Thursday, 31 December 2009

Robert Saiget

AFP, December 31, 2009

BEIJING — Surging economic and diplomatic clout has given China the confidence to ignore old world powers like Britain, which failed to halt its first execution of a European since the 1950s, experts say.

In recent weeks, Beijing has jailed a prominent dissident for 11 years for subversion despite a Western outcry, taken a firm line that led to a tepid global climate change pact and refused to budge on the value of the yuan.

"We've entered a new phase, a phase in which there is less leverage for foreign governments to exert on China in the area of human rights," Joshua Rosenzweig, a Hong Kong-based manager of rights group Dui Hua, told AFP.

"In the past, China would make concessions on human rights when it needed something from the West... now more often than not, it is the foreign governments that need something from China."

In the past, China conceded on rights issues as a trade-off to secure its membership of the World Trade Organisation, the right to host the 2008 Olympic Games and gain greater international recognition on the whole, Rosenzweig said.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Wednesday, 30 December 2009


Aki Ito

Bloomberg, December 30, 2009

Japan’s government set an economic growth target of more than 2 percent for the coming decade, a pace that’s about four times the central bank’s estimate of the nation’s current speed limit.

The target was released in a statement after a meeting of Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama’s cabinet in Tokyo today on its long-run economic strategy. The government said it’s aiming for 1.4 million additional jobs in the environmental industry, 2.8 million posts in health care, and 560,000 positions in tourism by 2020, along with expanded Asian trade, to bolster growth.

While Hatoyama’s target is likely to be criticized as unrealistic by economists as the nation hasn’t averaged an expansion rate of 2 percent or more since the 1980s, Deputy Prime Minister Naoto Kan called it “achievable.” David Carbon, head of economic and currency research at DBS Group Holdings Ltd. in Singapore, said the Democratic Party of Japan-led government, which took office for the first time in September, would need to embrace deeper changes than it has endorsed so far.

“With the economy we have right now in Japan, the government’s setting a high bar for itself,” Yoshiki Shinke, senior economist at Dai-Ichi Life Research Institute in Tokyo, said before the announcement.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Multilateral Cooperation Aims to Fend Off Regional Crisis

The Korea Times, December 29, 2009

It is encouraging news that 13 Asian countries have signed a $120-billion currency swap deal to better cope with short-term liquidity volatility arising from external shocks. On Monday, finance ministers and central bank governors of 10 states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) plus South Korea, China and Japan announced the signing of the regional cooperation pact.

The agreement calls for a multilateral financial support program that is scheduled to make its debut on March 24. It is based on the Chiang Mai Initiative in which Korea, China, Japan and five ASEAN countries agreed in 2000 to support each other with dollar liquidity on a bilateral basis in times of crisis. The eight countries agreed on the $78-billion currency swap deal after the outbreak of the 1997-98 Asian financial turmoil.

The initiative was a direct reflection of the Asian turbulence that forced several countries including Korea, Thailand and Indonesia to go cap in hand for rescue packages arranged by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Since then, countries in Asia felt the urgent need for regional cooperation to cushion external financial shocks. So, they launched the initiative, but it somehow felt incomplete due to participation by only a limited number of countries.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Monday, 28 December 2009


China Real Time Report, December 28, 2009

As part of our ongoing series of insight and analysis from leading experts in their respective fields, Yiyi Lu, an expert on Chinese civil society, discusses the blame directed at China over perceived Copenhagen shortcomings. Ms. Lu is a research fellow at the University of Nottingham’s China Policy Institute and an associate fellow at the U.K.-based Chatham House. She is the author of “Non-Governmental Organisations in China: The Rise of Dependent Autonomy” (Routledge 2008).

Since the Copenhagen climate conference, a number of reports and commentaries in the Western press have blamed China for the perceived failure of the talks. This portends the perilous international political climate that China will increasingly have to face. Although China has always insisted that it is a developing country and proclaims solidarity with other developing countries, in fact, it may increasingly be portrayed as in a league of its own.

The narrative that China “wrecked the Copenhagen deal” is noteworthy in several respects. First, it papers over disagreements between developed and developing countries, which was a central theme of the conference, especially in the first week. Now it is just China against the rest of the world.

Second, while it is true that within the developing country camp there was also disagreement between large and small countries, China’s standpoint was shared by a number of other large countries, especially Brazil, South Africa and India, who together with China were called the BASIC countries. The draft final accord was proposed by the BASIC group and the United States, not by China and US alone. The “China wrecking the deal” narrative, however, only singles out China.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Sunday, 27 December 2009


Swaminathan S Anklesaria

The Economic Times, December 27, 2009

It has been the best of decades, the worst of decades. In the 2000s, India became an economic growth champion (especially in services), and was recognized as a potential superpower through admission to the world’s nuclear club. But the same decade witnessed gross misgovernance, rising terrorism and Maoist insurrection, and outrageously high rates of malnutrition and anaemia.

