Monday, 29 December 2008


Kevin Hamlin and Mark Drajem

Bloomberg, Decemberg 29, 2008

The global recession is re-exposing fissures in U.S.-China relations that Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson spent more than two years smoothing over.

Heightened tensions between China and the U.S. may worsen a contraction in world trade that already threatens to deepen and prolong the economic downturn. The friction comes as President- elect Barack Obama readies a two-year stimulus package worth as much as $850 billion that will require the U.S. to borrow more than ever from China, the largest buyer of Treasury securities.

“The American economic slump is running into the Chinese economic slump,” says Derek Scissors, a research fellow at the Washington-based Heritage Foundation. “It's creating the conditions for a face-off between Beijing and the U.S. Congress, possibly leading to destabilization of the world's most important bilateral economic relationship.”

Paulson, 62, who visited China 70 times during his career on Wall Street, made improving ties a priority when he arrived at the Treasury in 2006. He advocated diplomacy instead of confrontation, establishing a twice-yearly “strategic economic dialogue” with officials in Beijing, aimed at cooling tensions and deterring Congress from taking up trade sanctions.

The approach produced some results, including a pledge to share data on food safety and agreement to allow foreign mutual funds to invest in China's stock market. The value of China's currency, the yuan, rose 21 percent versus the dollar from 2005 levels to redress what U.S. officials saw as an unfair price advantage for Chinese products.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Sunday, 28 December 2008


Shinhye Kang

Bloomberg, December 28, 2008

South Korea plans to spend 37 trillion won ($28.5 billion) building more nuclear and gas-fired power plants by 2022, to reduce its dependency on oil and meet rising demand for energy.

The country will build 12 more nuclear-powered plants, seven coal-fired plants and 11 fueled by liquefied natural gas by 2022, the Ministry of Knowledge Economy said in a statement today. The projects are part of a government power supply-and-demand plan that outlines investment for the next 15 years.

South Korea, which imports almost all its oil, is trying to cut reliance on crude and diversify energy sources after oil prices in New York climbed to a record $147.27 a barrel in July. By the end of 2022, power-generating capacity in Asia’s fourth- largest economy will rise to 100.9 gigawatts from the current 65.9 gigawatts, the ministry estimates.

“By building more nuclear plants, the most economical and cleanest energy, South Korea can cope with high oil prices and reduce greenhouse-gas emissions,” said Yun Hee Do, an analyst at Korea Investment & Securities Co.

The cost of nuclear power generation is 3 won per kilowatt compared with 22 won at coal-fired plants and 89 won for gas, according to the ministry.

Nuclear plants will provide 48 percent of generating capacity by 2022, up from 34 percent this year, the ministry said in its statement. The country will reduce reliance on oil-fired plants to 0.2 percent from 1.9 percent.

South Korea’s plans are based on estimates that electricity demand will increase an average 2.1 percent annually through 2022. Currently, the country has 20 commercial reactors, 40 coal-fired plants and 45 gas-fired plants.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Saturday, 27 December 2008

Un año después del magnicidio de Benazir Bhutto, el nuevo Gobierno paquistaní no ha revertido algunas de las decisiones más polémicas del ex presidente

Patricia R. Blanco

El País, 27 de diciembre de 2008

El régimen presidencialista de Pervez Musharraf persiste en Pakistán un año después del magnicidio de Benazir Bhutto, la líder del Partido Popular de Pakistán (PPP), asesinada durante un mitin electoral en Rawalpindi. La llegada al poder del viudo de Bhutto, Asif Alí Zardari, el pasado 6 de septiembre no ha modificado sustancialmente el sistema político fraguado por Musharraf durante sus nueve años al frente del país ni ha revertido sus más polémicas decisiones, entre ellas, el restablecimiento en su cargo del ex presidente del Tribunal Supremo Iftijar Chaudry, destituido por cuestionar la reelección de Musharraf.

"Desde su toma de poder, se han producido roces entre Zardari y el primer ministro, Yusuf Raza Gilani", explica Ana Ballesteros Peiró, investigadora del Taller de Estudios Internacionales Mediterráneos y experta en procesos electorales en los países árabes musulmanes. Según Ballesteros, "a pesar de que el sistema político paquistaní es parlamentario, el presidente acumula mucho poder y Zardari no ha hecho nada por remediarlo".

Más grave es quizás el incumplimiento de su acuerdo con Nawaz Sharif, líder del partido opositor PML-N, a quien prometió rehabilitar a Chaudry al frente del Tribunal Supremo. Conocido como Míster 10% por las supuestas comisiones que percibía durante los dos mandatos de su esposa, Zardari no está interesado en el retorno de Chaudry, que cuestionó la amnistía concedida por Musharraf a la familia Bhutto para que regresara a Pakistán. Tampoco los motivos de Sharif resultan del todo transparentes. Según Ballesteros, "el ex primer ministro tiene asuntos pendientes con la Justicia y los magistrados destituidos por Musharraf le eran más favorables".

