Saturday, 31 May 2008


Eric Schmitt

International Herald Tribune, May 31, 2008

SINGAPORE: Defense Secretary Robert Gates issued a set of thinly veiled warnings to China on Saturday, cautioning that it could risk its share of further gains in Asia's economic prosperity if it bullied its neighbors over natural resources in contested areas like the South China Sea.

Three years ago at the same lectern here, Gates's predecessor, Donald Rumsfeld, bluntly criticized China's swift military buildup. Last year Gates struck a more conciliatory tone, saying Beijing and Washington had a chance to "build trust over time."

Gates seemed to take a third approach in his remarks to a major regional Asia security conference here, seeking to lay down clear markers of continued U.S. commitments to the region while also obliquely criticizing China.

He said that in his four trips to Asia since becoming defense secretary 18 months ago, several countries had expressed concern about "the security implications of rising demand for resources" (translation: China's voracious quest for new sources of energy and raw materials) and about "coercive diplomacy" (translation: China's contested claims of resource-rich territorial waters).

(…) [artículo aquí]

Friday, 30 May 2008


William Ratliff

Asia Times, May 30, 2008

The explosive growth of China's links to Latin America in recent years are but the latest developments in a history that reaches back to the Spanish colonial empire in the early-16th century.

In some ways the perceived benefits and liabilities have not changed much over the centuries, though they are now on a far grander scale. A Spanish padre wrote in 1669 that "one cannot imagine any exquisite article for the equipment of a house which does not come from China". At the same time, however, Spanish barbers in Mexico City petitioned the government to relocate Chinese barbers to the outskirts of the city because they worked too much and that constituted "unfair business practice" [1].

Only during the militant Maoist decade of the early-1960s to mid-1970s was China's primary interest in Latin America, which was marginal, to overthrow existing governments. Some in the United States and Latin America worry that this rapidly rising China poses or will pose a security threat to the United States and the region. Many also worry that the influx of Chinese, with their different culture and institutions, will reduce the prospects for Latin reforms that promote open markets, political democracy, and greater respect for human and civil rights, including the rule of law. Responses to these concerns depend on what the Chinese and Latin Americans want and get from their contacts and on a realistic analysis of Latin America and broader Sino-US relations.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Thursday, 29 May 2008


Howard W. French

International Herald Tribune, May 29, 2008

SHANGHAI: This has been a good month for China's government, and especially for its ruling Communist Party.

That may sound like an odd thing to say after an earthquake whose final death toll could reach 80,000 or more, but to say so is neither flip nor insensitive. Rather, it is giving political reality its due.

China entered the month of May riding a head-spinning streak of bad political news and even poorer political judgment. The uprising by Tibetans and rumblings among Uighurs in the country's vast far west simultaneously had brought severe damage to the "China brand" internationally, while raising serious questions about the fragility of what even most Chinese forget is still very much a patchwork nation.

Seemingly overinvested in the prestige value of hosting the Olympics, Beijing responded to the gathering crises with rhetorical excess, officially elevating the ersatz event of the global Olympic torch rally to a "sacred cause."

Despite lots of recent nationalist sentiment against perceived unfair criticism from the West, day in and day out many Chinese feel alienation and cynicism about their country's political system and its leaders.

It was against this backdrop that the test of the earthquake arrived. In the words of the China expert David Shambaugh, in his new book, "China's Communist Party, Atrophy and Adaptation": "The challenges the CCP faces in maintaining its power and legitimacy increasingly involve governance and providing public goods. This is a new kind of revolution for a Leninist party: the revolution of rising expectations."

(...) [artículo aquí]

Wednesday, 28 May 2008


Jared Genser and Meghan Barron

International Herald Tribune, May 28, 2008

On Tuesday, the Burmese junta extended the detention of the pro-democracy leader and the world's only imprisoned Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Aung San Suu Kyi, for an additional year. This marks the fifth consecutive year that Suu Kyi's house arrest has been prolonged and a new low for General Than Shwe, who regularly runs roughshod over the rule of law - even draconian national security laws of the regime's own creation.

