Thursday, 28 February 2013




Nirmala George (AP)

Time, February 28, 2013

(NEW DELHI) — India‘s finance minister Thursday unveiled a national budget with a promise to put Asia’s third largest economy back on a path of high growth and to trim the fiscal deficit.

Palaniappan Chidambaram told Parliament that attracting foreign investment was crucial to reversing India’s economic slowdown and getting the nation back to fiscal health. Reducing the budget deficit meant the government had no choice but to cut spending.

The minister announced a temporary tax hike for the “super rich.” The 42,800 people with annual income over 10 million rupees ($186,000) would pay the additional tax for one year.

He also hiked taxes on imported luxury cars and yachts, all of which have become symbols of affluence among India’s upper classes.

There was a marginal increase in defense expenditure with the budget for safeguarding the country increased to 2.03 trillion rupees ($37.7 billion). The budget has a provision for 867.4 billion rupees for India, the world’s top arms and defense equipment buyer, to purchase new defense equipment in the next fiscal year.

(...) [article here]

Wednesday, 27 February 2013


Asia Sentinel


Singapore: China's Population Laboratory Experiment

Asia Sentinel, February 27, 2013

In recent years, fears have grown that China may lose its demographic advantage as the population bulge shifts inexorably towards the aged after three decades of its draconian one-child policy, leaving the country with what is expected to be a static working-age population supporting a vast elderly cohort by 2040.

According to government estimates, those aged 60 or more will reach 216 million in China by 2015, accounting for 16.7 percent of the population. That has raised questions whether it is time to reverse the one-child policy, which according to official figures has kept an astonishing 300 million children - a population the size of the entire Eurozone - from being born since it was instituted in 1979.

It is unlikely that the government will revoke the policy, planners say, although Beijing in recent years has allowed some regions to relax controls. In some cities such as Shanghai and Guangzhou, local governments now allow couples two children if both the husband and wife are the only children of their parents, and in fact the one-child policy has never really effectively been carried out in the countryside, particularly in remote rural areas. It is estimated that the policy applied to 35.9 percent of the population.

In cities such as Shanghai and Beijing, however, the total fertility ratio, the number of children born to mothers of child-bearing age, has fallen to well below replacement levels, as it has in many countries across Asia including Singapore, Japan, Taiwan and South Korea, presenting these countries with a quandary - eventually not enough working-age individuals to support the aged.

(...) [article here]

Tuesday, 26 February 2013


Asia Sentinel


Two-week conclave to set framework for the new era

Steve Wang

Asia Sentinel, February 26, 2013

On March 5, thousands of delegates will arrive in Beijing for the two-week dual Chinese People's Political Consultative Congress and the National Political Conference to formulate the policies that are designed to govern the country for the next year under its new leadership, headed by Xi Jinping and Premier Le Keqiang.

After a decade of relative policymaking quietus under Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao, the new leadership is testing out new ideas and attempting to make progress on cleaning up the country's endemic corruption. Some 27 top party officials were arrested and charged in the early days following the selection of Xi and Le, raising concerns among the cadres that the two were going too far too fast, to the point where their anti-corruption campaign could lead to party chaos and even hold back the A-share market, with the Ministry of Commerce reporting sharp declines in consumption at high-end dining venues, liquors and business gifts during the lunar holiday period.

This year's NPC agenda includes considering restructuring the State Council and scrutinizing and approving development plans. Some of these tasks, particularly restructuring, are expected to be challenging because of the presence of vested interests whose positions would inevitably be threatened by reform and it is questionable if they can be pushed very dramatically.

(...) [article here]

Monday, 25 February 2013




Ju-min Park

Reuters, February 25, 2013

SEOUL (Reuters) - South Korea's new president Park Geun-hye urged North Korea on Monday to abandon its nuclear ambitions, and to stop wasting its scarce resources on arms, less than two weeks after the country carried out its third nuclear test.

In her inauguration speech, the country's first female president, also called on South Koreans to help revive the nation's export-dependent economy whose trade is threatened by neighboring Japan's weak yen policy.

