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From the article:
In the barely-inhabited steppes of Central Asia, China is establishing the centre of its campaign to dominate the global economy, writes Ben Mauk
The Eurasian Pole of Inaccessibility is the point farthest from a sea or ocean on the planet.
Located in China just east of the border with Kazakhstan, the pole gets you at least 2,500km from the nearest coastline into an expanse of white steppe and blue-beige mountain that is among the least populated places on earth.
Here, among some of the last surviving pastoral nomads in Central Asia, the largest infrastructure project in the history of the world is growing.
Critics have described the BRI as a new kind of colonialism or even part of a strategy of “debt-trap diplomacy,” seducing cash-poor countries with infrastructure projects that are unlikely to generate enough revenue to cover the interest on the loans that funded them.
That is the unhappy situation at the China-funded port of Hambantota in Sri Lanka, which the China Harbour Engineering Company took over after Sri Lanka fell behind on debt service.
The Center for Global Development lists eight countries that face high risk of “debt distress” from BRI projects that they can’t afford. Some experts view the camps and other security measures in Xinjiang as partly a reaction to the increased freight traffic now moving across the region.
Click here to read the report
From the article:
WASHINGTON — U.S. President Donald Trump signed a national security presidential memorandum on Thursday officially launching the long-discussed White House women’s economic empowerment initiative — the Women’s Global Development and Prosperity initiative, or W-GDP.
While the first government initiative of its kind was applauded by several aid advocates, it also raised a number of questions about how it fits into the administration’s broader foreign aid priorities, especially as the White House has repeatedly proposed cutting foreign aid budgets.
Charles Kenny, a senior fellow at the Center for Global Development, wrote in a statement Thursday that the first two pillars of the initiative “seem to suggest a rebranding of existing funding for women’s economic empowerment efforts in USAID [U.S. Agency for International Development] and a repackaging of previously announced initiatives at the World Bank and Overseas Private Investment Corporation.”
“But the third pillar is potentially more encouraging,” Kenny said, adding that “quite what is being proposed in this area isn’t yet clear.” He suggested that there is a lot the U.S. can do to combat laws that require a man’s permission to participate in the economy, own property, or leave the house, including making legal reforms a precondition of trade agreements and passing legislation that would push the private sector to work on these issues.
From the article:
Ivanka Trump, the daughter of the president and a senior White House adviser, announced a new global effort Thursday to help 50 million women in the developing world by 2025.
“This new initiative will for the first time coordinate America’s commitment to one of the most undervalued resources in the developing world — the talent, ambition and genius of women,” Trump wrote in an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal that announced the news. For the Women’s Global Development and Prosperity Initiative, the U.S. government will team up with several private companies such as UPS and Pepsi to “facilitate complementary private-sector investments to achieve our shared goals,” Trump said.
“$1 per woman, or rather $0.02 per woman, once you subtract the money WalMart and others will spend on glossy, self-congratulatory advertisements,” Brad Simpson, a scholar at the Woodrow Wilson Center, wrote on Twitter.
“If you ever doubted the Trump Administration’s belief in aid effectiveness, think again: the new Women’s Global Development and Prosperity Initiative provides $50m a year from USAID to economically empower 50 million women worldwide by 2025,” Charles Kenny, a senior fellow at a Center for Global Development, wrote in his own tweet. “That’s just a dollar a year each!” Kenny added.
Nancy Lee, a former U.S. Treasury official who is now a fellow at the Center for Global Development, agreed that the $50 million in initial government funding is notably small, but she said she hoped that it could have a larger effect.
“Most important is to firmly embed empowering women across the programs of all of the agencies that are supposed to work together under this initiative,” Lee said. "If agencies actually have to look at how each project can boost benefits for women and girls and measure results carefully and consistently, that would truly transform U.S. development practice.”
From the article:
David Malpass, a China hawk who is US President Donald Trump’s nominee to become the World Bank’s new president, will continue to play a “very important part” in trade negotiations with Beijing, senior US administration officials said on Wednesday.
Despite the continuity between the administration’s and Malpass’s positions on the World Bank, his nomination has elicited strong opposition from some observers, who view him as a threat to multilateralism.
“An incorrigible arsonist will now be our fire chief,” tweeted W. Gyude Moore, Liberia’s former minister of public works. “Man spends his adult life denigrating multilateralism and now has the ‘pleasure’ of running one of its pillars.”
“David Malpass is a Trump loyalist who has committed economic malpractice on a wide range of topics, from dismissing the first signs of the 2008 global financial crisis to flirting with the abolition of the IMF,” Justin Sandefur, senior fellow at the Centre for Global Development, said in a statement.