In 2000, India was just recovering from the Asian financial crisis, but was then hit by the 2001 recession and worst drought of the century in 2002. Agricultural growth fell below population growth. Foreign investors flocked to China but not India, which was seen as a manufacturing failure. Indian industrialists were dead scared of Chinese competition.

Astonishingly, this sombre beginning was followed by miraculous economic acceleration. India averaged almost 9% GDP growth in the five years, 2004-09, with agriculture averaging over 4% annually, the highest rate ever. Even the poorest states -Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Orissa, accelerated. Infrastructure and private educational and health institutions expanded faster than ever before. India then survived the Great Recession of 2008-09 with only minimal deceleration, and now expects 7.5-8% in 2009-10. This excellent performance explains why it is seen as a coming superpower.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Saturday, 26 December 2009


Indrani Bagchi

The Times of India, December 26, 2009

Success can be a mixed blessing. It brings money, power and glory; but it also brings with it envy if not enmity, scrutiny, and the burden of expectation. Relationships change; they are often rooted less in idealism , more in opportunism. You tend to walk differently, talk differently, even smile differently. There's a danger of often-unarticulated tensions subtly but significantly redefining old friendships. Your new friends, you cannot be sure of - will they stand by you when the chips are down? As for those you do not trust, those who you do not believe have your best interests at heart, you tend to tread gently around them, especially if they're more powerful than you; meanwhile, you wonder if you should seek a powerful ally. Life is less black-and-white, and a lot less constant . The old certainties are replaced by new, complex variables. How you negotiate the maelstrom of change will decide whether you get to play in the Champions League, or in the Europa League.

And so it is with India. The world was once an easier, more familiar place. Through the Cold War years, India rarely, if ever, strayed from its basic foreign policy template: Non-alignment . It had few interests (beyond its timeless favourites, Kashmir and Pakistan), and even fewer choices. As a French diplomat said, "We used to refer to India as the 'porcupine' . You stayed in the cave and ventured out occasionally. If anyone hissed 'Kashmir' , the prickles would be out and you would scurry back into your cave. You are now coming out, but slowly."

After two decades of economic growth, India finds itself , willy-nilly , in the vortex of dizzying change. Its interests have grown in many new directions, too numerous to count - driven in part by its recently-acquired status as an emerging superpower. The game has become more complex: if India's earlier geo-political manoeuvres were akin to checkers, they now resemble poker where the hand keeps changing, the stakes are higher, and it's absolutely essential to think several moves ahead so as not to lag behind the competition.

Does India have what it takes to play the new game? As the first "noughties" decade of the 21st century draws to an end, India feels less secure, even as it's being called upon to make deft strategic decisions in a rapidly-morphing world it is plainly illequipped for.

As a top policymaker observed, "We are entering an uncertain phase where multiple crises are coming at us, intersecting and reinforcing each other." This means India's friends and enemies change with each new point of departure. Its geopolitical choices, therefore , are no longer binary. John Maynard Keynes said, "When the facts change, I change my mind" - and that could well be India's new mantra.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Friday, 25 December 2009


Bloomberg, December 25, 2009

China raised its 2008 growth estimate to 9.6 percent from 9 percent and said this year’s quarterly figures will increase, narrowing the gap with Japan, the world’s second-biggest economy.

Gross domestic product was 31.405 trillion yuan ($4.6 trillion) last year, the statistics bureau said at a briefing in Beijing today. That compares with a previous 30.067 trillion yuan and the World Bank’s estimate of $4.9 trillion for Japan.

China’s expansion will be more than 8 percent in 2009, according to government officials, and the nation is poised to overtake Japan next year, International Monetary Fund projections show. Today’s figures result from an economic census which showed a bigger contribution from services and continue a pattern of China revising up preliminary growth estimates.

“The big underlying factor propelling China’s growth is the continued migration of people from the agricultural sector to the more modern economy -- industry and services,” said David Cohen, an economist at Action Economic in Singapore. “There’s no stopping China.”

For 2009, revisions will mainly affect the value of the year’s gross domestic product, with a “very small” impact on the growth rate, said Peng Zhilong, the head of the bureau’s national economy calculation department.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Thursday, 24 December 2009


Michael Wei

The Toronto Star, December 24, 2009

BEIJING–Ford Motor Co. said Wednesday it expected to finalize the sale of its Volvo unit to China's Geely in the first half of 2010 in a deal that underlines China's arrival as a major force in the global auto industry.

The deal comes at the end of a year that saw China overtake the United States as the world's biggest auto market, a feat that would have been unthinkable only a few years ago.

