Posts tagged ‘Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation’

01/12/2016

As Trump retreats, Xi Jinping moves to upgrade China’s global power play | South China Morning Post

With US president-elect Donald Trump threatening to build a wall on the Mexican border and force Asian allies to increase defence spending, Beijing is busy luring countries across the eastern hemisphere into its orbit.

President Xi Jinping, who is consolidating his power at home, is planning to host a big “One Belt, One Road” summit in China next year, sources close to the central government told the South China Morning Post, adding that the event would match, if not exceed, the scale of this year’s G20 summit in Hangzhou, which attracted about 30 state leaders.

China plans US$2 billion film studio and ‘One Belt, One Road’ theme park

At a time when established world powers are struggling with domestic problems, Xi sees a chance to push ahead with his oddly worded brainchild, a geopolitical push to extend Beijing’s influence to remote corners of the globe.

The belt and road initiative encompasses 65 countries including China, stretching through Southeast, South, Central and West Asia to the Middle East, Africa and East and Central Europe.

However, with globalisation facing increasing scrutiny and electoral scepticism in developed countries, it’s doubtful whether a one-party state with its own deep-rooted economic woes will be able to bind countries together through a programme viewed by critics as a Chinese plot to export its infrastructure and influence.

In addition, China’s shrinking foreign exchange reserves, the falling value of its currency and a tightening of central government control on big overseas investments have raised questions about whether there will be sufficient funds to grease China’s ambitions.

Hong Kong trade presence needed in ‘One Belt, One Road’ cities

The belt and road initiative was launched by Xi in 2013 as an attempt to boost connectivity between China and other countries along the ancient land-based and maritime Silk Roads through trade and infrastructure projects, including high-speed railway lines and energy pipelines. But the wave of populist, anti-globalisation reflected in Trump’s stunning victory in last month’s US presidential election has put its smooth implementation in doubt.

Previous Chinese infrastructure projects overseas, including energy- and resource-related ones in Africa, have triggered resentment in local communities, with Beijing accused of exploitation and failing to benefit local workers.

Even though an increasing number of key US allies, such as Canada and Britain, have joined the Beijing-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), set up as part of the belt and road initiative, mistrust over Beijing’s efforts to extend its geopolitical influence are mounting.

James McGregor, greater China chairman of APCO Worldwide, a public relations and consulting firm, said the level of cooperation between Beijing and the incoming Trump administration would be crucial in determining the success of the belt and road initiative.

One of Trump’s policy advisers, former CIA director James Woolsey, has described the current Obama administration’s opposition to the AIIB as a “strategic mistake”.

How One Belt, One Road is guiding China’s football strategy

“Through OBOR and various diplomatic initiatives, China is seeking to lead peacekeeping and economic development efforts in the region,” McGregor said, referring to the belt and road initiative. “But this will be very difficult if the US and China are not aligned and working together in the region to help provide security and promote peace.“

So if Trump pushes an agenda of confrontation with China in regard to trade and security arrangements in Asia, China will have a more difficult time managing its investments in Afghanistan and elsewhere in the region.”

But Professor Wang Yiwei, from the school of international studies at Renmin University in Beijing, said Trump’s protectionist agenda, most notably with his vow to withdraw the United States from the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade pact, would provide an opportunity for the belt and road initiative to “fill the gap in the market”.

“For a long time, countries around the world have been following America’s standards and development model. But now even the US itself has suffered from its system,” he said. “The US has not learned its lesson from the financial crisis – it has failed to adjust and reform its industries – and it is now blaming the problem on globalisation.”

Wang said that with the belt and road initiative, China was becoming more resistant to the risk posed by the incoming Trump administration and the anti-globalisation trend sweeping the West.“

[The belt and road initiative] is designed to counter the risk posed by the market in the West,” Wang said.

Long-term planning: China’s 21st century Silk Road strategy will take time to reap rewards

The decrease in America’s purchasing power in the wake of the financial crisis had caused the surplus production capacity in China, he said, and the belt and road initiative was a new way to boost China’s exports.

