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Paul Pelliot & la Route de la Soie

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Lucette Bulnois & La Route de la Soie

Née à Poissy en 1931 d’un père protestant, médecin des troupes coloniales, et d’une mère catholique issue d’une famille de la noblesse ukrainienne réfugiée en France, Lucette Boulnois a grandi en région parisienne puis au Vietnam, où son père avait été affecté. Studieuse et très intelligente, elle passa son baccalauréat à 16 ans, bien qu’ayant effectué une partie de ses études secondaires à Hanoï. Quand ses parents se séparèrent, elle choisit de rester vivre avec sa mère.

Après des études de russe et de chinois à l’Institut national des langues et civilisations orientales, elle soutint une thèse de troisième cycle à l’université de Paris-Sorbonne sur « Les échanges commerciaux entre le Népal et la Chine et leurs implications socio-économiques au Népal ». Recrutée comme bibliothécaire du Centre d’études himalayennes de Meudon, qui dépend du CNRS, elle y travailla jusqu’à sa retraite, avec le titre d’ingénieur de recherche. Sollicitée par ailleurs, à sa grande surprise, par les éditions Arthaud pour rédiger un ouvrage sur la route de la soie, elle s’y adonna avec passion, et trouva là en quelque sorte sa vraie raison de vivre. Ce livre, paru en 1963, fut bientôt repris par les Éditions Olizane, de Genève, qui en publièrent plusieurs nouvelles éditions, à chaque fois complétées et mises à jour : la dernière, en 2001, eut pour sous-titre « Dieux, guerriers et marchands ». Agrémenté de nombreuses cartes et plans, de notes et d’index, cette somme de 558 pages fait autorité en la matière et a été traduite en une dizaine de langues, dont le japonais et le chinois.

D’autres publications montrent à quel point l’historienne, qui correspondait sur ce sujet notamment avec Jacqueline Thevenet, a su fouiller jusque dans leurs derniers recoins les territoires traversés par la route de la soie, de la Chine à la Syrie, décrire dans le détail les échanges commerciaux qui s’y pratiquaient, faire revivre les personnages qui s’y sont illustrés. Lucette Boulnois est décédée en 2009 alors qu’elle préparait une ultime édition de La Route de la soie ainsi que la traduction d’un important ouvrage chinois sur l’or du Tibet.

Source : Les Editions Transboréal

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Will China’s Belt and Road Initiative outdo the Marshall Plan?

How China’s infrastructure projects around the world stack up against America’s plan to rebuild post-war Europe.

 

SEVENTY years ago America passed the Economic Co-operation Act, better known as the Marshall Plan. Drawing inspiration from a speech at Harvard University by George Marshall, America’s secretary of state, it aimed to revive Europe’s war-ravaged economies. Almost five years ago, at a more obscure institution of higher learning, Nazarbayev University in Kazakhstan, China’s president, Xi Jinping, outlined his own vision of economic beneficence. The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), as it has become known, aims to sprinkle infrastructure, trade and fellow-feeling on more than 70 countries, from the Baltic to the Pacific.

Mr Xi’s initiative, which also has geopolitical goals (see Banyan), has invited comparison with America’s mid-century development endeavour. Some even suggest it will be far bigger. But is that credible? The Marshall Plan, after all, is synonymous with statesmanlike vision and vigour. According to Marshall’s successor, Dean Acheson, America’s provision of food, raw materials and equipment was described by Winston Churchill as the “most unsordid act in history”. At the time of the Harvard speech Europe was on the brink of economic chaos. By the time the plan was completed, the continent was on the verge of an economic miracle. Surely China could not match such a feat?

But in fact, as opposed to folklore, the Marshall Plan was surprisingly modest, as economic historians such as Alan Milward, Brad DeLong and Barry Eichengreen have pointed out. It amounted to about $13bn between April 1948 and the summer of 1951. That is equivalent to $130bn today, based on American consumer-price inflation, or less than $110bn, based on a broader measure of rising prices. Divided between 16 countries, it averaged less than 2.5% of the recipients’ GDP.

By permitting higher investment and imports, the money certainly helped Europe’s recovery. But not by much. Mr Eichengreen calculates the direct impact as an increase in growth of only 0.3 percentage points over the plan’s life. Nor was it actually the “most unsordid act” of its time. Churchill in fact bestowed that praise not on the Marshall Plan but on America’s earlier “lend-lease” policy, which aided the Allies from 1941 to 1945.

How does the demystified plan stack up against China’s? Comparisons are tricky, because no one knows how big the BRI will be. According to official figures, China’s direct investment in BRI countries (excluding in the financial sector) amounted to just $56bn from 2014 to 2017. A tot-up of announced investments by Derek Scissors of the American Enterprise Institute reaches $118bn. But neither number includes loans from China’s banks, including state-directed “policy banks” such as China Development Bank (which claims to have lent $180bn by the end of 2017) and Export-Import Bank of China ($110bn by the end of 2016).

