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Schiller Institute Interviewed About Arctic Sea Shipping Routes

Swedish Schiller Institute Board Member Hussein Askary was recently interviewed by an representative of the “EurAsiaAz” (a non-profit organization focused on cooperation among the Eurasian nations, and a strong supporter of the Belt and Road Initiative). The coverage begins,

“Ice melting in the Arctic has drawn more attention to the Northern Sea Route – a maritime corridor which allows shipping between Europe and Asia considerably faster than through the Suez Canal. NSR’s advantages are lack of pirates and queues, and the new nuclear icebreakers will make the route navigable the whole year. China and countries of Northern Europe are looking at this project with great interest whereas the USA insists that NSR should be open for everyone as an international transport corridor. Hussein Askary, Southwest Asia Coordinator in the Schiller Institute, former Chairman [SIC] of the Swedish branch of the Schiller Institute (2008-2018) has told “Eurasia.Expert” in detail about the development of this project…”

Read the full interview: The competition among the global players in the Arctic is rising – expert

 

Image credits: Author: Marcusroos; https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Icebreaker_Fennica.jpg


Schiller Institute Representative Addresses High Level Conference in Beijing

On Oct. 29, Hussein Askary, Southwest Asia Coordinator of the Schiller Institute, addressed the Belt and Road International Food Industry Conference, sponsored by China People’s Daily, Global Times and China Food News and supervised by the official state Belt and Road Portal. The conference addressed the impact of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and China's development model on food security in China and globally. The main panel was opened by such senior officials as former Director of the State Council Office of Poverty Alleviation Liu Jian, who also earlier served as deputy Agriculture Minister. He was followed by the former spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and member of the Public Advisory Committee of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Sun Yuxi, who is currently Member of the Public Advisory Committee of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Hussein Askary, in his speech, first outlined the past 24 year' efforts of the Schiller Institute to promote the global connectivity now associated with the New Silk Road and the Eurasian-African Land-Bridge. He expressed his and the Schiller Institute’s gratitude to President Xi Jinping for launching the BRI in 2013, which has “already changed the world, ushering in a new set of international relations based on economic cooperation and mutual development, which will have great implications for food security in the world.” That would not have been possible, Askary stressed, “without China’s amazing industrialization process of the past three decades.”

He went on to review the immense positive changes in the living conditions of the Chinese people, including the increase in food production and consumption, with a more diversified diet for the people. However, this new diet, with greater emphasis on proteins, is a more capital-intensive process. “You can expect that this process will be replicated in every country and part of the world that the BRI reaches, with the increase in living conditions and, consequently, in food consumption.” Askary reviewed the UN-produced “Hunger Map of the World” showing that 800 million people lack adequate food today. However, the most hungry nations, especially in Africa and West Asia, are now joining the BRI to alleviate this terrible situation, and "we have to imagine how much land and technology will be required to achieve this goal". With the world population poised to double by 2050, only such massive initiatives as the BRI can address this challenge, Askary concluded. The conference, including Askary’s speech received wide coverage in Chinese media, including postings of Askary’s speech in full on several websites. According to China Daily, the “Belt and Road” Food Industry International Summit is a world-class food industry conference with the participation of the food industry and the food industry related trade associations, industry associations, well-known enterprises and social organizations.” (The official website of the conference, that of The Belt and Road Global Chambers of Commerce and Associations, is http://www.msdnba.com/topics?id=15.html)


Webcast: Use Trump’s Victory to Build Momentum for the New Paradigm

Forget what the pundits and anti-Trumpers say.  The midterm election was no victory for Democrats, but changes, for the better, the situation in the U.S.  Helga discusses this, with its implications for U.S. politics, and for Europe, in this week’s webcast.  Ironically, as a result of Trump’s success, he will be coming to Paris this week in a stronger position than either Macron or Merkel!

She also identified the enormous potential of the Shanghai expo, with its implications both for resolving trade problems between the U.S. and China, but also to move towards a New Bretton Woods.

