Changing China

Giant on the move

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How big a gamble will China take on Europe?


By Scott Boyd
The views expressed are his own.

As news broke this month suggesting it was more likely than ever that Greece was headed for default, China extended an offer of assistance that beleaguered European governments may find difficult to refuse. Premier Wen Jiabao announced that China was willing to increase its holdings of European sovereign debt at a time when several Eurozone countries are struggling to raise capital.

In return, China seeks little–simply an assurance that profligate governments promise to get their financial affairs in order, and perhaps some other small favor that, in the words of Premier Wen Jiabao, “would reflect our friendship.” The Premier even suggested that a good way to demonstrate this new-found goodwill would be to support China’s bid to be reclassified as a “market economy” by the World Trade Organization.

Currently, anti-dumping tariffs are applied against products shipped from China that are deemed to be sold at below the true market cost. This is an attempt to counter the subsidies and other incentives the Chinese government provides to many manufacturers to ensure their competitiveness; a change in designation would remove most of these tariffs.

While lower costs may be good news for consumers, for European manufacturers, it could prove disastrous. Disadvantaging European manufacturers already facing weak domestic demand could lead to wider job losses and a further slowing of the economy. Eurozone officials would be well advised to consider carefully the potential impact on domestic manufacturers before agreeing to easing China’s access to the European markets.

from MacroScope:

Will China make the world green?

Workers remove mine slag at an aluminium plant in Zibo, Shandong province December 6, 2008. REUTERS/Stringer

Joschka Fischer was never one to mince words when he was Germany's foreign minister in the late '90s and early noughts. So it is not overly surprising that he has painted a picture in a new post of a world with only two powers -- the United States and China -- and an ineffective and divided Europe on the sidelines.

More controversial, however, is his view that China will not only grow into the world's most important market over the coming years, but will determine what the world produces and consumes -- and that that will be green.

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.