(...) [artículo aquí]

Friday, 26 December 2008


Kartik Goyal

Bloomberg, December 26, 2008

India’s inflation slowed to a nine- month low, giving the central bank room to cut interest rates further to support a faltering economy.

Wholesale prices increased 6.61 percent in the week to Dec. 13 from a year earlier after gaining 6.84 percent the previous week, the commerce ministry said in New Delhi today. That matched the median estimate of 17 economists surveyed by Bloomberg News.

Inflation in India has fallen below the central bank’s 7 percent fiscal year-end target amid lower fuel costs. Easing prices may allow central bank Governor Duvvuri Subbarao to cut interest rates for the fourth time in two months and implement the “aggressive monetary policy” the finance ministry says the country needs to support growth.

“The declining inflation trend will continue and that gives the Reserve Bank of India enough legroom to cut borrowing costs,” said Prasanna Ananthasubramaniam, an analyst in Mumbai at ICICI Securities Ltd. “A further cut in rates will help minimize the downside risks to growth and restore confidence in the markets.”

Bonds rose after the inflation report. The yield on the 8.24 percent note due April 2018 fell one basis point to 5.55 percent in Mumbai.

Inflation is likely to slow to 5 percent by the end of March, Arvind Virmani, the finance ministry’s top economist, said this week.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Wednesday, 24 December 2008


Simon Elegant / Beijing

Time, December 25, 2008

For a while, it seemed China night be different. Maybe the unique factors that have allowed its economy to grow at an unprecedented rate for nearly 30 years would keep it afloat when the rest of the world was succumbing to the impact of the growing global financial crisis. But that hope has now been crushed under an increasing tide of grimmer and grimmer statistics that seem to portray an economy in free fall. China will have its hard landing in 2009, and even the most optimistic economists now concede that GDP growth will be far below the 8% annual pace that Chinese economists and officials generally regard as the minimum necessary for the preservation of social order, possibly hitting 5% or under.

As the depth of the slowdown becomes clearer, voices from all quarters have warned of the dangers of unrest. In mid-November, President Hu Jintao said the crisis would be a grave test of the Communists Party's ability to rule China, a warning echoed by other lower ranking leaders. At a December speech, Premier Wen Jiabao confessed to being particularly worried about unemployed workers and university graduates. Even the head of the country's Supreme Court warned judges to take social stability into mind when passing rulings. Overseas, too, worry swelled about just how deeply China's fragile social compact might be shaken by the experience of economic hard times for the first time in 30 years. The Obama administration should have a contingency plan for "what we would do if there's a major collapse of the political order," Roderick McFarquar of Harvard, one of the world's most respected China scholars, recently told a reporter.

But though there are certainly both pessimists and optimists, a large number of China scholars and analysts seem to belong to what might be called the "China will muddle through" school. They believe that, although worst case scenarios such as rioting and protests in the streets like the 1989 Tiananmen protests are possible, circumstances this time are very different and make a messy but relatively stable transition to whatever the country's next stage of development may most likely be.

(...) [artículo aquí]


Jing-dong Yuan

Asia Times, December 24, 2008

MONTEREY, California - Sino-United States relations in 2008 continue to remain relatively stable despite the fact that this was an election year in the United States. In past US presidential elections, the China issues tended to be raised by candidates for partisan and electoral purposes. Bill Clinton, for example, criticized president George W H Bush's China policy while candidate George W Bush characterized China as a strategic competitor.

However, this year, China has more or less stayed out of US presidential politics. While both president-elect Barack Obama and John McCain raised some contentious issues regarding the bilateral relationship that range from trade deficits to human rights, by and large the two candidates also emphasized the importance of maintaining a stable relationship with a rising power.

The high point of the bilateral relationship, from Beijing's perspective, was President Bush's attendance to the August 8 opening ceremony of the 29th Olympic Games. The Chinese were especially appreciative of Bush's decision to go to Beijing against calls for boycott in the aftermath of the March riots in Tibet, and despite the criticism of China's positions on the Darfur issue that led many world leaders to stay out of the opening ceremony. Bush went as he originally had committed, attended the official opening of the new US embassy in Beijing and encouraged respect for human rights and freedom of expression in China.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Tuesday, 23 December 2008


Omar Waraich

Time, December 23, 2008

Nearly a month since the Mumbai terror attacks that killed 163 people, India and Pakistan remain locked in a war of words, and cross-border tensions are rising. New Delhi is growing increasingly frustrated over what it sees as Pakistan's failure to act more decisively against Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), the group blamed for the attacks, and Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD), its affiliate charity. But Islamabad bristles at such criticism, noting that it has cracked down on JuD in line with a U.N. Security Council designation of the group as a terrorist organization, and arguing that unless India provides credible evidence to prosecute particular invididuals, Pakistan's hands are tied.

