement in Balochistan, a restive area prone to insurgencies, will not end well. Many believe Quetta, Balochistan’s capital, is hiding wanted leaders from the Afghan Taliban. Meanwhile, small towns in Balochistan are the breeding grounds for a decades-old separatist movement targeting federal agencies. Increasingly, China has been caught up in the violence. In 2004, three Chinese engineers were killed and nine wounded when separatists attacked their van in Gwadar. In 2009, China shelved its $12 billion plans to build an oil refinery and an oil city in Gwadar due to security concerns.

China’s involvement in the region’s politics can only be bad news. In 2012, U.S. Congressman Dana Rohrabacher introduced a resolution that asked the United States to support Baloch separatists as freedom fighters. The resolution was tabled, but if the United States ever does decide to involve itself in the conflict, China’s strategic interests will be at risk.

Read more » Foreign Affairs
See more » http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/143227/syed-fazl-e-haider/a-strategic-seaport

China’s ‘gift’ of Z-10 Stealth helicopters to Pakistan

China Likely to give 3 Z-10 Attack Helos to Pakistan; Will this ‘Gift’ Support its R&D?

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Pakistan is all set to welcome new attack helicopters from China — the Z-10 — in 2015 if reports are to be believed. Moreover, these attack helicopters will be given free of cost to China’s “all-weather friend”, Pakistan.

The reports originated from unconfirmed Russian media, which claimed that China might be gifting three of its latest anti-tank attack helicopter that was designed by the Russian design bureau, Kamov, and further developed by the Chinese 602nd Research Institute.

The primary missions for the Z-10 are anti-tank missions with air-to-air missions being its secondary capability. These according to Duowei News, a US-based Chinese political news outlet, will be added to the aviation fleet of Pakistani Army.

This helicopter will be able to attack either on ground or on air. It has a range of 3-4 kilometres without appearing on the radar. The maximumspeed of Z-10 is 300+ km/h with a range of 800+. It also has 23 mm or 30 mm autocannon mounted, 57 mm, 90 mm multi-barrel unguided rocket pods and four hard points for missiles.

Read more » INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS TIMES
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ee more » http://www.ibtimes.co.in/china-likely-give-3-z-10-attack-helos-pakistan-will-this-gift-support-its-rd-619658

China: PV installed capacity grows to almost 30 GW in 2014

China’s National Energy Administration (NEA) has released 2014 solar figures. The report shows installed capacity approached 30 GW, while manufacturers are reporting greatly increased utilization rates.

The NEA report concludes that as of the end of 2014, the total installed PV capacity of connected to state grid was 28.05 GW. Breakdown between installation type reveals ground-mounted capacity was 23.38 GW while Distributed Generation (DG) came in at 4.67 GW.

Total electricity generated by PV showed rapid growth in 2014, reaching 25 billion kW/h, an increase of more than 200% over last year.

For 2014, NEA reports 10.6 GW of new capacity was connected to the state grid, along the lines of previous predictions of 10.52 GW. This accounts for around one quarter of all new PV capacity installed globally and one-third of the total PV module output from China.

Geographically, the east part of China overtook the west for the first time in terms of new PV capacity installed, accounting for 54% of arrays.

Upstream data

From the perspective of the upstream industry, in 2014 the total poly silicon production of China was about 130,000 tons, a 50% increase on 2013. Despite this rapid growth, China still imported about 90,000 tons of poly silicon for domestic manufacturing. The photovoltaic modules production was over 33 GW, an increase of 17% over the previous year of which 68% were exported.

The capacity utilization of PV manufactures increased sharply. The average capacity utilization of top 10 PV modules manufactures stood above 87% by the end of 2014.

The NEA has announced the goal of 15 GW for new solar capacity for 2015.

News courtesy: PV Magazine

Read more: http://www.pv-magazine.com/news/details/beitrag/china–pv-installed-capacity-grows-to-almost-30-gw-in-2014_100018231/#ixzz3TVu14y5b

China submarines outnumber U.S. fleet: U.S. admiral

Washington: (Reuters) – China is building some “fairly amazing submarines” and now has more diesel- and nuclear-powered vessels than the United States, a top U.S. Navy admiral told U.S. lawmakers on Wednesday, although he said their quality was inferior.

Vice Admiral Joseph Mulloy, deputy chief of naval operations for capabilities and resources, told the House Armed Services Committee’s seapower subcommittee that China was also expanding the geographic areas of operation for its submarines, and their length of deployment.

For instance, China had carried out three deployments in the Indian Ocean, and had kept vessels out at sea for 95 days, Mulloy said.

“We know they are out experimenting and looking at operating and clearly want to be in this world of advanced submarines,” Mulloy told the committee.

U.S. military officials in recent months have grown increasingly vocal about China’s military buildup and launched a major push to ensure that U.S. military technology stays ahead of rapid advances by China and Russia.

Mulloy said the quality of China’s submarines was lower than those built by the United States, but the size of its undersea fleet had now surpassed that of the U.S. fleet. A spokeswoman said the U.S. Navy had 71 commissioned U.S. submarines.

