Monday, March 30, 2015

Sanctioned Russia is Hurting its Effort To Go To War

Sukhoi_T 50_Beltyukov

The T-50

The Russian military has announced that they will build significantly fewer fifth-generation fighters than previously planned due to the country’s current economic situation, Russia Beyond The Headlines reports citing comments from the Deputy Defense Minister in charge of Armaments Yuri Borisov. 
Russia previously had plans to produce 52 fifth-generation T-50 fighters by 2020. However, these plans have been drastically scaled back. The Kremlin will now only procure 12 of the new jets.
“Given the new economic conditions, the original plans may have to be adjusted,” Borisov said. “It is better to have the PAK FA kept as a reserve, and later move forward, while squeezing everything possible for now out of the 4+ generation fighters.” 

The 4+ generation fighters are aircraft like the Russian Su-30 and Su-34 which generally feature radar and avionics upgrades over older models.

As part of a proposed air force modernization plan, Russia had already introduced 34 Su-30s and 20 Su-34s into its fleet.

The Kremlin had plans for a $130 billion air force modernization effort that was set to last through 2020. The multi-billion dollar initiative was meant to reinforce Russia’s aging military with modern aircraft, the fifth-generation T-50, helicopters, and air defense systems. 

A T-50.

This plan is now in jeopardy. Russia’s economy suffers under sanctions, slumping oil prices, and a weak ruble. However, Borisov has left open the possibility that the Ministry of Defense can change the number of planes for annual purchase at any time. 

The T-50, also known as the Su-50, is being produced by Russian manufacturer Sukhoi. The final version of the T-50 is expected to be introduced by 2016. 

Upon completion, the Kremlin plans on creating a string of Su-50 variants for both export and domestic use.

Finally Saudi Arabia Goes To War With Iran

This is the worst-ever tension between Iran and Saudi Arabia


A Southern People’s Resistance militant loyal to Yemen’s Saudi-backed President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi mans an anti-aircraft machine gun the militia seized from the army in al-Habilin, in Yemen’s southern province of Lahej March 22, 2015.

Saudi Arabia is bombing Iran-backed rebels in Yemen, and the regional sectarian proxy war is at a fever pitch.

“The Saudis were caught off guard by how quick and aggressive the Houthi offensive was and felt they needed a sharp and immediate response,” geopolitical expert Ian Bremmer, president of Eurasia group, told Business Insider over email. “They didn’t want Iran to think they needed Egypt or anyone else to come rescue the Kingdom. This is the worst tension we’ve seen between Iran and Saudi Arabia, period.”

The Saudi offensive, named “Decisive storm,” is backed by nine countries — including Egypt and the US — and could escalate quickly as Egyptian officials are saying a ground assault is planned.

Elsewhere in the region, the US has reportedly taken the lead from Shia Iran in the Iraqi battle to drive ISIS militants (many of them Sunni extremists) from Saddam Hussein’s hometown of Tikrit.

The US officially says it is backing most Sunni rebels fighting Bashar al-Assad in Syria, but White House policy is actually aligned with the Iran-backed regime as both consider ISIS the largest threat. Saudi Arabia has actively backed Syrian rebel groups over the course of the war, which is now in its fifth year.

Bremmer noted that turmoil in Yemen does not significantly change US calculations elsewhere in the Middle East.

“Yemen conflict doesn’t affect Iraq situation,” Bremmer said. “The US has been leading the anti-ISIS charge and that won’t change. And on Iran negotiations Saudis remain among the strongest opposing the deal but right now a framework agreement looks very likely — I think that will happen.”
In any case, the stakes have rarely been higher regarding relationships between the US and its allies in the region — most of which opposed to Iran’s increasing assertiveness.

How  Asia remembers Lee Kuan Yew?

"Anyone who thinks he is a statesman ought to see a psychiatrist."

That comment, from Lee Kuan Yew, the most quotable of Asian leaders, must have been made with his tongue at least partly in his cheek. His exceptionally long tenure on the diplomatic stage, his brilliant intellect and ruthless pragmatism earned Lee the accolade of "statesman" from more world leaders than any other personality in the Asia Pacific region.

But what about closer to home, in South East Asia? There, Lee Kuan Yew's image is more complex.

"Some countries are born independent. Some achieve independence. Singapore had independence thrust upon it," he wrote in 1998. When Singapore was expelled from Malaysia in 1965, Lee Kuan Yew was pessimistic about its prospects.

He was acutely conscious of its vulnerability, a small, largely Chinese island-state sandwiched between two much larger Muslim countries, Malaysia and Indonesia, both of which were hostile. He was also worried about the consequences of American reverses in Vietnam.

American ally

A self-professed Machiavellian, Lee believed raw power determined the fate of nations, and Singapore had little.

    Lee, with his sharp thinking... had become the spokesperson for the region
    Jusuf Wanandi, Indonesian politician

He wanted the might of the US to anchor his country, but expected its Soviet rival to challenge this in Asia. Early on, he anticipated the rise of China, which, he believed, would inevitably view South East Asia as its own backyard.

So the formation of Asean (the Association of South East Asian Nations) in 1967, at the prompting of the then-Thai and Indonesian foreign ministers, was initially regarded with some scepticism by the Singaporean leader, although he also saw that it was essential his country play a leading role, in the hope of advancing Singapore's acceptance as an equal player in the region.

Lingering disputes over territorial waters and many other issues continued to dog relations with Indonesia and Malaysia for several years. There were also differences between Singapore and its neighbours over a Malaysian proposal to establish a zone of neutrality in Asean, which would have required an end to all foreign bases. Lee wished to preserve his country's close military ties with the US.
Singapore Prime
        Minister Lee Kuan Yew (L) chats with US President George Bush in
        Tokyo on February 24, 1989 after they attended the funeral of
        Emperor HIrohito. (JEROME DELAY/AFP/Getty Images)Lee, seen here with President George HW Bush in 1989, sought close ties with successive US administrations

Pragmatic interlocutor

But with his first visit to Indonesia under President Suharto in 1973, Lee Kuan Yew showed one of his abilities to great effect: to build strong working relationships with other South East Asian leaders. He was quick to understand the enigmatic Indonesian general, and establish a pragmatic, trusting rapport with him, which lasted until Suharto's death in 2008.

He was later able to form a similar, though less warm and trusting, relationship with long-standing Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammad, whom he recognised as a man who, for all of his animosity towards the Chinese of Singapore, shared Lee's ambition to move his country forward.

They also both rejected Western criticism of their approach to human rights in the 1990s, leading to the vaguely articulated notion of "Asian values", which prioritised stability and economic progress over individual freedoms.

His other great contribution to Asean was as interlocutor with the rest of the world, in particular the US and China.
Lee - seen here on a visit to China in 1988 - wanted to influence Beijing's approach to South East Asia
Regional spokesperson

His clear-headed strategic views influenced a succession of US presidents and officials, in particular the Cold War Secretaries of State Henry Kissinger and George Shultz. He made a ground-breaking visit to China in 1976, when the rest of Asean was still deeply suspicious of Beijing's role in sponsoring insurgencies, and received Deng Xiaoping in Singapore two years later, as he led his country out of its international isolation in the late 1970s.

