6 June, 2005

freedom, law and development

Partly in response to the post asking "Is India Free?", Bingfeng notes:

one question many chinese asked is, "why a country with western style democracy like india still fall behind china in terms of social and economic development levels while authoritative governments like hongkong and singapore made such great progress?" just to remind you that in their minds, such ideology serves only as a tool not as an end.

I responded:

In my mind, it’s about ‘freedom,’ ‘clean government,’ and ‘rule of law.’ Both Singapore and Hong Kong have developed legal systems and low rates of corruption. Both have economic freedom. Hong Kong also has more personal freedoms than most countries (the inability to elect a government being the only real stain on the territory’s freedom ranking). India, meanwhile, has a more serious corruption problem and a rather large lack of personal freedoms for a democracy (ed: meaning both economic and personal freedoms). The question to ask about China is not how well it measures up to Singapore and Hong Kong in terms of being authoritarian, but how well it measures up in terms of ‘freedom,’ ‘clean government,’ and ‘rule of law.’


by @ 8:44 pm. Filed under Culture, Singapore, China, India, Hong Kong, Economy, Northeast Asia, Southeast Asia, South Asia

paypal china

Paypal is not available in China, but the online payments’ industry is coming onstream. Bill Bishop notes:

Xinhua has a long piece on the online payments market. It leads with a flattering discussion of Alibaba’s Alipay, talks about Paypal, says trust is the biggest bottleneck for the adoption of online payments, and ends with the comment that there are basically no regulations for online payments.
Those regulations will come. It is a classic government approach here. Let the market develop in a grey area, and then as soon as there is real money involved move in and regulate.

This has and is continuing to happen in regards to several industries including: internet telephony, the internet and television production. Typically, new regulations will favor the state or state-run enterprises. Expect that when regulations for online payment systems come into place, they will be beneficial for either state-run banks or telecom companies.

by @ 8:19 pm. Filed under China, Economy, Northeast Asia

india’s lost opportunity

I have bashed the US and EU for wasting the decade that they had to restructure their textile industries, regrettably those aren’t the only ones who wasted time. Nitin notes:

Dr Manmohan Singh’s government came to power with a well publicised
commitment to create employment. The textile industry presented one of
the best opportunities India ever had in recent years to create jobs on a massive scale. What was needed though was liberalisation
of the labour laws that served to protect the trade-unionists, at the
expense of workers. The direct result of these laws is that India lacks
the economies of scale to effectively compete against China’s huge

I was speaking with a trade representative from the German textile machinery manufacturers’ association last week. He noted that India had not only lagged China in investing in the textile industry, it was also well behind neighbors Bangladesh and Pakistan for much of the past decade. And that was in terms of net spending, non-adjusted for factors such as population.

It was only three months before the end of the global quota regime that Indian capital investment in the industry began to seriously pick up, he said.

Still, given that there was a decade to prepare, the blame can’t be totally put on Manmohan Singh’s administration. Both the BHP and Congress held office over the period and Indian manufacturers also didn’t do enough to prepare.

by @ 7:55 pm. Filed under China, India, Economy, Northeast Asia, Southeast Asia

everyone is getting new missiles

First from Angry Chinese Blogger:

In a move that is likely to ruffle feathers in Beijing, Ono Yoshinori, the chief of Japan’s Defense Agency, has announced that Tokyo is now set to move its involvement in a controversial missile defense system up to the next stage.

And from Lakeshore Laments:

Taiwan has successfully tested its domestically developed Hsiung Feng anti-ship missile, the China Times newspaper said on Sunday, as the island attempts to beef up its defense capability against China’s growing military threat.
Taiwan could begin “small initial production’’ of the Hsiung Feng, with a 1,000-km (600-mile) range that could hit military bases in China’s southeast, this year or in 2006, the Chinese-language newspaper said, quoting unidentified sources.