Suu Kyi has spent more than 12 out of the last 18 years under house arrest since she and her allies won 82 percent of the parliamentary seats in Myanmar's 1990 elections.

Myanmar's State Protection Law permits house arrest without charge or trial for up to five years total, renewable for up to one-year increments at a time. On Saturday, the final extension allowable by law expired. Notwithstanding the UN's four prior findings that the application of Burmese law itself is a violation of international law, let alone that it has no legal basis to continue to detain her, the junta decided to flout its own law and keep her in custody.

As a result, Aung San Suu Kyi is to spend yet another year illegally confined to a solitary existence in Yangon in her dilapidated home, which lost part of its roof and electrical power in Cyclone Nargis. One would have hoped the junta had more pressing matters to address.

(...) [artículo aquí]


William Pesek

Bloomberg, May 28, 2008

Muhammad Lutfi dreams with the BRICs.

The head of the Indonesian Investment Coordination Board still scratches his head over why more money isn't rushing into Southeast Asia's biggest economy. Why, he asks, do Brazil, Russia, India and China, the so-called BRICs, get more attention?

“I was shocked a few years back to see that Indonesia was not a BRIC,” Lutfi said on May 22 at a EuroMoney conference in Bali. “It should be.”

Lutfi's views have a rose-colored-glasses feel that can seem excessive, yet the point is worth considering.

Economist Jim O'Neill of Goldman Sachs Group Inc. created a sensation when he coined the acronym in 2001. It referred to the four countries that would join the U.S. and Japan as the biggest economies by 2050. Another widely cited report, “Dreaming with BRICs,” followed in 2003.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Monday, 26 May 2008


Glenn Kessler

The Washington Post, May 26, 2008

Early in President Bush's second term, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice convened a series of strategy sessions on how to persuade North Korea to surrender its nuclear weapons programs. One key official, Assistant Secretary of State Christopher R. Hill, remained largely silent, four participants said, except to pipe up periodically with the same refrain.

"If you just let me go to Pyongyang, I'll get you a deal," the career Foreign Service officer said, prompting others to roll their eyes and move on.

In the twilight of the Bush presidency, the nuclear agreement that Hill has tirelessly pursued over the past three years has emerged as Bush's best hope for a lasting foreign policy success. In the process, Hill has become the public face of an extraordinary 180-degree policy shift on North Korea, from confrontation to accommodation.

With crucial support from Rice, Hill has often triumphed over his bureaucratic rivals, making him a lightning rod for conservative critics. They caustically call him "Kim Jong Hill" -- a play on the name of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il -- and assert that he made concession after concession in a desperate effort to keep the talks from collapsing.

(...) [artículo aquí]


The Hindu, May 26, 2008

New Delhi (PTI): India and China, the world's two fastest growing economies, leads the list of best places for investment and development, driven by their current GDP growth rates, appropriate investment climate and substantial trade opportunities, a latest report says.

According to global consultancy Grant Thornton's International Business Report 2008 on emerging global markets, China, India and Russia have emerged as the top three most- favoured destinations for investment and development.

These are followed by Mexico at fourth and Brazil at fifth place. The study also revealed the presence of 22 other rapidly growing global economies, including Malaysia, Indonesia, Iran, Pakistan, Thailand and Poland, that offer immense avenues for future growth.

"Emerging markets offer great potential for growth in a global economic slowdown scenario," Grant Thornton India National Markets Leader Monish Chatrath said.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Friday, 23 May 2008


Nicholas D. Kristof

International Herald Tribune, May 22, 2008

In the aftermath of the great Sichuan earthquake, we've seen a hopeful glimpse of China's future: a more open and self-confident nation, and maybe - just maybe - the birth of grass-roots politics here.

In traveling around China in the days after the quake, I was struck by how the public and the news media initially seized the initiative from the government. Ordinary Chinese are traveling to the quake zone to help move rubble, and tycoons, peasants and even children are reaching into their pockets to donate to the victims.

