China, Pacific Island countries jointly tackle challenge of climate change under BRI

Editor's Note:

Today, issues related to the climate change, as a shared challenge faced by humanity, are receiving significant attention, and climate cooperation has become an integral part of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). The demands of the ecologically vulnerable and climate-affected Pacific Island countries have garnered particular attention. Global Times reporter Shan Jie (GT) recently talked with Chen Dezheng (Chen), vice director of the China-Pacific Island Countries Climate Change Cooperation Center and the director of the Research Center for Pacific Island Countries at the Liaocheng University in Shandong, to discuss how China, as a responsible major nation, has engaged in climate cooperation with Pacific Island countries in the recent years, the support China can offer to the South Pacific to reduce the risk of and harms from climate change, and the climate change-related demands shared by China and Pacific Island countries as developing countries via the BRI.
GT: The China-Pacific Island Countries Climate Change Cooperation Center has been in operation for a year and a half since its launch in April 2022. Under the BRI framework, what achievements have been made so far, and what plans are underway for further work?

Chen: Since its establishment, the center has organized five high-level academic conferences, including the China-Pacific Island Countries Climate Change High-level Dialogue. In June and November of 2022, it conducted two climate change training courses for officials, scholars, and technical personnel from Pacific Island countries (PICs).

The center has also signed cooperation memoranda and strategic cooperation agreements with institutions such as the University of the South Pacific, the National University of Samoa, the Chinese Academy of Sciences' Institute of Atmospheric Physics, and the Ministry of Natural Resources' Second Institute of Oceanography. It has established an atmospheric environment and source analysis laboratory, meteorological stations, and 10 research teams, including those focused on integrated photovoltaic and wind energy generation.

Additionally, it has implemented small-scale climate aid projects for PICs and undertook a 2 million yuan ($280,000) agricultural planting technology project in Tonga. The head of the climate center also visited PICs to introduce the progress of related work to various sectors in those countries. The center also hosted visits by prominent leaders from island countries, including the Speaker of the Parliament of Vanuatu and the Minister of Internal Affairs of Kiribati.

GT: What are the highlights of the cooperation on climate affairs between China and the PICs with the BRI?

Chen: China places great importance on the unique circumstances and concerns of PICs regarding climate change and is committed to helping these countries enhance their climate change resilience. China is dedicated to cooperating with island countries on various levels and through various means to improve their capacity for climate adaptation and climate change mitigation, and high-quality development.

In 2018, China supported the construction of a China-Vanuatu marine joint observation station, continuing collaborative efforts in ocean observation and disaster risk reduction with Vanuatu. To further advance maritime cooperation between China and Vanuatu, China's National Marine Technology Center, in collaboration with the Vanuatu Meteorology and Geo-Hazards Department (VMGD) and the Public Works Department (PWD), jointly planned the construction of Phase II of the China-Vanuatu joint observation station, including a meteorological station. The meteorological station's designs have been completed, and progress is being made in the construction of meteorological infrastructure.

China's National Marine Environmental Forecasting Center (The Tsunami Advisory Center of the Ministry of National Resources) utilizes the national ocean forecasting and warning platform to continuously track and analyze global undersea earthquakes and tsunami monitoring data, providing ocean disaster warning and alert services. In 2023, the center issued tsunami alerts for the Kermadec Islands waters of New Zealand, the waters of Tonga, the southern waters of the Fiji Islands, the New Caledonia waters, and the waters of Papua New Guinea, thereby assisting PICs in safeguarding against marine disasters.

Through initiatives such as the "The Marine Scholarship of China," China has provided scholarship opportunities in marine, environmental, and climate-related areas to PICs. This aligns with China's commitment to offer 2,500 government scholarship opportunities to PICs from 2020 to 2025.

GT: In August, you attended the Pacific Small Island Developing States (SIDS) High-Level Dialogue on Climate Change in Suva, the capital of Fiji, and conducted visits to countries like Kiribati and Tonga. From your understanding, what impact has climate change had on the local people's livelihoods and production? Are you also aware of the local perspectives on climate change?

Chen: After engaging with government departments and academic institutions in countries like Samoa, Tonga, Fiji, Kiribati, and others, we have learned that climate change has led to various natural disasters such as high temperatures, floods, droughts and storms, causing damage to the homes of the island nations' residents, reducing their incomes, and affecting their livelihoods significantly.

The interviewees of our research unanimously acknowledged the clear effects of global warming and believe that the intensity and frequency of natural disasters have increased over the last five years.

At the same time, the interviewees all recognized the helpful role of China's assistance in the island nations' efforts to address climate change. Regarding areas of assistance that should be strengthened in the future, more than half of the interviewees suggested enhancing vocational training, disaster relief supplies, and coastal zone planning and management. Over one-third of the interviewees believed that support should be increased in higher education, research facilities, research projects, financial aid, infrastructure, and technology transfer.

