China, on Thursday waived visas for visitors from 53 countries to Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei for up to six days. People’s Daily, the mouthpiece of the Communist Party, said that visitors must enter and exit from one of six ports.
According to the Economic Times, the waiver goes into effect from Thursday and will impact Germany and other members of the European Union’s passport-free Schengen area, as well as the U.S., Brazil, Mexico, Chile and Argentina.
Beijing, the capital of China, is a major tourist hub as the home of the Great Wall of China, Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City and other important historical monuments.
Beijing and Tianjin previously allowed visa-free travel for up to 72 hours for certain nationalities. The same arrangement continues in 16 other cities, including Shanghai.
Shenzhen, on the border of Hong Kong, also issues a special five-day visa on arrival for some nationalities.
The dominant position that China holds in global manufacturing means that for many years China has also been the largest global importer of many types of recyclable materials. Last year, Chinese manufacturers imported 7.3m metric tonnes of waste plastics from developed countries including the UK, the EU, the US and Japan.
However, in July 2017, China announced big changes in the quality control placed on imported materials, notifying the World Trade Organisation that it will ban imports of 24 categories of recyclables and solid waste by the end of the year. This campaign against yang laji or “foreign garbage” applies to plastic, textiles and mixed paper and will result in China taking a lot less material as it replaces imported materials with recycled material collected in its own domestic market, from its growing middle-class and Western-influenced consumers.
The impact of this will be far-reaching. China is the dominant market for recycled plastic. There are concerns that much of the waste that China currently imports, especially the lower grade materials, will have nowhere else to go.
This applies equally to other countries including the EU27, where 87% of the recycled plastic collected was exported directly, or indirectly (via Hong Kong), to China. Japan and the US also rely on China to buy their recycled plastic. Last year, the US exported 1.42m tons of scrap plastics, worth an estimated US$495m to China.
So what will happen to the plastic these countries collect through household recycling systems once the Chinese refuse to accept it? What are the alternatives?
Plastics collected for recycling could go to energy recovery (incineration). They are, after all, a fossil-fuel based material and burn extremely well – so on a positive note, they could generate electricity and improve energy self-sufficiency.
They could also go to landfill (not ideal) – imagine the press headlines. Alternatively, materials could be stored until new markets are found. This also brings problems, however – there have been hundreds of fires at sites where recyclable materials are stored.
Time to change our relationship with plastic?
While it is a reliable material, taking many forms from cling film (surround wrap) to flexible packaging to rigid materials used in electronic items, the problems caused by plastic, most notably litter and ocean plastics, are receiving increasing attention.
One way forward might be to limit its functions. Many disposable items are made from plastic. Some of them are disposable by necessity for hygiene purposes – for instance, blood bags and other medical items – but many others are disposable for convenience.
Looking at the consumer side of things, there are ways of cutting back on plastic. Limiting the use of plastic bags through financial disincentives is one initiative that has shown results and brought about changes in consumer behaviour. In France, some disposable plastic items are banned and in the Britain, leading pub chain Wetherspoons has banned disposable, one-use plastic drinking straws.
Deposit and return schemes for plastic bottles (and drink cans) could also incentivise behaviour. Micro-beads, widely used in cosmetics as exfoliants, are now a target as the damage they do becomes increasingly apparent and the UK government has announced plans to ban their use in some products.
Many local authorities collect recycling that is jumbled together. But a major side effect of this type of collection is that while it is convenient for the householder, there are high contamination levels which leads to reduced material quality. This will mean it is either sold for lower prices into a limited market, will need to be reprocessed through sorting plants, or will be incinerated or put in landfill. But changes to recycling collections and reprocessing to improve the quality of materials could be expensive.
The problems we are now facing are caused by China’s global dominance in manufacturing and the way many countries have relied on one market to solve their waste and recycling problems. The current situation offers us an opportunity to find new solutions to our waste problem, increase the proportion of recycled plastic in our own manufactured products, improve the quality of recovered materials and to use recycled material in new ways.
