Tuesday, 29 September 2009


Cindy Sui

Asia Times, September 30, 2009

TAIPEI - Sixty years after Taiwan split from China at the end of a civil war in 1949, there are still no clear signs of how the two sides will resolve their dispute over the island's status, but as mainland China celebrates its victory in the war on October 1, the indications are stronger than ever that both sides are aiming for a peaceful solution, analysts say.

Beijing claims Taiwan is a renegade province, and has not renounced the use of force to take it back for reunification, despite recent warming ties. Over past decades, Taiwan has developed into a vibrant democracy whose people cherish their freedom and separate identity from China.

Nonetheless, the dramatic improvement in relations between the two sides in the past year makes a war unlikely, but so seems unification or Taiwan independence.

China has proposed reunification under the so-called "One Country, Two Systems" formula that offers Hong Kong and Macau, former colonies of Britain and Portugal respectively, a high degree of autonomy, including a free press, with top leaders having to be endorsed by Beijing. But Taiwan has rejected this idea, having grown used to ruling itself democratically.

For now, Beijing and Taipei are shelving this issue, focusing instead on what they can agree on - strengthening economic ties, which are seen as mutually beneficial.

Analysts said that over time the sovereignty issue could perhaps work itself out without a military conflict, as long as neither side pushes the other's limits.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Monday, 28 September 2009


Madhur Singh

Time, September 28, 2009

For a thriving, cosmopolitan capital, Delhi has remarkably low self-esteem. Indians generally agree, and those living in Delhi have no trouble admitting, that the nation's capital is the rudest of the country's metros. It's aggressive — just watch the motorists, cyclists and pedestrians fight it out on the roads, willing the other to give way with loud horns, murderous looks or outright elbowing. It's uncouth — no one even blinks at jumping queues, or spitting betel-juice, or urinating in public. It's loud and brash, and entirely unabashedly too.

Now, with the Commonwealth Games that are just a year away, the city's bad manners have upset a personage no less than the country's Home Minister, P. Chidambaram, who said on Sept. 22 that Delhiites needed an "attitude makeover" in order to "play good hosts." in 2010. Delhi's Chief Minister Shiela Dixit readily agreed, and said plans are afoot to teach Delhi folks to be "more caring and sharing." She indicated that a Beijing-style program of civic education, like the one rolled out before last year's Olympics, would be launched soon. It's only the third time a developing country will host the event. Last week week, they got pulled up for their tardy preparations by Commonwealth Games Federation chief Michael Fennel. In a letter to the local organizing committee, Fennel wrote that it was "reasonable to conclude that the current situation poses a serious risk to the Commonwealth Games in 2010."

Amazingly, in a polity so fraught with socio-economic tensions that films can cause riots — as the makers of Slumdog Millionaire learned when there were riots over the film's title, which some people found offensive — no one protested the high-level censure. No displays of injured pride, not even a pretense of offense taken. Even the Home Minister's tactless remarks blaming migrants for Delhi's civic woes — "People come to Delhi. This is the capital and we cannot stop them. But if they come to Delhi, they will have to adhere to the behavioral requirement, the discipline of the city" — went without remark. And that insouciance is exatly why it will be difficult to teach Delhi residents to say 'please' and 'thank you' and stop all those annoying behaviors in time for the event that will be India's graduation ball. "No one protested because they know Chidambaram is right," says Delhi-based writer Namita Gokhale, "And frankly, no one cares."

(...) [artículo aquí]

Sunday, 27 September 2009

South Korea to Host Fifth Summit in November 2010

The Korea Times, September 27, 2009

It is noteworthy that leaders of the Group of 20 have agreed to make their summit the premier forum for international economic cooperation. For this, they have decided to hold regular meetings from 2011. The agreement was contained in a communiqu? issued by leaders at the end of their two-day gathering in Pittsburgh, Pa., last week. It is no exaggeration to say that the global economic structure is undergoing a historic transfer of power to the developing world in the wake of the unprecedented financial and economic crisis.

The power shift reflects a reality that global financial and economic issues can no longer be tackled by the rich G8 nations as their decades of dominance has weakened after the worst crisis since the Great Depression hit the world last September. It is inevitable for the G20 to replace the G8 as the main forum for steering the global economy. In other words, the change shows that countries such as China, India and South Korea need to play a bigger role in overcoming the crisis and setting a new global financial and economic framework. In turn, the emerging economies should take more responsibilities to match their enhanced role.

As U.S. President Barack Obama pointed out in his news conference during the summit, the world cannot meet the challenges of the 21st century with 20th-century approaches. ``And that's why the G20 will take the lead in building a new approach to cooperation,'' he said. ``To make our institutions reflect the reality of our times, we will shift more responsibility to emerging economies with the International Monetary Fund and give them a great voice.'' Thus, emerging economies belonging to the G20 will be given a bigger share of the vote at the IMF and the World Bank. The increased share will enable the developing countries to have proper clout in proportion to their financial contributions.

