China firmly opposes mercenary activities in Africa, and will always support African nations' pursuit of peace and prosperity, said Chinese Permanent Representative to the United Nations Ma Zhaoxu.

Mercenary activities are a threat to peace and stability in African countries, and China calls for greater international efforts to address the problem, said Ma, as Chinese President Xi Jinping's special representative at a UN Security Council meeting on mercenary activities in Africa.

He said these activities interfere with the internal affairs of the developing countries, and infringe on their sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity, adding that China stands firmly against such activities.

The Chinese representative urged the international community to support African countries in accelerating their development, reducing poverty, eliminating the root causes for conflict and turmoil, and stepping up socio-economic development in African countries.

Ma also pledged China's continued support for Africa to achieve peace, stability and development, and expressed the hope for China and Africa to jointly build a closer community with a shared future.

Monday's meeting was called by Equatorial Guinea, which holds the rotating presidency of the Security Council in February.

Shortly before the meeting, Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, president of Equatorial Guinea, spoke highly of the bilateral relations between his country and China during his meeting with Ma.

Obiang also said he attached importance to Equatorial Guinea's relations with China, adding that he was willing to further promote cooperation between the two countries in various fields.

GNA

The complex relationship between Africa and China has become even more complicated this year. Initially, 2018 was set to reaffirm the bond through the latest Forum on China-Africa Cooperation summit held in Beijing in September.

The summit delivered its usual pageant of African leaders, side deals, and the announcement of a USD$60 billion financing package. The year also saw the recurrence of misgivings about the relationship.

The most explicit theme of this conversation was debt. Donald Trump’s US administration added fuel to smouldering anxiety, and China found itself having to defend its lending to Africa – at home and globally. At the same time, African governments are battling rumours that they are about to hand over state assets to the Chinese.

The debt debate is flawed – not least for underestimating Western contributions to African debt. Nevertheless, it is revealing. In particular, the debate reflects an anxiety that has haunted relations between China and the continent since the beginning of this century: the massive power gap between China and individual African countries.

Power imbalances

The constant rhetoric of win-win cooperation between China and Africa has never adequately answered the simple structural question at the heart of the relationship. That is: how is an economy the size of Benin’s or Togo’s, for example, supposed to meaningfully engage with the Chinese behemoth? It’s a bit like trying to speed up your bicycle by grabbing on to a passing jumbo jet. It can take you to the next level, or it can simply rip off your arms.

The fundamental economic and power imbalance between China and African countries has led to the relationship being criticised as neocolonial. The truth, however, is that African governments exercise more agency than they are given credit for. This includes frequently playing China and traditional Western development partners off against one another.

The word “agency” is key here: to what extent is Africa able to freely make its own decisions and drive the best deals with China?

Our new research focused on this issue. We looked at two emerging areas shaping African agency in relation to China. These are reforms to the African Union (AU) and the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). The initiative involves a massive infrastructure rollout aimed at linking China to Europe and beyond. The aim is to set up a zone of shared development that encompasses Central and Western Asia and Africa.

The AU and the Belt and Road initiative

The AU has proposed a set of reforms to streamline African negotiations at events like the FOCAC under the auspices of the continental body. This could be seen as a step towards the frequently repeated goal of Africa negotiating collectively with China. But, in fact, we show that it faces significant resistance from within the continent. This comes both from powerful states worried about losing control of their bilateral relationships with China, and from smaller states worried about being excluded.

China’s BRI reveals other aspects of African agency. It’s structured by numerous bilateral agreements, but is also subject to regional as well as local pressures. The way the initiative’s projects have been pulled into national debates involving opposition politics shows that the range of actors constituting African agency is potentially much wider than national governments.

We argue that before African agency can be maximised, this aspect of relations between China and particular African governments needs to be taken into account. Thinking about the issue has so far fixated on the role of national governments, to the exclusion of other actors. The biggest include regional economic communities such as Nepad and the AU. The smaller ones comprise opposition parties, civil society, local businesses and communities. All contribute to and constitute African agency.

What is this agency, how does it work and how can it be strengthened?

