mandag 21. januar 2019

China’s Slowdown Looms Just as the World Looks for Growth

In the vast metropolis of Chongqing in western China, three huge Ford Motor assembly plants have slowed to a fraction of their earlier pace. In the eastern province of Jiangsu, hundreds of chemical factories have closed. In Guangdong Province in the southeast, factories have idled workersin droves.

China’s huge economy, a major driver of global growth, is cooling just when the world needs its spark. On Monday, Chinese officials said that, during the last three months of 2018, the economy grew at its slowest pace since the global financial crisis. It is happening at a difficult time. The broader world outlook is beginning to dim. The American economy, which has powered ahead in recent years with strong growth and low unemployment, is showing some signs of a slowdown and is facing higher short-term interest rates that could act as a brake. Europe’s resurgence is beginning to show its age, too, with even Germany’s industrial engine starting to sputter.

China's economic growth slowest since 1990 amid trade war with US

China’s economy grew 6.6% in 2018, its slowest pace in almost 30 years, confirming a slowdown in the world’s second largest economy that could threaten global growth. After years of breakneck expansion, official data on Monday confirmed that China’s growth in 2018 was the country’s slowest reported rate since 1990 and down from 6.8% in 2017. The 6.4% growth rate in the fourth quarter of 2018 was last seen in early 2009 at the height of the global financial crisis.

“We see that there are changes in stability, concern about these changes. The external environment is complicated and severe. The economy is facing downward pressure,” said Ning Jizhe, director of China’s National Statistic Bureau, adding that China’s economy remained “steady overall”.

Read more   Cautious consumers feel the pinch as Chinese economy slows

China’s Plan to Break off US Allies

In early December 2018, Sarah McIver, a Canadian teacher, was detained in China for illegal employment. She became the third Canadian citizen detained in China after Canada arrested Meng Wanzhou, an executive for Chinese tech giant Huawei, in Vancouver. Reports indicate up to 13 Canadians have been detained in China since Meng’s arrest, although some of them have already been released by the Chinese authorities, including McIver.

The first two Canadians detained in China, however, remain in custody. Former diplomat Michael Kovrig and businessman Michael Spavor were both arrested on the more serious charge of harming China’s national security.

Meng’s arrest has angered China and Beijing is taking action to retaliate. However, China has adopted two different responses, approaching the issue gently with the United States – which requested Meng’s arrest – while launching strict action against Canada. In doing so, Beijing hopes to deter Canada from following the United States against China, in order to prevent Washington from forming a global and regional offensive against Beijing.

At its embassy in Sweden, China’s new assertive attitude to diplomacy is on full display

Around the world, Chinese embassies are growing increasingly active and assertive. However, in few places is this as obvious as in Sweden, where the ambitious ambassador assumed his post in August last year. The appointment might have been confusing for some. Not long after his arrival in Stockholm, Gui told Chinese-language media that he had never been to Sweden before, and never had any Swedish friends in the past.

A quick look at his background – and Gui’s lack of experience with western democracies generally – is striking. In 1991, Gui started his career at the Central Policy Research Office, an institution within the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) Central Committee responsible for drafting its ideology and political theories. There, he primarily did research on the collapse of communism in former Yugoslavia. Gui’s focus on Eastern Europe and Central Asia continued, as he was posted to the Chinese Embassy in Moscow for over a decade. In 2014, Gui also expressed his support for Russia’s annexation of Crimea.

Why the West won’t act on China’s Uighur crisis

As evidence mounts of China’s internment of almost one million Muslim Uighurs in the country’s far western region, Western nations have largely failed to respond to the reported abuses, a conspiracy of silence that speaks to China’s still-strong economic and political clout.

In what some critics have referred to as a campaign of “ethnic cleansing”, Chinese authorities have since late 2017 corralled hundreds of thousands of Turkic minority, Uighurs into locked downindoctrination camps in the purportedly autonomous Xinjiang region.Human rights groups contend that torture and beatings are common in the camps – which form a new “gulag archipelago,” according to some activists – as the ruling Communist Party engages in a social-engineering drive to destroy the Uighur’s traditions, identity and religious beliefs.

