Monday, 29 June 2009


Bloomberg News

Bloomberg, June 29, 2009

China’s economic growth may slip next year as the government refrains from adding to stimulus spending amid political opposition to a rising fiscal deficit, said Deutsche Bank AG.

“A lot of people believe the government can do whatever it takes to stimulate the economy,” Ma Jun, Deutsche’s Hong Kong- based China economist, said in a June 26 interview. “Those expecting big stimulus next year, and therefore stronger growth, will be disappointed.”

The Shanghai Composite Index has climbed 61 percent this year, the third-best performer of 90 benchmarks tracked by Bloomberg, as the government’s stimulus plan takes effect. Economic growth will cool to 7.2 percent next year from 7.5 percent in 2009 as increasing overcapacity in manufacturing discourages private investment, Ma estimates.

Government-influenced spending will account for four-fifths of China’s growth this year, according to the World Bank. Premier Wen Jiabao’s 4 trillion yuan ($585 billion) stimulus package, announced last year and running through 2010, is countering a collapse in exports.

Ma’s view contrasts with predictions from the World Bank, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, and JPMorgan Chase & Co. for growth to accelerate in 2010 from 2009. Gross domestic product will increase 8 percent this year and more than 9 percent in 2011, Cheng Siwei, former vice chairman of the standing committee of the National People’s Congress, said June 27.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Thursday, 25 June 2009


John Lee

Asia Times, June 26, 2009

SYDNEY- Some analysts speculate that the turmoil caused by the global financial crisis presents an opportunity for the Chinese government to push ahead with fundamental economic reforms that will raise the importance of domestic consumption as a driver of economic growth.

This point of view ignores political reality. The current crisis makes it more difficult for the Chinese, not less, to pursue reforms given the political need to achieve high growth at all costs. As Premier Wen Jiabao reaffirmed at the post-National People's Congress (NPC) press briefing in March this year, "An 8% GDP [gross domestic product] expansion is the government's pledge and responsibility."

The major response to declining growth was the announcement of a 4 trillion yuan (US$586 billion) stimulus package in November 2008 to be spent over the next two years. As usual, provincial authorities will be the main entities that effectively oversee any stimulus spending. After the announcement was made, within a fortnight, provincial authorities submitted proposals worth approximately 10 trillion yuan.

For example, investment proposals worth 3 trillion yuan from Yunnan province and worth 2.3 trillion yuan from Guangdong province were received. Significantly, these proposals overwhelmingly consisted of big-ticket fixed-investment projects. The amount provincial authorities proposed to allocate to poverty alleviation and social welfare initiatives was small.

(...) [artículo aquí]


Brahma Chellaney

The Japan Times, June 25, 2009

Nearly six months after U.S. President Barack Obama entered the White House, it is apparent that America's Asia policy is no longer guided by an overarching geopolitical framework as it had been under President George W. Bush. Indeed, Washington's Asia policy today appears fragmented. The Obama administration has developed a policy approach toward each major Asian subregion and issue, but still has no strategy on how to build enduring power equilibrium in Asia — the pivot of global geopolitical change

China, India and Japan, Asia's three main powers, constitute a unique strategic triangle. The Obama administration has declared that America's "most important bilateral relationship in the world" is with China, going to the extent of demoting human rights to put the accent on security, financial, trade and environmental issues with Beijing.

But it has yet to fashion a well-defined Japan policy or India policy. While a narrow East Asia policy framework now guides U.S. ties with Japan, Washington is again looking at India primarily through the Pakistan prism. That translates into a renewed U.S. focus on India-Pakistan engagement, resurrection of the Kashmir issue and preoccupation with counterinsurgency in the "Afpak" region, including implications for American homeland security.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Wednesday, 24 June 2009


Neeta Lal

Asia Times, June 24, 2009

NEW DELHI - More than six decades after India won its independence, the ruling Congress party establishment has suddenly woken up to the importance of egalitarianism and a democratic ethos across its rank and file. In a surprise move, the party has decreed that its leaders will henceforth eschew all feudal titles, like Raja, Maharaj, Maharani, Rajkumari, Rani, Nawab and Begum, in a move towards greater social inclusiveness and class equity.

