French, Chinese Oil Companies Sign Agreements in Rat Race to Build East African Crude Oil Pipeline



Back in 2006, the East African country of Uganda made one of the biggest oil discoveries after crude oil reserves were unveiled in the Albertine Rift basin. The finding resulted in a race to secure projects related to these resources that have the ability to turn East Africa into a major international oil player.

Uganda, Tanzania, French-owned oil company Total, and the China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) have all signed three agreements which will invest $3.5 billion into a 1,445-kilometer pipeline. It will run from western Uganda’s oil fields to the Tanzanian port of Tanga.

The East African Crude Oil pipeline (EACOP), which is expected to commence in 2025, will cost around $10 billion and is expected to produce nearly 220,000 barrels of crude oil per day at an estimated $13.30 per barrel. EACOP is cited to be the world’s largest heated oil pipeline and production, which is scheduled to begin this year, is purported to result in the establishment of 10,000 jobs.

“The Tilenga development and EACOP pipeline project are major projects for Total and are consistent with our strategy to focus on low breakeven oil projects while lowering the average carbon intensity of the Group’s upstream portfolio. These projects will create significant in-country value for both Uganda and Tanzania,” Patrick Pouyanné, chairman and chief executive officer of Total, said in a statement.

The pipeline was originally planned to run through Kenya as it would provide a cheaper route. The presidents of Uganda and Kenya designed a route in 2015 that would end at the port of Lamu on the Indian Ocean, with officials even going as far as signing a preliminary agreement.

However, in 2020, Tullow, an Irish oil and gas company that was the majority stakeholder in the pipeline, sold their Uganda share to Total. In what was considered a security concern, Total worried about the Lamu route being too close to the border of Somalia and perceived exposure to attacks from Al-Shabaab, an Islamist militant group based in East Africa and Yemen.

After the discovery of a vast quantity of natural gas off the coast of northern Mozambique in 2010, a race to secure oil resources in East Africa began. Total, as well as the US-based ExxonMobil and Italy’s Eni, have secured investments in the development of Mozambique’s oil resources, including the Mozambique Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) project.

Attacks from the Al-Shabaab group have targeted projects related to the oil company’s developments, which led to the government of Mozambique in August 2020 signing a security pack with Total and ExxonMobil to support the continued development of the LNG project.

As recently as March 2021, Al-Shabaab attacked a town in Cabo Delgado, the northern province of Mozambique where the project was set to resume, causing Total to withdraw its employees and force delays on the project. 

Environmentalists have also shown resistance to the rise in oil-based projects in East Africa. Citing risks to the Uganda-Tanzania pipeline, activists claim developments will lead to the physical and economic displacement of people in both countries, as well as destroy 2,000 square kilometers of the ecosystem. 

Several civil society organizations across both East African countries have co-signed a letter which states that Total and CNOOC failed to address the environmental concerns, steamrolling over the court and parliamentary processes.

Earlier this month, more than 260 African and international organizations sent an open letter to 25 different commercial banks, urging them not to finance the construction of the pipeline. According to The Guardian, Total has since said they had undertaken an environmental and social risk assessment and mitigations strategies in relation to the project.

“Total is also taking into the highest consideration the sensitive environmental context and social stakes of these onshore projects. Our commitment is to implement these projects in an exemplary and fully transparent manner,” Pouyanné has said in response to the concerns.

In reports from the Guardian, Robert Kasande, permanent secretary at Uganda’s ministry of energy and mineral development also commented saying, “We are very mindful of the environment that we work in. It’s a very sensitive ecosystem. So we have put everything that we need to do in place.” 

“These resources that are going to be coming into the country are going to be a huge boost to this economy,” he added.

In wake of the deal, Tanzanian President Samia Suluhu Hassan pledged on Monday to strengthen cooperation with the World Bank in the East African country’s goal for economic development during talks with Mara Warwick, the World Bank’s country director for Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

The pipeline will take about three years to build, and the hope is that it will unlock billions of dollars into the economy of both Uganda and Tanzania, setting East Africa up to be a new international oil tycoon.



