Thursday, 30 October 2008


Bernt Berger

Asia Times, October 30, 2008

The European Union (EU), traditionally suspicious of China's business-first, pragmatic approach to Africa, has released a groundbreaking policy paper which proposes sharing the responsibility for the continent's great challenges, marking a great step forward in Europe's approach to Beijing's many engagements in Africa.

"The EU, Africa and China: Towards trilateral dialogue and cooperation", was released by the European Commission on October 17. It combines a clear political re-orientation with pragmatic policy options, and in so doing constitutes Europe's first advance towards cooperation with both China and, hopefully, the African Union.

While China has so far remained silent diplomatically on the EU's new policy proposal, sources say Beijing is giving trilateral cooperation serious consideration. But it may take a long time for the Chinese government to make a formal response as the cooperation would involve major policy changes.

During the past two years, commentators have portrayed China's engagement in Africa as successful and a challenge to traditional donor policies and geostrategic interests. On the surface, China's bilateral and unconditional dealings with African governments seems to have undermined European efforts towards sustainable development. But Chinese and African officials claim China's "soft" diplomacy has been more preferable and successful than Europe's conditional overtures. In light of such developments, the EU has increasingly found itself under zugzwang, a position in which a chess player is compelled to move.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Wednesday, 29 October 2008


Tini Tran

Associated Press, October 29, 2008

BEIJING (AP) — Richer, developed nations should take the lead in reducing greenhouse emissions while helping poor countries with money and technology to fight climate change, China said in a policy paper released Wednesday.

The document lays out China's long-standing position that developed countries should shoulder the burden of lowering emissions of gases such as carbon dioxide that are chiefly responsible for causing a rise in global temperatures.

"Developed countries should be responsible for their accumulative emissions and current high per-capita emissions, and take the lead in reducing emissions, in addition to providing financial support and transferring technologies to developing countries," the paper said.

China would do its part by reducing emissions, developing renewable energy, and focusing on energy conservation, it said.

"We in China are also taking aggressive measures to slow down growth of greenhouse gas emissions," said Xie Zhenhua, vice chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission, China's top economic planning body.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Tuesday, 28 October 2008


Brad Glosserman and Bates Gill

Asia Times, October 28, 2008

The United States-India civilian nuclear agreement was signed into law this month after two years of negotiations and bitter debate, yet the deal's final terms have sharply divided arms control and non-proliferation specialists. The focus of this often-emotional debate revolves around a simple question: is the deal a meaningful compromise that protects India's national security interests and the integrity of the nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT), or does it give Delhi too much power and undermine the NPT? The debate continues with no consensus in sight.

Unfortunately the deal's potentially far greater consequences are garnering far less attention. In particular, little has been said about how this deal is seen in other countries, the precedent it appears to set, and the impact it has on US leadership generally, especially on nonproliferation issues. These are equally critical concerns and, while we are still in early days, they may come back to haunt this agreement.

Make no mistake: Washington's decision to agree to terms with Delhi offers hope to other governments considering nuclear weapons that they too may receive special status. India's insistence that it is a unique case - as it never signed the NPT and it developed its own nuclear technology - is unlikely to make an impression on would-be proliferators which have seen India gain official recognition despite its rejection of the NPT. Even if this is only hope masquerading as reason, it is still likely to encourage proliferation.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Monday, 27 October 2008


People’s Daily, October 27, 2008

The Seventh Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM), held in Beijing on October 24th and 25th, was the first gathering of 45 members of ASEM since its second round of enlargement. The ASEM summit produced three documents and 17 proposals for cooperation, which show that the ASEM has started from dialogues and exchange, to head for pragmatic cooperation.

The dialogue between Asia and Europe is particularly conspicuous against a backdrop of spreading global financial crisis along with such grave global issues as acute energy and food shortages, natural calamities and abject poverty. So more than 1,870 reporters from 51 countries worldwide converged onto Beijing to cover the Seventh ASEM summit.

Financial issue top concern

World financial issue can be rated as top global concern and the appeal for enhancing confidence is first voice for ASEM summit."

The financial crisis triggered by the US subprime mortgage crisis had caused 'shockwaves' in the international financial markets and a serious impact on economic development and livelihoods of people in various countries," Chinese President Hu Jintao said clearly and explicitly while addressing the opening ceremony of ASEM. In the face of this global challenge, he underscored, "the international community should enhance policy coordination, strengthen cooperation and make a common response."

Meanwhile, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao cited the current financial crisis as the "unprecedented crisis" at the first ASEM plenary session. "We should make concerted effort to show the world our confidence, unity and cooperation," he said.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Sunday, 26 October 2008


Jennifer M. Freedman and Christopher Swann

Bloomberg, October 26, 2008

Asian and European leaders called for an overhaul of World War II-era banking rules, lending support to French President Nicolas Sarkozy as he pushes the U.S. to embrace greater supervision of global financial markets.

