Wednesday, 29 April 2009


Marcus Gee

The Globe and Mail, April 29, 2009

Rather than cry into its maotai, China is using the economic crisis to steal a march on the industrialized West, catching up to and even jumping ahead of its rivals. Nowhere is that more evident than in the auto sector. While Western auto makers flirt with bankruptcy, Chinese companies are ringing up big sales and churning out dozens of new models, from tiny electrics to hulking limousines.

"Somebody forgot to tell China's car makers about the global economic crisis," writes Jack Perkowski, an American businessman who built an auto-parts company in China. "Nearly all are targeting big sales increases in 2009."

Mr. Perkowski runs down their gung-ho plans on his blog, Managing the Dragon: Chery, the country's biggest auto maker, is introducing 15 models on three new platforms. Another industry leader, Geely, plans to get into SUVs, MPVs and mid- to high-end passenger cars. BYD, the booming technology company, plans to increase production to 400,000 vehicles this year. Chang'an is raising production 30 per cent to half a million units.

In North America and Europe, auto sales have crashed. In China, they reached a monthly record of 1.11 million vehicles in March, up 5 per cent from last year. It was the third consecutive month that sales in China actually exceeded those in the home of mass-produced automobiles, the United States.

The China Association of Automobile Manufacturers predicts sales will rise 9 per cent in 2009, reaching 10.2 million units. At that rate, China could overtake the United States as the world's largest auto market. It is also expected to pass Japan to become the biggest vehicle producer this year.

(…) [artículo aquí]

Tuesday, 28 April 2009


Fidel Ramos

Beijing Review, April 28, 2009

It is an accepted fact that the emerging Asian economies are reeling from the swirling global financial storm, although their woes remain relatively shallow. From a long-term perspective, the stagnation in the Western world raises questions about Asia's future. So what are the biggest challenges facing Asia in response to the crisis? How can the region seek a return to fast-track growth? Fidel Valdez Ramos, Chairman of Board of Directors of the Boao Forum for Asia and former President of Philippines, discussed these issues during the forum's annual conference on April 17-19 in Hainan Province. Edited excerpts follow:

The financial chaos is exacting a heavy toll on emerging Asian economies via weakening exports, but its actual impact depends largely on how the world can effectively respond to the crisis. Generally, emerging Asia is showing the symptoms of Western ailment in the following three ways:

First, the stock market bust in the United States, the UK and Japan has triggered a domino effect, sending the stock markets of some emerging countries into an abyss.

Second, the financial chill has found its way to the real sectors, such as exports, investments, jobs and people's income. The most vulnerable are countries that rely on exports for growth, such as China. The poor countries will also suffer as developed countries pare down their assistance budgets.

Third, the developing world now accounts for a large population of migrants around the world. If they lose jobs and come back home, the social instability and poverty in their home countries will intensify.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Monday, 27 April 2009


Reuters, April 27, 2009

Climate change threatens Southeast Asia's huge coastal cities and could slash crop output and access to clean water, triggering conflicts unless the region adapts and cuts its carbon emissions, an ADB report concludes.

Following are some of the main points of an Asian Development Bank report funded by the British-government that examines the threat from climate change in Southeast Asia and what the region can do about it.

The 250-page report, "The Economics of Climate Change in Southeast Asia: A Regional Review," focuses on the impact on the Philippines, Indonesia, Vietnam and Thailand, and is billed as the largest regional report of its type.

Southeast Asia comprises nearly 600 million people and the region was responsible for 12 percent of mankind's greenhouse gas emissions in 2000.

Major sources were the land-use change and forestry at 75 percent, energy at 15 percent and agriculture at 8 percent.

The region has more than 170,000 kilometers (105,000 miles) of coastline and tens of millions live in rapidly growing coastal cities vulnerable to rising seas.

About 80 per cent of the population live within 100 kilometers (60 miles) of the coast, leading to an over-concentration of economic activity and livelihoods in coastal mega cities.

Climate change is already affecting Southeast Asia, with higher temperatures, decreasing rainfall, rising sea levels, greater frequency and intensity of extreme weather events leading to massive flooding, landslides and drought.

Climate change is also exacerbating the problem of water stress, affecting agricultural production, triggering forest fires, damaging coastal marine resources, and increasing outbreaks of infectious diseases.

