Archive for ‘Politics’

29/10/2014

China Tries to Track the Corrupt Officials Fleeing Abroad – Businessweek

China’s government estimates that the number of corrupt officials who have moved abroad to sidestep the law and safeguard personal fortunes ranges from 4,000 to 18,000 people. The government charged with corruption nearly 7,000 officials whom it suspected were plotting to flee the country from 2008 to 2013,  according to Cao Jianming, vice president of the Supreme People’s Court.

Cao, the People's Republic of China's top prosecutor and investigator

Government data in an online report from the People’s Daily names the U.S. and Canada as the top destinations–dubbed “corrupt paradises”–for emigrating officials. Records from authorities in Toronto and Vancouver show that Canadian customs officials seized $13 million in undeclared cash from arriving Chinese emigrants and tourists from April 2011 to June 2012.

In July, meanwhile, China launched “Operation Fox Hunt” in an effort to locate and prosecute corrupt officials who have moved abroad. Beijing does not have an extradition treaty with Washington. “We face practical difficulties in getting fugitives who fled to the U.S. back to face trial, due to the lack of an extradition treaty and the complex and lengthy legal procedures,” Liao Jinrong, an official at China’s Ministry of Public Security, earlier told China Daily.

via China Tries to Track the Corrupt Officials Fleeing Abroad – Businessweek.

28/10/2014

Banyan: The enablers | The Economist

NOT since Indira Gandhi has a prime minister of India been as dominant as Narendra Modi. His clout comes from the big electoral victory in May of his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) after a remarkably personalised campaign; from a hyperactive prime minister’s office that makes Mr Modi look presidential; and from an opposition Congress party in tatters. But even the mightiest cannot rule alone, and Mr Modi relies on two old allies, both crucial. One, Amit Shah, engineers the electoral victories that give Mr Modi his authority. The other, Arun Jaitley, must take that authority and out of it craft policies and decisions that will launch the economic recovery which Mr Modi has promised and by which he will be judged. These two men are Mr Modi’s enablers.

Now the BJP’s president, Mr Shah is a master of the dark political arts—indeed, his hooded eyes give him the air of a pantomime villain. He has served Mr Modi for nearly three decades. The pair collaborated in the state of Gujarat, where Mr Modi won three elections and ruled for a dozen years. Mr Shah had charge of ten state ministries, including home affairs.

Long an outsider in the urbane circles of Delhi’s national-level politics, Mr Shah is uncomfortable in English and rarely gives interviews. When he makes an exception, as he did after state-assembly elections this month in which the BJP seized control of Maharashtra and Haryana, he mostly uses the time to extol his boss. Of himself, he says merely: “Sometimes you get more credit than you deserve.” Mr Shah is too modest. He ran both state campaigns, just as he crafted the BJP general-election success in India’s most populous state, Uttar Pradesh (UP). That victory was at the heart of Mr Modi’s national triumph in May.

Mr Modi stirs voters, but the alchemy of Mr Shah, who turned 50 this week, is to convert popularity into power. In UP the BJP’s share of the vote was 42%, compared with Congress’s 7.5%. That translated into 71 out of 80 of the national seats from the vast state, a golden return. Imbalances between vote share and seats are normal in first-past-the-post electoral systems, but achieving victory in India takes more skill and stamina than elsewhere. Mr Shah makes minute analyses of millions-strong constituencies, imposing candidates and recruiting volunteers early, often from the Hindu-nationalist RSS organisation, where he and Mr Modi were once leaders. He tailors messages according to the audience. He has, variously, presented Mr Modi as a bringer of good economic times, a Hindu strongman and a figure of humble caste. Mr Shah has turned Hindus against Muslims (notoriously, he told Hindu Jats in UP to take electoral “revenge” following communal riots in late 2013). But he has also taken advantage of Shia Muslim antipathy towards Sunnis (in Lucknow, UP’s capital). Mr Modi’s campaigning certainly helps. He led 38 rallies in the recent state elections. Congress’s Rahul Gandhi showed up for only ten.

via Banyan: The enablers | The Economist.

28/10/2014

Putin Turns to China as Russia’s Economy Is Weakened by Sanctions – Businessweek

Defying the U.S. and Europe is forcing Russian President Vladimir Putin to aid his biggest rival to the east. To avert a recession, Russia is turning to China for investment, granting it once restricted access to raw materials and advanced weapons, say two people involved in planning Kremlin policy who asked not to be identified discussing internal matters. Russia’s growing dependence on China, with which it spent decades battling for control over global communism, may end up strengthening its neighbor’s position in the Pacific. With the ruble near a record low and foreign investment disappearing, luring Chinese cash also may deepen Russia’s reliance on natural resources and derail efforts to diversify the economy.

