Wandering China

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

Chinese officials deny wealth concentration

This makes an interesting read. In a country where guanxi and connections are paramount, would it be a surprise if the ones best connected will turn out the wealthiest? What is even more interesting is the argument whose sources of information are truly legitimate? From what this article says, these source of information look legitimate enough!

Highlights – “...3,220 people had personal assets in mainland China, not including overseas assets, surpassing 100 million yuan (US$14.65 million). Of these, 2,932 – or 91 percent – were children of senior officials or party cadres.

Chinese officials deny wealth concentration
By S L Shen
Source – UPI Asia, 3 December 2009

Beijing, China — Four Chinese newspapers were recently censured for reporting that wealth in China is highly centralized in the hands of a few rich people and the children of high-ranking officials of the Chinese Communist Party. State authorities declared that such stories were “fake,” and state media accused them of quoting data fabricated by “anti-China” websites overseas.

People’s Daily reported last week that warnings had been issued to the four news organizations and severe punishment demanded of the personnel responsible for publishing the false reports.

However, most Chinese netizens in online posts have tended to believe the so-called “fake news” on this matter. Also, this is not the first time such “fake stories” have appeared. Many are wondering why Chinese authorities have not reacted to such reports until now.

The controversial figures, reportedly from official researchers, include a claim that 70 percent of China’s wealth is concentrated in the hands of just 0.4 percent of the population, and that 91 percent of China’s top millionaires are children of high-ranking officials.

In fact, these claims first appeared in the Shanghai Securities News three years ago, on Oct 20, 2006. The authorities were silent at that time. But when two local newspapers – Time Weekly and Youth Times – along with the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference Press, cited this information last June, China’s General Administration of Press and Publication claimed it was false, misleading the public and causing negative social influence.

The figures have already spread widely through online forums and blogs, however. Most claim that Chinese authorities are the source of the data.

Another story that appeared in the China Youth Press on Oct. 18, 2006, cited the Boston Consulting Group as the source of the study stating that that 0.4 percent of the population controlled 70 percent of the wealth in China. That study, part of a worldwide study of household wealth, found there were about 250,000 households in mainland China worth over US$1 million.

At that time, Zheng Junhao, vice president of the group’s Beijing Office, told the media that this figure didn’t take into account all types of assets, but it was basically accurate. The group published an updated study in mid-November saying that the number of millionaire households would likely reach 450,000 by the end of this year.

The 2006 report in the Shanghai Securities News was actually written by Professor Zhao Xiao from the School of Economics and Management at the University of Science and Technology in Beijing. He pointed out that the “capital of power” led to huge differences in the income levels of ordinary citizens and the children of senior officials.

More specifically, Zhao cited research by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in July, 2004 on social mobility in contemporary China, which indicated that the likelihood for children of Chinese Communist Party cadres to take up party posts was 2.1 times higher than other people.

Also, he cited another study compiled by the research offices of the State Council, the Central Party School, the Propaganda Department of the CCP Central Committee and CASS in late March, 2004. This study said that 3,220 people had personal assets in mainland China, not including overseas assets, surpassing 100 million yuan (US$14.65 million). Of these, 2,932 – or 91 percent – were children of senior officials or party cadres.

These figures were published the same day on the website of the state-run Xinhua News Agency. The content was later deleted.

In early August this year, People’s Daily published a report denying the 91 percent figure. Some analysts said the Chinese authorities sensed a growing threat from opinions posted on the Internet, and were eager to play down the polarization between rich and poor for fear it would lead to confrontation.

In late August, the four official bodies named by Professor Zhao issued a statement denying that they had conducted a study on the ratio of children of senior officials or party cadres among China’s millionaires. They said the false figures were deliberately made up and posted on anti-China websites overseas.

Zan Aijun, an independent critic and former reporter, questioned why the authorities did not quash this “false report” when the Shanghai Securities News first published it in 2006. The newspaper is subordinate to Xinhua, which means its contents should have been approved before publication, Zan pointed out. If this information were untruthful, he asked, why did it take such a long time to censure the media that reported it?

Chinese netizens are more inclined to believe the “false” statistics than the official denials, however. Some have satirized the official statement refuting the research about officials’ children by responding, “False? Are you saying the ratio is not 91 percent but actually higher?”

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Filed under: Media, Politics, UPI Asia

Challenges to a Sino-U.S. partnership

Offering solutions to the China and US relationship is this article from UPI Asia.  Considering each other’s position fairly definitely sounds like the way to go, for both parties.

Quotable Quotes – “To work together, China and the United States will not only have to respect one another as partners, they will also have to encourage other stakeholders to partner with them in order to manage global issues. They will have to set aside their mistrust and consider each other’s positions fairly.

Challenges to a Sino-U.S. partnership
By Zhang Quanyi
Source – UPI Asia, 26 November 2009

Ningbo, China — When U.S. President Barrack Obama met Chinese President Hu Jintao in Beijing last week, he promised to pursue a “positive, cooperative and comprehensive” relationship with China. Both sides agreed on the need to work together to meet future challenges in areas such as climate change, security and international finance.

The tone of the meeting showed a strong sense of shared responsibility between these two world leaders in constructing a healthier and more prosperous and peaceful world. However, several factors might challenge a closer partnership between their two countries.

At the heart of the matter is the issue of trust. Even though Obama has signed an agreement to work in partnership with China, there is still opposition in the U.S. Congress that cannot be ignored. There are still voices who stress the ideological differences between the two countries – who consider China more communist than capitalist, more authoritarian than democratic, disrespectful of human rights and valuing the collective more than the individual.

In a word, Americans have a different attitude toward national identity, as well as different ideological assumptions and a different culture from the Chinese.

Partly because of this, Americans cannot easily abandon the idea that China is a threat to them. In terms of security, many Americans hold a negative attitude toward China’s military development, especially in space and on the ocean.

Some military experts and politicians still hold the view that China should be contained in the Taiwan Strait, and advocate continued weapon sales to Taiwan in accordance with the Taiwan Relations Act, which was signed in 1979 several months after the United States and China established diplomatic relations. An imminent test of Obama will be if he agrees to sell such weapons to Taiwan.