It also comes as traditional Ford rival General Motors Co. moves to abandon its Swedish Saab brand after selling some of its assets to another Chinese automaker, Beijing Automotive Industry Holding Corp, or BAIC.

Ford, the No. 2 U.S. automaker, said Wednesday it had agreed on all substantial commercial terms in a deal to sell Volvo to China's Zhejiang Geely Holding Group, parent of Geely Auto. The deal, which Ford said it expected to sign in the first quarter and close in the second quarter of 2010, would be the largest acquisition of a Western auto brand by a Chinese company.

“hile some work still remains to be completed before signing, Ford and Geely anticipate that a definitive sale agreement will be signed in the first quarter of 2010,” Ford said in a statement.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Tuesday, 22 December 2009


M K Bhadrakumar

Asia Times, December 23, 2009

Nursultan Nazarbayev has a way of drawing lines in the sand. The president of Kazakhstan recently told global oil and metal majors that new laws would allow only those foreign investors that cooperate with his industrialization program to tap his nation's mineral resources.

"We will work only with those who propose projects helping diversification of the economy," he said at a December 4 investment conference in Astana, the Kazakh capital, which was attended by ArcelorMittal, Chevron, Total, ENRC and other investors. To any unwilling to collaborate, he said: "We will look for new partners, offer them favorable conditions and resources to fulfill projects."

For good measure, he added that Beijing has asked Kazakhstan - a country the size of Europe but with just 16 million people - to allow Chinese farmers to use one million hectares of Kazakh land to cultivate crops such as soya and rape seed.

Pro-Western elements in Kazakh politics have since taken to the streets. On December 17, addressing a rally in Almaty, Bolat Abilov, co-chairman of the opposition party Azat [United Social Democratic Party] drew an apocalyptic scenario: "If we tomorrow give, or distribute, one million hectares of land, it would mean 15 people working per hectare. That means 15 million people would be brought from China. If one of those 15 people were to give birth each year, that would be the end. In 50 years, there would be 50 million Chinese [in Kazakhstan]."

(...) [artículo aquí]

Only social safety nets can boost China's domestic consumption in the long term

China Economic Review, December 22, 2009

Beijing's official announcement that China's 2010 growth target is 8% is not a surprise. The figure has become a benchmark for the government in recent years, even during times when the economy has performed far better.

Nor is it a surprise that China will pursue more of the same policies in its quest for positive growth next year. Beijing has admitted since July that it plans to curb excess production capacity by expanding industrial production by about 11% next year, compared to 12% in 2009, while reducing its reliance on exports.

It is the target of boosting consumer spending, another well-communicated aim for next year, where Beijing may come up against problems in 2010, a fact that was all but admitted by Industry and Information Technology Minister Li Yizhong when announcing the GDP figure on Monday.

Li said that Beijing would have to find new ways to get Chinese consumers to spend rather than save their money, especially as tax breaks on cars and subsidies for household appliances cannot last forever. The government knows that it is a mentality - one that still places Chinese people as the biggest savers in the world - that must be changed if domestic consumption is to rise, thereby reducing the nation's reliance on investment- and export-led growth.

This is a big challenge for the government next year. While curbing excess production capacity is a move that is well within Beijing's grasp, getting Chinese consumers to open their wallets is not. Short of marching people from their homes and into the malls, the government cannot persuade consumers to buy, and, as Li said, subsidies can only go so far.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Monday, 21 December 2009


Nandini Lakshman

Time, December 21, 2009

India, home of the $2,500 Tata Motors Nano, is quickly becoming the capital of a new generation of tiny econo-cars as major auto manufacturers crowd into the fast-growing market. Over the next 18 to 24 months, Honda, Toyota, Ford, General Motors and Nissan-Renault are all launching compact vehicles for India, which is rising as a manufacturing and export hub for cheap, fuel-efficient transportation.

With auto sales in the West in a deep slump, 2009 saw carmakers increasingly focus on developing countries like China and India, which have largely shrugged off the global recession and where disposable incomes continue to grow rapidly. China this year will surpass the U.S as the world's largest car market, while India has become the largest market for small cars, according to Dilip Chenoy, director general of the Society for Indian Automobile Manufacturers. Four out of every five cars sold in India are small cars, defined as vehicles with engines displacing less than 1.2 liters.

