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Caspian Sea Agreement Enhances Belt and Road Initiative

Aug. 13, 2018 –The Caspian Sea agreement signed this weekend by Presidents of the five countries on its border – Russia, Kazakhstan, Iran, Azerbaijan, and Turkmenistan – will enhance the region’s role in the Belt and Road Initiative. Along with the convention which also bans military presence of any outside power, effectively ruling out leasing a military base to a foreign power, several other documents include protocols on cooperation in the fight against terrorism and organized crime, and an agreement to avoid incidents in the Caspian Sea. The five presidents also signed agreements on trade and economic cooperation, and an agreement on cooperation in transportation.

Underscoring the need to develop transportation, Russian President Vladimir Putin said in his address, “Transport interconnection is one of the key factors for securing sustainable growth and strengthening our countries’ cooperation,” explaining that Russia is implementing a strategy for the development of seaports in the Caspian Basin till 2030, including the building of a deep-water port near Kaspiysk by 2025. The port will be capable of handling heavy-duty vessels with a payload of 15,000-25,000 tons.

Kaspiysk is the port directly across the sea from Kuryk port in Kazakhstan. Its development as a deep-sea port implies the development of an east-west corridor in the contexts of the Belt and Road Initiative. Furthermore, developing a port for ships of 15,000 to 25,000 tons is also significant because the largest ships are no more than 10,000 tons and conform to the river-sea class capable of entering the Volga River and the broader Russian river and canal network.


Uruguay to Announce Formal Entry into Belt and Road Initiative

Aug. 3, 2018-The office of Uruguayan president Tabare Vasquez has announced on its website that it will formally join the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), to be announced officially during the Aug. 20-27 “Uruguay Week in China” to be celebrated in the Chinese cities of Beijing, Guangzhou and Conqing.

Although the Uruguayans claim they are the “first” Ibero-American nation to officially join the BRI, both Panama and the Dominican Republic, which established diplomatic relations
with China during the past year, also claim to be the “first” in joining the BRI. Undoubtedly there will be many more “firsts”!

Uruguay’s Foreign Ministry and the Uruguay XXI trade promotion office are organizing the “Uruguay Week in China” event, and foreign minister Nin Novoa will lead the delegation
participating in it. Uruguay XXI’s director, Antonio Carambula, stressed that during the Aug. 20-27 events, “we will be presenting Uruguay as a nation of great investment opportunities
…. but also thinking of the possibilities of expanding to the rest of the region,” according to the montevideo.comwebsite.

Following the August events, Uruguay will send another large delegation to Shanghai, to attend the Nov. 5-10 China International Import Expo, hosted by the Chinese Commerce Ministry and the Shanghai municipal government. This is a huge affair, at which representatives of at least 100 countries are expected to attend. Several Ibero-American governments and companies have already committed to attending, and the Chinese continue to organize for this aggressively around the world.

(Chinese imports are in fact growing significantly faster than its exports now; a 21% annual pace in the first half of 2018, as opposed to 10% annual rate of growth in exports.) Also taking place in November in the city of Zhuhai is the China-Latin America-Caribbean Business Forum, which Uruguay hosted last year, and is another very large event including Chinese and Ibero-American businessmen and government officials. Later in November, Carambula announced, the “icing on the cake” will be Chinese president Xi Jinping’s state visit to Uruguay following the G20 meeting.


China Prepared To Jump Right into Reconstruction of Syria

July 29 –China will play a major role in the reconstruction of Syria, which nation lies on the New Silk Road, at the crossroads of Southeast Asia, Southwest Asia, Europe and Africa.

China hasd already pledged $2 billion to invest in Syrian industry last year, and in July announced a further $23 billion in loans and aid for the Arab region, including Iraq, Yemen, Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, and others.

But there is already a deeper process underway for China to play a significant role in the reconstruction of Syria, which the World Bank estimates could cost $250 billion.

According to {Guangming News} of May 7, 2017, in an article entitled, “China’s First Post-War Reconstruction Conference in Syria,” there were two conferences in Spring 2017, one in Syria, one in China, to work on targetted areas for real growth.

