Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Well, I usually don't comment on such cases of injustice, since there are so many. However, it emerges that there may be a political economy angle here. Apparently, the deceased (I won't say victim since he was a perpetrator) and his two associates worked for the county investment attraction bureau. This bureau is in every local government unit, and their job is to attract investment. The day of the confrontation, Deng Guida (the deceased) and his underlings were asked by the local iron mine boss to "take care" of a few farmers whose land was taken by the mine boss. They did so successfully and were invited by the mine boss for an evening of entertainment, which ended in "Fantasy City." The piece below, published by Boxun, claims that the mine boss gave Deng Guida another "task", that of "procuring" Deng Yujiao for the mine boss. This then led to the subsequent confrontation between Deng Guida and Deng Yujiao and the killing.
There is some intimation that this case may lead higher up and uncover of network of corrupt cadres in Hubei (Question, why are county level cadres doing the biddings of some mine boss?). This may place party secretary Luo Qingchuan in a difficult position since he was promoted upward from the local bureaucracy. Badong County was never in the jurisdiction of Yichang, where Luo cut his teeth. Yet, Badong is only a few kilometer up river (the Yangtze) from Yichang and Luo may be familiar with many officials in Badong. If this proves to be the case, he may have incentive to slow any investigations launched by Beijing to dig deeper on this issue. He may have preempted this by placing Deng Yujiao under house arrest instead of placing her in jail or a mental hospital. Perhaps he is hoping that her release will stop a Beijing investigation. However, I don't think the netizens of China will be satisfied with this.
Oh, also, the WSJ did a write up of this. Please see below:
6，按照网上的公布福成矿业投资一个多亿估计是县主要领导主抓的项目。给你们一个专业的数字，一吨铁粉的生产成本在巴东最多350元，07年行情在1200元以上，现在还有700元左右，按福成的投资至少在日产500吨以上，能赚多少钱你们自己算，有关部门当然更明白。所以看你投资人如何去和谐吧！(Modified on 2009/5/28) (博讯 boxun.com)
WALL STREET JOURNAL
MAY 28, 2009
China Murder Case Sparks Women's Rights Uproar
By LORETTA CHAO
BEIJING -- A hotel employee whose arrest for murder sparked a wave of national sympathy in China after her lawyers said she was fighting off a rape attack has been released on bail, the official Xinhua news agency said.
Deng Yujiao, 21, was arrested May 10 after she allegedly stabbed two local government officials with a fruit knife in the Xiongfeng Hotel in central Hubei province, killing one of them.
Ms. Deng got in a quarrel with Huang Dezhi when he "mistook" her for a bathhouse attendant and asked her for "cross gender" services, according to a police report.
Deng Yujiao at a hospital in Badong, in central China, on May 18.
Mr. Huang's colleague, Deng Guida, eventually intervened and the argument escalated when he pushed Ms. Deng onto a couch twice, and she "took a fruit knife and stabbed" Mr. Deng four times, including once in the neck, the report said. She also stabbed Mr. Huang in the forearm. Mr. Deng, who worked for an office overseeing investment projects in Badong city and isn't related to Ms. Deng, later died from his injuries.
Badong County officials said the local public-security bureau is investigating the case, and Ms. Deng hasn't been formally charged. A public-security report said she was initially detained for "suspicion of intentionally killing" Mr. Deng.
Ms. Deng's lawyers have said she was acting in self-defense when the men tried to rape her after she refused to have sex with them for money.
The case sparked public anguish over the issue of violence against women, and a flood of sympathy for Ms. Deng in comments flooding in to Chinese Internet forums and blogs.
An essay posted on a Web forum hosted by the People's Daily newspaper called the stabbing a "heroic act" and a milestone for women's liberation. The date of the attack -- May 10 -- "will forever be remembered as the day on which a [girl] bravely defended herself and fought against the corrupt official when her life was threatened," said the author, writing under the name "Shenzhou Shouwang," or "Watching Over China."
In an forum on the same Web site, a user called Guo Chunfu wrote that Ms. Deng "used her own acts to show that even the underprivileged can have a dignified life."
The outpouring of support prompted the Badong County government to take the extraordinary step of posting a headline on its Web site inviting anyone concerned with the case to call the county's news and information center. The site says a representative has been assigned to the case in order to ensure that investigations are transparent and timely.
