Category - Asia: Central

Central Asia

China to end decades-old one-child policy, bowing to demographic strain

Policy shift, which comes after family planning restrictions were eased in 2013, will allow couples to have two children.

Al Jazeera, October 29

China will ease family planning restrictions to allow all couples to have two children, ending the country’s decades-long one-child policy in a move to alleviate the looming demographic strain on the labor market.

The decision, announced by the ruling Communist Party, is a major liberalization of the country’s family planning restrictions, but follows months of rumors of a policy change. It also comes after the one-child rule was eased in late 2013, with Beijing saying then that it would allow more families to have two children providing that at least one parent was an only child.

“China will allow all couples to have two children, abandoning its decades-long one-child policy,” the official Xinhua new agency said in a short report.

The decision was contained in a Communist Party communiqué that followed a meeting of the party’s Central Committee on planning the country’s economic and social development through 2020.

Beijing summons US ambassador over warship in South China Sea

Chinese foreign ministry says Washington acted illegally when USS Lassen entered waters near disputed Spratly archipelago.

The Guardian, By Tom Phillips, October 27

Beijing – China has reportedly summoned the US ambassador after Washington launched a direct military challenge to Beijing’s territorial claims in the South China Sea with naval manoeuvres near two artificial islands.

State television reported that the Chinese vice-foreign minister, Zhang Yesui, had branded the move “extremely irresponsible” when meeting with the US ambassador to China, Max Baucus.

Chinese authorities said earlier they had monitored, followed and warned US warship USS Lassen as it “illegally” entered waters near the disputed reefs, and urged Washington to “immediately correct its mistake”.

The USS Lassen began its mission through waters near the disputed Spratly archipelago at about 6.40am local time on Tuesday.

China to ban ivory trade within a year or so as pressure mounts on Hong Kong

Washington Post, By Simon Denyer, October 21

Hong Kong — It could be the beginning of the end for the illicit trade in ivory.

Last month, on a state visit to Washington, Chinese President Xi Jinping promised to stop the commercial trade in ivory in his country but gave few details about the timing and extent of such a move.

Now, a senior U.S. government official says that the Chinese ban could be in place within a year or so, with very narrow exceptions, describing it as a “huge” deal.

Such a move, conservationists say, would be a major step toward ending the poaching crisis that is decimating Africa’s elephant herds.

“This commitment goes all the way up to President Xi,” Catherine Novelli, U.S. undersecretary for economic growth, energy and the environment in the State Department, said in a telephone interview. “They have made it very clear this is what they want to do.”

Via Boing Boing: China plans to ban ivory trade “within a year or so.” US official: Yes it’s a “huge” deal.

The New China Syndrome

American business meets its new master

Harpers, By Barry C. Lynn, November 2015

It’s May Day, and a rambunctious crowd of well-dressed people, many carrying blue and yellow parasols, has pushed into a Ford dealership just north of Chongqing, China. Mist from a car wash catches the sun, and I watch a man in a striped shirt poke at the gleaming engine of a midsize Mondeo while his wife sits in the driver’s seat and turns the wheel. Overhead, a giant banner of a Mustang painted Communist Party red ripples in the spring breeze.

At the showroom door, I am greeted by three saleswomen who smile and stare, clearly shocked to see a Westerner. Finally, a manager leads me over to a young man, the resident expert in English. Other than the Ford logo and the corporate mantra of the moment, go further, the front of his card is entirely in Mandarin. He carefully pronounces his name for me: Yi Xuanbo. Then he leads me past a potted rubber plant to a small aluminum table and hands me a paper cup of tea.

Yi places a luxurious brochure on the table and flips to a picture of a silver Mondeo hovering over the Manhattan skyline. He then turns to a page extolling the interior and the sound system — in English, the accompanying text describes the car as “a sensory palace.” Yi tells me how much a basic Mondeo costs before taxes: 179,800 yuan, or about $28,000. I ask him whether he owns a Ford and he shakes his head, but with a smile. “I think maybe next year, I can buy one, too.”

Business Insider: China is making a new 5-Year Plan — and it’ll decide the fate of the global economy

China stuns financial markets by devaluing yuan for second day running

Stocks, currencies and commodities fall sharply across region as investors fear a stalling China economy and possible currency war despite Beijing’s assurances.

The Guardian, By Martin Farrer & Fergus Ryan, August 11

Beijing – China stunned the world’s financial markets on Wednesday by devaluing the yuan for the second consecutive day, triggering fears the world’s second largest economy is in worse shape than investors believed.

