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Power Politics amidst the Pandemic: How COVID-19 pitted China against the West

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The transitioning world order is not a debatable streak anymore and the liberal world order led by the liberal hegemon has almost met its preordained fate. In this new era of great power competition, the status quo power United States of America (USA) has found a perfect revisionist nemesis in China which – after making dramatic economic rise during the past 03 decades–asserts its due prominence and demands substantial role in the international system. Although the geostrategic competition between the two giants was already unfolding in various spheres, the outbreak of COVID-19 again pitted the two giants in a direct confrontation, and this time the USA has found its traditional allies – which were earlier circumspect in confronting China – standing alongside.

Notwithstanding the fact that the highly contagious virus does not distinguish among its victims and has flattered the humanity as a whole, the vicious reality of power politics stormed in to undeniably overshadow if not overwhelm the global response to the pandemic.

The trade of barbs between China and its peer, the USA did not accompany the outbreak. In fact, after China announced the outbreak and later imposed a lockdown – categorized by West as “draconian” – to contain the spread, President Trump was all praise for his Chinese counterpart and the government for their dealing with the novel virus. Despite the media reports about the initial missteps by the local government of Wuhan and amidst allegations that the country may have attempted a cover-upin the early phase and is withholding information which may have allowed the infection to spread throughout the world, alarm bells did not ring in the Western capitals. Arguably, it was the period when the First World had yet to see a massive outbreak of their own and a few of them might have been amused to watch the “biggest economic miracle” of the 21st century meet its own fate.

The conjectured amusement did not last too long and thanks to globalization, the virus took weeks to reach Europe. As the First World stood oblivious and unprepared to tackle such a prodigious crisis, the disastrous aftermath was always on the cards. The virus raged through Europe killing thousands and ultimately wreaked havoc in the USA which to date is the primary hit.

As the Western countries started facing the brunt, the praise for China’s actions abruptly changed into reproach calling out the country for its initial cover-up and withholding of information. Interestingly, none other than President Trump himself – the person who had praised China’s response just weeks before – led the assault with his Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo categorized as“face” of the USA’s tough approach towards China by China Global Television Network (CGTN). The blame-game soon turned into a vicious information war to control the narrative about the COVID-19; ultimately, leading towards the pressures of economic repercussions and demeaning each other in the crudest way possible, for all intents and purposes constituting a virtual “Cold War”.

Undoubtedly, the COVID-19 outbreak was initially mishandled by China and the country’s contagion outbreak detection system – developed in the aftermath of the SARS outbreak in 2003 – failed to detect the outbreak in its initial phase. To add is the complex nature of the Chinese bureaucratic model whose representatives in Wuhan – possibly to avoid political instability – reprimanded and muzzled the doctor who initially reported cases of a pneumonia-like disease in December 2019. Nonetheless, as the spread became overwhelmingly palpable, the authoritarian Chinese government swung into action and imposed brutal lockdowns, which at the end became the primary reason for the country’s obvious victory over the virus.

As China was able to significantly control the menace at home, it embarked upon “health diplomacy” which consist of dispatching relief, medical equipment, and assistance to some of the worst sufferers of the pandemic. Shrewdly, China was trying to fill the void created by the US withdrawal and the recipients of aid did not hesitate to shower their “Chinese friends” with praise and gratitude.

The US Federal Government’s response, on the other hand, was lack lustre and lethargic. President Trump initially downplayed the threat; next, he peddled dubious and unverified medical treatments to the virus; following were the spats of President with his own governors and finally, he tried to dodge the responsibility. Devoid of leadership at the federal level and without a coherent plan to combat the virus, the US health system faced overwhelming setbacks and casualties till now has touched 77,000 which President Trump fears reaching as high as 100,000.

However, humanitarian loss is only one aspect and economic devastation caused by the virus is even overpowering. The US economy shrank by 4.8% in the first quarter of 2020 and is estimated to contract by 11% in 2020 while the unemployment rate has reached as high as 14.7% – economic demolition not seen since the great depression.

