China Raises Brows over IMF’s Bailout to Pak

China on Tuesday glared over global lender IMF’s contention of bailout to Pakistan and suggested the lender to be cautious enough while planning investment in Pakistan to ensure that any financial package does not affect close ties between Beijing and Islamabad.

Cash-strapped Pakistan has approached the International Monetary Fund or IMF for a bailout, and has agreed to share the details of huge Chinese loans obtained for the CPEC project.

Pakistan’s Finance Minister Asad Umar told reporters on Sunday that Islamabad is ready to share details of the debt related to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor or CPEC with the IMF as he formally sought a bailout package from the international lender.

Reacting to the move by its all-weather ally Pakistan to approach the IMF for the bailout package, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang said, “As a member of the IMF, China supports the organisation having cooperation with Pakistan in objectively and professionally evaluating the situation on the ground in Pakistan.”

“Also, we support the IMF (helping Pakistan) in coping with the current difficulties. Their measures shall not affect normal bilateral cooperation between China and Pakistan,” he said, adding the CPEC projects have been undertaken by the two governments under the principle of “consultation and contribution for shared benefits”.

Mr Umar landed in Islamabad on Sunday after meeting IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde in Indonesia for a bailout package for Pakistan. He said the decision to approach the global lender was taken after consultations with friendly countries.

An IMF team is scheduled to arrive in Pakistan on November 7 to negotiate the programme, likely to cover a period of three years, Mr Umar said.

The Chinese official said that judging from the debt structure already released by the Pakistani government, their debt incurred from the CPEC is not high. “So, it is not the reason for Pakistan’s financial difficulties,” he said.

After the new Pakistan government led by Prime Minister Imran Khan took over, China has agreed to extend the CPEC projects to Balochistan province to address criticism that only the dominant Punjab province has grabbed most Chinese investments.

India has also protested to China over CPEC as it traverses through Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir or PoK.

Imposition of $200B Taxes on Chinese Goods Intensified Conflict Between China and USA

On Monday USA announced additional taxes on Chinese goods which seems to be stimulant enough to worsen the tiff between these two world powers.

These taxes according to experts will directly impact the American consumers with increased prices and expenditure. Trump deems this revision in the tariff amount as favorable for American companies and workers in the long run.

Starting Monday, the United States is to begin charging a 10 percent tax on thousands of Chinese imports – tires, windshield wipers, baseball gloves, bicycles, snakeskin pants, backpacks, trombone cases, refrigerators and wooden furniture, among others. The list runs 194 pages.

Unless the administration reaches a truce with Beijing, Trump’s import tax will jump to 25 percent in 2019.

On the other hand companies have also expressed their suspicion regarding the additional imposition as it might target their operations and revenue.

” Trump’s tariffs, with their uncertain duration, make it difficult for companies to plan for the future. Ted Murphy, a trade lawyer and a partner at Baker McKenzie, said the president is signaling that many companies will need to rethink their operations.

Concurrently the new round of tariffs risks triggering a more alarming response by investors. The additional taxes suggest that the two countries are struggling to make progress in settling their differences. The issues include Chinese companies’ theft of US intellectual property and a widening trade gap as US consumers have become more dependent on comparatively cheap Chinese imports.

A prolonged trade war between the United States, the world’s largest economy, and China, the second-largest, potentially affect economies from Buenos Aires to Istanbul.

Tariffs could translate into less trade, which could hinder growth in smaller nations. The US dollar has already begun to rise in value as trade tensions have mounted. This has insulated the United States from higher prices.

A Good Response To Putin’s Eurasian Integration Plan

The fourth annual Eastern Economic Forum hosted by Russian President Vladimir Putin in Vladivostok, a coastal city in the “far east” corner of Russia on Tuesday, witnessed the presence of many leaders across Asia including Chinese President Xi Jinping, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, South Korean Prime Minister Lee Nak-yeon, Commerce Minister Suresh Prabhu is leading an Indian delegation to the forum.

Prabhu’s participation augurs a new hope in India- Russia’s relationship. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj is also heading for Russia for a meeting later this week of the India-Russia Inter Governmental Commission (IGC).

China takes centre stage in the Economic Forum as President Putin pointed to the growing economic ties between the two countries. Russia continues to look to China as its main trade partner as Moscow looks to expand its trade in Asia.

Russia-China Investment Fund (RCIF) — a joint undertaking of the state-owned China Investment Corporation and Russian sovereign wealth fund — announced that a group of Russian and Chinese businesses are considering 73 joint investment projects, with a cumulative value of more than $100 billion. CNBC reported that cooperation between China and Russia is an issue of global importance as both nations try to achieve economic stability despite the pain of U.S. penalties — sanctions against Russia and an escalating tariff war against China.

According to Russian media, Russia and China are also expected to discuss reconstruction in Syria. Russia’s Tass news agency quoted Russia’s Ambassador in China Andrei Denisov as saying on the sidelines of the EEF that Moscow and Beijing are unlikely to compete in the economic recovery of Syria.

The summit scheduled from September 11 to 13.

