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Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘china

[NEWS] Some Saturday links

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[BLOG] Some Friday links

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  • blogTO shares vintage pictures of Toronto’s Ossington Avenue.
  • Centauri Dreams reports on the potential discovery of an exomoon of a rogue planet.
  • D-Brief notes that stars can apparently form in nebulae of much lower density than previous believed.
  • The Frailest Thing quotes Hannah Arendt on the race between success and catastrophe.
  • Geocurrents takes a look at the deeply divided island of Cyprus.
  • Joe. My. God. notes that Utah is now trying to block gay adoption.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money’s Erik Loomis is critical of American outcry regarding French labour laws limiting work-related communications after 6 pm.
  • Torontoist notes that Rob Ford is now a protagonist in a custom faction of the venerable game Civilization.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy quotes Frederick Douglass’ sage words on Chinese immigration.
  • Window on Eurasia argues that Russians are willing to support Putin so long as nothing bad happens and notes that Russians are emigrating from the Siberian republic of Tuva.

[BLOG] Some Friday links

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  • D-Brief shares the news that scientists think that Saturn’s moon Enceladus has a subsurface ocean in its southern polar region.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze links to a remarkable paper claiming that red dwarf stars are exceptionally likely to have a planet in their circumstellar habitable zones.
  • The Dragon’s Tales links to an other paper on Mars suggesting that world was never very hot, even in its youth.
  • Eastern Approaches suggests that Poland is approaching the point of relative energy-independence from Russia.
  • The Financial Times The World blog reports on the failure of a US-subsidized Cuban social networking system.
  • The Frailest Thing’s Michael Sacasas links to an account of an 1895 conversation between Paul Valéry and a Chinese friend suggesting that Chinese may have had different perspectives on technology than Westerners.
  • Geocurrents’ Martin Lewis notes Ukrainian regionalism, observing that the Europe-leaning west/centre region has inside it a strongly nationalist Galicia and a regionalist Ruthene-leaning Transcarpathia.
  • Joe. My. God. points to the story of a Floridian sex offender who tried to burn down the home of a lesbian couple and their eight children just because.
  • Personal Reflection’s Jim Belshaw explores the origin of the word “bogey” in Australian English to mean swimming hole.
  • The Planetary Society Blog’s Bruce Betts reports on the progress made in the search for planets at Alpha Centauri. (So far, no evidence for Alpha Centauri Bb, but then the technology isn’t sensitive enough to confirm that world’s existence.)
  • Towleroad reports on the controversy surrounding the recent resignation of former Mozilla Brandon Eich, Andrew Sullivan aligning with left-wingers and Michael Signorile making the point that Eich’s donations to people like Pat Buchanan tipped things over.
  • Window on Eurasia comments on the successful program of the Kazakhstani government to settle ethnic Kazakhs in the once-Russian-majority north of the country so as to prevent a secession.

[NEWS] Some Friday links

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  • Al Ahram notes that, as Ukraine is starting to turn towards the European Union, Russia is doubling down on its Eurasian Union project.
  • Al Jazeera notes that the Russian Orthodox Church is more skeptical of the costs of Crimea’s annexation than the Russian state, for fear of losing followers in Ukraine.
  • The Atlantic Cities commemorated the brief return of Major League Baseball to Montréal a decade after the Expos’ death with a Toronto Blue Jays away game, shares pictures of London’s first cat cafe, and maps imbalances in supply and demand in New York City’s popular but troubled bike share program.
  • Bloomberg notes how IKEA’s dreams for expansion in Ukraine were undermined by corruption.
  • Bloomberg BusinessWeek chronicles falling Japanese stock prices, warns that Russia is becoming a junior partner of China, and notes the threats facing Ukrainian agriculture.
  • CNET examines the story behind the iconic Windows XP photo “Bliss”.
  • Global Voices Online hints, by way of a recent quitting, that Ukrainians might be disenchanted with Russian-owned Livejournal.
  • The Guardian notes that the Australian city of Darwin is a military garrison par excellence, and observes that Bulgaria has derived some benefit from the Greek economic collapse as businesses have migrated north.
  • MacLean’s suggests that Ukraine can be anchored ittno the West if it can experience Polish-style prosperity.
  • National Geographic News takes another look at the proposed Nicaragua Canal project.
  • Radio Free Europe notes that a Russian plan to institute fast-tract citizenship procedures for professionals has sparked fears of brain drain in Central Asia, observes the effects that currency devaluation has had on immigrants in Kazakhstan, and comments that Afghanistan’s support for Russia’s annexation of Crimea has much to do with Afghanistan’s long-standing irredentism aimed at Pakistan.

