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SCMP 1 JUNE 2023

Since the dawn of the Malthusian spectre, population growth has been associated with a reduction in living standards. As the theory goes, populations grow faster than the resources required to feed them.

China has been able to defy that thesis in the past two decades, combining a growing population with consistent income growth. It has become the largest buyer of key agricultural commodities to ensure its inhabitants enjoy a diversified diet.

China is now a top importer of the most widely traded crops globally: soybeans, vegetable oil, corn and sugar. With that, Beijing wields enormous influence in this space. Chinese demand has caused explosive growth in South American soybean production, leading Brazil to pass the United States as the world’s leading producer of soybeans


2 JUNE 2023

Turning to military matters. Much is made of the ‘aggressive and threatening’ Chinese military build-up. True, the Chinese military is growing in potency. Yet, consistently it, as a percentage of Chinese GDP, represents some 1.7% of expenditure, its rapid growth due to the Chinese economy expanding so spectacularly. In comparison the US military budget, as a part of that nation’s GDP, is 3.5%. By spending some $877 billion this year on ‘defence’ the U.S. is outlaying more than the next nine countries including China ($292 billion), combined. Such places Chinese military growth in perspective…

Chinese external military presence is limited to one military base in Djibouti (mainly concerned with protecting shipping from piracy). Its overseas presence hardly ranks with the global US 800 extra-territorial military bases…



More than 60 years ago, the U.S. claimed that on 4 August 1964, North Vietnamese patrol boats attacked the US naval destroyer Maddox in the Gulf of Tonkin. This incident led to the 10 August 1964 US Congress Gulf of Tonkin Resolution that became President Lyndon Johnson’s legal justification for deploying US forces to South Vietnam. In other words, it led to the beginning of what would become the open involvement of the U.S. in Vietnam’s civil war. We now know that attack never happened and the fateful decisions were based on naval intelligence that was shaped to fit Johnson’s political needs and preferences. He was looking for an excuse to take the country to war without a formal declaration by Congress. That was then. This is now. But history has a way of repeating itself, especially if relevant lessons go unlearned


5 JUNE 2023

The Defence Secretary’s opening remarks were delivered on a shared panel with Canada and the Philippines. Ben Wallace noted that no challenge is “bigger than the “epoch defining” rise of China”, before adding “we are all now navigating the consequences of China’s rise – both those opportunities and those challenges. Lifting vast numbers out of poverty. Trading with the world. And the undeniable truth, that none of our most fundamental global issues can be solved without engagement with China.”


8 JUNE 2023

Another study, one conducted by researchers from the World Bank, Harvard Kennedy School, AidData and the Kiel Institute for the World Economy, found that China had spent $240 billion bailing out 22 countries between 2008 and 2021, the researchers’ report revealed in March. The amount has been soaring in recent years as more recipients struggle to repay their Belt and Road loans, the report says.

No Evidence of Debt Diplomacy here.


SCMP 13 JUNE 2023

Chinese carmakers are expected to capture around 15 per cent of Europe’s electric vehicle (EV) market by 2025, as players such as BYD, Nio, and Li Auto gain popularity among European consumers, according to an economist at KPMG.

This would represent a fast step forward for the Chinese car brands, as their cars accounted for less than 10 per cent of the 1.1 million battery electric vehicles (BEVs) sold in Europe last year, according to a report released by KPMG on Monday in Shanghai at China’s first Carbon Neutrality Expo.

“Home-grown Chinese brands such as BYD, Nio, Xpeng, and Li Auto have huge potential in the European market and could contribute the most to future sales increase there,” said Kevin Kang, chief economist at KPMG China.

Europe is the world’s second-biggest and fastest-growing EV market after China, and is expected to see surging demand for EVs following the European Union’s announcement that it will ban the sale of new fossil-fuel cars starting in 2035 to combat climate change.

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