“Now that Putin has turned away from the West and toward the East, China is drawing maximum profit from Russian necessity,” says Masha Lipman, an independent political analyst in Moscow who co-authored a study on Putin with former U.S. Ambassador Michael McFaul. China is wasting no time filling the void created by the closing of U.S. and European debt markets to Russia’s largest borrowers. A delegation led by Premier Li Keqiang signed a package of deals on Oct. 13 in Moscow. Among them were an agreement to swap $25 billion in Chinese yuan for Russian rubles over three years, a treaty to protect companies operating in Russia and China from having their profits taxed twice, and cooperation on satellite-navigation systems and high-speed rail. To promote trade, Export-Import Bank of China agreed to provide credit lines to state-owned VTB Group and Vnesheconombank, Russia’s development bank, as well as a trade finance deal with Russian Agricultural Bank.

Russia’s economy is more vulnerable than it’s been since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. Unlike then, Russians are united in support of their leader, and with $455 billion in foreign currency and gold reserves, the country isn’t broke, according to Lipman. “The economy was much worse then, but Russia was in a much better position geopolitically because it had the support of the U.S. and Europe,” she says. Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov didn’t respond to requests for comment.

via Putin Turns to China as Russia’s Economy Is Weakened by Sanctions – Businessweek.

28/10/2014

Britain’s PM David Cameron Unveils Encyclopedia of Hinduism – India Real Time – WSJ

British Prime Minister David Cameron held a Diwali party in London to launch the new Encyclopedia of Hinduism, as his Conservative Party attempts to strengthen relations with the country’s large Indian community ahead of national elections next year.

The encyclopedia, which took 25 years to compile, contains 11 volumes and is published by the India Heritage Research Foundation, a nonprofit founded by Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswati, head of the largest ashram in Rishikesh, a town in northern India.

More than 1,000 guests attended the unveiling of book in Westminster, near the Houses of Parliament. The event was organized by the United Kingdom’s ruling Conservative Party and the Conservative Party Friends of India among others.

Mr. Cameron and his wife Samantha lit a diya, or lamp, at the Diwali party that coincided with the book launch.

Andrew Feldman, chairman of the Conservative Party, said that the book, a product of research by 1,000 scholars, was a “phenomenal achievement.”

“The party wants to deepen and broaden our links with the British Indian community and with India and this event is one important step on our journey,” Lord Feldman said, according to a statement released after the event.

via Britain’s PM David Cameron Unveils Encyclopedia of Hinduism – India Real Time – WSJ.

28/10/2014

Top Chinese prosecutor guarantees protection for whistleblowers | Reuters

China’s top prosecuting body said on Tuesday that whistleblowers who expose corruption and other wrongdoing would receive legal protection against reprisals.

President Xi Jinping has made fighting graft a central theme of his administration, warning that the problem was so severe it could threaten the survival of the ruling Communist Party.

The party is keen to harness the power of the Internet in the fight, although it has been hampered by public suspicion that complaints will be ignored, and also by arrests of and even attacks on online whistleblowers.

A statement on the website of the Supreme People’s Procuratorate said it was clarifying the rights of whistleblowers for the first time through new regulations.

“The ‘regulations governing the work of whistleblowers’ require that when the prosecutor’s office receives a whistleblowing report from someone giving their real name, it has to assess the risks from the whistleblowing and develop whistleblower protection plans when necessary to prevent and end acts of retaliation against the whistleblowers,” the statement said.

The prosecutor also promised to respond quickly to such reports.

Last year, the party’s anti-corruption watchdog, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, set up a new website for whistleblowers.

The government had previously set up a website in 2009 specifically for the reporting of corruption. Authorities have investigated some online accusations and jailed several low-level officials.

It is unclear how many tips the site has received in recent months. From 2008 to 2012 the commission said it received 301,000 whistleblowing reports online.

via Top Chinese prosecutor guarantees protection for whistleblowers | Reuters.

28/10/2014

Talks gather pace on sale of Indian patrol vessels to Vietnam | Reuters

Talks are gathering pace on the sale of Indian naval patrol vessels to Vietnam, an Indian official said, the first significant military transfer to Hanoi as it improves its defences in the South China Sea where it is embroiled in a territorial dispute with China.

Vietnam's Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung (C) shakes hands with his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi (R) as Dung's wife Tran Thanh Kien looks on during Dung's ceremonial reception at the forecourt of Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi October 28, 2014.  REUTERS/Adnan Abidi

The four patrol ships will be provided to Vietnam under a $100 million defence credit line and represent a push by the nationalist government in New Delhi to counter Beijing’s influence in South Asia by deepening ties with old ally Vietnam.

Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung held talks with counterpart Narendra Modi on Tuesday, the first meeting since the Indian leader took office in May, promising to turn the country into an economic and military power.

An Indian government official said negotiations for the patrol craft had gathered pace since the credit line was announced last month during the visit of India’s president to Vietnam.

“We expect to see progress on this fairly early as negotiations are continuing between the Vietnamese and our defence suppliers,” the government official involved in discussions said.

Vietnam wants the craft for surveillance off its coast and around its military bases in the Spratly island chain in the South China Sea where it is building a credible naval deterrent to China with Kilo-class submarines from Russia.

Claims by an increasingly assertive China over most of the energy-rich sea have set it directly against U.S. allies Vietnam and the Philippines. Brunei, Taiwan and Malaysia also claim parts of the waters.

Beijing’s placement of an oil rig in disputed waters earlier this year infuriated Vietnam but the coastguard vessels it dispatched to the platform were each time chased off by larger Chinese boats.

Since then, the two sides have sought to repair ties and on Monday, top officials agreed to use an existing border dispute mechanism to find a solution to the territorial dispute.

Dung said Vietnamese defence cooperation with India was the pillar of their strategic partnership.

via Talks gather pace on sale of Indian patrol vessels to Vietnam | Reuters.

27/10/2014

China considers abolishing death penalty for nine crimes | Reuters

China is considering trimming nine crimes from the list of offences punishable by death, state media said on Monday, as the ruling Communist Party considers broader reforms to the country’s legal system.

Rights groups say China uses capital punishment more than any other country, raising public concern of irreversible miscarriages of justice.

A draft amendment to China’s criminal law, which includes the use of the death penalty, was submitted for initial review to the country’s National People’s Congress, the official Xinhua news agency said.

Crimes that would be exempt from capital punishment under the amendment include “smuggling weapons, ammunition, nuclear materials or counterfeit currencies; counterfeiting currencies; raising funds by means of fraud; and arranging for or forcing another person to engage in prostitution”, Xinhua said.

The crimes of “obstructing a commander or a person on duty from performing his duties” and “fabricating rumors to mislead others during wartime”, are also under review, the news agency said.

Officials had previously said that China would review the application of the death penalty, which applies to 55 offences, including fraud and illegal money-lending.

China guards the number of people executed every year as state secrets.

The San Francisco-based Dui Hua Foundation, which seeks the release of political prisoners in China, estimated that 2,400 people were executed in 2013. By comparison, 39 people were executed in 2013 in the United States, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.

The reduction in death penalty crimes, however, is not expected to greatly reduce the number of executions per year, scholars have said.

The Communist Party, worried about rising social unrest and anger over land grabs, corruption and pollution unveiled legal reforms aimed at improving judicial independence at a key meeting last week.

The Party has stressed that it will remain in overall control of the judiciary, and despite the move to implement legal reforms, few analysts expect significant political change any time soon.

via China considers abolishing death penalty for nine crimes | Reuters.

21/10/2014

India’s Narendra Modi to Star at Sydney’s Allphones Arena – India Real Time – WSJ

Since becoming prime minister, Narendra Modi has performed in New York’s storied Madison Square Garden  and played drums on stage in Japan.

His next big-ticket venue: Sydney’s Allphones Arena this November.

Mr. Modi will address what is expected to be a sell-out crowd at the 21,000-seat venue in Australia’s financial and commercial capital on Nov. 17 during his four-day trip to the country for the G20 summit in Brisbane.

Organizers say it will eclipse the prime minister’s biggest gig so far, when he spoke to a crowd of 18,000 people, mostly Indian-Americans, at Madison Square Garden on Sept. 28.

“This will be bigger and better,” said Balesh Singh Dhankhar one of the organizers of the reception for Mr. Modi. The Allphones Arena, built for the 2000 Olympics,  “has more grandeur” than Madison Square Garden, he added.

The stadium in Manhattan is famous for hosting some of the biggest names in entertainment, like the Beatles, Bruce Springsteen and “The Fight of the Century” between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier.

The Allphone Arena also hosts musical acts and boxing matches. In the same month as Mr. Modi’s visit, The Rolling Stones and Katy Perry will play the arena and an Ultimate Fighting Championship event will take place there.

Australia is home to around 350,000 people who were born in India, according to the latest census data from 2011. That was a 90% increase on the number recorded in the census in 2006, but a tenth the size of the Indian-American community in the United States.