China’s capital unveiled the “shining example” of its 80 billion yuan ($12 billion) new airport on Monday, tipped to become one of the world’s largest when it opens in October 2019 amid a massive infrastructure drive overseen by President Xi Jinping.
Representatives showed off the sprawling skeleton of “Beijing New Airport”, which is made up of 1.6 million cubic meters of concrete, 52,000 tonnes of steel and spans a total 47 sq km (18 sq miles), including runways.
It is expected to serve an initial 45 million passengers a year with an eventual capacity of 100 million, putting it on par with Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.
“Lined up together there’s roughly 5 km of gates,” said project spokesman Zhu Wenxin. “It’s a shining example of China’s national production capacity.”
Updates on the airport come as the ruling Communist Party is set to open its 19th congress later this week, a twice-a-decade leadership event where Xi will consolidate power and emphasize successful projects and policy from his first five years.
The project, which broke ground in 2014, is one of the region’s largest infrastructure investments under Xi’s rule, which has been plagued by fears of slowing economic growth, offset slightly by a construction spree.
China has sought to boost its profile as both an aviation hub and a manufacturer in recent years. The country’s first home-grown passenger jet, the C919, lifted off on its maiden flight in May, edging into a multibillion-dollar market currently dominated by Boeing and Airbus SE.
Situated 67 km south of Beijing, the airport technically falls in neighboring Hebei province, though it will eventually constitute its own development zone.
It will relieve pressure on Beijing’s existing international airport, to the northeast of Beijing and currently the world’s second largest by passenger volume, which opened a new terminal worth $3.6 billion (£2.7 billion) in 2008 ahead of the Beijing Summer Olympics.
The existing airport will continue to operate major international flights, though a third smaller domestic airport in the city’s south will close in coming years. Two of China’s three major airlines, China Eastern Airlines Corp and China Southern Airlines Co, will relocate to the airport on completion, accounting for roughly four-fifths of the new airport’s total traffic.
The airport will be connected to Beijing by a high speed train with a top speed of 350 km an hour, as well as an inter-city train and a major expressway. Original plans for the airport were made by French airports operator Aeroports de Paris, though third-party improvements to the original version make the final design “wholly domestic”, said Zhu.
“It’s like a large flower, but made of steel,” said one construction worker on the site, who declined to share his name because he was not authorized to speak to press.
Qualcomm Inc. filed lawsuits in China seeking to ban the sale and manufacture of iPhones in the country, the chipmaker’s biggest shot at Apple Inc. so far in a sprawling and bitter legal fight.
The San Diego-based company aims to inflict pain on Apple in the world’s largest market for smartphones and cut off production in a country where most iPhones are made. The product provides almost two-thirds of Apple’s revenue. Qualcomm filed the suits in a Beijing intellectual property court claiming patent infringement and seeking injunctive relief, according to Christine Trimble, a company spokeswoman.
“Apple employs technologies invented by Qualcomm without paying for them,” Trimble said. Apple shares initially gave up some gains from earlier on Friday before recovering, while Qualcomm stock maintained small losses.
Qualcomm’s suits are based on three non-standard essential patents, it said. They cover power management and a touch-screen technology called Force Touch that Apple uses in current iPhones, Qualcomm said. The inventions "are a few examples of the many Qualcomm technologies that Apple uses to improve its devices and increase its profits,” Trimble said.
Apple said the claim has no merit. “In our many years of ongoing negotiations with Qualcomm, these patents have never been discussed,” said Apple spokesman Josh Rosenstock. “Like their other courtroom maneuvers, we believe this latest legal effort will fail.”
Qualcomm made the filings at the Beijing court on Sept. 29. The court has not yet made them public.
“This is another step to get Apple back to the negotiating table,” said Mike Walkley, an analyst at Canaccord Genuity Inc. “It shows how far apart they are.”
There’s little or no precedent for a Chinese court taking such action at the request of a U.S. company, he said. Chinese regulators would also be concerned that a halt of iPhone production would cause layoffs at Apple’s suppliers such as Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., which are major employers.
