Wednesday, 30 April 2008


INDIA IS STILL THE TORTOISE, CHINA IS THE HARE

William Pesek

Bloomberg, May 1, 2008

Sitting in Mumbai traffic for two hours to travel a short distance is enough to shake even the most enthusiastic India bulls.

India's infrastructure needs are painfully apparent the instant one arrives in the second-most-populous nation. From bumpy roads to flaky telecommunications to clogged ports to omnipresent shantytowns, India has a long way to go to join the world's most developed economies.

One gets a very different view visiting major Chinese cities. Beijing's recently opened airport is Exhibit A. It's a hypermodern, state-of-the-art monstrosity that offers a hint of the world-class infrastructure you will encounter downtown.

The more important divide between India and China is the pace of growth. It's something to which officials in New Delhi are paying more and more attention, and that bodes well for Asia's third-biggest economy. China's success is increasingly acting as a catalyst for change in India.

Investors have long since stopped viewing things in simplistic India-versus-China terms. Even Indian Finance Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram admits China has a serious head start in terms of growth rates, infrastructure and foreign investment.

Yet there can be little doubt that, looked at through the lens of one of Aesop's best-known fables, India is currently the tortoise and China is the hare. In the fable, the hare races forward only to burn out before reaching the finish line, allowing the slower-moving tortoise to win the race.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Monday, 28 April 2008


INDIA, IRAN TO DISCUSS PIPELINE, IGNORING U.S. FEARS

Jay Shankar

Bloomberg, April 29, 2008

April 29 (Bloomberg) -- Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and visiting Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will attempt to hammer out an agreement today on a delayed gas pipeline through Pakistan, dismissing U.S. fears the project may finance the Middle Eastern nation's nuclear program.

“There will be a proposed review that will be taking place which will discuss the price, review the price, certification and project structure,'' Manu Srivastava, director at the Ministry of Petroleum, said in a telephone interview from New Delhi yesterday. ``There are a lot of issues to be resolved.”

India and Pakistan need natural gas from Iran, with the world's second-largest reserves of the fuel, because a shortage of energy will curb economic growth. India last week rebuffed U.S. calls to push Ahmadinejad to end Iran's nuclear program.

(...) [artículo aquí]

THE LONG TERM RISKS OF CHINA'S INFLATION PROBLEM

Pieter Bottelier

China Brief (Jamestown), Vol. 8, No. 9, April 28, 2008

China’s tolerance of inflation has a low threshold because of the risks it poses to social and political stability. That is why the government and the people have been worried about a steep rise in the consumer price index (CPI) since the first half of 2007. Is this the beginning of a new and potentially dangerous inflation cycle? Earlier cycles were often associated with severe social hardship and political turmoil. The Tiananmen disaster on June 4, 1989, might have been prevented if the high inflation of those days had not brought so many additional demonstrators to the Square frightening the leadership. Older political leaders remember that the Communists’ defeat of the Nationalists in the Chinese civil war of 1945-1949 was greatly assisted by the run-away inflation of those years, which sharply reduced the popularity of Chiang Kai-shek’s Republic of China (ROC) government.

(...) [artículo aquí]

RESTORING DEMOCRACY IN BANGLADESH

International Crisis Group

Asia Report, No. 151, 28 April 2008

Bangladesh is under military rule again for the third time in as many decades. Although the caretaker government (CTG) insists its plans to stamp out corruption and hold general elections by December 2008 are on track, its achievements have been patchy, and relations with the major political parties are acrimonious. Efforts to sideline the two prime ministers of the post-1990 democratic period have faltered (though both are in jail), and the government has become bogged down in its attempts to clean up corruption and reshape democratic politics. Even if elections are held on schedule, there is no guarantee reforms will be sustainable. If they are delayed, the risk of confrontation between the parties and the army-backed government will grow. There is an urgent need for all sides to negotiate a peaceful and sustainable return to democracy.

The army’s intervention on 11 January 2007 was widely welcomed for preventing a slide into extensive violence. Activists of the opposition Awami League had stepped up street protests against efforts by the outgoing Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP)-led government to rig elections. Clashes had led to some 50 deaths by the end of 2006, and there was no compromise in sight. The CTG, headed by technocrats but controlled by the military, quickly ended street violence and raised hopes of political change, promising to tackle the corruption, nepotism and infighting that had crippled fifteen years of elected governments. It used wide-ranging emergency powers and argued that the exceptional situation, not envisaged by the constitution, legitimised its extended tenure and ambitious program. Its goals attracted support from key international backers.

(...) [texto aquí]

UNDERSTANDING THE GLOBAL RICE CRISIS

What's behind the current food shortages: Is the increase in ethanol production to blame or is hoarding the problem?

Frederik Balfour

Business Week, April 28, 2008

As world rice prices set new records daily, the World Bank has warned that the crisis could further impoverish 100 million people (BusinessWeek.com, 4/25/08). What's behind the current food crisis and what can the world do to dig itself out from the problems? Here are a few of the key issues to consider.

Has the increase in corn cultivation for producing ethanol in the U.S. and Europe affected the price of rice?

Yes, indirectly. As farmers in the U.S. and Europe plant more corn in place of wheat to produce ethanol, the price of wheat has risen as supplies have tightened. Faced with higher wheat prices, people are substituting rice in their diets, particularly so in Africa. And, of course, the demand for ethanol as an alternative fuel is linked directly to the soaring price of oil. Moreover, the cost of rice production has increased significantly because fertilizer, transportation, and processing costs have shot up along with skyrocketing oil prices

And how did that spill over to Asia?

India and Vietnam, the world's second- and third-largest rice exporters, saw the prices of soybeans, wheat, and corn skyrocket. In an attempt to keep a lid on domestic inflation, in late March both countries announced export restrictions. The idea was to ensure plenty of domestic stock of rice so prices wouldn't rise. But it backfired, because as soon as international prices shot up domestic traders jacked prices up at home anyway, leading to panic buying and hoarding.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Sunday, 27 April 2008


CHINA SAYS IT IS READY TO MEET DALAI LAMA ENVOYS

Jim Yardley

The New York Times, April 26, 2008

BEIJING — China appeared to bend to international pressure on Friday as the government announced it would meet with envoys of the Dalai Lama, an unexpected shift that comes as Tibetan unrest in western China has threatened to cast a pall over the Beijing Olympics in August.

China’s announcement, made through the country’s official news agency, provided few details about the shape or substance of the talks on the politically explosive issue of Tibet, but said discussions would begin “in the coming days.” The breakthrough comes as Chinese officials have pivoted this week and moved to tamp down the domestic nationalist anger unleashed by the Tibetan crisis and by the protests along the route of the international Olympic torch relay.

“In view of the requests repeatedly made by the Dalai side for resuming talks, the relevant department of the central government will have contact and consultation with Dalai’s private representative in the coming days,” said an unidentified Chinese official, according to Xinhua, the official news agency.

Whether talks would have any substance or impact is open to question.

(...) [artículo aquí]

TIBET THROUGH CHINESE EYES

Most Chinese think the West's real aim is to deny them the triumph they deserve for their success.

Kishore Mahbubani

Newsweek, April 26, 2008

The recent crisis over the Olympic torch and Tibet represent an epic clash: not just between Tibetans and Beijing, but between a self-congratulatory Western worldview and the very different vision of a billion-plus Chinese. Until Western leaders start trying to understand the Chinese perspective, friction is likely to grow, and the victims will include the Tibetans themselves—the very people Western leaders say they want to protect.

