Posts tagged ‘United States’

12/09/2014

Soft power: Confucius says | The Economist

“HARMONY is the most valuable of all things,” said the Chinese philosopher Confucius two and a half millennia ago. There is little of it in evidence in the frosty relationship between the woman who was the founding director of the Confucius Institute at the University of Oregon, Bryna Goodman, and her fellow historian, Glenn May. Their offices are separated by a ten-second walk, but the scholars do not exchange visits. Their palpable ill feeling reflects growing discord among Western scholars about a decade-old push by China to open government-funded cultural centres in schools and universities abroad. Intended to boost China’s “soft power”, the centres take the name of the peace-espousing sage. They tap into growing global demand for Chinese-language teaching. But they are also fuelling anxiety about academic freedom.

In America the Confucius programme has been widely welcomed by universities and school districts, which often do not have enough money to provide Chinese-language teachers for all who need them. But critics like Mr May believe China’s funding comes at a price: that Confucius Institutes (as those established on university campuses are known) and school-based Confucius Classrooms restrain freedom of speech by steering discussion of China away from sensitive subjects.

In June the American Association of University Professors called for universities to end or revise their contracts with Confucius Institutes (America has 100 of them) because they “function as an arm of the Chinese state and are allowed to ignore academic freedom”. Mr May has been asking the University of Oregon to close its institute, to no avail. Ms Goodman (who is no longer the institute’s director) says that in funding its interests China is like any other donor to American universities. She says that the institutes have become lodestones of what she calls a “China fear”.

When China opened its first Confucius Institute in 2004 in Seoul, it hoped the new effort would prove as uncontroversial as cultural-outreach programmes sponsored by Western governments, such as the British Council, the Alliance Française and Germany’s Goethe-Institut. The idea was to counter fears of China’s rise by raising awareness of a culture that is often described by Chinese as steeped in traditions of peace.

Through the Hanban, a government entity, China provides the centres with paid-for instructors and sponsors cultural events at them. Its spending is considerable, and growing rapidly. In 2013 it was $278m, more than six times as much as in 2006. China’s funding for Confucius Institutes amounts to about $100,000-200,000 a year on many campuses, and sometimes more (Oregon received nearly $188,000 in the last academic year). By the end of 2013 China had established 440 institutes and 646 classrooms serving 850,000 registered students. They are scattered across more than 100 countries, with America hosting more than 40% of the combined total. There are plans for another 60 institutes and 350 classrooms to be opened worldwide by the end of 2015.

Chinese officials express satisfaction. In June Liu Yunshan, who is in charge of the Communist Party’s vast propaganda apparatus, said Confucius Institutes had “emerged at the right moment”. He described them as a “spiritual high-speed rail”, promoting friendship by connecting Chinese dreams with those of the rest of the world.

Others are less sanguine, however. In America criticism has recently grown stronger. Earlier this year more than 100 members of the faculty at the University of Chicago complained that Confucius Institutes were compromising academic integrity. In an article published in 2013 by Nation magazine, one of the university’s academics, Marshall Sahlins, listed cases in several countries involving what appeared to be deference to the political sensitivities of Confucius Institutes. These included a couple of occasions when universities had invited the Dalai Lama to speak and then either cancelled the invitation or received him off-campus.

In one case, at North Carolina State University in 2009, the provost said after the cancellation of a Dalai Lama visit that the Confucius Institute had indicated the exiled Tibetan’s presence could cause problems with China. This year Steven Levine, an honorary professor at the University of Montana, wrote to hundreds of Confucius Institutes around the world asking them to mark the 25th anniversary in June of the violent suppression of the Tiananmen Square protests. None of them agreed. Global Times, a Beijing newspaper, recently called the protests of foreign academics “a continuation of McCarthyism”.

Ms Goodman argues that the study of China needs all the funding it can get, even if that means taking money from countries with vital interests at stake—whether China, Taiwan, or the United States. She says that if China were ever to meddle politically in Oregon’s institute, the Confucius programme would be quickly shut down.

