Posts tagged ‘hillary clinton’

15/12/2016

Trump and China: 5 Views From Beijing – China Real Time Report – WSJ

Stephen Sestanovich, a professor at Columbia University and senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, is the author of “Maximalist: America in the World From Truman to Obama.” He is on Twitter: @SSestanovich.

When the Chinese Foreign Ministry expresses “serious concern” about things Donald Trump has said about Taiwan—and a party-controlled newspaper calls him “as ignorant as a child”—it’s clear that Beijing is alarmed. Yet after spending last week in China, I came away struck by the overall complacency of Chinese attitudes toward the president-elect. From officials (and former officials), entrepreneurs, journalists, NGO leaders, and think-tankers, I heard five different reasons for not worrying too much about how Mr. Trump could affect U.S.-China relations.

1. China is powerful.

Sure, a new administration might want to rethink the relationship between Beijing and Washington, but that can’t be the end of the story, I heard. China has so many ways to push back. Soon enough the Americans would come to their senses.

2. The U.S. is constrained.

Standing up to China is expensive, I was reminded. As one former trade official told me, “America may decide it wants to patrol the South China Sea more often, but that costs money.” (I pointed out to people I talked to that Mr. Trump was committed to a big increase in the Pentagon budget—but everyone knows there are a lot of claims on those dollars, and many would have no impact on China.)

3. Businessmen are practical people.

China’s economic surge, now more than three decades old, was premised on an abandonment of ideology. As a successful businessman, Mr. Trump—I was told—must be a pragmatist at heart. One journalist I talked to thought it might help the president-elect to cultivate a Nixon-style “mad man” reputation, but most of my interlocutors seemed confident this was all for show.

4. Bureaucratic and interest-group politics.

The Chinese have seen previous presidents campaign on anti-Chinese themes only to abandon them in office. Why, they ask, does this happen? Their answer: the institutions of the U.S. government know how to bury new ideas. Someone like Mr. Trump, with no prior experience in Washington, will find it difficult to ignore Congress and the federal bureaucracy.

5. Habit and mutual benefit.

Chinese of all outlooks believe that, in the 45 years since Henry Kissinger first visited Beijing, a relationship has been created from which both sides derive obvious benefits. “Win-win” seems to be a favorite buzz phrase in China, and the idea that it would be questioned evokes a certain incredulity.The status quo has a powerful hold on people’s imaginations everywhere. Still, the Chinese assumption of policy continuity—after everything that has happened this year!—was a surprise for me. I told the people I spoke to that Mr. Trump had convinced many voters that he is determined to scrap outmoded policies. One person, who knows the U.S. well, had an interesting response: “You mean ‘win-win’ could be one of them?”

Source: Trump and China: 5 Views From Beijing – China Real Time Report – WSJ

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10/11/2016

Theresa May promises ‘golden era’ in UK-Chinese relations – BBC News

Theresa May has promised to work for a “golden era” in the UK’s relations with China, as the country’s vice-premier visits London for talks.

Ma Kai‘s trip follows Mrs May’s decision after coming to power to delay approval of the part-Chinese-financed Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant.

The project was given the go-ahead, after China warned that “mutual trust” was needed between the countries.

Mr Ma is meeting Chancellor Philip Hammond to discuss investing in the UK.

Speaking before the eighth UK-China Economic and Financial Dialogue got under way, Mrs May said: “I’m determined that as we leave the European Union, we build a truly global Britain that is open for business.”

As we take the next step in this golden era of relations between the UK and China, I am excited about the opportunities for expanding trade and investment between our two countries.”

‘Mutual benefits’

There will be an announcement that the Chinese contractor CITIC Construction is to invest £200m in the first phase of the £1.7bn London Royal Albert Docks project, headed by the Chinese developer ABP.

Philip Hammond promises ‘constructive’ US talks

And the UK will in turn invest up to £40m in the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank based in Beijing, for a fund to help developing countries to prepare infrastructure programmes.

Mr Hammond, who is hosting the Chinese delegation at London’s Lancaster House, said: “The mutual benefits are clear. China is the world’s second-largest economy. UK exports to China have grown rapidly and Britain is home to more Chinese investment than any other European country.”

US President-elect Donald Trump has said he wants to apply 45% tariff barriers to Chinese imports in an effort to protect free trade.

