Posts tagged ‘foreign trade’

Friday, November 8, 2013

Press Review: the “Magic” of Third Plenary Sessions

The Chinese Communist Party’s 18th Central Committee’s third plenary session is scheduled to begin on Saturday, and to close on Tuesday. The Economist is full of joy and great expectations:

When colleagues complain that meetings achieve nothing, silence them with eight leaden words: “third plenary session of the 11th central committee”. This five-day Communist Party gathering in December 1978 utterly changed China.

Why should Xi Jinping be in a position to repeat a similar plenum tomorrow, 35 years after the 1th Central Committee? Because Xi, and chief state councillor Li Keqiang, have assembled an impressive bunch of market-oriented advisers, and because Xi himself appears to have more authority than any leader since Deng. And he had done nothing downplay expecations.

press review

The outland expects nothing short of a (counter) revolution.

The Economist’s editorial mentions two fields on which the central committee – in its view – should focus: state-owned enterprises (SOEs) and the countryside. The magazine has been banging on about the latter issue since March 2006 – if not earlier. In its March 25, 2006 edition, it suggested land reform (“how to make China even richer”), and it saw some of its expectations met in winter 2008, but the third plenum that Xi’s predecessor Hu Jintao chaired in October 2008 proved an anticlimax.

If the next days should not produce spectacular decisions, neither the Economist nor the Financial Times appear to be too worried: bloated phrasing, the FT suggests, has not been an obstacle to far-reaching economic policy changes in China over the past 35 years. The FT also agrees with the Economist’s 2008 finding that

for Hu Jintao, Mr Xi’s predecessor, the 2003 third plenum became a marker of his administration’s shortcomings. Mr Hu vowed at the plenum to tackle China’s unbalanced growth, but a decade later left office with the economy even more reliant on investment.

But contrary to the Economist, the FT doesn’t seem to believe that the input from the market-oriented advisers, assembled by Xi Jinping and Li Keqiang, will translate into results quite as dramatic as the think-tank papers. Incremental change would prevail.

One of the ideas – certainly not shared by all Chinese leaders alike – behind the right to farmers to sell their land is that the money earned from sales would enable them to start new lives in the cities or in urbanized areas. This would, apparently, require loosening or abandoning the household-registration system, even if some more conservative models of trading land-related rights rather seem to encourage rural citizens to stay where they are.

This should make sense – maybe not everywhere, but in many places. After all, Hu Jintao’s and Wen Jiabao’s caution wasn’t unfounded. The history of Chinese agriculture seems to have been about making farmers owners of their land – with concepts of ownership which most probably differ from our days -, even if for different goals. The idea then was to make agriculture work, not to make urbanization work. And time and again, land concentrated, back into the hands of small elites, Erling von Mende, a sinologist, suggested in a contribution for a popular-science illustrated book published by Roger Goepper, in 1988.*)

If a peasant in Gansu province sells his few mu of land – to a local developer, for example – and heads to a big city, one may doubt that his small capital would get him very far. He might return to his home province as a poorer man than ever before. It’s unlikely that the center would loosen all the brakes at once.

The most striking thing to me about recent foreign coverage of the plenary session aren’t the technicalities, however. It is the way China is being looked at as just another kind of political system. The potential of big business seems to have squashed ethical issues.

That’s not soft power, but it is Beijing power. A number of former foreign officials, among them Mexico’s former president Ernesto Zedillo and former British prime minister Gordon Brown, pilgrimaged to the Chinese capital to attend a conference of the 21st Century Council, a global think tank (apparently formed by them). They got an invitation for tea met with Xi Jinping, too, who informed them that China would not fall into the middle-income trap.

There is no reason to believe that elites who worship abusive power abroad will show more respect for human rights at home.

____________

Note

*) Roger Goepper (Hrsg.): “Das Alte China”, München, Gütersloh, 1988, pp. 164 – 166

____________

Related

» Is China misunderstood, Oct 24, 2012
» Middle-income trap, Wikipedia, acc. 20131108

____________

Friday, September 20, 2013

China’s low Profile: As Close as They can

Links within the following blockquotes were added during translation / quotation — JR
Kerry Brown, a professor of Chinese politics at the University of Sydney, recently asked in an article for the BBC if China’s “non-interference policy” was sustainable.

Although China’s global influence had grown during the past decades, Brown wrote,

[..] Chinese leaders still stay as close as they can to the principles of peaceful coexistence and non-interference set out by Zhou Enlai. Despite the fact that the world has changed so radically in this time, these principles are useful because they avoid China being dragged into situations that overstretch and challenge it, they avoid it being pushed into a corner where it can be painted as a foe of the US and the rest of the developed world, and they allow it to continue focusing on its own formidable internal development issues.

Indeed, China’s profile remained low in the Syrian conflict, so far, and seemed to follw Russia’s diplomatic wake rather than pursuing a globally visible role of its own (which does not necessarily mean that Beijing sees eye to eye with Moscow on each and every issue).

At the same time, not only foreigners wonder where China is when it comes to the current crisis (or its recent defusing). Domestic Chinese press does describe China’s position at times, not least to keep face-conscious readers happy, probably.

Xinhua newsagency, for example, carried an interview with China’s special Mideast envoy Wu Sike (吴思科) on September 10 this year. Excerpts:

The Syrian “chemical weapons” issue is confusing, and it hasn’t yet been possible to determine who is right and who is wrong, I have once lived in Syria for four years, and my impression of the locality was very good. Before the chaos caused of the war, it was a society of moderate prosperity [or a moderately well-off society], with many historical relics, and very friendly people. But now, according to UNHCR statistics, the number of refugees who fled abroad has surpassed two million, with one million of them children, and six million people are displaced within Syria. These aren’t just numbers; this is the suffering of homeless Syrian people who even lost loved ones. Who wants to be responsible for aggravating their crisis?

