6 Chinese students in France attacked in ‘xenophobic’ act
6:45 am | Sunday, June 16th, 2013
BORDEAUX—Six Chinese oenology students were attacked in the early hours of Saturday in France’s wine-producing region of Bordeaux, the interior ministry said, describing the violence as an act of xenophobia [hatred of foreigners].
The students, who had arrived in France only two months ago, were allegedly “violently attacked” by three local men who were visibly drunk and previously known to the police, a ministry statement said.
Two of the alleged attackers have been detained and are now in police custody.
A female student was seriously hurt in the face by a glass bottle which was thrown at her.
“She happens to be the daughter of a Chinese political figure,” said Sud Ouest newspaper on its website.
According to other sources, the political figure is no longer in office.
“I cannot confirm the name, but it is someone who has now retired, having been the mayor of a big city,” said Georges Jousserand, who heads the school in Bordeaux where the six Chinese between the ages of 22 and 30 were studying.
The students were attacked at their home in Hostens, a small village of 1,300 inhabitants located about 50 kilometers south of Bordeaux in southwest France.
Police had apparently called on the three suspects that night over the din they were making.
Following that incident, the alleged attackers went to the residence where the Chinese students were living, perhaps thinking that the students had complained to police about the noise, a source close to the case said.
“When the Chinese student opened the door, he was attacked. And while the other students were trying to push the assailants out, it was then that one of the attackers threw a bottle straight in the face of the female student,” according to Jousserand.
“Two of the attackers were particularly violent,” he added.
Another source close to the affair said the three were very drunk. They knew exactly where the Chinese students lived and hurled “racist insults” at them, said the source.
The mayor of Hostens, Michel Viallesoubranne, said that the students behaved calmly, while Jousserand said they were “perfectly integrated in this small village.”
Interior Minister Manuel Valls condemned “severely this xenophobic act, for which the culprits must answer to before justice.”
The students were meant to be studying in France for a year.
Concern has grown in China in recent months over the increasing number of cases of thefts and attacks against Chinese tourists.
In March, a group of 23 Chinese tourists were robbed in a restaurant shortly after they landed at Paris airport. French Tourism Minister Sylvia Pinel was forced to come out to say she would do everything to find the perpetrators.
The latest attack came on the eve of one of the biggest wine shows in the world, Vinexpo, which is held in the region. China, which is the French winemakers’ third-biggest market, has increased its participation at the show, with 18 exhibitors expected this year, up from two in 2011.
Chinese investors have begun buying up vineyards in Bordeaux, not always to the pleasure of locals.
French winemakers have recently also sounded the alarm over an anti-dumping probe launched by Beijing into wine imports from the European Union, in an apparent retaliation act over Brussels’ decision to slap tariffs on Chinese solar panel imports.
WASHINGTON—The nominee to become the top US diplomat in East Asia delivered pointed comments about China in his confirmation hearing on Thursday, saying there’s no place for “coercion and bullying” in the region’s seas.
Danny Russel told a Senate panel that he will do everything in his power to “lower the temperature” in territorial disputes in the South and East China Seas and push claimants, including China, toward diplomacy.
He also said it was “unacceptable” for China to demand only bilateral negotiations with the other claimants, and voiced strong US support for efforts by Southeast Asia to negotiate as a bloc and frame a “code of conduct” to manage the disputes—an issue to be taken up at regional security talks in Brunei later this month.
Russel is currently White House senior director for Asian affairs. He is nominee to become assistant secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, replacing Kurt Campbell, who resigned in February to enter business.
Russel is a 28-year career diplomat, less ebullient than Campbell, with long experience in Japan and Korea. His association with Asia began in his 20s when he spent three years studying martial arts in Japan.
He has played a central role in the Obama administration’s strategic “pivot” to Asia. That has seen the US stake out a diplomatic position on maritime issues that has irked Beijing, with Washington saying it has a national interest in the peaceful resolution of disputes in the South China Sea (part of which is called West Philippine Sea by US ally the Philippines).
Six countries have overlapping claims to tiny reefs and islands across those resource-rich waters, with China claiming it has sovereignty over virtually all of it. While the United States itself is not a claimant, it says it has a stake in the freedom of navigation in its busy sea lanes, which are crucial to world trade.
