In Africa, Chinese Developers Are Building A Mini-China

Development is happening quickly, though not as quickly as megacities grew in China. Of 50 economic zones planned nine years ago, only six have been built. Developers are struggling to adapt to the differences in various African cultures and differences in governance. “I think from Chinese point of view, the biggest danger is corruption in African countries,” says Hulshof. “But another problem they will run into is democracy … which makes it more difficult to develop in the top-down way that Chinese companies are used to. If people own land, you can’t just kick them out.”

A photo investigation of the Chinese-sponsored apartments, highways, factoriesand even entire citiesthat are sprouting up in Africa at an astounding…

(via In Africa, Chinese Developers Are Building A Mini-China)

Worth a read.

China’s Middle Class Chafes Against Maze of Red Tape

China’s Middle Class Chafes Against Maze of Red Tape:

China’s middle class — wired, ambitious and worldly — is increasingly unwilling to tolerate such obstacles, the vestiges of a capricious Mao-era bureaucracy that still holds sway over most of the important aspects of people’s personal lives. For many educated city dwellers, it is red tape, more than news media censorship and heavy-handed propaganda, that serves as a grinding reminder of the Communist Party’s dominion over their lives. “The government isn’t there to make our lives easier,” Ms. Li said. “They’ve set up all those rules so the people are easier to control.”

The venn diagram of oligarchy and police state is pretty much a circle. And Oligarchs only care about restrictions on capital. Now that China is developing a middle class, heavy handed bureaucracy is far more unwelcome.

Blaming China Masks our Real Economic Problems

Blaming China Masks our Real Economic Problems

For the most part, the response of economists to the candidates' exchange over trade was highly negative. Economists are strong advocates of open, unimpeded trade between nations, and with all that economists have done to promote the idea that specialization and trade is mutually beneficial - an argument with the public that has persisted for hundreds of years how could the candidates regress into this primitive mercantile thinking?

Worth a read.

An examination of U.N. and Chinese trade data reveals that exports to North Korea of products including cars, tobacco, laptops, cellphones and domestic electrical appliances all increased significantly over the past five years.

An examination of U.N. and Chinese trade data reveals that exports to North Korea of products including cars, tobacco, laptops, cellphones and domestic electrical appliances all increased significantly over the past five years.
Luxuries Flow Into North Korea -

It appears that a great deal of China's economic growth has been through the strategy of the government building massive cities and universities that there is no demand for. All of the materials and labor that goes into these massive projects improves GDP. Unfortunately, its led to an estimated 64 million empty apartment units in China that are too expensive for most Chinese families to afford (there is only a little over 30 million multi-unit housing units in the U.S.). Occupancy rates in these new cities are at less than 25%. And the 'world's largest shopping mall' is almost completely empty.

America's creditor identifies its budget problem

The chief of the General Staff of the People's Liberation Army, Chen Bingde, told reporters he thought the U.S. should cut back on defense spending for the sake of its taxpayers. He was speaking during a joint news conference in which he traded barbs with visiting U.S. counterpart Adm. Mike Mullen.

"I know the U.S. is still recovering from the financial crisis," Chen said. "Under such circumstances, it is still spending a lot of money on its military and isn't that placing too much pressure on the taxpayers?

If the U.S. could reduce its military spending a bit and spend more on improving the livelihood of the American people … wouldn't that be a better scenario?

From Glenn Greenwald -


Higher Inflation Would Slow U.S.-China Currency Adjustment | ThinkProgress

Kindred Winecoff introduces the excellent point that the fact that the U.S. is experiencing an inflation rate that's lower than China's means that the real exchange rate is adjusting faster than the nominal rate. Consequently, "[t]o the extent that we want to boost employment through exporting, increased inflation could prolong that process."

Or to look at it another way, our inability to get China to allow for more rapid appreciation of the Yuan is arguably pressing us toward a lower-than-ideal inflation rate.

From Higher Inflation Would Slow U.S.-China Currency Adjustment | ThinkProgress

Good point.

Empty Chinese Houses

According to Hong Kong-based real estate analyst Gillem Tulloch, who is interviewed in the piece, the housing units are priced well above what an average Chinese person can afford. The result, he says, is a housing bubble that is terrifying in size, "a property bubble like which I don't think we've ever seen," he says. "It will make the United States pale in comparison. It's said that there's around 64 million empty apartments.... It's essentially the modern equivalent of building pyramids. It doesn't add to the betterment of people's lives, all it does is it promotes GDP."

From Empty Chinese Houses

Uh-no. Not again.

China's Dangerous Lower Middle Class

Back in the 1990s it was often fashionable to argue that increased prosperity would magically transform China into a more liberal political system. Today, that's clearly not the case. What we're seeing here, though, is the more likely mechanism for political change-dashed hopes. Peasant farmers often just feel beaten-down and resigned to their fate. But these are the would-be upwardly mobile. People who know perfectly well that better economic opportunities are possible and thus are poised to develop complaints and resentments.

