Monday, April 20, 2015

Sunday Globe Special: Hitting the Links in China

I will be making it a quick round. Sorry I've lost my enthusiasm for the game.

"China’s crackdown on corruption targets those who like to tee off" by Austin Ramzy New York Times   April 19, 2015

HONG KONG — President Xi Jinping’s crackdown on vice and corruption in China has gone after drugs, gambling, prostitution, ill-gotten wealth, and overflowing banquet tables. Now it has turned to a less obvious target: golf.

In a flurry of recent reports, state-run news outlets have depicted the sport as yet another temptation that has led Communist Party officials astray. A top official at the Commerce Ministry is under investigation on suspicion of allowing an unidentified company to pay his golf expenses.

The government has also shut down dozens of courses across the country that were built in violation of a ban intended to protect China’s limited supplies of water and arable land.

Given a choice, I will take the water; however, golf is the province of the rich and powerful so let those sprinklers flow.

And in the southern province of Guangdong, home to the world’s largest golf facility, the 12-course Mission Hills Golf Club, party officials have been forbidden to golf during work hours “to prevent unclean behavior and disciplinary or illegal conduct.”

The provincial anticorruption agency has set up a hot line for reporting civil servants who violate nine specific regulations, including prohibitions on betting on golf, playing with people connected to one’s job, traveling on golf-related junkets, or holding positions on the boards of golf clubs.

“Like fine liquor and tobacco, fancy cars and mansions, golf is a public relations tool that businessmen use to hook officials,” the newspaper of the party’s antigraft agency declared on April 9. “The golf course is gradually changing into a muddy field where they trade money for power.”

It's how the world goes around and how deals are done. What's the big deal?

Dan Washburn, author of “The Forbidden Game: Golf and the Chinese Dream,” said the crackdown was not surprising given the game’s reputation in China as a capitalist pastime and the extent of Xi’s prolonged campaign against corruption, which has toppled senior party and military leaders.

“This is Xi Jinping’s China, and it’s clear he’s intent on making his mark,” Washburn said. “Everyone’s a potential target in this ongoing crackdown on corruption, and golf is a particularly easy and obvious one.”

Golf has faced harsh suppression in China before. When the Communist Party came to power in 1949, Mao Zedong condemned the game as a “sport for millionaires,” and courses that had been built for foreigners were turned into public parks, zoos, and communal farms. 

Well, they are not going back to Mao's days. Too tied into the global economic $y$tem now.

The sport went dormant for three decades before China’s first course since the revolution opened in Guangdong in 1984. Now, as many as 1 million people play the game in China. Though it is popular among members of the wealthy elite — including party bureaucrats, apparently — some of China’s earliest professional golfers are former workers and farmers who stumbled onto the game.

It's where YOU can find YOUR RICHES if you are not part of the 0.01% of this world.

Huang Wenyi, a onetime construction worker who is now the world’s 1,189th-ranked player, thrilled Chinese fans Thursday after he led at the end of the first day of the Shenzhen International, a European Tour-sanctioned event in the southern Chinese city.

Chinese players in their teens and even younger, drilled by parents and coaches with a resolution that rivals that of state-run sports schools, are expected to be strongly represented among the world’s top players in coming decades.

Tiger Woods, the Williams' sisters, what's your hypocritical point.

“There are alternate realities in China,” Washburn said. “One day you’ll read headlines about a war on golf, and the next you’ll hear about China’s future Olympic golf stars.”

Do I ever know the feeling!


I wonder how the president shot this weekend, and speaking of which:

"The last man to shoot a US president now spends most of the year in a house overlooking the 13th hole of a golf course in a gated community. John Hinckley Jr. lives much of the year like any average Joe: shopping, eating out, watching movies."

Two observations there: I see it as a subtle message to Obama that the Zionist War Lobby is not happy, and you know, things have a way of happening. Of course, he hasn't threatened the Federal Reserve control of the money supply and he is pretty much done so why turn him into a martyr now?

The second thing is Hinckley himself, another crazed lone gunman with strange fixations with films and Foster. Knowing what we know now about all the "lone gunmen," Hinckley looks like a Manchurian candidate to some degree (a la Sirhan) with accompanying cover story. 

Why? Because Reagan -- as he did as governor of California when he raised taxes -- was backing off the whole corporate control and conservative agenda once assuming office. The old coot hung on, and his administration did a quick about-face on it all. 

And if Reagan had died? The presidency would have been passed to.... George Herbert Walker Bush, nearly 8 years before he would "win" it for himself -- just in time to introduce the New World Order in response to Iraqi aggression.

