Saturday, 31 October 2009


César Chelala

The Globalist, October 31, 2009

Ever since China unveiled its new greenhouse gas emissions targets, the world has begun to recognize China’s efforts to clean up its degraded environment. César Chelala explains that children may be the most immediate beneficiaries of this new push, as they are most vulnerable to the dangers of pollution.

In recent times, China has greatly improved the health status of the majority of its population — while also maintaining a sustained economic expansion. Some of these achievements have been a model for developing countries worldwide. Gains in the health sector, however, are being curtailed by the environmental consequences of the rapid economic expansion of the country.

To continue the country’s economic growth — while at the same time protecting people’s health — is one of the main challenges facing Chinese authorities today.

China’s achievements

In the last two decades, China has had average economic growth of 9.4%. For the last 50 years, it has also made impressive advances in public health by improving access to health care and tackling infectious diseases with remarkably good results.

The average life expectancy is now 71.8 years, up from 35 in 1949. Immunization coverage is over 95% for those under age one.

From 1960 to 2003, China’s infant mortality rate fell from 150 to 30 per 1,000 live births, and the under-five mortality rate dropped from 225 to 37 per 1,000 live births. Both rates are used as indicators of access to basic health services. At the same time, there has been a sustained increase in the number of community service networks, which provide basic health services to the population.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Thursday, 29 October 2009


IMF, October 29, 2009

- Rapid recovery, with growth forecast of 5¾ percent in 2010
- Need for continued stimulus until recovery entrenched
- Shift growth towards domestic demand, says IMF

After being hit hard by the global economic slump, Asia is now rebounding fast, according to the IMF in its Regional Economic Outlook for the Asia and Pacific Region.

The report says the region is outpacing other parts of the world, with the “green shoots” of recovery appearing earlier and taking firmer root than elsewhere.

However Asia’s outlook remains closely tied to the global economy and the key behind Asia’s recovery was bounce back from the sudden stop in global trade and finance at the end-2008. This has fuelled a rapid recovery in exports, boosting industrial production and overall GDP, says the report.

“Asian economies have been very strong in their stimulus from both monetary and fiscal sources,” said Anoop Singh, Director of the IMF’s Asia and Pacific Department.

In the wake of the global downturn, Asian authorities swiftly deployed packages to boost government spending, reduce interest rates, and stabilize financial markets. These measures were much larger than in previous crises, and in the case of the fiscal programs even larger, on average, than those introduced by the Group of 20 industrialized and emerging market countries.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Wednesday, 28 October 2009


Daniel Inman

Finance Asia, October 28, 2009

Recent developments in Mongolia indicate that the remote country is finally about to live up to its incredible potential.

With one major mining deal in the bag, and more expected to follow, Mongolia is about to enter a phase of astronomic growth. In fact, people are starting to compare the sparsely populated, resource-rich country to places like Brunei and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

"Over the next decade, Mongolia will have the fastest growing economy in the world in terms of GDP growth, succeeding Qatar, which in percentage terms, although not absolute terms, surpassed that of China in the past decade," said John Finigan, chief executive officer of Golomt Bank, one of Mongolia's three largest banks.

The country's gross domestic product growth has averaged out at 8.6% during the past six years. By 2020, Finigan said Mongolia's GDP could be $67 billion, 14 times what it was in 2008, and that is based on conservative estimates.

This might seem like an incredible prediction, but Finigan has seen it all before. In the early seventies, he worked in the UAE, just as the fledgling state started to profit from its oil.

When the oil money started flowing in, the economy started to snowball in size; in 2008, the GDP of the UAE was $262 billion, nearly a hundred times its 1973 GDP of $2.8 billion. "The only thing that I was wrong about was that I underestimated just how much growth would be generated in the Qatari economy," he said. And it is happening all over again in Mongolia.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Tuesday, 27 October 2009


Austin Ramzy

Time, October 27, 2009

When Somali pirates hijacked a Chinese fishing boat in the Indian Ocean last November, there was little that China could do. The government said it was assessing the situation and hoping for help from authorities in the region. Last week when pirates overpowered the crew of a Chinese bulk carrier 700 miles off the coast of Somalia, a Foreign Ministry spokesman pledged that China would make "an all-out effort to rescue the sailors and the ship."

What changed in a year? Since sending three warships to the pirate-infested Gulf of Aden in January, China is increasingly capable of defending its merchant vessels in the region. And the country is now more willing to display its growing military strength, as was demonstrated in the massive military parade held in Beijing on Oct.1 to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic.

But having a military option this time around doesn't necessarily mean there's an easy solution. On Oct. 22 Foreign Ministry spokesperson Ma Zhaoxu said that a rescue operation was underway. Since then, the pirates who captured the De Xin Hai have moved the coal carrier to the coast of Somalia near the city of Hobyo, according to the European Union Naval Force Atalanta, which conducts patrols in the region. Thus far there has been no indication that any of the ship's 25 Chinese crew members have been harmed, says Commander John Harbour, spokesman for the EU effort. Moving the vessel from the high seas to the Somali coast will make any rescue efforts far more challenging. ""It's extremely difficult to on board a ship once it's sitting alongside the coast," says Harbour. "Undoubtedly [the pirates] have been reinforced. As the Americans have discovered, they can be pretty resourceful individuals. It would be a dangerous operation militarily."

(...) [artículo aquí]

Monday, 26 October 2009


Gwyn Morgan

Global and Mail, October 26, 2009

Recessions are high-profile times for economists and financial analysts. One popular focus is the "shape" of the recovery. Optimists think it will be V-shaped; the more cautious predict it will be U-shaped. Those who believe that house prices and the stock market are ahead of the real economy foresee a W shape. Then there's the dreaded L shape. But such speculation misses the bigger question: What will our "after the recovery" world actually look like?

