Posts tagged ‘business’

Sunday, May 22, 2016

America, Japan: a more equal Relationship?

US President Barack Obama gave NHK an exclusive interview ahead of his arrival in Japan, reports NHK, emphasizing that Obama would be the first sitting US President to visit the atomic-bombed city.

A full account of the interview doesn’t seem to be available online yet. NHK provides a video with excerpts from the interview.

News like this doesn’t make much sense without context. US-Japan relations, frequently dubbed one of the closest alliances worldwide, were contentious in 2009, according to the New York Times. At the time, Japan had just seen its first transition of power from one political party to another, and the Hatoyama government – in short – called for a more equal relationship with the United States, with a number of possible ramifications.

The departure from the usual Liberal-Democrats rule in Japan was only an interlude. And a nation’s foreign policies are usually bi-partisan, or meta-partisan – in Japan, too.

From the Middle East to Ukraine, questions are being asked about the U.S. ability and willingness to maintain peace. If it cannot or will not, who will fill the void?,

the Nikkei Asian Review asked in May 2015.

Japan sees its future more within Asia, the NYT quoted Eswar S. Prasad back then. That, however, doesn’t necessarily benefit Sino-Japanese relations, as suggested by the NYT six years earlier. Rather, Japan appears to be warming to Russia.

Japan and Russia have especially found ample opportunity to conduct a coordinated response to the most recent security crisis in North Korea. Japan and Russia have also sought to increase their economic and financial ties, which are particularly important for the development of the Russian Far East,

Anthony Rinna of the Sino-NK research group noted in March this year. The Russian pivot to the East – possibly with a lot of help from Tokyo – was hampered by two obstacles however, Rinna cautioned: the long-standing dispute over the Kuril Islands, and Japan’s alignment with the West over the Ukraine crisis.

And while

the containment of China remains the primary purpose of the Japan-U.S. defense apparatus, U.S. strategic containment of Russia also continues to be an important factor in the Japan-U.S. alliance, which comprises one key flank of the American strategic posture in Asia,

Rinna added.

But being part of an alliance doesn’t mean that Japan would forgo foreign policies of its own. When Obama (reportedly) tried to talk Japanese prime minister Abe out of a meeting with Russian president Vladimir Putin, his appeal was unsuccessful.

It’s not only Japan who needs to take existing alliances into consideration. The same is true for Russia – but less so than Japan. Russian obligations toward China can’t be compared to Japan’s obligations toward America. That may not be a general opinion in China, but observers who watch the developments probably wouldn’t be caught by surprise if Russia and Japan were to sign a peace treaty in the not too distant future.

In December 2013, Cui Heng (崔珩) of the East China Normal University’s Russia Research Center in Shanghai, published an opinion on the China Internet Information Center (中国网) website. Titled “Russia won’t keep away from Japan because of Russia-Chinese relations”, Cui’s article pointed out that Russia’s preparedness to be considerate of China was limited, even though Sino-Russian relations were “at their best in history”.

Abe’s generation in particular had, because of their country’s economic successes, developed a sense of national greatness, and were seeking normalization for Japanese statehood. The economic revival after Abe’s taking office [there was a revival indeed, three years ago] had added to this conscience among Japanese politicians, Cui wrote. Ending the official state of war with Russia would be part of normalization. Even if hardly relevant in military terms, the status quo weighed heavily in terms of in terms of symbolism.

By coming to formally peaceful terms with Russia, Japan could also shed its status as a defeated country, Cui argued, and then addressed a factor that made Russia’s perception of Japan different from both China’s, and America’s:

Russia isn’t only prepared to develop beneficial relations with Japan for geopolitical reasons. In Russian historical memory, there isn’t much hate against Japan. During the age of the great empires, Japanese-Russian relations in the Far East were of a competitive nature. Many Russians still talk about the 1905 defeat, but the Far East wasn’t considered a place that would hit Russian nerve as hard as the crushing defeat in the Crimean war. Back then, Japan wasn’t perceived as a threat for Russia, and from another perspective, if there had been anti-Japanese feelings, there wouldn’t have been a revolution. According to perception back then, the [1905] defeat was a result of the Russian government’s incompetence, not [brought about by] a strong adversary. The outstanding achievements of the Soviet Red Army in 1945 led to a great [positive] Russian attitude, but still without considering Japan a great enemy.

By visiting Hiroshima, Obama appears to make a concession to Tokyo’s desire for “normalization”. Of course, few decisions are made for only one reason – they are part of a network, or hierarchy, of objectives. One objective was stated by Obama himself – that we should continue to strive for a world without nuclear weapons.

There is no great likelihood that Japan would shift away from the alliance with Washington. Japan’s distrust of China probably outweighs even America’s. That’s a stabilizing factor in US-Japanese relations.

