China geopolitical strategy August 2022-

Written by  //  May 26, 2023  //  China, Geopolitics  //  No comments

China geopolitical strategy June 2020-July 2022
More on China
Belt and Road Initiative:
Relevance beyond the Xi Jinping regime?

What Is the ‘Quad’ and Should China Fear It?

May 26
‘Complete denial’: Europe largely blind to Chinese influence, says EU adviser
Amid preparations to unveil a law targeting non-EU funding, European Commission expert says China’s approach to influence operations is ‘hardening.’
Beijing has long aimed propaganda at the European Union, seeking to undermine transatlantic unity and promote Beijing’s outlook on world affairs, said Ivana Karásková, a Czech academic and foreign influence specialist who’s advising European Commission Vice President Věra Jourová.
But since 2019, China’s approach to the EU has been “hardening” as it ramps up direct propaganda via so-called wolf warrior diplomats; as well as covert funding of think tanks, academic institutions and nonprofit organizations, she said. And EU countries, particularly outside of eastern Europe, are oblivious to or unwilling to see the extent of these operations, Karásková added.

18 May
Italy prepares to quit Xi’s global building megaplan
Giorgia Meloni is considering telling G7 leaders Italy will leave China’s Belt and Road Initiative. Some fear Italian companies will suffer.
(Politico Eu) It took four years for Italy to consider breaking off its special relationship with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
In 2019, Italy became the first G7 country to join China’s global infrastructure program, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), to the surprise of allies in the West.
Now, Italy’s right-wing leader Giorgia Meloni is ready to tell her G7 counterparts she is prepared to sever ties with Xi’s landmark foreign policy project, according to one senior diplomat familiar with her government’s deliberations.
Meloni has not yet taken a final decision, but the discussion in Rome is focused on how to exit Belt and Road, rather than whether to do so, said the diplomat, who was speaking anonymously because the matter is sensitive.

9 May
Philippines’ Marcos muscles up ASEAN’s South China Sea posture
China tensions loom over bloc summit as Malaysia asserts gas rights, Vietnam hones defense
(Nikkei) This week, the South China Sea dispute is expected to be high on the agenda when leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations hold their summit in Indonesia. ASEAN states Brunei, Malaysia and Vietnam also lay claims to parts of the waterway, through which around $3 trillion worth of trade passes annually.

3 May
South China Sea drills conceal a secret war to control the internet
(The Hill) As one of the world’s most important shipping lanes for oil, minerals and food, whoever dominates the South China Sea will control over a fifth of global trade. But the biggest economic asset up for grabs in the region is Big Data — and the future of the entire internet depends on who wins the battle to dominate this strategic waterway.

24 April
China Tries to Limit Damage From Diplomat’s Comments That Riled Europe
Remarks by China’s ambassador to France questioning the sovereignty of ex-Soviet states threatened to upset China’s efforts to balance courting Europe with supporting Russia.

