Archive for ‘Chindia Alert’

30/09/2016

Rich province, poor province | The Economist

EARLY in the summer Xi Jinping, China’s president, toured one of the country’s poorest provinces, Ningxia in the west. “No region or ethnic group can be left behind,” he insisted, echoing an egalitarian view to which the Communist Party claims to be wedded.

In the 1990s, as China’s economy boomed, inland provinces such as Ningxia fell far behind the prosperous coast, but Mr Xi said there had since been a “gradual reversal” of this trend. He failed to mention that this is no longer happening. As China’s economy slows, convergence between rich and poor provinces is stalling. One of the party’s much-vaunted goals for the country’s development, “common prosperity”, is looking far harder to attain.

This matters to Mr Xi (pictured, in Ningxia). In recent years the party’s leaders have placed considerable emphasis on the need to narrow regional income gaps. They say China will be a “moderately prosperous society” by the end of the decade. It will only be partly so if growth fails to pick up again inland. Debate has started to emerge in China about whether the party has been using the right methods to bring prosperity to backward provinces.

China is very unequal. Shanghai, which is counted as a province, is five times wealthier than the poorest one, Gansu, which has a similar-sized population (see map). That is a wider spread than in notoriously unequal Brazil, where the richest state, São Paulo, is four times richer than the poorest, Piauí (these comparisons exclude the special cases of Hong Kong and Brasília).

To iron out living standards, the government has used numerous strategies. They include a “Go West” plan involving the building of roads, railways, pipelines and other investment inland; Mr Xi’s signature “Belt and Road” policy aimed partly at boosting economic ties with Central Asia and South-East Asia and thereby stimulating the economies of provinces adjoining those areas; a twinning arrangement whereby provinces and cities in rich coastal areas dole out aid and advice to inland counterparts; and a project to beef up China’s rustbelt provinces in the north-east bordering Russia and North Korea. The central government also gives extra money to poorer provinces. Ten out of China’s 33 provinces get more than half their budgets from the centre’s coffers. Prosperous Guangdong on the coast gets only 10%.

The number, range and cost of these policies suggest the party sees its legitimacy rooted not only in the creation of wealth but the ability to spread it around. Deng Xiaoping’s economic reforms, launched in the late 1970s, helped seaboard provinces, which were then poorer than inland ones, to catch up by making things and shipping them abroad. (Mao had discouraged investment in coastal areas, fearing they were vulnerable to attack.) In the 1990s the coast pulled ahead. Then, after 2000, the gap began to narrow again as the worldwide commodity boom—a product of China’s rapid growth—increased demand for raw materials produced in the interior (see chart).

That was a blessing for Mr Xi’s predecessor Hu Jintao, who made “rebalancing” a priority after he became party chief in 2002. It also boosted many economists’ optimism about China’s ability to sustain rapid growth. Even if richer provinces were to slow down, they reckoned, the high growth potential of inland regions would compensate for that.

But convergence is ending. GDP growth slowed across the country last year, but especially in poorer regions. Seven inland provinces had nominal growth below 2%, a recession by Chinese standards (in 2014 only one province reported growth below that level). In contrast, the rich provincial-level municipalities of Shanghai, Beijing and Tianjin, plus a clutch of other coastal provinces including Guangdong, grew between 5% and 8%. Though there were exceptions, the rule of thumb in 2015 was that the poorer the region, the slower the growth. Most of the provinces with below-average growth were poor.

Of course, 2015 was just one year. But a longer period confirms the pattern. Of 31 provinces, 21 had an income below 40,000 yuan ($6,200) per person in 2011. Andrew Batson of Gavekal Dragonomics, a research firm, says that of these 21, 13 (almost two-thirds) saw their real GDP growth slow down by more than 4 points between 2011 and 2014. In contrast, only three of the ten richer provinces (those with income per person above the 40,000 yuan mark) slowed that much. In 2007 all of China’s provinces were narrowing their income gap with Shanghai. In 2015 barely a third of them were. In other words, China’s slowdown has been much sharper in poorer areas than richer ones.

