“SHANGHAI — Beijing and Washington have threatened each other with tariffs for weeks, raising the prospect of a trade war. But on Tuesday, China took a step to lower tensions, offering to make it easier for foreign automakers and aerospace manufacturers to own factories in the country.The Chinese authorities said that in the next five years they would ease rules that have long required carmakers like General Motors, Toyota and Volkswagen to link up with a local partner before building a factory in China.”
Archive for China
Lam Wing-kee knew he was in trouble. In his two decades as owner and manager of Hong Kong’s Causeway Bay Books, Lam had honed a carefully nonchalant routine when caught smuggling books into mainland China: apologize, claim ignorance, offer a cigarette to the officers, crack a joke. For most of his career, the routine was foolproof.
Thin and wiry, with an unruly pouf of side-swept gray hair and a wisp of mustache, Lam was carrying a wide mix of books that day: breathless political thrillers, bodice-rippers and a handful of dry historical tomes. The works had only two things in common: Readers hungered for them, and each had been designated contraband by the Communist Party’s Central Leading Group for Propaganda and Ideology. For decades, Lam’s bookstore had thrived despite the ban — or maybe because of it. Operating just 20 miles from the mainland city of Shenzhen, in a tiny storefront sandwiched between a pharmacy and an upscale lingerie store, Causeway was a destination for Chinese tourists, seasoned local politicians and even, surreptitiously, Communist Party members themselves, anyone hoping for a peek inside the purges, intraparty feuding and silent coups that are scrubbed from official histories. Lam was an expert on what separated the good banned books from the bad, the merely scandalous from the outright sensational. He found books that toed the line between rumor and reality.
Other retailers avoided the mainland market, but through years of trial and error, Lam had perfected a series of tricks to help his books avoid detection. He shipped only to busy ports, where packages were less likely to be checked. He slipped on false dust covers. Lam was stopped only once, in 2012. By the end of that six-hour interrogation, he was chatting with the officers like old friends and sent home with a warning.
By Harvey Thomlinson April 2, 2018
HONG KONG — China is a sea of labor unrest. During the first 10 weeks of this year there were more than 400 publicly reported strikes, more than double the number during the comparable period last year. President Xi Jinping’s government has responded with a firm hand: Labor activists are being arrested and assaulted simply for demanding their wages.As China’s rate of economic growth has slowed over the past few years, China Labour Bulletin, a Hong Kong-based organization. . .
“HONG KONG — China is a sea of labor unrest. During the first 10 weeks of this year there were more than 400 publicly reported strikes, more than double the number during the comparable period last year. President Xi Jinping’s government has responded with a firm hand: Labor activists are being arrested and assaulted simply for demanding their wages.
As China’s rate of economic growth has slowed over the past few years, China Labour Bulletin, a Hong Kong-based organization, tracked a surge in reported strikes — most likely a small measure of all the actual strikes — from fewer than 200 in 2011 to 1,256 in 2017. Government data indicates a 38 percent increase in the number of labor dispute cases heard by Chinese courts, from 589,244 in 2011 to 813,589 in 2015.”
Trump Hits China With Trade Measures as White House Exempts Allies From Tariffs – The New York Times
“President Trump said he would impose about $60 billion worth of annual tariffs on Chinese imports on Thursday as the White House moved to punish China for what it says is a pattern of co-opting American technology and trade secrets and robbing companies of jobs and billions of dollars in revenue.
The measures come as the White House grants a long list of exemptions to American allies from steel and aluminum tariffs that go into effect on Friday, including the European Union, which has lobbied aggressively and publicly for relief from the trade action.
“The word that I want to use is reciprocal,” Mr. Trump said in announcing the tariffs in the Diplomatic Room of the White House. “If they charge us, we charge them the same thing.”
The China tariffs are his strongest trade action yet against a country he has branded an “economic enemy.” They fulfill one of his core campaign pledges, to demand more reciprocal deals with trading partners around the world.
But coupled with the administration’s decision to exempt the European Union, South Korea, Brazil, Canada, and Mexico from the tariffs on cheap metals, the action demonstrates how much Mr. Trump’s nationalist trade agenda is really targeted at a single country: China.”
“The tariffs, which the United States trade representative will publish within 15 days, will target 1,300 lines of Chinese goods — everything from shoes and clothing to electronics, administration officials said.” I understood the the argument for steel and aluminum, but what is the argument for these other 1,298 products? All the mainstream economists that I learn from, say that tariffs are toxic. The Chinese are famous for their intelligence, work ethic and pride. If they feel insulted, and have lost face, they will be forced to retaliate. Can Boeing stay on top without one of their biggest customers? Or did their stock price just drop almost 4% for no reason?
A five or ten percent tariff on just Chinese steel and aluminum might have been a more prudent test of the waters. Rejoining the TPP asap, would probably do more for the US economy and economic defense, than the steel tariff. The Chinese play like a people at war with the West, and they probably are, since they still have a score to settle over the bombardment and destruction of the Spring Palace, and its mulitude of treasure buildings and libraries, in the 1840’s, during the ugly opium war. The civilization that invented, paper, writing, gunpowder, history and literature, should be courted with carots as well as with sticks.
