Reuters, By J.R. Wu and Ben Blanchard, January 16
Taipei – Taiwan’s independence-leaning opposition leader Tsai Ing-wen won a convincing victory in presidential elections on Saturday and pledged to maintain peace with giant neighbor China, which warned it would oppose any move towards independence.
Tsai, leader of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), will be thrust into one of Asia’s toughest and most dangerous jobs, with China pointing hundreds of missiles at the island it claims, decades after losing Nationalists fled from Mao Zedong’s Communists to Taiwan in the Chinese civil war in 1949.
Tsai said she would establish “consistent, predictable and sustainable” relations with China and not be provocative, to ensure the status quo.
IBT: Taiwan Elections: Opposition Leader Tsai Ing-Wen Elected Country’s First Female President
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
Huffington Post, By Akbar Shahid Ahmed, Ryan Grim & Laura Barron-Lopez, May 26
Washington – On Friday night, in an impressive display of dysfunction, the U.S. Senate approved a controversial trade bill with a provision that the White House, Senate leadership and the author of the language himself wanted taken out.
The provision, which bars countries that engage in slavery from being part of major trade deals with the U.S., was written by Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.). At the insistence of the White House, Menendez agreed to modify his language to say that as long as a country is taking “concrete” steps toward reducing human trafficking and forced labor, it can be part of a trade deal. Under the original language, the country that would be excluded from the pending Trans-Pacific Partnership pact is Malaysia.
But because the Senate is the Senate, it was unable to swap out the original language for the modification. (The chamber needed unanimous consent to make the legislative move, and an unknown senator or senators objected.) So the trade promotion authority bill that passed Friday includes the strong anti-slavery language, which the House will now work to take out to ensure that Malaysia (and, potentially, other countries in the future) can be part of the deal.
Observers are left with a deeper question: Why, in the year 2015, is the White House teaming up with Republican leaders essentially to defend the practice of slavery?
But Malaysia also borders what is effectively China’s jugular vein: the Strait of Malacca.
Via Naked Capitalism: America’s First Black President Throwing Slaves Under the Bus on TPP
Revolution News, By Jennifer Baker, May 16
Linshui County, China – Tens of Thousands of residents of the southwestern county of Linshui gathered in the morning and marched about 3km. Photos posted by the protesters on social media also showed violent attacks by a police tactical team(SWAT)and the resistance that followed lasted all day and well into the night.
The residents want (need) to have a proposed railway linking Dazhou to Chongqing pass through their county in the centre of Sichuan. The county currently has no railway, waterway, or airport.
Rage built up last week after residents found out that the authorities favor another plan – that the railway stretching more than 200km will instead by-pass Linshui and be routed through the late paramount leader Deng Xiaoping’s hometown Guangan, to the west of Linshui.
The Chinese government is currently implementing a nationwide electronic system, called the Social Credit System, attributing to each of its 1,3 billion citizens a score for his or her behavior. The system will be based on various criteria, ranging from financial credibility and criminal record to social media behavior. From 2020 onwards each adult citizen should, besides his identity card, have such a credit code.
Volkskrant.nl, By Fokke Obbema, Marije Vlaskamp, Michael Persson, April 25
The regulations were announced last year, but have attracted almost no attention thus far in China and abroad. This week Rogier Creemers, a Belgian China-specialist at Oxford University, published a comprehensive translation of the regulations regarding the Social Credit System, which clarifies the scope of the system. In an interview with Dutch newspaper de Volkskrant he says: ‘With the help of the latest internet technologies the government wants to exercise individual surveillance’.
In his view this surveillance will have a wider scope than was the case under the former East German system: ‘The German aim was limited to avoiding a revolt against the regime. The Chinese aim is far more ambitious: it is clearly an attempt to create a new citizen.’
The intentions of the new system are not only economical, fighting fraudulent practices, but also moral. ‘This is a deliberate effort by the Chinese government to promote among its citizens “socialist core values” such as patriotism, respecting the elderly, working hard and avoiding extravagant consumption’, says Creemers. A bad ‘credit code’ can result in being not eligible for certain jobs, housing or credit to start a company. ‘On the labour market you might need a certain score to get a specific job.’
Via MathBabe: China announces it is scoring its citizens using big data