AIIB president Jin Liqun said in early November that the AIIB was “on track” to meet its big first-year targets, including lending US$1.2 billion by the end of this year. So far it has lent US$829 million to six projects in Pakistan, Tajikistan, Indonesia and Bangladesh.

China invested about US$14.8 billion in 49 countries of the 64 other countries along the Silk Road last year, or 12.6 per cent of the country’s total outbound investment, according to the Ministry of Commerce. The US and the European Union remain the top destinations for Chinese outbound investment, which totalled US$146 billion in the first 10 months of this year.

Whether Chinese companies will be as enthusiastic as they used to be about pouring money into overseas projects remains to be seen, with Beijing banning overseas investment deals of more than US$10 billion until September next year and cracking down on overseas mergers, acquisitions and real estate deals involving more than US$1 billion because of concerns about capital flight.

But economists, citing the unsustainability of a strong US dollar, uncertainty about Trump’s policies and China’s need to push ahead with economic reforms, said the restrictions were more of a short-term constraint than a permanent hurdle.

“Restricting outflows is a step back, but it will not alter China’s long-term direction of capital opening,” said Tim Condon, chief Asian economist at ING.

Professor Zhang Jiadong, a belt and road specialist at Shanghai’s Fudan University, said the impact of foreign exchange controls on the belt and road initiative would be limited.

“Forex controls will mainly affect the speed of approval, but will have little impact on infrastructure investments, which usually involve lengthy preparations for feasibility studies and financing arrangements,” he said.

State-owned enterprises, with their capital size and building expertise, are major participants in the initiative. Foreign exchange clearance is just one of many long regulatory procedures they have to navigate, and they usually needed approval from the state asset watchdog and financial backing from state-owned banks.

“Overall, OBOR investment represents only a small proportion [of their activities],” Zhang said.

Chen Fengying, an economist at the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations, said the foreign exchange regulator did not cover belt and road projects.

“Investment in OBOR countries is groundbreaking and needs more government support,” Chen said. “They should be encouraged, rather than regulated.”

The biggest difficulty faced by the belt and road initiative is the need to ease suspicions among countries such as India and Japan, another big investor in Asian development projects, about Beijing’s strategic intentions.

Foreign Minister Wang Yi told a forum in Beijing on Wednesday that China would be accommodative to the needs of different nations in pushing ahead with the belt and road initiative. The AIIB is regarded as a rival to the Japan-led Asian Development Bank and the US-headquartered International Monetary Fund.

Zhang Jianping, an expert on belt and road policy at the National Development and Reform Commission’s Institute for International Economic Research, said mistrust remained a hurdle for China.

“Just because the US withdrew from the TPP doesn’t necessarily mean that its economic power is in decline,” he said. “All the major global financial and investment standards and institutions are still led by the US and Europe. Any attempt by China to rewrite those rules is bound to meet scepticism from the West.”

Observers said investors’ top concerns were returns on investment and safety, and that made developed countries the top destination for market, technology and management expertise, rather than developing countries . They faced bottlenecks in terms of capital, talent and management expertise in belt and road investment, which usually involved labour-intensive manufacturing or resource projects.

Beijing is pushing to build dozens of economic cooperation zones, which will be used to facilitate bilateral trade and investment and potentially draw more private firms. However, more government guidance in terms of policy and financing is needed to help private Chinese firms better integrate into economic development plans in other countries.

Liang Haiming, chief economist at the China Silk Road iValley Research Institute, said opportunities were opening up for China.

“The yuan’s depreciation against the US dollar will not affect China’s investment plans in OBOR countries,” he said. “The Chinese currency is actually strengthening against major Southeast Asian currencies.

“The capital flowing from emerging economies to the US will leave a good opportunity for Chinese capital to enter those countries.”

The Post’s annual China Conference in Hong Kong on Friday will bring business leaders and policy advisers together to share their latest insights on the business opportunities and challenges brought about by the belt and road strategy.