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‘Start Making Babies Or You’ll Be Cleaning Chinese Boots’


A recent discussion of the Russian demographic crisis on Russia’s top talk show.

Transcript below:

TRANSCRIPT

– People don’t understand that the Church offers them actual salvation because, in 30 years, you’ll be cleaning Chinese boots, and work as taxi drivers just like our nobility did in Paris during a certain historical period. Our dukes and counts spoke several languages but couldn’t find a better job. I could imagine the job those who’ll be lucky to survive will have.

– You’re an optimist. You have a pretty optimistic worldview.

– Well, I’m an informed optimist. Our population is falling. We’re approaching another demographic crisis. Our replacement rate will soon be 1.2-1.3 again. We’ll be losing a million people per year, despite all calls to resurrect the Russian family. It should be seven or eight children on an average. On average! Mendeleev (the famous scientist), for example, was the 17th child. That’s how it should be. Yes, some families may not have kids but we need a high average, otherwise, we won’t survive. We won’t even preserve our 140-million population by 2100. You see?

– That’s quite sad, Father Dmitry.

– I’m sorry, but that’s the truth. Sometimes, the truth is bitter. And it’s not just the task of the President. Every Russian should do his part if he wants his grandkids inherit Russia and not some other state with some other people. As soon as we grow weak the country will plunge into demonic chaos.

– So one shouldn’t underestimate the role of the Church?

– The Church plays a key role. I was reading lectures in the General Staff Academy when a General approached me. He said: “Now I see that nobody cares about us except for the Church. True patriotism is found only inside the church.” Because the Church is the guardian of Russian history.


Dmitry Smirnov is one of the best known priests in Russia and has a very large following. He is ubiquitous on television, radio, and YouTube, where his videos frequently get 100s of 1000s of views on his channel. (Russian only).

He is a brilliant public speaker and excellent at debate, known for his sharp wit and quick comebacks. He is especially loved for his sermons, which are all on his YouTube channel, and is by far the most popular preacher in Russia.

He is a leading Russian anti-abortion activist, very outspoken in his criticism of LGBT, and an advocate of home-schooling. He heads the Russian Church’s Committee for Family, Motherhood, and Children, and loudly insists that Russians start having large families of four or more children, or else they will be overrun by Moslems.

You can see all of the article we have published about him here. His website has links to his audio podcasts and all his media appearances.

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Car crashes into Chinese restaurant in Sutherland Shire


Witnesses are counting themselves lucky no-one was badly injured when a car smashed through the front of a restaurant in Sydney’s Sutherland Shire.

The owner of the neighbouring pizza shop said he thought there were about 30 people, including a group of older people, eating at the Ding Hao Chinese Restaurant when the car went through the window about 7.30pm on Friday.

“Mate I was in there making pizzas and all of a sudden I just heard this bang crash and it was like ‘what the hell was that?'” Pizza League owner Vince Talotta told 9News.

“Next thing I see everybody running. Everybody in the restaurant just ran outside

“Never seen anything like it. Not here.”

There were reports the driver, an older woman, was taken to hospital but neither police nor paramedics were able to provide details of any injuries.

Mr Talotta said it appeared the driver had confused the accelerator and the brake, smashing through the shopfront and missing a table by “that much”.

Vince Talotta speaks to 9News. (9News)

He said the lady and some of the older patrons in the restaurant were “pretty shaken up” but it was lucky no-one had been walking past at the time.

Police investigate the aftermath. (9News)

“It was just so loud eh. I just seen materials, like glass and stuff fly across our shop and I’m thinking ‘what the hell’s just happened there?'”.

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Titanic: Searching for the ‘missing’ Chinese survivors



When the luxurious British passenger ship Titanic sank into the Atlantic Ocean in April 1912, thousands of people fell into the frigid waters.

Only one of the lifeboats that escaped the sinking ship turned back to search for potential survivors. In the darkness, the rescuers found a young Chinese man clinging to a wooden door, shivering but still alive.

