tirsdag 13. april 2021

China population: census results to confirm a worrying demographic picture

The results from China’s once-a-decade census are set to confirm the worrying picture of a rapidly ageing society, shrinking labour force and an insufficient number of newborns. For analysts who are trying to gauge China’s economic and social development potential over the coming years or even decades, the population data is vital. The figures are expected to be released later this month.

In fact, the data will provide key metrics pertaining to some of the biggest questions surrounding China’s future: whether the nation can replace the US as the world’s largest economy, whether China can create a large enough domestic market to accommodate its vast production apparatus, and whether China will remain a vibrant and ambitious society or become a more inward-looking and strenuous one.

The most important number is the headline population total. Official Chinese data put the mainland population at 1.4 billion by the end of 2019. That was enough to maintain its centuries-long status as the world’s most populous nation, but India appears to be closing the gap, with 1.38 billion people as of mid-2020.

China’s Xi Jinping likely to take part in Joe Biden’s Earth Day climate summit

Chinese President Xi Jinping is expected to attend a two-day virtual summit on climate change hosted by his US counterpart Joe Biden next week. Xi’s participation in the Earth Day summit on April 22 and 23 will put the focus on whether the two biggest carbon-emitting nations can open up a narrow path to cooperation amid a deepening rift.

A person familiar with the situation told the South China Morning Post that Xi was expected to attend the summit, and ahead of that, US climate envoy John Kerry was
expected to travel to Shanghai to meet his Chinese counterpart Xie Zhenhua this week. Kerry’s trip, first reported on Sunday by The Washington Post, would be part of the former secretary of state’s tour through India, the United Arab Emirates and Bangladesh but could still be called off, according to the newspaper, citing sources.

EU says it won’t pay off Montenegro’s billion-dollar highway debt to China

The European Union says it will not pay off Montenegro’s near-US$1 billion debts to China, rejecting the tiny Balkan nation’s repeated pleas for help. A spokesman for the EU told the South China Morning Post that it “does not repay loans of partners which they took from third parties”, although he did express concern “over the socioeconomic and financial effects of some of China’s investments in Montenegro”.

He continued that Brussels was willing to work with the country, a candidate for EU membership, to put its debts on a sustainable footing.

Montenegro’s finance minister Milojko Spajic on Sunday became the latest cabinet member to ask Brussels for help in repaying a dollar-denominated loan signed with the Export-Import Bank of China in 2014 to build the first section of a highway linking the country with neighbouring Serbia.

Covid accelerates India's millionaire exodus

India's wealthy have topped a list of people seeking to relocate abroad through visa programmes that offer citizenship or right of residence in other countries in return for investments. There was very little Rahul (name changed) didn't have going for him, when he made the tough call to leave India six years ago. He is the second generation scion of a well-heeled Delhi-based family. They have a flourishing exports business with a monopoly in what's typically called a 'sunrise sector'- an industry that has great future prospects.

But he left it all behind and moved to Dubai in 2015, to look after the company's overseas expansion. He also got a citizenship by investment in one of the Caribbean nations. Harassment by tax authorities in India's Enforcement Directorate was a key reason, he says.

Haridwar: Crowds surging at Kumbh Mela as India overtakes Brazil in Covid cases

Several million Hindus have gathered to take a dip in the Ganges river as a deadly second Covid-19 wave continues to sweep India. The devotees are marking an auspicious bathing day on Monday at the Kumbh Mela religious festival in Haridwar city in the Himalayan state of Uttarakhand. Officials say they are struggling to impose safety norms due to huge crowds.

Hindus believe the river is holy and bathing in it will cleanse them of their sins and bring salvation.The Kumbh Mela takes place every 12 years and the venue is chosen from amongst four cities, including Allahabad, Haridwar, Nasik and Ujjain. Haridwar's turn to host the gathering came amid a sharp rise in the number of coronavirus infections, with India consistently reporting more than 100,000 cases daily in the past few weeks.

On Monday, India logged more than 168,000 new cases, overtaking Brazil to become the country with the second-highest number of cases globally. With the total case tally of more than 13.5 million cases, India is now only behind the United States which has reported more than 31 million cases. With 13.4 million cases, Brazil is now at number three.

Myanmar coup: The people shot dead since the protests began

More than 700 people have been killed by security forces since Myanmar's military grabbed power in a coup on 1 February, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (Burma). The BBC has spoken to loved ones of three people who have died. As Myanmar's coup violence continues to spiral, so has the number of its victims as a crackdown on protesters intensifies. Some of those who died had taken part in anti-coup protests, while others - including children - were simply sitting in their homes when they were killed.

Here, three families share their stories.

Myanmar's military is charging families $85 to retrieve bodies of relatives killed in crackdown

Myanmar's military is charging families $85 to retrieve the bodies of relatives killed by security forces in a bloody crackdown on Friday, according to activists. At least 82 people were killed Friday in Bago, 90 kilometers (56 miles) northeast of Yangon, after the city was "raided" by the military's security forces, said advocacy group Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP).

