For more information, please visit the link 👇
- its cooperation with the Georgian government,
- fraudulent activities related to Georgian and foreign tender procedures,
- malfunctions of its security equipment,
- corruption scandals worldwide.
Back then, our team has already stressed out the high-security risks threatening the national security of those states, where Nuctech has operated.
For more information, please visit the link 👇
The Lebanese Center for Policy Studies (LCPS) in partnership with the National Democratic Institute would like to invite you to a hybrid roundtable discussion on:
Anti-Corruption in Practice: Exploring Symbiotic Dynamics Between the NACC, Civil Society and Investigative Journalists
Date: Friday, November 25, 2022
Where: Online, Zoom (Zoom link will be sent after the closing of registration)
Time: 15:00 – 17:00
Language: English and Arabic with simultaneous interpretation
Registration deadline: Thursday, November 24, 2022 at 23:59
Organized by: Lebanese Center for Policy Studies
Moderated by: Ali Taha, Researcher at LCPS
In recent years, Lebanon has passed a number of anti-corruption laws such as on the right to access information, asset declaration and illicit enrichment. These reforms are nonetheless mere legal tools to achieve an arduous end that is accountability. Oversight bodies such as the newly appointed National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC), can serve as an enabling channel for the utilization of such legal tools in combating corruption, and guaranteeing transparency. The commission however has a long journey ahead of it, one that is fraught with all sorts of political, financial, and administrative challenges.
The discrepancy between the spread of corruption in Lebanon’s public sector, and the institutional resources that could be made available to it in times of fiscal austerity, lower expectations as to its effectiveness. Political pressure and meddling which have in the past curbed and nullified attempts at promoting accountability in government, also elicit similar cynicism. Although very real, these challenges do not justify a premature surrender of anti-corruption ambitions. Instead, civil society, investigative journalists and the public at large should play a proactive role to mitigate such challenges, by supporting and overseeing the work of the NACC.
This roundtable comes as a kickstarter for an essentially technical discussion, on the ideal dynamics that should govern the relation of the NACC with civil society organizations and investigative journalists. Specifically, how can they both support and oversee the commission, and using what tools?
Chairperson, Civic IDEA
Executive Director, LTA
Layal Bou Moussa
Investigative Journalist, Al Jadeed TV
Georgia is often “accused” of being an American project in Russia’s “Near Abroad” neighborhood. Tbilisi’s relation to Washington has been shielded from geopolitical developments, becoming an independent variable, even as Baku, Yerevan, Kyiv, Tehran, and Ankara’s US relations have been tested. Georgia has developed a partnership with the United States that permeates the Georgian state and society. Georgian institutions, strategic infrastructure, military culture, elite education, political and economic aspirations owe much to this strategic partnership. The foundations of this partnership were cemented during the first days of Georgian independence, while the guns were still smoking in the streets of Tbilisi.
Unlike the Soviet imperial world, in which Georgians were “a minority,” the United States emerged as an ally that did not require us to limit our aspirations. It is said that the United States is the only nation in the world whose identity is founded on an idea rather than common ancestry and uniform culture. “We find these truths to be self-evident,” as President Biden likes to underscore. This idea of limitless aspiration and self-realization is inclusive. If you have to pursue a dream, however unrealistic, it might as well be American.
I recall that President Shevardnadze made clear in no uncertain terms that “if Georgia navigated relatively safely the collapse and chaos after the Soviet Union dissolved and preserved its independence and sovereignty, that is because of American assistance!” Indeed, little American assistance went a long way in a small country like Georgia. In the 1990s and early 2000s, as America was building new bonds with “post-Soviet Eurasia”, we often came together to celebrate the American appetite to engage with our part of the world. While assistance packages were timid by American standards, their cumulative value was significant. Each million spent in “our part of the world” was a geopolitical commitment to all of us. In effect, the United States was sponsoring our aspirations rather than buying out our destiny (as I learned from US Ambassador Degnan, the US has provided Georgia with almost over $6 billion in assistance, as well as other support).
In 1998 the State Department invited me to a ceremony celebrating the first US $31 million Government assistance package to Uzbekistan. The host was Ambassador Richard Morningstar, Special Adviser to the President and the Secretary of State on Assistance to the New Independent States of the Former Soviet Union. The guest of honor was Hilary Clinton, the First Lady at the time but much more than that. The ceremony was opened by short emotional remarks of Ambassador Morningstar, followed by the First Lady’s eloquent tribute to America’s immense power and utmost generosity. Naturally, the Uzbek Ambassador and good friend, Sodiq Safoev, was the keynote speaker. To my horror, I was asked by Ambassador Morningstar to close the event with an impromptu speech. No diplomat likes to “think on his feet,” but it would be undiplomatic and unfriendly to say “no.”