Americans also see China as a threat in economic terms. They wonder if China’s rising economic power will swallow up the U.S. economy in the future. This fear is similar to one that arose in the 1980s when Japan began buying massive amounts of U.S. real estate. China is now the biggest holder of U.S. Treasury bonds; many Americans wonder if China will take advantage of this to coerce the United States to sacrifice its national interest.

In the real world, trade conflicts have emerged one after another. The United States has recently imposed special tariffs on China-made tires and steel pipes, for example, and restricted poultry imports. On the other hand, China has had long-term bans on U.S. beef and creative industry products including films, DVDs, music and books. Such trade skirmishes are likely to continue.

On the Chinese side, it is true that China is a state with a collective culture, whereby power is held and decisions mostly made by top leaders. Yet public attitudes can also affect Sino-U.S. relations. There are local interest groups, nongovernmental organizations, party dissidents, and most importantly nationalist groups that stress China’s own interests and hold an aggressive attitude toward other countries.

When conflicts do arise, the nationalistic fervor of such groups cannot be ignored. This has happened in the past, for example when the United States hesitated to back China’s resumption of membership in the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, and later in joining the World Trade Organization.

Then there was the 1999 U.S. bombing of China’s Embassy in Belgrade, and the 2001 collision between a U.S. spy plane and a Chinese fighter, resulting in the Chinese pilot’s death. There was also Beijing’s failed Olympic bid in 2000 which many Chinese blamed on the United States.

Even if China and the United States are willing to share responsibility and meet the challenges of the 21st century, one must ask if the comprehensive capability of the two states is powerful enough to handle all issues. There are some 200 states in the world, and history shows that conflicts can arise over many issues, including security, trade, economic interests, borders, religion and ethnicity.

Currently, security and economic interests are the biggest areas of contention. Some states still seek regional hegemony; some fear for their own survival to the point of breaking international norms, even to the point of developing nuclear weapons. Iran and North Korea come to mind as potential threats to a peaceful world order.

Another area of potential conflict is the pursuit of development or modernization and the need to protect the environment, which is faced especially by developing countries. In an interconnected world, united efforts are needed to manage climate change. Yet some nations will feel they have to sacrifice their developmental interests to do this. This issue will require negotiation and a strategy that is fair to those who are developmentally behind.

To work together, China and the United States will not only have to respect one another as partners, they will also have to encourage other stakeholders to partner with them in order to manage global issues. They will have to set aside their mistrust and consider each other’s positions fairly.

Most importantly, if they wish to be seen as world leaders, they must build a global consensus that can define international priorities and work toward solving the problems that threaten humanity as a whole.

(Dr. Zhang Quanyi is associate professor at Zhejiang Wanli University in Ningbo, China, and a guest researcher at the Center for the Study of Non-traditional Security and Peaceful Development at Zhejiang University in Hangzhou. His research interest revolves around the creation of a world state. He can be contacted at qyzhangupi@gmail.com. ©Copyright Zhang Quanyi)

Filed under: International Relations, Politics, U.S., UPI Asia

[Health] Doubts over death toll for H1N1 flu in China

I do not suppose this will be surprising to most as the Chinese have an excellent track record at information suppression whenever it suited the need. Whether this move is enlightened or not, will require further probing. Surely it goes deeper than pride and keeping a happy populace. I wonder. Any thoughts?

Quotable Quotes – “Before China’s National Day on Oct. 1, people had begun to question the extremely low death rate from H1N1 in this developing country with the biggest population in the world.”

For an alternative angle, check out what this AP article in yahoo news says…”China to punish those who conceal swine flu info”

Doubts over death toll for H1N1 flu in China
S.L. Shen
UPI Correspondent
Source – UPI Asia, 24 November 2009

Beijing, China — A well-known Chinese expert in viruses has publicly questioned the number of deaths from the H1N1 flu reported throughout China. This has invited the Chinese government to declare that any attempts to cover up, falsify or delay information on the ongoing epidemic would be severely punished. Previously, rumors had abounded that authorities had concealed the seriousness of the epidemic ahead of the country’s National Day on Oct 1.

Zhong Nanshan, a doctor in the southern province of Guangdong, told a Chinese newspaper Thursday that he could not believe the official death toll from the H1N1 virus – which stands at just 53 in the whole of China.

Zhong is the same person who made public his doubts about official reports on the epidemic of severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, in 2003. His warning alerted the public and even the international media to the seriousness of the situation.

China’s Ministry of Health quickly published a notice on its website Thursday afternoon stating that responses from society and the media concerning reports of the epidemic were welcomed. It said the ministry had sent nine teams to 12 provinces to work on preventing and controlling the disease.

It also repeated the warning that any attempts to cover up, falsify or delay information on the epidemic would be severely punished in accordance with state laws on the prevention and control of infectious diseases.

In fact, the Chinese government just switched its method of counting deaths from the H1N1 virus on Nov. 6. Before that date, patients who had other diseases or serious underlying medical conditions in addition to the H1N1 flu were not included.

Ministry of Health spokesman Deng Haihua “predicted” that the death toll for H1N1 victims could quickly increase because of the shift in the method of compiling statistics. But this increase did not mean the epidemic had worsened, he stressed.

However, Deng’s statement did reveal that the actual death toll for H1N1 in the mainland at least by Nov. 6 had been underestimated. For example, the H1N1 virus can harm the respiratory system and result in pneumonia. According to Zhong, some deaths that were treated as ordinary cases of pneumonia could have been caused by H1N1. He implied that this was done intentionally to give the appearance that the epidemic was under control.

According to the latest Ministry of Health figures, released on Nov. 15, a total of 69,160 patients have been diagnosed as H1N1 cases in the mainland; of those, 53 have died. These figures reportedly rose by 10,828 new patients and 28 deaths during the single week from Nov. 9-15.

To add to the confusion, however, the head of the Beijing Health Bureau “revealed” to local media on Monday that 400,000 people in Beijing alone had contracted H1N1, and recovered. So did the so-called latest figures published by the Health Department include only those who are still suffering from this contagious disease, and not those who have recovered from it?

If the revelation from the Beijing health official is true, then the overall figures for current and former patients suffering from H1N1 in the mainland could be much higher than those made public, and so could the actual death toll.

