25/02/2017

Room to grow: India’s hostels for the upwardly mobile | The Economist

IF SEVERAL hundred million Indians do migrate from the countryside to cities between now and 2050, as the UN expects, it will be a fiendishly busy few decades for Vivek Aher, who runs a low-cost hostel, one of five, on the outskirts of Pune, a well-off city three hours’ drive from Mumbai.

A fair few of the new arrivals will have their first experience of urban living bunking in one of the hostels’ 1,350 beds. Should recent experience be anything to go by, most of the new arrivals will test Mr Aher’s patience by tacking posters on his hostel’s walls, or endlessly complaining about the Wi-Fi.

India has two main drags on economic growth. One is the difficulty of finding a job, especially in the places people live. The other is a chronic shortage of cheap housing. Aarusha Homes, Mr Aher’s employer, started in 2007 to help people seize economic opportunities far from home. Its rooms are basic and cheap. They include up to six beds, a bathroom for every three or four residents, some common areas and little else. Rent ranges between 3,500 and 10,000 rupees ($52-$149) a month including food.

Most of Aarusha’s tenants are young, many of them taking first steps into the middle-class as IT or business-processing outsourcing professionals. Paying up to six months’ deposit for a city flat is beyond their means, as is the down payment for a motorbike that would allow them to live far from their employer. Aarusha’s successful pitch is that its hostels are safer than slums or informal “guest houses”, especially for women. It now has 4,300 beds in 1,300 rooms spread out over 20 hostels in four cities. The typical tenant stays for six months. Satyanarayana Vejella, the firm’s co-founder, plans to raise another $10m to increase capacity by 12,000 beds in nearly 70 new hostels, all in the next two years. Operating-profit margins are in the mid-teens.

The chain’s backers include investment funds who seek social as well as financial returns. The latter would be improved if the chain dodged taxes by operating in the informal economy, like much of its competition, but it sticks to the formal side. The problems it faces are those confronted by any Hilton or Hyatt: finding properties big enough to offer over 100 beds is hard. Tenants have to be chased for payments. An attempt to cater to blue-collar workers at an even lower price didn’t work out. So Aarusha is reliant on the IT and outsourcing sectors, which are hiring less eagerly than before.Aarusha can probably depend on continuing strong demand for a room from which to make sense of it all before people can get their own places. The hostels have something of a communal feel, and parents find them reassuring because residents put up with not being able to drink, smoke, or mingle with the opposite sex. Soon enough, they will have moved on, taking their aspirations and their posters with them.

Source: Room to grow: India’s hostels for the upwardly mobile | The Economist

24/02/2017

The missing middle: Women in South Asian politics have not empowered women | The Economist

ON THE Indian subcontinent, as in no other part of the world, women have risen to the pinnacle of politics. Indira Gandhi of India, Benazir Bhutto of Pakistan and Aung San Suu Kyi of Myanmar are all famous names. Less well known is that Sri Lanka was the first country ever to elect a woman prime minister, or that it has also had a female president. For 22 of the past 25 years Bangladesh, a largely Muslim country with more people than France and Germany combined, has been led by a woman. And the chief ministers of numerous country-sized Indian states, from West Bengal in the east to Tamil Nadu in the south, have also been women.

India’s democracy is not pretty; these are the winners of bare-knuckle contests.

Yet for all such headline-grabbing successes, the fine print tells a different story. Although there has been steady progress in such things as stamping out female infanticide and spreading women’s education, statistics continue to reveal a stark sex divide. At 27%, the share of Indian women who work, for instance, is less than half the level in China or Brazil (and also in neighbouring Bangladesh, although slightly higher than in Pakistan). In 2012 a household survey found that four-fifths of Indian women needed their husband’s or family’s permission to visit a local clinic. A third said they would not be able to go alone. More than half also said they could not visit a shop, or even a friend, without someone else’s approval. For many, the very idea of going out was alarming: 70% said they would feel unsafe working away from home, and 52% thought it normal for a husband to beat his wife if she ventured out without telling him. In November, following a shock government move to scrap higher-denomination banknotes, a domestic violence hotline in the city of Bhopal in central India registered a doubling of calls, largely from women whose spouses had discovered they had secretly been saving cash.

