Sunday, 29 November 2009


George Magnus

The Times, November 30, 2009

When Barack Obama visited China recently to meet Hu Jintao, his opposite number, the symbolism was poignant.

The former presides over a battered economy that is the world’s largest debtor and in need of a significant re-boot, while the latter holds sway over an economic powerhouse, a geopolitical rival and America’s most important creditor, with $2,300 billion (£1,394 billion) in foreign exchange reserves, mostly in US dollar instruments.

However, the conviction that this was further evidence of a post-crisis acceleration in the struggle for global dominance has taken on feverish proportions. Like a fever, it is blurring sensibility and leading to muddled and dangerous thinking.

The crisis has left the United States (and Europe) to repair the damage to financial and fiscal systems, and trust in financial institutions and products.

It also marked the end of a 25-year-old economic growth cycle, based on credit, over-consumption and baby boomers. It will take a long time for a new model, based on high employment, innovation and low carbons, to emerge.

The scale and importance of this structural change should not be underestimated, though, if any nation can make the transition successfully, the US is the principal candidate.

The good news for China (and other emerging markets) is how quickly they have bounced back from the crisis — in some cases, stronger. To a significant extent, this is down to significant public policy stimulus, nowhere more so than in China, which is now implementing a stimulus programme of 13 per cent of GDP and having injected bank loans worth 30 per cent of GDP into the economy.

However, the dangers of excessive credit creation are self-evident — witness again, Dubai — and it would be dangerous for China to carry on, waiting for world exports to come back, as though the world had not changed. Structural change, specifically stronger emphasis on the rural economy and consumption, is also vital for China.

(...) [artículo aquí]


Pankaj Mishra

The New York Times, November 29, 2009

Mashobra, India. ON the evening of Sept. 11, 2001, I hurried through a dark apple orchard to the nearest television in this Himalayan village. My landlord opened his door reluctantly, and then appeared unmoved by the news I had just received by phone. I struggled to explain the enormity of what was happening, the significance of New York, the iconic status of the World Trade Center — to no avail. It was time for his evening prayers; the television could not be turned on.

I did not witness the horrific sights of 9/11 until three days later. Since then, cable television and even broadband Internet have arrived in Mashobra and in my own home. Now the world’s manifold atrocities are always available for brisk inspection on India’s many 24-hour news channels. Indeed, the brutal terrorist assault on Mumbai that killed 163 people a year ago was immediately proclaimed as India’s own 9/11 by the country’s young TV anchors, who seem to model themselves on Sean Hannity and Bill O’Reilly. Yet, on the first anniversary of “26/11,” it seems as remote as 9/11 to the inhabitants of this village.

There is no great mystery behind this indifference, which is distinct from callousness. India, where most people still depend on agriculture for a living, has just suffered one of its most serious droughts in decades. The outlook for winter crops is bleak; many farmers have committed suicide in recent months, adding to the epidemic of rural suicides over the last few years.

Politically, too, India has lurched from one crisis to another in the last year. Prudent financial regulation saved India from the worst effects of the worldwide economic recession. But the rage of people who feel themselves not only left behind but victimized by corporate-driven and urban-oriented economic growth has erupted into violence; the Indian government has called for an all-out war against the Maoist insurgent groups that now administer large parts of central India. Anti-India insurgencies in Kashmir and the northeast continue to simmer, exacting a little-reported but high daily toll.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Friday, 27 November 2009


Heather Timmons

The New York Times, November 28, 2009

NEW DELHI — When 7-year-old Shiva Ayyadurai left Mumbai with his family nearly 40 years ago, he promised himself he would return to India someday to help his country.

In June, Mr. Ayyadurai, now 45, moved from Boston to New Delhi hoping to make good on that promise. An entrepreneur and lecturer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, with a fistful of American degrees, he was the first recruit of an ambitious government program to lure talented scientists of the so-called desi diaspora back to their homeland.

“It seemed perfect,” he said recently of the job opportunity.

It wasn’t.

As Mr. Ayyadurai sees it now, his Western business education met India’s notoriously inefficient, opaque government, and things went downhill from there. Within weeks, he and his boss were at loggerheads. Last month, his job offer was withdrawn. Mr. Ayyadurai has moved back to Boston.

(...) [artículo aquí]


Alex Morales

Bloomberg, November 27, 2009

Pledges by China and the U.S. to set numerical targets for their greenhouse-gas emissions through 2020 may reignite stalled progress for a global climate agreement at negotiations next month in Copenhagen.

China’s cabinet yesterday said it will cut output of carbon dioxide per unit of gross domestic product by 40 percent to 45 percent from 2005. A day earlier, the U.S. said it will propose a direct CO2 reduction in the same period of about 17 percent, provided that dovetails with a new domestic climate law.

“The skies are clearing now,” Anders Turesson, Sweden’s chief climate negotiator, speaking on behalf of the 27-nation European Union, said in an interview. “We see more clearly now what the negotiations in Copenhagen are going to be about.”

