Archive for August 13th, 2009

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Silence, We’ll Kill You!

“If we need, we can beat you to death.”

Police, reportedly after arresting Ai Weiwei on August 11.

Ai Weiwei wanted to attend the trial against Tan Zuoren, and was arrested in his hotel room in Chengdu, according to the Time China Blog.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

“France and Germany exit Recession”

Latest economic data suggest that both French and German economies grew by 0.3% between April and June, while the Eurozone as a whole is still in recession, reports the BBC. Much of Germany’s growth seems to be induced by rising exports, and the federal government’s stimulus package. According to French Economy minister Christine Lagarde, also quoted by the BBC, the picture in France is quite similar.

Michael Pettis, professor at Beijing University’s Guanghua School of Management, regularly posts worries about possible deflation in China. Similar worries might be in order for Germany. Just as in China, much of the stimulus package in Germany is seen as a success, and both countries’ economies are export-driven. And in both countries, although from very different baselines, incomes of most consumers hardly allow for substantial short-term growth in domestic demand. What is more, China’s exports are apparently falling, making questions about domestic demand just more pressing there.

Less than a week ago, Olaf Gersemann of Germany’s conservative daily Die Welt mocked economists who consider export orientation harmful. If Germany came out of recession earlier than others, it was exactly because of its exports, Gersemann wrote. Besides, he added, trade surpluses led to savings, in that we borrow to those abroad – which was very useful, given Germany’s demographic graying trends, and setting aside money for retirement.

For now, the French and German numbers seem to prove Gersemann right. But in the long run, a creditor’s success stands and falls with the soundness of his debtors – America is the showcase, but only one of many countries that are running deficits. And so long as China faces difficulties with its exports, France’s and Germany’s current – and fragile – success on foreign markets will hardly provide the answer to the global trade imbalances. It’s about swimming together, or sinking together.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Windhoek: Court grants Bail in Nuctech Corruption Probe

Windhoek Magistrate’s Court granted bail to the three suspects in the Nuctech corruption probe, against opposition from the prosecution who fear that the suspects may interfere with investigations, or leave the country, writes South Africa’s News 24. The suspects are to be released after payment. The Namibian High Court will on Friday rule whether to release the frozen assets of the three suspects, Teckla Lameck, her business partner and fellow member of Teko Trading CC, Kongo Mokaxwa, and Chinese national Yang Fan shall be released. In July, the suspects’ bail application had been delayed by the defense, as one of them didn’t have funds to pay for his legal representation.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Rio Tinto Employees: Case “hasn’t totally moved away from ‘state secrets'”

Stern Hu and his three Rio Tinto colleagues have been formally charged of infringing trade secrets and of bribery. Accusations of espionage or stealing state secrets were apparently dropped. A law professor with the Penn State University, Larry Catá Backer, had previously warned that “if an illegal economic activity changed into a political crime, it might well produce collateral effects, “from creating suspicion about the integrity of markets, to the inability of the Chinese state apparatus to convince others that its enterprises are not public interventions in otherwise private markets”. Forbes now quotes the professor that dropping the initial accusations made perfect sense in that it provides a means of continuing to build a separation between political and economic action. To Rio Tinto’s understanding (Update 3 on its website), no formal charges had been laid, but an arrest warrant has been issued that enables the authorities to continue the detention of the employees during further investigations. Rio Tinto’s Update 3 on the situation of its Shanghai employees also cites the Chinese Criminal Law articles to which the grounds for the arrest for further detention are, or may be, relating.

The Global Times reports today that the charges do not include stealing China’s state secrets, as the media reported earlier. However, the case hasn’t totally moved away from “state secrets”, according to the executive director of a Beijing-based law firm.

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Related: Once You get Arrested, July 9, 2009

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