Tensions are escalating between China and the US over trade. The Chinese government has announced retaliatory measures on a range of American products including cars and some American agriculture products after the US listed 1,333 Chinese products to be hit by punitive tariffs of 25%.
Yet a trade war does not make economic sense for either side. Bilateral trade between the US and China was worth about US$711 billion in 2017 and Boeing’s single deal with China signed during Donald Trump’s visit to Beijing in 2016 was worth about US$37 billion alone.
The jobs and livelihoods at risk are huge. So why is there no particular desire, especially from Trump, to ease the tension and find a new solution?
There has been much talk about the US trade deficit with China and allegations that China steals US intellectual property. But the answer could lie in US fears of the Chinese government’s “Made in China 2025” initiative and how it signals the growing threat of China as an economic rival. That the official US Trade Representative’s recent investigation into Chinese trade practices mentioned the Made in China 2025 initiative more than 100 times, suggests this is the case.
Made in China 2025 was launched by the Chinese government in 2015 to upgrade the country’s manufacturing capabilities. It is a plan to transform what China produces from a low-cost, labour-intensive model to advanced and smart manufacturing. Certain key industries such as aerospace, robotics and high-tech medical equipment have been prioritised. The hope is that China will gradually match developed countries’ manufacturing capabilities and become industry leaders.
A lot of the products from these key industries, such as industrial robots, aviation and aerospace equipment, new energy and power supplies and advanced rail machinery were all included in the tariff target list published by the US Trade Representative. So it would seem that the current situation is not simply a trade issue aimed to reduce America’s trade deficit with China. Instead, it is likely targeted at the future competition China will pose.
China’s Made in China 2025 strategy makes perfect sense in my field of research, which concerns where products are manufactured and how this effects their popularity in the global market place. A strong and positive image of a country can generate what economists call “halo effects” on its products. So, Germans have built good reputations for their cars and engineering, France and Italy for their wine and fashion, and the US for their innovative products.
This worldwide reputation brings with it prestige and higher price premiums. Although there is still debate around whether brand origin could be more important than where the product is produced (Apple, for example designs its products in the US but manufactures them in China), there is no doubt that “Made in China” suffers from an image problem.
Chinese products have long been associated with a cheap and cheerful perception that they are not good in terms of quality or ingenuity. The Chinese government has long been aware of this view and keen to change it.
At the turn of the 21st century, it set up a policy called “Going Out” to encourage leading Chinese firms to expand internationally, acquire new technology and the tools to innovate. The two big examples were IT firm Lenovo’s takeover of IBM’s personal computer division in 2005 and Geely automotive’s purchase of Volvo in 2010. Made in China 2025 serves the same purpose – to boost China’s technology and innovation capabilities and to improve the image of Chinese products.
There is no doubt that China has come a long way since the 1990s. It has built 22,000km of advanced high speed rail network within the last decade, which is more than the rest of the world combined. It is also considered as the global leader in renewable energy and technology, patent filings, commercial drones, industrial robotics and e-commerce and mobile payments.
Chinese telecommunications company Huawei typifies the transformation of Chinese products in recent years. Within the last decade, Huawei has surpassed Ericsson and Nokia to become the world’s biggest telecom equipment supplier and has just overtaken Apple as the world’s second largest smartphone maker, behind Samsung.
What’s more remarkable about these statistics is that Huawei has transformed itself from a cheap phone maker to an accepted premium brand that can compete with Apple and Samsung. Its latest releases the top of the range Huawei P20 Pro will retail for US$1,100 and its top end model Huawei Porsche Design Mate RS will sell for US$2,109 – even more than the iPhone X.
There is no doubt that some in the US are uncomfortable with China’s impressive growth and feel threatened by it. It suggests the current trade dispute is not just about imports and exports, but also an incumbent superpower feeling the threat of a growing challenger.
Chinese President Xi Jinping promised on Tuesday to open the country's economy further and lower import tariffs on products like cars, in a speech seen as an attempt to defuse an escalating trade dispute with the United States.
