Archive for the ‘Asia’ Category

30
Dec

Last Monday, at the conclusion of China’s closed-door Central Economic Work Conference, Beijing’s public relations machine went into high gear to show that the country’s leaders had come up with a viable plan to rescue the economy.

Unfortunately, they do not now have such a plan. In reality, they decided to continue strategies that both created China’s current predicament and failed this year to restart growth.
The severity of China’s economic problems—and the inability to implement long-term solutions—mean almost all geopolitical assumptions about tomorrow are wrong. Virtually everyone today sees China as a major power in the future. Yet the country’s extraordinary economic difficulties will result in a collapse or a long-term decline, and either outcome suggests China will return to the ranks of weak states.

As an initial matter, China’s current situation is far worse than the official National Bureau of Statistics reports. The NBS maintains that the country’s gross domestic product rose 6.9 percent during the third calendar quarter of this year after increases of 7.0 percent during each of the first two quarters.

Willem Buiter, Citigroup’s chief economist, a few months ago suggested the rate was closer to 4 percent, and growth could be as low as the 2.2 percent that people in Beijing were privately talking about mid-year. The most reliable indicator of Chinese economic activity remains the consumption of electricity, and for the first eleven months of the year electricity consumption increased by only 0.7 percent according to China’s National Energy Administration. Read more…

Published on Dec. 29 in nationalinterest.org 

Gordon G. Chang is the author of The Coming Collapse of China.

26
Nov

 

china us

The U.S. is transfixed by its multibillion-dollar electoral circus. The European Union is paralyzed by austerity, fear of refugees, and now all-out jihad in the streets of Paris. So the West might be excused if it’s barely caught the echoes of a Chinese version of Roy Orbison’s “All I Have to Do Is Dream.” And that new Chinese dream even comes with a road map.

The crooner is President Xi Jinping and that road map is the ambitious, recently unveiled13th Five-Year-Plan, or in the pop-video version, the Shisanwu. After years of explosive economic expansion, it sanctifies the country’s lower “new normal” gross domestic product growth rate of 6.5% a year through at least2020.

It also sanctifies an updated economic formula for the country: out with a model based on low-wage manufacturing of export goods and in with the shock of the new, namely, a Chinese version of the third industrial revolution. And while China’s leadership is focused on creating a middle-class future powered by a consumer economy, its president is telling whoever is willing to listen that, despite the fears of the Obama administration and of some of the country’s neighbors, there’s no reason for war ever to be on the agenda for the U.S. and China.

Given the alarm in Washington about what is touted as a Beijing quietly pursuing expansionism in the South China Sea, Xi has been remarkably blunt on the subject of late. Neither Beijing nor Washington, he insists, should be caught in the Thucydides trap, the belief that a rising power and the ruling imperial power of the planet are condemned to go to war with each other sooner or later.

It was only two months ago in Seattle that Xi told a group of digital economy heavyweights, “There is no such thing as the so-called Thucydides trap in the world. But should major countries time and again make the mistakes of strategic miscalculation, they might create such traps for themselves.”

A case can be made — and Xi’s ready to make it — that Washington, which, from Afghanistan to Iraq, Libya to Syria, has gained something of a reputation for “strategic miscalculation” in the twenty-first century, might be doing it again. After all, U.S. military strategy documents and top Pentagon figures have quite publicly started to label China (like Russia) as an official “threat.”

To grasp why Washington is starting to think of China that way, however, you need to take your eyes off the South China Sea for a moment, turn off Donald Trump, Ben Carson, and the rest of the posse, and consider the real game-changer — or “threat” — that’s rattling Beltway nerves in Washington when it comes to the new Great Game in Eurasia. Read more…

 

By Pepe Escobar; Nov. 23

Published in http://www.tomdispatch.com/blog/176072/

13
Nov

A new era in Myanmar

Written on November 13, 2015 by Waya Quiviger in Asia, Democracy & Human Rights

FOR once the headline of the Global New Light of Myanmar, the rag that churns out the paranoid delusions of Myanmar’s ruling generals, told the real story: “Dawn of a New Era”. Even before a final result is declared, it is plain that the National League for Democracy (NLD), led by Aung San Suu Kyi, a Nobel peace-prize winner, has won by a landslide in Myanmar’s first free, but far from fair, election in 25 years.

