11 August, 2005

quick thursday links

Via India Uncut, a Hindustan Times item on defeating Maoists with pizza and Pepsi:

The extremist Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist), which has virtually ruled the Bastar region of Chhattisgarh in southcentral India for 15 years, is fighting to save its fiefdom against a gastronomic offensive by the state government.
For the first time since the early 1990s when Maoists gained ground in Kanker, Bastar and Dantewada districts, the rebels have been facing a serious revolt thanks to the pizza and Pepsi showered by the home department in poverty-stricken Maoist bastions.
And it is working far better than the various strategies and millions of rupees invested in tackling the menace. So much so that the home department is trying to increase the supply of these fast food favourites heavily in the forest belt.

Imagine, Danwei is a Beijing based blog that covers media and advertising in China. A few decades ago there wouldn’t even be advertising in China. I guess that means that the Cultural Revolution is finally over.

Ian lamont at Harvard Extended steps away from media content research to muse about history.

“In every decade since the communist victory in 1949, China has been shaken by an unforeseen political upheaval.”- Robin Porter’
As a student of modern Chinese history, I have long believed that a similar pattern has existed, but for far longer: Since the late Qing, China has experienced local or widespread upheavals caused by a variety of domestic and external factors. Starting in 1900, and up until 1989, China has experienced a major upheaval affecting multiple urban areas and/or provinces about every 10 to 25 years. In 1900 it was the Boxer Rebellion. In 1911, the Republican revolution. In 1930s, civil war and the Japanese invasion. In the late 1940s, the Communists coming to power. In 1958, the Great Leap Forward and its aftermath. In the mid-1960s, the Cultural Revolution. In 1989, student protests in Tiananmen and other major cities.

A joint truth commission for East Timor and a pullout of troops in Aceh, perhaps Indonesia’s military is finally slipping into peace mode. Or perhaps not.

Tom Legg has good coverage of the situation surrounding Ching Cheong, the Straits Times journalist charged by China for alleged spying.

The Haze has prompted Malaysia’s government to declare states of emergency in select areas. Jeff Ooi says AFP seems to have jumped the gun.

points to a chasity campaign that seems to involve kidnapping.:

Concerned social organizations have announced a campaign to guard the chastity of teenagers at holiday resorts along Korea’s East Coast. The conservative groups including Hwalbindan, the Korea Dokdo Green Movement and the Senior Citizens Association of Jumunjin, Gangwon Province have been prowling beaches and entertainment places since Aug. 6 with the slogan, "Lose your virginity in a moment’s carelessness and immoderate merrymaking, regret it for the rest of your life."
At night, they plan to snatch girls seen drinking with strangers in the entertainment districts of downtown Sokcho and Gangneung from the teeth of disaster.

A true rarity, a protest in Singapore. (UPDATE 21:35) That didn’t last long:

police broke up a rare demonstration by four people demanding greater
transparency and accountability in Singapore’s state-managed pension
fund and other government-linked agencies.
dozen anti-riot police wearing helmets and knee-high protective gear
and carrying shields and batons formed a phalanx outside the offices of
the Central Provident Fund (CPF) as a commanding officer approached the

Could there be a potential military alliance between India and Taiwan in the cards?

"Apart from its manufacturing and
hardware might, Taiwan is strategically important for India as it
controls the Itu Aba otherwise called the Taiping Island. The island
can have military installations and forward bases. The Indian Navy can
only operate with the help of Taiwan to conduct exercises", says Dr
Indian strategic experts feel Taiwan has the best intelligence on
China. "India doesn’t know anything about China. There may be a handful
who know about China in India. And Taiwan is the only way through which
we can know about China. This realization has dawned on the Indian
establishment", says a retired senior intelligence officer.

Via the Tanuki Ramble an insightful Spiegel interview with Asia’s smartest statesman Lee Kwan-yew, touching on the coming collapse of North Korea, the coming collapse of Germany’s social contract and China’s military threat to the US.:

Their modernisation is just a drop in the ocean. Their objective
is to raise the level of damage they can deliver to the Americans if they
intervene in Taiwan. Their objective is not to defeat the Americans, which
they cannot do. They know they will be defeated. They want to weaken the
American resolve to intervene. That is their objective, but they do not want to attack Taiwan.


by @ 7:58 pm. Filed under South Korea, Singapore, China, Indonesia, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia, Southeast Asia, South Asia

china economic roundup (ii)

This speech by Richard Fisher, president and CEO of the Dallas Federal Reserve, is one of the most cited in the English language Sinoblogosphere today. With good reason, it’s one of the finest presentations on the benefits of Chinese economic growth I’ve seen and it avoids pitfalls about the ‘China threat.’ Read the whole thing.