(...) [artículo aquí] [ADB report here]

Sunday, 26 April 2009

La tan elogiada nueva política del presidente estadounidense para el país asiático adolece de carencias. No es nada seguro, para empezar, que el mejor instrumento sea el aumento de tropas extranjeras

Francesc Vendrell

El País, 26 de abril de 2009

A primera vista, muchas cosas encomiables se aprecian en la perspectiva adoptada por la Administración de Barack Obama respecto a Afganistán. En realidad, muchos de sus nuevos elementos coinciden con los que mi organismo defendió cuando yo era Representante Especial de la Unión Europea para ese país.

Resulta refrescante escuchar que dicha Administración declare, por ejemplo, que la legitimidad del Gobierno afgano se ve socavada por la "corrupción rampante", que hay que establecer criterios claros para garantizar que la ayuda extranjera no se despilfarra, o que el conflicto afgano no se resolverá del todo mientras los talibanes cuenten con santuarios paquistaníes en los que la insurgencia islamista no deja de extenderse.
También es positivo que Estados Unidos se recuerde a sí mismo y a la comunidad internacional que la propia seguridad nacional es la principal razón de nuestra presencia en esa región.

Sin embargo, no puede uno dejar de preguntarse sobre otros elementos que apuntan menos hacia una "nueva" política que a una continuación de la que propugnaba George W. Bush.

Pensemos por ejemplo en el discurso sobre la "derrota" de Al-Qaeda. ¿Hasta qué punto se diferencia de la victoria en la "guerra contra el terror"? ¿Qué tiene que ocurrir para que se proclame el éxito en esta empresa, cuando Al-Qaeda es más una franquicia que una organización centralizada?

(...) [artículo aquí]

Saturday, 25 April 2009


Michael Pettis

RGE Asia EconoMonitor, April 25, 2009

One of the few areas in which the Chinese fiscal stimulus package is unquestionably having a positive effect is on growth forecasts – although mainly because forecasts seem to be coincident indicators more than leading indicators. In the past couple of week Morgan Stanley raised its 2009 forecast for Chinese GDP growth from 5.5% to 7.0%, while Goldman Sachs upgraded growth forecasts from 6.0% to 8.3%. UBS has raised its forecast from 6.5% to between 7% and 7.5%. RBS has jumped from 5% to 7% and Barclays is up from 6.7% to 7.2%. On the other hand Standard Chartered, worried about the sustainability of the “rebound,” has kept its 2009 GDP growth forecast at 6.8%, and the IMF is still at 6.5%.

At any rate I’ve never provided my own forecast of Chinese growth partly because I am not smart enough to come up with an economic forecast and partly because it always seemed to me that in the short-term Chinese growth was going to depend very heavily on not on economic conditions but rather on the hard-to-predict outcome of the fierce policy debate taking place in China. As I see it, one side of the debate – which seems to include people around the PBoC and the National Bureau of Statistics, along with many of the more prominent of the think-tank policy critics – is arguing that as difficult as it is, the crisis is a good occasion to force China to change its development model and financial system in a direction that will provide China with a healthier basis for stable, long-term growth. They are eager to see policies aimed at switching resources from production to consumption, even at the expense of a short-term increase in unemployment, and they tend to see the recent surge in credit and investment not as solutions to the crisis but rather as policies that will make things worse for China in the medium term.

(...) [artículo aquí]


Ann Scott Tyson

The Washington Post, April 25, 2009

Gen. David H. Petraeus warned yesterday that al-Qaeda and Taliban extremists in Pakistan are posing "an ever more serious threat to Pakistan's very existence," and he said that Pakistan's leaders must act to counter the challenge with a well-trained military counterinsurgency force.

Petraeus requested congressional support for the Pakistan Counterinsurgency Capability Fund, a new, more-flexible spending stream that would permit more rapid and targeted U.S. training and provide more equipment to Pakistani forces that combat insurgents inside the country's lawless tribal regions.

"The Pakistani military has stepped up operations in parts of the tribal areas. Everyone recognizes, however, that much further work is required, and the events of recent days underscore that point," Petraeus testified before a panel of the House Appropriations Committee. Specifically, Petraeus said, Pakistan must reconfigure its military forces to deal with counterinsurgency operations rather than to continue its conventional focus on traditional rival India.

The fund Petraeus seeks, with a budget of $400 million for the rest of fiscal 2009, would be channeled directly through U.S. Central Command, which he oversees. This arrangement would give Central Command greater control over how the money is spent, and the military could withhold equipment from Pakistani forces until they complete required training, according to an outline of the program.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Friday, 24 April 2009


Mark Thompson

Time, April 24, 2009

When asked last year about the security of Pakistan's nuclear arsenal, Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Admiral Mike Mullen didn't hesitate: "I'm very comfortable that the nuclear weapons in Pakistan are secure," he said flatly. Asked the same question earlier this month, his answer had changed. "I'm reasonably comfortable," he said, "that the nuclear weapons are secure."

