Archive for ‘China’

September 30, 2013

Does money buy you more power in China or in America?

For anyone that thinks the “People’s [sic] Republic of China” is socialist, check this out from The Economist:

Many Americans grumble about the wealth of their politicians, but they are paupers compared with their Chinese counterparts. The 50 richest members of America’s Congress are worth $1.6 billion in all. In China, the wealthiest 50 delegates to the National People’s Congress, the rubber-stamp parliament, control $94.7 billion. Darrell Issa, a Republican from California, is the richest man in Congress, with $355m. China’s richest delegate is Zong Qinghou, boss of Hangzhou Wahaha Group, a drinks-maker, whose wealth is almost $19 billion (including assets distributed to family). Last year Mr Zong was China’s richest man, but was overtaken by Wang Jianlin, who is not a member of the NPC. Wealth can bring problems wherever you are. On September 20th, a man, angry at being refused a job, attacked Mr Zong with a knife near his home in Hangzhou. Mr Zong survived, with nasty cuts to his hand.

[READ THE REST]

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July 1, 2011

Chinese imperialism and American technology

In previous posts, I have highlighted the power of Arab oil money in the British and American academy. In this post, we turn to China. The website China Threat has some interesting, if somewhat hysterical, information about some of the ways in which Chinese soft power is exploiting US corporate and academic technology development.

University Tech:

Michigan Professor Questions University’s Ties with China

A professor of aeronautics engineering at the University of Michigan says his university is engaged in transferring sensitive military technologies to China and that the practice is encouraged by the university’s faculty and administrators.
“We are transferring every bit of knowledge and know how that we have to the People’s Republic of China,”   MORE

University of Michigan’s Role in Transferring Anti-Satellite Weapons Technology

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Dr. Daniel Scheeres studies how to rendezvous objects in space such as landing a spacecraft on an asteroid. However, the same technology can be used to shoot down a satellite or rendezvous a hunter killer satellite with a target satellite in orbit. MORE

Corruption

Is China Becoming a Mafia State?

John Garnaut is the China correspondent for the Sydney Morning Herald and Melbourne Age newspapers. He goes into incredible detail about the operations of organized crime in China and the relationship between government officials and organized crime figures.     MORE

Rampant Fraud Threat to China’s Brisk Ascent

 By ANDREW JACOBS Published: October 6, 2010

BEIJING — No one disputes Zhang Wuben’s talents as a salesman. Through television shows, DVDs and a best-selling book, he convinced millions of people that raw eggplant and immense quantities of mung beans could cure lupus, diabetes, depression and cancer.  MORE

Is America at war with China?

WikiLeaks: US vs China in battle of the anti-satellite space weapons

On the night of Feb 20, 2008, Robert Gates, the US Defence Secretary, was on a plane to Hawaii when his telephone rang. They told him the conditions were “ripe” to launch what can now be disclosed was a secret test of America’s anti-satellite weapons, Washington’s first such strike in space for 23 years. That night, the US navy’s Ticonderoga-class cruiser, USS Lake Erie, scored a direct hit on an American spy satellite, known as USA 193. The missile used, a highly sophisticated SM-3, took about three minutes to climb 150 miles above the Earth, where it flew past the satellite before turning back and destroying the target at an impact speed of 22,000mph.
The strike came about a year after the Chinese government had launched its own satellite attack, which started a secret “space war”…                       MORE

China Navy Reaches Far,  Unsettling the Region

New York Times By EDWARD WONG Published: June 14, 2011 photo by Andy Wong
QINGDAO, China — The photographs of Chinese warships speeding between Japanese islands in the Pacific for drills circulated quickly last week, raising what Japan’s defense minister called “serious concern.”MORE
May 23, 2011

Corporate China’s political shadows

Isabel Hilton in the Guardian says British business should be wary of the opaque Communist party role in China’s corporate culture

It was reported this week that China’s sovereign wealth fund is about to receive new capital from the government, adding billions of dollars annually to its already impressive wallet. As China’s economic power continues to grow and countries around the world compete for Chinese investment, the question facing developed countries is not so much what happens when China rules the world, as what will be the impact when China owns the world?

The China Investment Corporation was set up in 2007 to invest some of the $3tn in foreign exchange reserves that have accumulated through trade surpluses – fuelled in part, critics would say, by an artificially depressed exchange rate. It is currently the world’s fourth largest sovereign wealth fund but is growing fast as the Chinese government pursues its twin goals of securing raw materials and energy, and reducing its holdings of US treasury bonds – no longer seen by Beijing as future-proof.