According to the current U.S. and European narrative, the popular protests in Tibet and elsewhere were entirely justified. The demonstrators pushed a moral cause: to free the poor Tibetans from an oppressive communist government. And the European leaders who decided to boycott the Olympics' opening ceremonies, like Germany's Angela Merkel, deserved nothing but praise for their courageous stance.

The Chinese view could not be more different. Before describing it, however, it is vital to dispel a major Western misconception. Many Americans and Europeans think that China's furious reaction to the protests—a reaction that has now inspired a massive boycott of Western goods and businesses in China—has been the result of media manipulation and information control by Beijing. If only the Chinese public had access to real facts, Westerners think, their attitudes would be different. This is a huge mistake. The reality is that some of the strongest anger toward the West at the moment is coming from liberal Western-educated Chinese intellectuals who have access to accurate information. China today enjoys the most competent governance it's ever had, and its elites are intelligent, well educated and sophisticated—the exact opposite of the "goons and thugs" described by CNN's Jack Cafferty.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Friday, 25 April 2008


ASIA'S INCREASING POWERHOUSE ROLE

Michael Richardson

The Jakarta Post, April 25, 2008

High oil prices are bad for Asian economies that rely on imported oil, among them China, Japan, India, South Korea, Thailand, the Philippines, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore and, increasingly, Indonesia. They fuel inflation, discontent, hardship and, in some places, instability.

However, these obvious problems conceal a tectonic shift taking place in the global economy. Asia's dependence on the oil-rich Persian Gulf is contributing to the massive transfer of wealth, influence and power from the West to Asia and leading Gulf energy exporters.

How does the symbiotic relationship between Asian traders and Middle East oil producers work? Asia spends many tens of billions of dollars each year on oil from the Gulf. Take China: It was a net oil exporter as recently as 1993, but now has to import about half the oil it uses and has become the second largest oil consumer in the world, after the United States. If the price of oil stays close to, or above, US$100 per barrel as forecast and demand for oil in China remains strong, Beijing will have to spend well over $100 billion this year importing crude oil and refined products.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Thursday, 24 April 2008


CHINA OVERTAKES US AS WORLD'S BIGGEST USER OF INTERNET

Jane Maccartney

The Times, April 24, 2008

China has overtaken the US as the world’s biggest user of the Internet, thanks to an increasingly web savvy population that has soared by more than 61 per cent in the last year.

More than 221 million Chinese were online at the end of February compared to 137 million at the start of 2007, tying for first place with the United States. But experts say that the number is sure to have risen steeply in the last few weeks, placing China in an undisputed number one position.

Despite the substantial increase,Internet penetration in China remains low given the size of the population - just 16 per cent of the country’s 1.3 billion are online compared with a world average of 19 per cent.

But experts say the number is set to swell rapidly in the next few years as the hundreds of millions of Chinese still toiling as low-paid farmers or as labourers see a rise in their incomes that will enable them, too, to afford to go online. Indeed, BDA China, a Beijing technology company, estimates China’s web population will grow by about 18 per cent a year, putting the total at 490 million by 2012 - a number larger than the entire population of the United States.

For Chinese, the Internet is increasingly becoming their preferred means of communication, their top source of information and their favourite point of reference for entertainment.

Huge numbers of Chinese choose to communicate via online instant messaging, finding the method cheaper than using the telephone and also a useful way to hide their identity when meeting new people.

The power and popularity of instant messaging was seen across China this week when one young man, in a show of patriotism amid international criticism of Beijing’s human rights record in Tibet, designed a red heart to show his love of his country. The heart was quickly picked up across nation and appeared on Microsoft MSN’s popular instant messenger service. More than seven million users have now added the little red heart at the start of their Internet messenger signature.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Wednesday, 23 April 2008


THE FUTURE OF AMERICAN POWER

HOW AMERICA CAN SURVIVE THE RISE OF THE REST

Fareed Zakaria

Foreign Affairs, May/June 2008

Summary: Despite some eerie parallels between the position of the United States today and that of the British Empire a century ago, there are key differences. Britain's decline was driven by bad economics. The United States, in contrast, has the strength and dynamism to continue shaping the world -- but only if it can overcome its political dysfunction and reorient U.S. policy for a world defined by the rise of other powers.

Text: On June 22, 1897, about 400 million people around the world -- one-fourth of humanity -- got the day off. It was the 60th anniversary of Queen Victoria's ascension to the British throne. The Diamond Jubilee stretched over five days on land and sea, but its high point was the parade and thanksgiving service on June 22. The 11 premiers of Britain's self-governing colonies were in attendance, along with princes, dukes, ambassadors, and envoys from the rest of the world. A military procession of 50,000 soldiers included hussars from Canada, cavalrymen from New South Wales, carabineers from Naples, camel troops from Bikaner, and Gurkhas from Nepal. It was, as one historian wrote, "a Roman moment."

(...) [artículo aquí]

HOW BRICs HAVE CHANGED THE WORLD

Swaminathan S Anklesaria Aiyar, TNN

The Economic Times, 23 Apr, 2008

In 2001, Goldman Sachs came out with the concept of the BRICs - Brazil, Russia, India China - as high-population countries that would dominate the world economy by 2050. At the time, global financiers sneered that this was a facile formulation to get business from the gullible. Very little global finance trickled into the stock markets of the four countries in 2001.

Seven years later, the BRICs have outperformed the most optimistic projections. Goldman Sachs had predicted that these countries would account for 10% of world GDP by the end of the decade. They have already crossed 15%.

Analysts have offered various explanations for their success. Let me suggest one more. Without consultation or planning, the BRICs have stumbled into a four-way division of labour yielding huge gains in productivity and synergy.

China has specialised in manufacturing. India has specialised in service exports. Russia has specialised in energy. And Brazil has specialised in other commodities (iron ore, sugar, ethanol, soyabeans, beef, orange juice). All four have become world-beaters in their respective specialisations.

(...) [artículo aquí]

INDIA NEEDS TO CATCH CHINA BUT GAP IS GROWING: FINANCE MINISTER

AFP, April 22, 2008

NEW DELHI (AFP) — India needs to catch up economically with China but the gap now is growing rather than shrinking, Indian Finance Minister P. Chidambaram said in an interview published Tuesday.

"We want to catch up with China but that requires greater political consensus on the needed (economic) reforms," he told the Wall Street Journal.

India is governed by an unruly minority Congress party-led coalition propped up in parliament by communist parties which strongly oppose liberalisation that economists say would boost growth.

China's one-party government can be quicker in spurring growth, Chidambaram said, adding "the distance between India and China is in fact increasing, not reducing because China's growth rate is faster."

"They are in the position to take some decisions which we are not," he said. "We have to follow a process that is more consultative, more deliberative and more amenable to judicial scrutiny."

The divergence between the Indian and Chinese growth rates was an area of concern, he said.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Tuesday, 22 April 2008


RISING FOOD PRICES A 'SILENT TSUNAMI', U.N. FOOD OFFICIAL SAYS

Kevin Sullivan

Washington Post, April 22, 2008

LONDON, April 22 -- More than 100 million people are being driven deeper into poverty by a "silent tsunami" of sharply rising food prices, which has sparked riots around the world and threaten U.N.-backed feeding programs for 20 million children, the top U.N. food official said Tuesday.

"This is the new face of hunger -- the millions of people who were not in the urgent hunger category six months ago but now are," Josette Sheeran, executive director of the World Food Program (WFP), said at a London news conference. "The world's misery index is rising."

Prime Minister Gordon Brown, hosting Sheeran and other private and government experts at his 10 Downing Street offices, said the growing food crisis has pushed prices to their highest levels since 1945 and rivals current global financial turmoil as a threat to world stability.