虽然叙利亚“化武”问题扑朔迷离,孰是孰非迄今尚无定论。我曾经在叙利亚生活过4年,对该地区印象很好,那里在战乱之前处于小康社会,历史遗迹很多,人民非常友好。
但是目前根据联合国难民署提供的数据,目前逃往国外的叙利亚难民已超过200万,仅儿童难民数量已超过百万,叙利亚境内还有600万人流离失 所。这些不仅仅是一个又一个的数字,而是一个个被迫流离失所甚至失去亲人的叙利亚人民的苦难。有谁能背得起加剧叙人道危机的责任?!

[.....]

Wu Sike describes his role in Mideast diplomacy:

Last year in December, I took part in a conference in Bahrain, and the participating countries all thought that the United Nations should mediate. Now, America tries to be above international situations, which is a really high-handed behavior. But the intriguing thing this time is that America’s allies, such as Italy or Germany aren’t positive [about America's approach]. Therefore, China unequivocally advocates opposition against military methods, and advocates political means to solve the Syrian conflict. War will only complicate the situation further, intensify contradictions and clashes, and is no way to solve the problem. Therefore, political means should be used for a solution.

吴思科:去年12月份我在巴林参加会议,与会的中东各国都认为应该由联合国出面进行斡旋调解,现在美国的做法是企图让一个国家凌驾在国际组织之上,是非常霸道的表现。
但是这次耐人寻味的是,美国的盟国如意大利、德国并不积极,因此中国明确主张反对用军事的方式,应该用政治的方式,去解决叙利亚的争端。战争只会让局势更加复杂,让矛盾冲突更加剧烈,不是解决问题的方法。因此应该用政治手段解决。

[.....]

The Mideast situation is complex. When I visited Cairo, Arab-League general secretary Nabil Elaraby believed that the current problem was that the Syrian government believes that they still have strong troops to overcome its opponents. But the opposition believes that if only they persist for another day, there will be people abroad who will support them. Neither side wanted to abandon military means to protect itself, and there’s an impasse. Under such circumstances, efforts by the international community are required. The UN have now started an investigation of the chemical-weapons incident. To go to arms before the investigation’s findings are published runs counter to the purpose of the “UN Charter”. All parties should wait for and respect the findings of the investigation.

中东地区的形势错综复杂,我在开罗访问的时候,阿盟秘书长阿拉比认为现在的难点是叙利亚政府认为自 己手中还有强大的军队,能够征服他的反对者。而反对派认为只要自己坚持一天,国外就有人会支持,双方都不愿放弃军事手段来保卫自己,这是一个死结。因此, 在这种情况下,需要国际社会的努力。
目前联合国已经开始对叙利亚化武事件展开调查,在联合国调查结果公布前就诉诸武力有悖于《联合国宪章》宗旨,有关各方应期待并尊重联合国的调查结果。

====================

Two years earlier (and this should not suggest that Wu Sike never talked again, prior to September this year), Wu Sike also commented on Mideast affairs. Back then, his Mideast and Syria comments were embedded in a broader picture of Chinese diplomacy.

Public Diplomacy Net was established on May 1, 2011, with former Chinese foreign minister Tang Jiaxuan, former chairman of the foreign aff airs committee of the “Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference” Zhao Qizheng, Commission for Africa member Ji Peiding and Chinese special Mideast envoy Wu Sike as the website’s advisors.

Soon after, in September 2011, Wu Sike was interviewed by the website, or responded to netizens’ questions. The main topic at the time was a white paper on China’s peaceful development, issued earlier that month on September 6, but as Middle-East special envoy, Wu was also asked questions related to the Middle-East peace process and the growing Syria conflict.

One of his answers further down in the following blockquote could count as an answer to the question at the beginning of this post, asked by Professor Brown, as to why China sticks to a low profile. The Chinese wording for “low profile” – or hiding your brightness and biding your time, depending on your translation, is 韬光养晦, is attributed to Deng Xiaoping.

Wu Sike’s answer to the first question of the interview is lengthy, and contains several paragraphs.

Main Link: http://www.pdcec.com/bencandy.php?fid=60&id=7964

Public Diplomacy Net (PDN) / Wu Sike (WSK)

PDN: Special Ambassador Wu, the information office of the state council published the “China’s Peaceful Development” white paper on September 6, please explain the main content of the white paper to our netizen friends.

公共外交网:吴特使,国务院新闻办公室于9月6日发表了《中国的和平发展》白皮书,现在请您向网友们介绍一下白皮书的主要内容。

WSK: The white paper on “China’s Peaceful Development” has received broad attention at home and abroad. It is the declaration of China’s peaceful development, a roadmap, with absolutely important significance. It provides, for the first time, a comprehensive and systematic explanation of China’s path of peaceful development, the strategy and foreign policies of China’s peaceful development. It states Chinese path of peaceful development, the goals of peaceful development, and actively responds to the questions about how China wants to apply its strength and foreign relations and similar issues.

吴思科:国务院新闻办于9月6日发表了《中国的和平发展》白皮书,引起国内外广泛关注。白皮书是中国和平发展的宣言书、路线图,有着十分重要的意义。白皮书首次对中国和平发展道路、和平发展战略和对外大政方针做了全面系统的阐释,表明了中国的发展道路、发展目标,并积极回应力国际社会关切的中国如何运用实力以及与外部世界的关系等问题。

The white paper explains China’s development path, and strategic direction still more comprehensively, systematically and clearly to the world. Peaceful development has become China’s national will. The white paper officially defines the conceptof “core interests“, it points out that China will resolutely protect its core national interests, including the country’s sovereignty, security, territorial integrity, national unity, China’s political system and general social stability as established by the constitution, the basic guarantees for sustained economic and social development.