Until 2000 China’s investments outside Asia were small and largely aimed at energy and natural resources in Latin America and Africa. But now China is on a spending spree, buying into mining interests from Australia to Canada and looking for acquisitions that might give them technology, major brands or market access. [READ THE REST]

Other China news: Economy

Just after the State Council acknowledged that the massive Three Gorges Dam has had a negative social and environment impact, the corporation running the damn announced that they came up short in a recent audit. // China has surpassed India as the biggest market for investment-grade gold, based on newly released statistics for the first quarter of 2011. (Although India is still the world’s largest overall consumer of  products.) … The sudden jump in Chinese demand for gold is thought to be driven by fears of inflation. Analysts expect that demand for gold in China will increase in the future. // More tragedy for  workers, as an explosion at a Chengdu plant killed two workers and injured at least ten. // The New York Times reports on a new fad among China’s super rich: illegal helicopters. // In recent weeks, Internet users in China have complained of increasing difficulty accessing overseas websites, in what many see as part of the ongoing crackdown on free expression. In the Global Times, Fang Binxing, the so-called Father of the Great Firewall, attributes the problem to cost-cutting measures by ISPs.

Other China news: Chinese soft imperialism

South Korean media has reported that North Korea’s heir apparent Kim Jong Eun is traveling in China on his first trip overseas since being chosen to take over power from his father, Kim Jong Il.  // China Confirms Visit by Kim Jong II – Wall Street Journal.

Related articles

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April 14, 2011

Socialism or your money back

A few items from the above-named blog:

China’s ghost cities and the biggest property bubble of all time

A couple of months ago, a lot of people were passing around the news about China’s plan to create a megacity that would be home to 42 million people, the so-called “Turn the Pearl Delta Into One” idea. The reporting was generally favorable, painting a picture of economic growth and opportunity — the narrative of a prosperous China, with a growing middle class, that has become commonplace in recent years.

Unfortunately, the view of China’s urban planning strategies from the ground is less shiny. A riveting report from Dateline, an Australian TV show, reveals a disturbing pattern of development for development’s sake — the construction of gigantic infrastructure projects with no regard for human needs. (Hat tip to WalkableDFW.)

Take the New South China Mall, in Dongguan. The Dateline crew took a tour of the place, which has been 99 percent vacant since it opened in 2005, and the result is one of the most depressing things I have ever watched. Six years after its creation, what is touted as the largest mall in the world sits almost empty. One of the very few stores that’s in business is a toy shop, where the wistful owner spends his days dusting children’s bikes that no child will ever ride. He is lucky if he makes one sale a day. [READ THE REST]

Doom and gloomier

British families are on average £910 worse off than they were two years ago. Rising food, clothing and energy prices mean the average British family will have £910 less to spend this year than they did in 2009.The squeeze – which is considered the worst in peacetime for 90 years – is set to continue with a two per cent fall in household disposable income this year. The fall in disposable income is comparable with the savage post-World War One recession which lasted between 1919 and 1921, as a result of a collapse in manufacturing and international trade.The findings also show the fall in household disposable income is sharper than in the 1930s depression.

The Centre for Economics and Business Research forecasts inflation will average 3.9pc in 2011. At the same time, salaries will rise just 1.9pc as unemployment remains high and the public sector makes cut-backs.

Employment lawyers have predicted that older workers and pregnant women will be hit by a fresh wave of job cuts. Paul Griffin, head of employment at DBS Law, said: “The growth of discrimination claims from older workers and pregnant women suggests that employers are now targeting their more expensive staff, despite them being in protected groups. Obviously mistakes are being made in companies as accounts departments win out against human resources.”

Robert H. Frank, an economics professor at the Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell University, invented the toil index, a measure of how many hours the median American must work to pay for an average family home in a school district of average quality.
“During the immediate postwar decades the toil burden for meeting the rent of that median-price home actually declined slightly, from 42.5 hours a month in 1950 to 41.5 in 1970, according to my calculations.… By 2000, the median worker had to work 67.4 hours a month to put his or her family into the median home. “

The Libyan weapons shop-window

To take out Moammar Gadhafi’s air defenses, Western powers such as France and Italy are using the very aircraft and weapons that only months ago they were showing off to the Libyan leader. Times change, allegiances shift, but weapons companies will always find takers for their goods. The Libyan no-fly zone has become a prime showcase for potential weapons customers, underlining the power of western combat jets and smart bombs, or reminding potential buyers of the defensive systems needed to repel them.

Almost every modern conflict from the Spanish Civil War to Kosovo has served as a test of air power. But the Libyan operation coincides with a new arms race — a surge of demand in the $60 billion a year global fighter market and the arrival of a new generation of equipment in the air and at sea. For the countries and companies behind those planes and weapons, there’s no better sales tool than real combat. For air forces facing cuts, it is a strike for the value of air power itself.

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April 9, 2011

China strikes

Via Shiraz, Eric Lee writes:

Manfred Elfstrom, a PhD student at Cornell University in the United States, has produced an extraordinary resource for the trade union movement.