"Hunger is a moral challenge to each one of us as global citizens, but it is also a threat to the political and economic stability of poor nations around the world," Brown said, adding that 25,000 people a day are dying from hunger-related causes.

"With one child dying every five seconds from hunger-related causes, the time to act is now," Brown said, pledging $60 million in emergency aid to help the WFP feed the poor in Africa and Asia, where in some nations the prices of many food staples have doubled in the past six months.

Brown said the "vast" food crisis was threatening to reverse years of progress to create stronger middle classes around the world and lift millions of people out of poverty.

Prices for basic food supplies such as rice, wheat and corn have skyrocketed in recent months, driven by a complex set of factors including sharply rising fuel prices, droughts in key food-producing countries, ballooning demand in emerging nations such as China and India, and the diversion of some crops to produce biofuels.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Monday, 21 April 2008


CHINA, INDIA CAN REWRITE ASIA-AFRICA UNITY STORY

He Wenping

China Daily, April 22, 2008

While we followed the progress of the Beijing Olympic Games torch relay earlier this month, the first India-Africa Summit was held with great fanfare on April 8-9 in India's capital, New Delhi. Heads of state from 14 African countries, including South Africa, Algeria, Uganda, Ghana and Tanzania, attended the inaugural gathering. They passed two documents of vital importance - the New Delhi Declaration and the Framework Agreement on India-Africa Cooperation - that will pave the way for the future development of India-Africa relations.

It has been said that India's decision to hold this African summit was inspired by the China-Africa Summit of 2006. Indeed it is not hard at all to see the link between the two summits. The Indian academic community and the media have made no efforts to deny the link.

Some Indian and other media organizations made no bones about comparing the New Delhi summit to the one held in Beijing two years ago. Quite a few foreign media channels gave prominence to the view that India is competing against China to influence Africa, stepping up efforts to corner more African resources and market before China does, and so on.

(...) [artículo aquí]

BEIJING PRESSURES AUTOMAKERS TO IMPROVE EFFICIENCY

Keith Bradsher

The New York Times, April 21, 2008

BEIJING — The Chinese government is putting pressure on automakers to improve energy efficiency, but consumers are increasingly interested in large sport utility vehicles and full-size luxury cars, auto executives said on Sunday at the opening of the Beijing auto show.

The shift of the Chinese market toward larger vehicles will probably push up the country’s already voracious demand for imported oil and make China an even bigger emitter of global warming gases. The trend toward big vehicles is being driven by rising incomes for China’s elite as well as government price controls on gasoline and diesel fuel that are keeping fuel prices below world levels as a way to limit broader inflation in the economy.

The chairman of Daimler, Dieter Zetsche, announced on Sunday that his company’s Mercedes-Benz division would begin shipping GLK midsize luxury S.U.V.’s soon to China, and said that sales of Mercedes S.U.V.’s in China had doubled in the last year.

For the first two months of 2008, sales of sport utility vehicles in China were up 38 percent and sales of luxury cars climbed 30 percent compared with the corresponding period a year ago. By contrast, overall sales of cars, S.U.V.’s and minivans rose 16 percent.

The Chinese government has been demanding that automakers produce electric cars and gasoline-electric hybrid cars, and the manufacturers are complying. Automakers like BYD of China, Daimler of Germany and General Motors unveiled prototypes of electric cars and hybrids at the auto show, and promised limited production of some hybrids, like the Buick LaCrosse, by the end of the year.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Sunday, 20 April 2008


CAN THE ELEPHANT DANCE WITH THE DRAGON?

Shashi Tharoor

The Times of India, April 20, 2008

It has become rather fashionable these days, in bien-pensant circles in the West, to speak of India and China in the same breath. These are the two big countries said to be taking over the world, the new contenders for global eminence after centuries of Western domination, the Oriental answer to generations of Occidental economic success. Two new books have even come out, explicitly twinning the two countries: Forbes magazine correspondent Robyn Meredith's "The Elephant and the Dragon: The Rise of India and China and What It Means for All of Us" and Harvard business professor Tarun Khanna's "Billions of Entrepreneurs: How China and India are Reshaping their Futures — and Yours". Both books, though different in scope and tone, see the recent rise of India and China as literally shifting the world's economic and political tectonic plates. Jairam Ramesh's famous notion of "Chindia" has evidently come to roost in the American imagination.

Personally, count me amongst the sceptics. It's not just that, aside from the fact that both countries occupy a rather vast landmass called "Asia", they have very little in common. It's also that the two countries are already at very different stages of development — China started its liberalization a good decade and a half before India, shot up faster, hit double-digit growth when India was still hovering around 5%, and with compound growth, has put itself in a totally different league from India, continuing to grow faster from a larger base. And it's also that the two countries' systems are totally dissimilar. If China wants to build a new six-lane expressway, it can bulldoze its way past any number of villages in its path; in India, if you want to widen a two-lane road, you could be tied up in court for a dozen years over compensation entitlements. When China built the Three Gorges dam, it created a 660-kilometer long reservoir that necessitated the displacement of a staggering 2 million people, all accomplished in 15 years without a fuss in the interests of generating electricity; when India began the Narmada Dam project, aiming to bring irrigation, drinking water and power to millions, it has spent 34 years (so far) fighting environmental groups, human rights activists, and advocates for the displaced all the way to the Supreme Court, while still being thwarted in the streets by the protesters of the Narmada Bachao Andolan. That is how it should be; we are a fractious democracy, China is not. But let us not even pretend we can compete in the global growth stakes with China.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Friday, 18 April 2008


PAKISTAN'S RECORD ON TERRORISM: CONFLICTED GOALS, COMPROMISED PERFORMANCE

Ashley J. Tellis

The Washington Quarterly, Vol. 31, No. 2, Spring 2008

On June 24, 2003, at a Camp David meeting with President General Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan, President George W. Bush declared that key al Qaeda terrorists had been successfully neutralized thanks to "the effective border security measures and law enforcement cooperation throughout [Pakistan], and ... to the leadership of President Musharraf." Although Osama bin Laden was still at large, Bush nevertheless concluded that "the people reporting to him, the chief operators of al Qaeda, people like Khalid Sheik Mohammed, are no longer a threat to the United States or [to] Pakistan, for that matter."

Barely four years later, the administration has been compelled to revise the president's earlier, more optimistic assessment. Faced with a dramatic resurgence of the Taliban in Afghanistan and a steady reconstitution of the al Qaeda network in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) of Pakistan, a July 2007 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) concluded plainly that al Qaeda "has protected or regenerated key elements of its homeland attack capability, including: a safe haven in ... [the FATA], operational lieutenants, and its top leadership."

That the rejuvenation of al Qaeda and the Taliban is due in large part to their ability to secure a sanctuary in Pakistan has incensed Americans across the political spectrum. Because Washington has provided Islamabad with almost $10 billion in overt security and economic assistance since 2002 and continues to compensate the Pakistani military for its counterterrorism efforts with roughly $1 billion in annual reimbursements, many U.S. leaders are beginning to wonder whether Pakistan is in fact doing its part in the "war on terror."

The growing dissatisfaction in the United States about Pakistani performance in counterterrorism operations is premised largely on the assumption of Islamabad's mendacity, that Musharraf's regime, despite being well compensated and its habitual claims to be performing at par, is willfully neglectful of its commitment to root out al Qaeda and Taliban cadres operating from its territory for a combination of strategic and ideological reasons. The reality, however, is more complex. Although Pakistani performance in the war on terrorism has undoubtedly fallen short of what is expected in the United States, Islamabad's inability to defeat the terrorist groups operating from its soil is rooted in many factors that go beyond its admittedly serious motivational deficiencies to combat terrorism.

