U.S.-China Relations

Introduction

Chairman Menendez, Ranking Member Corker, Members of the Committee, thank you for the opportunity to testify today on U.S.-China relations. It is also a great honor to be participating in today’s hearing with one of our nation’s most accomplished diplomats, Ambassador Stapleton Roy – a friend, former colleague, and one of the foremost experts on U.S.-China relations. Ambassador Roy’s contributions to the U.S.-China relationship have been invaluable, and I look forward to hearing his insights.

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank you, Mr. Chairman, for your leadership and to acknowledge this Committee’s contributions to the rich bipartisan tradition of engaging China. I have found it extremely valuable to work closely with the Committee’s Members, and in particular with the Asia Sub-committee, in advancing U.S. interests vis-à-vis China and the Asia-Pacific region as a whole.

Overall Bilateral Relations

This year marks the 35th anniversary of the establishment of official diplomatic relations between the United States and China. We have made remarkable progress since the era of back-channel messaging and secret trips. The scope of today’s U.S.-China relationship was unimaginable when President Nixon made his historic visit in 1972 to China.

Yet there is still enormous potential for progress in the U.S.-China relationship. Progress that will yield benefits to the citizens of both countries, our neighbors, and the world. To realize this progress and these benefits, we seek to ensure that the relationship is not defined by strategic rivalry, but by fair and healthy competition, by practical cooperation on priority issues, and by constructive management of our differences and disagreements. Where interests overlap, we will seek to expand cooperation with China. These areas include economic prosperity, a denuclearized Korean Peninsula, peaceful resolution of the Iranian nuclear issue, and a reduction in the emission of greenhouse gases. Where they diverge – and we have significant and well-known areas of disagreement – we will work to ensure that our differences are constructively managed.

Mr. Chairman, there are those who argue that cold war-like rivalry is inevitable and that the United States and China are condemned to a zero-sum struggle for supremacy, if not conflict. I reject such mechanistic thinking. As anyone who has served in government can tell you, this deterministic analysis overlooks the role of leaders who have the ability to set policy and to shape relationships. It gives short shrift to the fact that our two economies are becoming increasingly intertwined, which increases each side’s stake in the success of the other. It undervalues the fact that leaders in Washington and Beijing are fully cognizant of the risk of unintended strategic rivalry between an emerging power and an established power and have agreed to take deliberate actions to prevent such an outcome. And it ignores the reality of the past 35 years – that, in spite of our differences, U.S.-China relations have steadily grown deeper and stronger – and in doing so, we have built a very resilient relationship.

We view China’s economic growth as complementary to the region’s prosperity, and China’s expanded role in the region can be complementary to the sustained U.S. strategic engagement in the Asia-Pacific. We and our partners in the region want China’s rise to contribute to the stability and continued development of the region. As President Obama and Secretary Kerry have made very clear, we do not seek to contain China; to the contrary, we welcome the emergence of a stable, peaceful, and prosperous China. We believe all countries, and particularly emerging powers like China, should recognize the self-benefit of upholding basic rules and norms on which the international system is built; these are rules and norms which China has participated in formulating and shaping, and they are rules and norms that it continues to benefit from. In this context, we are encouraging China to exercise restraint in dealing with its neighbors and show respect for universal values and international law both at home and abroad.

A key element of our approach to the Asia-Pacific region, often called the rebalance, is strengthening America’s alliances and partnerships in the region. This contributes directly to the stable security environment that has underpinned the region’s – and China’s – dramatic economic growth and development.

A second element is working to build up regional institutions in order to uphold the international rules-based system and create platforms for the countries and leaders to work on priority strategic, economic, and other issues. These institutions help develop habits of cooperation and promote respect for the interests of all parties.

A third key element has been expanding and deepening our relationships with important emerging countries such as China, including through regular and high-level dialogue.

In just two weeks, our countries will hold the sixth round of the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue – the “S&ED” – in Beijing. This annual dialogue is unique in its level and scope. It is led on the U.S. side by Secretaries Kerry and Lew and brings a number of Cabinet-level and other senior U.S. government officials together with their Chinese counterparts to work on the major issues facing us. The breadth of the agenda in the two tracks – strategic and economic – reflects the breadth of modern U.S.-China relations. The S&ED is an important vehicle for making progress in the pursuit of a cooperative and constructive relationship; for building a “new model” that disproves the thesis that the United States and China are somehow destined for strategic rivalry and confrontation.

The S&ED is an important forum for the United States and China to take stock of and set goals for the bilateral relationship, to review regional and international developments and explain our respective policies, to coordinate and seek practical areas of cooperation on important issues of mutual interest, and to constructively manage areas of difference through candid, high-level discussions.

Let me preview of some of the topics for upcoming discussions at this year’s S&ED:

  • We will exchange views and explore prospects for progress on regional challenges, including Sudan, Afghanistan, Iran, North Korea, Ukraine, Iraq, and maritime disputes in the South and East China Seas;
  • The world’s two largest economies will work on strengthening the global economic recovery;
  • The world’s two biggest energy consumers and carbon emitters will work on combating climate change, and expand cooperation on clean energy;
  • We will discuss global challenges ranging from cyber security to counterterrorism to wildlife trafficking, and the United States will raise our concerns over human rights;
  • Secretary Kerry will co-chair the annual U.S.-China High-Level Consultation on People-to-People Exchange, which supports exchange programs that build the foundation for mutual understanding and trust;
  • And Deputy Secretary of State Bill Burns and his Chinese counterpart will hold the U.S.-China Strategic Security Dialogue (SSD), our highest-ranking joint civilian-military exchange with China, where we will conduct frank discussions on some of the most sensitive strategic issues in the relationship.