The new Chinese leader was fascinated by Singapore's blend of authoritarian rule and entrepreneurial success, and Lee used his ties with China to persuade it to take a more conciliatory approach towards South East Asia. More than anyone else, he was able to articulate Asean's concerns to the great powers - in his view, "to ensure its interests were taken into account".

As Jusuf Wanandi, one of the architects of Suharto's pragmatic New Order wrote following the Singaporean's death: "Lee, with his sharp thinking, especially on the future of East Asia and Asia Pacific, had become the spokesperson for the region, in particular to the West, and that was indeed an important role for him to play. And regarding the future strategic development of the region, no one can replace him."

Free-trade advocate

It was however the US defeat in Vietnam in 1975, and then the Vietnamese invasion of Cambodia in late 1978, that compelled Asean to elevate itself to more than just a talking-shop for easing internal disputes and building trust, which is largely what it was until 1975. Lee Kuan Yew now played a central role in constructing a more robust Asean architecture.

First, because of his conviction that political stability came out of economic progress, he took every opportunity to promote trade within Asean, raising the idea of a free trade area as early as 1973.

This suited Singapore, which had pinned its survival on having one of the world's freest trade and investment regimes, but it proved far more difficult to overcome the suspicion and vested interests of neighbouring countries. The Asean Free Trade Area finally came into effect only in 1994.

Second, with his conviction that Asean could never be militarily strong or cohesive enough to provide for its own security unaided, he pushed for a framework that would keep the superpowers engaged and in dialogue with the region. This eventually gave rise in the 1990s to the Asean Regional Forum, a unique, annual gathering that brings together the foreign ministers of China, the United States, Russia, Japan, the European Union, North and South Korea, among others, to hammer out international security issues.

"You cannot replace the reality of power by just talk," he said in 1993. "You may diminish suspicions and fears - and that is a very great achievement."
Lee - with Chinese leader Jiang Zemin in 1997 - remained active in diplomacy even when no longer prime minister
Outsize role

Blunt-spoken and stubborn in his convictions, Lee was not always able to overcome differences with his Asean partners. Indonesia and Malaysia were uneasy about his rapprochement with China, although he did give a private assurance that Singapore would not normalise relations with Beijing until Indonesia did, and honoured that promise.

Likewise, he worried about those two countries' approaches to Vietnam during the stand-off over Cambodia in the 1980s, fearing that the Soviet-backed Vietnamese would undermine Asean unity. He harboured no long-term enmity towards Communist Vietnam, he said, but stuck to the principle that invading other countries was unacceptable. The Vietnamese seemed to accept that explanation, honouring Lee with the role of an official economic advisor in 1992 after the Cambodia issue was settled.

In later years some of Lee's outspoken comments about his neighbours continued to cause friction. Relations with Indonesian Presidents BJ Habibie and Abdurrahman Wahid were frosty after he cast doubt on their leadership abilities. His continued criticism of the pro-Malay Bumiputera policy in Malaysia sparked a war of words with Dr Mahathir. He viewed Thailand as a capricious and unreliable partner.

As he often said, he cared little whether he was liked or not.

But the eulogies to Lee Kuan Yew from neighbouring countries are not insincere. He played an outsize role in building the stability and prosperity of this region, and will long be remembered for that.

Lee was the son of third generation Chinese immigrants to Singapore

Great Mother Country Sends Out Terminators To America


China is using an operation called ‘Skynet’ to track down fugitive corrupt officials

China just gave the US a list of its most wanted 'economic fugitives' who may have fled to the states
For the first time, China is revealing how it tracks down criminal fugitives around the world

'No escape' for China's corrupt cadres, as the country's authorities widen scope of global manhunt to target accomplices and financing.

China is ramping up its international manhunt of fugitive corrupt officials with a new multi-agency operation, codenamed Skynet, aimed at restricting their financial channels.

SkynetFugitive Repatriation and Asset Recovery Office of the Central Anti-graft Coordination Group meet to launch Operation Skynet.

Operation Skynet will go further than last year's international manhunt led by national police, Operation Foxhunt, by coordinating various government departments in a multi-pronged attack on both the fugitives and those who help them.

Underground banks and offshore companies that enable money laundering as well as people who forge licences, passports and other documents are among the key targets.

The operation's launch follows a recent meeting of the Fugitive Repatriation and Asset Recovery Office of the Communist Party's central anti-graft coordination group.

Skynet will entail several projects and involve at least four ministries: the Central Organisation Department, the Supreme People's Procuratorate, the Ministry of Public Security, and the People's Bank of China, according to a statement on the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection's website.

The Ministry of Public Security will continue to hunt officials and other key fugitives who have fled overseas, while the national police will work with the People's Bank of China to crack down on underground banks and offshore companies used for transferring illicit financial assets. Both departments will also target those who assist others in illegally transferring money abroad.

Huang Shuxian, a deputy chief of the CCDI and the Minister of Supervision, said President Xi Jinping had ordered anti-graft officials to step up their overseas manhunt and to prevent fugitives from sheltering in "criminal havens".

Anti-corruption expert Zhuang Deshui said Operation Skynet would cut off fugitives' financial channels.

"Those underground banks and offshore companies are the accomplices of fugitive corrupt officials," said Zhuang.

The ministry will also work with the party's Organisation Department, which manages the party's personnel affairs, to keep strict checks on cadres' private passports and other immigration documents. If fake papers, or any other transgressions, are discovered both the cadres and those who aided them will face punishment.

"Like the Chinese idiom says, 'the sky may look thin and sparse, but it's vast and won't let you escape'," said Zhuang.

Last year, China seized more than 500 fugitives and more than three billion yuan (HK$3.8 billion), according to the CCDI.

Meanwhile, in Washington, the US State Department declined to comment on reports that Beijing had provided a "priority" list of Chinese officials suspected of fleeing to the US, Reuters reported.

However, Jen Psaki, a spokeswoman for the department, said China had agreed to supply "more evidence regarding their priority fugitive cases, so that we can increase our focus on the location and prosecution or removal of these fugitives".