Mr Hammond told the BBC: “Britain’s always believed that the best way long-term to protect and promote prosperity is free markets and free trade.”

President Trump has just been elected by the American people. He will want to consult with his advisers, talk to officials and I’m sure we will have a very constructive dialogue, as we do with the Chinese, with the new American administration.”

He added: “It’s about getting the right balance in the global trading system, so that we can have the benefits of open markets, while being properly and appropriately protected.”

One of Mrs May’s first acts on becoming prime minister during the summer was to order a review of the project to build Hinkley Point C, in Somerset, part-financed by China.

Writing in the Financial Times in August, Liu Xiaoming, China’s ambassador to the UK, said: “If Britain’s openness is a condition for bilateral co-operation, then mutual trust is the very foundation on which this is built.”

Right now, the China-UK relationship is at a crucial historical juncture. Mutual trust should be treasured even more.”

The UK government approved Hinkley Point C in September, saying it had imposed “significant new safeguards” to protect national security.

Source: Theresa May promises ‘golden era’ in UK-Chinese relations – BBC News

10/11/2016

PM Modi heads to Japan to seal nuclear deal amid uncertainty over U.S. policy | Reuters

Prime Minister Narendra Modi headed to Japan on Thursday to seal a landmark nuclear energy pact and strengthen ties, as China’s regional influence grows and Donald Trump’s election throws U.S. policies across Asia into doubt.

India, Japan and the United States have been building security ties and holding three-way naval exercises, but Trump’s “America First” campaign promise has stirred concern about a reduced U.S. engagement in the region.

Such an approach by Washington could draw Modi and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe even closer, said foreign policy commentator and former Indian ambassador M.K. Bhadrakumar.

Officials in New Delhi and Tokyo said a deal that will allow Japan to supply nuclear reactors, fuel and technology is ready for signing after six years of negotiations to find a way around Tokyo’s reservations about such an agreement with a country that has not signed the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

India says the NPT is discriminatory and it has concerns about nuclear-armed China as well as its long-time rival Pakistan.

Japan, the only country to have suffered a nuclear attack, has been seeking assurances from New Delhi that it would not conduct nuclear tests any more.

Indian foreign ministry spokesman Vikas Swarup said the two sides had reached a broad agreement on nuclear collaboration as early as last December and had since been trying to finalise the document.

A “legal, technical scrub” of the agreed text has now been done, he said, but added that he could not pre-judge the outcome of Modi’s summit talks with Abe over Friday and Saturday.

A Japanese ruling party lawmaker said the two sides will sign an agreement during Modi’s visit. A Japanese foreign ministry spokesman declined to comment.

JAPANESE AIRCRAFT ALSO DISCUSSED

The nuclear agreement with Japan follows a similar one with the United States in 2008 which gave India access to nuclear technology after decades of isolation.

That step was seen as the first big move to build India into a regional counterweight to China.

India hopes to lift ties with the United States to a new height, Modi said in a message to U.S. President-elect Donald Trump on Tuesday.

A final deal with Japan could also benefit U.S. firms.

India is in advanced negotiations with U.S.-based Westinghouse Electric, owned by Japan’s Toshiba, to build six nuclear reactors in southern India, part of New Delhi’s plan to ramp up nuclear capacity more than ten times by 2032.

“Japan is keen to put aside it’s staunch non-proliferation principles and engage with the lucrative Indian programme,” said Manpreet Sethi, nuclear affairs expert at the Centre for Air Power Studies, a New Delhi think-tank.

But the agreement will still have to be ratified by the Japanese parliament, she said.

Japan’s Yomiuri newspaper said the main accord will likely be accompanied by a separate document stipulating that Tokyo will suspend nuclear cooperation if India conducts a nuclear test. Initially, Japan wanted that inserted into the agreement itself, but India resisted, it said.India has declared a moratorium on such testing since its last explosions in 1998.

The two countries have also been trying to close a deal on the supply of amphibious rescue aircraft US-2 to the Indian navy, which would be one of Japan’s first sales of military equipment since Abe lifted a 50-year ban on arms exports.

India’s Defence Acquisitions Council met earlier this week to consider the purchase of 12 of the planes made by ShinMaywa Industries, but failed to reach a decision.

An Indian government source said opinion within the military was divided over whether to buy the aircraft when it was struggling to find resources to replace ageing and accident-prone submarines and address a shortage of helicopters.