The leaders “pledged to undertake effective and comprehensive reform of the international monetary and financial systems,” according to a statement in Beijing yesterday. Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao told reporters after the gathering of more than 40 heads of state and government that “we need even more financial regulation to ensure financial safety.”

U.S. and European leaders have sparred over the causes of the credit crunch and how to cure it. Sarkozy has called for stricter government oversight of banks and hedge funds. President George W. Bush, who will host the Group of 20 industrialized and developing nations on Nov. 15, emphasized the role of free markets in a speech yesterday.

“It is foolish to think that within a few weeks Europe and the U.S. are going to be able to overhaul international financial regulation,” said Allan Meltzer, a professor at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. “It will be extremely hard to come up with a consensus. I doubt the Europeans will even be able to agree among themselves.”

(...) [artículo aquí]

Saturday, 25 October 2008


Indrani Bagchi & Saibal Dasgupta

The Times of India, October 25, 2008

India on Friday outlined the steps it wants taken to lift the global economy out of the current financial morass. Addressing leaders of 45 Asian and European countries at the ASEM summit here, PM Manmohan Singh said the first step would be to “de-clog” the global credit markets which had choked up as a result of the crisis.

Second, multilateral financial institutions (MFI) like World Bank and IMF should step in with larger resources to invest in large infrastructure projects in developing countries, which can act as a stabilizer in the global economy.

The primary need, Singh said, was coordinated action to restore confidence in the credit market.

It is now clear that India would certainly be present at the November 15 G-20 summit in Washington. In the past couple of days, US President George Bush has called up Singh to personally ask him to be present. In what was clearly a global reversal of roles, European countries repeatedly asked Asia to lead the way out of the crisis. N Ravi, secretary (east) in the MEA, told reporters that all EU leaders asked Asian countries to refrain from withdrawing into “economic nationalism”.

This is a significant difference from the last 1997 crisis when Asian countries faced the heat when short-term funds exited Asia after a property bubble burst in Thailand to inflict severe economic pain in this part of the world. This time round, it’s the speculation in the western financial markets that has created the economic bubbles which, in retrospect, are bigger than the GDP of many countries.
(...) [artículo aquí]

Friday, 24 October 2008


Antoaneta Bezlova

Asia Times, October 24, 2008

Cast in the role of global savior in the unfolding financial turmoil, China is hosting a meeting of Asian and European leaders in Beijing this week that is expected to castigate the Anglo-Saxon model of capitalism and press for a reshaped global economic order.

"Can Asia be global economy’s best hope," asked an editorial in China's Economic Observer last week. Noting that Asia hardly played any role during the global economic recovery after the Great Depression of 1929, the paper suggested that the continent’s established and emerging economies constituted the world’s best chance for recovery after the present financial crisis.

More than 40 leaders will converge in the Chinese capital for the 7th Asian European Meeting (ASEM) summit from October 24 to 25 to discuss the global financial crisis and a plan for joint action.

Aside from the 27 European Union countries, the 10 Association of Southeast Asian Nations members, the European Commission, China, Japan and South Korea, the summit will be attended by three other Asian countries - India, Pakistan and Mongolia. The talks will be co-chaired by France, which holds the European Union’s presidency, and China.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Thursday, 23 October 2008


Michael Schuman

Time, October 23, 2008

When the global financial storm began to gather a year ago, China appeared to be a nation that was well supplied with raincoats. The economy was growing at double-digit rates, Chinese banks had little overseas exposure to the credit crisis, and the country's $1.9 trillion in hard-currency reserves stood as a vast emergency fund that could be drawn upon in the event of trouble. Just two months ago, while giant Wall Street and European banks were crumbling, China was relishing its role as host of the Olympic Games as the world paid tribute to its years of remarkable, seemingly unstoppable, economic progress.

The raincoats, it turns out, have holes in them. With the chances for global recession increasing, it's becoming clear that not even the world's fastest-growing major economy can avoid a pronounced slowdown. Any remaining hopes to the contrary were dashed recently when China's National Bureau of Statistics released the country's latest economic data: in the third quarter, GDP growth had slipped to 9%, the slowest quarterly pace since 2003. Meanwhile, estimates for 2009 growth are being slashed to as low as 8%, which would be a dramatic deceleration from last year's 12% rate and would rank as China's worst results since 1999.