From Yglesias >> China's Dangerous Lower Middle Class

This is a test of the theory that economic liberalization will lead to political change.

China's Politburo Ordered Hack of Google

The Chinese government, which has been thought for some time to have been the source of the hacking of Google’s servers, leading to Google’s departure from China, directed attacks on the company’s web servers, according to diplomatic cables disclosed today by WikiLeaks.

From Andy Plesser: China’s Politburo Ordered Hack of Google, WikiLeaks Reveals

Is this an act of war? Can a country launch an attack on a non-state entity without is being an act of war?

QE Is Not CM

QE is basically expansionary monetary policy, no different in its effects (if it works) from reducing the policy interest rate. Yes, it tends to weaken the exchange rate; but it also increases domestic demand.

China is engaged in currency manipulation, that is, buying foreign currency to keep the yuan weak; meanwhile, it is actually moving to reduce domestic demand, among other things raising interest rates.

So the United States is moving to expand world demand, with a policy that may weaken the dollar; China is moving to reduce world demand, with a policy of deliberately weakening the yuan. America's policy may annoy its trading partners, but they are not the target; China's policy is predatory, pure and simple.

No equivalence here.

From QE Is Not CM -

Clear explanation on differences between QE2 and China’s yuan manipulation.

The Renminbi Runaround

There have been all sorts of calculations purporting to show that the renminbi isn t really undervalued, or at least not by much. But if the renminbi isn t deeply undervalued, why has China had to buy around $1 billion a day of foreign currency to keep it from rising?

The effect of this currency undervaluation is twofold: it makes Chinese goods artificially cheap to foreigners, while making foreign goods artificially expensive to the Chinese. That is, it s as if China were simultaneously subsidizing its exports and placing a protective tariff on its imports.

From The Renminbi Runaround

Krugman explains it in four sentences. And this is why we need to lead the G8 into undoing any artificial Chinese advantage by imposing tariffs linked to the undervaluation of the Renminbi.

The Nation of Futurity

The Chinese now have lavish faith in their scientific and technological potential. Newsweek and Intel just reported the results of their Global Innovation Survey. Only 22 percent of the Chinese believe their country is an innovation leader now, but 63 percent are confident that their country will be the global technology leader within 30 years. The majority of the Chinese believe that China will produce the next society-changing innovation, while only a third of Americans believe the next breakthrough will happen here, according to the survey.
From Op-Ed Columnist - The Nation of Futurity -

David Brooks’ latest is a must read.

China Far Outpaces U.S. in Building Cleaner Coal-Fired Plants

But largely missing in the hand-wringing is this: China has emerged in the past two years as the world's leading builder of more efficient, less polluting coal power plants, mastering the technology and driving down the cost. While the United States is still debating whether to build a more efficient kind of coal-fired power plant that uses extremely hot steam, China has begun building such plants at a rate of one a month.
China Far Outpaces U.S. in Building Cleaner Coal-Fired Plants -

China is switching to cleaner burning coal power plants. We can now retire the old canard that even if we lower carbon emissions, China won’t; therefore we shouldn’t.

China Presses Hush Money on Grieving Parents

The official came for Yu Tingyun in his village one evening last week. He asked Mr. Yu to get into his car. He was clutching the contract and a pen.

The contract had been thrust in Mr. Yu's face during a long police interrogation the day before. In exchange for his silence and for affirming that the ruling Communist Party "mobilized society to help us," he would get a cash payment and a pension.
Mr. Yu had resisted then. This time, he took the pen.
From China Presses Hush Money on Grieving Parents -

Sad story but a must read. And a warning on what happens when government bureaucracy is run for the interests of the bureaucrats and not the people they serve.

China wants hotels to filter Internet

The Chinese government is demanding that US-owned hotels there filter Internet service during the upcoming Olympic Games in Beijing, US Senator Sam Brownback has alleged.
From Computerworld - US senator: China wants hotels to filter Internet

Once again reality beats the Onion to the absurdist headline. Keep in mind that US companies like Yahoo, Google, Cisco, Time Warner and Microsoft have all worked with China to implement, maintain and extend Chinese censorship of the internet. Its not too much of a stretch to see Hotel companies cooperate.

China Regulates Buddhist Reincarnation

In one of history’s more absurd acts of totalitarianism, China has banned Buddhist monks in Tibet from reincarnating without government permission. According to a statement issued by the State Administration for Religious Affairs, the law, which goes into effect next month and strictly stipulates the procedures by which one is to reincarnate, is “an important move to institutionalize management of reincarnation.”
From China Regulates Buddhist Reincarnation - Newsweek Beliefs -

Want an argument for separation of Church and State? You’ve got your argument right here. The very phrase State Administration for Religious Affairs send a chill down every bone in my secular humanist body. I wonder what would be next, a ban on haunted houses? Maybe they could charge a poltergeist tax.