Air pollution jeopardizes brain function, study reveals

The world’s top 20 most polluted cities, according to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) database, are in developing countries. Almost all the cities in low- and middle-income countries with more than 1,00,000 residents fail to meet WHO air quality guidelines. A new study from China has said, long-term exposure to air pollution lowers brain function, which reflects in decreased verbal and mathematics scores, apart from causing heart disease and breathing problems.

The study retrospectively analysed data of nearly 32,000 people from two waves (2010 and 2014) of the China Family Panel Study, a nationally representative longitudinal survey that looks at topics like economic activities, education outcome, family dynamics, relationships, and health.

“We speculate that the pollutant damage is most likely accumulating in the white matter of the brain which is mainly associated with the language functioning. The negative impact of three-year accumulative exposure to air pollution for men’s verbal test scores is 49% higher than that for women,” Zhang, who is also a senior research fellow with the Washington-based International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), said.

“This could be because men have a much smaller amount of white matter activated during intelligence tests so their cognitive performance is more affected. Of course, more research is needed to test this out,” Zhang added.

Though the research was conducted in China, the researchers suggest that the implications would be true for all developing countries, including India.

“The findings should be applicable to India. In fact, the impact probably is greater given that the air pollution is more severe in Delhi than in Beijing and other Chinese cities,” said Zhang.

According to WHO, 4.2 million deaths were recorded globally in 2016, whereas  in 2015 around 25 lakh people died in India due to air pollution. The situation is alarming for India as 14 cities in the country are among the world’s 20 most polluted cities.

Govt Seeking China’s Involvement In Northeast Connectivity Plan

India is seeking Chinese participation in a newly-drafted project that involves connecting the northeastern states with Bangladesh’s Chittagong port. Making the pitch is BJP general secretary Ram Madhav and the cabinet ministers of three BJP-ruled states — Assam, Tripura and Nagaland, who are currently in China. Significantly, the team of visitors does not have a minister from Arunachal Pradesh, which borders disputed portions of Tibet in China.

Madhav admitted there are challenges in putting the new plan in place because of China’s claims over Arunachal Pradesh. “We have issues in Arunachal Pradesh… and that remains a challenge,” he said. Madhav’s announcement is significant because India has been reluctant to allow implementation of China’s Belt and Road Initiative across its borders.

He said Chinese investments can be in consumer goods and products like batteries for e-bikes. He did not mention infrastructure development by the Chinese. “Where there is mutually beneficial arrangement possible, there we’ll take them. Where there are concerns, we won’t allow many people there,” he said. Very little has so far been done to improve connectivity in the northeast.

“Southwest China can use the northeast as a hub to go to the Indian Ocean through Chittagong,” said Madav, who is in charge of BJP’s northeast affairs. Madhav said India is developing Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal as sub-regional hubs and even invited Chinese to use northeast to access the Indian Ocean through Chittagong.

The new plan involves moving goods from the northeast to Chittagong port instead of shipping them all the way from Mumbai and Chennai ports. “Right now, goods to northeast are taken by rail and road from Mumbai or Chennai through Kolkata to Guwahati,” he said.

 

China Is Up With VR Headsets To Show Addicts Scenes Of Drug Use

Every day that passes brings us closer to the dark technological existence our future Chinese overlords will force upon us. We’ve seen the Black Mirroresque social scorethat dictates people’s access to what society has to offer, but now the Chinese government has gone even further and even darker. They’ve graduated from Charlie Brooker to Anthony Burgess levels of dystopia. A test drug rehabilitation program is using VR to test whether drug addicts have really kicked their habit, or if they’re merely pretending.

The pilot program in Shanghai uses VR headsets to show addicts scenes of drug use and gages their reaction. VR headsets can track eyeball movement, but the test administrators use other accessories to monitor heart rate and rises in body temperature.

Local media in China is reporting this as a positive way to help drug addicts turn their lives around, but if you scratch under the surface, it is something else entirely. If you’re caught possessing or using drugs in China, you have to spend two years at a drugs rehabilitation center. People can leave early for good behavior, which means this new pilot program is an authoritarian way to keep undesirables off Chinese streets. If the pilot program gets a wider rollout, what is to stop the two year stay at the rehab center being extended if people are still exhibiting signs of addiction?

According to local media in China, the government is monitoring the program, and if results are significant, the program will receive a wider rollout. Scarier still, through the advanced biometric readings taken during testing, administrators should be able to cook up a “precise medical treatment”to deal with the drug addiction. Whatever that may be could be anybody’s guess, but you’d be forgiven if you searched your worst nightmares for ideas.

As Chinese society goes from “Black Mirror” to “A Clockwork Orange”, why aren’t other governments raising human rights issues when they deal Chinese delegations. The new British Foreign Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, was in Beijing yesterday, but rather than being held to account on his dealings with the Chinese, the entire British press concentrated on the fact he said his Chinese wife was Japanese. A gaff no doubt, but parts of the world are hurtling towards a techno-dystopian future, and nobody seems to notice what is going on.