A devastated economy – as opposed to a robust one, which President Trump would have marketed to win a second term in the office – is a nightmarish scenario for the Republican incumbent. Amidst his declining popularity at home, President Trump intensified his attacks on China calling the COVID-19 as “Chinese virus” and peddled unsubstantiated theories that the COVID-19 was leaked from a Chinese lab – a claim even contradicted by his own intelligence community and members of Five Eye intelligence-sharing partnership. The US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo also touted the virus leakage theory – only to backtrack later on – joining President Trump and both the high-ranking officials claimed that they have seen evidence to the claim. Regardless of China’s own initial shortcomings to deal with the virus, the mudslinging by President Trump and his top foreign policy aide clearly had any angle of safeguarding the declining popularity of GOP by finding a scapegoat abroad.

Imitating the response of their ally across the Atlantic, European countries at the outset also downplayed the threat and approached the calamity without apt preparation marked by overconfidence and procrastination. Resultantly, Europe became the second epicentre of the pandemic with the United Kingdom leading the count with thousands of deaths.

The initial reaction in Europe was also anti-China flare-up and as opposed to the past – when the Western countries used to maintain an equilibrium between the USA and China and evaded directly confronting China – this time the USA found cronies among its traditional allies in Europe against China. The criticism of China’s initial mishandling of the virus only softened after it lobbied extensively in European Union and pressurized some members to account positively about its COVID-19 response. 

 Australia – another US ally and exporting about 38% of its products to China – joined the party and called for an inquiry into the outbreak of COVID-19; a call that regularly reverberates in the Western press also along with demands of compensation from China for the damage caused by the virus.

The intense information campaign was then augmented by calls for economic coercion. As the fate of phase one trade deal between China and the USA hanged in limbo, President Trump threatened to cancel the strenuously reached contract if China does not abide by its promises – a condition which China may not be able to meet given the slowness of its economy by the virus. Furthermore, a proposal to cancel the US debt obligations of US$1.1 trillion towards China was also discussed in White House prompting Chinese media to impart the USA about the repercussion of such a move.

In response, China’s “Wolf Warrior” diplomats also did not mince words and departing from their traditional way of conducting diplomacy in a circumspect and calculated way, pushed hard against the West for trying to “demean China”. The unusually aggressive Chinese diplomatic behaviour was surprising for many and conveyed the impression that China may be offhandedly repudiating the Deng Xiaoping dictum of “hide your strength and bide your time”. Chinese State media resorted to derision for the countries criticizing and questioning China’s initial response, and personal attacks were made against the high-ranking US officials. Some of their diplomats based in the Western countries – who recently flooded the twitter with their presence – attracted the ire of their hosts owing to their reckless comments. Lijian Zhao – a deputy spokesperson for the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs – went as far as to peddle a conspiracy theory that COVID-19 may have been brought by the US Army to Wuhan – an observation that would earn him widespread criticism.

Shrewd business-oriented China also dragged-in the economics and Chinese Ambassador to Australia threatened to reconsider his country’s business relations with Australia if the later continues to push for the inquiry into the origins of the pandemic. These were the latest unveiled threats by China after intimidating some of the Western countries with “consequences” for their questioning of China’s human rights record.

On the face of it, China was augmenting medical aid with an aggressive diplomatic campaign and economic coercion, which in turn would benefit the beleaguered Xi regime to incite nationalist sentiments at home and thus, fortifying the domestic support base in the wake of the crisis, which irrefutably has dented the Chinese economy and has aggrieved masses. May be useful at home, the aggressive Chinese diplomatic blitz is damaging the country’s international standing and the carrot in the “health diplomacy” now seems to be overwhelmed by the stick in belligerent rhetoric and intimidation.

Undeniably, the COVID-19 crisis deepened the divisions between China and the West, especially the EU nations, and given the recently enlarged trust deficit, the relations between the deeply entangled economic partners may never restore to pre-COVID-19 state. With the USA, China is already engaged in a geostrategic tussle for global dominance, and “Wolf Warrior” diplomacy marked by aggression and bellicosity does not seem to be convincing wherewithal to woo the traditional allies of the geostrategic peer.

