Information Bulletin of the BRICS Trade Union Forum
Issue 21.2017
2017.05.15 — 2017.05.21
International relations
Foreign policy in the context of BRICS
Joint Statement, SA–Brazil Bilateral meeting (Совместное заявление, двусторонняя встреча ЮАР-Бразилия) / South Africa, May, 2017
Keywords: South_Africa_Brazil, bilateral_meeting
South Africa

Joint Statement

SA –Brazil Bilateral meeting

On 15 May 2017 the South African Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Ms Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, hosted the BrazilianMinister of External Relations, Mr Aloysio Nunes Ferreira, on a Working Visit to Pretoria.

Minister Nkoana-Mashabane congratulated Minister Nunes on his appointment as foreign minister on 7 March 2017.

The Ministers welcomed the opportunity to meet as part of a commitment to hold regular bilateral political and diplomatic consultations.

The Ministers reaffirmed the strategic partnership between South Africa and Brazil, which spans country-to-country cooperation, cooperation through inter-regional mechanisms and at the global level.

In this regard the Ministers welcomed the entry into force of the Preferential Trade Agreement between SACU (Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia and South Africa) and MERCOSUL/R (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay) and expressed their willingness to work together for the strengthening of beneficial bilateral and regional trading relations. The Ministers also manifested their expectation that the First Meeting of the Administrative Committee of the Preferential Trade Agreement between SACU and MERCOSUR to be held in Johannesburg, on 25 and 26 May, will push forward the coordination among the countries of the two regions.

The Ministers acknowledged the Brazil – South Africa Business Seminar with the attendance of the delegation of Brazil business people accompanying the Brazilian Minister, government agencies as well as South African entrepreneurs. The seminar, closed by Minister Aloysio Nunes Ferreira and Minister of Small Business Development, Minister Lindiwe Zulu, discussed opportunities in areas such as energy and food production, as well as ways to enhance business relations between both countries.

The two ministers reviewed bilateral relations between their countries and agreed on finalizing outstanding mutual agreements in areas such as:

  • Peaceful uses of nuclear energy
  • Infant and mother health
  • Arts and culture
  • Extradition and mutual legal assistance
  • Investment Cooperation
  • Protocol, among others.

The Ministers confirmed their commitment to the IBSA Strategic Dialogue and also confirmed their commitment to the BRICS Partnership as the two countries prepared for the next Summit that would be taking place in China in September 2017. In this regard Minister Nunes welcomed South Africa's chairing of the BRICS Partnership in 2018.

In closing the Ministers reaffirmed the warm relations between their countries and their desire to collaborate on matters of mutual interest.

Issued in Pretoria

15 May 2017
Media Remarks by Minister Nkoana-Mashabane after the conclusion of Bilateral Talks with the Brazilian Minister of External Relations, Mr Aloysio Nunes Ferreira, 15 May 2017, OR Tambo Building, Pretoria (Сообщение для прессы министра иностранных дел Нкоана-Машабане после завершения двусторонних переговоров с министром внешних отношений Бразилии г-ном Алоисио Нунесом Феррейрой, 15 мая 2017 года, OR Tambo Building, Претория) / South Africa, May, 2017
Keywords: South_Africa_Brazil, bilateral_meeting
South Africa

Media Remarks by Minister Nkoana-Mashabane after the conclusion of Bilateral Talks with the Brazilian Minister of External Relations, Mr Aloysio Nunes Ferreira, 15 May 2017, OR Tambo Building, Pretoria

Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen of the media

Today I received and hosted my counterpart, the Brazilian Minister of External Relations, Mr Aloysio Nunes Ferreira, on a Working Visit to Pretoria.

The Minister is accompanied by a high-level business delegation that is currently meeting with their counterparts here in Pretoria.

In our meeting, I congratulated Minister Nunes Ferreira on his appointment as Minister of External Relations of Brazil on 07 March 2017.

We both reaffirmed the Strategic Partnership between South Africa and Brazil, which spans country-to-country cooperation, cooperation through inter-regional mechanisms and at the global level.

Amongst other issues we discussed the following:

  1. The need to strengthen and expand the levels of trade and investment between the two countries
  2. People to people contact
  3. Regional issues including SADC, progress on the MERCOSUR/SACU trade agreement, BRICS and IBSA;
  4. Our shared commitment to continue to work together on global matters, particularly in advancing the South-South cooperation.
In conclusion, we reaffirmed the warm relations between our two countries and our desire to continue to collaborate on matters of mutual interest.

I would now like to give this opportunity to Minister Nunes Ferreira to deliver his remarks.

Thank you.

Minister-Counselor Denis Gonchar's Welcome Speech at the «Doing Business with the BRICS» Annual Conference (Приветственное слово министра-советника Дениса Гончара на Ежегодной конференции «Ведение бизнеса с БРИКС») / USA, May, 2017
Keywords: Doing_business_with_the_BRICS, New_Development_Bank, expert_opinion, Goa_MoU, BRICS_Coordination_Committee

Ladies and Gentlemen, Colleagues and Friends,

It is a great pleasure to welcome all of you here again. It has become a good tradition that the Russian Embassy co-hosts the annual Conference "Doing business with the BRICS" since its beginning in 2013.

We hold it together with "Eurasia Center" and it is not the first time when we cooperate. I am pleased to say that this organization has become our reliable long-standing partner. Colleagues, we appreciate your job providing expertise on BRICS and Eurasia issues as well as your support to our measures aimed at promoting further cooperation within the BRICS.

Every year this Conference provides a wonderful platform for a fruitful discussion as well as an opportunity to communicate with our colleagues and friends from other BRICS embassies here in Washington, representatives of business and expert community.

Last year the BRICS celebrated its 10th anniversary. And our cooperation is already growing far beyond economical and political issues. After starting with an informal status just decade ago, today we have more than 30 tracks of interagency cooperation, including in humanitarian and defense area and law enforcement.

BRICS serves as a multiplier of national interests of five our countries, as well as a positive tool for their integration. We are looking for new ways of facilitation of economic growth together. We are against double standards, unilateral sanctions and unlawful military interventions. We stress that the size of the current global economic challenges requires only joint efforts of multinational transparent fora like BRICS to succeed.

The initiatives taken during the Russia's Chairmanship on consolidation of multifaceted sectoral cooperation and searching for new tracks of interaction, especially in the social and humanitarian area, were multiplied by our Indian friends last year. The summit on Goa demonstrated the fast-growing interest among the BRICS members to further ties within the group.

On economical track the five countries pushed forward the 14th quota reform in the IMF and supported the 15th review for developing countries as major beneficiaries as well as keeping the multilateral trading system intact. In 2016 first five projects were endorsed within the New Development Bank (NDB), two more have joined this year, and most of them are in the area of "green" energy. Our countries adopted nearly all key strategies and regulations necessary for full-fledged functioning of this institution. Memoranda on creation of an agriculture research platform and cooperation between countries' banks of development and NDB were signed and agreement on committee of customs cooperation was adopted. We also implemented our agreement on establishing a Pool of conditional currency reserves. Its main working documents were adopted, the meetings of its governing bodies, i.e. the Governing Council and the Standing Committee, are regularly held. New areas of future cooperation of the BRICS were set: non-tariff barriers, services, standards and compliance.

Contacts between our foreign ministries are also deepening. We continue to work closely both in the United Nations and other international and regional organizations on promoting global security and stability, countering new challenges and threats - terrorism in particular, drug trafficking, corruption, etc. We build capacities to enhance cybersecurity against criminals and terrorists, jointly oppose weaponization of space.

Our nations broaden humanitarian dimension – so called "Soft power" - too. For the last years the Agreement on Cooperation in Culture was signed, the meetings of the Civic BRICS, the Parliamentary and Youth Forums were held. On Goa a Memorandum of Understanding between diplomatic academies of the BRICS was signed. We look forward to the launch of the BRICS Network University this September. The first BRICS Games, film and culture festivals are to be held this year.

Our Chinese collegues - whom I avail myself of the opportunity to congratulate with assuming the Chairmanship on January 1- are setting new ambitious records. They have already planned about 80 events for this year. Among those - almost twenty ministerial meetings, including two summits, two foreign ministerial meetings and a meeting of senior security officials which already became traditional. Another tradition reflects the openness of the BRICS – invitation to the forum's summit extended to a group of countries.

We do have ambitious goals for this year. Three interagency memoranda on the establishment of new BRICS Councils are planned to be signed in September – on culture, on sport and on regional cooperation. We are proud to contribute to the current BRICS agenda by having proposed to sign a Memorandum of Understanding regarding the establishment of the BRICS Energy Research Platform. We expect it to help us organize analytical and research activities in the interest of the BRICS countries –and promote joint investment projects in energy. We also look forward to signing a Memorandum of Understanding establishing the BRICS Coordination Committee on antitrust policy issues. As for trade, the indicative non-binding blueprint of the BRICS strategy of economic partnership adopted at the Ufa Summit in 2015 could be agreed upon.

In conclusion I would like to thank you all for joining our important event. This particular Conference accumulates the spirit of mutual respect, friendship and understanding. With such an approach, I am sure, that its outcomes will be positive and provide your creative minds with food for thought and a sound ground for doing business with BRICS.

I appreciate your attention and wish you fruitful work and further success.
What to look out for in the run-up to the 9th BRICS Summit in Xiamen (Чего следует ожидать в преддверии 9-го саммита БРИКС в Сямэнь) / Brazil, May, 2017
Keywords: Summit, expert_opinion, diplomacy, Brazil_India, Brazil_South_Africa, BRICS_presidency
Author: Oliver Stuenkel

In less than four months, the leaders of the five BRICS nations will gather in the charming city of Xiamen in Fujian Province. It will be a high-point of a year that has seen an unprecedented degree of Chinese diplomatic activism, ranging from the Belt and Road Forum held in Beijing last weekend to a flurry of intra-BRICS activities, including issues such as cybersecurity, G20 and strengthening people-to-people exchanges. What are the key dynamics that will shape the summit?

First of all, it becomes increasingly evident that, due to the growing power asymmetry within the grouping, BRICS must be understood as one element in a much broader Chinese effort to reshape global affairs. This does not mean that Chinese diplomacy does not prioritize the grouping – quite to the contrary: the Foreign Ministry in Beijing carefully picks its diplomats posted in capitals in BRICS countries, and we can expect the 9th summit to get the full attention of both Xi Jinping and the country's propaganda machine. While both India and Russia continue to articulate new ideas of what to do with the BRICS grouping, Beijing's preferences are becoming ever more important. That points to the greater need for other members such as Brazil to work together with Delhi or South Africa when articulating proposals.

Greater Chinese influence will be amplified this year by the fact that the summit host enjoys, by definition, greater freedom to articulate the grouping's narrative during the year-long presidency. China's top foreign policy priority at this stage is to consolidate and substantiate its regional leadership ambitions, so it can be expected that the BRICS presidency and the Xiamen summit will be used with this goal in mind. Specifically, this means that China will most likely give special emphasis to the so-called outreach-process, initiated by the South African government during the 2013 Summit, when Pretoria invited countries in the region to participate in parts of the summit.

Beijing may take this process a step further, and some have privately suggested China is interested in inviting Indonesia to the club. This would fit nicely into Bejiing's narrative that its rise is inclusive, participatory and, above all, good for Asia as a whole.

The other members may be wary at such a step, as it might dilute the status membership of the BRICS grouping confers. Yet one may also argue that including Indonesia could, in theory, increase the grouping's legitimacy to participate in the global agenda setting process. After all, Indonesia is the world's most populous Muslim country, and certainly a rising power to be reckoned with in the coming decades. It may also help BRICS members other than China establish more institutionalized ties to a nation that remains largely off the radar in foreign ministries in Moscow, Brasília and Pretoria.

Any kind of expansion would fuel debates about other candidates such Turkey, a nation that is clearly undergoing a strategic reorientation, above all a away from Europe. Yet Ankara would bring several complexities into the grouping that Russia in particular will dislike after all, Ankara is a member of NATO.

Both Brazil and South Africa face internal crises of such intensity that their capacity to bring new ideas to the table about the future of the grouping stands at a historic low. Indeed, the situation in Brazil is so uncertain that one can only hope domestic developments will not prevent Brazil's president -- Temer or whoever succeeds him should he resign -- from participating in the upcoming summit.
As the BRICs Start to Cement, Where Should We Look Next? (В то время как БРИКC начинает каменеть, куда мы должны смотреть дальше?) / USA, May, 2017
Keywords: MINT, Jim_O'Neill, expert_opinion
Author: Matt Bonini

As the BRICs end their political rise and their economies start to mature, moving from the industrial to post-industrial stages of development, one may wonder, which economies over the next decade should we be looking out for? More importantly, what languages should we start to learn?

Jim O'Neill, the former chairman of Goldman Sachs asset management, stressed, in his recent column in Bloomberg, that the MINT economies (Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria and Turkey) "deserve no less attention" as their "economic prospects are interesting". Why them? Well, it clearly comes down to three main factors: political stability, geographical location, and most significantly, as mentioned by O'Neill, 'favourable demographics'.

All the MINTs, like the BRICs, have a large, young population. This, tied in with improving education and rapidly increasing life expectancies, is economically highly favorable as it provides each of the governments the opportunity to leverage their population to maximize GDP growth.

Political stability is significant, as is a clear-thinking government, which has control and the ware-withal to implement domestic policies effectively, enabling them to utilize the population, maximizing economic growth. Even though there are potential political threats in all of the countries (for instance Boko Haram in Nigeria) the fact that the central governments are actively dealing with these issues underlines their stability.

Finally, the geographic location plays an additional role in creating economic growth. It is clear that most of the MINTs are placed in highly important areas – Turkey joining Europe to the 'geopolitical' East, Indonesia being in the heart of Asia and having strong ties to China, and Mexico being situated at a vital trade checkpoint between North and South America. Even though Nigeria is not in quite an ideal place as the others, the fact that it is one of few politically stable countries in sub-Saharan Africa provides trade incentives for other countries.

So how does this affect you? And more importantly, what does it signify?

Well, in our opinion, this further signifies the (re)rise of the east and the increasing need for businesses to globalize. Companies that only work with other domestic companies fundamentally hinder their ability to compete in the global market. A result of this is that the demand to speak more than one language, and translation, are on are the rise too. The days of getting by just speaking and conducting business in one language are slowly coming to an end. It is clear that, with China slowly gaining the status as 'the global superpower' as well as the economic rise of Latin America, Spanish and Chinese are currently the two of the most useful languages to learn.

Ultimately, with the rise of the MINTs, the need to conduct business globally, for people to speak multiple languages, and for translation, it is clear that we are living in an ever-globalizing world. Furthermore, with the geo-political 'east' rising again, this only underlines that this trend is set to continue.
Putin Addresses Participants of the Belt and Road Investment Forum in Beijing (Путин выступил с речью на Всемирном экономическом форуме в Пекине) / Russia, May, 2017
Keywords: Russia_China, energy_sector, Belt_and_Road_Investment_Forum

Russia against any state acquiring nuclear weapons, Putin said, commenting on the North Korean nuclear issue. "Nuclear tests and missile tests are unacceptable. Intimidating the DPRK is unacceptable. We need to find peaceful solutions."