On your bike

For wealthy and middle-class Indian women, freedoms have steadily grown: Anubha Bhonsle, a television anchor, recalls the strangeness of being the sole female driver of a motor scooter on many streets when she started commuting 15 years ago. “No one would give a second glance now,” she says. Yet in many professions women remain rarities. Barely 10% of the 700 judges in India’s higher courts are female, and only 17% of the 5,000 officers in the Indian Administrative Service, the elite corps of bureaucrats that runs the country.

Women are scarce even in politics. In the lower house of India’s parliament only 12% of MPs are women. State legislatures are similarly male. True, women’s share of seats has risen, but slowly: 50 years ago the proportion of women in the lower house was 6%.

It is only in village and district councils that women hold much sway, but this is partly due to laws that assign either a third or half of seats to female candidates. Earlier this month tribesmen objecting to efforts to impose a women’s quota in local elections rioted in Nagaland, a state on the border with Myanmar that is one of the few exceptions to such rules. Naga men insist that local custom precludes female village chiefs.

Such troubles reveal one cause of slow progress to sexual equality: Indian politicians have generally found it more rewarding to cater to subgroups defined by caste, religion, ethnicity, language or local grievance, rather than to broader categories such as women. This is equally true of female politicians, and of regional leaders less constrained by democracy. Sheikh Hasina, the current, iron-fisted prime minister of Bangladesh, has recently moved to reduce the legal age of marriage from 18 to 16. Given that child marriage is already common, especially in the impoverished countryside, women’s-rights activists are upset. But analysts explain that apa, or “big sister”, who has hounded opposition parties including Islamists, is looking for ways to deflect conservative anger. In order to succeed female politicians in the region often make a point of acting tough. Mamata Banerjee, the diminutive but formidable chief minister of West Bengal, once dragged a male colleague out of the well of parliament by the collar when she was an MP in Delhi. Like Sheikh Hasina and Mayawati, a former chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, as well as Jayalalithaa, a recently deceased former film star and long-serving chief minister of Tamil Nadu, Ms Banerjee has carefully repressed her sexuality. These women are ostentatiously “married” to their cause or their party.

Such care is understandable. Male rivals have not shied from using sex to malign female politicians. One party leader in Uttar Pradesh lost his job for accusing Mayawati, who comes from a downtrodden caste, of “selling tickets like a prostitute”. A colleague went further against Sonia Gandhi, the leader of the opposition Congress party. Absurdly, he accused the head of the Gandhi dynasty of having worked for a Pakistani escort agency.

With so many obstacles blocking the path to power, it is hardly surprising that so many of the region’s successful female politicians got a head start. Amrita Basu of Amherst College finds that more than half of India’s female MPs in the past decade had family members who preceded them in politics. Quite often such dynastic links have been dramatic. Ms Suu Kyi in Myanmar and Sheikh Hasina are both daughters of slain independence heroes. Sonia Gandhi and Khaleda Zia, a former Bangladeshi prime minister and bitter rival to Sheikh Hasina, are both widows of assassinated leaders. Both Jayalalithaa and Mayawati entered politics as devoted lieutenants to charismatic, populist politicians; in Jayalalithaa’s case her mentor also played the lead in many of her films.

For women to play a more normal political role in the subcontinent, perhaps it is in films, and in popular culture in general, that change needs to happen first. All too often on the region’s screens, actresses who are paid a fraction of what male stars get portray women who lack agency in their lives. There is, though, an inkling of change. This season’s blockbuster and already the highest-earning film in Bollywood history, “Dangal”, tells the heart-warming story of sisters who become champions in the male-dominated sport of wrestling. Yet the main hero is not one of the girls, but the father, a former wrestler, who bends them to his will.

Source: The missing middle: Women in South Asian politics have not empowered women | The Economist

24/02/2017

Shock and ore: Furious with North Korea, China stops buying its coal | The Economist

FEW television dramas boast a plot as far-fetched as the one that has unfolded in North-East Asian geopolitics over the past two weeks. Days after North Korea tested a ballistic missile on February 12th, two women assassinated the half-brother of Kim Jong Un, North Korea’s leader, by throwing chemicals in his face at a Malaysian airport. The alleged killers said they were duped into taking part, believing the attack was a prank for a TV comedy. Malaysian police suspect that a North Korean diplomat in Malaysia may have been among the organisers, several of whom are thought to have fled to Pyongyang.