Tensions escalated Monday as Pakistani air force jets patrolled the skies over major cities while, across the border, the Indian Foreign Minister accused Pakistan of shifting "blame and responsibility." Residents in Islamabad and Lahore, the eastern capital of Punjab province near the Indian border, were alarmed by the sight of the jets swooping low over them. In a brief explanatory statement that made an opaque reference to India's alleged incursions into Pakistani air space last week, the Pakistan air force said that "in view of the current environment," it had, "enhanced its vigilance."

"[Pakistan's military] is trying to show to the Indians that it will not let incursions take place without being challenged," says analyst and retired general Talat Masood. Pakistani fears of a potential Indian military strike, which have simmered since the Mumbai massacre, were heightened Monday after Pranab Mukherjee, the Indian Foreign Minister, said that his country was keeping all its options open. While Mukherjee denied any intent to launch military action, he issued the latest in a series of stern salvos, demanding of Pakistan that "much more needs to be done," echoing remarks made by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown in recent days. "We have highlighted that the infrastructure of terrorism in Pakistan has to be dismantled permanently," Mukherjee told a gathering of Indian diplomats in New Delhi, adding that India has provided Pakistan evidence of the culprits, including satellite phone intercepts and a letter from Ajmal Amir Kasab, the sole surviving suspect, Reuters reported.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Monday, 22 December 2008


Peter J Brown

Asia Times, December 23, 2008

Just a few days ago, the organizers of the Google Lunar X Prize announced that one of the new international participants was a Shanghai-based German-Chinese team known as Team Selene. This team has proposed a Lunar Rocket Car (LuRoCA 1) equipped with HDTV cameras.

This might not necessarily turn out to be one of the first commercial success stories in Chinese space history. Still, it is noteworthy. Markus Bindhammer, the German-born inventor who heads the team - Shi Xiaojun serves as executive designer - believes that Team Selene has caught everyone by surprise. He is not aware of any other Chinese aerospace or space technology companies active in this competition which now includes well over a dozen active teams.

To win the US$20 million grand prize, a team must build and deploy by December, 2012, a privately-funded spacecraft that can make a successful soft landing on the moon. It must then travel at least 500 meters on the lunar surface while simultaneously transmitting video, images and data back to Earth. If a team does all of this by December, 2014, they can still claim a prize of $15 million. The second-placed team is awarded $5 million and there are bonus prizes as well.

"Our project is the first one [from China]. China will follow it, but with reservations at first. China is very open to new things and the people are enthusiastic. It is a first step in terms of cooperation between China and other nations regarding astronautics, and also a great chance for the Chinese aerospace industry," said Bindhammer.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Sunday, 21 December 2008

La salud de su sistema depende sobre todo de Pekín. Pero es necesario un trabajo conjunto para asegurar la convivencia mundial. Aquí van cuatro claves para emprender ese camino

Timothy Garton Ash

El País, 21 de diciembre de 2008

Ahora que conmemoramos el trigésimo aniversario del inicio de las reformas económicas chinas que iban a cambiar el mundo y que emprendió Deng Xiaoping, tengo que volver a la pregunta de los 65 trillones de dólares sobre el ascenso pacífico de China. Algunas reacciones a los artículos que escribí recientemente desde dicho país indican que existen muchas posibilidades de malentendidos, sobre todo entre los lectores chinos, de modo que voy a intentar exponer el argumento con claridad.

Empecemos por un posible final nada feliz. Cuando las grandes potencias ascienden y caen, existe más peligro de guerra: no hoy ni mañana, sino en cuestión de decenios. Esta proposición no implica ningún juicio de valor sobre la cultura ni el carácter nacional chino. Se limita a reflejar una pauta recurrente en la historia, visible a lo largo de miles de años en muchas regiones y culturas distintas. Puede no ser la potencia en ascenso la que inicie la guerra. Puede ser la potencia en declive, que emprende una agresión defensiva. Incluso puede ser una guerra contra terceros (la transferencia hegemónica de Gran Bretaña a Estados Unidos se produjo mientras ambos luchaban contra la Alemania nazi).

