Articles on ‘When China Rules the World’

Over the past few months, the Chinese stock market, rather than its real economy, has been making headlines. The index rose almost 50% between March and mid-June before coming back to the March level over the next four weeks, when the authorities took several steps to halt the slump. These moves—like reducing interest rates, restricting margin trading, getting some state-controlled organizations to buy equities or provide margin money, suspension of trading in a number of shares, etc—are standard measures which all policymakers, including those in Anglo-Saxon economies, take when a bubble in asset prices bursts.

Market euphoria and gloom are recurring features of all financial, or asset, markets, and exaggerated when leveraged, or margin, trading is preponderant. To recall a few examples from the supposedly deep and “mature” US financial markets: the October 1987 crash of the stock market; the “rescue” of Long-Term Capital Management, a hedge fund, by the Fed “persuading” several banks to take it over; the bursting of the dotcom bubble in 2000; and the 2007-08 crisis in the mortgage securities market. The US Federal Reserve is famous for writing a “Greenspan put” option in favour of markets.
More important in the long term is the way China has been fostering the internationalization of the yuan. A few years ago, Arvind Subramanian, now India’s chief economic adviser, wrote a book titled Eclipse: Living in the Shadow of China’s Economic Dominance. His argument is that, given the size of China’s economy (the world’s largest in purchasing power parity terms) and trade, and the fact that China is the world’s largest creditor nation while the US is a very large debtor, China is likely to become the dominant financial/economic power in the near future.

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China is not emerging from a vacuum. It has a well-documented history of excellence, writes Jeffrey Sehume.

Johannesburg – For conscientious researchers the exercise of studying societies removed from the mainstream is not simply to collect information and gather facts.

For these researchers, keen to loosen the mysteries behind the formerly unknown, the journey is to evaluate “new” experiences, to perhaps draw comparative lessons. Ultimately, this is done in order to illuminate the past, improve understanding about the present, and inform the future. The People’s Republic of China has drawn the interest of lay researchers and scholars since that country began to open up in 1978.

Interest in this strikingly different society has tended to focus on unravelling the political and economic frameworks responsible for its status as a powerhouse for the new millennium.

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As the Dalai Lama exiled in India turned 80, the situation regarding the Tibet issue has reached a crucial stage. There seems to be no chance of resumption of talks between Beijing and the representatives of the spiritual leader as deep differences between the two sides persist; the last contact was five years ago. China’s economic and security policies have led to an overall stability in Tibet; its international economic clout has grown leading to a weakening of foreign support to the Dalai Lama’s movement. With these as basis, China may feel confident about its ability to control events in Tibet and despite some internal viewpoints in favor of a soft line towards the Dalai Lama, China may not be in a hurry to reach a rapprochement with the latter. It is quite possible that China would choose to wait for the passing away of 14th Dalai Lama and appoint his successor on its own within the country in which case it can hope for a close to the Tibet issue once for all. Till such time, there may not be an end to the prevailing stalemate with respect to the Tibet issue. The stalemate has negative implications for relations between India and China though the Tibet issue is not a bilateral political problem among them. Any settlement of the issue between Beijing and the Dalai Lama can contribute to creating a right atmosphere for solving the vexed India- China border problem which was once non-existent and arose only after China liberated ’Tibet.

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Hong Kong’s mother tongue is under threat. Cantonese may be centuries old but how much longer can it sustain the pressure from China to pick up Putonghua? By Arthur Tam and Anna Cummins. Additional reporting by Emily Cheng and Allen Jim

Our tongue. Our voice.
Language is the tongue that gives a nation its voice. And Hong Kong’s voice has never been as intrinsically linked to its identity as it is right now. Cantonese isn’t just the city’s language; it’s one of the many yardsticks by which Hongkongers measure their cultural and political differences from the rest of the Mainland.

We all know the abrasive political situation between the Central People’s Government and the SAR is complex, contentious and set to continue into the foreseeable future.This is particularly magnified in the light of the 18th anniversary of the handover, as well as the recent rejection of the pro-Beijing electoral reform package. But it was four years ago, in 2011, that Hong Kong’s voice took its first major, measurable shift in tone. According to the government’s census, Putonghua overtook English as the second most spoken language in the territory for the first time in 2011, with 48 percent of people claiming to speak the official language of mainland China, and 46 percent claiming to speak English. In the 2001 census, only a third of respondents could speak Putonghua.

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Al Jazeera’s most watched English-language programme is Head to Head. Hosted by Mehdi Hasan, who is also the political editor for the UK edition of the Huffington Post. It features Mehdi’s obstinate, in-your-face form of firebrand interviewing. He is immaculately researched and fiercely combative. Set in the Oxford Union, the surroundings seem almost at odds with the intention of making Mehdi’s guests squirm. Yet there is no end of very high-profile figures wanting to be on his one-hour show – especially intellectual figures who have achieved some public prominence. Bernard Henri Levy and Tariq Ramadan have been among his guests (or victims). Because public intellectuals take their turn alongside political figures, and because each interviewee is the centre of attention for an hour, Head to Head is probably the English-speaking world’s most sustained thinking person’s programme. The combat, in short sharp sound-bites, still allows more thought to be portrayed than any other programme. When Mehdi flags, he turns to three panellists who, in turn, ask questions of the guest. Mehdi might have moments when he can thus pause, but his guest cannot.