The G20 nations now account for 85 percent of the world's total gross domestic product (GDP). And the emerging economies make up more than half of the global economy. Against this backdrop, the G8 forum came to lose its economic and political confidence as it cannot meet the rapidly changing global environment. But it is too early to conclude that the eight advanced countries, including the U.S. Britain, Germany France and Japan, have given up their dominance completely and forever. Thus, it is important to create a new global economic order which will allow the industrialized nations to forge a better partnership with the emerging economies to step up their cooperation for sustainable growth.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Saturday, 26 September 2009


Indira A.R. Lakshmanan

Bloomberg, September 26, 2009

A push from U.S. President Barack Obama and Chinese leader Hu Jintao to shrink trade and investment imbalances is probably years away from being fulfilled, according to comments from their own officials.

Group of 20 leaders met in Pittsburgh yesterday aiming to reduce global capital imbalances blamed for contributing to the financial crisis, including a U.S. reliance on borrowing from abroad to finance spending, and Chinese dependence on exports.

“That’s not a simple thing to achieve, you don’t get that by writing a communique,” David Nelson, acting U.S. assistant secretary of State for Economic, Energy and Business Affairs, said in an interview. Ma Xin, an official at China’s government planning agency, warned that his nation’s “low” consumer spending is a problem that has “accumulated over many years and it is a structural problem.”

Failure to accelerate a shift toward domestic demand in Asia, and to diminished U.S. borrowing, risks laying the ground for future crises. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke has said the influx of savings from Asian nations contributed to depressing U.S. interest rates in the middle of the decade, when the credit boom that preceded the current crisis began.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Friday, 25 September 2009


Francesco Sisci

Asia Times, September 25, 2009

BEIJING - While the United States is engrossed in Iraq and Afghanistan - even planning a troop surge in the latter - a new and bigger strategic risk looms in a much more sensitive area - Europe and Russia. The challenge is about energy and influence in the "old continent", still the richest industrial area in the world.

But first, one needs to take a few steps back.

For three centuries, Russia has attempted to gain access to the Mediterranean Sea, and all this time the traditional European powers, France and Britain, have prevented it. The United States, becoming effectively a European power after World War II, and loaded with ideological anti-communist intentions, inherited this strategic vision and fought hard against the Soviet Union, which had taken over the Russian historical legacy.

Today, 17 years after the US "won" over the Soviet Union and after a brief honeymoon with the then newly reborn Russia, Moscow is in political limbo with Washington. Many American pundits, although not all of them, point fingers at Russia, and for several reasons. Ambiguities in Moscow's international policies, for instance, leave room for problems in places such as Iran and its nuclear program; it is not clear whether Russia backs the US-led drive to impose sanctions on Tehran.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Thursday, 24 September 2009


Emma Graham-Harrison

Reuters, September 24, 2009

Chinese President Hu Jintao's pledge this week to cut "carbon intensity" marked Beijing's first acceptance that it must control emissions, a pivotal shift that could alter the dynamic of global climate change talks.

It seemed obscure and technical to many, with no hard number to anchor the target or boost pressure on other major emitters, and some critics claimed the new objective was little more than a dressed up extension of existing "energy intensity" goals.

But buried amid stodgy language and recycled commitments to cleaner energy was China's first recognition of a responsibility the rest of the world has long urged it to shoulder -- that of counting and curbing its emissions of greenhouse gases.

Previously, Beijing had always argued that although it would attempt to control greenhouse gas output, as a developing country China could not accept any specific targets because they might hinder the fight against poverty.

As China is now the world's top emitter, the shift should smooth talks on a new global framework to tackle climate change, due to be finalised at UN-led talks in Copenhagen in December.

Rich nation demands for major emerging economies to accept greater commitments have been one of the key stumbling blocks.

Hu's decision to unveil the new policy in a rare address to the United Nations was also a sign to the international community that climate change has become a priority for China's leaders.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Tuesday, 22 September 2009


Wu Zhong

Asia Times, September 23, 2009

HONG KONG - In preparation for October 1, when grand celebrations will be held in the Middle Kingdom to mark the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China (PRC) by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), the government has released a set of 50 slogans to get people into the right mood.

China has undergone many changes over the past six decades in its march towards superpower status. But the CCP's rule has been constant. The party has changed in some ways, with softer attitudes on revolutionary class struggle, but certain rituals introduced by the founding leaders, such as National Day, are marked each year with grand celebrations.

Following a similarly long-observed ritual, the CCP last week publicized a set of 50 slogans which are to be painted on walls, written on placards and flags and carried by people during the PRC's birthday celebrations.

Since the time of Mao Zedong, paramount leader of the PRC from its establishment in 1949 until his death in 1976, the party has kept tight control on propaganda. In Mao's view, the party's two key weapons in its struggle for power were the gun and the pen. Mao's teaching is still faithfully followed, with the CCP keeping a tight grip on the military and on state propaganda.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Monday, 21 September 2009


Bloomberg, September 22, 2009

China’s stimulus spending and record bank lending are interrupting efforts to restructure the economy away from investment- and export-led growth toward private consumption, said the Asian Development Bank.