Park, the 61-year-old daughter of South Korea's former military ruler Park Chung-hee, met with the father of North Korea's current ruler in 2002 and offered the impoverished and isolated neighbor aid and trade if it abandoned its nuclear program.

"I urge North Korea to abandon its nuclear ambitions without delay and embark on the path to peace and shared development," Park said after being inaugurated on Monday.

Park, usually an austere and demure figure in her public appearances, wore an olive-drab military style jacket and lavender scarf on Monday and smiled broadly and waved enthusiastically as a 70,000 strong crowd cheered her.

(...) [article here]

Sunday, 24 February 2013


The Nation


Imran Malik

The Nation, February 24, 2013

As the US/Nato/Isaf combine prepares to egress the AfPak Region (APR), we find Pakistan and China manoeuvring decisively into strategically advantageous positions in the region. Their strategic interests are converging on a grand scale at Gwadar - the centre of gravity and future strategic and economic hub of the South-Central Asian Region (SCAR)-Greater Middle East Region (GMER) complex.

Gwadar sits literally at the mouth of the strategically vital Straits of Hormuz. The leverage it provides is priceless. Its strategic location makes it ideal for any power intending to secure its energy sources in the region or to dominate the SCAR-GMER complex, including all Sea Lines of Communication (SLOCs) to and from the Persian Gulf.

Furthermore, naval forces stationed at Gwadar or other Makran Coast ports could potentially foray deep into the Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean too, even impacting east-west trade.

A sea-land trade route to and from western or southern Europe to Russia via the Mediterranean, Suez Canal, (North Africa and the Middle East), Red and Arabian seas, Gwadar (Pakistan), Afghanistan and the CARs could integrate regional economies and create mutually-beneficial interdependencies. From Gwadar, another link could be created with the Xinjiang province in western China, thus cutting by thousands the kilometres Chinese ships would have to travel to and from China through the Malacca Straits. India also could be accommodated at some appropriate stage. Gwadar could provide trans-shipment facilities for the entire region. An exhaustive network of roads and railways, therefore, needs to be developed in the Gwadar hinterland connecting it with Xinjiang, Iran, Turkey, Afghanistan, CARs and Russia.

(...) [article here]

Saturday, 23 February 2013


IBT logo


Jacey Fortin

International Business Times, February 23, 2013

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and U.S. President Barack Obama met for a bilateral summit at the White House on Friday, talking behind closed doors over lunch before addressing the media.

This meeting -- the first between the two leaders -- was a significant event for Obama given the administration’s so-called “pivot” to Asia, which seeks to strengthen partnerships in the region and curtail China’s growing hegemony there.

But it was even more important for Abe, who was just elected in December and whose vision for Japan marks a departure from administrations past. The conservative politician campaigned on promises of military strength and loose monetary policies meant to beat endemic deflation.

“As a result of our discussion, we were able to share our understanding on not just concrete policy but on the direction to which our alliance is headed. I think I can declare with confidence that the trust and the bond in our alliance is back,” Abe said at the press briefing that followed the talks.

The two leaders have much in common -- first and foremost are their ambitious plans to spur economic revitalizations after years of recession in their home countries. That made trade cooperation a key issue for both leaders as they laid a foundation for their new diplomatic partnership.

(...) [article here]

Friday, 22 February 2013


The New York Times OK


Martin Fackler

The New York Times, February 22, 2013

TOKYO – Japan has asked the Chinese government to explain why Chinese ships have strategically placed several buoys in the East China Sea near a group of disputed islands, a Japanese government spokesman said Friday.

The spokesman, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, told reporters that ships from China’s State Oceanic Administration, which is similar to the coast guard, had placed the buoys last week in Chinese-controlled waters near the islands, known as the Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in Chinese. The uninhabited islands have been controlled by Japan for decades, but are claimed by China and also Taiwan.

Japanese media reported the buoys might be used to track Japanese submarines in waters around the uninhabited islands, where Japanese and Chinese ships have chased each other in recent months. If so, their placement could represent another step in an ominous escalation in the standoff, which began with coast guard and other non-military ships, but has recently begun to involve more heavily armed navy ships.