[LINK] “China Doesn’t Back Russia’s Invasion Of Crimea — And That’s A Big Problem For Putin”

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Business Insider shared Ambrose Evans-Pritchard’s article in The Telegraph article arguing that China was not only not all pleased by the Russian annexation of Crimea, but that China is set to expand into traditional Russian spheres of influence in Central Asia. No Sino-Russian alliance likely, then, or perhaps not one that isn’t Chinese-dominated? (James Nicoll has referred to the process of “Canadification”, I think.)

China did not stand behind Russia in the UN Security Council vote on Crimea, as it had over Syria. It pointedly abstained. Its foreign ministry stated that “China always sticks to the principle of non-interference in any country’s internal affairs and respects the independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity of Ukraine.”

We don’t know exactly what China’s Xi Jinping told President Barack Obama at The Hague this week it clearly had nothing in common with the deranged assertions of the Kremlin. The US deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes appeared delighted by the talks, claiming afterwards that Russia could no longer count on backing from its “traditional ally”.

If so, Mr Putin is snookered. He cannot hope to escape financial suffocation by US regulatory muscle, should he send troops into Eastern Ukraine or even if he tries to stir up chaos in the Russian-speaking Donbass by means of agents provocateurs.

Nor can he hope to turn the tables on the West by joining forces with China to create a Eurasian bloc, a league of authoritarian powers in control of vast resources. Such an outcome is the obsession of the ‘Spenglerites’, the West’s self-haters convinced that the US is finished and that dollar will soon be displaced by the Eurasian Gold Ducat — odd though that may seem at a time of surging oil and gas output in the US, and an American manufacturing revival.

The reality is that China is breaking Russia’s control over the gas basins of Central Asia systematically and ruthlessly. Turkmenistan’s gas used to flow North, hostage to prices set by Gazprom. It now flows East. President Xi went in person last September to open the new 1,800 km pipeline to China from the Galkynysh field, the world’s second largest with 26 trillion cubic meters.

It will ultimately supply 65 BCM, equal to half Gazprom’s exports to Europe. Much the same is going on in Kazakhstan, where Chinese companies have taken over much of the energy industry. The politics are poignantly exposed in Wikileaks cables from Central Asia. A British diplomat is cited in a 2010 dispatch describing the “Chinese commercial colonization” of the region, saying Russia was “painfully” watching its energy domination in Central Asia slip away.

Written by Randy McDonald

April 3, 2014 at 9:12 pm

[BLOG] Some Wednesday links

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  • The Broadside Blog’s Caitlin Kelly makes a case about the benefits of radical honesty.
  • At the Buffer, Belle Beth Cooper describes how she has streamlined her writing style.
  • The Dragon’s Tales notes that China’s space station isn’t doing much.
  • Eastern Approaches observes the continuing popularity of Polish populist Lech Kaczynski.
  • The Financial Times‘ The World blog notes the vulnerable popularity of UKIP’s Nigel Farage.
  • Geocurrents’ Asya Perelstvaig comments on the entry of Jewish businessman Vadim Rabinovich into the Ukrainian presidential contest.
  • Joe. My. God. is unconvinced by the suggestion that marriage equality means the end of gay bars.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money’s Erik Loomis speculates about the responsibility of American consumers for air pollution in exporting Asia.
  • At the Planetary Society Blog, Constantine Tsang describes evidence for volcanism on Venus.
  • Savage Minds interviews one Laura Forlano on the intersections between anthropology and design.
  • Towleroad mourns the death of godfather of house music Frankie Knuckles.