Amid such skulduggery, China’s announcement on February 18th that it would suspend imports of coal from North Korea, from the next day to the end of this year, seemed a little mundane. But China’s state-controlled media played up the decision. Global Times, a newspaper in Beijing, said the move would make it harder for North Korea to exploit international differences over the imposition of UN sanctions aimed at curtailing its nuclear programme. China appeared to be signalling to the world that it was ratcheting up pressure on its troublesome friend, as the Americans have long insisted it should.

Or it may just be posturing. On February 21st China’s foreign ministry softened the message somewhat. It said imports were being suspended because China had already bought as much coal from North Korea this year as it was allowed to under the UN’s sanctions, to which China gave its approval last March. But North Korea-watchers doubt that China could have imported its yearly quota of 7.5m tonnes in a mere six weeks. It had not appeared likely to reach its annual limit until April or May. And exceeding that cap had not been expected to matter much to China. In 2016 it imported about three times the permitted amount, using a loophole that allows trade if it helps the “livelihood” of ordinary North Koreans.

Advancing the date of the suspension, if that is what happened, would certainly have sent a strong message to North Korea, which depends on coal exports for much of its foreign currency. Announcing the move so publicly, and unexpectedly, will have shown to North Korea that China is ready to take the initiative instead of waiting to be prodded by America, as it usually does when North Korea offends.

The test of an intermediate-range missile will have rattled China. It suggested that North Korea has learned how to fire such weapons at short notice, from hard-to-detect mobile launchers. The murder of Kim Jong Nam may have been an even bigger blow. Mr Kim had been living on Chinese soil in the gambling enclave of Macau, probably under Chinese government protection. Some Chinese officials may have hoped that Mr Kim, who favours economic opening, would one day replace his half-brother. With his death “you lose one option”, says Jia Qingguo of Peking University. It has reminded China that North Korea’s dictator is doggedly determined to rule in his own way, regardless of China’s or anyone else’s views.

Growing frustration with North Korea is evident in China’s more relaxed attitude towards criticism of its neighbour. In 2013 an editor of a Communist Party-controlled publication was fired for arguing in an article that “China should abandon North Korea.” These days, academics often air that idea. Debate about North Korea now rages openly online, largely uncensored (except when people use it as a way of attacking their own regime, jokingly referred to as “West Korea”). The murder of Kim Jong Nam unleashed a torrent of ridicule towards his country by Chinese netizens. China still sees North Korea as a useful buffer against America’s army deployed in the South. But it increasingly regards the North as a liability as well, says Mr Jia.In America’s court?

China would clearly like its tough-sounding approach to encourage President Donald Trump to rethink his country’s strategy for dealing with North Korea. America has been reluctant to enter direct talks because the North has blatantly cheated on past deals—knowing that China would continue to prop it up. With China more clearly on America’s side, the Americans would have greater confidence, Chinese officials hope. Mr Trump has previously said he would be happy to have a hamburger with Mr Kim and try to persuade him to give up his nukes. The trouble is, Mr Kim sees those weapons as the one thing that guarantees the survival of his odious regime.

Source: Shock and ore: Furious with North Korea, China stops buying its coal | The Economist

24/02/2017

Could China’s Trump tactics actually be working? – BBC News

It’s been a month and adjusting to Donald Trump as US president has been an enormous challenge for China, as for many around the world.

He arrived in office full of provocative and unpredictable messaging on China, but Beijing needs American goodwill, markets and technology to build what it calls its “comprehensive strength”.

That a functioning relationship with the United States is a core strategic interest for China may seem obvious, but it bears repeating.

For the time being at least Mr Trump seems to have stopped insulting and threatening China and key players in his administration are now making nice on the telephone.

So what were China’s tactics and how did it make them work?

1. Cultivate family, cultivate friends

Beijing quickly understood that President Trump would not run an administration like that of his predecessors.