But back to China....

"China’s economic growth hits six-year low" by Simon Denyer Washington Post  April 16, 2015

BEIJING — A slump in the property market pushed Chinese economic growth down to 7 percent in the first three months of this year, its lowest quarterly pace since 2009. Premier Li Keqiang warned that the country should be braced for tougher times ahead.

The housing slowdown has also hit heavy industries such as steel and cement, while falling global commodity prices have squeezed industrial profit margins. 7 percent would be the lowest annual rate of growth in 25 years, but still considerably faster than most major nations, and enough for the Communist Party’s to maintain its claim to sound economic leadership.

Economists expect the government to cut interest rates further and bolster infrastructure spending in coming months to prevent a sharper slowdown, but even officials acknowledge the risks to the economy have risen. 

It's global now, and we will be watching carefully today.

‘‘Economic data in the first quarter are not pretty,’’ Li told a seminar Tuesday, the day before the numbers were released, according to the official China Daily newspaper. ‘‘Traditional economic driving forces such as consumption and investment are diminishing, while new forces are not compensating.’’

Does their government lie about the economy like mine?

Li said the nation should be prepared for more downward pressure on the economy and greater difficulties, although the premier expressed confidence about the economy’s long-term prospects.

China’s economy traditionally relied on export-led industrial growth, but after the 2007-08 financial crisis it has depended more on credit-fueled spending and infrastructure investment by the state. The government recognizes that model is not sustainable indefinitely, and is trying to bolster consumer spending.

They are doing the $ame things the Fed did here, and all it did was increase wealth inequality while leaving the rest of us stuck in a rut. 

It would also like to rely a little less on the heavy industries that have polluted its fields, rivers, and skies. But as it tries to rebalance the economy, it is also battling a mini-crisis in the form of falling housing sales and a slowdown in construction of new homes.

Look, the U.S. has its problems, but....

‘‘The structural issue for China is the permanent slowdown in the housing market,’’ said Andrew Batson, China economist at Gavekal Dragonomics. ‘‘It is not a collapse but it is a clear slowdown, and it is having a very significant impact on the overall economy, and on sectors such as the heavy industry sector that produces a lot of steel and cement.

‘‘In the consumer sector, household incomes are holding up better, but they are not insulated completely from what’s going on in the rest of the economy,’’ he added.

Li said the economy was in the midst of a transition and warned of tough choices ahead.


The International Monetary Fund also warned that China needed to act fast to rebalance its economy, before a sharper slowdown made the task even harder.

Meanwhile, some economists continue to cast doubt on whether the gross domestic product numbers issued by the Chinese government Wednesday actually add up....

‘‘In reality, growth must be much lower,’’ and I know the feeling.



"In the latest sign economic growth may be slowing faster than anticipated, China on Sunday freed up roughly $200 billion for new lending. The central bank sharply reduced the amount of money banks must keep on reserve, a stimulus measure to pump more money into the economy. But the move comes as China’s securities regulator is trying to curtail new debt-driven investments in the country’s frothy stock market. Overall economic growth is slipping, which argues for looser monetary policy. But the country’s stock markets are soaring. Shanghai’s main index more than doubled over the past 12 months, driven by an influx of inexperienced new investors and rising levels of borrowing in order to bet on shares. On Friday, the securities regulator moved to curtail the sources of funding for buying stocks on borrowed money. That gave the central bank room to free up broader monetary policy by reducing the chances that new bank funding would find its way into the stock market. Still, the cut does not automatically translate into new lending. China’s banks have grown wary of issuing loans to smaller or riskier borrowers, given the country’s slowing growth. And bank profits have come under pressure as Beijing has pursued financial overhauls." 

Looks like the Chinese are $crewed

"More than three decades after Beijing began allowing market reforms, China’s 168 million migrant workers are discovering their labor rights through the spread of social media. They are on the forefront of a protest movement that is posing a growing and awkward problem for the ruling Communist Party, which is wary of any activism that can threaten its grip on power. Feeling exploited by business and abandoned by government, workers are organizing strikes and other labor protests (left) at a rate that has doubled each of the past four years to more than 1,300 last year, said the Hong Kong-based China Labor Bulletin, which gathers information from China’s social media." 

Well, we all know how China reacts to protest. It's Occupy Hong Kong all over again.

I thought I would walk you through the rest of these:

"China lists 14 generals snared in anti-corruption campaign" Associated Press  March 03, 2015

BEIJING — Chinese military prosecutors on Monday released a list of 14 generals convicted of graft or placed under investigation in an accelerating nationwide anticorruption drive.

