Posts tagged ‘WTO’

Monday, March 27, 2017

Populism in China (1): The Downfall of Bo Xilai

There is no Weltinnenpolitik yet, but there are cross-civilizational trends.

The City of Red Songs

There would be no second chance. Gerhard Schröder, former chancellor of Germany, was in a hurry in June 2011, on the sidelines of a forum in southwestern China’s metropolis of Chongqing. He was therefore lacking the time to attend one of the red-song nights that were customary there. But he still pleased his interlocutors with a German proverb: Where people sing, you can settle down – wicked people sing no songs.

In full, the red-songs custom advocated by Chongqing’s party chief Bo Xilai was Singing revolutionary songs, Reading classic books, telling stories and spreading mottos. There would be nine more months of that before Bo Xilai was toppled by his CCP comrades.

A Hudong article explained the activity at the time. It was a mass concept, started in Chongqing in 2008, which was greeted with enthusiasm there, and elsewhere in China. The concept wasn’t outdated, because

if a country and a nation have no correct thought and advanced culture, it will lose its backbone. The current deep changes of the economic system, the structure of society, and the profound adjustment of interest patterns must be reflected in the ideological field. There is diversity in peoples’ minds, and although the mainstream is positive and healthy, while some peoples’ material life conditions have improved, spiritual life is somewhat empty. To change that condition, and to ensure a safe passing of the torch in the cause of the party and the country, the red flag must be righteously upheld, the ideology of Marxism must be consolidated in its guiding position within the ideological field, and the attractiveness and the cohesive power of socialist ideology must be strengthened.

一个国家和民族没有正确的思想、先进的文化,就会失掉主心骨。当前,经济体制深刻变革、社会结构深刻变动、利益格局深刻调整,必然反映到意识形态领域。人们的思想日趋多元多变多样,虽然主流积极健康向上,但一些人物质生活改善了,精神生活却有些空虚。为了彻底改变这种状况,保证党和国家的事业薪火相传,必须理直气壮地举红旗,不断巩固马克思主义在意识形态领域的指导地位,增强社会主义意识形态的吸引力和凝聚力。[Links within these lines omitted.]

According to the HuDong article, CCP politbureau member and Chongqing party secretary Bo Xilai (薄熙来) had deplored the phenomenon of young people who sang decadent songs (唱 .. 靡靡之音, chàng mímí zhī yīn), who were reading “fast-food” kinds of literature (读 .. 快餐文化, dú kuàicān wénhuà), told “low and vulgar stories” (讲 .. 低俗故事, jiǎng dīsú gùshì), and “spread pornographic or dull scripts/pieces” (传 .. 黄段子、灰段子, chuán huáng duànzi, huī duànzi).

So, apparently, there were dirty songs, too. Maybe things weren’t as simple as Schröder had believed. At least one  reader and forum commenter of China’s Huanqiu Shibao didn’t trust Schröder’s expertise and wrote:

OK, listen [to the red songs], you won’t comprehend them anyway. It will be as if you were listening to folk songs.

听吧,反正听不懂,就当听民歌了

The “Chongqing Model” was controversial, at least in the perceivable medial public of China. The party elite wasn’t entirely in love with Bo’s pretentious neo-Maoism. A vice president of Law School at China University of Political Science and Law was quoted by the English-language party mouthpiece “Global Times”:

There have been 104,000 “Red Song Concerts” in Chongqing, with 80 million participants. It cost 1,500 yuan ($231) per person for onsite renting and costume expenses, 210 million yuan in total. Adding in the offwork compensation and transportation the final cost is 270 billion [sic – probably means million – JR] yuan. Why don’t they use the money for health insurance?

Bo Xilai’s “Populism”, 2007 – 2012

At the grassroots, however, Bo’s leadership style appears to have worked (maybe it still does). The Chongqing Model wasn’t just about folklore, red or otherwise.

Chongqing (Sichuan province) residents set off firecrackers today, celebrating the execution of the provincial-level city’s former chief justice Wen Qiang (文强), cqnews.net reported in July 2010. The Wall Street Journal explained:

Wen Qiang was put to death following the rejection in May by China’s Supreme Court of an appeal of his conviction on charges including bribery, shielding criminal gangs, rape and inability to account for millions of dollars in cash and assets, according to Xinhua news agency. Xinhua didn’t say how Mr. Wen was executed.

Punching black crime and uprooting vice (拳打黑除恶) was the name of the campaign that cost Wen his life – according to the historical records as Bo would have it, he and his police chief Wang Lijun not only battled against gangs, but infiltrated cadres, too.

The now defunct website Chinageeks published an English translation of Zhang Wen, a former chief editor of the Xinhua magazine Globe:

Bo Xilai and the “northeast tiger” Wang Lijun entered Chongqing and started a war and began a “battling corruption and evil” movement that has gradually begun to spread nationwide and worldwide. This action is in line with the people’s wishes, and at the same time, also in line with what central authorities wish.

At first, the public opinion was very one-sided; no one could find any fault with Bo. The controversy and difference of opinions came with the case of Li Zhuang. Proponents of the democratic rule of law questioned and criticized the legality of Chongqing [court] proceedings, but Bo Xilai’s supporters hold that punishing lawyers who defend “bad people” is appropriate.

Bo Xilai’s wife Gu Kailai is a high-level lawyer who has been working for many years. The two have been together for many years and Bo himself was once the head of the Ministry of Commerce, and thus often negotiated international legal issues with foreign opponents. Because of this, Bo Xilai should have a solid conception and knowledge of the law.

But in the end, in the Li Zhuang case, the organs of justice in Chongqing left a bad impression that they might violate legal procedures. Precisely because of this, some people’s opinions on Bo Xilai changed dramatically. I myself once wrote an essay expressing pity that Bo Xilai hadn’t turned out to be the sort of high-quality modern politician [we had hoped].

Chongqing was a small pond for a big fish – Bo Xilai appeared to have hoped for a permanent seat in the CCP’s central politburo, but landed the job as party secretary of Chongqing instead. Chongqing wasn’t an insignificant city, but it was far from where central Chinese power was. Only an alernate politburo membership linked him to Beijing. From 2008, his Maoist song events raised nationwide attention, and even beyond China – Henry Kissinger apparently leapt at the chance Schröder had missed.

In 2011, Bo Xilai started his second campaign for a permanent seat at the CCP’s top table. While the Economist found Bo’s style refreshing, it noted nervously that

The region’s party chief, Bo Xilai, is campaigning for a place on the Politburo Standing Committee in next year’s leadership shuffle. He looks likely to succeed. Like every other Chinese politician since 1949, he avoids stating his ambitions openly, but his courting of the media and his attempts to woo the public leave no one in any doubt. Mr Bo’s upfront style is a radical departure from the backroom politicking that has long been the hallmark of Communist rule and would seem like a refreshing change, were it not that some  of his supporters see him as the Vladimir Putin of China. Mr Bo is a populist with an iron fist. He has waged the biggest crackdown on mafia-style gangs in his country in recent years. He has also been trying to foster a mini-cult of Mao, perhaps in an effort to appeal to those who are disillusioned with China’s cut-throat capitalism.

Bo didn’t appear to aim for the top job as secretary general, the Economist noted, as that position appeared to have been reserved for Xi Jinping. Indeed, Xi succeeded Hu Jintao as party secretary general in autumn 2012, and as state chairman in March 2013.

Bo Xilai’s plans didn’t work that smoothly. In November 2011, a British citizen, Neil Heywood, died in a hotel in Chongqing. Given that Chinese courts don’t work independently from the party, the circumstances of his death can’t be considered resolved. A Chinese court found Gu Kailai, Bo Xilai’s wife, guilty of killing Heywood, and after only one day in court, she got a suspended death sentence.

The BBC‘s China editor Carrie Gracie tried to shed light on the circumstances of Bo Xilai’s rise and fall, and the role Heywood’s death played in the latter, but didn’t find too many interlocutors. Instead, she presented a Rocky Horror Picture Show of elite power struggles with Chinese characteristics. Bo Xilai as the avenger of the common man, a crashing, media-savvy scourge of organized crime, who addressed the public directly, without party media filtering. That hadn’t happened since Mao’s days – “think Donald Trump”.

With support from local police chief Wang Lijun, who fancied leading roles in martial-arts television, too, Bo had exercised a regime that labeled opponents as mafiosi and not only jailed them, but expropriated them too, in favor of Chongqing’s budgets.

