Posts tagged ‘WTO’

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.

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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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Sunday, August 12, 2012

Huanqiu Shibao: is South-East Asia replacing “Made in China”?

The following are loosely translated extracts from an article by Huanqiu Shibao, published on Friday, and authored by several Huanqiu reporters.

It refers to an UNCTAD 2012 Investment Report, apparently this one, officially published on July 5, 2012.

There is a rising trend at Huanqiu Shibao to provide emoticon votes, rather than opening a commenter thread. This article doesn’t appear to allow online readers’ comments either (there is a button, but it leads nowhere, and there are indeed no comments), although it is hard to see how its topic should be particularly sensitive.

Links within the following paragraphs were added during translation — JR

Main Link: Is South-East Asia replacing “Made in China”? (Huanqiu Shibao, August 10, 2012)

========================

From Adidas to Oclaro [currently Shenzhen, scheduled to leave for Malaysia within three years], foreign manufacturing investors announce relocations from China to South-East Asia, write the Huanqiu reporters. And a recent UNCTAD report said that in 2011, foreign direct investment (FDI) to South-East Asian nations had reached 117 billion US dollars, an increase by 26 per cent, far more than a rise by less than eight per cent in FDI to China. And Vietnam’s state news agency excitedly announced that the scale of NIKE trainers made in Vietnam now exceeded that of those made in China, making Vietnam the world’s biggest NIKE trainers producer. Currently, Vietnam’s share in NIKE trainers global production was at 41 per cent, with China’s only at 32 per cent. Previously, Adidas had announced it would move its only wholly-foreign-owned factory in China to [correction – 20130729] Cambodia Laos. This causes worries to people at home that international investors could be moving from China to South-East Asia, in terms of manufacturing, writes Huanqiu.

越南国家通讯社日前兴奋地宣称,全球知名体育品牌耐克的运动鞋在越南的生产规模已经超过在中国的生产规模,成为世界最大的耐克鞋生产国。目前,越南生产的耐克运动鞋占耐克运动鞋总量的41%,而在中国生产的耐克运动鞋比例只占32%。此前,阿迪达斯公司也决定关闭中国唯一独资工厂,将工厂搬到柬埔寨。这让国内许多人担心国际资本在制造业方面的投资是否正从中国转向东南亚。

Souvenir from Turkey, made in China

Souvenir from Turkey, made in China

The article then quotes a Chinese garment manufacturer who is sympathetic towards European and American buyers’ demands that he relocate his production to South-East Asia. “I find that understandable – who wouldn’t want to buy at low prices?” (我很理解,谁不希望以更低价格拿到进货呢?) The European Union had allowed duty-free imports from Cambodia from January 2011.

However, a Standard Chartered Bank analyst is also quoted, with more encouraging news for the readers: It was difficult to determine if this was a real shift from China to South-East Asia, as foreign investment in China was rising, too.
A major reason for the slowdown in foreign investment in China was that the global economy had slowed down, and China’s economy along with it, but that didn’t mean that South-East Asia would replace China. Some international companies were seeking diversification, especially because of rising costs in China, and to avoid risks of protectionism against China in some [importing] countries.

尽管国际对东南亚制造业的投资迅速增长,但渣打银行亚洲研究部主管许长泰对《环球时报》记者表示,这并不表明制造业从中国向东南亚的重大转移。他说,对东南亚制造业的外国投资上升,但很难确定这些投资是否是从中国撤出的,因为对中国的外国投资仍然在增长。尽管外资进入中国速度放缓,但主要是由于全球经济形势严峻,中国经济也在放缓,而不是东南亚取代中国。一些国际企业正在寻求多样性的可能,主要是考虑到在中国经商成本的上升,以及为了规避一些国家对“中国制造”采取贸易保护主义措施的风险。

After a discussion of Japanese investment in South-East Asia, the article addresses the challenges it sees for South-East Asia.

Vietnam’s 41 per cent share in Nike’s trainers’ production didn’t spell great practical benefits for the people. A Nike trainer on the Vietnamese market costs about as much as one anywhere else, according to Huanqiu Shibao’s research, and would therefore be out of reach for normal Vietnamese buyers.Besides, Huanqiu’s Hanoi correspondent quotes a 28-year-old worker from the 10th Garment Factory in Hanoi’s suburbs, the monthly income is at 2,500,000 Vietnamese Dongs (1 USD about 21,000 Dongs). That is above the state-defined minimum wage standard, and a free lunch is included as another benefit, but that is mostly spent on her motorcycle rides to and from work (500,000 Dongs monthly spent on gasoline), a monthly flat rental (1,200,000 Dongs), water, energy etc. at 300,000, etc.. Even her and her husband’s incomes combined didn’t pay the bills, when they both worked at the garment factory, and extra jobs needed to make ends meet.

