【英语财经】中国抢占孟加拉国投资先机 China steals march on rivals to invest in Bangladesh

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2014-6-16 06:40

小艾摘要: Next year marks the 40th anniversary of China’s recognition of Bangladesh. It’s not a celebrated anniversary for many, least of all the country’s prime minister, Sheikh Hasina. The year, 1975, was ...
China steals march on rivals to invest in Bangladesh
Next year marks the 40th anniversary of China’s recognition of Bangladesh. It’s not a celebrated anniversary for many, least of all the country’s prime minister, Sheikh Hasina. The year, 1975, was also that of the death of her father, the country’s independence hero Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. His struggle against Pakistani domination was bitterly opposed by Beijing, where in 1971 state media described him as a “puppet countenance” and the country’s creation as “fascist nonsense”. It wasn’t until he and most of his family were gunned down that China opened relations with the country.

How times have changed. Mujib’s daughter, one of only two surviving family members from that day in August 1975, has just wrapped up a visit to Beijing. Now, Chinese state media say the two countries can “dream together,” with relations at a “new historical high.”

Their shared history dates back perhaps as far as the 4th century BC and the south-western silk road – which is precisely what the Chinese have in mind. There is bold talk of a new “economic corridor” and, as Xi Jinping, China’s president, noted on meeting Hasina, “Bangladesh is an important country along the Maritime Silk Road.”

Hasina was re-elected to office on January 5 in a constitutionally legal yet mostly uncontested election that followed months of violent and deadly protest.

She was roundly supported by India, where the Congress party – ejected from government in India’s elections last month – is a long-time ally. With Congress suffering humiliation by the victorious BJP of Narendra Modi, there will be “a greater psychological distance” between Dhaka and Delhi, says Imtiaz Ahmed, a political scientist at Dhaka University. The opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), once allied with Beijing, has dispatched a “diplomatic mission” to western democracies to drum up support.

The Chinese have manoeuvred into this gap. There is plenty at stake. Bangladesh’s economy has been robust, consistently growing at annual rates of 6 per cent or more, despite the political mayhem. Yet its infrastructure is in a deplorable condition for a country dubbed a “next 11″ economy and which is chasing China for the crown of the world’s largest exporter of ready-made garments.

China, though, is keen to help. From infrastructure to factories, deals have been inked that promise to fix many of Bangladesh’s problems and seek a perfect off-shoring location for labour-intensive Chinese manufacturing. The most recent deal will see a “garments village” constructed south of the capital Dhaka in Munshiganj, with Chinese company Orion Holdings. This hopes to address a number of bottlenecks, including the issue of factories located in unsafe buildings in the congested capital.

Nearer the coast, Chinese manufacturers will get their own dedicated export processing zone, mirroring a prior yet troubled Korean processing zone, both in Chittagong, the country’s coastal second city. Bangladesh’s garment exports to China grew by over 68 per cent year on year between fiscal years 2012-13 and 2013-14.

The country’s lack of electricity meanwhile was robustly attacked in Hasina’s first term, although largely with the construction of stop-gap rental power plants, which now account for 27 per cent of electricity production but which are viewed as unsustainable. China will step in to build a 1,320 MW coal plant at Patuakhali. It joins Japan and India in helping this low lying country, described as the most vulnerable country to climate change, in developing coal plants.

Manufactured good will now be able to travel Chinese-built roads and probably leave through a $14bn Chinese-built deep sea port in the country’s south at Sonadia, due to be developed by the China Harbour Engineering Company. This will see China beat competitors Dubai Ports World and the Rotterdam Ports authority to develop the facility. China’s ambitions near Cox’s Bazar have India worrying that this will give Beijing greater naval capacity in the Bay of Bengal. A major source of leverage for India is its current ability to cut off shipping routes through the Bay of Bengal to the Middle East and Africa, through which crucial fossil fuels must pass.

Perhaps of even greater symbolism to the west, China looks set to take part in the construction of the giant and much-needed Padma Bridge project. The Padma river dissects the country and can only be crossed by ferry after a lengthy wait. It leaves the south-west disconnected from the rest of the country and the capital; estimates suggest the bridge would add some 1.2 percentage points to GDP growth. The World Bank was due to fund the 10 kilometre long bridge with its largest ever grant but pulled after SNC Lavalin, a Canadian engineering group, was banned from tendering for 10 years after a World Bank investigation of alleged corruption at the bridge project. China Major Bridge Engineering Co will now step in to take their place.

Hasina gamely noted on her trip that, “in the near future, China will be the world’s biggest economy. As an Asian country, Bangladesh takes pride in that.”

This is not just political posturing. Bangladesh has arguably done much to mimic China’s development model. Largely cut off from global financial systems, as China was before it joined the WTO, Bangladesh has none the less become an exporter of labour intensive, low end manufactured goods. China could be a perfect partner, unencumbered by political squeamishness, with state backed entities to get into untapped opportunities, barred to private enterprise in Bangladesh by the high cost of capital.