It's pretty clear why China is hitting the skids. The country's economic transformation over the past 25 years led a great wave of globalization during which the mainland's once small and isolated economy became much bigger and deeply integrated into global commerce — making it more exposed to the business cycles of its big trading partners such as the U.S. "The huge elephant in the China shop is the slowing global economy," says Merrill Lynch Asia economist T.J. Bond, citing an obvious reason: China's manufacturing sector, which accounts for 43% of China's GDP, depends heavily upon sales to the West. Some 40% of China's exports go to the U.S. and Europe, and with potentially deep recessions setting in there, economists are slashing the country's trade projections. Bond estimates China's export growth rate will fall to 10% in 2009 from 21% this year. For the revved-up mainland, that's a frightening plunge.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Wednesday, 22 October 2008


Li Yanping

Bloomberg, October 23, 2008

China's measures to encourage home sales aren't enough to stop a cooling property market from dragging down growth in the world's fourth-largest economy, said Credit Suisse AG and Standard Chartered Bank Plc.

The government yesterday trimmed costs, including mortgage rates, taxes and down-payments, for first-home buyers.

“This is the biggest property rescue package in China's history, but it didn't touch the two most critical areas that are dragging down the property market -- property developers' stressed cash flows and consumers' expectations for further price drops,” said Tao Dong, chief Asia economist at Credit Suisse in Hong Kong. “The measures won't do the job.”

China's economic expansion cooled to 9 percent in the third quarter, the slowest pace in five years, as the global financial crisis cut demand for exports. A slump in property, hurting investment and consumption, is the next big risk, said Tao.

(...) [artículo aquí]


Robyn Meredith

Forbes, October 22, 2008

Wall Street's crisis has washed across the ocean to China and slowed the Chinese economy down to single-digit growth for the first time in five years. The Chinese government is alarmed. But Beijing is taking a vastly different approach than Washington: Rather than bail out bankers, investors and savers, China is concentrating on the plight of its peasants.

To those in the West, China's "save the farmers" approach may seem nonsensical. After all, the farmers are not worse off than they were before, unlike stock investors or real estate owners. And anyway, shouldn't China be cutting interest rates and investing in big banks to stabilize them? (Actually, it has cut rates twice, and invested in banks--but they're American, not Chinese!)

Instead, China is dramatically transforming policy for the nation's 730 million farmers. For the first time since Mao collectivized farming in 1955, China's farmers will have a free market for the land they till. This is a historic change for China, and lest anyone miss the significance, Beijing announced it on the 30th anniversary of the last major set of rural reforms, which marked China's first steps towards capitalism.

Back in 1978, China had 1 billion farmers working on collectively owned farms managed by communes. Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping decreed that communes would divvy up their land and assign a small plot to each household, which was then allowed to choose what crops to plant and was paid at year's end for its harvest. Later, farmers were given other freedoms, and today, farmers are allowed to sell what they produce on their small plots of collectively owned land.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Monday, 20 October 2008


Keith Bradsher

International Herald Tribune, October 20, 2008

The Chinese government has begun drafting tax and spending policies to stimulate the economy after economic growth slowed in the third quarter of this year to 9 percent, the slowest pace since an outbreak of SARS in 2003.

Industrial production and construction slackened from July through September because of weak exports, a slumping real estate market and temporary restrictions imposed during the Olympics, the Chinese National Bureau of Statistics announced Monday.

The Chinese State Council, or cabinet, met over the weekend and decided to shift the emphasis of economic policy toward maintaining "a stable and rapid economic development," state-controlled media reported Monday. The previous policy had been "to ensure growth and control inflation."

As part of the new policy, the State Council announced that it planned to increase export tax rebates for everything from labor-intensive products like garments and textile to high-value products like mechanical and electrical products. Banks will be encouraged to lend more money to small and midsize enterprises and a variety of support programs will be drafted to help farmers, the government said.

(...) [artículo aquí]


Kevin Hamlin and Li Yanping

Bloomberg, October 20, 2008

China's economy, the biggest contributor to global growth, expanded at the slowest pace in five years as the financial crisis cut demand for exports.

Gross domestic product rose 9 percent in the third quarter from a year earlier, the statistics bureau said in Beijing today. That was less than any of the 12 estimates in a Bloomberg News survey and the 10.1 percent gain in the previous three months.

The fifth quarter of slowing growth may exacerbate declines this year in iron ore, copper and oil prices and undermine demand for exports within Asia, where economies are already contracting. The cabinet announced yesterday increased infrastructure spending and tax cuts for exporters and the central bank may be poised to cut interest rates for the third time this year.

“This will shake confidence and underscores that no one is immune,” said Ben Simpfendorfer, an economist with Royal Bank of Scotland Plc in Hong Kong. He predicts three more rate cuts by the middle of next year and a further easing of lending restrictions.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Sunday, 19 October 2008


Blaine Harden

The Washington Post, October 19, 2008

Kotaro Tamura, an investment banker turned Japanese lawmaker, has an immodest proposal for healing the sick global economy, making all Japanese richer and compelling the United States to be more deferential toward Japan.

