27 October, 2005

here comes sickness

Via the Horse’s Mouth, a Clinton adviser says that China will have an economic collapse.:

China’s economy faces a "collapse" over the next decade owing to a high savings rate and over-investment in industrial capacity, according to a former economic advisor to previous US president Bill Clinton.

"At this moment China is saving too much and is investing too much in factories which the world does not need. Like this it is certainly heading for a great fall, a collapse," former advisor Robert Wescott told the Portuguese business daily Jornal de Negocios on Monday.

"It could be in 2007, maybe in 2014, I don’t know. But what I know for sure is that China will have over the next ten years a great fall in economic activity," he added.

AsiaPundit agrees. There are serious bubbles and imbalances here that are not being corrected rapidly enough and there will be a day of reckoning. The open question is what will happen after the ‘collapse.’ There are many possibilities. When the  Indonesian economy imploded there was regime change. When Japan’s bubble burst there was stagnation. South Korea re-emerged stronger and improved.

As well, one interesting difference between China’s ‘coming collapse’ and the humbling of South Korea and Japan is that this will have implications that are much more global. The South Korean and Japanese problems were domestically created - but China’s overcapacities are often due to excess foreign investment. Korea’s crisis meant the end of DaeWoo, but when China falls General Motors and Volkswagen will be feeling the pain.

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by @ 11:49 pm. Filed under China, Asia, Coming collapse, East Asia, Economy, Northeast Asia

bingfeng’s chewbacca defense

Bingfeng, who has given AsiaPundit the honor of being his star blog of the week, suggests that free speech and anti-censorship advocates who criticize the actions of internet companies in China, “do something more important and constructive.“:

As we all know, the blocking of these web sites, in its worst situation, influence the life of a few thousands in china, while at the same time, the corrupt journalists/media taking money from firms and various organizations and writing misleading articles to fool the public is a everyday story in china, as i know, the norm of taking money from firms to make favorable media exposures was cultivated by many MNCs in china, which bribe chinese journalists in the name of “media PR” or “marketing PR” activities, and bribe them when they have a “PR crisis”. such collusion affects the lives of millions of people and you could do something to change it, especially a lot of them are related with MNCs in china.

couldn’t you do something more important but less satisfying for your moral superiority? i just wonder.

AsiaPundit, who is a journalist by day, was recently offered an envelope containing 500 yuan (a little over 60 usd) while covering a telecommunications event sponsored by European companies. I can’t say whether any of the firms knew the cash was being offered, so I won’t mention any of them by name. I refused the cash, although the three local reporters who were at the event accepted.

As blogging flack Imagethief wrote earlier this year, it’s common practice to offer a “transportation allowance” to journalists. It should be noted that this is done for the local media and not usually for the foreign press. Foreign journalists have different ethical standards and rules that forbid us from accepting bribes (plus, a 200 yuan bribe would be is so low in terms of comparative salary that it could be offensive).

Bingfeng is correct that this is a serious problem for China - a 2003 study by the Institute for Public Relations puts China dead last in a list of 66 countries in a study on the acceptability of bribery for coverage.

Still, by citing the existence of this problem as a criticism of free-speech advocates he is making a common fallacy of argument by evading the issue.

This is also known as the Chewbacca defense.

That last link is from the blocked-in-China Wikipedia. I regret that readers here won’t be able to access it without a proxy.


The problems of censorship in and press bribery in China are related issues, both shape the content of news here. But to say that censorship of a website is something that only affects a “few thousand” is a gross understatement. While it may be only a handful of residents who are affected by a block on a single blogspot site, the control of information in China promotes ignorance, retards democratic development and prevents the building of an educated civil society. This affects 1.3 billion.

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by @ 11:46 pm. Filed under China, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia, Media, Censorship

evil weddings

More from the evil mouthless one from Sanrio. AsiaPundit is glad that this wasn’t reported before his summer wedding (Mrs AsiaPundit may have gotten some bad ideas).:


In a move that caused mass fainting fits across Japan (and audible gasps in neighbouring countries) the Hankyu-Daiichi hotel chain launched its Princess Kitty wedding package. For a pretty penny you can spend your wedding day immersed in Hello Kitty tweeness, from the ring pillow to the seating cards to the flowers. What better way to be the envy of your single friends by snaring a man and out Sanrio-ing them at the same time!