Mr Trump is an elephant in a China shop for the makers of this float in Germany

It noted the importance of family.

Before Mr Trump himself or senior members of his administration talked to key players in China, and while China’s internet was full of mutterings about why Mr Trump had delivered no goodwill message over Chinese New Year, Beijing’s man in Washington, Ambassador Cui Tiankai, deftly reached out to President Trump’s daughter Ivanka.

She bridged the official divide with a well-publicised appearance at a Chinese New Year function at Beijing’s embassy in Washington.

Ivanka’s husband Jared Kushner also has lines of communication to Beijing through his Chinese business partners.

And President Trump’s other daughter Tiffany made a point of sitting in the front row of the New York Fashion Week show of Chinese designer Taoray Wang.

Ms Wang and Tiffany Trump have praised each another

To bolster this network of unofficial connections, China’s best known private entrepreneur Jack Ma, met Mr Trump and promised to create a million American jobs through selling US products on his Alibaba e-commerce platforms.

Even private companies in China have Communist Party cells and are required to do Beijing’s bidding when it comes to matters of strategic national interest.

Jack Ma was on mission and on message. As were the 100 firms which sponsored a Chinese New Year greeting message to Mr Trump on a Times Square billboard in New York.

2. Bring gifts

Mr Trump’s controversial business empire has multiple trademark cases languishing in Chinese courts.

Beijing makes no bones about the fact that its courts are answerable to the Communist Party.

It was an easy act of goodwill to speed through a trademark registration for construction services that Mr Trump had sought for a decade, especially as the move was consistent with a wider move against businesses which jump on the names of public figures as trademarks.

After years of wrangling, Chinese courts awarded Mr Trump valuable commercial rights to his name

In the Trump case, the necessary moves were made quickly and without fanfare last autumn, and the case closed with a victory for Mr Trump last week.

3. Speak softly until you need to speak loud

China is often quick to thunder against hostile foreign forces and accuse foreign governments of hurting the feelings of the Chinese people.Donald Trump offered provocations which would bring down retribution on a lesser foe.

Throughout his presidential campaign he insulted and threatened China, calling it a thief and a rapist on trade and challenging its dearest held positions on Taiwan. Officials also warned of a tougher approach in the South China Sea.

But throughout, Beijing has shown iron self-discipline and restraint.

China claims almost all the South China Sea, a position the US rejects

China’s official news agency Xinhua noted of Mr Trump: “He will soon realise that leaders of the two countries must use more mature and effective ways to communicate than trading barbs via Twitter.”

Since Mr Trump’s election in November, China’s media has been on a tight leash, ordered to use Xinhua’s bland wording in its coverage of the US.

4. Don’t speak until the script is agreed

Unlike other world leaders, President Xi was conspicuously slow to pick up the phone.

Observing the fallout of President Trump’s calls with Mexican and Australian leaders, Beijing was determined to avoid the risk of an undiplomatic incident.

By hanging back till the administration’s “grown ups” like Defence Secretary James Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson were in the room (figuratively and in some cases literally) China ensured it got the script it wanted.

The two leaders did not speak until long after many other leaders had called Mr TrumpWhen the phone call between President Trump and President Xi finally took place, Beijing won a new US commitment to the cherished One China policy and a dignified encounter.

President Xi emerged with his reputation as a firm and patient actor enhanced. President Trump had talked of staking out a new position on Taiwan – but stepped back.

5. Sweet talk where it pays

Since that call, the lines between Beijing and Washington DC have been humming.

Newly confirmed US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin has talked to several key Chinese players on economic policy. Mr Tillerson has met his opposite number, Wang Yi, and senior diplomat Yang Jiechi.

Beijing has begun to talk of implementing “the consensus reached between President Xi and President Trump” – a relationship featuring “no conflict, no confrontation, mutual respect and win-win co-operation”.

6. Give what you can

In practical terms, China knows that win-win will mean delivering concessions and co-operation wherever it can. And it has already shown willing in one area of US concern, with the suspension of coal imports from North Korea.