"I gave 500 yuan," or about $72, a man told me in the western city of Urumqi. "Eighty percent of the people in my work unit made donations. Everybody wants to help."

Private Chinese donations have already raised more than $500 million. That kind of bottom-up public spirit is a mark of citizens, not subjects.

Immediately after the earthquake, the Propaganda Department instinctively banned news organizations from traveling to the disaster area. But Chinese journalists ignored the order and rushed to Chengdu - and the order was rescinded the next day.

Initial score: Propaganda Department, 0; News Media, 1.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Thursday, 22 May 2008


William Ratliff

China Brief (Jamestown), May 21, 2008

The explosive growth of China’s links to Latin America in recent years are but the latest developments in a history that reaches back to the Spanish colonial empire in the early-16th century. In some ways the perceived benefits and liabilities have not changed much over the centuries, though they are now on a far grander scale. A Spanish padre wrote in 1669 that “one cannot imagine any exquisite article for the equipment of a house which does not come from China.” At the same time, however, Spanish barbers in Mexico City petitioned the government to relocate Chinese barbers to the outskirts of the city because they worked too much and that constituted “unfair business practice” [1]. Only during the militant Maoist decade of the early-1960s to mid-1970s was China’s primary interest in Latin America, which was marginal, to overthrow existing governments.

Some in the United States and Latin America worry that this rapidly rising China poses or will pose a security threat to the United States and the region. Many also worry that the influx of Chinese, with their different culture and institutions, will reduce the prospects for Latin reforms that promote open markets, political democracy, and greater respect for human and civil rights, including the rule of law. Responses to these concerns depend on what the Chinese and Latin Americans want and get from their contacts and on a realistic analysis of Latin America and broader Sino-U.S. relations.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Wednesday, 21 May 2008


Daniel A. Bell

The New York Times, May 21, 2008


As tragic as the Sichuan earthquake has been, perhaps it can do some good by helping dispel a widespread myth: that the new generation of Chinese students are materialistic and selfish.

I’ve been teaching political theory at Tsinghua University here since 2004 and I’ve found that almost all of my students are driven to do good for society. So I wasn’t surprised when, as word of the disaster came out, hundreds of Tsinghua students lined up overnight at a Red Cross station to donate blood and supplies. Others went to the earthquake zone, more than 1,000 miles away, to distribute aid.

Now I’m hoping events can dispel another false impression: that young Chinese are xenophobic nationalists who cheer for their country, good or bad.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Monday, 19 May 2008


Why smoggy skies over Beijing represent the world’s greatest environmental opportunity

James Fallows

The Atlantic Monthly, June 2008

Chinese cement plants and coal mines are grim enough taken separately. Often they come as a package, the plant built next to the mine to minimize transport costs for the vast quantities of coal the cement-making process consumes. Converting limestone and other materials to the intermediate form of cement called “clinker” requires heating them to more than 2,600°F. Getting kilns this hot requires burning about 400 pounds of coal for each ton of cement produced. The clinker then cools before it goes through further processing—but the waste heat and exhaust gas are sent straight into the sky, at temperatures of 650F or more, along with the extra carbon dioxide the limestone emits as it becomes cement.

In coal-and-cement towns in China, people and buildings are colored black by the coal dust swirling around them, and coated gray and white by the cement dust that leaks from the kilns and clinker coolers and pours from the exhaust stacks. Driving through the foothills of the Tibetan plateau in western Sichuan province last year, my wife and I could tell from miles away when we were nearing a cement plant, from the grayish pall in the air and the thickening layers of dust on the trees and road. With so much of the country under construction so fast, and with China’s equivalent of America’s interstate highway system being built in the space of a few years, modern China can appear to be made out of concrete. Nearly half of the world’s cement is produced and used in China, and cement factories are a major source of both the country’s surging demand for energy and the environmental damage that is the most shocking side effect of China’s economic miracle.