[LINK] Some Monday links

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  • Crooked Timber’s Henry Farrell is skeptical of Josh Marshall’s new journalism site featuring paid advertisements from Big Pharma.
  • The Dragon’s Tales’ Will Baird provides another update about Ukrainian events.
  • Joe. My. God. notes that World Vision Canada, unlike its American counterpart, is legally required not to discriminate against non-heterosexuals.
  • Language Hat links to a study on the formerly Russophone Alaskan community of Ninilchik.
  • Language Log suggests that handwriting is a dying art in East Asia, too.
  • Marginal Revolution links to a book on maritime conflicts in the South China Sea.
  • The Signal features a guest post from two librarians working for the Library of Congress explaining how they do their work.
  • Savage Minds explains the myth of the sexy librarian.
  • Torontoist has two photos memorializing recently-closed stores, one from the World’s Biggest Bookstore and the other from Sears in the Eaton Centre.

[LINK] Two links on Chinese real estate investors in Detroit

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Salon‘s Henry Grabar explored the potential benefits at length for American cities–including Detroit–of large-scale Chinese investment back in January in “How China could save Detroit.”

Incumbent Mike Bell may have lost the Toledo, Ohio, mayoral election in November, but he departs this month with a kind of celebrity in urban development circles. His success in luring Chinese investment to Toledo, 50 miles south of Detroit on Lake Erie and with a population of 280,000, remains the envy of larger American cities. A Chinese university will soon set up a branch downtown; rare Chinese antiques will be shown at the Toledo museum this year. A waterfront redevelopment project is underway, courtesy of Chinese capital.

It’s a sign of things to come. The American real estate industry has finally tapped the faucets of global finance, and projects are swimming in Chinese capital. According to data from Real Capital Analytics, the Chinese spent $4.3 billion on commercial property in the United States in 2013, more than in the previous five years combined. The country is easily the fastest-growing source of foreign direct investment in the U.S., and Boston Consulting Group has predicted that Chinese offshore assets will double over the next three years.

“The trend for Chinese companies going abroad has just started,” Zhang Luliang, the chairman of state-owned Greenland Holding Group Co., said in October, shortly after his company agreed to buy a 70 percent stake in Brooklyn’s Atlantic Yards project. That development, which will include 15 apartment buildings behind the 19,000-seat Barclay’s Center arena, is the biggest U.S. commercial real estate project yet to receive Chinese backing. But it is joined by similarly large deals in Oakland, Los Angeles and San Francisco. In the latter city, China’s Vanke Co. Ltd. agreed to partner on a $620 million apartment project with Tishman Speyer just 45 days after chairman Wang Shi saw it for the first time. Existing structures, like Manhattan’s GM Building, part of which was sold for $700 million to Soho China Ltd. this summer, have also proven popular.

Those projects have journalists and developers buzzing with excitement. And yet, they may represent as little as one third of what the Chinese are spending on U.S. property. The bulk of Chinese property investment is in residential real estate.

According to a survey by the National Association of Realtors, the Chinese spent more than $8 billion between March 2012 and March 2013 on U.S. homes, accounting for 12 percent of residential property sales to foreign buyers (up from 5 percent in 2009). They are now second only to Canadians among international buyers, having leapfrogged the U.K., India, Germany and Mexico in the past five years.

Writing somewhat earlier, Gordon Chang traced this flood of capital to Chinese insecurity about their country’s future (“China’s Newest City: We Call It ‘Detroit’”).