The announcements mean the biggest emitters of industrial pollutants blamed for climate change have finally spelled out their intentions to limit discharges, driving forward the United Nations-led talks in the Danish capital that run Dec. 7-18.
Developing nations halted the last round of talks for a day in Barcelona to protest targets promised by richer nations.

Some groups lobbying for a climate deal said the U.S. and Chinese goals were too small to represent a breakthough.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Wednesday, 25 November 2009


NDTV Correspondent

NDTV, November 26, 2009

The 26/11 attacks changed not just Mumbai but the entire nation. People were shocked at the brazenness of the terror strikes, which exposed the loopholes in the country's security apparatus. (Survey Results)

One year later, the shrill sloganeering has subsided, but the country still confronts unsettling questions: Is Mumbai safer after 26/11? Is the country now prepared to handle a terror attack of a similar scale?

The NDTV-GfK MODE survey, conducted across ten cities with an All-India sample size of 6010, brings to light the ground reality of an India, post 26/11. The survey was conducted in the cities of Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad, Lucknow, Nagpur and Patna.

We began the exercise with a simple question- Are you aware of the terrorist attacks, which took place in Mumbai a year ago? And the answer was an emphatic Yes by 90 % of the respondents- not surprising in a nation that was left hostage at the hands of terrorists for almost 60 hours.

A great deal of noise was made post-26/11 about upgrading internal security structures, both at the Centre and in the States. But one year later, Mumbai remains extremely vulnerable and Mumbaikars, worried and far from secure.

(...) [artículo aquí]


C. Raja Mohan

Indian Express, November 25, 2009

As Delhi’s protestations against Washington’s presumed ‘China-first’ strategy get amplified by the American media, the Indo-US joint statement to be issued at the end of the meeting between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and President Barack Obama offers an opportunity to finesse the issues.

If the Beijing communiqué put out last week in Beijing by Obama and President Hu Jintao had gone too far in emphasising Sino-US cooperation in South Asia, one way of compensating for it would be to highlight the current and future Indian contributions to Asia-Pacific security.

On his part the PM underlined India’s perceptions of the region in his address to the Council on Foreign Relations on Monday.

Referring to the dramatic geopolitical and economic shifts unfolding in Asia, Dr. Singh declared that Delhi and Washington must “work together with other countries in the region to create an open and inclusive regional architecture in the Asia-Pacific”.

This short formulation covers all the bases. His emphasis on power shift refers to the rise of China, and underlines theimportance of cooperation with Beijing.

“We have tried to engage China and they are one of our major trading partners. We have border disputes we are trying to solve that and both have agreed that while that is pending we should keep the peace,” the PM said.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Tuesday, 24 November 2009


Lydia Polgreen

The New York Times, November 24, 2009

NEW DELHI — The statement, on its surface, seemed like any other bland missive released at the end of a polite visit by a head of state. It was put out by the United States and China after President Obama’s visit there, and said that the two countries would “work together to promote peace, stability and development” in South Asia.

But on the eve of a visit by the Indian prime minister, Manmohan Singh, to the White House, where on Tuesday he will be the guest of honor at Mr. Obama’s first state dinner, the words rank as one of several perceived slights that have dampened hopes for a new chapter in the sometimes rocky relationship between the United States and India.

The vague statement has been widely interpreted here as an invitation to China to meddle in India’s backyard, and prompted howls of dismay across the political spectrum.

“How can you make China responsible for keeping peace in South Asia?” said Prem Shankar Jha, a newspaper and magazine columnist, channeling the prevailing sentiment among New Delhi’s political analysts. “China has done nothing in South Asia except to play a destructive role here,” he continued, referring to China’s close ties to India’s archrival, Pakistan.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Monday, 23 November 2009


Gail Moss

FT Adviser, November 23, 2009

China's economy is set to exceed its 8 per cent growth target for this year, according to Richard Wong, manager of the $3.5bn (£2.1bn) HSBC GIF Chinese Equity fund.

Mr Wong said: "China recently announced third-quarter GDP growth of 8.9 per cent year-on-year, an improvement from the 7.9 per cent expansion for the second quarter and the 6.1 per cent growth for the first quarter.

"China has achieved 7.7 per cent growth so far this year. As the fourth quarter of last year was extremely weak, we expect year-on-year growth for the last quarter of this year to be even stronger, exceeding 8 per cent."

This strong growth should be sustainable next year, driven by existing and new infrastructure projects and robust domestic consumption, according to Mr Wong.

He pointed out that China's retail sales had gained 15.5 per cent year-on-year in September, the fastest rise in eight months.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Sunday, 22 November 2009

The West has gotten it wrong on China for decades -- even as it embraces a market economy, it has shunned Western-style freedoms. And its power is only growing.

Martin Jacques

Los Angeles Times, November 22, 2009

The dynamics of President Obama's trip to China were markedly different from those evident on visits made by President Clinton and President George W. Bush. This time the Chinese made clear that they were unwilling even to discuss issues such as human rights or free speech. Why? The relationship between the countries has changed: America feels weak and China strong in their bilateral ties. This is not a temporary shift that will reverse itself once the U.S. has escaped from its mountain of debt. Rather, it is the expression of a deep and progressive shift in the balance of power between the two nations, one that is giving the Chinese -- though studiously cautious in their approach -- a rising sense of self-confidence.