From April 14-21, 2017, at the invitation of the Syrian government, Qin Yong, deputy chairman of the China Arab Exchange Association visited Damascus and Homs in Syria. Qin reported, “We are the first Chinese delegation to visit Syria to discuss post-war reconstruction and have received a high-standard reception from the Syrian authorities.” He cited positively the security and safety in Damascus, Homs, Latakia, and those regions under government contol, “the confidence and enthusiasm of the Syrian government and people for reconstruction,” and “the Syrian government’s and people’s desire to invite Chinese companies to participate in reconstruction is stronger than expected.”

On May 4, 2017, a conference, “Syria’s Security Situation and Reconstruction Opportunities–China Arab Exchange Association’s Visit to Syria,” took place in Beijing, where Qin reported back on his Syria trip, and presented his findings and the reconstruction possibilities. Syrian Ambassador to China Imad Mustafa also spoke, praising China as “the first protagonist for the future reconstruction of Syria.”

The China Arab Exchange Association (which is backed by the China State Council) also issued a series of reconstruction projects in Syria’s infrastructure, electricity, building materials, agriculture, etc. Reportedly as many as 1,000 Chinese companies are involved, including some of the leading Chinese companies in harbor engineering, steel, hydropower, metallurgy, aircraft, and agriculture.

{Guangming Daily} mentioned that concerning Syria, several business representatives have “expressed their willingness to shoulder the glorious mission of the Belt and Road Initative.”

The Russians have ideas for power development in Syria, which could include nuclear power.


Putin: “Russia Will Light Up Africa”

July 27, 2018 -Russian President Vladimir Putin, in addressing the BRICS Africa Outreach Session at the BRICS Summit today, said that the African continent “is in huge need of energy investments, and Russia could become one of its key partners…. I would especially like to note that Russia is planning to step up its assistance in development of national energy in African states.”

According to Putin, as reported in RT, Russia is planning oil and gas projects with Angola, Mozambique and Gabon. He said: “In the field of nuclear energy, where Russia is the technological leader, we offer African partners to build an industry from scratch. These projects are crucial for Africa since about 600 million people on the continent live without electricity.”

Putin added that Russian business was also interested in “working with African partners in a wide range of areas, including agriculture, healthcare, the development of mass communications, geology and subsoil use.”


BRICS Could be an Alternative Model of Development to Western Dominance

July 25 -In a July 25 article published on the website of the Valdai Discussion Club, entitled “Brics and the World Order,” Georgy Toloraya suggests that the current BRICS grouping, plus other nations that form part of the “BRICS-Plus” structure (not official members) could offer the world “an alternative model of socio-economic development, differing from that of the West” which is based on “mechanisms of a liberal market or profit gaining…that assumes the dominance of the West.”

Toloraya is the Executive Director of the Russian National Committee for BRICS Research.

He debunks arguments that the BRICS is just a “China-centered structure,” intended only to promote China’s interests or its Belt and Road Initiative. These accusations, he notes, “are very sly statements. The Chinese factor is only one of the BRICS development facets.”

In today’s “turbulent global situation,” Toloraya adds, it is especially important that the BRICS “common denominator” grows. Why? In contrast to the G7, BRICS expresses a “touching unanimity, which is not faked. This is not a mutiny on the ship we see with the G7, when the captain led to one direction while the crew wants to go to another one.” By the time Russia takes over the chairmanship of the group in 2020, he notes, BRICS “could become a united center of the multipolar world…Now BRICS creates its own structure of global governance, and it must
develop in that direction. I do not know, whether that could be accomplished in the context of growing counteraction from the West, but we have to keep working.”

Because the BRICS is a global organization, Toloraya concludes, “these five leading ascendant powers could create a world order that will be more just and balanced than what we see now.” It may not expand yet, but “what we see in the BRICS+ format, which is involving the largest countries that are not the group’s members, but show interest in it, is a significant step towards increasing the BRICS value and making this union a representative of the greater part of humanity.” On the eve of the Johannesburg summit, he concludes, BRICS is not {against}, but {for}: for just economic development conditions, for sustainable development concept to be centered on human beings.”