Source: As Trump retreats, Xi Jinping moves to upgrade China’s global power play | South China Morning Post

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25/11/2016

China battles foreign influence in education | The Economist

CHINA has long oscillated between the urge to equip its elite with foreign knowledge and skills, and an opposing instinct to turn inward and rebuff such influences.

In the 1870s the Qing imperial court ended centuries of educational isolation by sending young men to America, only for the Communist regime to shut out the world again a few decades later. Today record numbers of Chinese study abroad: over half a million people left in 2015 alone, many for America (see chart).

The Communist Party officially endorses international exchanges in education while at the same time preaching the dangers of Western ideas on Chinese campuses. A new front in this battlefield is emerging, as the government cracks down on international schools catering to Chinese citizens.

Only holders of foreign passports used to be allowed to go to international schools in China: children of expat workers or the foreign-born offspring of Chinese returnees. Chinese citizens are still forbidden from attending such outfits, but more recently a new type of school has proliferated on the mainland, offering an international curriculum to Chinese nationals planning to study at foreign universities. Their number has more than doubled since 2011, to over 500. Many are clustered on the wealthy eastern seaboard, but even poor interior provinces such as Gansu, Guizhou and Yunnan have them.

Some international schools are privately run, including offshoots of famous foreign institutions such as Dulwich College in Britain or Haileybury in Australia. Even wholly Chinese ventures often adopt foreign-sounding names to increase their appeal: witness “Etonkids”, a Beijing-based chain which has no link with the illustrious British boarding school. Since 2003 some 90 state schools have opened international programmes too, many of them at the top high schools in China, including those affiliated with Peking University and Renmin University in Beijing.

New laws are making it harder for such schools to operate. In 2014 Beijing’s education authorities stopped approving new international programmes at public high schools. Several other cities, including Guangzhou, Shanghai, Shenzhen and Wuhan, have also tightened their policies on such institutions. Some have capped fees for international programmes. The Ministry of Education says it is pondering a law that would require public high schools to run their international programmes as private entities (fearing this event, a few schools have already begun doing so).

Earlier this month a new law banned for-profit private schools from teaching the first nine years of compulsory education. That came only days after Shanghai started to enforce an existing ban on international schools using “foreign curriculums”. Some such institutions already offer a mixture: Wycombe Abbey International, which is based in Changzhou in eastern China and affiliated to a British girls’ boarding school, teaches “political education”, a form of government propaganda, and follows a Chinese curriculum for maths. But the new regulations threaten to nullify the very point of such institutions for most parents, which is to offer an alternative to the mainstream Chinese system, in which students spend years cramming for extremely competitive university-entrance exams that prize rote learning over critical or lateral thinking.

Lawmakers say the rules are prompted by concerns about the quality of international schools. The expansion of international programmes within regular Chinese schools also spurred a popular backlash against the use of public facilities and funds to teach pupils who plan to leave China. Since the number of people attending public schools is fixed, the elite high schools are accused of squeezing out regular students to feed their lucrative international stream. Local governments often provide capital for private schools, too.

The move to control international schools is “the next logical iteration” of a wider campaign against Western influences, reckons Carl Minzner of Fordham University in America. In 2015 China’s education minister called for a ban on “textbooks promoting Western values” in higher education.

This mission extends far beyond the educational realm: the government has called for artists and architects to serve socialism, clamped down on video-streaming sites that carry lots of foreign content and even proposed renaming housing developments that carry “over-the-top, West-worshipping” names. Chinese organisations that receive foreign funding, particularly non-governmental ones, face increasing scrutiny.

The Communist Party is instead seeking to inculcate young Chinese with its own ideological values: the new directive on for-profit schools calls on them to “strengthen Party-building”. After pro-democracy protests in Tiananmen Square in 1989, nationalistic “patriotic education” classes were stepped up in schools, a move that Xi Jinping, the president, has taken to new levels since 2012, seeking to infuse every possible field with “patriotic spirit”. “Morals, language, history, geography, sport and arts” are all part of the campaign now. Unusually, he also seeks to include students abroad in this “patriotic energy”.