After Mr. Modi’s speech in New York, people in Australia began asking when he would come here, said Mr. Dhankhar, a spokesman for the Indian Australian Community Foundation that is helping put on the event that was conceived only three weeks ago.

Some 14,000 people have registered in the first two and a half days of registration, according to the organizers. It will be broadcast live on Indian television channels.

“We invited Mr. Modi and said the Indian diaspora in Australia is very eager to see him,” Mr. Dhankhar added.

Tickets for the Sydney event are free and the show will start around 5.30p.m., but further details of the spectacle are under wraps right now, Mr. Dhankhar said. “There are a number of cultural and exciting events before the speech that would be a surprise for the audience in India and Australia. These will be wider and more surprising that at Madison Square Gardens.”

via India’s Narendra Modi to Star at Sydney’s Allphones Arena – India Real Time – WSJ.

21/10/2014

China likely to close ‘gift’ loophole in corruption fight | Reuters

China’s largely rubber stamp parliament is likely to close a loophole when it meets next week to ban officials from getting around corruption allegations by claiming money received was simply a gift, a state-run newspaper said on Tuesday.

Currently, officials can defend themselves from accusations of receiving bribes by saying money or other goods received, like luxury watches or bags, were just a present from a friend, the official China Daily reported.

It is only considered a crime if a link can be made to some sort of abuse of power, it said.

President Xi Jinping has launched a sweeping campaign against deep-seated graft since assuming office last year, warning, like others before him, that the Communist Party’s very survival is at stake.

Xi has vowed to take down high-flying “tigers” as well as lowly “flies” in an anti-graft campaign that has felled Zhou Yongkang, once the powerful domestic security tsar, as well as Jiang Jiemin, the former top regulator of state-owned firms.

The gift rules will probably be changed at a regular meeting of the National People’s Congress opening on Oct. 27, the newspaper said.

“The draft is likely to deem that accepting gifts or money of a considerable amount would be punishable for all government officials,” it added.

“The draft proposal will discuss the possibility of handing down punishment to public servants for accepting goods or money of a certain amount without a direct link to misconduct.”

The amendment is almost certain to be approved as state media generally does not flag such changes if they are not going to be passed.

Under the present system, gifts are meant to be handed over to the government within a month of being received, and some provinces have even set up special bank accounts to handle such money, the newspaper said.

via China likely to close ‘gift’ loophole in corruption fight | Reuters.

21/10/2014

China’s reform tally since November 2013 policy meeting | Reuters

China’s leadership unveiled a blueprint for some of the most comprehensive economic and social reforms in nearly 30 years in November 2013.

Implementation since then has been slow but steady. China has eschewed riskier, game-changing reform but the incremental steps aim to reach enough critical mass to sustain momentum and help the world’s second-largest economy shift down fairly smoothly after decades of investment-fueled growth.

The following are some of the significant steps taken since the Communist Party Central Committee’s Nov 9-12 policy conclave:

OCTOBER, 2014

Oct 16 – The top economic planner is considering tightening rules for bond issues, according to traders and a leaked document.

Oct 11 – The State Council says it will institute a resource tax on coal while eliminating other taxes to simplify the tax structure.

Oct 9 – China levies tariffs on coal imports in a move to reduce the country’s dependence on the polluting energy source.

SEPTEMBER, 2014

Sept 9 – Domestic firms in many areas no longer require government approval to invest overseas but must register their investments with authorities starting Oct 6.

Sept 1 – The budget law is revised to allow local governments to issue bonds directly.

AUGUST, 2014

Aug 29 – The Politburo approves salary cuts for top officials at big state-owned firms to counter graft and income inequality.

Aug 26 – China cuts on-grid prices of thermal electricity from Sept. 1 to reflect a fall in coal prices.

Aug 20 – The government cuts taxes on high-tech companies, abolishes the need for firms to seek approvals in 68 further areas and additionally allows lower levels of government to approve business projects in 19 other areas.

Aug 15 – China eliminates 21 approval processes for a list of industries and lower levels of government are given the right to approve certain projects in an effort to cut red tape.

Aug 12 – China will raise natural gas prices for bulk buyers and non-residential use from Sept. 1 in an effort to reform pricing.

Aug 4 – Foreign firms in China are allowed to use their registered capital to buy stakes in other Chinese companies.

JULY, 2014

July 15 – The state-owned enterprise regulator chooses six state firms to test out reforms expanding the role of private capital in China’s state sector.

July 14 – China loosens currency controls to make it easier for domestic companies and individuals to set up special purpose vehicles (SPVs) for investments overseas.

