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    2.Officially Sanctioned Crime in China, He Qinglian
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    Reporters Without Borders said in it’s 2005 special report titled “Xinhua: the world’s biggest propaganda agency”, that “Xinhua remains the voice of the sole party”, “particularly during the SARS epidemic, Xinhua has for last few months been putting out news reports embarrassing to the government, but they are designed to fool the international community, since they are not published in Chinese.”
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Archive for the ‘Trade’ Category

Dark side of China electronic surge: 3 lessons to learn

Posted by Author on June 1, 2010

Leo Lewis, The Australian, May 31, 2010 –

LIKE laws and sausages, consumer electronics have joined the list of things best not to see being made. Behind our shiny iPhone or cutely-packaged Nintendo games console is a process that reeks of exploitation, drudgery and, as we can now see, despair.

The spate of suicides at Foxconn’s plant in Shenzhen has provided an alarming education and raises a perfectly timed red flag over the US-China currency debate. China has been forced to acknowledge that the real story behind its growth figures is, in many cases, a degrading one.

There are three important practical lessons to be drawn from the deaths. The first is places like Foxconn must, sadly, exist if we want cheap electronics.

The punishing hours, the 350,000 employees squeezed into one vast complex, the pseudo-military discipline, the mind-numbing silence of the shop floor, these are all things that we can deplore, but which belong on the conscience of anyone who has ever made a call from a mobile phone, sent an e-mail or snapped a friend on a digital camera. Which is to say, all of us.

The glitzy myth of electronics has also been punctured: Foxconn exists because electronics manufacturing is no longer the work of artisan specialists. This company has done to technology what McDonald’s did to lunch.

The second lesson is that Foxconn represents the China that Beijing would prefer the country not to be. From the outside, the country looks export-led – one of the main reasons that China’s failure to allow its currency to rise against the dollar has drawn so much condemnation in Washington. The reality is rather different, and Foxconn usefully demonstrates why.

Take the 30-gigabyte iPod, one of the many Apple devices that depend on Foxconn. When it first went on sale in the US, it sold in the stores for $US299. It left the factory in China with a value of $150, but only $7.50 of that value was actually created in China. The remainder belonged to the other Asian countries (Japan, Taiwan) where the components were made.

According to analysis by CLSA Securities, globally, workers received $1.06 billion in earnings from iPod-related jobs, or about $25 per iPod sold. Chinese workers received only about 2 per cent of the global pay cheque, or 55c per unit sold. As it looks to its future, China desperately wants to be Apple, not Foxconn.

But the third and most critical lesson of Foxconn is that significant parts of the US rhetoric on China’s currency policy are misguided. The Obama administration is under relentless domestic pressure to “do something” about the undervalued Chinese currency, the yuan, and to prod China into letting it rise. Attention has turned to the timing of Washington’s decision to officially label China a “currency manipulator”, a meaningless slur given that 50 countries around the world peg their currencies to the US dollar.

Beijing, knowing that its economy is primarily driven by domestic investment, is probably keen for the yuan to appreciate but will not allow itself to appear bullied into doing so. But Foxconn kicks away one of the main struts of those angrily demanding that Beijing allow the yuan to rise: many of those manufacturing jobs that China is supposedly stealing from the US are not jobs that Americans could countenance doing themselves.

An attempt to run a plant like Foxconn in the US would be disastrous and that is why the jobs were outsourced there in the first place. Even if the yuan rose by 40 per cent against the dollar, it is hard to imagine mass-market electronics assembly jobs moving back to the US.

The currency scuffle between Washington and Beijing is in a lull, but could flare-up again at any moment: When it does, America must look at Foxconn for a sense of how the trade world really works.

Via The Australian

Posted in Business, China, Company, Economy, Guangdong, Life, News, products, SE China, Shenzhen, Social, Technology, Trade, USA, World | 1 Comment »

Australians fear of China’s military threat, prompting record support for the US alliance: survey

Posted by Author on May 31, 2010

By Ian McPhedran, The Courier-Mail, Australia, May 31, 2010 –

ALMOST half of Australians believe that China will become a military threat to Australia within 20 years, prompting record support for the US alliance.

According to the 2010 Lowy Institute foreign policy poll, 46 per cent of people think China will be a threat, with 19 per cent of them rating the possibility as “very likely”.

And 55 per cent of the 1001 people surveyed named China as the world’s top economic power, compared with 32 per cent for the United States.

The reality is that China is Australia’s number one trading partner, but its economy rates number four, behind the EU, US and Japan.