As America's top military officer, Mullen has traveled regularly to Pakistan — twice in just the past two weeks — for talks with his Pakistani counterpart, General Ashfaq Kayani, and others. And like all those who have risen to four-star rank, Mullen chooses his words with extreme care. Replacing "very comfortable" with "reasonably comfortable" is a decidedly discomforting signal of Washington's concern that no matter how well-guarded the nukes may be today, the chaos now enveloping Pakistan doesn't bode well for their status tomorrow or the day after.

The prospect of turmoil in Pakistan sends shivers up the spines of those U.S. officials charged with keeping tabs on foreign nuclear weapons. Pakistan is thought to possess about 100 — the U.S. isn't sure of the total, and may not know where all of them are. Still, if Pakistan collapses, the U.S. military is primed to enter the country and secure as many of those weapons as it can, according to U.S. officials.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Thursday, 23 April 2009


Reuters, April 23, 2009

China voiced anger on Thursday with Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso for sending an offering to Tokyo's Yasukuni shrine for war dead, seen by China and South Korea as a symbol of Japan's past militarism.

Here are some facts about the shrine.
* In Japanese, "yasu" means peace and "kuni" means country.
* Established in 1869 and funded by the government until 1945, Yasukuni is dedicated to the nation's 2.5 million war dead, including about 1,000 convicted war criminals. No human remains are housed there.
* The shrine played a central role in the wartime state Shinto religion which mobilised the population to fight in the name of a divine emperor.
* Among those honoured are 14 World War Two leaders convicted by an Allied tribunal as "Class A" war criminals, including prime minister Hideki Tojo. Seven of these were executed by hanging.
* The Class A criminals were listed as gods at Yasukuni in a secret ceremony in 1978.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Wednesday, 22 April 2009


Tina Wang

Forbes, April 22, 2009

After months of skepticism, analysts are starting to think that China may actually reach its coveted 8% growth figure. But the headline GDP story has an element of false promise for investors, as stimulus spending and a credit boom protect output but not industrial profits.

Few had thought that China could actually reach its official 8% goal, and only in January, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao acknowledged that it was a "tall order" during the World Economic Forum in Davos. But on Wednesday, Goldman Sachs dramatically revised its full-year GDP forecast for China to 8.3%, from 6.0%. Other analysts have done the same, forecasting 2009 growth of 7.0% to 7.5%, compared with previous estimates of 5.5% to 6.5%.

China's acceleration of industrial production and fixed asset investment in the first quarter, particularly in March, has taken many by surprise. That rode on the back of a record expansion of credit, and a faster-than-expected trickling down of Beijing's half-trillion dollar stimulus measures (See "China Bound For A Rebound?" and "And Beijing Said: Let There Be Loans").

The surprisingly strong government data has led some to question its veracity. "The acceleration is so dramatic that it raises the question of whether the numbers are too good to be true," CLSA economist Eric Fishwick wrote in a note. "Obviously, China in the past has misstated figures during deep recessions," he said in an interview. But this time, "there is nothing that I have seen in Chinese data in general that makes me think there are serious data integrity problems...Any economist has to take data published as accurate, unless there is overwhelming evidence to the contrary."

(...) [artículo aquí]

Tuesday, 21 April 2009


Cris Sholto Heaton

MoneyWeek, Apr 20, 2009

Can 6% growth be better than 7%? Only in the upside-down world of Chinese statistics.

"China is still slowing," said the headlines last week. At 6.1%, GDP growth was the lowest since 1992 and almost a full percentage point down from the previous quarter. But oddly, that's a lot more encouraging than it sounds.

It's quite likely that China actually grew faster this quarter than last, despite the headline numbers. Indeed there's mounting evidence that the economy is past the worst and starting to pick up again.

However there are still plenty of risks ahead and we're certainly not back in boom times yet even if China is handling the slowdown a lot better than many feared.

Measuring Chinese growth isn't easy
First, let's take a look at that GDP number. How can 6.1% be better than Q408's 6.8%? It's all down to the way China measures growth.

Most countries report GDP on a quarter-on-quarter, seasonally adjusted, basis. That means they measure the size of the economy in Q109 and Q408, calculate the change, adjust that for the seasonal differences (because economic activity is always higher in some parts of the year than others) and then report the result.

Some countries, such as the US, report this at an annualised rate – how much the economy would grow if it continued at the latest quarterly pace for a year. Others, including Britain, report the quarterly number and leave you to multiply it by four to make a like for like comparison.