While much of his pledges were reiterations of previously announced reforms that foreign businesses say are long overdue, Xi's comments sent stock markets and the U.S. dollar higher on hopes of a compromise that could avert a trade war. Xi said China will widen market access for foreign investors, addressing a chief complaint of its trading partners and a point of contention for U.S. President Donald Trump's administration, which has threatened billions of dollars in tariffs on Chinese goods.
Trump struck a conciliatory tone in response to Xi's speech, saying in a post on Twitter that he was "thankful" for the Chinese leader's kind words on tariffs and access for U.S. automakers, as well as his "enlightenment" on the issue of intellectual property.
"We will make great progress together!" Trump tweeted.
Washington charges that Chinese companies steal the trade secrets of American companies and force them into joint ventures to get hold of their technology, an issue that is at the center of Trump's current tariff threats.
The latest comments from both leaders appear to reinforce a view that a full-scale trade war can be averted, although there have been no talks between the world's two economic superpowers since the U.S. tariffs were announced.
"President Xi’s speech appears to have struck a relatively positive tone and opens the door to potential negotiations with the U.S. in our view. The focus now shifts to the possible U.S. response," economists at Nomura said.
"But of course actions speak louder than words. We will keep an eye on the progress of those opening-up measures."
The speech at the Boao Forum for Asia in the southern province of Hainan had been widely anticipated as one of Xi's first major addresses in a year in which the ruling Communist Party marks the 40th anniversary of its landmark economic reforms and opening up under former leader Deng Xiaoping.
Xi said China would raise the foreign ownership limit in the automobile, shipbuilding and aircraft sectors "as soon as possible" and push previously announced measures to open the financial sector.
"This year, we will considerably reduce auto import tariffs, and at the same time reduce import tariffs on some other products," Xi said.
He said "Cold War mentality" and arrogance had become obsolete and would be repudiated. His speech did not specifically mention the United States or its trade policies, which have been assailed by Chinese state media in recent days. Vice Premier Liu He had already vowed at the World Economic Forum in January that China would roll out fresh market opening moves this year, and that it would lower auto import tariffs in an "orderly way".
Chinese officials have promised since at least 2013 to ease restrictions on foreign joint ventures in the auto industry, which would allow foreign firms to take a majority stake. They currently are limited to a 50 percent stake in joint ventures and cannot establish their own wholly owned factories.
Tesla's Chief Executive Elon Musk has railed against an unequal playing field in China and wants to retain full ownership over a manufacturing facility the company is in talks to build there.
"This is a very important action by China. Avoiding a trade war will benefit all countries," Musk tweeted after Xi's speech.
Foreign business groups welcomed Xi's commitment to reforms, including promises to strengthen legal deterrence on intellectual property violators, but said the speech fell short on specifics.
"Ultimately U.S. industry will be looking for implementation of long-stalled economic reforms, but actions to date have greatly undermined the optimism of the U.S. business community," said Jacob Parker, vice president of China operations at the U.S.-China Business Council.
EASING OF TENSION
Jonas Short, head of the Beijing office at Everbright Sun Hung Kai, said the market was cheered by Xi's speech because it was framed in more positive terms which could ease trade tensions, but he voiced caution about promised reforms.
"China is opening sectors where they already have a distinct advantage, or a stranglehold over the sector," Short said, citing its banking industry, which is dominated by domestic players.
Xi's renewed pledges to open up the auto sector come after Trump on Monday criticized China on Twitter for maintaining 25 percent auto import tariffs compared to the United States' 2.5 percent duties, calling such a relationship with China not free trade but "stupid trade."
Analysts have cautioned that any Chinese concessions on autos, while welcome, would be a relatively easy win for China to offer the United States, as plans for opening that sector had been under way well before Trump took office. But Vice Commerce Minister Qian Keming said at the forum on Tuesday that China's economic reforms were driven by domestic factors and not due to external pressures.