“I certainly will do everything in my power to try to lower the temperature, push claimants, including China, into a diplomatic track and continue to warn them that the region in which China will flourish is a region of law, a region of order and a region of respect for neighbors, not one in which there is space for coercion and bullying,” Russel said.
Standing by allies
He said that President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry have raised the issue of China’s behavior on the seas with its leaders, and the Chinese “are in no doubt that America stands by our allies.”
The most volatile maritime disputes involving China in the past couple of years have involved US treaty allies, the Philippines and Japan—nations that Beijing has blamed for triggering tensions.
While acknowledging US-China competition, Russel said the United States supports the rise of China that is stable, prosperous and abides by international rules and norms. He said the United States seeks “practical cooperation” that benefits both countries and the region.
He said positive cooperation with China would be “essential” in getting North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons.
Russel confirmed that he has visited Pyongyang during his time at the White House. He said helping to achieve a halt or rollback in the North’s atomic program would be a top priority if he becomes assistant secretary of state.
China’s New President Sets Up a Potential Showdown, With Himself
By CHRIS BUCKLEY
Published: June 21, 2013
The turbulence that struck China’s banks this week is the latest episode in a political drama likely to play out in coming months: President Xi versus President Xi.
The country’s new leader, Xi Jinping, has ignited expectations of bold economic liberalization, but he has also cast himself as a resolute defender of Communist Party control, leaving even insiders uncertain about how far he will push changes that could strain the webs of state patronage and unsettle the stability that he and many other officials also prize.
The changes proposed by some Chinese officials include rolling back certain state controls on prices of energy and natural resources, encouraging private business in industries long dominated by state conglomerates and bringing more market competition into the financial sector.
But such ambitions could falter in the face of opposition from other officials and state-owned companies, as well as the concerns of party leaders about social instability and slowing growth. The turmoil of bank-to-bank loans is but one example of the kind of economic jitters and pitfalls that Mr. Xi and his colleagues could confront as they grapple with these policy choices, analysts said.
“So much risk has already been accumulated, but they need to avoid panic while pushing forward real reforms,” said Tao Ran, an economics professor and director of the China Center for Public Economics and Governance at Renmin University in Beijing. “It’s politically very difficult.”
The interest rates that banks charge to lend to each other shot up Thursday and lending between banks nearly seized up after the People’s Bank of China uncharacteristically failed to intervene to relieve a cash squeeze. The move seemed to be part of the government’s effort to force state banks to cut lending to inefficient or risk-laden programs favored by local officials and politically connected investors, many of them state-owned companies.
On Friday, the People’s Bank of China appeared to retreat a bit from its hard-line stance, and financial industry executives said the central bank was releasing more money for lenders, calming investors whose worries about China’s growth had rippled across stock markets. Bank-to-bank rates climbed down from Thursday’s record highs, but the situation remained volatile.
“I thought that was a show of policy makers’ determination,” Yiping Huang, chief economist for emerging Asia at Barclays Capital in Hong Kong, said of the cash crunch. “They want to impose some near-term pain for long-term benefits. What they are doing is preparing steps for liberalization and, hopefully, for better market discipline.”
In China, the Communist Party’s power rests on a marriage of political and economic control, but Prime Minister Li Keqiang and other officials have said market liberalization is needed to foster new sources of growth.
Yet those changes could require painful, even risky, surgery on the party’s limbs of power: state-owned banks, local governments, and companies and investment vehicles controlled by the government. And that is the conundrum facing China’s leaders: they want to maintain the growth needed to satisfy an increasingly prosperous and vociferous society, yet worry that the proposed changes could erode the political reach and stability they see as underpinning one-party rule.
“Economic reform, I mean real reform, undoubtedly now involves questions about the political system, because excessive state power is a key issue,” said Deng Yuwen, who was dismissed this year as an editor at a party newspaper, The Study Times, after bluntly criticizing state policies.
Mr. Xi, as party leader, must come up with at least part of his answer to these questions by autumn, when the party’s Central Committee gathers. With slightly more than 200 senior officials as full, voting members, the committee meets in seclusion at least once a year to approve policy priorities. This meeting, or plenum, is the third for this cohort of the committee — by custom, third plenums set the direction for economic policy — and Mr. Xi and other officials have indicated that they want this gathering to unveil major changes.
