Posts Tagged ‘China’

Liu Xiaobo, a brave dissident

Friday, July 21st, 2017

The current Chinese leadership have all read Alexis de Tocqueville’s The Ancien Regime and the French Revolution and also closely studied the periods leading up to the 1917 Russian Revolution, the 1911 Chinese revolution and the fall of the Soviet Union.

Their conclusion is that authoritarian systems are at their most vulnerable when they attempt to liberalise. The Chinese Communist party must therefore avoid this at all costs.

[…]

To understand the ruthless authoritarian logic behind Beijing’s treatment of Liu is not to excuse or condone it. But it is important for people outside China to understand it, especially as China becomes more prominent and active on the world stage.

This is how Liu himself put it in 2006: “Although the regime of the post-Mao era is still a dictatorship, it is no longer fanatical but rather a rational dictatorship that has become increasingly adept at calculating its interests.”

Jamil Anderlini, “The logic behind China’s treatment of Liu Xiaobo“, Financial Times, 19 July 2017 (gated paywall).

Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo (born 1955) died on 13 July 2017. Liu was formally arrested on 23 June 2009, tried on 23 December 2009, and sentenced to eleven years’ imprisonment (his fourth imprisonment) on 25 December 2009. He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010.

Hong Kong changes leaders

Thursday, July 6th, 2017

… but not policies. Plans for a universal pension, in particular, will not be implemented, nor even debated, by the Legislative Council.

A long-forgotten peace resumed in the Legislative Council on Wednesday as the city’s new leader Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor attended her first question-and-answer session ….

While radical lawmaker “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung was again ousted from the chamber as he protested against Lam for not implementing a universal pension scheme, lawmakers from both sides agreed the meeting was more constructive and peaceful than those attended by Lam’s predecessor Leung Chun-ying. ….

But not all people were happy.

“Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung feared the [pan-democrat] camp would become more passive – or even be dismantled.

Jeffie Lam and Kimmy Chung, “Peace returns to Hong Kong’s legislature as new leader Carrie Lam attends first session – but how long will honeymoon last?“, South China Morning Post, 6 July 2017.

waiting for universal pensions in Hong Kong

Monday, May 29th, 2017

Hong Kong is a city of immense wealth, but it is also a city where far too many residents – especially older residents – live in poverty. The people of Hong Kong have shown remarkable patience while the government refuses to implement a universal pension recommended long ago by their own consultant, University of Hong Kong professor Nelson Chow Wing-sun. (more…)

private schools in China

Friday, May 19th, 2017

Demand for private schooling is increasing in China, but supply is stagnant. Selection is tighter and the number of disappointed parents and grandparents is increasing. (more…)

China’s aircraft industry

Friday, May 5th, 2017

China’s new Comac C919, a passenger plane designed to compete with the Boeing 737 and Airbus A320, is expected to roll off the production line in 2019.

In a hangar on a vast industrial complex near Shanghai’s Pudong airport, the Chinese-made aircraft that harbours the country’s hopes of rivalling the Boeing 737 and Airbus A320 is being prepared for its first test flight in May.

The Comac C919 is bounded by a huge Chinese flag and a banner bearing an exhortation from President Xi Jinping: “Focus and get down to work to make China’s first large aircraft fly into the skies.”  ….

Derek Levine, who wrote a book on China’s aviation ambitions, says that while the first flight will be a “huge accomplishment” in political terms, China will remain “15 years behind” unless it can develop its own engines and avionics, rather than relying on foreign suppliers.

Ben Bland, “China’s challenger to Airbus and Boeing set for skies at last“, Financial Times, 28 April 2017 (gated paywall).

For what’s its worth, my guess is that in a decade or two China will have mastered aircraft production, just as they have mastered high speed rail.

ending poverty in China

Tuesday, May 2nd, 2017

Elimination of poverty is no easy task. Even if the state obtains adequate resources for the project, there remains the problem of transferring income to those living in abject poverty.

In China, the targeting of relief for the poor is improving, but is still fraught with incompetence and fraud. As a result, there are huge errors of inclusion (benefits that go to the non-poor) and exclusion (the poor who receive no benefits). (more…)

Chinese wine is improving

Thursday, April 20th, 2017

It is unfortunate that Chinese wine drinkers seem to be deserting the produce of their own vineyards for imported alternatives. In my experience, the quality of the best Chinese wine has recently turned a corner — in the right direction. ….