Last weekend, five women demonstrated in support of Ms. Deng near the Beijing West Railway Station. Wu Rongrong, an AIDS activist in the group, said the protest highlighted the need for greater "social respect and legal protection" for women. Another protester, wrapped in white cloth and wearing a face mask, lay on the floor next to sheets of paper that read: "Anyone may become Deng Yujiao."
Spokesmen for the Badong County government declined to comment further on the case, and Ms. Deng couldn't be reached for comment.
Her defense lawyers were fired at her mother's request this week after disagreements over strategy.
If some woman in your family were facing rapist and his complicities, at that crucial moment, would you still suggest by saying "dont consider self-defence first, please be rational, must do appropriate"? In that case, what is the "justifiable response" for your woman's behavior in your eyes?
underpinning of the very idea of a "nation of laws" is the belief that applying a level, consistent standard of judgement, based on commonly accepted and understood values, would be applied to all cases. You see, the smarter bears recognised that there is no value, or justice, in making snap judgements based upon one person's (in this case, you) emotions, fears and daughters.
Stop being a pompus ass, the question being ask is if your daughter weghing less than 90lbs were being manhandle by two men and according to statements taken; had forceably had her underware removed would she be entitle to defend herself with a knife.Or would you urge your daughter to act rational remember the rule of law get rape and then report the matter to the police. Your a dickhead with no commonsense.
Actually it is perfectly acceptable to defend oneself against violent crime even in countries ruled by law (rather than ruled by men, like China). Prosecution of criminals only comes AFTER crimes are committed. NO ONE is required to sit there, accept the crime being perpetrated, and only THEN go report it to the police. What kind of screwed up society do you want to live in?
I find your valuing your daughters' virginity to be a rather disturbing thing. Would you think less of them if they weren't virgins? Do non-virgin girls deserve to be raped? Why does your daughters' virginity figure into your message at all? Why not just stop at "I have two daughters"???
Sunday, May 24, 2009
Still Geniuses Out There
Okay, this princeling worshiping has really gone quite far. Now, we have the media doing stories which pay tributes to the grand children of revolutionary veterans! I am sure their accomplishments have nothing to do with their grandparents and parents' status. Chinadigitaltimes has some nice photos of grandson Bo Guagua to go with the piece. As you can see, he leads a charmed life in the UK....
Oxford star Bo scoops top award in Britain
Updated: 2009-05-11 07:32
The son of a high-ranking Chinese official studying in Britain won a special prize at the weekend aimed at celebrating the country's ten most outstanding Chinese youngsters, the China News Service reported Sunday.
Oxford star Bo scoops top award in Britain
Bo Guagua, a philosophy, politics and economics (PPE) scholar at the prestigious Oxford University, was among 10 people given the Big Ben Award on Saturday for his contributions to the community, the report said.
The 22-year-old is the son of Bo Xilai, the former Chinese minister of commerce and current Party secretary of Chongqing municipality. He was chosen from 28 candidates nominated this year for the prize, which is awarded by the British Chinese Youth Federation, the report said.
The other winning candidates include snooker player Fu Jiajun, director and writer He Xueyi and violinist Chen Mei. Bo was the first person from Chinese mainland to be enrolled in the Harrow School before being accepted at Balliol College, Oxford.
He has already written his first book, entitled Uncommonwealth, a sharp criticism on the blind pursuit of fads.
He has also been involved with the Oxford Subsidizing Poor Overseas Student Association, the Beijing Olympics Overseas Student Volunteer Organization and the Adam Smith Institute. He also set up the Oxford University Sichuan Earthquake Fundraising Committee, raising 15,000 pounds ($22,500) for victims of the May 12 disaster last year.
According to the blog, the photo was taken at a masquerade ball, not a bar.
Doesn't look as bas as some people say.
Sunday, May 17, 2009
Peter Goodman, whose columns are always concise and well informed, wrote yet another stinging critique of American banks entitled “Lessons the Teacher Forgot.” The basic argument of the piece is that US banks increasingly behaved like Chinese banks, which were supposed to learn market discipline from their teachers. His observations of Chinese banks were also quite on-point:
In effect, American banks operated not unlike the Chinese banks they were supposed to modernize. They extracted profits by following a variation of the principle long pursued by their Chinese counterparts: lend without hesitation while extracting your cut, confident that the government is on the hook for the losses.
