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    Asia

  • Ajay Shah's blog

    Payment bank entry process considered inconsistent with the rule of law

    by Shubho Roy and Ajay Shah. First best Banking is the business of accepting deposits from the public with the promise of repaying such deposits on demand at an agreed rate of return. Payments is a distinct business from banking. A payment system is one which enables payment of funds to be effected between payer and a beneficiary. In the olden days, payments was primarily (though not entirely) the business of banks. In the modern world, banks should face competition from technology companies who will use modern telephony to do payments. These companies are bringing in a new business strategy of leveraging their client base and using analytical tools to provide a superior consumer experience. The first best approach is to establish a regulatory strategy for payments...more

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  • East Asia Forum

    Will Xi always be obeyed?

    Author: Ryan Manuel, ANU It ain’t easy being an autocrat. Take China’s current President and Party Secretary, Xi Jinping. Since coming to power Xi has shown himself to be unhindered by former norms of collective decision making, and collective blame. Rather than all decisions being portrayed as being made unanimously by senior leaders, each of whom is responsible for a different area of governance, Chinese media portrays Xi as making decisions and heading nearly every major policy reform and advisory group. It is hard to say how much this portrayal is correct — the ‘decisions are argued and made in secret’ norm remains untouched — but either way, it is a major reversal of former norms of collective governance. Today, Xi is the face, heart and soul of all Ch...more

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  • East Asia Forum

    Will military courts help Pakistan eliminate terrorism?

    Author: Sajjad Ashraf, NUS In August 2015, Pakistan’s Supreme Court, which has a history of validating military takeovers under the ‘doctrine of necessity’, upheld the 21st amendment to the constitution allowing military courts to be established parallel to the existing civil judiciary for two years. The amendment allows civilians ‘claiming [to] or [who] are known to belong to any terrorist group or organisation using the name of religion or sect’ to be tried by the military courts provided their cases are referred by the federal government. This formulation presented a civilian façade but, in reality, it will mean that the military decides who is to be brought before the military tribunal. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, during one of his rare appearances in t...more

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  • East Asia Forum

    Credit where credit’s due for China’s economic authorities

    Author: James Laurenceson, ACRI Nobel prize winning economist Paul Krugman recently said with reference to China’s President Xi Jinping: ‘Are you starting to have the feeling that when it comes to economic policy Xi-who-must-be-obeyed has no idea what he’s doing?’ Krugman’s comment came after the Chinese authorities had decided to allow the renminbi to fall modestly in value, as opposed to a more ambitious reset or cutting it loose entirely. Other commentators have spent the past couple months chiding the government for its response to the stock market collapse, or accusing it of stalling on market-orientated reform more broadly. If China is making a habit of getting economic policy wrong, countries with a deep trade and investment exposure such as Australia w...more

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  • Atanu Dey On India's Development

    A Favorite Place: Yosemite

    One of my favorite places to visit is Yosemite National Park. Thankfully, since it’s just a few hours drive from home, I have been there dozens of times. Here’s a pretty picture of El Capitan. (Click the image to embiggen.) Probably the most inspiring, tempting and most recognisable of the big walls around the world, El Capitan (named from a rough Spanish translation of its Native American name To-to-kon-oo-lah), rises a massive 900m from its base. Originally thought to be unclimbable it was first scaled in 1958 by Warren Harding, Wayne Merry and George Whitmore, their ascent took them a total 47 days to complete! Harding and his gang climbed El Cap up a route called ‘The Nose’. Since their awesome first ascent hundreds of new routes have bee...more

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  • Health Intel Asia

    Senior Living Opportunities Across the APAC and ASEAN Markets

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  • Atanu Dey On India's Development

    Renaming Aurangzeb Road: A Proposal

    Indian politicians talk a very loudly talk about India being a democracy, meaning Indians have some say in what happens in India. But when it comes to reality, they are understandably reluctant to put their money where their mouth is. Indian democracy should not be limited to Indians merely having the vote for choosing who is going to be their mai-baap, to dictate to them. To be meaningful, democracy should be extended to the relatively unimportant matter of people deciding who are worthy of being honored by having major roads, schemes and institutions named after them. So far, most of the major roads, institutions and public schemes have been named after members of the Nehru-Gandhi clan. It’s high time to change that high-handed, dictatorial method and go with a...more

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  • Atanu Dey On India's Development

    Naming “Dr” APJ Abdul Kalam Road: The Administrator

    The proposed renaming of “Aurangzeb Road” into “Dr APJ Abdul Kalam Road” is doubtless an improvement. It marks a welcome transition from honoring an ancient terrible tyrant to honoring a contemporaneous much-admired administrator who passed away very recently. It could be better but one should be grateful for small mercies in an otherwise merciless world. I briefly noted in my previous post (“Renaming Aurangzeb Road: The Tyrant“) the tyranny of Aurangzeb. Here I will consider why I believe that we could do better than renaming the road after Mr Kalam. I don’t harbor any illusions that my views will be taken seriously by anybody, least of all the hordes of “Dr” Kalam fans whose first knee-jerk reaction to my characte...more