These past commitments already surpass Marshall’s billions. And the BRI is just getting started. A government-sponsored forum in May 2017 estimated that China would invest up to $150bn over the next five years. The total over the life of the initiative is anyone’s guess, although Chinese officials seem comfortable with a number in excess of $1trn. (The origin of the figure of $8trn that pops up in some reports is untraceable, but may owe something to the Asian Development Bank’s estimate in 2009 of Asia’s infrastructure needs in the coming decade.)

 

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Malaysia cancels megaprojects under China’s OBOR to save country from debt

The Epoch Times reported that for the first time since his stunning victory in May’s election, Malaysia’s veteran prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad on Aug. 17 made an official visit to China on a five-day trip, upon invitation by the country’s premier Li Keqiang. Dr Mahathir, the seventh prime minister of Malaysia, met his counterpart at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Aug. 20 before announcing the cancellation of two major Chinese state-backed projects as part of the ‘One Belt, One Road’ (OBOR) initiative during a press conference on the last day of his official visit. Malaysia’s prime minister cancelled the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) and the Trans-Sabah Gas Pipeline (TSGP) projects, saying the country’s top priority is now to minimize its debt and loans. He said on Aug. 21 before departing for Kuala Lumpur, “The projects will not go on…it will be deferred until such time when we can afford, then maybe we will reduce the cost. I believe China itself does not want to see Malaysia become a bankrupt country.”

Dr Mahathir added that “If we have to pay compensation, we have to pay. This is the stupidity of our negotiations before. We must find a way to exit these projects.”

The ambitious $20 billion ECRL project and the $2.5 billion deal for two gas pipeline projects, which were to be constructed by an arm of the state-owned energy giant China National Petroleum Corporation, are among the plans cancelled by Malaysia’s leader, who said they made no financial sense for the country.

The outcome of the diplomatic trip was highly anticipated around the globe after the 93-year-old leader warned last week that his government, Pakatan Harapan (Alliance of Hope), was looking to either cancel or renegotiate the controversial Belt and Road initiative. The multibillion dollar initiative backed by the Chinese state was signed under the administration of Datuk Seri Najib tun Razak, his scandal-ridden predecessor.

One Belt, One Road, first announced in 2013 by President Xi Jinping, is a trade and infrastructure project which currently aims to connect 70 countries across Europe, Asia, Africa, and Oceania to China.

 

Source : THE EPOCH TIMES

How is the Silk Road - the Intermodal and Rail Freight Route from China - Shaping Up?

NETHERLANDS – CHINA – There has been much talk in recent times of the initiative 'One Belt, One Road' and of the Silk Road itself but doubt remains in many importers and exporters minds over the concept of an intermodal and rail freight route between China and diverse destinations within Europe. Just how much more expensive is this than ocean carriage? How much quicker and how does it compare to airfreight? 

In Tilburg on September 27 events organisers Het Patronaat will host shippers, logistics providers, lawyers, operators and other experts from all over the world to discuss the current state of affairs on the railway connection between Europe and China. This is the second such event and the New Silk Road Congress offers a range of industry speakers and, for those who do not speak Dutch, translation will be available. 

International speakers include Olga Stepanova, representing RZD Logistics and Larisa Luznetsova, representing UTLC. These speakers, coming from the CIS region, will join a panel discussion with Roland Verbraak of GVT Intermodal. They will talk about recent route developments that reduce transit time and extend the list of destinations. There will also be coverage of cold chain solutions, documentation etc. within the programme. 

The Chinese perspective will be highlighted with the participation of two natives: Letty Zhu of the NHTV Breda Applied Science University and Jialu Zhang of the Chengdu International Railway Investment & Development Group (CIPI). These two women will explain how China is handling the growing volumes of cargo transported via the New Silk Road. 

Logistics providers offer the same service in the ‘Ask me Anything’ panel discussion, which concludes the conference. Representatives of New Silkway Logistics, Nunner Logistics, GVT Intermodal and Karl Gheysen will gather on stage for a 45-minutes Q and A session driven by the audience. 

A full programme of events (in English) can be seen here and registration to attend can be made here.

Le 9, un magazine pas comme les autres

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China’s New Silk Road

(Bloomberg) -- The Silk Road conjures images of caravans, desert steppes and adventurers like Marco Polo navigating the ancient trading routes connecting China with Central Asia, the Middle East, Africa and Europe. China’s modern-day adaptation, known as the Belt and Road Initiative, aims to revive and extend those routes via networks of upgraded or new railways, ports, pipelines, power grids and highways. President Xi Jinping champions his pet project as a means to spur development, goodwill and economic integration. Critics are wary of an increasingly assertive superpower’s push to spread its influence.

By David Tweed - Source BloombergQuint

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