GT: The 2023 United Nations Climate Change Conference or Conference of the Parties of the UNFCCC (COP28) is scheduled to be held in the United Arab Emirates from November 30 to December 12. In terms of climate change, what are the demands of PICs? Have these demands received sufficient attention from developed countries?

Chen: The Pacific island region is one of the most severely affected areas by climate change, characterized by significant environmental sensitivity and vulnerability. Global climate change profoundly affects their right to survival and development. Global climate governance is crucial for the sustainable development of PICs. Over the years, PICs have consistently voiced their concerns on the international stage, advocated for a voice in global climate governance, presented their demands and requests for participation in global climate governance, and continuously pushed for the implementation of climate governance policies and measures in their region. They have become an important force that cannot be ignored in global climate governance.

China has taken into account the demands of island countries in addressing climate change and provided targeted climate governance assistance. However, as a vulnerable group in the international community, PICs still face some challenges in climate governance: Lack of sufficient international discourse power; limited economic capacity and insufficient funding for climate change adaptation; lagging infrastructure development for climate change adaptation; lack of core climate change technologies, and the need for further strengthening of their own efforts in climate governance.
GT: What are the paths for China climate governance collaboration with PICs?

Chen: China, as a responsible major nation in the field of climate governance, particularly in its determination and actions in addressing climate change, has instilled hope and bolstered confidence in island countries' efforts to combat climate change. China's principles of green development and sustainability within its ecological civilization construction align closely with the climate change objectives of PICs. The future of climate cooperation between China and the PICs holds even greater promise, facilitating the advancement of the China-PICs community of shared future.

In driving the process of climate cooperation with PICs, China should adopt a strategic approach that combines post-disaster management and source control, and interconnects short and medium- to long-term goals.

Guided by the principle of "harmonious coexistence between humans and nature," China and the PICs could strengthen the exchange and mutual learning of climate governance concepts.

China and island countries should advance high-quality BRI cooperation to enhance disaster protection infrastructure in island countries. China has emphasized the alignment of the BRI initiative with strategic goals, including practical infrastructure cooperation related to natural disasters such as storm surge protection. Exploring ways to enhance disaster resilience in island countries, including the planning and construction of disaster-resistant infrastructure like storm surge barriers and monitoring stations, water storage facilities to combat drought, and improved building standards, is essential.

China could support island nations in developing new energy sources. China encourages enterprises in the solar power and wind power sectors to "go global" and promote the development of exemplary green energy projects. Through flexible cooperation in green industry investment, China aims to help island nations address their energy needs sustainably.

Under the framework of South-South cooperation on climate change, China has allocated approximately 1.1 billion yuan in recent years to provide energy-efficient and new energy products and equipment to developing countries. China possesses technical expertise and operational experience in photovoltaic, tidal, and wave energy generation, as well as small-scale integrated energy solutions. It is recommended to assist island countries in assessing their suitability for solar, wind, and marine energy sources and tailor assistance projects accordingly to their natural conditions and development needs.

PICs have vast exclusive economic zones spanning over 30 million square kilometers, holding tremendous potential for blue economic development. China has actively promoted high-quality, green, and low-carbon development in the marine economy, with advanced expertise in seawater aquaculture and marine ranch construction. China has also established a comprehensive marine spatial planning technology system, which can assist PICs in achieving sustainable development that is low-carbon and environmentally friendly in various aspects.

Our two countries need to find a way to coexist: China, US scholars

Editor's Note:

As the dialogue between China and the US at the governmental level resumes, an enhanced Track II diplomacy, including the conversation between Chinese and US scholars, shows its particular role in easing the bilateral ties. In a recent webinar, Wang Wen (Wang), professor and executive dean of Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies at Renmin University of China, and Dennis Wilder (Wilder), a senior fellow with the Initiative for US-China Dialogue on Global Issues at Georgetown University and former National Security Council's director for China, answered questions concerning important issues such as China-US ties and the upcoming US election.

Host: As a top Asian affairs expert, you believe that the China-US relations are the most important relationship of the 21st century and we have to get it right. What is driving the tension in China-US relations? How can Washington and Beijing stabilize their relationship? And how do you think we can find a common ground again?

Wilder: I do applaud President Xi and President Biden for their meeting in Bali last year, and for trying to put a floor under what has become a very dangerously deteriorating relationship. The visit by the US secretary of commerce, where meaningful decisions were made on a working group to advance trade, investment and tourism was extremely positive. But I do have real concerns about whether the new floor under the relationship is actually made of hardwood, or if it's made of plywood, which can easily split.

For example, it's worth noting that no senior Chinese official has visited Washington in the seven months since the balloon incident and military-to-military relations are completely frozen with no end in sight to the impasse over the sanctions against the Chinese defense minister.

We have to be honest and say that trust really remains at an all-time low in this relationship. Beijing publicly states that Western countries, led by Washington, are committed to all-around containment and suppression of China. At the same time, the American national security strategy also bluntly asserts that China plans to replace the US as the world's leading power and that China is the only competitor with both the intent and means to reshape the international order.