Tensions over the islands flared up in September, after the Japanese government announced that it would buy three of the five islands from their private owner, setting off violent street protests in China. The Chinese government responded by sending oceanic administration and other non-military ships into Japanese-claimed waters on almost a daily basis.

Earlier this month, tensions seemed to rise when Japan said that a Chinese navy frigate had briefly used a missile-directing radar to make a target of a Japanese military ship. China has denied doing that.

(...) [article here]

Thursday, 21 February 2013


Asia Times


Walden Bello

Asia Times, February 21, 2013

Over the last two years, the Obama administration has executed what the president has termed the "Pivot to Asia" strategy, whereby the United States' global military force posture is being reconfigured to focus on the Asia-Pacific region as Washington's central front.

Movement has been rapid, with Washington expanding its naval exercises with Japan, sending marines to Australia, conducting military exercises in the Philippines with its allies, and supporting the negotiating positions of the Philippines and Vietnam on the dispute over the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea, or what Filipinos now call the West Philippine Sea. Sixty percent of the US Navy's strength has been deployed to the Western Pacific.

Containment of China is the aim of the pivot strategy, which has drawn criticism from liberal critics of the policy like Robert Ross, a professor of Political Science at Boston University and a China expert. Writing in the November-December issue of Foreign Affairs, Ross acknowledges that China's actions in the South China Sea - including claiming the whole area as Chinese territorial waters - come across as aggressive. However, the pivot, he claims, is based on "a fundamental misreading of China's leadership," which Ross says is now given to "appeasing an increasingly nationalist public with symbolic gestures of force".

For Ross, China's increasingly bellicose rhetoric stems less from expansionist intent than from the insecurities brought about by high-speed growth followed by economic crisis. Long dependent for its legitimacy on delivering economic growth, domestic troubles related to the global financial crisis have left the Communist Party leadership groping for a new ideological justification, which it has found in nationalism. Countering China's rhetoric with a military cordon sanitaire, says Ross, would deepen the "insecurities" of Beijing, heightening the possibility of an outbreak of conflict while losing China's cooperation in managing conflicts such as the crisis in Syria.

(...) [article here]

Wednesday, 20 February 2013


The Hankyoreh


At a forum in Seoul, Robert Gallucci says the Koreas, China and the US should cooperate to find a solution to tensions

Kang Tae-ho

The Hankyoreh, February 20, 2013

A former US State Department aide who played a critical role in the Agreed Framework between the US and North Korea in 1994 said on Feb. 19 that diplomatic engagement on the North Korean issue may be the best way of reaching a resolution.

Robert Gallucci, current president of the MacArthur Foundation, discussed the limitations of Washington’s North Korea policy over the past two decades in a keynote speech at the 2013 Asan Nuclear Forum. The event was held in Seoul at the Grand Hyatt Hotel, organized by the Asan Institute for Policy Studies, an organization headed by chairman Ham Jae-bong.

In his speech, Gallucci said US policies of engagement and isolation had both failed at reducing North Korea’s threat to the region. He went on to say that if North Korea was developing nuclear weapons for an armed effort to reunify the peninsula and attack the US, it might be possible to avoid a military clash, but it would be impossible to truly ease regional tensions.

At the same time, he expressed, “It’s my conclusion that the best approach to the current situation is the same one adopted 20 years, namely diplomatic engagement to determine whether Pyongyang is developing nuclear weapons to protect is own regime, verify the genuineness of its intentions, and look for the possibility of a political resolution to tensions.”

(...) [article here]

Tuesday, 19 February 2013




James Zumwalt, February 19, 2013

HERNDON, Va., Feb. 19 (UPI) -- In the 1976 psychological drama "Taxi Driver," Robert De Niro plays a socially outcast cab driver. In a real-life drama today, North Korea's Kim Jong Un is an internationally isolated world leader. In both roles, these characters communicate messages delivered with a sense of bravado, taunting a non-existing threat.

In an iconic scene in the movie, De Niro, alone in his room, is on an adrenaline high precipitated by insomnia. Looking in the mirror, he challenges no one with, "You talkin' to me? Well, I'm the only one here! You talkin' to me?"

