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from Breakingviews:

Review: ‘Leftover Women’ may hinder China’s growth

By Katrina Hamlin

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are her own.

Women’s rights have taken a step backwards in China. A new book by Leta Hong Fincher blames that on the ruling Communist Party’s desire for social stability. But China may be depriving itself of an economic opportunity.

The title ‘Leftover Women’ borrows a distasteful contemporary term coined by a state campaign to stigmatize unmarried women. The government considers social stability the foundation for its authority: bullying young women into traditional roles supposedly fosters a harmonious society by mopping up surplus young men – a troublesome legacy of the One Child Policy. The idea caught on, and the stigma has the desired effect. Women as young as 25 rush into marriage to escape dreaded spinsterhood.

That has contributed to a broader resurgence in gender inequality, says Hong Fincher, which makes women financially vulnerable. What’s important about the book is that it looks beyond shallow analysis of spending habits to see who owns assets. Women’s property rights are particularly vulnerable. The author reports families will often allow a husband to be sole homeowner even if his wife contributes her savings to the purchase. As the author notes, China’s middle class doesn’t have many other ways to park spare cash, so this excludes many adult women from “what is arguably the biggest accumulation of residential real-estate wealth in history, valued at around 3.3 times China’s GDP”. Should a couple divorce, a new law dictates that the family’s property goes to whoever’s name is on the deeds. This represents a very real risk; the number of divorces in China rose by 12.8 percent in 2013 from a year earlier.

from MacroScope:

Of Iraq and Ukraine

Barack Obama’s message that any military support for Iraq’s besieged government is contingent on Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki taking steps to broaden his Shi'ite-dominated government may be having an impact.

Just hours after Maliki's Shi'ite allies vowed to boycott any cooperation with the biggest Sunni party and his government had accused Sunni neighbour Saudi Arabia of backing "genocide", Maliki broadcast a joint appeal for national unity alongside Sunni critics of his Shi'ite-led government.

from Breakingviews:

China veto is wake-up call for world’s dealmakers

By Ethan Bilby 

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Chinese regulators have sunk their first overseas transaction, killing a container-shipping alliance led by Denmark’s Maersk. The particular national interest made this tie-up especially vulnerable. But there’s a real risk China could torpedo other global deals.

from Breakingviews:

China Macau tolerance won’t last forever

By Rob Cox

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Spreadsheets with astonishing forecasts can only tell so much about China’s economic miracle. The sole path to believing, or at least comprehending, the scale of the country’s development is to see it. And so it is with any attempt to grasp Macau’s transformation from a Portuguese trading outpost to the Middle Kingdom’s gambling and entertainment hub.

from Breakingviews:

Alibaba’s slow unveiling shows good and bad sides

By Peter Thal Larsen

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Alibaba is lifting its veil to reveal both good and bad sides. The e-commerce giant has released more information ahead of its highly anticipated initial public offering. Though some of the disclosures will persuade prospective investors its business is relatively robust, the rapid shift by users to mobile phones is squeezing margins.

from Breakingviews:

China’s Hong Kong experiment faces biggest trial

By Peter Thal Larsen

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

China’s experiment with Hong Kong is facing its biggest trial. The former British colony has mostly thrived in the 17 years since it was handed back to the People’s Republic. But a planned “Occupy Central” democracy protest is about to test Hong Kong’s openness – and China’s patience.

from Breakingviews:

China’s vanishing metals corrode confidence

By John Foley 

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Faith in metal-backed lending in China is corroding – and so is confidence in the country’s giant credit system. Authorities and banks including Standard Chartered and CITIC are investigating whether traders at Qingdao port used the same lot of copper and aluminium to back multiple loans. Vanishing collateral isn’t a new problem, but could prove to be China’s weakest link.

from Breakingviews:

China hits bump on road to financial acceptance

By Peter Thal Larsen

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

China’s quest for financial respectability has hit a road bump. After a two-month review, MSCI has decided against including mainland-listed shares in its widely-followed emerging market index. Recent stock market reforms may help China fare better next time. Yet for all its growth, the country’s restricted capital flows are an obstacle to joining the global financial community.

from Breakingviews:

China’s mini-stimulus verges on micro-management

By John Foley

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Fine-tuning and micro-management are close cousins. China’s central bank is tending toward the latter. The latest policy tweak will let some banks lend more to the rural sector, and fits a wider regulatory trend of selective easing. But it adds needless complexity, and takes China further from its stated goal of being more market-driven.

from Photographers' Blog:

Life on a leash

Daohui village, China

By William Hong

Every morning, as soon as Xie Juntu wakes up, he ties his grandson to a pillar. His aim, however, is not to torture the boy but to keep him safe and save the family from bankruptcy.

When I met him in the remote Chinese village of Daohui, Juntu’s grandson Guobiao looked like any other normal 11-year-old. The only difference was the rope that prevented him moving more than a few steps away from the place where he had been tied.

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