The investment and lending boom prompted the bank to raise its forecast for China’s economic growth this year to 8.2 percent from a previous estimate of 7 percent, in a report released today. It increased its 2010 forecast to 8.9 percent from 8 percent.

President Barack Obama and his Group of 20 counterparts, meeting in Pittsburgh this week, will discuss policies to reduce imbalances in global spending and consumption that helped to trigger the financial crisis. China’s 4 trillion yuan ($586 billion) stimulus package, aimed at countering a slump in exports, is making the world’s third-biggest economy more dependent on investment.

“Expansionary fiscal and monetary policies have softened the blow of the global slump,” the ADB said. The government’s challenge is to “swing attention back to the restructuring efforts after the economy is weaned off the fiscal stimulus.”

The Manila-based ADB makes loans to underdeveloped countries to promote social and economic growth.

Investment accounted for 6.2 percentage points of China’s 7.1 percent economic expansion in the first half, the ADB said. Consumption contributed 3.8 percentage points, and a decline in the trade surplus wiped off 2.9 percentage points.

(...) [artículo aquí]

The most important subject for the world economy won’t even be on the agenda in this packed season of summitry

Bill Emmott

The Times, September 21, 2009

An economic crisis that began as a drama, or even a tragedy, is descending into farce. It is bad enough at home, what with Labour and the Tories arguing over whose spending cuts will be the nastiest, when the real issue is what it will mean for Britain to have a budget deficit that might reach 15 per cent of GDP next year. Abroad, however, things are taking an even more absurd turn, with the world’s two supposedly most important countries, America and China, descending into a trade row about Chinese car tyres and American chickens.

Moreover, we are entering a packed season of international summitry, with the G20 countries meeting in Pittsburgh this week to put the world to rights in a trendily broad and inclusive way, just ahead of the annual meeting of the International Monetary Fund in Istanbul. But what are they planning to do? They will talk mainly about bankers’ bonuses. They will do so in a format seemingly designed to prevent proper thought or decision-making, or at least long speeches from Nicolas Sarkozy and Gordon Brown: the world’s mightiest heads of government will meet for just a dinner and a morning, giving them about five minutes each to get their points across.

Amid this comedy, the most important topic in international economic policy will not be discussed at all, either in private or in public. The silence on this vital issue is partly because it is complex. Mainly, however, our global leaders will be silent for an unfunny but alarming reason: to avoid offending one among their number, China.

At this point in articles about the importance of unspoken issues, it is traditional to cite a literary analogy: typically, Sherlock Holmes and his dog that didn’t bark; or Lady Bracknell’s exhortation to her niece to “omit the chapter on the rupee — it is somewhat sensational”. Readers should feel free to insert their own preference, but the rupee might be the more apt. For the subject about which our leaders will be silent is the Chinese currency, the renminbi, also known as the yuan.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Sunday, 20 September 2009


Alicia García Herrero

El País (Negocios), 20 de septiembre de 2009

Lo que parecía increíble ha sucedido: la periferia se ha recuperado antes que el centro: Asia emergente ha salido de la recesión antes que EE UU, Europa o incluso Japón. Y además no se explica sólo por China y la India, gigantes con una demanda interna alimentada por ingentes políticas de demanda, sino también por el resto de economías emergentes de Asia, puesto que todas han salido ya de la recesión. Algunas -como Corea, Filipinas e Indonesia- sólo experimentaron un trimestre de crecimiento negativo, por lo que técnicamente ni siquiera entraron en recesión. Otras -como Malaisia y Tailandia- salieron ya en el primer trimestre. Las más retrasadas han sido las economías más pequeñas y abiertas -Taiwán, Hong Kong y Singapur-, pero ya han salido en el segundo trimestre de este año. En resumen, la crisis que ha dejado al mundo convaleciente ha resultado ser un resfriado para Asia.

Hay quien argumenta que la neumonía asiática se ha evitado gracias a antibióticos -enormes paquetes fiscales y políticas monetarias ultralaxas- que no son sostenibles de no volver la demanda externa de los países occidentales. La verdad es que los paquetes fiscales han sido tan grandes o más en algunos países desarrollados y las políticas monetarias aún más laxas, pero no se ha obtenido el mismo impulso. En cuanto a la sostenibilidad de las mismas, han de serlo más en Asia, puesto que la región tiene una capacidad de endeudamiento mucho más elevada.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Saturday, 19 September 2009

Statement Signals Reversal on Nuclear Issue, Fits Familiar Bargaining Pattern

Blaine Harden

The Washington Post, September 19, 2009

TOKYO, Sept. 18 -- North Korean leader Kim Jong Il told a Chinese diplomat Friday that his government is willing to discuss its nuclear program in "bilateral or multilateral" meetings, China's official news agency said.

