Changing China

Giant on the move

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“The hidden danger of blogs”

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China’s government may be fretting about the vast new potential for leaking information opened up by the internet (see this Xinhua piece on planned revisions to the state secrets law).
   
But that hasn’t stopped the many bureaucrats who police the nebulous world of Chinese state secrets from wanting to leap headfirst into the online world.

The web is awash with the sites of state secrets bureaux, I discovered after a colleague dug up a report posted on one of them about the commercially and diplomatically sensitive detention of executives from mining giant Rio Tinto.

It was on www.baomi.org (which roughly translates as www.protectsecrets.org), the succinctly named Website of the apparently not-as secretive-as-its-name-suggests National Administration for the Protection of State Secrets.

Someone in the Administration may be more old-fashioned than the technophiles who set up the site, as it stopped working soon after Reuters report was followed by dozens of other media outlets and spread around the world.

Love the Motherland, Love Statistics

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The next time anyone questions the reliability of Chinese statistics, they should first spare a thought for the sensitive, earnest souls who gather the data. The National Bureau of Statistics asked its employees to craft poems to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the People’s Republic of China. 

Like Chinese growth surging beyond economists’ forecasts, their literary talents are sure to leave critics gasping for breath.

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

‘Special One’ makes few friends in China

If Inter Milan were intending their trip to Beijing for last week's Italian Super Cup to be a China charm offensive, coach Jose Mourinho was obviously not kept in the loop.

The accepted form for European club officials on pre-season trips to China is to politely praise everything local and talk up the footballing potential of the world's most populous nation.

from India Insight:

India, China take a measure of each other at border row talks

China and India are sitting down for another round of talks this week on their unsettled border, a nearly 50-year festering row that in recent months seems to have gotten worse.

China's Vice Foreign Minister Dai Bingguo and India's National Security Adviser M.K. Narayanan are unlikely to announce any agreement on the 3,500 km border, even a small one, but their talks this week may well signal how they intend to move forward on a relationship marked by a  deep, deep "trust deficit", as former Indian intelligence chief B. Raman puts it.

from The Great Debate (Commentary):

Shenzhen’s “Bird’s Nest”

If you want to gauge the current state of China's construction boom, look no further than Hong Kong's dynamic neighbour, Shenzhen.  Defying the searing heat of the Chinese summer, construction workers are busily building a state-of-the-art stadium for the 2011 World University Games.

I was there last week on a five-day tour organized by Guangdong Province, and the stadium was the first stop, indicating how intensely proud officials are about the "Lotus Flower" stadium.

China’s infertile ground for (some) Western sports

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Soccer is in a tight spot in China — literally. Huge crowds roar for Manchester United but the national team is a laughing stock at 108th in FIFA world rankings. Poor coaching, lack of grassroots development, even corruption and violence are variously cited as reasons for the sport’s demise. But the real reason may be more basic: the fact of physical space, or the lack thereof, in China.

If geography is a determinant of economic development, then it is fair to extrapolate that urban geography underpins the development of sports. And here’s the rub for soccer, not to mention American football and baseball. With few parks, small concrete schoolyards and a dearth of quiet streets, urban China offers little of the space needed for the sprawling play that defines those sports. Soccer has deep roots in China, but playing space has been squeezed as cities sprawl and swallow land in big gulps.

from Global Investing:

Slow and steady wins the race: Malkiel

Investment guru Burton Malkiel, author of A Random Walk Down Wall Street, has revealed at a briefing that Chinese equities form the largest part of his personal satellite portfolio, although the core remains in low-cost index funds.

Malkiel, in town to beat the drum for Vanguard's index funds, argued that China will be the biggest economy in the world in 20 years' time, but most investors are underweight the emerging giant. "I'm a real expert on China - I've been there five times," he joked, but made the serious point that most investors have a home bias.

from Global News Journal:

How Ill is Kim Jong-il?

Photo:A compilation by Reuters of pool photographs and images provided by North Korea's KCNA news agency showing North Korean leader Kim Jong-il from 2004 to 2009. The photograph in the lower right was released this week by KCNA

By Jon Herskovitz

The image the world once had of North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, with a trademark paunch, platform shoes and a bouffant hair-do, is gone and may never come back. He has now become a gaunt figure with thinning hair who has trouble walking in normal shoes, let alone ones with heels 8-10 centimetres (3-4 inches) high like he used to wear.

from India Insight:

Xinjiang – the spreading arc of instability

China's troubled Xinjiang region shares borders with eight countries, which is perhaps one reason President Hu Jintao dropped out of the G8 summit to head home, underscoring the seriousness of the situation and the need to quickly bring the vast oil-rich region under control.

Xinjiang touches Russia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, India, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, besides the Tibet Autonomous Region.

from MacroScope:

Why the BRICS like Africa

There is little doubt that the BRICs -- Brazil, Russia, India and China -- have become big players in Africa. According to Standard Bank of South Africa, BRIC trade with the continent has snowballed from just $16 billion in 2000 to $157 billion last year. That is a 33 percent compounded annual growth rate.

What is behind this? At one level, the BRICs, as they grow, are clearly recognising commercial and strategic opportunities in Africa. But Standard Bank reckons other, more individual, drivers are also at play.

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