It isn’t contested that Bo Xilai and Wang Lijun prosecuted the real or supposed gangsters’ advocates, too, with questionable means. Gracie quotes one of these advocates, Li Zhuang (see above, Zhang Wen’s criticism of Bo Xilai), as Li describes how he was arrested by Wang Lijun personally:

The scene was so over-the-top, loads of police cars surrounding the plane, riot police in helmets and camouflage, armed with submachine guns. I asked, “Why the big show? Is it Obama’s state visit or are you capturing Osama Bin Laden?”

We were surrounded by a huge scrum of reporters. He wanted to show his authority on camera. He was in a trench coat, hands in his pockets. He said: “Li Zhuang, we meet again.”

There were admirers of Bo and Wang, there were critics and enemies, and there were people who detested the two. But at the grassroots, the fans appeared to be numerous. According to Gracie, there are still many.

Making inconvenient lawyers disappear was no unique feature of Bo Xilai, however. The party leadership with Xi Jinping at the core has been proving for years that to them, the rule of law is a theroretical nicety they may or may not care about.

Gracie reduces the causes of conflict between the noisy polit-soloist Bo Xilai and the basically “collectivist” leadership in Beijing on a personal rivalry between princeling Bo and princeling Xi.

Certainly, top politicians’ egos can hardly be overestimated, and when they are Chinese, ostentatious modesty shouldn’t fool anyone.

But Xi alone wouldn’t have gotten Bo under control. Neither with the sudden Neil-Heywood scandal – that became known as the Wang-Lijun incident in China after the police chief fled into the next US consulate and being passed on to the central authorities from there (but only after having spilled the beans). Nor otherwise.

The question suggests itself if Bo Xilai’s career wasn’t finished in summer 2011 anyway, given wide-spread disapproval among the party elite, of his egotistic leadership style in Chongqing.

“Unity is strength” was one of the “red songs” Bo Xilai had them sing in Chongqing (above: October 8, 2009). But it wasn’t only the Xi faction that saw a lack of just that on Bo’s part. Bo was putting himself forward, and that had been a taboo during all the post-Mao years.

He didn’t denigrate his leading comrades – appearances like that of Donald Trump as a campaigner, cursing fellow members of his political class, would have been inconceivable. But putting himself into the limelight (and casting it away from others) amounted to the same thing, by Chinese standards. Besides, given his anti-corruption renown, sanctimonious as it may have been, could have threatened his “comrades”. A tribun within their ranks – that couldn’t work.

Xi Jinping and his predecessor Hu Jintao are said to be rivals. But within the Hu camp, Bo’s populism didn’t seem to resonate either. On the contrary: Wen Jiabao, chief state councillor (aka “prime minister”) during the Hu Jintao era, had been a tireless, even if unsuccessful, advocate of political reform, way beyond economics or technology.

At a press conference in March 2012, after the closing ceremony of the annual “parliament” plenary sessions, Wen warned that China wasn’t immune against another cultural revolution. That John Garnaut, an Australian correspondent in Beijing, got the opportunity to talk with Hu Dehua, one of Hu Yaobang’s sons, may also count as an indication that the comparatively liberal factions in the party leadership were at least as sick of Bo Xilai’s revolutionary operas, as were the Xi supporters.

Garnaut, two weeks after Wen’s press conference, in an indirect account of his conversation with Hu Dehua*):

Hu Dehua told his father how pessimistic he felt about his country’s future. Hu Yaobang agreed that the methods and ideologies of the 1987 anti-liberalization movement came straight from the Cultural Revolution. But he told his son to gain some historical perspective, and reminded him that Chinese people were not joining in the elite power games as they had 20 years before. He called the anti-liberalization campaign a “medium-sized cultural revolution” and warned that a small cultural revolution would no doubt follow, Hu Dehua told me. As society developed, Hu Yaobang told his son, the middle and little cultural revolutions would gradually fade from history’s stage.

From there, everything went fast. Still in March, Bo was dismissed as Chongqing’s party chief. He also lost his alternate membership in the politburo. In summer 2012, his wife Gu Kailai got her commuted death sentence, and in September 2013, Bo was sentenced to life in prison – based on the usual charges for unrigged politicians: corruption.

Is there a Chongqing Heritage?

At first glance, Bo Xilai’s “populism” or “Maoism” is finished. But Bo counted as a champion of many Chinese from the political left. A comment in German weekly Die Zeit, in September 2013, saw the verdict against Bo as a signal from the top that resistance against economic reform was futile.

To assess Bo Xilai’s political heritage objectively. The CCP may be beyond the era when beaten opponents were airbrushed from all photos and records. But the question about how publicly or privately-owned China’s economy should be might impose itself with any questions about Bo Xilai, and the now seven-member standing committee of the politburo can’t use such questions.

A political scientist of Beijing University, He Weifang (贺卫方), hinted at problems in assessing the Chongqing Model’s performance, from 2007 to 2012:

It is generally believed that the so-called “Chongqing Model” is mainly shaped by three aspects: “red culture” on the political level, “targeted actions against dark and evil forces in Chongqing“, and the reduction of the income gaps between the poor and the rich. The most criticized aspects are the former two, although there is support for the two of them in Chongqing and elsewhere. The third aspect isn’t that controversial. However, all data published concerning the efficiency of the measures taken to narrow the income gap are actually issued by the Chongqing authorities, and therefore lacking neutral assessment. Also, we can see that the whole process is strongly government-led, whose focus isn’t on creating a market logic of equal opportunities. If this approach will or will not lead to mistakes in financial policies, including the rural land policies‘ impartiality, is also questionable. And then there are concerns about life today being lead on future earnings, short-term inputs being made to curry favor with the public, which may come at high future costs.

答:一般认为,所谓的重庆模式主要由三方面内容构成:政治层面上的红色文化,执法层面上的“打黑除恶”以及民生方面的缩小贫富差距。最受诟病的是前两者,虽然在重庆和其他地方,似乎也有一些人人对于“唱红”和“打黑”表达支持。第三方面内容相对较少争议。不过,那些举措究竟对于缩小贫富差距产生了怎样的效果,目前得到的信息都是由重庆当局发布的,缺少中立的评估。另外,我们可以看到整个过程是在政府强势主导下进行的,其重点并非创造机会均等的市场逻辑。这种做法是否会带来财政决策中的失误,包括重庆所推行的农村土地政策的公正性,都是大可怀疑的。还有寅吃卯粮的隐忧,短期内的高投入讨好了民众,但是却需要未来付出巨大的代价。

If Bo Xilai was a populist, one of Donald Trump’s kind, or Putin’s, or Neil Farage’s, or whoever, one has to ask oneself how much influence he has maintained over Chinese politics to this day. After all, populists like Geert Wilders aren’t ineffective, merely because they can’t lay their hands on the imperial regalia.

When looking at European populism – that’s only a snapshot, of course -, one can get the impression that populists may not be elected, but they do leave marks on politics, from Merkel’s Willkommenskultur back to the traditional Christian Democrats’ policies, and Britain’s Brexit, implemented not by its original proponents, but by Theresa May, who had used to be a lukewarm supporter of Britain’s EU membership.

Populism is hardly ever the common peoples’ business, but that of the elites. The battles are fought within the political class, as observed by Hu Yaobang in the late 1980s. That is about as true in Europe. However, these battles within the superstructure may create or intensify certain trends in the public mood – and once policies have moved sufficiently into the “populist” direction, the support for these parties wanes, and the electorate turns back to the long-established parties. After all, Joe Blow doesn’t want to look like an extremist.

When Xi Jinping announced China’s new role as a guardian of free trade at the Davos forum in January, German Handelsblatt China correspondent Stephan Scheuer hailed the party and state leader’s “dressing-down for populists”. In Davos, Xi had become “a pioneer of fair-minded globalization”.

What could be beginning to show in China is a comparatively strong Maoist component in propaganda, as long as this doesn’t come at the cost of China’s privileged, and as long as this doesn’t require substantial reallocation of means or wealth to poor classes of population, or laggard regions. But whenever the name “Bo Xilai” should appear in any token event, the exorcists will be just around the corner.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

China’s rising Aggression against Taiwan – is there anything we can do to counter it?

Nigeria told Taiwan earlier this month to move its de-facto embassy from the capital Abuja to Lagos, the country’s biggest city and its capital until 1976, and seat of the federal government until 1991. According to the Chinese foreign ministry,

Nigeria’s Foreign Affairs Minister Geoffrey Onyeama told journalists after reaffirming the One-China Policy at a joint press conference with visiting Chinese Foreign Minister, Wang Yi, that Taiwan will now have to function in Lagos with a skeletal staff.