Malpass also served as chief economist at the now-defunct investment bank Bear Stearns, which collapsed during the 2008 financial crisis. Seven months previously, he had written a commentary for The Wall Street Journal titled “Don't Panic About the Credit Market” that played down indications of the looming financial disaster.
“There is no case for Malpass on merit,” Sandefur said. “The question now is whether other nations represented on the World Bank’s board of governors will let the Trump administration undermine a key global institution.”
From the article:
WASHINGTON — In the wake of U.S. President Donald Trump’s announcement on Wednesday that he will nominate David Malpass to be the next president of the World Bank, Malpass’ record as a critic of the bank — and particularly of its relationship with China — has some staffers and development experts worried.
“As a Treasury official, Malpass has sought to unwind seemingly every aspect of the World Bank’s relationship with China. As bank president, this would not be a viable posture toward his third-largest shareholder. Presumably, the Chinese will be seeking assurances about which Malpass they’re going to get,” Scott Morris, senior fellow at the Center for Global Development, wrote in an email to Devex.
From the article:
China’s censorship-enabled internet model is spreading beyond its borders, at a time when more and more people in the world are gaining access to the internet, according to a new report.
Michael Pisa, a policy fellow at the Washington-based think tank Center for Global Development (CGD) and former senior adviser to the U.S. undersecretary for international affairs in the Department of the Treasury, published a Feb. 5 report on worrying developments as the internet becomes more readily available to developing countries.
While the number of internet users around the world increased to more than 3 billion in 2015 from 1 billion in 2005, the report pointed out that “today, more than 65 percent of the roughly four billion people in the world without internet access live in countries with a per capita GDP of less than $3,895 a year.”
Facebook and Google, in particular, have made inroads in developing nations. Facebook now has 2.3 billion monthly active users who live in Africa and Asia, while Google operates domains in about 200 countries and territories, with an estimated global market share of up to 92 percent.
In addition, more than 2 billion devices worldwide are powered by Google’s Android operating system, according to the report.
But a more pressing concern is that those countries could be attracted to China’s restrictive internet model. “An increasing number of governments have shown an interest in adopting China’s authoritarian [internet] model, which uses digital tools to support surveillance and stifle dissent—and Chinese officials appear eager to share their expertise,” the report stated.
Chinese officials have taken active steps to spread its model overseas. The CGD report, citing a 2018 report by U.S.-based independent watchdog Freedom House, said that in 2018, “Beijing took steps to propagate its model abroad by conducting large-scale trainings of foreign officials [from at least 36 countries], providing technology to authoritarian governments, and demanding that international companies abide by its content regulations, even when operating outside of China.”
The demand by governments such as India and Vietnam for “data localization,” a policy pioneered by China that requires international companies to store data in local servers, is also a concern, given that it will “raise the cost of doing cross-border business,” the CGD report stated. It also questioned the validity of a cybersecurity claim for having such policies.
From the article:
So who is David Malpass, and what opinions does he hold?
Mr Malpass, a Trump loyalist, was a senior economic adviser to the US president during his 2016 election campaign.
The 62-year-old has criticised the World Bank in the past, along with other institutions such as the International Monetary Fund, for being "intrusive" and "entrenched".
Justin Sandefur, a senior fellow with the Center for Global Development, said the nomination of Mr Malpass showed that the Trump administration was trying to undermine a key global institution, and urged other countries to nominate alternative candidates.
"They have a choice. It's a simple majority vote, the US has no veto in this election and there are many better candidates," Mr Sandefur said.
From the article:
WASHINGTON — President Trump on Wednesday nominated David Malpass, one of his top economic advisers and a Wall Street veteran, to be the next president of the World Bank.
Mr. Malpass, currently the under secretary for international affairs at the Treasury Department, is a longtime critic of the World Bank’s lending practices and its business model and has expressed concern about the power that such multilateral institutions exert.
If approved by the bank’s board, Mr. Malpass could put additional pressure on China at a time when it is locked in a protracted battle with the United States over geopolitical and economic dominance. The Trump administration been urging the bank to reduce lending to China, which since 2016 has received more than $7.8 billion in loans, according to the Center for Global Development. In 2017 comments at the Council on Foreign Relations, Mr. Malpass argued that this should change.
“As the U.S. candidate, David Malpass will have a lot of work to do to convince other shareholders that he is prepared to move beyond his past statements and track record when it comes to the World Bank’s agenda,” said Scott Morris, senior fellow at the Center for Global Development and former Treasury deputy assistant secretary for development finance and debt. “That includes the bank’s critical role in climate finance and the need for constructive engagement with China.”