More than 700 people have died since the military overthrew Myanmar's elected government in a February 1 coup, according to AAPP. Since then, junta security forces made up of police, soldiers and elite counter-insurgency troops have embarked on a systematic crackdown against unarmed and peaceful protesters, detaining around 3,000 people and forcing activists into hiding.

Myanmar's military fired on anti-coup protesters in Bago city Friday, using assault rifles, rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs), and hand grenades, AAPP said.

US and China deploy aircraft carriers in South China Sea as tensions simmer

Military activity in the South China Sea spiked over the weekend as a Chinese aircraft carrier entered the region and a US Navy expeditionary strike group wrapped up exercises. Meanwhile, the US and Philippines were preparing for joint drills as the US secretary of defense proposed ways to deepen military cooperation between Washington and Manila after China massed vessels in disputed waters.

China's state-run Global Times on Sunday said the country's first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, steamed into the South China Sea on Saturday after completing a week of naval exercises around Taiwan. There was no official announcement of the Liaoning's position, but the Chinese tabloid cited satellite images first reported by US media outlet The War Zone.

The Liaoning's reported arrival in the South China Sea came after a US Navy expeditionary strike group, fronted by the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt and amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island, conducted exercises in the South China Sea a day earlier. The two flat-top warships were joined by a cruiser, destroyers and smaller amphibious ships.

China sends 25 warplanes into Taiwan's air defense zone, Taipei says

China sent 25 warplanes into Taiwan's air defense identification zone on Monday, the largest breach of that space since the island began regularly reporting such activity in September, Taiwan's Defense Ministry said. The Chinese flights came a day after the US secretary of state warned Beijing that Washington was committed to the defense of the democratic, self-governed island, which China considers part of its sovereign territory.

The 25 planes dispatched by China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) forces included 14 J-16 fighter jets, four J-10 fighter jets, four H-6K bombers, two anti-submarine warfare planes and an airborne early warning and control plane, according to Taiwan's Defense Ministry.

Beijing has a navy it doesn't even admit exists, experts say. And it's swarming parts of the South China Sea

They've been dubbed China's "Little Blue Men," an allegedly Beijing-controlled maritime militia that analysts say could be hundreds of boats and thousands of crew members strong. China doesn't acknowledge their existence and when questioned, refers to them as a "so-called maritime militia."

But Western experts say the alleged militia is an integral part of Beijing's efforts to exert its territorial claims in the South China Sea and beyond. They claim its blue-painted vessels and their crews -- allegedly funded and controlled by the People's Liberation Army -- can quickly bring a Chinese presence so large around disputed reefs and islands they are almost impossible to challenge without triggering a military confrontation.

The apparent militia made headlines last month when more than 200 Chinese fishing boats crowded around Whitsun Reef, a Philippine possession in the Spratly Island chain in the South China Sea. Analysts at the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) in Singapore say they've never seen a Chinese operation of this size before.

China’s March exports rise 30.6% as global demand revives

China’s exports rose 30.6% over a year ago in March as global consumer demand strengthened and traders watched for signs of what President Joe Biden might do about reviving tariff war talks with Beijing. Exports rose to $241.1 billion, decelerating from the dramatic 60.6% rebound in the first two months of 2021, customs data showed Tuesday. Imports rose 38.1% over a year ago to $227.3 billion in a sign of reviving Chinese activity.

That is a “positive signal that global economic and trade activities are recovering and market confidence increasing,” a spokesman for the customs bureau, Li Kuiwen, said at a news conference. Li warned, however, that “the world economic situation still is complicated and severe.”

mandag 12. april 2021

Largest Chinese breach of Taiwan air zone in a year after US warning

Twenty-five Chinese military jets breached Taiwan’s defence zone on Monday, the island’s government has said, after a senior US official warned of an “increasingly aggressive” Beijing. The defence ministry scrambled aircraft to broadcast warnings to leave after Chinese jets, including 18 fighters, entered the island’s southwest air defence identification zone for a 10th straight day.

The incursion – the largest in a year – came after the US secretary of state, Antony Blinken, on Sunday warned China not to attempt to change the status quo around Taiwan, saying to do so would be a “serious mistake”. Democratic, self-ruled Taiwan lives under the constant threat of invasion by China, which has vowed to one day seize the island, by force if needed. On Friday the US state department said it would make it easier for US officials to meet Taiwanese representatives, defying pressure from China.

The sabre-rattling has increased since the 2016 election of Taiwan’s president, Tsai Ing-wen, who rejects the idea that the island is part of “one China”.

Too Chinese for the US, too American for China. Where can Asian Americans like me call home?

Last summer, a Chinese man approached me on a crowded Beijing street and asked me in Mandarin if I was Chinese American. It seemed innocent enough, as I was speaking English with expat friends. But after I nodded, he switched to English and bellowed "go back to where you f**king came from".