One could condemn the decision of the Nigerian government, who have reportedly been promised $40 bn Chinese investment in the country’s infrastructure, and the Taiwanese foreign ministry did just that.

But there will always be governments who are too weak to be principled – and most governments worldwide, and especially those of “developed” and powerful countries, have long played along with Beijing’s “one-China policy”. Big or small countries’ decisions are based on “national interest” (whichever way national interest may be defined).

Still, what Nigeria is doing to Taiwan shows a new quality in harming the island nation. A Reuters report on January 12 didn’t try to “prove” Beijing’s driving force behind the Nigerian decision, but quotes a Taiwanese perception that would suggest this, writing that Taiwan sees the “request” to move its representative office from the capital as more pressure by China to isolate it.

Reuters also wrote that

[w]hile economic ties between the mainland and Taiwan have grown considerably in recent years, their relations have worsened since Tsai Ing-wen, who heads a pro-independence party, was elected president of the island last year.
Beijing has been stepping up pressure on her to concede to its “one China” principle.

In fact, this isn’t just a move to make Taiwan “lose face”, or to re-emphasize the – in Beijing’s view – inofficial nature of Taiwanese statehood and sovereignty. This is an attempt on Taiwan’s lifelines, even if only a small one – for now. If Taiwan has to reduce staff at one of its embassies, simply because Beijing wants the host country to bully Taiwan, this affects Taiwanese trade. And this means that Beijing is making fun of a World Trade Organization member’s legitimate interests.

Looking at it under less formal aspects, this move via Nigeria is also an aggression against Taiwan’s democracy.

The Tsai administration’s position during the past eight months hadn’t even been “provocative”. All they can be blamed for is that they didn’t bow before Beijing’s hatpole, an alleged “1992 consensus” between the Chinese Communist Party and the Taiwanese National Party (KMT). In her inaugural speech in May, President Tsai Ing-wen still acknowledged the fact that there had been KMT-CCP talks that year, and the role the talks had had in building better cross-strait relations. But  she pointed out that among the foundations of interactions and negotiations across the Strait, there was the democratic principle and prevalent will of the people of Taiwan.

It seems that this position – legitimate and reasonable – was too much for Beijing. This should be food for thought for everyone in the world who wants the will of the people to prevail.

J. Michael Cole, a blogger from Taiwan, wrote in September last year that China’s leadership

behaves very much like a 12-year-old: pouting and bullying when it doesn’t get what it wants. To be perfectly honest, it’s rather embarrassing and hardly warrants the space and scare quotes it gets in the world’s media. […]

Why the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has kept at it for so long is because we, the international community, have allowed it to do so. From the hallowed halls of academia to the media, government agencies to the public sphere, we have allowed fear to regulate how we interact with China, with ourselves, and with the rest of the world.

His conclusion: we – and I assume that by “we”, he refers to all freedom-loving people who cherish democracy – need collectively stiffer spines, ; the times when we let the authoritarian-child determine what’s in our best interest should come to an end, not just in the political sphere but in other areas, including the embattled field of free expression, where the 12-year-old has been making a mockery of our proud traditions in journalism and academia.

I wasn’t sure if I agreed when I read this, months ago. Yes, it is true that China’s dollars are corrupting. But aren’t all dollars corrupting, if you are corrupt? Who forces us to take them? I’m wondering if South Africa in the 1980s would have faced sanctions if their white government and elites had had to offer then what Beijing has to offer now. And in that regard, I believe we should see clearly that Western countries frequently put their positions on sale easily, when they are offered the right price.

That was  a main factor in America’s motivation, in the 1970s, to acknowledge Beijing’s “one-China policy”. That’s why the EU is nearly spineless when it comes to interaction with Beijing. And that’s why Taiwan’s own elites are frequently eager to do business with China, even if this limits the island republic’s political scope further.

All the same, China’s measures against democracy are uniquely aggressive in some ways. Above all, they are completely shameless. If they serve their country, Chinese people may advocate them without the least disguise – because it serves China. When an American politician – Donald Trump – does a similar thing by ostensibly “putting America first”, he faces a bewildered global public who can’t believe their own ears. And yes, censorship and records where only the victor writes the history books and declares the defeated parties villains is part of hallowed Chinese tradition. There were Chinese people who were openly critical of that tradition during the 1980s or the 1990s. As far as I can see, there aren’t too many of them any more. (I’m not sure there are any left.)

Chinese “public opinion” may debate measures to optimize business, or CCP rule. But there are no competing visions in China. There is no public opinion. There is only guidance toward totalitarianism.

Can governments play a role in controlling China’s aggression against democracy? Not in the short or medium term, anyway. Any such movement has to start from the grassroots. And it won’t be a terribly big one, let alone a “collective” one, as Cole appears to hope.

But every right move is a new beginning, and a contribution to a better world. We can’t boycott China, and if we could, it might amount to a tragedy.

But we can make new, small, decisions every day: is this really the right time to arrange a students exchange with China? Why not with Taiwan? Is an impending deal with China really in one’s best interest? Could an alternative partner make better sense in the long run, even if the opportunity cost looks somewhat higher right now?

The CCP’s propaganda, during the past ten or twenty years, has been that you have no choice but to do business with China under its rule, no matter if you like the dictatorship and its increasing global reach, or not. The purpose of this propaganda has been to demobilize any sense of resistance, of decency, or of hope.

We need to take a fresh look at China.

As things stand, this doesn’t only mean a fresh look at the CCP, but at China as a country, too. During the past ten years, the CCP has managed to rally many Chinese people behind itself, and to discourage dissenters, apparently a minority anyway, from voicing dissent.

A new personal and – if it comes to that – collective fresh look at China requires a sense of proportion, not big statements or claims. It doesn’t require feelings of hatred or antagonism against China, either. We should remain interested in China, and continue to appreciate what is right with it.

What is called for is not a answer that would always be true, but a question, that we should ask ourselves at any moment when a choice appears to be coming up.

As an ordinary individual, don’t ask how you can “profit” from China’s “rise” (which has, in fact, been a long and steady collapse into possibly stable, but certainly immoral hopelessness).

Ask yourself what you can do for Taiwan.

Happy new year!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

For whichever Presidential candidate I’d vote, I wouldn’t vote for a Tea Partisan Congressional candidate

A not so disguised “endorsement” for President Obama

In 1994, Germany’s incumbent federal chancellor, Helmut Kohl, was in trouble. General elections loomed, and his challenger, a social democrat, was leading in the polls. East Germany would be blooming, Kohl had promised four years earlier, in the 1990 general elections, the first after German reunification. But in 1994, the five new federal states were anything but blooming. There was some disappointment in West Germany, because it had become clear that the road to a blooming East Germany would be long – and costly for West Germans not least. The East Germans were probably even more disappointed – the 1990 elections had been their first free elections on the national level ever since the Weimar Republic, and these first four years with a all-German parliament had taught them a number of disillusioning lessons about election promises.

On October 16, 1994, the Kohl coalition government won the Bundestag elections by a narrow margin anyway. Compared with the 1990 elections,chancellor Kohl’s christian democrats lost 2.2 percentage points in former West Germany, and 3.3 percentage points in former East Germany. But this still proved a stable majority for another four years.

Many observers had considered Kohl politically dead in 1989. He had been chancellor for seven years by then, and change was in the air. Then came the fall of the Berlin Wall. The way Kohl handled the aftermath, especially reunification talks with America, the USSR, Britain, and France, brought him back. The surprise was that in 1994, after he had been in office for twelve years, people, even if fed up with him, gave him another chance.

Contrary to Americans (and French people, probably), Germans are (sometimes shockingly, maybe) patient when it comes to politics. Four years are considered a short time for things to grow in my country. Many Germans probably agree that to cap a political chief executive’s maximum time in office to eight years would make a lot of sense – but to change the direction of politics every four or eight years wouldn’t necessarily make as much sense – unless a government turns out to be quite a disaster. Even as the going got tough under Helmut Schmidt, in 1976, his social-democrat/liberal coalition was confirmed, even if only narrowly. In 1980, it was confirmed with an even bigger majority – and times had become still tougher in the meantime. Unemployment had risen to unprecedented levels in post-war Germany, but justifiably or not, Germans gave Schmidt’s government credit for what they saw as a still better situation than the one found elsewhere in Europe. In the end, it wasn’t the voters who finished his government – it was the social democrats’ coalition partner, in 1982. Kohl replaced Schmidt, and remained in office for sixteen years, before a majority of German voters decided that his government had become useless. When the shift came, it came swiftly, and with a clear majority for the opposition parties.

