Monday, 31 July 2017

Key to success of the Maritime Silk Road


Keeping Straits of Malacca and Singapore open to shipping key to success of Maritime Silk Road, says DPM Teo

A key requirement for the success of the Maritime Silk Road – which envisions linking China by sea with Europe by way of various Asian and African countries – is to keep critical sea lanes open and safe for shipping, said Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean.

This means the transit passage through the Straits of Malacca and Singapore cannot be suspended or impeded, as these waters are crucial to connecting the Pacific and Indian Oceans. Vessels from all countries use the sea lanes as well. Also, the Straits of Malacca and Singapore hold the status of “Straits used for international navigation”, and passage through them is provided for in international law, he added. DPM Teo made these points in his opening address at the FutureChina Global Forum on Thursday (July 13), when he outlined Singapore’s position on the right of transit passage for ships and planes of all countries through the Straits of Malacca and Singapore.

Singapore is a strong proponent of this right, he said. “This is a key principle of vital interest to us as trade is our lifeblood.” At the same time, adhering to the principle is key to the success of the Maritime Silk Road as it ensures smooth flow of trade and traffic through the Straits of Malacca and Singapore. DPM Teo outlines 3 key areas where Singapore, China can work together to realise full potential of Belt and Road Initiative

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Safe and free flow of goods key to realising potential of China's Belt and Road Initiative: DPM Teo
Safe and free flow of goods key to realising potential of China's Belt and Road Initiative: DPM Teo

The safe & free flow of goods is key to realising the full potential of large investments that have been made to boost connectivity and transport linkages cross 4 continents under China's Belt & Road Initiative (BRI), said Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean.

Delivering the opening speech at the FutureChina Global Forum on Thursday (Jul 13) morning, Mr Teo noted that much attention has been focused on the "headline-grabbing value & scale" of some large infrastructure projects along the Belt & Road.

"However, China appreciates that realising the full potential of BRI involves more dimensions and layers," he said, adding that BRI's overarching concept is about boosting connectivity.

related:
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Lessons from Asean for Xi’s Belt and Road Initiative
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Belt and Road initiative will help China grow ties with rest of world: PM Lee
PM Lee Hsien Loong speaks at a dialogue at the annual Business China Awards industry conference

China’s Belt & Road initiative is a way for China to grow ties with the rest of the world in a "constructive" way, said Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Friday (Jul 14).

Speaking at a dialogue at the annual Business China Awards industry conference, Mr Lee addressed concerns that the initiative had prompted unease over China’s growing influence.

“(China’s) influence is growing, it will have to be accommodated in the global system," he said to about 700 business & community leaders from China and Singapore. "The question is how, and whether this will be a stable, smooth adjustment, or a troubled & destabilising one."

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‘S’pore a strong supporter of China’s Belt and Road’

Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean yesterday reiterated Singapore’s support of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), while noting that both countries have made it a key focus area for bilateral cooperation.

Delivering the opening speech at the FutureChina Global Forum yesterday morning, he noted that both sides are looking at how to enhance physical and digital connectivity, financial connectivity, as well as people-to-people connectivity.

“We are an early & strong supporter of both the Belt & Road, and the AIIB (Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank),” said Mr Teo, adding that Singapore had joined 20 other countries as founding signatories of the AIIB agreement in Oct 2014.

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Singapore to work with China to realise Belt and Road's full potential

One important way is to ensure the safe & free flow of goods overland & across the seas, including the Strait of Malacca and the Strait of Singapore, he said.

For this reason, "Singapore will continue to uphold this right of transit passage for ships & aircraft of all countries, and will not support any attempt to restrict transit passage to ships or aircraft from any country".

He also said that working together to provide safe and unimpeded passage to all is a key prerequisite for the modern Maritime Silk Road.

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Singapore to reap benefits from China's Belt and Road Initiative

AMID the global rise of nationalism, China's One Belt, One Road (OBOR) - now renamed as the Belt & Road Initiative (BRI) - is a breath of fresh air, promising modern economic inclusion and connectivity.

The modern Silk Road equivalent embodies a greater vision of regions connected across the world for mutual economic growth and development. Financial & economic integration is an integral element of the BRI blueprint, not only in enhancing China's trade and financial relations with participating countries, but also to provide the much-needed financial resources to support infrastructure finance - a key sector to stimulate global economic growth.

With the speed up of connectivity between China & the modern Silk Road, another prominent benefit of BRI is the opportunity for renminbi (RMB) to play an even more active role after it has been included in the IMF SDR basket of Reserve currencies since October last year.

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Malaysia's ECR touted as a game changer: Shenzhen to Port Klang

In a remote nook along Peninsular Malaysia's east coast, millions of tonnes of sand are being dredged up from the South China Sea to get Kuantan Port ready for the country's priciest infrastructure project yet: a RM55 billion (S$17.7 billion) railway link financed by China.

The East Coast Rail Line project (ECRL) will connect ports on the east and west coasts of Peninsular Malaysia & could alter regional trade routes which currently ply between the busy Strait of Malacca and the South China Sea via S'pore, officials say.