"We continue to encourage China to provide strong evidence and intelligence to ensure that our law enforcement agencies can properly investigate and prosecute cases related to the alleged corruption," Psaki said.
未富先负:中国版的债 务危机正愈演愈烈

China’s Great Wall Of Debt

中国财政部最近发布的2015年1、2月份财政收支情况显示中国财政收入进一步放缓。数据显示,今年前两月全国一般公共预算收入为2.57万 亿元人民币,同比增长3.2%,如考虑部分政府性基金转列一般公共预算的影响,则增长仅为1.7%。全国一般公共预算支出为1.89万亿元人 民币,同比增长10.5%。


中国财政部长楼继伟在3月初的全国人大、政协两会上对媒体表示,国内外形势决定今年中国财政必须适度扩张,2015年财政赤字将达到占国内生 产总值(GDP)的2.7%。这是自2009年中国推出大规模刺激措施以来,中国财政缺口规模最大的一年,预计2015年财政预算赤字为 1.62万亿元。

《中国即将崩溃》一书的作者章家敦认为,虽然2.7%的比率要低于国际公认的3%的安全警戒线,但仍有两个因素会让中国经济的观察人士感到不 乐观。他说:“一是中国今年的GDP能否实现政府预期的7%。IMF(国际货币基金组织)预测今年中国经济增速为6.8%。二是中国是否会按 预算执行支出存在疑问。中共总理和财长都表示,如果今年经济增长持续放缓,中央政府将会加大支出刺激经济。”

章家敦表示,除提高政府支出外,中国政府没有其它更好的刺激经济的办法。 他说:“降息和让人民币贬值这类货币政策只能加剧资本外流。”国国家外汇管理局的数据显示,2015年1月中国银行售汇逆差504亿元人民币,相当于82亿美元,显示资本外流且外流压力增大如果扩大开支,中国政府的预算赤字率就可能超过美国。今年,美国预算赤字率预计为 2.6%。

然而,任何扩大支出之举都可能会增加中国已然十分庞大的债务水平。 麦肯锡全球研究所(McKinsey Global Institute)今年初的一份报告说,2014年,中国国家债务总额达到占GDP282%的水平,远高于发展中国家平均水平,甚至高于美国、奥利打 压、德国和加拿大等发达国家水平。报告显示,自2007年至今,中国总债务水平增长三 倍。

报告显示,在中国的全部债务中有近一半与房地产有关,包括家庭债务、非金融公司债务和政府债务。由于中国房地产市场持续低迷,2014年以 来,中国房地产企业债务违约事件时有发生,导致中国国内银行不良贷款和不良贷款率全线上 升。2014年末,深圳房地产开发商佳兆业集团控股有限公司未能偿还汇丰控股有限公司一笔四亿港元(约合 5200万美元)的贷款,成为2015年中国资本市场首例违约。而佳兆业只是中国房地产市场低迷的冰山一角。


房地产业的低迷直接影响中国地方政府财政。中国政府公布的数据显示,今年前两个月,与房 地产相关的税收同比全线下降,契税下降12.5%,耕地占用税下降19.7%,国有土地使用权收入下降36.2%,房地产营业税下降 1.6%,土地增值税下降8.7%。

在已公布的2015年各省市政府预算报告中,除北京和上海基本能够实现收支平衡外,其 余多数省份将出现预算赤字。其中,广西、黑龙江和新疆等地预算收入不及收入的一半。中国没有公布地方债务的规模,国 外研究机构估算中国地方债务水平在20-30万亿元人民币之间。

在地方政府债务问题上,中国面临两难选择。一方面,如果不允许地方政府在预算外举债就可 能因政府支出骤减而加剧经济增速进一步放缓。另一方面,如 果不加以限制,地方债务问题有可能失控但中国财政部长楼继伟表示,中国地方债务总体风险可控。作为折中方 案,中国正考虑重组地方债务,将现有预算债务置换成地方政府债券,首批获批规模为1万亿元人民币。中国财政部估计,此举将为地方政府每年节省 4000-5000亿元人民币的利息成本。分析认为,这将在短期内缓解地方政府的财政压 力,但对于解决地方债务问题来说只是杯水车薪


也有观点认为,大可不必对中国的债务问题过分担心。法国巴黎投资大中华区高级经济学家罗念慈 (Chi Lo)认为,中国的债务与美国和其它西方国家有很大不同他指出,中国的债务大多是 内债来自于投资而不是过度消费,而且中国仍有较高的储蓄率。 中国欠下的外国银行的债务约1.1万亿美元,在中国债务总额中的占比不到4.2%

。然而,这种乐观的看法是建立在一个不断走强的房地产市场的基础之上的。 现实是除房地产市场以外,煤炭、钢铁、水泥等行业都存在严重的产能过剩,债务比例正迅速攀升。此外,政府投资的大型基础设施项目回报期漫长。 中国国家发改委主持的一项研究发现,2009年-2013年中国政府的无 效投资造成6.8万亿美元的浪费,占到投资总额的几乎一半




稱李光耀是靠攏西方兼反 中國的東南亞代言人

新 加坡建國總理李光耀逝世,令新加坡舉國上下皆對這位開國先賢的殞落感到傷心,在許多新加坡人心目中,沒有李光耀就沒有新加坡今日的繁榮與經濟 成就。



 新加坡在1950至60年代的左翼政治人物林清祥,就曾親筆撰寫文章,敘述對新加坡建國歷程的看法,在字裡行間也批評李光耀的施政,包括其 推行尊崇英語的教育政策、關閉新加坡的中文大學──南洋大學,更指稱李光耀是靠攏西方兼反 中國的東南亞代言人


太 過袒護外資

 他更指新加坡在經濟上太過袒護外資及與政府掛勾的公司,使到大部分大企業都由外資或與政府掛勾的公司控制,全國公司投資額有70%屬于外國 跨國公司,20%政府法定公司或與政府掛勾的公司,真正由私人所擁有的中小型企業只佔約10%。





 “但是,上世紀六、七十年代,當世界因思想意識激烈鬥爭,兩大集團處于冷戰、不相往來的狀態,中介確實有點用場,可是中介之所以能生存,在 于他不把所有賭注都放在同一邊。”

 他說,可是當時,李光耀把所有賭注壓在西方身上。東亞甚至世界領袖,如美國前總統 尼克遜和美國前國務卿基辛格,也拜會了中國領袖,關係逐步解凍,趨向緩和。



 “我們的經濟結構使我們必須維持強勁的幣值,我們的幣值在外匯市場上頂強,但若以最近國際貨幣基金評估一個國家的經濟實力時,以較切實際的 標準衡量貨幣的購買力,新加坡的經濟力就顯得外強中乾。”







 他說,被定為官方語文的馬來語用途只剩下唱一唱“Maju-lah Singapura!”。南洋大學被封掉,以母語為主的民族學校全完了。



 林清祥也提到,新加坡的人口政策,是涉及幾代之人的大事。抬出什么經濟專家博士的謬論,強制執行“兩個就夠了”,加上自以為是推崇所謂優生 學,終于碰了釘子,現在則巴不得年輕男女快馬加鞭,家家生3、5個孩子。


林清祥說,新加坡面積小,地理環境既具有優點也有缺點。優點在于它擁有個好海港,具戰略與經濟價值;可是,由于現代武器之發明和改進,以及區 域國家自力更生,減少了對新加坡依賴,她傳統上的戰略優勢日漸削弱。



 他指出,上世紀六、七十年代冷戰熾熱,資本主義世界某些科技與資本轉移,多數選擇到政治上與他們站在一道的反共前哨站,增強反共但自稱民主 的國家的勢力。

 “李光耀自願成為西方在東南亞的反共代言人,新加坡因而吸收了不少技術與轉移資本。中年以上的人都記得,那當兒李光耀以反共、反中國出了 名。”