But lashing out against international schools could prove risky. Any attack aimed at them essentially targets China’s growing middle class, a group that the ruling Communist Party is keen to keep onside. Chinese have long seen education as a passport to success, and it is not just the super-rich who have the aspiration or means to send their offspring abroad to attend university. Some 57% of Chinese parents would like to do so if they could afford it, according to the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences. Even Mr Xi sent his daughter to Harvard, where she studied under a pseudonym.

Since school is optional after 15, and parents must pay for it, even at public institutions, the state will find it tricky to prevent high schools from teaching what they want. Moreover, constraints on international schooling in China are likely to swell the growing flow of Chinese students leaving to study abroad at ever younger ages. This trend is the theme of a 30-episode television series, “A love for separation”, about three families who send their children to private school in America.

Restricting for-profit schooling also risks hitting another growing educational market: urban private schools that cater to migrant children who cannot get places in regular state schools because they do not have the required residence permits. A law that undermines educational opportunities for the privileged and the underprivileged at once could prove far more incendiary than a little foreign influence.

Source: China battles foreign influence in education | The Economist

21/11/2016

A China-America romance? | The Economist

AFTER the wildest political upsets this year, here’s a prediction for next: China will deem its relations with America to be entering something of a golden period.

The prediction is no more outlandish than others that have recently come true. But is it madness? On the campaign trail, Donald Trump singled out China as the prime culprit ripping jobs and business out of the United States “like candy from a baby”. Mr Trump threatened a trade war. He promised that, on day one as president, he would label China a currency manipulator. He said he would slap a punitive tariff of 45% on Chinese imports. For good measure, he also promised to tear up the climate agreement that President Barack Obama signed with his counterpart, Xi Jinping, in September—a rare bright point in the bilateral relationship.Throw in, too, amid all the disarray inside Mr Trump’s transition team, the names being bandied about for those who will be in charge of dealings with China. They hardly reassure leaders in Beijing. Possibles for secretary of state, for instance, are Rudy Giuliani, New York’s former mayor, who has little experience of China, and John Bolton, a hawk who is actively hostile to it.

And yet China is starting to look on the bright side. Driving the growing optimism in Beijing is a calculation that, if Mr Trump is serious about jobs and growth at home, he will end up in favour of engagement and trade. Put simply, protectionism is inconsistent with “Make America Great Again”. From that it flows, or so Chinese officials hope, that Mr Trump’s campaign threats are mainly bluster. Yes, he is likely formally to label China a currency manipulator. But that will trigger investigations that will not be published until a year later. Even after that, there may be few immediate practical consequences.

What is more, China’s leaders may divine in Mr Trump someone in their mould—not delicate about democratic niceties and concerned above all about development and growth. Reporting on the first phone conversation earlier this week between Mr Xi and Mr Trump, the normally rabid Global Times, a newspaper in Beijing, was gushing. After Mr Xi urged co-operation, Mr Trump’s contribution to the phone call was “diplomatically impeccable”; it bolstered “optimism”, the paper said, in the two powers’ relationship over the next four years. Indeed, thanks to his “business and grass-roots angles”, and because he has not been “kidnapped by Washington’s political elites”, Mr Trump “is probably the very American leader who will make strides in reshaping major-power relations in a pragmatic manner.”

No doubt optimism among more hawkish Chinese is based upon calculations that Mr Trump’s administration will prove chaotic and incompetent, harming America first and playing to China’s advantage in the long game of America’s decline and China’s rise. “We may as well…see what chaos he can create,” the same newspaper was saying only a week ago. And Chinese leaders are delighted to see the back of Barack Obama. They hate his “pivot” to Asia. They are bitter that Mr Obama’s “zero-sum mindset” never allowed him to accept Mr Xi’s brilliant proposal in 2013 for a “new type of great-power relations” involving “win-win” co-operation. How could Mr Obama possibly think that the doctrine boils down to ceding hegemony in East Asia to China?