Stating that there's no place for such feudal titles in a "democracy like India", a recent party circular directed cadres not to address leaders with honorifics. Royal titles will also be deleted from the party's records.

Insiders admit that the directive to shun royal appendages has come from the party's top echelons because it dovetails with its projection of itself as the "common man's party", a theme which has been central to its campaign to reach out to the people.

So what if the order has come four decades after erstwhile prime minister Indira Gandhi - Congress leader Sonia Gandhi's mother-in-law - abolished privy purses in the late 1960s? According to article 363a of the constitution, the powers and titles of the rulers of the native states have already been discontinued along with the privy purses.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Tuesday, 23 June 2009


David Barboza

The New York Times, June 23, 2009

DONGGUAN, China — Liu Pan, a 17-year-old factory worker, was crushed to death last April when the machine he was operating malfunctioned.

Somehow Mr. Liu became stuck in the machine, his sister Liu Yan recalled during a tearful interview in a village near the factory.

“When we got his body, his whole head was crushed,” Ms. Liu said. “We couldn’t even see his eyes.”

Investigating the accident, inspectors found a series of labor and safety violations at the factory, Yiuwah Stationery, which supplies cards, gift boxes and other paper goods to Disney, the British supermarket chain Tesco and other companies.

The investigators also discovered that Mr. Liu was hired illegally, at 15, below the legal age limit here. Disney has called the situation at the factory “unacceptable.”

In a statement issued Wednesday, Disney said it had instructed its vendors and licensees to “cease new orders of any Disney-branded products in the Yiuwah factory” until conditions were improved.

A spokesman for Tesco said that company was also working to improve conditions at the factory.

While the accident at the Yiuwah factory was particularly tragic, working conditions elsewhere are worsening. A year and a half after a landmark labor law took effect in China, experts say conditions have actually deteriorated in southern China’s export-oriented factories, which produce many of America’s less expensive retail goods.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Monday, 22 June 2009


Mark Thompson

Time, June 22, 2009

North Korea would like to test missiles and advance its nuclear program, while smuggling arms to some potentially bad actors for extra cash. The United States would like North Korea to stop doing all of those things. Neither side is particularly interested in finding out what happens should the other press the issue. And thus North Korea and the U.S. find themselves in a very strange kabuki war. Pyongyang is plainly the instigator, continuing its rash of missile and nuclear tests while apparently seeking hard currency by peddling weapons to all buyers. Like automated chess pieces, U.S. military assets have responded by moving into place: to thwart any missile launch, ground-based missile defenses are being deployed to Hawaii, and a nearly $1 billion, 10-story seaborne missile radar has been dispatched to keep an eye peeled for any missile launch from North Korea. It would clearly be a dumb move for North Korea to launch a missile toward the U.S. Its long-range Taepodong 2 has had multiple failures and even when it works is limited to a range of only 4,000 miles, about 500 short of Hawaii. (The longest ranging U.S. missile can travel more than 6,000 miles.) But just because it's foolish doesn't mean the North Koreans — hardly a predictable bunch — won't consider it.

As a result, it's been a busy weekend for U.S. intelligence. Spy planes and satellites are monitoring launch preparations at several North Korean launch sites while other U.S. surveillance platforms are also following the progress of the Kang Nam, a North Korean vessel suspected of ferrying banned arms, missiles or nuclear components. The destroyer USS John S. McCain — named for the father and grandfather of the Arizona senator, both admirals — is trailing the 2000-ton vessel. According to South Korean television, the ship is headed to Myanmar, a nation run by a military dictatorship and suspected long-time buyer of North Korean weaponry. "If we have hard evidence" that the ship is carrying banned weaponry, Sen. John McCain told CBS on Sunday, "I think we should board it."

(...) [artículo aquí]

Friday, 19 June 2009


Henry C K Liu

Asia Times, June 19, 2009

As former US National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski's "Group of Two" (or G-2) concept of a US-China convergence in geopolitical interests is not yet official US policy, China is likely to merely keep monitoring signs of its evolution in US policymaking without direct formal official response, while exploiting the concept's diplomatic possibilities for improving bilateral relations.

