China Readings for January 21st

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  • Letter from China: The Chinese View of SOPA : The New Yorker – There was little expectation that Chinese Web sites would ever band together to express their opposition to censorship: “Baidu, would you dare do something like this?” one asked.

    The most eloquent response to the controversy, perhaps, was one that nobody saw at all. Commentator Shi Han wrote about trying to post a comment to Tencent, the giant Chinese portal. “I’ve written a short article about SOPA. But when I tried to put it up, Tencent replied with a message: ‘Your content has not passed review.’”

  • North Korean Torture Tale Begins With Shark Bites, Cattle Prods – Businessweek – Jan. 20 (Bloomberg) — Pak Jun Do, the hero of Adam Johnson’s novel “The Orphan Master’s Son,” is a North Korean macho man who suffers deeply but silently.

    That’s a good thing for the reader, given the amount of bone breaking, shark biting, lip busting, flesh ripping, skin burning, poison swallowing, cattle prodding and electronic lobotomizing that goes on in this book, much of it directed toward him. He grimaces and soldiers on.

  • Kong Qingdong: Hong Kongers are bastards, dogs and thieves: Shanghaiist – Controversial ultra-nationalist Peking University professor and 73rd generation descendant of Confucius Kong Qingdong (孔庆东), who recently handed out the Confucius Peace Prize to Vladimir Putin via two Russian babes, does not like the Hong Kong MTR bitchfight that we just saw taking place between mainland tourists and local passengers. He has some harsh words for the people of Hong Kong, who he thinks are mostly bastards, running dogs of the British, and thieves.
  • Introducing the RedPad – the iPad for the Communist hierarchy | World news | guardian.co.uk – Communist party members are carrying tablet computers that are twice the price of the most expensive iPad 2
  • Burma President Thein Sein: Country is on ‘right track to democracy’ – The Washington Post – Since Thein Sein took office as Burma’s president nine months ago, the country’s famous opposition leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, has been freed from house arrest, political prisoners have been released and the United States has normalized bilateral relations with Burma, also known as Myanmar. This week, Sein granted The Post’s Lally Weymouth his first interview with a foreign journalist. Excerpts:
  • FT Alphaville » The PBoC’s “unofficial” rate policy – Bank of America Merril Lynch’s global rates teams has interesting note out on Friday regarding Chinese repo rates.

    As they point out, the seven-day rate currently implies something of a liquidity crunch in the market. While much of this is naturally down to the routine dash for cash ahead of the Chinese New Year, the rate rise has, nevertheless, been pretty significant and sharp when compared to previous years:

  • China and Thames Water – what next? | beyondbrics | News and views on emerging markets from the Financial Times – FT.com – Friday’s news that the China Investment Corporation, the country’s $410bn sovereign wealth fund, had taken a stake in Thames Water has all the makings of a game-changer.

    True, the investment – an 8.68 per cent stake in Kemble Water, the utility’s holding company – will bring no new capital to London’s water and sewerage services. The CIC bought its stake from a consortium of investors led by Macquarie, the Australian investment bank. So it will be hard – though surely not impossible – for George Osborne, the UK chancellor who was in China this week urging the country to invest inUK infrastructure, to claim this as a big success.

  • Myanmar Buoyed by $8.6 Billion Port as Sanctions Abate: Freight – Businessweek – Jan. 18 (Bloomberg) — Myanmar is developing an $8.6 billion port and industrial complex in the nation’s south intended to feed Asian demand as the U.S. and Europe lay out a path to ease sanctions in place for more than 20 years.

    Italian-Thai Development Co., the largest construction company in Thailand, completed an access road last year from the Thai border to Dawei, about 250 kilometers (155 miles) west of Bangkok. The company plans to complete financing this year for the harbor, which with the industrial zone will cover an area 16 times bigger than Thailand’s largest manufacturing park.

  • Get-Tough Policy on Chinese Tires Falls Flat – WSJ.com – This is a China tire, it costs me $69 today," says the owner of Cybert Tire & Car Care in New York City. "Before it cost $39." A big part of that increase: The fat tariff the U.S. has placed on Chinese tires.

    "It all gets passed to the customer," says Mr. Everett.

    So goes one of the highest profile trade fights the U.S. has picked with China. The tariff, enacted in 2009, will be up for review and possible extension soon, and it has shoved big manufacturers like Goodyear, Cooper Tire, Michelin and others into the spotlight.

    The measure was meant to whack imports of passenger and light-truck tires and give a boost to manufacturers and job creation in the U.S.