And so, it is not hard to imagine what gets discussed in the first meeting between the two leaders, after Mr Trump’s inauguration. In his victory speech, the builder-in-chief promised a lot of concrete-pouring: “highways, bridges, tunnels, airports, schools, hospitals”. Mr Xi will point out that he has a fair amount of expertise in construction, too. It comes from running a vast country with more than 12,000 miles (18,400km) of bullet-train track where America has none, and a dam at the Yangzi river’s Three Gorges which is nearly as tall as the Hoover Dam and six times its length. Mr Xi will offer money and expertise for the president-elect’s building efforts, emphasising that China’s help will generate American jobs. In return, it would be an easy goodwill gesture for Mr Trump to reverse Mr Obama’s opposition to American membership of the Chinese-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, and to lend more support to Mr Xi’s “Belt and Road” plans for building infrastructure across Asia and Europe. Advisers to Mr Trump suggest that is already on the cards.

The other leadership transition

A honeymoon, then, that few predicted. China certainly wills it. A calm external environment is critical for Mr Xi right now. He is preparing to carry out a sweeping reshuffle of the party’s leadership in the coming year or so. His aim is to consolidate his own power and ensure that he will have control over the choice of his eventual successors. That will demand much of his attention.

But don’t expect the honeymoon to last. For one, China may well have underestimated the strength of Mr Trump’s mercantilist instincts. It may also have second thoughts should a sustained dollar rally complicate management of its own currency. And even though America’s panicked friends have been this week, as the New York Times put it, “blindly dialling in to Trump Tower to try to reach the soon-to-be-leader of the free world”, Trumpian assurances of support have been growing for the alliances that China resents but that have reinforced American power in East Asia since the second world war. (As The Economist went to press, Japan’s prime minister, Shinzo Abe, was about to become the first national leader to meet the president-elect; he will reassure Mr Trump that Japan is taking on a bigger role in defending itself.)

And then who knows what might roil the world’s most important relationship? No crisis has recently challenged the two countries’ leaders like the mid-air collision in 2001 of a Chinese fighter jet and an American spy plane. Yet some similar incident is all too thinkable in the crowded, and contested, South and East China Seas. Remember, it is not just Mr Trump who is wholly untested in a foreign-policy crisis of that scale. Mr Xi is, too.

Source: A China-America romance? | The Economist

26/05/2015

Coal-fired plants in Beijing on way out with new ban|Society|chinadaily.com.cn

Beijing will ban new coal-fired thermal power plants after the four existing ones are expected to be replaced by gas-fired plants by 2017, according to the municipal economic planner.

The replacement is being made in an attempt to reduce coal consumption to achieve better air quality.

“The closure of the coal-fired power plants will greatly improve air quality, considering that 22 percent of air pollutants are from coal consumption,” said Zhang Wangcai, deputy director of the Beijing Development and Reform Commission’s Energy Bureau.

Two gas-fired thermal power plants have been operating since October and have reduced coal consumption by 3.95 metric tons annually, he said.

Beijing has also restricted coal consumption by companies and households for heating in the past two years by supplying them with gas or other cleaner fuels instead.

“By the end of this year, we will reduce coal consumption by 8 million tons,” Zhang said, adding that a reduction of 7.1 million tons has already been achieved.

Li Xiang, deputy head of atmospheric environment management at the Beijing Environmental Protection Bureau, said the reduction of coal consumption at the two power plants has been a major reason for the better air quality in the capital in the first four months of this year.

She said people in the capital have seen a distinct improvement in air quality in the first four months, during which there were 57 days when the quality was better than the national standard – eight days more than during the same period last year.

The concentration of PM2.5 – air particles of 2.5 micrometers or less in diameter that can penetrate the lungs and harm health – has been lowered by 19 percent and the number of days with serious pollution reduced by 42 percent year-on-year.

On Thursday, authorities launched efforts to reduce air pollution in support of the bid to host the 2022 Winter Olympics.

Zhang said the government will make further efforts to reduce emissions of air pollutants, including restricting coal consumption as planned, which will further improve air quality.