27 March-1 April
More countries are struggling to pay back Chinese debt (video)
(DW News) China has financed major infrastructure projects around the world for more than a decade as part of its Belt and Road Initiative. But the costs are growing: A new study shows many of the loans have gone badly, putting borrowers and Chinese banks in danger.
New data shows that China is providing ever more emergency loans to countries, including Turkey, Argentina and Sri Lanka. China has been helping countries that have either geopolitical significance, like a strategic location, or lots of natural resources. Many of them have been borrowing heavily from Beijing for years to pay for infrastructure or other projects.
China spent $240 billion to bailout ‘BRI countries’ -Report
China launched the Belt and Road initiative with much fanfare in 2013. Chinese President Xi Jinping’s pet project, BRI is a vast collection of development and investment initiatives originally devised to link East Asia and Europe through physical infrastructure. In the decade since its launch, it expanded to Africa, Oceania, and Latin America.
While China saw it as an opportunity to increase its economic and military clout. Developing nations saw it as an opportunity to benefit from the resulting physical infra-based connectivity with international markets, and job growth through BRI construction projects among other things.
But according to a recent report, BRI has become a sinkhole for China as it spent $240 billion since 2008 just on bailing out ‘BRI countries’.
China spent $240bn on belt and road bailouts from 2008 to 2021, study finds
The failure of several infrastructure projects and the debt problems experienced by several recipient countries, hurt by the rising costs of servicing their loans, has forced a recalibration of China’s overseas development programme.
(The Guardian) China spent $240bn (£195bn) bailing out countries struggling under their belt and road initiative debts between 2008 and 2021, new data shows.
Research found that Chinese state-backed lenders released bailout funds to 22 countries, including Argentina, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Ukraine. Almost 80% of the emergency rescue lending was issued after 2016, reaching more than $40bn in 2021.
The increase in emergency financing since 2016 correlates with a drop in Chinese lending for infrastructure projects that are part of the belt and road initiative. Commitments from China’s two main institutional lenders, China Development Bank and the Export-Import Bank of China (China Exim), fell from a peak of $87bn in 2016 to $3.7bn in 2021, according to data analysed by Boston University.
Belt and Road bailout lending reaches record levels, raising questions about the future of China’s flagship global infrastructure program
A new study finds Beijing has dramatically expanded emergency rescue lending to countries in financial distress
(AidData) According to a new study by researchers at AidData, the World Bank, the Harvard Kennedy School, and the Kiel Institute for the World Economy, Beijing has dramatically expanded emergency rescue lending to sovereign borrowers in financial distress—or outright default.
Analysis of a new dataset demonstrates that, by the end of 2021, China had undertaken 128 rescue loan operations across 22 debtor countries worth $240 billion. These operations include many so-called “rollovers,” in which the same short-term loans are extended again and again to refinance maturing debts.
“China as an International Lender of Last Resort” was written by Sebastian Horn of the World Bank; Brad Parks, Executive Director of AidData and Research Professor at William & Mary; Carmen Reinhart, former World Bank Group Chief Economist and current Professor at the Harvard Kennedy School; and Christoph Trebesch, Director at the Kiel Institute for the World Economy.
The study, and the new emergency lending dataset upon which it is based, have been made available.
After Doling Out Huge Loans, China Is Now Bailing Out Countries
Beijing is emerging as a new heavyweight in providing emergency funds to debt-ridden countries, catching up to the I.M.F. as a lender of last resort.
(NYT) Since the end of World War II, the International Monetary Fund and the United States have been the world’s lenders of last resort, each wielding broad influence over the global economy. Now a new heavyweight has emerged in providing emergency loans to debt-ridden countries: China.
New data shows that China is providing ever more emergency loans to countries, including Turkey, Argentina and Sri Lanka. China has been helping countries that have either geopolitical significance, like a strategic location, or lots of natural resources. Many of them have been borrowing heavily from Beijing for years to pay for infrastructure or other projects.

14 March
China casts itself as Middle East peacemaker with global ambition
Diplomatic deal between Riyadh and Tehran bolsters expectations in region of what Beijing can deliver
(FT) Days after brokering a rapprochement between Iran and Saudi Arabia, Xi Jinping struck a triumphant note. China should “actively participate” in “global governance” and “add more stability and positive energy to world peace”, the Chinese president told Beijing’s rubber-stamp legislature on Monday.
Xi’s achievement was in convincing Tehran and Riyadh to restart diplomatic relations after almost seven years, a shift that caught many across the Middle East and in Washington by surprise.
But just as significant may be what the diplomatic breakthrough revealed about Washington’s limits as the region’s dominant power, and China’s potential willingness to assume a more political role, mediating peace deals and shaping the security architecture as the US once did.
Beijing has acted as a primarily economic partner in the Middle East. Its energy procurements have ballooned from 3 per cent of the region’s oil exports to 30 per cent over the past 30 years, and it is the biggest buyer of Saudi and Iranian crude oil.
That has given China considerable clout as a trading partner — Saudi Arabia’s largest — and source of investment. China is also one of the world’s few major powers to have healthy relations with Iran, with which the US has not had formal diplomatic ties since 1980.

1 March
Inside China’s Peace Plan for Ukraine
Alexander Gabuev
China’s vague plan is aimed not at actually ending the war, but at impressing the developing world and rebutting accusations that Beijing has become a silent accomplice to Moscow.
(Carnegie)Those who expected a roadmap to peace in Ukraine will surely be disappointed. Yet the authors of the Chinese position paper have no such ambition, and certainly do not intend for Beijing to become deeply embroiled in the conflict. The document is sooner a rebuttal to Western allegations that China has been a silent accomplice to Russia, and an attempt to bolster its image as a responsible world power in the eyes of developing countries.

