24 March, 2006

schumer, graham, beijing and shanghai

Chuck Schumer and Lindsey Graham, the two US senators proposing the headline-grabbing 27.5% tariff on all Chinese goods should the country fail to further revalue its currency, have just completed their tour of the mainland. They stopped for a brief press conference and chamber of commerce meeting in Shanghai to cap off the visit.

The two, as noted in an SCMP item linked to by Simon have softened their criticism of the country, but as Simon also notes this is likely a short-lived change.:

The two US senators behind proposed legislation to impose punitive tariffs on Chinese products have shifted from seeing "China as a threat" to a potential "close ally" after meeting top mainland leaders yesterday. New York Democrat Charles Schumer and South Carolina Republican Lindsey Graham said they had achieved significant understanding through their "amazing three days" in Beijing. 

Bowled over by Wu Yi but still hedging their bets. The senators are doing what politicians do best - changing their message according to the crowd. You can bet as soon as they land back in Washington it will be "I’ve seen the enemy up close" again. And the Chinese have very politely told the Americans to piss off; This WaPo article also points out that the senators’ visit and the bid to impose currency and other reforms is backfiring:

AsiaPundit was at the Shanghai press conference and was moderately impressed by the senators’ change of tone. Graham noted that China would need further structural reforms to its financial system ahead of any changes to the currency regime and Schumer repeatedly noted that he would prefer a government-to-government solution rather than passage of the bill - essentially admitting that it is a tool to pressure China.

Still, AP doubt that the China trip was as much of an eye-opener as the senators claim. Surely they could have learned about the banking system by tapping their assistants for research, or by reading the Economist or the Financial Times.

The tour was more of a publicity stunt than a fact-finding mission. But AsiaPundit will say that the pair managed to withstand a 34-minute press conference with local and foreign financial reporters without saying anything profoundly stupid.

The local journalist behind Non-violent resistance was less impressed with their event yesterday in Beijing.:

It’s one thing to read a thousand times and write at least 15 times in the past year about the Schumer-Graham duo and their notorious bill, but quite another to sit on the press bench and hear them actually talk about it at a press conference in Beijing.

They couldn’t remembe vice premier Wu Yi’s name, whom they had just been meeting half an hour ago, ("one tough lady, she would do well in an American courtroom, I like her a lot" was all they could muster), and two and a half years after raising that sorryass China-bashing bill of theirs, Schumer still couldn’t get his pronunciation right ("yuan" with a Y instead of "won" with a W, Chinese instead of Korean currency, your Senatorial High-ness).

"The jury is still out" my ass. To hear them talk, Schumer in his slick baritone and Graham in his southern drawl, about "the bay-est interest of the Una-ited States of Ame-erica", "buka-uz too many people depending on us to get this right", I was so disgusted I didn’t even raise my hand to ask a question. What’s the point of asking anyway? They’re just here for the show.

AsiaPundit has heard enough Chinese officials mangle English to be more accepting of the duo’s language problems. AP also agreed with Schumer when he said he prefers Shanghai to Beijing. AsiaPundit will also note that Schumer, true to form, mentioned New York at least four times during the Shanghai press conference (or roughly once every 9 minutes).

"I will pay Shanghai at least what I consider the ultimate compliment, ‘you’re a lot like New York.’ Shanghai is much more like New York than Beijing - which was the first city we visited - in a whole lot of ways."

This is not a podcast, as TypePad’s podcast-enabled template doesn’t seem to be working, but the presser is on audio below.

Press Conference Audio File

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by @ 9:29 pm. Filed under China, Money, Asia, East Asia, Economy, Northeast Asia

blogging is dead

Although he has harbored high hopes for citizen journalism and punditry, AsiaPundit is joining the multitude of voices who are saying that the blogging phenomena is dead. Now that the term has been seized upon by Taiwan property developers, it is essential to find a new name for the medium.



Apologies for the late photo credit (top picture) to Paogao.

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by @ 9:16 pm. Filed under Blogs, Taiwan, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia

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