In China, ventures may be spectacularly unprofitable, yet enrich everyone lucky enough to get a piece. Developers, for example, construct vacant office buildings as an excuse to borrow from state banks. They rake off a cut for themselves, pay bribes to the party officials who deliver the land and reward bank functionaries with sumptuous banquets and trips to Macao. Soon enough, the trophy skyscraper descends into financial disaster, but the developers, bankers and party officials have already extracted their riches, and for long afterward they will still enjoy them.
As an illustration, there was an interesting exchange between Baogang executive and CBRC official at the Lujiazui Conference recently. Basically, Xu Lejiang argued that the government is doing too much to keeping steel firms alive (Baogang was forced to buy up many firms, for example) and that some steel firms should be allowed to go bankrupt. Banks then should be prepared to “foot the bill.” There is a wonderful sense of irony here because Baogang has benefited from billions upon billions in preferential loans from banks. Anyway, a CBRC official in audience responded by saying that “as a banking regulator, I most fear the phrase ‘banks footing the bill’.”
As Goodman points out, the reality is that thousands of Chinese firms are being kept alive by the banks and government policies now. The difference between the US and China is that the US government could not have ordered the Feds to intervene to save these financial institutions before the crisis, whereas the main job of the PBOC and CBRC is to prevent a major financial crisis. Of course, they do some monitoring, but when financial institutions become insolvent, they have shown perfect willingness to print money to bail them out to preempt a system-wide crisis. So, this signals to all financial firms and state-related conglomerates that the center is there to bail them out, setting off a frenzy of borrowing and bond issuance. Over time, massive debt is issued on the basis of empty office buildings, under-utilized infrastructure, stock market speculations….etc. I am not sure how this all will end…..
But how do the developers profit from this? Don't they need to find somebody who's willing to invest his money to buy the buildings, i.e. someone who doesn't recognize that he's getting a bad deal?
I just wonder how you could think of the new published book regarding Zhao Ziyang's age in China's 1980s. I feel the title of its Chinese version “改革历程” is more appropriate than its English version's title, even though the "prisoner" word can attract more readers.
As a researcher in political science, will the truth told by Zhao make some impact in your previous research outcome? How will the facts contribute to your future work on China's politcs and economy?
In 1997, at a time of several runs on small branches in rural areas, I informally surveyed businessmen I'd met in Shanghai about whether they had any concern. They had none, because, as they said, 中央绝对不会让它倒。 What if, I followed, central government was unable to staunch the bleeding? No businessman was even willing to consider this as a possibility. (嘻嘻哈哈地)不可能，讲什么话呀!
Nothing has changed since then, especially given the purported stimulus program.
Sunday, May 10, 2009
I got a couple of nice emails from readers later, and I thought I would share my replies with everyone.
First, a couple of people said that the hugely negative PPI is accounted for by declining commodities prices and a lot of "wait and see" attitude among urban consumers. Here is my reply:
I think rich urban consumers are taking a wait and see attitude. You are neglecting the estimated 40 or so million who are unemployed at this point due to the export slump. Also, if commodities deflation accounted for most of it, why don't we see the same deflation in advanced countries. US PPI deflation was 1.2% in March (Jan, Feb was positive), while CPI was -.1% in March and positive for Jan and Feb. Consumers and firms in the US consume a heck of a lot of oil also, so how do you account for it? To be sure, China is factory of the world and is more vulnerable to price shocks of commodities, but we do not see any similar deflation among other net exporters in Asia, like Japan, S. Korea, or Taiwan. Another explanation is that wages are less rigid in China, and we are seeing wages plummeting in China. I think this probably explains some of the negative PPI, but it certainly does not help the consumption picture if true. Finally, there is massive over capacity in some sectors, like steel, which is driving down prices. This is partly caused by the stimulus program.
Another reader also wrote in to ask a question about my book (now as low as 23 bucks!). Basically, he asks whether my theory of factional politics can account for current events, as it seems the generalist factions have taken over economic policies during a crisis. My reply:
Wen is generally seen as a weak technocrat, but he has used this crisis as a way to strengthen central power. He abolished road tolls, centralized fuel tax, and started on a national health bureaucracy. The problem now though is not that the generalists are in charge, but that no generalist faction is powerful enough to delegate policies to Wen in the face of a crisis, which exacerbates the problem of Wen's perceived weakness. Back in the 80s, Deng, though reluctant to centralize, would delegate economic power to the technocrats when he had to. Now however, at least two elite factions (Hu Jintao, Xi Jinping, and possibly Zhou Yongkang) are jockeying for power, so no one can say that "Ok Wen, you are in charge here 100%". Instead, Wen is only getting Hu's support and facing opposition and delays from followers of other generalist factions.