A Japanese defence source said Japan was considering a cost reduction, which would mean a price cut for India as well as for the Japanese navy which it supplies. A US-2 currently costs about 13 billion yen ($123 million).

Source: PM Modi heads to Japan to seal nuclear deal amid uncertainty over U.S. policy | Reuters

10/11/2016

How the Trump Win Played Out in South Asia – India Real Time – WSJ

As Donald Trump was winning his first states in the U.S., South Asia was getting up to follow the results.In Pakistan, Javed Hassan, a former investment banker who previously worked in London and Hong Kong, got up early, at 4 a.m. local time (6 p.m. Tuesday ET), to watch election results come in at his home in the city of Karachi. On Whatsapp, he started trading messages with his son, Ali, a 20-year-old studying economics and politics at New York University.

The younger Mr. Hassan, Ali, watching TV with friends at his dorm at NYU, started his evening telling his worried father that there was no chance of a Trump victory.

“Trump won’t get enough votes in the north and the American people will not go for his racism,” he told his father.

The elder Mr. Hassan, however, was switching between CNN and BBC coverage and was seeing “long queues of white people” waiting to vote, he said, and seeing the state-by-state projections.

By 7 a.m. Pakistan time (9 p.m. Tuesday ET), father and son started to see the trends in states like Michigan.

“What really did it was when Hillary started losing in Wisconsin,” said Mr. Hassan, 51, who now runs a non-governmental organizational that provides vocational training across Pakistan. His son, enveloped in a New York bubble, with all his friends voting for Mrs. Clinton, could not see it coming, said Mr. Hassan.

Meanwhile in India, Sagar Chordia, executive director of Panchshil Realty, a real estate firm which this year built the country’s first Trump Towers in the western city of Pune, had gotten up at 5 a.m. (6.30 p.m. Tuesday ET) to watch the results on television.

Mr. Chordia said he tracked the Twitter and Facebook updates of Donald Trump Jr., who was instrumental in signing the deal with his company.

Mr. Chordia typically leaves for the office around 9 a.m. (10.30 p.m. Tuesday ET), but on Wednesday he stayed at home in Pune, glued to the TV for another hour or so, until Mr. Trump had garnered 220 electoral votes. “Now, I know he’s the winner,” he thought at the time.

Mr. Chordia said that once he got to the office, he found his staff were happy with the result, as many of them met Mr. Trump when he visited Pune in 2014. Then, Mr. Chordia said, he and his team threw a big party for Mr. Trump, with 800 guests.

He said Mr. Trump’s election is good for India, because the president elect has traveled to the country and has praised Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. “They really love India and they want to do more and more projects in this country,” he said of the Trumps.

In Mumbai, India, Alok Churiwala, a 48-year-old stock broker, was waiting for the benchmark stock index to open at 9.15 a.m. (10.45 p.m. Tuesday ET). Mr. Churiwala was tracking the election results on television, as well as Twitter and on his Whatsapp account.

He prepared for the market to open down, given that the Dow Jones futures were already trading lower, but he wasn’t ready for the 5% fall.“We were horrified when the markets opened,” he said.

At his morning meeting with dealers, Mr. Churiwala told his staff that clients should be kept from doing anything reckless. They were not to encourage clients to short the market, bet against it, or borrow for day trades.

As stocks swooned, he was swamped by clients calling to ask what was happening.

“Phones were ringing off the hook, because everybody was worried,” he said. “You’d think that this is apocalypse,” said Mr. Churiwala.

He skipped lunch.

He said one client who is based in the U.K. called. “What is it about Trump that is so horrifying for the market?” he said she asked him.

He said that he was neutral to both U.S. presidential candidates and he believed that Mr. Trump may not carry through on some drastic steps he had suggested on the campaign trail. “Politicians are known to make promises before elections when they want to woo voters,” he said.

In India’s capital New Delhi, members of a small Hindu nationalist group were ready for the news of Mr. Trump’s win. They began gathering at 11 a.m. (12:30 a.m. Wednesday ET) to celebrate a Trump lead they were certain would result in a victory. The group, known as the Hindu Sena, or Hindu army, had hosted a prayer ritual for such an outcome a few months ago. It even held a birthday celebration for Mr. Trump in June.