Understanding African agency

We identified three key areas where African agency can be located.

Firstly, African agency is expressed in the frameworks and documents that govern bodies like the forum. For example, in the early days arrangements paid relatively little attention to the issue of industrialisation. That changed after the formal adoption in 2015 of the AU’s Agenda 2063 – its blueprint for Africa’s sustainable development. The forum held that year saw an uptick in how many times the issue was mentioned.

By 2016, African industrialisation had become a key initiative of China’s presidency of the G20. Beijing directed an unprecedented level of G20 attention to the continent.

By 2018, the Beijing summit ended with fewer declarations of intent relating to industrialisation. Instead, it had become integrated into the continental and bilateral planning processes. In particular, it features regularly in discussions on development financing. Likewise the word “training” was mentioned over 40 times and in virtually every section of the Beijing Action Plan.

This suggests there is a shift from declarations of intent to more specific engagement towards industrialisation. This doesn’t necessarily guarantee the success of Africa’s industrialisation. But it shows that China responds to African agenda-setting.

Secondly, African agency is diffused across various levels and among various actors. Any analysis of African agency has to consider the complex interactions between continental bodies like the AU, regional economic blocs, national governments, civil society, business, and local communities. Each plays a role in shaping African decision making in relation to China. Partnerships that cut across the state-business-civil society divide are as important as state led initiatives in articulating policy initiatives in relation to China.

Thirdly, it’s important to think of the changing terms of agency as African governments face growing debt burdens via such initiatives as the BRI. For instance, rumours that the Zambian government offered its national electricity supplier as collateral in exchange for a new tranche of Chinese loans have reportedly caused political division at home.

Critics have focused on debt as diminishing African agency. What they’ve ignored are the significant financial and reputational risks to China.

Maximising African agency

As Africa becomes more involved in global initiatives, and as it moves towards greater continental integration via AU reforms and the Continental Free Trade Agreement, the need increases to think harder and more creatively about what African agency means. It isn’t enough to simply reiterate the call for Africa to negotiate collectively with China – not least because this disregards the complex interactions between African governments.

Rather, it’s time for more comprehensive thinking about how African agency manifests across actors and geographic scales. Only once we have a firmer handle on this can we move towards maximising it.The Conversation

 

Yu-Shan Wu, Foreign policy researcher and doctoral candidate, University of the Witwatersrand; Chris Alden, Professor of International Relations, London School of Economics and Political Science, and Cobus van Staden, Senior Researcher: China Africa, South African Institute of International Affairs

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Asian shares crept back from four-month highs on Friday as a dismal survey on Chinese factory activity dulled optimism about the prospects for a Sino-U.S. deal on tariffs.

The Australian dollar, a liquid barometer of investor sentiment toward China, skidded 0.5 per cent after the Caixin/Markit index of manufacturing fell to its lowest since February 2016.

That was more downbeat than the official version of the index and inflamed fears for the economy.

Investor caution is also mounting ahead of U.S. jobs data later in the session with analysts unsure what impact the government shutdown might have had employment.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan slipped 0.2 per cent, though that followed a stellar 7.2 percent gain in January.

Japan’s Nikkei went flat, while Shanghai blue chips held onto a 0.7 per cent gain. E-Mini futures for the S&P 500 eased 0.1 per cent and spread betters pointed to a marginally mixed start for European bourses.

Stocks had taken heart after U.S. President Donald Trump said he would meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping soon to try to seal a comprehensive trade deal as the top U.S. negotiator reported “substantial progress” in the talks.

Beijing’s trade delegation said the talks made “important progress” for the current stage, China’s official Xinhua news agency reported on Friday.

The previously upbeat mood was also chilled somewhat by White House insistence that March 1 was a hard deadline for a deal, a failure of which would lead to an increase in U.S. tariffs on Chinese goods.

“Analysts mostly remain deeply skeptical that a genuine trade deal can be done on this time frame,” economists from Commonwealth Bank of Australia said in a note.

“We are less pessimistic since these negotiations are being conducted by senior politicians, not by trade bureaucrats,” they added.