North Korean labourers work beside the Yalu River at the North Korean town of Sinuiju on 8 February 2013 which is close to the Chinese city of Dandong.Image copyrightAFP
Image captionBy suspending coal imports, China has put pressure on Pyongyang

Of course, Beijing said this decision was a technicality based on quotas.

But given the provocation of Pyongyang’s latest missile test and growing American concern over the advances of North Korea’s nuclear programme, this is much more likely to have resulted from a careful Chinese calculation of what carrots it could flourish in the direction of Donald Trump and what sticks it could brandish at Kim Jong-un.

7. Turn your opponent’s weakness into your strength

On the global stage, President Xi has usefully presented himself as not Donald Trump.

At the World Economic Forum in Davos, he famously championed globalisation and free trade.

Of course, China is not a paragon of free trade, with a highly protected domestic market. But in a world of “alternative facts”, the rhetoric is powerful.

On the regional stage, China is promoting itself as a leader on multilateral trade, assiduously taking advantage of the US withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) deal, which was intended to underpin American economic leadership in Asia Pacific.

Delegates hold anti-TPP signs at the Democratic Party's convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 25 July 2016Image copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionAlthough the TPP excluded China, it had opponents across the political spectrum in the US

And on the Chinese political stage, Mr Trump is indirectly doing Mr Xi’s work for him.

The Communist Party sometimes struggles to defend one-party authoritarian rule against the glamour and appeal of a free, open and democratic America. But the scenes of American street protest and visa chaos from President Trump’s first month in office are a propaganda gift.

An American president joining China’s state-controlled media in railing against what he calls fake, failing, dishonest US journalists is a second propaganda gift. Beijing has made extensive use of both for its political purposes at home.

Tactics that worked

Beijing will be well satisfied with its performance so far. But this is a multi-player multi-dimensional game with many dangers and traps over the long term.

It has done a good job of neutralising the risks and exploiting the opportunities of President Trump’s first month in office.

Round One to China. There are innumerable rounds still to come.

Source: Could China’s Trump tactics actually be working? – BBC News

Tags:
24/02/2017

“Kung Fu Grandma” Practices Chinese Martial Arts for Nine Decades – YouTube

Don’t let Zhang Hexian’s age fool you as the 94-year-old has a particular set of skills that make her a nightmare for thugs anywhere. The resident of Ninghai County in east China’s Zhejiang Province has been practicing Chinese martial arts since she was four and through the years she has refined her skills with great diligence and effort to become affectionately known as “Kung Fu Grandma”.

Regarded as “the village of martial arts,” nearly everyone in the village where Zhang lives practices kung fu. As the eighth descendant of her family, Zhang learned kung fu under her father’s instruction at the age of four and has continued to practice throughout nine decades. “My dad took me to sleep at that time. When we woke up in the morning, we started practicing kung fu in bed. I learned basic martial arts skills such as pushing palm and throwing a punch at an early age,” said Zhang Hexian.

Practicing kung fu has become a daily routine in Zhang’s life. Every morning, Zhang does kung fu exercises without feeling tired. Apparently she is in good health. “She wakes up very early and does physical exercises every morning. She usually runs around the village for morning exercise,”said Zhang’s son Feng Chuanyin.

Zhang recalled that she once fought against a bully when she was young. The bully was beating his wife when Zhang saw him. To uphold justice, Zhang grabbed his collar, ripped his shirt off and urged him to behave well. Apart from being a deterrent to hooligans and ruffians, Zhang is also a warm-hearted woman willing to help others, which is one of the secrets of her longevity. “She always has a good mood with a positive attitude. Helping others is also good for her health,” said Feng.

More on: http://www.cctvplus.com/news/20170215…

Tags:
24/02/2017

Dancing noodle vendor is China’s latest celebrity chef | South China Morning Post

A chef in southwest China became an instant celebrity after a video of him dancing while making noodles became an online sensation during the Lunar New Year holiday, according to a newspaper report.

Tian Bo, 31, was an ordinary cook of a noodle restaurant in Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province, before he began to sway his body with coquettish look when making noodles to attract more customers, the West China City Daily reported.His signature dish, “longevity noodle,” comprises just one noodle long enough to fill a bowl and is a specialty in the historic town of Huanglongxi.