"We are in a special position because we have huge money," Tamura said, referring to about $950 billion in government foreign reserves, $1.5 trillion in public pension funds and $15 trillion in personal financial assets, about $8 trillion of which is on deposit at shockingly low interest rates in Japanese banks.

"We should send the signal that we are ready to save the world with this money," he said in an interview.

Tamura leads a group of 65 lawmakers from the ruling Liberal Democratic Party who have proposed to Prime Minister Taro Aso that Japan treat the global financial meltdown "as a huge opportunity for us."

They are urging the government to inject some of its abundant cash into troubled U.S. and European banks, in return for equity, and to purchase distressed corporate assets at fire-sale prices.

"The economy of every major power has crashed, and Japan has the least tainted market in the world," Tamura said.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Saturday, 18 October 2008



The New York Times, October 18, 2008

North Korea has stuck to its promise and has begun taking steps once again to dismantle its nuclear reactor at Yongbyon under an agreement it reached with the United States last weekend, the State Department said Friday.

“The North Koreans have in their efforts reversed all their reversals in the reactor,” said Sean McCormack, a State Department spokesman. “All the seals are back on, the surveillance equipment is back, reinstalled, and the equipment that had been removed is back where it had been.”

The North Koreans have also removed more nuclear fuel rods from the reactor, Mr. McCormack said. “On the reactor, they have actually gone beyond where they were prior to their reversing the disablement steps,” he told reporters, adding that 60 percent of the fuel rods had been taken out of the reactor.

However, he said the North Koreans had more to do in their fuel reprocessing facility. “They have not yet gotten to that baseline where they were,” he said, although there has been progress on this part of the agreement, too.

The United States removed North Korea from its terrorism list last weekend after the North agreed to a compromise plan to let American and other inspectors verify that it was adhering to its promises to dismantle its nuclear weapons program.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Friday, 17 October 2008


M K Bhadrakumar

Asia Times, October 17, 2008

Turkmenistan knows better than any other country that predators will go to any extent to take away its valuable possessions. Five successive empires - Scythian, Parthian, Ywati, Hun and Turkmen - invaded the area to locate the "Akhal" oasis nestled in the foothills of the Kopet Dag mountains in southern Turkmenistan, and laid waste everything that came across their way until they could take away the treasured Akhal-Teke horses as spoils of war.

The ancient race of Akhal-Teke horses, dating to 2,400 BC, were much fancied for their elegance, strength, stamina and beauty. Alexander the Great apparently took away with him hundreds of these horses as prized trophies during his campaign in Central Asia.

So Turkmenistan's collective memory will be stirred by the announcement on Monday that the country may have in the Yoloten-Osman deposits one of the world's four or five largest gas fields.

British consultancy firm Gaffney, Cline & Associates (GCA), making the announcement in Ashgabat regarding the first results of its audit of Turkmen gas reserves, said its low estimate under the established international and classification system is that the fields may have a minimum 4 trillion cubic meters of gas and as much as a staggering 14 trillion cubic meters.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Thursday, 16 October 2008


Takashi Hirokawa and Sachiko Sakamaki

Bloomberg, October 16, 2008

Japan's Prime Minister Taro Aso said the U.S. government must accelerate steps to bail out financial institutions to help arrest plunging stock values.

“People think the $250 billion plan is insufficient and that's why markets are falling,” Aso, 68, told lawmakers today in a reference to the U.S. initiative to buy stakes in thousands of financial firms. “They need to make a quick decision to inject capital.”

Aso, who took office last month, is seeking to convince voters his government has limited responsibility for a growing financial crisis that triggered record declines for Japanese stocks last week. His Liberal Democratic Party, in power for but 10 months since 1955, faces opposition demands to call an election as early as next month.

“Aso wants to blame the U.S. and show he's doing his best to help the economy,” said Kazutaka Kirishima, an economics professor at Josai University, northwest of Tokyo. “All he cares about is the political situation.”

Japan's government said Oct. 14 it would halt sales of almost 2 trillion yen ($19.8 billion) of shares it bought since 2002 and ease restrictions on company buybacks to stabilize financial markets. The Bank of Japan, already with the lowest borrowing costs for a major economy, didn't participate in coordinated global interest-rate cuts last week. The central bank said it will offer banks as many dollars as they want in a bid to lower borrowing costs in money markets and free up credit.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Tuesday, 14 October 2008


Yousuf Nazar

Dawn, October 15, 2008

PRESIDENT Zardari is visiting China at a time when the global economic power balance is undergoing a historic shift.