While 73 per cent of people regard China’s growth as good for Australia, 57 per cent said the Government had allowed too much investment from China, and 69 per cent said China’s aim was to dominate Asia.

Of those surveyed, 55 per cent wanted Australia to join with other countries to limit China’s influence.

While Australians saw America’s economic power as waning, they were still strongly supportive (86 per cent) of the Anzus Treaty and a military alliance with Uncle Sam. That was up from 63 per cent just three years ago.

Lowy Poll Project director Fergus Hanson said the results showed people were positive about China’s economic growth but fearful of its military aims.

“The two sides of the China relationship play in to the rising support for the US alliance that is evident in the poll,” Mr Hanson said……. (more details from The Courier-Mail)

Posted in Asia, Australia, Business, China, Economy, Investment, military, News, Politics, Social, Trade, World | Comments Off on Australians fear of China’s military threat, prompting record support for the US alliance: survey

The dark side of China’s enduring dream

Posted by Author on May 26, 2010

By David Pilling, The Financial Times, May 26 2010 –

“They were 16 years old, on the loose in one of China’s most chaotic boomtowns, raising themselves with no adults in sight … They missed their mothers. But they were also having the time of their lives.” Factory Girls, Leslie T. Chang

Not everybody is having the time of their life. This week, a 19-year-old worker at the Foxconn electronics plant near the sprawling factory city of Shenzhen in southern China became the fourth employee in two weeks, and the ninth this year, to leap to his death. Two more failed in the attempt. The spate of suicides, coupled with an undercover investigation into conditions at the Foxconn plant by Southern Weekly, a Guangzhou-based newspaper, has shone a spotlight into the darker crevices of China’s factory system. Last week, nine professors of social science wrote an open letter to Foxconn in which they questioned the very sustainability of China’s role as the workshop of the world.

Few people have heard of Foxconn, in spite of the fact that the Taiwanese company employs an army of 300,000 workers at the Longhua plant where the suicides occurred. But most have heard of Apple’s iPad, just one of dozens of electronic devices churned out by Foxconn staff. They also know about Sony, Dell and Nokia, some of the companies whose game consoles, digital cameras, mobile phones and computers are assembled by the company under contract. Foxconn workers – who earn roughly $75 for a 60-hour week – are well acquainted with these brands, though few, if any, can afford them.

The Southern Weekly sent a 22-year-old reporter undercover to work at the Foxconn plant just north of Shenzhen, the city conjured into life by Deng Xiaoping, whose 1992 southern tour declared China open for international business. In addition to the factory floors, where many employees – wearing identical white coats and white caps – sit or stand at their workstations for 12-hour shifts, the city-sized complex has dormitories, shops, restaurants and even its own fire brigade. Now it has a suicide hotline. Southern Weekly’s reporter found staff dulled by the monotony of repetitive tasks, even walking and eating to the rhythm of the rumbling machines.

Factory Girls, Leslie Chang’s brilliantly reported book about female migrants, also makes grim reading at times. Many factories treat their employees as fodder, refusing to employ people because they are too short, too ugly, too old – 30 is over-the-hill – or simply come from the “wrong” province. They rush through orders, even if that means workers are not properly trained on machines that can – and sometimes do – slice off a finger. They demand employees work long hours, though most are only too happy to do so because of the overtime pay they receive. They often keep back a month of pay, lest their workers find a boyfriend, or a better job, in another factory……. (more details from The Financial Times)

Posted in Asia, Business, China, Company, Economy, News, People, Social, Trade, Worker, World | Comments Off on The dark side of China’s enduring dream

10th suicide at Foxconn shows an ugly side of the consumer electronics industry in China

Posted by Author on May 25, 2010

Jared Newman, PC World, May 25, 2010 –

Two recent Foxconn worker suicides
, the ninth and 10th this year, present a harsh reality to the Chinese electronics manufacturer and its American tech partners, including Apple, Dell, and HP: fixing the problem will be difficult, if not impossible.

The deaths of 19 year-old Li Hai and a 21 year-old worker three days earlier, as reported by the Associated Press, shows an ugly side to the consumer electronics industry. Groups like China Labor Watch lay blame on inhumane working conditions at the factory. Foxconn says it will improve living standards for its employees by hiring psychiatrists, monks, and entertainers, the New York Times reports. But neither a band-aid factory measure or a good dose of outrage will fix the factory’s culture.

