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Scurrying Bao: Another Hysteria over Personal Responsibility?

May 14th, 2009 27 comments

Named after Running Fan, an overseas Chinese student surnamed Bao has been given the moniker Scurrying Bao (包窜窜) by angry netizens for becoming the first case of H1N1 flu in China.

The story is like this:

Bao, an outstanding graduate of University of Science and Technology of China (USTC), currently studies Physics at the University of Missouri. He was going back to Sichuan to get married. On May 7, he took a flight from St. Louis to St. Paul, then to Tokyo, and finally arriving in Beijing on May 8, where he stayed one night at a hotel.
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Categories: News Tags: ,

512 Wenchuan Earthquake

May 12th, 2009 26 comments

Today is the Anniversary of the Wenchuan Earthquake. In the past year, I have treasured a number of particularly powerful photographs that epitomized this event. I share them with you now with no further comment, because they can tell this story of great tragedy and even greater hope, in ways that no words can.
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My Tibetan Students and I

April 29th, 2009 315 comments

The following essay (translated below) written by somebody named “Crystal” was posted to Woeser’s blog. I am not sure that is the origin of the article, as some attribute it to 《联合早报》 (their version here). But it has been slowly spreading since to other sites like Anti-CNN, MITBBS, and Minkaohan forums. I think it’s a very good essay, informative and incisive.

I will also post some comments from those other sites. Feel free to chime in.

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Categories: education, General Tags:

People of the world unite?!

April 25th, 2009 3 comments

Here is a light topic. Since last year’s parody song “Say a word in heart”, singing songs in a foreign language — if you can call it that — has been raised to a totally new level. You’ve probably even heard the stomach-churning subsequent parodies of “Shanghai beach”, “Spicy girl”, and even the Peking Opera standard “Su san qi jie”, but alas this genre has mercifully run its short course.

On the other hand, there are more serious foreign language translations of songs, too. Just today, I discovered really nice versions of translated national anthems. Most anthems tend to be specific to a national consciousness, metrically prosidic, and so difficult to convey well in a different language context, but these two versions are quite good, I thought! What say you?
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Categories: Uncategorized Tags: ,

other foot, form of flattery, crab meat

April 18th, 2009 56 comments

Here is something interesting. Please read to the end.

Tibetan Leader’s Secession Talk Stirs Furor

PARIS (AFP) — The Dalai Lama has touched off a political uproar by expressing sympathy for Tibetans who want to secede from China. His comments have made him a darling of exiled Tibetans, a target of abuse on Chinese state television and a target of criticism from regional Communist officials.

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Categories: aside, politics Tags: , ,

My Story and the Chinese Dream Behind It

April 17th, 2009 9 comments

Bai Yansong (here’s his biography), the famed CCTV anchor, was on a trip to film his travels and observations in the US, when he gave this following speech at Yale University recently. (Here is the original.) It has a “commencement speech” style to it and is of general interest. Here is a translation for your consumption.

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Categories: General Tags: , ,

"Surprisingly", Compulsory Education is Free!

April 14th, 2009 47 comments

Education is important to China’s future, and education reform has been a long drawn-out complex process, which people of all stripes agree has basically been inadequate. From the early days of Project Hope corruption to the current education spending that still hasn’t reached the 4%-of-GDP target set by the central government, people have much to complain about. Among all the problems, one most depressing had to have been that basic primary/secondary education required all kinds of fees and therefore no universal access to education existed.

Recently, this topic of compulsory education came up again in the news, and the focus is again on whether the government does not have the resources or will to further invest in education. Here is a translated commentary that will open our debate here. It is seen on the China Elections & Governance web site (joint project between Carter Center and Renmin University), itself a treasure trove of current policy thinking.
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Categories: education Tags: ,

Oh ~ Black Blind Island, Welcome Home

October 15th, 2008 24 comments

On October 14, half of Heixiazi Island (lit. black blind island) was transferred from Russia to China, completing the last piece of the border settlement pact signed by the two countries in the mid-1990’s. Back in the day, Jiang Zemin took a lot of heat for signing this, because it was felt by some that China had lost a claim on the much larger Sixty-Four Villages area of Qing-era Outer Manchuria.
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Lessons for China from the world financial crisis

October 8th, 2008 45 comments

With Iceland close to bankruptcy and the world’s financial system going to hell, China stands somewhat apart in its relative isolation. Asia Times has an intriguing article on this:

“In the past, China has been blamed for the low-degree of internationalization of its financial industries. Now it seems we are profiting from this ‘fault’,” the commentary said.