27 February
China Is Flooding the Pacific with Money, Corruption
(China Unscripted) The Chinese Communist Party knows that if it can get a foothold in the Pacific islands, its rivals would have a hard time coming to Taiwan’s aid. This is all part of the CCP’s invasion plan for Taiwan, and that plan seems to be coming to fruition. In this episode of China Unscripted, we talk about the corruption and money China is sending to the Pacific islands, how China’s biggest critic in the Solomon Islands got ousted, and what the West can do to displace China’s foothold in the region. Joining us in this episode is Cleo Paskal, a senior fellow at The Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

18 February
High-profile ‘Belt and Road’ plan to build Europe’s first ‘smart city’ in Bulgaria lies in tatters (paywall)
Billed as part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative, a project to turn a shabby Bulgarian village into Europe’s first ‘smart city’ hasn’t got off the ground. What went wrong?
(SCMP) The houses dotted around the square are crumbling, the roads potholed, and the only signal of profitable activity comes from the rumble of trucks passing through on their way to and from an industrial estate and a supermarket warehouse.
An air of somnolence and quiet decay hangs over the village, which seems stuck in its Communist-era past, nearly unchanged since 1990, when a wave of protests in the nearby capital, Sofia, brought a close to Bulgaria’s four dark decades behind the Iron Curtain.
The backstory: Europe’s first ‘smart city’ to land in Bulgaria Bulgaria’s capital Sofia will see Europe’s first “smart city” to be built later this year. This project will be consigned to a Chinese company and the construction will start from the moment the upcoming 16+1 summit begins. The concept of the so-called “smart city” continues as before and has so far been implemented in various places around China. It represents integration of the latest construction and information technologies. ( CGTN 6 July 2018)

15 February
China’s expanding interests in the Middle East
Full throttle in neutral: China’s new security architecture for the Middle East
By Tuvia Gering
(Atlantic Council) This report addresses two widely held beliefs about the nature of China’s engagement in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) that ought to be revisited in light of notable developments. First, while it is widely assumed that Beijing’s interests in the region are limited to energy security and economic ties, this report will show how cooperation has expanded in recent years across the board. Indeed, China has been fortifying its strategic ties and expanding its cooperation by heavily investing in local Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) projects, as well as the infrastructure and technologies of the future. In doing so, it seeks to further integrate each nation’s development strategy with its own.
Second, this report will review the assumption that there is no substitute for the United States’ security and diplomatic dominance in the region. It will describe how China currently provides limited security alternatives that directly and indirectly undermine US dominance, even without displacing it.

7 February
Solomon Islands ousts official who is critical of close relations with China
A vocal critic of China and leader of the most populous province in the Solomon Islands has been removed from office after a no-confidence vote by the provincial legislature on Tuesday, Australian state broadcaster ABC reported.
Daniel Suidani, premier of the South Pacific nation’s Malaita province, is a longtime critic of the country’s deepening relations with China, which culminated in a security pact signed last April. He has banned Chinese companies from the province and accepted development aid from the United States.


19 December
Opinion: How Beijing is controlling Chinese media in Canada and around the world
The biggest Chinese-language news outlet in Canada, the Sing Tao Daily, has shifted from more independent coverage of China to consistent pro-Beijing coverage, as has the main Sing Tao in Hong Kong, writes Joshua Kurlantzick, who says it exemplifies a worldwide trend
While becoming more autocratic at home during Xi Jinping’s rule, Beijing has become much more willing, over the past decade, to throw its weight around inside other states. It is increasingly trying, for the first time since Mao’s days, to intervene in the domestic politics, media, information environments, and societies of other countries. Beijing’s campaigns today reflect a departure from the more limited and defensive Chinese foreign policy of the late Cold War and early post–Cold War eras. China in many ways has supplanted Russia as the authoritarian foreign power most dedicated to meddling inside other countries.
An excerpt from Joshua Kurlantzick’s new book — Beijing’s Global Media Offensive: China’s Uneven Campaign to Influence Asia and the World

15 December
Indo-Pacific region remains the future engine of the global economy: Experts
British Parliamentarians and experts have called the Indo-Pacific region one of the greatest current and future engines of the global economy at an event titled Indo-Pacific APPG Dialogue at the House of Commons in London on Wednesday.
The Indo-Pacific is emerging as one of the most important geopolitical regions in the world. Despite recent trends and the rise of nationalism and sub-nationalism in political discourse, the transnational interests of countries today have in reality moved well beyond the strict geographical categorisations of earlier times.
The region is made up of 14 countries: Australia, Bangladesh, Burma, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam. In a narrow sense, sometimes known as the Indo-West Pacific or Indo-Pacific Asia, it comprises the tropical waters of the Indian Ocean, the western and central Pacific Ocean, and the seas connecting the two in the general area of Indonesia
Across much of the Indo-Pacific region, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is using military and economic coercion to bully its neighbours, advance unlawful maritime claims, threaten maritime shipping lanes, and destabilize territory along the periphery of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) The speakers provided a detailed insight into the emergence of the Indo-Pacific as a region of significance and explored the need for the UK to engage more proactively on the Indo-Pacific framework.
Cleo Paskal, a strategic Indo-Pacific expert spoke about the People’s Republic of China’s influence operations in the Pacific Islands and provided deep insight into the Chinese manoeuvring in the pacific islands over many years.