In North Korea, Kim Jong Un is on an adrenaline high due to the success of his country's third nuclear test -- this on a device purportedly smaller and lighter than the others and, thus, capable of placement into a long-range missile.

Issuing his challenge, the well-fed leader -- a giant compared to his diminutive, underfed countrymen -- warns he will take further steps if the United States maintains its "hostile approach" toward North Korea. Trying to create the illusion of a U.S. threat where none exists, Kim taunts an America perceived to be the lion from the Wizard of Oz -- i.e., lacking the courage of its convictions.

Pyongyang knows there is nothing to fear from U.S. foreign policy toward the North -- whether under a Republican or Democratic president, whether the talk is tough or not, whether sanctions were increased or lifted -- for such policy has always failed to influence its conduct away from aggression and nuclear armament.

Years of U.S. and South Korean appeasement have only served to encourage it. As a result, for years, the United States and South Korea have repeatedly been victimized by unprovoked aggression. To this day, a U.S. warship remains in North Korean hands as a continuing reminder of it.

(...) [article here]

Monday, 18 February 2013


The Hankyoreh


Instead of narrow focus on denuclearization, former US diplomat says broader cooperation is needed among Washington, Beijing and Seoul

Park Hyun

The Hankyoreh, February 18, 2013

Stephen Bosworth, a former United States Special Representative for North Korea policy, said on Feb. 15 that the North Korean nuclear program should be addressed through a comprehensive approach instead of being treated as an isolated issue.

Bosworth’s comments came during a closed-door conference on North Korea policy held by Stanford University’s Walter H. Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center, headed by director Gi-wook Shin.

Bosworth also said he believed North Korea’s recent activities suggested that it was time for the US government to take the threat more seriously.

According to Bosworth, a comprehensive approach may include establishing a peace treaty on the Korean Peninsula to replace the armistice agreement, and conducting negotiations on energy and economic aid to North Korea.

(…) [article here]

Sunday, 17 February 2013


The Express Tribune


Expert­s say it would slash thousa­nds of kilome­ters off the distan­ce oil and gas import­s from Africa.


The Express Tribune, February 17, 2013

ISLAMABAD: China’s acquisition of a strategic port in Pakistan is the latest addition to its drive to secure energy and maritime routes and gives it a potential naval base in the Arabian Sea, unsettling India.

The Pakistani cabinet on January 30 approved the transfer of Gwadar port, a commercial failure cut off from the national road network, from Singapore’s PSA International to the state-owned China Overseas Port Holdings Limited.

The Pakistanis pitched the deal as an energy and trade corridor that would connect China to the Arabian Sea and Strait of Hormuz, a gateway for a third of the world’s traded oil, overland through an expanded Karakoram Highway.

Experts say it would slash thousands of kilometers off the distance oil and gas imports from Africa and the Middle East have to be transported to reach China, making Gwadar a potentially vital link in its supply chain.

China paid about 75 per cent of the initial $250 million used to build the port, but in 2007 PSA International won a 40-year lease with then-ruler Pervez Musharraf who was reportedly unwilling to upset Washington by giving it to the Chinese.

Although it may take up to a year for the deal to be signed, Gwadar would be the most westerly in a string of Chinese-funded ports encircling its big regional rival, India, which was quick to express concern over the impending transfer.

In Nepal, China is building a $14 million “dry port” at Larcha, near the Tibet border, along with five other ports and and is upgrading transport links with an eye to the huge Indian market.

(...) [article here]

Saturday, 16 February 2013




Rajeev Sharma

FirstPost., Feb 16, 2013

India is bolstering its defences vis-a-vis China in a big way and is set to spend at least $15 billion for China-specific military activities by 2017.

Though the scale of the Indian military preparation is grossly small compared to what China has already done with regard to India, it gives a sense of how much China has been dominating Indian military thinking and strategy over the past few years.

George Fernandes was the first Indian Defence Minister to have gone on record in describing China as India’s “potential enemy one.”

The then Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee had corroborated this articulation immediately in the wake of the May 1998 Pokharan-II nuclear tests by explaining to the world powers that the Indian move was in response to the threats posed by Chinese nuclear weapons.