Many Chinese economists share this view. “Our not-fully-open financial system and not-fully-convertible currency saved China from being rattled during the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis. And now again this seems to be a strong dam to protect us against the current financial tsunami,” an economics researcher with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) said.

“It is evident that the financial industries cannot become entirely market oriented. The semi-market, semi-government-control system may prove a better [system]. The problem in China is that the part of government control is too big and thus reforms are needed to deregulate.”

In early September, Steven N S Cheung, a Hong Kong-born Chinese-American economist living in exile in China, being wanted by the US government for alleged tax evasion, claimed that China “has formed the best system in the history of human kind”.

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(to be translatated) Historical rural land reform in China

October 6th, 2008 3 comments

http://www.cnstock.com/jryw/2008-09/08/content_3649461.htm

中国目前已经迈入统一地权的历史性门槛。

  9月中旬,记者从可靠渠道获悉,《土地管理法》的修改已经正式列入将于10月份举行的中央重要会议的立法规划,农村建设用地管理将会出现转折性变革。据悉,在此次会议上确定的关于修改土地制度的核心就在改革征地制度上。

  “从决策层面上来讲,大家已经对这次土地改革充满信心,而此次改革也将对中国的房地产、城镇化等方面带来巨大的影响。”一位知情人士对记者说。

  “统一地权”起步

  “土地改革之路依然很漫长,但是它已经走出了第一步。”上述知情人士说。

  据他透露,在今年10月的这次重要会议上,立法热点将是以农村集体建设用地依法流转为重点的《土地管理法》的修改,而此次修改将主要依据2004年国务院发布的28号文件,在这个《关于深化改革严格土地管理的决定》中强调,“在符合规划的前提下,村庄、集镇、建制镇中的农民集体所有建设用地使用权可以依法流转。”

  “可以看出,早在4年前,国务院就已经为土地相关法律的修改和制定做了铺垫,而此次土地法律的修改也将在28号文件之下进行,这是个底线。”上述人士对记者说。

  据他透露,此次土地改革的目标应该是,在保持关于现行国家和集体土地所有制度不变的前提下,建立起城市与农村不同的土地拥有统一使用权的体系,要把农村集体建设用地确保为法定不动产,其转让过程也要按照不动产进行转让,而由此也将形成全国统一的土地使用权法律体系,将体现平等性、有偿性、期限性。

  在实行的具体方式上,此次改革可能将遵循“总体保障、分期实现”的原则,就是将通过法律的修改来实现农民住房和农村建设用地的商品化,将用分重点、分区域、分期的方式来进行三步走,而在此基础上,耕地政策仍然保持现有法律不变。

  难在利益平衡

  据记者了解,“统一地权论”最早的提出者是知名经济学者武建东,他21年前在国务院的房改办工作,按照他的说法,那时的主要工作是解决国有企业、地方政府盖房子缺钱的问题。

  “当时并没有考虑到将城镇和村级住宅一体化流通,也没有考虑到土地市场的重要,现在看来,一体化土地改革是一个绕不开的节点。”武建东对记者说。

  一个原因是,我国目前已经进入高速的现代化阶段,而此时所需要的建设用地量比以往翻倍增长。来自国土资源部的信息表明,我国现在能利用的建设性土地大约在500万平方公里,而其中农村、园地、林地等面积占到近70%,广阔的农村集体用地将是新增的国有建设用地的主要来源,但如何转化一直是一个难题。

  “在过去,有的地方政府以廉价的征地方式解决建设开发使用,造成了对农民利益的损害,如何以一种公平的方式来平衡两者之间的矛盾,是此次改革中要考虑的一个重要因素。”中央党校研究室专家曹新对记者表示。

  在武建东看来,这个过程可以通过土地使用权的直接流转和买卖来解决。据他分析,目前农村集体建设用地有两个使用主体,一是农村的集体建设用地,随着我国城镇化和农村工业化,这种建设用地的使用已经远远超出我国目前的土地管理系统的监管,正成为我国农村资本积累的重要来源,这种转化过程被称之为土地流转;另一个是城市化建设对郊区土地的征用,而这也是在我国东部发达地区城市采取的一种模式,是地方政府与企业利润的重要来源,这被称之为买卖。

  据国土部门的统计显示,目前农民的住房面积在200多亿平方米(约合0.3亿亩),农村集体建设用地的面积是4亿亩,按照武建东的说法就是将这两块内容直接转入我国的市场经济体系。