That man was Fang Lang, one of six Chinese survivors of the Titanic, and his rescue would go on to inspire a famous scene in the 1997 Hollywood blockbuster Titanic.

But their miraculous survival was not the end of their ordeal.

Within 24 hours of their arrival at the immigrant inspection station in Ellis Island, New York, they were expelled from the country because of the Chinese Exclusion Act, a controversial law that barred the immigration of Chinese people into the US.

The six men disappeared from history – until now. A documentary film that has just premiered in China, The Six, shines a spotlight on their identities and lives, 109 years after the doomed voyage.

It uncovers a tale beyond the Titanic, a story shaped by racial discrimination and anti-immigration policy that has taken on particular resonance today following recent anti-Asian abuse in the US.

The men were identified as Lee Bing, Fang Lang, Chang Chip, Ah Lam, Chung Foo and Ling Hee. They were believed to be sailors heading to the Caribbean for work.

“As a group of people together, they are uniquely unknown,” Arthur Jones, British filmmaker and the director of The Six, tells the BBC.

The Chinese survivors’ names were on the ship’s passenger list, and news articles covering the Titanic’s sinking briefly mentioned them.

But unlike other Titanic survivors who received praise in the press, the Chinese men were vilified due to the anti-Chinese sentiment in the West in the early 20th Century, according to historians and researchers.

In a report filed days after the sinking, for instance, The Brooklyn Daily Eagle called the Chinese survivors “creatures” who had sprung into the lifeboats “at the first sign of danger” and concealed themselves beneath the seats.

But the documentary production team’s research showed this claim was untrue.

They built a replica of the Titanic’s lifeboat and found that it would have been impossible for the Chinese men to hide unseen. “I think we see the same thing today. We find immigrants [were] scapegoated by the press,” Mr Jones says.

Other media coverage at the time accused the Chinese men of having dressed as women in order to get priority to board the lifeboats.

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Chinese government fines Alibaba $3.7 billion for anti-competitive behaviour



Chinese regulators have fined Alibaba Group, the world’s biggest e-commerce company, 18.3 billion yuan ($3.7 billion) for anti-competitive tactics.

The State Administration for Market Regulation on Saturday announced Alibaba was fined for “abusing its dominant position” to limit competition by retailers that use its platforms and hindering “free circulation” of goods.

It said the fine was equal to 4 per cent of Alibaba’s total 2019 revenue.

It promised to “operate in accordance with the law with utmost diligence”.

China’s ruling Communist Party is concerned about the dominance of the country’s biggest internet companies, which are expanding into finance, health services and other sensitive areas.

The party says anti-monopoly enforcement, especially in tech, is a priority this year.

Fine another setback for Jack Ma

The move is a new setback for Alibaba and its billionaire founder, Jack Ma, following a November decision by regulators to suspend the stock market debut of Ant Group, a finance platform spun off from the e-commerce giant.

It would have been the world’s biggest initial public stock offering last year.

Mr Ma, one of China’s richest and most prominent entrepreneurs, disappeared temporarily from public view after criticising regulators in a November speech.

That was followed days later by the Ant Group suspension, though finance specialists said regulators already had been worried Ant lacked adequate financial risk controls.

Alibaba, launched in 1999, operates retail, business-to-business and consumer-to-consumer platforms.

It has expanded at a breakneck pace into financial services, film production and other fields.

China cracking down on market monopolies

The government issued anti-monopoly guidelines in February aimed at preventing anti-competitive practices such as exclusive agreements with merchants and use of subsidies to squeeze out competitors.

The next month, 12 companies including Tencent Holdings, which operates games and the popular WeChat messaging service, were fined the equivalent of $100,000 each on charges of failing to disclose previous acquisitions and other deals.

Regulators said in December they were looking into possibly anti-competitive tactics by Alibaba including a policy dubbed “choose one of two” which requires business partners to avoid dealing with its competitors.

Also in December, regulators announced executives of Alibaba, its main competitor, JD.com, and four other internet companies were summoned to a meeting and warned not to use their market dominance to keep out new competitors.