Conversely, supporting Qualcomm might help Chinese phone companies such as Guangdong Oppo Electronics Co. to gain share against Apple, Walkley said. Investors aren’t concerned about a disruption to iPhone supply because they believe Apple would immediately compromise if there was any threat to production.
“Apple’s not going to miss one day of production,” he said. ‘If for any reason they get a negative judgment, they’d go back to paying Qualcomm in the short term. They’re not going to risk their business model for this.”
The two companies are months into a legal dispute that centers on Qualcomm’s technology licensing business. While Qualcomm gets the majority of its sales from making phone chips, it pulls in most of its profit from charging fees for patents that cover the fundamentals of all modern phone systems.
The latest suits come at a crucial time for Apple. It just introduced iPhone 8 and X models aimed at reasserting leadership in a market that’s steeped in competition from fast-growing Chinese makers. Suppliers and assemblers in China are rushing to churn out as many new iPhones as possible ahead of the key holiday season, so any disruptions would likely be costly. The Greater China region accounted for 22.5 percent of Apple’s $215.6 billion sales in its most recent financial year.
Apple uses some of Qualcomm’s modems -- chips that connect phones to cellular networks -- in some versions of the iPhone. It’s cut that relationship back by using alternatives from Intel Corp. in some markets.
The legal battle started earlier this year when Apple filed an antitrust suit against Qualcomm arguing that the chipmaker’s licensing practices are unfair, and that it abused its position as the biggest supplier of chips in phones. Qualcomm charges a percentage of the price of each handset regardless of whether it includes a chip from the company, and Apple is sick of paying those fees.
Qualcomm has countered with a patent suit and argued that Cupertino, California-based Apple encouraged regulators from South Korea to the U.S. to take action against it based on false testimony. Earlier this week, Qualcomm was fined a record NT$23.4 billion ($773 million) by Taiwan’s Fair Trade Commission, a ruling the company is appealing. Qualcomm is also asking U.S. authorities to ban the import of some versions of the iPhone, arguing they infringe on its patents.
Soon after its first legal salvo, Apple cut off licensing payments to Qualcomm. That’s about $2 billion a year in highly profitable revenue, according to analyst estimates, and the chipmaker was forced to lower earnings forecasts. Qualcomm stock is down 19 percent this year compared with a 35 percent gain by the benchmark Philadelphia Stock Exchange Semiconductor Index. Apple shares are up 36 percent this year.
China has played a significant role in promoting development in Africa, and its Belt and Road Initiative would allow more African countries to better connect to global trade networks, several scholars told Xinhua in recent interviews.
The China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative, which aims to build a trade and infrastructure network connecting Asia with Europe and Africa along and beyond the ancient Silk Road trade routes, is a key project being implemented by the Chinese leadership to the benefit of African countries and beyond, said Kioko Mutua, a lecturer at the Institute of Development Studies at the University of Nairobi.
"For Africa, this is an opportunity to open much more to the world and let the world open to Africa," said Mutua.
In Africa, it is commonly believed that the initiative is worth supporting because it fits in well with plans by African countries to develop mega infrastructure projects, which are seen as critical to trade, especially increasing exports to the rest of the world.
"The Belt and Road Initiative is the biggest achievement amongst China's most impressive achievements in the last five years because it would shape the next phase of global trade for ages to come," said Ken Ogembo, who lectures at Kenyatta University in Kenya.
According to the Kenyan scholar, the Belt and Road Initiative stands to play a key role in balancing global trade and boost China's image in Africa.
"The coming out of China as a development partner in Africa in particular has endeared it to the people and helped to position its global image and influence," Ogembo told Xinhua.
Ogembo noted that a survey by CNN last year found that China was more popular than the United States among African students. In Kenya, a similar study revealed that more people prefer dealing with the Chinese than the Americans.