“End of US era — now China calls the tune” declares a headline of The Sydney Morning Herald, Australia’s oldest and most respected newspaper. “Can Chinese cash save the world’s banks?” is a lead story in Time. “Is this the end of the American era?” is the title of an op-ed written by noted historian Paul Kennedy in The Sunday Times, UK.

Billionaire investor George Soros has predicted the financial crisis would mean the end of a US-led market system that has dominated the global economy through debt and deregulation since the 1980s. “This is now over. The game is out. It does mean a very serious adjustment for America,” Soros said in a CNN interview.

China should lead rescue efforts for the US financial crisis, Mexican tycoon Carlos Sim, one of the world’s richest men, told the press last week. “China is now the most important country to help responsibly in this crisis,” he said.

“China owns us, lock, stock and barrel, so it’s more important than ever that the US monetary authorities coordinate their monetary policies with China,” Chris Rupkey, New York-based chief financial economist at Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi, Japan’s largest, told Bloomberg.

The headlines and report convey a dawning realisation in western capitals that the biggest casualty of the western financial meltdown might be the US dominance of the global financial system, the linchpin of its global power. And that it is China, with over $1.8 trillion in foreign exchange reserves growing at a pace of $40bn a month, which holds the key to the financing of the astronomical budget deficit that the US will have to run to finance the bailout of its financial institutions.

(...) [artículo aquí]


Hari Sud

UPI Asia, October 14, 2008

Toronto, ON, Canada, — The world’s geopolitical map changed during U.S. President Richard Nixon’s visit to China in 1972. At that time China and the United States did not even recognize each other. Nixon’s advisor, the clever Henry Kissinger, had paid a secret visit to China to see Chairman Mao Zedong in July 1971, and offered friendship in return for China joining the United States in cornering the Soviet Union. Later, Nixon cemented this diplomacy during his 1972 visit. This diplomacy changed the eastern world permanently.

Eight years later, the Soviets made a foolish and disastrous move by invading Afghanistan. By 1991, the Soviet Union had collapsed. For U.S.-China relations, the period from 1972 to 1985 was the most important. During that period the United States gave China an economic advantage, which began China’s economic transformation.

Today, China has become an economic and military power that even the United States feels threatened by. In return for all the economic advantages it gave China, the United States got China’s export earnings, which it uses to finance the Iraq war, fund mortgages and meet other internal and foreign policy goals.

In contrast, India came into existence 60 years ago after a traumatic territorial division, and within a few years, adopted the Soviet model of economic planning and progress. The model had pulled Stalinist Russia out of oblivion, allowed it to beat Germany into submission during World War II and confront the United States, Britain and France in Europe. Indian leaders were thoroughly impressed with it.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Monday, 13 October 2008


Dune Lawrence

Bloomberg, October 13, 2008

China's Communist Party aims to double rural incomes in a bid to boost domestic consumption amid global financial turmoil that threatens to slow economic growth.

The government aims to achieve those goals and eliminate “absolute” poverty in rural areas by 2020, the party's ruling Central Committee said in a statement distributed late yesterday by the official Xinhua News Agency.

The report gave no details on changes such as extending the tenure of farmers' leases and boosting their ability to trade and borrow against land. State-media reports and analysts had highlighted land-use rights reform as the major potential outcome before the meeting.

China's party leaders, who met Oct. 9-12 in Beijing, have made “harmonious development” a cornerstone of their policy, shorthand for addressing income disparity and uneven expansion in the world's fastest growing major economy. Unleashing the economic power of the 737.4 million people who live in the countryside has taken on added importance as China faces a global slowdown.

“Maintaining employment and household consumption will be a key objective for government policy” in the face of the international financial crisis, Jing Ulrich, chairwoman of China equities at JPMorgan Chase & Co. in Hong Kong, wrote in an e- mailed report today. Agricultural reforms will be “positive” for “rebalancing the sources of economic growth,” she said.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Saturday, 11 October 2008


Glenn Kessler

The Washington Post, October 12, 2008

The Bush administration removed North Korea from its terrorism blacklist yesterday, a move that was aimed at salvaging a sputtering nuclear disarmament deal but that sparked internal controversy, infuriated Japan and drew some Republican opposition.
Critics of the accord with a charter member of President Bush's "axis of evil" said the administration had succumbed to the brinkmanship typical of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, who two days ago barred inspectors from the Yongbyon nuclear reactor, threatened to resume production of weapons-grade plutonium and appeared to prepare for another nuclear test.

But President Bush decided late Friday that North Korea had earned the move by showing enough cooperation on broad principles for verifying its nuclear claims, and yesterday morning, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice signed the document officially deleting North Korea from the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism. U.S. officials said North Korea, in turn, agreed not to restart its partially disabled reactor.