But a number of other countries – usually developing ones – report growth on a year-over-year basis. That means comparing say Q109 to Q108. This is what China does. The problem is that year-on-year numbers reveal the underlying trend much slower than quarter-on-quarter ones. If you have a great first half and a poor second one, the overall number for the fourth quarter can still look fine even if the economy actually shrank when compared to the previous three months.

This is exactly what happened in the fourth quarter with China. We even had a number of pundits proclaiming the 6.8% figure as evidence that China fixes its statistics. That's not impossible but it wasn't the cause of the somewhat odd numbers this time.

(…) [artículo aquí]

Monday, 20 April 2009


Rujun Shen and Tom Miles

Reuters UK, April 20, 2009

BEIJING, April 20 (Reuters) - China will have 100 gigawatts of wind-power capacity by 2020, a senior energy official said on Monday, more than three times the 30 GW target the government laid down in an energy strategy drawn up just 18 months ago.

"Installed wind-power capacity is expected to reach 100 million kilowatts in 2020. That will be eight times more than in 2008," Fang Junshi, head of the coal department of the National Energy Administration, told a Coaltrans conference in Beijing. "The annual growth rate will be about 20 percent."

Fang's remarks confirm what industry experts have long maintained -- wind power has the potential to take a much bigger share of China's power mix than the government had planned.

China, the world's second-largest energy user, has around 12 GW of wind-power capacity and has already said it wants to raise that to around 20 GW by next year, suggesting it was on course to smash the 2020 target, which was set in 2007.

That means wind is set to be a bigger source of power than nuclear, despite a construction boom in nuclear power plants, and far bigger than solar, which is expected to hit 1.8 GW by 2020, according to the 2007 plan.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Saturday, 11 April 2009


Pablo Bustelo

El País (Negocios), 12 de abril de 2009

Cuando la economía global se encamina, parece que ya irremediablemente, hacia su primera contracción anual en sesenta años, las miradas se dirigen hacia China, el único país grande que va a registrar crecimiento en su PIB durante este ejercicio (el peso de Brasil o India es sustancialmente menor). Ha llamado la atención que, durante la reciente reunión anual de la Asamblea Popular Nacional, el Gobierno chino no haya lanzado un nuevo plan de estímulo, como preveían muchos analistas. ¿Ha sido esa ausencia fruto de un optimismo exagerado en las posibilidades de China o, por el contrario, de la voluntad de guardar munición por si la cosa empeora?

Esa pregunta está relacionada con dos mitos sobre China y la economía mundial que conviene despejar. El primero es que China se va a derrumbar estrepitosamente este año (con un crecimiento menor al 5%, tras el 9% registrado en 2008 y el 13% de 2007), lo que agravaría mucho la recesión global y además pondría en peligro la estabilidad social e incluso política de un país acostumbrado a una expansión muy elevada. El segundo mito es, por el contrario, que China podría poco menos que salvar al mundo, al lograr mantener una alta tasa de crecimiento, lo que compensaría, al menos en buena parte, la contracción en las economías avanzadas. Una versión más suave de esa segunda tesis es que la temprana recuperación de China va a ayudar mucho a los países desarrollados, acelerando su salida de la crisis. Como esos dos mitos están bastante extendidos, conviene repasarlos con detalle.

Pese a las previsiones relativamente pesimistas sobre el crecimiento de China en 2009 que acaban de publicar los organismos internacionales (6,7% para el FMI, 6,5% para el Banco Mundial, 6,3% para la OCDE) y a algunos datos negativos de la evolución reciente del país (como la fuerte caída de las exportaciones en los primeros meses del año), hay otros aspectos.

(...) [artículo aquí]


Wei Xing Zhu, Li Lu, Therese Hesketh

BMJ, April 9, 2009

Objectives To elucidate current trends and geographical patterns in the sex ratio at birth and in the population aged under 20 in China and to determine the roles played by sex selective abortion and the one child policy.

Design Analysis of household based cross sectional population survey done in November 2005.

Setting All of China’s 2861 counties.

Population 1% of the total population, selected to be broadly representative of the total.

Main outcome measure Sex ratio defined as males per 100 females.

Results 4 764 512 people under the age of 20 were included. Overall sex ratios were high across all age groups and residency types, but they were highest in the 1-4 years age group, peaking at 126 (95% confidence interval 125 to 126) in rural areas. Six provinces had sex ratios of over 130 in the 1-4 age group. The sex ratio at birth was close to normal for first order births but rose steeply for second order births, especially in rural areas, where it reached 146 (143 to 149). Nine provinces had ratios of over 160 for second order births. The highest sex ratios were seen in provinces that allow rural inhabitants a second child if the first is a girl. Sex selective abortion accounts for almost all the excess males. One particular variant of the one child policy, which allows a second child if the first is a girl, leads to the highest sex ratios.