“The plenum is going to be a watershed one way or another,” said Christopher K. Johnson, a China expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. “Either because of what it says about the direction of reform or about the degree of stagnation in the party.”
The most famous third plenum, in 1978, is portrayed by the party as the start of Deng Xiaoping’s transformative era. Mr. Xi appears to hope that the next plenum will give him some of Mr. Deng’s aura. He has assigned Liu He, an adviser who advocates faster steps toward a market economy, to prepare for the meeting, said a Chinese businessman close to several leaders. He spoke on condition of anonymity to protect his access to officials.
Mr. Xi told President Obama in California this month that he was determined to remold the Chinese economy. “We must deepen reforms to promote healthy and sustained economic development,” Mr. Xi told Mr. Obama, according to Xinhua, the state-run news agency.
Mr. Liu is overseeing teams of officials and researchers developing proposals that may be endorsed at the Central Committee meeting later this year. According to the Chinese businessman who requested anonymity, those proposals include gradually freeing bank interest rates from state controls; lifting barriers preventing rural residents from being officially absorbed into cities; allowing private companies to invest in some sectors until now controlled by state companies; and giving competition a bigger role in setting prices for natural resources and energy.
“These may not be the final programs to be implemented, but these are organized by the government, so that at least shows to me that they’re serious and determined to make changes,” said Mr. Huang, the Barclays economist, who has also described the proposed changes.
Mr. Liu’s roles include running the office of an elite party group that steers economic policy. Now 61, he studied at Seton Hall University for a year and graduated from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard with a master’s in public administration in 1995.
“I think there’s no question: Liu He is clearly pro-market,” said Barry J. Naughton, a professor at the University of California in San Diego who studies Chinese economic policy.
Nor is Mr. Liu the lone voice advocating market overhauls. Mr. Li, the prime minister, has praised market competition and the private sector, and Lou Jiwei, the finance minister, has advocated financial liberalization.
Yet the Chinese government’s economic agenda is rife with tensions about the pace, focus and sequence of possible changes. “People may shout the same slogans, but there’s a lot of controversy over just what needs reforming,” said Hua Sheng, an economist at Southeast University, in Nanjing, China, who has been a prominent voice in policy debates.
Senior officials have put off considering at the coming plenum how to deal with state-owned corporations, which dominate swaths of the economy — often inefficiently, sometimes corruptly — according to the Chinese businessman close to senior officials.
“They have become a very powerful group, and many of the senior managers are senior party officials themselves,” said Mr. Huang, the economist, speaking of state-owned enterprises, known as SOEs. “We’re not going to see outright privatization of SOEs any time soon, but that’s to be expected.”
China’s previous leader, Hu Jintao, vowed economic changes at a Central Committee meeting a decade ago, but he squandered chances to act on those vows, many economists and, in private, quite a few officials say. If Mr. Xi does the same, the risks will be worse, analysts said. The room for easy growth in China is tapering off as the population of cheap labor ages and shrinks, and land and natural resources become costlier.
But another fear is that the government could act too hastily, removing state controls on the financial system before more market-driven growth has time to kick in, said Professor Tao of Renmin University. Rash moves in the finance sector could expose and exacerbate the debt-related problems of state-run companies and local governments, he said.
“If financial reforms are started first without real sectoral reforms, then you don’t get new sources of growth, and you could make asset bubbles even worse,” Professor Tao said. “This system is already fragile.”
The good news is that the United States has spoken out against China’s belligerence. Danny Russel, tapped to become the next assistant secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, lambasted China for “coercion and bullying” in the China Sea region and said it was “unacceptable” for it to demand only bilateral talks with claimants of the disputed territories. He affirmed US support for the efforts of Southeast Asian nations to negotiate as a bloc, an initiative the Philippines has embarked on.
“I will do everything in my power to try to lower the temperature, push claimants, including China, into a diplomatic track and continue to warn them that the region in which China will flourish is a region of law, a region of order and a region of respect for neighbors.”
It’s a welcome statement, one that helps to internationalize the issue. Indeed, one that helps the Southeast Asian countries, with the exception of Cambodia which is only too willing to do China’s bidding, mount a common front against China. True enough, the Middle Kingdom has been engaged in coercing and bullying its Southeast and East Asian neighbors and can do with being stopped dead in its tracks by world condemnation. We need all the help we can get, and if the United States is willing to go out on a limb here, we’ll take it wholeheartedly.
