(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF NPR)
(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF NPR)
GREEN PAPER ADIOS, HELLO COMPUTER CHIP
Green Paper is the bread of life these days
Example: Farm living is not a life that’s easy of free
Land, every acre cost so high, worth it to see the Stars
Cities traffic, years in your seat and fumes in your eyes
Do not pretend that the poor in NYC can actually afford the price to live
In the country seldom do you pay a penthouse price for a cup of tea
For some to love you these days, depends on the value of the fleece
Love should not be conditional upon buying Boardwalk and Park Place
The cost of life, chasing the Green Paper the cost is oh so high
No one these days willing to sacrifice like the love of a Farmers Wife
Get up before the Sun, work the fields till dark, then the house work begins
Green Paper makes us like Mice in a game, if you are breathing you play
Remove the Green Paper for the convenience of a painless little Chip
What could be safer for all of our personal life, all our info on a Chip
Identity theft, forgery, counterfeiting, immigration problem now solved
Green Paper worthless, now the age of the Chip, can you feel your death
Was it all a dream, did we the people really just give up without a fight
One World Order, do you ever ponder whether Good and Evil really exist
Is there really some among us who would truly forgo their given time
Green Paper, Computer Chips, Friends, are they the future of our daily life
(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF ‘QUARTZ’ AND THE WEBSITE OF ANDY TAI)
((oped) TO SAY YES TO CHINA’S MONEY IS TO GIVE AWAY YOUR COUNTRY’S SOVEREIGNTY AND THE FREEDOM OF ALL OF YOUR PEOPLE!)(trs)
There’s a learning curve to becoming a superpower, as China, having recently suffered setbacks with two of its neighbors, is learning.
Pakistan and Nepal, each involved in China’s Belt and Road initiative, a massive infrastructure push, announced last month they would no longer seek Chinese funding for two large-scale developments. In mid-November, Pakistan said that China’s conditions for financing the long-delayed $14 billion Diamer-Basha dam on the Indus River—part of the roughly $60 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor—”were not doable and against our interest,” including as it did China taking ownership of the entire project. Pakistan decided to go ahead with the dam, but to build it by itself.
Around the same time, Nepal decided to stop the $2.5 billion Budhi Gandaki hydropower plant from going forward in the hands of China Gezhouba Group, citing irregularities and the lack of a competitive bidding process. Last week, Nepal said that it would go ahead and build the dam itself, handing the 1,200-megawatt project over to the state-owned Nepal Electricity Authority.
“Very early on the countries along the Belt and Road initiative were at first very excited and happy about Chinese investment,” said Christopher Balding, professor of economics at Peking University HSBC Business School. “But there have been significant changes: Countries now look at how China has behaved with Sri Lanka or with Mexico.”
In Sri Lanka, the Hambantota port is now on a 99-year lease to China Merchants Port Holdings, which has a 70% stake in the venture. In 2015, Sri Lanka sought a review of how construction of the port had been awarded and halted its development. But in the face of economic and financing difficulties, it backtracked. With some $8 billion owed to China, thanks to loans taken to rebuild after its civil war, Colombo agreed to convert some of this debt into equity in projects.
Further afield, China has asked Mexico for a $600 million refund (link in Spanish) for the scrapping of a railway project.
While most countries along the Belt and Road initiative welcome foreign investment and assistance in building modern infrastructure, the pressure being exercised by Beijing doesn’t always go down well. Countries on the receiving end of Chinese cash are starting to realize that when all is done and dusted, the infrastructure that is built is likely to end up controlled by China.
A common pattern has been for China to sign controversial projects when a pro-China government is in place—as was the case with Sri Lanka’s former president Mahinda Rajapaksa and the Hambantota port deal—only to see them revisited once less receptive administrations are in power. In Nepal, outgoing prime minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal, chairman of the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist Centre), signed a preliminary agreement for the dam in June, just days before he relinquished his post to the rival Nepali Congress as part of a pre-existing power-sharing agreement. Current deputy prime minister Kamal Thapa criticized and scrapped the project for not having gone through open bidding as required by law.
That said, China’s rise in Asia and the world is beyond dispute—and its might is likely to grow as it proceeds firmly with its Belt and Road initiative. And in several countries in Asia and elsewhere, particularly those facing global criticism on human rights or other issues, China’s infrastructure spending plans and hands-off stance on such touchy topics are likely to overcome any reservations toward the country.
Take the example of nearby Myanmar, which in 2011 saw the cancellation (paywall) of a major Chinese hydroelectric project in the face of environmental concerns. In the years since then, Myanmar has been on the receiving end of increasing international criticism due to its purges of the Muslim Rohingya minority. Criticism deepened this year after a particularly harsh pogrom in August saw more than half a million flee to neighboring Bangladesh.