"China's overseas engagement has first led people to know who the Chinese are rather than being told, and is also portrayed as caring for the interests of Africa," Ogembo said.
While expressing appreciation for China's contribution to Africa's economic growth and social development, there is a general belief that China should play a bigger role in Africa and in global governance.
"The world expects China to do more in enhancing infrastructure overseas, providing aid to assist in combating diseases, peacekeeping and dealing with natural disasters by virtue of its growing role as a major global player," said Mutua.
In proud cheers, Kenyans witnessed the birth of a millennium railway project that will transform their lives. And once again, China has proved itself a true and capable friend behind Africa's growth story.
Defying often ill-intended accusations of China's so-called hidden motives beyond what is in fact mutually-beneficial cooperation, Kenyans themselves are on the contrary saying the flagship project has been a model of cooperation since the country's independence.
Built by the China Road and Bridge Corporation, the project costing 3.8 billion U.S. dollars is finished 18 months ahead of schedule, expediting delivery of practical benefits to the economy and the people. Cutting travel time by half for passengers and downing the cost of freight transport by almost half are the immediate double benefits that the Mombasa-Nairobi standard gauge railway (SGR) brings, and it is undoubtedly a dream come true for ordinary passengers and businessmen alike.
It should also be noted that the mega-project has been a result of Chinese engagement with Africa that adheres to the policy of sincerity, real results, affinity and good faith.
The SGR railway has been a continuity of traditional China-Africa friendship and cooperation. China's sincerity and dedication to the improvement of infrastructure networks on the African continent is well known to the world.
Since the 1970s, when many African states became independent, China has aided the construction of the monumental Tanzania-Zambia railway as well as many other defining projects in countries such as Angola, Nigeria, Ethiopia and Djibouti.
China-Africa pragmatic cooperation is bringing about concrete benefits. The SGR project's work force is 90 percent composed of locals, contrary to baseless claims of Chinese snatching up jobs of Africans. The total number of jobs created locally hit 46,000. Over 40,000 locals also received various levels of training, covering construction and operation of the railway.
The training and transfer of knowledge are clear evidence of China's affinity toward their African partners because China likes to see Africa achieve self-reliant development.
As passengers aboard the train are stunned by views of Kenya's natural wonders on a modern train hurtling past iconic wildlife species but creating no trouble for their land, one will truly appreciate the harmonious merge of nature and technology through a ride experience.
Under the African aspiration of "Connecting Nations, Prospering People", the SGR will further expand to neighboring countries, and China, based on its records so far, will continue, as ever, to prove itself a true partner capable to help Africa realize its ambitions.
Credit: Xinhua News
Recent media reports of an avocado shortage have hipsters and foodies horrified the world over. Prices are at a record high as a result of a classic supply and demand situation. Harvests from major producers in Mexico, Peru and California, have been poor, which has reduced supply. Meanwhile, demand has surged. And not just in the affluent West, Chinese consumers are developing an insatiable taste for them too.
The sheer number of people in China has long made the Chinese market a dream for exporters to crack. And it seems that China’s aspirational middle class has a lot in common with its Western counterparts. Especially when it comes to food fads.
I remember, as a teenager, the first time I ever heard about avocados. It was 1977 and I was watching Abigail’s Party, a Mike Leigh play on the BBC. It was a wicked and rather tragic comedy of manners, which poked fun at the insecurities of the aspirational lower middle classes.
The central character, Beverly, wanted to impress her guests by insisting that they try her avocados, olives and various other international delicacies, which were considered new and exotic at the time. The sound of romantic Demis Roussos songs on the stereo, added to the “sophisticated” ambience that Beverly thought she was creating. Upstairs, she probably also had an avocado bathroom suite. We all laughed at Beverly, even if many of us recognised something of ourselves in her attitudes and behaviour.
Abigail’s Party satirised the early symptoms of a trend that would be accelerated during the Thatcher years of the 1980s: conspicuous consumption. New and affordable luxuries made it possible for everyone to extend their self-image through what they bought and express their dreams of upward mobility. The academic Russell Belk wrote about this phenomenon in 1988 in his landmark marketing article, Possessions and the Extended Self.