While both events are certain to upset Beijing, if the planned missile defenses go through, it would be a good thing for long-term peace. While recent economic ties have promoted peace through trade there is always a risk that these ties will strain. The main reason China had never attempted to take Taiwan by force prior to the opening of commerce is because it was never be assured of winning. This will simply maintain the status quo.

Protectionism in Congress is a far bigger threat to peace than Taiwanese or Japanese missile spending.

by @ 3:29 pm. Filed under Japan, China, Taiwan, Northeast Asia

saint anwar

Rajan takes issue with the favorable coverage international media keep giving former Malaysian deputy prime minister and now opposition figure Anwar Ibrahim:

The Financial Times:

To hear some middle-class Malaysians talk about Anwar Ibrahim, you would think he was the devil made flesh, guilty of crimes against decent society ranging from gross financial corruption and sexual deviancy to Islamic fanaticism. Such is the effect of seven relentless years of government-inspired calumny.

To hear the international media elite talk about Anwar Ibrahim, you would think he is God incarnate, merciful sinless man who only wants to best for Malaysia and nothing more.

Read the rest.

by @ 8:15 am. Filed under Malaysia, Southeast Asia, Media

don’t let the kids know…

Gaijin Biker reports that Toy Story 2 did not actually have a happy ending:

I was looking around in the Astro Mike toy store near Harajuku today, and I’ve got some bad news for Toy Story 2 fans. Sadly, it seems that Woody and the rest of the Roundup Gang have ended up on display in Japan after all.

by @ 7:54 am. Filed under Japan, Northeast Asia, Film

a: ’shut up arsehole’

ESWN translates a report on an incident in Shanghai, involving a suicidal woman on a ledge and a group of observers:

The reporter noted that whenever the crowd started yelling, the woman became more distressed and unstable.  Here is the first item:
At the front of the police line, a group of female students were yakking away.  Occasionally, they yelled upwards: "Hurry up and jump!"  A middle-aged man could not help himself and said to them, "Girls, stop yelling!  If it is a family member of yours up there, you would not be yelling.  Would you?"  The girls were surprised, and did not say anything more.
Among the people who were yelling, some were doing it for no good reason.  A group of young men were laughing.  Whenever the female went near the edge, they would cheer out loud.  A blue-eyed, blonde foreigner especially stood out in the crowd because of his height.  He elatedly used his strong voice to yell out loudly in badly pronounced Chinese: "Jump down (跳下来)!"

The woman did as requested and was  later pronounced dead in hospital. ESWN concludes with a comment and a question:

The aforementioned acts are committed by specific individuals, and should not reflect on any race, nationality, gender, age, religion, etc.  For the record, I have not translated the acts of good consideration and kindness recorded by the reporter.  Question: what would you say to the foreigner?

by @ 7:49 am. Filed under Culture, China, Northeast Asia

5-day workweek for malaysian civil servants

Rajan is welcoming moves to lengthen shorten the work week for Malaysian civil servants.:

Wanted to blog about this
for a long time, keep on forgetting. Well, you see, the plan is to
transition slowly into a 5-day working week for civil servants. The
transition goes like this…


by @ 7:30 am. Filed under Malaysia, Asia, East Asia, Economy, Southeast Asia, Manuel Quezon III

deja vu

The Avian Flu blog reports that China is mobilizing health department resources in Qinghai Province, where there are unconfirmed reports of 121 human deaths that are possibly bird-flu related.:

…that story from ChinaDaily. Recombinomics has more on the topic. Also from Recombinomics, some pictures of dead birds in the Gangcha County in Qinghai Province. The bottom line:

The massive die off of birds as well as over 200 human cases including 121 deaths has sounded alarm bells.  China has denied the human deaths but there has been no independent investigation of any of the infections.  The recent reports and photos clearly raise important issues which will not be resolved without third party inspections. (emp added)  Until then, the widespread speculation on the significance of the alarming reports will continue.

Have you ever had a feeling of deja vu?

by @ 7:26 am. Filed under China, Northeast Asia

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