In 2002, Bush had famously lumped North Korea with Iraq and Iran, declaring, "States like these, and their terrorist allies, constitute an axis of evil." But preserving the nuclear deal with Pyongyang gives the lame-duck administration boasting rights of a diplomatic accomplishment it can pass on to the next president.

The decision reflects a striking evolution in the administration's foreign policy, toward a more pragmatic effort to open contacts and strike understandings with countries such as Iran and Syria, once deemed too belligerent for diplomatic contact. But it also runs the risk of alienating key supporters.

(...) [artículo aquí]


Edward Wong

The New York Times, October 11, 2008

BEIJING — Chinese leaders are expected to allow peasants to buy or sell land-use rights for the first time, a step that could draw hundreds of millions of farmers more firmly into the market economy, now centered around the cities.

The new policy, which is being discussed this weekend by Communist Party leaders and could be announced within days, would be the biggest economic reform in many years and would mark another significant departure from the system of collective ownership and state control that China built after the 1949 revolution.

Party leaders began reviewing a draft of proposed rural land reform laws on Thursday at their annual planning session, now under way. Policy changes are expected to be announced after the session ends on Sunday, scholars and government advisers say.
The most important change would allow China’s peasantry, which by official count includes about 800 million people, to sell land-use contracts to other farmers or to agricultural companies. Some economists say this shift would lead to more efficient land use and allow much larger farms to be established.

The Chinese leadership has long insisted that the country must remain self-sufficient in the production of staple foods, and is highly unlikely to allow farmers to sell land-use rights for nonagricultural development. But if a market for trading farmland developed as expected, peasants could gain a new source of cash income that could help revitalize the stagnant rural economy.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Friday, 10 October 2008


Michael Schuman & Coco Masters

Time, October 10, 2008

As the global financial system sinks deeper into the abyss, policymakers and economists in Asia are reflecting on their own past financial meltdowns in search of lessons that could help the U.S. and Europe. As ministers for the G-7 group of industrialized nations meet in Washington today to discuss the crisis, Japanese officials in particular are expected to offer up guidance to their Western colleagues. "Japan can be of help by letting them know our experience of struggling" with economic turmoil, Japan's Finance Minister Shoichi Nakagawa told reporters Tuesday.

The message will be blunt: If you want to restore confidence in stock markets and among financial institutions, recapitalize your banks — quickly. This message already has some traction in Washington. The U.S. Treasury department is discussing a plan to use public funds to recapitalize banks. The U.K. government already took that step earlier this week, while Iceland has nationalized banks.

Japan learned how to handle a financial crisis the hard way. In the 1990s, the country experienced a financial debacle similar to the one facing the U.S. today after stock and real estate bubbles imploded. The result was the Lost Decade. Between 1992 and 2003, Japan's real GDP growth averaged less than 1% a year.

Japan now realizes the mistake it made back then: failing to act with speed and force. Loose accounting standards allowed banks to hold soured assets on their books without writing them down to their true market value. This permitted financial institutions that were technically bankrupt to delay taking in fresh capital — a move that would have hurt existing shareholders but restored banks to health. The government dawdled for more than half a decade, allowing banks to carry on in a diminished capacity, despite the fact that with key lending institutions crippled, the broader economy could not thrive.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Thursday, 9 October 2008


Willy Lam

Asia Times, October 10, 2008

China's formidable state machinery was able to stage the largest Olympics in history and to have a "Taikonaut" perform a 20-minute spacewalk last week. Yet the world-scale scandal emanating from contaminated milk products has exposed the worsening malaise in the country's political and administrative structure.

As of early October, four children died and more than 60,000 children were sickened after having consumed milk powder tainted with melamine, an illegal chemical used by farmers to fake the protein content of their milk. Not only rich countries such as the United States and Britain, but also Asian and African nations ranging from Singapore and Vietnam to Gabon and Ghana, have banned Chinese-made dairy goods and a wide range of biscuits and candies made with Chinese ingredients.

More than a dozen big-name manufacturers within China's $20 billion dairy industry - as well as the country's food safety regulatory system - have been found guilty of either conniving in the use of the chemical or failing to spot the malpractice, according to reports.

(...) [artículo aquí]


Shankar Acharya

Business Standard, October 9, 2008

Gloom and doom is the prevailing mood as the world of global finance comes tumbling down and levies substantial collateral damage on global economic prosperity. Instead of one more sombre article on this now familiar theme, let me swim against the tide for a while and celebrate India’s economic prosperity of the past five years, 2003/4 to 2007/8. In doing so, I also hope to meet the criticism of some friends that my columns tend to dwell too much on the dark side of things (Darth Vader rest in peace). Actually, this complaint comes mostly from my Punjabi friends who are usually brimming with incorrigible optimism and gusto (even when the sky is about to fall down) and cannot sympathize too easily with my Bengali pessimism. After the Singur-Nano fiasco, they may better understand why we Bongs tend to attach low probabilities to good outcomes.