Meanwhile, the health authority in the southern city of Shenzhen also “revealed” on Sunday that it expected more than 1 million H1N1 patients, as a conservative estimate, in the future. Shenzhen just reported its first death from the virus a few days ago.

Before China’s National Day on Oct. 1, people had begun to question the extremely low death rate from H1N1 in this developing country with the biggest population in the world.

On Sept. 18 the World Health Organization announced that at least 296,000 people had contracted the H1N1 virus worldwide, at least 3,917 had died from it and the average rate of death was about 1.3 percent. At that time, China had reported 21,000 infections with a death rate of merely 0.0047 percent. Even now, China’s latest death rate is just under 0.081 percent.

The first Chinese death from H1N1 was reported on Oct. 6. One overseas Chinese website, which is blocked within the mainland, reported this along with the commentary that only after the national celebrations of the country’s 60th anniversary passed could people be pronounced “dead.”

This and other overseas websites have also published news and interviews with mainland citizens suggesting that the H1N1 epidemic is much more serious in some parts of China than the official figures imply. However, this cannot be confirmed as yet.

Filed under: Health, Politics, UPI Asia

Tame China now or face war later

A stiff, but perhaps straight-to-the-point commentary that the writer much rather prefers the status quo of the US being the dominant world power. More us and them? I am not sure if it is necessarily good. What particularly stands out is the suggestion that China will backstab the US like the Japanese did during World War 2. Interesting yes, far-fetched? Definitely worth investigating!

Quotable Quotes“China’s economy has leaped from US$300 billion in 1980 to $3.5 trillion today, while its military spending has gone from US$7 billion to $80 billion during the same period. In addition, it spends some US$30 to $40 billion on unaccounted secret projects.”

Tame China now or face war later
By Hari Sud
Source – UPI Asia, 14 November 2009

Toronto, ON, Canada, — The United States set China on the course to modernization and military power, but Chinese ambitions are running far ahead of the country’s publicly stated aims. It has no qualms about retaking Taiwan or the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh. It is time the United States tames China to avoid consequences like Japan’s backstabbing when it attacked Pearl Harbor during World War II.

At home and in the region, China is peddling influence with its military might. For example, it created a diplomatic and military tussle over border issues with India because Tibetan leader the Dalai Lama wished to visit the birthplace of one of his predecessors in India.

In Washington China is peddling influence with money power, based on its cash reserves deposited in U.S. banks and the U.S. Treasury. Without selling their goods unhindered in the United States the Chinese would not have the money power they enjoy today. Their economic success is key to their belligerence.

All this happened in the past 20 years since manufacturing was gifted by the United States to China to counter the former Soviet Union’s growing prowess. That diplomacy has now come full circle and the Chinese are exerting economic influence on the United States. Military pressure is not far behind.

China’s economy has leaped from US$300 billion in 1980 to $3.5 trillion today, while its military spending has gone from US$7 billion to $80 billion during the same period. In addition, it spends some US$30 to $40 billion on unaccounted secret projects.

Asia fears two things about China – its economic domination and its military might. China makes no excuses for its military posture. Not only does it want Taiwan and Arunachal Pradesh, but also other territories like Vladivostok port from the Russians. It is just waiting for the appropriate time.

When the United States began aiding the Chinese with foreign direct investment in the 1980s, it also opened its markets to duty-free imports from China. Concurrently the Chinese currency was deliberately valued low to give U.S. imports a price advantage. So the United States began closing down its factories and importing cheap Chinese goods.

Presently, around 150 million Chinese work in the manufacturing sector, which supplies everything that a consumer in the West needs. The result is an annual US$300 billion trade surplus with the United States alone. This money is then deposited in U.S. banks and is used to finance the U.S. debt. China has accumulated some US$2 trillion in U.S. and Western banks, and these deposits are becoming a tool for China to dictate their foreign policy.

Former U.S. Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton preoccupied themselves with the joy of the former Soviet Union’s collapse, while George W. Bush buried himself in wars in Iraq and Afghanistan during his term from 2000 to 2008. Due to their preoccupations, these presidents handed all advantages to the Chinese. Likewise, President Barack Obama is preoccupied with reforms like healthcare, education and banking and has paid little attention to the perils of the trade deficit.

In the next 10 years the Chinese economy is expected to grow at 8 to 10 percent, unless the yuan is revalued and China is forced to balance its trade. Unchallenged, its military expenditures are expected to increase at an exponential rate. Next, one might see the Chinese confronting the U.S. Seventh Fleet in the South China Sea. China would consider it a cakewalk to emerge victorious over Russia and India, and sees no reason to confront other small nations in Southeast Asia, which it considers its clients.

The strategic balance of the United States in world affairs is already slipping as it spends more time fighting financial collapse. China is most favored to take over if nothing is done to halt the U.S. decline. Although Russia has massive oil and gas influence, it is taking a long time to establish a new economic order.

China’s ambitions, kept in check for the past 30 years, have begun to slowly emerge. The new leadership dumped Mao Zedong’s tunic but continues to pursue his policies.

What is needed to stop the Chinese from this posture? Its economic clout has to be cut. First, the West has to untangle itself from the US$2 trillion deposited in their banks. Second, the yuan-dollar relationship has to be revised to give Western exports a head start and discourage Chinese imports. Third, manufacturing jobs need to be relocated back to the United States. Fourth, a commitment to defend Taiwan at any cost, including fighting a nuclear war, should be renewed. Fifth, a timetable must be set to balance trade with China.

An overconfident China is still puny compared to the economic and military might of the United States. China’s per head gross domestic product is US$2,600 compared to US$46,000 in the United States. China has been stealing technology to give itself a head start, although this is now being checked with more restrictions.

China’s naval power is nowhere near that of the United States. If Japan feels threatened and dumps its pacifist Constitution, the Chinese will have a bigger enemy to deal with near their borders. Also, a blockade of sea routes to the Middle East by India could severely hurt China’s export economy.

The United States’ inexplicable desire to borrow money is the main reason behind the rise of China’s political ambitions. The U.S. national debt stands at US$11.7 trillion, of which $2 trillion is China’s money. China knows that the United States cannot repay this anytime soon and therefore uses political and diplomatic power to influence its policy.

That is the reason for China’s hardened attitude toward the Dalai Lama and fresh moves against India. Recently, Obama refused to meet the Dalai Lama because he wanted to please China.