The S&ED and our numerous other dialogues and official exchanges with the Chinese each year reflect the importance we attach to managing this relationship. This level and pace of engagement show the commitment of both sides to producing tangible benefits for our two peoples, the Asia-Pacific region, and the global community.

The United States and China have a vital stake in each other’s success. That is why we maintain an intensive schedule of engagement; President Obama and President Xi met in Sunnylands, California, a year ago and have met twice more since then. The President plans to visit Beijing in November when China hosts APEC. Secretary Kerry, as well as numerous Cabinet and sub-Cabinet officials, have visited China already in 2014 and have met with Chinese counterparts in the United States or at international fora.

We work with China in virtually all important international arenas, including the UN, the G20, the East Asia Summit, and APEC where we are cooperating closely on regulatory transparency, supply chain efficiencies, promoting clean and renewable energy, cross-border education, and combatting corruption and bribery. Our relationship touches on nearly every regional and global issue, and, as such, requires sustained, high-level attention. Moreover, few of these issues can be effectively addressed if China and the United States do not cooperate.

Economic Relations

Economic issues play a central role in the U.S.-China relationship. China’s economic success has added to our growth and increased the purchasing power of consumers in the United States. Our two-way trade has almost quadrupled since China joined the WTO in late 2001. While the long-standing imbalance in that trade remains troubling, China is now one of the fastest growing U.S. export markets. In fact, U.S. exports to China grew by more than 90 percent between 2007 and 2013. In our bilateral engagements, we are encouraging economic reforms within China to ensure not only that its economic behavior is sustainable on its own terms, but that it contributes to strong, sustainable and balanced growth of the global economy. This includes re-orienting its economy away from a development model reliant on exports and credit-fueled investment in real estate and infrastructure to one that increases consumer spending and contributes to global demand. Central to this goal has been urging China to move toward a market-determined exchange rate. We are also addressing sources of friction in our bilateral relationship by pressing China to change a range of discriminatory policies and practices that harm U.S. companies and workers and that undermine incentives to innovate. These include subsidies that tilt the competitive playing field in favor of Chinese national champions, policies that pressure companies to hand over intellectual property as a condition for access to the Chinese market, and export credits that unfairly advantage Chinese companies in third markets. U.S. businesses have investments totaling over $50 billion. And from 2012 to 2013, Chinese direct investment flows into the United States more than doubled, according to private sector figures, and now contribute to thousands of jobs here. Our ongoing bilateral investment treaty negotiations hold the potential for even more mutually beneficial economic ties.

Even as we increase trade and investment, we will continue insisting on tangible progress in other economic areas that matter to the United States. These include:

  • China continuing to move toward a market-determined exchange rate;
  • negotiating a Bilateral Investment Treaty;
  • increasing access to Chinese markets for U.S. businesses;
  • developing a more transparent regulatory regime;
  • ending industrial policies that favor state-owned enterprises and national champions and seek to disadvantage foreign companies and their products;
  • ending forced technology transfer; and
  • addressing U.S. concerns over the theft of intellectual property and trade secrets, including government-sponsored, cyber-enabled theft for the purpose of giving Chinese companies a competitive advantage.

We will also continue to encourage greater Chinese integration into the rules-based international economic and trading system, in order to create a level playing field

for domestic and foreign companies operating in its and other markets. Over the last few months, China’s leaders have announced plans for sweeping reforms that, if realized, could go a long way in moving China’s economy toward market principles. We are encouraged that these announced reforms would potentially give the market a greater role in the economy, and we are keenly interested to see such reforms put into practice. I believe we can do much to work with China as it transitions to a consumption-driven, market-oriented growth model that would benefit both our economies.

Military-to-Military Relations

On the military side of the U.S.-China relationship, we are committed to building a sustained and substantive military-to-military relationship that focuses on identifying concrete, practical areas of cooperation and reducing risk. This includes not only deepening the use of institutionalized dialogue mechanisms, including senior defense participation at the SSD and S&ED, but also inviting the Chinese to join regional cooperative exercises and expanding talks with the Chinese military about operational safety in the region. For the first time this year, China will participate in RIMPAC June 26-August 1 in Hawaii.

We also aim to continue high-level exchanges between our militaries. Recent exchanges have included visits to China by Secretary Hagel in April and General Odierno in February, and a visit to the United States by Chief of the General Staff General Fang Fenghui in May.

At the same time, we will continue to carefully monitor China’s military developments and encourage China to exhibit greater transparency with respect to its military spending and modernization. This will help countries better understand the motivations of the People’s Liberation Army. We continue to encourage China to use its military capabilities in a manner conducive to the maintenance of peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region.