Tian told the Daily that he resorted to dancing while serving noodles in March last year when the restaurant was almost deserted and he was under enormous pressure. He fine-tuned his performance, adding pop music and coyish facial expressions.

Spinning, jumping and waving the noodles in his hand, Tian leers at the onlookers from time to time, according to the video circulated online.

After the video of his noodle performance made headlines online, his fortunes changed. Tourists arrived in town to seek him out and some even offered his a job with better pay.

Tian said he was merely acting at the restaurant and was not flirtatious in real life. He said he would stay at the restaurant for the time being but hoped to start his own noodle shop one day.

His video got mixed reviews on social media. “He is so tantalising. I just stared at the little brother and did not think about the noodles, ” said one Weibo blogger.

Said another: “I’ve seen him and I think he works too hard. He must get so tired from dancing and making noodles for long time.”

Source: Dancing noodle vendor is China’s latest celebrity chef | South China Morning Post

Tags:
23/02/2017

Wayne Rooney: Man Utd captain’s agent in China to discuss potential move – BBC Sport

Wayne Rooney’s agent Paul Stretford is in China to see if he can negotiate a deal for the forward to leave Manchester United.

There are no guarantees of success and it is thought a deal remains highly unlikely before the Chinese transfer window closes on 28 February.

But the fact Stretford has travelled to China is a clear indication United boss Jose Mourinho would let Rooney, 31, go.

And if he does not leave this month it seems certain he will go in the summer.Rooney has fallen down the pecking order at United under Mourinho.

Rooney should stay – Phil Neville

Mourinho not ruling out Rooney exit

Would a China move work for Rooney?

The England captain has been made aware of interest in him from the Chinese Super League for some time, although it is not known which clubs Stretford has spoken to.

Beijing Guoan, believed to be the favourite team of Chinese President Xi, had been seen as one of the favourites to sign Rooney but sources close to the club have told BBC Sport they are not interested in signing him.

Because of new restrictions on overseas players, Jiangsu Suning and Tianjin Quanjian look like the most likely remaining options.

However, the England captain’s representatives have already spoken to Tianjin Quanjian and their coach, Fabio Cannavaro, said talks did not progress.

On Tuesday, Mourinho said he did not know whether Rooney, who has only just returned to training after a hamstring injury, would still be at Old Trafford in a week’s time.

It is not known whether this latest development will affect Rooney’s chances of being involved in Sunday’s EFL Cup final against Southampton.

They had appeared to have increased after Henrikh Mkhitaryan limped out of Wednesday’s 1-0 Europa League win against Saint-Etienne.

If Rooney follows former team-mate Carlos Tevez to the Chinese Super League, it would almost certainly cost him any chance of making the seven appearances he needs to become England’s most capped player.

Rooney’s preference is understood to be to remain with United for the rest of his contract, which expires in 2019, but a lack of time on the pitch is forcing him to consider alternatives.

Rooney is United’s record goalscorer and has won five Premier League titles and a Champions League trophy since joining them as an 18-year-old for £27m from Everton in 2004.

The forward, who has started only three games since 17 December, has said he would not play for an English club other than United or Everton.

The big difference between Chinese Super League clubs’ transfer process and their Premier League counterparts is the preparation.

English top-flight clubs have extensive scouting departments with links around the world. They identify players months in advance, watch many live games and base their decision on an extensive process._94799249_oscar_getty

 

Oscar moved to Shanghai SIPG from Chelsea in a £60m deal in December and scored on his debut for his new club

In CSL, the process is more agent-led. Most of the clubs are approached with recommendations for a position they are recruiting in, rather than seeking out players themselves.

Foreign players coming in on large fees are commanding three-, four-, five-year deals, even at the end of their career. They have the upper hand in negotiations and wouldn’t leave European football without long-term financial guarantees.

However, the Chinese government is concerned about capital leaving the country and it is difficult for these big transactions to exist while they are trying to crack down in other areas.

I think we will see a levelling out in fees. The £15m-£20m transfers will continue to happen for the next few years, but maybe we won’t see the likes of the £60m deal that brought Oscar to China.