Although China desires well-deserved recognition of it as a world power by the sole remaining superpower, albeit one that is fading, a G-2 in the context of hawkish realpolitik generally associated with Brzezinski's world view would go against China's long-standing preference for multilateralism that would allow it to form bilateral partnerships and special relations around the globe and to participate as an independent power in regional organizations.

China rejects G-2 concept
On May 20, at the end of the 11th China-EU summit held in Prague, attended by European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, Czech President Vaclav Klaus, whose country holds the rotating EU presidency, and EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao took the opportunity to assuage European concerns by dismissing as "groundless" the view that China and the United States - through the framework of a G-2 - will monopolize world affairs in the future.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Thursday, 18 June 2009


Bloomberg News

Bloomberg, June 18, 2009

The World Bank raised its growth forecast for China this year and advised policy makers to delay until 2010 any additional stimulus plan to boost the world’s third-largest economy.

China’s economy will expand 7.2 percent in 2009 from a year earlier, up from a 6.5 percent forecast in March, the Washington-based lender said in a quarterly report released today in Beijing. Stocks gained after the announcement.

The World Bank joins Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Morgan Stanley and UBS AG. in raising growth forecasts this year after a 4 trillion yuan ($585 billion) stimulus package triggered record loans and surging investment. China, the biggest contributor to global growth in 2007, is relying on government spending as exports slump because of the world recession.

The World Bank said it’s “too early” to say there is a sustained recovery, citing the economy’s dependence on the stimulus and echoing a State Council caution yesterday against excessive optimism.

It’s “not necessary, and probably not appropriate” for China to add fiscal stimulus this year, the World Bank said. Consumption is likely to slow, pushing down wages and employment, and the nation should retain room for stimulus in 2010, in case the global economy takes a turn for the worse, the bank said.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Wednesday, 17 June 2009


The New York Times, June 17, 2009

North Korea is developing a frightening track record of making good on its threats. True to its word, in recent weeks it has conducted a second nuclear test and several missile tests. It also may have resumed making fuel for nuclear weapons. And the threats keep coming. Over the weekend, the North vowed to make more nuclear weapons and to take “resolute military actions” against efforts to isolate it.

Whether new sanctions adopted unanimously by the United Nations Security Council can deter even more dangerous actions is anyone’s guess. We know there is no chance if they are not implemented. The resolution leaves a lot of room for governments to avoid enforcement should they choose.

The resolution bars North Korea from selling weapons (ballistic missiles and parts are exports) or buying them. It authorizes states — but does not require them — to inspect cargo vessels and airplanes suspected of carrying North Korean weapons or nuclear technology. The North has sold missiles to Iran and other unsavory customers and a nuclear reactor to Syria.

It also calls on — but does not require — states and financial institutions to stop providing banking services, loans and credits that could support its nuclear or missile programs. That could have the biggest impact, if countries and banks heed the call.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Tuesday, 16 June 2009


Blaine Harden

The Washington Post, June 16, 2009

SEOUL, June 15 -- As state media in North Korea continued to warn of possible nuclear war, South Korean President Lee Myung-bak flew to Washington for talks on Tuesday with President Obama, from whom Lee is expected to seek a written promise of continued U.S. nuclear protection.

The United States has maintained a nuclear umbrella over South Korea since the Korean War, and it periodically reaffirms that protection, although not at the level of a White House statement.

North Korea tested its second nuclear bomb last month, triggering worldwide condemnation and cranking up anxiety in Seoul. When the U.N. Security Council imposed new sanctions on the North for that test, the government of Kim Jong Il quickly responded in the fist-shaking manner that has characterized its behavior this year.

It declared Saturday that it would never give up nuclear weapons and would start making more of them, using plutonium and enriched uranium. Until Saturday, North Korea had denied that it even had a program for making weapons with enriched uranium.