While the U.S. economy almost hit a depression in the past year, China’s economy managed 6 to 7 percent growth, which is a remarkable achievement.

All issues are likely to be discussed during Obama’s visit to Beijing early next week, but no noteworthy conclusions are expected. Obama has no achievements to show. His healthcare reform has bogged down while his popularity has suffered and losses in the recent gubernatorial elections are reverberating.

China’s emergence as a global power and its rapid growth have far-reaching consequences for the rest of the world, including the United States. This implies that China must be contained to avoid problems 10 years down the road. China’s export economy needs to be targeted, and nobody is in a better position to do that than the United States. In fact, it set them on this path and should control it.

Will China give up any of its advantages without a fight? It is highly unlikely. Just as China took 20 years to reach its present status, the United States will need 20 more to take it away.

China may start vetoing down U.S. resolutions at the United Nations. It may send aggressive naval patrols across the Taiwan Straits, or finance armed rebellions all over U.S.-influenced territories in Africa and South America.

Therefore the United States should do everything it can to contain China’s influence. Once its economic expectations are hit hard, it will come around sooner or later. Curtailing China’s ambitions should be the highest foreign policy priority for the United States. Without that, the long-term future of the United States is in peril.

(Hari Sud is a retired vice president of C-I-L Inc., a former investment strategies analyst and international relations manager. A graduate of Punjab University and the University of Missouri, he has lived in Canada for the past 34 years. ©Copyright Hari Sud.)

Filed under: International Relations, military, Strategy, UPI Asia

Only India can challenge China’s primacy in Asia

A wise man once told me that when people skew things into polarities, their agendas must be questioned. In this instance, a strong line of us-and-them is drawn, and I wonder why. More pertinently, knowing the reasons why these feelings exist will be helpful toward my study.

Quotable Quotes – “More than radical Islam, the threat to the primacy of the West will come from Sinic civilization, centered in the People’s Republic of China.

Only India can challenge China’s primacy in Asia
By M.D. Nalapat
Column: Future Present
Source – UPI Asia, 10 November 2009

Manipal, India — More than radical Islam, the threat to the primacy of the West will come from Sinic civilization, centered in the People’s Republic of China. Should China continue to grow at the pace of the last 20 years for the next two decades, by 2015 the backwash created by such progress will pull Japan and South Korea into its gravity field. This will later extend to Siberia and large swathes of Southeast and Central Asia.

As armed conflict would be a lose-lose proposition for all major players, the odds are that such an expansion of geopolitical space will take place peacefully. China’s strategy will be to make cooperation with it attractive while increasing the costs of conflict to Asian countries that may seek to present a challenge, principally India.

Obsessed as Germany is with ensuring the ethnic purity of Europe by blocking immigration even from established, English-speaking democracies outside the West, and France with the preservation of Franco-German primacy in Europe, the European Union is unlikely to adopt the only course that would enable it to retain its edge in the face of rising Sinic power. This is an alliance with India.

Russian President Dimitry Medvedev, with his obsessive focus on Europe and neglect of Asian Russia, has been all but begging France and Germany to admit Moscow into the European Union as an equal of these two states. This course is likely to go the way of Turkey’s application to join the club; in other words, it will end up in the refuse bin. This is likely to push Russia further toward being a partner in the Sinic alliance that will be stitched together by Beijing in a decade.

Given this, the determination of France and Germany to preserve the post-1945 global status quo against all comers is impacting on relations not just with Russia but with a country crucial to the health of the Europe of the 2020s – India.

Since Hu Jintao took over the Chinese presidency from Jiang Zemin, the Chinese Communist Party core has focused on making China the equal of the United States and the European Union in technology. Helped by its intelligence and security agencies as much as by the brainpower of its scientists, China is within a decade of challenging the EU-U.S. monopoly in systems such as aircraft and machinery. Given the lower costs of production in China, this will mean the steady exclusion of the EU from markets in Africa, Asia and South America.

Although a German car may be 40 percent better than its Chinese competitor, it will no longer be able to command a price that is 150 percent that of the competition. Given such a lowering of prices, the need to source production platforms in India will become acute if European manufacturers are to avoid the downsizing now visible across the continent.

India is the right choice because the country has institutions and language of European origin; has a huge pool of skilled labor; and is geopolitically closer aligned to Western values and geopolitical needs.

However, Europe has not yet awoken to the centrality of India in its future. The just-concluded India-EU Summit in New Delhi ended on a sour note because of EU insistence that its consumers be denied the benefit of cheap drugs sourced from India, and a push to lock in place protectionist measures under the guise of “labor standards.”

The EU – led in this regard by Germany, a country that seems to value ethnicity above all other human attributes – has been concentrating its attention and treasure on its eastern flank, although it is by now obvious that East Europe is not a sufficient platform to ensure primacy in global markets.

EU immigration policy is akin to the U.S. prohibition of alcohol in the 1920s. Shutting the door on immigration from countries with an ethnic composition considered unsuitable by Berlin has encouraged an increase in “bootleg” immigration, mainly from Africa and China.

EU market policy is geared toward straitjacketing production within Europe, when the outsourcing of some lines of production would expand overall output enough to create many more jobs for Europeans, although not all of them from within Europe.

Unfortunately, U.S. President Barack Obama seems to be moving in a similar direction in that he seems eager to protect the two major ethnicities of his country – those of European and African descent – against competition from South America and Asia. In fact the relatively easy (non-bootleg) flow of human resources has been one of the major reasons for the continued edge the United States enjoys in international markets.

India is unique in that it has nearly 600 million people with the social discipline needed to integrate into a global community. This ratio compares favorably with countries such as Albania, Bulgaria, Russia and Romania, all of which have a larger proportion than India of individuals unwilling or unable to accept the rule of law and the social conventions now regarded as standard by West and North Europeans.

A marriage between EU and Indian brainpower and muscle power could produce a fusion that would ensure primacy in international markets for decades to come. However, as yet the EU is looking more toward China – even though that country has clearly indicated its aim to wrest primacy from the United States and the EU, and is working in a sustained manner toward that outcome.