Such assurances do not address a big concern of critics—that the political influence of Confucius programmes is often subtle and slow-acting. If the critics are right, it is very subtle indeed. Surveys suggest that in many countries China’s image has not markedly improved over the past decade. The Pew Research Centre, an American polling organisation, says 42% of Americans viewed China favourably in 2007. Last year only 37% did. The political dividends of China’s soft-power spending are far from obvious.

via Soft power: Confucius says | The Economist.

05/09/2014

Australia to sign uranium export deal with India – Businessweek

Australia’s Prime Minister Tony Abbott met with his Indian counterpart Friday on a two-day state visit during which they are expected to sign a deal to allow the export of Australian uranium to India for use in power generation.

The agreement is expected to be signed Friday evening. Australia, which has almost a third of the world’s known uranium reserves, imposes strict conditions on uranium exports and India’s failure to sign the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty had long been a barrier to a trade deal.

Australia and India have been negotiating a nuclear safeguards agreement with verification mechanisms since 2012, when a former Australian government agreed on civil nuclear energy cooperation with India that would eventually allow the export of Australian uranium to the energy-starved South Asian nation.

India faces chronic shortages of electricity and about 65 percent of its installed power generation capacity comes from burning fossil fuels including oil, coal and natural gas. India is eager to expand its nuclear power capacity.

Australia’s decision to sell uranium to India follows a civil nuclear agreement with the United States. The deal with the U.S. was signed in 2008 and allowed Washington to sell nuclear fuel and technology to India without it giving up its military nuclear program.

India is seeking a similar agreement with Japan. The two sides have claimed “significant progress” but failed to reach a last-minute agreement on safeguards sought by Tokyo when the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was in Japan earlier this month.

via Australia to sign uranium export deal with India – Businessweek.

05/09/2014

The U.S. Trade Deficit Shrinks—Except With China – Businessweek

The good news? The overall U.S. trade deficit unexpectedly shrank a bit less than 1 percent in July from June. It was the smallest gap in half a year, and exports broke a record. The bad news? The U.S. deficit in manufacturing set a monthly record, and the deficit in goods traded with China also broke a record.

China Shipping Container Lines containers sit stacked at the Port of Los Angeles in San Pedro, California on April 8

Alan Tonelson, a trade analyst who blogs at RealityChek, dwelt on the negative in an interview today. “There’s no doubt that major barriers to U.S. exports remain,” he said. “China is case in point No. 1. It’s still one of the most protectionist economies in the world.”

Boston Consulting Group has argued in a series of reports that the U.S. has a bright future in manufacturing because the high productivity of American workers makes it an affordable location for production, while China is slowly pricing itself out of the market through rising labor costs. It calls the U.S. a “rising global star.”

But that stardom isn’t showing up yet in the trade data. Says Tonelson of Boston Consulting’s view: “If they’re just premature, they seem wildly premature.”

As reported by the Bureau of Economic Analysis, the overall U.S. trade deficit in both goods and services was $40.5 billion in July—down from June, but up $1.1 billion from a year earlier. The July deficit with China in goods was $30.9 billion, vs. a previous high of $30.6 billion. The overall manufacturing deficit, at $67 billion in July, is running 11 percent ahead of last year’s record pace, Tonelson calculates.

via The U.S. Trade Deficit Shrinks—Except With China – Businessweek.

05/09/2014

U.S. South Draws Global Manufacturers With Low Taxes, Cheap Labor – Businessweek

Just before the recession hit in 2007, Electrolux (ELUXA:SS), the Swedish home-appliance maker, was trying to decide what to do about an aging plant outside Montreal. The building was more than 100 years old and the line of high-end stoves and ovens produced there needed a refresh. The factory’s 1,300 union workers earned around $20 an hour.

Rather than sink more money into the old plant, Electrolux decided to move where it could operate more cheaply. In Europe, it was shifting work from Sweden, England, and Denmark, to Hungary, Poland, and Thailand, where workers are paid less. In North America, Electrolux settled on another low-cost region: the American South.

Alabama, North Carolina, and Tennessee—along with Mexico—all competed for the plant, offering generous incentive packages. The winner was Tennessee, which together with the city of Memphis and Shelby County, assembled an offer that, according to Electrolux, was worth $182 million, including public infrastructure funds, tax breaks, and, crucially, worker training. The company committed $100 million to build the plant. In December 2010, Electrolux announced that a site just eight miles from Graceland would be home to its most advanced factory. “We don’t just grab at every project that comes through here,” says Memphis Mayor A C Wharton Jr. “But this one was particularly appealing.”

