Saturday, June 28, 2008
Something pretty bizarre appeared on the People's Daily website. An article called "The expressions of Wang Qishan" popped up, showing various pictures of Wang. What is going on here? This really reminds me of the cult of Zhu Rongji that pervaded the media a few years back. Perhaps the media is making another push to make Wang into a Zhu-like figure. Anyway, enjoy some of these pictures
Thursday, June 19, 2008
http://www.sina.com.cn 2008年06月19日 22:33 新华网
was surprised and delighted to find that I can now (finally) see what you've been writing about lately.
Saturday, June 07, 2008
Tuesday, June 03, 2008
By STEPHEN GREEN
FROM TODAY'S WALL STREET JOURNAL ASIA
June 3, 2008
Many people in China right now call these the country's Golden Years. But after a fantastic run of double-digit growth, bigger pay packets, low inflation and growing international influence, clouds are now forming over China's economy. Most obviously the dark weather of the snowstorms earlier in the year and the terrible earthquake in Sichuan have rocked the country's confidence. Less tangibly, but more importantly for the economy, stronger inflation is emerging. And there is a danger that the hard decisions needed to break it will not be made while there's still time to do so relatively easily.
In part, this is because policy makers are only gradually grasping the magnitude of the inflation threat. On the surface it looks like inflation as measured by China's official consumer price index has been driven by food, primarily pork and edible oil. CPI has exceeded 8% year-on-year in recent months (but looks set to fall below 8% in May). Exclude food items, and prices overall only rose 1.8% in the year to April.
But few people believe this is an accurate reflection of price trends on the street. Higher service-sector prices in health and education are likely not adequately reflected in the index, while the basket of goods surveyed is updated only once every five years. The GDP deflator – an overall measure of inflation also calculated by the government – was up to over 8% year-on-year in the first three months of this year.
Energy costs are particularly bad. Crude oil is up 35% since November 2007, when government-controlled gasoline and diesel prices were last hiked. Lines are forming again at gasoline and diesel stations as refiners suffer. The still-dominant thinking in Beijing is that all these price hikes reflect a series of supply-side problems. But it is becoming harder to find any falling prices at all – a red flag that this inflation is a monetary phenomenon rather than an unfortunately timed series of supply shocks.
Beijing's bigger problem, however, is that policy makers aren't especially eager to take the hard steps necessary to solve the problem, such as raising interest rates or allowing further appreciation of the yuan. At the best of times, these policies would slow economic growth. And now isn't the best of times, since the economy may be slowing already. While the first quarter still saw export growth of 21% year-on-year, export growth to the United States is down to zero and exports to Europe also look weak. There are reports of export factories closing in Guangdong province on the heels of a slowing global economy and a rising yuan that makes Chinese goods appear more expensive abroad.
Adding to Beijing's reluctance to act on interest rates is its fear that increasing rates would spur more "hot money" flows of speculative cash into China. Beijing is on watch for such short-term flows – worried about the potential destabilizing effects of it all leaving. Indeed, the money is flowing in. Total foreign exchange inflows could have been as large as $200 billion in the first quarter alone, although again the official numbers are not that easy to interpret. At least half of that total might be "hot" money, though.
Beijing is taking some administrative measures to discourage these inflows, such as reportedly stepping up regulatory scrutiny of yuan accounts held by nonresidents in border areas like Shenzhen. Additional controls in other parts of the capital account are likely. Currency policy is also up for debate again. Although the yuan has increased 16% against the dollar since the reform in July 2005, it has lost 6.5% against the euro. Last year the yuan gained only 4% on a real effective basis. Given the concern over exports and hot money, some believe now that Beijing has decided to slow down yuan appreciation. While it moved 4% against the dollar in the first three months of this year, it barely budged in April-mid-May. This pushed the offshore market to move from expecting a 12% appreciation over the next 12 months to just some 3%. That is probably a low estimate – and the effective exchange rate is still appreciating – but it is still a close debate.
If interest-rate increases and currency appreciation are off the table, there are few effective tools left for fighting inflation. For now, Beijing has decided to stop raising rates and to constrain bank loan growth directly. This is certainly causing frustration as companies with big investment plans cannot find financing – and some cash-constrained small- and medium-sized enterprises struggle to survive. But at the same time, loan growth is still running at 14% year-on-year, real loan rates have fallen to zero, and foreign currency loan growth has exploded. It's hard to call this a "tight" monetary policy.