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Alibaba: Chinese regulator slaps huge fine on tech giant



The e-commerce company Alibaba Group is fined $2.75bn for violating anti-monopoly rules.

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The 10 craziest Chinese buildings


GUANGZHOU CIRCLE

Housing a plastics company and trading centre, this wheel-like building looks as if it’s about to roll into the muddy Pearl River. It’s the world’s tallest circular building and, unlike many others, its central hole is open to the air. Some compare it to ancient jade discs and Chinese coins, others note river reflections produce the lucky number eight. It must be working: $38 billion of plastics are traded here annually. See gz.gov.cn

OLYMPIC GREEN, BEIJING

Relive the spirit of the 2008 Beijing Olympics with a visit to Olympic Green, where you get a double whammy of whacky architecture. The National Stadium (aka Bird’s Nest) looks as if it was built by crazed storks, while the eye-popping National Aquatics Centre (aka Water Cube) appears to be covered in bubble wrap. It now houses a water theme park where you can swim beneath giant suspended jellyfish. See n-s.cn and water-cube.com

TEAPOT BUILDING, WUXI

Wuxi is a major tourist town and ancient trading port on the lower Yangtze near Shanghai, but particularly known to the Chinese as a source of red clay teapots. What better shape, therefore, than a 15th-century teapot for the 10-storey edifice housing the tourist information office? The building, which was funded by a local billionaire, is made from steel covered in aluminium sheets and stained glass, and can rotate 360 degrees. See wuxi.gov.cn

CCTV HEADQUARTERS, BEIJING

This 44-storey building – is it one building bent over, or two joined together? – resembles a strange gateway or Mobius strip or, according to detractors, a giant pair of boxer shorts. Its radical shape and huge cantilever were a huge structural challenge considering its location in an earthquake zone. It looks best at night when illuminated in appealing, somewhat muted colours, over which its structural black tubing zigzags. See cctv.com

STARSHIP ENTERPRISE, CHANGLE

You probably have to see this building from the air to appreciate it looks just like the USS Enterprise, even if it’s officially known as the Sunny Heaven Building. Built by a Star Trek fan with far too much money in order to house his gaming company, the homage stops in the interior, which is a regular office building. It’s the only officially licensed Star Trek building in the world. See netdragon.com

HOT SPRING RESORT, HUZHOU

Designed by the appropriately named MAD Architects, this Sheraton hotel rises beside Taihu Lake, a two-hour drive from Shanghai, like a giant doughnut, though it’s actually supposed to reference classical humpback bridges. At night, LED lights on its exterior provide ever-changing, multi-coloured patterns that make the hotel glow and provide marvellous reflections in the lake water. The resort comprises suites, villas and a spa village served by hot springs. See starwoodhotels.com

ALIEN EGG, BEIJING

It’s not hard to see why the National Centre for Performing Arts is nicknamed “the Giant Egg”, or as Beijingers call it, “Alien Egg”, though it’s a flattened egg, perhaps more resembling a water droplet. The giant ovoid is covered in titanium on one half and glass on the other, and rises out of an artificial lake that creates near-perfect reflections, best appreciated at night under spotlights. It’s reached via an underwater corridor with glass ceilings that provide rippling light. See chncpa.org

ORDOS MUSEUM, KANGBASHI

This brand-new museum in Inner Mongolia is said to be inspired by the Gobi Desert, though the Gobi Desert doesn’t appear to have any other huge polished metal blobs lying about. The facade is covered in metal louvres, dispensing with the need for windows and reflecting the surroundings so that the blob sometimes seems to merge into the landscape. The light-filled interior has sinuous shapes and feels like walking through an Arizona canyon. See zxm.nmgtour.gov.cn

LOTUS BUILDING, WUJIN

We have Aussie architects Studio 505 to thank for one of China’s most beautiful weird buildings, a series of three lotus blossoms of graded pinks and purples and an interior as flooded with light and colour as a contemporary cathedral. The complex houses municipal buildings and a conference centre, some of it partly hidden beneath the lake. Changing facade colours make this a popular local spot for an evening stroll. See cnto.org

PIANO-AND-VIOLIN BUILDING, HUAINAN

Now that you think about it, what better place for a rehearsal and performance space for music students than a couple of giant musical instruments? The glass violin forms the atrium and houses stairs and escalators, while the piano body hides the useful parts of the building. There’s a roof terrace under the open lid. The music students have gone, sadly, and this is now a showroom for city development plans. Whatever next? See ah.gov.cn

Brian Johnston travelled as a guest of tourism offices and at his own expense.