白皮书向世界更加全面、系统、清晰地阐明中国的发展道路和战略走向。和平发展已经上升为中国的国家意志,白皮书正式界定了“核心利益”的概念,指出中国坚决维护国家核心利益,包括:国家主权,国家安全,领土完整,国家统一,中国宪法确立的国家政治制度和社会大局稳定,经济社会可持续发展的基本保障。

The white paper explains how the big country with its 1.3 billion people develops on the path of socialism, sums up its content and its characteristics, especially emphasizes that peaceful development is socialism with Chinese characteristics’ essential content, raises peaceful development to the rank of national will, turns it into the overall national development plan and fundamental policy, and implements domestic and external practice.

白皮书,阐述了这个有13亿人口的走社会主义道路的大国如何发展,这次把内涵及其特点进行归纳,特别是强调和平发展是中国特色社会主义道路的本质内容,把和平发展上升到国家意志,转化为国家的整体发展规划和大政方针,并且落实到对内和对外的广泛实践中。

China is a responsible big country, the white paper uses the “promote and build a harmonious world, maintain the standing-of-one’s-own-and-peace foreign polciies, advocates the new security concept of mutual trust, mutual benefit, equality [of states, apparently] and cooperation, an international concept of active international responsibility, pursuing good-neighborly regional cooperation concepts”, thus summarizing China’s peaceful-development foreign policy.  Among these, Active international responsibility has appeared in a public official document for the first time. Cooperation on environmental issues is discussed as an organic part of a harmonious world.

中国是负责任的大国,白皮书用“推动建设和谐世界,坚持独立自主和平外交政策,倡导互信、互利、平等、协作的新安全观,秉持积极有为的国际责任观,奉行睦邻友好的地区合作观”概括了中国和平发展的外交政策。其中,积极有为的国际责任观是首次出现在政府公开文件中;把环保合作作为和谐世界的有机组成部分进行论述。

Peaceful development is the national will. Therefore, as Chinese citizens, we need the concept of peaceful development to be reflected in our practical work. Also, we need to let the world understand the firm idea of China’s peaceful development.

和平发展是国家意志。因此,作为中国公民需要把和平发展的理念体现在我们的现实工作当中。另外,我们还需要让世界了解中国和平发展的坚定理念。

After studying the white paper, I felt that there needs to be a deepened understanding from two aspects:

研读了白皮书以后,我感觉要从两个方面加深认识:

One is that peaceful development is the call of our times. We can see from the world’s historical development that [a country's?] strength leads to hegemony [or tyranny], and when a great power rose, it always replaced another great power by force, making both of them suffer. History has developed to a new era, and this road should be taken. In these times of globalization and rapid technological development, we should build a harmonious world with the methods of win-win. This is the requirement of global development and a certainty of historical development.

一是和平发展是当今时代的呼唤。从世界历史的发展过程中来看,国强必霸,历史上大国崛起,都是通过武力取代另一个大国,最后总是两败俱伤。历史发展到一个新的时期,这条路不应该走下去了。在当今经济全球化和科技高速发展的时代,应该通过合作实现共赢的方式共建一个和谐世界,这是世界发展的需要,也是历史发展的必然。

The second [aspect] is the fulffillment of “peace” as China’s concept with its great and far-reaching significance, as seen from China’s traditional culture. From ancient times, China’s philosophy has been about the “unity of nature and humanity”, that national characteristics [or identity] “values peace”, that there is diversity in harmony, about exploring inclusiveness, about open-mindedness, good-neighborliness and friendliness – this is the guiding spirit of China’s exchange with the outside world.

二是践行“和”之中国理念意义重大而深远。从中国的传统文化来讲。中国自古以来的哲学就是天人合一,民族特性都是“以和为贵”,和而不同,讲究包容性,有开放的心态,讲求睦邻友善,这是中国对外交流的指导精神。

[This para is an incomplete translation] The Silk Road which opened more than two-thousand years ago, has enriched our culture and development through trade and cultural interaction, agriculture and our species. It has made lives richer.

中国2000多年之前就有通向西域的丝绸之路,通过贸易和文化的互通有无带动中国的对外交流,也促进了我们中华文明的发展,农业发展上来说也丰富了我们的物种,使生活更加丰富。

More than six-hundred years ago, China’s famous navigator Zheng He took his seven voyages to the Western seas, to western Asia, eastern Africa, to thirty countries and regions. It was a big fleet, but they didn’t carry armed force. They carried concepts of friendship and peace. They promoted bilateral exchanges, and bequeathed us a much-told tale. Historically, China maintained an ideology that valued peace.

600多年前,中国著名航海家郑和七下西洋,到了西亚、非洲东部的30个国家和地区。船队阵容强大,但是他们没有带去武力,带去的是友谊、和平的理念,促进双方的交往,留下了历史的佳话。在历史上,中国就是坚持以和为贵的指导思想。

After the establishment of New China, we first issued the five principles of peaceful coexistence. This is both a fundamental policy in Chinese diplomacy and a manifestation of traditional Chinese civilization: mutual respect, no interference into each other’s internal affairs, etc.. After that, through our continuous development and changes, we have continuously enriched the five principles on their [own] foundation. In economic exchange, China maintains equality and mutual benefit and cooperational win-win. In terms of security concepts, mutual trust, hand-in-hand cooperation, it’s facing the traditional and non-traditional global security threats.  Another advocacy is a kind of green development concept, humankind’s common care for the earth, and environment protection.

新中国成立以后,我们最早提出和平共处五项基本原则。这既是中国外交的基本政策,也是中国传统文明的体现,互相尊重、互不干涉内政等。此后,随着我们不断的发展变化,在和平共处五项原则上不断地丰富其内容。在对外经济交往方面中国坚持的是平等互利、合作共赢的方针;在安全观方面,相互信任、携手合作、共同应对世界面临的传统和非传统的安全威胁。另外主张一种绿色发展观,人类共同呵护地球家园,共同保护环境。

PDN: This interview has attracted many netizens’ attention, many have asked questions, and in the following, we would like to ask special envoy Wu Sike for some answers.

公共外交网:本次访谈得到众多网友的关注,网友们提出了一些问题,下面就网友关心的话题请吴特使给予解答。

WSK: Fine.