  “这200多亿平方米的住宅如果按照村镇的平均800元的成本造价计算,价值是20万亿元人民币,而4亿亩的农村建设用地的价值也在100万亿元人民币以上,如果实现了这一计划,那么农民的财产将体现真正价值,农村的市场经济体系也将重新构架。”武建东说。

  曹新在日前对全国百强县昆山的调研中发现,在这个外资和民营经济都异常发达的地方,有不少农民以村级为单位与企业签订了土地使用协议,一些农民选择了以土地入股的形式加入企业,分享企业发展所带来的收益,在年终的时候可以享受企业的分红;另一些农民则选择了一次性补偿。

  在曹新看来,推行地权统一的最大阻力还来自于地方政府。他分析,在过去,一些县级市没有独自收税的权力,在上缴国家利税后才能留取一部分资金做财政用,但这些钱远不够维持开销,因此对农民进行征地,再卖给企业一直是地方政府财政收入的主要来源,“如果地权统一了,农民的土地直接进入市场了,那也就等于绕过了地方政府,这必将遭到一些地方政府的反对。”

  重庆试点之鉴

  在此前,重庆的农地流转试点已经展开一年多。早在去年年初,试点就在重庆九龙区展开,而今已经建立了完整的体系。据记者了解,目前重庆在探索土地流转方面有三种方式,分别是在不改变其农业用地的性质下,对经营方式进行调整;集中配置宅基地等非农业用地资源,来释放更多的非农用地;如果可由农业用地改为城市用地,为征地动迁的农民将获得现金+股份补偿。

  重庆九龙坡区农业系统的一位人士告诉记者,目前在该区进行农地流转试点中,采取的主要是“住房换宅基地、社保换承包地”模式,而经过这一模式,就可将农地转换成城市建设用地,而当地政府则向农民提供新建设的集中居住区以及一次性的资金补贴。而农民退出的承包地将由各村的土地流转服务站统一管理和经营,在此方面所产生的收益80%归退出农民所有,20%将用于退出者的社保投入。

  此外,九龙坡区政府还在去年出台了《九龙坡区农村土地承包经营权流转管理试行办法》,建立了土地流转风险保障、土地承包仲裁等相关制度,各镇设立农村土地流转服务中心,各村设立农村土地承包流转服务站,承担土地流转供求登记,代表村民协商价格、签订合同等职能。

  记者从重庆九龙坡区农林水利局了解到,目前在九龙坡区成立镇农村土地承包仲裁委员会10个,镇农村土地承包流转服务中心10个,村设立农村土地承包流转服务站92个。通过这些机构的运作,目前该区流转土地面积4.3万亩,占总耕地面积的20.3%,而目前这一串儿数字还在不断变大。

  “这些机构将会为农民出让土地的一系列过程服务,包括从转让意向到最后的法律纠纷都有专门的机构来进行解决。”水利局的一位人士告诉记者。

  但农地流转试点也非一帆风顺。

  一位参与此次课题调研的专家告诉记者,在重庆等地进行的土地流转过程中,关于土地租金和房屋赔偿金的定价上,农民并没有话语权,一直处于被动的接受过程,“很多流转依然不属于市场行为,和官方征用土地区别并不是很大。”

  据该专家说,在重庆九龙坡进行的农地流转中,农民的土地租金是按照农民的种粮收入的标准来计算的,一般每亩在1000元到1500元之间,而房屋的拆迁补偿标准大都在200元每平方米左右,“这个定价存在一定的不合理性,土地的价值每年都在增高,而农民却不能参与土地升值的收益分配。”

  一个现实是,有些农民在参与流转加入社保之后,每个月大概只能拿到300多元,生活水平还比原先出现了下降的情况。“这说明,重庆模式并不能完全作为地权统一过程中的标本,它还有很多有待于完善的地方。”上述参与调研的专家说。(中国经营报)

Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

US arms sales to Taiwan "a slap to Wen Jiabao's face"?

October 4th, 2008 297 comments

In a surprise move to some, the United States reactivated a $6.46 billion Taiwan arms sales proposal and sent it to Congress for approval yesterday. (As late as September 28, the proposal was said to be frozen by the White House even as Taiwan lobbied Congress.)