No hay nada remotamente original ni ofensivo en esta línea de pensamiento. La propia idea de "ascenso pacífico", lanzada por un importante pensador del Partido Comunista hace unos años, se basaba en ese mismo análisis: que, históricamente, los ascensos de las naciones, muchas veces, no han sido pacíficos (el término preferido oficialmente hoy es desarrollo pacífico, pero ascenso pacífico implica un análisis mucho más preciso). Por tanto, ése es el riesgo a largo plazo: la guerra. Pero la oportunidad a largo plazo también es enorme: imaginemos a una quinta parte de la humanidad organizada en un solo Estado moderno y próspero, que desempeñe un papel constructivo en un sistema internacional de cooperación y aborde retos internacionales como el calentamiento global que nos amenaza a todos. Es decir, lo que está en juego es muchísimo, para bien o para mal.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Friday, 19 December 2008


Jim Yardley

The New York Times, December 19, 2008

SHENZHEN, China — The ruling Communist Party threw itself a big party on Thursday. The country’s leadership marked the 30th anniversary of the reform era that transformed China into a global economic power and, in doing so, changed the world.
At a triumphant ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, President Hu Jintao invoked Deng Xiaoping, who consolidated power in 1978 and began “reform and opening.” Mr. Hu emphasized the party’s unwavering focus on economic development. “Only development makes sense,” said Mr. Hu, quoting Deng.

But beyond the oratory, Mr. Hu and other Chinese leaders are now facing a new era in which Deng’s export-led economic model, as well as his iron-fisted political control, face unprecedented challenges. Global demand for Chinese goods has slumped, unrest is on the rise in the industrial heartland, and China is scrambling for a new formula to preserve stability and ensure growth.

The downturn is so swift — exports fell last month for the first time in seven years — that Beijing is being forced to abruptly shift priorities. Until recently, Mr. Hu had been trying to curb excesses like rampant pollution and income inequality that posed environmental and social challenges to long-term development. Now, those priorities seem eclipsed.

Instead, leaders are restoring tax breaks for exporters and pushing down the value of China’s currency to encourage exports. At the same time, they are casting about for ways to spur domestic demand and wean China’s economy off its dependence on foreign markets swept up in the global financial crisis.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Wednesday, 17 December 2008


Shanghai Daily, December 18, 2008

China held a meeting this morning to celebrate the 30th anniversary of its reform and opening-up drive, which turned the once poverty-stricken country into one of the world's largest economies.

Top leaders, including President Hu Jintao, attended the ceremony, which started at the Great Hall of the People in downtown Beijing at 10:00 am.The celebration also drew nearly 6,000 Chinese from all walks of life.

In a speech at the ceremony, Hu said 30 years to the day witnessed the opening of the 3rd Plenary Session of the 11th Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee.That meeting ushered in a new historic period of reform and opening-up, marking the most significant turning point in the Party's history since the New China was founded in 1949, he said.

By gathering here today to commemorate the 30th anniversary of that meeting, Hu said they are meant to fully recognize the significance and great achievements of the reforms, sum up experience, and continue to develop the country on the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics.

Hu said China's gross domestic product (GDP) kept growing at an annual rate of 9.8 per cent for three decades, more than three times the world average.

The President said China's GDP had soared from more than 360 billion yuan (about US$52 billion) in 1978 to 24950 billion yuan in 2007, making China become the world's fourth largest economy.

(…) [artículo aquí]


Mark McDonald

International Herald Tribune, December 17, 2008

HONG KONG: In what would be the first active deployment of its warships beyond the Pacific, China appears set to send naval vessels to help in the fight against hijackers in the Gulf of Aden.

A deputy foreign minister and a leading naval strategist were quoted in Chinese state media Wednesday as saying that Beijing was close to sending a naval mission to the gulf.

"China is seriously considering sending naval ships to the Gulf of Aden and waters off the Somali coast for escorting operations in the near future," said the Foreign Ministry official, He Yafei, as quoted by Xinhua, the official Chinese press agency. His remarks came at a ministerial meeting of the United Nations Security Council.

Li Jie, a military strategist and naval expert, told the state-run China Daily newspaper that cooperating with a multinational force operating against East African pirates would be a "very good opportunity" for the Chinese Navy.

"Apart from fighting pirates," he said, "another key goal is to register the presence of the Chinese Navy."

The newspaper earlier this month said that Major General Jin Yinan, a military planner at the National Defense University, had conceived the Gulf of Aden plan. The paper quoted Jin as saying "the Chinese Navy should send naval vessels to the Gulf of Aden to carry out anti-piracy duties."

(…) [artículo aquí]

Tuesday, 16 December 2008


Sreeram Chaulia

Asia Times, December 16, 2008

A new study entitled "World at Risk" by a bipartisan American Congressional commission reveals that if one were to map terrorism and weapons of mass destruction (WMD) today, then "all roads would intersect in Pakistan". It warns that the next attacks on America might originate from Pakistan and urges the US president to take steps on a priority basis "securing" Islamabad's biological and nuclear weapons. Paraphrasing the report, the New Yorker magazine commented that Pakistan as a "nation itself is a kind of WMD".