Shortly after the North detonated its first nuclear device in 2006, then-Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld assured his South Korean counterpart of the continuation of the U.S. nuclear umbrella. But South Korea now wants the promise in writing from the White House, according to South Korean published reports citing unnamed officials in Lee's office. A North Korean newspaper taunted Lee on Monday for "begging" for American protection. The Rodong Sinmun, the main newspaper of the North Korean Workers' Party, also accused Lee's government of an "atrocious scheme to wage a second Korean war with nuclear weapons on the back of its U.S. boss."

(...) [artículo aquí]

Friday, 12 June 2009


China Daily, June 12, 2009

China's economic growth has remained respectable amid a difficult global environment, but it is still too early to say if the economy has really bottomed out, according to Louis Kuijs, senior economist, World Bank.

Kuijs noted that given the subdued prospects for the world economy, "more data is needed" to prove that China's current economic recovery is for real.

"With world demand weak and a lot of spare capacity available globally and also in China, there is a lot of downward pressure on manufacturing output," he told the spring membership meeting of the Institute of International Finance in Beijing on Wednesday.

China's economic growth hit a 10-year low of 6.1 percent in the first quarter, while the export sector, the key engine for economic growth, has not shown much signs of stabilization after slumping by 20.5 percent in the first four months. These could shave off two or even more percentage points of China's GDP growth, said Kuijs. China's growth is hardly different from the world, he said, given that the country's economy is more integrated into the world economy than many other major emerging markets.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Thursday, 11 June 2009


Tina Wang

Forbes, June 11, 2009

HONG KONG--There appears to be no end in sight for China's exports slump, as exports data continue to be worse than expected. But China's capital spending boom, on the back of the country's stimulus package and record lending, is hastening the country's dependence for growth on aggressive policy measures and domestic demand. But observers don't expect the spending to be sustainable.

Exports in May plunged 26.4% from the same time last year, marking the seventh straight month of drops, and worse than April's 22.6% fall. That figure fell short of the market consensus forecast of a 23.1% drop.

Imports declined 25.2% in May, compared with a year earlier, and down from April's 23.0% drop, according to figures from the General Administration of Customs on Thursday. The country posted a trade surplus of $13.39 billion, with $88.76 billion in exports and $75.37 billion in imports.

Some analysts have warned that China risks a stalled recovery if Western demand does not rebound next year, unless there are further stimulus measures.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Tuesday, 9 June 2009


Mark Thompson

Time, June 10, 2009

To fear a new Korean war is historically inaccurate, because, in fact, the last one never ended: The world's most dangerous border, across which some 2 million North Korean, U.S. and South Korean troops face each other along the 38th Parallel of the Korean Peninsula is, in fact, simply an armistice line. On July 27, 1953, the U.S. and North Korea signed a truce pausing, but not ending, a war that claimed more than 2 million lives, including those of 36,940 U.S. troops. And the North's recent nuclear and missile saber-rattling has many growing nervous about the potential for a resumption of hostilities.

North Korea, in fact, announced on May 27 that it was withdrawing from the armistice. It declared it could no longer guarantee the safety of ships sailing through the Yellow Sea off its western coast, and would no longer respect the legal status of several islands off South Korea's coast. It also vowed to attack South Korea if North Korean vessels suspected of smuggling nuclear and missile components are stopped and searched by a U.S.-led U.N. naval armada — a proposal currently under discussion.

U.S. officials are concerned that political instability inside the Pyongyang regime may actually raise the danger of confrontation. "Dear Leader" Kim Jong Il has been weakened by a stroke suffered late last year; his 26-year old heir apparent not yet ready to take the reins; and the North Korean military is eager to maintain its pre-eminence in the coming political succession. "Any time you have a combination of this behavior of doing provocative things in order to excite a response — plus succession questions — you have a potentially dangerous mixture," said U.S. Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair on Monday.

(...) [artículo aquí]


Pablo Bustelo

Madri+d, Análisis, 9 de junio de 2009

Aunque se suele dar por supuesto que las economías de China e India serán cada vez más competitivas entre sí, ese escenario no es en absoluto inevitable. De hecho, las tendencias económicas de los últimos años y las previsibles en un futuro cercano apuntan a un escenario de complementariedad o de división del trabajo entre China e India. Ese escenario, que se puede denominar "Chindia", sería el resultado de la creciente superioridad de China en la producción y exportación de manufacturas y de la continua especialización de la India en la exportación de servicios de tecnologías de la información (STI), así como de la complementariedad y colaboración de los dos países en otros campos, como la atracción de inversión directa extranjera y de inversión en cartera en bonos y seguramente también el acceso a los recursos energéticos.