Global and Regional Issues

As the largest energy consumers, greenhouse gas emitters, and renewable energy producers, the United States and China share common interests, challenges and responsibilities. These are issues that relate directly to our economic and national security. Cooperation on climate change, energy, and environmental protection is more critical than ever and is an important area of focus in the U.S.-China bilateral relationship.

Through broad dialogues such as the Ten-Year Framework for Energy and Environment Cooperation and the S&ED, over the last year we have been able to produce new and expanded commitments to cooperation on climate change, energy, and the environment. During Secretary Kerry’s February trip to Beijing, he announced implementation plans for each of the five initiatives under the Climate Change Working Group as well as a new enhanced policy dialogue on domestic and international policies to address climate change that will be held on the margins of the upcoming S&ED.

China is a vital partner on some of the world’s most pressing proliferation challenges, including the DPRK and Iran. The United States and China agree on the importance and urgency of achieving a denuclearized, stable, and prosperous Korean Peninsula. While differences remain between us on some of the tactics, we coordinate closely and consult intensively on how to advance these shared goals. The result has been a tightened web of sanctions targeting North Korea’s nuclear, ballistic missile, and proliferation efforts. China has also strengthened its own sanctions enforcement, which we welcome, though it could do more to prevent North Korea from engaging in proliferation activities. Indeed, North Korea remains in flagrant violation of the UN Security Council resolutions that the United States and China approved and support. So we are urging China to make greater use of its unique leverage with the DPRK to produce concrete signs that the DPRK leader has come to the realization that his only viable path forward is denuclearization.

On Iran, the United States and China share the goal of preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon and are working together within the P5+1 negotiations with Iran toward that goal. Through our frequent and high-level engagement, we will continue to press China to honor its commitments, in particular those related to its imports of Iranian oil and enforcement of UN sanctions, in furtherance of reaching a comprehensive and long-term solution to the Iran nuclear issue.

Managing Differences

In the Asia-Pacific region, Beijing’s neighbors are understandably alarmed by China’s increasingly coercive efforts to assert and enforce its claims in the South China and East China Seas. A pattern of unilateral Chinese actions in sensitive and disputed areas is raising tensions and damaging China’s international standing. Moreover, some of China’s actions are directed at U.S. treaty allies. The United States has important interests at stake in these seas: freedom of navigation and overflight, unimpeded lawful commerce, respect for international law, and the peaceful management of disputes. We apply the same principles to the behavior of all claimants involved, not only to China. China – as a strong and rising power – should hold itself to a high standard of behavior; to willfully disregard diplomatic and other peaceful ways of dealing with disagreements and disputes in favor of economic or physical coercion is destabilizing and dangerous.

The United States does not take sides on the sovereignty questions underlying the territorial disputes in the South and East China Seas, but we have an interest in the behavior of states in their management or resolution of these disputes. We want countries, including China, to manage or settle claims through peaceful, diplomatic means. For example, the Philippines and Indonesia have just done so in connection with their EEZ boundary. Disputes can also be addressed through third-party dispute resolution processes. Where parties’ rights under treaties may be affected, some treaties provide for third-party dispute settlement, as is the case of the Law of the Sea Convention, an avenue pursued by the Philippines in an arbitration with China currently being considered by an Arbitral Tribunal constituted under that treaty. The United States and the international community oppose the use or the threat of force to try to advance a claim, and view such actions as having no effect in strengthening the legitimacy of China’s claims. These issues should be decided on the basis of the merits of China’s and other claimants’ legal claims and adherence to international law and norms, not the strength of their militaries and law enforcement ships or the size of their economies.

Another area where we believe China’s actions run counter to important universal principles is the worsening human rights situation in China. Just this month, China conducted a harsh crackdown on commemorations of the 25th anniversary of Tiananmen Square. China’s actions included the detention, harassment and arrests of journalists, lawyers, and activists. Top U.S. officials raise our concerns with Chinese leaders on a regular basis, and, as we have in every previous round, Secretary Kerry plans to raise human rights at this year’s S&ED. We express concern about the Chinese government’s censorship of the media and Internet. We push for the release of all political prisoners, including but not limited to prominent figures like Liu Xiaobo. We urge China to address the policies in Tibetan areas that threaten the distinct religious, cultural, and linguistic identity of the Tibetan people. Instability and violence are on the increase in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region. As we unequivocally condemn the acts of terrorism and violence, we also urge China to take steps to reduce tensions and reform counterproductive policies that stoke discontent and restrict peaceful expression and religious freedom.

Conclusion

Clearly, a wide-ranging and complex relationship such as ours with China comes with challenges. Some degree of friction is inevitable. But an essential tool for managing and resolving differences is open and extensive communications between our two countries – at senior and working levels of government, military to military, through local governments and organizations, between our business communities, and at the grassroots level.

We are now reflecting on the considerable progress attained in 35 years of bilateral relations. One key lesson is that to ensure that our relationship grows and matures, we need to build up the links among our two peoples. People-to-people exchanges are essential to enhancing mutual understanding and furthering U.S. strategic and economic goals. To that end, the United States in 2013 received 1.8 million Chinese visitors who collectively spent $9.8 billion on goods and services in our economy. Our State Department personnel work hard to facilitate growing Chinese demand for international travel by maintaining average visa wait-times under five days over the past two years.