The Chinese are coming, but what are they doing? Dongdu International will make a big contribution to downtown by redeveloping the Detroit Free Press building, turning it into a retail and residential complex, but that ambitious plan appears to be the exception. China’s rich are investing in the Motor City like they invest in their own country, where they buy multiple units at a time. In China, like here, they often keep their acquisitions vacant, treating new properties like stores of value.

The Chinese buy-and-hold tactics in Detroit suggest patience, but that’s not the whole story. The bigger story is that the parking of wealth offshore indicates capital flight. The Chinese have only 13% of their wealth outside China, according to Oliver Williams of WealthInsight, while the global average is 20% to 30%, so some of transfers of wealth abroad are normal for a developing society.

But it’s not just money that is fleeing. A study conducted by Bank of China and Hurun found that more than half of China’s millionaires have taken steps to emigrate or are considering doing so. This statistic tells us the transfers of cash out of China are not just normal diversification.

There is substantial disagreement as to how much Chinese individuals have already stashed offshore. Boston Consulting Group estimates they hold $450 billion in assets outside their country, and WealthInsight believes the number to be $658 billion.

Yet everyone agrees that the figure, whatever it is, will go up fast. Boston Consulting, for instance, predicts offshore assets will double in three years. CNBC late last month called the movement of Chinese capital “one of the largest and most rapid wealth migrations of our time: hundreds of billions of dollars, and waves of millionaires flowing out of China to overseas destinations.”

Written by Randy McDonald

March 26, 2014 at 3:24 am

[LINK] “NSA hacked Chinese telco Huawei: Snowden”

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I’ve blogged a fair bit about my usage of one Huawei handset or another for the past few years. I’ve even joked to friends that I like having a Huawei, since I’m sure that my data was being backed up by the benevolent kind People’s Republic of China. I hadn’t really suspected that the United States might well be in the same position.
See this AFP article shared by Al Jazeera.

The US National Security Agency has secretly tapped into the networks of Chinese telecom and internet giant Huawei, the New York Times and Der Spiegel reported.

The NSA accessed Huawei’s email archive, communication between top company officials internal documents, and even the secret source code of individual Huawei products, read the reports, which were published on Saturday, based on documents provided by fugitive NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

“We currently have good access and so much data that we don’t know what to do with it,” states one internal document cited by Der Spiegel.

Huawei, founded in 1987 by former People’s Liberation Army engineer Ren Zhengfei, has long been seen by Washington as a potential security Trojan Horse due to perceived close links to the Chinese government, which it denies.

The United States and Australia have barred Huawei from involvement in broadband projects over espionage fears.

There’s also Canada.

Do I want to know where offsite–offshore, rather–backups of my data are?

Written by Randy McDonald

March 25, 2014 at 2:00 am

[NEWS] Some Monday links

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  • Al Jazeera notes that Somali asylum-seekers in the United Kingdom are being deported to Somalia, at great potential risk to themselves, and observes the continuing and self-serving chaos in that country.
  • The Atlantic debunks the myth that GLBT people are well-off relative to heterosexuals in the United States, at least, and uses a San Francisco building’s history to take a look on the history of that city throughout the 20th century.
  • The Atlantic Cities shares a photo essay about Rochester’s subway, abandoned after more than a half-century.
  • The Australian Broadcasting Corporation shares the news that some ecologists in Australia think that triage should be applied to the continent’s threatened species.
  • BusinessWeek notes that China’s first lady Peng Liyuan may be taking Michelle Obama as a model for her position, and notes that Exxon’s partnership with Rosneft (and other Western-Russian business partnerships) are looking problematic) after the Crimean annexation.
  • CBC observes that the Turkish state has lost in its attack on social networking platform Twitter.
  • Taking on issues of Québec City, MacLean’s observes that getting back the Quebec Nordiques isn’t helped by the resurgence in nationalism, adding also that despite being a potential national capital Québec City doesn’t vote for the Parti Québécois.
  • Open Democracy makes the argument that Scottish separatism is driven by a desire to be a normal European country, in contrast to an increasingly inegalitarian England.

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