These stinging words are familiar for Asian Americans living in the United States. But it was jarring to hear the phrase shouted at me in China. In the moment, I let out a laugh: As a Chinese American, I have now been told to get out of each country for the other. It was a moment of realization that regardless of where I go, I will always be a foreigner.

I was born and raised in America, but over the past few years, I've lived in Beijing, Hong Kong and now Japan -- where the majority of people I'm surrounded by look like me and assume I'm a native. At first, that gave me an inexplicable -- albeit superficial -- sense of belonging that I never felt in America. In the US, my answer to the constant question "where are you from?" is never enough. When I say America, it's almost always followed by: "But where are you really from?" Countless times I've been asked why I can speak English "without an accent."

Op-ed: Biden is securing America’s place in the world and challenging China with his bold domestic agenda

It is hard to overstate the audaciousness of President Joe Biden’s first 100 days in office, which will be marked April 30. Behind it lies a presidential ambition to recharge America while at the same time improving U.S. odds in its escalating contest with China. Biden’s boldness can be measured most graphically by the numbers: the $4 trillion and counting that he hopes to generate to finance an American pandemic rebound, a surge in U.S. jobs and growth, and a mountain of national infrastructure investments (defining “infrastructure” liberally).

Biden made sure no one missed the connection to China when he rolled out his infrastructure spending proposal this week, which he called “the single largest investment in American jobs since World War II.”

Asked Biden, “Do you think China is waiting around to invest in this digital infrastructure or in research and development? I promise you they are not waiting. But they’re counting on American democracy to be too slow, too limited, and too divided to keep pace … We have to show the world. Much more important we have to show ourselves that democracy works. That we can come together on the big things. It’s the United States of America for God’s sake!”

When China Rings The Bell In Xinjiang - Retail Crumbles

U.S. Secretary Of State Antony Blinken appeared on Meet the Press today and said (about Xinjiang): “we need to be looking at products that are made in that part of China to make sure they’re not coming here.” On the other side of the Pacific Ocean, China’s message to western retailers is equally clear. If you plan to work in China; if you plan to sell into our booming marketplace; all is fine - as long as you respect China nationalism. With America and China staring at each other from opposite sides of the pond, circumstances for retailers are definitely getting more and more complicated.

The backlash to China retail issues raised during recent days has created a moral dilemma for international companies, simply because “adjusted” social responsibility targets don’t always fit well with parent countries or with their respective consumers. Of course, there are some retailers whose only goal is to add sales volume, and a mission with that directive can only serve to dull politically acerbic public opinion. Looking at an in-depth analysis of this difficult issue at hand (about selling into China or buying product from China), we are reminded of the ancient Chinese proverb: “Those who ride the tiger often find it difficult to dismount.”

China's plans for Himalayan super dam stoke fears in India

China is planning a mega dam in Tibet able to produce triple the electricity generated by the Three Gorges—the world's largest power station—stoking fears among environmentalists and in neighbouring India. The structure will span the Brahmaputra River before the waterway leaves the Himalayas and flows into India, straddling the world's longest and deepest canyon at an altitude of more than 1,500 metres (4,900 feet).

The project in Tibet's Medog County is expected to dwarf the record-breaking Three Gorges Dam on the Yangtze River in central China, and is billed as able to produce 300 billion kilowatts of electricity each year. It is mentioned in China's strategic 14th Five-Year Plan, unveiled in March at an annual rubber-stamp congress of the country's top lawmakers. But the plan was short on details, a timeframe or budget. The river, known as the Yarlung Tsangpo in Tibetan, is also home to two other projects far upstream, while six others are in the pipeline or under construction. The "super-dam" however is in a league of its own.

The Taiping Rebellion: The Bloodiest Civil War You’ve Never Heard of

The Taiping Rebellion, which broke out in 1850, would come to be the bloodiest civil war in human history. Historians estimate it may have claimed up to 30 million lives. Yet, unlike the Chinese Civil War, it is largely forgotten in the West, despite the involvement of French, British, and American officers. The great Qing dynasty fell into civil war after decades of social discontent, economic strain, and increasing subjugation by the West. This war would last for fifteen years and devastate the empire, setting it on the path to collapse.

6 Ai Weiwei Artworks That Bravely Call Attention to Social Issues in China

Artist Ai Weiwei is undoubtedly the most well-known living Chinese creative today, but his country’s government doesn’t exactly give him the recognition he deserves. In communist China—where freedom of speech is tightly regulated—Ai’s varied portfolio of work doesn’t fetch the highest prices at auctions, and critics don’t sing his praises. Instead, the activist is viewed as a threat to the “harmonious society.” He has spent time in jail, been beaten by police, and is constantly under surveillance. He was even barred from leaving Beijing for a whole year in 2011. As a result, he has become an unsung hero and a symbol of the struggle for human rights in China.

From smashing an ancient vase to highlighting governmental corruption and negligence, Ai’s dramatic actions bridge the gap between art and societal issues. “Creativity is the power to reject the past, to change the status quo, and to seek new potential,” he says. “Simply put, aside from using one's imagination—perhaps more importantly—creativity is the power to act.”