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When the leaders of the member-states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) gather this weekend in Kuala Lumpur, their agenda will be dominated by the launch of the 10-year roadmap toward the realization of the Asean Community. But, apart from regional economic integration, President Aquino has other things in mind. The Asean summit offers him another opportunity to bring up the issue of China’s aggressive moves in the South China Sea. Hopefully, he will get his colleagues to conclude the protracted discussion of a Code of Conduct in the South China Sea as a concrete achievement in political and security cooperation.

This was an issue he first sharply brought to the Asean table at the 20th Asean summit in 2012 in Phnom Penh. For the first time in its history, the consensus-oriented regional bloc failed to issue a joint communiqué at the end of its meeting after the host country decided to take up the cudgels for China. This was a moment when semantics could not come to the aid of diplomacy.

That Cambodian summit conveyed in no uncertain terms P-Noy’s determination to hold China accountable for its actions under international norms. His dogged pursuit of the South China Sea issue at that meeting, which he did in the politest terms possible, deviated from the customary practice of issuing muffled official protests while signaling a readiness to settle disputes through bilateral talks. It was a sharp departure from the policy that had characterized his predecessor’s cozy relationship with China. Not too long after the Cambodian encounter, the Philippines filed an arbitration case against China under the terms of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos).

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‘Het succes van de AIIB is van historisch belang en brengt verdeeldheid tussen de VS en grote Europese landen. De VS heeft Azië alleen nog militaire macht te bieden, maar uiteindelijk is economische macht sterker’.
‘De verhouding tussen staat en maatschappij is in China anders dan bij ons. Prestaties geven de overheid populariteit en prestige. De maatschappij verandert snel en dat dwingt het systeem tot een ingrijpende modernisering.’

Prikkelende uitspraken over opkomst en duurzaamheid van het huidige China, door Martin Jacques.
Er lopen onder China-kenners op het moment twee discussies, waarvan de echo’s op ChinaSquare te vinden zijn. Een gaat over de opkomst van China, de andere over de duurzaamheid van het Chinese systeem. De bekende publicist Martin Jacques heeft op beide thema’s een uitgesproken visie. Niet iedereen zal het met hem eens zijn, maar weinigen zullen niet worden geïnspireerd of uitgedaagd door wat hij schrijft. Chinese media staan open voor zijn inbreng. We geven hieronder een samenvatting met citaten van zijn recente artikelen in Global Times(zie foto) en People’s Daily. Twee originele teksten, over opkomst en duurzaamheid van China nu, staan op zijn officiële persoonlijke website http://www.martinjacques.com/

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Chinese use the word “fever” to describe whatever is popular. And in China, “English fever” took hold soon after Deng Xiaoping launched the economic reforms that would eventually roil and reshape the country.

The first sign of that fever came one evening in 1982. The few Chinese who had a television set, mainly in large cities such as Beijing and Shanghai, saw a red-haired London woman and two Chinese men teaching English. Dull and pedantic, perhaps, to many in the western world — but it was electrifying to Chinese at the time.

The BBC crash course program called “Follow Me!” was the first foreign broadcast imported into a impoverished nation that had been closed off to the world for the better part of a century. Television was still a novelty. Oftentimes, entire villages would crowd around a single TV.

Kathy Flower, the British teacher in the program, recalled:

“For a while I shared with Mrs. Thatcher the role of the most recognized Brit in China, a position now held by David Beckham.”

Beijing’s National Center for Educational Technology bought the broadcast rights very cheaply, but the impact of “English fever” was unprecedented and continues to reverberate well beyond China today.

In an increasingly interconnected world, the ability to penetrate foreign markets is an advantage. And China’s English-centric push for foreign language instruction as part of Deng’s economic reform remains an important pillar of the nation’s economic ascendency in today’s English-dominant world markets.

Consider: China now has a population of English speakers — some proficient, some still learning — that matches the entire population of the United States.

Starting in the third grade, Chinese are required to study English. Now, China is the world’s second largest economy, and its laptop computers, shoes and car parts are shipped around the world. In the U.S., by contrast, only 18% of Americans has any experience in a language other than English. American students are not required to learn a foreign language.

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BRITAIN’S recent decision to join the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) as a founder member has led to a kind of stampede by other allies of the United States in Europe such as Germany, France and Italy to follow suit.

So did two other important Asia-Pacific allies, Australia and South Korea. The only other major US ally in Asia which did not was Japan.

What is striking is that these allies went against the express wishes of the US which apparently saw the AIIB as a potential challenge to the domination of the international financial architecture by the US-controlled World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

Particularly stunning is the British decision. According to senior fellow at the Department of Politics and International Studies at Britain’s Cambridge University Martin Jacques, in this year’s Boao Forum, this is the first time since Breton Woods in the 1940s, except for one occasion when Britain refused a US request to send troops to Vietnam, that Britain had ever said no to the US so publicly!

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THE deadline of March 31 has passed, and 52 countries are now on the list of would-be founders of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB).

The China-led bank was launched in October last year at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, a year after Chinese President Xi Jinping proposed a bank to offer funds for development projects during his official visit to Indonesia.

The initiative would promote regional inter-connectivity and economic integration, he said when delivering a speech at the Indonesian Parliament.

In the past few days leading up to the deadline, news of more countries hurrying to join the AIIB made headlines, especially when a few of them announced the decision at the recently concluded Boao Forum in Hainan province, which Xi officiated.

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