Nor should we be surprised by the Chinese response. They may have appeared more conciliatory on previous visits by American leaders, but that was largely decorative. The Chinese have a powerful sense of their identity and worth. They have never behaved toward the West in a supplicant manner, for reasons Westerners persistently fail to understand or grasp.

Ever since the Nixon-Mao rapprochement, and through the various iterations of the Sino-American relationship over the subsequent almost four decades, there has been an overriding belief in the West that eventually China would become like us: that, for example, a market economy would lead to democratization and that a free media was inevitable. This hubristic outlook is deeply flawed, but it still prevails, albeit with small cracks of self-doubt starting to appear.

The issue here is much deeper than Western-style democracy, a free media or human rights. China is simply not like the West and never will be. There has been an underlying assumption that the process of modernization would inevitably lead to Westernization; yet modernization is not just shaped by markets, competition and technology but by history and culture. And Chinese history and culture are very different from that of any Western nation-state.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Saturday, 21 November 2009


Hindustan Times, November 21, 2009

Discerning a dramatic shift in the world's economic balance of power, a US think tank has projected that by 2050 India would become one of the three largest economies of the world with the US and China.

Growing at a projected rate of 6.19 per cent between 2009 and 2050, India would grow most rapidly among the G-20 group of world's leading economies the making Indian economy 97 per cent as large that of the US in terms of Purchasing Power Parity (PPP), two experts at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace wrote.

In an article on "The G-20 in 2050", in the November 2009 issue of International Economic Bulletin of the think tank they noted that in dollar terms, India's GDP is expected to increase by 16 times from the current $1.1 trillion to $17.8 trillion by 2050.

"The world's economic balance of power is shifting dramatically," noted experts Uri Dadush, the director of Carnegie's International Economics Programme and Bennett Stancil a Junior Fellow in the Programme.

By 2050, the United States and Europe, long the traditional leaders of the global economy, will be joined in economic size by emerging markets in Asia and Latin America, they wrote.

(...) [artículo aquí]

cf. U. Dadush and B. Stancil, “The G-20 in 2050”, International Economic Bulletin, CEIP, November 2009.

Friday, 20 November 2009


Jian Junbo

Asia Times, November 20, 2009

XIAMEN, China - Since he was sworn in as United States president earlier this year, Barack Obama has kept his campaign promise of "change" in many areas of domestic and foreign policy. At the same time, observers say that when it comes to China, Obama has maintained the core of his predecessor's approach - communication and cooperation.

However, careful observation of Obama's first official visit to the Middle Kingdom this week reveals some subtle changes, if not in his policy principles then at least in the way Obama approaches China and the Chinese people.

Many Chinese feel flattered with what they saw as a more modest and friendly attitude by Obama towards China in his four-day visit. During his "town-hall" meeting with Chinese youths in Shanghai on Monday, Obama said America had much to learn from China and that "the notion we must be adversaries is not predestined".

When commenting on Chinese government restrictions on access to the Internet, Obama sidestepped direct criticism of Beijing, simply saying that he is a strong supporter of the free flow of information since it can help make governments more accountable.

The climax of Obama's China visit was his summit with his Chinese counterpart, Hu Jintao, on Wednesday. A joint statement issued after the meeting shows the two leaders as very pragmatic in handling relations between their countries.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Wednesday, 18 November 2009


Edwin Chen and Julianna Goldman

Bloomberg, November 19, 2009

President Barack Obama said he and South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak aim to “break the pattern” in dealing with North Korea in which the regime in Pyongyang alternates between provocation and negotiation.

Obama said he will send his special envoy, Stephen Bosworth, to North Korea on Dec. 8 in an effort to resume the stalled six- party talks over North Korea’s nuclear program.
“The door is open to resolving these issues,” Obama said in a joint news conference with Lee in Seoul today. “But it will only happen if North Korea is taking serious steps” toward getting rid of its nuclear weapons program.

North Korea and a stalled U.S.-South Korea free-trade agreement topped the agenda for Obama’s visit to Seoul, the final stop on the president’s eight-day trip to Asia. Talks over North Korea’s nuclear program with the U.S., Japan, China, Russia and South Korea stalled last year, and North Korea formally quit the forum to protest the UN condemnation of its April 5 firing of a rocket over the Sea of Japan.

Obama said he and Lee “agree on the need to break a pattern that has existed in the past in which North Korea behaves in provocative fashion; it then is willing to return to talks; it talks for a while, and then it leaves the talks seeking further exceptions and is never actually making progress on the core issues.”

(...) [artículo aquí]


R Taggart Murphy

Asia Times, November 18, 2009

Many people in the financial world - not all of them kooks - have managed to convince themselves that Japan is hurtling towards some kind of fiscal doomsday, and that no matter what the Yukio Hatoyama government does or doesn't do, it's already too late - Japan, they say, will be defaulting on its pension obligations. Or defaulting on its debt. Or will find itself unable to halt a string of bank failures that will bring the financial system to its knees. Or some combination thereof.