Xi Jinping to BRICS Business Forum: “New Type of International Relations” Needed

July 25 –Speaking today in Johannesburg to the BRICS Business Forum, Chinese President Xi Jinping laid out the choices before his audience, stressing that “the international community has reached a new crossroads,” while especially emphasizing the role the BRICS must play in ensuring the development of Africa. Will the world choose cooperation or confrontation? he asked, sounding many of the themes that Schiller Institute President Helga Zepp-LaRouche has recently emphasized about whether humanity will rise to the occasion to ensure Africa’s development and fight for “a new type of international relations and a shared future for mankind.”

Xi focused on several points, chief among them the the need to develop and protect a multilateral world, in which all countries have the right to develop, pursuit of science and technology to “seize” development opportunities, and pursuit of the Belt and Road Initiative, “to create new opportunities of social and economic development for participating countries… It is our sincere hope that other BRICS countries, African countries and other emerging markets and developing countries, will forge strong partnerships with this Initiative so that its benefits will reach more countries and its peoples.” He also outlined China’s own contributions to world peace and development.

The Chinese leader placed great emphasis on the pursuit of science and technology as a driver for economic development. “Science and technology, as the primary production forces, have provided inexhaustible power, driving progress of human civilization. Humanity had made giant leaps forward as it progressed from an agricultural civilization to an industrial civilization.” And, “the world today has once again reached a critical historic juncture. In the unfolding new round of scientific and technological revolution and industrial transformation, new things will inevitably emerge and take the place of old ones… if countries succeed in seizing opportunities that have presented themselves, they will be able to achieve new dynamic growth and deliver better lives to their people.”

And Africa? Xi pointed to the fact that Africa is home “to more developing countries than any other continent, Africa has more development potential than any other region in the world. We should strengthen cooperation with Africa, support its development and make BRICS-Africa cooperation a model for South-South cooperation. We should actively carry out cooperation with African countries in such areas as poverty reduction, food security, innovation, infrastructure development and industrialization in a way compatible with their national conditions. We should help African countries develop their economic structure, contribute to the implementation of Agenda 2063 of the African Union and thus enable Africa, an ancient continent, to gain strong vitality.”

China and African countries, Xi said, “are destined to be good friends, good brothers and good partners, and China-Africa cooperation stands as a fine example of South-South cooperation.” He pointed out that the September summit in Beijing of the Forum on China-African Cooperation, titled “China and Africa: Toward an Even Stronger Community with a Shared Future through Win-Win Cooperation,” intends to “enhance complementarity between China-Africa joint efforts to pursue the Belt and Road Initiative, the 2030 Agenda and the 2063 Agenda on the one hand and the development strategies of African countries on the other. This will enable China and Africa to pursue high quality and high standard cooperation for mutual benefit and common development.”

In concluding, Xi recalled that 2018 marks the centennial of the birth of the revered South African leader Nelson Mandela. Reciting one of Mandela’s famous sayings, “After climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb,” he remarked that this should serve as inspiration for the BRICS. “Indeed, the history of BRICS cooperation is a journey of our five countries climbing great hills only to reach new heights. I am convinced that when our five countries forge ahead together, we will scale new peaks, reach new heights, and make even greater contribution to peace and development of mankind.”


Thai Rails Chosen for Japan-China Cooperation on New Silk Road

July 22 – The Tokyo daily {Asahi Shimbun} reported July 20, “Japan, China Set To Work Out Joint Development Projects.” The paper reported that a committee Japan and China created in May to coordinate their investments along the Belt and Road Initiative launched by China in 2013, will hold its first meeting in Beijing in September. The meeting “will discuss economic cooperation projects in third countries related to China’s One Belt, One Road Initiative,” {Asahi Shimbun} said.

And its sources in Japan indicated that railroad construction in Thailand is the leading first candidate project to be tackled jointly by Japanese and Chinese companies, with credit aid from both governments.