There is one potential handicap, however. The countries that have had the most success in establishing export markets in the modern era have had a USP. New Zealand has carved a niche for the world’s most valuable per-bottle prices by offering uniquely, refreshingly fruity Sauvignon Blanc. Australia saw massive success with its friendly Chardonnay and rich Shiraz. Argentina has blitzed North America with its bold Malbec.

But Chinese vineyards are dominated by the red Cabernet and Merlot grapes that grow in abundance all over the wine world — not least in Bordeaux, which produces massive quantities of inexpensive examples every year, typically made by co-ops that do not have the debt that recent investors may be saddled with.

The reaction of many Chinese producers to market trends has been to acquire foreign vineyards and wineries. …. One thing seems sure: Chinese influence in the world of wine will only increase.

Jancis Robinson, “China’s strides in the wine race are yielding robust results“, Financial Times, 20 April 2017.

Janice Robinson writes a weekly column on wine for the Financial Times, and is editor of The Oxford Companion to Wine.

A much longer, ungated version of the column is available here.

 

China, North Korea and US foreign policy

Wednesday, April 19th, 2017

Will China apply pressure on North Korea to make it behave? FT journalist James Kynge thinks this is unlikely, for it is not in the interest of China to have US troops on its border. (more…)

the failure of universal pensions in Hong Kong

Saturday, January 21st, 2017

The outgoing Chief Executive of Hong Kong failed to keep a promise to push for universal pensions. Hong Kong is a wealthy territory. Taxes are very low, and government spending is even lower, leaving large fiscal surpluses. There is no economic reason to deny Hong Kong’s elderly citizens access to a basic pension. There is a universal pension in effect, but the amount is so small that it is known as “fruit money”. What is needed is a pension large enough to satisfy basic needs.

[Chief executive] Leung Chun-ying’s question-and- answer session for his swan song policy address was cut short after pan- democrats protested the ejection of lawmaker Lau Siu-lai for playing a recording of the outgoing chief executive’s “broken promises.” ….

Leung was answering questions about the policy address he delivered on Wednesday. When it was Lau’s turn, she played a 2011 video clip on her phone in which Leung “promised” to push for universal retirement protection.

In the press conference that followed his address on Wednesday, Leung denied having shown any support for universal pension when he ran for chief executive.

But in the clip Leung can be heard telling a senior citizen, Lo Siu-lan, that “we don’t need to be vigorous in implementing universal pension, we just need to be serious.”

When Lau told Leung he failed to fulfill his election promise, Legco president Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen ordered her to leave the chamber.

Chaos broke out as 10 pan-democratic lawmakers surrounded security guards who tried to escort Lau out of the chamber.

Andrew Leung suspended the meeting and in the melee that followed several people fell to the floor, some on top of Lau and independent lawmaker Claudia Mo Man-ching.

After more than 20 minutes, Andrew Leung asked the pan- democratic lawmakers to return to their seats. And when they refused he adjourned the meeting at about 11.45am.

Phoenix Un, “Leung session ends in bedlam“, The Standard (Hong Kong), 20 January 2017.

See also this earlier post.

 

the politics of universal pensions in Hong Kong

Monday, January 16th, 2017

One of the three candidates for Chief executive of Hong Kong is a strong supporter of universal age pensions for the territory’s residents. Suffrage in Hong Kong is severely limited, though, so the pro-universal candidate has little chance of winning the election, scheduled to take place at the end of March.

Chief executive hopeful Woo Kwok-hing warned voters against his “dangerous” rival Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, describing her as an autocrat who would decide everything by herself for the Hong Kong people.

Speaking before a public forum yesterday, Woo described Lam, who resigned as chief secretary on Thursday, in a negative light when asked by Lay Yan-piau, an Election Committee member from the social welfare subsector, to comment on Lam’s disregard of University of Hong Kong professor Nelson Chow Wing-sun’s research report which endorsed a universal pension.

The retired judge said Lam was “dangerous” as she talked like an autocrat, making all the plans for Hong Kong without public consultation on issues which should engage the public. ….

Woo reiterated his support for a universal pension scheme financed by tripartite contributions from employers, employees and the government as suggested by the scholarly proposal.

Phoenix Un, “‘Dictator’ Lam mustn’t lead HK, warns Woo“, The Standard (Hong Kong), 16 January 2017.

Woo Kwok-hing (born 1946) is competing against two pro-Beijing candidates: Regina Ip (born 1950) and Carrie Lam (born 1957). A new Chief executive will be selected by the 1,200-member Election Committee on 26 March 2017. Woo would like to see the voter base for choosing the Election Committee expanded from the current 250,000 to one million by 2022, three million by 2032 and eventually near-universal suffrage.