Undoubtedly, China has made remarkable rise during the past few decades and has virtually shaken the international system but it may be too early for China to acquire the wherewithal to act as a global hegemon. The USA may be in a retreat and the West may be facing a decline, but by virtue of globalization, the two sides are so deeply interconnected and interdependent that even a little downsizing of economic relations will be more devastating for China than the West. The trade war with the USA already slowed the pace of Chinese economic growth and if a retrenchment happens with the West also, it will be business-oriented China taking most of the brunt.

China’s own geopolitical venture, Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) – disguised as a benign scheme focusing on geo-economics – is in its initial stage of implementation and China has yet to erect its own world order parallel to the liberal one led by the USA. China has certainly expanded its influence in the BRI host countries and there are bright prospects of BRI turning into a Chinese led bloc; but can those countries substantially compensate for the economic partnerships at this moment if a retrenchment vis-à-vis the West happens, remains a big question mark.

Given the aforementioned limitations of China with respect to its economic relationship with the West, a more preferable and prudent approach will be to deal with the Western criticism with unyielding but discreet diplomacy while maintaining the “fighting spirit”. Unveiled economic threats and insensitive derision for other countries –as opposed to the previously exercised policy of delicately balancing between diplomatic and economic relationship – will only result in a backlash, as happening in the current scenario. Resultantly, the Western world will turn even warier of China and the dragon’s aims to strengthen its economic relations and create space for itself into the Western tech market will receive jolting shocks. The resultant state of affairs will be in complete contrast to the liberal policy of engagement which the western world adopted towards China; ultimately leading towards China’s ascendance to the world stage and will effectively push the world on a path to de-globalization.

Hamdan Khan is an alumnus of National Defense University Islamabad. He has previously worked for Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad (ISSI) & is currently associated with Pakistan Council on China (PCC). His major areas of interest include Geo-politics, Great Power Competition, Nuclear Affairs and Revolution in Military Affairs.

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East Asia

The complex puzzle of Canberra-Beijing ties, as diplomacy takes a back seat

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Australia and China seems to be engaged in a repulsive tariff war targeting each other’s goods. Canberra is struggling to manage its complex economic relationship with Beijing even as it finds itself in the strategically opposite camp. How did things turn out this way? Here, I analyse.

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There was a time when Australia under the Mandarin-speaking Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, who was in office from 2007 to 2013, had the highest level of warmth in relations with China.

The Labour premier saw a promising prospect of economic partnership with a rising China at that point of time, but gravely under-estimated the geopolitical threat that would be soon posed by Beijing, a mistake later governments would realise and is still striving to rectify.

Quad pullout and comeback

Rudd even pulled Australia out of the four-nation Quad grouping in 2008, a year after it was conceived by former Japanese PM Shinzo Abe, in a move to appease Beijing with which Canberra’s economic partnership was progressively moving upwards. But, nine years later, Malcolm Turnbull’s premiership brought Canberra back to the Quad as regional and global security dynamics witnessed a paradigm shift.

Strategic shift

A decade later since Rudd took office, despite closer economic ties with Beijing, Canberra pushed for a closer alliance with the United States since 2017, the year Quad Security Dialogue was revived during the ASEAN and Related Summits in Manila.

It was a result of changes in security assessments by Canberra with regard to new threats and challenges from an increasingly assertive Beijing in the Indo-Pacific and beyond.

The rift between Australia and China further widened, earlier this year, when the Australian government supported an inquiry into the origins of the novel coronavirus, annoying China where it originated. Australian politicians also became increasingly divided on hawkish and dovish lines.

Huawei and ZTE ban

Tides were turned in 2018 when Australia became the first country in the world to ban Chinese telecom giants Huawei and ZTE from 5G trials and rollout, citing security concerns, as these companies ‘allegedly’ had links to the Chinese ruling establishment which they deny.