In addition to the two thermal power plants already operating, another will start working in July and a fourth will be ready to operate in November next year, he said.

By 2017, Beijing will have all its power generated by clean-energy gas, and coal consumption will be cut by 9.2 million tons annually – the equivalent amount used for the four coal-burning thermal power plants.

Gas consumption will increase to 24 billion cubic meters in 2017, of which 98 percent will be supplied through a variety of channels including foreign countries, Zhang said, adding that Beijing consumed 11.3 billion cubic meters of gas last year.

The Ministry of Environmental Protection released the list of air quality in April in the 74 major cities on Monday.

In April, seven of the 10 cities with the worst air pollution were in Hebei province, but the region of Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei province has witnessed a clear improvement in air quality, said Luo Yi, head of the ministry’s Environmental Supervision Bureau.

The PM2.5 concentration in the region has been reduced on average by 18.3 percent year-on-year and was 16.3 percent lower in April than in March, he said.

via Coal-fired plants in Beijing on way out with new ban|Society|chinadaily.com.cn.

21/03/2015

Top South Korea, Japan, China envoys agree to work for a summit soon | Reuters

The foreign ministers of South Korea, Japan and China agreed on Saturday that a summit meeting of their leaders, on hold for nearly three years because of tensions over history and territory, should be held soon to mend the countries’ ties.

(L-R) Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida, South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi make a toast during a banquet at the South Korean Foreign Minister's residence in Seoul March 21, 2015. REUTERS-Kim Hong-Ji

The ministers were meeting, also for the first time in three years, in a bid to restore what had been a regular forum to discuss cooperation until it collapsed over what Seoul and Beijing saw as Japan’s reluctance to own up to its wartime past.

“Based on the accomplishments achieved through this meeting, the three ministers decided to continue their efforts to hold the trilateral summit at the earliest convenient time for the three countries,” a joint statement after the meeting said.

via Top South Korea, Japan, China envoys agree to work for a summit soon | Reuters.

11/03/2015

China’s Risky Mao-Style Focus on the Personal Life of President Xi Jinping – China Real Time Report – WSJ

Chinese media’s relentless focus on the achievements and personal life of President Xi Jinping represents a sharp break with recent leadership practice in China, which has studiously avoided the personality cult that surrounded Mao Zedong. WSJ’s Andrew Browne traveled to Liangjiahe, the cave village in northern China where Mr. Xi was banished during the Cultural Revolution, to answer a question: Is it all about personal aggrandizement? Or is it a media-driven effort by the troubled Communist Party to capitalize on an immensely popular president?

It may be both. Just over two years into his term, three major anthologies of Mr. Xi’s speeches and writings have rolled off the official printing presses. The Chinese characters for “China Dream,” Mr. Xi’s catchphrase for national rejuvenation, are plastered across subway stations, bus stops and billboards. Party newspapers extol the “Spirit of Xi Jinping.”

There’s an irony, of course, in Mr. Xi taking a leaf from Mao, who persecuted his father. But Mr. Xi’s main goal is to save the Party. That means preserving Mao as a symbol of Communist rule.

via China’s Risky Mao-Style Focus on the Personal Life of President Xi Jinping – China Real Time Report – WSJ.

12/12/2014

The Nanjing massacre: Lest they forget | The Economist

IN THE city of Nanjing in eastern China, polluting factories have been shut temporarily, streets cleaned and a third of government cars kept off roads in readiness for a new “national memorial day” that will be observed on December 13th. Chinese leaders, probably including President Xi Jinping, will gather in Nanjing to mourn victims of the worst atrocity committed by Japanese troops during their occupation of the country in the 1930s and 1940s: the Nanjing massacre of 1937 that China says left more than 300,000 dead. The bloodshed in what until shortly beforehand had been China’s capital still generates widespread bitterness in China. But why the need now to mobilise the country to commemorate the event?