Suzuki India leads the segment with a 46% share, followed by Hyundai at 16.5% and Tata Motors at 14%. But the rankings are set to change as others pile in. On Dec. 12, Volkswagen announced its first made-in-India compact, the Polo, which will be manufactured at Chakan, 110 miles (175 kms) from Mumbai. India will also be the lead country for Honda Motors' planned global small car — tentatively named the 2CV — which will begin selling by the end of 2011. Struggling General Motors began producing the pint-sized Chevrolet Spark in India last year and plans to roll out another compact, the Chevrolet Beat, in the first half of 2010, while Ford Motors CEO Alan Mulally unveiled a made-in-India four-door hatchback, the Figo, in New Delhi in September.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Sunday, 20 December 2009


Nilotpal Basu

The Economic Times, December 20, 2009

With Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in close confabulation with his Chinese counterpart Wen Jia Bao over the Copenhagen summit on climate change quite a few eyebrows have been raised. As is wont with the mainstream, there is a mood swing. From the palpable atmosphere of confrontation, which was provoked by the diplomatic row over the Dalai Lama's visit to Arunachal Pradesh, there is new interest in China bordering on the early forecast of bonhomie.

This is despite the largely unfounded reports that had earlier found their way to the prime-time talk shows in Indian television channels and the screaming humongous column centimetres on front page of the print media over alleged Chinese incursions into the Indian territory, notwithstanding the unambiguous denials of these by the highest Indian political and security brass.

China has always remained an enigma to the outside world. Chroniclers had always maintained that China was a sleeping giant waiting to wake up and impact the world. The allusion was to the stupor, which a large Chinese population suffered during the days of the internecine opium wars.

China throughout her dynastic rules had inspired a sense of awe and wonder but perhaps never in the history had it been seen to have completely translated its true civilisational potential. In this historical context, it is also worth noting that India and China always had dared civilisational contacts with Chinese travellers like Fa Hein and Hu Yen Sang visiting India and chronicling their first hand experience of the subcontinent.

But never before as it is now China has really announced its arrival in the global arena. The collapse of the Soviet Union and the socialist governments of Eastern Europe had signalled the end of the cold war. The cataclysmic changes ushered in by the historic turn of events inspired the ideologues of the free market in the United States and its western allies to celebrate with a pronounced sense of triumphalism – ‘capitalism is the end of history’.

The collapse of the bipolar architecture of international relations should have signalled a multipolar course for global development. The collapse of the Warsaw Pact should have automatically led to the dissolution of NATO. But the promise of the peace dividend in a more humane world without the arms race never ever materialised. This was in the main denied because of an obsessive drive of unilateral political and security actions initiated to secure global hegemony by the only surviving super power.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Saturday, 19 December 2009


Donald Kirk

Asia Times, December 19, 2009

WASHINGTON - The more things change, the more they stay the same. The great bargaining game to persuade North Korea's leader Kim Jong-il to puh-leeze be so kind, Dear One, as to send one of your minions over to the party in Beijing is now in full swing.

As tensions and expectations arise, the sense in some quarters here is what a great triumph it would be if only North Korea would be so kind, so open-minded and good-hearted as to rejoin the six-party talks on its nukes that it's been boycotting for the past year.

United States envoy Stephen Bosworth seems to be in charge of pressing the invitation on the North Koreans. Back from Pyongyang after holding forth at press conferences in the capitals of the other invitees, he's counseling "great patience".

While waiting for North Korea to bestow the honor of its company on host China and the rest of the guests, the North's new conditions are - despite Bosworth's reticence - quite rapidly becoming apparent. It was up to South Korea's Foreign Minister Yu Myung-hwan to reveal that North Korea had asked during Bosworth's mission for revocation of the sanctions imposed after its missile test of April 5, claiming that the long-range Taepodong-2 was launched to put a satellite into orbit. We can assume that North Korea is also insisting on revocation of the strengthened sanctions imposed after its nuclear test of May 25.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Friday, 18 December 2009


Pallavi Aiyar

Business Standard, December 18, 2009

It has been a prickly year for China-India ties with the Arunachal Pradesh boundary dispute poisoning bilateral rhetoric. In Copenhagen, Hindi-Chini Bhai Bhai is back in vogue with the two sides holding meetings up to six times a day, according to Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh.

India and China are both part of the BASIC (Brazil, South Africa, India and China) group of countries that have decided to coordinate their negotiating stance at the UN climate talks. Interestingly, it is the Chinese who have clearly taken the lead of this group, calling for meetings and constantly updating its members of developments.

For Ramesh, even in the event of a failure of the talks to produce any substantial outcome, the one takeaway from Copenhagen is a reinvigorated India-China dynamics with lasting implications going ahead. “BASIC is a reality now. And, India and China in particular have cooperated and collaborated each word at every step,” said Ramesh on Thursday.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Thursday, 17 December 2009


David Ignatius

The Washington Post, December 17, 2009

ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN The United States and Pakistan, always prone to bickering, need a big idea to unite and sustain them through the testing battle in Afghanistan. So here's a strategic concept I've been trying out with officials in both countries: By partnering with America, Pakistan can gain sovereignty over all its tribal territory for the first time in its history -- and thereby finally complete the task of building its own nation.