The willingness to go out on a limb comes from the fact that the United States is currently locked in a love-hate relationship with China, with love being more in the agenda of late. The Economist in its June 8-14 issue had this for its main story, depicting in its cover the American and Chinese leaders in “Brokeback Mountain” poses. Its title went: “The Summit: Starring Barack Obama and Xi Jinping.” With the blurbs: “He stole his heart (and then his intellectual property)” and “‘Team America’ meets ‘Kung Fu Panda’.”
The hate owes to China becoming a growing power, which has American and Chinese hawks warning of an eventual military confrontation between the two. The love owes to the doves trying to prevent such a pass, and indeed proposing that cooperation between the two countries should immensely benefit both. The bilateral summit between Obama and Xi earlier this month was meant to push the latter idea.
Russel’s statement comes amid that context. Of course he’s not exactly high up in the bureaucratic ladder, but his words do carry weight, his office being directly in charge of these affairs. Of course too, the United States has been known to say one thing and do another, condemning Tiananmen and various human rights abuses in China while its businesses push and shove to gain a foothold into the coveted Chinese market. Russel’s statements look more like an attempt to score brownie points with the beleaguered Southeast Asian nations than anything else. It’s part of the game superpowers play.
The bad news is that these statements may spark more hilarity than comfort in the hearts and minds of these nations. The United States isn’t exactly the most credible entity to say those things, or it is credible only in the sense that it takes a thief to recognize a thief, or it takes a thief to catch a thief.
One of the Southeast Asian nations is Vietnam, a country that may not thoroughly appreciate America’s proffered role of nemesis of coercers and bullies. Not too long ago, at least as the Vietnamese memory goes, which is unlike the Filipino one, aided in no small way by nearly every Vietnamese family losing a member during the War, the United States was busy torching Vietnam’s forests with napalm. A thing that did not just raze down the trees, thereby leaving the Vietcong with no cover to hide under, but peeled off the skin of men, women, and children, quite apart from those of the guerrillas and wild animals, thereby giving to know horrible deaths. Coercing and bullying are benign words to describe that atrocity.
The reason for it was to give the Vietnamese freedom and progress, both of which they’ve had, quite apart from pride and dignity, after they kicked the coercers and bullies out. Indeed, the reason for it was to prevent China from spreading communism from Vietnam to the rest of Southeast Asia, called the domino theory, which never happened long after the Vietcong won in 1975. What happened in fact is that Vietnam is now locked in enmity with China. To this day, the United States has not apologized to the Vietnamese.
Just as well, it wasn’t too long ago—only 10 years last March in fact—when the United States shocked and awed the Iraqi population into submission with smart bombs that smartly killed far more, including children, than those in 9/11. It shocked and awed the world as well not just for the murderousness of the attacks but for the willingness of the United States, under the leadership of the demented Dubya, to defy the United Nations and mount the invasion on the grounds that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction. Naturally, they were never found. They never existed.
To call the Iraq invasion coercion and bullying is to call the Holocaust an exercise in lack of restraint.
The point is simple: China is a threat. It is growing and flexing its muscles. We need all the help we can get to push it back, not least from America. If Vietnam can welcome such a support, all of us can. But we need to exercise discernment too, we need to exercise shrewdness too. It’s one thing to welcome that support, it’s another to sing the praises of that particular supporter. A thing that particularly applies to us, believing as we do that the one country to have subjugated us and robbed us of our pride and dignity is our eternal patron and friend. We do need to affirm that our region is a region of law, a region of order, and a region of respect for neighbors. But that doesn’t just apply to China.
'China is target of Manila's transfer of forces to Subic'
(philstar.com) | Updated July 30, 2013 - 5:29pm
MANILA, Philippines - Experts from China are claiming that the Philippines is targeting the Asian giant in its plan to move some military forces to Subic, Zambales.
Li Guoqiang, deputy director of the Center for Chinese Borderland History and Geography at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said in a report by the China Daily that Manila is building up and concentrating its military forces near the West Philippine Sea with China as its "clear target."