As hopeless as the current impasse may seem, I would remind you that we have been through tough times before. We have been able to find diplomatic ways to bridge the divide before. What we need today is a similar, quiet, strategic discussion between two interlocutors chosen by the presidents to pursue a new Modus Operandi, an arrangement or agreement allowing conflicting parties to coexist peacefully, either indefinitely or until a final settlement is reached. 

In summary, let me just say that competition between the US and China is not going away. We are the world's leading powers, and this will be a permanent fixture of the international order. Strategic competition can actually be healthy and indeed can make both parties stronger. However, it also could turn into a zero-sum game, leading to a new cold war with disastrous consequences. 

Host: In recent months, we have seen the Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry, Doctor Henry Kissinger, and Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo visit China. What do you think both sides can do to prevent a sort of gray rhino event from happening and rebuild our relations?

Wang: A lot of people often talk about how to reconstruct the China-US relationship. I think for the governments of the two countries, the most realistic idea is how to prevent and manage a crisis. But for scholars like us, we should consider rebuilding China-US relations, which is to find a way for the two countries to coexist.

At present, both China and the US, especially this year, have a very popular and very similar argument that the other side will lose. In recent years, the American media are likely to say, China is weakening and has become a "ticking time bomb." Also, there are many people in China who say the US is weakening, declining or even collapsing.

Now these two types of similar views are deeply influenced by the realist theory in international relations. They believe that the so-called strategic competition between major powers can only be a zero-sum game.

But in fact, in the past few years, there has been a group of institutional liberals in Europe and the US who are studying the possibility of the future of permanent peace. I have three suggestions for the two countries' leadership. First, I think the two countries must break through the circles of the realistic theories. The future of China-US relations is not just a zero-sum game. Quite frankly, China is a country with 5,000 years of history and uninterrupted civilization, and the US has been the most successful country in modernization in the past 200 years. Both parties must acknowledge the other's great greatness, and neither should imagine that the other would collapse. Scholars from both countries must think about how China and the US can coexist and develop together.

The second point I want to share is that the public opinion elites of both countries must really understand each other in the post-pandemic era. After three years of physical isolation, we have become strangers. Finally, we have to maintain mutual communication.

Host: 2026 will mark the 250th anniversary of the founding of the US. Can the US and China establish a long-term sustainable framework for managing bilateral competition in the 21st century?

Wilder: 200 years ago, when we invented the American democratic system, institutions and government, Americans were frankly arrogant about that system. We believe it's the best system we had tried. But at the same time, China has 5,000 years of culture and a system based on Confucianism. That is quite different from the American value system. We have to find a way for these two very different models of governance and society to coexist, and we're struggling with that at this moment. So whoever the president is, in 2026, they have to have a better understanding of China, its history and its cultural strengths.

I think there are some in America who think that we can bring down the government of China, and that's a very dangerous thought. But I do think if a new president can be trained to understand better these cultural differences and how to bridge them, we can find a way to get along.

Host: Considering the US election in 2024, what is the potential for a thaw in relationship?

Wang: I think China and the US now have a major misunderstanding about each other. In my opinion, the two countries have to adapt to build a long-term relationship. 

But even though we have been in tension for a long time, it doesn't mean we can do nothing. I think at least there are four urgent things that could be done at a bilateral level. First, both sides should lift the sanctions imposed on some people of the other side, especially to enhance cultural exchanges at the scholarly level.

Second, in response to the trade war, I think the two sides should cancel some tariffs. The third point is to remove restrictions on high-tech investment, so that the investors on both sides can share the dividends of the technological progress. The fourth is to avoid the further deterioration regarding the Taiwan question. 

In short, it is impossible for China and US relationship to become very good in the foreseeable future. But even if we have to set our expectations low, we can do more on many practical issues.

Wilder: I think that increasing the dialogue in the China-US relationship is very important. But we have to be realistic about the next period and the difficulties that we're going to face. The American election cycle is going to be brutal. It's going to be a highly-fought battle between the Republicans and the Democrats, and the rhetoric is going to be very harsh on China.

I think you're going to find that both Democrats and Republicans are going to use China as a scapegoat, a way to distract from real issues in the US. I'm worried about the relationship and what can happen during this election cycle. So, I think it's going to be up to the professionals, the diplomats, the scholars, to try and keep the relationship stable while getting through a period that may be tough.

Neither Huawei nor Chinese people need to be intimidated by US lawmakers’ threat of new sanctions

Some members of the US House of Representatives' committee on China and the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Wednesday called for a total ban on all technology exports to Huawei and Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation (SMIC). This appeared to frighten Chinese investors, and as a result, shares of SMIC and Chinese artificial intelligence chip developer Cambricon Technologies plummeted on Thursday.