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  • North Korean Economy Watch

    A new defector survey about market trade in North Korea, and what it says (maybe) about Kim Jong-un

    By Benjamin Katzeff Silberstein  In Wall Street Journal, Jeyup Kwaak reports on a new defector survey by Seoul National University’s Institute for Peace and Unification Studies (08-26-2015) (added emphasis): The Seoul National University Institute for Peace and Unification Studies annually surveys more than 100 North Koreans who defected in the prior calendar year. The results provide firsthand insight into developments in the isolated state, though its researchers said they shouldn’t be read as generalized facts due to the small pool of respondents. […] The latest survey, of 146 North Koreans who escaped in 2014, shows significant growth from the previous year in the number of people saying they conducted private business activities and paid bribes to...more

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  • Ajay Shah's blog

    How to think about one rank one pensions

    Renuka Sane and I have a column The way forward with one-rank-one-pension in the Indian Express today. We also presented related ideas earlier in the Mint and on CatchNews. Article from 7 July 2015, with associated computer code, which prices the three kinds of annuities at age 35 and at age 60. Article from 5 February 2015, about the three kinds of annuities, and the basic tension between high GDP growth and keeping up with the Joneses. How to strengthen the New Pension System, by Renuka Sane and Susan Thomas, 9 October 2014. ...more

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  • China Matters

    For CCP, Stock Market Meltdown Takeaway Isn’t “Interference is Bad”; It’s “Why Didn’t Interference Work?”

    I suppose much of the journo commentariat was born since 2008 and therefore has no memory of TARP, Too Big To Fail, or Jamie Dimon rolling around naked inside a gigantic vat of taxpayer money, so there has been a considerable amount of handwring about how the CCP defiled the purity of the stock market by flinging a trillion or so RMB at the markets in a faltering attempt to moderate the collapse of share prices on the Shanghai exchange.“Purity of the stock market”.  Chew on that a while.I expect the poohbahs of Zhongnanhai are more concerned with the interesting question of why a few phone calls and a trillion RMB were unable to stem the decline in a neat, orderly way, and it turned out the best way to handle the rout was to stand back and let the stock market...more

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  • North Korean Economy Watch

    How the North Korean media describes a market

    By Benjamin Katzeff Silberstein A recent brief from IFES (08-07-2015) details how an article in the North Korean newspaper Tongil Ilbo describes sales at Kwangbok market in Pyongyang (emphasis added): According to the Tongil Ilbo, there are now a number of local products sold at Pyongyang’s Kwangbok Area Supermarket, which was built in October 1991. “By achieving the informatization and computerization of all business activities, from warehousing to the sale of goods, the Kwangbok Area Supermarket guarantees accuracy and speed in its service. It is a commercial service center managed to guarantee the maximum convenience of its customers,” North Korea’s independent newspaper reported on July 11, 2015. It explained that the Kwangbok Area Supermarket, which has...more

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  • Health Intel Asia

    What China’s Stock Market Volatility Means for Healthcare Investors (Forbes)

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  • Health Intel Asia

    Bed Blocking as a Key Driver for Home Healthcare in China

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  • North Korean Economy Watch

    The Kaesong Industrial Complex and inter-Korean tensions

    UPDATE 1 (2015-8-24): The North and South Koreans have agreed to a solution to the situation. According to KCNA via Yonhap: 1. The north and the south agreed to hold talks between their authorities in Pyongyang or Seoul at an early date to improve the north-south ties and have multi-faceted dialogue and negotiations in the future. 2. The north side expressed regret over the recent mine explosion that occurred in the south side’s area of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) along the Military Demarcation Line (MDL), wounding soldiers of the south side. 3. The south side will stop all loudspeaker propaganda broadcasts along the MDL from 12:00, August 25 unless an abnormal case occurs. 4. The north side will lift the semi-war state at that time. 5. The north and the south ...more

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  • Ajay Shah's blog

    Witch hunt against PNs considered harmful

    by Susan Thomas. A slightly different version of this appeared in the Indian Express today. The Supreme Court appointed SIT on black money has asked that the ultimate beneficiary owner of every Participatory Note (PN) be traced. This brings back an old mistrust from nearly a decade ago, which careful examination suggests is misplaced. PNs help India better integrate into the global financial system. When India fixes her financial systems to become more competitive, these very PN customers will bring their business onshore. What are PNs? PNs are one way that international investors can invest in Indian assets today. When this investor wants to invest in an Indian firm, they buy a contract from financial firms in their country. In turn, these financial firms may e...more