Li said in the report that the recent move of the Philippines "increases the risks of conflicts in the region."
"If all related parties resort to military means as Manila has for a resolution, the region will surely become a powder keg," Li was quoted as saying.
Meanwhile, Su Hao, a professor of Asia-Pacific studies at China Foreign Affairs University, said in the same report that external forces sharing the Philippines' goal of containing China "are complicating the regional South China Sea issue."
"What Manila sometimes did was to meet the needs of Washington and US allies, to seek more support from them," he said.
The Philippines, China, and other Southeast Asian nations are currently in a territorial dispute over the West Philippine Sea, with the Asian giant claiming indisputable sovereignty over nearly all the disputed waters.
The Philippines decided to take the issue before an international tribunal after exhausting all other means to peacefully settle the sea dispute.
The country is seeking to stop Chinese incursions into its exclusive economic zone in the West Philippine Sea and to invalidate China’s sweeping claim to the disputed waters.
Amid the territorial row, the Philippine government has recently expressed its plan to move its Air Force and Navy to Subic to closely monitor the country's maritime domain.
Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said Sunday that as soon as relocation funds are available the government plans to transfer air force and naval forces and their fleets of aircraft and warships to Subic Bay, which has become a busy free port since the 1992 departure of the U.S. Navy.
"It's for the protection of our West Philippine Sea," Gazmin said from South Korea, where he was on a visit, using the name adopted by the Philippine government for the disputed South China Sea.
"We're looking now for the funding," he said.
Subic Bay is a natural deep harbor that can accommodate two large warships acquired recently by the Philippines from the United States, a defense treaty ally, he said, especially compared to shallower harbor at the naval fleet base at Sangley Point in Cavite province, south of Manila.
A confidential defense department document obtained by The Associated Press says Subic's location will cut reaction time by fighter aircraft to contested South China Sea areas by more than three minutes compared with flying from Clark airfield, also north of Manila, where some air force planes are based.
"It will provide the armed forces of the Philippines strategic location, direct and shorter access to support West Philippine Sea theater of operations," the document said. - With Jim Gomez, Associated Press
(The Philippine Star) | Updated October 22, 2013 - 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines - China asked South Korea not to sell FA-50 fighter jets to the Philippines, according to a report in one of South Korea’s national dailies.
A report in The Chosunilbo yesterday cited Yomuiri Shimbun’s Oct. 18 report that China made the request prior to President Aquino’s state visit to South Korea on Oct. 17.
Korea reportedly declined, saying it cannot accept “interference” in arms exports, which Seoul considers an issue of national interest.
The Philippine and South Korean governments have agreed to fast-track Manila’s procurement of 12 lead-in fighter jets to upgrade the defense capabilities of the Philippine Air Force (PAF).
Aquino said on Friday the acquisition of the FA-50s for P18.9 billion had the approval of South Korea President Park Geun-hye. He said both sides have agreed to expedite the purchase and delivery of the planes.
The President said it is a government-to-government procurement, which came after South Korea offered several models of fighter jets.
He said Park also thanked him for Manila’s decision to buy the FA-50 jets.
The Chosunilbo also reported that an official of the South Korean government said the sale of the fighter jets to the Philippines would push through.
It added that the South Korean government denied the Yomiuri report, but officials privately admitted it.
Aquino said the Philippines would procure more aircraft as well as armored vehicles and command-and-control equipment to boost the defense capabilities of the military and protect the country’s maritime territory.
Meanwhile, Aquino said there is no change in the plan to purchase 12 fighter jets from South Korea.
“I have no information on that matter,” he told reporters in a chance interview at Solaire Resort and Casino, where he was the guest of honor of the Semiconductor and Electronics Industries in the Philippines, Inc. (SEIPI), referring to reports that China advised South Korea against the sale. – With Delon Porcalla
By Fred Hiatt, Monday, November 4, 9:05 AM E-mail the writer
Traveling here last week after America’s partial government shutdown and near-default, I expected to encounter a surge of confidence in China’s inevitable, eventual emergence as the world’s greatest power. That is not what I found.
Some people here do take pleasure in the travails of democracy in the world’s greatest hectorer on the subject. Some shed crocodile tears about America’s decline and President Obama’s failure to attend a recent summit in Asia.