Start by thinking back only 15 months: World oil prices hit $147 (U.S.) a barrel, transferring enormous wealth to oil-exporting states. Demand for raw materials (such as cement, copper, zinc, nickel and steel), combined with labour shortages, played havoc with construction projects. Global food shortages and price hikes fuelled riots in developing nations. China's embrace of market principles had transformed it into the world's workshop, displacing much of the West's labour-intensive manufacturing. India emerged as the leading global services economy.

The "after the recovery" picture will no doubt reflect some of these trends, but what will have changed? The first place to look for an answer is the country that dominated world affairs before its domestic mortgage meltdown ignited a global meltdown. Optimists remind us that the U.S. economy has always been the most resilient example of what the late Austrian economist Joseph Schumpeter labelled capitalism's "creative destruction." But current realities tell us our neighbour is unlikely to lift up the world again this time.

There is no credible scenario for turning around growth of the country's $8-trillion national debt. Huge stimulus spending and corporate bailouts are adding even more trillions, yet the Obama administration doesn't seem to have heard the adage, "When you are in a hole, stop digging." Interest payments and new spending on health care and other initiatives ensure a continuation of out-of-control, trillion-dollar-plus deficits. Some 39 American states are technically bankrupt. Meanwhile, President Barack Obama and his leftist colleagues throw sand in the gears of Corporate America, the only engine that has ever powered the U.S. economy out of peril. One of his first initiatives was a bill to remove the right of workers to a secret ballot before union certification, further reducing productivity and competitiveness. The administration's plan to double-tax foreign subsidiaries of the country's enviable stable of global companies risks the loss of important head offices. Lastly, it's payback time for debt-laden Americans who shopped the world to prosperity on borrowed money.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Sunday, 25 October 2009


Siddharth Varadarajan

The Hindu, October 25, 2009

Hua Hin, Thailand: India and China on Friday confounded the dire predictions being made of renewed rivalry and distrust by reaffirming their intention to work closely together on a wide range of issues and to not let differences over the border become an impediment to future cooperation.

In his opening remarks at delegation-level talks with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the sidelines of the 15th Asean summit here, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said strengthened bilateral relations served the interests of the two countries, the region and world. He later recalled Dr. Singh’s oft-quoted remark about there being enough space for both India and China to develop, adding that there was “still more space in the world” for the two countries to grow together. If the “Asian Century” is to become a reality, he added, it was important for India and China to live in harmony and friendship and enjoy prosperity, a senior Indian official who was present in the meeting told reporters later.

Dr. Singh warmed to this theme, reiterating India’s willingness to cooperate with China on global issues like climate change, world trade and the financial crisis. Providing an account of the talks, N. Ravi, Secretary (East) in the Ministry of External Affairs, said the Prime Minister described economic and trade relations between the two sides as “a vital pillar” of the relationship despite the payments imbalance, a point Premier Wen responded to by promising to work with India to handle the growing trade deficit. He also said China encouraged its companies to invest in India and welcomed Indian investments in China. The two leaders then agreed to take steps to ensure bilateral trade reached the $ 60 billion annual target by 2010.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Saturday, 24 October 2009


AFP, October 24, 2009

HUA HIN, Thailand — Chinese premier Wen Jiabao and his Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh held "productive" talks in Thailand Saturday but did not discuss their ongoing diplomatic spat, an official said.

The pair met on the sidelines of a regional summit in the coastal resort of Hua Hin grouping the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Australia, New Zealand, South Korea and Japan.

At the bilateral talks, which lasted 45 minutes, there was a "good discussion, a productive meeting and they agreed to further strategic and co-operative partnership", an Indian delegation official told AFP.

Wen and Singh also sought to "build trust and understanding", the official added, but he said they did not discuss the disputed Indian border state of Arunachal Pradesh or the Dalai Lama's upcoming visit there.

Beijing has voiced its opposition to next month's trip planned by the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, as well as a recent visit by Singh to the border state while he was on the campaign trail before local elections.

The two nations fought a war in 1962 in which Chinese troops advanced deep into the border state and inflicted heavy casualties on Indian troops.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Friday, 23 October 2009


Donald Kirk

Asia Times, October 23, 2009

SEOUL - Here's one way to upstage the rush to two-way dialogue between the United States and North Korea: how about a third inter-Korean summit - this one between South Korea's President Lee Myung-bak and North Korea's Kim Jong-il?

Unlikely though such a scenario might seem, the South Korean media, led by the state-owned Korean Broadcasting System (KBS), suggest the question is not entirely absurd. KBS reports that Kim Yang-gon, an influential North Korean figure on dealings with the South, has been in Singapore seeing an unnamed but "ranking" South Korean.

While South Korean sources have been saying the idea of a rendezvous between the conservative Lee and the North's Dear Leader is preposterous, the Blue House, the center of presidential power in the South, refrained from the usual denial. Instead, while Lee was in Vietnam and Cambodia, a spokesman cryptically refused to "confirm" such a meeting had happened.

No doubt about it, a Lee-Kim summit would be an ultimate expression of North Korea's desire to ease up on tensions and the South's promise to reciprocate if only Kim agrees to give up his beloved nukes. If nothing else, the conservative but pragmatic Lee would demonstrate that he's really just as interested in reconciliation as were his two left-leaning predecessors, Roh Moo-hyun, who met Kim in Pyongyang in October 2007, and Kim Dae-jung, who initiated the "Sunshine" policy of reconciliation and flew to Pyongyang for the first North-South summit in June 2000.

For the record, South Korea's Foreign Minister Yu Myung-hwan, talking to correspondents in Seoul, proclaimed South Korea "ready to meet with North Korea regardless of the time, venue and opportunity to discuss possible improvement of inter-Korean relations and the nuclear issue".