Most people know about India’s stellar economic growth in the past five years, at a scorching average annual rate of 8.8 percent (If they don’t, the finance ministry and planning commission will be happy to send them the data in multi-media). That’s a full third faster than the next best five year period in the country’s recorded history, namely in the immediate post-reform quinquennium of 1992-97, when the average growth clocked 6.6 percent.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Wednesday, 8 October 2008


Bill Powell

Time, October 7, 2008

In Beijing's corridors of power, economic-policy makers are said to be watching in horror as a U.S.-led financial meltdown gathers force around the globe. According to the rapidly congealing conventional wisdom, China, ostensibly the world's economic superpower-in-waiting, is taking copious notes on how not to run a financial system.

But that picture is only partly correct. That China is watching the meltdown with alarm is certainly true. The global economic slowdown on the tail of the financial-market blowout is already clear and present on the mainland. In what has been one of the world's prime economic engines for the past five years, growth is slowing fast. Look only at the price of steel — as useful an industrial proxy for China's economic boom as any. According to Mysteel, a Shanghai-based consulting firm, the price for products used primarily in construction have fallen to less than $590 per ton, down almost 20% in just four months, forcing some companies into the red in what had been a booming industry. Baosteel, one of China's largest steelmakers, has cut prices twice since August, and its CEO is glum: The era of rapid growth for China's steel industry "will soon be remembered as history," says Xu Lejiang.

But fears that the fallout from the U.S. subprime mess might cripple reform of China's financial system — now only partly open to the world — may be overwrought. Earlier this week Beijing sent a clear signal that, notwithstanding the mess in the U.S. and Europe, it still seeks to develop, slowly but surely, a more sophisticated capital market. China's State Council has approved a plan to allow margin trading and short-selling, giving domestic investors in China's A-share market "new opportunities to hedge and leverage their positions," says Jing Ulrich, head of China Equities at JPMorgan Securities in Hong Kong.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Tuesday, 7 October 2008


Kevin Hamlin

Bloomberg, October 7, 2008

China will cut interest rates as many as five times by the end of 2009 and will step up spending to limit the effect of the ``global financial tsunami'' on the nation's economic growth, Morgan Stanley said.

The central bank will cut borrowing costs by 27 basis points each time, reducing the one-year lending rate to as low as 5.85 percent next year from 7.2 percent now, Qing Wang, a Hong Kong- based economist, said in a note today. Government spending may add as much as 3 percentage points to economic growth, he said.

Global growth is slowing after the collapse and bailout of banks in the U.S. and Europe propelled the cost of borrowing in money markets to the highest ever. Slowing economic growth in Europe and the U.S., which account for 40 percent of China's total exports, will translate into lackluster exports, falling corporate profit and easing inflation, Wang said.

“A substantial improvement in the inflation outlook should help ease the lingering concerns about the inflationary consequences of an expansionary macroeconomic policy,” Wang said. “We expect a decisive policy shift toward boosting growth in the coming weeks and months.”

Wang cut his forecast for inflation next year to 2.5 percent from 4 percent. He lowered his estimate for economic growth in China next year to 8.2 percent from 9 percent and lowered his forecast for this year to 9.8 percent from 10 percent.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Monday, 6 October 2008

El miedo a nuevos ataques terroristas se extiende por la impotencia del Estado

Ángeles Espinosa

El País, 6 de octubre de 2008

Pakistán está en guerra. Lo ha reconocido su presidente, Ali Asif Zardari. Más allá de la batalla contra la insurgencia en las zonas fronterizas con Afganistán, está en juego su identidad como país. Los ocho años de dictadura de Pervez Musharraf, la incompetencia de las élites políticas y la miopía de EE UU en la región han dejado a los paquistaníes divididos. Ahora que un civil retoma las riendas del Estado, la confusión paraliza las instituciones.

El ambiente es sombrío en Islamabad. No se trata tanto de los puestos de control policiales y las barreras de hormigón que salpican la ciudad tras el último atentado, como de la sensación de vulnerabilidad de los paquistaníes ante un Estado que, como describe Khalid Aziz, "apenas es capaz de ofrecer seguridad, justicia, participación o desarrollo humano". Aziz sabe de lo que habla porque durante tres décadas ha trabajado tanto en el Gobierno central paquistaní como al frente de la Provincia de la Frontera Noroccidental, desde donde se gobiernan las áreas tribales en las que hoy están puestas todas las miradas. De allí salió, según el ministro interino de Interior, Rehman Malik, el suicida que destruyó el hotel Marriott el 20 de septiembre.