Robert Samuelson picked up on this scuttlebutt in a November 1 article in the Washington Post. He warned Americans that they are at risk of following Japan into an abyss of debt that will increasingly "constrict governments' economic maneuvering room". He refers to a JP Morgan Chase study of Japan's fiscal situation and seems to have relied on it for much of what he had to say about Japan. Jim O'Neill, head of global economic research at Goldman Sachs, has for months been predicting that Japan's fiscal woes would translate into a weaker yen. I myself was talking recently to a hedge fund manager who was speaking of Japan's hitting a "debt wall".

Topping off the hysteria about Japan was a piece in Britain's Daily Telegraph on November 1 by Ambrose Evans-Pritchard. Sprinkling his piece with quotes from people such as the former International Monetary Fund chief economist Simon Johnson ("a real risk that Japan could end up in major default") and various finance gurus ("the sums are gargantuan," " the situation is irrecoverable," "incredibly dangerous," "shocking," "horrible," "the risk of a downward spiral"), Evans-Pritchard works himself up into a fever pitch of indignation, accusing the Japanese government of "sitting frozen like a rabbit in the headlamps" and concludes with the obligatory warning for the rest of us about our profligate, debt-addicted ways.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Tuesday, 17 November 2009


Sam Roggeveen

The Age, November 17, 2009

With no specific policy initiatives emerging from US President Barack Obama's China visit, China's netizens are left to ponder pieces of symbolism and trivia. Why were "ObaMao" T-shirts banned during the President's visit? Was Obama too deferential on Chinese censorship or did he subtly criticise China's great firewall? And what can we read into the fact that Obama carried his own umbrella when he disembarked from Air Force One at Shanghai airport?

The American media, meanwhile, is preoccupied with Afghanistan. Obama is due to make an announcement about troop levels in coming days; he may even tack a trip to Kabul on the end of his Asia itinerary. And, as this Wall Street Journal article points out, many of the issues that divide the US and China — the valuation of China's currency, concrete meaures on North Korea and Iran, climate change — are pretty intractable, meaning concrete results from the rest of the trip are unlikely.

So is this whole visit a non-event? Not really. Even if no agreements are signed or initiatives launched, it matters when the leaders of two of the most powerful countries on earth get together. And specifically, it matters how these two giants view their respective roles in the world, and how they accomodate the preferences and needs of the other. To that end, the most significant part so far of Obama's trip came before he even arrived in China, in the speech he gave in Tokyo on the first leg of his Asia tour.

First, note the symbolism of the Japan-first itinerary. When Prime Minister Kevin Rudd overlooked Tokyo for his first overseas tour but did visit Beijing, the Japanese were none too pleased. At the time, I defended Rudd, and I maintain there is too much emphasis on such details. But Japan was similarly upset when Bill Clinton just flew by Japan on his way to a nine-day China visit in 1998. The Obama team was clearly deferring to Japanese sensitivities by going to Tokyo first, though Obama spent less than 24 hours in Japan before his two-and-a-half day visit to China.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Monday, 16 November 2009


Austin Ramzy / Beijing

Time, November 16, 2009

As U.S. President Barack Obama touched down in China on Sunday, his visit marked a pivotal moment in the two countries' relationship. While the U.S. and China once met to discuss topics of mutual importance, their talks are now occupied with issues of significance to the entire planet. From North Korea to Iran, global warming to global trade imbalances, Washington is increasingly dependent on Beijing's cooperation. The U.S. and China often find things to disagree about. As the world's most powerful democracy and the world's most powerful authoritarian state, they are bound to clash, even as their economic relationship draws them closer. But at a time when so much rests on their relationship, it's important also to consider where they are (mostly) in agreement. Here are five key areas:


Trade between the U.S. and China has been a heated subject in recent months. After President Obama imposed tariffs in September of up to 35% on Chinese-made tires to protect U.S. jobs due to a surge in Chinese imports, China retaliated in October with new levies on nylon imports. This month, the U.S. slapped duties of up to 99% on some Chinese-made steel pipes. China announced soon after that it was looking into imports of U.S.-made cars from manufacturers that received government support. The trend has economists worried about a trade war. But U.S. officials dismiss that notion, arguing that the affected goods comprise a small part of the massive trade relationship that surpassed $400 billion last year. The global economic slump has no doubt exacerbated tensions, but the U.S. and China have matured in how they discuss their trade differences. "They're working through a lot of scattered issues, but they are working through the WTO," says James McGregor, the former chairman of the American Chamber of Commerce in China. "In the old days, every trade issue would become a very public and unstructured argument."