In the conclusion of my book, I argue that the conflicts between generalists and technocrats are ultimately policy disagreements. The real fight is actually between generalists factions jockeying for power. In all politics (not just authoritarian politics), the worse thing for decisive decision is continuous struggle without resolution.
How does the stimulus package produce overcapacity in the steel sector? One would imagine that, because of all the construction projects started with the stimulus package, the market would be demanding more steel now.
I suppose the reason is that the steel producers also received their part of the "package" and are using it to increase production?
PS. I am one of the 小气s who was waiting for the paper cover of "factions". I have waited for months and I finally got it now, can't wait to read it/.
Based on official GDP (market-price, not PPP), China consumes three times as much oil per $ of GDP than Germany does, and 1.5 times as much as the US.
I have no data on iron ore, but considering the amount of iron produced in China, I would assume that iron ore prices also have a much bigger effect in China than in the US or Europe.
But I'm sure that commodity prices are not the only answer. For instance, corporate profits seem to have plummeted in many sectors, and this could be a sign of more intensive competition forcing down prices (if you go from "It's hard to keep up with all this steel demand" to "Will anybody buy our steel? Pleeeaaaaase!", margins are bound to suffer big time).
Based on that, I'd tend to reiterate that China's current deflationary environment isn't particularly unusual.
If you recall, last November, you wrote a post about how the local gov'ts and SOE's were probably bankrupt and that the stimulus funds from the central gov't were designed to keep them afloat and that the rest of the stimulus money, which was supposed to come from local gov'ts, probably isn't going to materialize...
fast forward to today...the FT reports that "most of the stimulus projects have been unable to start on time while others have proceeded slowly because of a lack of funds, according to a survey of 335 stimulus-related in-vestment projects conducted by the National Audit Office.”
I don't think that's a coincidence!
Thursday, May 07, 2009
Dear All, new post for RGE Monitor
Victor Shih | May 7, 2009
The recently published PBOC Monetary Policy Report is filled with optimism. Growth is strong; investment is on the rise; even export is looking better....etc. Then, I noticed something strange about the report. Throughout the original Chinese version of the report, CPI is referred to as "CPI," and the figure for 1Q wasn't so bad at -0.6%. However, the figure for PPI was only mentioned in Chinese "生产价格" and only in a brief discussion under a large green box on page 36. The PPI figures for 1Q was horrendous! The price of industrial goods fell by 3.3%, 4.5%, and 6% in January, February, and March respectively. So deflationary pressure is getting worse, not better. In terms of commodities and energy prices, the trend for January through March was -5.3%, -7.1%, and -8.9%, again showing a negative trend. To give the PBOC credit, someone actually put the PPI figures for a number of products on their English website: http://www.pbc.gov.cn/english/detail.asp?col=6400&id=1346
I strongly suggest readers take a close look at it. There is still some incomplete reporting though. For example, capital goods on the PBOC website shows a price increase of 0.1%, but the price of industrial goods decreased in March. What's the relationship between the two? Instead of getting industrial output figures, we find some data on individual categories of industrial outputs, like cars, buses, and TVs at the end of the table. We find that the MoM price of washing machines stayed the same while the price of TVs fell in March...etc. What about other industrial goods used by firms, like heavy machineries?? In a way, this is very disappointing. I think China has made great strides in statistical reporting, but when things get bad, they return back to their old game: obfuscation. Of course, all governments are tempted to do so when things get bad!
The other interesting figure that will creep up on us is April lending. The major state banks, which typically account for half of lending, already report that total new loans made in April was only 220 billion RMB, implying that total new lending was in the 400-500 billion RMB range. As a reminder to readers, March new lending was 1.89 trillion RMB, so we see a very drastic slow-down in April lending. Now we will really put to test the notion that the stimulus has generated sustainable growth. If May and June lending continues to be in the modest range (say below 500 billion RMB--already pretty high), we will see whether growth continues to be strong, investment continues apace, and whether housing and stock markets continue to rally. We'll see.
These are year-on-year figures, though. And the world-market prices of major commodities (crude oil, iron ore) are down sharply y-o-y, something that has nothing to do with China's domestic economy.
Presumably, those industrial goods that draw heavily on imported commodities (e.g. steel) also see a trend towards lower prices because input prices have plummeted.
(Not really disagreeing with you, just trying to put it into perspective.)