Education also plays an important role fostering mutual understanding. In 2013, we had 235,000 students from China studying in the United States, more than from any other country, and the United States aspires to increase the number of American students studying in China and learning Mandarin through the 100,000 Strong Initiative. In March, PRC First Lady Peng Liyuan welcomed First Lady Michelle Obama to China where together they met with U.S. and Chinese students and faculty and promoted the value of study abroad and educational exchange.

We are also working with groups like the Sister Cities International and the U.S.-China Governors Forum. These programs help by encouraging and supporting cities and states to deepen their cultural or commercial ties with Chinese counterparts. In the last year alone, we have supported numerous visits of governors and state delegations and helped them to find opportunities to deepen their involvement and links to China.

The Department works closely with the United States Chamber of Commerce, AmCham China, the U.S.-China Business Council, and other business groups to support key priorities for U.S. companies doing business in China and to promote – greater Chinese investment in the United States. In partnership and consultation with those organizations, we have encouraged the Chinese government to eliminate investment restrictions, strengthen IPR protection, increase regulatory transparency, and establish a level playing field for all companies in China.

In conclusion, let me paraphrase what President Obama said earlier this year when he met with Chinese President Xi at the Nuclear Security Summit in The Hague. The U.S.-China relationship has made great strides over these past several decades, and both sides are committed to building a new model of relations between our countries defined by expanded cooperation and constructive management of differences.

Mr. Chairman, I thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today to discuss U.S.-China relations. I look forward to answering any questions you and others from the Committee may have.

Top of the Morning: Global Aid for Disaster Relief Reaches Record High

International Aid for Disaster Relief is Soaring…The USA and UK topped the list of international donors. ”Global spending on humanitarian relief soared to a record $22bn…last year as conflicts in Central African Republic, South Sudan and Syria combined with natural disasters such as typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, drove donors to pay out more emergency aid than ever before.Donations from governments reached $16.4bn (£9.63bn) last year, a 24% rise from 2012 figures, says research group Development Initiatives” (Guardian http://bit.ly/1iuLxc5)  The Chart (click through for interactive version)

Yet Another Mass Kidnapping by Boko Haram…The group is very much on the ascendent. “Kummabza resident Aji Khalil said Tuesday the abductions took place over several days last weekend in an attack during which four villagers were killed. Khalil is a member of one of the vigilante groups that have had some success in repelling Boko Haram attacks with primitive weapons. Khalil said suspected Boko Haram militants took about 60 married women and girls, some as young as 3, and 31 boys from the villages of Kummabza, Yaga and Dagu, all in Borno state, as reported by local Nigerian media. “Four villagers who tried to escape were shot dead on the spot,” Khalil said. (VOA http://bit.ly/1iuLhtE)

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Africa

The United States welcomed the release from a Sudanese jail of a Christian woman sentenced to death by hanging for apostasy after refusing to revert to Islam under Sudan’s Sharia Law. (VOA http://bit.ly/UF64iY) …and she was rearrested hours later. (Reuters http://bit.ly/VkT56W)

The tit-for-tat attacks against rival religious groups in Central African Republic threaten to create the conditions for a genocide reminiscent of Bosnia in the 1990s and requires swift efforts by the government and the international community to stop the violence, said a new report by the International Federation for Human Rights. (AP http://yhoo.it/TrIKEB)

Rebels have boycotted a new round of peace talks to end South Sudan’s conflict because of a dispute about who should attend, those involved in the protracted negotiations said. (Reuters http://bit.ly/UF4P3i)

Cameroon’s military has arrested 40 suspected Boko Haram militants in the north of the country. (VOA http://bit.ly/TrFKrN)

In West Kordofan state, an estimated 67,000 displaced people and approximately 33,000 refugees from South Sudan are in urgent need of humanitarian aid according the Government’s Humanitarian Aid Commission and humanitarian actors. (OCHA http://bit.ly/TrG2iy)

The IMF warned that Zimbabwe’s economy remains fragile with a “precarious” level of external debt that needs to be addressed. (AP http://yhoo.it/UF8zls)

The United States said it was boosting its humanitarian aid to the Central African Republic to $118 million in fiscal 2014. (AP http://yhoo.it/UF9NgA)

Representatives of some of Ethiopia’s biggest aid donors have announced that they will send a team to the southwest of the country to investigate persistent reports of human rights abuses amongst the tribes living there.  http://bit.ly/UFaOVR

A government-approved programme to give micro-loans and training to young people in rural areas is helping to stem the influx of migrants to Zimbabwe’s urban centres. (IRIN http://bit.ly/TrJ1HK)

MENA

The United Nations estimates that over 2,000 people have been killed in the renewed Iraq violence. (UN News Center http://bit.ly/1jM0WiL)

Shi’ite residents describe a massacre in northern Iraq. (WaPo http://wapo.st/1jM0LUQ)

Asia

About 50,000 Pakistanis have crossed into eastern Afghanistan to escape air strikes over the past 10 days and 435,000 have fled within their homeland, which could fuel the spread of polio as many are not vaccinated, U.N. agencies said. (VOA http://bit.ly/VkXd6X)

Vietnam’s rejection of 45 key recommendations in its UN human rights review has drawn criticism from activists. (VOA http://bit.ly/UF5py7)

