Wandering China

An East/West pulse of China's fourth rise from down under.

Closer to China by degrees [Guardian] #RisingChina #Australia

Australia looking to shift its sights – how to milk rising China’s next phase of growth. By becoming a confluence of China’s booming middle class hierarchy of needs, perhaps?

The Aussies have taken big steps to show the world it is possible to grow up and smell the roses. There is good business to be done and they know how to do it. The White Australia policy is still in recent memory yet the Chinese have been here since the gold rush days in the 1800s.  Nevertheless for some perspective – Chinese make up  4% of the Australian population in one of the planet’s sparsest spaces with 2.8 people per km/2.

Fast forward 2013, Australia is smart enough to manage both the US and China without greatly offending the other – yet milking both abundant strategic and economic reward from both.

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Closer to China by degrees
As Chinese growth slows, Australia needs to focus on exports in which it may not always enjoy a natural advantage
by Greg Jericho
Source – Guardian, published Monday 24 June 2013

As China's economy slows, Australia needs to focus on education and tourism to draw spending from the country. Photograph: AAP

As China’s economy slows, Australia needs to focus on education and tourism to draw spending from the country. Photograph: AAP

Recent news from China and America has caused some panic around the world and should reinforce the view that the Australian economy of the early 2000s will not come back, regardless of who is in power after 14 September.

The tremors started in America and flowed to China, and in some ways the news out of both was the same. In essence it boiled down to both nations saying that the government could not carry the economy forever.

The chairman of the Federal Reserve, Ben Bernanke, let it be known that if the US economy improves and if the unemployment rate goes below 7% it will start to think about easing its monetary policy by cutting back on buying $85bn worth of bonds each month. He also noted that later the Federal Reserve might think about raising interest rates. Much later – like perhaps two years’ time!

That such news resulted in the US dollar appreciating against all currencies gives you an indicator of how skittish markets can be. This was an announcement of things that might happen if things keep going well. So you can imagine how edgy they would get when news comes out about things happening now – bad things.

And this brings us to China.

Please click here to read the entire article at the Guardian.

Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Australia, Beijing Consensus, Charm Offensive, Chinese Model, Communications, Culture, Domestic Growth, Economics, Education, Ethnicity, Finance, Government & Policy, Hard Power, History, Human Rights, Ideology, Influence, International Relations, Mapping Feelings, Media, Migrant Workers, Modernisation, New Leadership, Overseas Chinese, Peaceful Development, Politics, Public Diplomacy, Resources, Social, Soft Power, Strategy, Tao Guang Yang Hui (韬光养晦), The Chinese Identity, The construction of Chinese and Non-Chinese identities, The Guardian, Tourism, Trade

Jaguar Land Rover building factory in China [Guardian]

Guardian: JLR and Chery ramping up for China’s middle class boom? The Guardian’s industrial editor provides details as the famed UK off-road powerhouse now join European counterparts Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz with full-blown local production capability direct in the world’s biggest auto market.

Quite a few of my mainland Chinese peers who now live in Australia love the Land Rover aesthetic. Most do not push (yet) their stately steel horses to the brink, preferring to drive them inland and keeping them spotty clean but I digress.

“China is now our biggest market,” Ralf Speth, chief executive officer of Jaguar Land Rover at press briefing announcing their 10.9b yuan eastern China plant in their 65th year of operations. The plant will also see an R&D component.

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Jaguar Land Rover building factory in China
Car firm to start manufacturing vehicles in world’s largest automotive market from 2014 after agreeing £1.1bn-joint venture
by Dan Milmo, Guardian Industrial Editor
Source – Guardian, published November 18, 2012

Source – Guardian, 2012.
Jaguar Land Rover posted a 58% increase in Chinese sales in the second quarter, boosted by demand for the recently launched Range Rover Evoque, above. Photograph: Peter Byrne/PA

Jaguar Land Rover has signalled the importance of China to its growth prospects by starting the construction of a factory outside Shanghai.