(...) [artículo aquí]


US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations

May 15, 2008

· John D. Negroponte, Deputy Secretary, Department of State, Washington, DC
· Richard Haass, President, CFR, New York
· Kurt Campbell, CEO, The Center for a New American Security, Washington DC
· Harry Harding, The George Washington University, Washington DC

[página web aquí]

Sunday, 18 May 2008


Famine looms—not just in Burma but also North Korea. And the U.N. has only made matters worse.

Stephan Haggard and Marcus Noland

Newsweek, May 17, 2008

A devastating disaster hits a longstanding Asian dictatorship. The crisis is compounded by failed economic policies and conflicts with neighbors. The world stands ready to help, but the regime dithers and aid goes undelivered. Even information on the catastrophe is scarce thanks to a media blackout, government propaganda and denial.

This story applies, of course, to Burma. But North Korea is also headed toward widespread food shortages and famine. Hunger-related deaths are nearly inevitable, on a scale that could rival Burma's.

Most of the food consumed in North Korea today is produced locally, but since 2005, harvests have been shrinking due to retrograde policies, adverse weather and a fertilizer shortage. The fertilizer is normally supplied gratis by Seoul but was cut in 2006 in response to Pyongyang's missile and nuclear tests. Aid, likewise, has dwindled as donors have soured on North Korean behavior. Global price rises have squeezed North Korea's ability to import. With grain supplies declining, the margins between minimum needs and supply are down to 100,000 metric tons—enough to last less than two weeks.

(…) [artículo aquí]

Friday, 16 May 2008


David Isenberg

Asia Times, May 16, 2008

China's attempts to use its "soft power" assets are increasingly successful, although not without problems, according to a recent United States congressional study.

Soft power means the non-military tools of foreign and national security policies, including international trade and investment, development assistance, cultural influence, humanitarian aid, travel and tourism.

On May 5, Senator Joseph Biden, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, released a study, prepared by the Congressional Research Service (CRS). The study, "China's Foreign Policy and Soft Power in South America, Asia, and South Africa" found both strengths and weaknesses in China's approach to the world.

On the plus side China provides the developing world access to cheap credit and inexpensive consumer goods, and many countries are enjoying rapidly rising revenues due to Chinese demand for their exports.

On the negative side, China's manufacturing strength makes it difficult for industries in the developing world to gain a competitive advantage, putting some out of business. And China's investment in developing economies, particularly in natural resource extraction, sometimes undermines international efforts to link aid and investment to measurable progress by recipient countries in combating corruption, improving transparency, and respecting human rights.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Thursday, 15 May 2008


Patrick Donahue

Bloomberg, May 15, 2008

First came the booming economies. Then came the rush of investors. Now the so-called BRIC nations -- Brazil, Russia, India and China -- are talking about forming a political alliance.

The four largest emerging economies are sending their foreign ministers to Yekaterinburg, Russia, to meet on May 16 for the first time outside the venue of the United Nations. On the agenda are such non-economic issues as weapons proliferation, counter-terrorism, energy and climate change.

The term BRIC was coined by Jim O'Neill, London-based chief global economist at Goldman Sachs Group Inc., in 2001. Last year the combined gross domestic product of the four nations made up 12 percent of global GDP, up from 8 percent in 2000, according to the International Monetary Fund. In the past two years stocks in the BRIC nations have risen 70 percent, versus the 42 percent increase of emerging markets overall.

“It's really a group that first existed as a concept in the minds of analysts and subsequently came to exist as a practice between the countries,” Brazilian Foreign Minister Celso Amorim said in a May 8 Bloomberg Television interview in Brasilia. “The meeting is recognition of the fact that we are four big economies with a large influence in the world.”

President Nicolas Sarkozy of France has recommended adding at least China, India and Brazil -- as well as Mexico and South Africa -- to the Group of Eight leading industrialized countries rather than inviting them as guests to summits. Russia is already a G-8 member.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Wednesday, 14 May 2008


John Brown

Asia Sentinel, May 14, 2008

The global wealth balance shifts from the consumer economies to the producer economies

In the early days of the American republic, fortune seekers were urged to “Go west, young man!” Unfortunately, with the American economy now clearly showing its fragility, the rallying cry for today could be, “Go abroad!”