US lawmakers have always been the most radical anti-China force, so how can we be intimidated by a few clamors from them? While there exists the possibility that the US will further increase its ban on China's technology, it is highly unlikely that Washington will be able to destroy Huawei's Kirin 9000S processor. The possibility of the US resorting to increased suppression was surely expected by Huawei and its partners. Huawei has always kept a low profile, and the Chinese government doesn't hype up the company's technological breakthroughs. But how can a technological breakthrough that tech enthusiasts can discover via a teardown of the handset be hidden from the US tech community and intelligence system?

Since Huawei is bringing the Mate 60 Pro smartphone to the market, it should be fully confident about keeping its supply chain intact and maintaining and expanding its production capacity. Wouldn't that be a joke if the US upgraded its chokehold, leading the Mate 60 Pro supply and production chain to collapse easily? In that case, why would Huawei hurry to launch the Mate 60 series? Why wouldn't it solidify its technological breakthroughs and wait to release the smartphones at a better time to show its hands with Washington?

Huawei CEO Ren Zhengfei has been through various battles. Some years ago before the rainstorm of sanctions started to pour down on Huawei, he had started to prepare for a rainy day by asking HiSilicon, one of Huawei's subsidiaries, to make great efforts in looking for a back-up plan. Now the US has carried out rounds of sanctions and more severe ones may come, Ren will not pull a stunt and covet a quick cash grab by pushing his company and its partners toward a more dangerous situation.

Now, the US sanctions system has the advantage over the way Huawei and similar companies develop technological breakthroughs. The US side is not very clear if the Kirin 9000S processor is actually Huawei's own product or produced with the help of some other companies. Neither does it know what the technical route exactly is.

Besides, a few things are certain:

First, the technology of designing and producing Kirin 9000S is already mature, and the production capacity of this chip can be formed relying on the existing supply chain at home. Otherwise, Huawei would not launch the Mate 60 series because that would mean trouble.

Second, in the next competition, Huawei and other companies on the supply chain need to integrate and interact with market resources. Market resources can push Huawei to continue to progress; they have been more important than quietly obtaining some foreign technology to develop products and technologies. With the interaction with market resources, the iteration of semiconductor technology can be realized by the continuous advancement of those resources. The Kirin 9000S is now on the threshold of such progress.

Third, Huawei has found a way to break through the US sanctions, which shows a fundamental loophole in Washington's sanction system. Those brainless legislators are only fanatical, imagining out of thin air that they can kill the Kirin 9000S by tightening the sanctions. They don't understand that encrypting the sanctions system is a very complex systematic project and an almost impossible challenge.

Washington would need to completely reshape the sanctions system to do this, requiring companies in the US and allied countries to suffer much larger losses than in the past, which is equal to sanctioning these companies. Besides, the US simply is not sure that reorganizing the sanctions system will produce the results it wants, because that process is bound to be very difficult - a great deal of resentment may occur, but the outcome is still undetermined.

The fact that Huawei has launched the Mate 60 Pro shows that it has the certainty to fight the new rounds of US sanctions. The reason why the company keeps a low profile is the traditional Chinese thinking of doing more and saying less to avoid intensifying a new confrontation and giving the other side an out. And it's not a fear of being crushed in a battle.

Huawei, of course, still has a long way to go and hard battles to fight, but ambitions of seeking a blockade to hold technologies in a "small yard and high fence" and have them all to oneself have never been successful throughout history. From aviation to space to deep-sea technology, which one of them is under a country's monopolization? Semiconductors will be no exception.

The US can develop faster, but it is impossible to bind the feet of such a large country as China to stop it from moving forward. Huawei is a secular bird; it has already taken wing under the harsh sanctions of the US, and its wings will surely grow to be more and more powerful.

We the Chinese people should become more confident. Let's support Huawei and all the Chinese high-tech companies that the US has suppressed together. It is delusional for the US to think that it can deprive the Chinese people of the right to realize and enjoy scientific and technological progress.

China and Vietnam have ability to promote ties amid US courtship with Hanoi

After attending the G20 Summit in New Delhi, US President Joe Biden made a short visit to Vietnam. In Hanoi, the US and Vietnam elevated their relationship to a comprehensive strategic partnership, mirroring the comprehensive strategic partnership of cooperation between China and Vietnam in the new era. According to some foreign media outlets, the upgrade allows US-Vietnam ties to reach the same tier as Vietnam's relations with China, Russia. It appears that the US' strategy of encircling China from the south has made new progress.

Given the South China Sea dispute between China and Vietnam, the US-Vietnam relationship has undergone a smooth progression in recent years. In 2016, former US president Barack Obama visited Vietnam, becoming the third US president to visit the country after the Vietnam War. Then both Donald Trump and Biden made their visits there. While the US hopes to turn Vietnam into a "second Philippines," it is aware of the challenges in achieving this goal and is willing to settle for less.

With substantial progress in US-Vietnam relations, the US hopes that Vietnam can absorb some industries transferred from China and become a new center for low-cost manufacturing. Biden's visit aligns with the US' desire to increase chip manufacturing and rare earth production in Vietnam. 