A member of Hindu Sena celebrated Mr. Trump’s victory, in New Delhi, India, Nov. 9, 2016. PHOTO: CATHAL MCNAUGHTON/REUTERS

More than four dozen supporters gathered at a prominent square on Wednesday. They distributed Indian sweets to passers-by and beat traditional drums. Modifying a popular slogan from Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s election campaign two years ago, they chanted in Hindi, “this time, a Trump government.”

Vishnu Gupta, who founded the group in 2011, said he’d sent out text messages at 7 p.m. (8:30 a.m. Tuesday ET) the previous day, asking supporters to watch the news closely and gather in the late morning. Mr. Gupta himself hadn’t slept all night, he said, glued to the television as Americans cast their ballots.

To Mr. Gupta, Mr. Trump, represents strong leadership against what he called Islamic terrorism, much like India’s Mr. Modi, he said. “Many people criticized Trump’s proposals to stop radical Muslims from entering the U.S. and mocked us for celebrating the man,” he said. “But today, we’ve come out ahead.”

Back in the U.S., the younger Mr. Hassan didn’t wait up for Trump’s victory speech. “Screw this,” he told his father in Pakistan and went to sleep at around midnight in New York.

The elder Mr. Hassan said that he was worried about his holdings on the local Karachi Stock Exchange, which plunged 2% early on Wednesday, before recovering.

Source: How the Trump Win Played Out in South Asia – India Real Time – WSJ

10/11/2016

Chinese Flag-Maker Flooded With Orders in Wake of Trump Win – China Real Time Report – WSJ

While China’s leaders weigh what to make of Donald Trump’s impending presidency, one manufacturer in the scenic city of Shaoxing has been enthusiastically carrying Mr. Trump’s banner.

Or, more accurately, he’s been printing, folding and shipping it.Yao Dandan is the owner of Shaoxing Jiahao Banner and Handicrafts Co. Ltd. Since election results suggesting a Trump victory began pouring in Wednesday morning, he says, he’s fielded a barrage of orders for Trump-themed flags.

The total number ordered as of Thursday morning: more than 40,000.

“I knew there would be demand for Trump flags after the election, so I made extra. But it’s not enough, so now I have to make more,” Mr. Yao said.The 30-year-old said that he’s been in the flag-making business for a decade and that Shaoxing’s factories specialize in making election banners. His factory has taken orders for close to half a million Trump banners in the past two months, he said.

Mr. Trump has taken heat for vowing tough restrictions on Chinese imports while over the years turning to China to source goods ranging from ties to steel, but there’s no evidence the next U.S. president purchased banners from Shaoxing. Mr. Yao said most of the orders he’s received came from Chinese clients living in the U.S.

Flags bound for the U.S. have to be higher quality than most, he said. He charges 2.5 yuan ($0.37) a piece for the smallest Trump banners, which his clients typically sell in the U.S. for between $1 or $2 (they sell for 5 yuan on e-commerce site Alibaba). The factory has produced every U.S. state flag, and earlier this year got multiple orders for Confederate flags.

What about orders for Hillary Clinton banners? Mr. Yao, who counts himself a Trump supporter, said he’s been asked but now refuses to make them because he believes Mrs. Clinton is unfair to China.

The news of Trump’s win was “a pleasant surprise,” he said. “It means I didn’t strive these past couple of months in vain.”

Asked about Mr. Trump’s vow to impose a 45% across-the-board tariff on Chinese goods, Mr. Yao confessed he wasn’t aware of that part of the property mogul’s platform but said he thought China’s government would make sure it wasn’t implemented.

The flag-maker said he’d never been to the U.S. but planned to remedy that soon.

“When things slow down, I’m going to go to the U.S. and have a look. At the very least I also contributed a little!” he said.

Source: Chinese Flag-Maker Flooded With Orders in Wake of Trump Win – China Real Time Report – WSJ

09/11/2016

Watching Trump Inch Towards Victory, With Cheers, in China – China Real Time Report – WSJ

As vote tallies came in late Tuesday night, it was Wednesday morning in China and inside the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, many Chinese watchers were celebrating the increasingly likely prospect of a Donald Trump win.

The event, intended to give Chinese locals the opportunity to experience a U.S. election, featured a mock vote and the opportunity for locals to pose with large cut-out photos of Mr. Trump and Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, as well as remarks from U.S. Ambassador Max Baucus.

