31 August 2015

Washington Post China Newsletter—A Re-evaluation of China

An excellent compilation of hard-hitting articles. All content below courtesy of Simon Denyer, China Bureau Chief, The Washington Post:

This month’s stock market crash has prompted a fundamental re-evaluation of the China story. Despite the fact that the market’s fortunes bear precious little relation to the real economy, the plunge has sharpened concerns about the nation’s ability to simultaneously manage an economic slowdown and restructuring, and caused many people to doubt their assumptions about the economic infallibility of the nation’s leaders.

Here are some of the highlights of our coverage from the past two weeks: ghost towns and stalled economic restructuring; the culture shock that Chinese companies face when operating in foreign democracies; the threat of U.S. sanctions over cyber-hacking and other problems in the two nations’ relationship; the scapegoating of a Chinese journalist over the market crash, and how the plunge effected ordinary investors around the country.

Looking ahead, China’s government is straining every sinew to ensure that the next few weeks goes rather better than the last few have, and that Thursday’s military parade and September’s state visit to the United States have the intended effect of burnishing the reputation of President Xi Jinping. Watch this space.

In China, a ghost town points to shifting fortunes

“Everyone knows what the problem is. It is structural,” said an official dealing with economic policy in the Liaoning government who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the press.

“Everybody knows what to do. You need to change the economic structure. But what concrete steps to take? Nobody knows,” he said. “What can we do? Financial sector? You can’t compete with cities like Shanghai. High-tech industries? Those won’t flourish overnight.”

Chinese companies face culture shock in countries that aren’t like China

“Trade unions are all the same: They are black-hearted,” complained He Enjia, president of the Textile Enterprise Association of the Chinese Chamber of Commerce in Cambodia. “In the last two years, things changed in Cambodia,” he added, explaining that factory owners used to be able to hire police to suppress striking workers. “Now it’s impossible. The influence of the opposition party is growing, with the help of the Western media.”

U.S.-China relations

U.S. developing sanctions against China over cyberthefts

The expected sanctions move will send two signals, a second administration official said. “It sends a signal to Beijing that the administration is going to start fighting back on economic espionage, and it sends a signal to the private sector that we’re on your team. It tells China, enough is enough.”

See also: Chinese hackers may have turned sights on India, new report says

Ally, adversary or both? Stock market slide exposes Obama’s challenge of dealing with China.

The escalating rhetoric has at times been contradictory — Is China beating the United States in a race for global preeminence or leading it in a downward spiral? — but it has put the White House on the defensive as Obama aides seek to temper the calls for a tougher stance against Beijing.

See also:  Trump: China’s president should get a Big Mac, not a state dinner

Chinese official on GOP’s anti-China rhetoric: ‘Americans nervous to prove they’re not in decline’

The Post’s View: China should tread carefully in the South China Sea

A Pentagon report warns of China’s unilateral building on the Spratly Islands.

Stock market crash

China pins market plunge on financial journalist, airs ‘confession’

In footage broadcast Monday morning on CCTV, China’s state broadcaster, a weary-looking Wang said he obtained information about China’s securities regulator “through private channels” and then added his “own subjective judgment” to the report.

‘The rules are flawed’: Chinese stock crash leaves investors cynical

Hairdresser Zhang Liang dreamed of driving a Ford Mustang. Now he says he has even stopped buying new clothes.

How farmers from rural China bet on the stock market and lost

Nan’s wife, Wang, could not decide whether to laugh or cry. “The weather is so hot and I have to go to the fields, and I make so little, and he can go and lose so much in one day?” she said with a wry smile. “Am I angry? Of course I’m angry!”

As Shanghai plunges again, another stock market shows where China’s torment starts

Not one, or two, but three bulls stand sentinel outside the Shenzhen Stock Exchange, symbols of a city, and a country, that have spent more than three decades charging up, and up, and up.

China’s economic woes expose drawbacks of president’s power play

“The only important thing to Xi is power,” said Liu Junning, an independent scholar and former researcher for the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, a prestigious official think tank, who was fired in 2000 for criticizing the Communist Party. “There is no room for further reform without surrendering power.”

China’s economy is in big trouble, but it isn’t collapsing

“Investors are overreacting about economic risks in China. The collapse of the equity bubble tells us next to nothing about the state of China’s economy,” Julian Jessop, chief global economist at Capital Economics, wrote.

Tianjin blast :

Chinese paper promises there will be no Tianjin blast cover-up. Why nobody believes It.

Angry Chinese ask: Why did so many firefighters die in Tianjin explosion?

Caged bunnies placed at Tianjin blast site to prove everything is just fine