But whatever people’s views of America, what is striking in many cases is their uncertainty and, at times, even pessimism about China’s future.
I don’t mean the usual refrain that China, despite having overtaken Japan as the world’s second-largest economy, remains a developing country. That has long been a standard line of Chinese officialdom and has the advantage of being both true and convenient: True, because long after China’s economy overtakes America’s, people here will remain poorer on average; convenient, because it can be used to deflect calls for greater contributions to peacekeeping, confronting climate change and other global causes.
What I’m talking about is a deeper-seated anxiety about navigating the next stages of growth. In interviews and informal conversations organized for me and three other journalists by the Committee of 100, a U.S. nonprofit dedicated to U.S.-China mutual understanding, two themes emerged. “The easy part is over” was one. The second was: the next stages of economic reform will depend on political reform that the Communist Party may not be willing or able to deliver.
One result is that not only China’s billionaires but also, increasingly, the new middle class is hedging bets, thinking about obtaining foreign passports and moving money abroad. The mirthless joke is that President Xi Jinping’s inchoate slogan of “a Chinese dream” refers to getting your kids into an American university.
The challenges are well understood. People have to bribe their children’s teachers for a desk near the front of the class and bribe their bosses for a promotion. Political power has become a ticket to loot: The 50 wealthiest members of the U.S. Congress have assets of $1.6 billion, the Economist recently reported, while their 50 Chinese counterparts have amassed $95 billion.
The Communist Party pledges to weed out this corruption. But police and judges are subservient to the party, and so far the party dares not allow an independent rule of law.
Last Tuesday the sun, when visible, was an eerie orange disc behind the smog. People in Beijing and many other cities won’t let their children play outside for fear of the poisoned air, and they worry too about poisoned rivers and adulterated foods. Again, the party pledges reform. Again, it’s hard to know whether reform can succeed as long as well-connected polluters need not fear the law.
China needs to transition from a catch-up, copy-cat economy to one that innovates. But can you have unbridled innovation in a society where the media are controlled, books are censored, and bloggers, while much freer, are punished or silenced if they stray too far?
China needs a more rational system of development and urbanization as more than 10 million people per year pour into new and established cities. But without land ownership rights, local officials’ whims and greed can play a larger part than urban planning or economics in where and how development occurs.
There is growing inequality. There is unfavorable demography: Thanks to longer lives and the enforced one-child policy, China will have fewer and fewer workers to support more retirees. There is tension with Tibetans and Uighurs, who want more autonomy.
Since Mao Zedong’s disastrous Cultural Revolution ended in 1977, party leaders have accomplished amazing things. More people have moved out of poverty in a short period of time than ever before in world history. Chinese enjoy personal freedoms and economic well-being to an extent that Mao never could have imagined. They’ve built an economic behemoth. It’s not really fair to call all that “the easy part.”
But it is fair, many Chinese say, to ask whether the top-down, one-party authoritarianism that got them this far can cope with the more complex challenges they face now. That doesn’t mean they’re pining for instant multi-party democracy; fear of instability is deep-seated, understandably given China’s history. But many people say there need to be checks and balances, accountability, transparency and the rule of law.
Party leaders, with the Soviet collapse never far from their minds, fear that tugging on one thread of their authority could unravel everything. In his first year in office, Xi has improbably tried both to crack down politically and to expand economic reforms. No one knows whether this is the path he has chosen for his likely decade in office or a prelude, while he consolidates power, to a different approach.
This week China’s leaders will hold a meeting that is expected to provide some clues. China’s people, having had no say in Xi’s selection, will be watching, anxiously, to see what they have in mind.
World must oppose China maritime claims – US Congress leader
By Jose Katigbak
STAR Washington Bureau
(The Philippine Star) | Updated November 1, 2013 - 12:00am
WASHINGTON – China’s maritime claims in the East and South China Seas are dubious and its grand designs must be opposed by the free world if peace in the region is to be preserved, Dana Rohrabacher, chairman of the US House subcommittee on foreign affairs, said.
At a subcommittee hearing on China’s maritime and other geographic threats on Wednesday, Rohrabacher – a Republican from California – said Beijing’s long-standing, deliberate strategy was to extend, provoke, challenge and ultimately dominate the region.
The US pivot to Asia is hollow if America is not clear about the threat in this theater, he said.
