ACCORDING TO WESTERN media reports and official sources in the Philippines and Vietnam, China is building artificial islands on reefs and protruding rocks in the South China Sea to bolster its territorial claims. In response to questions at a Foreign Ministry press briefing on 6 June 2014, spokesman Hong Lei 洪磊 said, ‘Anything China does on any of the islands or atolls is within its sovereign rights’.
Forum: China In The World
SINCE THE ELECTORAL victory of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in May 2014, China has been cultivating an amicable relationship with Asia’s other giant. On a two-day state visit to India, 17–18 September 2014, Xi Jinping committed China to investing US$20 billion in India over the next five years. Early reports had the figure at US$100 billion, which would have dwarfed the US$35 billion deal secured by Modi in Japan at the end of August. Nonetheless, US$20 billion, a figure that includes both public and private investment, and will cover the construction of high-speed rail links and other infrastructure, represents a substantial increase from the US$400 million that China has invested in India over the past decade. Bi-lateral trade between the two countries, meanwhile, is expected to reach US$1 trillion by 2050.
PRESIDENT XI JINPING’S tour of Argentina, Brazil, Cuba and Venezuela in July 2014 confirmed the importance of China’s foreign policy to the region once thought of as America’s backyard. During the trip, Xi attended a meeting of the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) group of emerging powers at Fortaleza, Brazil, as well as the first summit between China and the Community of Latin America and the Caribbean States (CELAC) in Brasilia, Brazil. Xi expanded China’s bilateral strategic partnerships and co-operative agreements with Latin American countries during the ten-day journey. But his most pressing task was to revitalise economic relations with key trading partners in the region.
ON 18 AUGUST 2014, Clive Palmer, a maverick Australian businessman, Member of Parliament and leader of the Palmer United Party (PUP), appeared on the popular and unscripted, live-to-air Australian Broadcasting Corporation show Q&A, in which politicians and others answer audience questions. In response to a question regarding allegations of improper electoral funding, he launched into an off-piste attack on China that clearly shocked his fellow panellists and audience members: referring to ‘Chinese mongrels’, he explained: ‘I’m saying that because they’re Communist, they shoot their own people, they haven’t got a justice system and they want to take over this country. And we’re not going to let them.’ He accused the Chinese government of wanting ‘to bring workers here to destroy our wage system’, take over Australian ports ‘and get our resources for free... . I don’t mind standing up against the Chinese bastards and stop them from doing it’.
ALTHOUGH BEIJING has a long history of falling in and out of alliances with Moscow, Xi Jinping is giving the relationship a high and positive profile. He appears to admire the Russian leader, who he has characterised as having a similar personality to his own: ‘我和您性格很相似’. He made Russia his first destination for a foreign trip after becoming president, and his first foreign visit of 2014. Additional bilateral meetings at international summits such as BRICS (the association of the major emerging economies of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa), the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation 上海合作组织 and the G20, as well as Putin’s state visit to China in May 2014 mean Xi has spent more time with Putin than any other foreign head of state. Xi’s attendance at the Winter Olympics in February in Sochi was a first for a Chinese president.