Vietnam is smart, benefiting from the long-term governance of the Communist Party of Vietnam, it has fostered stable strategic thinking compared to the Philippines. Hanoi is committed to developing strong relations with the US and Western countries as a bargaining chip in its competition with China over the South China Sea affairs. Simultaneously, Hanoi seeks to expand Vietnam's economic opportunities and gain access to advanced technology. The Communist Party of Vietnam has set a goal of building Vietnam into a strong and prosperous country which is able to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with powers around the world in 2045.

However, Vietnam will not form a strategic alliance with the US, nor will it align with the US on the Taiwan question or the issue of "isolating China." As long as China and Vietnam do not have intense conflicts in the South China Sea issue, Hanoi will continue to maintain friendly cooperation with China while pursuing friendly cooperation with Russia and the US. Vietnam aims to avoid offending any party and achieve a balance of interests from all three sides

Striking a balance among major powers serves Vietnam's interests best. China remains Vietnam's largest trading partner. Vietnam and China are neighbors, and any confrontation with China would have adverse consequences for Vietnam, leaving it with the only option of siding with the US and succumbing to Washington. 

Furthermore, Vietnam, being a socialist country, faces similar long-term political challenges as China. While the US is actively developing its relationship with Vietnam, there is also frequent criticism toward Vietnam's "human rights issues" from the US. The Vietnam Reform Revolutionary Party, primarily composed of descendants of Vietnamese refugees in the US, always aims at realizing a color revolution in Vietnam. 

Vietnam's national political stability always faces risks from the US and the West. China, on the other hand, serves as its biggest external support for political stability. The relationship between the Communist Parties of China and Vietnam serves as a solid bond.

Maritime disputes have long been an obstacle between China and Vietnam. Vietnam not only claims sovereignty over the Nansha Islands but also has ambitions for the Xisha Islands. These disputes cannot be resolved in the short term. However, siding with the US in the strategic competition between China and the US does not serve Vietnam's long-term political and economic interests, nor does it provide true strategic security. Therefore, Vietnam is likely to pursue a "Vietnamese-style neutral route" between China and the US, which will be more cautious and serious than the neutrality of the Philippines and India.

Chinese people need not worry about Vietnam's warm relationship with the US. Vietnam, with a population of about 98 million, belongs to the Confucian civilization circle. In Hanoi, one can find temples with Chinese characters and historical examination halls where imperial examinations were held. While Vietnam's economy is currently growing rapidly, at a speed that has surpassed that of China, its per capita GDP is just below $4,000, lower than that of Yunnan Province and Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region in China, and there is a significant gap compared to the Pearl River Delta. Vietnam has never surpassed China in terms of economic development.

Let us engage patiently with this southern neighbor as it seeks to maximize its interests in the strategic competition between China and the US. I believe that China and Vietnam have the ability to continuously promote their bilateral relationship in a positive and stable direction, benefiting both countries.

IMEC faces barriers of internal infrastructural issues, Western economic hegemony

At the recent G20 summit, the India-Middle East-Europe Corridor (IMEC) backed by the US, Europe and India under the Partnership for Global Infrastructure Investment was announced. This corridor aims to connect Europe, the Middle East and India with rail and shipping routes.

With Biden calling it a "really big deal" and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan describing the project as "transformative," the project has already been described as one that counters China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), which has been signed up to by the majority of the world.

However, the working group tasked with drawing up a fuller plan, over the next sixty days, will have to confront some harsh economic realities relating to funding, material capabilities and the ideological outlook of the main countries involved.

When it comes to funding, let's not forget that the Build Back Better Plan undertaken by the G7 in 2021 to counter the BRI was consigned to the dustbin of history the same year it was announced.

The $1.7 trillion package (less than two years of US defense spending) was considered too costly.

Railway linking India, the Middle East and Europe would be the center piece of the IMEC. When it comes to infrastructure, the US and India do not set good examples for others to follow, yet they expect to compete with China which has first-rate infrastructure. Rather than build something abroad, based on hegemonic competition against China, it would be better for the US and India to demonstrate they can solve the basic democratic infrastructural needs of their citizens first.

Even if internal infrastructural issues and financing can somehow be overcome, the ideological attitude of maintaining economic hegemony that the West holds toward the Global South acts as a barrier to the IMEC. Only with gunship diplomacy could the US force states to buy exclusively from expensive Western companies. Even then, many components will be sourced from China.

At any rate, we are in a multi-polar world now. The Saudi-Iran rapprochement, the enlargement of BRICS, and the good relations in the region toward Russia and China show that the Middle East refuses to take sides and will trade with all. Another Iraqi-style invasion in the region to maintain US-led economic predominance would be foolhardy, as such, the West must be competitive in the market.