“Both sides also have an incentive, and arguably a growing incentive, to get a meaningful deal done.”

The optimism supported Wall Street with the S&P 500 ending Thursday with a gain of 0.86 per cent.

The Nasdaq jumped 1.37 per cent on the back of a near 11 per cent rise in Facebook Inc. The Dow slipped 0.06 per cent.

Over January, the S&P 500 rose 7.9 per cent, its best monthly performance since late 2015 and its strongest start to a year since 1987.

The Nasdaq gained 9.7 per cent in the month and the Dow rose 7.2 per cent.

Equity markets have also been relieved by a change of heart at the U.S. Federal Reserve, which this week surprised many by all but abandoning plans for further rate hikes.

Investors responded by pricing in a one-in-three chance that interest rates could actually be cut this year.

Yields on two-year Treasuries were down almost 15 basis points on the week so far, which if sustained would be the largest weekly decline since mid-2010.

U.S. crude futures edged up 5 cents to $53.87 per barrel, while Brent rose 13 cents to $60.97.

Source:NAN

In Washington this week, the US and China are due to hold their highest level talks since the two sides struck a temporary truce to their trade war.
 
They have until 1 March to come up with some sort of compromise or tariffs will be hiked again, and we march back into a trade fight that affects us all.
 
China watchers tell me Beijing is under increasing pressure to make a deal.
 
Here's why:
 
A slowing economy:
The trade war may not have caused China's slowdown, but it is definitely making things worse.
 
Growth data released last week showed China posted the slowest growth rate since 1990 but that in itself is not as worrying as other data points, including that consumer sentiment and retail sales are flatlining or weakening fast.
 
Small and medium-sized companies in China are feeling the chill with lower orders and inventories.
 
How worrying is China's slowdown?
A quick guide to the US-China trade war
Just how much pressure the Communist Party is facing because of a weakening economy was reflected in a rare acknowledgement by President Xi Jinping, whose legitimacy is based in part in keeping China strong.
 
Losing its factory lustre?
There is also evidence to show that foreign firms are diversifying their sourcing, production and supply chains away from China, if not pulling out altogether.
 
This recent survey conducted by QIMA, a leading Asian supply chain auditor, shows that 30% of more than 100 global businesses are diverting their sourcing from China to other countries.
 
As many as three-quarters of these companies have started sourcing suppliers in new countries.
 
If this trend continues then jobs in Chinese factories are at risk - a recent report looking at China's economy by JP Morgan points to rising unemployment as a major near-term risks.
 
Social stability is predicated on China's economic stability, and the Communist Party is well aware that its credibility lies in delivering the Chinese dream to its people.
 
The Huawei factor:
The fate of Huawei also hangs in the balance, both from a business and diplomatic standpoint.
 
China is big on symbolism and "doesn't believe in coincidences" Einar Tangen, an advisor on economic affairs for the Chinese government, told me on the line from Beijing.
 
Mr Tangen pointed to the arrest of Meng Wanzhou, the daughter of Huawei founder, which took place on the day President Xi and US President Donald Trump met at the G20 summit and declared the temporary truce between the two sides, setting the 90 day deadline for talks.
 
What's going on with Huawei?
The Huawei exec trapped in a gilded cage
Another date looms next week, with the latest round of talks taking place on the day the US has to file the extradition treaty for Ms Meng.
 
"Both of these dates are seen as attempts by the US to use Huawei as leverage in the trade talks," says Mr Tangen.
 
The US is also reportedly preparing an investigation into Huawei which could see it banned from buying American chips, a move that crippled China's ZTE last year.
 
Mr Tangen warns that pushing Beijing will backfire.
 
"The Chinese see this as the US trying to push China down," he says.
 
"This is not about right or wrong. They view this in context of the 100 years of humiliation they suffered at the hands of the West and they don't want that repeated."
 
American firms want a deal But the US is also under pressure to make a deal.
 
American firms in China have complained about the impact of Trump's tariffs on their business but want the US to make a good deal.
 
"This administration has been willing to risk the health of the US economy with tariffs," says Stephen Kho, international trade partner at law firm Akin Gump in Washington DC.
 