In its September 1 issue, The Economist – no friend of “big government” – graded Barack Obama as follows:

Subject Grade
crisis response  A-
 stimulus  B+
 housing  C+
 labor market  C+
 trade   B-
 industrial policy   F
 regulation   D+
 debt/fiscal policy  incomplete

More details here »

The Obama administration’s marks in the field of industrial policy, according to the Economist’s report card, indicate maximum failure. In short, saving Detroit alone isn’t an industrial policy after all. It’s just crisis response. But then, I can’t even imagine Mitt Romney‘s industrial policy. “Buying American” isn’t one, either. However, taking cases to the WTO is still better than branding China, or any other global manufacturing competitor, a “currency manipulator” at a time when it makes less sense than any time previously in more than a decade.

Maybe Obama’s core problem is the messiah-like status he had reached in 2008 – naturally, he wouldn’t live up to that image. Another problem may be that he hasn’t sufficiently “reached out” to the Republicans when it came to Obamacare. But then, Obamacare was pretty much Romneycare. If that couldn’t satisfiy even a single Republican on Capitol Hill, one may wonder how Romney should convince them – chances are that as a president, he would only be able to deal with Congress once there is a Democratic majority, say, after 2012 after 2014.

I don’t know how the American people will decide on November 6. But I do know what I would do. I’d vote for Obama, and for Democratic candidates for Congress. Yes, a president needs to show leadership. But it seems to make no sense to me to build a tea party into any presidential term, be it a Democrat’s or a Republican’s presidency.

____________

Related

» Creative Destruction or…, March 15, 2010
» U.S. fiscal cliff, Wikipedia, acc. 20121031
» So habe auch ich mich getäuscht, Febr 1994
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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Mitt Romney has no China Strategy

When it comes to China, it becomes obvious to me that Mitt Romney has a problem. Heard on the radio this morning, and found on a transcript of the debate.

Barack Obama:

And that’s the reason why I set up a trade task force to go after cheaters when it came to international trade. That’s the reason why we have brought more cases against China for violating trade rules than the other — the previous administration had done in two terms. And we’ve won just about every case that we’ve filed, that — that has been decided. In fact, just recently, steelworkers in Ohio and throughout the Midwest, Pennsylvania, are in a position now to sell steel to China because we won that case.

We had a tire case in which they were flooding us with cheap domestic tires — or — or — or cheap Chinese tires. And we put a stop to it and, as a consequence, saved jobs throughout America. I have to say that Governor Romney criticized me for being too tough in that tire case, said this wouldn’t be good for American workers and that it would be protectionist. But I tell you, those workers don’t feel that way. They feel as if they had finally an administration who was going to take this issue seriously.

Over the long term, in order for us to compete with China, we’ve also got to make sure, though, that we’re taking — taking care of business here at home. If we don’t have the best education system in the world, if we don’t continue to put money into research and technology that will allow us to — to create great businesses here in the United States, that’s how we lose the competition. And unfortunately, Governor Romney’s budget and his proposals would not allow us to make those investments.

Mitt Romney:

Well, first of all, it’s not government that makes business successful. It’s not government investments that make businesses grow and hire people.

Let me also note that the greatest threat that the world faces, the greatest national security threat, is a nuclear Iran.

Let’s talk about China. China has an interest that’s very much like ours in one respect, and that is they want a stable world. They don’t want war. They don’t want to see protectionism. They don’t want to see the — the world break out into — into various forms of chaos, because they have to — they have to manufacture goods and put people to work. And they have about 20,000 — 20 million, rather, people coming out of the farms every year, coming into the cities, needing jobs. So they want the economy to work and the world to be free and open.

And so we can be a partner with China. We don’t have to be an adversary in any way, shape or form. We can work with them. We can collaborate with them if they’re willing to be responsible.

Now, they look at us and say, is it a good idea to be with America?

How strong are we going to be? How strong is our economy?

They look at the fact that we owe them a trillion dollars and owe other people 16 trillion (dollars) in total, including them. They — they look at our — our decision to — to cut back on our military capabilities — a trillion dollars. The secretary of defense called these trillion dollars of cuts to our military devastating. It’s not my term. It’s the president’s own secretary of defense called them devastating. They look at America’s commitments around the world and they see what’s happening and they say, well, OK, is America going to be strong? And the answer is yes. If I’m president, America will be very strong.

We’ll also make sure that we have trade relations with China that work for us. I’ve watched year in and year out as companies have shut down and people have lost their jobs because China has not played by the same rules, in part by holding down artificially the value of their currency. It holds down the prices of their goods. It means our goods aren’t as competitive and we lose jobs. That’s got to end.

They’re making some progress; they need to make more. That’s why on day one I will label them a currency manipulator which allows us to apply tariffs where they’re taking jobs. They’re stealing our intellectual property, our patents, our designs, our technology, hacking into our computers, counterfeiting our goods. They have to understand, we want to trade with them, we want a world that’s stable, we like free enterprise, but you got to play by the rules.

Ezra Klein explained ahead of the debate why this is unlikely to impress Beijing, and why it shouldn’t impress the Chinese leadership. The New York Times adds some more points.

If Romney uses this one argument when it comes to U.S.-chinese trade relations (it’s been his leitmotif throughout his campaign), it only shows that he has no comprehensive strategy – other than doing business with China, and that would be that. What he refuses to see – ostensibly, anyway – is that as a president, he wouldn’t be in a position to talk to Xi Jinping the way Ronald Reagan talked to Zhao Ziyang. This is 2012, not 1988. There have been many crackdowns and many years of Chinese economic and political growth in between. And mind you, Reagan had come to office promising that he would seek to restore normal diplomatic relations with Taiwan. We know where that promise ended.

Obama on the other hand hasn’t talked tough, but he has been tough in defending his country’s industrial base. Basically, the choice between Obama and Romney boils down to a choice between these concepts.

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Related

» Can China Handle America’s Return, The Diplomat, Dec 14, 2011

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Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Recommended Links: Tibet, Senkakus, and Revolutionary Opera

Woeser posted her observations about a propaganda film apparently produced by CCTV, and available in Chinese and English on YouTube. High Peaks Pure Earth translated Woeser’s blogpost, which had previously been broadcast on Radio Free Asia (RFA):

How CCTV’s Propaganda Film Depicts the Tibetan Self-Immolators.

Another East-Western beauty contest has been going on there on the Peking Duck. The threads are often very helpful for me to reflect on my own views – as a German, my country’s past is similar to Japan’s. The difference is that the whole world seems to believe that in Germany, we have done “a much better job” at addressing the crimes of the past. That’s certainly true when it comes to history books, but few people seem to remember then U.S. president Ronald Reagan‘s visit to the Bitburg Cemetary, where members of the SS are buried, along with Wehrmacht soldiers – at the insistence of then German chancellor Helmut Kohl. I’m not going explain my views here; they can be found there, among many others.

But there’s one thing I’d like to note here. Too many people like to make fun of – frequently rather brainless, I agree – Chinese protesters, or about fenqings who show up there in the threads. I suspect that to make fun of them serves at least two purposes: to laugh away worries about a possible war, and to feel morally superior.

If “we” – the West, or the Western alliances – were “superior”, our governments would send a clear message to Beijing, even if only behind the scenes. If the CCP leaders intend to use our countries and their people – i. e. us – as bugaboos to increase “social cohesion” at home, we can’t look at China as a friendly country. If the CCP – a totalitarian regime, after all – discretionarily uses economic means to “punish” Japan, no other country’s companies should be allowed to profit from gaps provided by such boycotts and sanctions.

I’m not suggesting that no business should be done with China. But when we do business with a state-capitalist country, we’ll need a state-capitalist approach ourselves – unless we want to allow a totalitarian regime to play one country off against the other. As long as we allow this to happen, we have no reason to make fun of useful Chinese idiots.

Last but not least, the DPRK Sea of Blood Opera Troupe is or (probably) was on tour in China. If you are a revolutionary-opera connoisseur, and intend not to miss their next time in China (or elsewhere in the world), feed your anticipation with this review on Sino-NK. It starts with Act II, and contains links to two previous instalments of the review.