There are three reasons why convergence has stalled. The main one is that the commodity boom is over. Both coal and steel prices fell by two-thirds between 2011 and the end of 2015, before recovering somewhat this year. Commodity-producing provinces have been hammered. Gansu produces 90% of the country’s nickel. Inner Mongolia and Shanxi account for half of coal production. In all but four of the 21 inland provinces, mining and metals account for a higher share of GDP than the national average.

Commodity-influenced slowdowns are often made worse by policy mistakes. This is the second reason for the halt in convergence. Inland provinces built a housing boom on the back of the commodity one, creating what seemed at the time like a perpetual-motion machine: high raw-material prices financed construction which increased demand for raw materials. When commodity prices fell, the boom began to look unsustainable.

The pace of inland growth was evident in dizzying levels of investment in physical assets such as buildings and roads. Between 2008 and last year, as a share of provincial GDP, it rose from 48% to 73% in Shanxi, 64% to 78% in Inner Mongolia, and from 54% to an astonishing 104% in Xinjiang. In the country as a whole, investment as a share of GDP rose only slightly in that period, to 43%. In Shanghai it fell.

This would be fine if the investments were productive, but provinces in the west are notorious for waste. In the coal-rich city of Ordos in Inner Mongolia, on the edge of the Gobi desert, a new district was built, designed for 1m people. It stood empty for years, a symbol of ill-planned extravagance (people are at last moving in).

Investment by the government is keeping some places afloat. Tibet, for example, logged 10.6% growth in the first half of this year, thanks to net fiscal transfers from the central government amounting to a stunning 112% of GDP last year. Given the region’s political significance and strategic location, such handouts will continue—Tibet’s planners admit there is no chance of the region getting by without them for the foreseeable future.

Tibet is an extreme example of the third reason why convergence is ending. Despite oodles of aid, both it and other poor provinces cannot compete with rich coastal ones. In theory, poorer places should eventually converge with rich areas because they will attract businesses with their cheaper labour and land. But it turns out that in China (as elsewhere) these advantages are outweighed by the assets of richer places: better skills and education, more reliable legal institutions, and so-called “network effects”—that is, the clustering of similar businesses in one place, which then benefit from the swapping of ideas and people. A recent study by Ryan Monarch, an economist at America’s Federal Reserve Board, showed that American importers of Chinese goods were very reluctant to change suppliers. When they do, they usually switch to another company in the same city. This makes it hard for inland competitors to break into export markets.

There are exceptions. The south-western region of Chongqing has emerged as the world’s largest exporter of laptops. Chengdu, the capital of neighbouring Sichuan province, is becoming a financial hub. But by and large China’s export industry is not migrating inland. In 2002 six big coastal provinces accounted for 80% of manufactured exports. They still do.

This contrast is worrying. Though income gaps did narrow after 2000 and only stopped doing so recently, provinces have not become alike in other respects. Rich ones continue to depend on world markets and foreign investment. Poor provinces increasingly depend on support from the central government.

A divergence of views

Officials bicker about this. Mr Xi asserted the Robin-Hood view in Ningxia that regional gaps matter and that redistribution is needed. “The first to prosper,” he said, “should help the latecomers.” But three months earlier, an anonymous “authoritative person” (widely believed to be Mr Xi’s own adviser, Liu He) took a more relaxed view, telling the party’s mouthpiece, the People’s Daily, that “divergence is a necessity of economic development,” and “the faster divergence happens, the better.”

It is unclear how this difference will be resolved, though the money must surely be on Mr Xi. Economically, though, Mr Liu is right. Regional-aid programmes have had little impact on the narrowing of income gaps. More of them will not stop those gaps widening. Socially, a slowdown in poorer provinces should not be a problem so long as jobs are still being created in richer ones, enabling migrants from inland to find work there and send money home. But politically the end of convergence is a challenge to Mr Xi, who has been trying to appeal to traditionalists in the party who extol Mao as a champion of equality. Wasteful and ineffective measures to achieve it will remain in place.