In the past quarter century, the center of wealth creation has steadily moved away from the United States and towards new foreign competitors, especially the so-called BRIC countries of Brazil, Russia, India and China, where economic growth rates have greatly eclipsed the US. In recent years, this economic might has translated into much higher returns on their respective stock markets. These movements are creating a wave of real wealth that wise investors cannot afford to miss.

In the mid 1970s, a transformation began in which the driving force of the US economy shifted from producers to consumers. Today, measured by gross domestic product, consumption accounts for some 72 percent of the US. It is no wonder then, that as economics is so synonymous with spending, that the stimulus package recently passed by the US Congress, is skewed heavily (90 percent) in favor of the consumer (where the votes are) at the expense of producers.

(...) [artículo aquí]


Helene Cooper

The New York Times, May 14, 2008

WASHINGTON — The State Department, seeking to ward off criticism, kicked off a public-relations offensive on Tuesday by offering reporters a view — from a distance — of nuclear documents that senior officials said appeared to represent a complete accounting of North Korea’s plutonium production.

Officials brought documents received last week into a briefing room and put them on a table where they could be photographed, but not touched, which might have been tantalizing were it not for the fact that the reports had not been translated.

The 18,000 pages, turned over by North Korea last week, were hailed as a vital step toward the completion of a denuclearization agreement. The administration wants to complete the pact, which could be viewed as a rare foreign policy victory, before President Bush leaves office.

Conservatives have complained that the United States is not getting enough out of North Korea as the two sides try to complete the agreement.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Tuesday, 13 May 2008


Shu-Ching Jean Chen

Forbes, May 13, 2008

HONG KONG - The largest earthquake to hit China in more than 30 years is likely to wreak great economic damage on Sichuan province and the nearby megacity of Chongqing, but not on China as a whole.

In the immediate term, it could fuel price inflation in southwestern China for food and consumer necessities due to shortages, and it could delay China's ambition to rapidly build up the nation’s answer to Silicon Valley in the area. It could also have an impact on projects to tap major natural gas deposits.

However, casualties and economic damage will be minimized by the remoteness of the region to China’s prosperous and densely populated eastern coast. Sichuan, a southwestern province of 80 million, contributes 3.9% to China’s GDP and 2.5% of its manufacturing output; Chongqing, adds 1.6% in national GDP and 1% of national manufacturing output, according to estimates from economists at Merrill Lynch.

Merrill Lynch said it expected little impact on China's currency or exports "because the earthquake took place in regions almost negligible for China's external trade. This is quite different from the snowstorm, which affected both Pearl and Yangtze River deltas," it said.

The death toll from the 7.9-magnitude earthquake was approaching 10,000 Tuesday afternoon, making it the deadliest natural disaster in China since 1976, when at least 240,000 people perished in a 7.8-magnitude earthquake near the northern city of Tangshan.

(...) [artículo aquí]


Samuel A Bleicher

Asia Times, May 13, 2008

China as an "emerging superpower" makes for a compelling story line in the media. It is reinforced by the propaganda image that the current Chinese leadership would like us to accept. But the reality is quite different.

Although recent events in Tibet and western China, and the central government's response, appear to be generating pro-government patriotic feelings, they dramatically display the practical limits of the government's power. Other sources of unhappiness with the regime, including income disparities and the inevitable collapse of unsustainable price controls on fuel and food, could breed both urban and rural discontent that has no ready outlet besides unlawful opposition to the government.

Meanwhile, the West, in its fixation on its own economic difficulties in comparison to the Chinese "juggernaut", is neglecting to prepare for equally likely "weak China" contingencies. Just as we failed to predict and prepare for the implosion of the Japanese economy and the collapse of the Soviet Union, we appear unready for a dramatic economic and political reversal in China that would be a defining event of the 21st century.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Monday, 12 May 2008


Jim Yardley

The New York Times, May 13, 2008

BEIJING — A powerful earthquake struck a mountainous region of western China on Monday, reportedly killing more than 8,500 people, including as many as 5,000 people in a single county, and trapping more than 900 students beneath a collapsed high school as tremors shook buildings throughout China and were felt as far away as Thailand and Vietnam, according to interviews and reports in China’s state media.