But Tokyo is certainly trying to put its relations with America on a more equal footing – not just formally, but by creating diplomatic and economic facts that will help to further this aim.

Russia’s Far East is nothing to disregard, in terms of its economic potential. Japan can do business with Ukraine, and with Russia, and is likely to cooperate with both.

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Related

Shared Concern, Nov 11, 2015
Greater Contributions, April 25, 2014

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Sunday, May 22, 2016

Is the Left right after all?

Thanks for → asking, Mr. Moore. It’s only a first step, and a late one at that, but if the left is as dumb and if conservatives are as smart as you claim, I’m sure you’ll arrive at some good conclusions. Will you continue to ask these questions after Brexit, too?

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Related

Bigoted elite, Charles Moore/Telegraph, March 4, 2016

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Thursday, May 19, 2016

DPP: a Need to Control and to Trust Tsai

Very few things can be taken for granted. Tsai Ing-wen‘s presidency will have to address issues from pension reform and social issues, to relations with China and efforts for economic-cooperation agreements with countries in the region, beyond Singapore and New Zealand.

From tomorrow, many things will be different from preceding presidencies. But one thing will not change at all: Beijing’s latent aggression against the island democracy will stay around.

Tsai will probably try to avoid anything that would, in the eyes of many Taiwanese people and especially in the eyes of Washington or Tokyo, unnecessarily anger Beijing. That in turn may anger some or many of her supporters.

But in tricky times, Tsai needs loyal supporters, who are prepared to believe that she has the best in mind for her country, and that she has the judgment and strength to make the right choices.

There will be disagreement, and there will be debate, which is essential. But underlying these, there needs to be loyalty within the Democratic Progressive Party.

Probably, there will be no loyal opposition – there are no indications, anyway, that the KMT in its current sectarian shape will constitute that kind of democratic balance.

The DPP itself, and maybe the New Power Party, too, will have to take much of that loyal-opposition role – at least until July next year.

Distinguishing between blind faith and loyalty will be a challenge for people who support the president elect. But if Tsai’s supporters expect her to perform well, they themselves will have to play their part, too, in terms of judgment, strength, and faith.

Friday, April 22, 2016

The Mass Line and the Common Netizens: Where You go, We will go (to Listen to You and to Correct You)

An apparently centrally compiled news article on Tuesday, published or aired by Xinhua newsagency and CCTV‘s Xinwen Lianbo evening news among other media outlets, provided details from a Central Leading Group for Internet Security and Informatization conference in Beijing on Tuesday morning. The session was chaired by Xi Jinping (referred to in the article in his capacities as secretary-general, state chairman, central military commissions chairman, and central lading group for internet security and informatization group leader), and the list of attendants included both his informatization group deputy leaders Li Keqiang and Liu Yunshan, other leading party members, and/or experts or stakeholders like Wu Manqing (吴曼青, a Chinese Academy of Engineering fellow as well as a chief engineer at China Electronics Technology Group Corporation), and Jack Ma (马云), Alibaba Group CEO.

As China Media and Copyright notes, the full text of Xi Jinping’s speech wasn’t published, but the blog, apparently run by a Dutch Master of Chinese studies, provides a full translation of the a/m news article. The newsarticle had also caught the attention of The Independent and Reuters.

From the article, as translated by China Media and Copyright:

Xi Jinping pointed out that our country has 700 million netizens; this is an extraordinary number, and an extraordinary achievement. Our country’s economic development has entered a new normal, the new normal requires new drivers, and the Internet can have great potential in this area. We must strive to promote the converged development of the Internet and the real economy, let information flows drive technology flows, financial flows, talent flows and material flows, stimulate the optimization of resource allocation, stimulate the increase of productivity of all factors, and let it play a positive role in promoting innovation and development, transforming economic development methods, and adjusting economic structures.

习近平指出,我国有7亿网民,这是一个了不起的数字,也是一个了不起的成就。我国经济发展进入新常态,新常态要有新动力,互联网在这方面可以大 有作为。要着力推动互联网和实体经济深度融合发展,以信息流带动技术流、资金流、人才流、物资流,促进资源配置优化,促进全要素生产率提升,为推动创新发 展、转变经济发展方式、调整经济结构发挥积极作用。

[…]