Speaking of Paris, Helga emphasized the urgency of using the Nov. 11 commemoration of the end of World War I, to learn the lessons of why the era of British geopolitics must be brought immediately to an end.

She called on viewers to study Xi’s speech in Shanghai, as an example of what Lyn has spoken about for years, on how creativity and innovation must be a continuous process, for the betterment of mankind.

 


FAO Chief Praises China for Worldwide Reduction of Hunger

Nov. 4 -Jose Graziano da Silva, Director-General of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), gave an interview to Xinhua on Nov. 3 which lavishes praise on China’s role in both alleviating hunger and advancing agricultural science. “China has made great achievements in curbing hunger and increasing food security, both domestically and globally, since the launch of its reform and opening-up 40 years ago,” Graziano da Silva told Xinhua.

Most interesting, Graziano da Silva totally debunks the 1995 book by Lester Brown titled {Who Will Feed China? Wake-Up Call for a Small Planet}, one of the major propaganda tools for the depopulation movement. “But China did succeed,” Graziano da Silva said. China lifted 80 million people out of hunger in what Graziano da Silva called “the most successful program that I know of in the world.”

Xinhua quotes the FAO 2018 World Food Security report, which states that the world produces enough food to feed everyone, yet one in nine people goes hungry and 821 million people are chronically undernourished. In 2007 over 15% of the chronically undernourished were in China, but that is now down to 9%. Graziano da Silva said this is “closely related to what China is doing to eradicate poverty, especially in rural areas.”

Xinhua reports that Graziano da Silva designed and implemented a Zero Hunger program that lifted 28 million people out of poverty in 10 years in his native Brazil, and that China’s program using reforestation to combat poverty along the Mongolian desert became “an example for my country.”

Graziano da Silva said China is helping the FAO with its South-South cooperation programs in Africa, including Chinese scientists helping to develop drought-resistant varieties of rice. He notes that in 2006, China was the first country to establish a strategic alliance with the FAO on South-South cooperation, and today more than 1,000 Chinese experts and technicians have supported 37 countries in Africa, Asia, the Pacific, Latin America and the Caribbean on agricultural issues.

On the Belt and Road, Graziano da Silva said: “The BRI is providing support for countries such as Malawi, for example, they produce enough food, but they lose half of it due to lack of storage. So we believe that infrastructure (projects) that are part of the BRI can help a great deal to improve food security and reduce food loss and waste, which in turn will also reduce pressure on natural resources.”

Graziano da Silva announced on Nov. 2 that the FAO will establish an International Center of Excellence for Agriculture Innovation and Rural Development in Beijing, aimed at helping to reach the FAO’s Zero Hunger goal by 2030.


Abe in China: from Competition to Cooperation

Oct.26, 2018 -Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe began a three-day visit to Beijing on Thursday for a summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping, the first such summit since 2011. The main
goal of the visit is to transform relations from that of competition to cooperation, especially concerning Japanese cooperation in the Belt and Road Inititive. Some 500 Japanese businessmen accompanied Abe on his visit.

Abe has held substantive meetings with Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang, the chair of the National People’s Congress Standing Committee Li Zhanshu, and Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Abe’s repeated message, as he emphasized in his joint press conference with Prime Minister Li, was that Japanese-Chinese relations have entered a new phase, moving “from competition to cooperation…. We want to expand our relationship significantly. We are
neighbors. We are partners cooperating with each other. We have to avoid becoming a threat to each other.”

President Xi opened his talks with Abe, noting that “as the international situation changes, China and Japan are becoming increasingly dependent on one another. Our countries also have a growing number of common interests and concerns on a multilateral level. The rapid changes in the world are providing China and Japan with opportunities for more in-depth cooperation.”

Reflecting on the historical relations between the two countries, Xi added that “China and Japan have interacted for more than 2,000 years. The people of our countries have long been
learning from each other and achieving developments. In that long history, there were deplorable times and the Chinese people suffered tremendously.”