Currently, Saudi Arabia is choosing China when it comes to rail construction - though this too is an international effort that pulls in Western companies. The China Railway 18th Bureau Group has already completed the 450km-long Mecca-Medina High-speed Railway and is working on the Medina Tunnel Project along with the Saudi Rua Al Madinah Holding Company, Canada's WSP and US-based Parsons. The linking of Saudi's eastern and western seaboard, while led by China, is also a joint international project. This further highlights the lunacy and impracticality of fencing off the world economy.

One of the major forces driving US hegemonic attempts is its capitalist system which seeks immediate profits. This motivation has led to the decay of US infrastructure and a lack of long-term railway investment; a similar "democratic" system sees India's infrastructure in shambles too. Furthermore, much of the Global South remains in tatters after being harvested by the US military-industrial complex, which seeks quick profits from war and sees development as a threat to its economic hegemony.

In contrast, The BRI is premised on long-term social economic planning. Some projects will not be profitable for decades - many will provide immense social-economic benefits but no profit extraction for private capital. China's socialist system subordinates capital for the democratic good of society and it's because of this that it has the world's largest high-speed rail network, which it can then sell abroad at competitive prices.

In an attempt to conceal China's governing advantages and foresight, the corporate press labels Chinese-involved projects that don't reap immediate profits as "white elephants." Indeed, the debt trap narrative has been constructed to conceal the BRI's long-term planning and misdirect attention from private capital lending, which is far more severe than Chinese loans and the source of much suffering in the Global South.

Certainly, should the IMEC get off the ground without Chinese involvement and sell expensive Western infrastructure, then it will be interesting to observe the Western ideological apparatus scramble to justify how their venture is superior to the BRI, the initiative that the majority of the world has already voluntarily signed up to. There is still an open invitation for Europe, the US and India to join!

The author is an independent international relations analyst who focuses on China's socialist development and global inequality.

Yoon faces more obstacles to governance amid polarized partisan conflict in South Korea

Since President Yoon Suk-yeol took office, it seems that the dangerous side of South Korea's politics has become prominent. This is reflected not only in foreign affairs, such as the increasingly hostile and confrontational approach toward China, but also in domestic affairs, where partisan conflict has become intensified and polarized, potentially creating more obstacles for Yoon's governance.

On Monday, South Korean prosecutors requested an arrest warrant for the leader of the main opposition Democratic Party of Korea (DPK), Lee Jae-myung, on suspicion of various charges, including fraud and bribery. Earlier that day, Lee was hospitalized after 19 days of a hunger strike in protest against government policies.

So far, the DPK leader has been summoned for prosecution questioning five times after last year's presidential election, and he claimed all the allegations were fabricated. Seoul and the ruling conservative party's tough stance toward Lee has become increasingly obvious. In last year's election, Yoon was elected by a narrow margin of 0.73 percentage points over the DPK leader. This means that the popular mandate of Yoon's governance is not quite strong. 

South Korea's politics has become chaotic. What happened to Lee is not an isolated incident, but a reflection of the intensifying partisan conflict in South Korea and people's dissatisfaction with the Yoon administration over many issues. In particular, Seoul has demonstrated utterly unprincipled support for Tokyo regarding Japan's dumping of nuclear-contaminated wastewater into the sea, which has triggered anger among South Koreans.

In fact, politicians who engage in partisan conflict in South Korea fight more for the interests of their respective political parties and the chaebol groups behind them. Moreover, as a result of political polarization, it becomes difficult for parties in the country to find any common ground to cooperate. Under such circumstances, the Yoon administration may remain stuck in troubled waters.

A new poll released by Realmeter on Monday shows that 61.8 percent of respondents - a recent record high - viewed the governance of the Yoon administration as poor, while only 35.5 percent favored it. Meanwhile, the support rate of the PPP dropped 1.5 percentage points to 35.3 percent and the DPK's rose 1.8 percentage points to 46 percent. Clearly, the Yoon administration and the ruling party are facing a slump.

It is easy to find the reasons behind Yoon's poor governance. In addition to a series of scandals involving people close to Yoon, the South Korean president should blame himself for making mistake after mistake in specific policies since he came to power.

Economically, a series of measures taken by Yoon to boost the economy are yet to take great effect, leading South Koreans to feel more hopeless for economic recovery. The situation is even worse in terms of foreign policy. The Yoon administration completely disregarded the well-being and interests of its own people, easing its relations with Japan without any principle and even seeking to pander to Japan, and this has caused a huge backlash at home. The current approval rate of 30-something percent comes most likely from the base voters of Yoon and the PPP, and it is almost impossible to grow as Seoul and the ruling party have lost the trust of the centrists.

South Korea will expect legislative elections in April next year. All the parties and politicians are going to be competing for the approval of the voters, while highlighting the mistakes and shifting the blame on their opponents. In short, the partisan conflict in South Korea, especially the one between the PPP and the DPK, is only going to become more and more intense as the elections approach.