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Related

» Good Ganbu’s Friday Nights, Nov 29, 2009

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Saturday, September 22, 2012

International Press Review: Senkakus, India’s Economic Reforms

1) Senkaku Islands

The Economist discusses what could be done to avoid a war about the Senkakus. One of their editorials suggest that China needs reassuring that, rather than seeking to contain it as Britain did 19th-century Germany, America wants a responsible China to realise its potential as a world power – but that would amount to shutting up completely, if this is the Economist’s point in case for reassuring China.

The Economist recommends three immediate safeguards.

Meantime, Hundreds of Japanese marched through downtown Tokyo on Saturday in a loud but tightly controlled protest against China’s claim to disputed islands in the East China Sea,

reports Associated Press (AP).

Organizers of Saturday’s march said more than 1,400 people participated. That figure appeared high, but a rough count found at least 800 protesters.

China News Service (中新社) on the same topic:

Tokyo, Sept 22 (Sun Ran reporting) – An anti-Chinese demonstration with several hundred participants, organized by (a) right-wing organization(s) erupted on Saturday. During this demonstration, no injuries or property losses occured.

中新社东京9月22日电 (记者 孙冉)日本东京22日爆发了由右翼团体组织发起的数百人规模的反华游行。当天游行中并未发生人员受伤及财产损失的情况。

The right-wing organization is the “Hang-In-There-Japan National Action Committee” [Ganbare Nippon], and its leader is former Japanese self-defense airforce chief of staff, Toshio Tamogami. The organizers said that 1200 common Japanese people had taken part in the demonstration, but according to China News Service’s reporter’s estimate, there were about six- to seventhousand people, far from a thousand.

该右翼团体为“加油日本全国行动委员会”,其领导人物是日本前航空自卫队幕僚长田母神俊雄。组织方称当天有1200名普通民众参加游行,但据中新社记者现场目测,人数约六七百人,远没有达到千人规模。

The embassy apparently felt that no sufficient number of police had been deployed to protect the embassy, and the Chinese ambassador told China News Service that representations had been made to Japan to increase police presence and to protect [the embassy] and consulates on Japanese ground as well as Chinese-funded organizations (要求其采取切实措施并加强警力,保护好在日使领馆和中资机构的安全).

The “Go-Japan National Action Committee” is a Japanese extreme-right organization. In 2010, after a Chinese captain had been arrested, the organization also organized several anti-China demonstrations. On June 10 this year, the organization organized a fishing contest of more than 120 people in the Diaoyus adjacent waters.

“加油日本全国行动委员会”是日本极右翼民间团体,2010年中国船长被捕事件发生后也曾组织过数起反华游行。今年6月10日,该团体还组织了120余人前往钓鱼岛附近海域进行垂钓大赛。

Huanqiu Shibao republished the China News Service article. On the now customary emoticon board, 54 readers expressed anger, and twelve found the news ridiculous.

2) Global Economy

Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh made a televised speech on Friday, trying to explain recent economic reforms to the public – cutting diesel subsidies, limiting subsidies on cooking gas, and allowing foreign supermarket giants to buy large stakes in India’s retail sector.

Singh warned the public that

The world is not kind to those who do not tackle their own problems. Many European countries are in this position today. They cannot pay their bills and are looking to others for help. They are having to cut wages or pensions to satisfy potential lenders.

I am determined to see that India will not be pushed into that situation. But I can succeed only if I can persuade you to understand why we had to act.

People’s Daily Online reports on Singh’s speech, too, but mostly restates the opinions from the international papers and other media:

On September 20, 50 million Indians are said to have taken part in an unprecedented national strike. On September 21, the “wave of explosions” reached the world of politics. Six members of Singh’s cabinet resigned, the ruling coalition split, and the Indian government was nearly “on the ropes”. Will the reforms be groundbreaking, or the beginning of a fierce struggle? In the view of German media, Singh, who is almost eighty years old, has been pushed with his back nearly to the wall: it’s either reform, or the end of his rule.

20日,据说5000万印度人参加了史无前例的全国性罢工。21日,“大爆炸冲击波”延至政坛,辛格内阁中有6人退出,执政联盟分裂,印度政府踏上“摇摆 的绳索”。这次改革是开天辟地,还是开启一场恶斗?在德国媒体看来,年近80的辛格似乎已被逼到墙角:要么改革,要么执政结束。

[…]

“Now, Singh needs to sell the concept of freedom to the Indians”, a Bloomberg analysis says, and these reforms meant that in the current economic crisis, only shock therapy could be an effective cure. The “Voice of Germany” [Deutsche Welle] commented on Friday that Singh had made more changes in his economic policies within a few days, than in all the eight past years. […] The “Chicago Tribune” says that as India’s credit ratings faced the threat of falling to “junk status”, Singh has no time to demonstrate preparedness to consolidate the troubled economy, and rather has to run reforms at high speed, hoping to survive the “difficult time”. On Friday, Singh said in a nation-wide televised speech that “money doesn’t grow from trees”, and called on the people to “support the reforms against economic difficulties”.

“现在辛格需要向印度人兜售自由理念”。彭博新闻社分析称,这些改革措施意味着印度在经济危机的情况下只能通过“休克疗法”来治疗。“德国之声”21日评论称,辛格在几天之内对经济政策作出的改动,比过去8年总和还要多。[…..] 《芝加哥论坛报》称,信用评级面临降为“垃圾”级的威胁,辛格已经没时间展示整顿经济的严肃态度,从而强调改革速度,期望挺过“艰难时刻”。21日,辛格对全国发表演讲,称“钱不能从树上长出来”,他呼吁民众“支持应对经济困境的改革”。

[…]

But even if you only quote non-Chinese media and experts, you’ll find someone who provides the correct conclusions. People’s Daily Online quotes an “Open Europe” researcher, from a Huanqiu Shibao interview:

Britain’s “Open Europe” think tank’s researcher 保罗·罗宾逊*) told Huanqiu Shibao in an interview on September 21 that India’s most outstanding achievement in the past twenty years of reforms had been the privatization of state-owned companies. Those measures had provided Indian economic development with a more relaxed environment. However, 罗宾逊 believes that the instability of a democratic political system had led to indecisive government which kept sticking to conventions. China’s reforms had been clearly stronger than India’s, and deeper, too. Therefore, the effects [in China] had also been greater.

英国“开放欧洲”智库研究员保罗·罗宾逊21日在接受《环球时报》采访时表示,印度过去20多年的改革中最可圈可点的是对国有企业的“私有化”改革。政府 的改革举措为印度经济发展赢得了更为宽松的环境。不过罗宾逊认为,印度民主政治制度的不稳定导致政府优柔寡断和墨守成规,中国改革的力度明显比印度大,而 且中国的改革比印度更深入,因此效果也更大。

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Note

*) This isn’t a Chinese name, but I didn’t find its English equivalent.

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Related

» Singh’s Team, Times of India, Sep 22, 2012
» Too Complex to keep the Peace, Sep 18, 2012
» Nationalist Movement Strengthens, WSJ, Aug 14, 2012

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Thursday, September 20, 2012

People’s Daily Online on Economic Sanctions against Japan: “Don’t Hurt the Friends, don’t Please the Enemy”

The following is a translation of an article published by People’s Daily Online (人民网) on September 18, 2012.

Links within blockquotes were added during translation.

The article focuses on two levels of sanctions: government-level (with a very cautious attitude) and “non-governmental boycotts” (with an “understanding” attitude).  In terms of business, the article addresses losses that China would incur in terms of technological progress if it took comprehensive “countermeasures” against Japan. Further down, the article suggests that rare-earth sanctions against Japan had basically backfired, in or since 2010.

Rather than expressing an editorial stance of its own, the article quotes a number of academics. The subtitles within the following translation are not part of the original article.

Main Link: 打经济战 中国承受力定比日本强? – People’s Daily Online, September 18, 2012

Economic Sanctions: Not while Japan maintains its Technological Edge

[…] Vice Minister of Commerce Jiang Zengwei said recently that the so-called “islands purchase” by Japan (Diaoyu Islands) made it hard to avoid negative impacts on Sino-Japanese trade relations.

因日本对中国固有领土钓鱼岛进行所谓“国有化”,中日关系再度降温,由此引发的寒潮在经贸领域已经有首当其冲的显现。商务部副部长姜增伟日前表示,日方的所谓“购岛”(钓鱼岛)行为,难以避免地会对中日经贸关系产生负面影响。

In Chinese public opinion, voices sympathetic to terrorizing Japan by economic sanctions have emerged, which say with certainty that Japan’s economy was more dependent on China than vice versa. Even if economic and trade confrontation had the killing power of weapons on both sides, China’s ability to bear that was far stronger than Japan’s. However, to “play the economic card needed to be done  cautiously, and the two countries’ abilities to bear this be judged by seeking the truth in the facts, and this issue be dealt with rationally and objectively”. Recently, a scholar with a good knowledge of Sino-Japanese economic and trade issues talked with this People’s Daily Online reporter.