Xi Jinping pointed out that we must build a good online ecology, and give rein to the network’s role in guiding public opinion and reflecting the popular will. To realize the “Two Centenaries” struggle objective, it is necessary that all of society acts with one heart in all aspects, and it is necessary that the people of all ethnicities in the entire nation think in the same direction, and devote their energies in the same direction. Netizens come from among the common people, once the common people went online, popular sentiment also went online. Wherever the masses are, there our leading cadres must go as well. All levels’ Party and government bodies, as well as leading cadres, must learn how to march the mass line through the network, regularly go online to look around, understand what the masses think and want, collect good ideas and good suggestions, and vigorously respond to netizens’ concerns, relieve their doubts and dispel their worries. With regard to the broad netizens, we must have more tolerance and patience, we must timely take up constructive opinions, we must timely help where there are difficulties, we must provide timely propaganda and explanation to those who don’t understand the situation, we must timely clear up matters for those with muddled understandings, we must timely resolve grievances and complaints, we must timely guide and correct mistaken viewpoints, to let the Internet become a channel to understand the masses, stay close to the masses, and get rid of worries and overcome difficulties of the masses, and let it become a new channel to carry forward the people’s democracy and accept the people’s supervision. To those online criticisms that stem from good intentions, to Internet supervision, regardless of whether they concern Party or government work, or whether they concern leading cadres individually, regardless of whether they are gentle and mild or whether they are hurtful truths, we must not only welcome them, we must also earnestly study and learn from them.

习近平指出,要建设网络良好生态,发挥网络引导舆论、反映民意的作用。实现“两个一百年”奋斗目标,需要全社会方方面面同心干,需要全国各族人 民心往一处想、劲往一处使。网民来自老百姓,老百姓上了网,民意也就上了网。群众在哪儿,我们的领导干部就要到哪儿去。各级党政机关和领导干部要学会通过 网络走群众路线,经常上网看看,了解群众所思所愿,收集好想法好建议,积极回应网民关切、解疑释惑。对广大网民,要多一些包容和耐心,对建设性意见要及时 吸纳,对困难要及时帮助,对不了解情况的要及时宣介,对模糊认识要及时廓清,对怨气怨言要及时化解,对错误看法要及时引导和纠正,让互联网成为了解群众、 贴近群众、为群众排忧解难的新途径,成为发扬人民民主、接受人民监督的新渠道。对网上那些出于善意的批评,对互联网监督,不论是对党和政府工作提的还是对 领导干部个人提的,不论是和风细雨的还是忠言逆耳的,我们不仅要欢迎,而且要认真研究和吸取。

Much of the news article reflects comments by Xi Jinping about global competition and China’s position there, and even expresses an interest in foreign talents, in that not only we welcome foreign Internet enterprises, as long as they abide by our country’s laws and regulations, but

We must establish flexible talent incentive mechanisms, let talent making contributions feel a sense of achievement and a sense of gain. We must build talent structures and systems with global competitiveness. Regardless of from which country or region they come, as long as they are excellent talents, they will be usable to us.

要建立灵活的人才激励机制,让作出贡献的人才有成就感、获得感。要 构建具有全球竞争力的人才制度体系。不管是哪个国家、哪个地区的,只要是优秀人才,都可以为我所用。

As usual, Xi is presented as a people person, and his academic and professional interlocutors play along pretty well in the CCP choreography:

Xiao Xinguang shaking hands with Xi Jinping

Click above picture for video

Xiao Xinguang in particular can hardly secede from part with his secretary-general.

And Tang Xujun (唐绪军), head of the news and propagation research institute at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, counted himself lucky to have been there, as he wrote in an article for People’s Daily:

I was fortunate to attend the Internet Security and Informatization conference chaired by secretary-general Xi Jinping, and, with my own ears, listen to secretary-general Xi Jinping’s important speech, from which I benefitted. As an internet and new media researcher, I was deeply impressed by secretary-general Xi Jinping’s elaboration detailed remarks concerning the construction of a good internet ecology and guidance of public opinion, and [the internet’s] reflection of the popular will.

有幸参加了4月19日习近平总书记主持的网络安全与信息化工作座谈会,亲耳聆听了习近平总书记的重要讲话,受益匪浅。作为互联网和新媒体的一个研究者,我对习近平总书记关于要建设网络良好生态,发挥网络引导舆论、反映民意作用的阐述印象深刻。

What is the popular will? Although academic views of the definition of popular will are varied, with different emphasis, there is this fundamental consensus: the popular will is the masses’ public expression, in particular places at particular times, of basically unanimous viewpoints and opinions concerning particular public affairs. [Popular will] is a form of democracy.

什么是民意?尽管在学界对民意的定义五花八门,各有其强调的重点,但基本一致的共识是:民意就是人民群众在特定的时空,对特定的公共事务公开表达的基本一致的观点和意见,它是一种民主的形式。

The Chinese Communist Party is the vanguard of the Chinese working class guided by Marxism. It’s objective is to wholeheartedly serve the people. Therefore, it pursues no personal interests. As early as in 1945, Mao Zedong, answering Huang Yanpei‘s question about how the CCP could escape the [defining treadmill of successive dynasties- my interpretation of 历代王朝兴亡周期率问题], pointed out that “we have already found a new road. It’s democracy. Only when you let the people supervise government, the government will not dare to become compacent. Only when people assume responsibilities, the problem of good governance dying with its founder will no longer emerge. From there onwards, all generations of CCP leaders have always emphasized the mass line of listening to the voice of the people, and to undertake great work to investigate and research its manners. [This last sentence is my very vague and hardly accurate translation of what it probably means – JR.]*)

Since the CCP’s 18th national congress, the CCP’s central committee with Xi Jinping as the secretary-general, mass line education and practice has become a more important starting point for the new era’s state affairs management, with the people at the center, listening to the popular will, and being in tune with the popular sentiment.

