April 17, 2017

China (中国) Today

Events Review (10.04–16.04.2017)

 

Major Events and Trends in the Development of the Situation around the PRC

The current events around the Korean Peninsula have become a major problem in the APRThe current events around the Korean Peninsula have become a major problem in the APR. After all, it is possible that they can develop into a regional armed conflict, which, one way or another, would affect the PRC and other countries there. It is already known that the DPRK, despite the world community's demand to stop the nuclear missile program, on 16 April 2017 made an attempt to conduct another test launch of a ballistic missile (the attempt was unsuccessful because the rocket exploded at the start).

The test was taking place at the moment when the United States was demonstrating its power near the Korean Peninsula, which was supposed to show Pyongyang's resolute and uncompromising position. At the same time, this step has actually become next to the last before the start of the USA's military operation against the DPRK. As US National Security Adviser General G. McMaster said, “...the DPRK's attempt to launch a ballistic missile is another provocation and a threat from the North Korean regime”. Therefore, the USA has developed several options for responding to such actions, including a preventive strike against the DPRK in order to neutralize its nuclear program. The United States has acquainted with these plans its allies, first of all the UK.

No less important were some other events that affected the situation in and around China.

 

A meeting of the Vice Premier of State Council of China Zhang Gaoli with Russian President V. Putin, April 13A meeting of the Vice Premier of State Council of China Zhang Gaoli with Russian President V. Putin, April 13

Politics

As for the APR, the Chinese leadership keeps trying to prevent an armed confrontation. According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the PRC, the Chinese government is closely monitoring events in the Korean Peninsula, believing that the problems associated with the North Korean nuclear missile program should be solved in a political way. At this, Beijing unconditionally supports the UN Security Council's resolution, which demands from Pyongyang to give up nuclear tests and cease all activities in this sphere.

Problems in the Asia-Pacific region were discussed at the meeting of the First Deputy Premier of the State Council of the People's Republic of China Zhang Gaoli with Russian President V. Putin and in a telephone conversation between the heads of the Foreign Ministries of the two countries, Van Yi and S. Lavrov. The parties agreed to deepen the strategic interaction between China and Russia in addressing these issues. And the Russian media hastened to present the negotiations between the representatives of the PRC and the Russian Federation as “confirmation of the commonality of Russian-Chinese positions that deepen in contrast to the USA's attempts to strengthen its influence in the APR”.

A meeting of the Foreign Ministers of China Wang Yi and France Jean-Marc Ayrault, April 14A meeting of the Foreign Ministers of China Wang Yi and France Jean-Marc Ayrault, April 14

Besides, the PRC continues to develop relations with the countries of the European Union. In particular, on 14 April 2017, in Beijing there was a meeting of the Foreign Ministers of China (Wang Yi) and France (Jean-Marc Ayrault), who pointed out the constructive nature of cooperation between the PRC and France in the political and economic spheres. In their opinion, it is necessary to preserve the positive dynamics of the development of these relations, even despite the results of the upcoming elections in France.

A meeting of the Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress of China Zhang Dejiang with Lithuania President Dalia Grybauskaitė, April 14A meeting of the Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress of China Zhang Dejiang with Lithuania President Dalia Grybauskaitė, April 14

A few days ago, April 14–16, 2017, Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (Parliament) of China Zhang Dejiang paid an official visit to Lithuania. During his meeting with Lithuanian President D. Grybauskaite, he discussed plans for deepening the countries' partnership relations in various spheres. At this, Lithuania's importance for China as one of the participants in the Chinese project “One Belt, One Road” in the Baltic region was confirmed.

 

Economy

By deliberately developing the national economy and overcoming the complications of a number of external and internal problems, the PRC's government is striving to ensure the sustainable development of the country. According to the Main Customs Administration of the People's Republic of China, in the first quarter of 2017, China's foreign trade increased by 21.8 % as compared with last year and reached 902.5 billion US dollars. Exports from the country increased by 14.8 %, and imports — by 31.1 %.

As before, the main items of Chinese exports remained products of engineering and electronics (total exports amounted to 280 billion US dollars, with an increase of 15.1 %). The import of various raw materials and energy products to China also increased, including iron ore — by 12.2 %, oil — by 15 % and natural gas — by 4.3 %.