July 2 – Banks are allowed to set their own exchange rates for the yuan against the dollar in over-the-counter deals with clients.

JUNE, 2014

June 27 – Regulators lower the threshold for banks to enter the foreign exchange market and removes a layer of approvals.

June 25 – China gives the greenlight to three banks wholly funded with capital from private firms, to be the country’s first private lenders.

MAY, 2014

May 21 – The experiment for China’s first municipal bond market is launched.

May 21 – Private firms are invited to invest in 80 major projects in the energy, information and infrastructure sectors.

May 16 – Financial regulators tighten oversight of interbank loans.

May 16 – China sets up international energy trading center where crude oil futures will be traded for the first time.

May 15 – Securities firms get the go-ahead to expand into new businesses such as the online financial services market.

May 6 – State-owned enterprises to increase dividend payouts by 5 percentage points to up to 25 percent of their profits.

APRIL, 2014

April 23 – Premier Li Keqiang says China will allow private investment in 80 projects in energy, information and infrastructure.

April 22 – Changes to the environmental law seeking stiffer penalties for polluters submitted to parliament.

April 11 – Chinese firms can invest up to $1 billion overseas without seeking approval, China’s top planner says.

April 10 – China allows cross-border stock investment between Shanghai and Hong Kong.

April 9 – The government relaxes price controls over non-public hospital services.

April 2 – The government says will fast-track some spending and cut taxes for small firms, as a way of supporting the weakening economy.

MARCH, 2014

March 31 – Britain and China sign an agreement to set up a clearing service for offshore yuan trading in London. That follows a similar agreement with Germany.

March 24 – China simplifies review procedures for mergers and acquisitions.

March 21 – The securities regulator issues rules for a pilot program allowing listed companies to issue preferred shares.

March 20 – The foreign exchange regulator relaxes curbs on foreign investment in China’s stock market.

March 20 – PetroChina, China’s biggest oil and gas producer, is welcoming private investment into oil and gas pipelines in China, according to chairman Zhou Jiping.

March 20 – China lifts ban on equity financing for listed property developers after four years.

March 16 – China sets 2020 targets for urban population growth and registered urban residents.

March 15 – The central bank doubles the yuan currency’s daily trading band against the dollar.

March 11 – Central bank governor Zhou Xiaochuan says China’s deposit rates should be liberalized in one to two years.

March 11 – Development of 3-5 privately-owned banks to be tested in Tianjin, Shanghai, Zhejiang and Guangdong, bank regulator says.

March 11 – The cabinet outlines its healthcare reform plan.

March 7 – Loss-making solar equipment maker misses interest payment in China’s first domestic bond default.

March 5 – Premier Li Keqiang promises to wage a “war” on pollution and reduce the pace of investment to a decade-low.

March 1 -Simplified corporate capital registration comes into force. Government data later show 309,500 new firms were registered in March, up 46 percent from a year earlier.

FEBRUARY, 2014

Feb 26 – Beijing details pension reform that seeks to decrease urban-rural economic divisions before 2020.

Feb 21 – The central bank gives operational details for cross-border yuan deals made through Shanghai free trade zone.

Feb 20 – Sinopec Corp, Asia’s largest oil refiner, says it will sell up to 30 percent of its retail business to private investors in a multi-billion dollar revamp.

JANUARY, 2014

Jan 29 – The cabinet sets up a cross-ministry group to boost development of three service zones in Guangdong province.

Jan 22 – Six teams to supervise economic reforms are set up, with President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang in charge.

Jan 17 – China’s wealthy eastern province of Zhejiang became the first to implement changes to the one-child policy.

Jan 6 – The cabinet publishes guidelines strengthening regulation of off-balance lending.

DECEMBER, 2013

Dec 11 – Beijing strips 82 powers away from central government ministries. Over 200 administrative approvals are set to be abolished or delegated to local authorities in 2014.

Dec 10 – New standards on performance ratings of officials break the obsession with growth and include such criteria as work safety, innovation, environmental and resource costs.

Dec 8 – The central bank sets guidelines for issuing of interbank certificates of deposit, a step towards allowing markets to determine interest rates.

Dec 4 – The government expands its value-added tax trial to rail transport and the postal service.

Dec 4 – The central bank announces details of financial reform test runs in the Shanghai free trade zone.

NOVEMBER, 2013

Nov 30 – The stock market regulator announces IPO reforms.

Nov 12 – Anhui province, which spearheaded land reform in 1978 announces pilot land reforms, including accelerating the development of large-scale farming, completing land use rights registration before end-2015 and simplifying land transactions.

via Factbox: China’s reform tally since November 2013 policy meeting | Reuters.

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