 

China Launched Optical Remote Sensing Satellite Gaofen-11

China today successfully launched an optical remote sensing satellite, as part of its high-resolution Earth observation project which will also provide data for the Belt and Road Initiative, official media reported. The Gaofen-11 satellite was launched on a Long March 4B rocket at 11 am (local time) from the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center in northern Shanxi Province.
It was the 282nd flight mission by a Long March carrier rocket.

The satellite can be used for land survey, urban planning, road network design, agriculture, and disaster relief. Its data will also be used for the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), the report said. China had unveiled the BRI in 2013 with an aim to link Southeast Asia, Central Asia, the Gulf region, Africa and Europe with a network of land and sea routes.

The Biggest Pharma Market,China Allows Indian Drug Makers

China is preparing to give swift regulatory approvals to India-manufactured drugs, the head of an Indian export promotion group said, as Beijing looks for new commercial partners ahead of what could be a protracted trade war with the United States.

Indian firms are looking to fill gaps in Chinese demand for generic drugs, software, sugar and some varieties of rice, trade officials in New Delhi said.

“We do feel that China is receptive at this time and it’s all about making prices competitive,” said a government official involved in the effort to promote trade with China. The official declined to be identified since he is not authorised to speak to the media.

No concrete deals have been signed but the outlook for pharmaceutical sales from India is positive, according to officials from both nations.

India dominates the world’s generic drugs market, exporting $17.3 billion of drugs in the 2017/18 (April-March) year, including to the United States and the EU. But only 1 percent of that went to China, the world’s second-largest market for pharmaceuticals, industry data shows.

Dinesh Dua, chairman of the Pharmaceuticals Export Promotion Council (Pharmexcil), which falls under India’s trade ministry, told that Indian firms could expect to win licences to export to China within six months of application.

“We understand internally that Chinese authorities have issued instructions that EU-approved Indian suppliers should be granted the industrial drug licence in an expeditious manner so they can enter the Chinese market within six months,” Dua said.

Many Indian drug-makers are already selling to the European Union. The EU is already one of India’s key export markets for medicines, and accounted for about 15 percent of overall drug exports in 2016/17, according to Pharmexcil.

Swift regulatory approvals in China would allow Indian companies to boost revenue at a time when pricing scrutiny and regulatory troubles have hurt US sales.

Some of India’s largest drugmakers, Sun Pharmaceutical Industries and Lupin Ltd as well as Aurobindo Pharma Ltd, have been trying for years to expand in the massive Chinese market, which is second only to the United States.

Details of Chinese moves to open up its heavily regulated pharmaceuticals sector have not been previously reported.

The China Food and Drug Administration (CFDA) did not respond to a Reuters’ request for comment.

But Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said this week that China was moving forward on giving greater market access to Indian drug makers.

“China and India are witnessing a growth in pharmaceutical trade, and the two sides are in sound communication on opening the Chinese market to drugs from India and conducting dialogue and co-operation between the two sides’ pharmaceutical industries,” Hua told a regular news conference on Monday.

“The relevant departments have formulated specific measures on promoting China-India pharmaceutical trade cooperation and granting greater access to drugs from India. We believe that stronger pharmaceutical trade co-operation will contribute to the well being of the people in our two countries.”

Bad weather ruins the Kailash Mansarovar Yatra

Rescue operation in full swing to evacuate Mansarovar yatra pilgrims. Delhi has sought Kathmandu’s assistance for the ongoing evacuation of hundreds of Indian pilgrims, enroute to Kailash Mansarovar, stranded near Nepal’s border with China, amid heavy downpour and landslips, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said on Tuesday.

An official source confirmed that out of 1,575 pilgrims, two died in difficult circumstances along the high-altitude Nepalganj-Simikot route.

They have been identified as Satya Lakshmi Narayana Subba Rao from Visakhapatnam and Leela Narayanan of Malappuram, who could not be airlifted due to the incessant downpour. “We have set up hotlines for pilgrims and family members for information in Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Malayalam. We have requested the government of Nepal for Army helicopters to evacuate the stranded Indians,” Ms. Swaraj said in social media updates.

However, on Tuesday, official sources confirmed that the Mission in Nepal has initiated evacuation with the help of commercial flights.

“The Mission has been able to evacuate about 150 pilgrims from Hilsa to Simikot,” said an official.

Uncertain weather

Earlier the embassy in a social media statement had said that getting the stranded pilgrims would be a “gradual process depending upon weather condition.”

A similar operation was undertaken by nine commercial flights that were used to evacuate 158 pilgrims from Simikot to Nepalganj.

For quicker coordination, the Indian embassy sent a four-member team to Nepalganj on Tuesday evening. It will reach Hilsa and Simikot to intensify evacuation efforts. The welfare of the pilgrims is also being tracked by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Monitoring by PMO:

“PM Narendra Modi is in touch with MEA and other high officials regarding the wellbeing of stranded pilgrims in Nepal,” his office said in a statement.

While the pilgrims have been stranded at Simikot amid bad weather for a few days, the situation turned serious on Monday when Ms. Narayanan died due to high altitude-related sickness.