Source: Rich province, poor province | The Economist

30/09/2016

The human and animal costs of India’s unregulated coal industry – BBC News

India is one of the largest producers of coal in the world and more than half of its commercial energy needs are met by coal.

But unregulated mining has caused serious health and environmental issues, and led to growing conflicts between elephants and humans.

In the coal-rich central state of Chhattisgarh, for example, fly ash has caused respiratory problems and serious illnesses like tuberculosis among people, but their troubles don’t end there.

Forests are being cleared for coal mining and wild elephants are entering villages in search of food and attacking people.

Photojournalist Subrata Biswas has documented the fallout of India’s dependence on coal.

“As thousands of acres of forest land are destroyed to mining, foraging elephants attracted by the crops in the fields often enter villages, resulting in an alarmingly high number of human-elephant conflict situations,” says Biswas.

Officials estimate elephants have been responsible for 8,657 incidents of property damage and 99,152 incidents of crop damage in Chhattisgarh between 2005 and 2014.

Image copyrightSUBRATA BISWAS

“We were sleeping when the elephants broke into our room. Somehow we managed to escape but I fractured my left leg when a large part of the wall fell on my leg. My husband saved my life,” says Rujri Khalkho, 70, whose home was damaged by a herd of wild elephants almost a year ago.

A compensation of 10,000 rupees ($149; £114) has not been enough to repair her house or pay for her medical care.

Image copyrightSUBRATA BISWAS

Deaths of elephants due to electrocution have become common in the state.In Dharamjaigarh, the most affected area, officials have recorded 30 elephant and 75 human deaths so far.

Image copyrightSUBRATA BISWAS

In 2009, Kanti Bai Sau, 40, lost her home and farm to an open-cast coal mine.

She was promised compensation of 200,000 rupees ($2,980; £2,290) and a job to a family member, but received neither. Her son died last year of respiratory complications.

“There is no fresh air to breath, fresh water to drink. Coal has usurped everything here.”

Image copyrightSUBRATA BISWAS

“We lived next to this mine for almost 10 years and watched helplessly as our wells went dry, forests disappeared and fields become unproductive,” says Girja Bai Chauhan.

“We have lost almost eight acres of our fields to the mine and authorities haven’t fulfilled a single promise they made while acquiring land. They sent us into a dark future and unhealthy environment to live and breathe in.”

Image copyrightSUBRATA BISWAS

Pipelines carry fly ash slurry from a local thermal power power plant in Korba to a fly ash pond.

Environment activists say that every year approximately 50 million tonnes of fly ash is generated by power plants in Chhattishgarh but not even the half of this amount have been reutilized to reduce the pollution from fly ash.

Fly ash is known to contain trace elements such as arsenic, barium and mercury among others, and unlined ponds like this could be polluting groundwater by leaching.

Image copyrightSUBRATA BISWAS

“The ash is everywhere. When the wind blows, everything is coated with a layer of white grey ash. The road, ponds, our houses, sometimes even our spectacles get coated with a fine layer of the ash,” says Biswas.

Image copyrightSUBRATA BISWAS

Rohit Rathia, 55, suffers from tuberculosis.He lives in a village next to an open cast mine where lung diseases such as coal workers’ pneumoconiosis (CWP), silicosis and tuberculosis have become common ailments.

Source: The human and animal costs of India’s unregulated coal industry – BBC News

30/09/2016

Glass loos with a view open in China – BBC News

Whatever will the Chinese think of next?

China’s recent obsession with glass tourist attractions has gone round the U-bend with the opening of some see-through treetop public toilets.

The loos, near Shiyan Lake in southern Hunan province, have fabulous views of both the forest below and other people using the facilities.

Cubicle walls, even those between the men’s and women’s sections, are only separated by lightly frosted glass.

But state media said few visitors dared use the loos on their opening day.

Image copyrightBARCROFT IMAGESImage caption

Shy users of the urinals may take comfort from the privacy barriers between them, though not in the fact they are made of glass

Despite a boom in the construction of glass bridges and walkways in scenic locations in China in recent years – in some cases so popular they had to be closed – these are thought to be the first entirely glass public bathrooms in the country.