吴思科:好的。

PDN: A netizen asks, which role is China playing in the Middle-East peace process?

公共外交网:有网友问,您认为中国在中东的和平进程问题中起到了怎样的作用?

WSK: The hot spot of the Middle East is a global concern. China’s regional peace and stability is also closely interrelated with global peace and stability. Therefore, China has always paid attention to the Mid-East situation, and has made unremitting efforts for Mid-Eastern peace.

吴思科:中东的热点问题是举世关注的,中国地区的和平稳定也是与世界的和平稳定密切相关,因此中国始终关注中东地区的形势,为推动中东和平进程作出不懈的努力。

PDN: What is the base line of “peaceful development”?

公共外交网:请问“和平发展”的底线是什么?

WSK: China’s peaceful development is our national policy. We will unservingly take the path of peaceful development, and also, the “white paper” has clearly defined China’s core national interests, which won’t waver in the least, either. Only when there is respect for the other side’s core interests, peace can be effectively protected, and sustainable development be put into place.

吴思科:中国的和平发展是我们的国策,我们会坚定不移地走和平发展之路,同时这个“白皮书”也明确界定了中国国家的核心利益,这也是不容丝毫动摇的,只有相互尊重对方的核心利益才能够有效维护和平,实现可持续发展。

[...]

PDN: What is your understanding of “hide your brightness, bide your time“?

公共外交网:您如何理解中国的“韬光养晦”?

WSK: To keep a low profile and to actively make a difference is an important principle of China’s diplomacy. To keep a low profile is no makeshift measure. China needs to achieve comprehensive rejuvenation, to make efforts for another long period, and in this process, we always need to be modest and prudent, learn others’ strengths, and while developing economically, we need to change the ways of development, achieve scientific development, and even if Chjna has developed strongly, we must maintain peaceful policies. That’s in the fundamental interest of the Chinese people, and in line with the interests of the peoples of the world.

吴 思科:坚持韬光养晦,积极有所作为,这是中国外交的一条重要原则,韬光养晦不是权宜之计,中国要实现全面复兴,还需要经历一个很长时间的努力,在这个过程 中我们始终需要谦虚谨慎,学习别人的长处,在经济发展的同时还需要转变发展方式,实现科学发展,即使中国发展强大了,也必须继续坚持和平的方针。这是中国 人民的根本利益所在,也符合世界人民的共同利益。

PDN: How does China pursue win-win in cooperation?

公共外交网:中国如何寻求合作共赢呢?

WSK: China has always adhered to the policy of cooperational win-win, and has explored this new method of cooperation. Cooperational win-win has created favorable conditions for our country’s economic development, and has also made a contribution to global economic development. As for myself, I have been involved in promoting Chinese cooperation with Arab and African countries, achieving cooperational win-win projects which are too many to enumerate. These projects have been mutually beneficial, this is cooperation needed by both sides, and they have ample prospects.

吴 思科:中国在对外合作方面一直遵循合作共赢的方针,并不断探索扩大这种合作的新的方式,这种合作共赢、共同发展的合作理念为我国的经济发展创造了有利的条 件,同时也为世界经济的发展做出了贡献。我本人就曾经参与推动中国和阿拉伯国家、非洲国家的合作,实现合作共赢的合作项目不胜枚举,这些项目都为双方带来 的共同利益,。这种合作是双方的共同需要,也有着广阔的前景。

PDN: What, in your view, are the main points about the China’s peaceful development “white paper”?

公共外交网:您认为本次发表的《中国的和平发展》白皮书中,最大的亮点是什么?

WSK: I think they are the clear definition of China’s core interests, at the same time explaining the six big characteristics of China’s peaceful development, which are scientific development, development standing on one’s own, opening up development, peaceful development, cooperation development, and common development. You could say that this is a high degree of summarization with strong guiding significance for what fits our national situation in the sixty years since the establishment of New China, and especially for the more than thirty years of reform and opening up.

吴 思科:我认为最大的亮点是明确界定了中国的核心利益;同时阐述了中国和平发展的六大特征,就是科学发展、自主发展、开放发展、和平发展、合作发展、共同发 展。可以说这是对新中国成立60年特别是改革开放30多年来我国探索适合自己国情发展道路实践的高度总结,有很强的指导意义。

PDN: As the Middle-East envoy, how do you see the current situation in the Middle East?

公共外交网:您作为中国中东问题特使,如何看当下的中东局势?

WSK: The Middle East is experiencing the biggest upheaval and change since more than half a century, with far-reaching effects to the region. In a situation of international change, big developments, and major adjustments, people there are seeking change, seeking development, improvement for the peoples’ livelihoods, and these are absolutely reasonable demands. We hope that some countries in the region can achieve peaceful change, find their own ways of development that fit into the new situation, soon achieve stability, with the fulfillment of the peoples’ demands. We also hope that in the Mideast hotspots, issues can be solved through negotiations, and peacefully, which is in the interest of all countries and peoples in the region, and also beneficial for global causes of peace and stability and development.

吴 思科:当前中东正经历近半个世纪以来最大的政治动荡和变革,对该地区正在产生深远的影响。在国际形势大变化、大发展,国际格局大调整的情况下,该地区的人 民求变革、求发展、求改善民生,这是完全合理的诉求。我们希望该地区的一些国家能够实现和平的变革,找到新形势下适合各自发展的方式,早日实现稳定,使人 民的诉求能够得以实现。同时也希望中东地区的热点问题能够通过谈判的方式实现和平解决,这既是该地区各个国家和人民的利益所在,也有利于世界的和平稳定和 发展事业。

[The following two questions and answers discuss the way China is seen from outside, the "China threat talk" (所谓中国威胁论), "cold war mentality", hopes and fears about China's development, etc, and China's role in peacekeeping missions.]