中国共产党是以马克思主义为指导的中国工人阶级的先锋队,其宗旨是全心全意为人民服务,因此她没有自己的私利。早在1945年,毛泽东在答黄炎培关于 中国共产党如何跳出中国历史上历代王朝兴亡周期率问题时就指出:“我们已经找到新路,我们能跳出这周期率。这条新路,就是民主。只有让人民来监督政府,政 府才不敢松懈。只有人人起来负责,才不会人亡政息。”从那以后,中国共产党的历代领导人都始终强调“倾听人民的呼声”“大兴调查研究之风”“走群众路 线”。党的十八大以来,以习近平为总书记的党中央更是以“群众路线教育实践活动”作为新时期治国理政的抓手,一切以人民为中心,听从民意、顺应民情。

Tang tries to reconcile the variety of opinions expressed on the internet with the party’s goals by basically re-stating Xi Jinping’s demand that it is necessary that the people of all ethnicities in the entire nation think in the same direction, and devote their energies in the same direction (see blockquotes further above), and that cadres listen to online opinions.

The internet being the biggest variable (最大变量) party cadres face, the internet must be “embraced” to achieve the “postitive energy” [do a browser search →there] mentioned by Xi Jinping, writes Tang.

All the same, Tang seems to like his secretary-general better than the internet and, in perfect internet-ecological terminology, expresses his misgivings about the latter:

This particular feature of the internet [that everyone can be a communicator] has greatly widened individuals’ and all kinds of societal organizations’ channels of expression. Any individuals’ or groups’ information and opinion can disseminate quickly and broadly, and even exceed the disseminational and expressonial powers of traditional media. A tiny event can become big through the internet, and an incident with great influence on the real world, and some grass swaying in the wind online may affect social stability online.

互联网的这种特性,极大地拓宽了个人及各种社会组织的表达渠道,某些个体和团体的信息传播与意见表达可以更迅捷地广泛扩散,甚至具有乃至超过传统媒体 的传播力和表达力。一个微小的事件通过互联网的放大,有可能成为现实中的一个影响巨大的事件,线上的风吹草动也可能影响到线下的社会稳定。

The answer? The main point in “guidance of public opinion” by the respective party and government levels, according to Tang, is to seize (issues? movements?) in a timely manner, while they are still small (因此,各级党和政府应对网上民意、引导网络舆论最重要的就是要做到“及时”, 抓早抓小).

Countless incidents in recent years have restated one lesson over and over again: delayed responses have lead to loss of control. Another point is categorized treatment [of online events]. The demands from the masses are various. There are reasons for all of them – the constructive and interest-led ones, the ridicule, and the angry ones. As service providers, all party and government levels must have a focused “fitting key” [for all situations], to respond in an appropriate way.

近几年无数网络事件反复验证了一个教训:贻误时机往往就意味着失控。其次是要分类对待。人民群众的诉求各种各样,有提出建议性意见的,有维护个 人权益的,有吐槽的,有骂娘的,各有其缘由。作为服务者,各级党和政府就必须有针对性地“一把钥匙开一把锁”,做到应对有方,举措得当。

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Notes

*) Two notes here.

  1. The last above sentence is a very vague and hardly accurate translation of mine – corrections and suggestions to improve it are welcome.
  2. What Tang Xujun refers to as Mao’s reply to Huang Yanpei is translated as the “Cycle” conversation in this Wikipedia article [accessed April 22]:

In 1945, Huang travelled to Yan’an to meet Mao Zedong and they had a conversation. In this dialogue, Huang noted that history is a testament to an observation that no form of government — an empire, a kingdom, a republic, and so on — had ever been able to break out of a cycle of rise and fall.

Huang said,

I’ve lived for more than 60 years. Let’s not talk about what I’ve heard. Whatever I saw with my own eyes, it fits the saying: “The rise of something may be fast, but its downfall is equally swift.” Has any person, family, community, place, or even a nation, ever managed to break free out of this cycle? Usually in the initial stage, everyone stays fully focused and puts in his/her best efforts. Maybe conditions were bad at the time, and everyone has to struggle to survive. Once the times change for the better, everyone loses focus and becomes lazy. In certain cases, as it has been a long time, complacency breeds, spreads and becomes a social norm. As such, even if the people are very capable, they can neither reverse the situation nor salvage it. There are also cases where a nation progresses and prospers — its rise could be either natural or due to rapid industrialisation spurred by the yearning for progression. When all human resources have been exhausted and problems crop up in management, the environment becomes more complicated and they lose control of the situation. Throughout history, there are various examples: a ruler ignores state affairs and eunuchs use the opportunity to seize power; a good system of governance ceases to function after the person who initiated it dies; people who lust for glory but end up in humiliation. None has managed to break out of this cycle.