North Korea walked away from stalled six-nation nuclear talks in the spring, during a time of stepped-up belligerence in which it launched missiles, conducted an underground nuclear test and threatened war with South Korea. Since August, however, the unpredictable communist state has reversed course, releasing several detained foreign nationals, including two U.S. journalists, and opening doors to trade with South Korea.

Kim's statement is potentially the most significant move in the North's recent charm offensive. It could revive Beijing-based nuclear negotiations between the two Koreas, China, the United States, Russia and Japan.

But Kim's words also fit a pattern of behavior in which North Korea precipitates an international security crisis and then, months or years later, moves to resolve it, usually in return for aid and other benefits.

The Obama administration has repeatedly said it would hold bilateral discussions with the North Koreans only if they returned to the six-party talks, which began in 2003 and had resulted in North Korean promises to disable and ultimately get rid of its nuclear weapons program in return for economic and diplomatic concessions.

U.S. officials say they are well aware of North Korea's practice of behaving badly, changing course and then seeking rewards from the international community. In May, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates warned North Korea, "As the expression goes in the United States, 'I am tired of buying the same horse twice.' "

On Friday, the official New China News Agency quoted Kim as telling a special envoy sent by Chinese President Hu Jintao, "North Korea would like to solve relevant issues through bilateral and multilateral talks."

(...) [artículo aquí]

Friday, 18 September 2009


Robert M Cutler

Asia Times, September 18, 2009

The presidents of Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Russia, and Turkmenistan ended their meeting in Kazakhstan's resort city of Kenderly last weekend with its purpose and consequences as clear as distant figures in an early autumn mist.

Two elements did emerge more clearly than others - Turkmenistan's determination to diversify its energy export routes and to make future price talks with Russia tough going, and Iran's displeasure at not being invited to the party.

There was no published agenda for the quadrilateral meeting in Kenderly, against which the Iranian foreign minister issued a public protest at the exclusion of his country, the fifth Caspian Sea littoral state. The foreign ministry of Kazakhstan, the host country, had stated earlier that pan-Caspian issues such as division of rights to subsea resources would not be discussed; but with no official communique or even anonymous press leaks it is difficult to know for certain.

The site of the meeting, near the Caspian Sea port of Aqtau, may have carried its own message - Aqtau, by coincidence, or not, is becoming an important link in the west-to-east transmission of energy supplies from Asia to Europe.

The Kazakhstan-Caspian Transportation System is projected to run from Eskene, onshore near Tengiz, to the port of Kuryk, near Aqtau. The oil it carries will then enter the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline, turning it into the Aqtau-Baku-Ceyhan pipeline, terminating near the Turkish Mediterranean coast. (See Caspian pipelines ease Russia's grip, Asia Times Online, July 8, 2008). The project is designed to reduce Kazakhstan's dependence on the Moscow-controlled Tengiz to Black Sea pipeline of the Caspian Pipeline Consortium.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Thursday, 17 September 2009

But Major Shift in Alliance Is Unlikely

Blaine Harden

The Washington Post, September 17, 2009

TOKYO, Sept. 16 -- Hours after he became prime minister Wednesday, Yukio Hatoyama said he wants to change Japan's "somewhat passive" relationship with the United States and review the large American military presence here.

Since his Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) won in a historic landslide Aug. 30, Hatoyama has tried to reassure the United States that the nation remains the cornerstone of Japan's foreign policy while following through on his party's campaign vow to make the two nations' relationship more equal.

In a sign that he was trying to find the right balance, he said Wednesday that he didn't "believe we can do things without the U.S."

Hatoyama, who has a doctorate in engineering from Stanford University, is expected to travel to New York next week to participate in the U.N. General Assembly session and might meet with President Obama during the trip.

As his party mounted its challenge this year to the Liberal Democratic Party, which had always maintained a close relationship with the United States, it criticized what it described as Japan's excessively docile dealings with its principal postwar ally and military protector. The DPJ said it would renegotiate a "status of forces" agreement that keeps 47,000 U.S. troops in Japan.

In particular, the party wanted the U.S. Marine Corps' Futenma Air Station to move to a new location on the southern island of Okinawa. It said Japan should rethink its pledge to pay $6 billion to the United States for relocating about 8,000 Marines from Okinawa to a new base on Guam, a U.S. territory in the Pacific. The party also wanted to withdraw Japanese naval vessels from a refueling mission in the Indian Ocean.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Wednesday, 16 September 2009


Tim Kelly

Forbes, September 16, 2009

Leaving his house on Wednesday morning ahead of a parliamentary session that would anoint him as prime minister, Yukio Hatoyama remarked on the clear, warm weather that had rolled in after a downpour the night before.

It symbolized, he said after a pause, the future of endless sunshine that he wants to create for Japan.