Abe reiterated to Xi his above message, that his visit is “an opportunity to elevate the Japan-China relationship to a new phase from competition to cooperation…. [W]e want to work with China for the peace and stability of the world, and the region, and that’s what countries around the world expect of us.”

{Asahi Shimbun} reported that Li and Abe confirmed that the two countries will jointly promote infrastructure projects led by Japanese and Chinese private companies in third countries. Chinese state radio reported that Li welcomed Japan to actively take part in China’s Belt and Road infrastructure initiative, and in China’s reforms and the opening up of its economy,

Speaking on the sidelines of an economic forum of 1,400 business and government official on Friday, Abe pointed out that “Infrastructure projects in Asia are expected to be worth 1.7 trillion dollars annually by 2030. It won’t be easy for companies in one country to tackle this demand and overcome the accompanying challenges.” He stressed that projects led by
Japanese and Chinese firms in other countries must follow international standards.

All kinds of agreements were signed, between the leaders and between Chinese and Japanese businessmen. A key one is that annual high-level dialogues that have been suspended for years will be reestablished (e.g. between Foreign Ministers). Others reportedly include agreements to work together on a total of 52 joint projects, including urban development in a special economic zone in eastern Thailand and establishing a new fund with banks and securities firms; to accelerate talks on jointly developing gas fields in the East China Sea; and a decision to revive a 30 billion dollar currency swap pact dropped in 2013.


Portugal Prepares To Officially Enter the Belt and Road

Oct. 22, 2018 –Portugal and China are finishing details a Memorandum of Understanding on Portugal’s participation in the Belt and Road Initiative initiated by China, focused on investment in infrastructure, Portugal’s Foreign Affairs Minister Augusto Santos Silva announced Oct. 20 from Macau, China. He did not give details, but he emphasized the role which Portugal’s deepwater port on the Atlantic, Sines, can play in the Belt and Road, because of its strategic location for connecting with the continents of Africa, the Americas, and Eurasia. Sines is Europe’s closest port to the now-expanded Panama Canal, he pointed out in making the announcement.

At the same time, Santos Silva announced that President Xi Jinping’s long-planned state visit to Portugal is now set for Dec. 4-5. He did not say whether the MOU will signed during that visit, but Portugal is eager to get to work on the project. Today, in meeting with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in Beijing, Silva Santos emhasized that Portugal “is willing to work with China, ready to further implement China’s Belt and Road Initiative, and become a hub linking Europe and Asia through land and sea,” CGTN reported.

Portugal’s Foreign Minister is visiting China from Oct. 19-23, accompanied by the Secretary of State for Internationalization, and other top officials. Their trip has taken them from Guangdong, to Macau, and now Beijing, where they will meet with Wang Yi, senior diplomat Yang Jiechi from the Office of the Foreign Affairs Commission of the CPC’s Central Committee, and Commerce Minister Zhong Shan, and take part in the tenth Joint China-Portugal Economic and Trade Committee Meeting.

Interest is also growing in Portugal’s neighbor, Spain. President Xi Jinping will visit Spain for talks with government officials Nov. 27-28, Spain’s Foreign Ministry announced in September.


AIIB Builds Its Lending Levels for Growth

Oct. 21 –The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) has been building up its loans to fundamental infrastructure investment throughout Asia, during the past 20 weeks.On Sept. 28, the AIIB approved new loans totalling nearly $1 billion to finance projects in Egypt, India, and Turkey. The three loans include the AIIB’s first to the Egyptian government, which consists of a $300 million investment to improve rural sanitation services in the country, co-financed by the World Bank, the bank said on Oct. 19. The Beijing-based bank board of directors also approved a $455 million loan to improve all-weather rural roads in Andhra Pradesh in southeast India; and a loan of up to $200 million to the Industrial Development Bank of Turkey (TSKB) to finance energy projects.