He said that "violent overthrows of regimes and invasions in other countries provoke an arms race."

North Korean missile launch did not present a threat to Russia, although it "has a provocative influence [on global politics]; there's nothing good in this," Putin said.

When asked whether Russia supplies Kurdish fighters with arms in Syria, Putin said that Moscow, unlike the US, doesn't do that.

He said that Russia doesn't believe that work on the resulution of the Kurdish issue should be intensified, adding that it was discussed with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Putin emphasized that the most important thing is to consolidate the ceasefire currently underway in Syria.

Putin and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping announced the next meeting in the Silk Road Forum format will be held in 2019.

Russia and China are cooperating in many high-tech industries, for example, in space and aircraft manufacturing, Putin said.

He said that Russia is going to supply China with high-tech engines.

The Russian president emphasized that the main area of cooperation is the energy sector, adding that Russia and China are going to work in the LNG area together.
US Should Forget About Protectionist Measures, Be More Inclusive – Embassy (США должны забыть о протекционистских мерах, отказаться от предрассудков - посольство) / China, May, 2017
Keywords: China_USA, Doing_Business_with_the_BRICS

The United States should not consider protectionist measures, but should engage more with other countries, including China, economic affairs counselor at China's Embassy in the United States Li Bin told Sputnik on margins of the Fifth Annual Doing Business with the BRICS Conference.

"Of course, protectionism is not good for China-US relations, it's not good for the relations between the United States and the world," Li said. "I think the United States should forget about the protectionist measures. It should be more inclusive, it should have more cooperation with different countries, especially China because China is a developing nation, not a developed country."

US companies are very interested in investing into multiple areas of China's economy, including hi-tech and financial services, Li Bin added.

"They [US firms] very much would like to cooperate with China and most of the companies in China make money and they want to do more," Li said. "They are interested in many areas, hi-tech… They want to invest more in the area of energy and also manufacturing, financial services, insurance."

Li noted that the US businesses hope the system of approval in China will be more transparent and the government will be more efficient in reviewing and approving projects.

"I think that will take place in the future," he added.

Li also said China would like to import liquefied natural gas (LNG) from the United States.

"I heard that CNPC [China National Petroleum Corporation] has decided maybe they are going to import 20 billion of natural gas from the United States. So it's a very good start but we are also going to import beef from the United States," he noted.

According to the counselor, China wants to invest into various sectors of the Russian economy, including manufacturing, energy and hi-tech.

"I think maybe we can expand our cooperation in the area of tourism, and land cooperation," Li said. "I think maybe more Chinese businessmen can invest in Russia because they like to invest in Russia not only the energy and also the metals, but also in the area of manufacturing, of hi-tech, because Russia in this area is not as strong as China so maybe Russia can also learn from China."

Li noted the current cooperation between China and Russia is very good within the association of BRICS countries, which also include Brazil, India and South Africa.

"For example, Russia is very strong in resources, and China doesn't have a lot of resources, but it needs resources. So, it needs resources not only from Russia, but also from other countries," Li explained. "Also in other areas our two countries have very good cooperation among the BRICS. In many areas, you know, military, investment, microeconomic regulation."

Russia and China have been expanding trade and improving transport and postal service links as well as looking into ways of integrating various regional economic initiatives over the past year. In the first two months of 2017, bilateral trade grew 28.8 percent in year-to-year terms, amounting to 11.58 billion.
Ferreira: Brazil and South Africa - Strategic Partnership for the Future (Феррейра: Бразилия и ЮАР - стратегическое партнерство для будущего) / Brazil, May, 2017
Keywords: Brazil_South_Africa, official_statement, FINEP, SACU, Mercosur, FIFA
Author: Aloysio Nunes Ferreira, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Brazil

Aloysio Nunes Ferreira, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Brazil

I am honoured to visit South Africa for the first time in my capacity as Brazil's Foreign Minister. It is my goal to work towards renewing the Brazil-South Africa Strategic Partnership and giving fresh impetus to the already strong relationship between our two countries.

Brazil and South Africa maintain a constructive, open dialogue, not only concerning the common challenges we face as developing countries, but primarily because we hold democracy, human rights, and social inclusion as cherished common guiding values for our societies.

In the realm of foreign policy, both countries believe in multilateralism as the most suitable path to the fulfillment of a rules-based international order. As such, Brazil and South Africa often cooperate and coordinate their positions in multilateral fora and global governance mechanisms. At the United Nations or in groups such as the IBSA Forum, BRICS, the G20 and many others, our common sense of purpose highlights the strategic nature of our relationship.

The longstanding bonds of friendship resulting from the similarities and converging views between our nations generate opportunities for cooperation. The Brazilian government is determined to press our bilateral cooperation forward as a means to bring about concrete mutual benefits and to advance our common interests on the world stage.

My meeting with Foreign Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane follows on the numerous high level bilateral exchanges that have taken place between our countries over almost three decades of friendship. In 1991, as vice-governor of the State of São Paulo, I had the honour to welcome President Nelson Mandela, whose memorable visit to Brazil took place scarcely one year after he was released from prison. I would also like to mention the visit by President Fernando Henrique Cardoso to South Africa in 1996, as well as President Jacob Zuma's visit to Brazil in 2014.

The converging views between Brazil and South Africa and the tremendous amount of existing mutual good will translate into a broad bilateral agenda, which comprises topics such as trade and investment; agriculture; science and technology; communications; culture; defense; education; energy; environment; health; film production; legal and juridical cooperation, among others. The recent upturn in our cooperation in science and technology – a sector of enormous promise – gives us reason for optimism. The Agreement in the Field of Scientific and Technological Cooperation, in place since 2008, provides a solid basis for action.

It was this framework that enabled the implementation of the joint development of the A-Darter air-to-air missile, which is already near completion. This initiative has been funded by the Brazilian innovation agency FINEP and it is being carried out at facilities of the South African state defense company Denel, where Brazilian Air Force officers and technical staff from Brazilian private defense companies work side by side with their South African counterparts. The launching of a state-of-the-art piece of defense hardware, which can potentially be exported to third countries, gives reason for Brazil and South Africa to be proud. In the energy sector, initiatives with a view to the peaceful use of nuclear energy have also opened up new avenues for cooperation, which we will develop together in the coming years.

As far as our economic agenda is concerned, the entry into force (April 2016) of the Preferential Trade Agreement between Mercosur, the group whose founding members are Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, and Uruguay, and the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) is excellent news. Chemicals, textile, steel, plastic, automotive, electronics and capital goods, as well as agricultural products, will all benefit when the agreement is effectively implemented.

I have no doubt the Mercosur-SACU Agreement will strengthen the trade flows between Brazil and South Africa – which reached US 1.57 billion last year. It is worth noting that 73 percent of Brazilian exports to South Africa and 58 percent of South African exports to Brazil correspond to high-value-added goods, which is quite impressive in light of the fact the global exports of both countries are highly dependent on commodities (above 60 percent in both cases).

Considering that Brazil and South Africa are leading FDI destinations in the world, our countries could benefit from closer cooperation in this area as well. Brazil is ready to discuss the adoption of a normative framework with a focus on the creation of direct lines of communication between governments, which would avoid judicialization of disputes regarding investments, while preserving the state's ability to address related social and environmental issues.

The tourism sector also offers opportunities for closer collaboration. Brazil and South Africa both have adequate infrastructure and organizational capabilities to welcome foreign visitors – as demonstrated in the FIFA World Cups organized in South Africa (2010) and in Brazil (2014), as well as in the Rio de Janeiro 2016 Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games. Tourist flows between Brazil and South Africa are growing very fast. Partly owing to new airline routes between São Paulo and Johannesburg, passenger volume more than trebled between February 2016 and February 2017. That Brazilians and South Africans are crossing the Atlantic to get to know each other is great news.

Brazil and South Africa are two of a kind. In times of international turbulence and uncertainty, a solid Strategic Partnership between two rising democracies of the developing world – underpinned by a strong and diversified bilateral agenda – may serve as an indispensable shield against the looming threat of protectionism and great power rivalry. I am hopeful that my visit to this beautiful country will further highlight the convergence of points of view between our countries on some of the global agenda's most pressing issues. More intense trade exchanges and enhanced cooperation between us will bring jobs, income and prosperity for both our societies. Closer political coordination between Brasilia and Pretoria might make our respective regions, if not the international system itself, more peaceful, stable and equitable.
UK shares China's vision for joint prosperity (Великобритания разделяет видение Китая о совместном процветании) / China, May, 2017
Keywords: China_UK, OBOR, the_National_People's_Congress, the_National_Committee_of_the_Chinese_People's_Political_Consultative_Conference, NDB, AIIB, healthcare

Government figures get behind the Belt and Road, praising ambition, transforming effect of infrastructure initiative

LONDON - The United Kingdom can play a key role in the Belt and Road Initiative, which also brings London great opportunities, said a leading expert on UK-China relations.

British business leader, vice-chair of the London-based 48 Club Group Keith Bennett made the comments during China' s annual two sessions, the National People' s Congress and the National Committee of the Chinese People' s Political Consultative Conference.

Bennett said that as a responsible member of the international community, China has long been an active participant in such global institutions as the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

" China is also now increasingly taking the lead in the creation of new institutions, designed not to supplant existing bodies, but to supplement them, based on broad and inclusive participation."

Bennett cited key examples such as the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and the BRICS-led New Development Bank. BRICS stands for Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

" By far the most ambitious, visionary and transformative initiative that China has unveiled is the concept of the Belt and Road Initiative," said the UK business leader.

Proposed by Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2013, the Belt and Road Initiative aims to build a trade and infrastructure network connecting Asia, Europe and Africa along the ancient Silk Road routes.

More than 100 countries and international organizations have responded warmly to the initiative, with over 40 signing cooperation agreements with China.

" China' s initiative to jointly build the Belt and Road, embracing the trend toward a multipolar world, economic globalization, cultural diversity and greater IT application, aims at being highly efficient in terms of the allocation of resources, and at achieving a deep integration of markets among the countries concerned," said Bennett.

" It will thereby jointly create an open, inclusive and balanced regional economic cooperation architecture that benefits all."

Across the three great continents of Asia, Africa and Europe, the initiative will create new routes and connections by utilizing the ' three highs', namely high-speed trains, high-speed energy transmission and high-speed connectivity and communications.

" We are talking about a revolution in infrastructure, technology and connectivity, bringing unparalleled development and prosperity and affording unprecedented investment and growth opportunities," Bennett said.

The business leader believed that the UK can expect to play a significant part in the initiative, particularly in those sectors that remain acknowledged global leaders, with world-class companies, such as in legal, accounting, financial, regulatory and other professional services, as well as funding, listings, architecture and design.

" With Brexit approaching, Britain faces both challenges and opportunities. One of the greatest opportunities is to work with the Belt and Road Initiative and coordinate our own national priorities, such as the Northern Powerhouse and the Midlands Engine, with it," said Bennett, referring to the UK' s plan to leave the European Union. " Investment from China into Britain' s modernization and development of its infrastructure holds great potential for ' win-win' cooperation," he added.

Poverty reduction

Bennett also said that China' s economic performance has exceeded the experience of any other country in human history, lifting tens of millions of people out of poverty. Since 1981, according to World Bank data, China had by the end of 2015 reduced the number of people living in internationally-defined poverty by 728 million, lifting another nearly 12.5 million people out of poverty last year.

" This is greater than the entire population of Latin America or of the European Union.

" Over the same period, 1981 -2015, the rest of the world has only managed to lift 152 million people out of poverty," said Bennett.

" That is, for every one person lifted out of poverty in the rest of the world over the recent historical period, more than four Chinese people were similarly uplifted," he explained.

He added: " As China' s economy has advanced, and as its poverty levels have inexorably declined, we find the issue of common prosperity, for China' s neighbors as well as for the wider world, as a community of shared destiny, increasingly coming to the fore."

New British lung cancer drug gains approval in China

The London stock market-listed company AstraZeneca announced that the China Food and Drug Administration has granted marketing authorization for its lung cancer pill Tagrisso in China.

Tagrisso ( osimertinib) is designed for the treatment of adult patients with certain genetic mutations, which is the first AstraZeneca medicine approved under the CFDA' s Priority Review pathway, using an accelerated timeline for an innovative medicine.

Sean Bohen, executive vice-president of global medicines development and chief medical officer at AstraZeneca, said: " This is an important step forward for Tagrisso and a significant opportunity to bring a breakthrough medicine to patients with NSCLC ( non-small cell lung cancer) in China, where EGFR ( epidermal growth factor receptor) rates are some of the highest in the world." According to the company, the rapid review and approval signal the urgent need for new, targeted treatments with the potential to address specific types of cancer with high incidence rates and significant unmet medical needs in China.
Applause for China's generous vision is heard around the world (Во всем мире слышны аплодисменты за благородный замысел Китая) / China, May, 2017
Keywords: OBOR_Forum, IMF, World_Bank, WTO, UN, G7

The Belt and Road Initiative has been welcomed and supported by the world's major emerging and industrial economies, as well as by international organizations, which sent high-profile representatives to the two-day Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing.

The forum, which concluded on Monday, hosted representatives from more than 130 countries, which together account for more than two-thirds of the world's population and 90 percent of global GDP.

Expected to help promote the common prosperity of the international community, the forum was supported by both developing and emerging countries, as well as the leading industrial developed economies, or G7.

Representatives from Brazil, Russia, India and South Africa - the BRICS organization - as well as other emerging economies, such as Indonesia, Mexico and Turkey, attended the forum.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said the China-led Belt and Road Initiative was timely, as it promises to boost economic cooperation and exchanges.

Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni said the initiative was perhaps the most important modern infrastructure project underway in the world today.

"Bringing the Chinese economy closer through this gigantic infrastructure operation is enormously interesting to Italy," Gentiloni said.

The United States sent a delegation led by Matt Pottinger, special assistant to the president and senior director for Asia at the US National Security Council. White House spokesman Sean Spicer said on Friday that the Belt and Road "is a major trade initiative" and "we're going to continue to work with them".

Toshihiro Nikai, secretary-general of Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party, led the Japanese delegation.

British Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond, the special envoy of Prime Minister Theresa May, and German Minister for Economics and Energy Brigitte Zypries, the special envoy of Chancellor Angela Merkel, attended the forum.

"Britain stands ready to work with all participating countries to make the Belt and Road a success," Hammond said.

Former French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin, the special envoy of the president, said during the forum that President Emmanuel Macron supports the initiative as an effective way to solve the world's myriad problems.

"Macron wants to send the message to China that he supports the initiative. France is very interested in the initiative, which will develop Eurasia," Raffarin said.

Heads of major international organizations, such as the United Nations, the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, were also present at the event.

Peter Thomson, president of the UN General Assembly, said the Belt and Road Initiative brings enormous benefits to all countries involved and serves as a major driver of the global transformation emerging with the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

World Bank President Jim Yong Kim said the initiative is a "most remarkable" drive to fulfill the aspirations of people in less-developed regions that are in dire need of investment.

IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde said the initiative adds new economic flavors by creating infrastructure projects based on 21st century expertise and governance standards.

Roberto Azevedo, director-general of the World Trade Organization, said the initiative will help build an infrastructure network that facilitates trade.

"Infrastructure is essential. Lack of a proper transportation network is at the top of the trade cost list, and the Belt and Road is hugely important in responding to this need."
From G20 Hangzhou Summit to Belt and Road forum, Xi's global prominence on the rise (От саммита G20 в Ханчжоу до форума ОПОП, глобальная известность Си на подъеме) / China, May, 2017
Keywords: OBOR_Forum, APEC, the_G20_Hangzhou_Summit, the_World_Economic_Forum, the_2017_BRICS_Summit

BEIJING - He is known as the helmsman of the world's second-largest economy and chief of the largest political party as well as an ardent champion of globalization and an enthusiastic football fan.

Now, Chinese President Xi Jinping appears to be reaffirming another international title as the architect of a grand plan to better connect countries along and beyond the ancient Silk Road.

The Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation held in Beijing on Sunday and Monday is a perfect illustration of China's rising international status and also, Xi's growing influence.

The images of Xi hosting 29 heads of state and government from across the world, as well as leaders of key international organizations, at the two-day forum bring back memories of eight months ago when the president chaired the G20 Summit in Hangzhou.

All G20 economies were represented at the Belt and Road forum, which is attended by some 1,500 representatives from over 130 countries and over 70 international organizations.

It is estimated that those countries account for more than two thirds of the global population and 90 percent of the world's total gross domestic product.

By any standard, the forum -- covered by over 4,000 journalists -- is the most prestigious international gathering China has ever launched and one of the highest-level assemblies in the world.

As China is preparing for the 2017 BRICS Summit in Xiamen in September, analysts say it has become increasingly clear that the past few years marked China's transition from a player in global affairs to a leader of the global agenda.

Xi's stature as a responsible statesman has ascended in the process.

He presided over the APEC Beijing meeting in 2014 and the G20 Hangzhou Summit last year, charting the course for global growth and navigating world economic recovery.

In January, he defended globalization and free trade at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland against a new global reality that seems to be tilting toward protectionism.

His strong domestic appeal, especially as the "core" of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and its Central Committee, has also helped project influence overseas.

He is viewed as the avant-garde for reform and the Chinese Dream of national rejuvenation, and a staunch squasher of corruption.

The Belt and Road forum in Beijing might bolster his influence further, both within China and beyond, especially with just a few months to go before the 19th CPC National Congress convenes in the second half of this year, at which new leadership will be elected.

Addressing a roundtable summit of leaders Monday, Xi explained what had inspired him to come up with the Belt and Road Initiative nearly four years ago.

The Belt and Road Initiative "does not exclude or target any party," Xi told the summit where he spoke of the myriad challenges the world faces: sluggish trade and investment, wobbling economic globalization, increasingly uneven development, impact from the massive flow of refugees and migrants, as well as wars, conflicts and terrorism.

The words echoed a keynote speech he made a day earlier when he called the initiative a "project of the century" in a world "fraught with challenges."

Only by coordinating national policies and integrating economic factors and development resources on a greater global scale can countries build synergy and promote world peace, stability and common development, Xi said Monday.

Under these circumstances, the world has every reason to draw wisdom and strength from the ancient Silk Road, and advance cooperation in the Silk Road spirit of peace and cooperation, openness and inclusiveness, mutual learning and mutual benefit, he continued.

"We need to seek win-win results through greater openness and cooperation, avoid fragmentation, refrain from setting inhibitive thresholds for cooperation or pursing exclusive arrangements, and reject protectionism," he said.

Thus far, Xi's Belt and Road vision has been backed with concrete action.

To date, 68 countries and international organizations have signed agreements with China on Belt and Road cooperation. Total trade between China and other Belt and Road countries exceeded 3 trillion U.S. dollars between 2014 and 2016, and Chinese investment in these countries surpassed 50 billion dollars.

A multi-dimensional infrastructure network is taking shape, one that is underpinned by economic corridors featuring land-sea-air transportation routes and information expressways and supported by major rail, port and pipeline projects.

"President Xi played a major role in bringing about all these positive changes by offering Chinese wisdom and solutions to the world and by dovetailing other countries' development strategies with the Belt and Road," said Wang Yiwei, professor at the School of International Studies at Renmin University of China.

"The Belt and Road Initiative fits well with Xi's vision of a community of shared future for mankind. It is an important part of his governance theories, just like the concept of innovative, coordinated, green, open and shared development, and supply-side structural reform," he said.

"Xi has shown he has what it takes to lead, not just in China, but also on the global stage, through the initiative," he said.
India's One Belt One Road boycott sent a message: India can now talk business to China at BRICS meet (Бойкот Одного Пояса Одного Пути Индией направил послание: Индия теперь может говорить о делах с Китаем на встрече БРИКС) / India, May, 2017
Keywords: India_China, India_Pakistan, OBOR_forum, SAARC

So the curtain has come down on Beijing's One Belt One Road (OBOR) summit, touted as the decade's most epoch-making diplomatic show. After initial foot-dragging, even the US and Japan participated in it, making India the most conspicuous absentee. There have been arguments within India that, by boycotting the Beijing meet, India was denying itself unending benefits of something as big as OBOR. Left-leaning intellectuals as well as some well-meaning economists lamented that India was committing a monumental blunder by isolating itself from what Chinese media markets as "Globalisation Version-2".

But they are forgetting two things:

1. Just four months from now, China will host the next BRICS summit (a five-nation grouping comprising Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa), where India can talk bilateral or multilateral deals involving Beijing-at its terms. Forget belt-and-road. India can begin the dialogue with China and others in the group where it ended at the 15-16 October 2016 BRICS summit in Goa.

2. On 1 June, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is meeting Russian president Vladimir Putin, an important-even if wary-member of the belt-and-road brigade. They will discuss a wide range of projects including gas pipelines and railways. India is already playing a key role in several regional infrastructure projects as part of BIMSTEC (Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation that has in it Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Bhutan and Nepal) and Bbin (Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal).

By staying away from OBOR, India hasn't shut its doors to either China or other countries of the region. OBOR is neither the beginning nor the end of India's business with China. All that India said was that it objected to OBOR because it infringed on the nation's sovereignty.

There are other forums where India can do business with China in ways that do not kick up sovereignty issues, and on terms that are not as unilateral as in the case of OBOR deals with many countries. Without OBOR, or without even BRICS, India can still take advantage of Chinese investments and expertise in a mutually beneficial way on a bilateral basis.

Pakistan is China's vassal, India isn't

After keeping away from OBOR, India must now tell China that it's ready to talk business.

It's well-known by now that China is bulldozing countries like Pakistan and poor nations like Laos and many others in Central Asia into agreeing to OBOR projects with high-interest loans that could push them into debt-traps.

Obsessed with demeaning, denigrating and disintegrating India, Pakistan has turned itself into a vassal state of China and is ready to beg for and accept any military or economic help from it on any terms dictated to it. Its acceptance of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), an OBOR offshoot, isn't a surprise. It's a repetition of what Pakistan had done with US assistance during the early days of Afghanistan crisis.

On its part, China is caught between a strategic interest in Pakistan and an economic stake in India. China needs Indian market as much as India needs Chinese investments and imports. But unlike Pakistan, India is no satellite or colony of China and needs to seek and push for honourable deals with the tricky, big neighbour.

Indian boycott of OBOR was no knee-jerk reaction. It was evident from the fact that India announced that it was staying away from it only in the last minute, though China's President Xi Jinping was desperate to have Modi on board to give OBOR more legitimacy and acceptance.

To please India, China displayed uncharacteristic patience to explain why OBOR did not amount to violation of its sovereignty. China even went to the extent of forcing Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to drop Giljit-Baltistan chief minister from his entourage to Beijing. India's main objection to attending the Beijing meet was that the Cpec projects run through Pakistani territories including Gilgit-Baltistan which India claims to be its own.

But the Modi government had no choice other than to boycott the Beijing summit. Modi had to deliver a message to China. He did.

This came after two other messages Modi delivered to Pakistan:

1. Following the September 2016 Uri attacks, India boycotted the 19th summit of SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) to be held in Islamabad in November. Bangladesh, Bhutan, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka and Maldives joined the boycott, leading to the summit's indefinite "postponement".

2. Earlier this month, India launched what had been planned as a SAARC satellite but what, without Pakistan, was renamed as South Asia Satellite.

With the Saarc summit and the SAARC satellite and then the Obor boycott, Modi did the best he could. The historic blunders of the foreign policies of his Congress predecessors committed over decades isn't easy for Modi to correct in a matter of three years.

A Silk Route isn't always smooth

Critics of Modi's decision on OBOR not only overlooked India's political compulsions but also the tension, un-profitability and failures underlying OBOR programmes worldwide.

In Laos, for instance, the government is wary of Chinese domination as the construction of a 420-km rail line gets underway, and local farmers there are agitated over losing land. Two months ago, China indefinitely put on hold work on the 1,000-km gas pipeline from Turkmenistan to China (via Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan) because of Beijing's reduced fuel demand. A huge controversy raged in Indonesia over land acquisition before work could finally begin last month on a rail line to connect Jakarta with Bandung.

And the construction of a $2.9-billion, 350-km Belgrade-Budapest rail line, a flagship belt-road project of Europe, is being investigated for possible violations of European Union rules on public tenders. Sri Lanka recently scaled down its deal with China over the Hambantota port following widespread protests by locals. It's easy to see that China is biting more than it can chew.

As Wade Shepherd, the author of Ghost Cities of China, notes: "The Hambantota fiasco is sending a clear message to Beijing: showing up with bags of money alone is not enough to win a new Silk Road."

The Economist quotes investment research firm Gavekal as saying: "The Chinese think they will lose 80 per cent of their money in Pakistan, 50 per cent in Myanmar and 30 per cent in Central Asia. Perhaps they can afford this, but it would be a costly mess."

It's clear that, even without the sovereignty violations, there was no compelling reason for India to jump onto the belt-road bandwagon, especially if there were other ways of doing business with China.

BRICS summit in China in September

China has already chosen a theme for the September 2017 BRICS summit to be held at Xiamen in its eastern province of Fujian: "Stronger partnership for a brighter future."

The communiqué at the end of last year's eighth summit in Goa, to which Xi was a signatory, talked of how "mega-regional trading agreements" significantly altered the nature and scope of cross-border trade. In his own individual statement, Xi called for "confidence-building measures" to ensure better prospects for BRICS members.

At the China summit, Xi must first begin building confidence among BRICS members if he really means business.

Official Spokesperson's response to a query on participation of India in OBOR/BRI Forum (Ответ официального представителя на вопрос об участии Индии в форуме ОПОП/BRI) / India, May, 2017
Keywords: OBOR_Forum, India_China_Pakistan, official_statement

Responding to a query on participation of India in OBOR/BRI Forum, the official spokesperson said:

We had received formal invitation to participate in the 6 separate forums that China is organizing as part of the Belt and Road Forum being held in Beijing on May 14-16, 2017.

We are of firm belief that connectivity initiatives must be based on universally recognized international norms, good governance, rule of law, openness, transparency and equality. Connectivity initiatives must follow principles of financial responsibility to avoid projects that would create unsustainable debt burden for communities; balanced ecological and environmental protection and preservation standards; transparent assessment of project costs; and skill and technology transfer to help long term running and maintenance of the assets created by local communities. Connectivity projects must be pursued in a manner that respects sovereignty and territorial integrity.

India shares international community's desire for enhancing physical connectivity and believes that it should bring greater economic benefits to all in an equitable and balanced manner. We are working with many countries and international institutions in support of physical and digital connectivity in our own immediate and near neighbourhood.

Expansion and strengthening of connectivity is an integral part of India's economic and diplomatic initiatives. Under the 'Act East' policy, we are pursuing the Trilateral Highway project; under our 'Neighbourhood First' policy we are developing multimodal linkages with Myanmar and Bangladesh; under our 'Go West' strategy, we are engaged with Iran on Chabahar Port and with Iran and other partners in Central Asia on International North South Transport Corridor. BBIN initiative is aimed at enhancing logistics efficiencies in South Asian region. We are also actively considering acceding to TIR Convention.

Guided by our principled position in the matter, we have been urging China to engage in a meaningful dialogue on its connectivity initiative, 'One Belt, One Road' which was later renamed as 'Belt and Road Initiative'. We are awaiting a positive response from the Chinese side.

Regarding the so-called 'China-Pakistan Economic Corridor', which is being projected as the flagship project of the BRI/OBOR, the international community is well aware of India's position. No country can accept a project that ignores its core concerns on sovereignty and territorial integrity.
Official Spokesperson's response to a query regarding media report falsely linking India's ongoing discussions with Russia on Kudankulam to India's NSG membership (Ответ официального представителя на вопрос о сообщениях СМИ, ложно связывающий текущие обсуждения Индии с Россией по Куданкуламу с членством Индии в ГЯП) / India, May, 2017
Keywords: India_Russia, NSG

In response to a query regarding media report falsely linking India's ongoing discussions with Russia on Kudankulam to India's NSG membership, the Official Spokesperson said:

"The report is completely baseless, incorrect and mischievous. Discussions have been held on Kudankulam document. The process is at the stage of internal approval."
How can India wean away other states in face of Chinese hegemony designs? (Как Индия может отучить другие государства несмотря на китайские гегемонии?) / India, May, 2017
Keywords: OBOR_forum, BRI, CPEC, India_boycott

Sooner or later, other countries are going to see through China's plan, and India should cooperate with likeminded countries to help build infrastructure of littoral states

On Sunday and Monday, China has convened a meeting of the One Belt, One Road (OBOR) or Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), as they call it now. The project, initiated by China's President Xi Jinping in 2013, seeks to connect Asia, Europe, Middle East and Africa, through a land route as well as a maritime silk road. China has stated that BRI is open to everyone and that 65 countries are involved in this exercise though their levels of participation are unclear. In one of the last minute u-turns, the US has decided to participate in the meeting this week, partly because President Trump is trying to keep China happy in order to put pressure on North Korea, among other reasons. India has decided not to participate because part of the BRI, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) connecting China's western province Xinjiang to Gwadar Port in Baluchistan in Pakistan, runs through Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK).

The BRI is clearly President Xi's pet project and he is intent on making it a reality. The BRI is not a single project but one with several different connecting corridors such as the CPEC. China is leaving no stone unturned in its efforts at luring in as many countries as possible.