Mao replied,

The people form the government; the government is the nation’s body. A new path lies ahead and it belongs to the people. The people build their own nation; everyone has a role to play. The government should pay attention to the people and the political party should perform its duty to its utmost and govern with virtue. We will not follow in the footsteps of those before us who have failed. The problem of a good system of governance ceasing to function after its initiator’s death can be avoided. We’ve already discovered a new path. We can break out of this cycle. This new path belongs to the people. The government will not become complacent only if it is under the supervision of the people. If everyone takes responsibility, a good system of governance will prevail.

Footnotes and the translated text can be found →there.

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Related

→ Successes to the Grassroots, January 29, 2014
→ Open the Skies for the Young, May 5, 2013
→ Become a Network Security Advisor, July 31, 2009

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Friday, April 8, 2016

The Panama Papers: Invested, but not Koppied

You needn’t be there yourself, but should your money? Those places are beginning to look like those parties you simply have to get an invitation to, if you want to matter: the “havens” where (many of) the rich and beautiful put their money. The Virgin Islands, for example. Or Panama. Or Luxemburg? Not sure. Ask a bank.

Reportedly, some members of Vladimir Putin‘s tight-knit inner circle do it. Reportedly, Hong Kong movie star Jackie Chan (成龍) does it. So do Thais. Lots of Indians, too. And maybe many Americans, but elsewhere.

Others, also reportedly, did so in the past. One of them even says that he lost money in the game.

But not so fast. Media tend to scandalize everything, don’t they?

According to ICIJ, the documents make public the offshore accounts of 140 politicians and public officials. The documents don’t necessarily detail anything illegal, but they do shine a light on the shadowy world of offshore finances,

National Public Radio (NPR) informs its listeners.

So, let’s not jump to conclusions. The problem, either way, is that the investors’ countries’ governments can’t get a picture of what is there. And once an investor is found on a list like the “Panama Papers”, with investments or activities formerly unknown to his country’s fiscal authorities (and/or the public), he’s got something to explain.

Like Argentine president Mauricio Macri, for example.

So, it’s beautiful to have some money there.

Unless the public begins to continuously ask questions about it.

Timely Exits from Paradise

If British prime minister David Cameron is right, the money he and his wife earned from an offshore trust were taxed. His problem, then, would be the general suspicon of the business.

The Cameron couple reportedly sold their shares in question in 2010, the year he became prime minister.

“Best Effect” and “Wealth Ming” reportedly ceased operations in 2012 and/or 2013. That was when CCP secretary general and state chairman Xi Jinping took his top positions. The two companies had been run in the Virgin Islands, and Deng Jiagui (邓家贵), husband to Xi’s older sister, had been the owner, Singaporean paper Zaobao reported on Tuesday.

And then, there’s Tsai Ying-yang (蔡瀛陽), one of the 16,785 Taiwanese Mossack Fonseca customers, the law firm the “Panama Papers” were leaked from. According to his lawyer, Lien Yuen-lung (連元龍), Tsay Ying-yang terminated his Koppie Limited company as soon as in 2009, the year following its establishment, so as to cut the losses – 30 percent of the investment, according to a phone interview Lien gave Reuters, as quoted by the Straits Times.

Tsai Ing-wen hasn’t commented herself, and maybe, she won’t any time soon. It doesn’t seem that too much pressure has mounted so far. But questions are asked all the same. On Wednesday, KMT legislators William Tseng (曾銘宗), Johnny Chiang (江啟臣), and Lee Yan-hsiu (李彥秀) told a press conference that in the “many cases” where the Tsai family had encountered controversy, Tsai Ying-yangs name had emerged, and this “gave cause for doubts” (會起人疑竇).

An Emerging KMT Opposition Pattern

William Tseng may become a regular questioner, concerning the financial affairs of Tsai’s family people. One of the “controversies” he had quoted had been the issue of a press conference on March 24. There, with different KMT colleagues,  but the same kind of artwork on the wall behind the panel, showing the suspect of the day, Tseng dealt with the issue of Academica Sinica president Wong Chi-huey‘s daughter’s role as a shareholder of OBI Pharma Inc..

KMT legislators press conference artwork

KMT representations:
Mind the guys in the background

One of his fellow legislators, Alicia Wang (王育敏), raised the issue of the company’s shareholder structure (and neatly placed Tsai’s brother there, too, maybe just to make his name available for quote by Tseng on other occasions:

“President-elect Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) brother and sister-in-law are also shareholders, and so is Wong’s daughter, Wong Yu-shioh (翁郁秀). Are others involved?”