Judging by the talk in Washington of “strategic reassurance” toward China, it is clear that Beijing’s single-minded quest has not yet triggered alarm bells in the Obama administration. China will never be a partner as India can be, because China is following a trajectory across the world that is increasingly pitting it in competition with the United States and the EU.

Those in the Obama administration who condescendingly expect China to “behave” by following the U.S. and EU lead are oblivious to the powerful dynamic that was unleashed by Mao Zedong in 1949, after decades of servitude to Europe, Japan, Russia and the United States. Beijing will “behave” only until it judges itself strong enough to no longer need such cover, which may occur as early as 2015.

Deep-rooted ties of civilization are likely to nudge Japan toward China in the coming years. For the same reason, links are likely to grow between the West and India. However, it will take a different generation of European leaders to understand such a change and to take the initiative in forging an India-EU partnership along the lines of the nascent India-U.S. partnership forged by former U.S. President George W. Bush.

(Professor M.D. Nalapat is vice-chair of the Manipal Advanced Research Group, UNESCO Peace Chair, and professor of geopolitics at Manipal University. ©Copyright M.D. Nalapat.)

Filed under: India, International Relations, Strategy, UPI Asia

China’s dream of shaping world opinion

China’s dreams of reclaiming its place as a major power really does not stop short at being an economic and military powerhouse. It has been showing sophistication in its thinking, and this observation of China’s advanced use of rhetoric (great fodder for the media to latch onto) and dangling of carrots to the world media stakeholders only points us in one direction. Not only will China produce everything we need, it will quite quickly shape the way we think. 

Quotable Quotes – “Observers pointed out that there were no discussions about freedom of speech or of the press at this event, which China termed a “media Olympics.” China’s goal is clear – it hopes for greater influence in directing world opinion – while the participating media tycoons hopped on board in hopes of somehow winning a slice of what they imagine to be a huge Chinese media market.

China’s dream of shaping world opinion
By S.L. Shen
UPI Correspondent
Source – UPI Asia 13 October 2009

Beijing, China — China has long been known for controlling its citizens’ access to information by limiting freedom of the press both in traditional news media and on the Internet. But now, as the country sees its status rising in the international community, China has decided it wants a role in the international media spotlight as well.

Last week the Chinese government hosted a three-day World Media Summit in Beijing, attended by heads of the world’s major media companies and hundreds of other media representatives.

Chinese President Hu Jintao addressed the group at the Great Hall of the People on Friday, saying that China hoped to strengthen its cooperation with foreign media in a wide range of areas. Hu urged the media to take social responsibility and contribute to peace and harmony. He also asked them to deepen the world’s understanding of China.

According to Xinhua news agency, some 300 representatives from 40 domestic and 130 foreign media outlets participated in this first effort to woo the world’s media, which China plans to repeat every two to four years. They included such media heavyweights as News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch, Associated Press CEO Tom Curley and Reuters Editor-in-chief David Schlesinger.

In a statement issued at the close of the event, participants called on world media to provide “accurate, objective, impartial and fair” coverage of news events around the globe.

However, the call seemed somewhat ironic to journalists used to working under Chinese authorities’ frequently arbitrary restrictions. Most are skeptical that officials have an authentic grasp of what global media players consider accurate, objective, impartial and fair, let alone a sincere commitment to meet those standards.

Chinese Communist Party officials have a long history of viewing media as a propaganda tool of the party. In recent times they have seen its main mission as maintaining social stability – under the leadership of the party, of course.

To protect the party’s economic and political interests the authorities have maintained a monopoly on news media and frequently censored both domestic and international news, so that the media does not “mislead” people and cause “social disorder.”

Media in China remains state-owned and its leaders take instructions from party officials. It is not at all uncommon to hear of journalists and their editors losing their jobs over articles that revealed “sensitive” information or failed to follow the party line.

During major events like the Beijing Olympics and the recent National Day celebrations, domestic media were forbidden to report negative stories for fear they would disrupt the festive atmosphere or even stir up social unrest.

For example, when a bomb blew up a Uighur restaurant near Tiananmen Square in Beijing a few days before the Oct. 1 National Day, only a brief news item appeared in local media. The media portrayed the incident as an accident in which some people were hurt, adding that all were “well taken care of.” But a doctor at the Beijing Jishuitan Hospital, where the victims were taken, told UPI Asia.com that three people died in that incident.

The Chinese government routinely tries to muzzle the media whenever there is any kind of social unrest, political incident or even natural disaster.
China’s General Administration of Press and Publications just revised its regulations on issuing press cards last week. The new rules, which take effect on Oct. 15, forbid anyone from reporting without a press card issued by the state. They also state that a journalist with a valid press card cannot be stopped from performing his or her duties as long as they are not illegal.

This regulation may turn out to be merely another scrap of paper. There are numerous reports of journalists being stopped, detained and even beaten by police or officials while trying to do their job. This applies to both domestic and foreign reporters.

Fifteen Chinese intellectuals released an “Internet Human Rights Declaration” on Oct. 8 – just as the World Media Summit was getting under way in Beijing – in which they declared the rights of netizens to freely report, edit and publish. They also proposed that Oct. 10 be declared Internet Human Rights Day in China. Unfortunately, although this Declaration was posted on different websites, the postings were soon deleted by cyber police.

China has frequently been criticized for its Golden Shield Project, which netizens have nicknamed the “Great Firewall of China,” referring to the government’s cyber blocking system.

Many popular websites remain blocked, including YouTube, the Chinese version of the BBC, blog services provided by Blogspot.com and Yahoo Taiwan.com, as well as most Chinese-language media in Taiwan and Hong Kong.

The fact that Xinhua, the Chinese Communist Party’s mouthpiece, got together with eight renowned media companies to hold the Beijing summit demonstrates China’s ambition to participate in the global media community – despite China’s efforts to make this event appear “nongovernmental.”

Observers pointed out that there were no discussions about freedom of speech or of the press at this event, which China termed a “media Olympics.” China’s goal is clear – it hopes for greater influence in directing world opinion – while the participating media tycoons hopped on board in hopes of somehow winning a slice of what they imagine to be a huge Chinese media market. At this point in time, the two are indeed strange bedfellows.