As he stood and watched the results roll in on a large overhead screen, Tian Junwu, a professor at the Beihang University School of Foreign Languages, said he was rooting for Mr. Trump’s victory.

“I’m a man. I don’t like a woman to be too strong,” said Mr. Tian. “She is too overbearing, like my wife. I think Trump is funny.”

Though the Republican candidate has threatened to slap a 45% tariff on Chinese goods, Mr. Tian said such a prospect wasn’t too alarming. “We [Chinese people] know now that candidates say one thing when they are running, but becoming a president is a different thing.”

Zhong Shaoliang, the Beijing representative of the industry group World Steel Association, said that the candidates seemed similar to him, but that he preferred Mr. Trump because he seemed more authentic. “He’s more American that way,” he said.

Still, he said that if he was American himself, he would see some perhaps worrying aspects at the prospect of a Trump win. “Hillary would be better for overall harmony. Trump will likely continue to further divide America up.”

As Florida was called for Mr. Trump, a pair of second-year college students studying English at the Beijing Language and Culture University said they were pleased.

“Clinton gives me kind of a sinister feeling, I’m kind of scared of her,” said Xu Xiayan, 19, who said she and her friends were paying more attention to the election this year, mostly for its entertainment value. “She’s good at pretending. Like when Trump is saying things and making her angry, she still maintains a slight smile.” Her friend agreed.Kang Xiaoguang, a professor at Renmin University’s China Institute for Philosophy and Social Innovation, said many of his friends were also cheering for Mr. Trump. “He’s saying things that people in America in their hearts might really feel — like about immigrants, about Muslims — but don’t dare say.” And from a foreign-policy perspective, he said, he thought Mr. Trump would be more likely to pull back on a global stage, including in places such as the South China Sea. “That way, China won’t have so much pressure on it,” he said.

“Also, some people feel the U.S. makes too much trouble for China, so if there’s a person making trouble in the U.S., they think Trump becoming president is a good thing,” he added.

Given the chance, he said, he might have cast his ballot for Mrs. Clinton, who he sees as steadier and easier to predict. A recent Pew survey found that Chinese respondents have a poor image of both presidential candidates, but viewed Mrs. Clinton slightly more favorably than her opponent.

Still, no matter what he does in office, Mr. Kang said he didn’t think that Trump’s impact would necessarily be too great. “America is a very mature system,” he said. It won’t be easily rocked by one person.”

Source: Watching Trump Inch Towards Victory, With Cheers, in China – China Real Time Report – WSJ

07/11/2016

China and Taiwan struggle over Sun Yat-sen’s legacy | The Economist

FOR decades Taiwan’s rulers have paid their respects from afar to Sun Yat-sen, also known as Sun Zhongshan: “father of the nation”, founder of the Kuomintang (KMT) or Nationalist Party, and first president of the Republic of China.

In a ritual called yaoji, they face towards Sun’s mausoleum in Nanjing, 800km (500 miles) to the north-west in China, and offer fruit, burn incense and recite prayers.

Now that links across the Taiwan Strait are better, Sun-worshippers may make the pilgrimage in person. On October 31st it was the turn of the KMT’s chairwoman, Hung Hsiu-chu. But not only do some Taiwanese adore Sun. Museums in his honour also exist in Hong Kong, Macau, Singapore and Penang. He has a memorial park in Hawaii, where the great republican spent his teenage years, and a plaque in London, where he lived in exile from 1896-97. Most striking of all, he is admired by the Chinese Communists, who “liberated” China in 1949 from KMT rule.

In the Communist telling, Sun is the “forerunner of the democratic revolution”. As one visitor to his mausoleum put it this week: just as one sun and one moon hang in the sky, “there is only one father of the country.” There may be more Zhongshan Streets in China’s cities than Liberation Avenues. To mark this month’s anniversary of Sun’s birth 150 years ago, the state is minting a set of commemorative coins, including 300m five-yuan (75-cent) pieces that will go into circulation. It is a signal honour for a non-Communist. The party views Sun as a proto-revolutionary.

He makes an unlikely hero. Sun spent much of his life not in the thick of action but abroad. Half-a-dozen revolts that he helped organise against an ossified Qing dynasty were failures. As for the Wuchang uprising of October 1911, the catalyst for the end of three centuries of Manchu domination, he learnt of it from a Denver newspaper. He was back at the head of China’s first republican government early the following year, but merely as “provisional” president. Lacking the military strength to pull a fractured country together, he said he was the place-warmer for a strongman, Yuan Shikai. The nascent republic soon shattered and Yuan crowned himself emperor. Pressure from Western powers and Japan exacerbated China’s bleak situation. By 1916 Sun was back in exile again, in Japan.

