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China has a long list of state secrets - how many people it puts to death every year, and even the birthdays of its top leaders. But now, overseas researchers have uncovered another Chinese state secret: how much money Beijing gives in aid to other countries.
Not very long ago, China was a foreign aid recipient. Now, it rivals the United States as one of the world's largest donors, through traditional development aid or through financial loans.
For the first time, a large group of researchers outside China have compiled a major database detailing virtually all of China's financial money flow to recipient countries. Citing more than 5,000 projects found across 140 countries, it reveals that China and the US rival each other in terms of how much they offer to other countries.
However, "they spend those budgets in radically different ways. And the different compositions of those portfolios have far-reaching consequences", explains Brad Parks, the project's chief researcher.
He heads the AidData research lab at the College of William & Mary in Virginia, which teamed up with other researchers at Harvard University and the University of Heidelberg in Germany to complete the research.
How did they uncover the secret?
The AidData team had to develop its own methodology to answer the questions that weren't provided by the Chinese government. They tracked money flows from China to recipient countries using news reports, official embassy documents and aid and debt information from China's counterparts.
Piece by painstaking piece, the information came together to draw a relatively complete picture of where Chinese aid is going and what impact it's having.
"We think the methodology has revealed the known knowable universe," Brad Parks says. "If the Chinese government really wants to conceal something, we won't necessarily pick it up." But if there are sizeable money transfers going from China to a recipient country, "word is going to get out", he adds.
How does China hand out money?
One major finding from the study: China and the US, the world's biggest donor, have handed out similar amounts of money in the years covered in the database, but the countries distribute that money in radically different ways.
The vast majority (93%) of US financial aid fits under the traditional definition of aid that's agreed upon by all Western industrialised countries. That aid is given with the main goal of developing the economic development and welfare of recipient countries. At least a quarter of that money represents a direct grant, not a loan that needs to be repaid.
In contrast, only a small portion (21%) of the money that China gives to other countries can be considered as traditional aid. And the rest of that money? The "lion's share" of that money is given in commercial loans that have to be repaid to Beijing with interest.
"China wants to get attractive economic returns on its capital," Brad Parks explains.
And what does that money achieve?
The team's other major finding: when China gives out traditional aid, the recipient countries reap impressive economic rewards. For a long period, there were suspicions that Chinese aid projects were only set up to benefit China; infrastructure projects built by imported Chinese workers, for instance, that did little to improve the lives of people on the ground. However, this research shows that China is just as capable of managing development aid projects as Western donors.
Which countries are getting China's money?
Since 2000, African countries have captured a large slice of the aid and loans given by China.
However, China's wealth is distributed to points across the globe, from hospitals in Senegal to ports in Pakistan and Sri Lanka. In 2014, the most recent year covered by AidData, Russia topped the recipient list, followed by Pakistan and Nigeria.
In contrast, the US list in 2014 was topped by Iraq and Afghanistan, followed by Pakistan.
Politics plays a big part in how both China and the US decide to spend their money. Earlier studies by the researchers behind AidData show that both Beijing and Washington tend to offer money to countries which support them at the United Nations.
But for China, economics play a key role: the AidData researchers found Beijing is often focused on promoting Chinese exports or market rate loans where China wants to get the loan repaid with interest.
The North Korea factor
China is often cited as the main source of aid propping up the fragile North Korean economy. But the AidData researchers tracked down just 17 Chinese projects in North Korea over the 14-year period, totalling a measly $210m.
Brad Parks calls North Korea "an informational black hole", admitting that it's the only recipient country that truly evaded the researchers. To a large extent, the vast amounts of money and other kinds of aid that China is believed to give North Korea fall outside the global financial system.
Why is China's money so attractive?
In the 1960s to the 1990s, Western countries offered high-interest market-rate loans to developing countries. However, that strategy misfired when recipient countries could not begin to repay the interest on the debts they had acquired. Outrage ensued and the Western aid model was overhauled.
"There was a shared principle that we should not be offering market-rate loans to developing countries," Brad Parks says. "And now, here comes China, enter stage left. They're not part of that coalition. They haven't been socialised to that principle and they're very willing and able to provide loans near or at market rate.
"Increasingly, countries that don't want to go the IMF for a bailout when they're in trouble, they will go to China instead."