Now avocados are in fashion again, but this time mainly for their supposed health benefits. Some regard it as a “super food” and it is included in various fad diets. Thousands of blogs, Facebook posts and Instagram pictures of smashed avocado on toast also diffuse around the world, sating our narcissistic desire to tell everyone how healthy we are or hope to be. Beverly could only impress a handful of guests in the 1970s. Now we can try to impress thousands. Belk has even updated his original article to consider the “extended self in a digital world”.
These displays of conspicuous consumption are just as prevalent in China, which has a rapidly growing middle class of more than 100m people. Avocados – or “butter fruit” as they are known – are also relatively new there, having only been available in exclusive outlets for a few years. So avocado demand there is being doubly driven, not only by their promised health benefits, but equally by their newness, exclusivity and symbolic, aspirational value to the burgeoning middle class.
Of course, the sheer size and potential of the Chinese market means that when their consumers get a taste for something, it can have a really big impact on supplies and prices around the rest of the world. A market that took 40 years to evolve in the West is being replicated in a fraction of the time in China.
Suppliers have tried to ramp up production to meet the demand. China itself is looking to establish its own domestic production in the south of the country. The problem is that avocados are difficult to grow, requiring deep aerated soil, warm conditions and huge amounts of water. Where new crops can be grown, this is leading to deforestation and pressure on water supplies.
So a super food it may be, but a huge increase in avocado production is not very good for the environment. If the current growth in demand proves to be a relatively short-term fad, then a lot of long-term damage will have been done to satisfy it. There are probably more sustainable ways of eating healthy food and achieving social one-upmanship.
However, as the West has led the way in creating consumer desires based on aspiration and status anxiety, it is a bit rich to then criticise the Chinese middle class consumer for doing the same. There are more things that unite us than divide us – not least a love of avocados.
The U.S. stopped short of branding China a currency manipulator, but urged the world’s second-largest economy to let the yuan rise with market forces and embrace more trade.
No major trading partner is manipulating its currency for an unfair trade advantage, according to the first foreign-currency report released by the Treasury Department under President Donald Trump. It kept China, South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Germany and Switzerland on its foreign-exchange monitoring list.
“China currently has an extremely large and persistent bilateral trade surplus with the United States, which underscores the need for further opening of the Chinese economy to American goods and services,” as well as quicker reforms to boost household consumption, according to the Treasury report.
Trump declared that he’ll back away from a campaign promise to name China a currency manipulator, a move that would have created friction between the world’s largest economies as they try to boost trade cooperation and address North Korea’s nuclear threat. Trump, in a Wall Street Journal interview, said China hasn’t manipulated the yuan for months, while accusing nations that he didn’t identify of devaluing their currencies and saying the dollar is getting too strong.
The report contains an implicit threat that unless China gives U.S. exporters greater market access and further rebalances the economy, the U.S. could act to rectify the trade imbalance, according to Eswar Prasad, former head of the IMF’s China division and author of “Gaining Currency: The Rise of the Renminbi.”
“While China now meets only one of the three criteria for currency manipulation listed in the report, the text makes clear that China’s large bilateral trade surplus with the U.S. is by itself enough to warrant careful scrutiny of China’s trade and currency practices,” said Prasad, a professor at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York.
The Treasury report said that for a decade China engaged in one-way, large-scale interventions to hold down the currency, and then only allowed it to strengthen gradually -- a practice that imposed “significant and long-lasting hardship on American workers and companies.” While China has been intervening to prevent a depreciation of the yuan, its selling of foreign currency reserves abated early this year, Treasury said.
Now, China needs to show that its lack of intervention in the currency markets “to resist appreciation” over the past three years is a “durable” policy by allowing the yuan to strengthen “once appreciation pressures resume,” the Treasury said.
China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs didn’t immediately respond to an email Saturday seeking comment on the report.