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  • China Matters

    US “Honest Broker” Zombie Ready for Its Dirt Nap…”Anti-Submarine Warrior” Primps for Its Close-Up

    Assistant Secretary of State Danny Russel spoke at the CSIS South China Sea Conference on July 20, 2015.  He made news by declaring that the United States is not neutral in some issues pertaining to the South China Sea.The money quote came in reply to a question from Wu Shicun, the PRC representative at the conference:On the first issue of neutrality, I appreciate the opportunity to clear up what seems to be an almost ineradicable perception of the Chinese.  We are not neutral when it comes to adherence to international law.  We will come down forcefully on the side of the rules.  Cue the triumphant hooting from the China hawks, who were well represented at the conference and urging the United States to “draw a line in the sea”.  And s...more

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  • China Matters

    Another Shoe Drops in the Turkish “Passports for Uyghurs” Case

    Evidence keeps accummulating that a clandestine Turkish government program to enable Uyghur emigration from the PRC--for motives either noble, sinister, or both--has turned into a major security cock-up, embarrassment for Turkey, and a serious issue in PRC-Turkish relations.I wrote this on July 11 on the occasion of the forcible repatriation of over one hundred Uyghur men from Thailand to the PRC amid PRC allegations that the Turkish government, in addition to providing diplomatic and consular support to the Uyghurs, had crossed a line by providing fake travel documents:Please note that the PRC Foreign Ministry, as well as Global Times, were already raising the passport issue at the beginning of 2015.  First the PRC employed the polite fiction that some profit-min...more

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  • The Peking Duck

    The June 4th Incident

    Allow me to emerge from my self-imposed hibernation to comment briefly, as I have done nearly every year in this blog’s 13-year history, on what happened in the streets around Tiananmen Square and in other Chinese cities on June 4th, 1989. I had just moved to Phoenix in the Spring of 1989 for a new job, and for the first time I could afford cable television. CNN’s coverage of the demonstrations in China transfixed me as I watched the entire drama unfold. I remember watching amazed as the students carried out the “Goddess of Democracy,” and as thousands of others — not only students but working people, even police officers — joined the demonstrating masses. I had no particular interest in China at the time, but was riveted to my TV set...more

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  • The Peking Duck

    Peter Hessler’s China Daily “article”: how low can they go?

    Now this is chutzpah: China Daily asked author Peter Hessler to participate in a Q & A with his friend and translator Li Xueshun comparing aspects of Egypt and China (both countries where Hessler has worked as a New Yorker correspondent). China Daily then had the nerve to take Hessler’s replies and shape them into what looks to the reader like a bylined article by Hessler. Li’s replies were totally removed. From Hessler’s Facebook page: [I]t omitted crucial parts, including the most important point: that I believe it’s harder to make a political change in China, where the system is deeper rooted than in Egypt, and thus the flaws are also more deeply rooted. I said that this is the reason why the current anti-corruption campaign will be a failure...more

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  • The Peking Duck

    Is it a police state?

    The best post I ever wrote (and I realize that’s not saying very much) is this one. Its simple point is that underneath a veneer of happiness, prosperity and optimism there can lurk a much darker and more dangerous side. People can be content and appreciate their government while being oblivious — willfully or not — to what it is going on beneath the surface. There have been a rash of articles in recent months of a severe crackdown in China on civil rights lawyers, professors, journalists and activists. A story from yesterday drove this home: As the year came to a close, at least seven prominent Chinese human rights lawyers rang in the New Year from a jail cell. Under President Xi Jinping, 2014 was one of the worst years in recent memory for China’s ...more

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  • All Roads Lead to China

    Foxconn Moving Direct to Consumer

    I remember having conversations years ago about what Foxconn would do going forward, and whether or not they would be happy as the manufacturer to brands.   The WSJ article, Amid Margin Squeeze, Foxconn Designs Its Own Fate, puts this question to rest. Recently, the $130-billion-a-year in revenue company has ventured into handset accessories under its own brand, and sales and distribution of mobile phones. It also plans to offer telecommunications services in Taiwan. For me, this has always been a bit of a no brainer.  Foxconn has an amazing amount of talent in the firm that is not just managing the supply chain and assembling gadgets for their customer, but have for years also been bringing designs to the brands that they feel would sell well in the market. Partner ...more

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  • All Roads Lead to China

    Bites of China. Finally a Show Worth Watching!