Muchos especialistas suelen dar por supuesto que las economías de los dos gigantes demográficos de Asia, China e India, serán cada vez más competitivas entre sí. En otras palabras, que lo que ocurrirá en los próximos decenios es que China se adentrará con éxito en las exportación de servicios de tecnologías de la información (STI), campo en el que la India ha destacado hasta ahora, mientras que la India empezará a exportar masivamente productos manufacturados, labor en la que hasta ahora China no ha tenido rival entre los países en desarrollo.

Y también que la rivalidad entre China e India aumentará en aspectos como la captación de inversión extranjera o el acceso a las materias primas.

(...) [artículo aquí]


Syed Saleem Shahzad

Asia Times, June 9, 2009

BRUSSELS - After Afghanistan, Pakistan is the new battleground for the United States-led war against Islamic militants, with fighting raging in the Swat area of North-West Frontier Province and threatening to spread not only to the country's urban areas but to Iran and beyond.

Washington is acutely aware of a possible regional crisis and is doing its utmost to convince its allies in Europe to muster all possible support for its client Pakistani establishment before the crisis gets out of hand.

The US's backroom lobbying helped Pakistan obtain commitments of over US$5 billion in aid at April's international donors' conference in Tokyo. But while the Barack Obama administration has made a strong case for increased European support, the difficult part is to agree on the best arrangement under which European capitals could help Pakistan.

The first-ever European Union-Pakistan summit scheduled for June 16-17 in Brussels will primarily focus on counter-terrorism. Leading analysts contend, however, that what really is at stake is Pakistan's strategic relations with the West, given its growing economic dependence of foreign aid.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Monday, 8 June 2009

El número de desnutridos de la región ha aumentado un 30% en dos años

Ana Gabriela Rojas

El País, 8 de junio de 2009

Una madre y sus dos hijos comen ansiosamente de un plato de arroz bajo un árbol en las calles de Nueva Delhi, la capital de India. "Hoy tuvimos suerte y pude conseguir un poco de pescado, pero comer carne es un lujo", cuenta Mahayavi, de 35 años. Desde hace dos su marido está en la cárcel, y ella tiene que mendigar para conseguir de 50 a 90 rupias diarias (de 0,75 a 1,35 euros), lo que le alcanza para llevar algo a la boca de su familia, pero nada más: el árbol bajo el que comen es su único refugio en esta ciudad de climas extremos. Estos días no es raro que el termómetro llegue a los 45 grados centígrados durante el día y que alguna noche una tormenta lo inunde todo.

El encarcelamiento del marido de Mahayavi dejó a su familia desprotegida en el peor momento. El hambre crónica se ha cebado en 100 millones más de personas en el sur de Asia en los últimos dos años, según un informe de Unicef publicado esta semana. Aunque el problema ya era de por sí grave en la región -que incluye Afganistán, Pakistán, India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Bután y las Maldivas-, se ha llegado a más de 400 millones de hambrientos, las peores cifras en los últimos cuarenta años (y un 40% del total en todo el mundo). Un paso atrás muy acusado en una región cuyo PIB subió de promedio casi un 10% entre 2005 y 2007.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Sunday, 7 June 2009


Rajiv Kumar

The Week, June 14, 2009

The 6.7 per cent GDP growth in 2008-09 is significantly lower than the 9 per cent achieved in 2007-08. However, it is above expectations and indeed a sterling performance considering the troubled times. The 5.8 per cent growth in the second half of the fiscal year, though sharply lower than the growth in the first half, was achieved principally by an increase in government expenditure.