Manufacturing is slowly returning to the U.S.—and much of the action has been below the Mason-Dixon line. With its low tax rates and rules that discourage unionization, the South has for decades been seen as business-friendly, which helped the region attract service companies that rely on low-skilled workers, such as call centers and warehouses. Now industries such as autos and aerospace are moving in. According to Southern Business & Development (SB&D) magazine, which tracks commercial projects valued at more than $30 million, manufacturing made up 68 percent of investments announced last year. The number of projects totaled 410, the most in 20 years.

Changing conditions in the oil market and China have a lot to do with manufacturing’s resurgence in the South. In 2001, when China joined the World Trade Organization, the price of oil was $20 a barrel and the hourly manufacturing wage in China’s Yangtze River Delta was 82¢ an hour. Oil is now more than $100 a barrel and workers in the Yangtze make $4.93 an hour. The once enormous manufacturing advantage of the People’s Republic has in some cases vanished.

An April 2014 study by Boston Consulting Group found that the U.S. now ranks second only to China in manufacturing competitiveness among the top 10 exporting countries. Three years ago, BCG Managing Director Harold Sirkin, co-author of the report, forecast that states such as South Carolina, Alabama, and Tennessee would become “among the least expensive production sites in the industrialized world.” That’s especially true for companies making things for sale in the U.S. The South “has become the cheapest place to make things inside the largest economy in the world,” says Michael Randle, publisher of SB&D.

via U.S. South Draws Global Manufacturers With Low Taxes, Cheap Labor – Businessweek.

04/09/2014

Businessman caught in Colombia is China’s first economic fugitive extradited from Latin America | South China Morning Post

A businessman from Zhejiang province, who was arrested in Colombia over allegations he fled the mainland after leaving debts totalling millions of yuan, was repatriated to China yesterday.

a-yiwu.jpg

The case is the first time the mainland has extradited an economic fugitive from a Latin American country, China News Service reported.

The 35-year-old suspect, whose surname was given as Wu, was arrested in Colombia on August 28, it said.

He owned a trading company in Yiwu city and reportedly fled China on a flight from Shanghai‘s Pudong International Airport on September 9, 2012.

He had allegedly left unpaid debts totalling more than four million yuan (more than HK$5 million).

Zhejiang police launched an investigation into Wu about a month later, and order for his arrest was issued in December 2012.

After cooperating with Interpol, Zhejiang police discovered in July that Wu was in Colombia, said Ding Pinglian, of the Zhejiang provincial police bureau.

Four police officers were then sent to Colombia to assist with Wu’s arrest and extradition.

Wu is expected to stand trial in Yiwu, China News Service reported.

A total of 11 people suspected of economic crime have been repatriated since the Ministry of Public Security launched a campaign to return fugitives in July, the report said.

The ministry said last month that more than 150 mainlanders suspected of economic crimes were in the United States, which had become the “top destination” for Chinese fugitives.

via Businessman caught in Colombia is China’s first economic fugitive extradited from Latin America | South China Morning Post.

13/08/2014

China Names U.S. as the Top Destination for ‘Economic Fugitives’ – Businessweek

China’s wealthy elite is fleeing the country for a better quality of life—better education, better air, and greater personal security. China’s Ministry of Public Security has just added a further potential reason: fleeing the police.

“The U.S. has become the top destination for Chinese [economic] fugitives,” Liao Jinrong, a ministry official told state-run China Daily on Monday. According to the English-language newspaper, “More than 150 economic fugitives from China, most of whom are corrupt officials or face allegations of corruption, remain at large in the United States.”

While this is a rather incredible admission, the intent of the article—no doubt placed by China’s propaganda authorities—seems to be to make the case for an extradition treaty between the U.S. and China. “We face practical difficulties in getting fugitives who fled to the US back to face trial due to the lack of an extradition treaty and the complex and lengthy legal procedures,” Liao told the paper.

via China Names U.S. as the Top Destination for ‘Economic Fugitives’ – Businessweek.

30/07/2014

US official vows to expand India trade, investment – Businessweek

The U.S. secretary of commerce has pledged to help expand investment in India’s infrastructure and to promote trade.