Diplomatic Relations, but no Tax Treaty

The “Panama Papers”, as far as they concern Taiwanese customers, contain not only individuals, but companies, too: Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing (founding chairman Morris Chang, who served Taiwan as APEC representative in 2006), TransAsia Airways (more recently in the news for the tragic Flight 235 crash), Yang Ming Marine Transport Corporation, Wei Chuan Food Corporation (in the news since 2013), and the Executive Yuan’s National Development Fund.

The Development Fund was not a taxable organization, Taiwan’s foreign broadcaster Radio Taiwan International (RTI) quotes finance minister Chang Sheng-ford. He used the example to make the point that to suggest that some 16,000 keyword search results for Taiwan in the “Panama Papers” did not signify 16,000 cases of tax evasion. That’s just not the way to look at it.

Chang reportedly also said that while, “if necessary”, Taiwan would establish a Panama Papers working group and start investigating the most high risk people and agencies for tax evasion, the country had no tax treaty with Panama. Also, a Taiwanese anti-tax evasion law had not yet been passed.

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Related

The Panama Papers
Achselzucken schadet, Der Freitag, Apr 7, 2016
The Panama Papers, FoarP, Apr 6, 2016

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Friday, April 1, 2016

Media Coverage on Ministry of Education’s (MoE) “Blue Book” on Returning Overseas Students and the Labor Market

The Chinese ministry of education (MoE) published a “blue book”, or a government report, on March 25, concerning overseas Chinese students returning to China, and looking for a job there. If Chinese press and government agency coverage on the report is something to go by, this is what the average academic returnee to the motherland looks like:

he is actually mostly a she (59.16 percent of the returnees are female), aged 23 to 33 (absolute average 27.04 yrs old), a masters student (80.7 percent), a postgraduate (9,49 percent), or an undergraduate / a student with a specialized subject (9.81 percent combined). If a postgraduate, his main fields should mainly be chemistry, material science, economics, electronics and electrical engineering, while the masters fields of study are somewhat more into the direction of finance, accounting, business management, management studies, or international business studies.

Statistics seem to suggest that there have been more returnees recently, than the 1978 to 2015 average numbers. Either way, the MoE’s Overseas Students’ Support Center deputy director Xu Peixiang (徐培祥) is quoted as saying that some 70 to 80 percent of students, in recent years, have returned after their studies abroad.1)

97 percent of those who currently study abroad are doing so at their own expense, which appears plausible when looking at the total numbers. In 2015 alone, 523,700 students reportedly left for studies abroad, and 409,100 job-seeking overseas students returned to China that year. By comparison, 248 students left China for studies abroad in 1978, according to Xinhua newsagency.

Very rough calculations with many unknowns: given that 459,800 Chinese left China to study abroad in 2014, according to this government-agency news report, the average of students leaving in 2014 and 2015 combined would be (459,800 + 523,700)/2 = 491,750, and based on an average duration of 22 months (more precisely 21.47 months) of studies abroad among the 2015 returnees,  this would mean that about 901,542 Chinese students would currently be abroad.

Three percent of these would then not study at their own expense (or that of their parents, relatives, etc.). Some 27,000 of the 901,542 abroad would, based on my shoddy calculation, study with a government grant, a scholarship, etc.. And probably, very few, if any, among the 248 who went abroad in 1978, were self-paying students.

23.85 percent of the 2015 returnees have been looking for a job in state-owned companies, 19.4 percent prefer minban operations2), and foreign-invested enterprises, state institutions and financial institutions rank third, fourth and fifth, respectively, in the returnees search settings. Only 3.32 percent want to establish businesses of their own (one percentage point up, compared to the 2014 returnees).

When it comes to location and company types, the returnees haven’t necessarily followed their ideas of perfect companies and locations, but looked at some hard facts (and regulations), and have therefore looked for jobs that appeared to be closer within their reach. Either way, Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen are still very popular destinations, with 49.34 percent indicating these goals, but this is said to be eight percentage points less than in 2013. This share is now basically focused on other provincial-capital-level cities.

Being in a position to pay for ones studies abroad doesn’t necessarily translate into perfect (or labour-market-oriented) choices, according to the news coverage. Qi Mo (齐默), head of the returnee office at the MoE, is quoted as stating “a certain blindness” in terms of how students (and their parents) are choosing fields of studies (or majors) and places (cities and universities) abroad. Hence, the MoE was trying to provide candidates for self-paid overseas studies, as well as their families, with information to support their choices, according to Qi.