(...) [artículo aquí]

Wednesday, 21 October 2009


Bloomberg, October 22, 2009

China’s economy expanded at the fastest pace in a year as stimulus spending and record lending growth helped the nation lead the world out of recession.

Gross domestic product rose 8.9 percent in the third quarter from a year earlier, the statistics bureau said in Beijing today. The median of 34 estimates in a Bloomberg News survey was for a 9 percent gain. Separate reports showed industrial production and retail sales accelerated in September.

The dollar headed higher and Asian stocks dropped on concern that the acceleration in China’s growth will spur policy makers to consider withdrawing record fiscal and monetary stimulus in coming quarters. Qin Xiao, chairman of China Merchants Bank Co., this week said it’s “urgent” for the central bank to tighten policy to avert asset-price bubbles.

“It’s all a question now of making sure they don’t overdo the stimulus,” said Stephen Green, head of China research at Standard Chartered Plc. “The probability of stronger guidance to banks on lending growth is rising.”

The MSCI Asia Pacific stock index slid 0.5 percent to 120.56 as of 12:30 p.m. in Hong Kong. China’s benchmark Shanghai Composite Index was little changed after losing as much as 0.8 percent earlier today. The dollar benefited from its status as a haven, advancing 0.2 percent to 91.17 yen and $1.4986 per euro. The yuan was little changed, trading at 6.8270.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Some economists say that too much of China's growth is coming from investment in inefficient state-owned enterprises and that stimulus policies are diverting the country away from long-needed reform.

David Pierson

Los Angeles Times, October 21, 2009

When China releases its third-quarter gross domestic product figures Thursday, it's likely to post growth that's the envy of a recession-weary globe. Some analysts project the world's third-largest economy will easily surpass the government's 8% expansion target.

China's exports are rebounding. Tens of thousands of laid-off workers are being rehired. Stocks and real estate have been on a tear.

Though economists credit Beijing's policies for carrying the country through the worst of the global crisis, some question the sustainability of the recovery. Some say that too much of China's growth is coming from investment in inefficient state-owned enterprises and that current stimulus policies are diverting the country away from the reform long needed to balance its economy.

"They're moving the economy in exactly the wrong direction," said Yasheng Huang, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Sloan School of Management and a leading critic of China's economic strategy.

At the heart of China's recovery is a $585-billion government stimulus package and a torrent of new bank loans totaling $1.27 trillion this year. The injection has kept industry humming, maintained employment at reasonable levels and launched billions of dollars' worth of public infrastructure projects.

Beijing has also increased spending on health, education and pension plans. To stimulate domestic consumer spending, the government has offered subsidies for purchases of fuel-efficient cars and home appliances.

But some complain that those policies still favor large, government-owned firms at the expense of small businesses in the private sector.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Tuesday, 20 October 2009


Bloomberg, October 20, 2009

Welding torches flare at dusk in the coastal Chinese city of Dalian as workers mill about on the flight deck of an unfinished aircraft carrier once intended for the Soviet navy.

More than 400 miles (643 kilometers) from the ocean, a full-size mock-up sits next to a lake in Wuhan. While the twin can be used to train deck crews, it will never sail. Its “hull” is a 1,000 foot-long (300 meter) building.

China’s leaders have talked for five decades about acquiring what they call “aircraft mother ships.” Spurred by dependence on safe sea lanes for exports and inbound shipments of oil, gas and iron ore, the world’s fastest-growing major economy is preparing to send a carrier to sea within a few years, military analysts say. Such a move in the Pacific, where the U.S. has dominated since World War II, would give China added power in territorial disputes with Japan, South Korea, Vietnam and the Philippines.

“A Chinese aircraft carrier is probably a matter of when, not if,” says David Finkelstein, director of China studies at CNA, an Alexandria, Virginia-based consulting group with national-security expertise. “There is already a strategic rationale for the need for an aircraft carrier or some sort of vessel that can project air power within the region.”

The first will be the former Varyag being completed in Dalian, according to a July report by the U.S. Office of Naval Intelligence. It predicts the warship will become operational as a training platform between 2010 and 2012, with domestically built carriers “sometime after 2015.”

(...) [artículo aquí]

Monday, 19 October 2009


Terry Lacey

Asia Sentinel, October 19, 2009

There is a growing need for Asian countries to get access to international finance and technology, especially in the wake of the global economic slowdown, to meet their goals in clean energy and efficiency.

Although China is likely to put more than US$20 billion into clean energy and energy efficiency this year, and the China, India and Asean clean energy markets together will easily exceed US$25 billion, Asian spending on clean energy slumped by an estimated 70 percent in the first quarter of 2009 as a result of the credit crisis and falling oil prices, which cut into the need for alternative fuels.

Even without international funding, the region's spending goals total more than 21 percent of the global market. Some 75 percent of the world's sustainable energy projects originate in Asia, creating pollution credits for European and Japanese industry to buy to meet Kyoto Protocol emissions credits.

Indonesia wants to commit more than US$3 billion per year to clean energy, with India's total rising to US$3.7 billion in 2008. The combined China and Asean clean energy market is headed towards more than US$30 billion a year by 2010. But it is difficult at this point to see what the Copenhagen summit in December will accomplish in terms of the need to make these new clean energy markets work bigger and better.

The odds are slim and getting slimmer. Some 1,500 delegates from 180 countries met in Bangkok from September 28 to October 9 in an attempt to hammer out details of the United Nations pact to be presented in Copenhagen. By all accounts, they failed. There was no commitment from the rich nations to commit to a formal text – as there hasn't been in three successive meetings in Bonn in April, June and August. A last session is to be held in Barcelona in the first week of November amid growing gloom.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Sunday, 18 October 2009

These children could be visiting the moon, Mars and Jupiter by 2050 if China’s space programme succeeds. But what are its government’s real ambitions — and should the rest of the world be worried?