However, it not the first time those busting to go have been exposed a little more than they might like by the enthusiasm for glass.

There were reports recently of some male toilets in a university dorm in Hunan which included one very public cubicle.

Image copyrightBARCROFTImage captionUnusually, a head for heights is a requirement for a job as a cleaner there

Image copyrightBARCROFTImage caption Awkward: cubicle walls are only lightly-frosted, even between the men’s and women’s sections

News of the wide-view WCs at Shiyan Lake sparked a range of reactions online.Responding to a Facebook post about it by state television channel CCTV, Ejike Nnadi summed up the feelings of many: “Hell no.”

Others were more taken by the idea. “You’ll be surprised by what you can tolerate when you really, really need to go,” said one post.

Another nodded towards another modern use for restrooms: “I’d be in there ’til my battery hit zero if there was signal in there!”

Image copyrightBARCROFTImage captionThe well-lit lavs are built on a steep hillside

Tina Chen took a dimmer view of all such projects though. “(It) is not about being shy, just again someone had extra money to waste.”

Image copyrightGETTY IMAGESImage caption Unusual glass structures have provided popular photo ops for tourists across China

Awkward or not, it is hoped that these bathrooms for the brave will encourage tourists to visit the countryside around Changsha city and admire the spectacular autumn colours of its forests.

Source: Glass loos with a view open in China – BBC News

29/09/2016

China punishes coal, steel companies for violating pollution, safety rules | Reuters

China’s state planner has punished hundreds of coal and steel companies by forcing them to close or cut output for violating environmental and safety regulations, the latest effort to crack down on the country’s heavily polluting industries.

The National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) forced two steel companies to shut completely, 29 firms to halt production and another 23 to curb output, it said in a statement on Thursday. The closures and curbs followed a nationwide inspection of more than 1,000 steel makers in the world’s top producer.

Among more than 4,600 coal mines inspected, the NDRC has revoked safety certificates for 28 coal mines and forced another 286 coal mines to halt production, it added.

The planner did not identify or name the companies, or give details on how the companies broke the rules and how long the penalties will be in place.

Beyond the safety and environment rules, the NDRC also listed other infractions such as violations of energy consumption rules or quality standards.

The statement reflects the government’s continued push to force ageing mills and mines to comply with tough new pollution rules by meeting emission standards and installing appropriate monitoring equipment.

China’s unwieldy coal and steel industries are considered two of the biggest sources of pollution in the country.

The government is targeting coal output cuts of 500 million tonnes in the next three to five years.

Source: China punishes coal, steel companies for violating pollution, safety rules | Reuters

29/09/2016

This Map Shows the Severity of India’s Pollution Problem – India Real Time – WSJ

A new map from the World Health Organization shows just how bad India’s air pollution problem is.

The interactive map, which shows the average levels of dangerous particulate matter in the air that can lodge in lungs and cause diseases, was made by the WHO in conjunction with the U.K.’s University of Bath.

It shows that 92% of the world’s population live in places where air quality is worse than the WHO’s recommended limits.Researchers used satellite data as well as information from ground stations to create the map. WHO data released in May showed that the city of Gwalior was India’s most polluted city, coming second in the world to Zabol in Iran.

The map plots levels of particulate matter smaller than 2.5 micrometers in the air. The darker the red on the map, the higher the concentration. The PM2.5 pollutants, which come from dust, soot and smoke, can penetrate deep into the lungs and increase the risk of heart and lung diseases including asthma and lung cancer.

The map paints a dark swathe of red across northern India, meaning that the annual average PM2.5 levels are above 70. The country gets progressively lighter in color toward the south, indicating lower pollution levels. But not one spot of the country is green–indicating healthy air.

A man sifted through trash at a massive garbage site in New Delhi, Sept. 27, 2016. PHOTO: SAJJAD HUSSAIN/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES

India’s capital, New Delhi, is the 11th worst polluted in the world, with an annual average PM2.5 measurement of 122. Mumbai is another hotspot, with an average PM.2.5 level of 63.