    Yet, for a variety of reasons, it has apparently done little of either—and has surely raised prices for consumers.

  • Call Your Attorney General Today to Oppose Big Obama Push to Get Mortgage Settlement Deal Done « naked capitalism
  • New rule to fine taxi drivers for refusals|Prime|chinadaily.com.cn – BEIJING / SHANGHAI – Starting on April 1, taxi drivers who, without justification, refuse to take passengers or deliberately take longer routes to increase fares could face fines up to 200 yuan ($32), according to a new regulation by the transportation authority.
    Taxi drivers could also be fined for pre-arranging a price higher than what the meter would read for the same trip or for dumping passengers in the middle of a trip, according to the regulation on management of taxi driver qualifications, released by the Ministry of Transport on its website on Wednesday.
  • Attack of the Pinterest Clones, as Qihoo Rolls Out Its Own | Tech in Asia – $qihu
  • Afghan Soldiers Step Up Killings of Allied Forces – NYTimes.com – KABUL, Afghanistan — American and other coalition forces here are being killed in increasing numbers by the very Afghan soldiers they fight alongside and train, in attacks motivated by deep-seated animosity between the supposedly allied forces, according to American and Afghan officers and a classified coalition report obtained by The New York Times.
  • Debate Rages in China as Young Tycoon’s Death Sentence is Upheld – China Real Time Report – WSJ – As a former tycoon once listed as China’s sixth-richest woman shuffles down China’s death row, she’s given new life to public debate over the quality of mercy in the world’s most populous nation.
  • Bush’s CIA director: We determined attacking Iran was a bad idea | The Cable – "The Israelis aren't going to [attack Iran] … they can't do it, it's beyond their capacity. They only have the ability to make this [problem of Iran's nuclear program] worse. We can do a lot better," he said. "Just look at the physics, the fact that this cannot be done in a raid, this has to be done in a campaign, the fact that neither we nor they know where this stuff is. [The Israelis] can't do it, but we can."

    Hayden then went into some detail about how a U.S.-led strike on Iran's nuclear facilities could be accomplished, and why it would not solve the Iranian nuclear threat. There would first be a movement of aircraft carriers into the area, Tomahawk land-attack cruise missile strikes, a diplomatic effort to get Gulf states to give access to their airspace, and "then you would pound it [with airstrikes] over a couple of weeks," Hayden explained.

    But he also said that efforts to slow down the nuclear program, through mostly clandestine measures and encouraging internal dissent, is the better course of action.

  • Singapore Air Checks A380s After Cracks Found – Bloomberg
  • Inside the Gaijin Dungeon at Narita Airport in Japan – Globalite Magazine – Detained for 30 hours and expelled from Japan, a veteran Tokyo-based journalist gets a harrowing glimpse into the trap door at Narita Airport leading into a secretive gulag of rights abuses against thousands of foreign visitors and expats, often by guards hired by airlines 
  • China’s Export Engine Continues to Sputter – News Center – Alizila – China's export growth is slowing but the nation's factories aren't likely to be hit by a slump as severe as the one following the 2008 U.S. financial crisis, according to a report from Alibaba.com.

    The e-commerce company's first quarter Export Trend Report, published this week, indicates China's exports will grow at an annual rate of about 12.4% in the first quarter, down from 14.2% estimated by China's customs agency for the fourth quarter of 2011. Overseas buyers using Alibaba.com to source products from China became less active in the last six months as global economies began to slow amid the turmoil of Europe's sovereign debt woes.

  • Death penalty upheld for 30-year-old female billionaire Wu Ying: Shanghaiist – Previously China's 6th richest woman, Wu Ying, 30, seems likely to face the death penalty after her appeal against a financial fraud conviction has been rejected. In a controversial case which has divided national opinion over the use of the death sentence in non-violent crimes, Zhejiang Higher People's Court reached their decision on the grounds that Wu "brought huge losses to the nation and people with her severe crimes, and should therefore be severely punished."
  • Stiff challenge: How Kim Jong Il and other leaders join the ranks of the preserved – The Washington Post – Last week, North Korean officials announced that the body of recently deceased leader Kim Jong Il would be permanently enshrined at Kumsusan Memorial Palace in the capital of Pyongyang. This act will give new meaning to the term “eternal leader.”

    There is, however, historical precedent for this — an exclusive club of former dictators and world leaders whose bodies go on even as their lives don’t.

  • Bending the Rule of Law to Help the Banks: Effort to Draft a National Foreclosure Statue Underway « naked capitalism

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