S.Korea should not mistake China's goodwill for weakness

Yun Duk-min, the South Korean ambassador to Japan, stated that "high-level" talks are underway for a China-South Korea-Japan summit poised to happen this year, and there may be a "Camp David effect" that prompted China to reach out to its neighbors, Bloomberg reported on Friday. Yun also emphasized that the trilateral meeting among South Korea, Japan and China will not harm the relationship between Seoul and Washington. Given that Yun is not only the South Korean ambassador to Japan but also one of the key foreign policy aides during the election campaign of South Korea President Yoon Suk-yeol, his words reflect a serious misunderstanding of South Korea's own position, and trilateral cooperation among China, Japan and South Korea.

Firstly, South Korea overestimated the impact of the Camp David summit on enhancing Seoul's international status. Yoon has been proactively promoting the improvement of South Korea-Japan relations and participating in strengthening trilateral cooperation with the US and Japan, with the aim of enhancing South Korea's international status. However, in this process, the US once again demonstrated its ability to coerce and entice its allies, obtaining everything Washington wants while South Korea lost what it should not have lost. Apart from making "contributions" to the US-Japan-South Korea alliance, South Korea did not gain any substantial benefits. The Camp David summit did not enhance South Korea's status, but rather the US' status. In fact, for the Chinese people, South Korea did not increase its international status but rather diminished it by further ceding its sovereignty to the US and Japan.

Secondly, South Korea has misinterpreted the status of the trilateral summit among China, Japan and South Korea. Yun has portrayed the trilateral summit as a result of the strengthened cooperation among the US, Japan and South Korea, which is a distortion of the original intention of the China-South Korea-Japan high-level talks. 

The trilateral summit among China, Japan and South Korea began in November 1999, and in December 2008, the leaders of the three countries met for the first time outside the 10+3 framework in Fukuoka, Japan, and decided to build a future-oriented comprehensive cooperative partnership. The three countries also decided to hold separate annual trilateral summit meetings on a rotating basis while keeping the mechanism of trilateral leaders' meeting in the sidelines of the 10+3 Summit.

Thirdly, South Korea intentionally conceals the negative effects of Camp David summit. The so-called "effect" of the Camp David meeting among the leaders of the US, Japan and South Korea did exist, but it did not stimulate China's desire to resume the trilateral meeting among China, Japan and South Korea. Instead, it stimulated neighboring countries to rethink how to respond to the "new cold war" initiated by the US, Japan and South Korea. 

North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un recently visited Russia. The US, Japan and South Korea never reflect on who first created the division in Northeast Asia and who has been pushing for the formation of a "new cold war" pattern in Northeast Asia. Instead, they are shifting the blame and claiming that North Korea and Russia's cooperation will lead to a more aggressive response from the US, Japan and South Korea. 

China's stance toward cooperation among China, Japan and South Korea has always been consistent. China attaches importance to such cooperation and believes that trilateral cooperation is in the common interest of the three countries. China also supports South Korea as the chair country for hosting this meeting. However, South Korea should not perceive China's support as a sign of weakness or as a result of Seoul leaning toward the Washington and Tokyo to gain a so-called greater say. It would be very dangerous if South Korea has such thoughts, and we hope that South Korea will wake up to this reality as soon as possible.

Ouster of McCarthy shows US division, 'demons dancing in riotous revelry'

When US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy was ousted on Tuesday from his leadership post, he became the shortest serving speaker since 1875. A handful of far-right Republicans joined Democrats and stripped the California Republican of the speaker's gravel with a 216-to-210 vote, after McCarthy worked with Democrats to pass a short-term funding bill to avert a government shutdown.

The ouster appears sudden, but is not surprising. It is no secret that some far-right Republicans hold radical ideas and refuse to cooperate with the Democrats in any form. Moreover, McCarthy's post was fragile from the very beginning. Matt Gaetz, who was among the Republicans to force a successful vote to vacate the chair on the House floor, repeatedly voted against McCarthy's bid for speaker in January. McCarthy ultimately secured the gavel after 15 rounds of voting over four days. To win the job, McCarthy had to agree to rules that made it easier to challenge his leadership. 

Democrats also viewed him as untrustworthy. He broke a May agreement on spending with President Joe Biden. Despite the fact that McCarthy worked with the Democrats to pause the US shutdown, he did not win the support of a single Democrat in Tuesday's vote. Democrats still believe that the presence of McCarthy, who in September ordered an impeachment inquiry into Biden, would hinder the political agenda of the Biden administration. They also believe that ousting McCarthy would trigger chaos within the Republicans and stymie the Republicans' moves against the Democrats. All in all, McCarthy had already become a "lame duck" speaker.

Zhang Tengjun, deputy director of the Department for American Studies at the China Institute of International Studies, told the Global Times that the ouster of McCarthy shows that against the backdrop of intensified bipartisan struggles, loyalty to the party triumphs everything, from the two parties' ability to make compromises and reach consensuses in the interests of the American public.