China has touted OBOR as an economic and connectivity initiative but it is much more than that. This is a mega strategic project aimed at intensifying China's reach and influence across continents. It is also aimed at beefing up its own economic security and productivity by exporting its saturated infrastructure-building capacity, extending Chinese loans to countries (and get them into a debt trap as is the case with Sri Lanka already), on a repayment basis, and sending out Chinese labour to implement BRI in various countries. China is certainly not being magnanimous in building these projects in various countries – it is loaning finance and there have been issues about the high repayment costs. Despite this, much of the Indian neighbourhood appears to support China in developing the BRI. In addition, Russia is a firm supporter – Russia and China earlier linked the Russian Far East Development Programme for Siberia with the Chinese initiative. Russia also aligned its Eurasian Economic Union with BRI. The Russian eagerness is possibly driven by the broad sense of isolation it feels from the west.

India is generally open to and has encouraged regional connectivity but New Delhi has remained skeptical of the Chinese initiative for a couple of reasons. For one, this project has been developed with no prior consultation with other key players though whose territory some of the major corridors pass through such as the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

For another, the BRI has a strategic dimension that India cannot ignore. The BRI's maritime component called the Maritime Silk Road (MSR) is a new name for the old String of Pearls that China had established in India's own neighbourhood. China has been expanding its reach into the Indian Ocean, the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea, especially through ports and other infrastructure facilities and the MSR will give a big fillip to these efforts. As a rising big power, China can be expected to expand as rising powers have traditionally done throughout history but the unilateral manner in which China has engaged in these projects along with its aggressive behaviour do raise concerns. The possibility of many of the civilian maritime infrastructure being used for military purposes during a conflict cannot be ruled out. The problem has been that there is a huge gap between China's rhetoric and reality on the ground. Developments in the South China Sea offers sufficient proof for this. China has set up intelligence and listening posts on the islands in the South China Sea in addition to militarising the islands despite its rhetoric of peaceful development. China operates military helicopters out of these islands and they have also deployed Surface to Air missiles (SAMs) on these islands. Thus, China's rhetoric that BRI is only an economic and connectivity project is a little difficult to believe.

On the other hand, India cannot simply stop with just rejecting the BRI. It also has to have a more positive response. Though India cannot build a counterpart to the BRI, it can cooperate with other like-minded countries such as Japan to provide greater help to Asian and Indian Ocean littoral states to build their infrastructure. Considering China's mercenary approach, others are likely to see the BRI as the imperialistic plan it is, sooner rather than later. India needs some options that are more truly cooperative that can wean some of these countries away from China.
China's one belt one road project is paving its way into Europe (Проект Китая ОПОП прокладывает себе дорогу в Европу) / India, May, 2017
Keywords: OBOR_forum, CPEC, AIIB, NDB, India_China_Pakistan, expert_opinion

China wants to move its manufacturing up the value chain to become a producer and exporter of high-value goods, for which Europe can be the best market.

On May 14 and May 15, Beijing will host one of those mega events that the Chinese revel in. But the two-day meeting of the Belt & Road Forum – yielding an unfortunate acronym, BARF – will, not be the event of 2017. That will be the 19th Communist Party of China Congress slated for November which will sacralise the Xi Jinping era. And before that, there is the BRICS summit in Xiamen and the 90th anniversary parade of the People's Liberation Army's founding.

Significantly, this massive scheme, known as the Belt Road Initiative (BRI) or the One Belt One Road (OBOR), the signature foreign policy initiative of Xi Jinping, combines the Silk Road Economic Belt going overland to Europe across Asia, and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Route through the Indian Ocean to Europe, via the Suez or the Cape of Good Hope.

The problem with trying to understand what it is all about is that it is a combination of many things: an economic plan for taking the Chinese economy on to the path of sustainable growth, a scheme for market development and dominance, an effort to export of excess capacity in key infrastructure industries, all adding up to a geopolitical assertion of China's major power status.

India will be missing the party in Beijing which will be attended by 28 heads of government or state, including Russian President Vladimir Putin and many of our neighbours, like Pakistan, Myanmar, Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.

The BRI takes on a range of already existing and ongoing Chinese governmental and state owned enterprise (SOE) projects and seeks to provide them with an overall coherence and direction. The first phase of the project is connectivity, not surprisingly, from and to China, through new highways, railways, ports and pipelines. This is the "hardwiring" that has in some instances already taken place, or is taking place.

But most important, it is a destination called Europe. Even though all maps and schemas of BRI clearly indicate this, most people get distracted by its side-shows like the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), or its schemes to avoid Indian Ocean choke-points.

Why Europe? Because OBOR is crucially linked to what China wants to do with its economy – move its manufacturing up the value chain to enable the country to become a producer and exporter of high-value goods. For this, it needs a rich market, and what could be better than Europe, the richest region in the world ? China sees Europe as a source of technology, lifestyle goods like fashion garments, wine, cheese, olive oil for its rising middle class and a market for its high-end products.

Central Asia, South Asia, or the ports of Indian Ocean, are merely way-stations through which the China-Europe Express will run.

The BRI is a major playground for China's SOEs, 47 of whom are carrying out some 1,700 projects in the 65-odd countries associated with the scheme. While fantastic sums, in excess of $ 1 trillion are spoken of, for the BRI, investment currently is a bit more modest. As of now, despite the smoke and sound, the BRI is not the main destination of Chinese overseas investment. As a David Dollar, a former head of the World Bank in China and now a Brookings Institution scholar notes, China is probably the biggest financier to the world with its outward direct investment totalling $170 billion and its policy banks – China Development Bank and the Export-Import Bank – another $ 100 billion. But he says, only a small proportion of this is going to the OBOR projects currently. Even the policy banks which have lent some $675 billion, have only allocated $101.8 billion of 15% for OBOR linked lending by the end of 2016. Dollar's estimates tend to ignore Europe as a factor in the project and there is, it would appear, a small cottage industry in the western press to diss the BRI.

However, the scheme is still young, having gotten underway in just 2015. Even the institutions the Chinese have created to push it are just about a year or two old. The Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), the New Development Bank (NDB) and the Silk Road Fund currently have a paid up capital of $240 billion. Their lending has so far been far short of their potential. But the wily Chinese have let it be known that they are open to funding from all sources, including the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the World Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) to co-fund their projects.

Perhaps the most frenetic activity is in building and developing railroads – 750 km long, linking Addis Ababa with Djibouti, 480 kms of the Mombasa-Nairobi railway in Kenya, 414 kms linking Kunming with Vientane in Laos, with extensions to Bangkok and Singapore.

With the three gas and one oil pipeline from Central Asia to Xinjiang, a significant proportion of Central Asian oil and gas is going to China. Now, work has begun on a fourth line from Central Asia, as well as the pipelines bringing oil from Russia to northern China.

Central Asia is also a key junction for the grand Chinese vision of high-speed railway networks linking Chinese cities to Europe. These or not just plans but reality today. Freight trains have been carrying cargoes from Chinese cities since the first train traveled in 2008 from Xiangtuan in Huynan province to Hamburg. Subsequently HP demonstrated the economic value of its Chongqing-Duisberg trains running four times a week. Now a dozen Chinese cities are linked to 15 European cities. 2016 saw Chinese trains arrive in Teheran and Mazar-e-Sharif through newly developed links.

These trains travel to Kazakhstan and then taking a northern route via the Trans Siberian to the Polish border. A new container terminal at Khorgos has opened an alternate route which will be developed to link to the Russian line, or to avoid Russia altogether and go through the Caucasus or Iran to Turkey and Europe.

The maritime component is being developed through a string of ports in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR), these include Kyakapu in Myanmar, Bagamayo in Tanzania, Lamu in Kenya, Hambantota in Sri Lanka and Gwadar in Pakistan.

Countries like Japan, India and the US have not been particularly enthusiastic about the BRI, saying that this is a Chinese funded scheme, to be executed by the Chinese, to serve Chinese national goals. There has been little consultation with others whose participation the Chinese are seeking.

After facing some resistance China has begun to adopt a more accommodative approach. It now says that the scheme has no geographical limits, that it is about inclusion and global integration and far from challenging the US, China would like to play a role in rebuilding its dilapidated infrastructure.

Even so, the Chinese do realise that trust is still wanting. One reason for this is the rapidity with which the flag has followed the trade. In the Indian Ocean region, from 2014 onward Chinese submarines have shown up. And as of 2015, the first Chinese military base has been created in Djibouti.

Indian concerns have been projected as arising from the fact that the CPEC runs through Pakistan Occupied Kashmir. But this is just a pretext. The POK route has been active since the 1970s and New Delhi did not make much of it. What India is concerned about is Chinese naval activities in the northern Arabian Sea, in Karachi and Gwadar and the fact that CPEC involves a closer integration of Pakistani economy with that of China.

Indeed, what India is worried about is that through its generous lending, China is creating dependencies in our South Asian backyard, which means these countries will have little alternative but to back Beijing's political goals.

The choices before New Delhi are not too many. We do not have the kind of monetary resources China has, nor the kind of exprienced SOE's who excel in executing infrastructure projects. Further, unlike China, India has a huge infrastructure development agenda within the country. Some of these schemes such as the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor or the Bengaluru-Chennai corridor are underway. We have a number of important new port projects such as the one in Vizhinjam, Kerala and the Enayam, Tamil Nadu.

Even so, it may be a good idea for New Delhi to see this as an opportunity to attract companies, including those of China, to fund and develop our infrastructure along with those like Japan and South Korea. India can leverage funds from Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, New Development Bank, the Asian Development Bank and the World Bank to undertake infrastructure development within the country and its neighbourhood.

New Delhi has been lackadaiscal in executing projects like the Chah Bahar Port project, or the Kaladan Multimodal Project. We need to come up with our own version of the Silk Road Economic Belt by taking up the International North South Transportation Corridor, a multimodal scheme to take goods from western Indian ports to Europe, via Iran.

More than that, we need a clearer strategic vision for India going on to the 2030s and 2050s. All we get from the Narendra Modi government are a succession of slogans. In that sense, China has total clarity. It intends to become a significant Indian Ocean power by the 2030s and by the 2050s it seeks to be a world power, if not the world power.

The OBOR will provide the sinews and muscle to fulfill that Chinese dream.
Missing the OBOR a big mistake (Пропустить ОПОП - большая ошибка) / India, May, 2017
Keywords: OBOR_forum, India_boycott

Chinese and not Indian firms will become more prominent in the neighbourhood, cashing in on their willingness and urgency to join OBOR.

India's rebuttal to the invite for attending the two-day conclave on China's Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing was probably a big mistake. Because this project will be a very big one encompassing 65 percent of the world's population and passing through 60 or more countries. With twenty nine heads of states attending it and with 100 countries participating, the project is an unstoppable venture and will throw up along the way many opportunities for business especially in construction, power, iron, steel and cement, in which many Indian companies could have participated profitably.

It is true that India has genuine reasons for boycotting the conclave as it regards the project as a violation of India's sovereignty over Kashmir and the building of CPEC (China Pakistan Economic Corridor) through the disputed Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK) territory. But had it attended, the Indian delegation could have had better chances of initiating a 'meaningful dialogue' from inside.

OBOR is the grand economic plan of China, currently experiencing an economic slowdown and overcapacity in around 21 sectors. This project would allow China to build infrastructure in Central Asia, South Asia and Africa which will allow China's steel industry to revive. According to the European Union Chamber of Commerce, China will be able to supply around 30 million tons of steel a year to the ongoing projects. Many American companies are also lining up to get the contracts.

In 2014, Chinese engineering and construction companies ordered $400 million worth of equipment from GE for OBOR installations overseas. In 2016, according to the New York Times, the total order for GE was $2.3 billion and it plans to bid for an additional $7 billion in orders for natural gas turbines and other power equipment in the next 18 months. The General Electric and Caterpillar, the earth moving construction giant, is also involved.

There will be many more contracts as China promises to spend around $1 trillion in building bridges, ports, roads and railways. There would be a global construction movement with the huge investment promised by China. Its enormity will unfold over the next few years and the landscape through which OBOR will, in all probability, change significantly and Chinese companies, like Xuzhou Construction Machinery Group, will be the biggest beneficiary.

Needless to say, the increase in trade resulting from better connectivity will make the people around OBOR prosperous and it will lead to development which will promote trade and investment. That is what China wants. It will increase consumer spending across many countries. In the past, its power was derived from trade and investment and OBOR means an increase in business prospects. Perhaps, there could be a decline in terrorism as well. The Chinese do believe in peace because it promotes business which will allow them to attain economic supremacy of the world.

The increase in trade resulting from better connectivity will make the people around OBOR prosperous and it will lead to development which will promote trade and investment.

In the South Asian region, China is already a very important investor. And, all except Bhutan went to the meeting. They will probably incur debt to Chinese companies during the building of infrastructure like the government of Sri Lanka during the building of Hambantota port, but that is their bilateral issue and not ours. The main thing to note is that the Chinese and not Indian firms will become more prominent in the neighbourhood, cashing in on their willingness and urgency to join OBOR. India's isolation will be complete if the Chinese manage to win the goodwill of the people also with the rapid development of infrastructure that will create jobs. India will remain on the periphery and unpopular.

The Chinese could have helped build India's infrastructure also because we need it badly and it is not happening fast enough. India and China were very closely aligned in the past BRICS meetings and were instrumental in setting up the AIIB and New Development Bank which will facilitate infrastructure financing for the developing world. The sudden U-turn in the Indo-Chinese relations is thus quite surprising.

India's efforts and vision of building infrastructure and increasing trade in Africa also stands altered as China's presence is there in a big way. A lot has been written about China's new colonialism in Africa and how it is digging for uranium in remote places by bringing in their own manpower and establishing Chinese townships in those areas. Their investment in Africa remains unmatched and their footprint there is larger than that of any other country.

India's efforts and vision of building infrastructure and increasing trade in Africa also stands altered as China's presence is there in a big way.

Looking at it from the business point of view purely, it would have been better if the advisors in the government favoured India to join the OBOR meeting because though the issue on which India has refused is important for us, others see it only as an offshoot of a long standing spat between India and Pakistan.

China is very keen for India to join because nowhere in the world is there such a huge market for Chinese goods and investment. Thus if and when world trade picks up through better infrastructure, more goods from China would come to India via Nepal. That is one reason why it is so keen to build the China-Nepal cross border rail link that may cost up to $8 billion and was inked at the recent conclave. Open borders with Nepal will facilitate the trade of Chinese goods to India.

As has been reiterated by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping, the two highly populous ancient civilisations have much in common and need to remain connected as they are the two main rising economic powers in the world today. Russia has joined in the project and would have been happy to see India at the table because the three of them together are important for challenging the hegemony of the western world.

China would need Indian engineers, labour, software personnel as their own labour shortages have already surfaced and wages are rising. There has to be a good understanding between the two giants because China has advanced technology, money and India has skilled and technical manpower. Many jobs could have been found for our own technical personnel in the project and many Indian construction companies would have got more business. In a mega project like OBOR, there are gains everywhere as it may have a global transformational aspect like no other project before.
    Decision to boycott Belt and Road Initiative Forum is one of the biggest Indian foreign policy risks (Решение о бойкотировании Форума инициативы ОПОП - один из крупнейших рисков внешней политики Индии) / India, May, 2017
    Keywords: OBOR_forum, India_boycott, expert_opinion
    Author: ASHOK MALIK

    The Narendra Modi government's decision to boycott the Belt and Road Initiative Forum in China constitutes one of the three biggest Indian foreign policy risks in recent memory.