Also China continues active investment cooperation with other countries. For example, from January to March 2017, the volume of foreign investments into the economy of China was 33 billion US dollars, which is 1 % more than in the same period last year. Let's notice, that 6,4 thousand new companies with the foreign capital have been created in China.

 

According to the World Bank's forecast, in 2017, the growth of the PRC economy will make 6.5 %, and in 2018–2019, — 6.3 % per year. Despite some decline in the pace of China's economic development, its leadership will take consistent measures to improve the living standards of the Chinese population. The number of the poor in the next three years should decrease from the current 1.1 % to 0.4 %.

GDP growth in China Poverty rates estimates and projections for China
GDP growth in China Poverty rates estimates and projections for China

According to World Bank experts, trade, economic and investment cooperation with other countries will remain the most important for the development of China's economy. First of all, they mean deepening of China's ties with the United States as its main partner.

By the way, according to the American consulting company Rhodium Group, in 2016, the total amount of Chinese investments into the US economy amounted to more than 46 billion US dollars, which is three times more than in 2015. At this, Chinese companies make a significant contribution to the implementation of the US government's program to increase the employment of the American population. Interestingly, during the whole of last year, Chinese companies created about 140 thousand direct jobs in the USA.

 

A meeting of the Chinese Premier Li Keqiang with delegation from the US Congress, April 10A meeting of the Chinese Premier Li Keqiang with delegation from the US Congress, April 10

However, recently there has been an increase in problems in the PRC's investment activity in the United States. In 2014–2016, Chinese enterprises in the United States became the main objects where the US Committee on Foreign Investment (CFIUS) conducted an investigation. And the US leadership has significantly limited the ability of Chinese investors in the military industry in order to prevent the leakage of modern American technologies in the production of weapons and military equipment.

Such issues were discussed at the meeting of Premier of the State Council of the People's Republic of China Li Keqiang with delegation of the US Congress on 10 April 2017 in Beijing, where the parties decided to accelerate the negotiations on signing an investment agreement between the PRC and the USA.

 

“China-Japan Industrial Cooperation Forum 2017” held in Beijing on April 11“China-Japan Industrial Cooperation Forum 2017” held in Beijing on April 11

Speaking about the development of China's economic ties with the APR countries, we may point out that it is quite active. Last week Beijing hosted the “China-Japan Industrial Cooperation Forum 2017”. Within the framework of the forum, Premier of the State Council of the People's Republic of China Li Keqiang met with the Chairman of the Japanese Association for the Promotion of International Trade (JAPIT) Y. Kono. Both high officials stressed the positive nature of cooperation between the two countries. At this, they pointed out China's importance for Japan, as the largest market for Japanese goods, as an investment object and source of income. By the way, the volume of bilateral trade between China and Japan is more than 270 billion US dollars a year, and the number of Japanese investment companies in China has already exceeded 20,000. Given this state of affairs, the PRC and Japan decided to develop active cooperation in the trade and economic sphere, sometimes even despite their certain disagreements in the APR or the problems of the historical past.

Traditionally, China retains its position as Africa's largest trading partner. According to the Chairman of the China Committee for the Promotion of International Trade Jiang Zengwei, in 2016 the volume of trade between China and Africa amounted to 149.1 billion US dollars, and the volume of direct Chinese investments into the economy of African countries — 3.2 billion US dollars. Therefore, even such indicators show that the China-Africa ties are an example of the “South-South” cooperation.

 

A meeting of the Vice Premier of State Council of China Zhang Gaoli with the Chairman of “Gazprom” A. Miller, April 11A meeting of the Vice Premier of State Council of China Zhang Gaoli with the Chairman of “Gazprom” A. Miller, April 11

China pays special attention to the development of economic ties with Russia and other countries of the former USSR. As a result of the first quarter of 2017, the overall trade turnover between China and Russia, compared with the same period last year, increased by 30 % — to 18.1 billion US dollars. The main direction of cooperation between the parties is the energy sector. For example, during the meeting of the First Deputy Premier of the State Council of the People's Republic of China Zhang Gaoli and Vice President of the “Chinese National Oil and Gas Corporation” (CNPC) Wang Dongjin with the Chairman of the Board of “Gazprom” A. Miller on 11 April 2017 in Moscow, an agreement was reached to increase the volume of Russian gas supplies to China, including through the prospective “Siberia Power” gas pipeline.