The decision to establish an annual memorial day for the massacre was made in March by China’s parliament, the National People’s Congress. It also designated September 3rd as “victory day” to mark Japan’s defeat in 1945. In August a new “martyrs’ day” was added to the list. It would be observed annually on September 30th in honour of China’s war dead, including those who died fighting the Japanese. These moves were a sign of a severe strain in ties between China and Japan that began in 2012 when Japan nationalised three of the uninhabited Senkaku islands in the East China Sea. China claims the islands, which it calls the Diaoyu. Relations were further soured by a visit paid a year ago by Japan’s prime minister, Shinzo Abe, to the Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo where Japanese war criminals are among those honoured.

In November, during a meeting of Asia-Pacific leaders in Beijing, President Xi Jinping shook hands with Mr Abe for the first time since the Japanese leader took office two years ago. But a restoration of normal high-level contacts will not be swift. The war will loom large in the coming months as China prepares next year to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the conflict’s end. The party continues to whip up nationalist sentiment with anti-Japanese television shows, the publication of war memoirs, and, in the last few days, the issuing of school textbooks with anti-Japanese themes. One, for use at primary schools in Jiangsu province, of which Nanjing is the capital, is titled “Memory of Blood and Fire”. The main ceremony on December 13th will be held at the Nanjing Massacre Memorial Hall (pictured above) and will be broadcast live across the country. What has been described by Chinese media as the world’s largest and loudest air-raid siren, made for the occasion, will be sounded just after 10am local time.

The memorial days also serve a political purpose at home. Mr Xi has been trying to cast himself as a nationalist who has the courage to assert China’s territorial claims, even at the cost of offending America and its friends in the region. This, he apparently hopes, will boost his prestige and the Communist Party’s legitimacy. In a speech on “victory day”, Mr Xi said the party had played a “decisive role” in defeating Japan and was “leading the Chinese nation on its quest for great revival”. But there was also a hint of conciliation. It was, he said, in the interests of Chinese and Japanese “to maintain a healthy and steady long-term relationship”. Wartime memories will continue to frustrate that goal.

via The Nanjing massacre: Lest they forget | The Economist.

07/12/2014

They’re Coming! Chinese Tourists Will Make 100 Million Trips Abroad This Year – Businessweek

In the first 11 months of this year, mainland Chinese tourists made more than 100 million international trips—already topping the travel total for 2013, according to new data from the China National Tourism Administration.

People hail the arrival of Asia's largest luxury cruise liner, Voyager of the Seas, in Tianjin, China, in 2012

Fifteen years ago, Chinese tourists made less than 10 million trips abroad. Since then, however, rising incomes have led to rapid growth in domestic and international travel.

Many of those trips—more than 60 percent—are within Greater China, including Hong Kong, Macao, and Taiwan. Almost 90 percent of destinations are within Asia.

China UnionPay—the country’s Visa (V) card—now offers several promotions hoping to encourage overseas tourists to spend more. Cardholders visiting Paris, Rome, and Sydney can get 15 percent off hotels, restaurants, and major tourist attractions. Those touring in Bali, Phuket, and the Maldives can get 10 percent off.

Meanwhile, national tourism authorities for Switzerland and Iceland recently put up booths at Beijing’s “Ski & Style” industry event in late November, hoping to lure more affluent Chinese skiers to European slopes.

via They’re Coming! Chinese Tourists Will Make 100 Million Trips Abroad This Year – Businessweek.

03/12/2014

Under Pressure: The 10-Story Machine China Hopes Will Boost Its Aviation Industry. – China Real Time Report – WSJ

The engineers started closing the rollerdoor the moment they saw a foreigner walking toward them.

Standing around laughing in blue overalls and yellow hard hats, they went quiet the moment I started walking up the drive. I asked if I could take a peek behind the door. They said it was a secret.

Still, I managed to catch a glimpse of two floors’ worth of the 10-story-tall machine Beijing hopes will play a major role in driving China’s aviation and aerospace industries: an 80,000-ton closed-die hydraulic press forge.

Repeated requests for a tour of the forge were declined. Both Zhang Jian, the head of propaganda at Erzhong Group, the company that built and operates the forge, and Wang Yu, the secretary of the board of directors of Erzhong’s Shanghai-listed unit, said that the forge is “confidential.”