The first organized opposition to Thailand’s military coup has emerged, with an exiled leader vowing to work with fellow dissidents to restore “democratic principles.” The formation of the Organization of Free Thais for Human Rights and Democracy was announced Tuesday in an open letter by Jarupong Ruangsuwan. (VOA http://bit.ly/UF5FgL)

Tobacco companies have largely snubbed an Indonesian law requiring them to put graphic health warnings on all cigarette packs, another setback for anti-smoking efforts in a country that’s home to the world’s highest rate of male smokers and a wild, wild west of advertising. (AP http://yhoo.it/TrHVvq)

As nations try to better plan for responding to and recovering from disasters, the United Nations has convened a gathering of some 40 countries in Bangkok to discuss how to ensure that human and economic losses are kept to a minimum. (VOA http://bit.ly/1pyLYAE)

The Americas

The United States is telling Central American parents there is no path to American citizenship for the thousands of unaccompanied children who are entering the U.S. illegally in hopes of escaping poverty and crime in their native lands. (VOA http://bit.ly/TrEN2H)

A video depicts the conditions faced by child miners in Bolivia. (Guardian http://bit.ly/TrGsFy)

White House National Security Adviser Susan Rice cast the protection of gays from global discrimination, abuse and even death as one of the most challenging international human rights issue facing the United States. (AP http://yhoo.it/VkXnv8)

Opinion/Blogs

Why polio in Brazil is as scary as Ebola in West Africa (Humanosphere http://bit.ly/TsX5R7)

Male gender-based violence: a silent crisis (ODI http://bit.ly/TrGHjN)

ForeignAssistance.gov Is Getting Bigger; Here’s How to Make It Better (CGD http://bit.ly/UF8puq)

Five takeaways from Australia’s new foreign aid policy (WhyDev http://bit.ly/1yKO86f)

Individual versus community incentives for service provision (Running Randomized Evaluations: A Practical Guide http://bit.ly/1yKOmu5)

A Piketty Protégé’s Theory on Tax Havens (NYT http://nyti.ms/TsXaEz)

Male gender-based violence: a silent crisis (ODI http://bit.ly/TsXbIH)

They Come in Ones and Twos (Warscapes http://bit.ly/TsXiUv)

Research/Reports
Surging environmental crime, from illegal logging to elephant poaching, is worth up to $213 billion a year and is helping to fund armed conflicts while cutting economic growth, a UN and Interpol report said. (Reuters http://bit.ly/TrEqFh)

The 8th Edition of the International Debt Collection Handbook Now Includes Chile, Ukraine and South Africa

AMSTERDAM, June 25, 2014 /PRNewswire/ — Today Atradius Collections releases the new edition of the International Debt Collection Handbook explaining the different stages of amicable settlement, financial regulations around collections, legal proceedings and insolvency procedures. The handbook is useful for credit managers confronted with the diversity and complexity of country-specific debt collections, now covering 38 countries, including Chile, Ukraine and South Africa. 

International debt collection and country-specific legal systems create challenges that affect every business. The International Debt Collection Handbook has proven to be an invaluable, highly demanded product for decision-makers in the collections and credit management industry. It gives readers an overview of foreign debt collection practices at country level. Rudi De Greve, Global Operations Director at Atradius Collections, explains: “The amicable collection route should always be the preferred option, however, taking legal actions is sometimes required. In either case, the key is to respect local ethics and the law. Only with local expertise can businesses ensure they are following a professional and successful approach.”

With insolvency levels peaking in many countries, selecting the right approach to debt collection has become an even more important factor for maintaining cash flow. Moreover, payment delays are common and insolvency risks remain high, both negatively impacting cash flow. A complex payment procedure in many cases results in foreign payment delays.

As a global market player, Atradius Collections acknowledges the importance of understanding local needs and being able to operationalize at a local level as the key to successful debt collection. Therefore Atradius Collections is planning on expanding its geographical reach into new markets, strengthening its global market position.

About the International Debt Collection Handbook 

Since its launch in 2008, the International Debt Collections Handbook has undergone constant update and expansion to provide decision makers with the most recent information. Rudi De Greve, Global Operations Director at Atradius Collections: “The handbook consists of information gathered by local experienced collectors and lawyers, making it a trusted international debt collections navigator.”

The full International Debt Collection Handbook is available for download at http://www.atradiuscollections.com/global/updates-publications/international-debt-collections-handbook.html

About Atradius Collections 

Atradius Collections, a business unit of Atradius Group, provides efficient, quick and flexible solutions to recovering domestic and international trade debts. With 20 offices and an extensive network of collections specialists and lawyers worldwide, Atradius Collections serves more than 14,500 customers. Over 85 years of global credit management industry experience uniquely positions Atradius Collections as a worldwide leader in business-to-business trade invoice collections services. Please visit http://www.atradiuscollections.com for more information.