The 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit in Sichuan Province on Monday afternoon, and the death toll steadily increased throughout the evening, raising concerns that the number could go far higher.

By 9 p.m. local time, the state news agency Xinhua quoted provincial disaster relief officials as saying that 3,000 to 5,000 people were feared dead in Beichuan County. Roughly 80 percent of the buildings in the county were reportedly destroyed. Later, it reported 8,533 dead in Sichuan Province alone, The Associated Press reported.

Prime Minister Wen Jiabao, who arrived in the earthquake region on Monday night, described the situation as a “severe disaster” and called for “calm, confidence, courage and efficient organization.”

(...) [artículo aquí]


Amy Kazmin

Washington Post, May 12, 2008

BANGKOK, May 11 -- An estimated 1.5 million Burmese are on the brink of a "massive public health catastrophe," the British charity Oxfam warned Sunday, as survivors of Cyclone Nargis poured out of the devastated Irrawaddy Delta into regional towns in search of water, food and other help.

Burma is facing a "perfect storm" of conditions that could lead to an outbreak of waterborne disease, said Sarah Ireland, Oxfam's regional director.

"The ponds are full of dead bodies, the wells have saline water, and even things like a bucket are in scarce supply," Ireland said.

She appealed for Burmese authorities, who have restricted access to the country, to allow humanitarian agencies to send in technical and health experts to help prevent outbreaks of disease.

The struggling relief efforts suffered another setback when a boat ferrying rice, drinking water, clothing and other aid sank in the delta early Sunday, apparently after hitting a submerged tree, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Thursday, 8 May 2008


Siddharth Srivastava

Asia Times, May 9, 2008

NEW DELHI - Recent reports about China's nuclear-powered submarine and naval capabilities are raising concern in New Delhi. It has also drawn attention to India's failure to effectively implement an elaborate naval expansion plan that stands significantly delayed.

According to reports, commercial satellite images indicate that the Chinese are building a massive strategic naval base on Hainan island, in the South China Sea, south of Hong Kong. This confirms suspicions of several Asian nations since 2002 about the underground submarine base.

A reputed British daily has described the base as a "vast, James Bond-style edifice capable of concealing up to 20 nuclear-powered submarines and which will enable China to project its power across the region".

(...) [artículo aquí]

Wednesday, 7 May 2008


Martin Fackler

International Herald Tribune, May 7, 2008

The leaders of China and Japan pledged Wednesday to make their nations partners instead of rivals, as President Hu Jintao began a good-will mission to Japan aimed at improving often tense relations between the two Asian powers.

The visit, the first by a Chinese leader here in a decade, is expected to yield few if any concrete diplomatic breakthroughs. But both sides called the trip itself a sign of progress amid hopes that its friendly symbolism, which includes pandas and Ping-Pong, will help ease Japanese insecurities about China's rising economic and military might.

There are also hopes here that the visit will mark a thaw in the nations' often frosty political relations, which have failed to keep pace with the increasingly close trade and investment ties between Asia's two largest economies.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Tuesday, 6 May 2008


Thomas Fuller

The New York Times, May 6, 2008

The area worst affected by the cyclone that struck Myanmar on Saturday is a vast and populous delta crisscrossed by canals and inlets, qualities that are likely to make the damage extensive and delivering aid extraordinarily difficult.

Many villages in the delta of the Irrawaddy River are accessible only by boat or helicopter. Much of the region, former swampland that was converted during British colonial times into one of the world’s largest rice-growing areas, is exceptionally fertile but difficult to traverse.

Aid workers say delivering food, clean water and other supplies to far-flung villages will require an intensive response.