In the same month that the nonprofit Fortify Rights and the US Holocaust Memorial Museum released a major report documenting killings and rape of Rohingya, and the US made the determination that the Myanmar military is carrying out “ethnic cleansing,” China proposed a Pakistan-like economic corridor crossing the country. China is already helping to build a $7 billion port in Rakhine, the western Myanmar state that has seen the worst of the violence. Last week, as Myanmar continued to face criticism over what many see as a flawed agreement with Bangladesh to accept the return of the Rohingya—one that China may have played a role in brokering—Aung San Suu Kyi was in Beijing for a conference of international political parties, and for more discussion on investment.
China can also take heart that the vagaries of electoral fortune in democracies can sometimes revive projects China wants to back. The fate of the Nepali dam, for example, could change yet again as the country holds parliamentary polls for the first time since the end of its civil war just over a decade ago. The final stage of voting will take place Dec. 7. The two main blocks contesting the elections represent a conflicting set of alliances, with one of them saying that it will, should it win, hand the project back to China.
(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)
The money came from all over China — its wealthy southern and eastern coasts as well as the arid northwest — as thousands of people scrambled to circumvent the country’s strict controls on wealth.
In the end, more than 10,000 people had used an underground bank to effectively funnel $3 billion out of the country before the authorities put a stop to it, Xinhua, China’s state-run news agency in November.
The discovery of the underground bank in Shaoguan, in the southern province of Guangdong, demonstrates the furtive lengths that Chinese citizens go to in order to skirt government limits and get more of their money out of the country.
The sums involved are enormous, large enough to not only affect China’s economy but resonate around the world. Two years ago, a loss of confidence in China’s outlook led many of its people to send their money abroad — a flow that helped drive a $1 trillion drop in China’s stash of surplus foreign money. The exodus was enough to darken the country’s long-held image as a major global economic growth engine.
China appears to have since stemmed the surge of money abroad, thanks to an improved economic outlook and tough new efforts to keep the money at home. But the underground bank bust announced Thursday showed the lengths that the authorities will pursue to enforce limits on money leaving the country.
The Chinese police have detained seven people believed to be involved in the bank, according to the Thursday reports. The authorities discovered 148 “illegal and fraudulent accounts” from the bank, involving more than 10,000 people, the Xinhua report said.
Underground banks are illegal but common in China. According to China’s Ministry of Public Security, underground banks handled more than $137 billion in transactions last year. There are also lawful ways of moving princely sums out of China without surpassing government limits: directing money to casinos in Macau — the only Chinese territory where casino gambling is legal — as well as using credit cards to buy luxury goods abroad and purchasing insurance policies that can be cashed out overseas.
China imposes strict limits on how much money can leave the country. Those limits help the government keep a firm hand on the value of its currency, and the Chinese authorities credit the limits with helping keep its financial system steady during emergencies like the 1997 Asian financial crisis and the global crisis that began in 2008.
The government sets a $50,000 limit on the money Chinese citizens can move out of the country in a year, though businesses and those making strategic investments can send out much more.
But growing numbers of people began dodging the limits two years ago, when a stock market crash, a surprise government-led currency devaluation and prospects of slowing economic growth led many to seek safer havens for their money.
President Xi Jinping has made it a top priority to keep more money in China. His government has shut down platforms that trade crypto-currencies; announced controls on outbound investment in property, entertainment and soccer; and imposed curbs on payments overseas.
Much of China’s underground banking activity is centered in cities that border Hong Kong and Macau, special administrative regions of China that are governed by their own laws.
In Shaoguan, the police were alerted to a suspicious bank account that was opened in 2011 in the city by a Mr. Zhong, a resident from the southern city of Zhuhai that borders Macau, according to Guangzhou Daily, an official newspaper. It did not further identify Zhong. After almost no activity for years, there were 121 transactions involving $15 million in 2016, prompting the authorities to look more closely at who was involved.
Ultimately, the Xinhua report said, the authorities discovered that the people running the underground bank had illegally bought and stole the identity documents of more than 200 people to open the fake accounts that underpinned the enterprise. News reports did not disclose detailed information about how the underground bank worked.
The Shaoguan government and the police did not respond to requests for comment.
The trail appeared to lead to Macau, according to the news reports. The suspicious bank account that prompted the investigation was opened specifically for a gambler in Macau called Peng to transfer money, Xinhua said. “Several members of the criminal gang” then converted the renminbi into Hong Kong dollars for Peng, according to the report. Hong Kong has its own currency, which tracks the value of the United States dollar.
The Xinhua report did not offer details about Peng.
Macau is under pressure to keep a tight rein on capital outflows. Most recently, it installed automated teller machines with facial recognition software to monitor transactions for people using Chinese bank cards, according to Macau Daily Times.
The Xinhua report acknowledged that underground banks are “seductive,” especially for people who struggle to get financing, but warned that “the people will suffer tremendous loss” if the banks abscond or cheat their clients.
The New York Times
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