U.S. submarines are built by Huntington Ingalls Industries Inc. and General Dynamics Corp.

In its last annual report to Congress about China’s military and security developments, the Pentagon said China had 77 principal surface combatant ships, more than 60 submarines, 55 large and medium amphibious ships, and about 85 missile-equipped small combatants.

Mulloy did not provide details about the number of surface ships now operated by China.

He said the U.S. military did not believe China carried nuclear missiles on its submarines, but that it had been producing missiles and testing them.

(Reporting by Andrea Shalal; editing by Gunna Dickson)

News courtesy: Reuters
Read more » http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/02/25/us-usa-china-submarines-idUSKBN0LT2NE20150225

 

India to negotiate free trade zone with Russia-led Customs Union

India is to start negotiating a free trade agreement with the Customs Union of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan within the next six months, Indian Deputy Minister of Commerce and Industry Rajeev Kher has said.

A Russian-Indian working group which was established in November 2014 will consider the negotiating of a comprehensive free trade agreement between India and the Customs Union.

Kher said the working group would put forward proposals within the next six months and the negotiating process would start after that, TASS reports.

As most of the developed world in the West is suffering an economic downturn, the developing world has been stepping up efforts to bring their economies closer.

Most recently, China said it could establish a free trade zone with a broader Russia-led economic bloc that also includes Armenia and is expected to include Kyrgyzstan soon.

The Eurasian customs union is a regional bloc that includes Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan aimed at creating a single economic space with common tariffs. The group has a population of 168 million people and a GDP of more than $2 trillion.

The BRICS countries which include Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa will also have established by the end of the year the $100 billion New Development Bank, as a rival to the IMF and the World Bank.

Read more » http://rt.com/business/235731-india-russia-customs-union/

The World’s 10 Fastest Growing Metropolitan Areas

By Joseph Parilla and Jesus Leal Trujillo

With only 20 percent of the population, the world’s 300 largest metropolitan economies account for nearly half of global economic output. Through our new Global Metro Monitorreport and interactive, users can understand the individual trajectories of the world’s large metropolitan economies and gain new insights into sources of growth that national or regional assessments tend to obscure.

The fastest growing metro areas this year, as measured by our economic performance index that combines employment and GDP per capita growth, are concentrated in China, Turkey and the Middle East.

Read more » Brrokings
See more » http://www.brookings.edu/blogs/the-avenue/posts/2015/02/10-worlds-10-fastest-growing-metropolitan-areas-parilla-trujillo?cid=00900015020089101US0001-02241

Russia ratifies $100bn BRICS New Development Bank

The Russian State Duma has ratified the $100 billion BRICS bank that’ll serve as a pool of money for infrastructure projects in Russia, Brazil, India, China and South Africa, and challenge the dominance of the Western-led World Bank and the IMF.

The New Development Bank is expected to start fully functioning by the end of 2015, according to the Russian Finance Ministry.

Russia has agreed to provide $2 billion dollars from the federal budget for the bank over the next seven years.

It will have three-tiers of corporate governance, with a Board of Governors, Board of Directors and a President.

The bank’s board of directors will hold its first meeting in Ufa in Russia in April. Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov is likely to become the bank’s first Chairman of the Board of Governors, according to Deputy Finance Minister Sergei Storchak talking on the Russia 24 TV channel.

The decision to establish the BRICS bank, along with a $100 billion reserve currency pool, was made in July 2014. Each of the five member countries is expected to allocate an equal share of the $50 billion startup capital that will be expanded to $100 billion.

The bank will be headquartered in Shanghai, India will serve as the first five-year rotating president, and the first Chairman of the Board of Directors will come from Brazil.

Read more » RT
See more » http://rt.com/business/234027-russia-ratifies-brics-bank/

Doubts cast on Xi March visit to Pakistan

By Ananth Krishnan

It is unclear whether Chinese President Xi Jinping may accept Pakistan’s invitation to preside over a symbolic national military parade on March 23, with officials in Beijing indicating that the Chinese leader was more likely to visit in April or May.

While a decision has not been taken yet on when Xi will visit Pakistan – the Chinese leader had already in September cancelled a visit on account of security concerns – Pakistan has been pushing for Xi to preside over the March 23 military parade, which will be the first to be held in seven years. In recent weeks, a number of Pakistani media reports suggested the Chinese leader had confirmed his attendance.

An announcement on the visit was expected last week with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi visiting Pakistan to firm up the dates. Following his two-day talks, however, Wang only said the visit would take place some time “early” this year.

Catching the dragon

IN RECENT weeks, economists at the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and Goldman Sachs, a bank, have tentatively suggested that within a year or two, India’s economy might be growing more quickly than China’s. The day came sooner than they had imagined. Official statistics published on February 9th revealed that India’s GDP rose by 7.5% in 2014, a shade faster than China’s economy managed over the same period (see chart). Narendra Modi, India’s publicity-savvy prime minister, could scarcely have hoped for a better endorsement of his first few months in office.