Beijing could, and should, do much more. China is still at the point where strong inflation-fighting would be painful but not catastrophic. With manufacturing wages still rising and many firms moving out of Guangdong province and into other parts of China, it's unclear how serious the job impact of a rising yuan will prove. China is still growing at a double-digit pace and so worries about a crash seem overblown. The key macroeconomic risk for China is not that the government will fight inflation too aggressively, but that it will not do so aggressively enough. Inflation is already in the system and a lack of resolute action now will cause it to become worse. The Golden Years are over, at least for the moment. The time for hard choices is here.
Mr. Green is head of China research at Standard Chartered Bank in Shanghai.
Monday, June 02, 2008
New York Times
China Lists Do’s and Don’ts for Olympics-Bound Foreigners
By KEITH BRADSHER
Published: June 3, 2008
HONG KONG — Do not bring any printed materials critical of China. Do not plan on holding any rallies or demonstrations in China. Do not think that you are guaranteed an entry visa even if you hold tickets to an Olympic event. And do not even think about smuggling opium into China.
That is some of the eclectic advice issued by the Beijing Organizing Committee on Monday, in a document posing 57 questions that foreign visitors to the Olympic Games in August might have: “Does China have any regulation against insults to the flag or national emblems?“ “After eating or drinking at restaurants or hotels, if you have diarrhea or vomiting symptoms, how do you lodge a complaint?”
The advisory to foreigners, posted on the committee’s Web site, but only in Chinese, provides answers for each question in a deadpan style (burning or soiling the Chinese flag or emblems is a criminal offense; food poisoning symptoms are to be reported to the local medical health department). Some of the rules, like a ban on religious or political banners or slogans at Olympic sites, appear aimed at preventing protests of China’s crackdown in Tibet this spring and other Chinese policies.
The Beijing Organizing Committee took pains at the start of the document to say that all the answers are based on existing Chinese regulations. The International Olympic Committee had no immediate response on Monday to the rules. Its position on freedom of expression issues as they relate to the Olympics is not entirely clear.
“A person’s ability to express his or her opinion is a basic human right and as such does not need to have a specific clause in the Olympic Charter because its place is implicit,” said Jacques Rogge, the president of the International Olympic Committee, at a meeting in Beijing in April.
But Mr. Rogge also pointed out then that the International Olympic Committee has had a rule for more than half a century that, “no kind of demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda is permitted in any Olympic sites, venues or areas.”
The advisory issued on Monday by the Beijing Organizing Committee includes a ban on bringing into China, “anything detrimental to China’s politics, economy, culture or moral standards, including printed material, film negatives, photos, records, movies, tape recordings, videotapes, optical discs and other items.” All rallies, demonstrations and marches, at athletic venues or anywhere else, are also banned during the Games unless approved in advance by public security agencies – a longstanding policy in China even when there are no Games or other big events being held.
China promised in 2001, before being awarded the Olympics, that it would improve its human rights record. But China and the International Olympic Committee have never released the text of their contract for the Olympic Games, in contrast with other cities that have been host to the event in recent years.
Nicholas Bequelin, the Hong Kong-based China researcher for Human Rights Watch, an advocacy group, said that China had chosen a very broad interpretation of the Olympic restriction on political and religious activity. “It is a slippery slope, and the Games in Beijing are testing the limit,” he said.
Jill Savitt, the executive director of Dream For Darfur, a group that wants China to put more pressure on the government of Sudan to bring peace to the Darfur region in western Sudan, said that the group had been considering ways to protest in Beijing during the Olympics. But Dream for Darfur was already reconsidering before the issuance of the latest advisory.
The group had been mulling tactics like having groups of visitors to the Games wear green armbands or green shirts, as green is associated with Sudan, Ms. Savitt said.
But the earthquake two weeks ago in Sichuan province, together with the controversy over sometimes violent protests by Tibet supporters during the Olympic torch relay, has prompted Dream for Darfur to reassess its plans and no decision has been made, she said.