Some Chinese now believe China and Wen Jiabao were “played” by the US: “Premier Wen had just said to save the US markets, out came $6 billion of arms sales as a slap to the face,” reads a typical comment online.
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The Value of Being a Chinese on the 59th Anniversary of the PRC

October 1st, 2008 27 comments

Today, on National Day, some 190 thousand passers-by, strangers to each other, packed the festively decked-out Tian’anmen Square to watch the Flag Raising Ceremony.

Although 2008 doesn’t make a “round number” anniversary, so much has transpired in this troubled year to make it almost seem like one. On this day, we translate for you the following editorial published in the Beijing News (新京报), titled Today, let us remember the value of being a “Chinese”:
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Categories: General Tags:

First Images of Spacewalk!

September 27th, 2008 29 comments

Zhai Zhigang enters space


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Categories: General Tags:

Shenzhou 7 Spacecraft Blasts Off

September 25th, 2008 39 comments

This morning, the Shenzhou 7 spacecraft carrying Zhai Zhigang, Liu Boming, and Jing Haipeng successfully took off from Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center and entered orbit. This is a major event in China, as a space walk (the first for the Chinese space program) is planned on this 3-day mission (on the 27th).

Shenzhou 7 launched by a Long March 2F rocket

Here is a full version.
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Tainted baby formula scandal blows up in China

September 12th, 2008 69 comments

The brand is Sanlu (三鹿), one of the best known domestic manufacturers of milk products in China. sanluThe scandal involves babies falling ill across the country with kidney stones after consuming Sanlu brand baby formula that have since been found to contain melamine, which can boost the apparent protein content of the product in quality control tests. How did this happen? Sanlu says it got a tainted source of milk; nevertheless many people still speculate — based on similar “black-heart food” incidents in the past — that for reasons of profit the manufacturer knowingly kept a closed eye on doping in its food processing chain.

The basic story is here (in Chinese) and has seeped into English-speaking media also, for example here. But it is still a rapidly developing story with new information/rumors coming out every minute. At this moment it is the top discussion item pretty much everywhere in Chinese news and online forums.
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Netizens vote for sparrow as China's national bird

September 10th, 2008 29 comments

America has the Bald Eagle, a powerful symbol of might, individuality, and freedom — even if Benjamin Franklin thought it was a bird of “bad moral character” inferior to the Wild Turkey.

sparrowWhat does China have as a national bird? Well, it doesn’t yet.

The house sparrow, so common in China, and named one of the four vermin during the 1950’s (and killed en masse), has received a plurality of votes among ten birds in an unofficial online poll for China’s national bird. This has stirred up a conversation online about what constitutes a national bird, and more interestingly, about the national character and outlook of the common Chinese people.
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Recently completed mega-construction projects in China

September 1st, 2008 44 comments

For about two decades straight, day-and-night, 24/7, China has been the world’s construction ground, with architectural marvels and giant infrastructure springing up at a swift rate and on an enormous scale. The Beijing Olympics set some ungodly tight deadlines on a few of these projects, but with sheer drive, massive manpower, capital investment, and the directive planning power of the state, nearly all of these mega projects have been completed in a matter of years — unheard of anywhere else in the world.

The world may know about pieces like the Bird’s Nest, the Qinghai-Tibet railroad, and the Three Gorges Dam, but here are some others that have been delivered around China in the past 5 years.

1. Beijing Capital International Airport Terminal 3, biggest building in the world:

Here’s a pretty good discovery channel documentary on its construction process, and alludes to some of the land issues we encounter in a fast-developing China.
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Beijing Welcomed You … so did you remember its song?

August 28th, 2008 27 comments

The Olympics are over (except for the Paralympics, that is) and people have trickled out of Beijing, but still in their heads and mine is probably this catchy (some say annoying) song that was sung by an ensemble of veritable who’s-who in today’s Chinese popular music world. Chinese people seem to really like this kind of qunxing (群星) or star-ensemble singing, where phrases are sung by their favorite stars.


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Beijing Olympics a learning experience for all involved

August 24th, 2008 32 comments

It is said that the Beijing Olympics was a big draw, perhaps proving the adage that no publicity is bad publicity. Did the worldwide protests before the Olympics ironically serve as a big advertisement for the Beijing Olympics? And now that a record number of people have watched the Olympics, what have they learned about China?
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Categories: Analysis, Environment, media Tags:

Has He Kexin's age been changed to older or younger?