    Diplomacy is usually a careful, calibrated exercise. Risks and sudden moves are few and far between. Given this, the Narendra Modi government's decision to boycott the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) Forum in China constitutes one of the three biggest Indian foreign policy risks in recent memory.

    The previous two were the decision to back the liberation of Bangladesh, even if it meant conflict with Pakistan, and the nuclear tests of 1998. In the end, both those risks worked out well. The moral principle of India's stand in 1971 won it international validation and military success, and signalled Indira Gandhi's finest hour.

    On the other hand, Pokhran 2 and the formal declaration of India's nuclear weapon forced the world to confront the reality of India as a responsible nuclear power. After a period of ostracism, it forced an engagement with India and led to a phase of modern diplomacy.

    The boycott of the BRI Forum, the formal statement punching holes into the viability and logic of the farrago of projects known as One Belt, One Road (OBOR), and the refusal to line up for Emperor Xi Jinping's Beijing Durbar constitutes the strongest Indian challenge to China in a long, long time.

    Frankly, India had no alternative to refusing to travel for the forum, and to treating BRI/OBOR as a strategic threat to its own legitimate aspirations.

    How did the Modi-Xi relationship come to this pass? Modi came to office in 2014 with a China that saw itself at the zenith of its economic and composite power. In 2000, about when the previous BJP government was inaugurated, China's GDP was double India's GDP. By 2014, it was close to five times India's. Between 2008 — when the financial crisis left the West crippled — and 2014, India's GDP grew 50 per cent; China's grew 250 per cent. This was the legacy Modi was handed down.

    How did he respond? First, he sought to enhance market access for Chinese companies and investors, which had been denied by suspicions on national security grounds. This did work to some degree and Chinese investment has grown.

    Yet, the bet that this would create political leverage for India within the Chinese system has failed. Neither have the Chinese shown fair-mindedness in removing non-tariff barriers for those commodities and services India can export: pharmaceutical drugs, certain types of meat and dairy products, and IT services.

    Despite promises, the Chinese wall has remained impenetrable — even as the Chinese import Indian items through third countries, or offer concessions for similar imports from other nations. The recent beef import concessions to the US are a case in point.

    Second, India has had some success in weaning away neighbouring countries from Chinese influence. While Beijing's proxies and constituencies remain in place across South Asia, India is better positioned in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and even Nepal and Myanmar than it was three years ago.

    In the context of the Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar (BCIM) corridor —an OBOR component that China sees as a route to take its goods to markets in India — New Delhi's wariness has been matched by Naypyidaw's. Myanmar is worried Chinese truckers and cargo movers will just exploit its geography, but without fostering local jobs or value addition.

    That concern — the absence of value addition and local job creation — is not limited to the BCIM. It is written into OBOR's DNA. In Sri Lanka, the country has been saddled with white elephants and debt. Published in Pakistan's Dawn newspaper (CPEC Master Plan Revealed), the 'CPEC master plan' suggested the creation of Chinese-only enclaves and economic and leisure zones within Pakistani territory as an end-goal of OBOR.

    China would want to secure access from its western frontier (Xinjiang) to Gwadar port and the Arabian Sea. Once that corridor is sequestered — if such sequestration is possible — its social and political dynamic with the rest of Pakistan remains an imponderable.

    With similar plans across South Asia and in Indian Ocean countries, OBOR runs the risk of destabilising sensitive and still-developing polities by buying up political and (in Pakistan) military elites. As an important regional stakeholder, India cannot but flag the issues.

    India also has to step up implementation of the 100-odd connectivity and infrastructure projects it has announced, or begun work on, in South Asia and the Indian Ocean. Chinese projects are gold-plated, in that they have two to three times the budget of a similar project in an open bid. In the case of certain road projects Sri Lanka, Indian bids were about a third the value of Chinese bids, and used local labour.

    As such, Indian projects are appreciated. But the perception remains that Chinese implementation is faster. Modi has to change that perception if India is to take on OBOR.
      India's snub to China on OBOR: Unwise to ignore economic interests (Оскорбление Индии Китаю на ОПОП: Неразумно игнорировать экономические интересы) / India, May, 2017
      Keywords: OBOR_forum, India_boycott, India_China_Pakistan, expert_opinion
      Author: MANOJ JOSHI

      Out to isolate Pakistan on the issue of terrorism, India finds itself isolated in the bigger game reshaping the geopolitical map of the world. China's 'One Belt One Road' scheme will have momentous consequences, yet New Delhi has refused to even engage China on the issue by staying out of the Belt and Road Forum that took place in Beijing on Sunday and Monday.

      The Chinese work on long-range plans; many of their achievements of today are a result of the effort that has gone into them in the past thirty years. Take Shenzen, the greenfield city that today powers China's economy. It began as a rural backwater opposite Hong Kong on the mainland 40 years ago. Or, the six Chinese high tech zones – which started with a dozen or so establishments in the 1990s and today typically feature 30-40,000 businesses, including the leading companies of the world.

      Why is China seeking an economic embrace?

      What does this have to do with OBOR? Everything. Having achieved the status of the world's largest manufacturer and exporter, China is now in the process of transforming itself once again. The benchmarks are 2021, the centenary of the founding of the ruling Communist Party of China, and 2049, which will mark hundred years of the People's Republic of China. The first involves the doubling of the GDP as of 2010, and making China a "moderately prosperous society", and the second is to take China to the level of a "moderately developed country", which means a per capita GDP of $55,000.

      To achieve this, China needs to maintain an annual per capita growth rate of at least 6.3 percent till 2021 and 5.8 percent through 2049. Both these are daunting targets and China is facing severe challenges in meeting them, in part because of the headwinds of the global economy, and, in part, the excesses of the past, which include over-investment, overcapacity in certain industries, and indebted state-owned enterprises (SOEs).

      China can no longer depend on an investment and export driven model. Instead, it must enhance domestic consumption and enhance productivity through innovation-driven growth. This is where OBOR comes in.

      Using its vast monetary reserves to invest in developing infrastructure and economies around its periphery, China is simultaneously seeking to get rid of its excess capacity in areas like steel and cement while drawing large swathes of its neighbourhood into a closer economic embrace.

      Raising the stakes

      The actual Chinese target is Europe with its affluent economy, high levels of technology and lifestyle products that the Chinese middle class crave for. China is reaching out to the affluent West through high-speed rail links and enhanced maritime connectivity.

      Simultaneously, China is upgrading its own industrial capacities through R&D and acquisitions. In the past year, China has acquired the Swiss agribusiness giant Syngenta and the world's foremost automotive robotics company, KUKA. It has spent over $150 billion in acquiring companies in the area of integrated circuits or chips, though in the past year, the regulators have prevented companies like Micron, Western Digital, AIXTRON and Toshiba from selling their chip businesses to China.

      Western assessments are that in areas like artificial intelligence, biotech and electric cars, Chinese technology, backed by an enormous amount of government funding, is already amongst the best in the world.

      Distracted by Pakistan

      We in India are distracted by the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor or the activities of China in Sri Lanka, and are taking our eye off the ball in the main game. The Indian Ocean activity is a side-show, albeit understandably important for India because it's in our neighbourhood and its military elements are all too clearly visible.

      OBOR is a Chinese national project, aimed at fulfilling Chinese goals.

      The government of India cannot but formally protest the CPEC going through Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir. But the tone and tenor suggests that, perhaps, we are protesting too much.

      And that the remonstrations are a pretext to adopt a needlessly confrontationist stand against China. At least thrice in the past 70 years, India has been willing to formalise a border along the Line of Control in Jammu & Kashmir, so to make out that Chinese projects in Gilgit-Baltistan are the cause of Indian ire is to truly miss the wood for the trees.

      A missed opportunity

      A more sophisticated policy would use OBOR for Indian purposes where it can. India cannot stop OBOR, neither can it ignore and nor will it be immune to its effects. While it's true that pipelines and railroads hardwire a destination, ports do not, and can be used by anyone. If China promotes an economic zone in Sri Lanka or East Africa, Indian businesses are free to utilise them for their own ends.

      India is a member of the Chinese-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and the New Development Bank. What is to stop it from seeking funding there to hardwire its own connectivity schemes to South-East Asia and across Iran to Europe?

      Focus on implementation of projects

      New Delhi has two problems — first, India's own hopeless internal infrastructure, setting which right should be its priority. Second, it lacks the structure of capable state-owned enterprises which can execute projects in quick time. The 19.2-km Kamchiq tunnel in Uzbekistan built by the China Railway Tunnel Group was completed in 2016 in exactly three years, the 756-km Addis Ababa-Djibouti railway in five years by the China Railway Group. These are just random examples of the accomplishments of Chinese companies.

      As far as India is concerned, the Chabahar scheme, the Kaladan Multimodal project and the International North South Transportation Corridor have been in the works since the 2000s and none of them are complete and the last-named has not even begun.

      The same is the case with the India-Myanmar-Thailand highway project begun in 2001.

      Beyond the issue of connectivity, India needs to up its economic game by doing more, rather than less planning. As we see, China's achievements are a result of sophisticated planning by outfits like the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC). A slogan a day like IT+IT=IT, or Smart cities, Start-up India, Make in India and so on, are not going to work. We need a sustained strategy of promoting economic growth and qualitatively better governance, and a dose of modesty.
      Modi x Putin to meet to discuss global political agreement (Моди и Путин встретятся для обсуждения глобального политического соглашения) / India, May, 2017
      Keywords: NSG, Russia_India, global_political_agreement, OBOR_Summit

      The meeting between India and Russia scheduled for next month is expected to strengthen political relations between the two nations to ensure that India gets to be a member of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).

      The NSG is a group of countries with an aim to curb the increase of nuclear across the world by controlling equipment that is used to manufacture nuclear weapons.

      The FreePress Journal reports that the meeting between Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin comes amid a perceived political grandstanding to ensure that there is a global
      political agreement between the two.

      "While Russia is keen that India should pull out of cold storage the memorandum of understanding (MoU) with that country for developing Kudankulam 5 and 6 reactors in Tamil Nadu, India wants Russia to work harder on China to ensure that India gets the membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) which the latter has been blocking," the journal reported.

      Putin's deputy Dmitry Rogozin met with Modi recently but reports suggest that the meeting did not produce an assurance on the MoU.

      The FreePress Journal argues that Russia has been working closely with China on global issues.

      "India boycotted the One Belt One Road summit hosted by China on sovereignty issues, Russia was an enthusiastic participant. India now feels that it is time to put Russia's friendship with India to test. Both Russia
      and India realise that without the MoU, there would be no real takeaway from the Putin-Modi summit," the journal says.

      The MoU between the two was meant to be signed last year at the 8th BRICS summit in Goa, India but it has been delayed until now.
      [Abstract] Briefing by Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova, Moscow, May 18, 2017 ([Отрывок] Брифинг официального представителя МИД России М.В.Захаровой, Москва, 18 мая 2017 года) / Russia, May, 2017
      Keywords: Russia_China, Official_visit, Ministry_of_Foreign_Affairs

      Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov's talks with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi

      On May 25 and 26, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi will be in Russia on an official visit at Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov's invitation.

      In the course of the upcoming talks, the foreign policy chiefs will address current issues on the bilateral and international agenda with a focus on key issues of Russian-Chinese cooperation in international affairs, including within the framework of multilateral formats such as the UN, BRICS, the SCO and RIC. The two officials are expected to exchange views on pressing regional problems, including the situation around the Korean Peninsula and efforts to resolve the Syria crisis.
      Investment and finance in BRICS
      Trade betwen BRICS Nations Holds Great Potential (Торговля между странами БРИКС имеет большой потенциал) / Russia, May, 2017
      Keywords: 2017_BRICS_Think_Tank_Symposium, IMF, international_trade

      Analytical Center expert Alexander Golyashev presented a report titled New Era of Global Trade and BRICS Co-operation at the 2017 BRICS Think Tank Symposium on BRICS Co-operation and International Production Chains.

      In the medium term, the IMF is predicting a gradual increase in the global GDP growth to 3.76 % in 2021 thanks to increased GDP growth in developing nations (especially in India, the ASEAN nations, the Middle East, and Latin America), which are expected to average 5 % annual GDP growth from 2020 onwards, Mr. Golyashev said.

      At the same time a number of key economies are projected to slow down: in China GDP growth is projected to slow down from 6.70 % in 2016 to 5.80 % in 2021, in the EU i i's to go down from 1.95 % to 1.70 %, and in the US GDP growth is expected to essentially stay the same as in 2016, inching upwards from 1.62 % to 1.67 %.

      In recent years, the way international trade is developing has changed: the IMF estimates that in 2012-2016 it was growing slower than the global GDP. The slowing down of international trade is to a large extent a result of an increase in regionalization and protectionism. After an increase in various trade restrictions around the world through 2012, we are now seeing them being relaxed, with indirect measures having almost completely replaced direct restrictions.

      According to the expert, the share of the BRICS nations in global exports was 18 % in 2016 and in global imports it was 15 %. The undisputed trade leader in the BRICS is China, which accounts for a lion's share of imports of the other BRICS countries. On the other hand, in relative terns, China's involvement in the trade within the BRICS is the smallest, with it accounting for just 6 % of BRICS exports and 7 % of BRICS imports.

      There is clearly a huge potential for further development of trade within the BRICS, Mr. Golyashev concluded.
      China earmarks $124 bn for Belt and Road economic plan (Китай выделяет $ 124 млрд на экономический план ОПОП) / China, May, 2017
      Keywords: OBOR_Forum, investments, Silk_Road_Fund

      In a steady push for its Belt and Road initiative, Chinese President Xi Jinping pledged $124 billion for the ambitious One Belt One Road program.

      This includes an additional 100 billion yuan (about $14.5 billion) to the Silk Road Fund, Chinese President Xi Jinping announced at a summit in Beijing on Sunday.

      China had earlier set up a state-financed $40 billion Silk Road Fund.

      On Sunday, Xi hosted leaders and heads of state from 110 participant countries at the two-day Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation.

      China will provide assistance worth 60 billion yuan ($8.7 billion) to developing countries and international organizations participating in the "Belt and Road" drive to launch more projects to improve people's well-being, the Chinese President announced.

      Xi reiterated his vigorous defense of free trade at the summit in Beijing, in continuation of his speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos earlier in January.

      "We should jointly create an environment that will facilitate opening up and development, establish a fair, equitable and transparent system of international trade and investment rules and boost the orderly flow of production factors, efficient resources allocation and full market integration," he said on Sunday.

      "We should build an open platform of cooperation and uphold and grow an open world economy," Xi added.

      In attendance at the Chinese power summit in Beijing were: Russian President Vladimir Putin, UN Secretary General António Guterres, President of the World Bank Jim Yong Kim, and Chief of the IMF Christine Lagarde.

      Xi pledged 250 billion yuan in loans from China Development Bank, 130 billion yuan in loans from Export-Import Bank of China, 2 billion yuan in emergency food aid, $1 billion to a South–South Cooperation fund.