Read more » The Economist
See more » http://www.economist.com/news/business-and-finance/21642656-indias-economy-grew-faster-chinas-end-2014-catching-dragon?fsrc=scn/tw/te/bl/catchingthedragon

Islamic State executes three of its Chinese militants: China paper

By Reuters

BEIJING (Reuters) – The Islamic State has killed three Chinese militants who joined its ranks in Syria and Iraq and later attempted to flee, a Chinese state-run newspaper said, the latest account of fighters from China embroiled in the Middle East conflict.

China has expressed concern about the rise of the Islamic State, nervous about the effect it could have on its Xinjiang region, which borders Pakistan and Afghanistan.

But Beijing has also shown no sign of wanting to take part in the U.S.-led coalition’s efforts to use military force against the militant group.

Around 300 Chinese extremists were fighting with the Islamic State after traveling to Turkey, the Global Times, a tabloid run by China’s ruling Communist Party’s official newspaper, said in December.

The paper on Thursday cited an unnamed Kurdish security official as saying that a Chinese man was “arrested, tried and shot dead” in Syria in late September by the Islamic State after he became disillusioned with jihad and attempted to return to Turkey to attend university.

“Another two Chinese militants were beheaded in late December in Iraq, along with 11 others from six countries. The Islamic State charged them with treason and accused them of trying to escape,” the official said, according to the paper.

Islamic State, which has seized parts of northern and eastern Syria as well as northern and western Iraq, has killed hundreds off the battlefield since the end of June, when it declared a caliphate.

Chinese officials blame separatists from the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) for carrying out attacks in Xinjiang, home to the Muslim Uighur people. But they are vague about how many people from China are fighting in the Middle East.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei did not comment on the report at a regular press briefing, but said China was opposed to “all forms of terrorism”.

“China is willing to work with the international community to combat terrorist forces, including ETIM, and safeguard global peace, security and stability,” Hong said.

Human rights advocates say economic marginalization of Uighurs and curbs on their culture and religion are the main causes of ethnic violence in Xinjiang and around China that has killed hundreds of people in recent years. China denies these assertions.

China has criticized the Turkish government for offering shelter to Uighur refugees who have fled through southeast Asia, saying it creates a global security risk.

(Reporting by Michael Martina and Sui-Lee Wee; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

Courtesy: Reuters
Read more » http://news.yahoo.com/islamic-state-executes-three-chinese-militants-china-paper-083953180.html?soc_src=mediacontentstory&soc_trk=tw

‘China, Russia back India on UN terror resolution targeting Pakistan’

NEW DELHI: China and Russia decided on Monday to back the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism (CCIT) — a resolution supported by India and heavily biased against Pakistan.

At a meeting of Russia-India-China (RIC) in Beijing, Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said her counterparts from the two countries understood the need for endorsing the resolution that has been pending at the UN for nearly two decades and seeks to widen the existing definition of terrorism.

The CCIT was proposed by India in 1996 in lieu of Pakistan allegedly backing Kashmiri separatists.

In Tuesday’s meeting, the RIC communiqué vouched to oppose terrorism of all forms and called all countries to join efforts in combating terrorism together with the United Nations.

Speaking at a press conference after the RIC meeting, Swaraj told reporters: “Our discussions on terrorism brought consensus on two issues. Firstly, there can be no ideological, religious, political, racial or any other justification for the acts of terrorism and secondly the need to bring to justice perpetrators, organizers, financiers and sponsors of these acts of terror.”

Swaraj added that the ministers emphasized the need to step up information gathering and sharing and prevent the use of the Internet and other information and communication technologies (ICTs) for the purposes of recruitment and incitement to commit terrorist acts.

News courtesy » The Express Tribune
Read more » http://tribune.com.pk/story/832183/china-russia-back-india-on-un-terror-resolution-targeting-pakistan/

India PM Narendra Modi to visit China in May

PM Modi

PM Modi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will visit China in May, Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj has announced during a three-day visit to Beijing.

China is one of India’s top trading partners but they vie for regional influence and dispute their border.

The announcement comes after US President Barack Obama’s landmark visit to India last week.

India and the US share an interest in curbing China’s growing regional influence.

During Mr Obama’s landmark visit he and Mr Modi signed the “Joint Strategic Vision for the Asia-Pacific and Indian Ocean Region” pledging to work together to keep freedom of navigation, maritime security and air space safe, especially in the South China Sea.

Correspondents say it was the first time India and the US had come together openly to say that they do not want Asia to be dominated by one power.

“Mr Modi is going to come in May. I will give them dates today. This is a preparatory visit,” Ms Swaraj told reporters in Beijing, according to the Press Trust of India news agency.

Chinese President Xi Jinping is expected to take Mr Modi to his home province of Shaanxi, reports say.

Mr Xi visited India in September. The two sides signed 12 agreements during his visit.

Read more » BBC
Learn more » http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-31087807