Will China continue to loan out money?
So far, the data shows that the countries that receive China's market-rate loans are not suffering economically, but they aren't experiencing economic growth either. Researchers fear that could change in 10 or 15 years, when countries build up debts because they can't repay the money they will owe to Beijing. At that point, China might have to rethink things.
"They may very well 10 years from now, or 15 years from now, encounter the same problems that Western donors and creditors encountered when loans are not getting repaid," Brad Parks explains. "If and when that point of reckoning occurs, then perhaps Beijing will revisit how it structures these loans."
China's prestige projects around the world
China pledges $60bn to develop Africa
Is China a brake on Africa's progress?
Already, researchers have uncovered signs that China's starting to shift its approach to lending, researcher Xiaojun Li from the University of British Columbia says. Increasingly, Beijing is lending through multilateral institutions like the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, China's answer to the World Bank.
Why does it matter if China becomes a big global lender?
There is evidence that China's no-strings loans have had an effect on the entire global lending system, forcing traditional donors to stop placing so many requirements on receiving countries. Using AidData's database, economist Diego Hernandez revealed that China's role as a major lender has boosted competition between traditional donors.
"When an African country is also assisted by China," he writes, "the World Bank provides fewer conditions attached to its loans". For every 1% increase in Chinese aid, Hernandez found the World Bank lessened its typical demands for things like market liberalisation or economic transparency by 15%.
Critics have long charged that "rogue aid" from China allows some countries to avoid democratic reforms because they can simply turn to China for aid, dodging the scrutiny of traditional Western donors.
Cambodia is a recent example; independent newspapers and western NGOs have been shuttered, as Cambodian leaders' strengthening ties with China embolden them to turn away from Washington's demands to hold fair elections.
Xiaojun Li studied how Chinese aid has changed countries in Africa, arguing that democratic reforms have slowed as the developing countries concluded they could bypass the political demands of Western donors by turning to Chinese aid.
"Traditional donors have criticised China's approach to aid," he says, but "many African countries embrace the assistance from Beijing, or at least are glad to have more options".
The Russian government has decided to officially regulate the mining and circulation of cryptocurrencies. The decision was made at a meeting between President Vladimir Putin with officials and business leaders.
"We have agreed on the following: the state should regulate the process of issuing cryptocurrencies, the process of mining, the process of circulation," said Finance Minister Anton Siluanov on Wednesday.
"The state should head this situation and regulate it legally," the finance minister said, adding that he was not yet ready to disclose the details.
The meeting was held on Tuesday and was attended by Siluanov, Central Bank Governor Elvira Nabiullina, the CEO of the Qiwi payment system Sergey Solonin and others.
At the meeting, Putin stressed that the state should regulate cryptocurrencies, but not create barriers for investors.
“We need, based on international experience, to build a regulatory environment that will systematize relations in this area, to protect, of course, the interests of citizens, business, and the state, to provide legal guarantees for working with innovative financial instruments," he said.
However, Putin said digital money lacks transparency. As the cryptocurrencies “are issued by an unlimited number of anonymous sources,” in case of any problems, including “system malfunctions” or the emergence of currency bubbles, there will be no one liable, warned the president.
In Russia, the status of cryptocurrencies, including bitcoin, is not currently regulated by law.
Central bank chief Nabiullina has repeatedly said the regulator is studying the use of cryptocurrencies but sees risks of their use, including fraud and the financing of terrorism.
The Prosecutor General's Office said it considers cryptocurrencies as money surrogates, the issue, and turnover of which in Russia is a criminal offense
WWU delegation visits Mongolia to strengthen partnerships with local universities www.westerntoday.wwu.edu
A delegation from Western spent the first week of October in UlaanBaatar, Mongolia, meeting with partner institutions to further develop a variety of projects. Provost Brent Carbajal, Dean of the Libraries Mark Greenberg, and Executive Director of the Institute for Global Engagement Vicki Hamblin, met with the Presidents of the National University of Mongolia and the Mongolian National University of Education then attended ceremonies, banquets, and a traditional music and dance concert in celebration of NUM’s 75th anniversary.
The delegation also met with the director of the American Center for Mongolian Studies, which offers logistical support and fellowships for faculty working in Mongolia. These partnerships have already resulted in the exchange of librarians from both countries, in Western hosting Mongolian English instructors as well as Mongolian language and culture instructors, and in Western faculty and students conducting learning and research projects in Mongolia.