Coming on the heels of the Mumbai terrorist attacks, which were planned and organized by Pakistani fundamentalists, the American warnings reflect a major dilemma facing international policymakers - how to make the world safe from Pakistan? The nature and extent of this challenge has been summed up by former US secretary of state Madeleine Albright, "Pakistan has everything that gives you an international migraine. It has nuclear weapons, it has terrorism, extremists, corruption [and is] very poor ... "

What options does the world have to counter the multiple threats to international security and peace being posed by a dysfunctional and dangerously adrift country? Should a country that is itself a WMD be allowed to possess actual WMDs, which are not only liable to fall into the "wrong" hands but also be used by the "right" hands for emotional blackmail?

(...) [artículo aquí]

Monday, 15 December 2008


Boosting consumption is key to economic recovery. But that will take fixing a disastrous health system.

Mary Hennock

Newsweek, from the magazine issue dated Dec 22, 2008

This month marks the 30th anniversary of Deng Xiaoping's economic reforms in China. But rather than celebrating, officials are in a panic. The global economic crisis has rammed home the message that China's old export-driven development model won't work forever; last month exports were down for the first time since February 2002, and overall GDP growth has dropped from nearly 12 percent last year to a projected 8 percent in 2009. Economists and party leaders now agree: the only way to keep China humming is to boost domestic consumption. That means getting Chinese people spending. But there's a problem. China's social-security network is broken, badly, and nowhere are the problems worse than in health care. A serious illness can still wipe out a family's savings. As long as that's the case, ordinary citizens will keep sticking large chunks of their income under their mattresses. And while that lasts, consumer demand will lag.

It's not that China doesn't have the money. Just the opposite: Chinese householders currently sit on savings worth $3 trillion, thanks to a savings rate of more than 25 percent, or about 16 percent of GDP—which is higher than all OECD countries, according to the World Bank. In theory, that cash could help China out of its conundrum. "We have a large domestic market. Savings are high, economic reserves are high," Vice Commerce Minister Yi Xiaozhun told a nervous gathering of elite Chinese entrepreneurs on a recent weekend. The government has already tried to allay fears with a stimulus package worth $586 billion, which Beijing will use to counter the effects of factory closures. But it plans to do this largely through infrastructure spending. According to the cabinet-level National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), some 45 percent of the package will go to projects such as new railways, ports and power stations. Meanwhile, only one percent of the total stimulus spending is pegged for health care, culture and education.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Friday, 12 December 2008


Ishaan Tharoor

Time, December 12, 2008

On Dec. 29, Bangladesh voters will cast their ballots in the nation's first general election in seven years. The polls have been a focal point of the country's politics ever since a military intervention in January 2007, which postponed scheduled elections in order to end escalating violence between followers of two rival political parties. In the interim, a caretaker regime of technocrats has set about trying to tackle Bangladesh's wretched record of corruption and reform its volatile electoral politics. Results have been mixed, but the government now looks ready to deliver on its promises for free and credible polls — an effort that's not going unnoticed. Just this week, U.S. Senator John McCain, the defeated Republican candidate for president, declared on a visit to Dhaka that "this has the possibility of being the fairest election, perhaps in the entire world."

Much of that optimism has to do with the efforts of the well-educated, mild-mannered bureaucrats running the caretaker government for the past 23 months. On Wednesday, it announced that the state of emergency will be finally lifted on Dec. 17 so that parties can campaign and assemble freely. During its tenure, the government has taken to task the country's crony-state politics, strengthened regulatory bodies like the election and anti-corruption commissions, and documented and photographed the over 80 million people eligible to vote in elections — a stunning feat in this vastly impoverished nation of 150 million where many remain illiterate.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Thursday, 11 December 2008


Somini Sengupta, Robert F. Worth and Mark McDonald

International Herald Tribune, December 11, 2008

Calling Pakistan the epicenter of terror attacks against India, Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee called on the government in Islamabad Thursday to do more than detain leaders of extremist groups even as he hinted that India does not "intend to be provoked" into a military conflict.

Mukherjee, speaking to Parliament in its first session since the three-day siege of Mumbai last month, reiterated India's demand for about 40 fugitives and suspected terror suspects whom it says are taking shelter in Pakistan. His comments seemed designed to avoid directly criticizing the president of Pakistan, Asif Ali Zardari, with whose democratically elected government he said he had "no quarrel."

At the same time, he pressed the Zardari administration to close down the "infrastructure" that enables terror strikes against India.

Shortly after the Mumbai attacks, Zardari had described the terror suspects as "nonstate actors" over whom the Pakistani government had no control. On Thursday, that statement met with a stinging retort from Mukherjee.

"Are they nonstate actors coming from heaven, or they are coming from a different planet?" Mukherjee asked. "Nonstate actors are operating from a particular country. What we are most respectfully submitting, suggesting to the government of Pakistan: 'Please act. Mere expression of intention is not adequate."