(...) [artículo aquí]


Austin Ramzy / Beijing

Time, November 16, 2009

Sino-U.S. relations were a rare foreign policy bright spot during President Bush's last term. Amid setbacks in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Administration was able to broaden and deepen ties with China, while keeping longstanding disagreements over issues such as trade and China's human-rights record under control. But that doesn't mean they went away. When U.S. President Barack Obama meets Tuesday with Chinese President Hu Jintao at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, there are several trouble spots between him and his host, and the good relationship could erode if they aren't managed carefully. Here are five key areas that the U.S. has to worry about:


The democratic, self-governed island is one of Beijing's most important foreign policy considerations. It puts a huge amount of effort into diplomatically isolating Taiwan, which Beijing considers Chinese territory that should be reunified by force if necessary. China maintains an estimated 1,300 ballistic missiles along the Taiwan Strait to be used against the island in event of war. While the U.S. does not have formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan, it remains its biggest ally and protector. Under the Taiwan Relations Act, U.S. law requires that it sell military hardware to provide for Taiwan's defense, which infuriates China. Last year Beijing cut off military-to-military interactions between the U.S. and China to protest an American arms deal with Taiwan.

Those relations resumed in October when Xu Caihou, vice chairman of China's Central Military Commission, visited Washington. "Xu went to America and talked to Obama about arms sales," says Yan Xuetong, director of the Institute of International Studies at Tsinghua University in Beijing. "But the arms sales will continue because of the Taiwan Relations Act. That shows that they can talk nicely, but can't reach an agreement."

(...) [artículo aquí]

Sunday, 15 November 2009


Michael Schuman

Time, November 15, 2009

A Wuling minivan dealership on the outskirts of the western Chinese city of Xi'an provides hope for the future of the global economy. On an ordinary Wednesday morning, customers steadily stream into the showroom, briefly open and close the doors to the displayed minivans, manufactured by a joint venture between General Motors and two Chinese carmakers, and then march over to the front desk to plop down their money. While salesmen in the U.S. struggle to move cars off their lots, Xu Zhanrong, the deputy general manager of the Xi'an dealership, can barely keep the Wulings in stock. Sales are up some 40% this year, Xu says, with about 50 customers a day driving off with new minivans. "From what I see, people are changing very dramatically," Xu says. "Before people thought: I only buy what I need. Now people are starting to spend for a better or more comfortable life."

Xu's words should be music to the world's ears. As debt-laden consumers in the U.S. retrench, increasingly wealthy Chinese consumers could become one of the most important sources of growth for the global economy. Shoppers in China are opening their newly stuffed wallets wider than ever. Passenger car sales surged 76% in October from a year earlier, while overall retail sales jumped 16.2%. Such spending has contributed to China's robust recovery from the global economic crisis. Gross domestic product grew a hefty 8.9% in the third quarter from a year earlier.

There is reason to believe such eye-popping spending can continue. As more regions of China's vast hinterland join in its amazing economic boom, more and more of the country's 1.3 billion people can afford cars, refrigerators and flat-panel TVs items not too long ago considered luxuries for a fortunate few. Chen Baogen, Xi'an's mayor, says his city of eight million had lagged behind towns on the export-oriented coast, but now incomes are growing to the point where consumption is taking off. In the first nine months of 2009, retail sales in the city increased by 19%, well above the 14.8% growth posted in China's cities nationally. "Xi'an has reached a very important development stage," Chen explains. "Incomes are just at the first point when people can buy homes and cars."

(...) [artículo aquí]

Saturday, 14 November 2009


Helene Cooper and Martin Fackler

The New York Times, November 14, 2009

TOKYO — The United States is not threatened by a rising China, President Obama said Saturday, but will seek to strengthen its ties with Beijing even as it maintains close ties with traditional allies like Japan.

In a wide-ranging speech on his first trip to Asia as president, Mr. Obama drew on his own background to reassure the people of the fast-growing continent that even as the United States seemed preoccupied with conflicts in the Middle East and other regions, it was increasingly “a nation of the Pacific.”

“I know there are many who question how the United States perceives China’s emergence,” Mr. Obama told an audience in Tokyo’s Suntory Hall. But he added, “In an interconnected world, power does not need to be a zero-sum game, and nations need not fear the success of another.”

Declaring himself “America’s first Pacific president” (a description that somehow ignored Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan, two Californians), Mr. Obama previewed many of the themes that will shadow him during his weeklong trip, which will also include stops in Singapore, Shanghai, Beijing and Seoul.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Friday, 13 November 2009


Charles E. Morrison

The Japan Times, November 13, 2009

HONOLULU, EAST-WEST WIRE — This week Barack Obama begins his first trip to Asia as U.S. head of state. His visit to Singapore for the annual Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting plus additional stops in Japan, China and South Korea offer an opportunity for the president to give further dynamism to America's relationships with this vital part of the world.

In visiting Asia, Obama has many assets to draw upon. Although his adult experience in Asia is relatively limited, he is the first U.S. president to have actually lived in the region and to have a genuine Asia-Pacific orientation from his earliest years. He is widely popular in the region, especially his boyhood home of Indonesia, where according to the Pew Global Attitudes Project, positive images of the United States climbed to 63 percent in 2009 from 37 percent last year.