China-Solomon Islands Security Agreement and Competition for Influence in Oceania
(Georgetown Journal of International Affairs (GJIA))The China-Solomon Islands security agreement alarms Western countries concerned about China’s growing influence in Oceania. While the agreement is unlikely to result in the establishment of a Chinese military base in Solomon Islands, China’s influence will continue to grow. Meanwhile, attempts by the United States and its allies to counter China could lead to the establishment of more military bases elsewhere in the Pacific, increasing the militarization of Oceania as a whole. Solomon Islands and other Pacific Island countries must ensure they are true partners, rather than merely pawns in the increasing geopolitical competition.

28 October
A Belt & Rough Road?: China-Latin America Relations
The writing has been on the wall for several years, as China’s economic engagement with the region has tapered.
(Wilson Center) In addition to rubber-stamping Xi Jinping’s third term as Chinese Communist Party general secretary, the 20th Congress of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), which concluded last week, offered signs of a bumpy road ahead for China. The country is confronting both economic troubles and an increasingly unfavorable geopolitical environment. Xi’s work report, delivered during the party congress, gives insights into how China will respond to these challenges in its domestic and foreign policy, and the implications for Latin America could be significant.
The highly choreographed proceedings alluded to China’s economic headwinds, which will limit economic growth rate to about 3 percent this year. The slowdown will leave Beijing with fewer resources to commit to its once-expansive foreign policy agenda.
China appears to be downplaying its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), previously a priority for CCP foreign and economic policy. Xi mentioned the initiative just twice in his lengthy party congress address. Instead, he emphasized the Global Development Initiative and Global Security Initiative, two new, loosely defined platforms for overseas engagement that are not expected to produce the type of multibillion dollar overseas infrastructure investments characteristic of the BRI.

14 October
Analysis: Does China’s ‘palace diplomacy’ benefit Africa or Beijing?
China’s practice of gifting million-dollar buildings to governments across Africa is under renewed scrutiny.
(Al Jazeera) According to a 2020 study by the Washington, DC-based Heritage Foundation think tank, at least 186 government buildings in Africa have been at least partially financed and built by China. That number has grown rapidly over the past two decades as China’s economy has become more robust, and Beijing has thus been willing to wield the soft power it can afford.
The true implications of these gifts remain unknown because details about Chinese investment deals on the continent are usually vague and obscure, said Bhaso Ndzendze, associate professor of politics and international relations at the University of Johannesburg. “The ambiguity means that some packages can simultaneously be interpreted as loans, investment, and aid”. …
In a number of countries, regular citizens are beginning to criticise China’s presence on the continent. There have been protests about work conditions on these projects over the years in places like Zambia and Malawi, as well as elsewhere on the continent.
Experts believe that the primary reason for China’s initiatives is to, on the one hand, expand its geopolitical influence on the continent especially as it continues its Belt and Road Initiative, while also decreasing the influence of its global competition, namely the United States and Europe.
“We should not underestimate the extent to which China’s investment-based diplomacy in Africa can reshape alliances,” said John McCauley, associate professor of government and politics at the University of Maryland. “Paying for buildings and infrastructure may seem like a lazy and transactional means of building friendships at the national level, but it works politically.”
… Beyond diplomatic influence, China may also be getting just as much as it has been giving, as its economic interests in Africa have been expanding. Despite the pandemic, trade volumes between China and Africa reached a record $254bn in 2021, according to the Chinese customs agency, four times that between the US and Africa. And Zeng explains why the trend could continue.

29 August
China’s dim prospects turn disastrous
Beijing itself is owed $1 trillion  by struggling governments around the world that cannot afford to pay back loans for Belt and Road Initiative projects.
By Diane Francis
(The Hill) … [T]here is the Belt and Road Initiative debacle. Bloomberg reported that 19 emerging economies (such as Sri Lanka, Lebanon, El Salvador and Pakistan) are virtually bust due to huge indebtedness to China as a result of unaffordable, ambitious infrastructure projects. These loans were granted without concern for credit ratings or the ability to repay and accused of being politically motivated “debt traps.” But these have become China’s “debt traps,” and now protests and pushbacks take place in these countries against Beijing. China must forgive loans, restructure them or walk away and let more Sri Lankan-style collapses occur.