      China's One Belt, One Road initiative aims to create a modern Silk Road Economic Belt and a 21st Century Maritime Silk Road to boost trade and extend its global influence.
      The ancient Silk Road connected China and Europe from around 100 B.C.

      The 6,000-km road linked ancient Chinese, Indian, Babylonian, Arabic, Greek and Roman civilizations.

      A map unveiled by state agency Xinhua shows the Chinese plans for the Silk Road run through Central China to the northern Xinjiang from where it travels through Central Asia entering Kazakhstan and onto Iraq, Iran, Syria and then Istanbul in Turkey from where it runs across Europe cutting across Germany, Netherlands and Italy.

      The maritime Silk Road begins in China's Fujian and ends at Venice, Italy.

      The network would include building railways, highways, oil and gas pipelines, power grids, Internet networks, maritime and other infrastructure links.

      In 2014, China announced a $40 billion Silk Road Fund to strengthen connectivity in the Asia-Pacific region.

      Brazil: Currency, markets plunge amid Temer corruption allegations (Бразилия: валюта и рынки резко падают по причине обвинений Темера в коррупции) / Brazil, May, 2017
      Keywords: Brazil's_economics, corruption

      Brazil's currency, the real, which had been making gains against the US dollar over the past year plummeted by more than six per cent on Thursday on media reports that the country's president was embroiled in yet another alleged corruption scandal.

      The severe plunge of the currency also caused a domino effect in the Bovespa stock market which lost 10 per cent of its value within an hour of its morning open.

      Trading was halted as the stock market's safeguards went into effect, allowing a brief reprieve for nervous investors. The stock market made small gains shortly after trading resumed making losses at press time around 9.04 per cent.

      Local newspaper O Globo alleged on Wednesday that President Michel Temer, who had been beset by accusations of corruption since he took over from Dilma Rousseff last year, had been recorded talking about making payments to former House of Representatives (Chamber of Deputies) Speaker Eduardo Cunha.

      Cunha, once the strongest instigator and supporter of the impeachment proceedings against former President Dilma Rousseff, was himself expelled from chambers last September on charges of lying about having a secret Swiss bank account and other allegations related to the Petrobras scandal.

      He was sentenced to 15 years prison in March.

      Rousseff herself was never implicated in any corruption linked to Petrobras but was impeached because of mishandling and misrepresenting the federal budget during her 2014 reelection campaign.

      The charges against Temer will likely strike a blow to his economic reforms package which he has been trying to push through Congress.

      While the International Monetary Fund and other organizations earlier said that Brazil was on the brink of turning the corner from nearly three years of a debilitating recession, they also warned that political instability linked to the dozens of corruption scandals involving the upper political echelon would derail any progress toward GDP growth.
      Russia's Rosneft Says Could Send 10 bcm of Gas to China Each Year (Российская «Роснефть» может отправить 10 млрд. кубометров газа в Китай каждый год) / Russia, May, 2017
      Keywords: Russia_China, Rosneft

      Russian energy firm Rosneft said it could supply about 10 billion cubic metres of natural gas to China per year.

      Rosneft added in a report on its website that it saw opportunities for gas supplies to China following the sale of a stake in its subsidiary Verkhnechonskneftegaz to Chinese firm Beijing Gas.
      If India joins OBOR, we could have an Asian economic union (Если Индия присоединится к ОПОП, мы могли бы создать Азиатский экономический союз) / Sri Lanka, May, 2017
      Keywords: India_OBOR, CPEC, AIIB
      Sri Lanka

      India last week once again spurned China's ambitious economic agenda for the world – the US$ 950 billion One-Belt-One-Road project. This time it did so in full view of the world media. A cartoon drawn by India's world renowned Satish Acharya said it all. It showed a Bengali Tiger, depicting India, proudly walking away from a road sign marked as 'Chinese Circus'. The Tiger tells China, depicted as a man with a belt in his hand, that belts are for dogs.

      But India, perhaps, acted like a wounded tiger. India, which has a number of times in recent past declined China's invitation to join the OBOR, decided not to send even its ambassador in the Chinese capital for Sunday's summit attended by 29 state leaders, including Russia's Vladimir Putin, Pakistan's Nawaz Sharif and Sri Lanka's Ranil Wickeremesinghe. Even the United States and Japan sent representatives to the summit, though they too have serious reservations about President Xi Jinping's grand project.

      India's political melodrama was made of all the emotions -- anger, fear, disgust and also glee. Yes it was apparently elated that at the head-of-state level, the summit was poorly attended though invitations were sent out to about 100 countries. Some saw the boycott as India's way of settling scores with China -- a retaliation of sort for China's veto against India's membership bid earlier this year at the Nuclear Suppliers' Group. India fears the OBOR or the China's Silk Road project would not only expedite China's rise to the world's number one position, but also increase Pakistan's economic and military strength to pose a bigger security threat to India over the disputed Kashmir. The US$ 48 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), part of the OBOR project, is expected to transform Pakistan into a modern day Ferghana valley of the ancient silk route fame. Regarded as Pakistan's Marshal Plan, the CPEC has the potential to make Pakistan a key trade hub, linking four crucial regions -- West Asia, Central Asia, South Asia and China.

      True, in the CPEC, there is more gain for China than for Pakistan. Similarly, in the OBOR, China stands to gain more than those countries which join the OBOR project. President Xi launched the Belt and Road initiative to revive China's economy which has reached saturation and in recent years has experienced a slowdown. Perhaps, it was also aimed at sustaining China's dominance over world economy. The project will also enable China to have a firm foothold in strategic locations worldwide -- a global presence much more expansive than that of the United States with all its military bases in some 30 countries. Loans China extends to OBOR member nations for infrastructure projects – SriLanka is being offered US$ 24 billion -- will give Beijing a greater clout in world politics, with loan receiving nations depending more and more on China's largesse while plunging deeper into debt crises. Whether one likes it or not, China's is only a decade away from overtaking the US as the number one global power in terms of economic performance and military strength.

      But to look at the OBOR in military and political power terms alone is like missing the wood for the trees. The benefits are humongous. Increased trade through increased connectivity promotes interdependency and sustainable peace. But India has its concerns. India denounces OBOR because CPEC goes through Gilgit. India claims Gilgit as its sovereign territory, though it is part of Pakistan-administered Kashmir and its people see India as an adversary. The Narendra Modi government believes that if it joins China's Belt and Road initiative, it may be seen as granting recognition to Pakistan's occupation of Kashmir. "No country can accept a project that ignores its core concerns on sovereignty and territorial integrity," said Indian Foreign Ministry spokesman Gopal Bagley, in rejecting the invitation to the OBOR summit.

      "No country can accept a project that ignores its core concerns on sovereignty and territorial integrity"

      Moreover, India, which is predicted to surpass the United States' economy by 2040, sees itself as China's equal. India has now begun to think in terms of global power status. Yet its South Asian policing territory has severely been infringed upon by China and it lacks the necessary power to check China's military presence in South Asian waters.

      Chinese submarines are regularly spotted in the South Asian seas. It was only some ten days ago that Sri Lanka declined China's request to dock a military submarine at the Colombo port while the Indian premier was in town. In 2014, the then Sri Lankan government allowed two Chinese submarines to visit Colombo. One such visit was when Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was in Sri Lanka.

      The bottom line is there is a cold war between India and China in South Asia. Sri Lanka has wittingly or unwittingly allowed itself to become a key theatre of this cold war. To what extent protests against the Hambantota port deal and the Trincomalee oil tank lease are home-made and to what extent they are sponsored by India or China are key questions that Sri Lankans should ask themselves. Sri Lanka needs the support of both India and China to overcome its economic woes and challenges it faces at international forums over allegations of war crimes.

      Prime Minister Wickremesinghe by attending the OBOR summit, a day after being a gracious host to Modi in Sri Lanka, has displayed an equidistant foreign policy vis-à-vis China and India. Sri Lanka which is a key hub in the OBOR project should say 'yes' to trade but 'no' to any military or strategic ties with any big power. But this is not enough. Sri Lanka needs to work towards ending the cold war between India and China, just as the Sirimavo Bandaranaike Government played a productive role in ending the 1962 India-China war. Sri Lanka, which often finds itself in a dilemma vis-à-vis its ties with India and China, should persuade India to join the OBOR. India should stop taking pride in its strategic importance to the United States to check China.

      The way forward is for all Asian economic powerhouses – China, Japan and India – to become partners in making Asia the centre of world growth just as Europe had been since the end of World War II until recently. OBOR should lead to an Asian economic union. Connectivity and inclusivity are the passwords to the next level in the world economy's forward march.

      China wants India in the OBOR. If India can join the China-led Asian Infrastructure and Investment Bank (AIIB), be an equal partner in BRICS – an economic cooperation grouping which also includes Brazil, Russia, India and China—and appoint an Indian as the governor of the BRICS bank in Beijing, then why can't it become an OBOR member and be a partner in the coming world trade revolution? Forget Gilgit. It is a fait accompli; India won't get it. But OBOR is an opportunity that awaits India.
      China to Complete Russia Oil, Gas Pipeline Sections by End-2018: Vice Governor (В конце 2018 года Китай закончит работу над серией нефтепроводов и газопроводов в России - вице-губернатор) / China, May, 2017
      Keywords: Russia_China, ESPO

      China is expected to complete the sections of the massive Russian oil and gas pipelines that lie in the northeastern province of Heilongjiang by the end of next year, a top provincial official said.

      The oil pipeline, from Mohe at the Russian border to the city of Daqing, is the China leg of the second East Siberia Pacific Ocean pipeline (ESPO) project that pumps Russian crude oil to China, with an annual capacity of 15 million tonnes.

      Li Haitao, vice governor of Heilongjiang said China has also started laying the domestic portion of a Russia-China natural gas pipeline, dubbed "Power of Siberia", that has a planned annual capacity of 38 billion cubic meters.

      "We expect both the oil and gas pipelines to be ready for operation around end of 2018," Li told reporters at the Belt and Road Forum, a government-organized event that gathers 29 nations to promote China's ambitious Silk Road project to expand trade and investment.

      Both pipelines are being built by state energy giant China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC).

      The first ESPO pipeline has been sending 15 million tonnes a year Russian crude oil to China since 2011. CNPC has said the Power of Siberia gas pipeline will start delivering gas to China in 2019.

      Li said the focus for his province's Silk Road efforts would be expanding trade and investment with Russia.

      China is also planning a joint venture refinery and petrochemical complex in Russia near the Chinese border with an estimated investment of 6 billion yuan (870 million), with a privately-run Chinese firm leading that investment, said Li.

      "A pipeline will be built to supply refined fuel back to China," Li added, without giving further details.

      The private firm investing in the petrochemical plant, Tianlangxing Power Equipment Co Ltd, has already built two solar power plants in Russia and building a third one, said Li.
      China is Biggest Exporter of Solar Equipment to India With 87 Per cent Market Share (Китай является крупнейшим экспортером солнечного оборудования в Индию с 87-процентной долей на рынке) / China, May, 2017
      Keywords: China_India, solar_equipment

      India's import of solar cells and modules is more than 35 times its export, says a recent study by Mercom Capital Group which tracks the clean energy segment.

      While India imported solar equipment worth 2.17 billion (Rs 14,630 crore) in the 10 months between April 2016 and January 2017, its exports were just 60.3 million (Rs 404 crore).

      Indeed, in these 10 months, solar imports into India increased by 39% over the corresponding period the previous year, while exports dropped 56%.

      "The reason is that Chinese solar panels are 10-20% cheaper than domestically manufactured modules and no developer wants to willingly pay more," says Raj Prabhu, CEO and co-founder, Mercom.

      "Solar tariffs in India have been going down at successive auctions largely due to cheaper Chinese modules."

      China was the biggest exporter of solar equipment to India, according to Mercom's findings during the 10-month period, with 87% market share and accounting for 1.9 billion, while Malaysia was a distant second with 8% share, at a total value of 170.42 million.

      Chinese solar equipment is cheaper than Indian mainly due to economies of scale at its manufacturing units, as well as the fact that India does not manufacture polysilicon, the basic material for making solar modules, but imports it.

      How does India manage to export solar equipment at all, given its lack of competitive pricing? "Indian solar exports mainly go to some European countries which have an anti-dumping ruling against Chinese manufacturers," said Prabhu. "This ruling sets the bar on how low prices can go."

      Britain is the biggest importer of Indian solar modules, accounting for 31% of India's solar exports (18.84 million), followed by Italy and Belgium.

      Within the country too, locally made solar modules account for barely 5% of the total number in use.

      The government sought to encourage solar manufacturing by including a domestic content requirement (DCR) in some of its solar auctions, but following a complaint from the US, the WTO ruled this practice as unfair.

      "The future for Indian manufacturers is bleak as they have not invested in R&D," said Prabhu.

      "Many of them have old equipment and have been mostly dependent on the government to create a market for them."

      India has chalked out an ambitious solar programme of setting up 100,000 MW of solar power capacity by 2022. (It had installed 12,289 MW by end March 2017.)

      Is it prudent for such a major programme to be entirely dependent on imports? "I wouldn't call it a risk if you are buying from another country in this globalised world," said Prabhu. "Every country has its niche and China excels at low-cost manufacturing."
      Rosneft Aims to Complete Purchase of India's Essar Oil by End June («Роснефть» намерена завершить покупку индийского Essar Oil к концу июня) / India, May, 2017
      Keywords: Russia_India, Rosneft, Essar_Oil, investments

      Russia's largest oil producer Rosneft (ROSN.MM) expects to complete the acquisition of Indian refiner Essar Oil ESRO.CL by the end of June, Rosneft's chief financial officer Pavel Fedorov said.

      The 12.9 billion deal, the largest acquisition of an Indian company by a foreign firm, will give Rosneft a 49 percent stake in Essar to pursue its global expansion plans. The deal was initially expected to close by the end of March.

      "As you know, it is currently planned to complete the deal on Essar assets acquisition by the end of this quarter," Fedorov said during a conference call.

      The deal has been delayed because some Indian lenders to Essar have yet to give their approval.

      Another 49 percent share will be split between commodities trader Trafigura and Russian investor United Capital Partners (UCP). The billionaire Ruia brothers will retain a 2 percent stake.

      Russia has increased Urals oil supplies to India, taking market share from members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries. Russia has joined an OPEC-led pact to curb global supplies in a bid to lift crude prices.

      Russian oil flows to India are expected to rise further once the Rosneft the deal to buy Essar plant is completed.
      Russia Reemerges As China's Top Crude Supplier (Россия возвращается в качестве главного поставщика сырой нефти в Китае) / China, May, 2017
      Keywords: Russia_China, ESPO, market

      Even a layman with no specific interest in international affairs could observe that the Russo-Chinese relationship has reached new heights in the last few years. Cooperation in the energy sphere is of particular importance to both regional powers – and although gas projects are still to come online by the end of this decade, trade and joint projects in oil have broken new ground. Chinese companies now have a minority stake in numerous producing upstream projects, like Verkhnechonskoye and Taas-Yuryakh, as well as in several ambitious up-and-coming endeavors, such as Yamal LNG and Sakhalin-3. Oil exports from Russia to China have experienced a seventeen-fold increase in the last 15 years and now account for almost a quarter of Russia's exports. Yet, there is still room to expand this strategic link.