(...) [artículo aquí]

Wednesday, 10 December 2008


Kevin Hamlin and Li Yanping

Bloomberg, December 10, 2008

China’s exports fell for the first time in seven years, more evidence that recessions in the U.S., Europe and Japan are driving the world’s fourth-largest economy into a slump.

Exports declined 2.2 percent in November from a year earlier, the customs bureau said in a statement on its Web site today. Imports plunged 17.9 percent, pushing the trade surplus to a record $40.09 billion.

The trade collapse intensifies pressure on China’s leaders to cut interest rates, extend a 4 trillion yuan ($581 billion) spending plan and let the yuan depreciate. China’s exports quadrupled after the country joined the World Trade Organization in 2001, helping to make it the fastest-expanding major economy and the biggest contributor to global growth.

“The figures are horrifying,” said Lu Zhengwei, chief economist at Industrial Bank Co. in Shanghai. “Plunging imports show that on top of faltering global demand, domestic demand is also shrinking as the economy cools.”

The yuan closed at 6.8633 against the dollar at 5:30 p.m. in Shanghai, from 6.8601 before the data was released.

Imports fell by the most since at least 1995, when Bloomberg data began, as commodity prices declined and weakness in manufacturing and construction cut demand for raw materials. The previous decline was seven years ago.

Economists exclude figures from January and February each year because of distortions caused by Lunar New Year holidays.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Tuesday, 9 December 2008


Heejin Koo

Bloomberg, December 9, 2008

North Korea, plagued by years of famine, will “urgently” need food aid for 40 percent of its population, the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Food Programme said in a report yesterday. .

The country is facing a shortfall of more than 800,000 tons of grain for the year through October 2009, in what is likely to be a third straight year of dropping food production, the report said.

About 8.7 million of the country’s 23 million people will “urgently need food assistance,” because “the country’s agricultural production will not meet basic food needs,” according to a FAO/WFP Crop and Food Security Assessment Mission report. The agencies visited North Korea from Oct. 9-24.

“The findings of the mission confirm WFP’s fears that millions of DPRK households will suffer through yet another year of food shortages,” WFP country Representative Torben Due said in a statement from Pyongyang, referring to North Korea by its official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

“Accessing enough food and a balanced diet will be almost impossible, particularly for families living in urban areas or in the remote food-deficit provinces in the Northeast,” Due said. “This could have grave consequences for the health of the most vulnerable groups.”

(...) [artículo aquí]

Monday, 8 December 2008


Soaring stocks, rising steel prices, and a glimpse of a real estate recovery suggest business confidence is growing as China's massive stimulus package kicks in

Frederik Balfour

Business Week, December 8, 2008

The economic news from China looks anything but encouraging these days. The export slump is deepening, corporate earnings in the third quarter fell 13% from a year earlier, while industrial output growth has hit a seven-year low and cash-flow problems are plaguing airlines, manufacturers, and beleaguered property companies. The latest evidence of a slowdown: China's auto sales fell 10% in November from a year earlier.

But this litany of woes may indeed mark the beginning of the end of China's economic travails, say China watchers. "Don't be disheartened by disappointing numbers in the fourth quarter," says Jing Ulrich, managing director and chairman of China equities at JPMorgan Chase in Hong Kong, who says growth in industrial production and exports may be negative. "I feel there is a glimmer of hope, and the second quarter will show signs of economic recovery." By that time the benefits of China's massive $582 billion stimulus package (, 11/9/08) could start to flow through, and the economy could kick into a higher gear once again. Annual gross domestic product growth could well slow to 7% in the first half but exceed 8% in the second half, says Ulrich, ensuring that the economy chugs along fast enough to prevent unemployment from rising.

Investors were certainly feeling hopeful in trading on Dec. 8. Asian stocks rose sharply, with Japan's Nikkei up 5.4% and South Korea's Kospi up 7.5%. In Hong Kong the benchmark Hang Seng index soared 8.6% on optimism about further stimulus measures from Beijing as well as the incoming Obama Administration. Contributing to the upbeat mood was the opening of an annual meeting of economic policymakers in Beijing. The government's three-day Central Economic Work Conference began on Monday amid widespread speculation that Chinese officials were gearing up for additional measures to stimulate the economy. A recovery in China could also help pull the rest of the region along, says Ulrich. "China is the single biggest trading partner for all regional economies, and if China recovers it will have a multiplier effect," she says.

(...) [artículo aquí]


M K Bhadrakumar

Asia Times, December 9, 2008

The visit of Russian President Dmitry Medvedev to New Delhi last week turned out to be an occasion for the Indian government to fundamentally reassess the strategic significance of the traditional India-Russia partnership. No doubt, the visit took place at a turning point in contemporary history and politics against the backdrop of massive shifts in the international system.

Medvedev arrived in India in the immediate aftermath of the horrific terrorist strikes on Mumbai. The regional security situation - especially Afghanistan - naturally figured prominently in the agenda of the visit.