"So now that we've come this far, businesses want to take advantage of this moment and walk away from these talks with something significant. They will want to see China's offer to buy more American goods along with promises of systemic changes."
 
A solution to the US-China trade war is good for us all.
 
The longer these two superpowers slap tariffs on each other's goods, the more expensive products will be for us, companies will report lower profits, and global growth will slow.
 
Both sides are under pressure to make a deal. But this is ultimately, as Mr Kho also points out, "a game of chicken." Whoever blinks first could also be the biggest loser.
 
 
Source: Business Insider
The chairman of Chinese tech giant Huawei has warned that his company could shift away from Western countries if it continues to face restrictions.
 
Huawei has been under scrutiny by Western governments, which fear its products could be used for spying.
 
Speaking at the World Economic Forum, in Davos, Mr Liang Hua said his firm might transfer technology to countries "where we are welcomed".
 
He also stressed that Huawei follows regulations wherever it operates.
 
US to 'seek Huawei executive extradition'
Full coverage of Davos 2019
Huawei makes smartphones but is also a world leader in telecoms infrastructure, in particular the next generation of mobile phone networks, known as 5G.
 
But concern about the security of its technology has been growing, particularly in the US, UK, Canada, Australia and Germany.
 
Security concerns:
The company is banned from bidding for government contracts in the US, where intelligence services have raised questions about Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei's links to China's ruling Communist Party.
 
Last month, BT confirmed that Huawei equipment was being removed from a communication system being developed for the UK's emergency services.
 
Meanwhile, Germany is considering blocking the firm from its next generation mobile phone network.
 
Huawei has always maintained that it is a private company, owned by its employees, with no ties to the Chinese government.
 
The company says it remains committed to its £3bn investment in Britain.
 
The company's top executives rarely give interviews, but a number of journalists were invited to ask questions of Mr Liang on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos.
 
Germany might block Huawei from 5G
Mr Liang told them that if the company faced further hurdles to doing business in some countries, "we would transfer the technology partnership to countries where we are welcomed and where we can have collaboration with".
 
While he would not be drawn on whether Huawei could leave the UK, Mr Liang stressed that it would be up to British consumers to decide if they wanted to use the company's technology, before adding, that the "UK is the market that advocates openness and also free trade".
 
Mr Liang said anyone concerned would be "welcome" to inspect the firm's laboratories in China.
 
Even as the the storm surrounding Huawei continues to rage, Mr Liang's message was simple - the company's products would speak for themselves.
 
"We will focus on providing value by offering the high bandwidth ultra low latency and high connectivity [products] to our customers," he said.
 
In December, Meng Wanzhou, the daughter of the founder of Huawei, was arrested in Canada and faces extradition to the United States over accusations the company flouted US sanctions against Iran.
 
Mr Liang called for a "quick conclusion" to the case, so that Ms Meng could regain "her personal freedom".
 
He also reiterated the company's claim that the detention of two Canadian nationals in China, seen by many as retaliation for the arrest of Ms Meng, "has no relation with Huawei".
 
 
 
Source: BBC
China's economy grew at its slowest rate since 1990, stoking fears about the impact on the global economy.
 
China expanded at 6.6% in 2018, official figures out Monday showed.
 
In the three months to December, the economy grew 6.4% from a year earlier, down from 6.5% in the previous quarter.
 
The data was in line with forecasts but underlines recent concern about weakening growth in the world's second-biggest economy.
 
China's rate of expansion has raised worries about the potential knock-on effect on the global economy. The trade war with the US has added to the gloomy outlook.
 
The official figures out Monday showed the weakest quarterly growth rate since the global financial crisis.
 
China's economic slowdown is not news in itself. Beijing has broadcast this for several years, that it's going to focus on the quality not quantity of growth.
 
But still, we should be worried.
 
Slower growth in China means slower growth for the rest of the world.
 
It accounts for one-third of global growth. Jobs, exports, commodity producing nations - we all depend on China to buy stuff from us.
 
Slower growth in China also means it is harder for China to address its mountain of debt, even with the Communist Party's undoubted ability to be able to support the economy.
 
