China In Touch, 18 July 2018, Issue 232

Trade wars are not a spectator sport. Investors cannot just sit on the sidelines and watch it happen from the comfort of their living rooms. Trade wars are an investment  blood sport which,  without getting too dramatic, turned into a real bloodbath at the end of the 1930’s.

China is rapidly developing alternative markets. The Belt and Road Initiative is a central part of this strategy. How companies can work with this strategy was the subject of the One Belt One Road conference held in Darwin where experts from China and Australia discussed the issue.


China In Touch, 4 July 2018, Issue 231

The first artillery shots in Trumps trade war against China were fired as I was speaking at an investment  conference in Hainan where the Chinese speakers mounted a vigorous defence of free trade and highlighted the relationship between peace and the Belt and Road Initiative.

China will accelerate the development of larger trading blocks which are compliant with, and respectful of the global rules based order of the World Trade Organisation. It seems an irony that a country like China offers full support for the WTO and its trade mechanisms. Yet this was the clear and consistent message delivered by multiple speakers at the Hainan conference.



China In Touch, 20 June 2018, Issue 230

My hometown used to sit on the main highway running between two  capital cities. The road was narrow and over the years it gradually improved. The traffic grew and the road became congested, but my hometown thrived on the business bought by the passing traffic.

Then the Government built a new multi-lane express way between the two capital cities. It was diverted around my hometown. Travel between the two capital cities was faster, more efficient and even more traffic used the new express way.

Everyone said my hometown was so beautiful that people would come off the expressway to see us so we didn’t need to do anything. Vehicles didn’t turn off the expressway to come to my home town. Business declined, and then collapsed. If you look to one side on the expressway you can see me home town. Its very pretty but its no longer part of the main flow of business.

This story of my hometown is also the story of the Belt and Road Initiative. The BRI is the new expressway in our region. We can pretend it doesn’t exist or we can do our best to make sure we are part of the new expressway.


China In Touch, 6 June 2018, Issue 229

Monolithic China is a concept exploited in many comments about China. This is the vision of China that represents the majority of Western thinking about China. Tourists have a slightly different perspective. Its obvious that China has many different parts. This stretches from the super metropolises of Beijing to the second tier cities like Xi’an. But these same tourists who have seen the geographical and cultural diversity often continue to subscribe to the idea of a monolithic China.

The domestic political reality is different. Government is not unified. It is filled with diverse opinions and diverse politics. The politics is not split along the same lines as in the West, but by the same token it cannot be described as monolithic.


China In Touch, 23 May 2018, Issue 228

A recent research report on Chinas Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) features a cover-photo of a pair of workers boots covered in tar and in the background, a large machine laying asphalt on a freeway.

Its a perfect summary of the way Chinas BRI is most often viewed. The report asks if this the worlds largest venture capital project and goes on to provide an answer filled with figures, estimates and projections. But in many ways the report, and others like it, begs several important questions.