This potential game changer gives a glimpse of China's ambitions to expand its economic clout in Asia and beyond. And it explains why land is being reclaimed at such a frenzied pace at Kuantan Port.

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China projects in Malaysia to hit Singapore
Most of the Malaysia-China indirect trade (about RM200bil) that goes through S'pore could return to Malaysia

The giant republic's aggressive investments in ports & rail links in Malaysia under its belt-road regional economic expansion programme is going to change the outlook for the island republic.

China's current mega belt-road projects in Malaysia, once completed, will alter trade routes in the region & this may divert hundreds of billions worth of trade from Singapore, according to industry players.

Cargoes & goods within the region heading for China or vice versa could bypass the Port of Singapore, when China-funded ports & East Coast Rail Line (ECRL) in Peninsular Malaysia are completed within 5 to 10 years

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China Plans Arctic Belt and Road Initiatives
Arctic

When China convened its Belt and Road Forum in Beijing in May, most of the attention focused on the initiative’s plans for transportation infrastructure across the Eurasian landmass and the Indian Ocean. Since then, however, China formally incorporated the Arctic into its plans for maritime cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative, also sometimes called One Belt, One Road.

The Vision for Maritime Cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative, released on June 20 by China’s National Development and Reform Commission and the State Oceanic Administration, explains that a “blue economic passage” is “envisioned leading up to Europe via the Arctic Ocean.”

This “blue economic passage” would be along Russia’s Northern Sea Route, the Arctic shipping lane that hugs the country’s north coast. Over email, Dr Marc Lanteigne, a Senior Lecturer in Security Studies at Massey University in New Zealand and a China expert, explained, “This paper is the first official confirmation that the Arctic Ocean is among the ‘blue economic passages’ Beijing is seeking to develop.”

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Vision for Maritime Cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative

The oceans comprise the largest ecosystem on earth, contributing valuable assets for human survival and a common arena for sustainable development. As globalization and regional economic integration progress, oceans have become a foundation and bridge for market and technological cooperation and for information sharing. Developing the blue economy has become an international consensus, ushering in a new era of increased focus and dependence upon maritime cooperation and development. As the saying goes, "Alone, we go faster; together, we go further."

Conforming with the prevailing trend of development, openness and cooperation, strengthening maritime cooperation contributes to closer links between world economies, deeper mutually beneficial cooperation, and broader space for development. Enhancing maritime cooperation also enables various countries to jointly tackle challenges and crises, thus promoting regional peace and stability.

China advocates the Silk Road Spirit - "peace and cooperation, openness and inclusiveness, mutual learning and mutual benefit", and exerts efforts to implement the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in the field of coasts and oceans. China is willing to work closely with countries along the Road, engage in all-dimensional and broad-scoped maritime cooperation and build open and inclusive cooperation platforms, and establish a constructive and pragmatic Blue Partnership to forge a "blue engine" for sustainable development.

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The BRI trap

There are three distinct strands of opinions that Indian intelligentsia is now espousing. First, India did the right thing by avoiding participation in the summit, given that China is investing about $50 billion in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a highway project that runs through the Gilgit-Baltistan region in Jammu and Kashmir over which India claims sovereignty. Defenders of this ‘boycott line’ argue that India’s participation would have been construed as its surrender to Pakistan’s claim over that particular territory.

The second strand of thought maintains that India should have actively engaged in positive diplomacy and used the summit as a forum to voice its concerns and differences. This school of thought holds that it was undiplomatic to boycott the conference and miss the opportunity to express the Indian viewpoint on the entire project.

The third argument is in favour of involvement, meaningful participation and harnessing of benefits that the BRI would hopefully generate. This school of thought urges to take the economic might of fast emerging China as well as its proximity to India into consideration while operationalising the latter’s economic diplomacy. Chinese President Xi Jinping has promised to invest $900 billion in the next five years, mainly for infrastructure development on both the ‘belt’ and ‘road’ fronts. Clearly, China appears determined to employ this ambitious project not only to expand its pure mercantilism but also to exert its geo-strategic and geo-political muscles simultaneously. As such, it is natural for India to be apprehensive of losing its traditional sphere of influence as these two giants share the same neighbourhood with a bead of smaller nations between them.

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Full coverage:
Enhancing the potential of China's Belt and Road initiative
'S'pore a strong supporter of China's Belt and Road'
S'pore to work with China to realise Belt and Road's potential of Initiative
Safe & free flow of goods key to realising potential of China's Belt
Singapore to reap benefits from China's Belt and Road Initiative
Belt and Road plays key role in joint terror fight
China & Portugal step up cooperation on New Silk Road initiative
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China Plans Arctic Belt and Road Initiatives
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New Silk Road 新絲綢之路 Xīn sīchóu zhī lù
The "One Belt, One Road" 一带一路 initiative
Arctic shipping: The Northwest Passage
Singapore And The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)
Embracing, Leaning & Tilting towards China
Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP)
Singapore - China Bilateral Ties
The Little Red Dot and the Red Dragon
Singapore China G-to-G Projects