First, consider that the number of suicides is only perceived as high. The employee suicide rate at Foxconn is higher than ever this year at 10 out of an estimated 300,000 employees (says AP) or 420,000 employees (says the Times). That’s still lower than China’s annual suicide rate of 14 out of 100,000 people, reported by the World Health Organization, and is on par with average statistics for people of university age in China, says the Telegraph.

Even if there were no suicides, Foxconn would still have a culture problem, as seen by an undercover account of life at Foxconn, published in Chinese newspaper Southern Weekend and translated at Engadget. The reporter, Liu Zhiyi, doesn’t decry the long working hours as atrocious; he actually praises them as a way to make more money. Nor does he cite any human rights abuses. But what Zhiyi notices is that workers enter the factory intending to save up and start their own business, or go to college. Those dreams become impossible to achieve amidst the long hours and low pay, and the revelation is devastating.

What’s the solution, then? Pay higher wages? Maybe, but it’s low costs that attract American companies to begin with, and who’s to say that a higher wage would be enough to help workers plan an exit from factory life? Besides, Foxconn’s net profits have been up and down, puncturing the argument that company’s being too greedy. Foxconn can keep trying its band-aid measures and human rights groups can keep decrying what happens at the factory, but neither effort is enough.

PC World

Posted in Business, China, Company, Economy, Health, Life, News, People, Social, Trade, Worker, World | Comments Off on 10th suicide at Foxconn shows an ugly side of the consumer electronics industry in China

Why China Favors the Human Rights Dialogue with the U.S. (2)

Posted by Author on May 21, 2010

Li Tianxiao, via The Epochtimes, May. 20 – (cont’d)

<< previous

Second, under the Dialogue’s current format, the CCP has no obligation to make tangible improvements in the human rights arena. Both sides only exchange their views and ideas of issues, agree to keep the conversation going and book the next meeting. Consequently, the Dialogue is merely a formality. The particulars of human rights abuses by the CCP become little more than agenda topics recorded on paper for discussion.

Due to core value differences between both countries, the Dialogue arrangement as it stands will never have any constructive impact. The CCP has only used the format as a stage for academic discussion, in order to spin images of counterfeit progress in the area of human rights. The CCP wants to create the illusion that “human rights in China is under control and being regulated.” Even if consensus on occasion were to be reached, the CCP would predictably fail to comply.

Bargaining chip

Third, the CCP uses the Dialogue as a bargaining chip with the U.S. A new round of U.S.-China Human Rights Dialogue was scheduled before February of this year, set up when President Obama visited China last November. However, the CCP postponed the Dialogue, using excuses of its dissatisfaction with issues such as the U.S. arms sales to Taiwan, Obama’s meeting with the Dalai Lama, and the exchange rate between the RMB and the U.S. dollar.

The CCP’s human rights violations are indeed crimes that should be punished. While the Human Rights Dialogue, by design, is supposed to be a mechanism to supervise the CCP in improving human rights, on the contrary, the CCP has used the Dialogue as a means to exchange interests with the U.S.: exactly the same strategy that North Korea used with the U.S. in participating in the six-party talks.

Finally, the Human Rights Dialogue has become the warm-up prologue to the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue, with its second round to be held in Beijing on May 24 and 25. Excluding the Human Rights Dialogue from the Strategic Dialogue seriously downplays the significance of the Human Rights Dialogue. The CCP would love to see the Human Rights Dialogue reduced to the realm of being a mere formality.

In order to make the Human Rights Dialogue constructive, it must be transparent and open to the public. It must have a clear road map, with specific goals as markers to measure progress.

To date, the “under the table” kind of human rights dialogue format is futile. Rather than presenting concerns to the world about human rights issues in China, it is more likely to be a shield for the CCP.

U.S. Congressman Dana Rohrabacher has appropriately expressed that one will never win in dialogue with either dictators or mobs. To effectively improve the human rights situation in China, the U.S. should take stronger measures than simply entertaining dialogue. (END)

The Epochtimes

Posted in China, Human Rights, News, Politics, Trade, USA, World | Comments Off on Why China Favors the Human Rights Dialogue with the U.S. (2)

Europe’s Debt Crisis Casts a Shadow Over China Export

Posted by Author on May 18, 2010

By KEITH BRADSHER, New York Times, May 17, 2010 –

HONG KONG — The pain of the European debt crisis is spreading as the plummeting euro makes Chinese companies less competitive in Europe, their largest market, and complicates any move to break the Chinese currency’s peg to the dollar.