Further information:
Iris Graatsma
Iris.Graatsma@atradius.com
Telephone: +31-20-553-3139
http://www.atradiuscollections.com
http://www.linkedin.com/company/atradius-collections
http://www.twitter.com/AtradiusCollect

Top of the Morning: Ebola Outbreak “Out of Control”

Ebola Outbreak ‘Out of Control’…A very dire warning from MSF about the outbreak in western Africa. “MSF is having difficulty responding to the large number of new cases emerging in different locations.“We have reached our limits,” said Janssens. “Despite the human resources and equipment deployed by MSF in the three affected countries, we are no longer able to send teams to the new outbreak sites.” The scale of the current Ebola epidemic is unprecedented in terms of geographical distribution and the numbers of cases and deaths. There have been 528 cases and 337 deaths since the epidemic began, according to the latest World Health Organization (WHO) figures. An Ebola epidemic in West Africa is out of control and requires massive resources from governments and aid agencies to prevent it from spreading further, the medical charity Doctors Without Borders said Monday.” (MSF http://bit.ly/1pbLBjM)

Egypt: Al Jazeera Journalists Sentenced to Prison…The verdict comes one day after John Kerry visited Cairo, with promises to resume military aid. “Two of the journalists were sentenced to seven years in prison, and the third was given 10 years, the three additional years apparently for his possession of a single spent bullet. The case has drawn condemnation from international rights groups and Western governments because there was no publicly available evidence that the journalists had either supported the Brotherhood or broadcast anything inaccurate.”

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Africa

Chinese workers have abandoned road construction and mining exploration sites in northern Cameroon in the wake of last month’s kidnapping of 10 workers by suspected Boko Haram rebels. (VOA http://bit.ly/1lLUi1O)

Thousands of people have fled their homes in northern Liberia following an invasion of caterpillars – which have overtaken houses and schools, destroyed crops and contaminated water sources. (VOA http://bit.ly/1lLUldX)

A Sudanese woman on death row for refusing to renounce her Christian faith had her sentence canceled and was ordered released by a Khartoum court on Monday, the country’s official news agency, SUNA, reported. (VOA http://bit.ly/1lLUw9b)

South Africa’s AMCU union declared a five-month platinum strike “officially over” on Monday as thousands of miners roared their approval when leader Joseph Mathunjwa asked if they wanted to end the longest work stoppage in the country’s history. (VOA http://bit.ly/1lLUL4a)

Residents of the Central African Republic city of Bambari say that a militia attacked a nearby Muslim village and killed 18 of its inhabitants. (AP http://apne.ws/ToTl32)

At least 20 people were killed in inter-clan violence in northern Kenya on Sunday, the police said, further destabilising one of Kenya’s most volatile regions. (Reuters http://bit.ly/1rrgUEj)

Two million children under five die each year in central and western Africa, accounting for almost a third of all deaths worldwide in that age range, the UN children’s agency said. (AP http://yhoo.it/1rrh7qZ)

The first-ever United Nations Environmental Assembly is underway in Nairobi, Kenya, where more than 150 high-level delegations are addressing environmental sustainability challenges. (AP http://yhoo.it/1nYynmv)

MENA

Middle East analyst Nezar al-Sayyad said US Secretary of State John Kerry’s call on Egypt’s new leaders to embrace democracy and press freedom may fall on deaf ears because Egyptians do not seem to be interested. (VOA http://bit.ly/1rraVix)

A group of Egyptian human rights activists is calling on the United Nations to send a fact-finding mission to Egypt to investigate human rights violations against women, including sexual abuse and rape. (VOA http://bit.ly/1lLUf5Z)

The international chemical weapons watchdog charged with ridding Syria of its stockpile says it has received the last of the country’s toxic chemicals identified for removal. (VOA http://bit.ly/1rrbWXX)

Non-state armed groups in Syria have used children as young as 15 to fight in battles, sometimes recruiting them under the guise of offering education. (Humano Rights Watch http://bit.ly/1rrfQAf)

Asia

A Thai police general has announced he will give cash rewards to those turning in photos or videos of anyone illegally expressing a political stance. (VOA http://bit.ly/1lLU4HX)

Sri Lanka’s government should take action to prosecute acts of communal violence and promote peace, say observers, following the worst clashes in five years that left at least two dead and over 80 injured. (IRIN http://bit.ly/1rrewx7)

A shortage of viable evacuation centres in areas hit by Typhoon Haiyan has humanitarians and officials in the Philippines concerned that survivors will not have alternative accommodation in case of another one. (IRIN http://bit.ly/1rreJk3)

A mine in China, where people have worked for decades, leaves a nearby village poisoned by arsenic and hundreds of residents stricken with cancer. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1nYzsL8)

The Americas

The World Health Organization says it found a strain of the polio virus at an international airport in Brazil in March, but there are no human cases. (BBC http://bbc.in/1lLVrqf)

The Argentine government publishes an advert in US newspapers denouncing the recent US Supreme Court ruling in favour of hedge fund investors holding its defaulted bonds. (BBC http://bbc.in/1lLW0QJ)

Starting this fall, 25 percent of all US hospitals — those with the worst records for infections and injuries — will lose 1 percent of every Medicare payment for a year. (NPR http://n.pr/1rrg4ak)

Opinion/Blogs

The Good and Bad News in the Fight Against Polio (UN Dispatch http://bit.ly/Tp8tNU)

Oxfam tweet stirs UK controversy for being too political (Humanosphere http://bit.ly/Tp9s0D)

Analysis: Looking beyond IGAD in South Sudan (IRIN http://bit.ly/1lLVwdo)