This is a classic example of what strategists call a "positive sum" game, where, by working together, Washington and Islamabad could gain benefits that they would not achieve alone. But instead of cooperating, they have been trading resentful messages over the past month in which the United States requested Pakistan's help in closing Taliban havens and Pakistan responded, in effect, "Don't tell us what to do."

Here's the cold, hard truth: U.S. success in Afghanistan depends on Pakistan gaining sovereignty over the tribal belt. If the insurgents can continue to maintain their havens in North Waziristan and other tribal areas, then President Obama's surge of troops in Afghanistan will fail. It's that simple.

The Obama administration wants Pakistan to take decisive action. That's why national security adviser Jim Jones visited here last month. And it's why Centcom Commander Gen. David Petraeus and Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen visited this week. But they've encountered Pakistani skepticism and suspicion. "The narrative is about mistrust and betrayal," says a U.S. Embassy official here.

The Americans should be knocking on an open door. For a second cold, hard fact is that Pakistan will not be a confident and fully successful modern state until it has extended its writ to the lawless tribal regions. Lacking that control, the Pakistanis fear that their national fabric could rip along its seams.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Tuesday, 15 December 2009


Ashish Mishra

Jakarta Globe, December 16, 2009

Few people would have predicted that the establishment of the European Common Market would signal the arrival of a new dawn for Europe.

Half a century after signing the European Economic Community Treaty, a fully ratified Treaty of Lisbon came into force on Dec. 1. If Asia were to follow a similar path, it would mean it will be 2060 before Asia appoints a single president, selects a high representative for foreign affairs and security policy, brings in a legally binding charter of fundamental rights, introduces qualified majority voting, or decides to replace literary references to the term “community” with the more politically ascendant “union.”

It has taken over 50 years of deal-busting, concession wrangling, regulation building diplomacy for the European Union to finally come to its senses and set itself on a trajectory that enables its global neighbors, partners and antagonists to start taking Europe seriously. Maybe the continent’s historical break from the internecine wars of its past has truly arrived. The timing is rather interesting. The Asian century is about to enter its second triumphal decade just as the European colonial era has ended.

The Lisbon Treaty supposedly enacts a set of fundamental values such as respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights. This includes acknowledging the rights of persons to belong to minorities. Article 2 goes further, stating, “these values are common to the Member States in a society in which pluralism, non-discrimination, tolerance, justice, solidarity and equality between women and men prevail.”

(...) [artículo aquí]


Benjamin A Shobert

Asia Times, December 15, 2009

To turn a phrase that is often used by US policymakers about China, it seems that with respect to the question of how to best invest China's newfound savings, the US could have done a better job as the "responsible stakeholder". It was the choice of the US government to design public policy in such a way that new home ownership programs could be supported with low interest rates, just as it was the choice of consumers to view inexpensive capital as a right, not a privilege, and one that could go away if not used properly.

In both cases - the government and consumers - other options for using this pool of Chinese capital existed. Inexpensive capital could have fostered much-needed investments in infrastructure and education. Testifying to the USCC, Robert Skidelsky, an economist, stated, "It is one thing to borrow from abroad for investment, a different matter to borrow for consumption, since this does not create assets which can service the debt."

The 2009 USCC report does attempt to represent both sides to this question, but the overarching storyline that predominates is that, at a minimum, China has some blame in the US's economic situation and that, at worst, its policies were contributing causes to the US's fall. This is very troubling as the report serves to educate many in congress about the role of China's policies and practices within the US. To the extent the report distracts American politicians from a single-minded focus on what the US can control, and what it must do differently, it is unlikely to create meaningful change or have a lasting impact.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Sunday, 13 December 2009


Guo Qiang

Global Times, December 14, 2009

President Hu Jintao is expected today to announce the opening of a massive natural gas pipeline through Central Asia that will help curb supply shortages.

The 1,833-kilometer line connects Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan. One of the two sections of the pipeline has been completed, and the other section will be operational next year.

"With an annual expanded transmission capacity of up to 40 billion cubic meters of gas from Turkmenistan, the route will fill the natural-gas gap," Zhang Yao, director of the Russia and Central Asia Research Center at the Shanghai Institutes for International Studies, told the Global Times.

Hu's announcement is set to come on his last stop on a tour through Central Asia that he started Saturday in Kazakhstan and ends today after two days in Turkmenistan.

With a natural-gas shortage hanging over China, the China- Central Asia gas pipeline will help meet China's surging demand and reflects multilateral interest in regional cooperation, experts said.

(...) [artículo aquí]


Scott Atran

The New York Times, December 13, 2009

In a testimony last week before Congress, the American ambassador to Afghanistan, Karl Eikenberry, insisted that President Obama’s revised war strategy will “build support for the Afghan government,” while Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the top American commander there, vowed that it will “absolutely” succeed in disrupting and degrading the Taliban.