Treasury avoiding the manipulator label reflects that China’s current-account surplus as a share of output is much reduced, and currency intervention now supports yuan strength, according to Bloomberg Intelligence economists Tom Orlik and Justin Jimenez. China has burned through almost $1 trillion of its foreign reserves, or about a quarter of the total stockpile, since mid-2014 to help support the currency.
“After much hoopla, and with a few extra bells and whistles, the Treasury’s position is completely unchanged,” Orlik and Jimenez wrote in a report. “Treasury does have some choice words for China, accusing it of causing ‘long-lasting hardship’ to American workers. And there’s what looks like a change in the criteria, opening the possibility that China’s outsize trade surplus alone will be enough to keep it on the watch list.”
Like the last report by the Obama administration in October, China met only one of the three criteria -- for having a large trade deficit -- that’s used by the Treasury as a threshold for manipulation. China’s $347 billion goods trade surplus with the U.S. was the largest of major trading partners last year, according to the report.
Taiwan also met one condition, while the other four met two.
The Treasury said Germany has a “responsibility” to help balance global demand and trade flows. Europe’s biggest economy should use fiscal policy to encourage strong domestic demand, which would put “upward pressure” on the euro. Switzerland “could increase reliance on policy rates in order to limit the need for foreign-exchange interventions, which should be made more transparent.”
In Asia, Taiwan, Japan and South Korea were urged to keep interventions to a minimum, and aspire to have flexible and transparent exchange rate policies.
“The United States cannot and will not bear the burden of an international trading system that unfairly disadvantages our exports and unfairly advantages the exports of our trading partners through artificially distorted exchange rates,” the report stated. “Treasury is committed to aggressively and vigilantly monitoring and combating unfair currency practices.’’
The department is required by law to report to Congress twice a year on whether America’s major trading partners are gaming their currencies. The report is the government’s formal channel to impose the manipulator designation, leading to a year of negotiations for a solution and penalties if the practice continues.
The U.S. hasn’t branded any country a manipulator since 1994.
A senior Bank of Korea official said South Korean foreign-exchange authorities maintain their stance that the exchange rate is to be determined by the market as the report emphasized fair competition. The official asked not to be identified because the central bank hasn’t issued a statement the report.
A spokesman for Taiwan’s presidential office referred a request for comment to the central bank. An official at the monetary authority, who asked not to be identified, said Saturday that the central bank is in continued contact with the U.S. and has good communication channels with Washington.
The Treasury left the criteria for manipulation unchanged at having a trade surplus with the U.S. above $20 billion; having a current-account surplus amounting to more than 3 percent of gross domestic product; repeated currency depreciating by buying foreign assets equivalent to 2 percent of output over the year.
Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross has said that the issue of “currency misalignment” -- which could also include unintentional devaluations -- will be addressed in a study of trade abuses by nations that run large surpluses with the U.S., which is due to be ready in June.
The African Union (AU) held its 28th Summit in Addis Ababa recently. The meeting was markedly different to previous ones because the organisation showed it was serious about finding practical, lasting solutions to contemporary continental problems.
Specifically the decision to “deeply” reform the continental body was given new life and uniquely, a report to bring this about was drafted by Rwandan President Paul Kagame. This formed part of a process that kicked off at the mid-2016 summit. Then Kagame – supported by a pan-African advisory team – was given the task of coming up with reform proposals. Importantly, it was recognised that previous attempts at institutional reform had been ineffective.
The report’s recommendations can be summed up as “less is more”. They include the need for fewer strategic priorities and addressing bureaucratic bottlenecks. They also call for a better division of labour between the AU and member states, regional economic organisations and continental organs and institutions. The need to lessen the AU’s dependence on external funding also featured prominently.
In relation to Africa’s external relations – and in the interest of political and operational efficiency – it was recommended that partnership summits such as the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation and Japan’s Tokyo International Conference on African Development convened by external parties should be reviewed “with a view to providing an effective framework” for AU relations.
