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  • North Korean Economy Watch

    New satellite imagery of Pyongyang (2014-9-21)

    Google has offered some beautiful new satellite imagery of the Pyongyang area dated September 21, 2014. The imagery shows the Pyongyang region remains an area undergoing tremendous transformation that has taken place over the last decade. Below I have highlighted some of the more interesting changes that have appeared in the last few months. 1. The nearly completed Wisong (Satellite) Scientist Street (위성과학자거리) in Unjong District, Pyongyang: 39.231244°, 125.870377° The Satellite Scientist Street is in Unjong District next to the State Academy of Sciences and inside the newly-announced Unjong Cutting-Edge Technological Development Zone. The area is approximately 900m x 360m and consists of 24 residential blocks (each seven stories, appx 13m x 80m) of a...more

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  • East Asia Forum

    Concerns over judicial independence in Timor-Leste

    Author: Michael Leach, Swinburne University of Technology The parliament of Timor-Leste passed a motion on 24 October announcing the government’s intention to dismiss the contingent of foreign judicial officers working in its legal system. Citing concerns over recent tax cases against foreign oil companies operating in the Timor Sea, which have gone against the government, Timor-Leste’s leaders called into question the competence and integrity of foreign judges and prosecutors, accusing them of not complying with East Timorese law. The parliamentary motion seeks to suspend the contracts on the basis of ‘force majeure and national interest’, and calls on the executive to investigate the ‘depth of functioning of the sector’, citing ‘legal irregularities …...more

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  • China Matters

    Clap Harder or the Hong Kong Tinkerbell Gets It!

    Chronicle of a Leak Foretold[I was preparing to post this on October 24.  If I had, I would have gained major Nostradamus cred, since I predicted the next shoe to drop from the pro-Beijing oppo research caterpillar would probably drop on Benny Tai’s head.  That’s because the leaks seem to track the Occupy strategy and the central figure at each phase, and I figured it was time for Benny Tai to assume more overt direction of the movement--and get doxed.  I wrote:  If Benny Tai has any skeletons in his closet—or even if he doesn’t, not really--I suppose the pro-Beijingers will try to bring it to our attention soon enough.Instead, I got sidetracked by parsing the fuzzy reporting on the circumstances of the aborted Occupy referendum.  Curse...more

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  • East Asia Forum

    PNG’s exchange rate policy hurting the poor

    Author: Paul Flanagan, ANU Earlier this year, Papua New Guinea moved away from a market-based exchange rate. It seemed just a technical announcement at the time. The central bank indicated that the exchange rate would float within a narrow band around the interbank exchange rate. However, this seemingly innocuous announcement has major implications for PNG’s future development. This is because the interbank exchange rate, frozen between October 2013 and 4 June 2014, no longer reflected the market equilibrium of supply and demand. Forcing all foreign exchange transactions to take place at the interbank rate implied an effective appreciation of the currency by 15 per cent relative to the actual market-based exchange rate of 3 June. What are the practical implications o...more

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  • Health Intel Asia

    China Healthcare Advertising: Failure to Learn

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  • Michael Pettis' CHINA FINANCIAL MARKETS

    Should Beijing raise subway fares?

    Reuters had an article yesterday about the rumors, and I too have heard about this over the past couple of months, that Beijing will raise subway prices. This topic is pretty specific and specialized compared to what I normally write about on this blog, but because a friend asked me to discuss the topic with him for an article he was writing, I did do some thinking which although hurried I thought might be of interest to some readers, mainly because thinking about the “correct” subway fare in Beijing is a useful way to think about infrastructure investment more generally. For many years there had been a huge battle (well, actually a tiny battle because one aside consisted of no more than three or four China specialists) about the extent of misallocated investment in...more

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  • East Asia Forum

    Does the WTO ruling against China on rare earths really matter?

    Author: Nabeel Mancheri, Tokyo University In August, the Appellate Body of the WTO ruled that China’s export duties, quotas, and administration of rare earths, tungsten and molybdenum products violated various provisions of the GATT and the Accession Protocol that China promised to implement when it joined the WTO in 2001.Ruling in favour of the US, the EU and Japan, who had filed a joint complaint in March 2012,the WTO asked China to remove its export tariffs and quotas within a reasonable amount of time or face punitive retaliatory tariff measures. The WTO ruling will not have a considerable impact on a rare earths market which already operates imperfectly. Instead, the ruling can be considered as a political win against an assertive and rising economic player. Eve...more

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  • North Korean Economy Watch

    North Korean “Superman” robs Fort Knox

    I received a strange email from an anonymous source (so of course I opened it) containing the following information: This is a piece of exciting news that has been leaked from an anonymous source in North Korea and it might be of your interest: some images from the storyboard of the latest film production by the Korean Feature Film Studio, based in the capital of the country, Pyongyang. … The images that we have received show a scene of what appears to be the North Korean version of a Marvel superhero story. He is less muscled than his American counterparts; his clothes are not so tight or shiny but recall the military apparel. He carries a hammer, a sickle and a brush, representing the Korean workers and uses a torch as a weapon. And he is not alone: he has a wi...more