Eastern DRC: Stop Fixating on Conflict Minerals (Think Africa Press http://bit.ly/1rreFAR)

Somaliland’s leading lady for women’s rights: ‘It is time for men to step up’ (Guardian http://bit.ly/1lLVXED)

Transforming Development: Tackling sexual violence in war needs gender justice in peace too (IDS http://bit.ly/1nYze6E)

Is China’s Anticorruption Crackdown Really a Crackdown on Anticorruption Activists? (Global Anticorruption Blog http://bit.ly/Tp8jpY)

Pacific women and contraceptive use: what are the barriers? (DevPolicy http://bit.ly/Tp8O32)

Using Knowledge to Fight Poverty in Africa (AfricaCan End Poverty http://bit.ly/Tp9lST)

Research/Reports
Landmine ban success reaps results; strict adherence, rapid clearance, and assistance for victims remain crucial (Campaign to Ban Landmines http://bit.ly/1rrfE3X)

Nepal Launches Joint Migration and Development Initiative Project

Nepal – The Joint Migration and Development Initiatives (JMDI) project, funded by the European Commission and the Swiss Development Cooperation, was launched in Nepal’s capital Kathmandu today (24/6).

The USD 9.5 million programme is led by the UNDP in partnership with IOM, UNHCR, ILO, UNFPA and UN Women, and is being implemented in Nepal, Morocco, Senegal, Tunisia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador and the Philippines. Oxfam and Pravasi Nepali Coordination Committee (PNCC) were chosen as local partners in Nepal.

The programme operates within Nepal’s UN Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF) 2013-2017, in collaboration with the Ministry of Labour and Employment and the Ministry of Federal Affairs and Local Development (MoFALD.)

Joint Secretary of the Ministry of Labour and Employment Buddhi Bahadur Khadka said: “The Government of Nepal is very keen to address the issue, as the JMDI rightly highlights the link between migration and development, which is crucial in Nepal.”

Some two million Nepalese live and work outside Nepal and this figure excludes India. Remittances account for some 25 percent of Nepal’s GDP. Every year, around 450,000 young people enter the labor market, but there are few opportunities for decent jobs.

Head of the European Union (EU) Delegation to Nepal Ambassador Rensje Teerink said: “The EU recognizes the indispensable role that migration can play in contributing to development. In securing the positive impacts of migration, it is necessary to continue developing people-centered support mechanisms that provide for effective high-quality services to migrants.”

Advisor on the Migration and Development from the Swiss Development Cooperation Barbara Weyermann emphasized the enormous social and economic impact of labour migration, while noting that the migrants and their respective governments have not yet fully realized the potential for development through investment of remittances and through the experiences and skills that migrants acquire abroad.

“This is why Switzerland co-funds the JMDI. With its support to innovative project ideas, JMDI will add to the growing body of knowledge as to how migrants and governments can be encouraged to see migration as a positive contribution to poverty reduction and local development,” she noted.

The first phase of the JMDI, which lasted from 2008 until 2012, implemented migration and development initiatives from civil society organizations (CSOs) in 16 target countries. The findings of the JMDI stressed the importance of strategic partnerships between CSOs and governments at decentralized levels.

The second phase of JMDI running through 2013-2015 targets local authorities, as well as CSOs that have a stake in local development and migration. IOM Nepal is the anchor agency for the JMDI implementation. The PNCC and Oxfam have been selected to scale up their activities in Nepal with a budget of some USD 500,000.

 IOM Chief of Mission, Maurizio Busatti noted: “In today’s globalized world there is no single country not affected by migration, whether as a country of origin, transit or destination and sometimes all of them. Migration can be a powerful lever for development, through and beyond remittances flows and this is a key challenge and an opportunity that Nepal should rise up to. I believe that the JMDI with its heavy stress on local development is an important step in the right direction.”

For information on the JMDI, please visit www.migration4development.org

Or contact IOM Nepal

Maurizio Busatti
Email: mbusatti@iom.int
Tel. +977 1 4426250

or

Moheindu Chemjong
Email: mchemjong@iom.int

Top UN humanitarian official urges greater effort to foresee, prevent crises

23 June 2014 – While the United Nations and its partners continued over the past year to meet the needs of an ever-increasing number of desperate people – from Syria to the Central African Republic, the Philippines and beyond – the world body’s Emergency Coordinator today called for “a new [humanitarian] business model” – one that manages risks rather than deals with crises.

“It is becoming clearer with every large-scale crisis and with the protracted nature of others, that the way we have been doing business is not sustainable,” said Valerie Amos, who is also the UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs.

Ms. Amos made this stark observation in a wide-ranging address in New York kicking off the UN Economic and Social Council’s (ECOSOC) three-day Humanitarian Affairs segment, an annual platform for Member States, UN agencies, humanitarian and development partners, the private sector and affected communities to discuss new and pressing humanitarian issues.

The theme of this year’s meeting is: “The future of humanitarian affairs: Towards greater inclusiveness, coordination, interoperability and effectiveness.”

“International humanitarian assistance is at a crossroads. The way we work must change,” declared Ms. Amos, noting that more and more people are affected by crises that are increasingly complex and protracted. Moreover, the cost of responding to these crises is escalating rapidly.