…even if China were to reach the knowledge-driven rung on the income ladder of nations, there is no reason to assume that China will overtake the United States in size and influence. Do the math. Were China to keep growing at 9 percent and the U.S. to keep growing at, say, 3.5 percent, it would take them nearly four decades to catch us in terms of GDP.
Thirty-eight years to be exact, starting from their base of $1,300 in per capita GDP (the Little China view) and ours of $40,000. It would take 83 years if their growth slowed to an average rate of 6 percent, well over a century if it slowed to 5 percent, a more probable trajectory for growth. Even then, it’s not certain to happen. Remember that Japan grew much faster than us for three decades after World War II, then slowed as it converged to U.S. per capita GDP levels. Same for Germany, same for Korea. There’s a good reason for that. It’s one thing to run down the path already cut by the leader, a whole other one to become the leader yourself.
If you’re not willing to eliminate protectionism, reduce red tape and regulation, encourage free markets for capital as well as goods and services, live by the rule of law, punish public corruption and corporate malfeasance, if you’re not willing to let old jobs go by the wayside and otherwise unleash the competitive forces that make an economy nimble, you won’t keep pace with the leaders.

China has revealed the currencies, but not the weightings, for its guidance basket for the yuan. Simon has a great roundup, and also asks:

At the same time the PBoC have liberalised financial markets, allowing more participants in the spot forex market, introducing interbank forex forwards and allowed the trading of yuan swaps. Below the fold is a Reuters article on these changes. But at the same time, the PBoC announced it is tightening its supervision to ensure a "stable, orderly market". Liberalising with one hand, but tighter supervision with the other. How can you tighten supervision when previously the market was Government controlled or banned?

Huawei Technologies is offering $1 billion for Marconi, while I disagreed with the ’security threat’ assessments over CNOOC’s bid for Unocal, HK Dave notes that there may be greater reasons for worries with this bid:

Marconi has a rich history of not only being in the telecommunications business, but being a major contractor over the years for defense industries - its employees played crucial roles in defeating the Nazis in World War II. Its founder, in fact, invented the radio. And today, Marconi sells as part of its product line the Ovum-RHK series of networking encryption technology used by the US military and its intelligence agencies. So what, you might ask? Well, here’s the problem - Huawei Technologies was spun off from the People’s Liberation Army.

Via China Digital Times, the FEER is this month offering a must-read item from economist Stephen Greene which argues that - should reforms be effective - China may produce the next Alan Greenspan.:

So, here are three questions: First, why does monetary policy not work that well in China at present? Second, is the pegged exchange rate really causing the authorities serious monetary problems, as standard macroeconomic theory predicts? And what will a China with “free” interest rates and a more flexible currency look like?

China’s two-percent solution to demands that it revalue hasn’t placated critics in the US Congress, but the Treasury seems pleased:

Yesterday I posted about a renewed congressional push to impose flat tarrifs on Chinese imports, and today the Treasury Department officially announced that they approve of the method that China is using to value its currency.
The Washington Post quotes Tim Adams, Treasury’s undersecretary for international affairs, “I think you have to argue that the change in currency regime is a significant step and one of which is the beginning of a long-term process which I think is appreciated in this building and is probably appreciated more on the Hill (Congress) than many want to admit.”

The Paper Tiger looks at China’s energy crisis and how it is in part due to decades of communism.:

Making steel in China in 2003 consumed 10 percent more energy per unit than in the United States, according to state statistics. China’s electrical generators consume one-fifth more energy per unit of output than American plants, said Long Weiding, an expert at Tongji University in Shanghai. Chinese air conditioners — now the fastest-growing draw on power — are roughly one-fifth less efficient than the world average, Long said.

The reason for this striking wastefulness is "the hybrid nature of its economy, which is caught between its communist roots and a free-market future, experts say. More and more of the demand for energy comes from companies that operate on market principles, but the majority of the supply is generated by state-owned monopolies forged in the time of central planning and with little incentive to increase efficiency."

(UPDATE 19:25) Bill Bishop has some good analysis of the one-billion-dollar Yahoo Alibaba deal:

Yahoo is now the most entrenched US media company in China. Forget Viacom, Disney, Time Warner and News Corp and their small deals for programming sales and the like. Yahoo, which in the end is a direct competitor of those guys, has done a much more comprehensive job of getting into China. What remains to be seen is whether the price they just paid was worth it, or whether they are just another Western company that got stuck with a China premium by a very savvy local operator. The Yahoo guys are very sharp too, so it must have been an interesting negotiation.
This deal is potentially disastrous for Ebay in China. Taobao was eating its lunch on a small budget; now they have the backing of Yahoo to ramp up their efforts several notches. Some people thought if things got really bad for Ebay they could always buy up Alibaba (Ebay is rumored to have offered Alibaba $1B a few months ago). Now that option is gone and there is not another auction player they can buy that would be meaningful. The Alibaba transaction may be the deal that leads Yahoo to ‘Japan-ning" Ebay again, this time in China.

by @ 5:49 pm. Filed under China, Asia, East Asia, Economy, Northeast Asia, Economic roundup

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