(...) [artículo aquí]

IN CHINA’S WILD WEST

Simon Elegant/Khotan

Time, April 17, 2008

While international attention is focused on Tibet, ethnic discord has also been festering in Muslim Xinjiang

"Silk road gem and jade shop," the sign proudly states. Centrally located just down the street from the main mosque in Khotan, a dusty oasis town located in the vast Taklamakan Desert in China's far southwest, the shop is a focal point for the Muslim Uighurs who make up the majority of the local population. But though it is mid-morning, its gates are secured with heavy steel padlocks. Warning notices from the Public Security Bureau are pasted across the doors announcing that the business has been closed indefinitely. Until last month, this was one of the biggest private companies in the city, residents say; its owner was a popular philanthropist. But now pedestrians keep their distance, some averting their eyes when passing. The shop belonged to Mutallip Hajim, a successful Uighur jade trader well known for sponsoring religious-education classes. He was arrested in January for unspecified crimes. On March 3, police announced that the 38-year old had died of a heart attack in prison.

Mutallip was killed by police "because he was too powerful, too influential," claims an Uighur man in his 30s. "Any Uighur who gets to that kind of position will always be arrested." Like many residents of Khotan — the Xinjiang province city is called Hetian in Chinese — the man was clearly anxious not to be seen talking with foreign journalists. He says he knows Mutallip's family, who had told him that several hundred people tried to enter the hospital where Mutallip died but were blocked by police, sparking a melee.

(...) [artículo aquí]

ENERGY SECURITY WITH A HIGH EXTERNAL DEPENDENCE: THE STRATEGIES OF JAPAN AND SOUTH KOREA

Pablo Bustelo

Working Paper, No. 16/2008 (Translated from Spanish) - April 14, 2008
Elcano Royal Institute

Summary: Apart from China, there are two other large energy consumers in North-East Asia: Japan and South Korea. These economies, which belong to the OECD, are highly dependent on imports (which account for over 80% of domestic consumption in both cases), especially oil and natural gas. In recent years their energy security has been subject to serious threats. This Working Paper briefly addresses the position and energy forecasts for the two countries. It proceeds to analyse the strategic responses of Tokyo and Seoul to the deterioration (whether perceived or real) of their energy security, highlighting the strengths and weaknesses of each approach. Finally, the paper details some of the lessons that other countries which are highly dependent on energy imports might learn from the experience of Japan and South Korea.

Contents

Introduction

1. Energy security in North-East Asia: an overview

2. Japan’s energy security strategy: the shadow of China
2.1. Energy production and consumption
2.2. Energy imports
2.3. Strategies to guarantee supply

3. South Korea’s energy security strategy: caught in a stronghold
3.1. Energy production and consumption
3.2. Energy imports
3.3. Strategies to guarantee supply

4. Implications of the energy security strategies of Japan and South Korea for the EU and Spain

General conclusions

Bibliographical References

[paper here]

ASIA'S OPTIMISM MISPLACED AS OIL HEADS FOR $200

William Pesek

April 18 (Bloomberg) -- There's that word again: ``contained.''

It's popping up in more and more media reports about the state of the credit crisis. Asian sockts rose for a third day yesterday after better-than-expected profits at U.S. banks boosted optimism that the worst is over.

News from JPMorgan Chase & Co., the third largest U.S. bank, and Wells Fargo & Co., the biggest West coast bank, managed to buoy shares of Asian banking powerhouses like Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc. The crisis, it seems, has been contained.

The decoupling story has come full circle. A year ago, Asia had outgrown the West. Then, as Asian shares fell, those arguing the region could stand alone became very quiet. Now the talk is that even with the U.S. teetering on recession, Asia's rapid growth will allow its markets to rise. Call it Decoupling Theory 2.0.

(...) [artículo aquí]

CHINA'S RISING FOOD PRICES CAUSE PAIN

Jodi Xu/Beijing

Time, Thursday, Apr. 17, 2008

Sixty-seven year old Beijing housewife Wang Litan faced an agonizing choice recently: Wang requires pain-killers to manage chronic back pain caused by diabetes, but the steep rise in China's food prices has forced her to choose between back pain and hunger pangs. "I need to keep taking diabetes medicines to stay alive, but I have traded in pain killers for meat," she says. "This is the time that I will have to live with some pain."

China's National Bureau of Statistics announced this week that the Consumer Price Index (CPI) in the first quarter of this year was 8% higher than in the same period last year. Food prices, the biggest factor in spiraling inflation, rose 21%. "China's economy has entered a period of serious inflation and it is more worrisome that the rising CPI doesn't look like slowing down anytime soon," comments He Fan, an economist at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. "Things are bound to get worse before getting better."

And Wang feels the pain, in her back, and in her purse. The retired Beijing Bus Factory worker cooks for her husband, son, daughter-in-law and granddaughter, explains, "I used to spend about one thousand yuan ($143) a month on food; now it has doubled."

(...) [artículo aquí]

CHINA: IMPORTED SOFT LANDING IN SIGHT

Morgan Stanley, April 17, 2008

Denise Yam, Qing Wang & Katherine Tai Hong Kong

GDP growth moderated on weaker exports in 1Q08: China’s 1Q08 economic report offered yet more solid evidence of an ‘imported soft landing’ that we had envisaged for the economy. Real GDP growth slowed to 10.6%Y, from the revised 11.9% pace in 2007 (+11.2% in 4Q07, before upward revision), on the back of tamer growth in exports, especially those to the US. Though export growth appears to have maintained a robust pace, up 21.4%Y in US dollar terms in 1Q08 versus +22.1% in 4Q07, the slowdown is much more pronounced when we assess export growth in local currency terms (and this is indeed the relevant assessment as far as GDP is concerned), which dwindled to just 12%Y in 1Q08 − the slowest pace since 1Q02. The trade surplus actually shrank by 11%Y in 1Q08 to US$41.4 billion, contributing negatively to overall GDP growth for the first time since 4Q05, by around 0.6 ppts according to our estimates (+0.3 ppts in 4Q07).

(...) [artículo aquí]

Thursday, 17 April 2008


(WAITING FOR) THE DAWN OF A NEW ERA

Comparative Connections, Vol. 10, No. 1, April 15, 2008

CSIS Pacific Forum

“It is always darkest just before the dawn of a new day” goes the old saying. Well, it looks pretty dark when it comes to U.S.-DPRK relations and the prospects for the Six-Party Talks, with no significant progress reported. Hope springs eternal, however, as both sides continued to work toward a much needed “third breakthrough.” With a change of government in Seoul and impending change in Taipei, an era of improved relations with Washington may be dawning. It’s a new day in Thailand as well, or perhaps more accurately, a return to the (good?) old days. Election results in Malaysia indicate that politics as usual will no longer be the norm, while in Russia, a change in leadership seems to represent no change at all. No change is also the operative word when it comes to Burma. Unfortunately, it appears to be getting darker when it comes to Tibet as well. Finally, with the U.S. economy sneezing, how confident are we that Asia will not soon catch cold?

-U.S.-Korea Relations: A New Day

-U.S.-Russia Relations: Weathering the Storm

-U.S.-Southeast Asia Relations: Domestic Drama and a New Path to ASEAN

-China-Southeast Asia Relations: Incremental Progress without Fanfare

-China-Taiwan Relations: Taiwan Voters Set a New Course

-North Korea-South Korea Relations: Back to Belligerence

-China-Korea Relations: Lee Myung-bak Era: Mixed Picture for China Relations

-Japan-China Relations: All about Gyoza: Almost all the Time

-Japan-Korea Relations: Inactions for Inactions

-China-Russia Relations: From Economic Politics to Economic Posturing

[web y PDF aquí]

Wednesday, 16 April 2008


BEIJING'S OLYMPIC WAR ON SMOG

Austin Ramzy

Time, April 15, 2008

With less than four months to go before the start of the Olympics, Beijing is nearing the home stretch in its efforts to clean up its air. On Monday environmental authorities announced the latest set of measures to ensure that athletes and spectators won't be subjected to the city's notorious pollution.