Later, barely able to hold back a smile, Hatoyama bowed to lawmakers in the nation's parliament's lower house after 327 of the chamber's 480 members voted for him as prime minister. It was a high point for him as the leader of the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), the political group he helped create from a disparate band of opposition groups in 1998.

Hatoyama's appointment as Japan's top politician represents a tectonic shift in the nation's political landscape. For half a century one group, the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), held sway. But in a general election last month an electorate stung by the global downturn and fed up with inept government and a suffocating bureaucracy handed the ruling clique its worst defeat ever. Japan's citizens picked Hatoyama's party to deliver change.

Starting with his appointment Wednesday, that's exactly what the populist politician has to do to keep the people on his side. Hatoyama must make good on a bunch of promises that his party came up with to win over millions of voters at election time.

At the top of that woo-list is a $290 child benefit, which would make a family with four kids more than $1,000 better off a month. The DPJ also promised farmers more than $10 billion in income subsidies. For drivers, the party vowed to create free express highways and put an end to an unpopular gasoline tax used to fund new road building.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Tuesday, 15 September 2009


Michael Wines

The New York Times, September 15, 2009

BEIJING — China’s governing Communist Party will convene its annual policy meeting on Tuesday with a sober, if not soporific, mandate to root out government corruption and make the party adapt to changing times.

But lurking in the background is a more compelling topic: Who will become China’s next ruler in 2012?

Analysts will watch the meeting, the annual plenary session of the party’s 17th Central Committee, to see whether Vice President Xi Jinping is given the additional title of vice chairman of the Central Military Commission.

Such an appointment would be seen as a confirmation that Mr. Xi, 56, is set to succeed President Hu Jintao when Mr. Hu’s second term ends in 2012. Any Chinese leader must have experience in leading the military, which is under party control. Mr. Hu was awarded the same post in 1999, three years before he became the party’s general secretary in 2002.

Yet Chinese politics are so opaque that no outsider can say for certain that Mr. Xi, the presumed heir, will win the position — or that there will be a mark against him should he not.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Sunday, 13 September 2009

El Gobierno alerta de la grave contaminación del aire en las zonas urbanas

José Reinoso

El País, 14 de septiembre de 2009

La contaminación atmosférica fue uno de los principales caballos de batalla del Gobierno chino ante los Juegos Olímpicos del año pasado. Pekín salió victorioso, gracias a medidas draconianas como la jubilación de miles de destartalados autobuses, la sustitución masiva de calderas de carbón por gas, la paralización de cientos de fábricas y obras en la capital y provincias vecinas y la prohibición de circular a la mitad de sus 3,3 millones de vehículos en días alternos, según la matrícula.

Estas medidas permitieron a los pequineses disfrutar de los mejores cielos que lucía la ciudad en 10 años. Pero una vez finalizada la competición, la mayoría de las medidas temporales se esfumó, y el aire ha vuelto a castigar las gargantas y los pulmones de los residentes de la ciudad.

La contaminación en Pekín sigue siendo "mala", asegura Zhou Shengxian, ministro de Protección Medioambiental, en un informe remitido al Parlamento. Aunque en otras urbes es aún peor. "Existe potencial para que se produzcan serios incidentes de polución del aire; la situación medioambiental atmosférica es muy grave", señala el estudio.

El ministro afirma que, aunque los métodos de prevención y tratamiento han progresado, las dificultades para manejar el problema están creciendo, por lo que se hace necesario reforzar las normativas de protección.

(...) [artículo aquí]


Swaminathan S Anklesaria Aiyar

Economic Times, September 13, 2009

An economy is best judged not in fair weather but foul. India has successfully weathered the great financial crisis of September 2008. Indian gross domestic product (GDP) has grown around 6% in every quarter of the most difficult 12 months in recent history. Most countries suffered an outright fall in at least one quarter.

The global recession started in December 2007. The initial impact on India was muted: GDP growth slowed from 9% in 2007-08 to 7.8% in April-September 2008, still a very high rate. But after Wall Street collapsed in September, India's growth plummeted to 5.8%, 5.8% and 6.1% in the next three quarters. This was a comedown. Yet, it far exceeded the World Bank's forecast of 4% growth in 2009. It exceeded my expectations too.

Let's compare India's performances in the Great Recession and Asian financial crisis. In the latter, India's GDP growth fell to just 4.5% in 1997-98, of which 1% was a boost from the Pay Commission. Today, the annual rate of growth exceeds 6%, of which 0.5% is a Pay Commission boost. That's a big improvement.

In 1997, India's foreign exchange reserves were strained, interest rates went sky-high, companies defaulted on loans and dragged down banks. But in 2008, India's high foreign exchange reserves prevented any panic, even after foreign institutional investors withdrew $12 billion from the stock market and foreign credit suddenly vanished. Indian corporates were much less over-borrowed in 2008 than in 1997, and Indian banks were far better capitalized, so they withstood the financial crisis. Companies that had borrowed big for new projects in 1997 collapsed, and many begged for debt forgiveness. In 2008, Tata Steel, Tata Motors and Hindustan Aluminium had raised gargantuan dollar loans for foreign acquisitions, yet managed to weather the storm.