中国舆论中已出现用经济制裁威慑日本的声音,并言之凿凿:日本经济对中国经济的依存度高于中国对日本。虽然中日经贸对峙对双方都有杀伤力,但中国承受能力远高于日本。然而,“打经济牌必须慎重,要实事求是地评估两国的承受力,理性客观地对待这个问题。”近日,谙熟中日经贸事务的学者如是告诉人民网记者。

Japan’s economy entered a long-term depression in the 1980s, with exports as the main driving force in economic development. Although European and American markets were the main factors in influencing Japan’s economy, China’s influence was no insignificant factor either.

自上世纪80年代中期始,日本经济陷入长期萧条,出口是其经济发展的最主要动力。虽然欧美市场是影响日本经济的最主要因素,但是对日本经济而言,中国因素早已不可忽视。

China is currently Japan’s biggest trading partner and its biggest export market. According to Japan’s Ministry of Finance statistics, Japan’s trade with and its exports to China stand at 19.7 percent and 20.6 percent respectively, in its total amount of foreign trade. After the European Union, America, and ASEAN, Japan is China’s fourth-largest trading partner.

中国是目前日本最大的贸易伙伴和最大出口对象国。据日本财务省统计,2011年日本对华贸易和对华出口将分别占日本外贸总额和出口总额的19.7%和20.6%。而日本在欧盟、美国、东盟之后,是中国的第四大贸易伙伴。

Analysts have pointed out that Japan’s economy is more dependent on China than vice versa. Even if economic and trade confrontation had the killing power of weapons on both sides, China’s ability to bear that was far stronger than Japan’s. Once China started economic and trade sanctions against Japan, this could lead to a Japanese economic crisis.

有分析人士指出,日本经济对中国经济的依存度高于中国对日本。虽然中日经贸对峙对双方都有杀伤力,但中国承受能力远高于日本。一旦中方启动经济制裁,可能引发日本经济危机。

Feng Zhaokui, a researcher with the National Japanese Economic Research Institute, told this People’s Daily Online reporter that taking economic countermeasures against Japan’s economy could have a greater than on China in theory. “However, the so-called ability to bear” is no mere matter of numbers.

而全国日本经济学会研究员冯昭奎则告诉人民网记者,对日本采取经济上的反制措施,理论上日本受到的影响大于中国。“但是所谓的‘承受能力’却不是光用数字就能够衡量的。

Feng Zhaokui says that since 2002, in Sino-Japanese trade, China has always recorded a trade deficit, mainly because much of the trade was in the field of production. The levels of bilateral import and export differed, and the weight of technological content differed. In the industry chain, Japan stood at the high end, and China mainly imported key core technological components from Japan, with high technological content, much added value, and if these imports were affected, the industrial chain would see disrupture, which would damage China’s production. Even as Sino-Japanese trade was gradually transforming from a vertical division of labor to a horizontal pattern, Japan generally was the side with goods of high technological content, high added value and maintained an edge there.

冯昭奎说,自2002年以来,在中日贸易中,中方一直处于逆差状态,主要原因在于中日之间在生产领域内的贸易所占比重较大。中日双方的进出口产品层次不同,技术含量不同。日本处于产业链的高端,中国从日本主要进口关键的核心零部件,技术含量高、附加值高,如果进口受影响,产业链将面临断裂,对中国将产生损害。尽管中日之间的贸易结构正在逐步从垂直分工向水平分工方向转化,但总体来看,日本在技术含量高、附加值高的产品方面仍占优势。

According to surveys, Japanese foreign direct investment (FDI) in China in 2011 was at 6.35 billion US dollars, an increase of 49.7 percent compared with the previous year. This was abut 40 percentage points more than the increase in what China attracted in overall FDI (9.72 percent). Japanese investment in China supported Japan’s economic recovery and growth; it also contributed to China’s economic development. Hasty economic sanctions against Japan could lead to Japanese companies withdrawal from China.

调查显示,2011年日本对华直接投资实际到位资金63.48亿美元,同比增速高达49.7%,而中国实际吸引外资增幅为9.72%,与此相比整整高出近40个百分点。日本对华投资有力地支持了日本经济的复苏和增长,也对中国经济的发展做出了贡献。如果轻率地对日本使用经济制裁,可能会导致在华日企撤离中国。

“China’s economic growth this year is voluntarily restricted to eight percent, which is to say that we are approaching the lower limit”, says Feng, as China adds twenty million new workforce annually. Our country has entered a period of accelerated promotion of economic transformation, it faces growing pressures from the global economy which complicate the external environment, with growing uncertain factors such as if the economy can maintain needed growth, and the job market may suffer blows. “Therefore, the economic card must be played cautiously, and the two countries’ ability to bear this be judged by seeking the truth in the facts, and this issue be dealt with rationally and objectively”.

“今年中国的经济增长率将自行控制在8%,对我们来说,是接近下线的。”冯昭奎说,而中国每年新增劳动力一两千万。我国已经进入加快推进经济转型的关键时期,面临着世界经济下行压力增大的复杂外部环境,不确定因素增强,如果经济不能保持适当的增速,就业市场就会受到冲击。“所以,打经济牌必须慎重,要实事求是地评估两国的承受力,理性客观地对待这个问题。”

The Rare-Earths Card

Among the economic-sanction measures discussed recently, limiting exports of rare earths to Japan has been most frequent. Many people say that when it comes to rare-earths resources, Japan will continue to depend heavily on China in the near future, and therefore, China should play the “rare-earth card”.

在近日经济制裁日本的诸多措施中,限制对日稀土出口是讨论得最多的。不少人士表示,日本在稀土资源近期仍将倚重中国,因此中国可打出“稀土牌”。

According to the Nihon Kezai Shimbun, Japan’s imports of rare earths frm China have fallen by 3007 tons during the first six months of 2012, i. e. 49.3 percent of Japan’s total imports. These imports were reduced by fifty percent within half a year. Before 2009, 90 percent of Japan’s rare-earths imports came from China.

而据《日本经济新闻》报道,2012年1到6月份,日本从中国进口的稀土资源下降到3007吨,仅占全部输入总量的49.3%,半年内减少了50%。而在2009年之前,日本的稀土资源9成以上都需依靠中国进口。

China got a lesson, in terms of economic sanctions”, Feng believes. In 2010, Japan had illegally detained the captain of a Chinese trawler. Although China hadn’t openly acknowledged the use of economic sanctions, practically, China temporarily halted rare-earths exports and created temporary difficulties for Japan at the time. “But in fact, Japan mainly cried out, and had already got prepared. Their inventories were ample.

“在经济制裁方面,中国是有教训的。”冯昭奎认为,2010年,日本非法扣押中国渔船船长。中国虽然没有公开承认使用了经济制裁,但事实上中国暂停了对日稀土出口,当时给日本造成一时困难。“但其实困难主要是日本叫唤出来的,他们早就有备无患,存货很多。”

China holds only one-third of the global rare-earth reserves, but currently supplies some 90 percent of the worldwide quantity. “There are countries rich in rare earths, too, and their technological ability to produce them has increased” Feng Zhaokui says. After China had restricted imports of rare earths in 2010, Japan resumed research of resources policies, and especially decided that it couldn’t depend on only one country for rare minerals and rare metals. These days, Australia, Malaysia and other countries rare-earth projects are developing very smoothly.

中国的稀土储量只占世界的三分之一,却承担了目前国际市场上90%的供应量。“国外也有稀土资源丰富的国家,而且有技术,这两年里他们把稀土生产搞上来了。”冯昭奎说,2010年中国限制稀土出口后,日本就重新研究了资源政策,尤其决定稀土及稀有金属不能只依赖一个国家。如今澳大利亚、马来西亚等地的稀土项目,进展得都很顺利。

“As far as our talk about having a monopoly position on rare earths, other countries have caught up, and we haven’t increased our technological content, and we haven’t upgraded the industrial change. Our competitiveness in the field of rare earths has been greatly affected.”

“而我们总说在稀土产量上有垄断地位,但是现在其他国家赶上来了,我们却没有提高技术含量,升级产业链,在稀土产业竞争力方面大受影响。”

Feng believes that rare earths won’t restrain Japan anymore, and that they are no longer a card that could be played. If one wanted to impose economic sanctions, one had to take the rare-earths lessons into account.