It’s a website called China Strikes and is essentially a map of China with red dots representing strikes.

Elfstrom is taking this quite seriously and is producing some interesting results. For example, he’s categorised the strikes not only by region, but also by sector. Some of this will not be surprising — for example, he finds 15 strikes at electronics factories, such as the infamous Foxconn.

There are another dozen strikes reported in auto factories. But click on “sex workers” and you’ll read about a surprising protest by prostitutes in Wuhan in August 2010.

[…] This is only the tip of the iceberg. There are many more strikes taking place in China.

Nevertheless, it’s an extraordinary use of cutting-edge technology by an individual which could prove very useful for trade unionists who are interested in China — as we all should be.

Some reports below the fold.

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March 24, 2011

The new arms race in a multipolar world

RIYADH. King of Saudi Arabia Abdullah bin Abdu...

Image via Wikipedia

In the bi-polar world, the two superpowers raced against each other for bigger, more and more deadly weapons. In today’s multipolar world, the race is one which anybody can join. Here are a couple of reports from the side of the track.

  • China has new powerful Dong Feng 16 (DF-16) missiles aimed at Taiwan, according to the island state’s National Security Bureau Director-General, Tsai Der-sheng.
  • Russia has claimed that it will inject USD100 billion into the development of its defence industries during the next decade.
  • General Dynamics Land Systems, a business unit of Ohio, USA-based, General Dynamics, was recently awarded two contracts worth $44 million for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia‘s tank program. The contracts were awarded by the U.S. Army TACOM Lifecycle Management Command on behalf of the Royal Saudi Land Forces. This work is part of a plan by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to upgrade its entire fleet of 314 tanks. The first contract of $37.1 million is to provide materials and labor for the conversion of 42 M1A2 tanks to an M1A2S configuration for the Kingdom. The M1A2S will possess defined capabilities that “increase lethality while limiting obsolescence”. Saudi Arabia is the biggest defence spender in the region, and its tanks are currently being deployed in Bahrain to suppress the pro-democracy movement there.
  • Iran is rapidly and significantly expanding capabilities to accommodate larger missiles and satellite launch vehicles (SLVs), including the Simorgh 3 SLV in construction at Semnan space centre, according to Jane’s analysis of satellite imagery of the site. Tehran spends around $9.3-9.5 billion annually on defence, putting it at no.5 in the region.

Finally, check out this fantastic photo essay from IDEX, the global arms expo in Abu Dhabi.


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March 4, 2011

Who owns the US?

Federal_Debt-VS-Taxes

Image via Wikipedia

By Greg Bocquet, here:

Regardless of how much closer Obama’s budget brings our economy into a balance of payments not seen since 2001, we will continue to run deficits for the next decade, and the national debt will keep growing every year that happens.

While most of the country’s $14 trillion debt is held by private banks in the U.S., the Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve Board estimate that, as of December, about $4.4 trillion of it was held by foreign governments that purchase our treasury securities much as an investor buys shares in a company and comes to own his or her little chunk of the organization.

Looking at the list of our top international creditors, a few overall characteristics show some interesting trends: Three of the top 10 spots are held by China and its constituent parts, and while two of our biggest creditors are fellow English-speaking democracies, a considerable share of our debt is held by oil exporters that tend to be decidedly less friendly in other areas of international relations.

Here we break down the top 10 foreign holders of U.S. debt, comparing each creditor’s holdings with the equivalent chunk of the United States they “own,” represented by the latest (2009) state gross domestic product data released by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. Obviously, these creditors won’t actually take states from us as payment on our debts, but it’s fun to imagine what states and national monuments they could assert a claim to.

foreigndebt-flags.jpg
©Radar Communication

1. Mainland China

Amount of U.S. debt: $891.6 billion

Share of total foreign debt: 20.4%

Building on the holdings of its associated territories, China is the undisputed largest holder of U.S. foreign debt in the world. Accounting for 20.4% of the total, mainland China’s $891.6 billion in U.S. treasury securities is almost equal to the combined 2009 GDP of Illinois ($630.4 billion) and Indiana ($262.6 billion) in 2009, a shade higher at a combined $893 billion. As President Obama — who is from Chicago — wrangles over his proposed budget with Congress he may be wise to remember that his home city may be at stake in the deal.

[…]

4. Oil Exporters

Amount of U.S. debt: $218 billion

Share of total foreign debt: 5%

Another grouped entry, the oil exporters form another international bloc with money to burn. The group includes 15 countries as diverse as the regions they represent: Ecuador, Venezuela, Indonesia, Bahrain, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Algeria, Gabon, Libya, and Nigeria. As a group they hold 5% of all American foreign debt, with a combined $218 billion of U.S. treasury securities in their own treasuries. That’s roughly equivalent to the combined 2009 GDP of Nebraska ($86.4 billion) and Kansas ($124.9 billion), which seems to be an equal trade: The two states produce a bunch of grain for export, which many of the arid oil producers tend to trade for oil.