Michael Sheridan

The Times, October 18, 2009

Any day now, at a hidden airbase in the forests of northeast China, a panel of doctors and air-force officers will make the final choice of the first Chinese woman to go into space. When that happens, she will step out of the shadows of military secrecy to become the most famous woman among 1.3 billion people.

We can guess a little bit about her identity. She will be one of the 16 women who graduated in April as fighter pilots to join an elite band of China’s “top guns”. She has made it through the most daunting selection process on Earth — 200,000 women between 17 and 20 years old applied for the aviation course, but only 35 made it to China’s Air Force Aviation University outside Changchun, a city near the borders with Russia and North Korea. The first 16 graduates are the best of the best.

The chosen woman will have three years to prepare herself for a mission to a Chinese space laboratory that may take place as early as 2012. Chinese scientists have disclosed to the state media that volunteers, including university students and parachutists, are already submitting themselves to rigorous tests to establish how men and women differ biologically in space.

The winning candidate will have to be very close to physical perfection, according to doctors at No 454 Hospital of the People’s Liberation Army in Nanjing. “These astronauts could be regarded as superhuman,” said Shi Bing Bing, an official at the hospital. Members of the medical team, one of five around China screening male and female aspirants, let slip that even bad breath could rule out a person. So could ringworm, a runny nose, allergies, tooth cavities or a history of serious illness in the past three generations of their families. Not one surgical scar between head and toe is to be permitted.

The Chinese are also pursuing studies by other nations that have put women into space — Russia, Japan, the US, South Korea — indicating that a zero-gravity environment may have less physical impact on women astronauts. Then there is the unique Chinese psychological perspective. “Women are better at handling loneliness in space, where you can only hear the buzzing sound of machines,” said Pang Zhihao, a researcher with the China Academy of Space Technology.

Nobody is talking about it in the state media, where all is grandeur and heroism, but a military attaché in Beijing suggested that the selection process will go beyond the bounds of what Nasa would dare to do. “From the Korean war to the cultural revolution, the Chinese military became the world’s experts on psychological torture, isolation, brainwashing and breaking down mental resistance,” he observed. “A candidate who survives the kind of tests they could devise is superhuman indeed.”

(...) [artículo aquí]

Saturday, 17 October 2009


M K Bhadrakumar

Asia Times, October 17, 2009

The surprise element was almost completely lacking. The expectation in Delhi for a while has been that sooner or later Beijing would hit out. Verbal affronts from India were becoming a daily occurrence and a nuisance for Being. Not a single day has passed for the past several months when either influential sections of the Indian strategic community or the English-language media, tied by the umbilical cord of financial patronage to the Indian establishment, failed to indulge in some vituperative attack on Chinese policies and conduct towards India.

Yet, when it finally came on Wednesday, the timing of the cumulative Chinese reaction was most curious. Beijing chose a very special day on its diplomatic calendar to make its point. The prime ministers of Russia and Pakistan, Vladimir Putin and Yousuf Raza Gilani, and the United States Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell, were on official visits to Beijing. Indeed, Campbell had come on an important mission to prepare for the visit by US President Barack Obama to China next month.

Beijing made a big point that its current ruckus with Delhi was less bilateral and more geopolitical. Indeed, Wednesday's People's Daily commentary on India resorted to a colloquium that hasn't been heard in the dialogue across the Himalayas for very many years.

On the previous day, in two statements the Chinese Foreign Ministry provided the "curtain raiser" for the People's Daily commentary. The first statement focused attention on the recent Indian media campaign against China and asked Delhi to be "conducive toward promoting mutual understanding", rather than publishing false reports on border tensions.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Friday, 16 October 2009


Omar Waraich

Time, October 16, 2009

The Pakistani Taliban dramatically escalated their wave of terror on Thursday, mounting five deadly gun and bomb attacks that killed a total 37 people and rattling the country in an apparent attempt to stave off an impending military offensive targeting its base in the mountainous wilds of South Waziristan. In the fifth day of bloodshed in the past 10 days, teams of well-trained gunmen trained their weapons on three high-profile law-enforcement buildings in Lahore, the cultural capital, in a sophisticated attack that chillingly resembled last November's assault on Mumbai.

Soon after 9am, groups of gunmen spilled over the walls of an elite police commando training facility in the Badian neighborhood in southern Lahore. As they emerged, clasping sophisticated weapons and carrying backpacks, two other groups of attackers did the same in two other locations. For the first time, they revisited targets they had assaulted before. In a brief attack on a police-training academy in Manawan, on the outskirts of the city, nine police officers and four militants were killed in the fighting. The same site was targeted using similar methods on March 30, leading to an eight-hour siege. This time, the police killed one of the gunmen, while three others killed detonated their suicide vests to evade capture.

Terror arrived in a different form at the offices of the Federal Investigation Agency (Pakistan's equivalent of the FBI), the same spot where a truck laden with a heavy payload of explosives slammed into the building, badly damaging its structure and killing 21 people in March 2008. Four government employees and a bystander were killed in the hour and half long siege that ended with the death of two attackers.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Thursday, 15 October 2009


Francesco Sisci

Asia Times, October 15, 2009

BEIJING - On October 10, China's state-run Xinhua news agency saluted the meeting between Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, Japanese Premier Yukio Hatoyama and South Korean President Lee Myung-bak, as "a new starting point for tripartite cooperation". The meeting explored the idea of a free-trade pact, inched closer to deeper regional integration, and foreshadowed a possible Asian union modeled after the European Union.

China, Japan, and South Korea declared they were "committed to the development of an East Asian community", agreeing to expand cooperation across a wide range of issues, including climate change and sustainable growth.