 但是,他說,世界不斷在變化,世界兩大陣營終于認識到必須對話;並做到給予人民,即先有生存權利,后又能發揮從事科學、藝術創造才華以及參 與國家大事的權力。在這種情況下,西方與各國技術與資本轉移市場已空前擴大,新加坡靠反共吃飯也行不通了。



 1959年新加坡大選后取得自治,李光耀成為自治后第一任總理,並組成人民行動黨政府時,林清祥為首的左派于1961年退出政府和人民行動 黨,另組新加坡社會主義陣線(社陣)。


 拘禁多年后,于1969年辭去所兼社陣秘書長職,宣佈退出政壇,獲釋后赴英國深造,10年后回返新加坡,于1996年2月5日因心臟病逝 世,終年62歲。



李光 耀:12次“老朋友”和94次“傀儡”

在发往新加坡的唁电中,习近平将前总理李光耀称为“中国人民的老朋友”。其实,这算不上是官方定调,因为至少从1980年开始,中共喉舌《人 民日报》就将这一称呼送给了这位新加坡“国父”。

根据我的统计(更多数据见《中国人民的老朋友》,人民日报出版社2014年5月),2013年之前《人民日报》曾经12次称李光耀为“中国人 民的老朋友”。在我依据被称呼次数计算的“老朋友”榜单上,李排名第15位,和赞比亚前总统卡翁达并列,领先于埃及前总统穆巴拉克(10 次)。

“中国人民的老朋友”这个屡屡引发人们兴趣的中国特色外交语汇,很好地体现了中共的修辞手法:将“人民”和“党”之间画上等号。说到底,这个 标签是以中共为中心的,它的判断标准说穿了就是“中国共产党的老朋友”。


我将《人民日报》命名的六百余位“老友”分为四个世代:记者斯诺和医生马海德是第一代老友的代表,他们在1949年之前来到中国,或是向世界 介绍当时还很弱小的中共,或是在战场救死扶伤。1949年中共建政之后登场的是第二批“老朋友”,在冷战的国际局势下,在国际舞台上能否“同 声相应,同气相求”更多成为判断是否老友的标准,因此这个时期的老朋友大多是社会主义阵营和第三世界国家的领导人,比如柬埔寨的西哈努克。

1972年中日建交和基辛格访华,则标志着另一批为国家友谊破冰的老友出现,他们有的是民间外交使者,有的则是政治人物。改革开放之后,第四 批老友帮助中国逐步融入世界主流秩序,登上国际舞台。最典型的例子当属为北京申奥帮忙不少的前奥委会主席萨马兰奇。

随着国际局势的风云变幻,这四代老友的角色和发挥的作用完全不同。但根本的“友谊”判定标准始终不变:在某一具体的历史阶段有利于中共的利 益。


1955年8月2日,李光耀的名字第一次出现在《人民日报》。在第4版的一组国际新闻里,当时身份为人民行动党立法议员的李光耀要求立即在新 加坡实现完全的独立。

看上去,在当时的反殖民独立运动浪潮中,李光耀有望成为我所定义的“第二代老友”的一分子。但很快,他就亮明了在国际舞台上的阵营选择:亲西 方。

1963年11月16日,《人民日报》上第一次出现对李光耀的负面评价,语言极富戏剧性:“拉赫曼、拉扎克、萨顿和李光耀等人就是这样从英国 的裤裆里钻出来的。”这句话出自印度尼西亚共产党中央委员会主席艾地之口。


从1966年4月25日开始,李光耀的名字和“傀儡”二字紧紧地捆绑在了一起。“帝国主义者的傀儡”、“新加坡李光耀傀儡政权”、“拉赫曼— 李光耀傀儡集团”等是最常见的搭配形式。当然还有更难听的,比如“美帝驯服的走狗”。1968年11月14日的一则报道中,甚至直接引用了 “吊死拉赫曼、李光耀傀儡”这样的标语。根据我的统计,《人民日报》曾经94次称李光耀为傀儡,是“老朋友”称呼的近8倍。

这当然是与当时特殊的国际、国内局势有关。李光耀坚定的反共立场,再碰上文革期间中国疯狂的政治生态和输出革命的野心,让他被中共宣传机器狠 狠钉在了“帝国主义走狗”的耻辱柱上。

那是一个敌我分明的年代。从1967年开始,苏联向新加坡给予经济和技术援助,这被《人民日报》形容为“苏修叛徒们加紧了他们和李光耀及拉赫 曼傀儡集团的勾结。”

在那段时间里,李光耀确实对共产主义运动进行了残酷镇压。他全面禁止毛泽东著作的出售、散发和发行,一旦发现任何人携带印有毛语录的材料,都 要逮捕和惩罚。1969年3月30日的《人民日报》,报道了一则新加坡青年因持有红宝书被捕的案例:

“一名因拥有革命宝书《毛泽东选集》而被李光耀傀儡集团拘捕的新加坡青年工人,最近在敌人的‘法庭’上大义凛然地对反动派进行了严厉的谴责, 并勇敢地指出革命宝书《毛泽东选集》是被压迫人民求解放的真理……他说:‘在美英帝国主义及拉赫曼、李光耀统治下,社会黑暗,罪恶无穷,人民 生活多灾多难。我觉得《毛泽东选集》里有无数真理,能够解救苦难深重的人民。’……‘李光耀剥夺了人民的民主权利,所以,有罪的不是我,而是 李光耀政权。’”



1971年5月2日,《人民日报》最后一次批评李光耀为“走狗”。仅仅一年之后,这份中央党报的态度就发生了180度大转弯——在1972年 7月16日的报纸中,他以新加坡总理的身份接见了中国乒乓球代表团,并“同代表团负责人和中国乒乓球运动员进行了友好的谈话”。

这是乒乓外交的又一次上演。从70年代初开始,中国的外交就发生了巨大的变化,与美日建交是那个10年中最重要、也令世人震惊的外交事件。类 似的外交努力可谓全面开花,不仅仅发生在大国,也发生在新加坡这样的小国。

而对于李光耀来说,他的亲西方、反共、反华立场也是高度实用主义的。随着中国不再输出革命,并转而走向市场经济,新加坡自然也没有必要一直对 中国保持警惕和敌意。

1980年11月11日的《人民日报》头版,报道了李光耀来访的消息,并称其为“贵宾”——从“走狗”到“贵宾”,相距不到十年。也正是在那 一则报道中,李光耀第一次被称为“中国人民的老朋友”。

其后,随着1990年中新建交,他的“老朋友”地位也得到了巩固和强调。值得一提的是,这个建交时间实际上非常晚。为了在东南亚邻国中获得更 好的接纳、消除猜疑,李光耀一早就做出了声明:新加坡会是东盟中最后一个与中国建交的国家。