Growth has been easing for years, but concern over the pace of the slowdown in China has risen in recent months as companies sound the alarm over the crucial market.
 
Earlier this month Apple warned weakness in China would hit its sales.
 
Carmakers and other firms have spoken out on the impact of the trade war with the US.
 
Policymakers in China have stepped up efforts in recent months to support the economy.
 
Those measures to boost demand include speeding-up construction projects, cutting some taxes, and reducing the level of reserves banks need to hold.
 
Capital Economics China economist Julian Evans-Pritchard said the Chinese economy remained weak at the end of 2018 "but held up better than many feared".
 
"Still, with the headwinds from cooling global growth and the lagged impact of slower credit growth set to intensify... China's economy is likely to weaken further before growth stabilises in the second half of the year."
 
 
Source: Business Insider.
Growth of the world economy is expected to slow as the US-China trade conflict takes its toll and undermines confidence, the World Bank said Tuesday in its semi-annual forecast.
 
The World Bank cut the global GDP forecast to 2.9 per cent this year and 2.8 per cent in 2020, slightly below the previous forecast, but warned that risks were rising and urging policymakers to prepare for a storm.
 
US economic growth is expected to slow this year by four-tenths of a point, falling to 2.5 per cent down from 2.9 per cent in 2018, and to slow even further next year to 1.7 per cent, according to the Global Economic Prospects report.
 
 
 
Source: Business Insider
Oil has rallied in the new year, with a nine-day run of gains for WTI, its best run since 2010.
Brent crude is also rallying, if those contracts close up today - a 10th consecutive session - it would be the futures' best streak for 30 years.
 
Traders have been buoyed by positive sentiment out of US-China trade war talks and efforts by Saudi Arabia and OPEC and others to stabilise markets, after plunging last month.
 
"The market [is] returning to some sort of order, having previously been out of whack," said Stephen Innes, head of trading for Asia Pacific at futures brokerage Oanda.
Brent crude is up 0.6% by mid-morning on Friday.
 
The wobbles in stock markets have been grabbing all the attention lately, but meanwhile, oil is enjoying a stunning rally into the new year.
 
Oil traders are factoring in an improvement in US-China trade relations and continued efforts by OPEC and others to stabilise the market after a brutal end to last year.
 
Brent crude futures are now trading up for their 10th consecutive day, which would mark its best performance since the introduction of futures contracts in June 1988. This week's performance has seen Brent rise 8.4%, its best weekly gains for over two years as improved sentiment boosts the commodity's performance.
 
Fore WTI, the US benchmark, oil has risen 24% since hitting a low on Christmas eve.
 
"The macro drivers of prices has been the more dovish Federal Reserve and better news coming out of the US-China trade dispute," Stephen Innes, head of trading for Asia Pacific at futures brokerage Oanda, sadi in an interview. "The market is reading between the lines that any deal would boost China's economy and really improve demand."
 
US trade representatives were in China for talks earlier this week, which raised hopes of a trade deal that would have a positive impact on oil prices.
 
Similarly, last December's "OPEC+" summit in Vienna brought a round of supply cuts to the oil market, which are now finally being priced in amid a greater risk-on atmosphere. Despite that prices are still around 30% lower than their October highs.
 
Saudi Arabia's energy minister, Khalid Al-Falih, said that pledged reductions of 1.2 million barrels a day are "more than sufficient to balance the market." Data out of Saudi Arabia supports the proposed axe in supply and demonstrated a cut in exports to the US with inventory figures also broadly positive.
 
Investor sentiment has also been boosted by comments from the Federal Reserve. Fed Chairman Jerome Powell and Richard Clarida have said that the central bank will be cautious about pushing ahead with future rate hikes after raising interest rates four times last year.
 
Brent crude is trading up 0.6% by midmorning on Friday while WTI is up 0.9%.
 
 
Source: Business Insider
Oil prices rose by around 1 per cent on Wednesday, extending gains from the previous session on hopes that Washington and Beijing may soon resolve trade disputes that have cast a dark shadow over the global economy.
 