See also: Ten of the weirdest shaped hotels

See also: Ten amazing, giant buildings you’ve never heard of



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Paraguay Says Chinese Brokers Offered Vaccines for Diplomatic Recognition – The Diplomat


China Power | Diplomacy

Paraguay’s foreign ministry said brokers offered doses of Chinese COVID-19 vaccines in exchange for the country breaking its diplomatic ties with Taiwan.

People holding the flags of Taiwan and Paraguay welcome Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen in Paraguay, Aug. 14, 2018.

Credit: Office of the President, ROC (Taiwan)

Paraguay’s foreign ministry said this week it had been approached by brokers claiming to offer batches of Chinese-made COVID-19 vaccine in exchange for the country cutting its diplomatic ties with Taiwan.

The ministry said in a statement the “intermediaries and other private figures” who offered the deal “had no official status, and their legitimacy or links with the government of the People’s Republic of China has not been proved.”

The Chinese government has denied a role in the alleged deal, which would represent the most brazen effort yet by Beijing to conduct “vaccine diplomacy” – offering early access to vaccine doses in exchange for favorable political or economic concessions.

Paraguay is one of Taiwan’s 15 official diplomatic allies and the only remaining Taiwanese ally in South America. In recent years, China has wooed its neighboring countries with promises of large infrastructure loans and investments, making offers of cash assistance Taiwan is unable to match.

Taiwan has managed to retain its relationship with Paraguay by deepening economic ties and emphasizing the similarities between the two – both small countries used to being bullied by big neighbors.

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Paraguay’s foreign ministry did not react kindly to the alleged Chinese brokers, saying “the distressing humanitarian situation caused by the pandemic should not be used… to pursue a political or economic aim.”

Paraguay has recently been gripped by street protests due to public anger over the government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Last week, thousands protested in the capital of Asuncion due to a spike in coronavirus cases and a dearth of available intensive care beds and medicine.

Taiwan, in response to those protests, offered to help Paraguay buy COVID-19 vaccines to begin inoculating its population.

Days earlier, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken urged Paraguay to work with Taiwan as it combats the pandemic. The U.S. State Department said Blinken spoke on March 14 to Paraguayan President Mario Abdo, whom protesters have demanded be impeached.

Earlier this month, Paraguay’s Senate approved a declaration of support to use $12.8 million given by Taiwan for a housing development project to procure 2 million vaccine doses.

Taiwan Foreign Minister Joseph Wu said this week any funds given to Paraguay by Taiwan cannot be used to buy vaccines manufactured in China.

“One of the conditions is that Chinese vaccines cannot be bought. Or, if you buy Chinese vaccines, then you cannot use our Taiwanese money,” Wu said.

Paraguay Foreign Minister Euclides Acevedo said his country would not accept vaccine deals with political or legal conditions, such as breaking ties with Taiwan.

The Chinese government has denied all involvement in the alleged scheme. Hua Chunying, China’s foreign ministry spokesperson, said without evidence the reports were part of a disinformation campaign originating in Taiwan.

China may have more opportunities for “vaccine diplomacy” in the months to come. Lower-income countries continue to struggle to secure doses while wealthy nations hoard excess vaccines, a practice which experts say could extend the pandemic’s lifespan by years.

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Chinese tourists discovered it, now locals are flocking to Sea Lake


Before tourism took off in Sea Lake the town’s future appeared bleak as businesses folded and locals worried there was little to keep young people from being lured to bigger population centres.