It’s not immediately clear what about the machine – which is painted green with Erzhong Group printed across it in red Chinese characters – is so secret.

The machine is the biggest of its kind in the world. The biggest forge in the U.S. can exert only 50,000 tons of pressure, and is operated by Alcoa AA +0.93% in Ohio. France has a 65,000-ton machine, and Russia has a machine capable of exerting 75,000 tons of pressure.

But the technology China is using is nothing new. It is based on modifications of Russian designs from the 80s, according to a person involved in the development process.

More sensitive is was China can potentially do with it.

Press forging involves shaping a piece of metal under high pressure by squeezing it into a mold. That alters the flow of the metal’s grain – its internal structure – allowing engineers to create stronger and lighter components than would be possible by just beating them into shape or welding them together. Greater pressure results in stronger components.

The Erzhong forge can exert up to 80,000 tons of downward pressure using five columns. Flipped upside down, it could lift China’s Liaoning aircraft carrier, with room to spare for a handful of submarines. Airbus is using the Russian forge to make landing gear components for the A380, the world’s biggest passenger plane. Having the world’s biggest forge should allow China to produce large components of higher strength than possible elsewhere.

The technology was pioneered during WWII by Germany, which didn’t have a sufficient supply of steel and so had to mold its air force out of more brittle, but lighter metals, according to Tim Heffernan, a writer who has researched the U.S. forge program. The end of the war brought the start of the jet age, and the U.S. government provided support for the building of forges around the country, so that the country was able to produce light planes that were sufficiently strong to withstand supersonic speeds.

Alcoa’s forge has been producing parts for Boeing and Airbus for decades. The company says it supplies almost all forged wheel and brake components for U.S. military aircraft and helicopters, including the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, the U.S. military’s newest fighter jet.

Erzhong hasn’t explicitly said what the forge will be used for, but academics involved in its development process said there are potential military applications.

The first component produced by the forge at its official launch in April last year was the landing gear for the C919,  China’s long-awaited and much behind schedule narrow-bodied passenger aircraft being built by the Commercial Aircraft Company of China.

via Under Pressure: The 10-Story Machine China Hopes Will Boost Its Aviation Industry. – China Real Time Report – WSJ.

27/11/2014

China takes ‘zero tolerance’ approach to regional polluters: Cabinet | Reuters

China will take a “zero tolerance” approach to a wide range of environmental violations and has promised stronger action against regional governments that protect polluters or hinder inspections, according to a Cabinet document.

A man wearing a face mask stands on a bridge in front of the financial district of Pudong on a hazy day, in Shanghai November 17, 2014. REUTERS/Aly Song

Authorities across China have been ordered to take part in a comprehensive inspection program to be completed by the end of 2015, said the policy document that was released on the official government website late on Wednesday.

The program’s findings will be released publicly under a policy of enhanced transparency and accountability, it said, and any regional regulations that hinder enforcement of national environmental legislation must be annulled by June 2015.

The state of China’s air, soil and rivers has emerged as one of the ruling Communist Party’s biggest challenges, with an increasingly prosperous public unwilling to accept the environmental costs of rapid economic growth.

China declared a “war on pollution” this year and passed long-awaited amendments to its 1989 Environmental Protection Law, giving authorities added powers to monitor, fine and even imprison repeat offenders.

On Wednesday, the cabinet also approved draft amendments to China’s air pollution law that include unlimited daily fines if violators do not rectify problems, the China Daily newspaper reported. Polluters currently pay a one-off fine of up to 200,000 yuan ($32,595).

Enforcement remains one of the government’s main concerns, with the Ministry of Environmental Protection complaining last month that some regions preferred “form over substance” when it came to implementing new guidelines.

The ministry also criticized regional governments that failed to comply fully with industrial restrictions during this month’s Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Beijing.

(1 US dollar = 6.1360 Chinese yuan)

via China takes ‘zero tolerance’ approach to regional polluters: Cabinet | Reuters.

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