Filed under: International Relations, Media, UPI Asia

China’s calls for a global currency

Washington, DC, United States, —
As the dollar falls against the euro, yen and other major currencies, China and other emerging economic powers holding lots of dollars and U.S. securities are crying foul, and for an end to the dollar’s central status in global commerce.
If they are truly disgusted, they should look to themselves for answers.
Since the end of World War II, the dollar has largely replaced gold as the reserve asset central banks hold to back up national currencies. The supply of mineable gold is too limited, and efforts to back up currency with gold would result in chronic shortages of liquidity and global deflation.
When a merchant moves goods, for example, from Thailand to Mexico, the market for pesos into baht is thin or nonexistent, and the merchant sells pesos for dollars to buy baht. Similarly, many other cross-border trades, financial contracts and debts are denominated in dollars, although the euro is coming into greater use.
Over the years, governments and traders gravitated to the dollar because the United States has the largest and most diversified economy. Virtually anything made or grown around the world is made or traded in the United States, and money invested in dollars is secure from political upheaval and state confiscation.
Until recently, the dollar has been a well-managed currency. The U.S. government resisted the temptation to borrow too much and flood the world with too many dollars and U.S. Treasury securities, which provide liquidity just as dollars do.
The current market-determined system of exchange rates emerged by default in the early 1970s, when the Bretton Woods system of government-enforced fixed exchange rates failed, and the United States ended the convertibility of the dollar into gold.
This system has no rules or effective governing structure. Consequently, some governments have seized opportunities to manipulate the system to gain competitive advantages in trade. For example, since 1995 China has maintained an undervalued currency by selling huge amounts of yuan for dollars to merchants and currency traders.
The undervalued yuan makes Chinese exports artificially cheap and foreign products too expensive in Chinese markets. China enjoys huge trade surpluses that create millions of jobs and double-digit growth in China. Japan and others have pursued similar strategies.
These policies impose huge trade deficits and unemployment on the United States, create enormous imbalances in the global economy, and have contributed importantly to the Great Recession.
The U.S. trade deficit grew from about 1 percent of GDP in 2001 to more than 5 percent from 2005 to 2008, and this should have created a shortage of demand for U.S. goods and services and a recession.
However, China invested the dollars it obtained by suppressing the value of the yuan to purchase U.S. securities. U.S. consumers borrowed those dollars, against their homes and on credit cards, and kept the U.S. economy going.
Finally, the credit bubble burst and an even bigger recession resulted. Huge federal borrowing is now required to finance massive U.S. stimulus spending, bail out banks and otherwise rescue the U.S. economy.
All this borrowing floods capital markets with Treasury securities, which provide the same liquidity as dollars, and pushes down exchange rates for the dollar against every major currency except the Chinese yuan. This reduces the value of the dollars, as expressed in euro and yen, held by China, Russia, Saudi Arabia and others.
Hoisted on the consequences of their own mercantilism, China and others would like to see the dollar replaced by a basket of currencies.
A global currency poses enormous diplomatic and technical challenges, including creating an international body to control its supply and persuading governments to issue debt denominated in this global currency. Without those, private merchants and financiers would still seek a central national currency to facilitate trade and denominate private cross-border contracts and debts.
Even with a global currency, China could still buy dollars with yuan to keep its value suppressed against the dollar and boost exports into the United States. The United States would still have to run large federal deficits to avoid economic meltdown.
China would still be stuck holding dollars that chronically fall in value against other currencies.
If China and others want that problem fixed, they need to abandon currency manipulation and let their populations purchase more U.S. goods and services.
The U.S. economy would grow robustly, federal borrowing would subside and the threat of too many dollars compromising the dollar’s role in international finance would vanish.
(Peter Morici is a professor at the Smith School of Business, University of Maryland, and a former chief economist at the U.S. International Trade Commission. ©Copyright Peter Morici.)

China’s calls for a global currency
By Peter Morici
Guest Commentary
Source – UPI Asia 08 October 2009

Washington, DC, United States, —

As the dollar falls against the euro, yen and other major currencies, China and other emerging economic powers holding lots of dollars and U.S. securities are crying foul, and for an end to the dollar’s central status in global commerce.

If they are truly disgusted, they should look to themselves for answers.

Since the end of World War II, the dollar has largely replaced gold as the reserve asset central banks hold to back up national currencies. The supply of mineable gold is too limited, and efforts to back up currency with gold would result in chronic shortages of liquidity and global deflation.

When a merchant moves goods, for example, from Thailand to Mexico, the market for pesos into baht is thin or nonexistent, and the merchant sells pesos for dollars to buy baht. Similarly, many other cross-border trades, financial contracts and debts are denominated in dollars, although the euro is coming into greater use.

Over the years, governments and traders gravitated to the dollar because the United States has the largest and most diversified economy. Virtually anything made or grown around the world is made or traded in the United States, and money invested in dollars is secure from political upheaval and state confiscation.

Until recently, the dollar has been a well-managed currency. The U.S. government resisted the temptation to borrow too much and flood the world with too many dollars and U.S. Treasury securities, which provide liquidity just as dollars do.

The current market-determined system of exchange rates emerged by default in the early 1970s, when the Bretton Woods system of government-enforced fixed exchange rates failed, and the United States ended the convertibility of the dollar into gold.

This system has no rules or effective governing structure. Consequently, some governments have seized opportunities to manipulate the system to gain competitive advantages in trade. For example, since 1995 China has maintained an undervalued currency by selling huge amounts of yuan for dollars to merchants and currency traders.

The undervalued yuan makes Chinese exports artificially cheap and foreign products too expensive in Chinese markets. China enjoys huge trade surpluses that create millions of jobs and double-digit growth in China. Japan and others have pursued similar strategies.

These policies impose huge trade deficits and unemployment on the United States, create enormous imbalances in the global economy, and have contributed importantly to the Great Recession.

The U.S. trade deficit grew from about 1 percent of GDP in 2001 to more than 5 percent from 2005 to 2008, and this should have created a shortage of demand for U.S. goods and services and a recession.

However, China invested the dollars it obtained by suppressing the value of the yuan to purchase U.S. securities. U.S. consumers borrowed those dollars, against their homes and on credit cards, and kept the U.S. economy going.

Finally, the credit bubble burst and an even bigger recession resulted. Huge federal borrowing is now required to finance massive U.S. stimulus spending, bail out banks and otherwise rescue the U.S. economy.