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Chinese Press Review: Syria, very clever

At a moment when everything had seemed to be set for a showdown, things changed dramatically, writes People’s Daily. Yesterday night, Syria officially responded to the international community and said it was willing to hand over all its chemical weapons so as to avoid American attack.  (叙利亚危机剑拔弩张的气氛出现戏剧性变化。
昨日晚间,叙利亚正式回复国际社会,叙利亚愿意交出全部化学武器以换取免遭美国打击。)

After a short account of Kerry’s sudden suggestion on a press conference in London that Syria could only avoid U.S. military strikes by handing over its chemical weapons, and Russian foreign minister Lavrov’s and Syrian foreign minister Mouallem’s statements, amounting to a Syrian willingness to do just that, plus Obama’s ABC interview, People’s Daily quotes an old diplomat and professor, Zhou Zunnan (周尊南) of the Chinese Foreign Affairs University, in an interview with the “International Financial Journal”:

Russia is very clever. They have successfully used diplomatic techniques, and the important thing is that in the current situation, with all the different parties’ interveaved interests, this is a “good move” [in a game of chess].  On the one hand, America gets under international pressure by gradually lowering other countries’ support for unilateral American war, and on the other, objectively, Russia showed support for Syria, perhaps implicating that “no matter if you use force or if you don’t, we will stand on Syria’s side.”

“俄罗斯很聪明,他们成功利用了外交技巧,重要的是,在目前各方面利益交织的格局下,这是一步‘好棋’。”老外交官、外交学院教授周尊南对《国际金融报》记者表示,“一方面,美国会陷入国际压力,进一步压低其他国家对美国单方面发动战争的支持度;另一方面,俄罗斯客观上表达了对叙利亚的支持,言外之意可能是‘不管你动不动武,我都会站在叙利亚’这边。”

People’s Daily is hedging its bets, regarding the likelihood of open American military intervention. From the Third Middle-East War (meaning the Six-Day War) to Syria’s occupation of Lebanon in 1976, and to Syria’s “flirting glances” (与伊朗保持“眉来眼去”的关系) with Iran, things had put this Middle-Eastern country’s relations with Western countries “out of sorts”, the paper writes. In the latest stage of the Syrian conflict, America had sought an “pretext” (quotation marks by People’s Daily), which was the chemical weapons.  There were several indications, People’s Daily quotes Zhou Zunnan (周尊南), still from the “International Financial Journal”, that the issue of chemical weapons was just an excuse. It would have looked bad to take military action against Syria before the UN inspectors delivered their findings, and besides, Russia had borrowed the position Kerry stated in London, Syria had cleverly strengthened its alliance with Russia, thus putting America into a difficult position. A third problem was American public opinion, according to Zhou.

And after all, the situation was complicated: Turkey would have to forget about a four-country economy including Turkey, Syria, Lebanon and Jordan, if the Assad stepped down. And Russia’s only naval base in the Mediterranean was Tartus, in Syria. Syria was at the center of solving or mishandling the big Middle-Eastern issues.

Referring to further sources, People’s Daily suggests that oil prices had to be critical factors in Washington’s deliberations, too – with repercussions for the U.S economy. And still, this could also help America to replace the Middle East as the world’s center of energy sources, with an impact on countries depending on those, such as China and India. Therefore, the possibility of military action could not be ruled out. People’s Daily quotes a Russian political scientist (波利卡诺夫) who was also quoted by Xinhua a day earlier as suggesting that the military strikes were only delayed, but had not been stopped by Moscow’s and Damascus’ decisions.

Even China wasn’t on the sidelines in Syria, writes People’s Daily.  Syria had maintained close oil trade with China, and Chinese state-owned energy companies had business in Syria. A SINOPEC spokesperson is quoted as saying (again from “International Financial Journal”) that his company had temporarily closed their branch company in Syria, with most of the staff returning to Beijing, and some staying in Lebanon. Despite all the emphasis on diversification, about fifty percent of China’s crude oil imports were still coming from the Middle East, an expert from the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) is quoted.

Economics aside, People’s Daily concludes, there had also been a close Sino-Syrian relationship in other fields. Reports say that when China was treated unfairly in the international arena, it could always count on Syrian support.

This is about as far as official Chinese media go in their support for Damascus. Voicing official or semi-official positions is frequently the job of high-ranking academics, when Zhongnanhai prefers to remain silent or low-key. Zhou Zunnan’s comments in the “International Financial Journal”, which is in fact a branch of People’s Daily itself, probably play this kind of role.

On September 4, another academic, Li Shaoxian (李绍先) of the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations, was quoted by Huanqiu Shibao with a rather candid statement (which may or may not mirror the official Chinese position, obviously):

Besides, Li Shaoxian believes that, when Bashar al-Assad said that China and Russia were Syria’s allies, that was the great banner used as a tiger-skin [a way to impress enemies]. China wasn’t Syria’s ally.  “Although China and Russia both insist on a peaceful solution and both oppose foreign military intervention, Russia has major actual interests in Syria to protect, while China’s interests in Syria are small.”

李绍先还认为,叙利亚总统巴沙尔说中国、俄罗斯是其盟友的说法是“拉大旗作虎皮”,中国不是巴沙尔的盟友。
“尽管中俄对坚持和平解决、反对外来军事干预是一致的,但中俄的考虑并不完全一致,俄罗斯在叙利亚有重大的现实利益要保护,而中国在叙利亚的利益很少”。

____________

Related

» Netzschau (German blog), Sept 10, 2013
» Less than 40 percent, Global Times, Dec 12, 2011

____________

Monday, August 26, 2013

Reception Report: China Radio International / Voice of Korea interferences

Beijing and Pyongyang may be like teeth and gum as brothers in arms (OK, basically, and not always when it comes to North Korea’s people-to-people diplomacy level). Anyway, here is some disharmony from the central levels, in broad daylight (European time).

