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from Breakingviews:

China’s banks are coming – this time for real

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By John Foley 

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

China’s banks are racking up foreign assets, driven by trade flows, and the country’s corporate diaspora. Even at the current slow pace, what today looks like “following the client” could soon become “following everyone’s clients”.

Graphic: Loan rangers: China's banks are coming 

In 2013, China’s lenders abroad mostly stuck with what they knew – servicing Chinese companies. But there were firsts. Agricultural Bank of China started clearing yuan trades in the United Kingdom, and Industrial and Commercial Bank of China issued a yuan-denominated UK bond. Those niche markets can still grow fast: the yuan is now the second most-used trade currency after the U.S. dollar.

Takeovers are the logical next step. A dream pairing of ICBC and UK-based emerging market lender Standard Chartered may be too complex, despite the latter’s sliding valuation. But majority stakes in markets where Chinese companies trade and invest make more immediate sense. China Construction Bank set the tone by buying a stake in Brazil’s BicBanco in November. Africa and Eastern Europe may see similar deals. Even oil-rich Iran could be a target in a future sanctions-free world.

from Breakingviews:

China’s bureaucrats play online war games

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By Robyn Mak 

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

Who governs the internet? Authorities in China can’t decide. The Ministry of Culture, a relatively unknown agency, staked a claim by clamping down on online games on Dec. 13. China’s leaders say they want to foster an innovative economy, but the tussle between the young internet sector and an outdated bureaucracy raises questions about whether they really mean it.

from Breakingviews:

China is moving closer to its “Dubai moment”

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By Peter Thal Larsen

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

China’s reform drive is getting closer to its “Dubai moment”. The emirate’s 2009 refusal to bail out its flagship holding company shocked lenders who had assumed all debt carried an implicit state guarantee. As China introduces market forces to its financial system, it will also have to draw a clearer line between public and private lending.

from Breakingviews:

Bitcoin mania heads into the end game

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

Common sense is catching up with the bitcoin craze. In the process, it is bringing its backers financial losses and intellectual embarrassment.

from Breakingviews:

China web giants take the fight offline in 2014

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By Robyn Mak

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

Remember when every offline company was desperate to become an online one? In China, it’s happening the other way round. The country’s internet giants are making forays into traditional industries, from logistics to consumer electronics. The pace will increase, but what starts as disruption could turn into overreach.

from Photographers' Blog:

The teachings of Mao

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Sitong, China

By Carlos Barria

In a remote farming area of China’s central province of Henan, kids are roused from their warm beds at 5 a.m. as revolutionary songs play over the loudspeaker system. In the freezing morning they gather around a cement courtyard for their morning exercises.

Mr. Xia Zuhai, principal of the Democracy Elementary and Middle school -- where the curriculum stresses the teachings of China’s late Chairman Mao Zedong -- blows his whistle and encourages the students while they run around in the darkness for 20 minutes.

from Breakingviews:

U.S. and China will set global growth pace in 2014

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By Peter Thal Larsen and Robyn Mak 

The authors are Reuters Breakingviews columnists. The opinions expressed are their own.

The United States and China will determine the pace of global growth in 2014. Though America accounts for a quarter of the world economy and China less than a tenth, the two countries will generate roughly half the expansion in overall GDP next year. With Europe in the doldrums, Japan still recovering and emerging markets subdued, the planet heavily depends on its twin engines.

from The Great Debate:

China’s air defense zone: The shape of things to come?

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China’s announcement of an air defense identification zone (AIDZ) that covers substantial portions of the East China Sea has unleashed a storm of concern among China’s neighbors -- as well as in the United States.

For China’s action reflects the deeper challenge now posed by its growing military capability and international activism. Vice President Joe Biden was on solid ground when he objected strenuously to this new air defense zone during his recent trip to the region.

from The Great Debate:

Human Rights Day: Still pursuing religious freedom

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December 10 marks Human Rights Day, the 65th anniversary of the landmark Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), signed by 48 nations -- with just eight abstentions.

Sixty-five years ago, naysayers insisted it was nobody else’s business how governments behaved within their borders. The declaration confronted this cynical view -- and continues to do so today. Human rights abuses and their consequences spill beyond national borders, darkening prospects for harmony and stability across the globe. Freedom of religion or belief, as well as other human rights, are essential to peace and security. They are everyone’s business.

from Ian Bremmer:

China’s air zone announcement was just the beginning

When China announced its decision to claim a wider air zone that encompassed the disputed Senkaku/Diaoyu Island territories, the East China Sea erupted into conflict reminiscent of the Cold War era. In response, the United States and Japan declared the zone illegitimate and flew military aircraft through it, while China deployed fighter jets to identify them.

But this was not a simple instance of China overstepping and getting burned -- nor was it as sudden and unexpected as headlines suggest. Rather, it was the manifestation of a longstanding Chinese regional strategy that is only just beginning. And China is likely quite pleased with how it is playing out thus far.

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