China Readings for February 6th

  • Nobel peace prize jury under investigation – Yahoo! News – If the Stockholm County Administrative Board, which supervises foundations in Sweden's capital, finds that prize founder Alfred Nobel's will is not being honored, it has the authority to suspend award decisions going back three years — though that would be unlikely and unprecedented, said Mikael Wiman, a legal expert working for the county.
    Obama won in 2009, Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo won in 2010, and last year the award was split between Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Liberian activist Leymah Gbowee and Tawakkul Karman of Yemen.
  • U.S. drones targeting rescuers and mourners – Glenn Greenwald – Salon.com – probably not effective way to win hearts and minds, if that is what us us trying to do
  • Central Huijin Plans for China Banks to Reduce Dividend Ratios – Bloomberg – Central Huijin Investment Ltd. (CEHOIZ), the state-backed shareholder in China’s biggest banks, said the lenders will lower their dividend payouts to shore up capital.
    Dividends will be cut by 5 percentage points to 35 percent of 2011 profit at Industrial & Commercial Bank of China (601398) Ltd., China Construction Bank Corp. (939) and Bank of China Ltd. (3988), Central Huijin said in a statement yesterday on its website. The ratio for Agricultural Bank of China Ltd. (601288) will be unchanged at 35 percent, according to the statement.
  • William Hague accuses Russia and China as Syria heads toward ‘civil war’ – Telegraph – he Foreign Secretary said that in the wake of Russia and China deciding to veto a United Nations Security Council resolution condemning Mr Assad, Britain and its allies would work with Arab nations on further “diplomatic and economic steps” against the Syrian regime.
    Warning that their double veto would only make “continued violence and instability” in Syria “more likely”, Mr Hague said future blood spilt would be “on their hands” and that the Syrian president would have been encouraged by their actions.
  • The Revolutionary – Home – Sidney Rittenberg arrived in China as a GI interpreter at the end of World War II. Discharged there, he joined the Chinese Communist Party, and was an active participant in the Chinese communist revolution and its aftermath. An intimate of the Party's leadership, including Mao Zedong and Zhou Enlai, he gained prominence at the Broadcast Administration, one of the most important agencies of government. But in the convulsions of a giant country constantly reinventing itself, he twice ran afoul of the leadership, and served a total of 16 years in solitary confinement. He returned to the United States in 1980.

    Rittenberg’s story would be just a footnote to history, except for his exceptional intellect, uncompromising honesty, and engaging personality. Over a five-year period, award-winning former-CBS journalist and China specialist, Irv Drasnin, interviewed Rittenberg to produce a compelling, complex and unique understanding of the 20th century's biggest revolution. From Sid first meeting Mao in the caves of Yan’an, to his becoming famous and powerful during the Cultural Revolution, to his battling insanity in solitary, his journey and his profound insight illuminate a much greater history—a history few Chinese are aware of, let alone many Americans, told by an American who was there.

  • Local firms vie for Yum’s slice of China market – Yahoo! News
  • China’s Lowest Lunar Sales Since 2009 – Bloomberg – Chinese shoppers on their Lunar New Year holiday were less lavish than expected at Hong Kong jewelers, curbed spending on beauty brands and slowed spending at South Korean stores. They may keep that pace in the coming year of the dragon.
    Holiday sales on the mainland grew 16 percent to 470 billion yuan ($75 billion), the slowest pace since the 2009 financial crisis and three percentage points below last year’s increase. China is finding it is not immune to global economic forces and the slowdown is hitting Chinese consumers, who may increase this year’s spending at a slower pace than in 2011.
  • China’s police ill-equipped to combat unrest – FT.com – But difficulties with security are by no means limited to China’s restive western fringes, or the current sensitive period. The latest steps expose much broader problems that have left the authorities struggling to properly police the country.
    Despite a steep ramp-up in spending on internal security, riot control forces remain stretched thin, and structural problems continue to plague the security apparatus.
  • Super Bowl ads: Pete Hoekstra’s hits a nerve – Tim Mak – POLITICO.com – The advertisement, which will run in Michigan during the Super Bowl and afterward, features an Asian female with a conical straw hat riding a bike through a rice paddy field.

    “Your economy get very weak. Ours get very good [sic],” the actress says, in broken English.

    “Thank you Michigan Senator Debbie ‘Spend-it-now’. Debbie spend so much American money [sic],” the actress says, without a Chinese accent. “You borrow more and more, from us… we take your jobs. Thank you Debbie ‘Spend-it-now.’”

    The Hoekstra campaign called the advertisement “satirical” and explained the broken English in the video as a reflection of China’s increasingly competitive education system.

    “You have a Chinese girl speaking English – I want to hit on the education system, essentially. The fact that a Chinese girl is speaking English is a testament to how they can compete with us, when an American boy of the same age speaking Mandarin is absolutely insane, or unthinkable right now,” Hoekstra spokesperson Paul Ciaramitaro told POLITICO. “It exhibits another way in which China is competing with us globally.”

  • Man accused of stealing $400,000 Bentley – NYPOST.com – The car’s owner, college student Bo Li, a China native, was shocked to learn his beloved 200-mph Bentley Supersports Coupe was gone.
  • The Hard Way Out of Afghanistan – NYTimes.com
  • Schneiderman MERS Suit and HUD’s Donovan Remarks Confirm That Mortgage “Settlement” is a Stealth Bank Bailout « naked capitalism – Let me stress: this is a huge bailout for the banks. The settlement amounts to a transfer from retirement accounts (pension funds, 401 (k)s) and insurers to the banks. And without this subsidy, the biggest banks would be in serious trouble
  • Historic Status Offers No Protection in Beijing – NYTimes.com
  • 温州立人集团董事长被刑拘 或涉民间借贷数十亿 – 宏观 – 21世纪网 – 密码
  • Mortgage Tornado Warning, Unheeded – NYTimes.com – “Any attorney general, lawyer, bank director, judge, regulator or member of Congress who does not open their eyes to the abuse, ask pertinent questions and allow proper investigation and discovery,” he said, “is only assisting in the concealment of what may be the fraud of our lifetime.”
  • Video: ‘Beijing medal’ building causes consternation in China – Telegraph – Inspired by the medal design from the Beijing Olympics, Guangzhou's 138m-high "Dajinhuan" building is causing controversy as locals accuse it of being an eyesore
  • Hong Kong and mainland China escalate a war of words – latimes.com – Michael DeGoyer, a professor at Hong Kong Baptist University, believes many resent the mainland's growing wealth. DeGoyer recalled that when he first moved to Hong Kong in 1988, the subway to the border was packed with Hong Kong residents taking appliances to their poorer mainland relatives. Now, he said, it is full of mainlanders taking luxury items home.

    "On the train with them there are Hong Kong people who have seen their relatives' wealth advantage disappear since 1997," he said. "So instead of looking down on mainlanders with pity and disdain, they're being looked down on with pity and disdain by mainlanders."

  • Russia and China Block U.N. Action on Syrian Crisis – NYTimes.com – The Security Council voted 13 to 2 in favor of a resolution backing an Arab League peace plan for Syria, but the measure was blocked by Russia and China, which opposed what they saw as a potential violation of Syria’s sovereignty. The support of those countries has proven crucial in bolstering the Syrian government’s confidence, despite an isolation more pronounced than any time since the Assad family seized power more than four decades ago.

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