So resilient was India's performance that the very foreign investors who had withdrawn $12 billion in 2008, flooded back into Indian stock markets at the rate of $1billion per week in May 2009. This was in stark contrast with the Asian financial crisis, when foreign institutional money remained a trickle for years.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Saturday, 12 September 2009


Bloomberg, September 12, 2009

China’s expansion strengthened in August as industrial production, lending and retail sales exceeded forecasts, reinforcing a global recovery from the deepest recession since World War II.

The Shanghai Composite Index climbed to a three-week high on yesterday’s reports, and yuan forwards posted their best week in more than five months. Premier Wen Jiabao’s $586 billion stimulus plan and a record $1.1 trillion of lending in the first half of this year have countered a 10-month slump in shipments abroad, helping Asia lead the world’s rebound.

“The closer you are to China the better off you are,” said Tim Condon, head of Asia research in Singapore at ING Groep NV and a former economist at the World Bank.
China’s factory output climbed 12.3 percent last month from a year earlier, the most since August 2008, the statistics bureau said yesterday. Retail sales rose 15.4 percent, the biggest gain this year after accounting for seasonal distortions. M2, the broadest measure of money supply, expanded by a record 28.53 percent. Exports fell for a 10th month.

Wen pledged Sept. 10 to sustain stimulus measures to secure the recovery, saying the rebound “is unstable, unbalanced and not yet solid.” Speaking at a conference in the city of Dalian, he said “we cannot and will not change the direction of our policies when the conditions aren’t appropriate.”

Twelve-month yuan forwards rose to 6.7350 per dollar as of 5:30 p.m. in Shanghai yesterday on speculation that a stronger recovery gives the central bank more room to resume appreciation of the currency.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Friday, 11 September 2009


David Gosset

Asia Times, September 11, 2009

One can describe the Eurasian dynamics in the form of a syllogism: instability in Central and South Asia is a serious threat for the global village; the direct and permanent stabilizing force at the heart of Eurasia is China; therefore, Sino-Western synergy is the long-term solution to Inner Asia's problems.

Halford John Mackinder (1861-1947) in the seminal Democratic Ideals and Reality (1919) sought to see in maps "not merely the conventional boundaries established by scraps of paper, but permanent physical opportunities". China's Xinjiang is certainly about "permanent physical opportunities" and a geopolitical variable of the highest importance. For Western strategists, it is urgent to rediscover Xinjiang's central position and to realize without preconception or prejudice how its current dynamics are creating a new configuration in Central and South Asia.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Thursday, 10 September 2009


China Daily, September 10, 2009

China is losing its edge in the worldwide labor market as it will suffer a shortage of laborers due to the family planning policy, a think-tank said yesterday in a report.
China needs to put more emphasis on education, both in cities and rural areas, to cope with its rising labor challenges, the report said.

The move to improve China's global labor competitiveness is urgent because the country is losing its edge in the worldwide labor market, with fewer workers in the labor pool.

Also, the country will continue to upgrade its manufacturing-oriented economy, requiring more skilled and educated workers, according to the report.

"China is gradually losing its labor surplus, which has created the country's success story in the past 30 years," said Wang Dewen, professor of the Institute of Population and Labor Economics, of Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, the publisher of the yearly report.

“But now it needs a second labor advantage," he said. "And that is the improvement of labor skills and their level of education," Wang said.

The average student in the countryside attends school only 6.8 years, despite the country's mandate for a nine-year compulsory education.

The report found that a rural resident who finishes senior high school will have a higher productivity rate - 21.1 percent - compared to 8.8 percent for those who only finish lower levels of education.

In the city, the government should encourage more residents to receive more education after high school, said the report. Those with further education earn at least 29 percent more.

The current average time for schooling is 9.5 years.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Wednesday, 9 September 2009


Indian Express, September 9, 2009

Vibrant financial markets and a sound banking sector have helped the Indian economy move up a notch to the 49th place on the global competitive scale, while Switzerland has toppled the US as the top-ranked nation, the World Economic Forum said on Tuesday in its annual ranking of the world’s most competitive economies.

Reversed development pattern

India’s competitive performance continues to exhibit a rather reversed development pattern. It ranks an outstanding 28th in the most complex areas measured by the business sophistication and innovation subindex, ahead of several advanced economies. The country also boasts of fairly well functioning institutions (54th), bustling financial markets (16th), and a sound banking sector (25th) supported by a vast domestic market (4th largest in PPP terms). However, the country underperforms on some of the basic determinants of competitiveness, namely health and primary education (101st), macroeconomic stability (96th) — though improving — and infrastructure (76th). In addition, penetration rates for mobile telephony (116th), the Internet (104th), and personal computers (96th) remain among the lowest in the world, while inefficiencies in the labour market (83rd) prevent an optimal allocation of human capital. Improvements in these areas would place India on a stronger growth trajectory going into the future.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Tuesday, 8 September 2009


Teoh Kok Lin

The Star, September 8, 2009

An interesting change of power happened in Japan about a week ago. Voters booted out the ruling Liberal Democrat Party (LDP), which many hold responsible for Japan’s economic mess, in favour of the opposition Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ).