But despite the widespread reports of systematized mistreatment, the international response has been at best been muted, and at worst appeasement, Uighur activists and human rights groups monitoring the situation say.

New year, new weapons: Are China's latest science fiction or battle ready?

Since the beginning of January, the Chinese military has revealed a dizzying array of sophisticated and powerful new weaponry.,The testing of some of these devices has been accompanied by great fanfare. But just how plausible is the new technology in a battlefield situation? With Tuesday's report from the US Defense Intelligence Agency that China "leads the world" in some weapons systems, a closer look at Beijing's latest claims is in order.

Explaining China’s Latest Catch in Africa

On of January 4, 2019, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi visited Burkina Faso, one of Beijing’s newest allies snatched from Taiwan, and pledged 300 million Chinese renminbi ($44 million) in support to the regional G5 Sahel force. But China’s latest catch in Africa is more than about checkbook diplomacy; it is about peer pressure and domestic politics underlined by security concerns.

Coping With the Challenge of China’s Growing Space Power

On January 2, 2019, China successfully landed the Chang’e 4 space probe on the dark side of the moon – making China the first country in history to do so. This accomplishment represents just one of China’s most recent steps toward fulfilling its goal of becoming “a space power in all respects.” 

In pursuit of this goal, China has become the world’s second largestspender on space capabilities. Driven by the dual motives of seeking status and security, China’s comprehensive modernization of its space program poses a challenge to U.S. security interests and global standing. However, by recognizing Chinese status aspirations, the United States maintains an important tool by which to temper competitive tensions, and mitigate the threat of a full blown space race.

søndag 20. januar 2019

Kiruna, Sweden: the mining town that is moving east at a cost of more than US$1 billion

Sweden’s northernmost city sits atop a magnetite iron ore seam slicing below it at an angle of about 60 degrees.m“The world’s biggest and most modern underground iron ore mine”, according to a company spokesman, it is also Kiruna’s largest employer, directly providing work for 1,800 of the city’s 18,000 residents. And its ore, 26 million tonnes of which is produced annually, is the world’s purest.

Rapid global urbanisation means it is unlikely to go out of fashion any time soon, particularly in China, which has a voracious appetite for the stuff and remains the world’s leading importer, from Sweden and elsewhere. 

Iron ore is used to make steel and therefore everything from paper clips to furniture to cars to skyscrapers: one trium­phant LKAB video begins with lingering aerial shots of Hong Kong’s high-rise-lined harbour.

Chinese embassy in Sweden hits out at ‘totally irresponsible’ security threat claims

The Chinese embassy in Stockholm has lashed out at the latest “China threat” accusations, as Sweden steps up scrutiny of technology ties with the country. Its statement on Friday followed Swedish media reports that agreements to establish a controversial satellite station in the country’s north had been signed with the Chinese military.

The embassy rejected claims by Swedish politicians and media that China posed “security threats”. “Such claims, without any factual support, are deliberately hyped up fabrications. They are totally irresponsible,” the statement said. The embassy also said accusations about China’s “control” over telecommunications networks and infrastructure were “unjustified”.

The Huawei issue, and dilemma before countries like India

The tussle between the West and China over trade and technology is not likely to end soon. However, China is now facing a concerted counter-attack on this front. At the cutting edge, this is being felt by the telecom giant Huawei, whose Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou was arrested in Canada last month. In an interview with The New York Times, its reclusive chief Ren Zhengfei rejected allegations against his company and praised President Trump. He said that he loved his country and the Communist Party, “But I will never do anything to harm any country in the world.”

Philippines Should Take Over Shipyard to Keep It From Chinese, Officials Say

The Philippine government should take control of the country’s largest shipyard, the defense secretary said on Thursday, after officials raised concerns that Chinese companies seeking to take it over would act as agents of Beijing, projecting China’s power deeper into the region.

Among the foreign companies expressing interest in the sprawling shipyard on Subic Bay are two Chinese firms, one of which is state-owned, according to Philippine officials. They have voiced fears that a Chinese takeover of the yard would give a strategic foothold to China, which is expanding its economic and military presence in the region and has seized islands in the South China Sea that are claimed by the Philippines, among others.