Conclusions In 2005 males under the age of 20 exceeded females by more than 32 million in China, and more than 1.1 million excess births of boys occurred. China will see very high and steadily worsening sex ratios in the reproductive age group over the next two decades. Enforcing the existing ban on sex selective abortion could lead to normalisation of the ratios.


Kevin Hamlin

Bloomberg, April 11, 2009

China’s new lending surged more than sixfold from a year earlier to a record 1.89 trillion yuan ($277 billion) in March, adding to signs that growth in the world’s third-biggest economy is gathering pace.

M2, the broadest measure of money supply, grew 25.5 percent, the central bank said on its Web site today. That’s the fastest since Bloomberg began compiling data in 1998 and more than the 21.5 percent median estimate in a survey of 12 economists.

President Hu Jintao said April 1 that China’s 4 trillion yuan stimulus plan was taking effect, after urban fixed-asset investment surged 26.5 percent in the first two months. China’s lending boom contrasts with the struggle in the U.S. to rid banks of illiquid assets and efforts by central banks from Switzerland to Japan to unfreeze credit.

“China is unusual in that it has this incredible capacity to mobilize all its institutions -- central government, local governments and the entire banking system -- to boost government-influenced investments,” said Vikram Nehru, the World Bank’s Washington-based chief Asia economist.

China’s banks, which are mostly state-owned, have already met the bulk of the government’s target of at least 5 trillion yuan of new loans this year. Lending may top that level by as much as 3 trillion yuan, according to JPMorgan Chase & Co.

The explosion in credit since the central bank dropped lending restrictions in November prompted the nation’s banking regulator to warn this month that lenders face a “severe” challenge in managing their risks.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Friday, 10 April 2009


Andy Xie

China International Business, April 10, 2009

Liquidity has been inspiring hope lately. The Chinese mainland’s banking system is flooded with liquidity, and lending has increased massively since December, mostly in the form of discounted bills. The liquidity boom has inspired hope that a quick and vigorous recovery will follow. Instead, it could be a trap, leading to stagflation. China’s problem is not liquidity, but household demand. Reform, not liquidity, can bring back prosperity.

The current liquidity results from China’s huge trade surplus due to a faster decline of imports than exports. Banks have lent some of this extra liquidity to SOEs in the form of discounted bills. As the interest rate on such loans is very low, businesses can deposit the borrowed money without incurring significant costs and, sometimes, even pocket a small profit. The practice has rapidly expanded the balance sheet of the banking system from an accounting perspective.

Lending, however, won’t translate into demand any time soon. Most industries, especially capital-intensive ones, face overcapacity. The steel industry, for example, may have 30% overcapacity. The shipbuilding industry is seeing massive defaults on orders; many shipbuilders are facing bankruptcy. Most developers cannot sell their properties and, if given money to build more, would only dig a deeper hole for themselves. The Chinese mainland’s supply side has too much capacity. It is unlikely that more business loans would spark an economic recovery.

Lending to government projects can support demand. It serves as a multiplier on the fiscal stimulus program. Bank lending may double its impact. The government has budgeted a RMB 1 trillion (USD 146 billion) fiscal deficit, or 3% of gross domestic product, for 2009.

The stimulus could stabilize the economy but it won’t restart high growth. Exports and property were contributing six to eight percentage points to the annual GDP growth rate during the last cycle. They are now contributing a negative amount of a similar magnitude. No amount of stimulus could completely offset the impact of their contraction.

A big drop in exports, following the bursting of the global credit and property bubbles, is the cause of the shortfall in demand. To solve the problem, the government must boost household demand to offset export weakness, and reduce property purchase costs to clear the existing inventory. The Chinese economy cannot resume its high growth until both problems are solved.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Thursday, 9 April 2009


Bill Tarrant

Reuters, April 9, 2009

PATTAYA, Thailand (Reuters) - Leaders of 16 Asian countries are set to endorse policies to restore financial stability and economic growth at a weekend summit in Thailand, according to a draft declaration.

The annual East Asia summit that begins on Friday in the Thai beach resort of Pattaya will also make a stand against trade protectionism amid the worsening global economy.
"They agree that the world is facing a global recession of unprecedented dimensions and called for policy responses that focus on restoring financial stability and economic growth and development," says the draft obtained by Reuters on Thursday.