Confidence is important, but we also have to recognize that the decision to commit 30,000 more troops to a counterinsurgency effort against a good segment of the Afghan population, with the focus on converting a deeply unpopular and corrupt regime into a unified, centralized state for the first time in that country’s history, is far from a slam dunk. In the worst case, the surge may push General McChrystal’s “core goal of defeating Al Qaeda” further away.

Al Qaeda is already on the ropes globally, with ever-dwindling financial and popular support, and a drastically diminished ability to work with other extremists worldwide, much less command them in major operations. Its lethal agents are being systematically hunted down, while those Muslims whose souls it seeks to save are increasingly revolted by its methods.

Unfortunately, this weakening viral movement may have a new lease on life in Afghanistan and Pakistan because we are pushing the Taliban into its arms. By overestimating the threat from Al Qaeda in Afghanistan, we are making it a greater threat to Pakistan and the world. Afghanistan and the tribal areas of Pakistan are unlike Iraq, the ancient birthplace of central government, or 1960s Vietnam, where a strong state was backing the Communist insurgents. Afghanistan and Pakistan must be dealt with on their own terms.

We’re winning against Al Qaeda and its kin in places where antiterrorism efforts are local and built on an understanding that the ties binding terrorist networks today are more cultural and familial than political. Consider recent events in Southeast Asia.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Saturday, 12 December 2009


Looming population crisis forces officials to rethink one-child policy, but couples hesitate

Ariana Eunjung Cha

The Washington Post, December 12, 2009

SHANGHAI -- Wang Weijia and her husband grew up surrounded by propaganda posters lecturing them that "Mother Earth is too tired to sustain more children" and "One more baby means one more tomb."

They learned the lesson so well that when Shanghai government officials, alarmed by their city's low birthrate and aging population, abruptly changed course this summer and began encouraging young couples to have more than one child, their reaction was instant and firm: No way.

"We have already given all our time and energy for just one child. We have none left for a second," said Wang, 31, a human resources administrator with an 8-month-old son. More than 30 years after China's one-child policy was introduced, creating two generations of notoriously chubby, spoiled only children affectionately nicknamed "little emperors," a population crisis is looming in the country.

The average birthrate has plummeted to 1.8 children per couple as compared with six when the policy went into effect, according to the U.N. Population Division, while the number of residents 60 and older is predicted to explode from 16.7 percent of the population in 2020 to 31.1 percent by 2050. That is far above the global average of about 20 percent.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Thursday, 10 December 2009


Willy Lam

Asia Times, December 11, 2009

Chinese President Hu Jintao has signaled his administration's readiness to play a bigger - and perhaps more constructive - role in global affairs through the release of a five-pronged foreign policy game plan.

Cited by the official Outlook Weekly as "Hu Jintao's Viewpoints about the Times", this far-reaching initiative consists of five theories on, respectively, "the profound changes [in the world situation], constructing a harmonious world, joint development, shared responsibilities and enthusiastic participation [in global affairs]".

In a late November issue of Outlook Weekly (a mouthpiece of the Chinese Communist Party - CCP), ideologue Zhang Xiaotong indicated that the party chief and president's "viewpoints" amounted to a "major theoretical innovation" based on the "scientific judgment of the development and changes of the times."

This ambitious agenda has been unveiled after US President Barack Obama's visit to China and before the Copenhagen climate change summit, two events that could become milestones in the Middle Kingdom's quest for quasi-superpower status.

According to National College of Administration (NCOA) Professor Wang Yukai, Hu's new-look diplomacy marked the first time that a contemporary Chinese leader had arrived at a comprehensive set of theories with an international perspective. He noted that the "viewpoints" would "undoubtedly provide a theoretical guideline for China's future participation in global affairs".

(...) [artículo aquí]

Wednesday, 9 December 2009


Michael Wines

The New York Times, December 10, 2009

PASARKEMIS, Indonesia — In the Dickensian depths of the Dunia Metal Works here, all is cacophony: the bam bam bam of grease-drenched punches; the rhythmic clank of unspooling steel wire; the storm and stress of glinting, freshly minted nails cascading onto a broad metal table for boxing.

But for all the industrial din, Dunia is undergoing a painful slump. Today it runs at 40 percent of its capacity, its domestic nail business imperiled — and its exports wiped out — by cheaper Chinese alternatives.

“We have been competing with the Japanese and the Koreans,” said Juniarto Suhandinata, the factory’s director. “But the Chinese — no chance.”

The Chinese are tough competitors, and Dunia is hardly the first to find out. But Mr. Suhandinata’s lament speaks to something different: a sense of disquiet, even in developing Asian nations in Beijing’s orbit, over the implications of China’s swift, seemingly boundless economic growth.