One of the first priorities for the new DPJ government undoubtedly will be reviving Japan’s stagnant economy.

Hard lessons from the current global recession made many in Japan realise it will need to depend more on domestic consumption, exporting more to the growing Eastern markets, in addition to exporting to the West for growth in the coming years.

I believe many Asian exporting nations also know that they are pretty much in the same boat. For many decades, Asia relied on cheap cost to export to growing Western consumer demand. That formula has made Japan’s exporters hugely successful since the 1960s.

It has been duplicated to certain degrees of success by South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore and Malaysia; and in the past 10 years, on a much larger scale in China.

(…) [artículo aquí]

Monday, 7 September 2009


Vipin V. Nair

Bloomberg, September 7, 2009

India, whose auto market is 19 percent of China’s, has the edge in exports.

Suzuki Motor Corp., Hyundai Motor Co., and Nissan Motor Co. are making India a hub for overseas sales of minicars as incentives lift demand for smaller, fuel-efficient autos. Helped by cheaper labor and a surging local market, India this year overtook China in auto exports and is challenging Thailand and South Korea as an alternative production center in Asia.

“There is a worldwide shift toward fuel-efficient, compact cars,” said Jayesh Shroff, who helps manage about $7 billion of assets including carmaker shares at SBI Asset Management Co. in Mumbai. “This offers a huge potential for India and it can emerge as a leader in the small car segment.”

Maruti Suzuki India Ltd.’s exports more than doubled to 79,860 this year. It aims to ship 130,000 vehicles in the year to March, 86 percent more than last year, said Chairman R. C. Bhargava.

The automaker rose as much as 2.5 percent to a record 1,585 rupees and changed hands at 1,564 rupees at 11:57 a.m. in Mumbai. Suzuki rose 1.9 percent to 2,160 yen in Tokyo while Hyundai rose 4.7 percent to 112,500 won in Seoul trading.

Maruti Suzuki sold a monthly record 14,847 vehicles overseas in August. India’s exports of minicars and hatchbacks gained 44 percent between January and July to 201,138, according to the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers. Total exports, including vans, sport-utility vehicles and trucks, rose 18 percent to 229,809. Cars are exported to over 100 countries, and don’t include the U.S. or Japan.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Sunday, 6 September 2009


Doug Bandow

The Korea Times, September 6, 2009

The Liberal Democratic Party has ruled Japan for most of the last 54 years. During that time the U.S.-Japan alliance has been a mainstay for both countries. But the Democratic Party's overwhelming victory could transform Japanese foreign policy. Such a change is long overdue.

In August 1945 Japan was disarmed and occupied. Gen. Douglas MacArthur acted as regent, writing Article 9 into Japan's constitution: "Land, sea, and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained.''

The unstated political corollary was that Washington would be responsible for Japan's defense. This arrangement seemed logical until the Cold War deepened, especially after the triumph of Mao Zedong's Communist Party in China.

Moreover, some Japanese also grew dissatisfied with the "peace constitution,'' bridling at the assumption that the Japanese people possessed a double dose of original sin.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Saturday, 5 September 2009


Donald Kirk

Asia Times, September 5, 2009

NEW YORK - Suddenly, North Korea's peace offensive has exploded in a mushroom cloud with word from Pyongyang that the North's nuclear wizards are about to enter "the completion stage" of their program to develop nuclear warheads with highly enriched uranium.

Pyongyang said on Friday it was in the final stage of enriching uranium, a process that would give it a path to making nuclear weapons other than plutonium-based devices.

For those who may have forgotten the history, it was the revelation nearly seven years ago that North Korea had a highly enriched uranium program entirely separate from its plutonium program at its complex at Yongbyon that set in motion the sequence that finally detonated the 1994 Geneva framework agreement.

Under that agreement, North Korea had shut down its experimental five-megawatt reactor at Yongbyon while teams of inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) rotated in and out of the North to confirm the program was really suspended.

But all the while, as US intelligence had gathered from multiple sources, including spy satellites, the network of Abdul Qadeer Khan - the "father" of the Pakistan atomic bomb - and exchanges between North Korea and Iran, the North was continuing its program in enriched uranium.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Friday, 4 September 2009


Kunal Kumar Kundu

Asia Times, September 4, 2009

BANGALORE - India's 6.1% economic growth over the three months through June, announced this week, had many analysts optimistic at the prospects for the rest of the fiscal year, even though the figure was down from 7.8% in the year-earlier period and took no account of a deepening drought.