Source: Wayne Rooney: Man Utd captain’s agent in China to discuss potential move – BBC Sport

Tags:
17/02/2017

Soccer Dreams in China’s Rust Belt – China Real Time Report – WSJ

China’s smog-choked northern province of Hebei is no stranger to lofty goals. For one thing, it has to shut down two-thirds of its steel factories by 2020.

Here comes another: becoming a provincial powerhouse in soccer. Perhaps understandably, it has given itself a few decades to do it.

The “Hebei Province’s Soccer Medium-to-Long Term Development Plan (2016-2050)” unveiled Thursday sets out plans for 1,000 “soccer campuses,” 3,000 amateur leagues and at least one club in the Chinese Super League, the country’s highest tier of professional soccer.

Such plans to pursue the “beautiful game,” as soccer is often called, are quite the departure for China. The world’s second-largest economy used to nurture its sport stars the Soviet way, by picking and grooming its talent from an early age. It still harvests most of its medals using this model. But in soccer, Beijing is trying a looser model perfected in the West: shopping for world-class players world-wide and hoping to spot homegrown talent via a grassroots network of soccer programs in local schools.

“By 2050, we must contribute to China’s bid to host the World Cup,” the Hebei Provincial Sports Bureau said.

At media conferences, officials spoke wistfully of “a soccer tourism route” and “a garden of sports,” a somewhat jarring image of Hebei, which currently produces more than twice the annual steel volume of all U.S. mills combined and is home to China’s smoggiest cities.

In its quest to become a leading purveyor of football talent, Hebei already faces some domestic competition. Fujian province, in China’s south, last month said it also has such plans. Earlier this month, so did the aluminum-producing province of Gansu, known more for its deserts than its dazzling dribbles.

More provinces are likely to follow. The central government last year put out a blueprint detailing bigger, broader goals to mint “two to three first-class soccer teams in Asia, that are internationally known.”

President Xi Jinping has a soft spot for the sport, and in 2011 made known his desire for China to both qualify for and host a World Cup tournament and ultimately to win one.

This has proven difficult. Back-to-back losses last fall all but derailed China’s dream of qualifying for the 2018 World Cup. Profligate spending to attract foreign talent led the General Administration of Sport last month to criticize Chinese teams for “burning money” on astronomical recruitment fees and wages, while “neglecting the development of homegrown players.”

Still, Hebei might have an edge. The province, where Mr. Xi spent some time early in his career as a county-level Communist Party official, won government support in a successful bid to host the 2022 Winter Olympics, despite having only a set of somewhat stumpy mountains with sporadic snow.

Some of the province’s residents aren’t exactly hopeful. “The economy is finished,” one of them wrote on the popular microblogging platform Weibo. “And you still have time to focus on soccer?”

Source: Soccer Dreams in China’s Rust Belt – China Real Time Report – WSJ

16/02/2017

India and Russia seek to revive stalled helicopter venture | Reuters

India and Russia are nearing a joint venture to make light helicopters in India, reviving a plan announced by Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2015.

Delhi needs to replace hundreds of ageing utility helicopters deployed along its Himalayan border with China as well as in the disputed Kashmir region.

This means an initial order of 200 Kamov-226 helicopters, of which 140 will be built in India as part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s drive to build a domestic defence industrial base and cut imports, is expected to be increased.

And final documents relating to the $1 billion Kamov deal involving Russian Helicopters, Rosoboronexport and India’s state-run Hindustan Aeronautics (HAL) has been submitted to Putin, HAL’s chief T. Suvarna Raju, told reporters on Wednesday.

While India has sealed deals with the United States for 22 Apache attack and 15 heavy lift Chinook helicopters at total cost of about $2.5 billion, plans to buy Russian helicopters and fifth generation fighter aircraft have been dogged by problems.

“There are issues between parties, but these are being tackled,” Sergey Goreslavsky, deputy director general of Rosoboronexport, said at India’s biggest air show in the southern city of Bengaluru.

A team will assess the Indian manufacturing facilities over the next few months. “We are keeping our fingers crossed about launching production this year,” an executive at Russian Helicopters said.