      Russia is now China's No.1 crude supplier, a status which it is very likely to retain in the following years, having demonstrated a spectacular 24 percent year-on-year increase in 2016. Almost all supply routes to China experienced growth in 2016, moreover, the ESPO pipeline and Kozmino port (exported 16.5 mtpa and 31.8 mtpa, respectively) were operating slightly above their nominal capacity (15 mtpa and 30 mtpa, respectively). Whilst major state-owned refineries are commonly bound by long-term contracts to Saudi or Angolan suppliers, independent refineries (so-called 'teapots') represented one of the leading forces behind this increase. Teapots did not limit themselves to ESPO or other Pacific-bound grades, they also bought Urals, as its economics proved to be more attractive than those of the Oman grade, the characteristics of which are almost identical (31° API vs 30.5° API, 1.5 percent Sulfur Content vs 1.4 percent).

      The Eastern Siberia-Pacific Ocean (ESPO) pipeline will remain the main conduct of Russian oil exports to China, with its share slightly increasing from the current 42 percent of the total (22.5 mtpa). Russia's leading oil company, Rosneft, will also take greater use of a third supply variant – pipeline transportation via the Kazakh Atasu-Alashankou. In keeping with the general spirit of the 'strategic oil partnership', Rosneft benefits from lower transportation costs in contrast with ESPO, whilst the Chinese guarantee pipeline-supplied crude to their only refinery in the Sichuan province, located in Pengzhou. In the previous years the Kazakhstani passage amounted to 7 mtpa, however, the two sides agreed on increasing these volumes to 10 mtpa from 2017. Oddly enough, it was not lack of demand that obstructed the ramping up of imports but the insufficiency of pipeline capacity.

      A lack of internal interconnectors has hindered the expansion of the ESPO, as only in January 2017 did Transneft, the Russian pipeline transportation monopolist, bring onstream two important pipeline sections, Zapolyarnoye-Purpe and Kuyumba-Taishet. By October 2017, following the completion of the second Mohe-Daqing string, the ESPO pipeline is expected to increase its throughput capacity to 30 million tons per year. The throughput capacity of the other branch laid from the Skovorodino junction point, linking it to the Pacific port of Kozmino, is expected to reach 50 million tons per year by 2020 from the current 30 mtpa. These developments could not only give a fresh impetus to pipeline exports, but also foster the development of new upstream projects in Eastern Siberia that took a palpable blow from the falling oil prices and international sanctions.

      Beijing enjoys multiple benefits from such a strategic energy partnership – inter alia, new supply routes have eliminated the risk of the Malacca Strait, through which most of non-Russian imports pass, being shut down in case of a sudden aggravation of matters in the South China Sea. The Russian oil and gas link is considerably safer at virtually no additional cost, moreover, subject to minimal security risk as Russia sees significant value in its partnership with Beijing and is very unlikely to take risky steps to jeopardize it (against the background of real tensions between Moscow and the West). The rapid surge of Russian imports does not counter national policy provisions, as it was the Chinese government that in 2015 lifted a ban for teapot refineries to process imported crude oil. Moreover, the construction of ESPO was greatly facilitated by loans from the Chinese Development Bank, a fully government-owned entity.
      Russia-China Fund to Invest 500m this Year (В этом году Россия и Китай инвестируют 500 млн долларов) / China, May, 2017
      Keywords: Russia_China, RCIF, investments

      The Russia-China Investment Fund, a private equity fund formed by the Russian Direct Investment Fund and China Investment Corp, will invest more than 500 million in 2017 in Russia and China in infrastructure, agriculture, technology and consumer sectors, according to its senior executives.

      "The Russia-China Investment Fund has played a crucial role in showcasing that we can make very good returns by working together," said Kirill Dmitriev, co-CEO of the Russia-China Investment Fund and CEO of the Russian Direct Investment Fund, the country's sovereign wealth fund.

      Dmitriev said the RCIF will invest more than 500 million in seven to nine deals this year, and for every dollar they invest in, they will attract 3 to 5 from other investors.

      Set up in 2012, the RCIF is a private equity fund into which each of the two nations has committed 1 billion. It has invested, with partners, in 19 deals in Russia, China and third countries totaling more than 5 billion. The RCIF has cashed out on one deal-Russian children's retailer Detsky Mir, and its internal rate of return was as high as 90 percent.

      The latest investment is that the RCIF, along with the Russian Direct Investment Fund, Vi Holding and some Middle Eastern investors, invested 90 billion roubles (1.6 billion) in building one of Russia's largest technology parks at the former Tushino airfield northwest of Moscow. Equity investment will be about 300 million and debt will be a big part for funding.

      The total area of the project will be more than 1 million square meters, covering offices and residential property. It will also include the construction of sports and social infrastructure facilities as well as recreational and park zones. The term sheet was signed on Saturday in Beijing.

      Russia's state-backed Rostec State Corp, which promotes development, production and export of high-tech industrial products for civil and defense sectors, will be a significant tenant of the office space.

      "We will learn from Chinese experience and make it a beautiful technology park," said Dmitriev. "The project will start construction this year and finish within three years."

      Hu Bing, co-CEO and president of the RCIF, said as relations between Russia and China continue to flourish, and cross-border trade is expected to increase significantly in the next couple of years, many Chinese companies and financial institutions are coming to Russia to bolster economic cooperation.

      China is Russia's top trading partner, with bilateral trade reaching 69.5 billion last year, a year-on-year increase of 2.2 percent, according to the Ministry of Commerce.

      "The Russian real estate market has become very attractive for Chinese investors. We would expect further interest from Chinese investors in the Russian real estate market and the RCIF will continue to play an active role in the sector," said Hu.
      India should work with China on OBOR for its own economic benefit (Индия должна работать с Китаем по ОПОП ради собственной экономической выгоды) / India, May, 2017
      Keywords: OBOR_forum, India_boycott, expert_opinion
      Author: MANOJ JOSHI

      India should know that the OBOR scheme is not about CPEC and Pakistan; but in fact its primary goal is to integrate the rich European economy with that of China's.

      President Xi Jinping has just hosted a mega show to sell China's massive Eurasian connectivity scheme, known variously as the One Belt One Road (OBOR), or the Belt Road Initiative (BRI), to the world. Present at the occasion were presidents and prime ministers, and leaders of other parts of the world and, more disconcertingly, our neighbouring countries as well.

      If you get the impression that India was isolated in its boycott of the meeting, you are not wrong. But this has been an avoidable injury. The basis of New Delhi's rigid opposition to OBOR has never been quite clear. Speaking at the Raisina Dialogue in March 2016, foreign secretary S. Jaishankar had implicitly criticised China for building connectivity without "consultative processes," and hardwiring the choices for its participants.

      Subsequently, New Delhi raised the issue of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) passing through PoK. Last week, in listing out his objections to the scheme, official spokesman Gopal Baglay said that "no country can accept a project that ignores its core concerns on sovereignty and territorial integrity."

      But this sounded more of a pretext to oppose OBOR than anything else; India has never seriously sought the return of Gilgit-Baltistan and has wanted the LoC as an international boundary.

      Actually a lot of the hardwiring is already done. 2017 will see over 2,000 trains (estimated) travel from a dozen Chinese cities to over 20 European destinations on newly built lines and tunnels in Central Asia. Pipelines and railroads have already shifted the economic orientation of the region from Russia to China. Southeast Asia is undergoing a similar process through new rail lines overlaying the traditional maritime routes. In the Indian Ocean Region (IOR), Chinese companies have built, are building and, in many cases, operating, ports in (Kyaukpyu) Myanmar, (Hambantota) Sri Lanka, (Gwadar) Pakistan, (Bagamayo) Tanzania, (Lamu) Kenya. As part of this, China has made strategic investments in central and eastern Europe as well.

      It is important to understand what OBOR is and what it is not. Its primary goal is to integrate the rich European economy with that of China, not about CPEC and Pakistan, which are just sideshows of the ambitious scheme.

      The shorter term goal is for China to emerge as the dominant regional power in its neighbourhood, where it is already the leading economic presence. Linked to this is the compulsion of protecting Chinese maritime commerce, particularly oil, in the IOR.

      India lacks the resources to match China's ambitious plans for Eurasia, but it is directly affected by Chinese money pouring into its neighbourhood and the marked surge in Chinese naval activity in the IOR since 2014. Beijing has now established a base in the Djibouti and you can be sure that Gwadar, is a Chinese naval facility in all but name. And this is just the beginning.

      After connectivity, Beijing is moving on the second leg of its strategy — an economic policy to make China a developed country. For this China intends to sit at the top of the global manufacturing value chains instead of being a low-level aggregator. Beijing is investing hundreds of billions of dollars to gain the global pole position in areas like integrated circuits, Artificial Intelligence, robotics, bio-pharma, electrical cars and so on. The European connection is the key to this, since high-end products need a rich market.

      A major problem with the Indian response is that it concentrates exclusively on the geopolitical leg of OBOR — Pakistan, Sri Lanka and so on. But the scheme is primarily about geo-economics. By staying out of it, India risks being systematically frozen out of business opportunities in an enlarging area that is integrating with the Chinese economy around the world.

      India cannot stop the scheme, but it can hamper it in many ways. We are not without clout in our region, and we possess a vast and growing market for Chinese products. India's geographical location is a huge advantage, especially for the maritime leg of the scheme in the IOR

      These factors can be parlayed into a hard-headed negotiation with the Beijing to insist that the benefits of participating in OBOR must be shared. But, first, New Delhi needs to stop whining and learn to cherry-pick the OBOR menu.

      True, it is a Chinese scheme, funded by their banks and largely executed by Chinese companies. But Beijing now realises that it is too big and complex to be done on its own. If China is open to working with other countries, as Xi's speech seemed to suggest, it may yet be possible to get them to understand how their favourite phrase "win-win" cooperation can really be win win.
      World of work
      Social policy, trade unions, actions
      BRICS: "Whole world is a playground" (БРИКС: «Весь мир - игровая площадка») / Russia, May, 2017
      Keywords: International_festival_of_theatre_schools, art

      Moscow is hosting the first International festival of theatre schools of the BRICS countries, which is supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation. Representatives of theater schools of Brazil, India, China, South Africa and Russia are taking part in the festival, which will last until May 21. On the sidelines of the event, the correspondent of Vestnik Kavkaza talked with the professor of the Russian Academy of Theatre Arts, honorary professor of the Central Academy of Drama of China Valentin Teplyakov, the beginning of whose creative activity was closely connected with the Caucasus. After graduating from the Mikhail Shchepkin Higher Theatre School, Tepelyakov created the Youth Theater Studio on the basis of the Kabardino-Balkarian State University in 1974, in the late 1980s he was the main director and head of the Gorky State Academic Russian Drama Theatre in Nalchik.

      "In the Caucasus, I was formed as a teacher, director, personality, after creating a youth theater in the city of Nalchik in far 1974. With this theater group we were on tour in the Baikal-Amur Mainline and in Moscow - we traveled a lot. Then I was appointed a director of the Palace of Culture, where the youth theater was based, then I became the head and chief director of the Gorky State Academic Russian Drama Theatre. In 1989, for the first time in the 50-year history of this theater we came on tour to Moscow with the play involving the great artist Alexei Petrenko. Therefore, the Caucasus is the place which formed me as a person, as an artist, which I often remember with great warmth and love. I think I will be able to help the Gorky State Academic Russian Drama Theatre in terms of training specialists for this theater," Tepelyakov said.

      Valentin Teplyakov recalled his theater's performances in the western sector of the Baikal-Amur Mainlinein 1979: "The Heroes of the Social Work Ryabov and Bondar worked there. We played right in tents. It was an amazing journey. We did 15 shows a week, drove 500 km. It was something amazing for the formation of my young artists. They saw life. It was great. We planted a blue spruce, which was brought from Kabardino-Balkaria, in the village of Kichera and founded the Square of Friendship there".

      Speaking about the first International festival of theatre schools of the BRICS countries, Tepelyakov said: "I worked in all the BRICS countries, except South Africa, I met with students of these countries. The festival will take place in the traditions of the Elizabethan era, so that the actors feel themselves as artists of that time who played on the platform. We even made an exact copy of the stage of the Shakespeare's Globe Theatre - 1.5 meters high, 15 meters wide.

      We invited our colleagues from the BRICS countries to prepare scenes from 'Romeo and Juliet'. The main idea is to perform it together. On the first day our Chinese comrades will show their scenes. On the second day - the actors from India, South Africa and Brazil. On the third day we will show our performance of 'Romeo and Juliet'. Then we will rehearse and on Friday, Saturday and Sunday we will be performing together, exchanging roles: Romeo - a Brazilian man, Juliet - a Chinese woman and so on".

      According to Tepelyakov, we underestimate the worldwide interest in the Russian theater: "An outstanding master, [theatrical director] Andrei Goncharov, said once: "Russia has two convertible currencies - oil and Stanislavski's system". The main thing is communication, mutual enrichment. These days we will hold master classes, tell you about our work, listen to our comrades about their work. I think that it will be beneficial for all of us".

      Speaking about the festival, People's Artist of the USSR, singer Iosif Kobzon said: "We help the leaders of our countries, who have united in the economic space, to understand each other. A person needs spiritual food as well. It is easier for us to communicate with each other through music, through words, through dancing, through dramatic performances. It is easier for us to understand each other. It develops us spiritually. They hold humanitarian forums in Astana, Baku, because they understand that it is necessary to help people understand each other through culture and sport at this troubled time. We want the people to know each other, understand each other, love each other and appreciate each other".

      Hanban pursues global teaching mission (Ханбан преследует цель глобального преподавания) / China, May, 2017
      Keywords: OBOR_Forum, Confucius_Institute, education, Silk_Road_Economic_Belt, the_21st_Century_Maritime_Silk_Road
      Author: ZHAO HUANXIN

      The Belt and Road is about building a trade and infrastructure network connecting Asia with Europe and Africa along ancient trade routes, but it is also about connecting people in 65 countries that are linked to the initiative.

      That's why the Confucius Institute, which was conceived 12 years ago to teach foreigners the Manadarin language and immerse them in Chinese culture, will increase its presence in foreign countries to enhance "connectivity in mind", said Xu Lin, former director-general of the Confucius Institute Headquarters in Beijing, which is also known as Hanban.

      "Thanks to the joint efforts of the Chinese and foreign sides, Confucius Institutes have been launched in 51 of the 65 countries linked to the initiative's two main routes - the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road," Xu said ahead of the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation that concluded in Beijing on Monday.

      By now, 135 Confucius institutes and 129 Confucius classrooms have been set up in the 51 countries, accounting for a quarter of the operations that the Confucius Institute Headquarters has created, said Xu, who recently retired from the nongovernmental organization to serve as a national political adviser.