Julie Pringle near painted silos. Credit:Jason South

Sea Lake has also joined the silo art trail, helping to consolidate its place on the local travel circuit.

A group of locals banded together to rescue the Royal Hotel on the main street. A range of accommodation is now available and houses have sold so they can be listed on AirBnB.

Local farmer and tourism business operator Rohan Mott found a niche with domestic travellers after opening a gallery displaying photographs of Lake Tyrrell.

Mr Mott had already been running a successful accommodation business for a couple of years. But he concedes the decision to open the gallery in 2020 may have seemed a little odd.

“A lot of people looked at us and thought ‘what the hell are you doing? Why would you have a gallery in Sea Lake’?” he says.

But Mr Mott says he saw an “opportunity greater than international tourists” for the town.

“It’s where I live, where my kids are growing up. I want them to be proud of where they’re growing up.”

Mr Mott says finding staff to work is now among his biggest problems but he is still planning to install a kitchen in the gallery so he can add a cafe.

Farmer Rohan Mott on Lake Tyrrell at dawn.

Farmer Rohan Mott on Lake Tyrrell at dawn. Credit:Jason South

“We think this is a sustainable industry and certainly has growth potential.”

Buloke Shire mayor Daryl Warren says tourism is now picking up across the Mallee region after the extended lockdown delivered a heavy blow for tourism businesses last year.

“It kicked them hard,” he says.

But he believes communities are “cautiously optimistic” that domestic tourism will continue and the signs so far are positive.

“Caravans are everywhere,” he says. “People are out and about.”

And Cr Warren says real estate agents are reporting they cannot get enough houses to sell while some young people who left the region are starting to move back.

But he credits local tourists with helping to preserve Sea Lake’s tourism-based economy.

“It’s the Victorians who kept it going once we came out of hard lockdown.”

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Chinese tourists discovered it, now locals are flocking to Sea Lake


Before tourism took off in Sea Lake the town’s future appeared bleak as businesses folded and locals worried there was little to keep young people from being lured to bigger population centres.

Julie Pringle near painted silos. Credit:Jason South

Sea Lake has also joined the silo art trail, helping to consolidate its place on the local travel circuit.

A group of locals banded together to rescue the Royal Hotel on the main street. A range of accommodation is now available and houses have sold so they can be listed on AirBnB.

Local farmer and tourism business operator Rohan Mott found a niche with domestic travellers after opening a gallery displaying photographs of Lake Tyrrell.

Mr Mott had already been running a successful accommodation business for a couple of years. But he concedes the decision to open the gallery in 2020 may have seemed a little odd.

“A lot of people looked at us and thought ‘what the hell are you doing? Why would you have a gallery in Sea Lake’?” he says.

But Mr Mott says he saw an “opportunity greater than international tourists” for the town.

“It’s where I live, where my kids are growing up. I want them to be proud of where they’re growing up.”

Mr Mott says finding staff to work is now among his biggest problems but he is still planning to install a kitchen in the gallery so he can add a cafe.

Farmer Rohan Mott on Lake Tyrrell at dawn.

Farmer Rohan Mott on Lake Tyrrell at dawn. Credit:Jason South

“We think this is a sustainable industry and certainly has growth potential.”

Buloke Shire mayor Daryl Warren says tourism is now picking up across the Mallee region after the extended lockdown delivered a heavy blow for tourism businesses last year.

“It kicked them hard,” he says.

But he believes communities are “cautiously optimistic” that domestic tourism will continue and the signs so far are positive.

“Caravans are everywhere,” he says. “People are out and about.”

And Cr Warren says real estate agents are reporting they cannot get enough houses to sell while some young people who left the region are starting to move back.

But he credits local tourists with helping to preserve Sea Lake’s tourism-based economy.

“It’s the Victorians who kept it going once we came out of hard lockdown.”

Start your day informed

Our Morning Edition newsletter is a curated guide to the most important and interesting stories, analysis and insights. Sign up here.

Most Viewed in National

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#Chinese #tourists #discovered #locals #flocking #Sea #Lake



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