Following Sodiq’s lead, I opened by thanking the US Government for its immeasurable assistance, later straying towards a more personal tone. By the way, personal is political. I talked about my son, Nika, who since 1994 (when we arrived in the US) grew into a typical American suburban teenager and was about to sit his final exams at Bethesda High School (BCC) in Washington DC. So, I added his American experience to the multi-billion-dollar package of US assistance that literally laid the foundations of the newly founded Republic of Georgia. And then I wondered whether Nika’s generation – or any generation thereafter – would ever repay the loan people of Georgia got from Washington. I wished that our country would grow into a state with a rule of law, irreversibly democratic, affluent, on its feet, substantially sovereign, and capable of paying back its debts. I was never afraid that my son would be “Americanized”: I knew that his American experience would enrich him without threatening his Georgian identity.
The point I made in my closing remarks of that afternoon event was that Nika’s debt and our collective “loan” were not merely financial but also moral. The Greenback is an international currency, but the generosity of the American taxpayer is very much national and personal. Washington is the capital of a nation with a mission in which no one is really a foreigner. Framing the issue at hand in these terms was appreciated; the thank you note I received from Ambassador Morningstar reassured me that I could still think effectively on my feet. But more importantly, the point I made then had lasting value: Georgia’s commitment to the United States was not countable; Nika’s American experience is part of his Georgian heritage.
At the end of September, right after Xi Jinping visited Central Asia, false information about a coup against him in China was spread all over social media. The emergence of these rumors was caused by thousands of canceled flights in China, Xi not showing up in public (in reality going through a mandatory quarantine after his international trip), and footage of military equipment moving towards Beijing. In fact, such information was not confirmed but labeled “wishful thinking” coming from Taiwan, Hong Kong, and elsewhere. One could believe that it is plausible for Xi Jinping to encounter the coup one day due to the mounting discontent of the Chinese elite following the economic and policy breakdowns. In fact, the country’s ruler, Xi Jinping, was found to have completely different plans that are far from facing a military coup and include making himself a supreme force in the country and ensuring China’s return to the list of the leading global powers after economic and political stagnation.
On October 16, the Chinese Communist Party is expected to hold the 20th National Congress in Beijing, where they will elect new leadership for the next five years, most probably abandoning the “Seven up, eight down” policy tradition and consolidating Xi Jinping’s power. Party congress will also address the most critical issues in the PRC, such as the declining economy, worsening relations with the US, and restrictions related to the Covid-19 pandemic. The congress will be attended by 2296 delegates representing ethnic minorities, women, and all provinces and regions. According to the Eurasia Group, with Xi securing the third term, he is expected to enhance the share of his political associates both in the 25-person Politburo and its Standing Committee. Wang Yang will likely remain the Chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, while Xi’s supporter members, Ding Xuexiang, Huang Kunming, Li Xi, Li Qiang, are expected to be promoted. Many people believe that congress has a symbolic weight, and the names of the leaders with their positions have already been agreed upon in advance. Besides those projected to be put forward, several political individuals keep close ties with Xi Jinping and will replace the retired ones. For instance, He Lifeng is anticipated to take the post of Vice Premier in charge of economic and financial affairs. The latter has worked with Xi in Fujian province and has accompanied him during almost all domestic or international trips. Miao Hua represents another example, becoming the Vice Chairman in charge of political affairs. Miao Hua, likewise He Lifeng, met Xi in Fujian and since then has served in PLA.
Accordingly, Xi Jinping has begun celebrating his stay in office. After completing the mandatory 10-day quarantine following his Central Asia tour, the Chinese leader took six colleagues and Politburo Standing Committee members to an exhibition dedicated to the achievements of his first two terms.
As stated by Financial Times, while two of Xi Jinping’s colleagues from the Politburo’s Standing Committee, Li Zhanshu and Han Zheng, are expected to step down due to their age, Xi may reduce the age limit even further, prompting the resignation of three other committee members. Premier Li Keqiang is among those three members. Li was considered Xi’s main rival before the latter was appointed a head of the party and the state and, accordingly, enjoyed great popularity among Xi’s critics. Nevertheless, Xi Jinping managed to sideline Li effectively due to the latter’s liberal attitude and loyalty to the CCP.