David Lindsay Jr. is the author of “The Tay Son Rebellion, Historical Fiction of Eighteenth-century Vietnam,” and blogs at here and InconvenientNewsWorldwide.wordpress.com
Thomas Friedman is great in this column. He writes that China is a big problem, but the Trump steel tariff hurts our allies and not China. Then:
“So what would a smart American president do? First, he’d sign the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade accord. TPP eliminated as many as 18,000 tariffs on U.S. exports with the most dynamic economies in the Pacific and created a 12-nation trading bloc headed by the U.S. and focused on protecting what we do best — high-value-added manufacturing and intellectual property. Alas, Trump tore it up without reading it — one of the stupidest foreign policy acts ever. We Brexited Asia! China was not in TPP. It was a coalition built, in part, to pressure Beijing into fairer market access, by our rules. Trump just gave it up for free.
Once a smart president restored participation in TPP, he’d start secret trade talks with the Chinese — no need for anyone to lose face — and tell Beijing: “Since you like your trade rules so much, we’re going to copy them for your companies operating in America: 25 percent tariffs on your cars, and your tech companies that open here have to joint venture and share intellectual property with a U.S. partner — and store all their data on U.S. servers.” “
“BEIJING — Some 200 senior Communist Party officials gathered behind closed doors in January to take up a momentous political decision: whether to abolish presidential term limits and enable Xi Jinping to lead China for a generation.
In a two-day session in Beijing, they bowed to Mr. Xi’s wish to hold onto power indefinitely. But a bland communiqué issued afterward made no mention of the weighty decision, which the authorities then kept under wraps for more than five weeks.
That meeting of the party’s Central Committee was the culmination of months of secretive discussions that are only now coming to light — and show how Mr. Xi maneuvered with stealth, swiftness and guile to rewrite China’s Constitution.
The decision was abruptly announced only last week, days before the annual session of China’s legislature, the National People’s Congress. The delay was apparently an effort to prevent opposition from coalescing before formal approval of the change by the legislature’s nearly 3,000 members.”
Will this be good of bad for Vietnam? My gut tells me it will be bad. As China moves away from becoming more democratic, and moves towards becoming more fascist, it will perhaps become more dependent, or willing, to take on outside foreign wars, to distract its people. No one has more to lose in such a development, than the Vietnamese, who have had to repel Chinese invasions and occupations, at least seven times by 1789, when Nguyen Hue and his 200,000 troops deffeated a Qing army of about 300.000. I am pleased that the Trump administration has sent one of its aircraft carriers to visit Vietnam this month, at the deep port of Danang. This is an important message, that we in the United States agree with the Vietnamese, that the South China Sea, or the East Sea in Vietnam, does not belong to China, but should be shared by all the nations that live around it, or send their ships through it.
David Lindsay Jr. is the author of “The Tay Son Rebellion, Historical Fiction of Eighteenth-century Vietnam,” and blogs at TheTaySonRebellion.com and InconvenientNewsWorldwide.wordpress.com
“With all the focus on Russian meddling in the 2016 election, the damage done by China’s vigorous and continuing espionage against the United States has taken a back seat.
The preoccupation with Russia, in fact, has obscured the significant inroads made by Chinese intelligence and cyberspies. In some cases, China has proved more skillful than Russia in infiltrating American intelligence.
A case involving a former C.I.A. officer named Jerry Chun Shing Lee is a perfect example. Beginning in 2010, C.I.A. sources in China began disappearing; a dozen were reported executed and several more imprisoned. What had seemed a major success in establishing a network of C.I.A. spies inside China had been turned into a devastating intelligence failure. The C.I.A. and F.B.I., suspecting a mole, went on a secret hunt.
Mr. Lee, who had been stationed in Beijing, emerged as a prime suspect. When he stepped off a flight in New York on Jan. 15, he was arrested by the F.B.I. and charged with unlawfully retaining documents related to the national defense. But there is still no certainty that he was responsible for the loss of the agents.”
“BRUSSELS — A year ago, the self-styled global elite gathered at Davos, shaken by the election of Donald J. Trump, who made no secret of his contempt for the multilateral alliances and trade that underpin the European Union.
Then up stepped the Chinese president, Xi Jinping, promising that if America would no longer champion the global system, China would.
European officials and business leaders were thrilled.
But a year later, European leaders are confronted with the reality that Mr. Xi could also be a threat to the global system, rather than a great defender. The abolition of the two-term limit for the presidency, which could make Mr. Xi China’s ruler for life and which is expected to be ratified this week by China’s legislature, has punctured the hope that China would become “a responsible stakeholder” in the global order. Few still believe China is moving toward the Western values of democracy and rule of law.
Instead, many European leaders now accuse China of trying to divide the European Union as it woos Central Europe and the Balkan states with large investments. They are also wary of how China has become more aggressive militarily, in espionage and in its investment strategy abroad — with targets including its largest trading partner in Europe, Germany.”
Good article. It ends, “Now Mr. Xi’s open-ended tenure could give China a chance to plan long-term and carry out its policies systematically with “a steady hand on the helm of a great power,” Mr. Schell said. “But it is rooted in Leninism, autocracy and control, which will make it a tremendous challenge for liberal democracies rooted in a different value system, especially in a world reeling with no leadership.” ”
It is surprising to think the Europeans are so dependent on the US for leadership. It would be useful, if we in the US could rally around an alternative leader, who could challenge our current president, with the leadership that is called for in the article here. Secretary State Kerry is the name that pops up in my mind. Who else should be on the short list.