Economic forces and threats were at work. Recovery from the financial crisis shows strong signs in Asia, carried by China, while the economy is still very sluggish in America and Europe.

David Goldman, who writes for Asia Times Online under the pseudonym Spengler, believes that unless something changes very soon, the United States - still by far the largest global economy - is headed for a long period of stagflation (stagnation plus inflation) [1] like the one that began in Japan in 1989.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Wednesday, 14 October 2009


Kim Myong Chol

Asia Times, October 14, 2009

"History demonstrates that developing China-North Korea relations are in keeping with the fundamental interests and shared wishes of both countries' peoples. It also benefits the protection of regional peace and stability." - Chinese President Hu Jintao

"Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula was at the behest of the late president Kim Il-sung. The hostile relations between the DPRK [Democratic People's Republic of Korea] and the US should be turned into peaceful ones through bilateral talks."- North Korean leader Kim Jong-il

TOKYO - High-profile visits to Pyongyang by two foreign leaders - former United States president Bill Clinton in early August and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao this month - have gone a long way towards dramatizing the senselessness of the much-publicized United Nations sanctions on North Korea. They have also helped North Korean leader Kim Jong-il to consider switching gears to a "Plan C" as a permanent nuclear power.

In an op-ed published in the Christian Science Monitor in July, Professor Zhiqun Zhu wrote, "Frankly, it is unrealistic for the US to ask North Korea to give up its nuclear technology. The reason is simple: The nuclear card is the only one North Korea has; it will not easily give it away. The ostrich policy of refusing to accept North Korea as a nuclear state has to be ditched. A solution to the North Korea conundrum must begin with recognizing the fact that North Korea has the ability to produce nuclear weapons and will remain nuclear-capable."

(...) [artículo aquí]

Tuesday, 13 October 2009


Omar Waraich

Time, October 13, 2009

Just weeks after trumpeting the results of a military offensive in the Swat Valley, the Pakistan army suddenly finds itself under attack on multiple fronts. A day after an elite unit of army commandos secured the release of 39 hostages, bringing to an end a 22-hour siege of its military headquarters that left 25 people dead over the weekend, the Taliban struck again. In the fourth major attack in eight days, a suicide bomber killed 41 people in a marketplace near Swat on Monday, underscoring the militants' enduring ability to strike across the country.

As the army revealed in a briefing on Monday, the Taliban threat has now spread well beyond its northwestern borderlands and grown tentacles that reach deep into the country's heartlands. Five of the 10 attackers who laid siege to Pakistan's equivalent of the Pentagon in Rawalpindi came from Punjab, Pakistan's largest and wealthiest province. It is also home to the bulk of the army. The Punjabi militants involved in the audacious assault were linked to groups that once enjoyed the military's patronage, and until five years ago, the ringleader had been among its very own ranks.

"Aqeel," also known as "Dr. Usman," was already wanted for earlier terrorist attacks. He acquired his medical nom de guerre due to his 16 years as a nurse in the army's medical corps. In 2004, he abandoned the army to join Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), a vicious sectarian terror group from Punjab. "He knew how the army functions," says Shaukat Qadir, a retired brigadier turned analyst. "That's why he organized this attack better than others could have done." The embarrassing breach of the heavily fortified headquarters was made possible through artful disguise, military officials said. The vehicle bore army license plates and the emblem of the General Headquarters (GHQ) on its windscreen. The attackers regaled themselves in army fatigues.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Monday, 12 October 2009


Kartik Goyal

Bloomberg, October 12, 2009

India’s industrial production rose the most in 22 months, suggesting the central bank may have scope to make an early exit from emergency stimulus measures.

Output at factories, utilities and mines jumped 10.4 percent in August from a year earlier after gaining a revised 7.2 percent in July, the statistics agency said in New Delhi today. Economists were expecting a 9.7 percent increase.

Manufacturing across Asia is showing signs of recovery, prompting policy makers to consider when they can begin to withdraw the monetary and fiscal stimulus initiated to protect their economies from the global recession. Central bank Governor Duvvuri Subbarao last week said India may need to act ahead of advanced economies due to “incipient” inflation pressures.

“With doubts over the durability of India’s upswing fading all the time, and inflation pressures already high, policy rates look certain to move up soon,” said Kevin Grice, an economist at Capital Economics Ltd. in London. “We still expect a first hike in January but the possibility of a first move at the Oct. 27 monetary policy meeting now looks close to a 50:50 call.”

India’s benchmark stock index has more than doubled from a three-year low in March as foreign inflows rebounded and demand improved for cars, air conditioners, refrigerators and homes.

The central bank cut interest rates six times between October and April and the government reduced taxes on consumer products and imports, together providing a stimulus worth more than 12 percent of India’s gross domestic product.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Sunday, 11 October 2009

For the nation's growing economic elite, life is sweet. For dissidents and peasants, it's a different story.

Ian Buruma

Los Angeles Times, October 11, 2009

That the current ruler of the People's Republic of China, Hu Jintao, is a bore will no doubt be a relief to most people, including 1.3 billion Chinese. Hu's dullness is remarkable given the high drama of China's fairly recent transformation from a poor, blood-soaked totalitarian country to a rich (in patches) superpower aspiring to take over America's lead in the not-so-distant future. But perhaps his lack of charisma is part of the point. The first 27 years of the People's Republic, under Chairman Mao, when millions died in almost constant purges and upheavals, and tens of millions died of starvation in bizarre economic experiments, were so awful that most Chinese are quite sick of charismatic leadership.

China is the only ancient civilization in human history to have reemerged as a major force in the world. And Chinese are rightly proud of this. So why rock the boat? It is better to be ruled by boring technocrats like Hu who will keep things nice and steady.