Not only is the mind boggled by such a thing, but I'm also a little bit envious.

Those under investigation include Rear Admiral Guo Zhenggang, son of Guo Boxiong, retired deputy head of the Central Military Commission, which oversees the military. Guo Zhenggang was suspected of ‘‘serious legal violations and criminal offenses,’’ the notice said, without giving details.

Others included leading officers in provincial military commands, as well as ones in the navy, missile corps, and National Defense University.

The notice said Lan Weijie, a former deputy commander in the central province of Hubei, was sentenced to life in prison in January for corruption and illegal firearms possession.

Last year, prosecutors indicted Xu Caihou, the military’s former No. 2 official, on bribery charges, in a show by President Xi Jinping that no officials would be off-limits.

Corruption in the military is believed to have thrived under Xi’s predecessors, Hu Jintao and Jiang Zemin, neither of whom had a military background or much standing with top officers.

Embezzlement and kickbacks related to military housing and other contracts were believed to be rife, along with the selling of ranks and positions.

What of the way the U.S. Congre$$ does bu$ine$$?


And China gets no credit for fighting the terrorists, either (because they are "our" terrorists):

"China says Muslim Uighurs have joined Islamic State group" AP  March 11, 2015

BEIJING — Chinese officials said Tuesday that members of the country’s Muslim Uighur ethnic minority have gone to fight with the Islamic State group, which controls sections of Syria and Iraq, and then returned to take part in plots at home.

ISIS in China? Why not? They are in every other country of the hemisphere.

Authorities in the far-western region of Xinjiang, which borders Afghanistan and Pakistan, will strengthen their crackdown on terrorism and extremism as a result, regional representatives said at a discussion on the sidelines of China’s legislature.

Xinjiang has seen repeated violence as members of the Muslim Uighur minority group have bristled under what they say is repressive Chinese government rule. Attacks blamed on Uighurs have also occurred in other parts of the country, including a car that plowed into Beijing’s Tiananmen Gate in 2013, killing five people.

Beijing has previously blamed the violence on Islamic militants with foreign connections who are seeking an independent state in Xinjiang, but has offered little evidence and ignored calls for independent investigations. Uighur groups say police have used indiscriminate deadly force against people protesting the government’s policies in the region.

U.S. usually offers none. It's a just believe us type thing.

The Global Times, a newspaper affiliated with the ruling Communist Party, said in December that about 300 Chinese are fighting alongside the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria.

Zhang said authorities would take measures to stop people from leaving the country to fight with the group, and that he expects ‘‘fewer and fewer cases’’ of that happening. ‘‘We are confident that we can fix it,’’ he said.


Better keep an eye on all those Chinese immigrants and visitors then:

"Agents target industry helping Chinese women have US babies" Associated Press  March 04, 2015

IRVINE, Calif. — Federal agents searched three dozen homes in California during a crackdown Tuesday on maternity tourism operators who arrange for Chinese women to give birth in the United States, where their babies automatically become US citizens.

Talk about a sleeper cell!

The investigation of three alleged birth-tourism rings may be the biggest yet by federal homeland security agents who say that, while pregnant women may travel to the United States and deliver their babies here, they cannot lie about the purpose of their trip when applying for a visa.

Recent cases in California have catered to wealthy visitors from China. ‘‘These people were told to lie, how to lie, so that their motives for coming to the US wouldn’t be questioned,’’ said Claude Arnold, an immigration official.


Yeah, I see the Chinese pump 'em out like pandas, thus I say no more adoptions (those organizations are often fronts for murderous elite pedophile rings), and maybe the women will learn their lesson -- unlike the pre$$.  

You can play through these, readers:

"The China challenge" by Joseph S. Nye Jr.   April 03, 2015

Since World War II, the United States has been the most powerful state in world politics. Many analysts view a rising China as the most likely contender to end the American century. One recent book is even entitled “When China Rules the World.”

Most projections of Chinese power are based on the rapid growth rate of its GDP, and China may pass the United States in total economic size in the 2020s. But even then, it will be decades before it equals America in per capita income (a measure of the sophistication of an economy). China also has other significant power resources. In terms of basic resources, its territory is equal to that of the United States and its population is four times greater. It has the world’s largest army, more than 250 nuclear weapons, and modern capabilities in space and cyberspace. In soft power (the ability to get what you want through attraction rather than payment or coercion), China still lacks cultural industries able to compete with Hollywood; its universities are not top ranked; and it lacks the many non-governmental organizations that generate much of America’s soft or attractive power.

Meaning they are nothing but fronts for intelligence agencies. 