冯昭奎认为,稀土已经制约不了日本,不再是一张牌。如果要采取经济制裁措施,一定要吸取稀土教训。

In the wake of the heightened temperatures from the Diaoyu Islands’ issue, another popular surge in “boycotting Japanese goods” and even a low in travels to Japan are inevitable. Information from all travel agencies say that since September, the number of group travels to Japan had gone down drastically, and some travel agencies have stopped Japan travel services altogether. Numbers released by the Chinese automotive industry on September 10 show that compared with last year’s same period, August sales of Japanese cars had dropped by two percent. From August, Japanese goods such as household appliances had also gone down in China.

在钓鱼岛事件升温之际,“抵制日货”的浪潮不可避免地在民众中再次掀起,连带着赴日旅游也遭遇低谷。来自各大旅行社的消息称,进入9月份以来,赴日旅游成团数量急剧减少,有的旅行社则干脆停止赴日旅游业务。中国汽车工业协会9月10日公布数据显示,与上年同期比较,8月日系车销量下降2%。而8月份以来,日系品牌家电在中国销售额也整体大跌。

Vice Minister of Commerce Jiang Zengwei said on a press conference that given Japanese violations of Chinese territory, Chinese consumers had a right to express their position in reasonable manners, and that we should express understanding for that.

商务部副部长姜增伟近日在记者会上表示,针对日方侵犯中国领土主权的行为,中国消费者以理性的方式表达其立场和他们的一些想法,是他们的权利,我们对此应该表示理解。

“Reach for the wine when friends arrive, and reach for the gun when enemies arrive”, China Academy of Social Science Japan Institute director Gao Hong told People’s Daily Online reporter in an interview. The Chinese people have shown patriotic enthusiasm, and spontaneous boycotts of Japanese goods was a right which gave no cause for criticism. “However, we need to distinguish between the non-governmental and the governmental level when it comes to the economic card. At the government level, more economic policies need to be adjusted to each other.”

“朋友来了有好酒,敌人来了有猎枪,”中国社科院日本所副所长高洪在接受人民网记者采访时也如是说,中国人民出于爱国热情,自发地抵制日本产品,是自己的权利,无可厚非。“但是经济牌要有区分,政府层面和民间层面的牌是不一样的,政府层面更多的是进行经济政策的调整。”

Liu Gang, professor at the Okinawa University, pointed out in a number of media that to sanction a country, other countries’ support was frequently required. To mobilize international sanctions against Japan, these needed to be adopted by the United Nations. That’s how so-called sanctions would be legitimate. If one country high-handedly reached for the big stick of economic sanctions, this didn’t only deviate from WTO principles, but also give rise to gossip and a series of other side effects.

日本冲绳大学教授刘刚在此前的媒体评论中分析指出,制裁一个国家,通常应该有其他国家的支持。如若真要动用国际力量制裁日本,有必要提请联合国通过。这样,所谓的制裁行动才具有正当性。如果一国妄自舞起经济制裁大棒,不仅容易偏离WTO原则,更易授人口实,引起一连串的副作用。

“As for economic sanctions, I believe that generally-speaking, it isn’t China’s position that they should be a tool in handling international relations”, Qu Xing, director of the China Institute of International Studies, clearly points out.

“对于经济制裁,我觉得中国一般地讲,不主张把制裁作为处理国际关系的一个手段。”中国国际问题研究所所长曲星明确地指出。

Gao Hong also told the People’s Daily Online reporter that as far as countermeasures were concerned, these were meant to subdue the other side. Countermeasures needed to correspond with the other side’s provocation. If Japan didn’t continuously act provocatively on the economic level, countermeasures on a governmental level could usually not be carried out. After Japan’s so-called “nationalization” [of three of the Senkaku islands – JR], China had announced its points about the Diaoyu territorial seas, institutionalized the dispatch of naval patrol boats, and submitted material and cartography to the United Nations, etc.. These “combined punches” had already hit Japan where it was vulnerable.

高洪也告诉人民网记者,就反制来讲,反制是针对对方进攻所采取的反击制服的斗争手段。反制和挑衅的层次和力度相当。如果日本在经济上没有进一步的挑衅行为,政府层面的经济反制一般不会进行。在日本对钓鱼岛进行所谓“国有化”后,中方随即公布钓鱼岛领海基线基点,派海监船对钓鱼岛实施常态化监测,以及向联合国提交钓鱼岛坐标表和海图等,这一套“组合拳”已经击中日本的要害。

Liu Gang believes that Japan’s established policy of swallowing the Diaoyu Islands is an international problem, and China didn’t need to oblique references to that. The best approach would be tit-for-tat, to confine oneself to the facts, to make representations when needed, and to let strength and actions speak – to learn from Russia meant to use strength as a backup, with less talk and more action.

刘刚认为,吞下钓鱼岛已经是日本的既定方针和国是问题,对此问题,中国没必要再旁敲侧击,又何必冀望于“歪打”迂回,反而最好针锋相对,就事论事,该怎么交涉就怎么交涉,让实力和行动说话。学习俄罗斯,以实力做后盾,少说多做。

The Diaoyu issue is inherited from history, as many experts say. The struggle for the Diaoyu Islands is a long-term one and can’t be done overnight. This is only the first round of the struggle, and the struggle needed long-term preparation. China’s departments in charge also state clearly that they reserve the right to all kinds of action. Since a long-term struggle was needed, strategies needed to be made, orders [of approaches], and sequences of goals. Nothing should be done on the spur of sentiments, and not in a way that would “hurt friends and please the enemies”.

正如近期不少专家学者所说,钓鱼岛问题是历史遗留问题。关于钓鱼岛的斗争是长期的,不能一蹴而就。现在只是斗争的第一回合,要做斗争的长期准备。中国相关部门也明确表示,保留一切行动的权利。既然要做长期斗争,就要讲策略、讲次序、讲阶段性目的,不能意气用事,做令“亲者痛、仇者快”之事。

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Related

» Making Patriotism Useful, Sep 17, 2012
» The Nine-Dotted Line, Foarp, Sep 30, 2011
» Collision with Sth Korean Coast Guard, Dec 18, 2010
» A Nefarious Turn, Sep 25, 2010

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Friday, August 31, 2012

International Press Review: Merkel’s China Trip and Germany’s Submissive Bosses

translations from Chinese and German by JR. Links within blockquotes added during translation

Xinwen Lianbo, CCTV, August 31, 2012

Xinwen Lianbo, CCTV, August 31, 2012

Beijing Youthnet (北青网), August 31, 2012, 0715 local time (China)

Contrary to Thursday, which was packed with a political agenda, Friday is the day which is about “cultural tourism” and “economic cooperation trips”. Although this is Merkel’s sixth visit to China, this is the first time that she visits the Forbidden City. The scheduled fourty minutes of sightseeing let this German chancellor learn about Chinese history and culture first-hand, and deepen her comprehensive understanding of China.

与30日在北京密集的“政治日程”安排相比,默克尔今天的行程可以说是“文化之旅”和“经济合作之旅”。看点很多,可以用三个“首次”概括。今天上午温家宝总理将陪同默克尔一起参观故宫。虽然默克尔已经六次访问中国,这还是她首次到访故宫,预定40分钟的参观时间将让这位德国总理亲身领略中国历史和文化,加深她对中国的全面了解。

After the visit to the Forbidden City, Chief State Councillor Wen Jiabao personally accompanies Merkel on her trip to Tianjin, on the high-speed Beijing-Tianjin railway, which is the first time for Merkel to travel on a Chinese high-speed train. Concerning this, Merkel, herself from a great country of high-speed trains, says that this trip lets her experience China’s rapid development.

结束对故宫的访问之后,温家宝总理将亲自陪同默克尔乘坐京津高铁赴天津访问,这将是默克尔首次乘坐中国的高铁。对于来自高铁技术大国的默克尔来说,这次中国的高铁之旅相信可以让她感受到中国的快速发展。

The third “first”: this is Merkel’s first visit to Tianjin. Before, Merkel visited several Chinese cities, including Nanjing, Xi’an, and Guangzhou, but she is going to Tianjin for the first time. Tianjin is also Wen Jiabao’s hometown. During yesterday’s meeting with Merkel, Wen said that these Sino-German government consultations would be the last during the tenure of the current Chinese government. This means that if nothing extraordinary happens, this visit by Merkel will be the last one during which Wen will greet her in his capacity as Chief State Councillor. Merkel says that her stay as a guest in Wen’s hometown will be a memorable visit for her.