In September, the AIIB said it was considering $541 million in loans for three propposed infrastructure and power projects in Bangladesh, according to BSS news agency. This includes the Mymensingh Kewatkhali Bridge project, which is part of the Dhaka-Mymensingh-India border corridor; the Sylhet to Tamabil Road Upgradation Project; and a power system upgrade and expansion project for the Chittagong region.

In June, the AIIB approved $1.2 billion in loans for infrastructure construction in India.
The AIIB has made about $5.8 billion in loans since its formation in December 2015. The World Bank has about $61 billion in loans outstanding. But the AIIB’s loans have no conditionalities, and are for real development. The AIIB’s development thrust, and buildup in the speed of its lending from a low level represents the direction of a transformation in the world.


Symposium on China-Japan Projects

Oct. 14 – Senior Chinese and Japanese government officials began a two-day symposium Sunday in Tokyo – the 14th Annual Tokyo-Beijing Forum- at which the degree of Japanese participation in the Belt and Road Initiative great projects program of China, is again the subject, reported {Japan Times}.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Oct. 25-27 will make the first state visit to China by a Japanese leader since 2011; this was announced by the Chinese Foreign Ministry Oct. 12. At the Tokyo meeting, Wei Jianguo, vice chairman at the China Center for International Economic Exchanges, revealed that during Abe’s visit, about 1,000 people will attend a signing ceremony for more than 60 joint projects involving Japanese and Chinese firms.

“Those projects are all designed to jointly develop `third-country’ markets in countries outside of China and Japan,” reported {Japan Times}. “During the symposium, Chinese officials repeatedly urged Japan to jointly promote third-country development projects in what is seen by some as a push by Beijing for Tokyo to join its ambitious Belt and Road Initiative, which is centered on massive infrastructure projects in Central Asia, Europe and the Indo-Pacific region.”

“Right now, the China-Japan relationship has a forward-looking momentum. High-level contacts have been maintained and exchanges in various areas have been strengthened,” Chinese Ambassador to Japan Cheng Yonghua told the symposium.


Successful Launching of the BRIX at Belt & Road Business Forum in Stockholm

First Silk Road cargo shipment from Sweden celebrated

“If you want to get rich, build a road first!” With this old Chinese proverb the moderator Hussein Askary opened the 2nd China-Sweden Business Forum, which was hosted by China-Sweden Business Council (CSBC) and the new association called the Belt & Road Executive Group in Sweden (BRIX) at the Grand Hotel Winter Garden in Stockholm on September 28, 2018. This year’s main theme of the Forum was the Belt & Road Initiative (BRI). One hundred members and guests took part in the event.

AmbassadorIn his opening address, H.E. The Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China, Gui Congyou, received a spontaneous applause when he brought the news to the audience that the first New Silk Road cargo shipment from Sweden to China had been sent off the week before. A train with containers left the community Insjön in the county Dalarna for the long route via Gothenburg and Hamburg to Ganzhou International Port bringing high-quality wood for a furniture producer in the Jiangxi province in Southern China.

The authorities and media in Sweden have been oblivious to the BRI so far. But this Forum provided the insights necessary to change that attitude. The association BRIX that co-hosted the event was launched at the Forum to promote an open dialogue and greater awareness of the BRI and its benefits for Sweden in particular, and the world community in general.

One key aspect of the BRI is that it is not only about links to China, but an initiative to promote global connectivity. All nations of the world are invited to participate on their own terms in the BRI. Stephen Brawer, BRIX vice Chairman, in his presentation, pointed to a world map where all continents will be connected, in the future even with links reaching out to the Americas and Australia. He pointed to the September 3-4 Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) in Beijing where 53 African nations linked up with BRI to fulfill the African Union’s Agenda 2063 for a continent wide modern infrastructure network and eliminating poverty in the continent.


“to foster a new type of international relations” and “forge partnerships of dialogue with no confrontation and of friendship rather than alliance.”