The move sent fresh shockwaves through global markets, pushing shares sharply lower and sending commodity prices further into reverse as traders feared the move could ignite a currency war that would destabilise the world economy.

There were widespread losses in Asia, and in Europe stock markets suffered falls of about 1%, with the FTSE 100 tumbling almost 2% at one stage.


The unexpected yuan devaluation saw Chinese stocks slump in Hong Kong, with the Hang Seng China Enterprises Index sliding 2.6%, extending its loss this quarter to 15%. The Shanghai Composite Index lost 1% to 3,886.32 and the CSI300 index of the largest listed companies in Shanghai and Shenzhen fell 1.2% to 4,016.13 points.

Over a million people evacuated from China east coast as typhoon Chan-hom hits

RT, July 11

A heavy storm forced more than a million people to leave their homes on the Chinese east coast not far from Shanghai on Saturday. Typhoon Chan-hom might be the strongest to hit the region in over 60 years, the national weather service said.

Some 1.07 million people were evacuated from coastal areas of Zhejiang and the Jiangsu provinces south and north of Shanghai, ahead of the typhoon that reached the coast on Saturday, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

Although China’s National Meteorological Center downgraded the storm from super typhoon to strong typhoon on Saturday, it still whipped up winds of up to 160 kilometers (100 miles) per hour, CCTV reported. Dumping over 100 millimeters (4 inches) of rain since late Friday, the storm made landfall in the city of Zhoushan in Zhejiang province.

7.5 [Upgraded: M7.9] Magnitude Quake Hits Nepal

AP, By Binaj Gurubacharya, April 25

A strong 7.5-magnitude earthquake has hit near Nepal’s capital of Kathmandu and the U.S. Geological Survey says it expects heavy damage.

Early reports from Kathmandu say some houses have been damaged and walls toppled.

There is no immediate word on casualties.

The quake hit around noon Saturday and was also felt in neighboring India as well as in Pakistan.

M7.5 – 35km E of Lamjung, Nepal
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China makes big cut in bank reserve requirement to fight slowdown

Reuters, April 20

Beijing – China’s central bank on Sunday cut the amount of cash that banks must hold as reserves, the second industry-wide cut in two months, adding more liquidity to the world’s second-biggest economy to help spur bank lending and combat slowing growth.

The People’s Bank of China (PBOC) lowered the reserve requirement ratio (RRR) for all banks by 100 basis points to 18.5 percent, effective from April 20, the central bank said in a statement on its website

“Though the growth in the first quarter met the official target of around 7 percent for 2015, the slowdown in several areas, including industrial output and retail sales, has caused concern,” said a report published by the official Xinhua news service covering the announcement.

The latest cut, the deepest single reduction since the depth of the global crisis in 2008, shows how the central bank is stepping up efforts to ward off a sharp slowdown in the economy.

“The size of the cut is more than expected,” said Shenwan Hongyuan Securities analyst Chen Kang.

“It’s going to release around a trillion yuan (in liquidity) at least.”

Archaeologists unearth lost fortress of Genghis Khan in western Mongolia

Asahi Shimbun, By Kunijiko Imai, Febrary 26

Japanese and Mongolian archaeologists said Feb. 26 that they have discovered the remains of a 13th-century military outpost established for Mongol conqueror Genghis Khan (c. 1162-1227) in southwestern Mongolia.

The joint research team said the discovery could be useful in learning about the Mongol Empire’s strategy on western expansion and trade routes.

“We hope the discovery will be useful in ascertaining the history of the Mongolian Plateau between the 13th and 14th centuries,” said team leader Koichi Matsuda, professor emeritus of Mongol Empire history at Osaka International University.

U.S. Is Escalating a Secretive War in Afghanistan

Data From Seized Computer Fuels a Surge in U.S. Raids on Al Qaeda

New York Times, By Matthew Rosenberg & Eric Schmitt, February 12

Washington — As an October chill fell on the mountain passes that separate the militant havens in Afghanistan and Pakistan, a small team of Afghan intelligence commandos and American Special Operations forces descended on a village where they believed a leader of Al Qaeda was hiding.

That night the Afghans and Americans got their man, Abu Bara al-Kuwaiti. They also came away with what officials from both countries say was an even bigger prize: a laptop computer and files detailing Qaeda operations on both sides of the border.

American military officials said the intelligence seized in the raid was possibly as significant as the information found in the computer and documents of Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad, Pakistan, after members of the Navy SEALs killed him in 2011.

In the months since, the trove of intelligence has helped fuel a significant increase in night raids by American Special Operations forces and Afghan intelligence commandos, Afghan and American officials said.