"Ha sido nuestro 11-S", se apresuró a acuñar Najan Sethi, director del semanario Friday Times. Sin embargo, el horror de 54 muertos y 250 heridos por la detonación de 600 kilos de explosivos en el centro de la capital no ha generado la indignación que se podía esperar, ni en la gente, ni en los dirigentes. Muchos paquistaníes critican que, pocas horas después del atentado, el presidente Zardari se fuera a Nueva York con sus principales ministros, en lugar de quedarse aquí a explicar la situación; tampoco lo hicieron el resto de los líderes políticos.

Buena parte de los paquistaníes perciben la lucha que su Ejército libra contra los terroristas de Al Qaeda y sus simpatizantes locales como una guerra de Estados Unidos, con la que su país no tiene nada que ver y de la que sólo paga las consecuencias (11.129 muertos y 800.000 desplazados desde 2001). Bajo esa perspectiva, atentados como el del Marriott no son más que la merecida respuesta a las operaciones represivas de los uniformados. Una vez más, se ha puesto en evidencia la polarización del país entre liberales modernizadores e islamistas radicales.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Friday, 3 October 2008


Dingli Shen

Asia Times, October 3, 2008

China is keenly following the Democratic and Republican tickets in the United States presidential elections - the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) even sent Ma Hui, director for the Americas at the CCP Central Committee's International Department - to observe the Democratic National Convention at the invitation of the National Democratic Institute, marking the first time that the CCP has participated in an American political party convention.

Numerous government-affiliated think-tank reports in China have repeatedly stated that Sino-US relations are the single most important bilateral relations for Beijing. Since Deng Xiaoping, the de facto leader of the People's Republic of China from 1978 to the early 1990s, initiated China's economic reforms, the United States has facilitated China's opening and development by providing capital and technology as well as an immense market for Chinese exports.

In 2006 US foreign investment in China reached $22 billion, more than twice the amount four years earlier. Outsourcing by US businesses has propped up China's growing labor market while generating more taxable income, which in turn promotes social stability - and by extension the government's legitimacy in the eyes of the Chinese polity.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Thursday, 2 October 2008


Maureen Fan

The Washington Post, October 2, 2008

BEIJING, Oct. 1 -- The government began taking 30 percent of its cars in the capital off the roads Wednesday in an attempt to make permanent some of the traffic restrictions imposed during the Olympic Games, officials and media reports said.

Beginning Oct. 11, Chinese motorists will also stop driving one workday a week, based on the final number on their license plates. The new rules should take 800,000 vehicles off the roads each day, according to reports quoting Wang Zhaorong of Beijing's Municipal Traffic Committee. There are 3.5 million cars in Beijing, and more than 1,000 vehicles are added each day, according to government statistics.

The attempt to manage traffic is one of the first concrete signs of possible lasting change as a result of the Olympics. The new restrictions come as the capital's traffic has once again surged and as smoggy skies have returned following the lifting of rules imposed from July 20 to Sept. 20 for the Olympics and the Paralympic Games. In an all-out effort to try to clear the air for millions of athletes and visitors, Beijing ordered more than a million cars off the roads, shut down polluting factories and halted heavy truck traffic.

Many in China seemed to approve, taking to the Internet to mostly praise the measures, which in the end produced bluer skies and generally smoother traffic flows. A survey of 5,058 people by the New Beijing News last month showed 68.9 percent supported the traffic controls based on odd- and even-numbered license plates, 19 percent objected to them and 12.1 percent had no opinion. Asked what they would do if the restrictions were to continue, 18 percent of interviewees said they would buy another car.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Wednesday, 1 October 2008


Heejin Koo

Bloomberg, October 1, 2008

U.S. nuclear negotiator Christopher Hill visits North Korea today in an effort to salvage a stalled disarmament accord, saying negotiations with the communist nation have reached a “very tough phase.”

Hill will press officials in North Korea's capital, Pyongyang, to agree to a verification system to check the extent of the regime's nuclear program. ``We've put together a draft to that regard,'' he told reporters late yesterday in the South Korean capital, Seoul, after flying in from Washington.

Disarmament talks have been stalled since Kim Jong Il's regime in August stopped disabling the Yongbyon reactor, the source of its weapons-grade plutonium, to protest delays at being removed from a U.S. terrorism blacklist.

The Bush administration says North Korea, which tested a nuclear bomb in 2006, will remain on the list until a verification system is in place. South Korea, China, Japan and Russia are the other parties to the talks.

Hill will present the North Koreans with a face-saving proposal in an effort to break the deadlock, the Associated Press reported yesterday, citing an unidentified senior U.S. official in Washington.

Under the plan, Kim's regime would agree to a verification program and submit it first to China, AP reported. The U.S. would then provisionally remove North Korea from the terrorism list, the news agency said.

(...) [artículo aquí]