从这个角度来说,今日的中共对李光耀“友谊”的热情赞颂,实际上并无坚实的根基。恐怕这种热情赞颂的根源并不在于历史,而在于现实——对于同 样高度实用主义的中共而言,新加坡的威权治理模式、李光耀对“亚洲价值”的鼓吹,都是值得借鉴和利用的资源。因此也就不难理解,为什么曾经是 “傀儡”和“走狗”的李光耀如今会被再三称为“中国人民的老朋友”了。


后港是 新加坡极少数由在野党派管理的市镇。

李光耀灵柩在国会大厦停放的第三天适逢星期五,在政府大厦 大草场(Padang)排队等候瞻仰的新加坡人民有增无减。治丧委员会公布的轮候时间在八小时至10小时之间徘徊,陆路交通管理局再次宣 布地铁与许多巴士服务将通宵运行。

图书馆内设立了官方的悼念区,并展示着与李光耀有关的书籍。将近午饭时间,周边民众间或到来填写留言卡和拍照,阅报区的老人们翻 阅着报纸上铺天盖地的有关报导,一些人看得入神。

在图书馆内采访毕竟不是个好主意,国家图书馆管理局的公关人员也再三叮嘱记者避免搔扰其他读者。但是这个社区的人怎样看李光耀却 特别有意义——因为这里是后港。


自此,后港成为工人党的根据地。即使2011年时任议员饶欣龙牵涉桃色丑闻,遭受新加坡式“双开”,工人党还是以62%得票率在 补选中保住议席。




他告诉记者自己是退休警员,见证了新加坡加入马来西亚后的种族冲突,年青时还曾经守卫总统府,李光耀进出总统府时他依例敬礼,李 光耀定必回礼。


这样听来有点不明所以。陈老先生解释说:“要是没有反对党,那PAP的人就只会说‘好的,好的’。那怎办?就是要有人出来说: ‘这不行!’还有解释为什么,怎样做才对。”

陈 老先生与刘程强的看法如出一辙。刘程强星期四(3月26日)在国会特别会议上说:“从我在国会里和李光耀的接触,我不认为他是一个一意孤 行的独裁者。如果 你有充足的理由和论证,能赢得他经过细腻思维的政策辩论,我想,他会考虑你的意见。我也知道,他最讨厌讲废话的人,因为他认为时间宝贵, 要做的事还很 多。”



陈先生说,李光耀领导下的人民行动党从前决策都不咨询人民, 结果一些决策“朝令夕改”。他个人对新加坡的中央公积金制度最为不满。


“我基本上是支持反对党派的。不是说PAP做的不好,但是我觉得要是 100%都是PAP的话,那一个民主国家就不再是民主国家了。我们需要有反对党,那么PAP决策时会更加谨慎。我觉得这样挺 好的,有制衡作用。”


李光耀以91岁之年挥别尘世,新加坡自此进入“后李光耀时代”。在其子李显龙的带领下,李光耀的政治遗产能否持续下去是关注焦 点。

“有没有他(李光耀)都好,新加坡还是会进步下去的,也许没有那么快,但这无所谓。也许物价不会那么高……也许食品能便宜点,住 房能便宜点。”




那是否说新加坡在政治上不可能变天?易小姐说:“我觉得应该在五年以内应该不会发生。工人党自己也讲过,要是他们成为了主流党, 社会是会有损失的。哪个政党做好准备,就应该让哪个政党说了算。

“我想李光耀走之前,他一定有跟PAP交代要做什么——‘我要看到新加坡10年以内会变成怎样’。所以如果PAP继续做李光耀想 要做的事,国家还是会繁荣的。”




马英九欠高利贷 ?


抗议中国启用航路 马英九官邸被泼漆







但是最近似乎台湾政府的态度有所变化,例如台湾媒体报道称,国安局局长李翔宙表示,由于新航路以前是中国军机的巡逻范围,改成民航航路反而使 得巡逻范围内缩,因此新航路可以增加台湾的预警纵深,这引发了批评,被说成是“附 和解放军的言论”。

据称,台湾的民航局也承认,未来中国飞机使用新航路不会通报台湾,这也令许多原先 就指马英九“过于向中国靠拢”的人士更加不满。


FCPO - Can Market Reverse ? -3/30/2015

Displaying Oriental FCPO D.png 

Price did not go down any further but instead it was consolidating for the past one week.  Things are beginning to a bit better for the bull to stage a fightback as the MACD is trying to turn back upward. And I need to see the MACD going back above its zero signal line soon in order for the bullish scenario thinking to stay intact.  The Stochastic is already inside the oversold zone and seem to be trying to turn back up above the 20's line. I would buy if price can close above the recent high of 2204 in the coming week. The DMI stays negative with the ADX gone flat. The flat ADX confirms the current range bounding situation.

Displaying Oriental FCPO W.png 

The weekly chart continues to drift toward the bearish story as price stays below the bottom band. The MACD has gone negative and so is the Stochastic. The DMI is negative but the ADX remains flat and below the 20's. So at this stage, I would still call it a listless market.

Crude oil has already begun to flash an initial buy signal, so I hope it would bring up the FCPO market too.
FKLI - Market Unable To Move - 3/30/2015

Displaying Oriental FKLI D.png 

The previous long trade was taken out again when price went below the middle band which I used as a stop. Then only to see price continues to go back up again on the following day. I did not want to take another new trade as the ADX has been dreadful since the DMI continues to wiggle and the ADX has been falling to lowly 12's.

Price did not actually go much further and it has closed back below the top band. The MACD stays positive and is still rising. But the Stochastic has begun to turn downward. We may see it turning negative by the coming week. As mentioned earlier, the wiggling DMI and lowly ADX are confirming the total lack of direction in this market now. 

Displaying Oriental FKLI W.png 

At the weekly chart price tested the upside but was unable to close above the top band. Both the MACD and Stochastic continue to rise. The Stochastic is approaching the overbought zone soon. I am paying more attention to the Stochastic because the ADX has been falling and lowly. So I will be watching out for a new sell signal next.

The big picture is still of a big bearish one. I would continue to pay more weight to the sell side over the buy. As the Ringgit seems to reversing , this market may decided to drift before a new directional move begins.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

酒財女色 壯軍威-  習近平真威風,只是 區區緬甸都不震不懾而


Li Shuangjiang and his wife Meng Ge. Photo: SCMP中共人民代表大會月初召開,發言人傅瑩宣佈增加軍費:「我們要保衞 國家,教人民安心生活。根據歷史教訓,軍備落後,就要捱打。」他們說來說去,都是清末那段歷史。

但我 們不妨看看時事:中共人大會議期間,緬甸戰機追殺果敢軍人,至少四次入侵雲南,或投下炸彈,或亂槍掃射。臨滄市農民就在一次轟炸之中,五死八 傷。中共告慰死者傷者的是四個字:中央軍事委員會副主席范長龍等,已和緬甸當局「嚴正交涉」, 連強厲一點的「抗議」兩字都沒有。當然,中共給大陸傳播界的命令,則既嚴且 厲:緬甸寇邊事,不得肆意報道。