This is not the story one might hear from unemployed workers in the rust belts of northeastern China, or from rioting farmers in Guangdong province who have been pushed off the land by greedy developers working in tandem with corrupt party officials. Nor is this view necessarily shared by the brave lawyers willing to take on some of those corrupt officials, or intellectual dissidents who still get arrested for arguing that Chinese should be entitled to basic democratic rights.

But it is the common line taken by people who benefit most from the current wave of fun, fashion and prosperity -- the new urban elite, some of whom are pampered children of Communist Party bosses. None are communist ideologues. All have taken the late leader Deng Xiaoping's "To Get Rich is Glorious" slogan seriously. And not a few of them, now in their 40s, were among the Tiananmen Square demonstrators in 1989 who demanded democratic freedoms and an end to corruption.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Saturday, 10 October 2009


Brahma Chellaney

Forbes, October 10, 2009

Thousands of noncombatants, according to the United Nations, were killed in the final phase of the Sri Lankan war this year as government forces overran the Tamil Tiger guerrillas. Nearly five months after Colombo's stunning military triumph, the peace dividend remains elusive, with President Mahinda Rajapaksa setting out--in the name of "eternal vigilance"--to expand by 50% an already-large military. Little effort has been made to reach out to the Tamil minority and begin a process of national reconciliation.

China, clearly, was the decisive factor in ending the war through its generous supply of offensive weapons and its munificent aid. It even got its ally Pakistan to actively assist Rajapaksa in his war strategy. Today, China is the key factor in providing Colombo the diplomatic cover against the institution of a U.N. investigation into possible war crimes, or the appointment of a U.N. special envoy on Sri Lanka. In return for such support, Beijing has been able to make strategic inroads into a critically located country in India's backyard.

Unlike China's assistance, India's role has received little international attention. But India, too, contributed to the Sri Lankan bloodbath through its military aid, except that it has ended up, strangely, with its leverage undermined.

For years, India had pursued a hands-off approach toward Sri Lanka in response to two developments--a disastrous 1987-1990 peacekeeping operation there; and the 1991 assassination of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi by a member of the Tamil Tigers. But having been outmaneuvered by China's success in extending strategic reach to Sri Lanka in recent years, New Delhi got sucked into providing major assistance to Colombo, lest it lose further ground in Sri Lanka.

From opening an unlimited line of military credit for Sri Lanka to extending critical naval and intelligence assistance, India provided sustained war support despite a deteriorating humanitarian situation there. A "major turning point" in the war, as Sri Lankan navy chief Admiral Wasantha Karannagoda acknowledged, came when the rebels' supply ships were eliminated, one by one, with input from Indian naval intelligence, cutting off all supplies to the rebel-held areas. That in turn allowed the Sri Lankan ground forces to make rapid advances and unravel the de facto state the Tigers had established in the island nation's north and east.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Friday, 9 October 2009


Scott Wilson

The Washington Post, October 9, 2009

As it reviews its Afghanistan policy for the second time this year, the Obama administration has concluded that the Taliban cannot be eliminated as a political or military movement, regardless of how many combat forces are sent into battle.

The Taliban and the question of how the administration should regard the Islamist movement have assumed a central place in the policy deliberations underway at the White House, according to administration officials participating in the meetings.

Based on a stark assessment by Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, and six hours of debate among the senior national security staff members so far, the administration has established guidelines on its strategy to confront the group.

The goal, senior administration officials said Thursday, is to weaken the Taliban to the degree that it cannot challenge the Afghan government or reestablish the haven it provided for al-Qaeda before the 2001 U.S. invasion. Those objectives appear largely consistent with McChrystal's strategy, which he says "cannot be focused on seizing terrain or destroying insurgent forces" but should center on persuading the population to support the government.

"The Taliban is a deeply rooted political movement in Afghanistan, so that requires a different approach than al-Qaeda," said a senior administration official who has participated in the meetings but has not advocated a particular strategy.

Some inside the White House have cited Hezbollah, the armed Lebanese political movement, as an example of what the Taliban could become. Hezbollah is considered a terrorist organization by the U.S. government, but the group has political support within Lebanon and participates, sometimes through intimidation, in the political process.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Thursday, 8 October 2009


Nouriel Roubini

Forbes, October 8, 2009

Asian economies rebounded in the second quarter of 2009 as aggressive monetary and fiscal stimuli cushioned domestic demand and quick inventory adjustment eased the downturn in industrial production. Capital inflows have buoyed the asset markets, and net exports have contributed to gross domestic product growth as imports have contracted faster than exports.

However, policy measures are inadequate to close the output gap emanating from sluggish private demand and sharp export contraction. All Asian economies will slow sharply in 2009 and grow below potential in 2010. My analysts and I forecast Asia will grow a mere 2.6% in 2009 and 5.4% in 2010. Asia ex-Japan (AXJ) will grow 4.9% in 2009 and 6.6% in 2010. As the impact of policy measures fade in 2010, the pace of Asia's recovery will hinge on the recovery of global export demand and continued risk appetite. I project that Japan will contract sharply in 2009 and grow below 1.0% in 2010. Fiscal stimulus will push China's growth to over 8.0% during 2009 and 2010. India will grow less than 6.0% in 2009 and below potential in 2010. The Asian Tigers (Singapore, Taiwan and Hong Kong), Thailand, Malaysia and New Zealand will contract in 2009 while the contraction in South Korea will be mild and Australia will barely grow. The Philippines, Indonesia, Vietnam, Pakistan and Sri Lanka will slow sharply in 2009.