Xi Jinping will likely change the constitution during the party congress, fully adapting it to his political ideas and thoughts. The new amendment will ensure the “implementation of the eight-point decision on improving Party and government conduct by the Political Bureau of the 19th CCP Central Committee”, correcting the flaws related to the useless formal procedures and advancing the President’s power. The eight-point decision covers the following aspects:
• doing better research and analysis and truly understanding actual conditions when doing grassroots-level studies;
• streamlining meetings and improving the way meetings are conducted;
• making documents and briefing papers more concise and improving writing styles;
• standardizing procedures for working visits abroad;
• improving security guard work and continuing to observe the principle of doing what improves relations with the people;
• improving news report;
• having strict rules on the publication of articles; and
• promoting frugality and the strict observance of rules on incorruptibility in government.
This way, Xi Jinping is trying to resume the “Great Helmsman” status, most commonly referred to as Mao Zedong. One can assume that his ambitions go beyond those five years of his third term, as Xi has reverted to “Two Centenaries” goals, aiming to return the country among the leading global powers by 2049 when the PRC celebrates its 100th anniversary. The first part of his policy aims to achieve tremendous progress in the economy, carbon neutrality, military, and technology, while the second phase will be devoted to transforming China into a “strong, democratic, civilized, harmonious and modern socialist country”.
All in all, Xi Jinping’s ambitions for the 20th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party go beyond the limit as he tries to extend his term in office, ignoring political traditions and adapting Chinese politics to his desires and interests projected until 2049. This is facilitated by the constitutional and economic changes he initiated, as well as the rigid policy of removing opponents and appointing supporters to higher state bodies.
Civic IDEA’s 11th China Watch report discusses the controversies around China’s state-owned nuclear company China Nuclear Industry 23 Construction Co., Ltd., alternatively referred to as “CNNC No.23” or CNI23 operating since 1958. There is no record provided by internet sources about the misconduct related to particularly CNI23 and its representation in different states. Nevertheless, some problems and scandals are still associated with its founding investor firms: China National Nuclear Corporation and China General Nuclear Power Engineering Co., Ltd. China General Nuclear Power Engineering Co., Ltd. first appeared on the Georgian market in 2012 and since then has won several state procurements and made private investments.
For more information about the CNI23, see the attachment below: 👇
Civic IDEA is pleased to share with you the 10th China Watch report related to another Chinese company operating in Georgia, China State Construction Engineering Corporation Ltd. (so-called CSCEC), and reviews its scandals and misconduct that occurred in Georgia and worldwide.
CSCEC is one of the largest Chinese state construction companies, founded in 1982. Since then, it has operated in more than 100 countries worldwide. The company’s main activities comprise real estate, construction financing, operation and engineering (housing and infrastructure), as well as design and survey. This company has been embroiled in numerous scandals in the past two decades. More precisely, the CSCEC and its subsidies have been exposed to corruption and fraud schemes in the US, Philippines, Pakistan, Hungary, and several other countries and have been blacklisted by different state and international institutions.
Read more about the company’s reputation and activities in our report: 👇
Civic IDEA has the honor to share with the audience the second part of the series of Collection of Articles under the name “From Caspian to Black Sea: Economic, Academic and Digital Threats posed by the PRC”. Publication in front of you is the second edition of a collective effort by Civic IDEA and its partners and distinguished experts from the region to analyze and debate the Chinese activities in their respective countries in various fields, be it academia, business, politics, or other state matters. This time, the publication was inspired by the outstanding work of our Taiwanese partner Doublethink Lab about the Chinese influence operations assembled in China Index-2021, to be followed at https://china-index.io. This regularly updated web tracker allows all interested in monitoring and measuring PRC influence around the Globe.
The contributor authors to the second issue of the collection of articles are the following:
Tinatin Khidasheli – Chairperson, Civic IDEA
Ani Kintsurashvili – Senior Researcher, Civic IDEA
Vusal Guliyev – Fellow, the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies, Harvard University
Gubad Ibadoghlu – Senior Visiting Fellow, London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE)
Umedjon Majidi – Anti Corruption Expert, Sarajevo, BIH
Gia Jandieri – Director, New Economic School of Georgia
Danila Bekturganov – Director, NGO “Civil Expertise”
Denis Cenusa – Associated Expert, Think Tank EESC (Lithuania) / Think Tank Expert-Grup (Moldova)
Civic IDEA is also grateful to National Endowment for Democracy and the US Embassy for their immense support and contribution.