China

By Gideon Rachman
Foreign commentators and local bloggers regularly predict that China is heading for an economic and political crisis. But the country’s leaders are in strikingly confident mood. They believe that China can keep growing at more than 7 per cent a year for at least another decade. That would mean the country’s economy – already the second-largest in the world – would double in size. And, depending on the assumptions you make about US growth and exchange rates, it would probably mean that China becomes the world’s largest economy by 2020.

David Pilling

What can you trust in China these days? An investigative journalist who says a well-known company has allegedly been manipulating its financial results? Or the company that denies that point blank? How about a police force that crosses provincial lines to arrest the “offending” journalist on suspicion of damaging that company’s commercial reputation?

Above all, can we now trust the confession of the journalist – paraded on state TV with head shaved and in handcuffs – admitting that he was paid to falsify those stories? Read more

Dalian port, China (Getty)

Friday’s GDP data out of China (the economy grew at an annual rate of 7.8 per cent in the third quarter of this year) has illustrated what many economists see as the “new normal”. China is growing slower than it once did. But, given its increasingly outsize role over the past two decades what does that mean for global trade? Together with Valentina Romei from our stats department and the helpful people at the WTO we have been running some of the numbers. Here are a few interesting points to pass on…

China is now the world’s biggest trading nation…

According to Coleman Nee, one of the data gurus at the WTO, China overtook the US as the biggest trader in the world (exports + imports) in the first half of this year. Read more

It’s no secret that the US is at the centre of global trade. But how is what it trades with the world changing? The US International Trade Commission, the independent government agency which investigates anti-dumping cases in the US and also acts as a trade data clearinghouse, this week put out its annual “Shifts in US Merchandise” report. Here’s four things in the report worth thinking about:

1. Americans love their cars and their iPhones. They were the biggest contributors to the $10bn widening of the US trade deficit in 2012. Read more

The debt dragon: China’s growing debt burden
China’s debt has ballooned over the past five years raising questions over the sustainability of such a burden amid slowing growth. Simon Rabinovitch, China correspondent, explains the country’s debt dynamics and answers some of the questions FT readers posted on our blog and sent via social media.

By Gideon Rachman
Japan’s public diplomacy hovers between the ludicrous and the sinister. In recent months, the country has specialised in foreign policy gaffes that seem designed to give maximum offence to its Asian neighbours while causing maximum embarrassment to its western allies.

Ordos, Inner Mongolia (Getty)

Not content with banning lavish banquets and overseas junkets in its efforts to shore up declining moral standards within its own ranks, China’s communist party has moved to stop the building of any more monumental offices.

As the FT’s Simon Rabinovitch points out:

Whether the latest ban has a similarly negative impact on the property market will depend on how it is interpreted by state-owned companies. Chinese corporate executives have felt pressure to comply with Mr Xi’s earlier austerity policies even though government officials, not companies, were his targets.

Beijing has previously tried to stop local governments from building massive new offices, but only with limited success. Even in poorer parts of China, cities and villages have built monolithic offices, replicas of the US Capitol building and faux-European palaces.

But just how excessive are these party palaces? We’ve got a few of them here for your gawping pleasure. Read more

China’s cash crunch
It’s been a nervous few days on Chinese stock markets in the wake of last week’s cash crunch, which saw interbank lending rates in China rise to as high as 28 per cent. The Chinese central bank has made reassuring statements, but some commentators have talked about China being on the brink of a new financial crisis. Stefan Wagstyl, emerging markets editor and editor of the FT beyondbrics blog, and Simon Rabinovitch, Shanghai correspondent, join Shawn Donnan to look at the state of the Chinese economy.

David Pilling

A recent cartoon in the China Daily depicted the Statue of Liberty holding a listening device instead of a torch and a tape-recorder in place of a legal tablet. The Global Times, in both its Chinese and English editions, noted what it said was US “aggressiveness in cyberspace” and its “hypocrisy in saying one thing and doing another” – a reference to Washington’s demands that China stop its nefarious hacking campaign. The Global Times even suggested Beijing keep Edward Snowden, the former intelligence contractor who leaked information about US domestic and international information-gathering activities, and milk him for all the information he’s worth. “This concerns China’s national interest,” it said. Read more

Gideon Rachman

Edward Snowden has now made it clear that he intends to stay in Hong Kong and fight extradition to the US through the local courts. Legal experts there seem to reckon that – if Hong Kong’s courts operate normally, then Snowden will probably be put back onto a plane to America.

However, Hong Kong is actually part of the People’s Republic of China. And, although under “one country, two systems”, the Hong Kong legal system is independent, China has the final say on matters affecting national security and foreign policy. So, if Beijing chose to classify the Snowden extradition in this way, it definitely could intervene to prevent it. The question is, how will the government in Beijing play this? Read more