Changing China

Giant on the move

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from Left field:

World Games bring spotlight to southern Taiwan

2008 was undoubtedly China's year in the limelight, thanks to the Beijing Olympics. But this year, China's longtime political and diplomatic rival Taiwan gets the World Games

And it's not Taiwan's frenetic, fashionable capital Taipei which will be hosting the event. Instead, the island's second largest city and one of the world's busiest ports, Kaohsiung, will be home to the 16-26 July extravaganza.

The shadow of a passer-by is cast on a poster of the 2009 World Games in KaohsiungThe World Games, held under the patronage of the International Olympic Committee, is for some of the sports which don't make the cut for the Olympics. That includes billiards, tug of war, sumo, squash, water skiing and even life saving.

"For the spectators, at the venues as well as in front of TV sets, the particular fascinations of The World Games are found in watching these athletes compete in sports of a kaleidoscopic variety that is without match in the entire Olympic Movement," is how the organisation describes the event.

from Africa News blog:

Did Dalai Lama ban make sense?

Organisers have postponed a conference of Nobel peace laureates in South Africa after the government denied a visa to Tibet's spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, who won the prize in 1989 - five years after South Africa’s Archbishop Desmond Tutu won his and four years before Nelson Mandela and F.W. de Klerk won theirs for their roles in ending the racist apartheid regime.

Although local media said the visa ban followed pressure from China, an increasingly important investor and trade partner, the government said it had not been influenced by Beijing and that the Dalai Lama's presence was just not in South Africa's best interest at the moment.

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

In Afghanistan, China extends its reach

Afghanistan sits on one of the largest mineral deposits in the region, the country's mines minister told Reuters in an interview this month.

And the Chinese are already there, braving the Taliban upsurge and a slowing economy at home to invest in the vast Aynak copper field south of Kabul, reputed to hold one of the largest deposits of the metal in the world.

Spam text-messaging hell

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Psst, want a gun? Or an illegal satellite television connection? What about some porn?

It’s all on offer in China, judging by the spam text messages and solicitation calls to mobile telephones in the world’s biggest mobile phone market. Black and gray-market goods have proliferated via free-wheeling texting spam that has become a menace.

from MacroScope:

Victory for emerging BRICs?

Emerging market ministers, particularly those from the BRIC economies -- Brazil, Russia, India and China -- are painting this weekend's G20 meeting as a victory in dragging them out of the shadows of global policy-making.

The finance ministers' statement included the promise of more money for the International Monetary Fund and regional development banks, on whom struggling emerging economies rely for support.

NPC’s “splash of cold water”

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The annual gathering of China’s National People’s Congress, the largely ceremonial parliament that concluded on Friday, was a nine-day stretch of often unremarkable meetings sandwiched between high-profile comments by top leaders at the open and close.But occasionally, unrehearsed dialogue among some of the thousands of delegates provided a glimpse at the rhetorical flare that sometimes enlivens debate.As Reuters correspondent Simon Rabinovitch reports, some off-the-cuff exchanges – like this one involving Vice-Premier Wang Qishan and delegates from Hunan province — got extra mileage once they started being passed around over the Internet after a report on the Economic Observer’s website.Read Simon’s story by clicking here, “Unscripted reply show China’s foreign M&A caution”

China hits home run

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China’s upset 4-1 win over Taiwan in the first round of the World Baseball Classic earlier this month was a small but important step for a team that battles for recognition and funding.

Although trounced by Japan and South Korea in earlier matches, the politically tinged match renewed China’s bragging rights over the self-ruled island, which Beijing declares as its own territory and has vowed to bring back to mainland rule, by force if necessary.

Runaway success of China’s parliament

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   By Emma Graham-Harrison

   Even US President Barack Obama on his post-election high could only dream of popularity like this. Delegates streaming out of the opening session of China’s Parliament on Thursday morning were pretty much unanimous in praising their leaders’ talent and inspiration.
 
    “The government has very good policies.”
 
    “The Premier’s policies were right on the mark.”
 
    “They laid out all the policies we will need.”
 
    This is just a sampling of the glowing reviews Premier Wen Jiabao got for his annual report to Parliament, which he reads out word-for-exact-printed word for more than two hours.
 
    Delegates are supposed to follow on their own copies, although many of them appear to
nod off — maybe into dreams of the “harmonious society,” which the Chinese Communist Party is trying to build.
 
    The only delegate who told Reuters he wasn’t entranced didn’t blame the premier either.
 
    “Actually my Chinese isn’t so good so I find it a bit boring,” said a Tibetan “living Buddha”, sipping tea outside the main hall in monks’ robes that photographers swarmed to snap.
 
    But many of the thousands of “people’s representatives” crammed into the cavernous Great Hall of the People shied away from media like sensitive locals on the streets of Tibet.
 
    “Just call me Mr Yang. Thank you, thank you,” said one trim, middle-aged delegate who wouldn’t say who he was representing either. I had to listen back to my tape to check whether I’d
missed some dangerously seditious thoughts. But he was just quoting back from the report.
 
    “The most important thing for overcoming the crisis is stimumlating domestic demand, increasing investment,” he mumbled.

    The next delegate I approached picked up his pace, and when I picked up mine to match, he broke into a shuffling semi-jog across the marble floor to escape my questioning.
 
    I left my runaway to look for a delegate willing to do anything other than gush about the speech’s succcess, but I finally went back to the office empty-handed.

No new stimulus? Buy!

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Global markets surged on Wednesday, led by the Shanghai stock market’s 6.1 percent gain, on hopes that Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao would announce a new stimulus on top of the 4 trillion yuan ($585 billion) two-year spending plan unveiled in November.

Investors were optimistic that with a bit help from the central government, the economy could turn the corner and start to regain lost ground, heading off a rise in unemployment that officials fear could threaten social stability.

To the highest bidder?

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   By Ben Blanchard
   The fate of two bronze statues looted from China in the 1800s — and which were bought at a Paris auction this week by an anonymous buyer for $20 million each — has sparked intense public interest in China.

   Thanks to a tip, Reuters was the only foreign media to learn about a hastily called news conference on Monday in Beijing where the buyer promised to make a statement.

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