The joint declaration signed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Medvedev after extensive talks in New Delhi reflects that the two sides have taken serious pains to understand each other's vital concerns and have endeavored to go more than half the distance to accommodate them. They also made a conscious effort to expand their common ground in the international system. After a considerable lapse of time, Russian-Indian relationship seems to be on the move.

Things which were hanging fire in the general drift of Russian-India relations in recent years are being attended to. Principal among them is the tendentious issue of the escalation of costs for the Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov, which India has contracted to buy. On the eve of Medvedev's visit, the Indian cabinet took the decision to agree to discuss an additional US$2.2 billion payment as demanded by Russia. The government also has approved the acquisition of 80 medium-lift Mi-17 helicopters from Russia worth $1.3 billion.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Sunday, 7 December 2008


Helene Cooper

The New York Times, December 7, 2008

WASHINGTON — The Mumbai attacks may have begun with Lashkar-e-Taiba, a Pakistani guerrilla group known in the West mostly for its preoccupation with Kashmir. But by the time the crisis finally ends, foreign policy experts say, the fallout may have expanded to include the United States, NATO, Afghanistan and Iran.

Once again, South Asia is showing itself to be vulnerable to contagion. President-elect Barack Obama during the campaign laid out an intricate construction for what might happen in South Asia with the right American push. He advocated increasing American troops in Afghanistan and pressing Pakistan to do more to evict foreign fighters and to attack training camps for radical terrorists along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.

Such actions, Mr. Obama said, would help prevent the Taliban and Al Qaeda from using Pakistani soil as a staging area for attacks in Afghanistan or on the United States or other Western targets.

Seldom did Mr. Obama mention or include India in his roadmap to peace in South Asia. During an interview with Time magazine, Mr. Obama did hint at trying to make a diplomatic push to mediate the Kashmir issue. But most of his South Asia focus has been on Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The trouble, South Asia experts say, is that just about every issue in the region is somehow interconnected, and they all have a tendency to set each other off. The Mumbai attacks killed 163 civilians and members of the security forces, , and terrorized India’s most populous city for more than three days. But when the dust had cleared, “there was a lot more wreckage than just that,” said Teresita C. Schaffer, a South Asia expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

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Saturday, 6 December 2008


Andrew Jacobs

The New York Times, December 6, 2008

BEIJING — There was an agreement to make it easier for foreign banks to trade bonds in China. There were memorandums on energy conservation. And there was the creation of a formal partnership to encourage a Kansas town shattered by a tornado to share green reconstruction methods with an earthquake-devastated city in Sichuan Province.

For Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr., the two days of economic dialogue with Chinese officials that ended Friday produced a modest stream of achievements, including pledges by both nations to spend $20 billion to help finance trade in developing countries.

Even if the marquee economic conference that Mr. Paulson helped establish in 2006 was supposed to be more about big ideas and less about deliverables, the pressure to come up with tangible successes has been hard to resist.

This year was no exception, and the jointly issued “fact sheet” listed five pages of agreements on issues like forest management, food safety, plug-in hybrid cars and offshore wind farms.

But the United States-China Strategic Economic Dialogue, as it is called, also left many large issues unresolved and served to highlight tensions between the world’s biggest economy and the world’s largest developing one.

For the Americans, they include efforts to open China’s financial sector to United States securities firms and longstanding tensions over government control of the yuan, whose weakness against the dollar has contributed to a yawning trade gap between the two countries.

For the Chinese, there were oblique criticisms that America’s profligate ways had sent the global economy into a tailspin and threatened China’s stability. Largely unspoken is the fact that the Chinese government has become the largest holder of United States Treasury securities, with about $600 billion of China’s savings invested in American debt.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Friday, 5 December 2008


The Economic Times, December 5, 2008

MUMBAI: With the emerging economies, including China and India, also being expressly hit by the economic recession in the US, UK, Japan and most of Europe, the de-coupling theory has been clearly rebutted.

What has buried the theory is the fact that many major economies are facing grave capital flow reversals, export contractions and resultant large-scale job losses. Although India has managed to post 7.6% GDP growth in the second quarter of this fiscal, it is facing the prospect of a further slide in growth in the three-four quarters at least, according to most economic think tanks.

China has already cut production heavily in major industries like steel, and is struggling to sell goods in non-western markets that are also beginning to see a consumption slowdown in the aftermath of the global crisis. The governments of both China and India are trying with varying degrees of resolve to give a fiscal support to their economies, in a bid to offset the negative impact of the export slowdown.