China’s Looming Crisis: A Shrinking Population

Chinese academics recently delivered a stark warning to the country’s leaders: China is facing its most precipitous decline in population in decades, setting the stage for potential demographic, economic and even political crises in the near future.

For years China’s ruling Communist Party implemented a series of policies intended to slow the growth of the world’s most populous nation, including limiting the number of children couples could have to one. The long term effects of those policies mean the country will soon enter an era of “negative growth,” or a contraction in the size of the total population.

A report, issued this month by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, is the latest recognition that while China’s notorious “one child” policy may have achieved its original aim of slowing population growth, it has also created new challenges for the government. A decline in the birth rate and an increase in life expectancy means there will soon be too few workers able to support an enormous and aging population, the academy warned. The academy estimated the contraction would begin in 2027, though others believe it would come sooner or has already begun.

Faced With Tough Words From China, Taiwan Rallies Around Its Leader

Just a few weeks ago, President Tsai Ing-wen of Taiwan was struggling politically. Her party had lost in key local elections, imperiling her run for a second term next year. But then she got help from an unlikely source: the president of China. In a speech this month to the people of Taiwan, a self-ruled democracy that Beijing considers Chinese territory, President Xi Jinping said the island “must be and will be” united with China and warned that independence efforts could be met by armed force.

Mr. Xi’s speech raised anxieties in Taiwan that Ms. Tsai was able to tap into by delivering a rebuke of Mr. Xi’s proposal, in a rare departure from her usual cautious ambiguity. “Democratic values are the values and way of life that Taiwanese cherish,” she said, “and we call upon China to bravely move toward democracy.”

China's slowdown and what it means for the UK

Monday sees the release of China's GDP figures, and they'll be even more closely watched than usual. Apple's CEO, Tim Cook, blamed cautious Chinese consumers in part for his company's failure to sell as many iPhones as he hoped, sending share prices down around the globe. Car sales in the country, meanwhile, have dropped for the first time in two decades.

On the back of such evidence, investors and policymakers are becoming increasingly jittery about the state of such a crucial engine of world growth. How concerned should they be? Measuring an economy's output is never easy but China's data comes with a bigger health warning than most.Rather than 6.5%, independent economists say the GDP figure may actually be closer to 5% - or even lower. Xiang Songzuo, a finance professor and former chief economist of China Agriculture Bank, has claimed that 2018 growth may have been as low as 1.7%.

Canada pours cold water on free trade with China

Canada's envoy to Beijing on Thursday threw cold water on long-sought free trade between the two nations as an ugly diplomat spat over Canada's detention of a top Chinese tech executive drags into a second month. Ambassador John McCallum, who returned to Canada to brief lawmakers on the row, told reporters that Canadian businesses want to press on with growing the trade relationship.

But, he added, exploratory talks on free trade that started in September 2016 are now dead and unlikely to be revived in the forseeable future. "We are certainly not negotiating free trade with China either before or after this. So it's not on the table right now," McCallum told reporters. "Canada has invested a lot in China," he said. "Our tourist industry, our universities, our farmers are all highly dependent on China and I think China will still play a very important part in Canada's future."

Has the World Lost Sight of Tibet?

Since the incarceration of roughly a million Uighurs in the northwestern Chinese region of Xinjiang over the last year, the situation in Tibet has gotten relatively less coverage in Western media. What is the current situation for human rights, political openness or repressiveness, and economic development in Tibet? And how has the attention paid to the situation in Xinjiang helped or hurt the situation in Tibet?

CCP’s Four-Step Plan to Infiltrate Churches in Action

Forced indoctrination is alive and well in China’s places of worship, thanks, in part, to the “four requirements” – a nationwide campaign, adopted in June 2018, to promote the “sinicization” of religion – the blatant attempt by the Chinese Communist Party, or CCP, to promote Party worship over God. The four practices require religious communities to ritually raise the national flag; promote the Chinese constitution and laws; promote “Core Socialist Values”; and promote “China’s excellent traditional culture.” It’s an effort to beat into their heads an earthly ideology.