The government has ordered work stoppages at construction sites, chemical plants, cement manufacturers and mines by July 20. Beijing Eastern Petrochemical will suspend production until September. The city will also ban spray painting and crack down on printing, furniture production and motor vehicle repair outlets that don't meet city standards.

Two dozen polluting factories will be required to reduce emissions by 30%. The targeted companies include the Yanshan Petrochemical Co., the Number 27 Locomotive Factory, four power plants and several building material and glass production factories. Shougang Steel, which is scheduled to move to neighboring Hebei province by 2010, will be required to further cut pollution from its Beijing operations.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Tuesday, 15 April 2008


CHINA'S TIES WITH TAIWAN THAW

Incoming Taiwanese Vice-President Siew and Chinese President Hu make history with a chat at the Boao Forum

Dexter Roberts

Business Week, April 14, 2008

This year's Boao Forum for Asia, China's annual Davos-like meeting held on the tropical resort island of Hainan, featured plenty of pageantry. Under the swaying coconut trees, Chinese leaders over the weekend hosted the prime ministers of Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Australia and the presidents of Mongolia, Tanzania, Sweden, and Chile. Even the king of the Pacific island nation of Tonga was there and got the full diplomatic treatment of a military band and guard of honor in the nearby resort town of Sanya. Meanwhile, corporate chieftains from companies including Volvo, CNOOC, and Alibaba mingled over cocktails in elaborate evening banquets with Chinese opera performances.

But all of that was overshadowed by the presence of 67-year-old Vincent Siew, a Taiwanese politician who hasn't even assumed office yet. Siew, who becomes vice-president under Taiwanese President Ma Ying-Jeou on May 20, got less than half an hour of rushed talks on Apr. 12 with China's President Hu Jintao on the sidelines of the Boao Forum. Still, with those 20 minutes Siew stole the show from the many other dignitaries, with crowds of journalists and diplomatic and corporate delegates mobbing him everywhere the career politician went.

That's because the meeting between Siew and Hu (and a follow-up session a day later with China's newly appointed Commerce Minister) was truly a diplomatic breakthrough. Indeed, it was the highest-level exchange between leaders from China and Taiwan in the almost 60 years since Siew's Kuomintang (KMT) predecessors fled to Taiwan in 1949. And the contact occurred even while the two sides technically remain at war, with Beijing pointing more than 1,000 missiles at Taipei and the rest of the island. The meeting "produced great, highly satisfactory results," said a smiling Siew before leaving Hainan for Taipei on Apr. 13. "It's a great success."

(…) [artículo aquí]

CHINA’S ASCENDANCY TO A SPACE POWER

Jing-dong Yuan

China Brief (Jamestown), April 14, 2008

2007 registered another major step in China’s relentless pursuit of space prowess. On October 24, 2007 a Chinese Changzheng (Long March) 3A rocket was launched from the Xichang launch site in Sichuan Province, sending the country’s first moon exploring Chang’e-1 spacecraft into the lunar orbit. The first lunar probe will be followed by the launch of a lunar rover for a soft landing by 2012 and a second rover in 2017 that is to collect lunar soil and stone samples for research.

China’s long march to the moon reflects Beijing’s ambitious plan in joining the ranks of the world's leading space powers. As laid out in the “Eleventh Five Years Space Development Plan” in February 2007, implementing manned space flight and lunar exploration is placed front and center among the six space development objectives, which emphasize innovation of space science and its continued development capabilities, and international cooperation.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Monday, 14 April 2008


DEBATING CHINA'S EXCHANGE RATE POLICY

Morris Goldstein and Nicholas R. Lardy (eds.)

Peterson Institute for International Economics, April 2008, 592 pp.

Exchange rate policy has a great impact on the economies of the United States and the rest of the world. This important new book, based on an October 2007 conference, looks at this issue in great detail.

The book has four sections. The first section assesses progress since China’s July 2005 reform of its currency regime, with due attention to China’s global current account position, movement of China’s real effective exchange rate, the extent of the remaining misalignment of the renminbi, the roles of market forces and a currency basket in the determination of the renminbi exchange rate, and developments in the structure of the foreign exchange market. The second section analyzes how Chinese exchange rate policy reform will affect, and will be affected by, reforms and constraints in other areas of economic policy. The third section delves into the issues raised by China’s exchange rate policies for international surveillance of exchange rates and for the timely correction of external payments imbalances. These issues include the appropriate “rules of the game” for International Monetary Fund (IMF) surveillance over exchange rate policies, the effects of China’s exchange rate policies on other Asian emerging economies, and the contribution that US and European policies should make to external adjustment as a counterpart to and inducement for greater exchange rate flexibility in Asia. Finally, the concluding section presents specific proposals for how China’s exchange rate and capital account policies might be modified over the medium term.

These proposals address how best to eliminate any misalignment of the renminbi; how best to reduce pressures emanating from the sterilization of large reserve accumulation; how best to make capital flows the ally—not the enemy—of exchange rate policy; and what institutional arrangements and policy guidelines to put in place to reap the greatest benefits from management of China’s large exchange reserves.

Contributors include: Larry Summers, Jeffrey Frankel, and Ken Rogoff, Harvard University; Simon Johnson and Steve Dunaway, International Monetary Fund; Mohamed El-Erian, Harvard Management Company; William R. Cline, Gary Clyde Hufbauer, Michael Mussa, Edwin M. Truman, and John Williamson, Peterson Institute; Barry Bosworth, Brookings Institution; Takatoshi Ito, University of Tokyo; Stephen Roach, Morgan Stanley; Fan Gang and Jin Zhongxia, People’s Bank of China; Eswar Prasad, Cornell University; Shang-Jin Wei, Columbia University; Bert Hofman and Louis Kuijs, World Bank; Yung Chul Park, Seoul University; Jean Pisani-Ferry, Bruegel; Timothy Adams, Lindsey Group; and Brad Setser, Council on Foreign Relations.

[Chapters preview here]

INDIA'S ENGAGEMENT WITH THE AFRICAN INDIAN OCEAN RIM STATES

Alex Vines and Bereni Oruitemeka

Programme Paper (Chatham House), April 2008

In recent years India has strengthened its involvement in the African Indian Ocean Rim considerably. This shift in policy comes in part because of India's desire to compete with China's growing influence in the region. The Indian Ocean has immense significance to India's development. India's strategy is deepening not only commercially but due to concerns over its security and hegemony in the region, which are underpinned by India's 2004 maritime doctrine.

During the mid-1990s Indian foreign policy was largely introspective and concerned with consolidating its position as the regional power. Despite being a member of the Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Cooperation, there was little enthusiasm for the association and it produced few tangible results. The emergence of trilateral developmental initiative between India, Brazil and South Africa clearly reflected India's priority of positioning itself as a major developmental power.

The growing importance of the African Indian Ocean Rim to India is evidenced by increasing bilateral and trilateral efforts and improved relations, notably with Mauritius, the Seychelles, Madagascar and coastal states such as Mozambique, Kenya and Tanzania. India's most formidable economic and commercial partnership in the African Indian Ocean is with Mauritius.

[pág. web y documento aquí]

CHINA AND FOREIGN INVESTORS. THE END OF A BEAUTIFUL FRIENDSHIP?

