China and ideological diversity

Former Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao embraces a local chief during his visit in Accra, Ghana, in 2006. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Frans-Paul van der Putten, Clingendael Institute

One of the most enduring aspects of the global system of international relations has been the divide in terms of power and wealth between the West and the developing world. The rise of China, which combines the features of a developing country with those of an emerging superpower, is affecting the West’s position in the developing world.

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China: adapting investment to the Latin American experience

Visitors inspect an open cut copper mine near Calama, Chile. Increasingly, Chinese corporations are adapting their strategies to cope with their international expansion, including those in Latin America. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Miguel Perez Ludeña, UN Secretariat

China became the third-largest investor in Latin America in 2010 — behind the US and the Netherlands — while the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean estimated that Chinese foreign direct investment (FDI) reached US$15 billion for the year. Ninety per cent of this was in extractive industries.

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China’s strategic advantages: helping out the euro zone

Chinese Yuan (RMB) are arranged for photographs. Chinese firms that play to their strengths will certainly energise chinese markets.

Authors: Hinrich Voss and Jeremy Clegg, University of Leeds

The changing fortunes of the world’s mature economies relative to the emerging economies have prompted a remarkable reversal of roles when it comes to who might be able to help whom.

And while it would be in everyone’s best interest to help one another in the wake of the global financial crisis, international investment in real assets (as opposed to the purchase of bonds or titles to debt) is the outcome of hard-nosed commercial business decisions. Read more…

Chinese investment in Iran: One step forward and two steps backward

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, right, is shown the way by Chinese official Yu Zhengsheng after a flag raising ceremony during his visit to the Shanghai World Expo in Shanghai, China on June 11, 2010. (Photo: AP Photo/Andy Wong)

Author: Justin Li, ICE

Chinese foreign direct investment is without a doubt one of the most discussed and debated topics in the world of international trade and investment. The sprawling tentacles of Beijing seem to be extending to the four corners of earth, wherever red dirt and black coal can be found. In the recently released statistical bulletin of Chinese foreign direct investment (FDI) by the Ministry of Commerce, total stock of Chinese FDI had reached a staggering 1 trillion USD.

The rapid expansion of Chinese investment activities is unnerving politicians from Washington to Wellington. Perhaps the most controversial aspect of Chinese investment is Beijing’s appetite and apparent willingness to do business with lepers of the international system, such as Burma, Sudan and Iran. Read more…

Politics and Chinese integration into the global economy

In Shenzhen, a man on a laden motorised bicycle rides past a poster of former leader Deng Xiaoping. (Photo: Bobby Yip/Reuters)

Author: Peter Drysdale

China’s economic rise presages a fundamental change in the global economic and political system. China’s partners in the world economy are already benefiting, and stand to benefit more over the coming decades, from the economic impact of growth on a scale unprecedented in human history.

Both the scale and the character of China’s economic and social development mean that there will be powerful feedback effects as the rest of the world adjusts to China’s presence in all aspects of global economic and political life. Read more…

Mr Smith goes to China

Australian PM Kevin Rudd & Chinese President Hu Jintao. (photo: Xinhua)

Guest Author: Warwick Smith, Chairman ANZ (NSW/ACT)

In 10 years time, China will have 15 cities each with more people than the entire population of Australia and a further 22 cities with more than 10 million people. This unprecedented urbanisation drive in human history represents a tremendous challenge and opportunity for our resources sector.

China’s significance is not only limited to its insatiable appetite for our red dirt but also its newly cemented status as a significant player in the international credit market. China is by far the largest holder of US Treasury bonds and this gives China a rare degree of leverage over the United States. Read more…

Managing China’s treasure trove – Singapore Style


Author: Peter Yuan Cai

The city state of Singapore has been an endless source of fascination for Chinese leaders since the time of Deng Xiaoping. Its legendary efficiency, its miraculous transformation ‘from the third world to first’ and above all, the iron grip of the People’s Action Party on power through non-lethal means are lessons that Beijing may be thought keen to emulate. Singapore has more to offer beyond fraternal sharing in Machiavellian power tricks. Despite its small size, the Singaporean government is a big player in the world of sovereign wealth funds (SWFs). The Singapore Government undertakes investment through Temasek Holdings and the Government of Singapore Investment Corporation. The better known of the Siamese twins is Temasek, one of the oldest and most respected sovereign wealth funds around, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Temasek has recently undertaken a radical restructuring of its top management by recruiting a top corporate heavy hitter, Charles ’Chip‘ Goodyear, the U.S.-born former chief executive of the Australian mining giant, BHP Billiton, to replace its incumbent Ms Ho Ching, wife of the current Singaporean Prime Minister. The decision was made after a whole string of disastrous investments in failing Western financial institutions that saw its total assets decline from US$ 134 billion to US$ 84 billion. More importantly, the Economist commented that ‘Mr Goodyear is the kind of A-list executive who will help persuade the countries receiving potential investment that Temasek really is independent of the government’.