China has long claimed to be just another developing nation, even as its economic power far outstripped that of any other emerging country.

Now, it is finding it harder to cast itself as a friendly alternative to an imperious American superpower. For many in Asia, it is the new colossus.

(...) [artículo aquí]


M K Bhadrakumar

Asia Times, December 9, 2009

The annual India-Russia summits have had in recent years a worn look. The two countries have gone their separate ways in terms of priorities, though they have kept in touch. Cliches aside, they realize that the hearth remains warm. However, the United States' decline as the lone superpower is adding impetus to a strengthening of the India-Russia relationship.

The Barack Obama administration's new thinking on South Asia has impacted on US-India ties. The US shift has included a more balanced approach to ties with India and Pakistan; a soft-pedaling on the rapid "militarization" of the US-India strategic partnership that started during the George W Bush presidency; and divergent US-Indian perceptions over the Afghan crisis, among others.

But what has most shaken New Delhi is the emerging US-China partnership. US officials underplay the surge in ties with Beijing, saying that as two countries with "shared values", America will forever have more in common with democratic India than with communist China. But there are no serious takers in New Delhi for such diplomatese.

Indian officials can see very well that the balance of global economic power is shifting and the prospects of a near-term US economic recovery seem uncertain. As Niall Ferguson, the well-known economic historian, wrote last week in Newsweek, "This is how empires decline. It begins with a debt explosion. It ends with an inexorable reduction in the resources available for the army, navy and air force."

(...) [artículo aquí]

Tuesday, 8 December 2009



China Daily, December 8, 2009

COPENHAGEN: Developing nations spoke as one on Monday in calling for the continued functioning of the Kyoto Protocol, while the European Union (EU) and the United States differed on what should emerge from two weeks of UN climate talks in Copenhagen.

Speaking on behalf of the Group of 77 and China at the opening plenary session of the UN Climate Change Conference here, head of the Sudanese delegation Ambassador Ibrahim Mirghani Ibrahim said developing countries reject developed countries' objective of "concluding another legally binding instrument that would put together the obligations of developed countries under the Kyoto Protocol and similar actions of developing countries."

"This would revoke the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and historical responsibility under the convention by imposing these obligations as well on developing countries under the guise of a 'shared vision,'" said Ibrahim, referring to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

Under the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, developed countries have committed to reducing their emissions by an average of 5 percent against 1990 levels over the five-year period 2008-2012. Pressure was mounting for developed countries to commit to ambitious targets on emission cuts and funding for developing nations beyond 2012.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Monday, 7 December 2009


Tim Kelly

Forbes, December 7, 2009

Just over four years since it clawed its way out of a consumption-sapping cycle of price slides that sucked the vitality out of Asia's biggest economy, Japan is back in deflation, officially at least. The news wasn't, however, greeted across the archipelago with panic, riots or wailing, just a little hand-wringing, and weary here-we-go-again sighs.

The feeling of deflation deja vu was compound by the nation's central bank response, which amounted to more of the same. The Bank of Japan is keeping the nation awash in corpuscles of cash in the hope that like an over-oxygenated athlete, the Japanese economy might burst into a sprint.

The official return to deflation didn't shock most Japanese, because after two decades of post-bubble stagnation, it never really felt like Japan had left deflation. Many are happy to keep it that way -- after all, how many shoppers are going to complain when goods get cheaper? When wages are shrinking and taxation and social welfare costs are ballooning, people will insist on value for money, especially when they have been overpaying for goods and services for years.

Even after several years of deflation Japan, or Tokyo at least, still features near or at the top of international cost-of-living comparisons. Lots of middlemen, and overstaffing are a few of the reasons why Japanese consumers are squeezed at every step of the distribution chain for what amounts to a de facto charge to keep unemployment low and vested interests vested. The price slide is rightly giving economists the jitters, because unchecked, it could bring the economy to a halt. But the still-high prices paid by Japan's consumers suggest there is a way to go before the nation reaches its equilibrium. The upside is that it will force Japan into the kind of structural change needed to boost productivity that its political leaders dare not suggest.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Sunday, 6 December 2009


David Olive

Toronto Star, December 6, 2009

China's economic transformation has been so rapid that even its abysmal human-rights record is set aside in the minds of economic planners elsewhere, who marvel at a nation whose Industrial Revolution has compressed two centuries of Western industrialization into what seems like a mere two decades.

Even as the West remains in the sick bay, China's continued dynamic growth will see it overtake Japan this year as the world's second-largest economy, and Germany as the world's biggest exporter.

But beneath the veneer of spectacular Chinese infrastructure projects at home and Wal-Mart stores abroad seemingly stocked with nothing but Chinese goods, China remains a poor, developing country without a Western-style social safety net. It remains an exporter with only a nascent consumer economy, heavily reliant on imported technology, and propelled by an artificially devalued currency that effectively takes jobs from other countries, notably its fellow developing nations.