August 21st, 2008 198 comments

Even though Buxi isn’t back, why don’t we return to a fine tradition of this blog? This post from Niubo (牛博), a Chinese forum often filled with discontent with how things are, has something interesting to add about the age of Olympic gymnast He Kexin. Translation below:

On the question of the Chinese gymnast He Kexin’s age, one fact is certain, that is, there is an inconsistency between the local athletic bureau and the central athletic bureau. So, is it that:

1. The local athletic bureau is correct, and the central athletic bureau changed her age to older?

OR

2. The local athletic bureau falsified, and changed her age to younger?

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Who got the loudest cheers at the Opening Ceremony?

August 8th, 2008 132 comments

One of the interesting things about the Opening Ceremony is the outside world gets to see (or is made to pay attention to) a slice of raw Chinese public opinion on full display.

Besides obviously the home team, Taiwan probably got the loudest cheers from the Chinese crowd at the Bird’s Nest today, a sure head-scratcher to foreign pundits stuck in a brain warp, I’m sure, but no real surprise to Chinese people and those who know China.

As we watch the Opening Ceremony, let’s make a list of the teams that got the loudest cheers from the Chinese crowd today. It is bound to be interesting.
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Categories: culture, media, News Tags: ,

"Direct" flights commence between Taiwan and mainland

July 4th, 2008 19 comments

Today, without too much fuss, regular direct flights between mainland China and Taiwan began, fulfilling a campaign pledge of Ma Yingjiu. The flights run Friday-to-Monday between Beijing, Shanghai, Nanjing, Xiamen, Guangzhou and Taipei. As you can see from the maps (from Sina & Chinanews) below, all flights still route near Hong Kong airspace so they are “direct” only in the sense of not having to actually stop in Hong Kong or somewhere else. Still it’s the start of something new — the “direct” flights put major mainland cities within a one- to two-hour radius of Taiwan, make it possible for day trips back and forth, for business or leisure. This is a popular move. Why has it taken so long and why is this significant?

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The Prospects of Democracy in China

June 28th, 2008 166 comments

Our guest Youzi has given us a kernel for further discussion in one of his comments:

And even within China, between different provinces and peoples are tremendous psychological differences, perhaps even greater than those between two countries. As time has passed, as the people’s living standards have grown and as awareness of personal rights has woken… if the traditional methods of political pressure and thought control are used, it’s already become very difficult to maintain the China unity and a sense of belong to the Chinese people. The government has observed this point, but unless it implements effective political reform that respects and tolerates the interests of different groups of people, it will not resolve this fundamental problem simply by waving the worn-down flags of patriotism and nationalism.

I don’t think we disagree on this point, but I think Youzi goes a bit far to berate some of us for suggesting that an “awareness of personal rights” alone and a shallow understanding of “fighting for personal rights” without civic values and respect for law is a recipe for disaster. It’s a two way street. What makes “Western-style democracy” tick isn’t the prescription of “freedom, democracy, and rule of law”, but the deeply ingrained sense in every single citizen that their interests lie in their responsibility to and stewardship of the country, its institutions, and values, of which such rights are a part — in short, true patriotism. That prevents people from ripping the constitution apart when they don’t get their way. Sad to say, China isn’t there yet.

So what are “effective political reform that respects and tolerates the interests of different groups of people” at this stage? Well, there is a model and there is dynamics. Nobody is sitting idly on their hands. I want to direct our readers to this article in Foreign Affairs earlier this year titled

Long Time Coming – The Prospects of Democracy in China.

I posted it weeks ago in a comment but it really deserves its own highlight here.
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Political unification and China’s Grand Union ideal

June 23rd, 2008 53 comments

On this site, we’ve come back to the question of secession several times. The news a week ago that Ireland, with less than 1% of the EU’s population, single-handedly derailed the second EU attempt at political centralization (Lisbon Treaty) strikes me as the perfect opportunity to talk about the flip side of the coin: the ideology of unification.

Because let’s face it, unification is an ideology.

The EU prides itself on moving towards unification only through debate, consensus, and democratic decision-making. But increasingly, it finds itself in the impossible position of trying to convince every member state that there is something to be gained, when in many cases, the benefits are uncertain, long-term, or abstract. The EU leaders had high hopes of being written in history books when they signed this and the last treaty. In the aftermath of this episode, however, we have seen ideas seriously floated like ignoring Ireland’s vote, of procedurally maneuvering around it, of making them vote again and again until passed, even of expelling Ireland from the EU! If this isn’t the unification ideology working, I don’t know what is.