The NLD seems likely to have won enough seats to secure a majority—even with a quarter of the parliamentary seats reserved for the army. That is a remarkable victory for Miss Suu Kyi, a vindication of her policy of compromise with the generals and a repudiation of decades of military rule (see article). One of Asia’s most isolated and brutal dictatorships may thus be setting a democratic example to an ever more autocratic neighbourhood: in recent years Thailand has suffered a military coup (again), China and Vietnam have been locking up more dissenters and bloggers than ever and Malaysia’s government has clung to power only through rigged elections.

Amid the euphoria though, there is a nagging fear that Myanmar’s generals will seek to frustrate the people’s will. The early signs are that they will not do so blatantly, as they did when they ignored Miss Suu Kyi’s last general-election success in 1990. But apart from their parliamentary block, the generals retain control of the army, police and key ministries as well as much of the civil service. The army-inspired constitution ensures that Miss Suu Kyi cannot become president. Read more…

Published on Nov. 13 in the Economist

 

6
Nov

Composite image of China's President Xi Jinping and Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou

This weekend’s historic summit in Singapore between the presidents of China and Taiwan may have surprised many, but the sides first broached the subject about two years ago and the leaders had their legacies very much in mind.

For Chinese President Xi Jinping, the summit may not change the outcome of Taiwan’s presidential election in January which the island’s main opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) is widely expected to win, two sources with ties to the Chinese leadership said. Anti-China sentiment is rising in Taiwan.

But longer term, Xi hopes to cement his place in China’s pantheon of great leaders if he is able eventually to lure the self-ruled democratic island, which Beijing claims as its own, back to the fold, the sources said.

“Xi is not thinking about just the present. It’s long term,” one source told Reuters, requesting anonymity due to the sensitivity of the issue.

“If Xi could eventually create a framework for reunification, he would be as great as, if not greater than Deng Xiaoping,” added the source, referring to China’s late paramount leader who negotiated Hong Kong’s 1997 return to Chinese rule.


Read more at Reutershttp://www.reuters.com/article/2015/11/05/us-taiwan-china-legacy-insight-idUSKCN0SU1VQ20151105#DWgaDEVMMFXFkCif.99
21
Oct

Is the China Model Better Than Democracy?

Written on October 21, 2015 by Waya Quiviger in Asia, Democracy & Human Rights

Is the China Model Better Than Democracy?

On Oct. 15, Daniel A. Bell, the author of The China Model: Political Meritocracy and the Limits of Democracy, sat on a panel hosted by Asia Society’s China File Presents series. The event, co-hosted by the New York Review of Books, also included panelists Timothy Garton Ash, Zhang Taisu, Andrew Nathan, and others, who discussed with Bell the question his book addresses — does China have an identifiable political model, and if so, what is it? The following ChinaFile conversation includes excerpts, edited for clarity, of that discussion.

Daniel A. Bell, chair professor of the Schwarzman Scholars program at Tsinghua University in Beijing and director of the Berggruen Philosophy and Culture Center:

For much of Chinese imperial history, public officials were selected first by examination and then by performance evaluations at lower levels of government. The fascinating thing is that this system has been reestablished in form over the past 30 years in China — highly imperfectly, as we’ll see. When this idea hit me, I began writing op-eds, and I was severely criticized by my liberal friends and my Confucian friends who asked, “What’s happened to this guy? He’s become a staunch defender of the government.” But that’s not what I mean.

I call my method contextual political theory: the idea that a political theorist should aim to make coherent and rationally defensible the leading political ideals of a society. I happen to find myself in China, so what are the leading political ideals of Chinese society? I label it “vertical democratic meritocracy,” the ideal that has informed political reform in China over the past 30 years. But there is still a huge gap between the ideal and the practice. This ideal is good, at least reasonably good, and can and should continue to inspire political reform in China in the foreseeable future.

What is this idea of “vertical democratic meritocracy”? This is the idea that democracy works well at lower levels of government. This is a view that Western political theorists have argued, starting with Aristotle, Montesquieu, and Rousseau. If you have a small political community the issues are fairly easy to understand, and you know the moral character of the leaders you’re choosing, thus making a strong case for democracy at the lower level. But, in a huge country, as you go up the political chain of command, the issues become more complex and mistakes become more costly. Read more…

 

By Daniel A. Bell, Timothy Garton Ash, Andrew J. Nathan, Taisu Zhang; October 19, 2015; http://foreignpolicy.com

 

 

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