Pyongyang’s shortwave signal on 13760 kHz comes in handily a few minutes before 15:00 hours GMT, only to be drowned by China Radio International (CRI) a few seconds before the full hour. Not on the same frequency, actually – China’s shortwave transmitter, probably located near Kashgar, blows the North Korean signal away with CRI’s Mandarin program. Both the Chinese and North Korean transmissions seem to target Europe, and while the Chinese signal on 13755 is doing fine, Pyongyang’s on 13760 becomes hard to copy, even with a narrow bandwith.

No clue where the target area of China’s 15245 kHz transmission, also at 15:00 GMT, is, but either way, that’s exactly the second frequency where you might get a good signal from North Korea (if CRI wasn’t there – in English). The same frequency in this case, rather than 5 kHz further down.

Radio is about signals. So is diplomacy. Is this coincidence? Carelessness? Intentional? Or does shortwave hardly matter for North Korea, as a Deutsche Welle article suggested earlier this year, in an article about Voice of Korea’s German service?

Even North Korean friendship societies don’t listen to the foreign broadcasts. People get their information about the situation on the peninsula from newspapers or the internet, employees of two organizations in Germany and Austria say. So why a German-speaking foreign broadcaster?

A foreign broadcasting station in different languages was an important status symbol for Pyongyang, Kai Hafez, communications scientist at Erfurt University, tells Deutsche Welle. “Countries like North Korea want to prove their modernity with their foreign broadcasts. One needs to have that, no matter if it has an effect, or if it hasn’t.”

Doch selbst nordkoreanische Freundschaftsgesellschaften hören den Auslandsfunk nicht. Man informiere sich aus Zeitungen und über das Internet über die Lage auf der Halbinsel, ist von Mitarbeitern zweier Organisationen in Deutschland und Österreich zu hören. Warum also ein deutschsprachiger Auslandssender?

Ein Auslandsrundfunk in verschiedenen Sprachen sei für Pjöngjang vor allem als Statussymbol wichtig, sagt Kai Hafez, Kommunikationswissenschaftler an der Universität Erfurt, im Gespräch mit der Deutschen Welle. “Länder wie Nordkorea wollen mit ihrem Auslandsrundfunk einen Modernitätsnachweis liefern. Man muss so etwas haben, ganz egal, ob es wirkt oder nicht”.

Even if Hafez is right – or especially if he is right about the status issue – the interference won’t go down well with Pyongyang. North Korea only operates on a few frequencies. Chinese broadcasters – CRI and domestic stations – operate on many. So many that it is hard to tell if this interference is intentional or not.

Trust between North Korea and China is limited anyway, when it comes to shortwave radio. When North Korea bought one (or several) of the more recent transmitters bought by North Korea, from a Chinese manufacturer, BBEF Science & Technology Co., Ltd., in 2011, the company – according to their website – had to train the North Korean technicians in China, rather than on the ground in North Korea: the transmitters(‘) location(s) in North Korea were a state secret.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Local Government Debts: Beijing seeks the big Picture

New bosses usually want to know the status they’ve inherited. The new collective leadership around Xi Jinping is no exception: the state auditing administration, in accordance with the demands of the state council, is going to arrange a national audit concerning governmental debt. The focus is on local governments, according to Economic Reference ( 经济参考报, via Enorth):

The “black hole” of local government debt has triggered the vigilance of the center. Experts believe that illegal financing by local governments will be in the audit’s focus, and that the audit will include the financial situations of township and village governments.

“近日,根据国务院要求,审计署将组织全国审计机关对政府性债务进行审计。”国家审计署网站28日挂出的一条短消息,瞬间传遍市场,释放出强烈的信号———地方政府债务“黑洞”已经引发中央高度警觉。专家认为,地方政府的违规融资行为将是此次审计的重点,同时乡村一级政府债务情况也有望纳入审计。

This would include the debts/repayables of local investment platform companies (地方融资平台公司), says the article – however, this wasn’t the first audit of this kind. From March to May 2011, the state auditing administration had examined 31 provincial governments (including autonomous regions and municipalities) as well as five state-planned and administration levels within city-level. As of the end of 2010, with the exception of 54 county governments with no debts, provincial, city and county-level governments had accumulated 10.7 trillion Yuan RMB of debts (10,700,000,000,000).

After that, no nation-wide audits had been carried out, however, 36 local governments and their sub-levels had been examined from November 2012 to February 2013.

The article also quotes an IMF estimate as saying that Chinese government debt in its broad sense (including the central government’s and local governments’ spending on infrastructure which wasn’t included in governmental (official) budgets would already exceed 45 percent of GDP.

Other sources quoted put the percentage even higher, such as 78 percent by the end of 2012, according to a report by the Standard Chartered Bank, but despite many estimates abroad and at home, there were no official, authoritative statistics yet.

The article quotes a number of experts with their assessments, and a person close to the ministry of finance. The latter is quoted as saying that “in some counties and counties, the problem of government finance and government debts is very serious and has to be taken seriously.”

It’s a fairly candid article, and it is in line with generally more sober reports on the state of the economy, but it is strictly focused on pointing out what needs to be done, and carefully avoids any “doom-and-gloom” scenarios of the kind which would hardly be missing in a European description of either a Chinese or a European mess. The article also avoids pointing out the central government’s responsibility for the ambiguous financial status of lower government levels.

In the wake of the global financial crisis since 2008, stimulus programs – particularly investment in infrastructure – had been China’s answer to slowing global demand for Chinese products. Reportedly, the central government decided on the stimulus, but most of the investments actually had to be made (and financed) by local governments, and they were carried out by provincial or locally-owned investment companies.

As early as in March 2010, Victor Shih (Northwestern University), who apparently dug comparatively deep into the issue at the time, foresaw no Chinese financial crisis, but a costly process to restructure and recapitalize the banks.

That process is now in its infancy – and it is hard to tell if it will even manage to depict the as-is status accurately. The CCP is facing a number of options or necessities beyond financial restructuring, too, which might look like this, more or less. It won’t just be a matter of financial restructuring, but a matter of restructuring the economy: in the long run, misallocated capital can’t come cheaply.