Penny Pritzker spoke Wednesday to business leaders in the Indian financial capital, Mumbai.

She said two-way trade has lagged in recent years but has still expanded by fivefold to $96 billion a year since 2000.

via US official vows to expand India trade, investment – Businessweek.

30/07/2014

China’s 1 Percent vs. America’s 1 Percent – Businessweek

A new study by Peking University’s Social Science Research Center pulls back the curtain a bit on China’s überwealthy. The richestpercent of Chinese households control more than a third of the country’s wealth, according to the July 26 study.

Most of that is tied up in real estate. In 2012, the study says, real estate accounted for 70 percent of all household wealth in China. (The bottom quarter of households, tellingly, control just 1 percent of China’s wealth.) The outsize reliance on real estate as an investment vehicle for both individuals and enterprises is troubling, given widespread concerns about a property bubble. In June, apartment prices fell in 55 of China’s 70 largest cities, according to China’s National Bureau of Statistics. In the southeastern city of Hangzhou, property prices dipped 1.7 percent that month.

But how do China’s rich stack up against America’s? The U.S. Internal Revenue Service analyzes income, not household net wealth, and in 2012, America’s richest 1 percent took home 19.3 percent of household income. But incomes rose almost 20 percent for the top 1 percent, whereas they inched up just 1 percent for the bottom 99 percent.

via China’s 1 Percent vs. America’s 1 Percent – Businessweek.

08/07/2014

China to prepare for aging society – China – Chinadaily.com.cn

Ten ministerial-level departments, including the ministries of civil affairs and education, on Monday jointly released a circular calling for the country to prepare for the coming aging society.

Old Couple

Old Couple (Photo credit: AdamCohn)

The circular stressed the importance of building an elder-friendly society as the percentage of the senior population is rising quickly.

China’s aging citizens reached 200 million at the end of 2013 and will account for more than 30 percent of the country’s total population by 2042, according to the circular.

Government agencies and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) should carry out more voluntary services for the elderly and encourage the young generation to be more aware of seniors’ needs and concerns.

The circular also called for accelerating development of industries serving the demands and convenience of the elderly, such as nursing homes and adult education classes, the circular said.

Elderly citizens should not be regarded as burdens but valuable human resources for the sustainable growth of the economy, according to the circular.

The public sector will encourage the elderly to participate in various social activities, such as teaching in schools or helping with scientific research, in order to give them a sense of satisfaction while also promoting social harmony and the economy.

The circular also emphasized establishment of a national elderly care system, strengthening social security for the elderly and improving laws that protect the rights and interests of senior citizens.

via China to prepare for aging society – China – Chinadaily.com.cn.

01/07/2014

India’s potential that of world’s biggest economy: Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg – Financial Express

India, an emerging global economic power, has the potential to become the largest economy in the world, Facebook Chief Operating Officer (COO) Sheryl Sandberg said today.

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg started her career in India in 1981, working with the World Bank on Leprosy.

Sandberg, who served as Chief of Staff for the US Treasury Department under President Bill Clinton, said the over USD 2 trillion Indian economy has immense potential to create jobs and drive growth, especially with its huge base of small and medium businesses (SMBs).

“India has the potential to become the largest economy in the world. And if you look at economic growth, particularly recently, jobs is a very hard situation all over the world. From the US to developing markets, everyone is very concerned about jobs.”

“And majority of the growth, as I understand it, is certainly here, certainly in the US. In most countries, I have visited, SMBs are the way to growth,” she said.

Explaining further, Sandberg, whose previous stint was as Vice President of Global Online Sales and Operations at Google, said “the answer to growth is entrepreneurship”.

“Individuals are creating businesses and employing other people, and in India, the SMB growth is strong. And Internet provides more growth stories to SMBs. People are connecting to people and getting more customers and that’s what leads to economic growth,” she added.

Micro, small and medium businesses contribute nearly eight per cent of India’s GDP, 45 per cent of the manufacturing output and 40 per cent of exports.

The sector is estimated to have given employment to about 595 lakh people in over 261 lakh such enterprises throughout the country.

via India’s potential that of world’s biggest economy: Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg – Financial Express.

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