果敢本是中國屬土,清末遭英國轄下的緬甸吞併,中 共定鼎中原之後,即推翻中華民國決定,和緬甸締約,割讓果敢。然則傅瑩所謂不忘歷史教訓,應是「恪遵清末遺規」的意思。中共三軍,殺中國人固然如狼如虎,但一旦要對抗外國,就變得如犬如羊六 十五年如一日。不要說日本、俄羅斯、印度,連緬甸、菲律賓、越南等蕞薾小邦,都對中共了無所懼。原因可見於三段小故事。

二零一三年五月,洋河酒廠老闆張雨柏顯然釀酒有功,「服務國防成績彰明較著」,獲江 蘇軍區頒授大校軍銜。今年一月,四川成都軍區第十三集團軍赴南江縣演習,招搖過市,擊鼓開道的是一隊紅衣短裙長靴美女,每一位都意態撩人,媲 美幾年前高懸豔幟的三軍公共情婦湯燦。本月初,共軍少將羅援、姜春良、楊春長等更同上電 視台,批評中央軍事委員會前副主席徐才厚、郭伯雄賣官鬻爵:軍中官職,從排級 到師級,都有價錢。連士兵入黨,都非錢不辦。」中共軍紀,就是這樣以酒色財氣鑄成。以此禦外 敵,何敵不可畏。

南宋岳飛用兵,大小數百戰,未嘗一敗,原因同樣可見於三段小故事。第一,岳飛少時貪杯,高宗皇帝曾勸勉他說: 「卿異時到河朔(他日恢復中原),方可飲酒。」從此,岳飛「絕口不復飲」。第二,名將吳璘向來仰慕岳飛,宣撫四川時,得一名姝,有國色,遣使 送岳飛以結好,岳飛即日送還美女,說道:「吳少師於飛厚矣,然國恥未雪,豈大將宴安取樂時耶!」第三,岳飛寃死之日,秦檜馬上使人到岳家「極 力搜刮」,殊不知岳飛向來「不殖資產」,所得賞賜率以犒軍,秦檜手下翻轉岳家,都找不到一點餘財。岳家軍就是這樣廉潔為綱,忠義為紀。以此禦 外敵,何敵不可摧(《鄂國金佗粹編》卷九)。

今 天,習近平以「治貪」為名,抓了徐才厚、郭伯雄,軍權是奪過來了,但要整飭軍紀,還是待習近平等中共領袖答應公佈家資之後才說吧。最近,《人 民日報》宣佈九月舉行大閱兵,目的之一,是「震懾日本」。習近平真威風,只是 區區緬甸都不震不懾而已。
Things Got Hotter for HSBC

Its private banking arm faces new criminal charges after a French magistrate officially requested that the Swiss bank be brought to trial over a suspected tax-dodging scheme for wealthy customers, the Guardian reports.

The request for trial comes after a series of allegations against the bank that date back to 2008, when former HSBC employee Herve Falciani handed over thousands of confidential files from the bank to French tax authorities.

Here’s what you need know about the scandal so far:

    HSBC Private Banking is the Swiss banking arm of the parent bank HSBC, which is based in London. HSBC Private Banking is based in Geneva and it is the branch for ultra-wealthy international costumers.
    HSBC Private Banking already faces 10 different enquiries around the world. The alleged tax-dodging scheme is being investigated in eight different countries: Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, Denmark, Belgium, France, India, and Switzerland.
    The investigations started in France because Falciani initially leaked data from 100,000 bank accounts to the country’s government. Leaking banking secrets is a crime in Switzerland, and Falciani faces prosecution in Geneva. He is currently being protected by the French tax authorities. He also alleged that several agents of foreign secret agencies were also involved in the operation.
    HSBC Private Banking offices in Geneva were raided by the Swiss police on February, 18, for “suspected aggravated money laundering.”
    According to Le Monde, the tax evasion scheme involved more than 8,000 French citizens. HSBC refused a plea deal that would have avoided a trial. Under that deal, HSBC would have had to pay €1.4 billion (£1 billion) to be cleared of accusations.
    HSBC admitted the wrongdoings, which refer to the period until 2007, in February this year. It claimed it has now cleaned its operations, stating that “standards of due diligence were significantly lower than today.”

The scandal has particular political interest in the UK. HSBC Chairman Douglas Flint and CEO Stuart Gulliver were interrogated by the Treasury Select Committee in the House of Commons on February 25.

Stephen Green, Chairman of HSBC during the period of the accusations, was Minister of State for Trade and Investments from 2011 to 2013 and is currently a Lord for the Conservatives.

Gulliver called the Swiss Private Banking unit “a source of shame and reputational damage” in the past, but he had to answer why he used to own a secret Swiss bank account that allowed him to shelter £5 million ($7.35 million) through a company based in Panama.

Gulliver admitted the account “looked strange,” but claimed the account was used to keep his paychecks hidden from other employers at HSBC.

Tax authorities in France, Spain, and the UK have already collected more than £500 million ($735 million) from Swiss accounts at HSBC, but the total assets disclosed by Falciani are worth £78 billion ($114 billion).

HSBC now has one month to reply to the accusations in France, after which the French magistrates will decide whether to proceed with a trial.
FCPO - Is This The End Or Beginning ? - 3/23/2015

Displaying Oriental FCPO D.png 

The recent fractal low of 2216 was finally broken on last Monday and price looked like it was going to test the next fractal support of 2106. But then price seems to be getting stuck again in another range. The Stochastic is already inside the oversold area. I continue to pay more attention this indicator as the ADX is still lowly. The MACD stays negative and falling and it is now below the zero signal line. I use the zero line as the boundary line to demarcate the bullish/bearish cycle. So unless the MACD quickly recover back above the zero signal line, this market may see more selling to come next.
The DMI stays negative but the D- has gone back below the 30's which mean the sellers may have a change of mind. The ADX has risen a bit last week but it is still below the 20's. If price can recover above 2220 which is above the bottom band by the coming week, we may still have a chance to see the buyers coming back.

Displaying Oriental FCPO D.png 

The weekly chart has more bearish biased as price has now closed below the bottom band.  The Stochastic has also turned negative and falling. Both these 2 are flashing a new sell signal. Its 50's signal line should warrant more attention as it usually will bring more selling. The MACD may still manage to stay positive but it has turned downward and dangerously about to go negative.The DMI continues to wiggle and the ADX stays flat and low, so I would still call this market as listless. I have drawn 2 horizontal lines on the price chart to mark out the recent big range price has been wandering. The 2106 support is vital in order for bullish scenario story to continue, otherwise it is time to reassess the whole picture.
I continue to maintain my opinion that many of the international commodities and currencies are due to a major reversal, especially the crude oil. And I further believe that FCPO should mimic the behavior of the crude oil. So at this stage, I still harbor the view that FCPO may still post a reversal.
FKLI - Market Refuses To Yield - 3/23/2015

Displaying Oriental FKLI D.png 

I went back to sell on last Monday when price went below 1772 was a bad trade as on the same day price reversed back up. This was a bad omen, I immediately place a stop above Monday's high as to limit my loss. And my worry turned out to be warranted as price continued to go higher and ended up close above the bottom band with a complimentary confirmation from the Stochastic. I closed off my losing position and bought in on last Wednesday when price went higher than the signal day high. The MACD has turned positive and so is the DMI. But please take note the ADX has not been to well as it is still falling and is below the 20's. So i do not expect a strong trend in this market. I am adjusting my stop to below the middle band. 