Beijing also reciprocated with tit-for-tat measures from time to time. The latest in line of such measures was the imposition of temporary anti-dumping tariffs up to 212.1 per cent on Australian wine imports with effect from November 28, this year.

Ongoing tariff tensions

2020 saw a foray of imposition of tariffs and reciprocal duties from both sides right from the beginning of the pandemic. Attempted mergers and acquisitions by Chinese companies involving companies in Australia were also blocked by Canberra citing security reasons.

Adding oil to the fire, anti-dumping investigations were initiated by both sides against each other, for using its findings as rationale for imposing more tariffs on different sets of goods such as aluminum, steel, paper, coal, copper, sugar, log timber, and barley.

ChAFTA

What will be the fate of the 2015-signed China-Australia Free Trade Agreement (ChAFTA)?

The worsening ties might take a toll on ChAFTA as it readies for a five-year review next month, notwithstanding the other broad-based trade pacts in which both countries are participants such as the recently-signed, 15-nation Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).

ChAFTA took about a decade to complete and led to zero tariffs on many goods, but RCEP is still in its infancy.The main issue is not whether a review of ChAFTA is possible, but how to prevent the looming prospect of Canberra and Beijing retreating from the current commitments directly or indirectly that would effectively reduce the pact into a state of coma.

As ChAFTA goes for review in December, the most likely outcome could be both countries agreeing to maintain the deal’s status quo. If any of the parties wishes to terminate the pact, there is a six-month notice period after which they can leave, with or without a review.

Still economic partners, but political rivals

Today, China has positioned itself as Australia’s largest trading partner. Moreover, Australia strongly benefits from its close proximity to the vast markets of China and Japan which together represent over 40% of all Australian exports, in which a little over 32% amounting to $89.2 billion, are exclusively to China, as data from 2019 show. Despite this, Canberra and Beijing remain at odds politically.

Exercise Malabar 2020 and beyond

One of the striking questions in the strategic circles of all Quad partner countries is, will Australia continue to take part in the annual Exercise Malabar in the coming years, annoying Beijing further?

While Japan is a strategic partner in the Quad, ties with China are moving on an adversarial path, particularly worsening since Canberra took part in the annual Exercise Malabar in the Indian Ocean this month, after a gap of 13 years since it left the mega naval war games.

The exercise by the four Quad partners of India, United States, Japan, and Australia is apparently a warning to Beijing’s naval ambitions in the waters of the Indo-Pacific.

Supply Chain Resilience Initiative

In fact, all the Quad partners and other democracies in the Indo-Pacific wish to decouple itself from over trade dependency on China. But, domestic economic realities prove otherwise. With a raging pandemic and the unravelling US-China cold war threatening supply chains, Japan has recently put forward an idea – the Supply Chain Resilience Initiative or SCRI.

It is a trilateral approach to trade, with India, Australia, and Japan as the key-partners aimed at diversifying its supply risk across a group of supplying nations instead of being disproportionately dependent on just one, apparently keeping China in mind.

Despite all these measures, the prospect of closing of huge Chinese markets for Australian exports, owing to a disproportionately high level of tariffs is haunting domestic producers in Australia that could potentially make Australian wine largely unmarketable and non-feasible in Chinese markets.

Ineffective diplomatic efforts

Current Australian PM Scott Morrison has been trying to bridge gaps in a reconciliatory tone by stating that his government’s actions are wrongly seen and interpreted by some only through the lens of the strategic competition between China and the US. But, Beijing doesn’t seem satisfied, as evident in the decision to impose the recent set of disproportionate tariffs on wine.

Loss of businesses for Australian domestic producers is already hurting the Australian economy badly as goods remain stalled at ports. But, the behemoth of Chinese economy appears to be largely resilient to adverse impacts, compared to the Australian economy.

Way ahead

Australia’s producers and farmers are largely unhappy and unsatisfied with the way Canberra is dealing with Beijing as it directly threatens their livelihoods.

As things turn out worse, Canberra will have to strategise newer options to effectively balance geostrategic and economic considerations with regard to Beijing, possibly through the diplomatic route, in a way to immediately diffuse the prevalent confrontational approach to come out of this diplomatic impasse.