In April 2017, a delegation of the Republic of Belarus headed by the Minister of the Economy V. Zinovsky, visited the PRC. The leadership of China and representatives of Chinese business discussed with the Belarusians the results and prospects for further implementation of the project to create the “Big Stone” industrial park in Belarus. The question of additional supplies of Belarusian meat and dairy products to the People's Republic of China was also raised.

 

Transcontinental route “Great Britain — China”Transcontinental route “Great Britain — China”

The PRC keeps developing the transport infrastructure within the framework of the project “One Belt, One Road”. In April this year the 12-thousand-kilometer-long transcontinental route “Great Britain — China” was launched. It takes three weeks to deliver goods by this route, which is half the time it takes to deliver them by the sea route. The route from London passes through the English Channel to France, then — via Belgium, Germany, Poland, Belarus, Russia, Kazakhstan and further — to China.

China has also allocated additional funds for the implementation of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project, having increased its financing to 62 billion US dollars (it provides for the expansion of the network of highways and railways between China and Pakistan, as well as the development of industrial and energy infrastructure in the border areas of both the countries).

 

Security and Law Enforcement Agencies

On 23 April 2017, it is planned to launch the first Chinese-made aircraft carrierTo implement its plans to strengthen its positions in the Asia-Pacific region, the PRC is building up the combat capabilities of the Chinese Navy. Thus, on 23 April 2017, on the Day of the Chinese Navy, it is planned to launch the first Chinese-made aircraft carrier. Today, the Chinese Navy has an aircraft carrier “Liaoning”, created on the basis of the aircraft carrier “Varyag”, which China acquired in its time from Ukraine. Besides, a new nuclear aircraft carrier with a nuclear power plant is being designed.

 

Chinese frigate “Yulin” escorts rescued from pirates Tuvalu's “OS35” cargo shipActivities to implement China's interests in the APR, the country combines with active ensuring security in other regions of the world's oceans. In particular, on 9 April 2017, the ships of the Chinese Navy's convoy group rescued the cargo ship under the flag of the Polynesian state of Tuvalu, captured by pirates in the Gulf of Aden. Since 2008, the PRC Navy's convoy groups have rescued 43 ships, of which 23 are Chinese and 20 are foreign.

 

As for military-technical cooperation between China and Russia, the following fact is interesting: in 2017, ten Su-25 fighters produced by the United Aircraft Corporation of Russia are planned to be delivered to China.

 

Science and Technology

A new generation telecommunication satellite “ Shi Jian-13”The Government of the People's Republic of China continues to develop a national program for the development of outer space. April 12, 2017, from the Xichang cosmodrome in Sichuan province, with the help of the carrier rocket “Chang Zheng-3B” (”Long March-3B”) a new generation telecommunication satellite “Shi Jian-13” was launched. The device is equipped with a Chinese-made ion rocket engine (Lanzhou Institute of Physics). Its efficiency is almost ten times higher than that of a conventional rocket engine operating on chemical fuel. “Shi Jian-13” is capable of transmitting up to 20 gigabytes of data per second, which exceeds the aggregate capabilities of all communication satellites already launched by China. This will ensure mobile communication, as well as access to the Internet throughout the country (including from aircrafts and high-speed trains).

 

“Sichuan International Aerospace Exhibition 2017” will be held from September 29th to October 3rd, 2017, in Deyang, SichuanIn autumn this year, the first aerospace exhibition “Sichuan International Aerospace Exhibition 2017” will be held in Deyang, Sichuan province, in which about 400 Chinese and foreign companies will take part. They will demonstrate samples of aviation and space technology, infrastructure elements, production and operational facilities. Sichuan Province is one of the most important industrial centers of aeronautics and aerospace industry in China, and the exhibition center in Deyang is the main production base of aerospace equipment.

Chinese Icebreaker “Xue Long” 

Also, China actively explores the Antarctics. Thus, from November 2, 2016 to April 11 of this year, the 33rd Antarctic Expedition of the People's Republic of China was organized, during which the icebreaker “Xue Long” (”Snow Dragon”, built in 1993 by the Kherson Shipyard in Ukraine) with 256 members of the expedition covered 31 thousands nautical miles, worked in the Antarctic region, visited four Chinese scientific stations.