What's happening in China





Belt and Road impact on Africa and the Mediterranean is big and getting bigger - but is it benign or menacing?

China's Belt and Road Initiative, the brainchild of President Xi Jinping, is moving forward and being taken more seriously than ever before - and with reason. Earlier this year, it recruited Italy, a G-7 member and an EU state with as many seats in the European Parliament as France or Britain.

The Belt and Road Initiative kicked off in 2013 as "One Belt One Road". Counterintuitively, the "belt" is the overland route from China to Europe, roughly mimicking Marco Polo's 14th century route, and the so-called "road" is the sea route.

More than that, Belt and Road is a global strategy involving infrastructure development and investments in 152 countries and international organisations in Asia, Europe, Africa and the Middle East.

The initiative was unveiled by Chinese "paramount leader" Xi Jinping in September 2013 during visits to Kazakhstan and Indonesia, and was thereafter promoted by Premier Li Keqiang. In March, Xi abolished presidential terms limits, allowing himself to serve for as long as he lives. He is 65.

Trans-Med migrant flow slows 27pc, BIMCO applauds but ICS worries about refugee seizing ships

While international shipping is freer than it was from obligations to rescue migrants leaving Libya in their thousands in unseaworthy craft, the problem is far from resolved.

And major shipowning and shipmanaging groups such at the Copenhagen-based Baltic and International Maritime Council (BIMCO), sees and appreciates the improvement, the London-based International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) on the other hand, focus instead on today's problems and the risks that lie ahead.

Nonetheless, trans-Mediterranean migration has dropped dramatically by volume. For the first four months of 2019, there were 24,200 cases of irregular migration, a 27 per cent year-on-year drop, according to Frontex, the EU's border agency.

Imagining humanitarian social science and container shipping joining in common cause in the Med

Major dietary upheavals are now taking place in developing countries, and more specifically in the southern Mediterranean region, say social scientists. Mediterranean food, they say, is being consumed less and less in the region and more and more in other parts of the world.
While this might be good thing for those who see it as poverty reduction and an increase in consumer spending - always good news to container shipping - it distresses European social scientists writing in Cairn.info, a Belgium-based co-operative portal of French-language academic publishers.

From a shipping perspective, this is bad news. That's because apart from olive oil, there isn't much export potential to be derived from the Mediterranean Diet because most ingredients can be harvested in those parts of the world where it is popular.

New 'cool war' hotting up in Africa as communism and capitalism duke it out to win the hearts and minds

A "cool war" appears to be hotting up in Africa between the United States and China which have set two old rivals, Kenya (GDP: US$74.94 billion / pop 47.7 million) and Tanzania (GDP: US$52.09 billion /pop 57.31 million) against each other as proxy powers for the two sides.

Rather like gladiators in the Coliseum of ancient Rome, the two sides have different weapons and face each other with advantages and disadvantages that the other side does not possess.

On the US side, Kenya represents that shining city on the hill, of freedom and democracy, which draws the multitudes to its shores. The disadvantage from an aid-receiving African nation point of view are the moral hoops state aid recipients must jump through before they lay their hands on the western cash.


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