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  • Ajay Shah's blog

    Rethinking the policy framework in coal

    by Suyash Rai and Ajay Shah. India needs more coal Coal is the dirtiest of all modern fuels, whether measured by habitat destruction in mining areas, or CO2, SPM and SOx emissions, or radioactivity. However, there is no alternative to coal in India's energy strategy, as coal makes up half of India's energy consumption today, and as India is blessed with strong natural resources. Despite the strategic importance of coal in India's energy strategy, domestic production growth has been slow, with an average compound growth of 3.65% per year between 1990-91 and 2013-14 (from 247.56 million tonnes to 565 million tonnes). Over that same period, coal imports went up from 5.56 million tonnes in 1990-91 to 171 million tonnes in 2013-14, a compound growth rate of 16.06%...more

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  • China Matters

    Democracy: You Keep Using That Word, I Do Not Think It Means What You Think It Means

    FAQ 5 for the aborted Occupy Central poll:How can you prevent “blue ribbon” supporters from voting?Each potential voter will need to sign a declaration saying they support the Umbrella Movement.  We welcome blue ribbon people to support the Umbrella Movement.Not as silly as it sounds, IMO.  Actually, to quote Admiral Akhbar, It’s A Trap!Specifically, if blues wanted to “freep” the poll en masse in an attempt to vote down the proposals, it would be at the cost of swelling the ranks of putative Umbrella Movement supporters.Other than "democracy", another pair of words that had a hard time navigating the epistemological shoals are “proposed” and “offered” in referring to representations made by the HKSAR government side during the televised dia...more

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  • Ajay Shah's blog

    The logjam in infrastructure investment

    Quarter-on-quarter growth of the non-seasonally adjusted value of infrastructure projects that are classified as being `Under Implementation' in the CMIE Capex database. In the standard narrative, the first wave of infrastructure investment in India (2003-2010) choked owing to the ground-level difficulties of investment, including land acquisition, corruption scandals, contract disputes, etc. By this logic, if we solve these problems, we will have set the stage for the second wave of infrastructure investment. This is the sort of idea that motivated the `Cabinet Committee on Investment' in the late days of the UPA. There is, however, another logjam which needs to be solved, that of infrastructure financing. In today's Indian Express, I worry about the sh...more

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  • China Matters

    The Unelected Battle the Selected: Democracy in Hong Kong

    [Corrected some mis-stated names of various organizations and added reference to Alliance for True Democracy declining to comment on authenticity of documents--CH 10/23/14][On the self-censorship front, while discussing the issue of whether the Alliance for True Democracy document dump is forged or authentic, I compare the leaked audio file--which would seem almost impossible to fabricate--with the alleged minutes for the same meeting.  In the process I unkindly take the piss of an Anglophone supporter of the democracy movement.  I identified him by name because there was some glitch in how he was identified in the minutes that I felt needed to be addressed.  Now I think the caravan has moved on and in the interests of Anglophone comity I have removed his...more

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  • North Korean Economy Watch

    Friday fun: You had one job

    What better way to commemorate the birthday of leader Kim Jong-il:

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  • Atanu Dey On India's Development

    Happy Deepavali

    ॐ Asato maa satgamaya Tamaso maa jyotir gamaya Mrityor maa amritam gamaya ॐ Happy Deepavali. Happy Diwali.

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  • Health Intel Asia

    How China’s Sea Turtles Are Going To Improve The Country’s Healthcare Economy (Forbes)

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  • Health Intel Asia

    Only CEOs can reduce compliance risk in emerging markets

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  • Ajay Shah's blog

    Ebola and India

    The biggest-ever Ebola epidemic is taking place is West Africa. Through travellers, this could spread elsewhere. Carriers are asymptomatic for 2-21 days, and hence border screening does not block transmission. Ebola is very virulent. That is, the Pr(death|infection) is high. However, it is not a complicated pathogen for a public health system to deal with. It has no method of jumping to new victims other than direct contact with body fluids. This is unlike (say) a virulent airborne influenza where there is no easy strategy for blocking transmission. The simple strategy of tracing, diagnosing and isolating cases suffices to block Ebola in its tracks. Ebola is easy if and only if there is a capable public health system through which tracing, diagnosing and is...more

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  • Michael Pettis' CHINA FINANCIAL MARKETS