For all that, Sun had brought down a rotten empire. For years he had raised the alarm over China’s direction, denouncing the Manchus and the rapaciousness of external powers. All his life, Sun had strived for a new republican order to turn a stricken China into a modern nation-state.

His ideas were hardly systematic, but he never deviated from the priorities of fostering national unity among Chinese, promoting democracy and improving people’s livelihoods—his “Three Principles of the People”. While railing against foreign depredations, he called for Chinese to embrace Western freedoms and rights (Sun’s messianic drive may have derived from his version of Christianity). His was an astonishingly more cosmopolitan world-view than that displayed by today’s Chinese leaders.Yet the longest-lasting impact of Sun on Chinese political life derives from something different. In the early 1920s he listened to advisers from the Soviet Union, which had won his admiration by renouncing territorial claims in China. He reorganised the KMT along Leninist lines, giving himself almost dictatorial powers (in Leninspeak: “democratic centralism”). The immediate effects were striking: an alliance between the KMT and the young Communist Party and a northward military advance in 1926 under Chiang Kai-shek, Sun’s heir, that toppled the warlords who were then wreaking havoc. Sun had died of liver failure the year before. He did not live to experience the brief national unity that Chiang imposed, nor the parties’ fatal split and descent into bloodshed, nor their struggle over Sun’s mantle.

Follow the Sun

And his legacy today? Consider that among his three principles, the two 20th-century dictators, Mao Zedong in mainland China and Chiang Kai-shek on Taiwan, gave a damn only about the first, national unity, on which, by their standards, they must be judged poorly. Sun’s Leninist party organisation—never one of his hallowed principles—had a far more profound impact on the two autocrats, and still does on China’s rulers today.

In Taiwan dictatorial KMT rule began crumbling a few years after Chiang’s death in 1975. Democratic development since then, including within the KMT, and the growth of a prosperous civil society, seem in line with Sun’s second and third principles relating to democracy and prosperity. But as for the first, a Chinese nationalism: forget it. Sun’s portrait still hangs in schools and government offices, and looks serenely down on the frequent fisticuffs in Taiwan’s parliament. But after resounding defeat in elections early this year, the KMT struggles for relevance on an island that is proud of its separateness from China. If there is any echo of Sun’s idealism, it is in the student “Sunflower Movement”, which wants to keep China at bay. For many Taiwanese, the Republic of China, Taiwan’s official name, is a figleaf for independence; Sun is an old ineffectual ghost. The current president, Tsai Ing-wen of the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party, performed no yaoji this year.

And China? Democratic centralism still prevails—exemplified by the party’s monopoly on power, Xi Jinping’s autocratic rule and the suppression of dissent. Were Sun to speak from his tomb, he might remind Mr Xi how, under the Communist Party, national unity, real democracy and even broad-based prosperity remain elusive. He might point out, too, that when Sun adopted Leninism it was to advance rather than trump his beloved principles. In his final will, Sun wrote: “The work of the revolution is not done yet.” “Blimey,” he might now say: “Couldn’t you think of trying something different?”

Source: China and Taiwan struggle over Sun Yat-sen’s legacy | The Economist

04/11/2016

Xi Jinping gets a new title | The Economist

COMMUNIST leaders relish weird and wonderful titles. Kim Jong Il, the late father of North Korea’s current “Great Leader”, was, on special occasions, “Dear Leader who is a perfect incarnation of the appearance that a leader should have” (it doesn’t sound much better in Korean). China’s rulers like a more prosaic, mysterious epithet: hexin, meaning “the core”.

Xi Jinping—China’s president, commander-in-chief, Communist Party boss and so forth—is now also officially “the core”, having been called that in a report issued by the party’s Central Committee after a recent annual meeting.

The term was made up in 1989 by Deng Xiaoping, apparently to give his anointed successor, Jiang Zemin, greater credibility after the bloody suppression of the Tiananmen Square protests. Just as Mao had been the core of the first generation of party leaders and Deng himself of the second, so Mr Jiang was of the third. (Hu Jintao, Mr Xi’s predecessor, was supposedly offered the title of fourth-generation core but modestly turned it down.)