Worse follows, a line of Hello Kitty wedding gowns.:

Hello Kitty Gown

AsiaPundit again notes that Kitty has been a cause of violence, riots and mayhem. I expect a higher-than-average percentage of Kitty-related weddings will result in divorce. And remember, cats are not monogamous. (h/t Simon)

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by @ 10:55 pm. Filed under Culture, Japan, Hong Kong, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia, Hello Kitty watch

thai press freedom

Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra is said to be a fan of Lee Kwan-yew. AsiaPundit is a bit of an LKY fan himself, specifically of the mentor minister’s strong free-trade and anti corruption policies. It seems that Thaksin is an admirer of Lee’s other less-favorable qualities (via Magnoy’s Samsara).

The increasing number of defamation lawsuits being filed by government figures and their corporate proxies against critical media organizations is a “dangerous trend,” international media groups said yesterday.

And Thailand’s sinking image abroad will be reflected in a soon-to-be released index of press freedom across the world.

The day after Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra filed criminal and civil lawsuits against Manager Media Group, which publishes Phoojadkarn Daily, several international free-press groups repeated yesterday that recent lawsuits are diminishing Thailand’s time-honored status as the “country with the freest press in the region.”

Representatives from Reporters Sans Fronti?res (RSF), the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and the Southeast Asia Press Alliance (SEAPA) joined the Campaign for Popular Media Reform (CPMR) at the Thai Journalists Association yesterday.

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by @ 9:38 pm. Filed under Asia, East Asia, Southeast Asia, Media, Thailand, Censorship

taipei’s chicken line

Via the Taipei Kid.:


Thank goodness the MRT authorities have posted these bilingual signs telling commuters not to bring poultry into subway stations. Taipei’s English-speaking community, mostly made up of North Americans, Europeans and South Africans, have a terrible habit of bringing live birds onto the subway.

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by @ 9:16 pm. Filed under Food and Drink, Taiwan, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia

vietnam’s graft problems

Vietnam’s new anti-corruption bill is facing difficulty in the national assembly, Diacritic reports. Plus, it seems that the existing anti-graft agency has been somewhat less than effective.:

Vietnam’s anti-corruption chief has been arrested over allegations he took bribes and abused his position, in an embarrassing setback for the country’s fight against rampant graft. Luong Cao Khai, head of Vietnam’s anti-corruption inspection taskforce and deputy director of the government’s inspection department, was arrested at his home here on Thursday October 20, an investigative police source told AFP.

Police later uncovered several cases of serious wrongdoing.”He is accused of receiving money and land from some oil and gas officials to use for private purposes and abusing his position to provide his relatives with jobs in oil and gas sector,” the Tuoi Tre daily reported.

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by @ 8:59 pm. Filed under Asia, East Asia, Southeast Asia

china’s army discovers e-commerce

Look out Alibaba, China’s People’s Liberation Army has set up a procurement website


The website represents another (small) step in a long-running effort by the Chinese leadership to marketize and rationalize (in David Shambaugh’s parlance) its defense procurement to make sure its soldiers get the equipment they need.

China’s defense R&D sector has been fantastically corrupt since the late 1950’s, when Deng Xiaoping asked Marshal Nie Rongzhen—an old buddy from their student days in Paris—whether he wanted to be mayor of Beijing or run the country’s scientific programs. Nie chose the latter, becoming the first head of the China’s Commission of Science Technology, and Industry for National Defense (COSTIND), eventually stacking COSTIND with enough family members and cronies to make Dick Cheney blush.

Well, maybe not Dick Cheney.

The Chinese leadership finally got around to tackling this empire in the 1990s, forcing Nie’s daughter, General Nie Li, and her husband, COSTIND Chairman General Ding Henggao, into retirement in 1994 and 1996.

In 1998, China reorganized COSTIND as a civilian enterprise with administrative and regulatory responsibilities and created the General Armaments Department as a military procurement entity. (Although COSTIND was stacked with military officers, COSTIND’s bureaucratic interests historically have clashed with the wider PLA).

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by @ 8:30 pm. Filed under China, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia, Web/Tech

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