尽管全球41%的耐克运动鞋产自越南,让越南工商界和一些学者颇感高兴,但这些国际巨头的投资并未给越南民众带来太多的实惠。《环球时报》记者在调查中发现,越南市场上销售的耐克鞋价格与国际市场基本持平,普通人基本买不起。而对于为国际资本打工的普通人来说,赚的也都是血汗钱。28岁的阮兰香在位于河内市郊的第10制衣厂工作。每月到手的工资只有250万越南盾(1美元约合2.1万越南盾),尽管这比政府规定的最高工资标准要高,公司中午还提供免费工作餐。但是她给《环球时报》记者算了这样一笔账:骑摩托车上下班每月燃油支出50万越南盾,房租每月120万越南盾,水电费每月30万越南盾……自己的工资都不够维持家里基本生活。因此,原本和她一起在制衣厂打工的丈夫不得不辞去工作,在外面多打几份零工,养家糊口。

Companies like Nike had moved to South-East Asia mainly for lower labor costs and to achieve a maximum profit, writes Huanqiu. Adidas, one of the biggest London Olympic Games sponsor, was facing investigations by the London Organizing Committee not long ago, for allegations that factory workers only earned ten British Pounds a week, and their factory therefore being called a “sweat shop”.

实际上,像耐克这样的国际巨头将生产线移师东南亚,主要是为了充分利用当地较低的劳动力成本优势,实现自己利润的最大化。不久前,伦敦奥运会最大赞助商之一阿迪达斯公司因只向为其生产伦敦奥运会特许商品的柬埔寨服装厂工人支付每周10英镑的工资而被称为“血汗工厂”,目前正面临伦敦奥组委调查。

Dissatisfaction with wages had led to protests among workers in many South-East Asian countries, and after the “Adidas sweat shop” incident, the Cambodian minstry of labor had stipulated that from September 1, factories in the Cambodian textile and shoe industry had to provide an extra amount of five US dollars, a non-leave pay (or attendance bonus) of ten US dollars, seven dollars for transport and living costs etc., which would then amount to 83 US dollars a month as a minimum wage. The Vietnamese government had also adjusted the minimum wages several times in recent years, most recently in October 2011, stipulating that foreign-invested companies needed to pay 2,000,000 Dongs as a monthly minimum, instead of only 1,550,000. But this still didn’t meet the demands of Vietnamese workers. According to statistics by the Vietnamese garment-industry “labor union”, fluctuation within the workforce at state-owned companies was at 15 to 20 per cent, it was at 20 to 30 per cent in some small and medium-sized companies, but at 40 per cent in foreign-invested companies.

同样,东南亚国家制造业发展也面临种种挑战。由于普通工人不满工资低,许多东南亚国家频频爆发工人抗议。阿迪达斯“血汗工厂”事件后,柬埔寨劳工部长发布通告称,9月1日起,柬埔寨的纺织、服装和制鞋工厂应向每名工人每月提供补助金5美元、全勤奖10美元、运输和住宿费7美元等,使每月最低工资达到83美元。越南政府近年来多次上调最低工资标准,最近一次调整是在2011年10月,越南将此前规定的外资企业155万越南盾的最低月工资标准均调整为200万越南盾。尽管如此,仍未达到越南工人的要求。据越南纺织业工会统计,国有大企业工人变动比例为15%至20%;在一些中小企业工人变动比例为20%至30%;而在一些外资企业里,这一比例高达40%。

Also, Huanqiu quotes Jiang Jianhua, the Cambodia Wenzhou Chamber of Commerce’s deputy managing director, as saying that while labor costs in some South-East Asian countries were relatively low, Vietnam’s garment industry’s management costs were close to those in China, and that they didn’t provide a great advantage. Besides [it isn’t quite clear from the article if the following should still be attributed to Jiang], Vietnam’s legal system was rather backward, its taxation system not transparent, and these, too, were hampering factors. In Thailand, garment manufacturing costs were too high, frequently higher than even in China, and while Cambodia’s political environment was rather stable and labor costs cheap, investors in Cambodia needed to be mindful about backward infrastructure and a usually low quality among the workforce.