[…]

6. Caribbean Banking Centers

Amount of U.S. debt: $155.6 billion

Share of total foreign debt: 3.6%

You have to have cash on hand to buy up U.S. government debt, and offshore banking has given six countries the combined capital needed to make the Caribbean Banking Centers our sixth-largest foreign creditor. The Treasury Department counts the Bahamas, Bermuda, the Cayman Islands, the Netherlands Antilles, Panama and the British Virgin Islands in this designation, which as a group holds $155.6 billion in U.S. treasury securities. That’s equivalent to the GDP of landlocked Kentucky ($156.6 billion), whose residents may not actually mind if they were ever to become an extension of some Caribbean island paradise.

7. Hong Kong

Amount of U.S. debt: $138.2 billion

Share of total foreign debt: 3.2%

At No. 7 on the list of our foreign creditors is Hong Kong, a formerly British part of China that maintains a separate government and economic ties than the communist mainland. With $138.2 billion in U.S. treasury securities, the capitalist enclave could lay claim to Yellowstone Park and our nation’s capital: The combined GDP of Wyoming ($37.5 billion) and Washington D.C. ($99.1 billion) totaled $136.6 billion in 2009.

[…]

10. Russia

Amount of U.S. debt: $106.2 billion

Share of total foreign debt: 2.4%

Starting off the list of our major foreign creditors is Russia, which holds about 2.4% of the U.S. debt pie that sits on the international dinner table. Its $106.2 billion in treasury securities is equivalent to the 2009 GDP of our sparsely populated North: The combined output of North Dakota ($31.9 billion), South Dakota ($38.3 billion) and Montana ($36 billion) matches up nicely with the Russian holdings, at $106.2 billion.

Let’s hope Russian president Dmitry Medvedev doesn’t come to collect.

February 17, 2011

News from other parts of the Middle East

This post focuses on the ever-growing power of Chinese economic imperialism in the Middle East, but also the rising soft power of South Korea. It looks at the impact of the unrest in the region on the big oil countries, showing how oil has sustained authoritarian governments, which are fearing the changes. Labour conflict remains rife in the region, including the growing militancy of the hyper-exploited migrant workers from South Asia. Even Israel is seeing an upswing in labour militancy, with  a general strike a real possibility. 

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February 15, 2011

China’s economy hasn’t overtaken Japan’s – at least, not in a way that matters [Daniel Knowles]

From the Telegraph:
Even with Tesco, China is still a poor country

Type “China overtakes Japan” into Google and look at the first two results. They’re both from the Guardian, and they both have exactly the same headline: “China overtakes Japan as world’s second-largest economy”. Except that while one is dated from today, the other one is from August 16 last year.

This is not necessarily a mistake by the Guardian – nor is it the only publication to have made it. GDP statistics are notoriously inaccurate, and early estimates are prone to huge revisions later (as George Osborne will be hoping). China’s economy could easily “overtake” Japan’s several times as the data change. China’s rise is not an event that can be reported on the day it happens; it is something that takes years. The Guardian can be forgiven for using today’s figures as an excuse to report it. [READ THE REST]

 

January 10, 2011

Essential reading on world affairs

Rising powers: China’s hard and soft power

Robert Gates Clarifies China’s Stealth Capabilities

The newest big oil company: China?

Global food crisis: feeding rebellion

Frontline Tunisia

Governments Around the World Struggle with Surging Food Prices

11 dead in Tunisia rioting

Unrest spreads to Algeria

Big oil and corporate corruption

Climate Change Skeptics are Stooges for Big Oil

Big oil’s intriguing resurgence

2011: The Arctic vs Big Oil

Big Gas Find Sparks a Frenzy in Israel

China remains world’s biggest car producer and market for second year

Blood for oil: Saudi’s hard power

Saudi Arabia’s Terror: What Hillary Clinton Knows

Saudi Arabia: Taliban Lite (With U.S. Complicity)

ANALYSIS: Saudi Arabia and Pakistan

Labour on the march

Israel port strike settled as workers win 6% pay increase, big gains for new workers, more vacation and sick days

Alta Gracia, Dominica: How One Tiny Factory Is Challenging the Sweatshop Norm

Workers strike in UAE after labour riot

The bosses strike back

Labor lawyer imprisoned in Xi’an for organizing against corrupt privatization of state enterprises

Kraft Foods Employee In Colombia Killed By Gunman, Says Union

Recent worker deaths in the Bangladeshi garment industry from police repression and from a factory fire

And even under “actually existing socialism”, the workers are fucked over

Cubans fret as massive job cuts get under way

Venezuela: Fifty-one year-old welder and leader of Sintraferrominera ironworkers union, has spent over a year in prison