The Central Statistical Organization (CSO), releasing the figures on Monday, said the drought would be reflected in the coming quarters, but that the economy "can still clock over 6% growth" over the fiscal year that ends March 31, 2010. Even Montek Singh Ahluwalia, deputy chairman of the Planning Commission, said in reaction to the figures that the worst may be over. "We expect GDP [gross domestic product] growth to improve in the subsequent quarters," Ahluwalia said.

A closer look at the data makes it clear that the government is speaking on an agreed line to shore up sentiment, rather than commenting on reality.

First, take the agricultural sector, in which in this year's fiscal first quarter (April to June), growth slowed to 2.4% from 3% a year earlier and was down from 2.7% in the immediate previous quarter. This in itself need not be bad, except that the data reflect the Rabi, or spring, crop only, which was not affected by drought. The effect of the severe drought on the Khariff, or summer monsoon, crop, is yet to be recorded and this is going to take a major hit in the coming quarters.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Thursday, 3 September 2009


David Barboza

The New York Times, September 3, 2009

BEIJING — The United States’ new ambassador to China, Jon M. Huntsman Jr., on Wednesday laid out a vision of close engagement with China on a broad range of issues, including regional stability and the environment, and said that human rights must continue to be a major part of bilateral talks.

In addition to working with China on security issues — including its role in dealing with challenges in Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan and North Korea — he said discussing climate change and the environment would be important parts of his efforts here, because, “In today’s world, we’re all downstream.”

“I suspect we have more on our plate than ever,” he said. “But it comes at a time when China is a stakeholder. And arguably, it wasn’t in the past.”

Mr. Huntsman, 49, formerly governor of Utah, made the remarks in an interview with a group of reporters at the American Embassy in Beijing on Wednesday, just over a week after taking residence.

He was chosen by President Obama for the ambassador post and was confirmed by the Senate in August.

He had been considered a rising star in the Republican Party and a possible presidential contender in 2012, but said he could not turn down the opportunity to serve in China.

Mr. Huntsman, 49, arrives with high expectations about his ability to work with the Chinese. He is fluent in Mandarin, worked as Mormon missionary in Taiwan and has served as ambassador to Singapore and deputy United States trade representative.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Wednesday, 2 September 2009


Choe Sang-Hun

The New York Times, September 2, 2009

North Korea restored regular border crossings for traffic going to South Korean factories in the North on Tuesday, while its leader, Kim Jong-il, reiterated his government’s call for a peace treaty with the United States.

North Korea had previously called for talks with Washington to replace the truce — which fell short of a formal treaty — that ended the Korean War in 1953.

“We can ease tensions and remove the danger of war on the peninsula when the United States abandons its hostile policy and signs a peace treaty with us,” Mr. Kim said in a commentary carried on Pyongyang Radio, which broadcasts North Korean government statements abroad.

The dispatch, which was released late Monday, did not say when Mr. Kim made the statement. But the remark was the latest in a number of recent conciliatory overtures from the North.

Meanwhile, on Tuesday, North Korea restored regular traffic for South Korean companies that have operations in a joint industrial park in the North Korean border city of Kaesong. The North had sharply curtailed such traffic in December.

The border will now open 23 times a day to traffic to and from Kaesong, up from 6 times, said Lee Jong-joo, a spokeswoman with the Unification Ministry in Seoul. About 110 South Korean factories employ 40,000 North Korean workers at Kaesong.

Ian Kelly, a State Department spokesman, said Monday that Washington was “encouraged” by the North’s recent gestures toward the South, but he said he had no comment on the North’s call for a peace treaty.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Tuesday, 1 September 2009


Bloomberg, September 1, 2009

When Yukio Hatoyama travels to the U.S. this month as Japan’s new prime minister, he’ll have a chance to tell President Barack Obama just what he envisages in calling for a “more equal alliance.”

Hatoyama’s Democratic Party of Japan won a landslide election two days ago, ousting a government that had held sway for half a century and signed an agreement in 1960 to host U.S. soldiers on Japanese soil to provide for the country’s security.

The DPJ’s platform proposed revising an accord stipulating how the 50,000 American troops stationed in Japan are treated, and developing an “autonomous” foreign policy that is still rooted in the U.S. alliance. Hatoyama has called for closer ties in Asia, especially with China, as that country develops a military capability in line with its economic expansion.

“The DPJ wants to have good relations with China and they want to have very good relations with the United States,” Gerald Curtis, a professor of Japanese politics at Columbia University in New York, said in a Bloomberg Television interview. “The Hatoyama government will not do things that are going to provoke major controversy with the United States.”

Hatoyama, 62, is set to be sworn in as prime minister in time to represent Japan at this month’s Group of 20 summit in Pittsburgh and the United Nations General Assembly in New York. Obama, 48 will attend both meetings, giving him a chance to meet Hatoyama.

DPJ officials say they would welcome the kind of first-name relationship former premier Junichiro Koizumi enjoyed with President George W. Bush.

(...) [artículo aquí]