Françoise Nicolas

Asie.Visions (IFRI), No. 4, April 2008

Major concerns have been expressed lately as to the risk of a rise in economic nationalism in China. Two categories of developments are usually cited as symptoms of such nationalism. The first category has to do with Government’s initiatives to aggressively push the country’s interests, either through the promotion of Chinese national champions or through the encouragement of Chinese investments abroad. Such moves are exemplified by the so-called strategic approach to energy security for instance, as well as by the “go global” campaign which encourages both state-owned enterprises and smaller private and collective enterprises to invest abroad. The decision to set up a sovereign wealth fund (China Investment Corporation) along the lines of the Singapore Government Investment Corporation may be seen as another facet of this strategy of state-led expansion.

The second category relates to the alleged change in China’s stance towards foreign investors. Rising signs of hostility towards foreign investors, and more generally towards foreign products (campaign against food products for instance) tend to substantiate the view that China is increasingly reluctant to let foreigners dominate some sectors of the economy and that it is seeking as a result to reduce its dependence vis-à-vis foreign investors. In this respect a major issue pertains to the recent revision of the Catalogue for Guidance of Foreign Investment Industries which is thought by some to reflect a turnaround in China’s approach towards inward direct investment.

These two sets of policies both aim at boosting China's overall involvement in the global economy. The present paper will address the second issue while a companion paper will address the former.

[página web aquí]

Sunday, 13 April 2008


DON’T FEED CHINA’S NATIONALISM

Public humiliation does not work nearly as well on the regime in Beijing as private pressure.

Fareed Zakaria

Newsweek, April 12, 2008

At first glance, China's recent crackdown in Tibet looks like a familiar storyline: a dictatorship represses its people. And of course that's part of the reality—as it often is in China. But on this issue, the communist regime is not in opposition to its people. The vast majority of Chinese have little sympathy for the Tibetan cause. To the extent that we can gauge public opinion in China and among its diaspora, ordinary Chinese are, if anything, critical of the Beijing government for being too easy on the Tibetans. The real struggle here is between a nationalist majority and an ethnic and religious minority looking to secure its rights.

In these circumstances, a boycott of the Olympics would have precisely the opposite effect that is intended. The regime in Beijing would become only more defensive and stubborn. The Chinese people would rally around the flag and see the West as trying to humiliate China in its first international moment of glory. (There are many suspicions that the United States cannot abide the prospect of a rising China.) For most Chinese, the Games are about the world's giving China respect, rather than bolstering the Communist Party's legitimacy.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Friday, 11 April 2008


ASIA IS NOT IMMUNE TO THE FINANCIAL MALADY OF THE WEST

Bill Emmott

The Guardian, April 11, 2008

Wobbles this week in Shanghai and Mumbai show their markets face familiar problems. Chief among them is inflation

It is so nice when a consensus forms among the economic commentators. There is going to be a recession in America, the pack says, and probably in Britain too, for we have both sinned with our debt, our deficits and our soaring house prices. But the world as a whole won't suffer, as the great emerging economies of Asia - ie China and India - will carry on booming regardless. News that China's gross domestic product expanded by an extraordinary 11.4% last year - its fastest rate for 13 years - only strengthens this view.

When a consensus is so clear, it is always time to wonder whether it might be wrong. That contrarian instinct was reinforced this week by the way that Asian stockmarkets, including those in Mumbai, Shanghai and Hong Kong, reacted to markets in America and Europe by going through wild gyrations of their own. A widely followed measure of such shares, the MCSI Emerging Asia index, was down 25% at one point this week from its October high.

(…) [artículo aquí]

TEN WAYS CHINA AND INDIA WILL AND WON'T CHANGE THE WORLD

Bill Emmott & David Smith

The Times, April 9, 2008

Bill Emmott and David Smith are both journalists and authors specialising in the rise and rise of China and India. They met for a discussion on the how the two Asian giants will shape the future of the world, at the Sunday Times Oxford Literary Festival, chaired by journalist Paddy Coulter.

Bill Emmott, is former editor of The Economist, and author of The Rivals: How the power struggle between China, India and Japan will Shape our Next Decade.

David Smith, economics editor of the Sunday Times, and author of The Dragon and the Elephant: China, India and the New World Order.

Click here to listen to David Smith and Bill Emmott debate the economic impact of China and India on the world (mp3, 34M)

[artículo aquí]

Thursday, 10 April 2008


INDIA, CHINA WOULD FARE BETTER AMID SLOWER WORLD GROWTH: IMF

The Economic Times, Apr 10, 2008

WASHINGTON: India, China and other emerging economies are likely to weather better the unfolding financial market turmoil even as global growth decelerates in 2008, led by a sharp slowdown in the US, says the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

The IMF expects world growth to slow to 3.7 per cent in 2008 - 0.5 percentage point lower than what was forecast in the January 2008, says its latest Economic Outlook update released here on Wednesday.

The April 2008 report cites the turbulent financial market amid a housing correction and a financial crisis that has quickly spread from the US sub-prime sector to core parts of the financial system, as the biggest downside risk to the global economy.

Further, world growth would achieve little pickup in 2009, and there is a 25 per cent chance that the global economy will record three percent or less growth in 2008 and 2009, equivalent to a global recession. By contrast, the rapidly globalising emerging economies have so far been less affected by financial market turbulence and have continued to grow at a rapid pace, led by India and China, although economic activity is beginning to moderate in some countries.

Nevertheless, growth across all emerging and developing regions will remain above trend, says the IMF report released ahead of the World Bank-IMF spring meetings over the weekend.

China and India - which grew at 11.4 per cent and 9.2 per cent respectively in 2007 - are projected to grow at 9.3 per cent and 7.9 per cent respectively in 2008.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Wednesday, 9 April 2008


BREAKING THE SUICIDE PACT: U.S.–CHINA COOPERATION ON CLIMATE CHANGE

William Chandler

Carnegie Endowment Policy Brief, No. 57, March 2008

The United States and China must make accommodations to curb greenhouse gas emissions if both countries are to break their “suicide pact” of self-destructive, energy-using behavior. Together they produce 40 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, yet both countries demand that the other take responsibility for climate change, meanwhile the threat of environmental disaster grows. For the first time, China is considering an emissions target while half of U.S. states have set their own targets—the time for a deal is now.

In Breaking the Suicide Pact: U.S.-China Cooperation on Climate Change, William Chandler, director of the Carnegie Energy and Climate Program, identifies practical, non treaty-based approaches both countries could take to cut their carbon dioxide emissions across economic sectors—with little financial impact. He argues that China and the United States should work together to set individual, national goals and achieve them through domestically enforceable measures and international agreements that prevent either nation from taking advantage of steps taken by the other.

Key Recommendations for U.S.-China Cooperation:
- Eliminate subsidies that discourage energy efficiency.
- Provide tax breaks for investment in efficiency and low-carbon energy and impose tax penalties on high-carbon energy.
- Make climate cooperation integral to trade policy, such as jointly setting production standards to limit the energy used to manufacture exports.
- Create partnerships between Chinese provincial officials and leaders in U.S. states on the forefront of climate change prevention to improve implementation of innovative energy policies.
- Promote market penetration of existing carbon emission reduction technologies and encourage development of new technologies by linking American laboratories more closely to Chinese markets to share research and development costs.
- Encourage banks in China to remove the regulatory cap on interest rates for energy-efficiency investments.

“U.S.–China collaboration poses no threat to the climate leadership of any region or nation or to global cooperation. It is a complement, not a challenge, to existing and planned emissions cap and trade systems. This act of mutual self-preservation would help the United States and China to avert climate disaster and the eventual sanctions of other nations if they do not act, and lay the groundwork for successful global action,” concludes Chandler.