It isn’t strongly highlighted in the news, but it becomes fairly evident that while Xu Peixiang points out how returning overseas students have become a group that receives great attention at our country’s market of talents, there may be particular challenges for returning overseas students, too. When a Xinhua article mentions measures like bases (or opportunities) for practical work as supportive measures for returnees to integrate into the labor market (this might also be translated as internship opportunities), you might suspect some frustration and trouble there. After all, such “opportunities” are hardly the financial return self-paying students (and their families and networks) would expect on their investment (or borrowings).

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Footnotes

1) According to statistics quoted in the Chinese press coverage on the MoE “blue book”, 4.04 million Chinese students have studied abroad from 1978 to 2015. 2.22 million of them have returned so far.

2) minban is a poorly defined term. There are, of course, many ways to find definitions anyway. Dorothy J Solinger, in “China’s Transition from Socialism”, first published in 1993, suggested that

there are three main types: those […] which are supposedly owned and managed by “people” (minyou-minban); those owned by the state but managed by “people” (guanyou-minban); and those jointly operated and owned by the state and the “people” (guanmingongyou).

And in 1999/2000, Guoqiang Tian, now a professor at Texas A & M University and in China, discussed in a paper on Property Rights and the Nature of Chinese Collective Enterprises why collective enterprises, especially township and village enterprises (TVEs) had – those sixteen years ago, anyway – developed more rapidly than privately owned enterprises, in China.

General note: I have no information about survey’s return rate among the former overseas students.

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Saturday, March 26, 2016

Maritime Powers – Argentina and Indonesia arrest Chinese Fishing Crews

1. China, Taiwan vs. Indonesia

Chinese fishing trawlers have been involved in two rather strongly publicized disputes this month.

One of the two disputes occurred on March 19 local time, in a location called a traditional Chinese fishing ground by the Chinese embassy in Jakarta. This was, reportedly, a bit south of the South China Sea, and well inside Indonesia’s exclusive economic zone, according to Susi Pudjiastuti, Indonesian minister of fisheries and maritime affairs (and, according to this announcement on “Facebook”, previously an entrepreneur in the seafood distribution and fisheries industry). The Indonesian coastguard reportedly arrested eight fishermen from a Chinese fishing ship before a Chinese coast guard ship intervened and rammed the fishing ship back into the South China Sea, according to the English-language Jakarta Globe. Beijing has since demanded the release of the eight fishermen, but Indonesia appears determined to prosecute them.

Chinese foreign-ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying, just as the Chinese embassy in Jakarta, referred to the incident location as “traditional Chinese fishing grounds”. She also said that Natuna Islands belong to Indonesia, and there is no objection from China on that. The Jakarta Globa quoted Pudjiastuti as saying that the incident occurred occurred just 4.34 kilometers off Indonesia’s Natuna islands, adding her conclusion that this was inside Indonesia’s exclusive economic zone. On another press conference two days later, Hua answered even more questions concerning the incident.

Two days (local time) after the arrests, two Taiwanese fishing boats were fired at by what they believed to be an official Indonesian vessel while in the Strait of Malacca, according to the English-language Taipei Times. According to the report, a spokesman for the Indonesian Navy Headquarters said that there had been no report by the Indonesian coast guard or navy vessels of chasing Taiwanese fishing boats, but on Thursday, the Straits Times quoted an Indonesian government taskforce against illegal fishing as saying that there had been an incident involving two Taiwanese tuna longliners, and that the shots had been fired in self-defense as the Taiwanese vessels had tried to ram it.

2. China vs. Argentina

On March 14, Argentina’s coast guard sunk a Chinese trawler off the Patagonian coast. The BBC’s Mandarin service reported in an online newsarticle quoted the Argentine coastguard as saying that

The Chinese trawler Luyan Yuanyu 010 was detected while conducting illegal activities in the [Argentine] economic exclusive zone on Monday (March 14). When trying to stop [the Chinese trawler], the coast guard was surprised by  a counter-attack and then sank this trawler.

来自中国的拖网渔船“鲁烟远渔010”周一(14日)被发现在其专属经济水域(EEZ)非法作业,警备队在阻挡时遭反击,随后击沉这艘渔船。

The speaker of the Chinese foreign ministry, Lu Kang, said on March 16 that the trawler in question had been “chased for several hours during its work in Argentine fishing grounds. The statement said nothing about “illegal fishing”, nor about whether or not the trawler had put up a counter attack [or counter attacks].

中国外交部发言人陆慷周三(16日)表示,有关渔船“在阿根廷渔场作业时,被阿海警船追赶数小时”。声明并未提及任何关于“非法捕鱼”的字句,也没有提及中方渔船有否反抗。

Lu Kang emphasized that all 32 crew members had been saved, that the Chinese side had made urgent representations to the Argentine side, that it had demanded an investigation and a report as well as safeguarding the safety and legal rights of the crew, as well as avoiding similar incidents from happening in the future.