Since then China has officially replaced Pakistan as India’s number one threat perception.

(...) [article here]

Sunday, 10 February 2013


The Hindu


By 2030, the maximum growth in energy demand will be from emerging economies, says a recent survey

Sujay Mehdudia

The Hindu, February 10, 2013

With continuing steep economic growth, major emerging economies such as China and India are likely to become increasingly reliant on energy imports. Such shifts will have a major impact on trade balances, says the latest Energy Outlook Survey 2030 released by BP.

The Outlook’s overall expectation for growth in global energy demand by 2030 is little changed from last year, with demand expected to be 36 per cent higher in 2030 than 2011 and almost all the growth coming from emerging economies.

However, expectations of the pattern of supply of this growth are shifting strongly, with unconventional sources — shale gas and tight oil together with heavy oil and bio-fuels — playing an increasingly important role. Growing production from unconventional sources is expected to provide all of the net growth in global oil supply till 2020, and over 70 per cent of growth by 2030.

BP Group Chief Executive Bob Dudley said fears over oil running out – to which BP has never subscribed – appear increasingly groundless. “The US will not be increasingly dependent on energy imports, with energy set to reinvigorate its economy. And China and India are expected to need a lot more imports to keep growing,’’ he added.

(...) [article here]

Saturday, 9 February 2013


Asahi Shimbun



The Asahi Shimbun, February 9, 2013

The administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has taken a first step toward allowing Japan to exercise its right to collective self-defense. At Abe's request, an advisory council of experts has begun to discuss the issue.

Abe says the move is aimed at strengthening Japan's security alliance with the United States.

In what way, then, does he want to change the bilateral alliance? Won't the change that he envisions set the stage for a gradual erosion of the pacifist principles of the postwar Constitution?

Abe should offer clear answers to these and other key questions at the outset of the policy debate on this issue.

If Japan were to exercise its right to collective self-defense, it would regard an attack on the United States, Japan’s ally, as an attack against itself and mobilize its Self-Defense Forces to fight against the attacker along with the United States.

In the postwar period, Japan has consistently held the position that its use of armed force must be limited to the minimum necessary for self-defense under the restrictions imposed by the war-renouncing Constitution.

(...) [article here]

Friday, 8 February 2013


The New York Times OK


Chris Buckley

The New York Times, February 8, 2013

HONG KONG - China on Friday denied directing a radar capable of aiding weapon strikes at a Japanese naval vessel and helicopter near disputed islands, instead accusing Japan of fanning tensions, in the latest exchange to lay bare festering discord between the two countries.

The Chinese Ministry of Defense’s account of the two incidents stood starkly at odds with one given on Tuesday by Japan’s Ministry of Defense, which said that on Jan. 30 a Chinese military vessel trained a radar used to help direct weapons on a Japanese naval destroyer near the islands in the East China Sea. Japan also said that a Chinese frigate directed the same kind of radar at one of its military helicopters on Jan. 19.

Because using such “fire-control” radar can precede an attack, the Japanese defense minister. Itsunori Onodera, said that a misstep “could have pushed things into a dangerous situation.”

China’s first substantial response to the allegations amounted to a wholesale denial – which only deepened the puzzle of what happened, and who made any of the alleged decisions to use the radar. Japan promptly rejected the statement.

When Chinese naval vessels encountered the helicopter and destroyer in the East China Sea, their radar had “maintained normal observational alertness, and there was no use of fire-control radar,” said a statement issued on the Chinese defense ministry’s Web site on Friday. The statement was first issued by state media late on Thursday Beijing time. It did not explain what was meant by “normal observational alertness.”

(...) [article here]

Thursday, 7 February 2013




Unni Krishnan

Bloomberg, February 7, 2013

India forecast the weakest economic growth in a decade as subdued investment and elevated inflation add pressure on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to extend policy changes and revive his development agenda.

Gross domestic product will rise 5 percent in the 12 months through March 2013, below last year’s 6.2 percent and the least since 4 percent in 2002-2003, a Central Statistical Office statement showed in New Delhi today. The median of 34 estimates in a Bloomberg News survey was 5.5 percent.