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China Inc. comes to Canada

Chinese President Hu Jintao and Canadian PM Stephen Harper

Author: Yuen Pau Woo, President, Asia-Pacific Foundation of Canada

The single biggest investment by a Chinese entity in a Canadian company was concluded on July 15 when China Investment Corporation (CIC) finalized its purchase of a $1.7-billion equity stake in Teck Resources of Vancouver.

A few weeks earlier, the world’s largest bank — Industrial and Commercial Bank of China — established a presence in Canada with the acquisition of the Bank of East Asia (Canada). These deals are important landmarks in Canada-China economic relations that could point the way to improvement in the broader diplomatic and political relationship.

It was a coup for Teck to secure CIC’s investment for 17per cent of the company in Class B shares, with a guaranteed lock-in period of 12 months. The deal not only brought in much needed cash for the debt-laden company, but also a formidable partner with impeccable connections in the very markets that will drive demand for Teck’s production of metallurgical coal and other minerals. This deal alone has quadrupled the stock of Chinese foreign direct investment in Canada. Read more…

Europe needs to screen Chinese investment

Czech President Václav Klaus, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, European Commission President José Manuel Durão Barroso, and EU High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana at the EU-China Summit in the Czech Republic in May this year. (Photo

By Maaike Okano-Heijmans and Frans-Paul van der Putten

Last month Wen Jiabao, China’s premier, announced that Beijing would use its foreign exchange reserves to support and accelerate overseas expansion and acquisitions by Chinese companies. This ‘going out’ strategy will benefit Europe and should be welcomed. Estimated at more than $2,000bn (€1,400bn, £1,200bn), the Chinese reserves are the largest in the world. Like all foreign investment, Chinese capital will bring employment, tax revenue and reciprocal market access. More generally, a welcoming stance could in the long run stimulate investing companies to adopt – to some degree – standards of corporate governance and social responsibility that are compatible with Europe’s economic interests.

To say that foreign investment from China is welcome, however, is not to argue that governments should just sit back and enjoy the benefits. On occasion, it can be at odds with the national interests of the host country. To maintain oversight, therefore, a case-by-case review system should be in place. The existence of such a system would also help address unwarranted public anxiety about investment from countries whose political and economic systems differ from our own. This would in turn facilitate the continued growth of investment from emerging economies such as China, which is still small compared with the high level of bilateral trade already in place.

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How do Australia’s foreign investment rules apply to China?

Autralian Treasurer Wayne Swan at the Australia China Business Council (Photo: ACBC)

Author: G.E. Anderson, UCLA

Australia’s government announced on August 4 an easing of foreign investment rules. The rules have apparently come under criticism recently for causing delays that may be overly burdensome to foreign investors.

One recent deal, the proposed purchase of a controlling interest in Aussie miner Rio Tinto by Chinese metals company Chinalco, was cancelled during Australia’s review process. According to Reuters, some critics have complained that the delay caused by Australia’s review process injected doubt and uncertainty, possibly causing Rio to cancel the deal before a decision was rendered. There is, of course, no evidence to support this speculation.

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China, national security, and investment treaties

A worker with the flotation cells in the concentrator at Oz Minerals Century Mine in Lawn Hill, Queensland, Australia. Photo: Reuters

Author: Luke Nottage

Peter Drysdale’s weekly editorial,  along with related postings to this blog and enormous media attention in Australia and elsewhere, focuses ‘on the continuing detention of Rio Tinto executive, Stern Hu, in Shanghai on allegations of espionage’. Drysdale signposts some future analysis of ‘the legal framework under which Hu’s detention has taken place’. He also emphasises that we need ‘a cooperative framework—bilaterally, regionally and globally’ for ‘China’s authorities to avoid damage to the reliability of markets and for Australia to avoid the perception of investment protectionism’.

The most pressing legal (and diplomatic) issues concern China’s criminal justice system, especially when ‘national security’ is allegedly involved. But we need to consider some broader ramifications, including investment treaty protections. Part of the backdrop to the Hu saga could be that nations retain considerable sovereignty when it comes to deciding on the operational ambit of foreign investments. Investment treaties – which may be bilateral or regional, stand-alone or folded into broader Free Trade Agreements – now often entrench substantive liberalisation. But these treaties maintain exceptions for national security or subject investments to national interest tests. So even if Australia and China conclude their current FTA negotiations making it broadly easier for firms from either country to invest in the other, that sort of exception could be invoked by Australia, for example, to block or restrict an investment like the now scuttled proposal by Minmetals to acquire Oz Minerals back in March 2009.

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Stern Hu and the Chinese steel industry – Weekly editorial

Author: Peter Drysdale

Amid the good news of China’s strong economic recovery as it posted a 7.9 per cent growth rate this week, the continuing detention of Rio Tinto executive, Stern Hu, in Shanghai on allegations of ‘espionage’ has sent shock waves around the commercial and official world, not only in Australia. There is evidence that Chinese business and other international players have also been stunned by the affair. This week’s lead from Peter Yuan Cai examines the chaos in the Chinese steel industry as context in which the Hu detention appears to have been instigated. This issue will be important for a long time to come. We shall seek to explore other aspects of it, including the legal framework under which Hu’s detention has taken place, in the weeks ahead.

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