In a private meeting with the US Ambassador to China in 2007, provincial Communist Party secretary Li Keqiang described his country’s GDP figures as “man-made” and unreliable.
To get a good idea of what was happening to the economy in his province of Liaoning, Li said he preferred to focus on three alternative indicators: electricity consumption, volume of rail cargo and the amount of loans disbursed.
All other figures, and especially GDP statistics, were “for reference only”, Li told the Ambassador, with a broad smile on his face. Continue reading »
Rumours that China’s long-serving central bank governor will soon be replaced have been swirling around Beijing for the past couple of weeks as the country’s leaders debate the extent of the current slowdown and the appropriate response.
Zhou Xiaochuan, the urbane, English-speaking veteran head of the People’s Bank of China, has been dogged by talk of his imminent political demise throughout his long career. Continue reading »
With the benefit of hindsight it is always easy to identify the signs of an impending crisis.
Today it seems perfectly obvious that high-profile loss-making pet food websites will eventually go bust and that giving mortgages to people who cannot pay them back is not a sustainable business model.
Along with such leading indicators of looming disaster I would add another – the conversion of bearish commentators and economists into newly-minted optimists. Continue reading »
Analysts from Bank of America Merrill Lynch think that China will experience its “Bear Stearns moment” on Friday, when the country will probably see as its first ever bond default.
That is a bold, attention-seeking call that is also patently ridiculous. Continue reading »
Everything in China is political, even when it might not be.
A series of seemingly unrelated corruption scandals in China all share a common thread that has got the political class in Beijing very excited and boosted speculation that an elite power struggle is under way within the ruling Communist party.
The connections seem tenuous at first but spend enough time in the Byzantine world of Chinese politics and the logic starts to appear compelling. Continue reading »
What is a Nobel Prize worth in the Beijing property market? Not very much if Nobel-winning Chinese author Mo Yan’s experience is anything to go by.
Chinese media reports say Mo (pictured) has bought an apartment on the far outskirts of the Chinese capital that they estimate will have cost him about half his Nobel prize money of $1.2m. Continue reading »
Rat meat disguised as mutton, fake pharmaceuticals, entire replica Apple stores – China has seen almost every scam imaginable. But in the latest scandal unearthed by Chinese police the pirates have started to intrude into people’s love lives.
In a nationwide crackdown the authorities have arrested 37 people on suspicion of manufacturing nearly 5m fake brand-name condoms and selling them to unwitting consumers through supermarkets, pharmacies and sex shops across the country. Continue reading »
More than a quarter of US companies surveyed by the American Chamber of Commerce in China say they have had trade secrets stolen or compromised through cyber-attacks on their China operations, adding weight to US accusations that Beijing is behind numerous corporate espionage attacks. Continue reading »
The death of Hugo Chávez this week has deprived Venezuela of a controversial and charismatic leader and left it with a mountain of debt to China.
With an election scheduled to be held within a month, many are inevitably wondering whether Venezuela’s Beijing bankers are going to continue to fund El Comandante’s successors. Continue reading »
As the seven men who will lead China for the next five years walked out onto the stage of the Great Hall of the People last Thursday, stock market traders with a sense for politics swung into action.
Less than two hours after Zhang Gaoli, the new seventh-ranked member of the Communist Party of China’s Politburo Standing Committee, stood in front of the popping of flash bulbs, Hong Kong-listed shares of Xinyi Glass had leapt more than six per cent. Continue reading »
Wenzhou’s low end manufacturers are struggling with tightening credit and rising costs. Are problems in the eastern city a litmus test for the rest of China?
The European Union’s top officials should have been sitting on a Chinese high-speed train on Tuesday morning, zipping between Beijing and the port city of Tianjin for an annual dialogue with their Chinese counterparts.
Instead the conference was postponed at the last minute and Herman Van Rompuy and Jose Manuel Barroso were stuck in Brussels trying to hammer out a deal to save the eurozone. Continue reading »
The 2010 winner
The award of the second annual “Confucius Peace Prize” – a Chinese alternative to the Nobel Peace Prize that was inaugurated last year – has been cancelled in a cloud of acrimony this year, no doubt leaving nominees such as Vladimir Putin and Bill Gates bitterly disappointed. Continue reading »
Coming up with big ideas for countries to work together to make the world a better place is what the president of the World Bank is supposed to do and Robert Zoellick is certainly fulfilling this part of his job description.
One of his big ideas is to facilitate the relocation of low-paid manufacturing jobs from China, the undisputed factory of the world, to Africa, where China has been accused by some of a neo-colonial grab for natural resources. Continue reading »
Despite three decades of market reforms, the Chinese government still clings to some elements of its centrally planned past.
Beijing is particularly fond of its strategic commodity reserves, which hold everything from frozen pork to copper and allow the state to dictate prices for raw materials deemed sensitive or strategically important. One item on the long list is white sugar. Continue reading »