Obama's way to the region has also been paved by two successful visits by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who in February chose Asia for her first overseas trip as the top U.S. diplomat and in July stopped by a meeting of regional foreign ministers in Thailand, where she signed a Treaty of Amity and Cooperation with members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

For Obama, as with his predecessors, defining the U.S. relationship with China involves some semantic calisthenics

Andrew Higgins and Anne E. Kornblut

The Washington Post, November 12, 2009

When President Obama arrives in Shanghai and Beijing next week, he will face a prickly question that has vexed presidents since Richard M. Nixon first visited Mao Zedong in 1972: How exactly does the United States define its relationship with China?

Over the decades, U.S. leaders have run through a kaleidoscope of terms, from "tacit allies" against the Soviet Union in the early 1970s to "strategic competitors" at the start of President George W. Bush's administration.

When Obama took office, his advisers spent weeks haggling with Chinese officials over what to call a relationship that has left China holding more than $1 trillion of American debt, turned the United States into China's single-biggest export market and enmeshed the nations in an ever-tighter web of mutual dependence.

Washington and Beijing finally came up with a bland characterization, declaring their ties "positive, cooperative and comprehensive." This replaced a Bush-era label that had also defined the relationship as "candid," a word Beijing disliked because it suggested that the two sides might criticize each other.

Such verbal machinations involve far more than semantic quibbling. Words frame how the two sides confront very real issues such as trade, climate change and human rights. "It's something we have always had with the Chinese, dating back to the 1970s," said Jeffrey A. Bader, Obama's senior director for East Asian affairs at the National Security Council. "You can't really go through an administration without having some label that provides a general characterization."

(...) [artículo aquí]


China Real Time Report (WSJ Blog), November 11, 2009

China’s economic success has made it a model for other developing countries who have been less successful in generating growth and rising incomes. But what exactly does China have to teach countries poorer than itself? That question has been increasingly debated as China broadens its ties with Africa, the Middle East and Latin America.

Some China cheerleaders say China, as it funnels investment and lending into these developing countries, will also promote its own style of economic development. But the so-called ‘Beijing Consensus’ — a supposed model of state-led growth that competes with the free-market ‘Washington Consensus’ — is actually a coinage by an American journalist. Although the term has been taken up by some scholars in China, it hasn’t really gained much traction.

It’s also been officially rejected by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, who nixed the idea in a press conference in Egypt. Here’s what Wen said in response to a question about Chinese companies’ activities in Africa, according to a transcript provided by the Xinhua news agency:

(...) [artículo aquí]

Tuesday, 10 November 2009


The Korea Times, November 10, 2009

U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Asia has drawn much attention as it comes at a time when the region is going through rapid transformation with China's expanding influence and a brewing change in the Japan-U.S. alliance. Now, the world is witnessing power shifting from the West, including the United States, to Asia which is one of the most dynamic spots around the world. In other words, a new world order is taking shape in the region. Thus, it is necessary for the U.S to hammer out a new Asia strategy to better cope with mounting challenges arising from the changing situations.

In this regard, Obama's trip to four Asian countries ― Japan, Singapore, China and South Korea ― from Nov. 13 to 19 is expected to become a key test for his foreign policy toward Asia. At stake is whether Obama will present his new diplomatic roadmap on how to strengthen U.S. partnership with the Asian countries without damaging its traditionally dominant sway in the region.

Of course, his journey should be far more than photo opportunities and rhetorical excess so that he can make substantial progress in forming a new relationship with its Asian partners. Most of all, Obama and his policymakers are required to face up to a new reality in which China is jockeying for the world's No. 2 position while the U.S., the world's sole superpower, is waning, especially in the aftermath of the global financial and economic crisis.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Monday, 9 November 2009


Bloomberg, November 9, 2009

China promised $10 billion in cheap loans to Africa, pledged to cut customs duties and distributed a newspaper with photos of Chinese leaders among beaming Africans, part of an effort to fight claims it is exploiting the continent’s resources.

At the close today of the two-day Forum on China-Africa Cooperation conference in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, China pledged to “work within its means to increase aid to Africa, reduce or cancel debts on African countries, in addition to increasing investments in Africa and open more markets,” Egypt’s state-run Middle East News Agency reported.

Chinese officials have been battling accusations that they are only interested in the continent’s oil and minerals as their country presses forward with a decade-long drive to invest in African resources to feed its growing economy. Last year, European Union lawmakers assailed China for courting “oppressive” African governments, such as Sudan, to satisfy its soaring demand for oil and raw materials.

“China is very stung by criticism from so-called Western quarters in recent years,” said Martyn Davies, chief executive officer of Frontier Advisory, a Johannesburg-based research and strategy consulting company. China is trying “to have a softer approach” in an effort to rebut the notion that its interest in Africa is “extractionist in nature.”

(...) [artículo aquí]

Saturday, 7 November 2009


China according to the Chinese. The Origin, Process, and Outcome of China's Reforms in the Past One Hundred Years by Enbao Wang

Reviewed by Yu Bin

Asia Times, November 7, 2009

French leader Napoleon Bonaparte had an aphorism: "Let China sleep; when she wakes she will shake the world," said Napoleon (1769-1821). Nearly 180 years after his death, this famous aphorism (or cliche, for Sinologists/China experts) by the French military genius and dictator is both right AND wrong.