____________

Related

» Who will bear the Costs, July 7, 2013

____________

Monday, July 22, 2013

Press Review: “Improve your Own”

A group of activists held a demonstration in front of the Chinese permanent mission to the United Nations, to commemorate the 7-5 incident in Xinjiang four years ago, the Voice of Turkey reported on July 9, quoting the Anadolu news agency (Anadolu Agency). A black wreath was also placed there. The protest was conducted by the Young Turks USA. Young Turks chairman Tulga Tekman urged Turkish sanctions against China.

“We protest against peoples’ inaction and indifference. People there [in Xinjiang] are only allowed one child. They can’t worship in mosques.”

Young Turks USA vice chairman Cenk Çoktosun blamed Turks in New York for the fact that the number of protesters was small, but said that all the same, their protests against persecution Uighurs in Xinjiang would continue. And another protester, Nigar Taşkent, who was born in Xinjiang, added that the number of Turkic people was getting smaller, that mosques in were closed to locals on orders of local authorities, and that Turkic people were being assimilated.

Tekman also took part in a protest on a different topic in April this year, in Time Square at the time, according to this report. He is quoted as saying that

We have gathered here to stress that Turkish people were always towards peace through all history. Turkey is the only country which lost 39 diplomats to terror. They attacked our diplomats 200 times. Stop presenting the same lies in front of us over and over again. Do not forget that you murdered 39 Turkish diplomats between 1973 and 1986.

Tekman reportedly called the Armenian genocide “the lie of this century”. The report quotes Michael Gunter of Tennessee University as saying that “during the war, both sides had losses. But that does not mean Turks committed a genocide against Armenians”.

Back in July 2009, Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had reportedly referred to the 7-5 incident in Xinjiang as “genocide” – there was no point in interpreting this otherwise.

High-level talks between America and China on July 10 and 11 in Washington D.C.. Both sides agreed to resume negotiations on an investment treaty, Al Jazeera quotes officials. The American officials voiced “disappointment” on China’s / Hong Kong’s handling of the case of Edward Snowden. Yang Jiechi rejected both this criticism, and that of China’s rights record in Tibet and Xinjiang: “We hope the U.S. will improve its own human rights situation.”
____________

Related

The five “No-Afraids”, July 4, 2013
____________

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Reforming China’s Financial System: who will bear the Costs?

Warning: JR is trying to explain the economy to himself. His word pool and previous knowledge about this topic are shaky, and the following may or may not make sense – you’ll have only have yourselves to blame if you base your homework (or investment decisions) on this post.

This is not the first time that a “financial crisis” is predicted for China, and certainly not so in Western media, which seem to have become aware of problems in China’s financial system by 2011. It doesn’t seem unlikely that the times of export-led growth in China are coming to an end – a new policy needs to be found, and it will need to be more specific than these.

The third wave of the global financial crisis is likely to occur in the emerging markets, and it is in its preliminary (or brewing) stage in China, Hong Kong’s Beijing-leaning Wen Wei Po (文匯報) quoted Guan Qingyou (管清友), assistant dean of the Minsheng Securities Research Institute, on June 21. However, it hadn’t started yet, Guan added, and there were two reasons for that. America’s Federal Reserve Bank hadn’t sufficient reason yet to exit its quantative easing policy, and the Bank of Japan, Japan’s central bank, was firm in its radical easing policies.

But that was no reason to lean back, Wen Wei Po continues to quote Guan Qingyou. The longer the brewing stage of the crisis lasted, the more fiercely it would become once it broke out. For the time being, there were three firewalls, Guan suggested: China’s current account suprlus with a corresponding amount of foreign-exchange reserves, a capital account that hadn’t yet been completely liberalized, and short-term capital flight would therefore be limited, and thirdly, China’s financial system was relatively stable – this third aspect had allowed China to escape the Asian financial crisis (of 1997) rather unharmed. Despite these reassuring short-term “firewalls”, an aging population, growing financial risks and excess production capacity stemming from overinvestment as well as high housing/property prices were burdens that made it difficult for China to prosper.

It would therefore be possible to avoid an acute currency crisis, Wen Wei Po quotes Guan Qingyou.

On July 2, China News Service quoted excerpts from Hong Kong’s Ming Pao‘s (明報) July 2 edition. Here, too, the Federal Reserve got a mention: there was no fixed end to the third round of quantative easing, and it would continue until the US economy’s recovery was really steady. This positive change would occur later this year, the Federal Reserve is quoted as predicting – “we hope that the Fed is right”, China News Service quotes Ming Pao.

The Fed’s “quantative easing” was at times cussed in the Chinese media (I can’t tell if that was also true for Hong Kong media) during the first years of the financial crisis, for destabilizing the global economy (and, presumably, for devaluing both the dollar and the U.S. bonds China holds  as America’s creditor). But few Chinese observers appear to be waiting for an end to quantative easing too impatiently.
Ming Pao, according to China News Service, uses some stronger language than Wen Wei Po in describing the need for Chinese financial market reforms: just as the economy was slowing down in China, and while the global markets weren’t stable, the Chinese central bank was trying to defuse the bomb in China’s financial system:

To meet their needs for working capital, mainland private enterprises are often seriously dependent on short-term funding. And if Chinese everywhere scramble for working capital, the whole Asian supply chain may become affected. This is bad news for the close regional ties between exporting and processing enterprises in mainland China. If the tightening period drags on, this will also negatively affect northeast Asian countries depending on Chinese growth.

内地的私营企业为满足营运资金的需求,往往 严重依赖短期资金。因此,若中国供货商到处争夺营运资金,整条亚洲供应链都可能会受到干扰。对于与内地出 口加工企业关系密切的地区出口商来说,这是个坏消息。若内地的紧缩周期拖长,对于那些俨如中国经济增长寒暑表的东北亚国家来说,将会不利。

The more resolute China’s [financial?] reform plans, the more painful the labor pain will be. The decision makers will try to increase the efficiency of capital use within the financial system. There is no “painless” way of dealing with the problem of debt dependence.