Displaying Oriental FKLI W.png 

The weekly chart has somehow reversed the previous weeks' bearishness as price went back up and closed above the middle band again. The MACD and Stochastic continue to stay positive and rising after the previous week's hesitation. The DMI stays negative with the D- falling back toward the 30's, this means the sellers are getting out. But the ADX continues to stay flat and below the 20's, so this is still a listless market.
The big picture stays extreme bearish, I continue to place more weight on the sell sides over the buy. Of course as always, whatever theory, ideas and plans formed over the market is for the big picture, trading must always stick loyally to the signals provided by our trading system.
Russia's New "Super Plane"

Russia wants everyone to think it’s building this absurd and massive super-plane


Russia’s proposed new military transport will be a behemoth of an aircraft — assuming such a plane can even fly, and if Russia is even vaguely serious about actually building it.

According to Kremlin propaganda outfit RT citing design specifications from Russia’s Military-Industrial Commission, the new PAK TA transport will have the improbable ability to achieve supersonic flight while carrying massive payloads. The Kremlin plans on acquiring 80 PAK TAs by 2024. 

The introduction of the PAK TA is in keeping with Moscow’s stated goals of modernizing its air fleet within the next decade. Largely comprised of Soviet-era aircraft, Russia has dedicated $130 billion through 2020 for the modernization of its largely aging air force.  
But until prototypes of the plane are built and begin flying, there is no telling how well the plane will actually perform or if it’s even practical. Russia’s fifth-generation fighter, the T-50, has run into design problems. According to the Indian Air Force, the joint India-Russian variant of the T-50 still has numerous stealth and engine problems even at a late stage in its development. 

And the plane itself is just hugely impractical. A supersonic plane of its size and cargo capacity — an anticipated 200 tons —  could only land on a very long, reinforced runway that may need to be purpose-built for the plane itself. It would necessitate an astonishingly large fuel load which would further limit the number of airports at which the aircraft could take off and land. It would also have an enormous wingspan that would make the plane an easy target for enemy forces.

On a more basic level, who in their right mind would entrust 200 tons of cargo aboard such an outlandish, experimental aircraft?
It will be an astonishing accomplishment if a prototype ever takes the skies — never mind 80 finished planes.

As of now, the aircraft is at most an aspiration for Russia. It may also just be a propaganda ploy meant to highlight the Kremlin’s modernization drive and create the impression that Russia’s military-industrial complex possesses technological capabilities that it doesn’t actually have.

Even if the PAK TA may be crude Kremlin psy-ops, the concept art for the new aircraft is still pretty spectacular. Here’s what Moscow’s claiming about its fanciful super-plane of the distant and probably non-existent future. 

The PAK TA is being developed by Russian aviation company Ilyushin. 


The next-generation carrier is touted as being able to travel at supersonic speeds, carry up to 200 tons of cargo, and have a range of 4,350 miles. 


The PAK TA’s payload capacity is envisioned as being 80 tons more than the US’s largest cargo plane, the C-5 Galaxy.


RT estimates that a fleet of PAK TA’s could carry 400 T-14 Armata heavy tanks. Left unaddressed is why anyone would be careless enough to load 400 tanks into a fleet this ridiculous.


The plane is thought to feature an upper gas turbine, as well as twin electrically powered fans. The back of the plane’s wings will generate vectored thrust — assuming a single one of them is ever built.


Putin Already Lost His Army To The American Imperialists But He Didn't Know It

The Russian army loves Coca-Cola (but don’t tell the Kremlin)

Anti-Western sentiment in Russia sometimes extends to American products, from McDonald’s burgers to Apple computers.

Russian officials also have a propaganda campaign against Coca-Cola. But it doesn’t seem to be working that well. Russian soldiers apparently are deeply fond of Coke and are using it as an unofficial symbol to celebrate the end of their military service.

Thousands of people on the Russian social network Vkontakte are sharing photos of soldiers holding Coca-Cola cans with the word “demob,” short for “demobilization.” It’s unclear if the new “demob” labels are part of a marketing campaign by Coca-Cola targeting Russian soldiers, or if these photos are showing self-printed labels.

Many soldiers are also using their own personal profiles to post photos of themselves with these Coca-Cola cans, both before and after the Kremlin started an anti Coca-Cola campaign.

The Coca-Cola photos are circulating mostly in Vkontakte military groups such as “Army,” which has more than 400,000 members, many of which are young soldiers and reservists.

The American soda company was already under attack from Russian politicians, which accused Coca-Cola of waging an “unhealthy war” against Russian people. The American soda company was also accused of supporting Obama’s sanctions against Russia.

远东唯一的 英国绅士—李光耀

日前传出新加坡国父李光耀病况恶化的消息,不管你认不认同这位强人治国的铁腕,却不能不尊重这位近代少数被西方国家推崇的亚洲特別是华裔领 袖。

特別是这位华裔精英,是最深明身上纵使流著华人血统,却不必要自作多情地硬和中华民族/ 中国人连接上廉价又矫情的脐带,背负什么多余的民族英魂或文化使命的人他调教出来的新加坡国民尽得真传。

稍微读过李光耀生平的,都知道李光耀学中文,和很多马来西亚华裔父母要孩子学英文的道理 一样——纯粹为了將来的发展利益。

因为毕生和各国包括台湾中国周旋的李光耀清楚知道,要在这个复杂诡异的世界站稳脚步,靠 的只有是自己的实力,不是什么婆妈的民族情怀和文化血脉。

在他的著作《我一生的挑战——新加坡双语之路》当中,就非常明確地说明,他学中文的理由,可以是「日本佔领新加坡时被迫识了一些汉字,为的是 看懂日本人张贴的汉字告示,看不懂会挨打。」;可以是「为了贏得选票,博得华人团体,一定要回华语」;可以是「被政敌羞辱,后,也为了能良好 地和周围的人沟通,愈发刻苦地学习中文」:就是没有什么「坚守文化薪火」什么种族情意 结。

李光耀知道,海外华裔一厢情愿地和中国华人连接种族祖宗情意 结和情感,不会带来什么好处

因为根据他和中国领导人的接触经验,包括在其回忆录揭露周恩来在70年代说:「华侨」这个词儿不当,许多华侨其实早已经接受居留国的公民 权,只是他们天性保守,反而成了中国同这些国家的关係的一大问题。中国不但不鼓励海外华人回国,甚至说明不会干预任何海外国家关闭华文报 社和华校。