U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil futures CLc1 were at $50.42 per barrel at 0752 GMT, up 64 cents, or 1.3 per cent, from their last settlement.
 
That marked the first time this year that WTI has topped $50 a barrel.
 
International Brent crude futures LCOc1 were up 69 cents, or 1.2 per cent, at $59.41 per barrel.
 
Both crude price benchmarks had already gained more than 2 per cent in the previous session.
 
“Crude continues to extend gains as early reports from Beijing, regarding trade negotiations, are fuelling optimism around successful trade talks between the U.S. and China,’’ said Stephen Innes, head of trading for Asia-Pacific at futures brokerage Oanda in Singapore.
 
“After a dreadful December for risk markets, crude oil continues to catch a positive vibe,’’ Innes said.
 
The oil price jumps were in line with Asian stock markets, which climbed to 3-1/2 week highs on Wednesday.
 
Trade talks in Beijing between the world’s two biggest economies entered the third day on Wednesday, amid signs of progress on issues including purchases of U.S. farm and energy commodities and increased U.S. access to China’s markets.
 
State newspaper China Daily said on Wednesday that Beijing is keen to put an end to its trade dispute with the United States, but that it will not make any “unreasonable concessions” and that any agreement must involve compromise on both sides.
 
If no deal is reached by March 2, Trump has said he will proceed with raising tariffs to 25 per cent from 10 per cent on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports at a time when China’s economy is slowing significantly.
 
Citing the trade tensions, the World Bank expects global economic growth to slow to 2.9 per cent in 2019 from three per cent in 2018.
 
“At the beginning of 2018 the global economy was firing on all cylinders, but it lost speed during the year and the ride could get even bumpier in the year ahead,’’ World Bank Chief Executive Officer, Kristalina Georgieva, said in a semi-annual report released late on Tuesday.
 
More fundamentally, however, oil prices have been receiving support from supply cuts started at the end of 2018 by a group of producers around the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) as well as a non-OPEC member, Russia.
 
The OPEC-led cuts are aimed at reining in an emerging supply overhang, in part because U.S. crude oil output (C-OUT-T-EIA) surged by around two million barrels per day (bpd) in 2018, to a record 11.7 million bpd.
 
Official U.S. fuel storage data from the Energy Information Administration (EIA) is due at 1800 GMT on Wednesday.
 
 
 
Source: The Reuters
2018 was a year characterised by abysmal stock-market performances all over the world. South African shares lost more than 11% this year. Europe had its worst year since the financial crisis, and in the USA, barring a drastic upswing on New Year's Eve, the same is likely to be true.
 
One nation's stock market, however, takes the crown as the world's worst in 2018: China.
 
The CSI 300, China's benchmark share index, finished trading for the year on Friday, December 28, and at its close had lost roughly 27% of its value, almost double the fall of its closest rival, Japan's Nikkei 225, which slid 14%.
 
Reasons for the Chinese stock market's slump are numerous, with global factors such as the continued tightening of monetary policy in developed nations and the ongoing trade dispute between Washington and Beijing helping to subdue stocks in the country.
 
Chinese investors, however, have also been forced to contend with a whole other set of concerns.
 
Investors realised the blockbuster growth China has enjoyed over the last decade is on the decline, and that things are likely to slow down to a strong, but not stellar, rate.
 
That view was exacerbated by the rise of the trade war between the US and China, which has seen the world's two largest economies exchange tit-for-tat tariffs, which now apply to goods totaling close to a cumulative $300 billion.
 
Many economists see the trade war having a major negative impact on Chinese growth, with JPMorgan in October saying a full-blown trade war could have a 1% shrinking effect on the economy. Tensions may have thawed a little after the Xi-Trump summit in Argentina, but 2019 could see the fight kick off once again.
 
Not only is the trade war helping to subdue the Chinese economy, there are also fears that something much more devastating is lurking beneath the surface. Numerous major institutions have warned of worrying trends, with the ratings agency S&P Global in October highlighting a hidden debt pile in the country worth as much as $6 trillion.
 
 
Source: NAN

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