    A couple of weeks back, while riding the G train back from Nanjing, something caught my eye.  An advertisement by CCTV for what I believe could be one of the best produced shows China has put together.  At first, I had no idea what the advertisement for, but what was clear was that it was celebrating the various food flavors of China, and those who are tilling the fields and preparing the dishes. The show is called Bite of China, and I cannot recommend it enough. Sure, China is known for its fair share of food failures, including recycled oil, but watching this show has restored a bit of my love for the flavors here.  Flavors that were actually the basis for one of my earliest posts, and have provided a never ending hunt for me and my wife as we look to try new thin...more

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  • All Roads Lead to China

    What Do China’s Millennials Want ?

    For a number of years, I had it pretty good.  I had a number of teams that were under me, were stable, and were producing.  It was at a time when a lot of questions were being asked about the post 80s generation in China, but for whatever reason I was immune. But, those days are over, and just yesterday I had another millennial go AWOL on me.  So, it was perhaps interesting timing that CNBC put up the article Millennials may be more like boomers than we realize highlighting how several studies point to a generation that is looking for meaning in their job, in their company, and for balance: A new study from Deloitte also found differences in workplace attitudes between millennials and older generations, saying that the former “want to work for organizations tha...more

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  • China Rises: Notes from the Middle Kingdom

    Postcards from the National People's Congress

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  • Patrick Chovanec

    Twins!

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  • ChinaBizGov

    China's Green Car Sales in 2012

    Just a few years ago, pretty much everyone (except Chinese auto industry insiders whom I interviewed) thought China was about to take ownership of the global green car market. (Here's just one example from the excitable Tom Friedman of the New York Times.)In 2009 China's industrial planners announced plans to have 500,000 green cars ("New Energy Vehicles" or "新能源汽车" -- a combination of electrics and hybrids) on Chinese roads by the end of 2011. That obviously didn't happen, so last year, that same target of 500,000 was pushed out to 2015.So how did green car sales fare in 2012? Overall, hybrids plus electrics grew a respectable 52 percent.So while sales grew pretty well in percentage terms, it is clear that overall numbers are still inconsequential when you co...more

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  • Patrick Chovanec

    What Causes Revolutions?

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  • Patrick Chovanec

    Enter the New Year

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  • China Rises: Notes from the Middle Kingdom

    China, school violence and official reaction

    I wrote yesterday about growing questions in China about the differences between the U.S. reaction to the tragedy in Newtown and that of the tragedy in Henan Province, where, on the same say as the shooting in Connecticut, a man stabbed and slashed 23 students at a primary school. (All survived in Henan, where the weapon was a knife, not an AR-15.) As a commentary piece in the state-controlled Global Times noted: “The Chinese public has focused on the slow official response and the level of social reflection. Many are furious that while the Americans have started mourning nationwide, the Chinese appear insensitive to the Henan case.” Another story today, carried by China Daily, caught my attention. It describes an example of how profoundly off-key propaganda can ...more

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  • China Rises: Notes from the Middle Kingdom

    Postcard from a snowy Beijing

    The smell of roasting sweet potatoes in a city covered with snow put me in the mood to take a detour on my walk to work today  ...

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  • ChinaBizGov

    Comparing Corruption in China and the US

    Today's WSJ China Realtime reports on a study by a George Mason University economist who attempts to compare corruption in the US and China.  His conclusion is that corruption in America's Gilded Age (1877-1893)* was worse than corruption in China today.Perhaps the conclusion is correct, but the methodology used by this professor is flawed.  US corruption is measured by mentions of corruption in US newspapers 1870-1930.  China corruption is measured by mentions of corruption in US (not Chinese!) newspapers 1990-2011.So he is measuring corruption in two countries by the number of times the newspapers of only one of the countries mentions the word.  Even if the researcher had used Chinese newspapers, the study still would have been flawed due to Commun...more

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  • ChinaBizGov

    GM and SAIC: Trouble in Paradise?

    General Motors (GM) and Shanghai Auto (SAIC) announced in December of 2009 that they were deepening their partnership beyond their joint venture in China.  Together they created a 50:50 joint venture, registered in Hong Kong, for expansion outside of China.  Now that partnership appears to be coming apart.Initially, the plan for the HK JV was for the two sides to work together in India and possibly elsewhere in the future.  (For further insight into this particular deal, please see Chapter 4 of Designated Drivers.) As for the India venture, GM would contribute two existing factories in India, along with its Chevrolet brand, and SAIC would contribute cash -- something that GM had been seriously lacking as it had emerged from bankruptcy earlier that same ye...more

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Aaron Menenberg is Foreign Policy and Energy analyst, and a Future Leader with Foreign Policy Initiative. He also co-hosts Podlitical Risk (@podliticalrisk). He is a graduate student in international relations at The Maxwell School of Syracuse University. Previously he has worked at Praescient Analytics, The Hudson Institute, for the Israeli Ministry of Defense, and at the IBM Corporation. The views expressed are his own, and you can follow him on Twitter @AaronMenenberg. He welcomes questions and comments at menenbergaaron@gmail.com.