其实这又岂只是新中国的政策。荷兰莱顿大学(Leiden University)歷史教授兼汉学家包乐史就说过,15世纪时中国禁止下海通番,当时朝廷眼中,擅自离乡背井下南洋的华人被视 为叛徒,匪盗。此外,16世纪,西班牙人在马尼拉数万华人,事件传到天朝,万历皇帝只指责「吕宋酋擅杀商民」, 然后由巡抚说:「中国皇帝宽怀大度,对于屠杀华人一节,绝不兴师问罪。。。在境华人,固多系不良之徒,亦勿容怜爱」。结果屠华事 件最终的结果居然是指事端由某华商引发,还「削首海上」。当这班南洋华侨以为天朝使者可以为他们出一口气,没想到居然是来伤口撒 盐的。

不说孙中山靠海外华裔捐钱反清建立新中国,和二战时期海外华侨返国捐躯抗日这么远,这几十年每 当中国境內发生天灾,地震水淹,海外华人都会像自家门前受灾般,八方救援,捐钱出力,唸经祈福。可是当海外国家排华?政权打压华裔?哼 哼,「中国不干预他国內政」。

近年来有本地华裔慨叹,当年中国一穷二白,我们匯钱寄物资,改革开放后过去投资,都是希望帮助中国过好日子。没想到中国好日子来了,带著钱却 是粗暴地蹂躪我们的旅游观光地,大爷地对待我们同胞,真是伤透我们的心。

所以难怪李光耀心里明白,他和他的子民要做的是一个新加坡人,这也是为何新加坡华裔会自称新加坡人(Singaporean),黄祸丟脸?他 们轻巧地將中国人称为「China citizens」而不是可能引人混淆的「Chinese」,不著痕跡地画上一根区分大家素质等级的界限以不要伤及中国游客的玻璃心,顾客永远是对的,不 是吗?

据说前英国首相撒切尔夫人生前细嚼李光耀每一篇讲词,还讚他为「苏彝士运河以东的唯一英国绅士」。居然是没有人比一个洋婆子更洞彻李光耀其实 不是中国人。

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

China  Polluting The World While Getting Immensely Rich

China is in the midst of a historic transformation, and the surprising progress the country has made at energy efficiency has raised hopes that the world may get a grip on global greenhouse gas emissions much sooner than expected.

As a result of the progress China is making in cleaning up its industrial sector, global greenhouse gas emissions hit the pause button in 2014, the first time that has happened in four decades (absent a major economic contraction). The International Energy Agency said on March 13 that global greenhouse gas emissions hit 32.3 billion tons in 2014, the same level as the year before.
The shocking revelation that carbon emissions flat lined in 2014 was largely possible because of China’s ability to meet its growth target of 7.5 percent while keeping its greenhouse gas emissions flat.

The Chinese government has targeted pollution reduction as a top priority. It has set a ceiling on its coal consumption at 4.2 billion tons per year by 2020. Only a few short years ago that seemed laughably implausible, but China surprised the world when it reported that it actually saw coal consumption dip in 2014.

Cutting coal consumption fits neatly into the Chinese government’s apparent goal of shifting its economy from export-driven heavy industry, to a consumer economy. In practice, that means forcing the closure of dirty factories.

Steel has become a top target. China has too much steel capacity to begin with – 1.2 billion tons per year for a country that only produced 823 million tons in 2014. China accounts for 43 percent of the world’s steelmaking capacity, and one-quarter of that is located in Hebei province. Such a concentration of industry has resulted in serious environmental fallout. Seven out of the top ten most polluted Chinese cities are located in Hebei. And because of all the pollution from the province that wafts into Beijing, the central government has decided to crack down on steel companies.

Hebei saw 15 million metric tons of steelmaking capacity shuttered in 2014. The central government plans on closing 60 out of the 250 million metric tons of steelmaking capacity in the province over the next five years, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The shift to prioritize air quality has paid dividends – both China’s coal consumption and its overall greenhouse gas emissions have declined for the first time in years. “This gives me even more hope that humankind will be able to work together to combat climate change, the most important threat facing us today,” the IEA’s Chief Economist Fatih Birol said in a March 13 statement.

Still, attacking the oversupply of industrial capacity in China raises an important question about leakage. China may succeed in cleaning up the air in and around its major cities by closing industries, and thereby reduce its carbon footprint, but what happens if that pollution simply moves overseas?

Hebei Iron and Steel Group, a Chinese steelmaking giant, plans on building a factory in South Africa with the capacity to produce 5 million tons. There are more plants in the works in South Africa and Thailand as well. Pushed out of the country by tighter policies emanating from Beijing, China’s major industries are simply picking up and moving somewhere else. That may be good for China, but it does very little for global emissions.

Even if cuts to industrial activity do in fact lead to global environmental benefit, there are questions about how far the Chinese government is willing to go. Another challenge for the country is potential economic disruption from a drastic cutback in industrial activity. Hebei could see job losses approaching 200,000 if the central government’s plans are carried out in full. Much of the steel capacity closed down in the past year included factories that were already idle, meaning that further cuts will likely hit jobs worse than they have up until now. In 2009, a steel manager was killed by workers when he threatened to lay off workers.

For years, the Chinese government sought economic growth at all costs as an answer to political stability. Suddenly, heavily polluted air has become a top concern. Somehow the government will need to navigate these twin threats. Meanwhile, the ability of the world to tackle global climate change hangs in the balance.

Greece’s ‘Rockstar’ Socialist Finance Minister Cannot Meet Challenges


Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis

Yanis Varoufakis, Greece’s rockstar finance minister, is in hot water.
The anti-austerity economics professor who’s now running Greece’s finance ministry said this weekend that he regrets the photo shoot he did for Paris Match. Pictures of the finance minister eating and drinking wine with his wife on their roof terrace provoked mockery on social media.

But Varoufakis also had two cringe-worthy interviews over the weekend.

Things started to go badly when CNBC asked him if he had become a liability to the Greek government. You can watch the whole video, and there’s a transcript below.

CNBC: You’ve taken some heat in the Greek press in the last 24 hours for saying you’ll do whatever it takes as far as a deal in Europe is concerned, and the suggestion is you’d renege on promises…
Varoufakis: We never said we’d renege on any promises… We’ve already started legislating on the humanitarian crisis… The press has a field day these days concocting stories that have the purpose of creating noise, what we need now is peace and quiet in order to get down to work to put Greece back on the path to recovery
CNBC: But you’re at fault for that, is Paris Match a PR disaster in hindsight?
Varoufakis: You will allow me not to comment on particular stories in the press.
CNBC: But you put it in the press.
Varoufakis: (pause) You will allow me not to comment on particular stories in the press.
CNBC: Are you a liability though, for this government? Because you are trying to promote a serious message, and these things are distracting.
Varoufakis: Are you a liability for your channel?
CNBC: I try not to be.
Varoufakis: So do I 
At that point Varoufakis walked away, while CNBC’s interviewer was still trying to ask a question. 

Varoufakis was also on German TV on Sunday night, and addressed a question as to whether he once showed the German government the finger in a video. Varoufakis says the footage is doctored — you’re welcome to judge for yourselves — from about two minutes in.