柬埔寨温州商会常务副会长姜建华告诉记者,尽管东南亚一些国家人工成本相对较低,但实际上,越南的服装制造企业的管理成本已经接近中国国内,没有太大优势。此外,越南法律体系相对落后,税收制度不透明也是很大的制约因素。泰国的服装制造企业成本太高,很多地方甚至已经超过中国。柬埔寨的政局相对稳定,人工便宜,但赴柬埔寨投资也需要注意交通基础设施落后以及工人素质普遍不高带来的问题。

It was quite true that the textile industry was gradually shifting to the entire Asia-Pacific region, the article quotes a KPMG report. Rising labor costs in China had compelled multinational companies to look to other parts of Asia, and a number of South-East Asian countries were going to profit from regional integration and preferential terms of trade. But from consumer electronics to furniture and other hardware products, China remained the country of origin. Besides, a Chinese consultant is quoted, most of the South-East Asian countries were rather small, and none of them provided the entire industrial chain. In that regard, there were complementary relations between China and South-East Asia.

国际也十分关注制造业从中国向东南亚转移的迹象。国际著名会计师事务所毕马威日前发布的最新报告称,“中国制造”的成本上升迫使跨国公司在亚洲其他地区寻找新的投资地。由于区域一体化和优惠的贸易条件,许多东南亚国家正日趋成熟,将从最近这一转变中受益。不过,该报告认为,虽然服装和鞋类生产正广泛向整个亚太地区转移,但从消费类电子产品到家具等硬产品仍然来自于中国。

中国正略钧策管理咨询公司副总裁陈睿对《环球时报》记者表示,制造业确实存在从中国向东南亚转移的情况。对外资来说,以出口为导向的企业转移会更快,劳动密集型和资源密集型的制造业会转移到东南亚。但他同时称,东南亚国家一般较小,不可能一国拥有很全的产业链,有些制造业这些国家做不了。从这方面来说,中国和东南亚有一些结构性的互补关系。

Unctad’s latest report also believed that while there was stagnation in foreign direct investment to China in the short term, China remained the place with the highest attractiveness for foreign investment. Some people in the market had also said that the absolute majority of the Made-in-China industry was looking for its own road, i. e. upgrading production or moving to hinterland provinces in China, seeking development there. There were close customer and supplier links between China and other regions, and some manufacturers would continue to rely on China even after relocation, in that they needed to import production equipment from China, or in that they needed China as an export market, for example.

联合国贸发组织最新的报告也认为,短期来看,投资到中国的制造业FDI出现停滞,但是中国仍然是最有吸引力的外国投资目的地。一些市场人士还表示,绝大多数中国制造业也在寻求自己的路,产业升级或向内陆地区寻求发展。而中国与亚洲其他地区开始建立紧密相连的供应链。一些制造产业即便转移后仍依赖中国,比如需要从中国进口生产设备或者依赖对中国市场的出口等。

And a Standard Chartered Bank analyst is quoted as saying that if the manufacturing industry was actually moving to South East Asia still remained unclear. China was more competitive than many South-East Asian nations in terms of logistics infrastructure, and Chinese manufacturers no longer produced for export markets only, but for growing domestic demand, too. Rather than reductions in foreign investment in China, there might rather be more rapid investment in other east Asian markets. Some European and American market participants also said that it was too early to talk about a large-scale manufacturing relocation to South East Asia. However, they also suggested that China should address improvement issues among its suppliers, as timely adjustment from passive to active patterns would be helpful for China’s development.

渣打银行亚洲研究部主管许长泰称,制造业是否会向东南亚转移目前还不明确。首先,中国的物流基础设施仍然比许多东南亚国家更具竞争力。此外,中国的制造商已不再只是为出口而生产,中国国内需求正在发挥日益重要的作用。因此,我们可能看不到生产者减少他们在中国的投资,而是以更快的速度增加其在东南亚和其他市场的投资。一些接触欧美公司的市场人士对记者表示,现在说制造业大规模转移东南亚为时尚早。但中国也要正视自身市场供应优势的变化,及时调整化被动为主动更有利于中国经济的发展。

In the words of the report – apparently this one,

FDI flows to China also reached a record level of $124 billion, and flows to the services sector surpassed
those to manufacturing for the first time. China continued to be in the top spot as investors’ preferred
destination for FDI, according to UNCTAD’s WIPS, but the rankings of South-East Asian economies such
as Indonesia and Thailand have risen markedly. Overall, as China continues to experience rising wages and production costs, the relative ompetitiveness of ASEAN countries in manufacturing is increasing.