"It does not matter if one is the House speaker or not; what matters is which party he or she belongs to. This shows the extent to which the Democratic Party and the Republican Party divide," Zhang noted, adding that the US politics is now entering an era of "a host of demons dancing in riotous revelry."

McCarthy's ouster has been covered extensively by the US media, adding to the frenzy. But actually, it is the very representation of the US' so-called democratic politics. What normal democratic politics means is that the functioning of politics will not be affected by the removal of any single politician. But obviously, the ousting of McCarthy has plunged the House into chaos. And McCarthy's fate reflects how cooperating with the other party impacts political fortunes.

Wei Zongyou, a professor from the Center for American Studies, Fudan University, told the Global Times that from a deeper perspective, democratic politics is not all about elections, but about mutual compromise and restraint. 

"If the two parties cannot make compromises and exercise restraint, but turn different political opinions into an excuse to crusade against the other side or launch a life-and-death struggle, it may lead to a deadlock or even a civil war, and the only consequence is that the foundation of democratic politics will be destroyed," said Wei.

US democracy is facing a severe test as the 2024 presidential election looms. The Republicans have to tackle the current chaos and address this most recent leadership crisis. Without a powerful House speaker to bridge the divergences among the Republicans, it will affect the overall election strategy of the Republican Party and its advancement of its political agendas. 

The Democrats, sitting in the House chamber to watch the farce from afar, could laugh at the Republicans and accuse them of not being able to govern the country and being the reason behind ongoing political gridlock. But they also need to be aware that if the Republicans refuse to cooperate in any issue, the Biden administration's political agenda may also suffer. A chaotic situation next year does not necessarily bode well for the Democratic Party, and the outcome of the 2024 election remains uncertain and unpredictable.

Tsai’s last ‘Double Ten’ speech sounds a ‘marching brass’ for DPP’s new round of provocation

Taiwan regional leader Tsai Ing-wen delivered her "Double Ten" (October 10) speech on Tuesday. This is Tsai's last "Double Ten" speech before she steps down in May 2024, but also a continued vow by the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) to step up its provocations and rash actions in the future.

It is clear to see what Tsai wants to achieve through this year's speech. Firstly, she gave a long list of her accomplishments since coming to power, which aims to boost DPP's votes for the upcoming elections. Secondly, the Tsai authorities have been pushing forward "de-sinicization" and promoting "incremental independence" on the island of Taiwan. In this year's "Double Ten" speech, Tsai intended to draw Taiwan residents further into her version of "Taiwan independence."

As Tsai's terms come to an end soon, some interesting changes of rhetoric can be witnessed in her Tuesday address. In her "Double Ten" speech in 2019, Tsai specifically mentioned that her authorities "will not act provocatively or rashly" on the cross-Straits issue, and then she didn't mention "We do not provoke" until this year.

With such a seemingly softened tone, Tsai is actually speaking for the DPP and Lai Ching-te, the party's candidate for regional leadership. On the one hand, as China-US relations have shown signs of easing recently, the DPP now needs to assure Washington that it will not intensify its provocations toward the Chinese mainland. On the other hand, the DPP can also use the promise of "not acting provocatively or rashly" to fool voters on the island who are worried that cross-Straits relations will face even greater challenges if Lai becomes the next regional leader.

In addition, experts told the Global Times that Tsai seeks to leave some leeway for herself by continuing to tone down her provocations, because if a non-Green camp comes to power, then there might be a possibility that she will have to face political liquidation for what she has done as the regional leader.

Regardless of how Tsai gushed about how she wants peace in the Taiwan Straits, in the past seven years we have seen Taiwan enhancing its provocations and rash actions under her leadership. During this period, the DPP authorities' refusal to recognize the 1992 Consensus has grown blunter, and its stance of seeking US support for "Taiwan independence" has become firmer. Taiwan's relationship with certain countries unwilling to adhere to the one-China principle has become closer, while the provocation of the one-China principle in the international arena has grown stronger. As a result, the cross-Straits relations have reached a new freezing point.

In last year's "Double Ten" Speech, Tsai showed her desire to "make Taiwan a Taiwan of the world, and let us give the world an even better Taiwan." But the world will only become a better place if peace and stability in the Taiwan Straits remain - that is when the Taiwan secessionists stop their dangerous moves to stir up troubles and tread on the mainland's red line.

Unwrapping the DPP's pursuit of Taiwan's "visibility" in the international community - or in Tsai's words, "making Taiwan a Taiwan of the world," we see a vicious ambition of pushing for "Taiwan independence." But the more the DPP takes action to achieve this goal, the more the world understands the importance of adhering to the one-China principle.

As Taiwan's elections approach, Tsai's last "Double Ten" speech signifies the beginning of a new round of tricks the DPP will play on cross-Straits issues. However, there is no future for Taiwan secessionists; reunification will and must happen. No matter what kind of approach the DPP authorities will take to promote "Taiwan independence," extermination will ultimately be the end of these forces.