[presentación y texto aquí]

S&P BULLISH ON `CHINDIA` ECONOMIES

Business Standard, April 8, 2008

China will lead Asia-Pacific sovereigns in economic growth in 2008, followed by India, Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services said today.

Though Japan is still the largest economy in the region, China’ growth could position the country as the biggest economy in Asia-Pacific and the second-largest globally within the next five years.

In a report published today titled “The Best and the Rest: The 2008 Asia-Pacific Sovereign League,” S&P’s highlights the key quantitative features and trends of its statistical forecasts for 2008 for the 22 rated sovereigns in the Asia-Pacific region.

“We also expect the Indian growth story to continue, with the country at number two in the regional league. In the global growth ranking, dominated by resource-rich nations benefiting from high commodity prices, China and India are still among the top 10 fastest-growing economies. Strong domestic demand is likely to support their economic performances even if demand from the US and Europe weakens,” it said.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Tuesday, 8 April 2008


RIVALS: HOW THE POWER STRUGGLE BETWEEN CHINA, INDIA AND JAPAN WILL SHAPE OUR NEXT DECADE BY BILL EMMOTT

Michael Sheridan

The Sunday Times, April 6, 2008

Economics may have shaped the Asia of today but politics are forging its tomorrow, says Bill Emmott, the former editor of The Economist, in a striking new book that predicts a dangerous power struggle between China, Japan and India.

Emmott's book is already selling well in temples of globalisation such as Hong Kong airport, no doubt because it stands out among the heaps of corporate drivel in the duty-free bookshops. A “disruptive transformation” is in progress, says Emmott, who edited The Economist from 1993 to 2006. It generates wealth but could set off conflict, he fears, identifying the tangled boundaries of Tibet as one danger zone.

Emmott explains that prosperity is not an automatic stabiliser. “Economic growth is a process, not a destination,” he writes. History has not been abolished or forgotten. War is not inevitable but neither is it inconceivable. The rise of China threatens Japan. The revival of Japan challenges China. The arrival of India as an economic and political actor creates a balancing power. All the while, titanic forces reshape global trade and wealth.

(...) [recensión aquí]

ASIAN INFLATION BEGINS TO STING U.S. SHOPPERS

Keith Bradsher

The New York Times, April 8, 2008

The free ride for American consumers is ending. For two generations, Americans have imported goods produced ever more cheaply from a succession of low-wage countries — first Japan and Korea, then China, and now increasingly places like Vietnam and India.

But mounting inflation in the developing world, especially Asia, is threatening that arrangement, and not just in China, where rising energy and labor costs have already made exports to the United States more expensive, but in the lower-cost alternatives to China, too.

“Inflation is the major threat to Asian countries,” said Jong-Wha Lee, the head of the Asian Development Bank’s office of regional economic integration.

It is also a threat to Western consumers because Asian exporters, even in very poor countries, are passing their rising costs on to customers.

Developing countries have had bouts of inflation before. Indeed, some are famous for them, like Brazil, which experienced triple-digit inflation in the late 1980s and early 1990s. But two things make this time different, and together promise to send prices higher at Wal-Mart and supermarkets alike in the United States, just as the possibility of recession looms.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Monday, 7 April 2008


DESCONCERTADOS ANTE ASIA (recensión)

Pablo Bustelo

Foreign Policy en español, abril-mayo de 2008

The New Asian Hemisphere. The Irresistible Shift of Global Power to the East (El nuevo hemisferio asiático. El desplazamiento irresistible del poder mundial hacia el Este)
Kishore Mahbubani
314 págs., Public Affairs, Nueva York (EE UU), 2008

¿Otro libro más sobre el ascenso de Asia? Éste tiene al menos dos peculiaridades que lo hacen especialmente atractivo. La primera es que su autor es asiático, diplomático, antiguo embajador de Singapur ante Naciones Unidas y actual decano de la Escuela Lee Kuan Yew de Políticas Públicas de la Universidad Nacional de la ciudad-Estado. Kishore Mahbubani, como seguramente recuerdan los lectores, se encontraba entre los 100 intelectuales más influyentes del mundo seleccionados por la edición estadounidense de FP y la revista británica Prospect en 2005 (quedó en el puesto 98, empatado con el chino Wang Jisi y acompañado sólo por otros 13 asiáticos).

The New Asian Hemisphere –probablemente el libro más comentado de lo que va de año– es franca y deliberadamente provocador. Y ésa es su segunda marca distintiva. Viene a decir, entre otras cosas, que Occidente no está en absoluto preparado (ni siquiera mentalmente) para el imparable ascenso de Asia, continente éste que el autor considera mucho más apto para gestionar los asuntos internacionales, sobre todo en comparación con la –a su juicio– evidente incompetencia occidental. Mahbubani destaca la emergencia de Asia, desde Japón hasta India (al menos hasta ahora), como uno de los rasgos principales del siglo XXI. Señala con acierto que se trata más bien de un resurgimiento, puesto que Asia imperó en el mundo durante los 18 siglos anteriores a la Revolución Industrial. Añade que la prosperidad de ese continente, que empezó en Japón hace ya más de medio siglo y se contagió luego a los pequeños dragones, a China, al sureste asiático y a India, se debe al aprendizaje que esas sociedades han hecho de lo que él llama los “siete pilares de la sabiduría occidental”: economía de mercado, importancia de la ciencia y la tecnología, meritocracia, pragmatismo, cultura de paz, imperio de la ley y fomento de la educación. Y se sorprende de que los maestros reaccionen con descontento ante los progresos de unos alumnos tan aventajados. Los pupilos, dice el autor, han hecho incluso innovaciones, como las nuevas formas de cooperación internacional en las que predominan el pragmatismo y el consenso (por ejemplo en la ASEAN, el proceso ASEAN+3 o la Cumbre de Asia oriental).

(...) [recensión aquí]

A PASSAGE TO TIBET

Roger Cohen

International Herald Tribune, April 6, 2008

Remember how we had to learn about the Shia, the Sunnis, the Kurds and all the smaller agents of Iraqi fragmentation? Over the next four months, until the Beijing Olympics open, the world is going to get a crash course in China's various ethnic and religious minority groups and their resentments.

Violent stirrings in Tibet are just the beginning. With the world as stage, the Uighur Muslims of the northwestern Xinjiang region, the outlawed Falun Gong spiritual movement, Mongols and Kazakhs and whoever else wants his moment in the sun will have a dream opportunity to rail. I hope violence is contained, and the Chinese authorities show flexibility, but I'm not optimistic.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Saturday, 5 April 2008


Economics of Transition (Blackwell)

January 2008 - Vol. 16 Issue 1 Page 1-139

Special Issue on "Market Development and Inequality in China" (6 articles)

Free Access

[web aquí]

SEEING THE SIGHTS OF INDUSTRIAL CHINA: 2 FACTORIES, 2 FUTURES

Joe Nocera

New York Times, April 5, 2008

“The RMB is killing me,” groaned Jin Jue. Mr. Jin, a hip-looking 35-year-old with spiky hair and an all-black ensemble, describes himself on his business card as the “board chairman” of the Shanghai Jinjue Fashion Company. It was my first full day in China, and Mr. Jin was showing me around his factory on the outskirts of town.

RMB, of course, is shorthand for renminbi, the Chinese currency, also known as the yuan, which, since the beginning of the year, has risen more than 4 percent against the declining dollar. Even as the Chinese economy has become increasingly powerful, the government has kept the yuan artificially low, much to the annoyance of the United States. Truth to tell, it is still not nearly as high as it would be if it were unmoored from government control. When the Treasury secretary, Henry Paulson Jr., was in Beijing this week, he praised the recent rise of the yuan though — as he invariably does when he’s in China — he called on Chinese officials to let their currency float freely.

