Archive for August 3rd, 2011

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

America, China, and the “Sanya Initiative”: too Together

There have been natural tendencies within the executive branch of America’s government to write Taiwan off, according to an article published at Taiwan Link which explores the reasons for the Obama administration’s apparent reluctance to clear pending arms sales to Taiwan. The Sanya Initiative is mentioned as a forum where Beijing had successfully influenced retired military officials, including Joseph Prueher, an admiral and U.S. ambassador to China from 1999 to 2001. In an op-ed for the New York Times in October 2009, the Sanya Initiative was described by Mark Brzezinski and  Mark Fung as an important program that brings together retired service chiefs from each of the armed forces of the U.S. and China.

The Taiwan Link article does not seem to take the possibility into account that the U.S. administration may currently try to avoid an open arms race with China in the Western Pacific, at least for now. But then, the F-16 fighter jets requested by Taipei would be bought and paid for by Taiwan, not by America. The same would apply when it comes to supplies of diesel electric submarines. Those, however, may not be available without Dutch and German cooperation, and Beijing seems to count on a European reluctance to take part in such cooperation.

This “division of labor” – America confronting China if need be, and other democracies or opponents of Chinese hegemony just standing by, keeping  their fingers crossed but doing business as usual with China themselves is not sustainable. America needed to remain engaged in Asia to balance China’s military and economic might, Singapore’s elder statesman and minister mentor Lee Kuan Yew suggested in November 2009. Which is actually happening, when it comes to Japan’s, Vietnam’s, and maybe South Korea’s opposition to Chinese hegemony. But each of these countries, plus Singapore, would need to contribute to make such an engagement sustainable. The European Parliament, more friendly towards Taiwan than most European national governments or the EU commission, could promote more active relations with Taiwan as a first step to help beefing up its defense by arms supplies.

For now, U.S. Congress may be able to help secure the immediate arms supplies to Taiwan currently discussed, as the Taiwan Link article points out. But other democratic countries, too, need to remember that there is something fundamental which they have in common with Taiwan, and which separates them from China. It’s important that America remembers that, too – but just America alone may not be able to maintain a pro-Taiwan policy in the long run.

Taiwan doesn’t threaten China. But China, a totalitarian country, threatens Taiwan. It may be convenient for ASEAN, East Asia, or Europe, to ignore the problem, but that wouldn’t be a far-sighted policy.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

People’s Daily: “We Do not Blindly Worship GDP”

GDP growth in Beijing and Shanghai municipalities, and Zhejiang province, has slowed down considerably, People’s Daily online (人民日报网) reported on Wednesday. At comparable prices, Shanghai’s GDP grew by 8.4 per cent during the first half year, less than during the first half of 2010. Beijing’s GDP growth was at eight per cent, and therefore trailing all other provinces and municipalities. Zhejiang province was still at 9.9 per cent (and thus above the national average of 9.6 per cent), but compared to the 13 per cent of last year’s first half, that had also been a slowdown.

People's Daily Online Top Headline

People's Daily Online Top Headline

Beijing Bureau of Statistics director Su Hui (苏辉) is quoted as saying that control of the car market, property market adjustments, and  the relocation of Beijing Shougang Group’s plants to Hebei Province had come at the cost of 1.8 percentage points of growth, which was quite in line with similar numbers elsewhere in the country. That Beijing lagged behind was therefore the result of the choice of transformed development and readjustment of the three economic sectors (北京转变发展方式,调整产业结构的抉择). Given that Beijing was a big city, more demands had to be made to comprehensive, coordinated and sustained development. Beijing had resolutely abandoned the commanding role of GDP (北京坚决放弃GDP挂帅) in its policies.

Similar remarks are made (or quoted) by People’s Daily when it comes to Shanghai, and to Zhejiang province. In addition, People’s Daily quotes Zhejiang University Social Studies director Shi Jinchuan (史晋川) as citing resource shortages, tightened monetary policies, the pressures of rising labor costs – besides the transformation policies in place.

That, however, was only true for China’s eastern provinces and municipalities, writes People’s Daily.

These reporters learned from Chongqing Municipal Development and Reform Commission that quarter on quarter, the development of Chongqing’s economy has accelerated. During the first half of the year, it grew by 16.5 per cent, thus ranking second nationwide, and third according to other economic indicators. Notebook production and the cloud computing trade were among the top-three nationwide, and automotive, equipment, chemical and pharmaceutical industries both upgraded and developed rapidly.

Guizhou province and Inner Mongolia are cited as further examples where economic growth exceeded the national average. Given that more than five million people in Guizhou were still poor, accelerated development was a necessity, People’s Daily quotes Guizhou Provincial Development and Reform Commission’s director Zhang Meijun’s (张美钧) candid talk (坦言). All the same, Inner Mongolia was reporting successes in adjusting the industrial structures, according to People’s Daily. And while the poorer provinces and territories were focusing on growth, science and quality were picking up in Beijing, Shanghai, Zhejiang, Tianjin, and Jiangsu province.

An author or editor of a related survey, the Chinese Academy of Sciences sustainable development research group‘s (中科院可持续发展战略研究组) Niu Wenyuan (牛文元) is quoted as saying that “we do not blindly worship GDP, but we are not blindly abandoning it either” (我们不盲目崇拜GDP,我们也不盲目抛弃GDP).

The growth numbers aren’t brandnew – Tianjin published its first-half-year statistics on July 20th, with a respectful time lag behind the National Bureau of Statistics, which explained the national first-half-year data on a press conference on July 13. The People’s Daily article should be read as a reaction to criticism that China’s development came at the cost of safety, after the Wenzhou bullet-train crash. Coverage on the latter issue, let alone investigative journalism, were reportedly banned by a propaganda department directive last Friday.

The article is People’s Daily’s top headline on Wednesday and reads How to View Beijing’s,Shanghai’s and Zhejiang’s Bottom-Three (or “reverse top-three”) First-Half Year GDP Growth Numbers (如何看待京沪浙上半年GDP增速全国倒数前三).



» People’s Daily on Politics in the Age of the Microblog, CMP, August 2, 2011


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