This is reflected in the 22 per cent increase in the community, social and personal services segments. This is a one-off hike on account of the Sixth Pay Commission and will not provide any future impetus. It is a little bit surprising to see trade, transport, hotel and communication sectors registering a 9 per cent growth, with agriculture and manufacturing sectors, which provide the demand for these services, seeing a decline. Agriculture growth slowed down from 4.7 per cent in 2007-08 to 1.6 per cent in 2008-09. Manufacturing growth slowed down from 8.2 per cent to a mere 2.4 per cent.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Saturday, 6 June 2009

Security Council Resolution Would Target Funds for Military

Colum Lynch and Glenn Kessler

The Washington Post, June 6, 2009

UNITED NATIONS, June 5 -- The United States and its allies are pressing for the Security Council to adopt a U.N. resolution that would further restrain North Korea's capacity to finance its military ambitions.

The resolution would also urge states to seize cargo suspected of being used to support North Korea's ballistic-missile or nuclear weapons programs. But China is blocking approval, on the grounds that some of the toughest provisions are too provocative, according to diplomats.

The negotiations on new sanctions, which will continue through the weekend, come nearly two weeks after North Korea launched its second underground nuclear test. That was quickly followed by a series of missile test launches that have rattled its neighbors and complicated U.S. efforts to resume nuclear talks with the North.

State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley confirmed yesterday that the United States was considering targeting North Korea's access to financial markets. A draft of the resolution urges U.N. member states to cut loans, financial assistance and grants to North Korea and its suppliers for programs linked to its military program. The draft also expands an asset freeze and travel ban.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Thursday, 4 June 2009


Nicholas D. Kristof

The New York Times, June 4, 2009

It was exactly 20 years ago that I stood on the northwest corner of Tiananmen Square and watched “People’s China” open fire on the people.

It was night; the gunfire roared in our ears; and the Avenue of Eternal Peace was streaked with blood. Uniformed army troops massed on the far end of the square, periodically raising their assault rifles and firing volleys directly at the crowd I was in, and we would all rush backward in terror until the firing stopped.

Then the volley would end, and in the deafening silence we would stop and look back. In the hundred yards between us and the soldiers would be kids who had been shot, lying dead or wounded on the ground.

Some protesters shouted insults at the troops or threw bricks or Molotov cocktails that landed ineffectually in the open area. But none of us dared to go forward to help the injured as they writhed. I was the Beijing bureau chief for this newspaper, and I was cowering behind a layer of other people whom I hoped would absorb bullets; the notebook in my hand was stained with perspiration from fear.

Troops had already opened fire on an ambulance that had tried to collect the injured, so other ambulances kept their distance. Finally, some unlikely saviors emerged — the rickshaw drivers.

These were peasants and workers who made a living pedaling bicycle rickshaws, carrying passengers or freight around Beijing. It was those rickshaw drivers who slowly pedaled out toward the troops to collect the bodies of the dead and injured. Then they raced back to us, legs straining furiously, rushing toward the nearest hospital.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Monday, 1 June 2009


Spiegel Online International, June 1, 2009

Sun Zhe is a professor at the Institute for International Studies at Beijing's Tsinghua University. In an interview with SPIEGEL, he discusses North Korea's recent nuclear tests, the friction they have caused with China and how China and the US can bring North Korea to the negotiating table.

SPIEGEL: Despite China and North Korea being close allies, Beijing failed to stop Kim Jong Il from conducting another nuclear test. Has China lost its influence over its former comrade in arms?
Sun Zhe: The North Koreans certainly did not listen to us. They currently don't view their relations with Beijing as a strategic priority. Their policies are completely oriented toward the Americans. There, they are playing a high-stakes game of poker.

SPIEGEL: What do the North Koreans really want?
Sun: They want to be treated as an equal partner by the US and by the other Western countries. And they absolutely want to have diplomatic relations with Washington.

SPIEGEL: And for that you have to detonate atomic bombs?
Sun: On the face of it, it indeed seems very strange. But it is a precisely calculated chess move. The North Koreans want to be noticed; they want to show something. However, with their tests, they disregarded the fact that the world is currently preoccupied with the financial crisis and swine flu.

SPIEGEL: What should Beijing's reaction be?
Sun: The stated policy of the Chinese government is to bring North Korea back to the negotiating table of the six party talks, which aim at a Korean peninsula free of nuclear weapons.

(...) [artículo aquí]