Xi said China would accelerate opening up its insurance industry, with Shanghai Securities News citing a government researcher after the speech saying foreign investors should be able to hold a controlling stake or even full ownership of an insurance company in the future.
Trump's move last week to threaten China with tariffs on $50 billion in Chinese goods was aimed at forcing Beijing to address what Washington says is deeply entrenched theft of U.S. intellectual property and forced technology transfers from U.S. companies. Chinese officials deny such charges, and responded within hours of Trump's announcement of tariffs with their own proposed commensurate duties.
The move prompted Trump last week to threaten tariffs on an additional $100 billion in Chinese goods, which have yet to be identified. None of the announced duties have been implemented yet, offering room for negotiation.
Beijing charges that Washington is the aggressor and spurring global protectionism, although China's trading partners have complained for years that it abuses World Trade Organization rules and practices unfair industrial policies that lock foreign companies out of crucial sectors with the intent of creating domestic champions.
While U.S. officials, including Trump, have recently expressed optimism that the two sides would hammer out a trade deal, Chinese officials in recent days have said negotiations would be impossible under "current circumstances". Dallas Federal Reserve Bank President Robert Kaplan, on a visit to Beijing, said he was optimistic that very few if any of the proposed tariffs by the United States and China announced in recent weeks will actually be implemented.
"I think it’s so clearly in the interest of both countries that we have a constructive trading relationship and that we have substantive talks to redress these issues.”
China raised eyebrows this month by announcing it will give the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) a $31.6 million grant to build a new headquarters in Abuja, Nigeria.
Accepting the grant, the president of ECOWAS, Jean-Claude Brou, thanked China and confirmed the organization's commitment to promoting future ECOWAS-China cooperation. A press release said that Brou called this a mark of goodwill from China.
But critics questioned the Asian economic powerhouse's motives for the donation, which positions it at the center of West African politics.
Earlier this year, a published report in the French daily, Le Monde, alleged that Beijing spied on the African Union through the computer systems it helped install. Citing anonymous sources, Le Monde reported that data was transferred from the AU systems in Ethiopia to its servers in Shanghai. China's foreign ministry called the Le Monde report "groundless accusations." The AU called the report "baseless."
"People will interpret this as a symbolic expression of China's growing presence in Africa," says Ian Taylor, a professor in international relations and African political economics at the University of St. Andrews, in Scotland.
"But the real question is 60 years after independence (for most member states), why does ECOWAS think it's acceptable for a foreign power to build its headquarters?"
ECOWAS and the Chinese Ministry for Foreign Affairs did not respond to CNN's requests for comment.
Why did ECOWAS accept?
ECOWAS was established in 1975 to foster economic integration and collective self-sufficiency in West Africa.
Its 15 member states include one of Africa's biggest economies by GDP, Nigeria, causing Taylor and others to ask why ECOWAS isn't self-funding the facility. Had the members split the bill, it would have cost just over $2 million each.
Philip Olayoku, project manager at the Abuja-based Information Aid Network, says the official numbers are misleading and many countries in the grouping don't have cash to spare for such projects.
"For me, reliance on GDP is the wrong way to determine how well a country's economy is doing," he says. Corruption in many West African governments, he explains, means "funds that are accrued for national growth are often not where they need to be," impairing a country's ability to contribute effectively to bodies such as ECOWAS.
Currently, ECOWAS' operations are spread across three buildings in the Nigerian capital, which both Taylor and Olayoku say are "outdated" and not fit for purpose. The China Development Bank Corporation will work with "an ECOWAS designated authority" to "verify records of account payments at regular intervals" throughout the construction process, according to ECOWAS.
That foreign supervision is necessary, Taylor says, shows "a general failing of the ECOWAS leadership."
"They can't even be bothered to contribute to ECOWAS' budget," he says. In 2016, six nations had outstanding contribution arrears to ECOWAS. "What that means is either the organization will stop working or it will have to rely on foreign donors."
