Bureau Chief, Vietnam
John's Feed
Jun 2, 2013

N.Korean economy surrenders to foreign currency invasion

CHANGBAI, China/SEOUL, June 3 (Reuters) – Chinese currency
and U.S. dollars are being used more widely than ever in North
Korea instead of the country’s own money, a stark illustration
of the extent to which the leadership under Kim Jung-un has lost
control over the economy.

The use of dollars and Chinese yuan, or renminbi, has
accelerated since a disastrous revaluation of the North Korean
won in 2009 wiped out the savings of millions of people, said
experts on the country, defectors and Chinese border traders.

Apr 15, 2013

China’s freeway to North Korea: A road to nowhere

YANJI, China (Reuters) – A new stretch of China’s G12 expressway arcs toward the northernmost tip of North Korea, connecting one of the world’s most vibrant economies to probably its most stagnant. It is a symbol of China’s long-term goal of building economic ties with its unpredictable neighbour.

But the thin traffic along a highway lined with fallow fields in China’s Jilin province, two years after it was finished, shows how far there is to go and why plans for high-speed rail links to Chinese cities along the border look misplaced.

Apr 15, 2013

Insight: China’s freeway to North Korea: A road to nowhere

YANJI, China (Reuters) – A new stretch of China’s G12 expressway arcs toward the northernmost tip of North Korea, connecting one of the world’s most vibrant economies to probably its most stagnant. It is a symbol of China’s long-term goal of building economic ties with its unpredictable neighbor.

But the thin traffic along a highway lined with fallow fields in China’s Jilin province, two years after it was finished, shows how far there is to go and why plans for high-speed rail links to Chinese cities along the border look misplaced.

Apr 11, 2013

Nuclear threats to squid hedges: it’s hard to get a beer in N.Korea

TUMEN, China, April 12 (Reuters) – Setting up a brewery in
North Korea seemed like a good idea to Harry Kim and his Chinese
friends two years ago. Everyone likes beer, even in one of the
world’s most closed and least understood countries, they
reckoned.

Kim and his partners even got the beer flowing after workers
strapped equipment onto a truck in the Chinese border town of
Tumen and drove it to the North Korean coastal city of Chongjin.
Chinese engineers taught the locals how to brew. City officials
loved the taste, he said.

Mar 13, 2013

Dead pigs in China river spotlight heedless industry

SHANGHAI/BEIJING (Reuters) – The rotting bodies of about 6,000 pigs in a river that supplies tap water to Shanghai has drawn attention to an ugly truth – China’s pig farms are often riddled with disease and one way or another, sick animals often end up in the food chain.

Authorities have found traces of a common pig virus in some of the animals floating in the Huangpu River this week, and industry insiders say farmers likely dumped them, common in an industry which has no system of compensation for losses from disease.

Mar 11, 2013

China’s Xi flexes muscle, chooses reformist VP: sources

BEIJING (Reuters) – A reformist member of China’s decision-making Politburo, Li Yuanchao, is set to become the country’s vice president this week instead of a more senior and conservative official best known for keeping the media in check, sources said.

Li’s appointment would be a sign that new Communist Party leader and incoming president Xi Jinping’s clout is growing, a source with ties to the leadership said. Xi fended off a bid by influential former president Jiang Zemin to install propaganda tsar Liu Yunshan in the job, the source said.

Mar 6, 2013

China eyes residence permits to replace divisive hukou system

BEIJING, March 6 (Reuters) – China’s new leaders are
planning a system of national residence permits to replace the
household registration or ‘hukou’ regime, a government source
said, a vital reform that will boost its urbanisation campaign
and drive consumption-led growth.

The hukou system, which dates to 1958, has split China’s 1.3
billion people along urban-rural lines, preventing many of the
roughly 800 million Chinese who are registered as rural
residents from settling in cities and enjoying basic urban
welfare and services.

Mar 5, 2013

China hikes defense budget, to spend more on internal security

BEIJING (Reuters) – China unveiled another double-digit rise in military expenditure on Tuesday, but for a third year in a row the defense budget will be exceeded by spending on domestic security, highlighting Beijing’s concern about internal threats.

Spending on the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) will rise 10.7 percent to 740.6 billion yuan ($119 billion), while the domestic security budget will go up at a slightly slower pace, by 8.7 percent, to 769.1 billion yuan, according to the budget released at the opening of parliament’s annual meeting.

Feb 4, 2013

Analysis: China, Japan seek to dial down tension, but risk remains

TOKYO/SHANGHAI (Reuters) – Two Japanese F-15s scramble as a Chinese plane nears the disputed islands: one in the lead, the other providing cover.

They issue radio warnings to leave the area, but are ignored.

Visual wing-tipping signals go unheeded.

The Japanese pilots consider their last option: firing warning shots – a step Beijing could consider an act of war.

Feb 4, 2013

China and Japan seek to dial down tensions, but risks remain

TOKYO/SHANGHAI (Reuters) – Two Japanese F-15s scramble as a Chinese plane nears the disputed islands: one in the lead, the other providing cover.

They issue radio warnings to leave the area, but are ignored.

Visual wing-tipping signals go unheeded.

The Japanese pilots consider their last option: firing warning shots – a step Beijing could consider an act of war.