Against such a backdrop, she called for greater action to foresee emergencies, prevent them and mitigate their effects. “And we need to do more to address the underlying drivers of conflict and protect people in the midst of them,” she added.

Ms. Amos drew the Council’s attention to the conflicts in Syria, Central African Republic and South Sudan and the widening crisis in Iraq as examples of the urgent for humanitarian assistance, saying that such crises, as well as devastating natural disasters, will continue to proliferate and to worsen due to factors such as growth population, poverty and the effects of climate change.

She said the post-2015 sustainable development agenda, the UN World Summit on Disaster Reduction to be held in 2015 asn well as the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), among other forums, offer opportunities to consider these challenges and designing new ways of working in humanitarian aid.

In addition, the discussions this week in ECOSOC also would also provide an opportunity to address these crucial issues, including, among others, the necessary changes in the delivery of humanitarian aid, note Ms. Amos.

Alarm over post-Haiyan evacuation centre shortage

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Shelter both in ruin and at risk

MANILA, 23 June 2014 (IRIN) – A shortage of viable evacuation centres in areas hit by Typhoon Haiyan (locally named Yolanda) has humanitarians and officials in the Philippines concerned that survivors will not have alternative accommodation in case of another one. The typhoon season usually lasts from June to November.

“We urgently need to identify alternative evacuation centres,” said Conrad Navidad, emergency preparedness and response coordinator for the International Organization for Migration (IOM), a global humanitarian agency.

Haiyan, the category 5 super-typhoon that barrelled through central Philippines in November 2013, damaged or destroyed more than one million homes across an area roughly the size of Portugal, affecting more than five million people.

An IOM survey in 10 of the most affected towns in Eastern Samar and Samar, the two provinces hardest-hit by Haiyan, showed that only 53 of the 634 of pre-Haiyan evacuation centres identified by the government could be used in the event of another typhoon.

An estimated three million people have received emergency shelter assistance in the form of tents and tarpaulins, while about 675,000 received building and roofing materials to rebuild their own homes.

But two million people remain at risk without durable shelter, and experts fear the shortage of evacuation centres could make the next major storm even more dangerous.

Designated evacuation centres

Philippine laws mandate Local Government Units to identify or erect potential evacuation centres in the event of disaster. Public buildings such as churches, public schools and town halls have traditionally been designated as evacuation centres.

According to IOM data, there are 415 evacuation centres that are unusable due to Haiyan’s damage and in need of repair, and 166 have been totally destroyed and will have to be rebuilt.

To address the situation, humanitarian organizations and local government authorities are scrambling to find “multi-solutions” to cover projected requirements for shelter and other needs in case of another catastrophic typhoon.

“We are moving those still living in tents and in danger zones to transitional sites and shelters,” said Navidad. “For those who cannot transfer to transitional sites yet, we are doing evacuation planning and identifying alternative evacuation centres.”

Private and public concrete buildings that are three or four stories high and at least 40 meters away from water zones – areas likely to flood – are being assessed by the government as possible alternative evacuation centres. Legally speaking, private building owners will still need to permit their building to be used as evacuation centres in the event of a disaster.

“Tents that have been used to house the displaced also need to be replaced,” said Navidad, noting that SPHERE shelter standards – global guidelines for humanitarian response quality – say tents should only be used for a period of three months.

The search is on for future evacuation centres

Aid organizations and local governments are also reviewing evacuation plans and conducting drills to inform residents about alternative evacuation centres, and prepare them in the event of another emergency. “Our [immediate] goal now is to save lives,” said Navidad.

Shelter crisis

“We are working with aid agencies and local governments to fast-track permanent shelter for those displaced in the 53 municipalities affected by Yolanda,” said Nestor Ramos, regional director of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) .

He said the DSWD has already begun preparing for another emergency by stockpiling food and pre-positioning supplies for the affected areas in the region.

“Our challenge is a combination of many factors. There is the large number of affected families left without shelter, and the lack of resources available to rebuild structures,” Ramos said.

In the wake of Haiyan, the lack of building materials, such as corrugated sheets for roofing, was identified as an urgent need of the five million typhoon survivors.

“There was not enough supply of building materials then,” said Ramos. “We had to bring in everything from other areas in the Philippines or from outside. Now, it is still not enough.” Officials expect the shelter crisis to continue beyond 2014.

The weather bureau of the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAG-ASA) has been monitoring the onset of El Niño, which brings warmer than usual temperatures in the ocean surface to the central and eastern equatorial Pacific, and could cause prolonged dry spells and intensified cyclones in the region.

Surviving so far

In Guiuan, a city in Eastern Samar province where Haiyan first made landfall, there is still one tent city with 128 families in need of permanent shelter. “We cannot recover right away and cannot say we are 100 percent prepared. But [this area has] already been hit by four other typhoons since Yolanda and we’ve been okay,” said Guiuan mayor Christopher Gonzales.

The Philippines is one of the most disaster-prone countries in the world, with an average 20 typhoons each year. Since Yolanda struck in November 2013, six typhoons have hit the island nation.

Typhoon Agaton, which affected parts of Guiuan, killed 45 people and displaced 245,000.

“We’re doing the best we can, with what we have,” said Gonzales. “We can only hope for the best and continue with prayers.”.

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