Unlike 1997 or 2001, Asia cannot employ an export-led strategy to drive the economic recovery. As consumers in the advanced economies de-leverage over the next few years and foreign direct investment (FDI) recovers slowly, attaining the pre-crisis GDP growth rates in Asian countries will largely depend on the governments' ability to rebalance growth towards domestic demand and accelerate structural reforms. Government and private consumption and investment should be moved away from the export sectors. Reforms should increase government spending on safety nets and public services, move workers to the service sector, improve financial sector intermediation and diversify exports towards emerging markets. Since these reforms will take a few years, Asia's growth in the short term will remain tied to the U.S. economy via trade and financial linkages.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Wednesday, 7 October 2009


Donald Kirk

Asia Times, October 7, 2009

North Korean leader Kim Jong-il gave the perfect farewell present on Tuesday to Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao at the wind-up of a triumphant three-day visit to Pyongyang that seemed to delight both host and guest - if not all others with a stake in the Korean Peninsula.

China's second-highest-ranking leader was able to return to Beijing safe in the knowledge that North Korea had made a show of yielding to Chinese pressure to return to the six-party talks that the North had previously spurned. And North Korea's Dear Leader Kim Jong-il, having personally greeted Wen at the airport and then seen him off with pomp and circumstance, could claim to be doing all possible to achieve the dream of his father, Great Leader Kim Il-sung, for "complete denuclearization" of the Korean Peninsula.

There was just one big problem: Kim is linking any multilateral talks specifically to the two-way dialogue with the United States that he's been demanding for years, and he's not just waiting for that dialogue to begin before going into broader negotiations with the others, China, Japan, Russia and South Korea. Rather, he's awaiting "the outcome of the DPRK-US talks" - that is, the long-awaited meetings in which negotiators for the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, or North Korea, are certain to want to go far beyond what Washington has said will be the limited scope of any bilateral dialogue.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Denuclearization Should Be Ultimate Goal

The Korea Times, October 6, 2009

Kim Jong-il said Monday Pyongyang could return to the six-party talks, depending on the progress of its bilateral talks with the United States.

The North Korean leader's mention of the six-nation meeting which he previously called the multilateral conference seems to be the only visible outcome of the highly publicized visit to Pyongyang by Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao ― as far as the North's nuclear issue is concerned.

It is not even certain whether the communist regime would directly come back to the six-way negotiation or try to set more intermediary stages even if the outcome of the one-on-one talks with the United States proves to be satisfactory.

Chances are high that the Dear Leader can no longer rule out the six-country forum ― sponsored by Beijing and favored by Washington ― to prevent further aggravation of the North's relationship with its biggest donor and backer on the international stage. So it appears natural for both Seoul and Washington to express a guarded welcome about the seemingly positive turn after a yearlong impasse.

Anyway, the ball seems to be in the court of the U.S., which should decide when to dispatch President Obama's nuclear envoy, Stephen Bosworth, to Pyongyang and under what conditions.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Monday, 5 October 2009


Neeta Lal

IPS, October 5, 2009

With the clock ticking away on the United Nations Framework for Climate Change Committee (UNFCCC) summit in Copenhagen in December, the fractiousness between the developed and the developing nations on who ought to do more to control climate change is getting increasingly strident.

With 190 nations poised to forge a momentous agreement to replace the 1997 Kyoto Protocol -- an international environment treaty that establishes legally binding commitment for the reduction of greenhouse gases (GHGs) – there is still no unanimity on how to spread out GHG emission curbs. The amount of financial support and clean technology rich nations should transfer to the poorer ones to help them cope with the cataclysmic effects of rising temperatures is also nebulous.

The urgency to save the planet is lost on no one. Science has proven beyond doubt that the ramifications of rising global temperatures can greatly imperil life on earth. The world needs to keep emissions levels pegged low to help push the planet off the precipice of global warming. Rainfall patterns and agricultural activity -- already hostage to nature’s caprices – are getting seriously impacted, hitting millions of farmers around the world to further diminish the world’s already shrinking granaries.

India -- a prominent player of the Group of 77 countries that have a common negotiating plank – has based its climate change stand on two clear principles.

First, that the current stock of GHGs in the atmosphere is the cumulative result of emissions over 150 to 200 years for which the developed nations are entirely responsible. It is only fair, therefore, that the major emission cuts should also come from them.

Second, the UNFCCC outlines the principle of equity, according to which every individual in the world should have equal share of total emissions. India’s argument is that since its annual per capita emissions are way below the world average (1.9 tons), eclipsed by China’s 3.9 tons and the United States’s 24.3 tons, why should it be pressured further to whittle down its emissions?

(...) [artículo aquí]

Sunday, 4 October 2009

Lo peor de la crisis ha pasado en India, que va a crecer un 6% este año y un 7% en 2010

Ana Gabriela Rojas

El País (Negocios), 4 de octubre de 2009

La economía de India ha superado lo peor de la crisis y empieza a recuperarse. El elefante asiático ralentizó su paso debido al impacto de la crisis financiera internacional, y este año sólo crecerá un 6,3%, por debajo del 6,7% de 2008 y muy lejos del casi 9% de los tres años anteriores. Sin embargo, la crisis ha tocado fondo, y aunque este año el crecimiento es más bajo, el próximo se acelerará hasta el 7%, según el primer ministro Manmohan Singh. Incluso el crecimiento actual es mayor de lo que se esperaba: el Banco Asiático de Desarrollo (ADB) ha revisado su proyección para India en 2009: confirma las cifras oficiales de que sí alcanzará el 6% y no sólo el 5% que vaticinaba en marzo. Y concuerda con las cifras oficiales de que superará el 7% para 2010.

El ADB asegura en un informe de la semana pasada que India ha superado con éxito "la desaceleración económica del año pasado" gracias a más gasto público, a una mayor producción industrial y a una mayor confianza en los negocios. Sin embargo, alerta de que el seguir aumentando el déficit fiscal será insostenible: este año podría llegar al 6,8% del PIB, el más alto en 16 años. Pero por ahora hay una gran esperanza en la recuperación económica.