中国的改革计划愈有决心,这种阵痛的时间就愈长。决策者试图提高资金在金融系统内的运用效率。要处理之前遗留下来的债务依赖问题,实在没有“无痛”的方法。

Access to loans had long been a problem for smaller and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Occasionally even the press seemed to confront the central bank with the issue. A Zhejiang Satellite TV reporter asked People’s Bank of China (PBoC)  governor Zhou Xiaochuan in March 2011 how, under a tightening policy, harm for the SMEs can be avoided, given that banks could easily raise interest rates, and the SMEs had absolutely no bargaining power. Zhou’s answer amounted to a speech, rather than to an answer, and the only “practical advice” it contained basically amounted to a one-liner: We also encourage small companies to choose from the market.

The central bank hasn’t earned itself better grades very recently either, at least not by the Economist‘s standards: stirred by one trillion yuan added to the commercial banks’ loanbooks during the first ten days of June, the PBoC concluded that some banks were expecting a fresh government stimulus to revive a slowing economy and had “positioned themselves in advance”. But rather than going into another illicit lending orgy, the commercial banks had – arguably – only recognized existing loans in deference to the regulator’s instructions.

The message the BBC‘s Laurence Knight reads into the PBoC’s decisions is that the newly-ensconced government of President Xi Jinping is deadly serious about “rebalancing” China’s economy. (Knight’s story also contains a history of China’s recent “cheap-money era”, i. e. the stimulus package, and how small borrowers have been marginalised from the mainstream financial system.

But if the Xi leadership is indeed deadly serious about addressing the reform of the financial system, the question remains who will need to bear the pain Ming Pao (as quoted by China News Service) predicted on July 2. Michael Pettis, finance professor at Peking University’s Guanghua School of Management, can think of one sector which must not take the burden:

You can only resolve a bad debt problem by assigning the cost to some sector of the economy. In the past it was the household sector that implicitly paid to clean up the debt, but if we expect rapid growth in household consumption to lead the economy going forward, and this is what rebalancing means in the Chinese context, we cannot also expect the household sector to clean up the bad debt in the same way it has done so over the past decade.

But if growth led by domestic demand – instead of export-led growth – is indeed the goal, neither Guan Qingyou’s comments as quoted by Wen Wei Po nor Ming Pao’s article as quoted by China News Service seem to hint at such a solution.  And when it comes to China’s colonial possessions, investment appears to remain the only answer, to economic and political problems alike. But then, excess production capacity may hardly be the main issue there, in the short run.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Radiodifusión Argentina al Exterior adds Chinese Programs

Radiodifusión Argentina al Exterior (RAE) added programs in Chinese to its broadcasts on shortwave, on May 13, Mondays through Fridays:

10:00 – 11:00 UTC (18:00 – 19:00 Beijing time) on 6,060 and 15,345 kHz and
04:00 – 05:00 UTC (12:00 – 13:00 Beijing time) on 11,710 kHz.

The programs at 10:00 UTC are live broadcasts, and those at 04:00 UTC are pre-recorded. The live broadcast’s target area is China / Far East; that of the recorded broadcast is the Americas.

Radio Argentina al Exterior (RAE) QSL card, 1980s

Radio Argentina al Exterior (RAE) QSL card, 1980s.

This brings the number of Argentina’s foreign broadcaster’s program languages up to eight, in addition to Spanish, German, French, English, Italian, Portuguese, and Japanese.

Chinese ambassador Yin Hengmin (殷恒民) was quoted with a congratulatory message on RAE:

Dear listeners, I’m very pleased that the national broadcaster [i. e. RAE / Radio Nacional] has added a Chinese channel, and I express my warmest congratulations. We at the Chinese embassy will support the national broadcaster’s Chinese channel and assist the national broadcaster in getting establishing professional contacts with China Radio International. We also sincerely hope that the national broadcaster’s Chinese programs will get better and better!

各位听众 我非常高兴国家广播电台能够增加中文频道,我对中文频道的开播表示热烈的祝贺,我们中国大使馆将支持国家广播电台的中文频道,并帮助国家广播电台跟中国国际广播电台建立业务联系,并真诚的希望国家广播电台的中文节目越办越好!

» Soundtrack here.

According to China Daily on May 9, [g]rowing trade and investment ties between Beijing and Buenos Aires have resulted in more Chinese enterprises dipping their toes in the water in Argentina, and China has become Argentina’s third largest source of investment, following the United States and Spain, and its second largest trading partner. The two countries’ economies were complementary, China Daily wrote. During a visit by Chinese vice state chairman Li Yuanchao (李源潮), also in May this year, Argentine vice president and senate speaker Amado Boudou expressed appreciation for China’s support to Argentina’s claim for the sovereignty of the Malvinas Islands. Argentina would firmly uphold the One-China policy, explore practical cooperation with China in infrastructure, agriculture and other fields, and seek a comprehensive development of the bilateral strategic partnership.

Taipei DXer notes that

although reception of Argetina’s Chinese broadcasts on shortwave is not easy, but if you want to learn more about this distant South American country, you can now rather easily read on their website.

雖然不容易收到由阿根廷發送的中文短波廣播,但是如果想要瞭解這遙遠南美洲國家,現在可以透過他們的網站,有了中文網頁服務後,讓閱讀也變得較輕鬆了。

China Radio International (CRI) reportedly started a one-hour program (Monday through Saturday) in Chinese and Spanish in Argentina some three years earlier, on March 7, 2009. The program was or is aired on medium wave, as a cooperation between CRI and some Argentine entrepreneurs and broadcasting people, according to CRI.

____________

Related

» Entrevista, OrientarTV, May 14, 2013
» RAE’s Siempre Argentina, Jan 4, 2013
» Public Relations Challenges, Jan 9, 2011

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 39 other followers