As {EIR} has reported, high-speed rail lines both north-south within Thailand and east-west connecting it to other Southeast Asian nations, have already been projected with Chinese aid.
The committee is expected to be headed by Hiroto Izumi, a special advisor to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, on the Japanese side, and Ning Jizhe, vice chairman of the pre-eminent National Development and Reform Commission, on the Chinese side, according to the paper. It said the two countries “are aiming to decide on joint projects through the committee and announce them in conjunction with the Japan-China summit to be held later this year when Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visits the country, sources said.”


Belt and Road Initiative To Be Focus of Arab-China Meeting

July 8 -A call for stronger Arab participation in China’s Belt and Road Initiative is expected to be the central result of the July 10 meeting in Beijing of the eighth ministerial conference of the Chinese-Arab States Cooperation Forum (CASCF), according to a feature by China’s Foreign Minister and State Councillor Wang Yi posted in Gulf News. Chinese President Xi Jinping will address the opening ceremony at the Great Hall of the People; the CASCF will be attended by host Foreign Minister Wang Yi, and by the foreign ministers and other ministers representing the 21 Arab countries, as well as the secretary-general of the Arab League, and Kuwait Emir Shaikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Sabah, he wrote.

“The inception of the CASCF in 2004 has further upgraded China-Arab relations, by adding a new driver in addition to the bilateral channels, and has thus accelerated the growth of China-Arab cooperation across the board,” Wang wrote.

According to China’s Assistant Foreign Minister Chen Xiaodong, Xi’s speech will highlight his country’s desire to develop stronger relations with Arab states, and it will inject new impetus into these relations, improve prospects of cooperation between the two sides, and bring new hopes to the regional peace.


Austrian Proposal for ‘European Silk Road’

July 4 —The Vienna Institute of International Comparative Economics (WIIW) has released a proposal for a “European Silk Road” with investments ranging up to €1 trillion over a 10-year period, focussed on two main corridors. The WIIW proposal is addressed in particular to the Austrian government, for an initiative among the EU partner countries, to be launched during Austria’s half-year rotating EU presidency, which began on July 1.

The WIIW proposals delineate the two corridors. One is Between Lyon and Moscow, extended to Barcelona and Lisbon in the west, and to Nishny Novgorod, Samara and Uralsk in the east. The second corridor runs from Milan to Zurich, Vienna, and Budapest, Bucharest, and Constanta, extended eastward to Novorossyisk and Volgograd, with another branch running to Poti, Tbilisi, and Baku. This can, the survey says, create up to 7 million new jobs, in projects of building bridges, railroads, highways, ports, and other infrastructure.

Explaining the survey, WIIW board member Dionys Lehner said that if Europe had plenty of money to stabilize the volatile banking sector after 2008, money should not be held back where infrastructure projects of this importance are concerned. Particularly the Russian aspect of it is of immediate interest for Austria: More than €300 million of new exports for the Austrian economy annually could be expected to result from such a program.


Japan: Cooperation with China in Third Countries

June 19– Japan’s daily {Yomiuri Shimbun} reported that the revised version of the Japanese government policy on “infrastructure exports” promotes cooperation with China for the first time, writing: “The government will pursue cooperation with China over infrastructure development in other countries amid plans to increase support for projects related to the Belt and Road, a massive economic initiative promoted by Beijing.

“Tokyo hopes to further facilitate the ongoing improvement in Japan-China relations as it seeks to increase business opportunities for Japanese companies. It is in the process of
identifying joint projects with China based on such factors as the transparency.

“A revised version of the government’s basic policy on infrastructure exports, which was released earlier this month, referenced promoting cooperation with China for the first time. The inclusion follows an agreement between Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang in May in which they pledged to set up a joint committee comprised of both public and private sector officials to coordinate economic cooperation in third countries.

“Abe plans to visit China as early as this year and convene a new forum attended by both public and private sector representatives. Through the forum, the government hopes to
discuss the details of joint projects with China. Tokyo hopes to realize reciprocal visits between the leaders of Japan and China after achieving progress through talks.”
The article also quotes some government and ruling Liberal

Democratic Party (LDP) officials nagging against cooperation, pushing the usual arguments against China, e.g. its alleged hegemonism, which the government “sought to fend off.”


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