19 August
Port politics: How China fits into Sri Lanka’s economic crisis
(Christian Science Monitor) China’s financing and operation of Sri Lanka’s Hambantota port, where a Chinese missile-tracking vessel docked this week despite objections from the United States and India, have been raised as a cautionary example of “debt trap diplomacy” – a strategy in which a country loans money to smaller nations, which may not be able to repay their debts, as a way to boost geopolitical influence. Some even blame China for the island nation’s economic nosedive. Yet experts say Sri Lanka’s debt crisis is more complicated, and China is just one player, albeit an important one.
China denies Belt and Road Initiative ‘debt trap lie’ as infrastructure spending tops US$1 trillion
Beijing says it has signed ‘cooperation documents’ with 149 countries and 32 international organisations, while taking on 3,000 projects
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has accused China of creating a ‘debt trap’ through its Belt and Road Initiative
(SCMP) China has worked with almost 150 countries and spent US$1 trillion as part of Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative to open cross-border trade routes while placing no one in a “debt trap” despite accusations from the United States, according to its foreign ministry.
The government has signed belt and road “cooperation documents” with 149 countries and 32 international organisations as of July 4, while taking on 3,000 projects, Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Wang Wenbin said on Thursday.
The initiative, which is now in its ninth year, offers Chinese support, often through major state-backed enterprises, for roads, airports, seaports and other infrastructure that smooths trade in goods.

17 August
Understanding China’s Economic Presence in the Arctic
Are tangible investments following the hype?
(Inkstick) In January 2018, China published its first-ever Arctic policy, emphasizing the role China sees for itself in Arctic affairs. China has extended its interests in the region beyond the country’s previous focus on scientific research to also engaging in economic activities along with the “Polar Silk Road” (PSR). As a new expansion of China’s grand and crucial foreign policy strategy, the “Belt and Road Initiative” (BRI), the PSR aims to develop “a blue economic passage linking China and Europe via the Arctic Ocean”.

13 August
Cleo Paskal: Right to vote being snatched from Solomon Islanders by PRC-backed PM
Sogavare has introduced a Bill to postpone elections. Reaction on the ground is seething. Likely Sogavare and his backers in Beijing don’t mind violence so they can activate the China security deal.
Beijing has studied the importance of the vast Pacific Islands region—for instance, you need to be able to hold it, or deny it to others, to take Taiwan. It also knows the cost and difficulty of taking it by force, as those on Bloody Ridge remembered.
So, Beijing has worked on its consolidation of the region by using political warfare to “island hop” beyond the first island chain and set up political, economic and, increasingly, force-capable forward operating sites across the region.
Its goals for the region were made explicit in its proposed “China-Pacific Island Countries Common Development Vision” and supported by the “China-Pacific Island Countries Five-Year Action Plan on Common Development (2022-2026)”.
… Countries need to realise this is not business as usual. This is a coup with Chinese characteristics, and if it’s not stopped in the Solomons, it will spread.

11 August
China’s growing reach is transforming a Pacific island chain
(WaPo) As China rapidly extends its reach in the Pacific, its growing influence is unmistakable in the Solomon Islands, a country with which it established diplomatic ties only in 2019. The relationship between the world’s most populous country and this Pacific archipelago of 700,000 people was thrust into the spotlight this year when word leaked that they had struck a secret security agreement. The United States and its allies fear the pact could pave the way for the establishment of a Chinese military base in the strategically valuable island chain.
… The United States and Australia are both increasing their aid and diplomatic engagement with Pacific nations, including the Solomon Islands, where the Biden administration announced in February it would reopen the long-closed U.S. Embassy. Some Solomon Islanders feel the efforts by China’s rivals are too little, too late. But cracks also are showing in China’s promises.

10 August
Is China to Blame for Sri Lanka’s Debt Woes?
China’s role in lending to Sri Lanka has expanded in the last 20 years, but fewer Chinese loans would not have saved the country from its current economic crisis.
(The Diplomat) …in 2007, pre-dating the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), the Sri Lankan government announced the idea to build a port in Hambantota near the Indian Ocean shipping lane that accounts for more than 75 percent of the world’s marine-borne trade. Forecasting a growing middle class in Africa and India and a growing demand for Chinese goods, Sri Lanka wanted to snag a proportion of cargo that would otherwise go through Singapore – the world’s busiest transshipment port. China Harbor Group eventually built the port by 2010; it was funded using a 15-year loan of $307 million with a grace period of four years, and a fixed interest rate of 6.3 percent, from China Eximbank. There are other such examples of lending from China.
[China fails on Pacific pact, but still seeks to boost regional influence 1 June 2022]

Leave a Comment

comm comm comm