Of course, he is discounting all of China's soft power that builds infrastructure instead of destroying it like U.S. liberation.

In the 1990s, I wrote that the rapid rise of China might cause the type of conflict predicted by Thucydides when he attributed the disastrous Peloponnesian War in ancient Greece to the rise in the power of Athens and the fear it created in Sparta. Today, I think that is unlikely, though some analysts flatly assert that China cannot rise peacefully. Many draw analogies to World War I, when Germany had surpassed Britain in industrial power. But we should also recall Thucydides’ other warning, that belief in the inevitability of conflict can become one of its main causes. Each side, believing it will end up at war with the other, makes reasonable military preparations which then are read by the other side as confirmation of its worst fears.

So war with China is on the horizon and now coming towards us, huh?

Fortunately, it is doubtful that China will have the military capability to make overly ambitious dreams possible in the next several decades. Costs matter. It is easier to indulge one’s wish list when a menu has no prices on it. Chinese leaders will have to contend with the reactions of other countries as well as the constraints created by their own objectives of economic growth and the need for external markets and resources. Too aggressive a Chinese military posture could produce a countervailing coalition among its neighbors in the region that would weaken both its hard and soft power. 

Substitute America for China and see how it reads.

The fact that China is not likely to become a peer competitor to the United States on a global basis does not mean that it could not challenge the United States in Asia. However, the rise of Chinese power in Asia is contested by India and Japan (as well as smaller neighbors such as Vietnam), and that provides a major power advantage to the United States. The US-Japan alliance, which the Clinton-Hashimoto declaration of 1996 reaffirmed as the basis for stability in post-Cold War East Asia, is an important impediment to Chinese ambitions, as is the improvement in US-Indian relations and Japan-India relations. This means that in the regional balance of power, China cannot easily expel the Americans. From that position of strength, the United States, Japan, India, Australia, and others can work to engage China and provide incentives for it to play a responsible role. Moreover, coping with important transnational issues such as climate change, pandemics, terrorism, organized crime, and cybercrime will require cooperation with China.

I wonder where Sri Lanka fits.

China aspires to play a larger role in East Asia, and the US has Asian allies to whose defense we are committed. Miscalculations are always possible, but conflict is far from inevitable. The legitimacy of the Chinese government depends on a high rate of economic growth and the top leaders realize that China will need many decades before it approaches the sophistication of the American economy. Where Germany was pressing hard on Britain’s heels (and passed it in industrial strength by 1900), the United States remains decades ahead of China in overall military, economic, and soft power resources at the global level.

In other words, the United States has more time to manage its relations with a rising power than Britain did a century ago, and China has incentives for restraint. Too much fear can be self-fulfilling. Whether the United States and China will manage their relationship well is another question. Human error and miscalculation are always possible. But with the right choices, war is not inevitable, and the impressive rise of China is a long process that is still far from signifying the end of the American century.

Yeah, it's a New AmeriKan Century, right?


And if there is no need for concern why is the bank a threat to US dominance in world finance?

"US should integrate China into existing institutions" by The Editorial Board   March 26, 2015

When most of the nation’s closest allies are deserting the United States on a matter of global economic importance, US politicians of both parties should listen to the underlying message.

Earlier this month, the British government defied the United States and announced it will join a new international development bank created and led by China. Germany, France, and Italy followed within days. And as the initial enrollment deadline for the new Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank approaches at the end of the month, Australia and South Korea are poised to sign up as well. Without doubt, the new bank exemplifies China’s efforts to elbow its way into a global financial system long dominated by the United States, and to convert its economic muscle into diplomatic strength around the world.

The implication being it is the U.S.'s god-given right. 

I'm sorry I'm sick of this slop, folks.

But with its growing GDP and vast financial reserves, China is bound to claim a larger role in one way or another. The United States should seek to accommodate that shift in a productive way, by enmeshing the world’s second-largest economy more deeply in multilateral bodies such as the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, and Asian Development Bank — three institutions over which the United States has long exercised outsize influence. Instead, Republicans in Congress have stalled even modest reforms that would give China and other major emerging economies more influence over the IMF.

You mean, "appea$e?"

The new Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, to be headquartered in Shanghai, is plainly a rival to older global financial institutions. While the US-led institutions have made a show of tying aid to transparency and political reforms, China has gained a reputation globally for giving money to repressive governments without strings attached. The European powers joining Beijing’s bank argue that they can best promote good governance for the institution by working inside it.