All this borrowing floods capital markets with Treasury securities, which provide the same liquidity as dollars, and pushes down exchange rates for the dollar against every major currency except the Chinese yuan. This reduces the value of the dollars, as expressed in euro and yen, held by China, Russia, Saudi Arabia and others.

Hoisted on the consequences of their own mercantilism, China and others would like to see the dollar replaced by a basket of currencies.

A global currency poses enormous diplomatic and technical challenges, including creating an international body to control its supply and persuading governments to issue debt denominated in this global currency. Without those, private merchants and financiers would still seek a central national currency to facilitate trade and denominate private cross-border contracts and debts.

Even with a global currency, China could still buy dollars with yuan to keep its value suppressed against the dollar and boost exports into the United States. The United States would still have to run large federal deficits to avoid economic meltdown.

China would still be stuck holding dollars that chronically fall in value against other currencies.

If China and others want that problem fixed, they need to abandon currency manipulation and let their populations purchase more U.S. goods and services.

The U.S. economy would grow robustly, federal borrowing would subside and the threat of too many dollars compromising the dollar’s role in international finance would vanish.

(Peter Morici is a professor at the Smith School of Business, University of Maryland, and a former chief economist at the U.S. International Trade Commission. ©Copyright Peter Morici.)

Filed under: Economics, UPI Asia

New paradigms of deterrence in Asia

Great article detailing the new strategic dynamic in Asia thanks to the rise of both India and China. Traditional hard power to the fore. What’s interesting is how Japan is described as the ‘quiet man of Asia’, a stark contrast of how anyone would describe Japan a few years ago, at least in military terms.

Quotable Quotes“It could be argued that India and China, Asia’s two largest nations, are developing weapon systems that mirror similar pursuits by the United States. This is not surprising, as their growing economies enable them to become more ambitious in developing their military programs. This suggests it is time now to look beyond the Outer Space Treaty and negotiate a new one, taking into account the reality of the new triad.”

New paradigms of deterrence in Asia
By Saurav Jha
Column: The Estranged Analyst
Source – UPI Asia 07 October 2009 

Kolkata, India — Asia is witnessing a new game of swords and shields, which is taking players to ocean depths as well as outer space. China and India have taken the lead in this, with Japan seriously contemplating deploying systems it has been developing. The focus is on anti-access strategies and nuclear deterrence.

The proliferation of anti-ballistic missile systems is making Asian countries rethink offensive paradigms. Almost all major regional and offshore players in Asia are now pursuing ballistic missile defense systems.

The United States is of course the leader in this game and has helped its chief allies, Japan and South Korea, mature in this area through technology partnerships. India has an active BMD program in collaboration with Israel and various missiles under this program have undergone successful tests in recent times.

Naturally, the appearance of ballistic missile shields along its periphery is a major cause of concern for China, since it degrades China’s key long-range offensive strike architecture in the form of legacy ballistic missile systems. Moreover, it gives Washington and its partners breathing space to counter Chinese adventurism. It also effectively diminishes the ability of Pakistan and North Korea to blackmail India and Japan respectively.

Understanding the need to rebalance the situation, China has now begun to develop a range of counters under its 863 Program, an advanced state technology development plan that focuses on new-generation land- and submarine-based cruise missiles, faster ballistic missiles with terminal guidance and multiple warheads, and space-based offensive systems.

Targeting is accomplished through the deployment of a homegrown satellite positioning system, synthetic aperture radar, electro-optical satellites and over-the-horizon radars. The systems could come in handy for targeting U.S. carrier groups at sea and defeating BMDs in a nuclear attack.

Pakistan too has developed its Babur cruise missile, which is a medium-range missile similar to China’s long-range CJ-10.

While there has been much commentary on China’s counter-space capabilities, it is likely that China is also looking at space to launch land attacks. It can be argued that its Shenlong Space Plane project may lead to an orbital bomber and its interest in formation-flying satellites and space stations could lead to the pre-positioning of nuclear warheads in space. Indeed, the concept could be similar to the former Soviet Union’s Polyus program of the late 1980s, devised as an asymmetric counter to former U.S. President Ronald Regan’s strategic defense initiative derided as the Star Wars program.

The development of swords and shields however cuts both ways. China is itself engaged in developing an antiballistic missile shield, banking on both Russian and indigenous systems.

It should be noted that China’s test of a direct ascent anti-satellite system in 2007 also indicated the ability to intercept re-entering warheads, since the technology for either effort is related. Obviously, this would be of concern to countries like India and Japan, who want to retain the option of punitive long-range strikes against China in the event of hostilities. India in particular would want to maintain a credible nuclear second-strike capability against China’s cities.

Although India has a no-first-use policy with regard to launching nuclear attacks, for a survivable nuclear deterrent it recently launched its first nuclear submarine, the INS Arihant, which is scheduled to be commissioned in 2012. When deployed, it will carry as its primary armaments 12 nuclear-capable K-15 submarine-launched ballistic missiles with a range of just 700 kilometers.

But purists in India and elsewhere have dismissed the weapon’s load as too short ranged to achieve strategic objectives. However, a 3,500-kilometer SLBM for the Arihant and larger derivatives seems to be on the anvil as well. However, the deterrence value of the submarine with its initial armaments cannot be dismissed outright.

Several critical targets in China and elsewhere are right on the shoreline. Some analysts believe that ballistic missiles with long flight times will increasingly run the risk of detection and may not make it past a multi-layered BMD system.

Instead, relatively short-ranged maneuverable ballistic missiles that can be fired at depressed trajectories and yet fly at hypersonic speeds will prove difficult to intercept and also retain the stealth advantage if the submarine is quiet enough. Missiles of this class – sometimes termed quasi-ballistic, as they do not follow a purely ballistic trajectory, include the Russian Iskander, the U.S. Army’s tactical missile system, of which a naval version is proposed, the Chinese Dong-Feng 15 and India’s K-15 ballistic missiles.

Such weapons make even more sense from a cost benefit point of view when deployed on hybrid air-independent propulsion submarines such as the Russian B-90 Sarov. It remains to be seen whether India will move in this direction.

