Thursday, September 28, 2017

Australian law firm Corrs Chambers Westgarth manages to offend Xinjiang Muslims and buy into the Gwadar Port controversy, all at once

by Ganesh Sahathevan

John W.H. Denton AO


It is not often that one finds a large law firm making itself the target of so many,so openly , and all at once. Australian law firm Corrs Chambers Westgarth and its managing partner John Denton seemed to have managed just that,advertising the fact that they are playing a central role in bringing Australian investment into Xinjiang, and encouraging Australian Government support of Gwadar:


As our China Business Group Co-Chair Dr Geoff Raby recently commented, many Australians fail to appreciate that Australia is a part of the One Belt One Road.
Since becoming President, Xi has made OBOR central to his vision of China's greater standing and influence in the world. The official Xinhua report on the Malcolm Turnbull/Xi Jinping meeting highlighted Xi's call for the "alignment of China's Belt and Road initiative with Australia's Northern Development Plan". Despite the “noise” over the sale of the Port of Darwin to private investors from China, Xi still went ahead with this giant step forward in the bilateral relationship – putting Australia firmly on the OBOR map is a very big deal. 
According to some estimates, in today’s money, OBOR and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank could be more than 12 times larger than the Marshall Plan - America's aid contribution to post-second-world-war Western Europe.
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Australia has a place on the One Belt One Road Strategy (Image Source: Charting the Belt and Road)
In a recent visit to Xinjiang in China's far west, the Corrs China Business Group met with numerous officials who enthusiastically shared their role in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). This initiative (one of a number of initiatives encompassed by OBOR) is intended to promote connectivity across Pakistan with a network of highways, railways and pipelines accompanied by energy, industrial and other infrastructure development projects to address critical energy shortages needed to boost Pakistan’s economic growth. Eventually, CPEC will also facilitate trade along an overland route that connects China to the Indian Ocean, linking the Chinese city of Kashgar to the Pakistani port of Gwadar.
In a world that is increasingly interconnected and as a trading nation, Australia has a significant role to play in the policy thinking on global maritime economic issues. Australia is working with Chinese officials as they develop the country’s maritime economy strategy. As a maritime trading nation, these strategic issues of vital importance to us, including their political dimensions. Attracting capital to Northern Australia as part of OBOR will be a key focus.  Darwin is intended to be a crucial link in China's new 21st Century Maritime Silk Road. The recent Darwin Port deal will provide Chinese shipping and naval vessels with facilitated access to Australia, the Indian Ocean and the South Pacific, as well as to Indonesia and PNG over the coming century.


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