Richard Fisher, senior fellow at the International Assessment and Strategy Center, in his testimony said China’s use of military pressure in pursuit of its territorial claims is increasing the prospect for military clashes, especially with Japan and the Philippines.
Beijing’s military buildup and intimidation of US allies is intended to challenge Washington’s ability to defend its friends and thereby diminish the credibility of US alliance commitments in the region, he said.
Japan has been in a near constant state of non-violent engagement with China’s military and paramilitary forces over control of the Senkaku/Daiyou Islands, but the chances of a military incident are increasing, he said.
The Philippines is also being pushed by Chinese forces from areas in or near its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
Steven Mosher, head of the Population Research Institute, an advocate for human rights in China, said a government that rules its own people by brute force is naturally inclined to treat its smaller, weaker neighbors the same way, especially if they were tributary states in the past.
This accounts in part for the palpable disdain with which Beijing treats the other claimants in the South China Sea dispute, including Vietnam and the Philippines, both of which have stronger claims to the Spratlys and Paracels than does China itself, Mosher said.
Only the continued presence of the Japan-based US Seventh Fleet in the Far East stays China’s hand.
Without the Seventh Fleet, there is little doubt that China would occupy the remaining islands in the South China Sea and West Philippine Sea by force, ejecting the garrisons of other nations, he said.
China could then demand that ships transiting its “interior waters” first seek permission to do so or run the risk of being boarded and quarantined.
No, Your Kids Don't Have To Start Learning Chinese
At least according to former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers
S. Mitra Kalita Nov 18 2013, 11:41 AM ET
A few years ago, my daughter’s school switched from Spanish once a week to Mandarin Chinese. Having studied both languages, I was very much opposed to the move, but the decision was made with little input. And so my 9-year-old is studying the language everyone says is our future.
Except Larry Summers.
“Hitching the cart of the future global economy to the horse of the Asian giants carries substantial risks.”
Earlier this month, the former U.S. Treasury Secretary, and Harvard economist Lant Pritchett, warned the San Francisco Federal Reserve that “Asiaphoria”—as they dub it—can’t last. Now the text of that paper is out, complete with the charts and analysis that form their argument.
It’s 35 pages of riveting reading, especially when you consider everything these days, from office expansions to investment decisions to foreign-language instruction, is based on the idea of continued growth from China and India. The economists conclude:
Other notable takeaways (my paraphrases in bold):
It can’t last
“… China already holds the distinction of being the only country, quite possibly in the history of mankind but certainly in the data, to have sustained an episode of super-rapid growth for more than 32 years.”
There are many unknowns
“We have lived through a series of major events in our lifetime none of which were widely predicted by experts in the appropriate domain. Not just the obvious example of the financial crisis or perhaps idiosyncratic individual events like the attacks of 9/11 but major geopolitical shifts like the collapse of the Soviet Union and the Arab Spring (and its seasonal sequalae) have not been anticipated.”
Especially in these places
“All that said, we suspect that the reason for slowdown that will come in China and India is for a similar reason but which will manifest differerntly [sic] given the very different politics. That is, in neither country does investor confidence rely on rule of law. In both countries there are plausible scenarios in which disrptions [sic] of the current ‘political settlement’ that is providing a climate for ‘ordered deals’ … will be disrupted. This disruption of the arrangements that provide settled expectations of investors can easily create processes with non-linear sudden stops.”
Beware, for fast growth comes to a grinding halt
“India and even more so China are into essentially historically unprecedented episodes of growth. China’s super-rapid growth has already lasted three times longer than a typical episode and is the longest ever. The ends of episodes tend to see full regression to the mean, abruptly.”
China and India have weak institutions
“It is impossible to argue that either China or India have the kinds of ‘quality institutions’ that have been associated with the steady dynamic of growth in the currently high productivity countries. The risks of ‘sudden stops’ are much higher with weak institutions and organizations for policy implementation. China and India have very different modalities of this risk, but both have tricky paths to continued prosperity.”
Indeed, my opposition to mandatory Mandarin stemmed not from the difficulty of the language but also from economics—and a sinking feeling I had seen this before. In the early 2000s, I was a reporter covering education in a wealthy suburb of Washington, D.C. Decades earlier, the schools there had adopted Japanese instruction in droves, thinking it was necessary for Americans to stay competitive. “What are our kids supposed to do?” vice president Walter F. Mondale infamously asked. “Sweep up around the Japanese computers?”