陆慷指出,32名船员全部获救,中方已和阿方展开紧急交涉,要求阿根廷彻查详情并向中国报告,保障中国船员的安全及合法权益,避免类似事件再发生。

The official news agency Xinhua said that while a debate about whether one side had trespassed or whether the other had acted out of proportions while enforcing the law, the Chinese embassy in Argentina had reminded the Chinese fishing companies busy in the South Atlantic to pay attention to safety.

The BBC report reproduces the Argentine coast guards account as saying that the Chinese trawler, after its detection, had tried to escape into international waters. In the process, it had rammed the coast guard vessel several times, thus putting not only the Chinese crewmen at risk, but the Argentinians, too. While 28 crew members were apparently saved by another Chinese vessel, four were picked from the water by the Argentine coast guard and will reportedly be prosecuted in Argentina.

According to the online trade publication SeafoodSource.com, the Luyan Yuanyu 010 trawler was operated by Shandong Yantai Marine Fisheries Co., […] a subsidiary of the China National Fisheries Corporation (CNFC), which ultimately, across some shareholding, makes this a state-owned operation.

A possibly similar incident, but in politically-charged waters, occured four and a half years ago, in the vicinity of the Senkaku Islands which are controlled by Japan, and considered Chinese by Beijing and Taipei. Japan released the crew and the captain of the Chinese fishing vessel about a fortnight after his arrest, and China gave the captain, Zhan Qixiong, a hero’s welcome.

During the two weeks of the crisis, China, according to the Economist,

apparently suspended its export of rare-earth minerals, which are vital to making electronics components used in everything from handheld gadgets to cars. On September 23rd China emphatically denied that it is blocking exports. And this may be true: there probably isn’t a formal directive. But in a country where informal rules abound, exporters know that it can pay to withhold shipments—in solidarity with a government that is angry at its neighbour.

The Japanese government in office at the time was largely seen as roundly defeated by Beijing, and efforts have since been made to make Japan less dependent on business with China in general, and on “rare earth minerals” in particular.

Probably, neither Argentina nor China are interested in escalating the conflict, and the Ji Lu Evening Post (齐鲁晚报) from Jinan, Shandong Province, quoted Xinhua as, in turn, quoting the Argentinian foreign minister Susana Malcorra as saying in a televised interview on March 18 that Argentina hoped the sinking of the trawler wouldn’t greatly affect the bilateral relations with Beijing.

The Chinese service of Argentina’s foreign broadcaster Radiodifusión Argentina al Exterior (RAE) quoted Malcorra correspondingly.

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Related

» No bit of Humanity, July 22, 2012

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Friday, March 4, 2016

On the Eve of NPC Session: a Public Opinion Workforce that puts the Party’s Mind at Ease

The “two sessions” season is upon Beijing: both the “Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference” (CPPCC) and the “National People’s Congress” (NPC, China’s “parliament”) are holding plenary sessions this month. The CPPCC opened on Thursday, and the NPC is scheduled to begin tomorrow.

The Herald, a paper from Zimbabwe, published an online article today that reads as if it had come from the CCP central office by fax and had been published without any changes made to it.

China’s press and broadcasting services will be full of opium info smoothies for the people anyway: Xi Jinping made sure of that in February, inspecting the “People’s Daily”, Xinhua newsagency, and CCTV. And not only CCTV – who had actually been visited by Xi -, but China Radio International (CRI) staff, too, did what good journalists or reporters in the land of socialism with Chinese characteristics have to do: they held meetings, summarizing the spirit of the important talk given by Xi on a party conference concerning news and public opinion work, and drafting roadmaps for their own work.

Indeed, propaganda for audiences abroad appear to matter more than during the Hu Jintao era – or maybe it’s simply that propaganda in general matters more than during the pre-Xi decade. Xi, as quoted by a SARFT online article, republished by Xinhua on February 25:

Under the new historical circumstances, it is the duty and obligation of the party’s news and public opinion work to uphold the banner, to keep to a hopeful lookout, to revolve around the center, to serve the general situation,to unite the people, to encourage the morale and to strengthen moral attitude, to strengthen cohesion and integration, to clarify errors, to discern right and wrong, to link China and the world abroad, and to connect the world.

在新的时代条件下,党的新闻舆论工作的职责和使命是:高举旗帜、引领导向,围绕中心、服务大局,团结人民、鼓舞士气,成风化人、凝心聚力,澄清谬误、明辨是非,联接中外、沟通世界。

[…]

The key for competition among the media is the competition of talents, and at the core of media superiority is the superiority of talents. With greater acceleration [than so far], a workforce for news and public opinion work must be trained whose political determination, routine and methodology can put the party’s and the people’s mind at ease.

媒体竞争关键是人才竞争,媒体优势核心是人才优势。要加快培养造就一支政治坚定、业务精湛、作风优良、党和人民放心的新闻舆论工作队伍。

Beautiful tomorrow. What could possibly go wrong under such auspicious arrangements?

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