The World Health Organization said that worldwide, around 3 million people a year die of causes linked to exposure to outdoor air pollution and that nearly 90% of those deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries.

In India, air pollution comes from a number of sources, including the burning of trash, the use of coal for cooking, factories and exhaust fumes. In some parts of the country, like Delhi, dust storms exacerbate the problem. The Delhi government has made efforts to reduce car use, but experts say more needs to be done.

“Fast action to tackle air pollution can’t come soon enough,” Flavia Bustreo, assistant director general at WHO said in the report. “Solutions exist with sustainable transport in cities, solid waste management, access to clean household fuels and cook-stoves, as well as renewable energies and industrial emissions reductions.”

Source: This Map Shows the Severity of India’s Pollution Problem – India Real Time – WSJ

29/09/2016

Chinese Tourists Encouraged to Behave Ahead of Mass Vacation – China Real Time Report – WSJ

Urinating on the streets of Hong Kong? Hurling hot water at flight attendants? Stealing wood from Lovers’ Beach in Thailand?

These are the kind of mainland-Chinese tourist antics that the motherland is looking to stub out ahead of the week-long national holiday known as Golden Week, when throngs of citizens travel both domestically and abroad.

To help them do so, the China National Tourism Administration and one of China’s dominant online travel firms, Ctrip.com International, are teaming up to find model tourists to promote travel behavior worthy of emulation—and national recognition.

“Civility of Chinese tourists is an important indicator of a country’s soft power and one of the major ways to export a country’s influence,” the tourism administration’s Vice Chairman Wang Xiaofeng said at an event announcing the campaign.

The two organizations, along with state-run newspaper China Daily, are asking the Chinese public to provide examples of what they think is model traveler decorum. Ctrip will give gifts to exemplary participants, such as free travel products and company souvenirs, said Ctrip senior director of investment relations Zhou Shiwei.

“The campaign is about changing the perception of Chinese travelers,” he said. “We definitely want Chinese travelers to be well-received abroad.

”Examples include pictures of Chinese soccer fans who picked up trash in Seoul, even after the Chinese men’s team lost to South Korea earlier this month, or photos of Chinese tourists patiently waiting in line.Ctrip says the campaign is aiming to publish a compilation of guidelines and pictures suggested by Chinese netizens during Golden Week. Chinese tourists can upload pictures via Chinese social-media network Weibo, and to the China Daily website. It is unclear how the photos will be verified.More than 600 million Chinese are expected to travel abroad in the next five years, as China’s middle class grows and visa restrictions ease in some countries welcoming Chinese spending. Last year, about 120 million Chinese traveled overseas—10% more than in 2014, according to the national tourism administration.

Domestically, tourism generated about $620 billion last year, with more than four billion trips taken.

The campaign, entitled “Good Chinese Tourists,” is an addition to other recent efforts the government has put forth to curb travel misbehavior. Last year, it unveiled new measures that allow authorities to track the bad habits of wayward tourists for up to two years.

The tourism administration also recently published a guidebook on civilized tourism, in which it urges tourists to refrain from spitting and littering—common practices back home—and to take photographs only where permitted. “Do not chase, beat or feed animals,” it adds. “Do not be greedy with complimentary items.

”For traveling abroad, the guide includes recommendations that cutting in line is “shameful wherever you are” and suggests that tourists “not leave footprints on toilet seats.”

Source: Chinese Tourists Encouraged to Behave Ahead of Mass Vacation – China Real Time Report – WSJ

28/09/2016

This Is How India Is Keeping Its Place as Asia’s Fastest-Growing Large Economy – India Real Time – WSJ

What a contrast! See pair of articles – this on on India, the other on China, both from WSJ.

India is on track to keep its spot as Asia’s fastest-growing large economy, the Asian Development Bank said Tuesday.

The Manila-based development lender expects the Indian economy to grow by 7.4% in the year that ends next March, keeping its earlier forecast unchanged in an update to its regional outlook.