The leaders will stress the critical importance of "standing firm against protectionist and distortionary measures" and refrain from raising new trade barriers. They will also call for a "prompt, ambitious and balanced conclusion" to the DOHA round of world trade talks.

The East Asia Summit groups the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations and its six "dialogue partners" -- China, Japan, South Korea, India, Australia and New Zealand.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Wednesday, 8 April 2009


Wang Buo

China Daily, April 8, 2009

The government's $586-billion stimulus package may be strong enough to drive the economy to an early rebound in the middle of this year, the World Bank said yesterday, adding a caveat that a full recovery ultimately depends on developments in the advanced economies.

"Fueled largely by the huge economic stimulus package, a recovery in China is likely to begin this year and take full hold in 2010, contributing to the region's stabilization," the bank said in its latest semi-annual report on the economic health of East Asia and the Pacific region.

"A wide range of economic indicators in China are improving," indicating that a recovery is underway, said Vikram Nehru, the World Bank's chief economist for the East Asia and Pacific region.

The Purchasing Managers Index of the manufacturing sector, a key indicator of economic health, rose for four consecutive months to reach 52.4 in March. It was the first time it rebounded above 50 since July 2008, indicating a "stabilizing and recovering economy", said Ma Jiantang, head of the National Bureau of Statistics at the release of the figures.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Tuesday, 7 April 2009


Dan Slater

Finance Asia, April 7, 2009

A new book raises the grim possibility China could 'turn inwards' and end up like Japan. China's decision not to allow Coca Cola to buy local soft drinks champion Huiyuan Juice, announced on March 18, and the latest World Bank report predicting growth will slow to 6.5% from the previously forecast 7.5%, has caused some commentators to wonder whether China could turn inwards. The fear is that China could turn away from its relatively open economic model and copy Japan's 'mercantilist' model, defined as manipulating the terms of trade in one's favour through currency depreciation and non-tariff barriers to imports and investments, and thus 'stealing' growth from one's neighbours.

Japan has a total trade-to-GDP ratio of just 18%, and the stock of foreign direct investment represents a truly lamentable 1%. With only 2 million registered foreigners, Japan is the least welcoming country in the Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), with a ratio of 1.5% foreigners to the total population. Compare that to 10% in Spain, or even Germany, which has 16 million foreign residents in a population of 85 million.

China is far more open, with FDI accounting for 4% of GDP and 10% of capital formation in 2008. Total trade accounts for 35% of GDP. Foreign firms exporting out of China account for almost 50% of total exports -- probably a unique ratio in world history. China also has huge imports, meaning the net contribution of trade to GDP is much smaller. But China is clearly an important cog in the global production chain. Japan, despite its well-known brands, is not. Indeed, Toyota pretty much sums up the significance of Japanese exports. (Cars are Japan's most important export component, and within that, Toyota is the most important company.)

(...) [artículo aquí]

Monday, 6 April 2009


Pablo Bustelo

El País, 6 de abril de 2009

Incluso si se demuestra que el lanzamiento que efectuó ayer Corea del Norte es de un satélite de comunicaciones (y con independencia de que éste haya logrado o no ponerse en órbita), muchos expertos consideran que se trata, en realidad, de una prueba encubierta de un misil de largo alcance. De hecho, la técnica de los dos procedimientos es muy similar.

El lanzamiento, para empezar, es una mala noticia, puesto que fortalece al régimen de Kim Jong-il y porque podría conllevar proliferación de tecnología de misiles y sus componentes. Pakistán, Irán y Siria han sido clientes de Pyongyang. Además, se puede decir que contraviene, al menos en su espíritu, dos resoluciones de Naciones Unidas (1.695 y 1.718), adoptadas tras las pruebas de misiles y nuclear en 2006. Y no hay que descartar que, al tratarse de una clara provocación, pueda dificultar la reanudación de las conversaciones a seis bandas, paralizadas desde el año pasado, y esenciales para la desnuclearización de Corea del Norte.