The John C. Street Endowment supports Western’s partnerships in Mongolia.
Ulaanbaatar /MONTSAME/ The Ministry of Foreign Affairs hosted the first meeting of the National Committee for ensuring the implementation of Trade facilitation agreement (TFA) of World Trade Organization (WTO) on October 11. It was chaired by Ts.Munkh-Orgil, Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs and Head of the National Committee.
Addressing the meeting, Ts.Munkh-Orgil noted that establishing the TFA provides landlocked countries like Mongolia with opportunities to reduce the cost of transit transportation, to improve services of border checkpoints in accordance with international standards and to receive aid for empowering trained staff. He added Mongolia takes a responsibility to realize the TFA’s clauses in several phases.
At the meeting, attendees approved the National Committee’s rules and decided to set up sub-committees. They exchanged views on altering the law on customs in conjunction with the TFA’s implementation as well.
Together with landlocked countries in 2003, Mongolia made the initiative of creating the TFA, which has purposes to reduce barriers to importers and exporters by simplifying the rules and control over goods crossing borders and to minimize the delivery cost. The TFA was adopted in 2014, and came into force on February 22, 2017.
The National Committee was established in accordance with the governmental resolution of May 10, 2017, with a responsibility to manage the Agreement’s implementation.
Alibaba Group Holding Ltd announced on Wednesday the launch of a global research academy that it hopes will join the ranks of, and potentially outrival, Bell Labs and Microsoft Research.
The investment of 100 billion yuan ($15.2 billion) over three years in the Alibaba DAMO Academy takes the internet giant one step closer to fulfilling its ambition to serve 2 billion people in two decades, said chairman Jack Ma.
During the company's annual computing conference in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, Ma said the investment will help it get a head start in the internet of things, quantum computing, fintech and human-machine interaction.
At this point in the group's development, Ma said it is imperative to have a research body to solve problems facing people, economies and broader society.
"Backed by Alibaba's vast resources, the academy needs to outlive Alibaba … and ought to shoulder the responsibility to serve the whole of society," he said, adding that the academy will need to finance itself in the long run.
The name DAMO stands for "discovery, adventure, momentum and outlook". The word is often depicted in Chinese martial arts fictions as an avenue in the Shaolin Monastery where masterful monks practice skills and experience enlightenment.
The project includes opening seven new research labs in China, the United States, Russia, Israel and Singapore, recruiting related talents on top of its 25,000 engineers and scientists.
Chief Technology Officer Zhang Jianfeng will head the academy, assisted by a global advisory board that includes some of the world's technology luminaries, such as George Church, a leading light of the Human Genome Project, as well as Michael Jordan, a mastermind in artificial intelligence.
The firm will also tie-up with over 200 universities and research institutes worldwide to co-develop technologies that aim to improve the lives of technology end-users or boost business security and efficiency.
The company has spared no efforts to boost its technology arsenal. In March, it established independent research and development teams in a plan dubbed NASA to focus on foundational and disruptive technology research.
The company is particularly delving into consumer-facing solutions. Alibaba's payment affiliate Ant Financial unveiled a biometric identification technology open platform dubbed ZOLOZ, through which organizations can apply Ant's facial recognition, human-machine interaction, and other technologies to a variety of business and civic scenarios.
Ulaanbaatar /MONTSAME/ The Council of the European Union adopted a decision on the conclusion of the Mongolia-EU Framework Agreement on Comprehensive Partnership and Cooperation on October 9.
The negotiations for the Mongolia-EU Framework Agreement started in 2010 and were concluded in 2013. As all EU member states approved the Agreement at parliamentary levels, the European Parliament gave its consent to conclude the Agreement on February 15, 2017.
After the European Parliament’s approval that paved the way for the Agreement’s entry into force, the EU Council has thus adopted the conclusion at its meeting this week. The Council decision on the conclusion of the agreement closes the ratification procedure and allows the agreement to enter into force. The Agreement will enter into force on November 1, 2017.
Once it enters into force, The Agreement will supersede the current legal framework of the 1993 Agreement on Trade and Economic Cooperation between the European Economic Community and Mongolia.
