Archive for February 28th, 2011

Monday, February 28, 2011

The Telegraph: two 21rst-Century Projections

Huanqiu Net reporter Li Liang (李亮) reports that on the question if the 21rst century would be China’s or America’s century, two global research organizations were providing different projections, quoting “British media”.

Britain’s “Daily Telegraph”, in an article on February 28, brings up the projections of two globally leading banks on Sino-American competition and says it endorses the one which says that, because of population and natural-resources problems, China wouldn’t match America, and that America would continue to dominate the world in 2050.

The article first points out that Citibank’s [or Citigroup’s – JR] chief economist Willem Buiter had made a “surprising forecast”, according to which China would overtake America, become the world’s greatest economic entity, that China and India’s economies combined would be four times as big as America’s, and thus restore Asia’s leading role of the 16th century.  In addition, Africa would become the region with the fastest growth during the coming twenty years, with a growth rate of 7.5 per cent. Indonesia’s GDP would be as big as that of Germany, France, Italy and Britain combined.

Buiter said that it would take no miracles, but rather that those countries remained on their tracks of reform and openness, and no cases of real bad luck, waste of opportunities, and compounding factors (让聚合理论起作用).

After that, the article turns to an HSBC study which suggests that the West wouldn’t become “forgotten”. HSBC believes that around 2050, China’s total economic weight may excede America’s, but only by fractions, and then “lose momentum”. In 2050, the average American would still be three times richer than the Chinese, and its economic capacity (经济总量) 2.5 times as big as India’s. The main reason was that the US birthrate was at 2.1, while Beijing’s and Shanghai’s were at only 1.0.

In its own judgment, the article agrees more with the HSBC’s forecast. Although both studies were based on Harvard University economist Robert Barro’s (罗伯特) theories, about economic and population growth, but the two studies judge the declining populations of the countries in question differently. Because of factors such as more affluent lives, better education for women, later pregnancies and high housing costs, China’s population would rapidly decline, and “you won’t change that by waving a magic wand”.

Besides, says the article, the “vulnerability of Asian business culture” and the water crisis in China’s North w0uld “affect the stamina of China’s development”.

The Telegraph author is Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, the paper’s international business editor. His original article is here.

Commenter threads both on the Telegraph, and Huanqiu Shibao, currently seem to contain broad spectrums of different views.


Hu Xijin’s Microblog, ESWN, February 27, 2011


Monday, February 28, 2011

Science and Education: Scheiß auf Guttenberg

An attack on our Hero's False Feathers is an Attack on the People!

An attack on our Hero's False Feathers is an Attack on the People!

German defense minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg was caught plagiarizing material for his doctoral thesis. Germany’s main tabloid, the Bild-Zeitung, defends  the minister – in the words of its chief columnist, Franz-Josef Wagner, earlier this month:

I have no idea about a doctoral thesis. I failed in my school-leaving exams and I have never seen a university from inside. From outside, I can only say: don’t destroy a good man. Fuck that doctoral title (Scheiß auf den Doktor).

“From outside” was, of course, the biggest joke within those paragraphs. The Bild-Zeitung is inside German politics, and it doesn’t do German politics much good.

The German public loved the defense minister, and still does. That had become clear to me right on the first early morning of the scandal, when the sales lady at the bakery where I stop by regularly told me that it was “just a big fuss”. (I hadn’t commented, just studied the Bild-Zeitung’s headline, while waiting for my coffee.) When, a few early mornings later, she made pejorative remarks about Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, I had my revenge: “What’s the difference between Guttenberg and Berlusconi?”, I asked. She gasped, and looked at me as if I had just dropped my pants in front of her eyes.

“The difference is obvious”, she protested. “Can’t see that,” I replied. “They are both slick, and they both cheat.”

It was a cheap revenge, I know. But sweet revenge, too, on a shameless contempt for education, and on the efforts education requires. I left the bakery lost in thought, with a coffee to go, and with a big smile on my face.