'No such thing as a free gift'
It's not the first time China has constructed buildings at the heart of Sub-Saharan African politics for free.
In 2012, it handed over the ultra-modern African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. With a price-tag of $200 million, it was China's largest aid construction project since the 1970s. In 2017, China broke ground on a fully-funded $58 million parliament in Brazzaville, Republic of Congo.
"Obviously, the (ECOWAS) building itself doesn't mean that China is going to extend its influence, but it does send a signal that China is positioning itself as a trusted friend of African presidents," says Taylor. "That influences all sorts of decision making processes ... there's no such thing as a free gift."
Gambia's President Adama Barrow with China's President Xi Jinping at the end of a signing ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on December 21, 2017. The two countries re-established diplomatic relations in 2016.
While Beijing defends its aid practices on the grounds they are neutral and respect recipient nations' sovereignty, Chinese money is not wholly unpolitical.
For example, African nations have long been a battle ground for China and Taiwan, officially the Republic of China, with Beijing providing aid and economic deals to nations which ditch Taipei and recognize the People's Republic of China instead. Today, in Africa, only Burkina Faso and Swaziland officially recognize Taiwan.
Furthermore, in 2016 the president of Sierra Leone, Ernest Bai Koroma, confirmed that the Communist Party of China (CPC) had agreed to build his ruling All People's Congress party a six-story headquarters in the capital of Freetown.
China becoming an aid power?
As China grows as a world power, its aid programs in general are expanding globally, too. A study published last year by AidData, a research lab at the College of William & Mary, found the size of Chinese aid assistance to be much larger than previously believed.
Earlier this month, China announced plans to form an international development cooperation agency to coordinate its global aid program. Previously China had no dedicated agency devoted to foreign aid, despite giving tens of billions of dollars in overseas assistance since 2000.
"The Chinese government actually considers the details of its overseas development programs to be a state secret," AidData executive director Brad Parks told CNN.
The AidData study found that at least 70% of China's overseas aid was sent to Africa from 2000 to 2014. While the report noted that "Chinese aid substantially improves economic growth," it also deemed the majority of spending less than effective and warned it may undermine Western efforts to use aid to promote democracy and political reform, at a time when the US is pulling back on overseas spending.
Giving developing nations buildings designed to help their political institutions prosper is part of that expanded aid program, says Aaron Tesfaye, a professor in political science at William Paterson University, New Jersey.
Chinese employees of the new railway which will link Addis Ababa to Djibouti take pictures in front of the Chinese-made Ethiopian trains in Addis Ababa on September 24, 2016.
"We are now seeing China being a responsible nation, with peacekeeping forces in Darfur and Mali," he says. "So I can see where financing ECOWAS is a step forward in that responsibility."
Taylor agrees that in some African nations, such as Ethiopia where China has built a metro in the capital city and connected the land-locked country to the ocean via the Addis-Ababa-Djibouti Railway, as well as built the AU headquarters, most people see Chinese construction projects as "positive."
"The cultural power of China in the world today is a reality and something that is being embraced, given its economy cannot be ignored," says Olayoku. "I don't see anything wrong with China building the ECOWAS headquarters, as long as it does not impose its values."
- CNN's James Griffiths also contributed to this report. (CNN)
For most Chinese people, the Spring Festival is a time to honour family ties, friendships and acquaintances.
This is what producers of this year’s Annual Spring Festival Gala on China’s national broadcaster, CCTV, probably had in mind when they agreed to include a comedy skit about the growing ties between China and African countries called “Celebrating Together” (同喜同乐).
In a celebration of Sino-African friendship, what could go wrong? In fact, quite a lot.
The 13-minute long skit opens with dozens of African performers, alongside antelopes and a lion, dancing to the tune of Shakira’s “Waka Waka”, all rejoicing over the opening of the China-built Nairobi to Mombasa Railway. They are joined by a group of Kenyan train attendants and the female lead, a Gabonese actress speaking fluent Mandarin.
