Today’s China Readings June 13, 2012

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Caixin advises us not to get too excited about the May loan data. In Loan Demand Remains Weak Despite Higher May Figure, Caixin writes that “commercial banks exceed expectations, but experts say large portion of note financing meant overall interest in credit was poor.” Caixin published a cover story on weak loan demand a few weeks ago.

The Los Angeles Times has a story about Hollywood cooperation with China that should bring joy to the eyes of many Republicans who might see political advantage in hearings about an industry that is a vital source of Democratic Party funds. In Hollywood gripped by pressure system from China the LA Times reports that “”to appease China and gain access to moviegoers and financing, movies include positive references to the nation (no Chinese villains!) and face censorship.”

As usual, follow the money. The Wall Street Journal, in Summer Blockbuster Slump? It’s China to the Rescue, explains that “the world’s fastest-growing movie market is expected to head to the theaters this summer in droves, helping to lift Hollywood movies’ ticket sales by as much as $50 million per film, up from $15 million per film a year earlier…”

The Wall Street Journal invited Minxin Pei to review Andrew Wedeman’s new book Double Paradox: Rapid Growth and Rising Corruption in China. Pei is not convinced by the book’s argument, writing in Explaining China’s Corruption Paradox that:

Andrew Wedeman’s “Double Paradox” attempts to explain the mystery of how sustained, rapid economic growth is possible under a regime engaged in predatory corruption. By collecting the official data to construct his own database, Mr. Wedeman offers a sophisticated though somewhat convoluted and ultimately unpersuasive answer..

Mr. Wedeman’s book sheds much light on the predatory nature of the current Chinese system. But by focusing on a corruption-growth paradox that may not exist in the way he claims it does, he fails to ask the right questions about that system’s future.

Pei of course has argued for many years that corruption will bring down the Communist Party. He may still be proven correct, but we should not be surprised that he did not like Wedeman’s book, as it appears to contradict some of Pei’s core arguments. I bought Double Paradox yesterday and will add some comments once I read it. And don’t forget, there may still be a lot of money to be made in SOE privatization.

In the meantime, can those who believe that there are senior Chinese leaders pushing for Western-style political reform, and the transparency and media freedom that are sine qua non of such reform, please explain why they would be willing to expose their family interests and how they would handle the fallout? Again, I suggest following the money, not the speeches or the pundits.

Today’s links:

The best way to read this blog is to subscribe by email, especially if you are in China, as Sinocism is still blocked here. The email signup page is here, outside the GFW. You can also follow me on @niubi or Sina Weibo @billbishop. Comments/tips/suggestions are welcome, and feel free to forward to recommend to friends. Thanks for reading.

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