JLR and its Chinese partner, Chery, formally laid the foundation stone for a plant in Changshu, near Shanghai, as part of a 10.9bn yuan (£1.1bn) investment that will include a new research centre and an engine production facility. The firm’s owners, Tata, also own a JLR assembly plant in India but the Chinese venture is the company’s first full-blown sortie into overseas manufacturing, reflecting stellar growth in the car firm’s third largest market.

The business posted a 58% increase in Chinese sales in the second quarter, boosted by demand for the recently launched Range Rover Evoque model. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Automotive, Beijing Consensus, Charm Offensive, Chinese Model, Culture, Domestic Growth, Economics, Environment, Finance, Infrastructure, Intellectual Property, International Relations, Modernisation, Peaceful Development, Public Diplomacy, Soft Power, Technology, The Guardian, Trade, Transport, U.K., , , , , , , ,

China’s loggers down chainsaws in attempt to regrow forests [Guardian]

2009: China’s Green Great Wall is a project by public servants grow new trees every March 12 to fight desertification.  A ‘man-made ecological barrier is designed to halt sand and dust storms’ as 3500 square kilometers of China is consumed by desert every year. ‘If the plan is completed as scheduled in 2050, trees will cover over 400m hectares or 42% of China’s landmass, creating arguably the biggest man-made carbon sponge on the planet.’

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China’s loggers down chainsaws in attempt to regrow forests
China’s massive tree-planting scheme masks disastrous deforestation and damage to biodiversity thanks to the country’s insatiable desire for wood
by Jonathan Watts
Source – Guardian, published  March 11, 2009

Viewed from the snow-covered hills of Tangwanghe, the forests of China’s Great Green Wall seem to stretch out endlessly towards the horizon.

The man-made ecological barrier is designed to halt sand and dust storms, just as the original 2,500-year-old Great Wall was built to keep out the Mongol hordes.

But today as millions of Chinese people seek to reinforce the barrier on National Tree-Planting Day, the greater threat comes from within, as a result of an unsustainable demand for wood. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Chinese Model, Climate Change, Culture, Disaster, Domestic Growth, Economics, Environment, Great Wall, Green China, People, Population, Reform, Social, The Chinese Identity, The construction of Chinese and Non-Chinese identities, The Guardian

How not to handle China – Jonathan Fenby

A happy new year everyone, good travels and remember the key, is to breathe deep.

It has been a recurring problem for the longest time, impositions. As much as the West has been unable to see things in context, it looks like China might just grow to be equally narrow-minded if it is not careful. The middle path, and respect is the key.

Quotable Quotes – “Mark Lynas’s much-remarked piece in the Guardian puts the blame squarely on Beijing, but takes no account of how the Chinese system actually operates, seemingly imagining it runs on western lines…

How not to handle China

From Copenhagen to Akmal Shaikh’s execution, the west’s failed diplomacy has shown it doesn’t get how politics works in Beijing
By Jonathan Fenby
Source – The Guardian, UK, 30 December 2009

What is becoming ever more clear as this year rattles to an end is that the west has no idea how to handle China. Since the relationship of the People’s Republic will be a key factor in the year (and many more years) ahead, that makes this a core question for the Obama administration and Europe – and, closer to the mainland, for India and Japan as well. But there still seems to be an almost childish reluctance in the west to accept China for what it is, whatever one may think of what it is.

It might be nice if China was more like us, but it isn’t going to be. Expecting it to fit into the paradigm set by the west is not only futile but positively dangerous. The sooner governments start to work out a meaningful China policy rather than depending on wishful thinking, the better. It would make a good New year’s resolution. But I’m not holding my breath.

The sad case of Akmal Shaikh, the London man executed in China on drug smuggling charges provides the latest example of how little the conventional approach to China on decent humanitarian grounds yields, just as concern abroad about the fate of Charter 08 dissident Liu Xiaobo did nothing to prevent him being sentenced to 11 years in jail on Christmas Day. China has reacted indignantly to the protests about Shaikh. The argument that China has made a mockery of justice has been made on Cif by Clive Stafford Smith. Less convincingly, we have had the descant of a reminder of the opium wars, as if Shaikh was a reincarnation of the East India Company, and relativists trotting out the tired old fallacy that human rights abuses in the west and executions in the US disbar us from protesting at the way the trial was conducted.