He was right because China, indeed, had gone into almost a century-and-a-half "sleep" - a benign word for a prolonged devastation from 1839 to 1979 by wars, defeats, occupation, revolution, civil wars and political upheaval.

Napoleon was wrong, however, to predict that China's awakening would shake the world, meaning to challenge the West-dominated international system. Thirty years after China unfolded its historical reform in 1979, a strong and stable China - instead of switching between Napoleonic "sleeping" and "shaking" modes - has served as a world factory and has been a "stakeholder" of the existing international system still dominated by the West.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Friday, 6 November 2009


Lilian Karunungan

Bloomberg, November 6, 2009

The Group of 20 finance chiefs will likely push for Asian nations to allow their currencies to appreciate when they meet in Scotland this weekend, according to UBS AG, the world’s second-largest foreign-exchange trader.

G-20 finance ministers and central bankers, including U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet, start two days of talks today in St. Andrews, Scotland. While exchange rates won’t be on the agenda, “many nations will seek to bring it up,” Geoffrey Yu, foreign-exchange strategist in London at UBS, wrote in a research report to clients today

China, the world’s third largest economy, has prevented the yuan from appreciating since July 2008, after it strengthened 21 percent against the dollar in the previous three years. Currency reserves have climbed about 20 percent in China, South Korea and Taiwan in the past year, a sign of dollar purchases designed to stop stronger exchange-rates from hurting exports.

“The Eurozone will likely press hard on the topic, and Asia will once again be on the receiving end of complaints due to inflexibility in many of the region’s currencies,” Yu wrote. “According to the U.S. Treasury, the U.S. is also seeking to use the G-20 to push for a plan for global rebalancing.”

The G-20 finance ministers’ agenda involves measuring the effects of member nations’ economic policies and proposing changes for their leaders, who meet in June. China and other Asian nations have accumulated dollars from widening trade surpluses, buying U.S. Treasury debt and depressing global yields. Lower borrowing costs helped stoke the U.S. housing and credit booms that turned to bust in 2007.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Thursday, 5 November 2009


Malini Parthasarathy

The Hindu, November 5, 2009

To question the patriotism of the Muslim community on the ground that it refuses to "worship" India as a concept is to make a mockery of the real meaning of patriotism and national loyalty.

As the anniversary of the cataclysmic event of 26/11 draws near, undoubtedly the country will relive the painful and humiliating memory of its powerful financial capital held hostage for more than 36 hours by a group of murderous terrorists sneaking in from Pakistan, challenging the might and capabilities of the Indian nation. But instead of replaying those dark moments, Indians ought to remember with pride the aftermath of the tragedy. The days after the terror strikes saw a spontaneous nationwide outpouring of sympathy for Mumbai with all communities united in their anger and outrage at the impunity with which Pakistan-based jihadi terrorists had struck at India.

Indeed the Indian national spirit triumphed in that dark moment with thousands of citizens of diverse cultural and social identities rallying together to support Mumbai in that traumatic phase. There was a remarkable absence of communal violence with even the Shiv Sena in Mumbai resisting the political temptation of baiting Muslims in that stressful period. As a new generation of Indians made the political class and the political system the targets of their ire, one refreshing change was that there was absolutely no focus on communal and social identities. Projected was a collective sense of “we Indians” against the external intruders. All this showed that the enduring sense of national unity was a solid asset that helped the country tide over what could have been a deeply disintegrative challenge.

It is clear that with the United Progressive Alliance government emphasising its commitment to secular governance and the preservation of cultural pluralism, the minorities, especially the Muslim community, find little conflict between their civic identities as Indian citizens and their cultural and religious affiliations. When national identity is defined in cultural nationalist terms, the loyalty of minority groups to the national identity comes under intense pressure. In an increasingly disturbed security environment with terrorism sharpening in intensity in Pakistan, it is imperative that the UPA remain unswerving in its acknowledgment that without secularism and internal communal harmony, it would be difficult to fight terrorism.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Wednesday, 4 November 2009


Tom Engelhardt

Asia Times, November 4, 2009

In the worst of times, my father always used to say, "A good gambler cuts his losses." It's a formulation imprinted on my brain forever. That no-nonsense piece of advice still seems reasonable to me, but it doesn't apply to American war policy. Our leaders evidently never saw a war to which the word "more" didn't apply. Hence the Afghan war, where impending disaster is just an invitation to fuel the flames of an already roaring fire.

Here's a partial rundown of news from that devolving conflict: In the past week or so, Nuristan, a province on the Pakistani border, essentially fell to the Taliban after the US withdrew its forces from four key bases. (See Taliban take over Afghan province Asia Times Online, October 29.)

Similarly in Khost, another eastern province bordering Pakistan where United States forces once registered much-publicized gains (and which Richard Holbrooke, now President Barack Obama's special envoy to the region, termed "an American success story"), the Taliban are largely in control. It is, according to Yochi Dreazen and Anand Gopal of the Wall Street Journal, now "one of the most dangerous provinces" in the country.