India faces inflation of more than 7 percent, one of the fastest levels in major emerging nations, limiting the extent the central bank can cut interest rates to spur expansion. The government has vowed spending curbs to damp price gains as it prepares to unveil the annual budget, part of a wider policy overhaul since September to lure capital inflows and ease bottlenecks by speeding up infrastructure projects.

“Putting out a number like this says that we need to get our act together,” said Vishnu Varathan, an economist at Mizuho Corporate Bank Ltd. in Singapore. India faces a modest recovery and the government needs to maintain the push to spur the economy, he said.

(...) [article here]

Wednesday, 6 February 2013


IHT Rendez Vous


Didi Kirsten Tatlow

IHT Rendezvous, February 6, 2013

BEIJING - China has a "phantom province" pumping out nearly 5.8 trillion renminbi (about $925 billion) in gross domestic product last year, about equivalent to the output of its richest province, Guangdong, Chinese media reported this week.

How so?

Deliberately inflated figures from local officials are largely to blame, domestic media reported, as officials seek promotion for delivering the high growth demanded by the state. And the problem of systemic exaggeration in the economy is growing, not shrinking, as the country becomes richer and is increasingly integrated into the global economy.

The world is accustomed to remarkable growth from China, which is now the world's second-largest economy after zooming up the list to overtake Germany and Japan, and is projected by some to challenge the economic dominance of the United States. And other nations have grown accustomed to looking to China to drive global growth with those high numbers. As Yi Gang, the deputy governor of the People's Bank of China, the central bank, said at the World Economic Forum in Davos last month, "I think China's growth rate will be about 8 percent this year."

Yet back home, officials are faced with figures that can be off the mark by millions, billions or trillions of renminbi, meaning no one is entirely sure what's going on. (The government in Beijing has its own way of dealing with the problem: the incoming prime minister, Li Keqiang, once reportedly said financial data in China was "man-made" and he relied instead on three indicators: electricity consumption, rail cargo and bank loans.)

This week, Chinese media reported widely on China's "phantom province," the GDP excess that resulted when the economic growth figures from 31 provinces, municipalities and regions were added up and compared to the different, national GDP figure that the government uses. In 2012, the discrepancy reached a remarkable 5.76 trillion renminbi, its biggest ever and the equivalent of the output of Guangdong province, itself an economic powerhouse, the media said.

(...) [article here]

Tuesday, 5 February 2013



Persistently high levels of investment are producing diminishing returns and may signal a correction.

Nick Ferguson

Finance Asia, February 5, 2013

You can’t keep a good China bull down. After a brief flirtation with notions of a hard landing, the conventional wisdom now has it that China is poised to resume its inexorable rise to global superpower.

It is not entirely clear why the mood has changed. China has a new deck of leaders, as nobody could have failed to notice, but they are hardly very different from the old ones — and, in the meantime, the country’s other problems haven’t gone away.

Questionable accounting, unaffordable housing, tainted food and corrupt officials are all proving hard to resolve. There is also the small issue of Beijing’s hazardous “fog”, which has become a very visible example of a negative externality. But all these problems would fade into insignificance if China’s tentative recovery were to falter.

There are reasons to fear that may be the case. China continues to run the highest investment-to-GDP ratio in the world and, despite the cooling effects of the global financial crisis, its economy may be suffering from a serious investment overhang.

Indeed, Standard & Poor’s estimates that China’s overinvestment poses a downside risk of $800 billion. The rating agency has conducted a study of investment levels in 32 countries in the run-up to two crises — the Asian financial crisis and the most recent global financial crisis — and concludes that China is at the highest risk of an investment-induced correction.

(...) [article here]

Monday, 4 February 2013




Kenji Minemura

The Asahi Shimbun, February 4, 2013

BEIJING--China’s response to the Senkaku Islands dispute is now under the direct command and coordination of a top-level task force of the Communist Party of China, led by General Secretary Xi Jinping.

A source close to the Communist Party said the creation of the new task force, said to be modeled after the U.S. National Security Council, means that the dispute has become one of the most important issues for China along with reunification with Taiwan and others.