¿Por qué un país empobrecido, con serias hambrunas, se permite hacer un costoso lanzamiento como éste? Pese a que su comportamiento es a veces impredecible, hay varias razones posibles: llamar la atención de la nueva Administración estadounidense; reforzar la autoridad de Kim Jong-il, quien sufrió un infarto en 2008; responder al Gobierno conservador de Corea del Sur, que ha eliminado la ayuda incondicional; obtener concesiones en el diálogo a seis bandas, cuyos acuerdos Pyongyang considera incumplidos por EE UU; y, lo que es más grave, mejorar el escaparate para posibles compradores militares, al haber demostrado tener capacidad de lanzamiento de cohetes de largo alcance. La prueba en 2006 del misil Taepodong-2 falló, puesto que éste explotó tras apenas 40 segundos en el aire, y en este caso el cohete ha caído en el Pacífico, bastante al este de Japón.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Sunday, 5 April 2009


Bill Powell, Stephen Kim / Seoul and Michael Scherer / Prague

Time, April 5, 2009

When it comes to sticking a finger in the rest of the world's eye, Kim Jong Il is always as good as his word. For days, the U.S. and North Korea's neighbors in east Asia kept insisting that Pyongyang stand down from plans to test an intercontinental rocket. But on Sunday morning, North Korea launched it anyway — as it pledged to — saying the rocket bore nothing more than a communications satellite. With six U.S. cruisers equipped with Aegis anti-missile systems deployed in the region — to watch and gather intelligence, not fire on the rocket, Pentagon officials had said late last week — North Korea sent the Taepodong II rocket over Japan and into the Pacific Ocean. That, by itself, meant the launch for Pyongyang was a success: two years ago, an earlier version of the same long-range rocket broke up shortly after the launch. "It means they have a long-range rocket that works," says retired U.S. Lt-Gen. Henry Obering. "This has been a long-term effort for them, and they've succeeded. Nothing the outside world has done — not diplomacy or sanctions — has deterred them."

American diplomats and their partners in East Asia privately regarded the launch as a fait accompli. U.S. President Barack Obama's special envoy, Stephen Bosworth, has said that launch or no launch, Washington hoped to push on with talks aimed at getting the North to give up its nuclear weapons program — even hinting that the direct U.S.-North Korean talks Pyongyang has always wanted were possible.

The launch complicates that diplomacy. Tokyo in particular is furious at Pyongyang — it had earlier in the week threatened to shoot the missile down — and immediately after the launch asked for an emergency session of the U.N. Security Council to take place on Sunday. Both Tokyo and the South Korean government believe the rocket launch was an explicit violation of a 2006 U.N. resolution that insisted the North "not conduct any further nuclear test or launch of a ballistic missile." But North Korea insists it has the right to place communications satellites into orbit, and the U.S. military on Sunday confirmed that the payload atop the latest rocket was, indeed, a satellite — which failed to leave the Earth's atmosphere, instead plunging into the Pacific.

(...) [artículo aquí]

La cumbre del G-20 celebrada esta semana en Londres puede consagrar a China como uno de los actores principales de la política mundial

Timothy Garton Ash

El País, 5 de abril de 2009

Es posible que el 2 de abril de 2009 (fecha de la cumbre del G-20 en Londres) pase a la historia como el día en el que, mediante la catálisis de una crisis económica mundial, China surgió definitivamente como potencia mundial del siglo XXI. Hace sólo unos meses, en las capitales occidentales se hablaba todavía de si dignarse invitar a China a incorporarse al club del G-7 más Rusia. Ahora casi todo el mundo ha aceptado ya que el G-20 es la nueva mesa fundamental de la política mundial, y que China es uno de los actores principales. La pregunta hoy es: ¿qué tipo de potencia mundial será China?

Hasta hace poco, la política oficial china era de demostración de modestia: el dragón vestido de lagarto. Sí, buscaba un "mundo armonioso", nada menos, pero quedaba sugerido que el mejor servicio que podía prestar China a ese propósito era su propio desarrollo interno pacífico. China alzaba la voz sólo en cuestiones relacionadas directamente con su desarrollo económico y sus intereses de Estado inmediatos. Ahora da la impresión de que, poco a poco, está superando ese paradigma de la modestia. A medida que, en esta crisis, el mundo le pide más, China también empieza a pedirle más al mundo.

El ejemplo más destacado es un reciente artículo del gobernador del banco central del país en el que sugiere la creación de una divisa de reserva internacional, por encima de las soberanías, "que esté desconectada de los países individualmente". En otras palabras, no el dólar estadounidense. La idea de ampliar la pauta de los Derechos Especiales de Giro del FMI, basada en una cesta de divisas, ha sido objeto de numerosas discusiones, entre otros, por parte de un grupo de expertos de la ONU dirigidos por Joseph Stiglitz. Pero esta idea adquiere un cariz especial cuando es el gobernador del banco central de China quien sugiere que se derroque al dólar de su trono. El miércoles pasado, en Londres, Gordon Brown y el presidente Hu Jintao hablaron de dar a China más poder de voto en el FMI a cambio de una mayor aportación financiera. Una sugerencia totalmente razonable.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Saturday, 4 April 2009


Donald Kirk

Asia Times, April 4, 2009

SEOUL - The United States and others may be on shaky ground if they think they can pin a charge of "violation of international law" on North Korea for putting a satellite into orbit.