It will provide the basis for a broader and more effective engagement by the EU and its Member States with Mongolia moving forward. The Agreement will broaden the scope of Mongolia-EU partnership and strengthen bilateral cooperation in commerce, economy, development assistance, agriculture, rural development, energy, climate change, research, innovation, education and culture.
The Framework Agreement consists of 65 Articles with a Preamble and nine Titles, which include the nature and scope of the Agreement; bilateral, regional and international cooperation; cooperation on sustainable development; cooperation on trade and investment issues; cooperation in the area of justice, freedom and security; cooperation in other sectors; means of cooperation; the institutional framework; and final provisions.
The Agreement covers a number of cooperation areas of mutual interest such as trade and investment, sustainable development, financial services, taxation, industrial policy and small and medium-sized enterprises cooperation, science, technology, culture, energy, transport, environment, health, civil society and tourism.
The Framework Agreement’s entry into force will allow Mongolia to intensify its cooperation with the EU, cooperate in new fields and take bilateral relationship to a new level. The Framework Agreement will also become a stimulus to strengthen Mongolia’s relations with EU member states. The EU adopted a decision to establish its Representative Office in Ulaanbaatar in July, 2017.
DETROIT/TOKYO (Reuters) - General Motors is checking whether its cars contain falsely certified parts or components sourced from Japan’s Kobe Steel <5406.T, the latest major automaker to be dragged into the cheating scandal.
“General Motors is aware of the reports of material deviation in Kobe Steel copper and aluminum products,” spokesman Nick Richards told Reuters, confirming a Kyodo News report. “We are investigating any potential impact and do not have any additional comments at this time”
GM joins automakers including Toyota Motor Corp and as many as 200 other companies that have received parts sourced from Kobe Steel as the scandal reverberates through global supply chains.
On Wednesday fresh revelations showed data fabrication at the steelmaker was more widespread than it initially said, as the company joins a list of Japanese manufacturers that have admitted to similar misconduct in recent years.
Investors, worried about the financial impact and potential legal fallout, again dumped Kobe Steel stock, wiping about $1.6 billion off its market value in two days. On Thursday in Tokyo, the shares stabilized and were up 1.1 percent by around 0150 GMT, compared with a 0.3 percent gain in the Nikkei 225.
Kobe Steel President Hiroya Kawasaki said on Thursday his company would do the utmost to investigate the reason for the tampering and take measures to prevent further occurrences. He was speaking before meeting an industry ministry official to discuss the matter.
The steelmaker admitted at the weekend it had falsified data about the quality of aluminum and copper products used in cars, aircraft, space rockets and defense equipment, a further hit to Japanese manufacturers’ reputation for quality products.
Kobe Steel said late on Wednesday it found 70 cases of tampering with data on materials used in optical disks and liquid crystal displays at its Kobelco Research Institute Inc, which makes and tests products for the company.
It also found one case of falsified data on iron powder products - material used for car parts such as gears - that were shipped to a customer.
An internal probe carried out since it discovered the issues in its aluminum and copper business has not found other cases of data tampering, Yoshihiko Katsukawa, a managing executive officer at Kobe Steel, told a news conference on Wednesday.
The EBRD has become a shareholder in Kincora Copper Limited, a copper exploration company active in Mongolia, with the acquisition of a 6.16 per cent stake for the equivalent of approximately €940,000 through a private placement. Kincora is listed on the TSX Venture Exchange. Its main shareholders are Origo Partners (24.5 per cent), the company’s management and a number of natural resource specialist institutional investors.
The company holds a number of licences in the Ömnögovi region in southern Mongolia, which contains important gold and copper resources including the underexplored Devonian copper belt. These resources include the Oyu Tolgoi deposit, operated by Rio Tinto, which is one of the world’s largest copper operations and the Tsagaan Suvarga deposit, currently under development by the Mongolia Alt Corporation. The EBRD is providing finance for both projects.
Despite growing interest, the Ömnögovi region remains widely untapped and offers substantial opportunities for Mongolia’s overall economy through the discovery and development of the next generation of mineral deposits. With a population of just over 3 million and a size of 1.5 million km2, Mongolia is one of the most sparsely populated countries on earth. Extreme climate conditions have a severe impact on the living conditions, but the country’s natural resources offer attractive opportunities for local and international investors.