Tensions between Japan and China are mounting over the five uninhabited islands in the East China Sea.

Military sources told The Asahi Shimbun that the two countries scrambled fighter jets several times on Jan. 19, although no announcements were made publicly.

Two Jian-10 fighters took off from an air base outside Shanghai and followed a U.S. airborne warning and control aircraft, which carries a surveillance system for tracking other planes, north of the Senkaku Islands at a close distance, the sources said.

Two F-15 fighters of the Air Self-Defense Force then took off to counter the Chinese move, the sources said.

(...) [article here]

Sunday, 3 February 2013


People's Daily


The tottering global economy and slowing growth rate at home make it important to transform economic development model

Zhang Yansheng

People's Daily, February 3, 2013

The decision of the 2013 Central Economic Working Conference is to raise the quality of economic growth and make it more result-oriented by focusing on "six musts".

The first is expediting economic restructuring. The second is transforming the pattern of economic development to ensure that it is based on expanding domestic demand. The third is continuing to work effectively on agriculture, rural areas and farmers, as well as advancing urban-rural integration. The fourth is continuous implementation of the strategy to invigorate China, and boost its economic and social development. The fifth is prioritizing people's interest above everything else and working tirelessly for people's well-being so that development benefits reach the whole nation in a fairer manner. And the last is deepening reform in an all-round way, clearing obstacles in the system that hinder development, proactively implementing the opening-up strategy and creating a competitive edge.

The key to fulfilling the "six musts" lies in handling the relations between steady economic growth in the short term, economic restructuring in the intermediate term and systematic transformation in the long run.

The prospect of global economic growth, however, remains troubling in 2013.

First, the global economy will continue to grow slowly this year, for it has not fully recovered from the global financial crisis of 2008. For example, the International Monetary Fund had forecast that the global economic growth rate in 2012 would be 3.3 percent, the lowest since 2009, and lowered China's and India's growth rates to 7.8 percent and 4.9 percent.

(...) [article here]

Saturday, 2 February 2013


The Star


Andrew Sheng

The Star Online, February 2, 2013

WHEN Shinzo Abe became Japanese Prime Minister on Boxing Day last year, he promised to deliver change.

Very shortly, he announced a 10.3 trillion yen (US$116bil or 2.2% of GDP) stimulus package to end deflation and pressured the Bank of Japan (BOJ) to adopt a 2% inflation target. As a result, the stock market index Nikkei jumped 28.3% from mid-November to current levels and the yen weakened by 20.1% from 75.7 to 90.9, its lowest level in over two years.

Such action has already provoked muttering about another currency war, invoked by Russian, German and South Korean officials.

Are we moving from a trade war to a currency war? Not yet.

Firstly, the global imbalance is already ameliorating, with the Japanese current account surplus declining sharply due to rising oil import costs. Secondly, all reserve currency central banks (European Central Bank, Fed, Bank of England and BOJ) claim they only have inflation targeting, rather than exchange-rate targeting. In other words, currency rates are a consequence of the monetary policy, not a target. And we all know that if everyone devalues at the same time, there is no advantage to any single country. Since the world moved off the gold standard in 1971, everyone is aware that competitive devaluation ends up with no winners.

[article here]

Friday, 1 February 2013




Yonhap News, February 1, 2013

SEOUL, Feb. 1 (Yonhap) -- North Korea's planned third nuclear test will have greater significance than the two previous detonations and could fundamentally change the security environment on the Korean Peninsula, Seoul's unification minister said Friday.

In a meeting with ministry officials, Yu Woo-ik claimed the overall situation facing South Korea remains grave and made clear that it is wrong to view the expected atomic detonation in the same light as the tests conducted in 2006 and 2009.
"The first and second tests can be seen as part of Pyongyang's efforts to develop nuclear capability, while a third detonation could mean it is in the final stages (of making weapons)," he claimed.

Pyongyang has repeatedly denounced the U.N Security Council resolution passed last week that condemned its launch of a long-range rocket on Dec. 12, warning it will develop its nuclear deterrence to meet external challenges.

(...) [article here]