The ADB lifted its forecast for China’s growth this calendar year slightly, to 6.6%, but it still expects India’s economic growth to broadly outpace its neighbors’ through 2017. (The comparison isn’t exact. India and other South Asian countries report economic data on a fiscal-year basis. China and others use calendar years.) In Asia, only Myanmar, which is opening up after decades of isolation but remains small by comparison, is expected to expand more quickly, at 8.4%.

The ADB said India’s growth prospects have been buoyed thanks to the enactment of “long-awaited structural reform.”

The bank lauded “strong progress” in restructuring Indian lenders’ balance sheets, which for years have been weighed down by bad loans. Large corporations are also finding ways to reduce debt, the bank said, which could also help resuscitate long-stagnant lending and investment.

Recent legislation that creates a national goods-and-services tax, the ADB said, is “a key step toward a much more integrated, productive economy.”

Other factors, the bank said, should keep Indian consumers spending.Government workers are due to receive a big boost to their pay and pensions, while abundant monsoon rains this summer will likely lift rural incomes.

There are risks, though, the ADB said.

Much of India’s recent growth has been driven by government spending. But that has slowed after a burst of public investment last year. New Delhi this financial year wants to shrink its budget deficit, but so far, it hasn’t raised as much money as expected from selling off stakes in state companies and other assets. That means expenditure may need to be reined in even further.Investment by private companies, meanwhile, has been “listless,” the ADB said.

Foreign direct investment in India has remained strong, the bank noted, and New Delhi has been raising limits on foreigners’ stakes in Indian enterprises. But the $63 billion flood of foreign investment seen last year “would be difficult to replicate,” the bank said.

Rapid price growth, too, could continue to weigh on Indian consumers and investors. Inflation in India, which the ADB forecasts at 5.4% this year, remains among the highest in Asia.The nation’s central bank is now actively mandated, for the first time in its history, to keep consumer inflation within a government-set range. “While this is a ground-breaking monetary policy reform, the target of 4% would seem somewhat ambitious,” the bank said.

Source: This Is How India Is Keeping Its Place as Asia’s Fastest-Growing Large Economy – India Real Time – WSJ

28/09/2016

Warning Sounded Over Chinese Economy – China Real Time Report – WSJ

What a contrast! See pair of articles – this on on China, the other on India, both from WSJ.

Recent stability in the Chinese economy masks deep-seated problems that threaten to rattle global markets in advance of a leadership change next year, according to a survey.

Ignoring these risks is shortsighted, said authors of the China Beige Book International, a quarterly survey that tracks the world’s second-largest economy.Data from the group’s third-quarter survey of 3,100 Chinese firms and 160 bankers point to some potential problems. New growth engines intended to shift the economy away from investment toward consumption-led growth are increasingly wobbly as corporate cash flow is squeezed and Beijing doubles down on traditional engines to stabilize output, the China Beige Book says.

“I’d find it earth-shatteringly surprising if we don’t have a significant problem between now and China’s leadership change” in the fall of 2017 when the 19th Party Congress convenes, said Leland Miller, China Beige Book’s president. “This is not a stable economy. It’s one that twists and turns and happens to end up at the same spot. There are real problems below the surface.”

Growth in China’s service industry, a cornerstone of its planned transition to a new and more sustainable economic model, weakened during the third quarter as financial services, private healthcare, telecommunications, media and other subsectors flagged, the group’s data showed. In retail, the apparel, luxury goods and food sectors slowed, it said, as online retailers continued to cannibalize brick-and-mortar sales.

Despite Beijing’s pledge to reduce excess Industrial capacity and pare debt, China remains heavily dependent on government spending to power traditional debt-fueled growth engines, the group said. Much of the economic momentum during the third quarter came from infrastructure, manufacturing, commodities and real estate and many of these sectors are in danger of losing momentum, it said.

While property sales remained strong in major cities, cash flow in the sector tightened and borrowing increased, a sign that investors should “think about getting off this train sooner rather than later,” the China Beige Book said.

“Deteriorating corporate finances and a rebalancing reversal seem a high price to pay for a quarter’s worth of stability,” the group added.