By investing in Kincora, the Bank is promoting modern copper porphyry drill testing and a district scale reconnaissance exploration programme in the Devonian copper belt, alongside high environmental and social management standards and practices. The EBRD funds will be solely used by Kincora’s Mongolian subsidiaries to support an extensive drilling programme and potential further explorations at two key Devonian-age prospects.
Eric Rasmussen, Director, Natural Resources commented: “We are pleased to support the exploration plans of Kincora with an equity investment. It is strategically important for Mongolia to attract quality investors into metals and minerals exploration in order to realise the high potential for mining.”
Sam Spring, Kincora’s CEO, commented: "We are delighted to welcome the EBRD as a shareholder. The Bank has unique knowledge of, and relationships in Mongolia and has provided finance to assist the development of the two existing economic copper projects in the Devonian belt. In the last two months, Kincora has attracted two new significant investors who are well known in the industry and has undertaken extensive due diligence.”
Mongolia became an EBRD country of operations in 2006. The Bank is currently the largest multilateral investor in the country with about €1.42 billion (US$ 1.7 billion) invested in 92 projects in the private sector to date. The EBRD is one of the largest natural resources investors in the country and is playing a pioneering role in the development of renewable sources of energy such as wind farms....
Last week the price of lead spiked on the London Metal Exchange hitting the highest level since August 2011 at just over $2,600 a tonne.
The price of the metal used mainly in automobile and motorcycle batteries has since softened but is still trading up 27% year-to-date.
News from top producer and consumer China may provide further upside for lead. In a sign that already tight primary lead supply is getting tighter, Chinese smelters just lowered their treatment and refining charges to as much as half the average over the first half of 2017.
TC/RCs paid by mining companies to turn concentrate into metal are a good indication of conditions in the spot market. Platts News reports spot TCs for imported lead concentrates in China fell to $20–$30 per tonne in October down from $30–$40 in September.
According to metals consultants Beijing Antaike, TCs averaged $40.80 during the first six months of the year but compares to charges as high as $130–$150 per tonne in June 2016:
China's mined lead demand is forecast to hit 3.478 million mt in 2017, up 12% year on year, with its mined lead output this year seen at 2.03 million mt, down from 2.23 million mt last year, due to domestic environmental controls, Antaike data showed.
China's mined lead imports in 2017 are estimated to be 1.236 million mt, higher than 705,000 mt last year, with the domestic mined lead deficit seen at 211,000 mt this year, widening from deficit of 170,000 mt last year, Antaike said, noting that the above estimates did not consider the lead contained in imported zinc concentrates.
Reuters reports that deficits on the global lead market are narrowing however. In August the lead shortage shrunk to 4,600 tonnes from 31,900 tonnes in July, data from the Lisbon-based International Lead and Zinc Study Group showed on Wednesday.
For January to August, the lead market had an output deficit of 119,000 tonnes compared with a surplus of 49,000 tonnes in the same period last year.
Analysts polled for October's FocusEconomics Consensus Forecast estimate that the lead price will average just over $2,300 per tonne during the final quarter of this year and moderate further through 2018.
This month, six panelists left their forecasts for lead unchanged for Q4 2017, three made downward revisions while eight raised their forecasts.
Macquarie analysts are the most bullish – predicting price to average $2,600 this quarter and add another $50 through the first half of 2018. Deutsche Bank considers lead overpriced at the moment and forecasts the metal to dip below $2,000 in H2 2018.
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has forecasted the economic growth of Mongolia would increase by 4% in 2017 and by 3% in 2018. This is more positive expectation compared to the forecast by last April.
The World Bank (WB) assumed that the Mongolian Gross Domestic Product (GDP) would grow up by 2.8% in 2017 and by 3.1% in 2018. In 2019, it is possible to exceed over 7%, the WB said. Meanwhile, representatives of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) reported the GDP of Mongolia is expected to increase by 2% in this year after monitoring the first stage of a program being implemented in Mongolia.
Deputy Governor of the Bank of Mongolia (BoM) B.Lkhagvasuren explained its decision to keep the policy rate at 12%, saying the reason was a debt pressure expected from the next year as well as a political state. The inflation rate is expected to increase by end of this year, but it will be stable from beginning of 2018. The country’s foreign exchange reserves is expected to reach USD 3.8 billion by 2019, the BoM added.