To Chinese people, the existence of such ideologically driven motivation seems only natural. Human history is one of successively larger units of cooperative society. Without pre-commitment (generally founded on an ideological faith), there is nothing to guarantee cooperation among actors, no matter what their best intentions are. If you want gains, you have to put your chips in, even as you don’t know what you will get out of it for certain. The only thing to make people realize this is a negative consequence for not participating, which often means war. Chinese thinkers have figured this out thousands of years ago, when they faced the kind of calamitous warfare like the two World Wars that finally drove Europe to embark on its current path…
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Young & Restless in China

June 18th, 2008 10 comments

With the Olympics only months away, the spotlight is definitely shining on China now. There have been many talks and documentaries on China and Chinese society like we mentioned. Here is another one. PBS’s Frontline just released a new documentary called Young & Restless in China, which bills itself as

An intimate look into the lives of nine young Chinese, coming of age in a society that’s changing at breathtaking place.

You can view it online. It is worth a look, even if it offers a few limited cut-away views, rather than a cross-section, but they did try to pick “ordinary” people.

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Briefs on Tibet: Action and Reaction

June 7th, 2008 102 comments

Just as the earthquake shook China last month, the ground has also shifted under the Tibet issue. It seems the protests and counter-protests did not go into a black hole, but are having some effects on the media. But the exiles and their supporters aren’t ready to pass up on such a good chance in this Olympic year yet. They are elevating the profile of a different lama. Between now and the Olympics, we may also see more Tibetan disturbances should the talks not “work out”, as the Dalai Lama advised/threatened. Let’s keep our fingers crossed and hope for the best. Inside are a few articles in the recent news on these two cross-currents, action and reaction:
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China's forex reserves larger than those of G7 combined

June 3rd, 2008 11 comments

Today’s Xinhua article brings to our attention that China’s forex reserves have ballooned to $1.76 trillion as of the end of April. To put this number in perspective: it is about 15% of the US annual economic output.

Before people get carried away, allow me to explain what the forex reserves is not: it is definitely not the government’s money, so there is no sense in talking about the government spending it. It is also not some kind of surplus money sitting around with no purpose. The forex reserves is part of the collateral that backs RMB-denominated debt obligations of China, and that includes all Chinese money and government bonds.

According to this Xinhua article, which quotes AFP, which got its information from a “Chinese media source” (got it?), China’s forex reserves increased by $74.5 billion in the month of April, or $100 million per hour. (The article and all the English ones that copy it say $10 million, but they all did their math wrong!)

China’s (mainland) forex reserves is followed in size by Japan’s at $1 trillion, Russia’s at $548 billion, India’s at $316 billion, and Taiwan’s at $287 billion. Of course, only Japan is part of the G7 in this group, so it is an exercise for the reader to figure out how much the remaining 6 of the G7 have.

A large forex reserve gives currency stability and can be a defense of a country’s credit-worthiness. On the other hand, its rapid increase adds to the inflationary pressure in China. Besides trade surplus and foreign investments, nobody has a good idea for where all this extra money is coming from — from Chinese expats, perhaps? I know many of them have sent money back as the RMB rises something like 8% a year against the USD. (On a side note, isn’t it interesting that the shrill rhetoric of Congress to make China revalue the RMB or face punitive tariffs has all but vanished…)

Something to ponder, where is this all headed?

China phases out thin plastic bags

May 30th, 2008 12 comments

In the deluge of earthquake news, something like this that affects daily life in China has managed to slip under the radar.

This article describes a situation that people in China are already aware of. At least in Shanghai, it’s said that an extra charge will be imposed to get your goods in those familiar plastic grocery bags.

Details:

The Chinese government is set to ban the manufacture and force shopkeepers to charge for the distribution of bags thinner than 0.025 millimeters thick as of June 1.

The Chinese government is banning production and distribution of the thinnest plastic bags in a bid to curb the white pollution that is taking over the countryside. The bags are also banned from all forms of public transportation and “scenic locations.” The move may save as much as 37 million barrels of oil currently used to produce the plastic totes, according to China Trade News. Already, the nation’s largest producer of such thin plastic bags, Huaqiang, has shut down its operations.

The effort comes amid growing environmental awareness among the Chinese people and mimics similar efforts in countries like Bangladesh and Ireland as well as the city of San Francisco, though efforts to replicate that ban in other U.S. municipalities have foundered in the face of opposition from plastic manufacturers.

The last sentence is ironic. China is no stranger to big government regulations, of course, but one can’t argue with the efficiency with which it can operate.