    How to link Australian iron with Marine le Pen

    After last week’s tumultuous markets one of my clients sent me an email saying “I am so relieved your constant talk about worsening imbalances kept us from getting too complacent. Things really are as bad as you keep saying.” I am not sure that what happened last week is proof of anything I’ve been saying, but I do think that the framework I have used over the past decade has been useful, at least to me, in understanding both the rebalancing process in China and the events that led up to the global crisis of 2007-08. And I think it continues to be useful in judging the adjustment process – or, more likely, the lack of adjustment – that explains why we still have a rough ride ahead of us. This framework has made it relatively easy to make predictions, someti...more

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  • The Peking Duck

    Shaun Rein wants your help marketing The End of Copycat China

    The End of Copycat China is the name of Shaun Rein’s new book that will be available come October 20. I am flattered that Shaun has included me on the mailing list he uses to blast information to his friends and colleagues, and I wanted to draw attention to how he wants his fans to do the marketing for his new book for him. Over the last three months Shaun has sent out two lengthy email blasts and I find their content to be intriguing, and to confirm some of my own thoughts about Mr. Rein. Perhaps most revealing was this paragraph: If you or a friend are looking for a keynote speaker, consider me. If organizations buy 1000 copies of my book to give to attendees between October and December, I will waive my standard speaking rates at my speaker’s bureau (my...more

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  • Atanu Dey On India's Development

    The Indian Constitution — Part 2

    George Orwell claimed, “In a time of universal deceit – telling the truth is a revolutionary act.” By that measure, a commitment to telling the truth as one sees it must make one a bit of a revolutionary. Here I continue with my argument that the Indian constitution is the fountainhead of all of India’s troubles. Unless and until it is replaced, India will continue to languish at the bottom of the heap. That claim predictably makes people uncomfortable. In this series I aim to support argue for its truth. (Here is the first part.) In this part, I examine the importance of rules. An economy essentially is a collection of interacting human beings. For any group of two or more people, this collective interaction requires rules. These rules could ha...more

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  • Michael Pettis' CHINA FINANCIAL MARKETS

    Are we starting to see why its really the exorbitant “burden”

    This may be excessively optimistic on my part, but there seems to be a slow change in the way the world thinks about reserve currencies. For a long time it was widely accepted that reserve currency status granted the provider of the currency substantial economic benefits. For much of my career I pretty much accepted the consensus, but as I started to think more seriously about the components of the balance of payments, I realized that when Keynes at Bretton Woods argued for a hybrid currency (which he called “bancor”) to serve as the global reserve currency, and not the US dollar, he wasn’t only expressing his dismay about the transfer of international status from Britain to the US. Keynes recognized that once the reserve currency was no longer constrained by gold...more

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  • Atanu Dey On India's Development

    Shubho Bijoya Greetings

    For Bengalis, the five day long worship of Ma Durga is simply pujo. This is the time when Ma Durga comes for a visit to her maternal home. The festival culminates on Bijoy Dashimi with the protima (the idol) given a visarjan (ceremonial immersion in a river or a lake). Then it is time for people to greet each other with “Shubho Bijoya.” The important thing is that you wish people after the visarjan is over. This gets complicated in a world in which people live in different time zones. In India, visarjan is already over and they are wishing Shubho Bijoya but over here California we still have not had visarjan. So with that brief caution, here’s wishing you all Shubho Bijoya. (Tomorrow I will go to a Durga puja and post some pictures.) Here’s a s...more

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  • The Peking Duck

    Is Falung Gong a dangerous cult? Is it a cult at all?

    I’ll admit it right at the beginning: I’ve always found there to be something creepy about the Falun Gong. I remember seeing practitioners in Taipei sitting with their eyes closed meditating endlessly. I remember their anti-CCP literature. I remember meeting a group of practitioners at the local annual China celebration day in Phoenix and finding them generally icky. But just because I find them creepy doesn’t mean they are a cult, let alone a dangerous one. This excellent article presents the argument of one of the best informed China Hands I’ve ever read, Ian Johnson, who argues that the FG is not a cult. In “Wild Grass: Three Portraits of Change in Modern China,” Ian Johnson writes that the “cult” label was designed to “[cl...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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  • The Peking Duck

    Twenty-five years later

    I never before saw all the raw video footage of “Tank Man’s” defiance against a column of army tanks until today. It is remarkable, how one nameless man entered all of our living rooms for just a moment and is remembered so vividly a quarter of a century later. And for good reason. Let’s keep the hundreds of murdered innocents in our thoughts today, and keep alive the fight to let the Chinese people know all who died during the crackdown. Let’s remember the Tiananmen Mothers, and let’s even hope for the day when the CCP admits the demonstrations were not an act of “counterrevolutionary” treachery inspired by foreign subversives, but an expression of the Chinese people’s yearning for a say in their government, for t...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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Dr Dan Steinbock is a recognized expert of the multipolar world. He focuses on international business, international relations, investment and risk among the major advanced economies (G7) and large emerging economies (BRICS and beyond).

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