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Is China on the brink of a food crisis?

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It is not a secret that the current COVID-19 pandemic has been affecting people all around the globe. The virus touched almost all spheres of regular life – i.e. it resulted in temporary or permanent closure of businesses, a rise in the unemployment rate, inability to physically spend time with family and friends. Such drastic changes in times of uncertainty significantly impacted the well-being of the world population. Moreover, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) warned about the emerging food shortages worldwide. According to FAO statistics, global food prices have been on the rise for four consequent months, hitting their maximum in September 2020. China – the place where the virus originated – is one of the states that have been seriously affected by the disruptions, including production and distribution of food.

In his speech on August, 11 Chinese leader Xi Jinping did not admit any food shortages. However, he promoted food security through the campaign “operation empty plate,” thereby encouraging people to stop wasting food. It is interesting to note that Mao Zedong introduced a similar food campaign before the 1959 Great Chinese Famine. Meanwhile, there has undoubtedly been a significant increase in food prices in China. Many experts claim that China is on the brink of a food crisis that has been manifested as a result of lockdowns, infected livestock, and poor weather conditions. It is difficult to give any predictions or estimations about the future food situation in China because the country does not share enough of its data with the rest of the world, yet it is possible to answer the question why the state faces food difficulties.

Average food prices increase

The National Bureau of Statistics of China reported that, on average, food prices have increased by 11.2% compared to 2019. The price level of vegetables increased by 6.4% in one month; egg prices soared by 11.3% within the same period. Pork prices grew the most, by 52.6% compared to the last year’s statistics. Why is it important?

Firstly, many workers and their families who faced loss or decrease of income or remittances became food insecure. That, in turn, has had social repercussions for the overall level of crime, health concerns among adults and infants, high death rate, different demographic and economic challenges. Furthermore, international trade will also suffer: due to the lack of labor force Chinese imports in foreign countries will seemingly increase in price.

Secondly, China, along with other countries, was in a period of recession earlier this year. Food insecurity will cause difficulties in coming out of this financial downturn.

The impact of lockdowns on food supply chains

One of the main factors contributing to the declining agricultural productivity and spiking food prices in China is the restrictions on personal mobility and transportation of goods. In January Chinese authorities adopted measures to limit mobility within the country; they imposed “city lockdowns, traffic control, and closed management of villages and communities.” Such restrictions impacted food supply chains. For the production part many workers experienced difficulties getting to work that created a shortage of physical labor. That is why some crops were not picked, others were not even planted. As a result, the supply of agricultural goods decreased. On the other hand, at the beginning of the year, the demand for them also fell as restaurants and bars were closed. Thereby, many crops went to waste, while farmers did not make enough profit to purchase the seeds and fertilizers for the next season. It is a problem because businesses continue to open up, raising the demand and prices on crops. Immobility also impacted the distribution of seeds and fertilizers to the farms that disrupted the plantation season. Furthermore, the distribution of agricultural goods to grocery stores became difficult. Particular inconveniences associated with the restrictions on mobility all added up to the spike of prices on crops.

African Swine fever outbreak

Another factor impacting the emerging food crisis in China is the failure to rebuild last year’s loss of pigs due to the infection. Chinese porcine farms were hit by the African swine fever outbreak that infected and killed a large number of pigs (40% of total Chinese pigs’ population), decreasing the supply but increasing the prices on pork in 2019. According to China’s National Bureau of Statistics, pork prices were 52.6% higher in August this year than the year before, while corn prices – the main porcine fodder – increased by 20% compared to last year. Chinese farmers failed to improve the situation in 2020 due to severe flooding. The increased amount of precipitation caused considerable losses of corn and thus the inability to feed pigs. China began to import crops from abroad – particularly, corn from the US. As the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) stated, China had been importing 195,000 more tonnes of American corn than the year before.