Being core confers no extra powers. Mr Xi has little need of those; he is chairman of everything anyway. Status, though, is what really matters in China (Deng ruled the country for a while with no other title than honorary chairman of the China Bridge Association). And Mr Xi seems to be finding that all his formal power does not convey enough. Early this year, in what looked like a testing of the waters, a succession of provincial party leaders kowtowed verbally to Xi-the-core. But the term soon disappeared from public discourse. Its revival makes it look as if Mr Xi has won a struggle to claim it.

That may augur well for him in his forthcoming battles over the appointment of a new generation of lesser officials (the peel?) at a party congress next year. Mr Xi wants to replace some of the 350-odd members of the central committee with his own people, while keeping as many of his allies as he can. In a sign that he might be able to do that, officials have started dismissing as “folklore” an unwritten rule that members of the Politburo have to retire at 68. The rule is commonly known as “seven up, eight down” (qi shang, ba xia), meaning 67 is fine, 68 is over the hill. Getting rid of it would seem to open the way to the non-retirement of several of Mr Xi’s close allies, notably 68-year-old Wang Qishan, who is in charge of fighting graft. It might even pave the way for Mr Xi’s own refusal to collect his pension when his second (and supposedly final) term as party chief is up in 2022, and he will be 69.

There is another parallel between political language now and in 1989. The recent meeting eschewed the party’s usual practice of tying current events to the triumphs of earlier Communist history and instead set the scene by referring mostly to the congress in 2012, when Mr Xi became leader. Another time when the party ignored history in this way was after the Tiananmen killings, when it wanted to draw a veil over what had just occurred and signal a fresh, dictatorial start. Mr Xi seems to be saying, implicitly, that a new era has begun with him, core among equals.

Source: Xi Jinping gets a new title | The Economist

01/11/2016

For China’s Leaders, Age Cap Is but a Moving Number – China Real Time Report – WSJ

The past three turnovers in the inner circle of China’s Communist Party leadership have come with an age guideline for retirement: Those 67 years old or younger could stay; those 68 or older had to go.

Now, comments from a senior party functionary are adding fuel to speculation that President Xi Jinping may break with the norm at a once-every-five-years party congress late next year.Speaking to reporters Monday, Deng Maosheng, a director at the party’s Central Policy Research Office, dismissed the qishang baxia (“seven up, eight down”) retirement convention as a “popular saying” that “isn’t trustworthy.”

“The strict boundaries of ‘seven up, eight down’ don’t exist,” said Mr. Deng, whose office is headed by one of Mr. Xi’s top policy advisers. Rather, he said, retirement rules are “flexible” and subject to revision as circumstances require.

His comments were the most public expression to date of what some party insiders have been saying privately for months. The age norm is a burden to Mr. Xi as he works to sideline rivals and hold on to allies in the next leadership lineup in the party’s Politburo and its standing committee, the inner sanctum of Chinese political power.

Political observers say one of those allies is 68-year-old Wang Qishan, who has directed the president’s withering crackdown on graft and, increasingly, political disloyalty. Under the qishang baxia norm, Mr. Wang is among five members of the Politburo Standing Committee, which currently numbers seven, due to retire at the next party congress.Party insiders have also speculated that the 63-year-old Mr. Xi may try to defy another recent convention, by not promoting a potential successor to the Standing Committee next year. That could set him up to remain in power after the expiration in 2022 of his second—and by recent custom, final—term. He would be 69 by then.Mr. Deng’s comments send “a clear signal that Xi will be a ‘rule modifier’ rather than a strict rule follower,” said Jude Blanchette, a Beijing-based researcher who is writing a book on Mao Zedong’s legacy. The rules are merely norms, and not well settled, he said.

As for the age norm, China politics experts say it was introduced by Jiang Zemin, then the outgoing party chief, to push a rival into retirement at the 2002 congress. According to Mr. Blanchette, that episode showed that Chinese leaders have “readjusted” malleable party norms “to fit political exigencies.”Or, as Mr. Deng put it in a news briefing in Beijing, the “strict organizational procedures and sufficient democratic processes” used in selecting top party leaders are “subject to adjustments in accordance with practical conditions.”