Besides partnership summits, external engagement in Africa is mainly carried out at the country level. To make sure that the African agenda isn’t externally driven, the report recommended that a central body be created to map, monitor and implement projects. And it recommends a change to Africa’s bilateral engagements.
What remains to be seen are whether the factors that prompted the reform of Africa’s partnerships have been addressed and how and when the changes will be implemented.
Changes to forum meetings
Normally partnership summits are attended by a host of African leaders. At the sixth China-Africa forum meeting in South Africa in December 2015, 48 African leaders were in attendance.
The Kagame report proposes a much smaller delegation made up of the troika (the current, former and incoming AU chairs), the chairperson of the AU Commission and the chairperson of the regional economic communities.
These changes may have implications for Africa’s relations with China. Since 2000 China and African state representatives have been meeting on a triennial basis through the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation. Importantly in 2018 the seventh forum is expected to take place in Beijing.
A handful of representatives meeting China on behalf of the continent is a commendable approach. For years commentators have been advocating for a more unified African voice in engaging external partners, who were at an advantage, as the African side scrambled to forge a common position. Arguably, more can be achieved with fewer voices and with greater consistency and continuity.
The AU and China have already been collaborating more closely. The former became a full forum member in 2011 and China deployed a permanent mission to the AU in early 2015. China also built the impressive new headquarters for the AU in Addis Ababa and has also committed to supporting the body’s Agenda 2063.
It’s still not entirely clear what the impact of the new format on the actual forum ministerial meetings and summits will be. Will it replace the consultation with the African ambassadors in Beijing and host country of the forum ministerial or summit, who together with the Chinese forum secretariat have traditionally managed the forum process?
If so, would this effectively create joint secretariat based in Addis Ababa? This might be a much more appropriate forum given that the city is also the seat of Africa’s key summits and meetings. Consultations with heads of state – or internal African canvassing of views on what Africa wants from China – would also be much easier.
But to realise any of this the chronic failures of the lack of capacity, poor accountability, fragmentation and low levels of trust need to be addressed urgently. Whether this proposal will be ready for 2018 is another issue. For now, forum activities and projects remain funded – and thus largely driven – by China.
Until the details of how this new type of partnership would operate are known, some outstanding nuances should be considered.
First is the symbolic use of summitry. Platforms like the forum are stages where actors showcase their identities, affiliations and role in the world. The symbolism of the long-standing China-Africa friendship, reflected by images of China’s President Xi Jinping brushing shoulders with several African heads of state at the sixth forum, could be potentially scrapped.
Second are China’s bilateral relations with African states. Some nations hold a longer history of relations with China, than the AU. Summits also double up as a reason to make bilateral visits where an impressive laundry list of agreements are often signed. It remains to be seen how bilateral relations (the level at which forum agreements are actually implemented), will be affected by such a new arrangement.
Certainly a better organised AU would fill an important gap in the region’s relations with China. The question is whether the changes will be put into effect. In Kagame’s words:
to fail Africa again would be unforgivable.
Chinese industry called on Saturday for talks with the United States to seek an end to anti-dumping duties imposed on its exports of large washing machines, state news agency Xinhua reported.
The U.S. International Trade Commission last month made a final finding of harm to a U.S. manufacturer after a Commerce Department probe found some large residential washers were being imported from China at below fair value.
"The move hurts not only Chinese manufacturers, but also the interests of U.S. consumers," the China Chamber of Commerce for Import and Export of Machinery and Electronic Products (CCCME) said, according to Xinhua. "The chamber is concerned about the U.S. use of trade remedy measures to protect its own market, and hopes to solve the issue through negotiations to gain win-win results."
The investigation followed a petition by Whirlpool Corp over imports of washers manufactured in China by two South Korean companies, Samsung Electronics Co Ltd and LG Electronics Inc. The ITC decision imposed of final duties of up to 52.5 percent.
In 2015, U.S. imports of such washers from China were valued at an estimated $1.1 billion (£880.8 million).