Giant on the move
When people want to know what’s happening in North Korea, their first stop is often the Chinese border city of Dandong. It’s one of the few places where North Koreans interact with the outside world. There are truck drivers and traders, and also spies, missionaries and refugees, not to mention reporters.
We went to Dandong this week to see if we could find out about the impact of North Korea’s currency change. The government has capped the amount of old currency that could be traded for new, effectively lopping off the savings of many small traders and a new merchant class.
The Chinese traders told us that in North Korea, many shops and markets have closed while people wait to figure out the value of the new money. They tended to be reluctant to go on record, for fear that prickly North Korean customers would get offended if they were quoted saying anything negative.
But just looking at the goods for sale in Dandong gives a little idea of life in North Korea. North Koreans don’t buy heated floor mats popular with Koreans living in China’s Northeast, one shopkeeper said, because there’s not much electricity in North Korea.
from Global Investing:
Some fascinating data about the growing power of emerging markets, particularly the BRICs, was on display at the OECD's annual investment conference in Paris this week. Not the least of it came from MIGA, the World Bank's Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency, which tries to help protect foreign direct investors from various forms of political risk.
MIGA has mainly focused on encouraging investment into developing countries, but a lot of its latest work is about investment from emerging economies.
Monk Qing Fuming is no stranger to hardship.
He and two other monks live high up in the mountains in Inner Mongolia in Lasengmiao’s Lama Temple.
Alongside an unforgiving climate and few amenities, Qing now lives in a growing cloud of smog as, down in the plains, factories wreathe his tiny monastery in clouds of choking smoke.
On the first day of the Copenhagen climate change summit, Beijingers were experiencing what authorities called a ‘slightly polluted’ day.
Air quality in the capital has improved, thanks in part to the movement of factories elsewhere and new traffic restrictions first experimented with ahead of last year’s Olympics.
The residents of a Chinese community see the benefits of an innovative solar power project every day – and night.
Along the rolling hills of China’s southwestern Chongqing Municipality, three hundred solar panels follow the sun’s daily voyage across the sky.
As Copenhagen’s climate talks draw near, more and more critics are turning to the world’s biggest emitter of greenhouse gases and asking how much damage has been done and what is being done about it?
China’s booming double-digit growth came with a price. Coal, the dirtiest of the fossil fuels produces 80 percent of the country’s energy. But China says change is already well underway. The government recently announced that it aims to cut 2005 carbon intensity levels by 40-45 percent by 2020.
For a group of grandmothers in Taiwan’s Pingtung County, it means fulfilling a childhood dream of becoming ballerinas.
And now the women, most in their 60s, tackle everything from a “battement fondu” to an “arabesque” stance.
from Global Investing:
It may end up sounding like a famous ball-point pen maker, but an argument is being made that Goldman Sach's famous marketing device, the BRICs, should really be the BICs. Does Russia really deserve to be a BRIC, asks Anders Åslund, senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, in an article for Foreign Policy.
Åslund, who is also co-author with Andrew Kuchins of "The Russian Balance Sheet", reckons the Russia of Putin and Medvedev is just not worthy of inclusion alongside Brazil, India and China in the list of blue-chip economic powerhouses. He writes:
China is struggling to keep HIV-positive children alive. The problem is especially serious in its rural areas where a combination of stigma and a lack of proper care and medication leaves these children with an uphill battle against the deadly virus.
Bubbly, cheerful and playful. When I first met these five children at around 7.30am in the morning, they greeted me with their warm smiles and hearty giggles.
from Raw Japan:
A passerby walks in front of a retail shop displaying a sale advertisement in Tokyo July 10, 2009. Japanese wholesale prices fell at a record pace in June, showing that the world's No. 2 economy is still struggling with slack demand despite some recent tentative signs of improvement in its manufacturing sector. REUTERS/Issei Kato (JAPAN BUSINESS)