Shuttered diplomatic relations between China and Western states

Some experts claim that Chinese diplomatic relations with such Western countries as Australia, the US and Canada shattered due to the fire of four ballistic missiles on the Indian border on August, 26. These states are China’s major food exporters. If their diplomatic relations with Beijing worsen, then the trade has a high chance of being negatively affected as well. In other words, Chinese imports of crops have the risk of becoming more expensive, meaning that the prices of pork and other goods might rise even more.

Severe flooding and drought

Finally, worsened weather conditions – some parts of China experienced drought, others were hit by flooding – led to a decrease in crops and a significant increase in food prices. Southern, Central and Eastern China underwent a period of heavy rain and the worst flooding in the last hundred years. Excessively high water levels in major Chinese rivers, including the Yangtze River, resulted in the evacuation of 15 million people in July 2020. Moreover, the flooding destroyed 13 million acres of agricultural land, which is estimated to cost at least $29 billion of economic damage. In the meantime Northern (Xinjiang province) and Southwest (Yunnan province) China have gone through a period of severe drought. In April 2020 nearly 1.5 million people in Yunnan province were caught in an emergency situation: shortages of drinking water, damage of hundreds of hectares of crops and livestock. Consequently, the supply of many agricultural goods and pork decreased, which spiked the prices on these goods.

Chinese long-term prospects toward food security

To conclude, immobility, African swine flu, worsened weather and security conditions led to the growing food shortages and increasing food prices in China. This being said, the Chinese government has been working on that problem. It has taken special measures to ensure sufficience of agricultural goods by investing in various disaster relief funds for different crops, particularly rice and wheat. For example, Chinese authorities allocated 1.4 billion yuan to save the agricultural harvest in Hubei province. Due to the substantial loss of agricultural products, China has also increased its imports. General Administration of Customs reported that China’s grain imports rose by 22.7% in July 2020 compared to the previous year. Meanwhile, the Chinese leader took a gentle approach to solve this problem. He did not announce the issues related to the insufficient number of crops; instead, he adopted a program for encouraging people to be more frugal with their eating habits. The Chinese Academy of Social Sciences followed the same path as it denied anticipation of a food crisis in the short-term perspective, yet warned about possible food shortfalls by 2025 if no agricultural reforms take place. As of now, China is not on the break of a food crisis; however, its shuttered prospects for long-term food sustainability are subject to dangerous repercussions.

From our partner RIAC

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China and Mongolia: A Comprehensive and Never-Ending Strategic Partnership

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Mongolia is an exceptional country when it comes to Eurasian geopolitics, linking China with Russia, two great countries in terms of military and economic capabilities, geographical area and population. In June 2016, the China-Mongolia-Russia Economic Corridor (CMREC) was announced in order to consolidate friendly relations and promote economic exchanges for the success of the Belt and Road Initiative. Many reports indicate the great position of Mongolia on the Chinese economic map as a pillar of the modern Chinese initiative. Mongolia is a major economic partner of China, and the Chinese administration aspires to forge permanent relations of cooperation and coordination with Mongolia by virtue of its common geography and strategic location, in order to open up through it to Russia and other Mongolia is a key economic partner of China, and the Chinese administration aspires to forge permanent relations of cooperation and coordination with Mongolia by virtue of its common geography and strategic location, in order to open up through it to Russia and other international partners.

Mongolia is rich in natural resources, for example the mining industry provided up to 30% of GDP and almost 90% of exports, but its economy is not as developed compared to China. Some economic reports indicate the great economic benefit to Mongolia from the China-Mongolia-Russia Economic Corridor. Mongolia is expected to witness unparalleled economic growth in terms of international economic cooperation, which will positively affect the national economy. The Mongolian economy depends heavily on China’s investment; data of the two largest ports in Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region in northern China indicates enormous economic benefits. In the chart below, the continued economic progress achieved in Inner Mongolia is shown. In addition, rail trade increased by 16 percent year-on-year to 11.2 million tons in 2017. In the same year, 570 trips were made on the China-Europe railways passing through Ernhot (a county-level city of the XilinGol League, in Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, located in the Gobi Desert along the Sino-Mongolian border, across from the Mongolian town of Zamyn-Üüd).