On the latter score, "China's bad behaviour is posing a growing threat to the rest of the world economy," Nobel laureate economist Paul Krugman wrote recently, describing Beijing's persistence despite years of external criticism of refusing to let its currency float the way the loonie does, to the detriment of Canadian exporters.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Friday, 4 December 2009


Aarti Dhar

The Hindu, December 4, 2009

Basic negotiating point is our low per capita income

Between 1990 and 2005, emission intensity went down by 17.6 per cent

NEW DELHI: India on Thursday announced 20-25 per cent carbon emission intensity cuts on the 2005 levels by 2020. This would be done through a series of measures including mandatory fuel efficiency standards for all vehicles, a compulsory green building code and switching over to clean coal technology.

Following a four-hour debate in the Lok Sabha, Minister of State for Environment and Forests (Independent charge), Jairam Ramesh said if nations arrived at a “comprehensive and equitable agreement,” India would be willing to do more but only through voluntary measures.

Reiterating that India would never agree to any legally binding emission cut or accept any agreement that stipulated a ‘peaking’ year for carbon emission, he, however, said the country would be willing to be a “little flexible” depending on the concessions it got for its mitigation action, by way of technology and finance from developed nations.

“Our basic negotiating point is our low per capita income but if India wants to lead the developing nations, we have to offer something during negotiations,” Mr. Ramesh said, adding “India stood for a comprehensive, equitable agreement.”

(...) [artículo aquí]

Thursday, 3 December 2009


Keiko Ujikane

Bloomberg, December 3, 2009

Japanese businesses cut spending at a record pace last quarter, indicating they aren’t yet confident that the recovery from the country’s deepest postwar recession will be sustained.

Capital spending excluding software fell 25.7 percent in the three months ended Sept. 30 from a year earlier, the largest drop since the government began the survey in 1955, the Finance Ministry said today in Tokyo. It was the 10th decline.

The report adds to concerns about an economy that’s already under threat from deflation and the yen’s gain to a 14- year high against the dollar, which is eroding earnings at exporters such as Toyota Motor Corp. The Bank of Japan this week unveiled a 10 trillion yen ($115 billion) credit program, and the government plans to release a spending package to fight price declines and the surging currency.

“It will probably take time before capital investment returns to a sustainable recovery track,” said Naoki Tsuchiyama, market economist at Mizuho Securities Co. in Tokyo. “Concern over a stronger yen and deflation may affect corporate investment with a time lag.”

The Cabinet Office will use today’s report to revise third-quarter gross domestic product figures on Dec. 9. Tsuchiyama said annualized growth may be revised down to about 2.5 percent from the government’s initial figure of 4.8 percent, which was the fastest pace since the start of 2007.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Wednesday, 2 December 2009


Martin Fackler

The New York Times, December 2, 2009

TOKYO — Two months after taking power, Japan’s new leadership is still raising alarms in the United States with its continued scrutiny of the countries’ more than half-century-old security alliance. But this reconsideration is not a pulling away from the United States so much as part of a broader, mostly domestic effort to outgrow Japan’s failed postwar order, say political experts here.

More important, the analysts say, these stirrings may also be the first signs of something that both Tokyo and Washington should have had years ago: a more open dialogue on a security relationship that has failed to keep up with the changing realities in Japan and, more broadly, in Asia.

Even after President Obama’s feel-good visit to Tokyo last month, the government of Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama has begun an inquiry to expose secret cold war-era agreements that allowed American nuclear weapons into Japan and has conducted a rare public review of its financial support for the 50,000 United States military workers based here. This continues the approach taken by Mr. Hatoyama since his Democratic Party scored a historic election victory in August on pledges to build a more equal partnership with Washington.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Tuesday, 1 December 2009


Antoaneta Bezlova

Asia Times, December 1, 2009

BEIJING - The jury is still out on what Beijing and Washington achieved during President Barack Obama's first state visit to China last week. But one trait has emerged more strongly than anything else.

While eager to receive recognition for its star-power economy and financial crisis management, China balked at suggestions of global burden-sharing with the US and rejected the possibility that the Group of Two (G-2) would play a role in shaping the new world order.

Many other sensitive issues were broached only indirectly during Obama's stage-managed visit, but on the subject of G-2 and acting as US partner in global management, Beijing was more than explicit.

"We do not approve of the notion of G-2," Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said. "China is the world's most populous developing nation, and we are very conscious of the long way China has to go before it becomes a modernized country."

Wen praised the importance of US-China cooperation in the current risky international situation, but emphasized that China was going to consider first and foremost its national interests.

(...) [artículo aquí]