Mr. Xi’s growing clout may represent just such a practical condition. A top-level party conclave last week designated him as the party leadership’s “core,” an arcane title that political observers say signified his pre-eminent status. It was previously applied to Mao Zedong, Deng Xiaoping and Mr. Jiang but not Mr. Xi’s predecessor, Hu Jintao.

At Monday’s briefing, Mr. Deng of the party’s policy research office said the designation reflects Mr. Xi’s unanimous support within the party and broad public acclaim, but doesn’t threaten a return of a Mao-style “cult of personality”—which the party has explicitly banned—or contradict the party’s principles of collective leadership. Rather, the title was necessary to help the party and the country overcome new economic and political challenges, he said.

Mr. Hu, according to Mr. Deng, repeatedly declined to be designated as a “core” leader.“That time had its own circumstances,” he said. “The present has its own needs.”

Source: For China’s Leaders, Age Cap Is but a Moving Number – China Real Time Report – WSJ

06/09/2016

Early Look: China’s Economy Likely Perked Up as Summer Wound Down – China Real Time Report – WSJ

After a summer lull, China’s economy is likely to have picked up, if only slightly, in August, according to economists.

The stirring in business activity, while lackluster, points to stabilization in the world’s second-largest economy, a survey of 15 economists by The Wall Street Journal showed. August data numbers to be released in coming days are expected to show that factory output improved marginally and new bank credit picked up, while investment and retail sales slowed, though not by much, the survey said.“We expect the upcoming August data release to show China’s economic activity finding a slightly firmer footing after July’s more-than-expected weakening,” said economists at UBS Securities Asia Ltd.

A surprising rise in a key gauge of manufacturing activity earlier this month buoyed the outlook for many economists.Industrial output, a rough proxy for economic growth, likely grew 6.2% in August from a year earlier, compared with a 6.0% increase in July, the survey showed. Fixed-asset investment outside rural households, a key gauge of construction activity, likely expanded 7.9% for the January-to-August period, slightly slower than an 8.1% increase over the first seven months.

Retail sales likely climbed 10.1% in August, a tick down from July’s 10.2% growth.

Among the other positive signs, the consumer-price index, a main gauge of inflation, moderated, likely rising 1.6% from a year earlier last month and slightly slower than the 1.8% growth in July, the survey found. Meanwhile, the producer-price index, a gauge of factory gate prices, likely dropped 0.9% from a year earlier last month, improving from a 1.7% decline in July and continuing a march out of deflationary territory where it has been for more than four years.

The better performance should give policymakers confidence to stay the course and refrain from interest-rate cuts or other aggressive easing measures, economists said.

At the same time, the faint improvements are largely the result of better performance of large firms that benefit more from policy support, economists said, while growing piles of debt and percolating bubbles in the property market are a looming concern for policymakers.

“At this moment, the key constraint faced by China’s monetary policy is not inflation, but the property market and the financial market,” said economists at Macquarie Capital Ltd.

Chinese banks probably gave out 792.5 billion yuan ($118.69billion) in new credit last month, well above July’s 463.6 billion yuan, the survey of economists showed. The economists mainly attributed the rebound to seasonal patterns, since banks tend to pick up the pace of lending at the end of each quarter.

In July almost all the new credit went to medium- and long-term household loans, predominantly mortgage lending. Lending to corporate borrowers, however, recorded a net drain of 2.6 billion yuan, the first negative growth in 11 years.

Household mortgage loans may have continued to surge in August. Recent data show a jump in housing transactions in many cities, and housing prices continue to rise. Credit demand from the corporate sector likely remained sluggish, though may have improved mildly, economists of Standard Chartered Bank.

Trade also remained anemic. Outbound shipments likely declined 4.0% from a year earlier in August, compared with July’s drop of 4.4%, while imports likely dropped by 5.0%, improving notably from July’s 12.5% dip, the same poll showed. Improvements in imports reflect last year’s low base, likely slightly better industrial production activity, and continued easing of import price deflation, UBS economists noted.

That would bring the country’s trade surplus to $59.40 billion last month, widening from July’s $52.31 billion. A large trade surplus should lend support to the country’s hoard of foreign currencies, which is expected to have dropped only slightly last month. The nation’s total reserves likely fell by about $2 billion last month to $3.199 trillion, the survey showed.

Source: Early Look: China’s Economy Likely Perked Up as Summer Wound Down – China Real Time Report – WSJ

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