With no serious international court of last resort in any authority to decide on the right or wrong of launching a long-range missile disguised as a satellite, countries do have the right to international space exploration. Just check out the Outer Space Treaty, otherwise known as the "Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space including the Mood and Other Celestial Bodies", signed by North Korea along with just about every other space-minded country more than 40 years ago.

The fact that hardly anyone believes North Korea's upcoming missile is poised on the pad all for the sake of launching a satellite is not likely to impress all members of the United Nations (UN) Security Council if the United States tries to twist arms into a firm resolution of condemnation.

Neither China nor Russia is standing on the sidelines wishing the North Koreans happy travels into outer space, but they may be reluctant to vote in favor of any shrill denunciations from the Security Council. The Chinese in particular, as North Korea's only real ally and source of sustenance to feed and fuel the regime, aren't expected to be all that sympathetic.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Friday, 3 April 2009


Doug Saunders

Globe and Mail, April 3, 2009

LONDON -- In a conference hall built atop the Blitz-scarred ruins of the east London Docklands, the leaders of the world's largest rich and poor nations huddled for a few hours yesterday and put an end to the postwar era.

"The old Washington consensus is over; today we have reached a new consensus," British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who convened the summit and proposed many of its ideas, declared at its conclusion yesterday. "I think a new world order is emerging."

It was no mere rhetoric. No longer, after yesterday's G20 declaration, is the world governed by the logic and structures that have defined it since the final days of the Second World War, when the similarly momentous 1944 Bretton Woods summit set up global institutions, including the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, to rebuild Europe and Asia under U.S. guidance.

"Since Bretton Woods, the world has been living on a financial model, the Anglo-Saxon model. ... Clearly, today, a page has been turned," French President Nicolas Sarkozy declared in a statement broadcast at the same time as Mr. Brown's.

(…) [artículo aquí]

Thursday, 2 April 2009


Brian P. Klein

Far Eastern Economic Review, Posted April 2, 2009

Optimism for near-term China recovery, fueled by the widely reported $587 billion two-year stimulus package, is running high heading into the G-20 summit this week. Many countries are expecting Chinese demand to spur a new round of increased consumption. These hopes are unfortunately misplaced at the moment. The stimulus is neither large enough to stimulate demand lost from plummeting exports and declining investment, nor is it focused on addressing the concerns of the fragile middle class that might help China spend its way out of crisis.

And yet the spate of positive news is impressive compared to the U.S., EU and Japan—retail spending growing at 15%, car sales rising, bank lending expanding, energy use picking up and a 30% gain in the Shanghai composite index this year—all signs the stimulus and “the China Model” of controlled growth is working. Official confidence remains high that recovery is just around the corner and GDP growth of 8% is attainable. China seems most concerned about whether the U.S. will remain solvent enough to repay interest on its Treasury bills.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Wednesday, 1 April 2009


Lou Jiwei

China Daily, April 1, 2009

I would like to take this opportunity to talk about my understanding of the current global economic crisis, and the positive role Sovereign Wealth Funds can play as an important stabilizing force in the global financial system. I would also like to take this opportunity to elaborate on some basic information about CIC.

In November 2007, delegates from the CIC attended the First Annual Roundtable of Sovereign Asset and Reserve Managers organized by the IMF. In the past year, the financial turmoil stemming from the subprime mortgage markets in the US ultimately led to a global financial and economic crisis, which brings severe challenges to the world economic growth. Compared with the previous ones, this crisis bears some distinctive features.

First, this financial crisis originated from the developed countries with relatively sophisticated financial systems; while the previous crises mainly started from the emerging markets. During this crisis, financial markets and real economy of the developed countries were the first to be hit, and then the crisis spread to emerging markets and developing countries. The crisis has had different impact on countries with different economic fundamentals. With lessons drawn from the Asia Financial Crisis of 1997-98, East Asian countries have gradually adjusted and improved their macro policies and economic structures, so the impact of the current crisis on them has been relatively mild.

Second, apparently the financial crisis was caused by the burst of the asset bubbles, but the root cause is the imbalances of the existing global economic development model. The crisis reflects the unsustainability of this model and the genesis of the crisis lies in structural problems. Take the US for example: the US features over-consumption, high-leverage and a high-risk virtual economy. Of course, China has its own structural challenges.

(...) [artículo aquí]