      Confucius Institutes, the network of not-for-profit Mandarin language-teaching schools and cultural centers, are named after Confucius, the eponymous philosopher of 2,000 years ago. They are now on at least 500 campuses globally.

      "You see there are still 14 countries that have no Confucius Institutes," Xu told China Daily. "As usual, we do not open new Confucius Institutes on our own initiative, so the next step, we'll follow the demands of these countries and add new institutes or classrooms if the need arises."

      In an earlier interview, Xu said that Hanban planned to increase the Confucius Institute presence in China's neighbors as well as other members of the BRICS countries, namely Brazil, Russia, India and South Africa, as they have large populations, and their economic and political connections with China are growing closer.

      There also has been a surge in demand for Mandarin teaching in those regions, she said.

      Citing an old Chinese saying, Xu said the key to sound relations between states lies in amity between the people, and the key to amity between the people lies in heart-to-heart exchange.

      She said that over the past decade, the Confucius Institutes along the Belt and Road have got the people they reached out to know China better by teaching the language and holding cultural activities.

      At least 34,000 Chinese Confucius Institute directors, teachers and volunteers have been sent to these regions. They have offered Chinese business, tourism, translation and other courses to more than 2 million residents, according to the latest statistics of the Hanban.

      In all, 250 young scholars of these countries have joined the Confucius China Study Plan, which supports foreign students seeking to complete PhD programs in designated academic areas of the humanities and social sciences in China, or sponsors experts and outstanding students for short-term exchanges.

      Some of the scholars are conducting academic research in relation to the Belt and Road, Xu said.

      Xu, however, also noted the challenges in both the operation and adding of Confucius Institutes in some of the countries involved with the Belt and Road.

      "Economically, the development of the countries varies considerably, and in some regions, not only the physical conditions are not that good, but security is a grave concern for our teachers," Xu said, adding that most of the teachers are single children in their families.

      Another challenge is the shortage of talented instructors who have a good command of foreign languages, which are diverse in the countries along the Belt and Road.

      "There are at least 90 languages being spoken in these countries, where 54 languages are official ones; we are far from being able to groom teachers linguistically to survive and thrive in some of the countries," Xu said.

      That's why it is necessary to train more students to master what is usually called "non-common foreign languages", Xu said.

      Xu was at Western Kentucky University at Bowling Green on May 5 to inaugurate the first Model Confucius Institute Building in North America.
      BRICS Think Tank proposes emerging sector development (Семинар ученых БРИКС предлагает развитие активно формирующегося сектора) / China, May, 2017
      Keywords: The_BRICS_Think_Tank_Seminar, emerging_sector, OBOR

      The BRICS Think Tank Seminar opened in Guangzhou on May 16 for bringing its members together to discuss the creation of global economic value chains to strengthen international trade.

      China, current holder of the think tank's presidency, was honored to host the eighth annual seminar which gathered over 100 government officials and scholars from BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa). Experts stressed the priority of establishing a cooperative platform across the five countries in emerging sectors to boost the group's collective economic development.

      Deepening partnership can also support the construction of the Belt and Road Initiative, and boost the group's economic development.

      Political suggestions for the upcoming BRICS Summit in Xiamen, Fujian province this September were also shared.
      Multimedia Projects And It-technologies In Museums Should Put Countries Together (Мультимедийные проекты и IT-технологии в музеях должны объединить страны) / Russia, May, 2017
      Keywords: the_9th_International_IT-Forum, culture, multimedia

      This idea will become a key issue at the Round Table «IT in Museums: Connection of Cultures » in the scope of the 9th International IT-Forum with participation of the BRIC and SCO countries. Participants will discuss the process of creation of integrated information space and the way to promote cultural heritage of participating countries.

      In the course of the Round Table experts will discuss issues related to development of multi-media projects in museums. Projects in which sound, animation, graphics and video are used, help in attraction of the new visitors to the world museums and educate young generation. Such projects also strengthen cultural connections between countries. Those museums that were able to implement and utilize IT-technologies become sites for tourist visits in the whole world.

      The Round Table organized in the scope of the IT-Forum will launch international cooperation of the leading museums of BRIC and SCO countries and will start the exchange of multimedia projects. Information and multimedia projects in culture and museum activities will provide an opportunity for residents of BRIC and SCO countries to learn about historic and cultural heritage of Khanty-Mansiysk Autonomous Okrug-Ugra and about Russian Federation. Profitability for such projects is high as far as such projects are mobile and are not associated with transportation cost.

      Participation in the work of the Round Table was confirmed by representatives of the Ministry of Culture and Sports of the Republic of Kazakhstan, State History Museum of Uzbekistan and National Museum of Tajikistan named after K.Bekhzod. Besides, representatives of Russian leading museums confirmed their participation: Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts, Russian Museum and Members of Presidium of the Non-Commercial Partnership "Automation of museum activities and information technologies".
      Major regulators are supporters and participants of the Infoforum-Ugra (Главные регулирующие структуры поддерживают и участвуют в Инфофоруме-Угра) / Russia, May, 2017
      Keywords: Infoforum-Ugra, SCO, CSTO, FSB, FSTEC, RFCB

      Federal Security Service (FSB) and Federal Service for Technical and Export Control (FSTEC) supported the International Conference on Information Security "Infoforum-Ugra" with participation of SCO, BRIC and CSTO countries.

      Greetings to Forum participants on behalf of the Federal Security Service were sent by Andrey Fetisov, the Head of Scientific and Technical service of the FSB and co-Chair of the Forum Organizing Committee. On behalf of the Federal Service for Technical and Export Control Forum participants were welcomed by Vladimir Selin, Director of RF FSTEC, co-Chair of the Infoforum Organizing Committee.

      As it was mentioned before, Oleg Khramov, Deputy Head of the RF Security Council and Dmitry Gribkov, information officer of the RF Security Council Staff, will participate in the conference.

      The Conference is also supported by senior management of the Russian Federation Central Bank. RF Security Council Staff, RF Federal Security Service, RF FSTEC and RF Central Bank are the main regulators of information security in the Russian Federation.

      Federal Security Service representative, Nikolay Murashov, the Deputy Chief of the Federal Security Service Center will make a presentation. FSTEC will be presented by representatives of FSTEC Directorate in the Urals. The Central Bank of the Russian Federation will be represented by Artyom Sychev, Deputy Head of the Main Department of Security and Information protection.
      UN'S 2017 ECOSOC INTEGRATION SEGMENT DISCUSSES THE ERRADICATION OF POVERTY AND THEMES CONNECTED TO IT (Сегмент интеграции ЭКОСО ООН 2017 обсудит искоренение нищеты и темы, связанные с этим) / Brazil, May, 2017
      Keywords: The_BRICS_Policy_Center, UN

      The 2017 ECOSOC Integration Segment was held between May 8th and 10th, 2017 in the United Nations headquarters in New York. The theme of this year's meeting was "Making eradication of poverty and integral objective of all policies: what will it take?".

      The BRICS Policy Center was represented by its General Supervisor, Paulo Esteves, who discussed Brazilian experiences to fight poverty. Besides the BPC, some agencies of the United Nations and other Think Tanks and NGOs were also part of the debate.

      According to the current Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations, Amina Mohammed, the eradication of poverty remains the more important challenge of the international community today. The Secretary also asked for integrated answers to issues such as inequalities, climate change, food insecurity and the lack of predictability of global economy.
      Indian Medical Students to Get 500 Seats in Russian Universities (Индийские студенты-медики получат 500 мест в российских вузах) / India, May, 2017
      Keywords: Russia_India, education, healthcare

      Russian universities will offer 500 seats for medical students from India, Yury Belov, the Russian Federation's Vice-Consul in Southern India, said.

      Speaking about the Russian Fair scheduled to be held in Chennai on May 13 and 14, Belov said that twelve Russian Government institutions including those offering medical, engineering will participate in the event.

      "Russian Universities will offer 500 medical seats to Indian students. Compared to last year, there is an increase of 40 percent in the number of seats allocated to medical aspirants from India," he said.

      "We have issued 800 student visas for Indian students from Chennai alone last year. There is an increase in Indian students taking up higher studies in Russia," Mikhail Garbatov, Director of Russian Center of Science and Culture, Chennai, told Sputnik.

      India's Medical Council recognizes 63 medical universities in Russia which are also listed in the WHO's Directory of Medical Schools.

      Nearly 10,000 Indian students study at various universities in Russia, Garbatov said.
      India, Russia: Further Collaboration in IT Likely (Индия, Россия: вероятно дальнейшее сотрудничество в области ИТ) / India, May, 2017
      Keywords: Russia_India, IT, India_USA, CEPA, SCO, EEU, FTA

      The latest restrictions put by the Trump administration on H-1B visa holders from India have created problems for the Indian information technology companies for maintaining their business operations in the USA, and many of the companies are exploring immediate possibilities to diversify into other countries including Russia and Japan.

      Russia has emerged as the major destination in IT collaboration with the Indian companies as there is a vast market in Russian Federation and there are many businesses in Russia with strong hardware capability. Indian companies were earlier too much occupied with the western markets, especially of the US and only now after the Trump administration's protectionist policies and steps against outsourcing, the leading Indian IT companies like TCS, Infosys, Wipro, and HCL Tech are focusing on other countries, especially Russia.

      Under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Indian government is interested in expanding ties with Russia in IT as also in other technological areas. The feeling in the External Affairs Ministry circles is that the Indian companies should take every possible step to look for other markets for their software products since the Trump administration is determined to impose restrictions on outsourcing and there is not much scope for bargaining from the Indian side on behalf of the Indian industry. So, in the present situation, it is better to keep the options open and to organise other big markets to sell Indian software products.

      Recently, the Indian Cabinet approved an MoU to promote joint scientific and research activities with the Russian Federation. Under this MoU valid for five years, India and Russia will exchange information, establish direct connections between specialists, scientists and scientific organisations, form projects aimed at joint research and aim at the development of interdisciplinary and multi-institutional projects with the participation of industry. Indian officials are looking at the vast possibilities of India-Russia collaboration under this MoU.

      Indian sources say that the upcoming international conference in St. Petersburg and the subsequent summit between Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi might witness a big expansion of the IT partnership between the two countries. President Putin is interested in making use of Indian software talent in the modernisation programme of the Russian industry. Indian IT companies will be represented at the St. Petersburg international conference where the Indian Prime Minister is the guest of honour.

      Indications so far suggest that the Russian officials have already discussed the possible areas of collaboration with the Indian IT companies and Skolkovo, the leading Russian technology hub with partnerships with leading US companies like Boeing and IBM, is interested in partnering with Indian IT firms. This tech hub on the outskirts of Moscow comprises about 1,000 companies including start-ups, and Indian oil companies have expressed interest in software for oil exploration developed by Rock Flow Dynamics, a Skolkovo based company.

      The Russian sources point out that Skolkovo has already developed technologies for smart cities and the company is very much keen to take part in the ambitious, smart cities programme currently on in India. Russian companies feel that Indian IT giants have world recognition and brand value and it will be beneficial for both to collaborate in the IT sector. In fact, India is setting up an IT cluster in Moscow, and this can be the beginning of significant efforts for collaboration between both the countries in IT.

      Ironically the weakest link in Indo-Russian cooperation remains trade and economic ties. Trade between the two countries is extremely small. India and Russia are already trying to boost the economic partnership through Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA). Russia's move to encourage the promotion of groupings like RIC (Russia-India-China), BRICS (Brazil-Russia-India-China-South Africa), as well as SCO (Shanghai Cooperation Organisation) is intended to create a forum outside the Western block where India and Russia along with other countries can discuss issues without western pressure.

      The "Strategic Partnership" between Russia and India was upgraded to the "Special and Privileged Strategic Partnership" in December 2010 during the visit of Vladimir Putin to India. The "Druzhba-Dosti" Vision was signed in December 2014 for strengthening the Indian-Russian Partnership over the next decade. However, despite these the Indian-Russian trade and economic linkages remain weak. Total bilateral trade is about 6.7 billion (2015), which is extremely low. While Russia makes up just 1 per cent of India's total trade, India accounts for only 1.2 per cent of Russia's overall trade (2015-2016).

      In order to address these challenges and realise the trade and investment targets that have been mutually set, India and Russia should take the lead in finalising the India-Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) Free Trade Agreement (FTA), encompassing trade in goods, trade in services and investment, which would serve as a catalyst for enhancing the levels of economic linkages - not just between India and Russia, but also in a wider context of the Eurasian region. The June summit may act as a breakthrough in India-Russia economic relations.
      The 1st Meeting of BRICS Working Group on Research Infrastructure and Mega-Science projects(1-е совещание Рабочей группы БРИКС по исследовательской инфраструктуре и мега-научным проектам) / Russia, May, 2017
      Keywords: JINR, the_Jaipur_Declaration, science

      On 15-16 May 2017, a two-day meeting of the BRICS Working Group on Research Infrastructure and Mega-Science projects started in the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research.

      The Russian initiative on establishment of the BRICS Working Group on Research Infrastructure and Mega-Science projects was approved on 8 October 2016 at the 4th BRICS Science, Technology and Innovation Ministerial Meeting and recorded in the Jaipur Declaration.

      The Meeting was opened by welcoming speech of Director of the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research, RAS Academician Victor Matveev, who noted the high importance of the event in light of enhancement of scientific and technical cooperation of the BRICS countries.

      The Russian delegation which was headed by Director of the Department of Science and Technology of the Ministry of Education and Science of Russian Federation Sergej Matveev acted as co-chair of the Meeting along with representatives of a delegation of China that assumed presidency of the BRICS in 2017.

      The program of the first day of the Meeting includes two topical sessions and a visit to the JINR basic facilities, including the accelerator complex NICA under construction.

      Speakers of the Meeting noted that the choice of JINR as the venue for the first Meeting of the Working Group reflects the fact, that in addition to the Russian Federation which is a JINR Member State and South Africa that participates in the JINR activities as an Associated Member, a high degree of cooperation was achieved with other BRICS countries: China, India and Brazil.
      Comprehensive reports, BRICS research materials
      Social Stratification in BRICs: Changes and Perspectives (Социальная стратификация в странах БРИК: изменения и перспективы) / China, May, 2017
      Keywords: Research, analytics, social_stratification

      The term "BRIC" was coined in 2001 by then-chairman of Goldman Sachs Asset Management, Jim O'Neill, in his publication Building Better Global Economic BRICs. The BRICs, Brazil, Russia, India and China, gradually earned public concerns with the development of the economy. The changes of social structures in BRICs, especially the changes of social stratification, were firstly observed and analyzed by contributors from Brazil, Russia, India and China in this book from the perspective of sociology. Unlike other two theoretical frameworks—mode of East Asia development and transitional countries which are often used in the field of China studies, a new comparative method——the comparison among BRICs is used in this book. Nine chapters are presented, including topics like social stratification, working class, peasant class, entrepreneurs, middle class, income inequality, education inequality, consumption, etc. in BRICs' societies. Based on the observation and analysis, contributors strive to present a deeper analysis of changes of social stratifications in BRICs.
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