Long assailed for running a massive trade surplus with the US, China has come out as the big winner from a new method for calculating global trade flows. When “value added” production is factored in, China’s surplus vis-à-vis the US shrinks by 25 per cent, according to the World Trade Organisation and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.
These are important findings that Beijing will no doubt cite the next time it wants to repel foreign criticism of its export and currency policies. But the calculations also give rise to a knock-on question: could China’s surplus prove to be stickier precisely because it still has a ways to go up the value chain? Continue reading »
China was already notorious for traffic jams but driving on its roads has just got that much more frustrating. A new rule forbids cars from “running” yellow lights and advises drivers to slow down on approaching intersections even when the light is green.
The intention behind the rule is a good one: to make roads safer. But on suffering mild whiplash today when the light turned yellow and my taxi driver slammed the brakes a few feet short of the intersection, it occurred to me that the authorities had not fully grasped the consequences of overturning a century-old worldwide traffic convention. Continue reading »
Much has been made this week of Xi Jinping’s “southern tour”. In retracing the footsteps of Deng Xiaoping, the leader who turned China to markets after Maoism, Xi’s trip to the southern province of Guangdong has been interpreted as the possible beginning of a new push for economic reform.
But Xi’s tour was about more than just the economy. He also spent three days inspecting a military base in Guangzhou, the provincial capital, and made a series of speeches calling for stronger, combat-ready fighting forces. Continue reading »
Li Keqiang, China’s next premier, says the country must unleash urbanisation as its next big growth engine. That makes sense –China’s urbanisation rate is still just 50 per cent, well below the 80 per cent norm in developed economies.
But the government’s top-down push can play out in funny ways. If Li needs any reminder, he can look to his old stomping ground, the northeastern province of Liaoning. It is pioneering a new mode of development: start with the showcase monument, then build the city. Continue reading »
We are nearly eight hours into the decade-long rule of Xi Jinping, so it seems a perfect time to pass definitive judgment on his record as China’s leader.
Ok, maybe it is a bit soon. But that is not stopping the punditocracy – yes, including, us here at the FT – from making predictions about what Xi and his colleagues will accomplish over the next ten years. However, the evidence available is so limited that it can be interpreted in two diametrically opposed ways. Continue reading »
Is it China’s worst-kept secret? Or its cleverest bluff?
With less than 24 hours to go before the Chinese Communist party unveils its new leaders, a very detailed list of who they are and what jobs they will do has spread widely in political circles and on the internet in Chinese. Continue reading »
There was a time when experts furiously debated how to define the Beijing model of government and whether its lessons could be applied to other developing countries.
Reading through an official guide to the upcoming Communist party congress (aka the once-in-a-decade leadership transition), it struck me that, at least in its management of media, China has simply stolen a page from Sir Humphrey’s playbook. That is, it has mastered the art of how to say nothing of consequence in the most bureaucratic terms possible. Continue reading »
The New York Times just ain’t what it used to be. It’s full of sensationalism, plagiarism and out-and-out fake news. Loyal readers are losing their faith.
Or so goes the verdict from that arbiter of fine journalism: the People’s Daily, mouthpiece of the Communist Party of China. Continue reading »
The shadowy world of Chinese capital flows has receded a little further into the dark.
Tracking speculative flows into and out of China has never been an easy task but new developments in the country’s markets have made it even more complicated. In the ensuing confusion, it can look as though Chinese investors are in a state of panic, rushing to the exit with suitcases full of cash. The reality is a little bit duller.
Health warning: We are about to dive into a lot of numbers and wonkery. Continue reading »
You might think that Zoomlion, a Chinese construction machinery maker, ought to focus on bricks-and-mortar projects, but it just can’t seem to resist the siren call of high finance.
First it ramped up its lending business, providing vast amounts of credit to its customers. Now it’s getting into the insurance trade. Continue reading »
Clad in a blue plaid shirt and speaking with a rural accent, Miao Cuihua trips over her words as she demands unpaid wages, her “blood and sweat money” for toiling on a construction project.
Miao is certainly not the first migrant worker in China to complain about unpaid wages, but her act of protest has probably been seen by more of her fellow citizens than any other salary dispute in history. Continue reading »
Didier Drogba’s football career in China could be coming to an end just two months after it started. According to local media, the former Chelsea striker has been caught in the middle of a financial dispute at Shanghai Shenhua, the club he joined in June, that might force the owners to sell him.
If true, it would be a damaging reversal not only for Shenhua but also for Chinese football more broadly. Drogba was easily the biggest foreign signing ever at any Chinese club, and it was hoped that his exceptional talent would elevate the quality of the country’s corruption-marred league and pave the way for more star arrivals. Continue reading »
Investors and analysts are pouring over the minutiae of Chinese data for every little hint about the government’s policy stance. Are they about to crank up the stimulus? Investment approvals suggest so. Or are they holding back? Lending figures point in that direction.
But a far simpler and potentially more powerful signal has now come from Wen Jiabao, China’s premier. He has issued a rallying cry for “confidence”. Continue reading »