Economic and monetary authorities didn’t respond to requests for comment.

China roiled global markets last year when stocks plunged and Beijing intervened to prop them up. A few months later, it introduced a new currency system in which the yuan fell against the dollar, fueling concern that this would launch a destabilizing round of currency depreciations among rival trading nations. State spending and easy money policies since then have settled investor nerves.

China is expected to report third-quarter economic growth of around 6.7% next month, the level it posted in both the first and second quarters. Gauges such as industrial production and fixed-asset investment have been surprisingly robust over the past month.The trigger for another potential market jolt in the next few quarters could be the release of particularly weak Chinese service or retail data coinciding with a Federal Reserve interest rate rise or another global event, Mr. Miller said. “Right now, the markets are lulled to sleep,” he said. “People become used to the stable China narrative until they start looking more closely into the data.”

A report released Tuesday by the International Monetary Fund said China can reduce the negative impact on the global economy of its shift to slower but more sustainable growth by ending its use of targets to artificially prop up growth and by communicating its intentions clearly.

Other economists say they expect the Chinese economy to remain relative stable through the once-in-five-year leadership change, which is expected to be in October or November of 2017, as long as Beijing continues stimulating the economy enough to avoid a drop in growth. “I don’t think there’s going to be a crisis next year,” said Julian Evans-Pritchard, an economist with Capital Economics Pte. “But they often take their foot off the pedal too much, then tend to panic again and put it back on, creating a lag.”

The Bank for International Settlements warned last week that mounting leverage raises the risk of a financial crisis in China. The nation’s total debt, led by rising corporate obligations, is on target to reach 253% of gross domestic product by the end of 2016, a doubling over the past eight years, according to credit ratings agency Fitch Ratings Inc.

Third quarter China Beige Book data also pointed to areas of strength. The job market remains strong. The manufacturing outlook improved with new domestic and international factory orders picking up and deflationary pressure on industry ebbing.“It was not a disaster of a quarter,” Mr. Miller said. “But it’s a lot more negative than people think.”

Source: Warning Sounded Over Chinese Economy – China Real Time Report – WSJ

27/09/2016

What India’s Decision to Ratify Paris Climate-Change Pact Means – India Real Time – WSJ

India’s announcement that it would ratify the 2015 global agreement on climate change increases the chances that the pact will go into effect this year.

Source: What India’s Decision to Ratify Paris Climate-Change Pact Means – India Real Time – WSJ

25/09/2016

Culture: Chinese, Indian and Japanese

I’ve just finished watching a short six-part series featuring Joanna Lumley on her trip from near the northern-most tip to the southern-most island of Japan – http://www.itv.com/hub/joanna-lumleys-japan/2a4327a0001. If, like me, you have not been to Japan but are curious about that mysterious far eastern country, then this show is well worth investing six hours of your time.

But the reason I’m raising it here on my blog is that to me it shows in stark contrast the three cultures today: Chinese, Indian and Japanese.

The series illustrate, without a shadow of doubt, that the Japanese have somehow managed to retain most of its old traditions and culture while adopting much of (the best of ) Western culture.The two co-exist happily and without any visible friction.  For example, young girls in traditional kimono are shown visiting the famous cherry blossom festival, alongside Japanese in plain western clothing. Or modern, educated Japanese taking time off to do a multi-temple pilgrimage (see Lumley photo). 

The Chinese, in my opinion, have (certainly in urban areas) disbanded most of their traditional and culture – apart from a few national festivals – and adopted western customs and culture wholesale. Apart from a few speialist travelogue TV series on rural China (http://watchdocumentary.org/watch/wild-china-episode-01-heart-of-the-dragon-video_3a9158d41.html), any TV show on China reveals mainly western modernity.

And finally, my take on Indian culture is that it has not moved far from what has been prevalent over the centuries, apart from a thin veneer of western culture and customs such as car ownership (see India on Wheels – http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b013q5y0) and western clothing or education for the upper class in the English language.

I would really like to hear from you, my blog readers, on this subject, hopefully based on personal experience rather than based on a TV programme!