明年是中国承认孟加拉国40周年。没有很多人会庆祝这个纪念日,孟加拉国总理谢赫?哈西娜(Sheikh Hasina)更不会。1975年也是她的父亲、孟加拉国独立英雄谢赫?穆吉布?拉赫曼(Sheikh Mujibur Rahman)遇刺身亡的那年。他反抗巴基斯坦统治的斗争遭到中国的极力反对,1971年,中国官方媒体称他是“傀儡嘴脸”,将孟加拉国的成立描述为“法西斯主义的胡闹”。直到他和他的大多数家人被枪杀之后,中国才与孟加拉国建立了外交关系。

沧海桑田,世界发生了巨大的变化。穆吉布的这位女儿是1975年8月那天唯一幸存的两名家庭成员之一,她刚刚结束了对北京的访问(见上图)。如今,中国官媒称中孟可以“携手共圆梦”,两国关系“提升到新的高度”。

中孟往来的历史或许最早可以追溯至公元前4世纪和西南丝绸之路——如今后者又被中国人列入计划。他们大胆地提出建立新“经济走廊”,正如中国国家主席习近平在会见哈西娜时提到的那样:“孟加拉国是海上丝绸之路沿线重要国家。”

今年1月5日,在一场符合宪法但几乎没有竞争对手的选举中,哈西娜成功连任。选举之前,孟加拉国爆发过持续数月的暴力和流血抗议。

印度曾经坚定支持哈西娜,上月在印度大选中落败的印度国大党(Congress party)是她的长期盟友。达卡大学政治学家伊姆蒂亚兹?艾哈迈德(Imtiaz Ahmed)表示,由于国大党在大选中惨败于纳伦德拉?莫迪(Narendra Modi)的印度人民党(BJP),孟加拉国和印度政府之间的“心理距离将扩大”。一度与中国结盟的反对党孟加拉国民族主义党(Bangladesh Nationalist Party, BNP)为了博得支持,已向西方民主国家派出一个“外交使团”。

中国乘虚而入。这牵涉到很多利益。孟加拉国虽然政局混乱,但经济强劲,不断取得6%以上的年增长率。然而,对于被誉为“未来11国”(next 11)经济体之一、正在赶超中国成为世界头号成衣出口国的国家,孟加拉国的基础设施条件极差。

但中国乐于帮助。从基建到工厂,两国签下多笔协议,承诺解决孟加拉国的诸多问题,并且为劳动密集型的中国制造业向海外转移寻找到合适的目的地。根据最新的一笔协议,中国公司Orion Holdings将在首都达卡以南的蒙希甘杰(Munshiganj)建设一座“制衣村”。这有望解决诸多问题,包括在拥挤的首都的危险建筑物内设厂的问题。

在海岸附近,中国制造商将拥有自己专门的出口加工区,仿照建立较早却问题缠身的韩资出口加工区。这两个出口加工区都位于孟加拉国第二大沿海城市吉大港(Chittagong)。在2012-13财年到2013-14财年期间,孟加拉国对华服装出口同比增长逾68%。

此外,在哈西娜第一任期,孟加拉国曾因缺乏电力遭遇猛烈抨击,尽管这种批评主要是针对建设临时性租借发电厂的做法——此类电厂占了孟加拉国发电量的27%,但其模式被视为不可持续。中国将在博杜阿卡利(Patuakhali)建设一家1320兆瓦的燃煤电厂。孟加拉国地势很低,被称为最容易受到气候变化影响的国家。该项目使中国成为继日本和印度之后又一个帮助孟加拉国建设燃煤电厂的国家。

如今,制成品将能够通过中国人建造的公路输送,它们还可能从位于孟加拉国南部索纳迪亚(Sonadia)、由中国人修建的深海港口运出孟加拉。这一深海港口项目规模为140亿美元,将由中国港湾(China Harbour Engineering Company)开发。中国在竞标承建该项目的过程中,击败竞争对手迪拜港口世界(Dubai Ports World)和鹿特丹港务局(Rotterdam Port Authority)。中国对库克斯巴扎(Cox's Bazar)附近地区的野心,令印度担忧这将会让中国在孟加拉湾具有更大的海军能力。对印度来说,目前的一大“杀手锏”是其有能力切断经孟加拉湾至中东和非洲的航线,这些航线是至关重要的化石燃料的必经之路。

也许对西方来说更具象征意义的是,中国看来将会参与建设巨大而亟需的帕德玛大桥(Padma Bridge)项目。帕德玛河将孟加拉国一分为二,人们要想过河只能乘坐轮渡,等待时间漫长。这条河将孟加拉国的西南部与该国其他部分及首都分割。据估计,这座大桥有望令孟加拉国的国内生产总值(GDP)增速提高大约1.2个百分点。世界银行(World Bank)原定以史上最大的一笔拨款为这条10公里长的大桥提供资金。然而,在世行对大桥项目中涉嫌腐败的行为展开调查后,加拿大工程集团森兰万灵公司(SNC-Lavalin)被禁止在10年内投标该项目。在那之后,世行就撤出了这一项目。如今,中铁大桥局集团公司(China Major Bridge Engineering Co)将接手该项目。

哈西娜在访华期间认真地指出:“中国不久将成为世界最大经济体。作为亚洲国家,孟加拉国为此感到自豪。”

这不仅仅是一种政治上的姿态。可以说孟加拉国下了很大功夫模仿中国的发展模式。和中国在加入世贸组织(WTO)之前一样,孟加拉国在很大程度上与全球金融体系相隔离,然而该国成为了劳动密集型低端制成品的出口国。中国可以是一个完美的合作方,不受政治神经质的阻碍,中国国有机构将开发从未被挖掘的机遇,孟加拉国私营企业由于高昂的融资成本而被这些机遇排除在外。

译者/何黎

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