But by the 21st century, there were new players, new makers of hardware and software, new languages to learn. Students started to drop Japanese and schools could no longer fill the classes they had added. This report shows that the teaching of Japanese and Russian in U.S. schools has fallen steadily, while Chinese and Arabic is on the increase.
Who would have known? Summers and Pritchett:
While there were some concerns raised about a bubble in Japanese real estate, we remember almost no one predicting in 1991 that Japan’s real GDP per capita would be only 12 percent higher in 2011 than 20 years earlier …
In recent months, Summers has been in the spotlight not so much for his economic prowess as his political; he was an unsuccessful contender for the Fed chairman job. Last week, as Janet Yellen began Senate confirmation hearings for the job, Quartz contributor and economist Miles Kimball (also a former student of Summers’s) wrote that it would be a mistake to discount Summers’s continued relevance as an economist. This latest paper only confirms that point of view—and emboldens mine that my daughter’s school should have stuck to Spanish.
China's decision to allow more families to have two children ends a drastic 33-year social experiment. But is it too little, too late?
Adam Pasick Nov 15 2013, 10:26 AM ET
China is finally dropping its one-child policy for around one-third of the population: couples that are urban and Han Chinese in which one parent is an only child. (Couples that are rural, non-Han, or where both parents were only children were already allowed to have two kids.) The policy will remain in force only for urban Han parents who were both the product of two-child homes—a fairly small proportion.
Bank of America estimates that the change will lead to about 9.5 million new births a year, but just as importantly the change largely marks the end of a 30-year-old social engineering experiment that changed the face of China’s society and played an important, if contentious, role in its re-emergence as an economic powerhouse. Quartz has reported extensively on what such a change might mean, for better and for worse. Here’s a roundup:
A larger labor force—eventually
China’s approximately 930-million-person labor force shrank last year for the first time in decades, and will decline further as a population bulge of people now in their 40s and 50s pass into retirement. A baby boom would help compensate, and—when the babies grow up—increase the number of people who can support that aging population. However, it may be too little too late, given that the labor force is estimated to begin declining by as much as 10 million a year starting in 2025. Any population rebound will take decades, and could be offset if families start averaging fewer than two children as they become wealthier and more urban.
More consumer spending—at least on baby formula
Allowing more couples to have more children now should boost consumption almost right away for goods like infant formula, food and clothing, and education services. Shifting China’s export-driven economy further towards consumption-led growth is one of the government’s key economic goals.
Perhaps the most important effect of changing the one-child policy is that it could end human-rights abuses like forced abortions and signal that the leadership is serious about reforms. “We believe that the reform-minded president Xi and premier Li will use the opportunity of abolishing the one-child policy to build up their authority, show their determination in making changes and convince the Chinese people that they do have a roadmap for reforms,” wrote Bank of America China economists Ting Lu and Xiaojia Zhi.
A smaller gender gap
China’s cultural preference for boys meant that, for many years, parents used various ways to avoid having a daughter, including abortions of female fetuses and even infanticide. That meant that many more boys were born than girls; in 2004, the highest year on record, 121.2 boys were born for every 100 girls. As a result, by 2020, there will be between 30 million and 35 million more Chinese men of marrying age than women. Removing the one-child policy won’t change the cultural preferences, but may ease the pressure on parents if their first child is a girl.
A healthier housing market—in time
Because they lack siblings, many Chinese couples 34 and younger are the sole inheritors of four parents’ wealth. When the parents die, their offspring get at least two extra homes (and, given investment trends, likely more). Though home prices, especially in cities, are currently sky-high, this extra supply of homes was expected to eventually making the housing market collapse. The policy’s end should eventually forestall that trend—but it won’t come fully into effect for decades.
Increased strain on natural resources
The purpose of the one-child policy was to give China sufficient per capita resources to quickly develop its economy. The extra 9.5 million people born each year will need food, water, and housing. That’s already a problem: per capita arable land in China is half of the global average and 40 percent of that is considered “degraded,” meaning it is less economical or uneconomical to farm. And the government has warned that demand for water might outstrip supply by 2030.