Newsletter July 2021

Contents: Blog post on options for Beijing in Afghanistan: ‚From free rider to train driver?’; Guest post by Ying Wang on Chinese NGOs ‚Going global’; Blog roll: The People’s Map of Global China; Blog roll: Workers Struggles along the New Silk Roads (in German); News: Who Funds Overseas Coal Plants? Readings: The Impact of the Belt and Road Initiative on Conflict States.

Blog Posts:

July 2021: From free rider to train driver?

The pull-out of their armed forces by the U.S. and other NATO allies, the escalation of violence, and the spectre of indirect or direct rule by the Taliban have triggered a flurry of diplomatic activity by neighbouring countries, both near and far. These include regional heavyweights such as India, Pakistan and Iran, Russia and China. Fuelling just as much speculation is how the new, as yet uncertain, situation might unfold. After all, the withdrawal will make the country an epicentre for regional power struggles. More

Update 26. July 2021:

Beijing’s Afghanistan nightmare may be unfolding faster than expected: In mid-July, nine Chinese workers and engineers died in a bus accident on their way to the construction site of the Daru dam. The circumstances suggest a targeted attack, but so far no one has claimed responsibility. Analysts point to the TTP, the ‘Pakistan Taliban’, which in turn is said to be closely linked to the Taliban in Afghanistan. Beijing immediately sent a commission of enquiry with the deputy director-general of the Foreign Ministry’s Department of External Security Affairs. Meanwhile, speculation is mounting that Beijing is pushing for more of its own security forces to be deployed in Pakistan.

Sources: The Diplomat, July 19, 2021; South China Morning Post, July 21, 2021

Update 29. Jul 2021:

At a recent meeting in the city of Tianjin with a delegation led by the Taliban’s chief negotiator and co-founder Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, Foreign Minister Wang Yi has pledged support for the Taliban’s role in Afghanistan’s reconstruction, while demanding that it cuts ties with the East Turkestan Islamic Movement – blamed by Beijing for attacks in its Xinjiang region.

Source: South China Morning Post, 18 July 2022:

July 2021: Going Global: The International Endeavours of Chinese NGOs

By Ying Wang, The People’s Map of Global China

The international exposure of Chinese NGOs is not a recent phenomenon. Starting in the late 1970s, China reopened its doors to INGOs and other international organisations, which have since supported the development of a large number of Chinese NGOs. What is new today is that we are starting to see Chinese NGOs branching out of China and acting as donors and partners to organisations in developing countries. However, several key challenges remain. More

Posted on Blog roll:

The People’s Map of Global China

“The People’s Map of Global China is an attempt to trace Global China in material, spatial, economic, political, and human terms reflecting the experiences of  the people most affected by its emergence. It tracks China’s complex and rapidly changing international activities by engaging an equally global civil society. Using an interactive, open access, and online ‘map’ format, we collaborate with nongovernmental organisations, journalists, trade unions, academics, and the public at large to provide updated and updatable information on various dimensions of Global China in their localities. The Map consists of profiles of countries and projects, sortable by project parameters, Chinese companies and banks involved, and their social, political, and environmental impacts. This bottom-up, collaborative initiative seeks to provide a platform for the articulation of local voices often marginalised by political and business elites. It is our hope that the information collected by this networked global civil society will be a useful resource for policymaking, research, and international advocacy.” The People’s Map

The People’s Map of Global China: https://thepeoplesmap.net/about-us/

Kämpfe entlang der Neuen Seidenstraßen VI

Während es zahllose Veröffentlichungen und Informationen über die Neuen Seidenstraßen im Besonderen und China insgesamt gibt, fehlen Berichte über die Situation von Arbeiterinnen und Arbeitern, über Arbeitsrechte, über gewerkschaftliche Organisierung und Proteste weitgehend. Das Forum Arbeitswelten trägt dazu bei, diese Lücke zu füllen, unter anderem mit einer regelmäßigen Berichterstattung über soziale Konflikte im Zusammenhang mit chinesischen Projekten in den BRI-Ländern.

Forum Arbeitswelten, Kämpfe entlang der Neuen Seidenstraßen: https://www.forumarbeitswelten.de/blog/kampfe-seidenstrasse-6/

News:

Who Funds Overseas Coal Plants?

There is a misconception that the majority of new funding for overseas coal plants comes from public financing institutions in China. While it is correct, that China is the largest public financier of overseas coal plants, with banks like the Exim Bank of China and the China Development Bank accounting for 50 percent of global public finance commitments in overseas coals fired power plants that reached financial closure between 2013 and 2018. But a new policy brief by the Boston University Global Development Policy Center by Xinyue Ma and Kevin P. Gallagher estimates, that 87 per cent of total financing – public and private – for overseas coal plants comes from entities outside China. Similarily, acccording to a report by nonprofit organisations (Urgewald, Reclaim Finance, Rainforest Action Network, 350.org Japan and 25 further NGO partners) published in February 2021, Japanese and Western institutional investors and commercial banks are major financiers of international coal power abroad.

See also: Niccolò Manych, Jan Christoph Steckel and Michael Jakob, Finance-based accounting of coal emissions. Environmental Research Letters, 24 March 2021

Another interesting development is being reported Reuters ( June 16, 2021). According to this, more China-invested overseas coal-fired power capacity was cancelled than commissioned since 2017. The Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA) said that the amount of capacity shelved or cancelled since 2017 was 4.5 times higher than the amount that went into construction over the period, highlighting the obstacles facing the industry as countries work to reduce carbon emissions. The wave of cancellations also reflects rising concerns about the sector’s long-term economic competitiveness. Although 80 gigawatts of China-backed capacity is still in the pipeline, many of the projects could face further setbacks as public opposition rises and financing becomes more difficult, CREA added.

Readings:

Pascal Abb, et al, Road to Peace or Bone of Contention?

„Chinese-built infrastructure has a transformative impact on local conflict dynamics in many ways – through the provision of developmental benefits and economic opportunities, the manifestation of state power in everyday lives, the abduction of BRI projects by local political interests, or securitization measures. Some of these effects are positive, and have opened up new development perspectives to countries that would have otherwise found it difficult to attract outside investments. Others are negative, and have created new grievances and tensions, especially where the benefits and costs of BRI projects are unevenly distributed between groups with a history of conflict with each other. As projects continue to materialize in conflict environments, Chinese enterprises are grappling with how to navigate them. There is a pervasive lack of trust in national authorities tasked with implementing the BRI, sometimes paired with suspicions over Chinese influence. This report is based on an investigation of four especially conflict-prone BRI member countries: Pakistan, Myanmar, Kyrgyzstan and Uganda.“

Road to Peace or Bone of Contention? The Impact of the Belt and Road Initiative on Conflict States. By Pascal Abb, Robert Swaine, and Ilya Jones. PRIF Report 1/2021

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