“Our fear is that many in the rural population have been cut off,” said Paul Risley, the spokesman in Asia for the World Food Program, a United Nations agency. “In some villages, 90 percent of shelter was destroyed or damaged.”

Sean Turnell, an expert on Myanmar at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia, said the region’s infrastructure “was degraded to begin with.” Before the cyclone hit, dikes had collapsed, irrigation systems had failed and bridges were sometimes impassable, Mr. Turnell said.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Monday, 5 May 2008


Richard Lloyd Parry (Asia Editor)

The Times, May 6, 2008

Burma’s isolated and xenophobic generals appealed for international help yesterday after a catastrophic cyclone killed at least 10,000 people and made hundreds of thousands homeless in the country’s agricultural heartland.

United Nations agencies were preparing last night to fly in emergency food, shelter and medical supplies to prevent epidemics and starvation inflicting a second disaster on the survivors of Cyclone Nargis, which ripped across Burma on Saturday at 120mph (193km/h), destroying buildings and fields, toppling trees and washing away roads in the city of Rangoon and the Irrawaddy delta.

Despite a long-standing suspicion of foreign aid agencies, the Burmese Foreign Minister indicated that his Government would accept aid.

“According to the latest information, more than 10,000 people were killed,” Nyan Win said, after meeting foreign diplomats. “We will welcome help . . . from other countries because our people are in difficulty.”

(…) [artículo aquí]


Seth Mydans

International Herald Tribune, May 5, 2008

The death toll from the devastating cyclone in Myanmar over the weekend escalated to nearly 4,000 people on Monday, with thousands of others still missing and at least one entire village wiped out, state television and radio reported.

If the reports are accurate, the death toll would be the biggest from a natural disaster in Asia since the tsunami of December 2004, which devastated parts of Indonesia, Thailand and other parts of south Asia.

The death toll was a dramatic increase from the government's initial estimate of 351 people killed from the disaster. Hundreds of thousands of people were reported homeless and food and water were reported to be running short.

"The confirmed number is 3,934 dead, 41 injured and 2,879 missing within the Yangon and Irrawaddy divisions," the government broadcast said.

(...) [artículo aquí]


Despite its achievements, Washington is divided on how to deal with North Korea long term.

Morton Abramowitz and Stephen Bosworth

Newsweek, May 3, 2008

A battle rages in Washington, uniting forces of left and right against a divided Bush administration over whether to compel North Korea to tell the detailed truth about its nuclear-weapons capabilities and its Syrian connection, or to allow the country to collapse as a pariah state. But our recent trip to the North Korean capital suggests that the current controversy conceals more fundamental issues in U.S. relations with North Korea: unlike the United States, Pyongyang has both a short- and long-term policy toward its antagonist. It is willing to bargain away its nuclear-weapons programs piece by piece starting now, but only in return for a new, nonhostile relationship with Washington and more help for its economy. Washington, by contrast, has focused solely on the issue of denuclearization (and even on that Washington remains divided) and has no broader approach to North Korea. It falls to the next administration, one hopes, to devise a strategy toward Pyongyang that addresses both the nuclear program and the long-term question of how to deal with the weak but dangerous nation.

(…) [artículo aquí]

Sunday, 4 May 2008


But it's not clear whether Beijing or New Delhi will catch up first

Richard Wachman

The Observer, May 4, 2008

China and India and are moving toward becoming the biggest economies in the world: with 2.4bn people, or 40 per cent of the world's population and annual GDP growth rates of between 8 per cent and 10 per cent, experts say that they could one day overtake the US.

Professor Pieter Bottelier, of the Centre for Strategic International Studies, says: 'If these two countries continue to grow at the current rate, they will overtake America, although that probably won't happen for a number of decades.'