India also has hypersonic systems in development like the Brahmos 2 cruise missile and the Defense Research and Development Organization’s lead hypersonic technology demonstrator vehicle program. In years to come the former may form the cornerstone of India’s anti-access strategy at sea, and the latter could give it the ability to strike global targets at short notice.

Long-range firepower has emerged as a priority and these are a few relevant technologies being developed for “new deterrence.”

The quiet man of Asia – at least as far as military development is concerned – is also looking seriously at new offensive paradigms to keep China at bay. One would note that Japan has the world’s greatest “breakout” capability, which refers to Japan’s dormant weapon programs that can be activated fairly quickly if required.

Japan’s Technical Research and Development Institute continues active research into stealth technology for both manned and unmanned systems, which is an indication of the direction Japan may be headed.

It is conceivable that in the next decade Japan may begin to deploy extreme stealth and long-range cruise missiles on air-independent propulsion submarines that can strike hardened targets in China and North Korea. Indeed it can even go nuclear since the availability of fissile material is not an issue given its Monju fast breeder reactor.

Also, Japan is a pioneer in space exploration and can match the technological moves of China to possibly “weaponize” space.

The buildup in the areas of BMDs and precision-guided strategic munitions and the modernization of nuclear forces resemble the “new triad” being pursued by the United States.

It could be argued that India and China, Asia’s two largest nations, are developing weapon systems that mirror similar pursuits by the United States. This is not surprising, as their growing economies enable them to become more ambitious in developing their military programs. This suggests it is time now to look beyond the Outer Space Treaty and negotiate a new one, taking into account the reality of the new triad.

(Saurav Jha works as an independent consultant in the energy sector in India. He is consulting editor of India Power magazine and author of a forthcoming book on nuclear power. He can be contacted at sjha1618@gmail.com. ©Copyright Saurav Jha.)

Filed under: India, military, Strategy, UPI Asia

Are Chinese universities on par with the world?

A nation is perhaps really only as powerful as the potential it can generate for growth via an educated populace (arguably, to churn out efficient cogs in the wheel). But I digress, the question I ask myself when I read this article was rather simple – it reads that university leaders are eager to please the powers that be (maybe a relic of the past), and I hope the cost will not come in the form of ‘too many idiots, too few truly bright sparks, many many subservient half-bright sparks’. Cryptic? Perhaps.

Quotable Quotes“In the words of Qian Xuesen, the “father” of China’s missile and space programs, one important reason that China has not turned out outstanding talent is that the nation does not have one university that genuinely follows the model of nurturing scientific and creative talent and encouraging unique innovation.”

Are Chinese universities on par with the world?
By Cong Cao
Column: Notes on China
Source – UPI Asia 06 October 2009

New York, NY, United States, — The year 2009 probably will be remembered as one of the worst in terms of higher education financing in the United States. Harvard University, which used to depend upon its hefty endowment for one-third of its budget, suffered a negative return of as much as 30 percent of the endowment for the 2009 fiscal year that ended in June. Other Ivy League schools have not done better.

The University of California system has incurred a shortfall of more than US$800 million in its budget. Consequently, the system recommended a 15 percent increase in in-state undergraduate tuition for both spring and fall quarters of 2010, which is on top of a 9.3 percent raise in May 2009. In the meantime, UC faculty members would face an 8 percent reduction in salary. Similar woes have happened to almost all U.S. universities.

Contrary to this miserable scenario, institutions of higher education on the other side of the Pacific have seen their financial situation improving despite the crisis. Hao Ping, China’s vice minister of education, announced this at a news conference to showcase educational achievements on the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China.

Hao indicated that in 2007 the 34 Chinese universities identified as the frontrunners of the 985 Program – a project to raise Chinese universities to international standard – received an average of 700 million yuan (US$92 million) for scientific research, with several as high as 1.2 billion yuan (US$132 million).

This amount was said to be on par with the average level of the 62 leading North American public and private research universities affiliated with the Association for American Universities, and that of Australia’s Group of Eight universities.

The 985 Program was launched to commemorate a speech by Jiang Zemin, then Chinese president, in May 1998 on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of Peking University. Jiang called for the elevation of some Chinese universities to world class.

The increasing investment thereafter, according to Hao, has led to the rising capability in scientific research in Chinese universities which, as a whole, have ranked fifth as measured by the number of papers published in journals cataloged by the Science Citation Index. China is behind only the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany and Japan.

In particular, in 2007, on average, Peking, Tsinghua, Zhejiang and Shanghai Jiaotong universities published 2,300 SCI papers, higher than the University of Sydney of the Group of Eight. Although these universities still lagged behind such elite U.S. ones as Harvard, MIT and Yale, which published an average of 2,700 papers, the gap has been significantly narrowed.

When the 985 Program debuted, the total number of papers published by the 34 leading Chinese universities was only 2,000, slightly more than those by Harvard University alone.

Yet Chinese universities have not experienced a quality improvement commensurate to the quantitative expansion. Vice Minister Hao did not compare citations to papers published by scientists at the Chinese and U.S. universities, but there is no doubt that Chinese papers fall behind by this measure.

It also is common that graduates from the 985 Program universities, especially those in science and engineering disciplines, still prefer foreign graduate schools – from the schools affiliated to the Association of American Universities and the Group of Eight Universities – to their alma maters for advanced studies.

The occurrence of academic scandals at some of the most prestigious Chinese universities has not been seriously tackled.

More critically, as scholar-turned-bureaucrats, Chinese university presidents are more willing to conform to the political leadership than to behave professionally as their foreign counterparts.

In the words of Qian Xuesen, the “father” of China’s missile and space programs, one important reason that China has not turned out outstanding talent is that the nation does not have one university that genuinely follows the model of nurturing scientific and creative talent and encouraging unique innovation.

While the diagnostics are harsh, the fact of the matter is that until this problem is solved, Chinese universities are unlikely to join the world’s “premium league” of higher education, regardless how many papers they produce.

(Cong Cao is a senior research associate with the Neil D. Levin Graduate Institute of International Relations and Commerce at the State University of New York. He received his PhD in sociology from Columbia University in 1997 and has worked at the University of Oregon and the National University of Singapore. Dr. Cao is interested in the social studies of science and technology with a focus on China. ©Copyright Cong Cao.)

Filed under: Education, UPI Asia

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