And, then, a well-known Chinese actress in full blackface comes on stage wearing a colourful yellow dress, fully equipped with oversized butt pads, carrying a fruit plate on her head and leading a cheerful monkey played by an unidentified African actor.
In less than 12 hours, descriptions of the skit were all over international media – always ready to run a “China, the foe” story. Turning to the Twittersphere, the public opinion thermometer of the 21st century, journalists found a divided audience: many called it racist, others argued it was not.
The skit might not have been ill-intentioned. But it was both culturally and racially insensitive. It also reeked of propaganda and relied on all the stereotypes about Africa that Chinese media claim to be debunking in their public diplomacy activities in the continent.
Chinese representation of Africa
It is not the first time that a Chinese state-sanctioned production has misrepresented Africa and African people in such a grotesque way. Last summer, the movie “Wolf Warrior 2”, the highest-grossing Chinese film ever, managed to bring together in a single movie all the clichés of Hollywood’s white-saviour subgenre: an unnamed African country affected by a deadly disease descends into chaos as civil war erupts. That is, until a Chinese mercenary comes to the rescue.
All film scripts in China must be pre-approved before production starts and they must get a final green light before they’re released. CCTV’s Spring Festival Gala also goes through multiple stages of supervision. Sometimes movies and TV acts are tossed out because a red flag is raised. That clearly didn’t happen this time.
Neither “Wolf Warrior 2” nor the Spring Festival Gala were conceived with global audiences in mind. They are cultural artefacts that speak to domestic audiences and, as such, they are tuned to the so-called “main melody”, a concept often attributed to China’s President in the 1990s, Jiang Zemin. Cultural products that dance to the main melody need to be aesthetically attractive to the masses, but remain politically aligned with the doctrine of the Communist Party.
China has a different repertoire for global audiences. As part of its quest to improve its image overseas, Beijing has promoted the expansion of companies like CGTN, Xinhua, China Daily and StarTimes. All have a strong presence in Africa, where they claim to be presenting a different view of the continent and its people.
These efforts are hit hard every time a gaffe, such as the CCTV’s skit, goes on air.
Savannas and safaris
Chinese media portray Africa in stereotypes not dissimilar to the rest of the world. The continent is routinely treated as a single unit, erasing its linguistic, racial and cultural diversity. It is often associated with cliched images such as savannas and safaris and its transformations over the last 30 years reduced to a market logic under the tagline “Africa rising”.
While misrepresentations of Africa are not an exclusive problem of Chinese media, two things set China apart.
As the release of “Black Panther” has shown, many in the US are ready to engage in an open discussion about how the US movie industry has, for decades, failed to address racial biases.
In China, criticism of the CCTV African skit on social media has been censored. This is not surprising, given that, every year, Chinese censors work hard to erase negative comments of a show that has gone from being a must-watch for many Chinese families to a source of memes and jokes for younger generations.
This suggests that China needs to have a conversation about racial insensitivity, which is too common and too often dismissed as cultural specificity. The cultural specificity argument goes like this: while something might be considered offensive in the “West” (for example, blackface), it is not in China, and, therefore, there is no need to feel offended by it.
Hard to say sorry
For a long time Beijing has kept a double narrative going in its media strategy – one for domestic consumption and another one for global audiences. This worked in a pre-Internet era.
If China wants to be viewed as a responsible global actor, it needs to find appropriate ways to prevent controversies such as the one created by the offensive CCTV skit. It could, for example, seek out African specialists at Chinese universities to offer expert advise.
More importantly, when errors are made – and Chinese leaders need to accept that nobody is infallible – Beijing needs to be ready to acknowledge them.
Foreign companies, and sometimes foreign media, are forced to issue an apology when their actions are deemed to hurt Chinese people. Will CCTV be offering one? For now, that seems unlikely. Speaking to the press, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has dismissed the controversy and taken the usual path: attacking those who brought up the issue.
Next time Beijing may want to change its approach. By apologising, it would show the world that it is becoming an empathetic global power.
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