The executive, who did not want to be named, said the joint venture will be modelled along the lines of Brahmos, the India-Russia entity producing supersonic missiles, which which military analysts say are among the deadliest in their class.

Russia was long the main supplier of military equipment to India, but Delhi has turned to France, Israel and increasingly the United States for supply of hardware in recent years.

U.S. aerospace and defence firms Lockheed Martin and Boeing have both offered to set up production lines in India to make combat planes.

Source: India and Russia seek to revive stalled helicopter venture | Reuters

Tags:
15/02/2017

‘Follow one-China policy’: Beijing warns India over Taiwan delegation | This Week In Asia | South China Morning Post

China has lodged a strong complaint with India over a rare visit by a Taiwanese parliamentary delegation, warning New Delhi to follow one-China policy and refrain from any official contacts with Taipei.

Sharply criticising the visit, foreign ministry spokesperson Geng Shung said Beijing had lodged a “solemn representation” with New Delhi to not have any official contact with Taiwan.

Beijing has always opposed any kind of official contact between Taiwan and countries that have diplomatic ties with China, he said.

Why Trump can’t ‘haggle’ over the one-China policy

Geng spoke against any proposal to upgrade India-Taiwan ties, and warned India to be strict about following the one-China policy and be “prudent” about its ties with Taiwan.India has no formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan. The de facto Indian embassy in Taipei is called the India-Taipei Association and the Taiwanese maintain the Taipei Economic Cultural Center in New Delhi.

A three-member parliamentary delegation from Taiwan arrived in India on Monday for a three-day visit. The leader of the delegation, Kuan Bi-Ling, said Taiwan is “totally independent”.

“It (the one-China policy) is a de facto reality…We suffered a lot because of the one-China policy. We have crafted a pragmatic approach in our diplomatic engagement with major countries, including India, despite these difficulties,” Kuan told the Indian media.Hosting an official delegation from Taiwan appears to be a shift in Indian policy. In May last year, India had reportedly backtracked from sending representatives to the swearing-in ceremony of then Taiwanese president-elect Tsai Ing-wen. The visit of the Taiwanese delegation is a possible sign that both countries are attempting to increase political engagement without New Delhi moving away from the one-China policy.No country is exempt from one-China principle, says Beijing

In September 2015, before she became Taiwan’s first woman president, Tsai had spoken about India being in focus for her country to strengthen ties.“Asean and India are poised to become two of the world’s largest economic bodies. Strengthening our overall relations is a natural choice for Taiwan as we diversify our economic and trade ties. In the future, we will form a new task force to actively pursue this policy objective,” Tsai had said in a key speech at the time.

The New Southbound Policy Office, which directly functions under the president, will focus on strengthening all-round ties with Asean and South Asia, particularly India, Taiwanese diplomats had then told the Hindustan Times.

Earlier on Wednesday, nationalistic tabloid Global Times said India is playing with fire and will suffer if it challenges the one-China policy and increases engagement with Taiwan.

How a snub of the one-China policy almost led Beijing and US into war in the 1990s

“At a time when new US President Donald Trump has put the brakes on challenging China over the Taiwan question, agreeing to change course and respecting the one-China policy, India stands out as a provocateur,” it said. “Some Indians view the Taiwan question as an Achilles’ heel of the mainland. India has long wanted to use the Taiwan question, the South China Sea and Dalai Lama issues as bargaining chips in dealing with China,” writer Yu Ning wrote in an opinion piece for the newspaper.

“By challenging China over the Taiwan question, India is playing with fire,” Yu wrote.

The newspaper blamed Tsai for inciting India.“Tsai is exploiting India’s vigilance and strategic suspicions against China. The pro-independence leader came up with the ”new southbound policy” to ramp up trade and economic interactions in Southeast Asia, South Asia and Oceania, in which India is considered “not one of the, but the most” important country…Tsai hopes to put pressure on the mainland by tying India and Taiwan closer.”

Source: ‘Follow one-China policy’: Beijing warns India over Taiwan delegation | This Week In Asia | South China Morning Post

Law of Unintended Consequences

continuously updated blog about China & India

ChiaHou's Book Reviews

continuously updated blog about China & India

What's wrong with the world; and its economy

continuously updated blog about China & India