(...) [texto aquí]

INDIA LAYS OUT A RED CARPET FOR MYANMAR

Siddharth Srivastava

Asia Times, April 5, 2008

The elephant in the room when Myanmar's Number 2, General Maung Aye, was greeted graciously in India this week was an energy hungry China. Outbid by Beijing for energy blocks across the world, an alarmed New Delhi has softened its stand against Myanmar and is increasingly wooing the junta. Beyond energy, at stake are port projects, transport lanes and strategic control of the Indian Ocean.

[texto aquí]

Thursday, 3 April 2008


A GIANT PICKING UP SPEED

Tim Harcourt

Business Spectator, April 4, 2008

Are we ‘hugging the panda’ too much and therefore missing the potential in India where we arguably have stronger cultural ties? And why the comparison with China anyway? Well, it’s partly because of the enormous population of each mega-nation. China has 1.3 billion people, whilst India has 1.05 billion. Lots of people means of lots of potential but it also can mean lots of poverty too. India accounts for one-fifth of the world’s population and around one in three of the world's poor people live in India.

But the comparison is also made because of the relative economic success of China compared to India over the past 20 years. Their relative economic progress over the past twenty years is food for thought. In 1980, China and India were about level pegging when it came to GDP and per capita income. By 2007, however, China was over twice India’s size in terms of GDP and GDP per capita and eight times its size in terms of merchandise exports.

[artículo aquí]

CHINA'S RISING RETAIL MARKET

Chinese youth intend to spend "considerably more" in 2008 than they did in 2007. Multinationals had better start thinking young

Shaun Rein

Business Week, April 2, 2008

The subprime debacle has rattled retail sales in the U.S., forcing many companies to downgrade sales estimates as consumers shy away from checkout counters. Luxury retailers and credit-card companies in the U.S. have recently reported bearish projections for the coming quarters.

China, however, is a retail market on the rise. In 2007 China posted 17% growth in retail spending. Electronics retailers Guomei and Suning posted record numbers, and both paint positive pictures for the future as Chinese consumers continue to buy LCD TVs from LG Electronics and mobile phones from Nokia.

[artículo aquí]

DEVELOPING ASIA TO POST SOLID GROWTH IN 2008 EVEN AS MAJOR INDUSTRIAL ECONOMIES SLOW DOWN, SAYS ADB

Asian Development Bank, April 2, 2008

Developing Asian economies will register solid growth in 2008 despite a coincident slowdown in major industrial economies, surging food and fuel prices and a simmering credit crisis in the United States, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) says in a new major report.

ADB’s flagship annual publication, Asian Development Outlook 2008 (ADO) released today, forecasts developing Asian economies to expand at 7.6% in 2008 and 7.8% in 2009. The region posted its highest growth in almost two decades in 2007 – averaging 8.7%.

“Asia will not be immune to the global slowdown, neither will it be hostage to it. It remains tied to global activity through traditional trade channels, and increasingly, through its closer integration in international financial markets,” says ADB Chief Economist Ifzal Ali (video).

Mr. Ali says favorable policy conditions and impressive productivity growth associated with Asia’s economic modernization and structural transformation will continue to keep the region on a strong growth path.

ADO warns that the risk of an inflation spiral in Asia is palpable and urges policymakers to keep a close watch on it. Despite a slew of administrative measures and subsidies that are reining in price rises, inflation is expected to spike in 2008 and could hit a decade-long regional high, the report says.

Inflation is expected to rise to 5.1% in 2008 and gradually slide to 4.6% in 2009. Price increases will be highest in Central Asia where it will remain in double digits. Inflation is running at an 11-year high in the People’s Republic of China’s (PRC), and is a threat to other countries, like Viet Nam.

ADO urges policymakers to tackle the problem at its root. For some economies, this may mean a more flexible exchange rate, while in others it may need a scrutiny of fiscal spending and priorities and, in some cases, targeted measures may be warranted to ease supply pressures that are piling on to cost pressures.

Growth in the region’s main economic powerhouses, PRC and India, is expected to moderate as authorities tighten policies to rein in blistering demand and ease inflationary pressures.

PRC is expected to grow by a solid 10% in 2008 and the Indian economy is forecast to expand by 8%. The slowdown in the economies of the US, European Union and Japan will have a more pronounced impact on PRC, which is more open to trade than India. Growth in East Asia is expected to decelerate in 2008 to 8.1% from 9.3% in 2007. Southeast Asia will slow to 5.7% in 2008, from 6.5% in 2007, as its export prospects are likely to be pinched by a slowdown in the global economy. In Southeast Asia, only Thailand is expected to post higher growth after a return to normalcy in politics. Viet Nam’s economic expansion will moderate as it grapples to keep a lid on inflation. South Asia is also expected to lose some steam in 2008 mainly on moderation of growth in India. Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka will also be affected by economic deceleration in major markets as garment exports are expected to suffer. Growth in Central Asia is expected to decelerate sharply to 7.5% in 2008 from double digit levels in recent years on the back of weaker expansion in the region’s largest economy, Kazakhstan. A sudden halt of capital flows to Kazakh banks has triggered a reduction in lending and downturn in non-oil economy. Economic expansion in the Pacific Islands is expected to pick up in 2008 with the region’s biggest economy Papua New Guinea benefiting from high global commodity prices and Fiji Islands forecast to grow after contracting in 2007.

“Looking beyond the immediate bumps in the road, Asia’s long-term growth prospects will depend on how successfully countries tackle a range of structural constraints facing them,” says Mr. Ali.

These include maintaining macroeconomic stability, integrating into the global economy, getting prices to send the right signals, creating a conducive business and investment climate and above all, ensuring that the benefits of growth are shared by all.

[Comunicado aquí e informe aquí]

Tuesday, 1 April 2008


PREPARING FOR CHINA'S URBAN BILLION

McKinsey Global Institute, March 2008

The scale and pace of China's urbanization promises to continue at an unprecedented rate. If current trends hold, China's urban population will expand from 572 million in 2005 to 926 million in 2025 and hit the one billion mark by 2030. In 20 years, China's cities will have added 350 million people—more than the entire population of the United States today. By 2025, China will have 219 cities with more than one million inhabitants—compared with 35 in Europe today—and 24 cities with more than five million people.

For companies—in China and around the world—the scale of China's urbanization promises substantial new markets and investment opportunities. At the same time the expansion of China's cities will represent a huge challenge for local and national leaders. Of the slightly more than 350 million people that China will add to its urban population by 2025, more than 240 million will be migrants. This growth will imply major pressure points for many cities including the challenge of managing these expanding populations, securing sufficient public funding for the provision of social services, and dealing with demand and supply pressures on land, energy, water, and the environment.

[página web e informe aquí]

EAST ASIA & PACIFIC UPDATE - TESTING TIMES AHEAD

World Bank, April 1, 2008

Growth in developing East Asia will decline by around one to two percentage points to around 8.5% in 2008 as a result of the unfolding financial turmoil in the US and the resulting global slowdown, says the World Bank’s latest six-monthly review of the East Asia and Pacific region’s economies.

But despite the likely drop from recent double-digit levels, overall growth remains healthy across the region and most countries are well positioned to navigate the global slowdown because of the investments they’ve made in the last 10 years in structural reforms and putting sound macroeconomic policies in place, the report says.
In fact, according to the latest East Asia & Pacific Update, East Asia and especially China have increasingly become a “growth pole” in the world economy – acting as a counterweight to the slowing industrial economies.

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