The Reserve Bank of India governor D Subbarao on Thursday virtually dumped the de-coupling theory. So it is now India’s official line so to say. The governor said in Hyderabad, “ a rapidly globalising world, the de-coupling theory was never totally persuasive; given the evidence of the last few months—capital flow reversals, sharp widening of spreads on sovereign and corporate debt, and abrupt currency depreciation—the de-coupling theory has almost completely lost credibility. Growth prospects of emerging economies have most definitively been undermined by the ongoing crisis.’’ he added.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Thursday, 4 December 2008


Tony Karon

Time, December 4, 2008

Even if the perpetrators came from Pakistan, the Mumbai massacre, like the murder of Benazir Bhutto and the bombing of the Islamabad Marriott, proves that India and Pakistan share a common enemy in jihadist terrorism — and they need to put their six decades of mutual hostility behind them in order to fight the extremists.

So goes the narrative that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and other U.S. officials are trying to sell both sides in order to avoid an escalation of tensions that would threaten regional stability and undermine U.S. goals in Afghanistan. But while Pakistan's civilian government enthusiastically echoes that perspective, it's a tough sell with the players that count most in this instance: India's government, and Pakistan's military.

Publicly, Rice has talked up the idea that Pakistan is now ruled by a democratic civilian government committed to eradicating militant groups from Pakistani soil, and making peace with India. But neither Pakistan's generals nor India's political leadership have any doubt about who controls the critical levers of power in Pakistan — and it's not the government of President Asif Ali Zardari.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Tuesday, 2 December 2008


Antoaneta Bezlova

Asia Times, December 3, 2008

BEIJING - World politicians and economists have cheered the US$586 billion stimulus package unveiled by Beijing last month, but there are misgivings.

As more details emerge about the allocation of money and spending plans, doubts are mounting as to whether the package is capable of "rescuing the world" from economic crisis and even whether it can succeed in preventing the domestic economy from slowing down sharply.

"The world is too big to be saved by China," says Liu Jin, financial expert and professor at the Cheung Kong Graduate School of Business in Beijing. "This package is not designed to solve imbalances in global economic order; it is more of a political statement that China is ready to deal with the crisis. China is poor and has a lot of structural problems that needed tackling even before the crisis."

Global growth forecasts have all dropped and China is among the most vulnerable to this. The World Bank's latest China Quarterly Update predicts growth in 2009 will slow to 7.5% - dipping below the accepted safety line of 8% economic growth necessary for China to generate enough jobs and keep social unrest at bay.

Writing in a flagship magazine of the Communist Party, Premier Wen Jiabao seemed seriously worried: "We must be crystal clear that without a certain pace of economic growth, there will be difficulties with employment, fiscal revenues and social development."

(...) [artículo aquí]


Benjamin A Shobert

Asia Times, December 2, 2008

In the past several weeks, two Congressional Commissions - the Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC) and the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission (USCC) - have submitted reports on China that are likely to serve as indicators of what we may expect from an Barack Obama administration. Given the state of the American economy, Obama's direct comments about China have been limited, and usually presented as secondary, to other domestic priorities.

One of the president-elect's greatest strengths is an ability to be diffuse until he needs to take a public position, which allows others to project onto him their own agendas and thoughts; this is perhaps nowhere more visible than in his policy positions towards US-China relations.

Given the limited nature of his direct comments concerning China, Obama's October position paper to the American Chamber of Commerce serves as an important insight into the issues that will guide his administration's engagement with Beijing. The October policy statement had four themes in common with both Congressional Commissions' reports: China's role in negotiating with North Korea, the need for China to change its currency practices, concern over China's foreign-bound investment in key sectors, and product safety issues. In Washington, when areas of concern overlap between the executive and legislative areas, we can expect that such commonalities provide insight into what policy changes to expect from an Obama administration.

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Monday, 1 December 2008


Robert F. Worth

The New York Times, December 2, 2008

MUMBAI, India — In a new sign of rising tensions between two nuclear-armed neighbors, Indian officials summoned Pakistan’s ambassador Monday evening and told him that Pakistani nationals were responsible for the terrorist attacks here last week and that they must be punished.

With public anger building against both the Indian government and Pakistan, officials of India’s Foreign Ministry also suggested that the planners of the attacks are still at large in Pakistan, and that they expected “strong action would be taken” by Pakistan against those responsible for the violence, according to a statement released by the Ministry of External Affairs. Nine of the 10 men who appear to have carried out the attacks are now dead, with the remaining one in custody.

The statement added tartly that Pakistan’s actions “needed to match the sentiments expressed by its leadership that it wishes to have a qualitatively new relationship with India.”

It was not clear whether India had supplied Pakistan with any proof of its claims. Pakistani officials have said they are not aware of any links to Pakistan-based militants, and that they would act swiftly if they found one.

The Indian government is facing strong criticism at home for its handling of the attacks, in which 173 people were killed over three bloody days here in the country’s financial capital. (The authorities revised the number downward on Monday, saying that some names had been counted twice.)

(...) [artículo aquí]