Los sectores que han animado la aceleración son, "sobre todo, los ligados al mercado interno, a la construcción y la infraestructura", coinciden los expertos. Las principales industrias, que en conjunto suponen el 26,7% del índice de producción industrial de India, son cemento, carbón, electricidad, acero, crudo y refinados del petróleo. Estas industrias incrementaron su producción un 7,1% en agosto, según los datos oficiales, alcanzando su mejor punto en este año financiero y mucho mejor que el 2,1% del mismo mes del año pasado y el 2,5% de julio.

Las exportaciones siguen cayendo, pero con menos rapidez. Han pasado de caer un 30% mensual en junio al 10% en agosto y se espera que en septiembre casi no haya caída. Las exportaciones de India suponen el 10% de su PIB y se centran básicamente en los servicios de tecnología de la información, textil, joyería, piel y acero. "Recibo muchos menos pedidos de Europa y EE UU desde que empezó la crisis. La gente tiene miedo de gastar dinero, prefiere guardarlo para emergencias. La demanda interna continúa casi igual", explica Pankaj Misra, un vendedor de telas en Benarés.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Saturday, 3 October 2009


Sreeram Chaulia

Asia Times, October 3, 2009

On the 60th anniversary of the People's Republic of China, multi-page color supplements in Indian dailies showcased its giant strides in industry, commerce and technology.

Fronted with a special message from the Chinese ambassador to India, these advertorial-like releases waxed eloquent about the rising volumes of bilateral trade and mutual investment, including quotes from Chinese honchos that they are committed to India's economic development.

The splash and splendor of the supplements, which included a preview of Expo 2010 in Shanghai and a mention of mushrooming Confucius Institutes, typified the enlarged Chinese efforts to Joshua Kurlantzick of the New Republic maintains that China's soft power "charm offensive" is "transforming the world". In India, though, the massive Chinese investment in public relations has not easily transformed the cagey news-consuming public.

From the older generation of Indians who can remember the calamity of the 1962 border war with China to a younger lot who wish that India could compete and surpass China in economic and military greatness, there are few takers of the publicity blitzes of the Chinese mission in India, which is known to befriend and shower lavish favors on selected media persons.

The 60th anniversary newspaper supplements proudly declare that the era of Hindi-Chini Bhai Bhai (Indians and Chinese are brothers) "is deeply rooted in the hearts of the two peoples". But they make short shrift of the permanently intractable border dispute, now subject to the 13th round of bilateral talks, which is a legacy of the failure of that very era.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Friday, 2 October 2009


Chosun Ilbo, September 2, 2009

China held a massive ceremony in Tiananmen Square on Thursday to celebrate the 60th anniversary of communist rule. The highlight of the event, broadcast throughout the world via the state-run CCTV channel, was a military parade as around 8,000 People's Liberation Army soldiers marched through the square. Featured were 108 missiles, including the DongFeng 41 second-generation intercontinental ballistic missile, the JL-2 submarine-launched missile with a range of 8,000 km, as well as tanks, howitzers and other cutting-edge weapons.

Home-grown early-warning aircraft, aerial tankers, next-generation fighter jets, unmanned drones and helicopters put on performances in the air for nine minutes. Ninety percent of the weapons unveiled during the ceremony were shown for the first time.

China not only touted its military might but also showed off its economic growth and technological progress. Per capita GDP, which stood at US$33 when the People's Republic was established in 1949, had risen to $3,267 last year, while the country has grown to become the world's second-largest exporter and the largest holder of dollar reserves. In September last year, China launched the Shenzhou manned lunar spacecraft into orbit 340 km above the earth and became the third country in the world to succeed in a spacewalk following the U.S. and the former Soviet Union. Chinese President Hu Jintao said during the ceremony, "The forecast for China's development is infinitely optimistic." It was an expression of pride in the country's accomplishments.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Thursday, 1 October 2009


Michael Wines

The New York Times, October 1, 2009

BEIJING — Xie Jun, 23, is a modern Chinese patriot. On Thursday, when thousands of soldiers and rows of tanks and caissons move in perfect order past Tiananmen Square to commemorate 60 years of Communist Party rule, his heart will skip a beat and a lump will rise in his throat.

“I’ve learned from textbooks the history of China — how we were invaded in the past by foreigners,” he said this week as he sold bananas and persimmons from a fruit cart in a leafy downtown neighborhood. “How, in order to survive, we had to band together in love of country. I’m proud that China has turned from a backward country into a country with international standing in such short time.”

Few would deny him his pride in China’s miracle. But ask Mr. Xie to explain China’s core values — not what his country achieved, but what it stands for — and he is dumbstruck, a student called on in class to report on the book he forgot to read.

“The ability of China to adapt,” he said after a long silence. “To learn from the West.” And, in a phrase that sounds plucked from a pamphlet, “the diligence and industriousness of the laboring masses.”

China’s ruling Communist Party is throwing itself a huge and meticulously choreographed anniversary party on Thursday, a celebration whose overarching theme echoes the words Mao spoke after forcing the Nationalists to surrender Beijing in 1949. “Ours will no longer be a nation subject to insult and humiliation,” Mao said. “We have stood up.”

From the displays of advanced weaponry to the celebration posters highlighting Shanghai’s forest of skyscrapers, the unmistakable message of this celebration is that Mao was right and that the Communist Party is carrying all China to prosperity and worldwide respect.

But prosperity is a condition, not a value. And on the eve of a great patriotic celebration, at least a few Communist leaders must be wondering whether lashing patriotism to eternal prosperity is not, at least a little, like riding a tiger.

(...) [artículo aquí]