The Belt and Road Initiative aims for mutual profit, cooperation and peaceful communication. China shares an ancient cultural history with Mongolia, long common borders, and economic cooperation that has never stopped. The strategic geographic location of Mongolia makes it a priority for China on the new Silk Road, in addition to the richness of natural resources and livestock that China needs.

The Mongolians are a horse-loving people, a country known for its large number of horses. Mongols without horses are like birds without wings. Despite globalization and the great economic progress in the neighbor (China), as well as the cold weather and difficult geography, the Mongolians did not abandon their traditions and the Mongolian way of life still exists today. In Mongolia there are herders of horses, camels and cattle to benefit from milk, meat, wool, etc. During the pandemic in China, for example, President Battulga set up what is known as “Sheep Diplomacy” where Mongolian President donated 30,000 sheep to China. This initiative indicates the Mongolians’ positive intentions towards the Chinese and the desire to open up more. In this context, I would like to point out that China is a big importer of meat and the Chinese demand for meat is constantly increasing, as shown in the chart below. Here is a great opportunity for Mongolia to increase its exports of meat to the Chinese market.

The reading of Mongolian history indicates that this country has passed through periods of prosperity. Mongolia may be a good example of power and rule, as its borders extended to many countries during the rule of Genghis Khan (1162-1227), the man whom the Mongolians consider their historical leader and has turned into a hero and a national symbol. The Mongolians did not abandon their land despite the cold weather and difficult geography, indicating that they are a deeply rooted people with land. Mongolia, with its vast territories and few people, has turned into a meeting place for Russia and China, and a strategic center for Chinese economic expansion. Therefore, it is impossible for the Chinese administration to abandon the partnership with Mongolia.

The Mongolian economy is heavily dependent on livestock, and the number of pastures has increased significantly since the Soviet era because of the transfer of ownership to the people. However, the government is still not able to provide all services to citizens “the government has failed to promote education and health care and veterinary care in pastoral communities, so there is no longer any incentive to stay in rural areas” said Sarol Khuadu, an official at the Institute for Environmental Research in the Mongolian capital. The policy, which no longer places much emphasis on the countryside, has led to the transfer of large numbers of citizens to the capital and to engage in the world of money and business.

Unfortunately, the Mongolian government is not working seriously to support citizens in remote areas. The conditions of life are not good and the loans granted are high interest, in addition to the weather that adversely affects their businesses. In order to help the poor and rural people, in cooperation with national governments, humanitarian, development and scientific partners, FAO has developed an early warning approach by monitoring risk information systems and turning warnings into proactive actions. International organizations contribute to permanent humanitarian and social assistance in Mongolia.

Mongolia’s strategic policy through the “Mongolia Steppe Road Program 蒙古国“草原之路” is largely in line with the belt and road initiative, which is a road connecting Mongolia, China and Russia. Consequently, Mongolia, a country that mainly depends on the agricultural sector, will be a center for economic communication between China and Russia, and thus will witness a great economic development. The Steppe Road Program aims to boost Mongolia’s economic standing and create an advanced network of infrastructure for communication with China and Russia and build an oil and gas pipeline. In 2014, during his historic visit, Chinese President Xi Jinping raised the level of relations between the two countries to “Comprehensive Strategic Partnership Relations”. Since then, bilateral cooperation has begun to move faster.

China has never abandoned Mongolia; it is a country of advanced strategic location as a bridge between Asia and Europe, in addition to the important agricultural sector in Mongolia which benefits China greatly, not to forget to mention the China-Mongolia-Russia Economic Corridor which has become an important part of the belt and road initiative and a key component of Sino-Russian cooperation.

The relationship between China and Mongolia today is an ideal example of the bilateral relationship between two neighboring countries. Cultural, economic, political and tourism communication is in continuous progress between the Chinese and Mongolians, and the Belt and Road Initiative will push this communication forward. The Chinese aspire to increase free trade areas and economic connectivity through a developed infrastructure network.

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