What Ulrich Schmid of the Neue Zuercher Zeitung (NZZ) wrote yesterday   looks reasonable to me. The love of the German public for the defense minister

has hardly anything to do with his political performance. Sure, Guttenberg has his merits. The reform of the Bundeswehr (German military forces) earned him accolades even from political opponents, he tackles tasks, and his analyses are in high demand. But he has little else to his name. Westerwelle achieved nothing less than Guttenberg. But Westerwelle is Guttenberg’s antipode: someone who, whatever he does, will always get bad report cards. It’s the same mentality manifesting here: the overzealous classification into good and evil, and a lack of composure. One is loved as irrationally, as the other is hated.

Just as with Thilo Sarrazin during that affair, the public sticks with Guttenberg as it suspects that the “elites” want to get rid of their champion. But the free ride for Guttenberg, the way he can renounce any moral, is extreme, believes Schmid, even if Guttenberg himself is still a democratic politician.

I wouldn’t go as far as Schmid, who believes that the Guttenberg case shows how politically seducible the German people still are. I’m also suspecting that he is more angry at people for hating Guido Westerwelle, than for loving Guttenberg.

But the way public judgment is currently giving way to public resentment does hurt democracy.

I don’t really care if Guttenberg resigns as defense minister, or if he stays. It’s for the people to draw their conclusions. That’s what the ballot paper was made for. If corrupted government is what they want, so be it. That’s democracy, too. But as far as I’m concerned,

Scheiß auf Guttenberg. I wouldn’t vote for his party (or his party’s sister party) anyway.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Press Review: People’s Livelihood, Past Wrongs, Traitors

First 83 Chinese citizens leaving Libya, one of Huanqiu's alternating topical photos on it's special coverage on Libya.

First 83 Chinese citizens leaving Libya, one of Huanqiu's alternating topical photos on it's special coverage on Libya of Monday.

While Enorth (Tianjin)  and many other local websites focus on the people’s livelihood (民生, mínshēng) most recently, such as comments by chief state councillor Wen Jiabao on housing costs, during a chat with Chinese netizens last weekend), Huanqiu Shibao keeps Libya in its headlines, even if only with rather short news articles behind them. Another focus remain the many happy returns of Chinese citizens, from Arab and Northern African turmoil, into the comfort and stability of their motherland.

Under the regular news collection of “Overseas sees China” (海外看中国), right under a photo showing Japanese war crimes in China, Japanese media (more specifically: Diamond or 钻石) are or is quoted as saying that Japan must have the courage to acknowledge the wrongs of the past. As quoted by Huanqiu, Diamond opens its article with a reference to the gap between Tokyo and Beijing that hadn’t been easy to close, since the eruption of the Senkaku dispute of last year. Diamond quotes former Japanese House of Representatives Speaker Yohei Kono as saying that “to acknowledge wrongs as wrongs” was very important, and no “self-abusive” behavior, as thought by some people. The other side’s (China’s) trust could only be won by acknowledging the wrongs. Only after that, there wouldn’t be psychological barriers during talks anymore. That Japan feared China today, had much to do with the low esteem in which it had held its adversaries in the past (对中国如此恐惧,是日本以往太小瞧自己对手的证明).

In an older Huanqiu article, of December last year, but available within a context menu on the Yohei Kono newsarticle, foreign media (specifically: the Irish Times) are quoted with descriptions of how Japan nervously watches China stretching its muscles (外媒:日本正紧张注视中国伸展肌肉). As is not unusual in Chinese reviews of foreign press, Huanqiu’s account of the original Irish Times article is rather selective.

US ambassador John Huntsman‘s visit to Wangfujing was Huanqiu’s topic on Friday – “who does believe that it was a coincidence”, asks the headline. Adam Cathcart collected some Huanqiu Shibao readers’ comments:

Now China is so well developed! Why are there still people who become hanjian (traitors)? [The term “traitor” apparently targets the activists who had called for a Jasmine walk there.]

You Chinese who have a pulse, stand up to strike down American imperialism!

One shouldn’t however take such responses as flatly indicative for all of the readers’ opinions, not even when it is a rather nationalistic paper such as Huanqiu Shibao. Everything jasmine-related has apparently become an object of heavy censorship. Earlier this month, I have seen several readers’ comments on Huanqiu Shibao which were soon deleted.

Back to the people’s livelihood, Wen Jiabao promised construction of 36 million guarantee-flats (保障房) over the next five years, aka 保障性住房 (affordable housing).


Sino-Japanese SNAFU in Hanoi: “Full Responsibility”, October 30, 2010


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