第三个“首次”:这是默克尔第一次到访天津。之前,默克尔已经访问过包括南京、西安、广州在内的多个中国城市,但天津还是头一回去,而且天津也是温家宝总理的故乡。昨天,温总理在与默克尔会面时就表示,这次中德政府磋商将是本届中国政府任内最后一次了。这意味着如果没有特殊情况出现的话,默克尔本次访华将是温家宝作为总理最后一次接待她访华。在这样一次访问中,默克尔到温总理的家乡做客对于她来说将是一次值得回忆的访问。

An important reason for Merkel to visit Tianjin is that Tianjin has become a focus of German companies in northern China. According to statistics, until July this year, 334 German-invested companies have been approved in Tianjin, and accumulated contractual investment is at more than 2.1 billion US dollars. Germany has also become the European country with the most companies investing in Tianjin.

默克尔之所以要访问天津,有一个重要原因是天津目前已成为德国企业在中国北方的主要聚集区。据统计,截至今年7月,天津累计批准德国投资企业334家,累计合同外资额超过21亿美元。德国也成为欧洲国家中在天津投资企业数量最多的国家。

During the time in Tianjin, Chief State Councillor Wen and Merkel held an hour of talks with Chinese and German entrepreneurs. This arrangement had been made during several of Merkel’s previous visits to China, too. In July 2010 and in February this year, when Merkel visited China, Wen held talks with Chinese and German entrepreneurs in Xi’an and Guangzhou, together with Merkel. This reflects the importance the two [heads of government] attach to listening to the comments and suggestions from entrepreneurs from both sides, concerning the development of Sino-German economic and trade cooperation. As for Merkel’s visit to China this time, an important goal is to further strengthen economic and trade cooperation with China. There are not only many entrepreneurs accompanying Merkel, but on Thursday, after the Sino-German government consultations, the two countries signed 13 agreemens concerning electric vehicles, biotechnology, climate protecton and other areas. The value of cooperation for the companies reached nearly seven billion US dollars.

在天津期间,温总理将和默克尔一同与中德企业家举行历时1个小时的座谈,这样的安排在以往默克尔的访华行程中多次出现。2010年7月和今年2月默克尔访华期间,温总理就曾与她一起在西安和广州同中德企业家座谈,这体现出两国总理非常重视听取双方企业界人士有关中德经贸合作发展的意见和建议。而默克尔本次访华的一个重要目的,就是着眼于继续加强与中国的经贸合作。随同默克尔来访的不仅有多位企业家,而且在30日中德政府磋商之后,两国签署了涉及电动汽车、生物技术、气候保护等领域合作的13项协议文本,有关企业、公司则达成的商业合作总金额接近70亿美元。

There is an important item on Chief State Councillor Wen’s and Chancellor Merkel’s agenda in Tianjin; they take part in Airbus Tianjin Company‘s ceremony, as the 100th A320 plane is completed. The Airbus assembly line in Tianjin is the first comprehensive one of this aircraft company outside Europe, a product of Airbus cooperation with Chinese companies. Both [heads of government] are witnessing the moment when the 100th plane since August 2008 leaves the assembly line.

在天津期间,温总理和默克尔总理有一项重要的日程安排是共同出席空客天津公司第100架A320飞机的下线仪式。空中客车在天津的这条总装线是空客公司在欧洲以外的第一条飞机总装线,是空客和中国企业合作的产物。从2008年8月开始组装首架飞机,到今年8月正好赶上第100架飞机下线,两国总理将共同见证这一时刻。

This production line is a win-win product for China and Europe. Airbus Tianjin Assembly Line general manager Shang Luguo said in an interview before that one of this projects biggest successes has been that it trained more than 400 Chinese technicians to master the world’s most advanced aircraft production technology. At the same time, it promoted China’s aviation industry’s development. China is currently conducting its own big-aircraft development program, and is learning from aircraft-building peers’ experience. This was very important for China, and this assembly line [in Tianjin] provided China with an opportunity to learn, which showed its importance.

这条生产线对于中欧来说是互利双赢的产物。空客天津总装线总经理尚鲁国之前在接受采访时就曾表示,这个项目取得最为重要的成就之一就是培养了400多名掌握世界最先进的飞机总装技术的中国员工,同时,推动了中国航空制造产业的发展。中国目前正在进行自己的大飞机研制计划,向同行学习飞机制造经验对于中国来说十分重要,而这条生产线为中国提供了一个学习的机会,可见它的重要性。

Also, China and Germany signed the “second-term Airbus China Assembly Line agreement”, and a purchasing agreement about 50 A320 aircraft at 3.5 billion US dollars. Wen and Merkel witnessed the signing of the contracts. Earlier, there were reports saying that Airbus expected purchases of 100 planes, but in fact, China bought only 50.

另外,昨天中德双方昨天还签署了《空客中国总装线二期框架协议》,以及价值35亿美元的50架A320飞机采购协议,温家宝和默克尔见证了协议的签署。之前,有报道说,空客方面预计中方订购的飞机是100架,而实际上中方购买的数量是50架。

Reuters, August 31, 2012

The European Commission has until next Friday to decide whether to launch an investigation into a complaint brought by European solar firms and people familiar with the case believe it may well go ahead and do so.

On Thursday, Merkel told reporters after talks with Wen that she favoured negotiations over confrontation in the matter, comments that were welcomed by the Chinese premier but stoked concern in the European industry.

But on Friday she appeared to row back on her conciliatory tone, saying Chinese solar firms needed to recognise that subsidies, such as bottom-rate bank loans, distorted competition and violated European law.
“We are not out of the woods yet,” she said. “My plea is that everyone be transparent, that they lay their cards on the table about how they produce.”

Der Spiegel, international online edition, August 31, 2012

The chancellor’s course on China, in fact, has slowly come to resemble the business-first policies pursued by her predecessor Gerhard Schröder. He almost surely approves of the lovely images of her visiting the Airbus plant in Tianjin, where she made a stop just before flying back to Berlin. The factory visit took place a day after a contract was signed for 50 new planes ordered by the Chinese.

[…]

Merkel, in fact, seems to have become almost completely domesticated by the economic gains made by the Asian superpower. She still, of course, addresses points of bilateral contention — during a press conference with her host Premier Wen Jiabao she requested that German press correspondents be treated better following repeated incidents of hassling. Beyond that, however, Merkel appeared overly considerate of a single-party dictatorship that pays little mind to human rights, neither at home in China nor elsewhere in the world.

Financial Times Deutschland, August 31, 2012, 1720 local time (Germany): Germany’s Submissive Bosses (Deutschlands devote Chefs)

When it comes to lobbying during the German-Chinese economic forum in Tianjin, it was Wen Jiabao and Angela Merkel who taught Peter Löscher and a few others some lessons. “Are there deficits in equal treatment for foreign companies in China?”, Wen followed up on Löscher’s vague opening statement, on which [Löscher] only goody-goody said: “I see it as a sign of trust that we can bring these issues forward with you personally.”

In Sachen Interessensvertretung waren es beim deutsch-chinesischen Wirtschaftsforum in Tianjin Wen Jiabao und Angela Merkel, die Peter Löscher und anderen ein paar Lektionen erteilten. “Gibt es in China denn auch Mängel in Sachen Gleichbehandlung für ausländische Unternehmen?”, hakte Wen nach Löschers vagem Eingangsstatement nach. Woraufhin der nur artig sagte: “Ich sehe es als Zeichen des Vertrauens, dass wir diese Themen bei Ihnen persönlich vorbringen können.”

It wasn’t the only moment when Wen or Merkel were compelled to actively encourage the top managers to complain. […]

Es war nicht der einzige Moment, in dem Wen oder Merkel die Topmanager aktiv zu Klagen ermutigen mussten. […]

Handelsblatt, August 31, 2012

[China’s] market may be the world’s biggest one – but the Chinese government continues to hamper investors. In the chancellor’s presence, German company bosses vented their furustrations. There are many reasons to complain.

Der Markt mag der größte der Welt sein – doch die chinesische Regierung stellt Investoren weiterhin Hürden. In Anwesenheit der Kanzlerin machten deutsche Firmenchefs ihrem Unmut Luft. Anlässe zur Klage gibt es viele.

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Related

» Independent Innovation, May 29, 2012
» Industriousness and Wisdom, January 9, 2011

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