The BRI should not be seen only as a “practical” transport system for trade, Ms. Kitty Smyth underlined in the next presentation. Ms. Smyth, a U.K. strategy and PR senior adviser for Sino-European public relations, underlined that the BRI, since its launching by President Xi Jinping in 2013, also has a philosophical dimension of creating harmony, “to foster a new type of international relations”, and “forge partnerships of dialogue with no confrontation and of friendship rather than alliance”. She advised Sweden to establish institutions capable of developing long term BRI cooperation with China, just as the UK had done with an office for the BRI/related Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), a regional cooperation mechanism called Northern Powerhouse, the all parliamentary China-UK group, and the government’s Permanent Envoy to the BRI.

DSC_4887The typical misunderstandings of the BRI in Swedish business circles were dissected by Ali Farmandeh, chairman of the CSBC. The BRI is much more than Chinese production of Swedish goods. Furthermore, he stressed, “the New Silk Road is also not something far away, as many in the northern corner of Europe think. Among the 70 nations that have joined the BRI, there are also neighbors in Europe, who are already building their parts of the world connectivity network, projects where Swedish businesses can take part immediately.”

Working with China is sometimes challenging to the old world due to cultural differences, as Ying Wu, a former Student of Royal Technical School (KTH) in Stockholm and now CEO of SinceUs, explained in the final presentation at the Forum. Turning many Swedish business habits upside down, she brought many insightful and humorous examples of problems she has met in assisting Swedish clients to enter and expand in the Chinese market of 437 million e-commerce shoppers. She presented the case study of a Swedish brand Airnum, which she had helped bring from unknown to a bestselling brand in just one year.

These opportunities for small and medium size enterprises (SMEs) are important to make well known as best practices for further understanding in Sweden of the importance of the BRI and the opportunities for innovative businesses it opens up in so many countries worldwide.

The Swedish Wood products have a long tradition of being in the forefront of reaching out to new markets, since the industry was established in a big way as a pure export industry in the second half of the 19th century. A Swedish sawmill in Dalarna becoming a first explorer of the New Silk Road routes through Eurasia is very good news for the whole Swedish industry that is curious about the tremendous growth of new markets, cities and new industrial parks stimulated by the BRI.

Further information:

www.brixsweden.com

info@brixsweden.com


China Will Integrate Belt and Road with African Development Plans

Sept. 4, 2018  — The second day of the FOCAC Summit in Beijing consisted of a round-table chaired jointly by  President Xi Jinping and President Cyril Ramaphosa, and a series of side forums dealing with individual issues. Speaking at the concluding press conference of the summit, President Xi Jinping underlined the motif: “We will synergize China’s Belt and Road Initiative with African Union’s Agenda 2063 and the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and the national development strategies of African countries.”

Xi said, “Together we will better uphold the common interests of China and Africa, boost the strength of developing countries, and make the world a more balanced and better place for everyone to live in.”

Xi also had words of wisdom for other “international partners” of Africa. “We hope that Africa’s international cooperation partners could learn from each other, leverage their respective strength, build synergy, and jointly contribute to peace and development in Africa,” Xi said. He thanked President Ramaphosa for his close cooperation over the last few months in preparing for the summit, and welcomed President Macky Sall of Senegal as the new African co-chair of FOCAC. President Ramaphosa reiterated his strong support for the BRI: “…[t]he China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative provides the African continent with great opportunities. African countries all collectively accept and praise the initiative, hailing it a best way to address Africa’s challenges.” He pointed out that China and African countries agreed to work more closely together and share technologies and achievements, and listed a series of projects, including the China-Africa cooperation center for ocean science and blue economy, the China-Africa research center for the development of green agriculture, the China-Africa energy technological cooperation center, and the China-Africa geo-science cooperation center.

President Sall, in turn, expressed that he is “happy” over being able to co-chair FOCAC, and said he saw “great prospects” in coming years with more engagements with the private sector. “We will push our relationship to a higher level,” he said, calling the present period of China-Africa relations, a “golden age.”


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