Behind this froth, what is plain is that China has once again asserted its determination to protect its own sovereignty whatever the issue, and is intent on doing things its way. Given its economic progress in the past three decades and the immediate effect of its huge pump-priming over the past 12 months in restoring growth (even if the second half of next year may prove more problematic), the leadership and the population feel pretty good about themselves. They are in no mood to take lessons, moral or otherwise, from the west.

In this context, the Shaikh case fits into a string of scratchy non-meetings of mind between China and the west over the last couple of months.

First there has been the long-running issue of the under-valuation of the Chinese currency. The case for appreciation of the yuan is undeniable. Equally undeniable is that Beijing is going to do no such thing until its exports rise back to their pre-crisis levels. Even then it has large amount of excess capacity to keep employed, and tens of millions of workers to provide jobs for when the current infrastructure programme starts to come to an end in the second half of 2010. So, however well-founded the arguments put it by the treasury department in Washington or the European Central Bank, the leadership stands firm.

Then we had the spectacle of Obama’s visit to China, during which his “town hall” meeting in Shanghai was transmitted only by one local television station, and during which the Chinese arranged a programme for him that was heavy on tourism. Yes, it ended with a lengthy list of general agreements to co-operate and assurances that the basis was being laid for long-term relationship. But the beef was missing, and US briefings that the two sides had reached meaningful agreement on climate change were swiftly blown apart by the fiasco of Copenhagen.

That conference showed just how western leaders are for understanding how China really works. The idea that, by crashing the meeting of major emerging economies, Obama could reach a last-minute deal with the Chinese prime minister to save the planet would have been laughable if it had not been tragic. Did the US president really think Wen Jiabao had any wriggle room to succumb to his charm and reason? Did he imagine that the prime minister would suddenly jettison 60 years of suspicion of the outside world to allow independent monitoring?

Mark Lynas’s much-remarked piece in the Guardian puts the blame squarely on Beijing, but takes no account of how the Chinese system actually operates, seemingly imagining it runs on western lines. The Chinese position would have been set out in advance and approved by the standing committee of the politburo. Wen could not deviate from that, even if he had been minded to do so. He may be prime minister but he ranks third in the standing committee and moves carefully. On such a crucial issue, he would be able to do absolutely nothing that might be seen as jeopardising the domestic economy; China accords importance to the environment but a good deal more to growth.

In addition, several key Chinese leaders were out of Beijing at the time and this is a leadership that likes to have everybody in the room when decisions are made and doesn’t believe in long-range teleconferences. So it is safe to assume that China was not in negotiating mode, and that, unless Beijing was being set up as the fall guy, Obama, Brown, Miliband et al should have know this, and negotiated accordingly. The same goes for the currency, human rights and, unfortunately for him, for Shaikh. It is also likely to be the case if trade disputes swell next year, as one must anticipate.

That leads to an underlying element which, again, seems insufficiently appreciated by western governments. General Secretary Hu and Wen operate by consensus. They are careful bureaucrats who do not command an automatic majority in the nine-man standing committee. Gone are the days of Mao getting out of bed one afternoon and deciding on a major policy initiative or of Deng Xiaoping imposing himself on those who nominally held positions superior to him. That is, in a way, healthy, but it means inflexibility at the top. Hu and Wen have to deal with factions, lobbies and powerful state companies. For all the liberation of the goods market, the economy is still tightly controlled in key input areas, buttressing the power of entrenched interests. The Communist party knows it needs to reform itself but is terrified of the effect of doing so.

All that is a recipe for caution. Not for the kind of reasoned flexibility and give-and-take which the west likes to make the basis for relationships between nations (however fallible this proves in practice). Repeating mantras about the need to revalue the yuan, respect human rights, join in independent monitoring or accept emission targets which would threaten the growth that provides the regime’s prime legitimacy may be necessary for the west’s own self-respect and defence of its own values. But the chances of getting results is razor-thin until a new policy context is evolved.

Filed under: International Relations, Politics, The Guardian

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July 2020

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