Still, it’s obvious that Britain, Germany, and others are eager to get into a rising power’s good graces. The Obama administration lobbied US allies not to join, while passive-aggressively insisting that the United States is worried only about the new bank’s governance and not about any potential blow to American prestige. In doing so, the administration unnecessarily turned the issue into a US-China diplomatic battle — which the United States has now lost.

Already losing the war, huh?

All multilateral deals — trade treaties, international development banks, security arrangements — require sacrifices from all parties. Yet the end of the Cold War encouraged Americans of all ideological stripes to believe, for a generation, that the United States can and should dictate the terms of international relations.

Did it? That's not the way I remember the debate surrounding H.W.'s war on Iraq.

For the GOP leadership, delaying reforms at the IMF is a convenient way to inflict more political pain on Obama. For the Tea Party right, insisting upon the American way of doing everything is a matter of conviction. But Washington’s inability to settle even straightforward matters is undermining the nation’s ability to exercise leadership in the world.

Look at the propaganda pre$$ poop on those with principal.

Making some room for China on the global scene wouldn’t just be a magnanimous gesture by the United States. It will also help avoid future diplomatic fiascoes. The more China is integrated into existing institutions, the less the imperative to start its own.

Looks to me like the problem is all with the U.S.


Oh, yeah, in lieu of all the lecturing:

"America’s failing report card for social progress" by Michael E. Porter   April 10, 2015

IN THE aftermath of the most challenging recession of the last half century, the policy debate in the United States is understandably preoccupied with economic concerns. Polarization has grown around issues of income inequality and the uneven gains during the current recovery. But this inequality is a symptom of deeper causes. Progress in America has never been exclusively about economic prosperity. Historically, we have been a nation that is a leader in social progress, such as moving to universal public education, widening the ability of citizens to go to college, expanding access to health care, and putting in place the policies that have opened up opportunity for all citizens regardless of their background. In these and other areas, America has often led the world.

What America of the past is he talking about??? We don't even have those things now, and he is ignoring our awful history regarding blacks, Native Americans, Asians, etc, etc.

However, America no longer leads the world in many dimensions of the kind of society we want to be.

Well, what could the rea$on be for that?


For the United States, the results are sobering. Though the United States ranks sixth among covered countries in terms of GDP per capita, we only achieve 16th place in social progress. In terms of success in meeting the basic human needs of our citizens, equipping them to improve the quality of their lives, and opening up opportunity for every citizen to meet his or her full potential, the United States is well below major G7 nations, including Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany, and Japan.

On health and wellness, the United States ranks 68th in the world, a position even more striking when you consider that we spend far more on health care per capita than any other country. Despite some improvement over the past two decades, we still rank only 30th in terms of personal safety. Even after a significant education reform movement, we rank 45th in access to basic knowledge. In ecosystem sustainability, despite much lip service, we rank 74th.

America continues to be strong in the crucial area of providing rights, freedom, and opportunity for our citizens. But even here the latest data are not where we want them to be. 

If you ignore the surveillance, data collection, and torture, that is.

What’s the problem? How did we lose our leadership? The reality is that advancing social progress in America has become embroiled in the same polarizing debates and gridlock that have stalled progress in so many areas, including our economic agenda. We as Americans must start to assess ourselves candidly and objectively, and mount a coherent social progress agenda. And we have much to learn from other nations. Canada is a leader on personal safety, for example, and Australia can teach us much about health and wellness.

Whose we?

Renewing American leadership in social progress will pay huge dividends in terms of the sense of inclusion in our society. But the stakes are even higher. American economic dynamism has drawn heavily on our past social progress leadership. Today, lagging social progress is holding us back. And, when social progress lags behind economic success, less advantaged citizens especially suffer.

The Social Progress Index, only in its second year, is becoming a tool for citizens of many nations to understand the facts, hold leaders accountable, and help to set priorities and guide action to address society’s most pressing challenges. It has opened up a dialogue about the real meaning of success, involving millions of citizens of countries around the world. Initiatives to improve performance, based on the index, are underway in more than 40 countries. In Somerville, Mayor Joseph Curtatone has begun to deploy the index framework to benchmark his city and prioritize an agenda going forward.

Measuring social progress offers a more complete picture of how America is doing. Through enabling a more honest dialogue, it can help us restore leadership in creating a better society. And ultimately, to help build a stronger America.

Corporations, the bankers, and wealthy elite -- in all their benevolence  or so I've read -- have been caring for us for decades. What the hell happened?


Yeah, good thing China is no challenge. 

Time to putt out of this post.

NDU: China’s president pours $45b in investments into Pakistan

They include roads, ports, and power plants, which the U.S. can then blow up with the drones (even though strikes are down, or so I am told).

Just another reason to turn both into enemies.