The countries are very different politically: India is the world's biggest democracy, but China is under tight communist government control. Economically, China has had a head start. Bill Emmott, former editor of the Economist, says in his book 'Rivals' that India's time has yet to come; to date it has been constrained by a poor infrastructure, social divisions, a caste system and mind-boggling poverty. But it is fast making up for lost time and no doubt Emmott wouldn't disagree with Steven Roach at US investment bank Morgan Stanley that 'India is on the cusp of something big'.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Saturday, 3 May 2008


Asian economic progress may have faltered, admits James Daley, but it is still on course

James Daley

The Independent, May 3, 2008

The seemingly unstoppable Asian growth story finally suffered its first major setback during the first months of 2008 as nerves about a global economic slowdown got the better of investors in India, China and the rest of the region.

In China, markets fell by 25 per cent during the first quarter, while in India, they dropped by 23 per cent – and in the weeks since, uncertainty has prevailed as analysts, investors and commentators have argued the toss over whether the large emerging economies have "decoupled" from the West, or whether they are still vulnerable in the face of a developed world recession.

Historically, emerging markets have always been hit hard by recessions in the US and Europe, as these regions have been their biggest export customers. This time round, however, some argue that the emerging economies' momentum is unstoppable – predicting that these countries will continue to register record growth rates, regardless of how bad a time the US economy has.

Although much of the focus within this debate has been on China – which has been enjoying annual growth rates of more than 10 per cent in recent years and is now the fourth largest economy in the world (behind the USA, Japan and Germany) – the arguments in favour of decoupling are even stronger in India, which relies far less on the West than some of its emerging peers.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Friday, 2 May 2008


Although upscale developers, speculators, and banks have made a fortune, there are signs the easy money could be coming to an end

Business Week, May 1, 2008

Until a few years ago, few mainland Chinese would have understood the old English adage "as safe as houses." Property was owned by the state and where you lived depended on the whim of the local work unit leader.

Even after the private housing revolution of the mid-1990s, when many individuals bought flats at knock-down prices from their work units, property owners had no legal means of protecting their homes from the municipal wrecking-ball.

But last year's property rights law supposedly changed all that and, according to the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, a remarkable 80% of urban Chinese households now own their homes.

Although your correspondent still has qualms about jumping into the fray mainly because so many new buildings seem to age faster than Keith Richards after a particularly heavy night that has not put off locals and speculators.

Property prices have risen rapidly. According to the latest figures, prices in the 70 major cities measured by the government's property index are growing annually at around 11% although prices at the top end are rising much faster than that. Two years ago, an apartment in Beijing's Central Park, one of the capital's smartest addresses, could be had for around US$2,000 per square meter. Now you would be lucky to get it for US$5,000, while the penthouse apartments cost over US$9,000.

(...) [artículo aquí]


The rift between China and the West is the most urgent foreign policy problem.

Lily Huang

Newsweek, May 1, 2008

Fewer than 100 days before China's Olympics, a growing sense of mistrust between East and West threatens to overshadow the event. While protesters challenge China's policies at home and abroad, the Chinese feel misunderstood. Crossing this gulf is foreign policy scholar Anne-Marie Slaughter's current occupation. Slaughter, on sabbatical from being dean of Princeton's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, is spending a year in Shanghai and traveling throughout Asia. Her nuanced, forward-looking sense of the world has already shifted old paradigms: her 2004 book, "A New World Order," described the high-functioning informal networks that undergird global governance in the 21st century. She spoke with NEWSWEEK's Lily Huang by phone about the challenges of foreign policy. Excerpts:

NEWSWEEK: Where is the biggest challenge for American foreign policy: the Middle East, Asia, Europe, Africa?

Anne-Marie Slaughter: I think the biggest overall challenge is managing the rise of Asia in a way that harnesses the benefits and avoids potential conflicts and major disruptions—to global institutions, global financial stability and/or local conflicts that could drag others down. Taiwan, obviously, is one big example, but also Tibet, where the combination of domestic political pressures and external events can suddenly present leaders with situations that could get out of hand if they're not very carefully handled. This is a very complicated, very big part of the world. There's a tremendous amount happening, and right now our bandwidth is taken up almost entirely by Iraq, with a little left over for the Middle East generally and a bit for North Korea. There's a lot of untended garden over here.

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