FDI outflows from East Asia dropped by 9 per cent to $180 billion, while those from South-East Asia rose
36 per cent to $60 billion. Outflows from China dropped by 5 per cent, while those from Hong Kong, China, declined by 15 per cent. By contrast, outflows from Singapore registered a 19 per cent increase and
outflows from Indonesia and Thailand surged. [page xvi – xvii]

And

FDI inflows to developing Asia continued to grow, while South-East Asia and South Asia
experienced faster FDI growth than East Asia.
The two large emerging economies, China and India, saw inflows rise by nearly 8 per cent and by 31 per cent, respectively. Major recipient
economies in the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) subregion, including
Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore, also experienced a rise in inflows. [pages 3 – 4]

As indirectly quoted by Huanqiu Shibao, the report states that

Among the economies of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), four – Brunei
Darussalam, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore – saw a considerable rise in their FDI inflows. The
performance of the relatively low-income countries, namely Cambodia, the Lao People’s Democratic
Republic and Myanmar was generally good as well, though Viet Nam declined slightly. Although natural
disaster in Thailand disrupted production by foreign affiliates in the country, particularly in the automobile
and electronic industries, and exposed a weakness of the current supply-chain management systems,
FDI inflows to the country remained at a high level of nearly $10 billion, only marginally lower than that of
2010. Overall, as East Asian countries, particularly China, have continued to experience rising wages
and production costs, the relative competitiveness of ASEAN in manufacturing has been enhanced.
Accordingly, some foreign affiliates in China’s coastal regions are relocating to South-East Asia,2
while others are moving their production facilities to inland China. [page 43]

Addressing FDI into Chinese manufacturing in particular, the report states slowing growth as a short-term prospect:

FDI growth in the region has slowed since late 2011 because of growing uncertainties in the global economy. FDI to manufacturing stagnated in China, but the country is increasingly attracting market-seeking FDI, especially in services. According to the annual World Investment Prospects Survey (WIPS) undertaken by UNCTAD this year, China continues to be the most favoured destination of FDI inflows. FDI prospects in South-East Asia remain promising,
as the rankings of ASEAN economies, such as Indonesia and Thailand, have risen markedly in the survey. [page 44]

The report doesn’t only discuss China’s (and other developing countries) as recipients, but also as sources of foreign direct investment.

All in all, the Huanqiu Shibao article appears to be basically assuasive, but still somewhat more “alarming” than the UNCTAD report would seem to warrant. It’s conventional wisdom that China is moving up the value-adding chain, and rising wages are a logical phenomenon in this process. The main goal in terms of propaganda appears to be that the laobaixing, the common people, should continue to push ahead in terms of personal education and qualification, in a competitive global economy. In this context, it also makes sense that websites like “Utopia” remain closed down – a measure which was reportedly criticized, among others, by some 1,600 cadres and scholars who accused chief state councillor Wen Jiabao in particular for closing these sources down, and of subverting the socialist market economy. That Huanqiu Shibao may distrust the outside world appears to be an intended goal (no cohesion within China, without such distrust) – but another intended goal is that the readers accept the challenges posed by global competition, rather than rejecting them in favor of, for example, Maoism.

I hadn’t been a regular reader of Utopia, one of the websites that have been closed since spring this year, but came across an article there some six months before the closures. The article’s author was Gu Genliang, a People’s University (aka Renmin University) professor, and it wasn’t exactly globalization-friendly:

We are mired in heavy dependence on foreign resources and on on our own cheap exports. Large-scale low-end exports consume a lot of energy and natural resources, which led to our country’s dependence on foreign energy and resources which not only made the prices for these sources explode, which transferred the fruits of our people’s hard work into the hands of energy-exporting countries, but also has the potential of making us suffer from foreign countries’ embargos, thus carrying a huge security risk. At the same time, while our country is so reliant on foreign resources, it is ridiculous that we are exporting large quantities of rare earths and minerals coal, etc. at low prices.

The topic of Huanqiu Shibao’s article on ASEAN as a competitor for efficiency-seeking FDI doesn’t look exactly sensitive, but a current anti-“Maoist”, anti-“utopian”, or simply anti-“nostalgia” struggle might help to explain why there is no room for readers’ comments underneath. Such comments could spoil the article’s intended pro-competition message.

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Related

» UNCTAD World Investment Report 2012

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