Similarly, the Taliban insurgency, once largely restricted to the Pashtun south, has recently spread fiercely to the west and north. At the same time, neighboring Pakistan is an increasingly destabilized country amid war in its tribal borderlands, a terror campaign spreading throughout the country, escalating American drone attacks, and increasingly testy relations between American officials and the Pakistani government and military.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Tuesday, 3 November 2009


Bill Powell

Time, November 3, 2009

Just before the global financial crisis exploded, the conference halls in China were alive with the rhetoric of economic reform. Hardly a week went by without some think tank or ministry in Beijing toasting the 30th anniversary of China's great opening to the world and outlining what the next phase of China's historic development would entail. At a time when experts and policymakers everywhere were decrying "global economic imbalances," China would do its bit to rectify them.

That meant attacking the problem at the root. Just as the U.S. saved too little while consuming too much, China saved too much and consumed too little. The result was a lopsided international trade scorecard. China ran huge current account surpluses — peaking at 10% of GDP in the first half of 2008 — and as a result accumulated a massive load of foreign exchange, which it turned around and loaned, mostly, to the U.S. Government, which enabled Americans to go on borrowing and spending. China, policymakers said, intended to break this unhealthy cycle.

Then a not so funny thing happened on the way to rebalancing: the worst crisis since the Great Depression. The Chinese response to sharp declines in manufacturing and exports has been cheered for its effectiveness. Government stimulus spending and loose credit powered the country's economy to an 8.9% growth rate in the third quarter, and the most recent Purchasing Manager's Index (PMI), a widely watched gauge of economic sentiment released on Oct. 30, rose for the eighth straight month. It now shows "sustained expansion in industrial activity," says Jing Ulrich, managing director at JP Morgan in Hong Kong. At the same time, the U.S.-China economic relationship is not as lopsided as it was a year ago, at least by some measures. The U.S. savings rate has increased to about 4% of GDP (from zero at the recession's onset), and China's current account surplus has fallen from 10% to about 6.5% of GDP. Both are improving for the same reason: shell-shocked consumers in the U.S., where the unemployment rate is 9.8% and rising, have snapped their wallets shut. Now that it's pouring, they have started saving for a rainy day.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Monday, 2 November 2009


Alex Morales

Bloomberg, November 2, 2009

Nov. 2 (Bloomberg) -- United Nations climate negotiators meeting this week in Barcelona will debate how far they can push developing nations such as China and India to restrict greenhouse-gas emissions blamed for global warming.

While the UN will ask industrialized countries to accept binding targets on their gas discharges, poorer nations may be urged only to adopt measures to limit emissions growth, such as building wind-energy farms.

Developing countries may be urged only to ensure those “actions” are undertaken, and may not have to prove they are successful, under a new climate-protection agreement, the UN’s top climate official said in an interview.

“They would commit to the action and not to the result,” UN Framework Convention on Climate Change Executive Secretary Yvo de Boer said before the negotiations started today, when asked to indicate areas where accords might be struck.

Getting China, the largest greenhouse-gas producer, to curb emissions is a goal of several industrialized countries. U.S. officials, concerned about competitive advantage, have said they won´t approve a treaty that has no gas-limitation measures for the fastest-growing developing nations such as China and India.

UN officials have long called for a new climate treaty to include absolute targets for developed nations and to indicate what measures poorer countries such as China, India and Brazil will take to rein in their discharges.

One proposal that has been debated is to document the developing world’s pledges in a registry. The U.S. has asked that those actions be measurable and legally binding. Developing nations have rejected internationally enforceable commitments.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Sunday, 1 November 2009


The Japan Times, November 1, 2009

When Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama likened the Democrat Party of Japan's takeover to the Meiji Restoration in last week's policy speech, he failed to mention an issue that fueled discontent with the Tokugawa Shogunate as it ended in 1867 — corruption. Though corruption did not get a specific mention amid the historical allusions and hopeful rhetoric of the prime minister's speech, it is a grave problem that, if left unsolved, will continue to hamper development and shackle people's lives throughout Asia.

The United Nations Development Program's annual report on corruption identifies the problem as widespread and devastating. Japan may imagine itself as a developed country no longer suffering from the petty bribery that troubles the rest of Asia, but Japan still has many gray areas with questionable business-as-usual practices. The collusive relationship between government ministries and the private sector has resulted in amakudari, the hiring of retired bureaucrats by companies and other organizations that they used to oversee. Similar complex social relationships are entrenched in all Asian countries. The common acquiescence to them can lead to exploitation.

The UNDP defines corruption as: "the misuse of public power, office or authority for private benefit, through bribery, extortion, influence peddling, nepotism, fraud, speed money (form of bribery) or embezzlement." Corruption makes possible nearly every type of organized crime. Drug smuggling, human trafficking, money laundering, and illegal arms sales all depend on corruption. It occurs in the private sector just as often as in the public, and at all levels of society. In this age of internationalization, corruption does not stop at the border, but moves as swiftly and easily as a bank transfer.

(...) [artículo aquí]