Chinese policy makers reached a rough consensus early last month about breaking the dollar peg and letting the currency, the renminbi, rise in value somewhat, according to people close to Chinese currency policy makers. Uncoupling the currencies would make American goods more competitive against Chinese products. But for various reasons, China has not yet put that policy into place.

And in light of the euro’s nose dive, such a move could be difficult. Letting the renminbi rise against the dollar would also mean a further increase in the renminbi’s value against the euro, creating even more problems for Chinese exporters to Europe.

The euro has plunged against the renminbi in recent weeks, at one point Monday reaching its lowest level since late 2002.

The steep rise of the renminbi prompted a Commerce Ministry official in Beijing to warn Monday that China’s exports could be threatened.

The official’s comments were the most explicit yet on the implications for China of Europe’s recent financial difficulties. The comments also suggest that even China — the world’s fastest-growing major economy and increasingly the engine of global growth — is not immune to the crisis that started in Greece and threatens to spread across much of Europe.

“The yuan has risen about 14.5 percent against the euro during the last four months, which will increase cost pressure for Chinese exporters and also have a negative impact on China’s exports to European countries,” Yao Jian, the ministry’s spokesman, said at a news conference in Beijing, according to news services, using another term for China’s currency.

It is a potentially awkward moment. The American secretary of commerce, Gary Locke, is in China this week leading the first cabinet-level trade mission of the administration of President Obama.

Some economists warn that China may face more problems. The biggest reason Chinese exports plunged early last year was not weakening demand in industrialized countries but a sudden, temporary disappearance of trade finance from Chinese and foreign banks. The availability of trade finance could easily become a serious problem again soon, said Dong Tao, the chief Asia economist at Credit Suisse.

Chinese exporters rely very heavily on bank letters of credit to finance their shipments. The availability of the letters of credit is closely linked to overnight lending rates between banks. When banks have trouble borrowing money themselves — as has been happening as a result of worries about European banks’ possible losses from the region’s sovereign debt crisis — they tend to cut sharply the issuance of letters of credit for trade finance.

The banks see that as a quick, easy way to conserve cash without violating the terms of other financial obligations, like established lines of credit for big corporations.

Interbank lending rates surged late last week and on Monday and must now come back down very quickly to persuade banks to keep issuing letters of credit, Mr. Tao said. “Without trade finance, trade won’t happen,” he said.

The Shanghai stock market plunged Monday, with the composite index falling 5.1 percent on worries about global demand as well as concerns about possible further moves in China to limit a steep rise in real estate prices this spring.

Some Chinese companies are already running into difficulty because of the euro’s fall against the renminbi.

“We have been receiving calls from some European clients who signed contracts with us earlier this month, and they all want to cancel their orders, since the depreciation of the euro has eroded all their margins and then some,” said Elvin Xu, the sales manager of Guangdong Ouyi Electrical Appliance in Zhongshan, China, which makes gas stoves, heaters and water heaters……. (more details from New York Times)

Posted in Business, China, Economy, Europe, News, Trade, USA, World | Comments Off on Europe’s Debt Crisis Casts a Shadow Over China Export

World Expo in China: “City under surveillance – Lives under surveillance”

Posted by Author on April 26, 2010

Reporters Without Borders, 26 April 2010 –

It is hard to imagine a “Better city – Better life” in a country that censors the Internet and jails human rights activists on such a wide scale as China. The Expo 2010 Shanghai slogan is meaningless when a government imposes so many curbs on its citizens’ freedom of expression. “City under surveillance – Lives under surveillance” would be a better slogan for this World Expo in China.

As Shanghai prepares for the official opening of its World Expo on 1 May, Reporters Without Borders is today inaugurating its own online Garden of Freedoms.

Reporters Without Borders invites Internet users all over the world to come to visit its Garden of Liberties, a Shanghai World Expo virtual pavilion in Chinese, French and English that is dedicated to freedom of expression. Visitors will be able to explore the cyber-police pavilion, the Tibet pavilion and the prisons of conscience enclosure, where they will be able to sign petitions for their release.

The Garden of Freedoms will be the only place in the Shanghai World Expo where you will be able to discover the realities that the Chinese authorities go out of their way to hush up. Several dozen Shanghai human rights activists are currently under close police surveillance to prevent them meeting the foreign journalists who will be covering the inauguration.

A World Expo is meant to bring people together around such values as progress, humanism and culture. What kind of universal values is China offering us when it jails such advocates of democracy as the intellectual Liu Xiaobo? Why do the representatives of the democratic countries including French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who will be at the inauguration, say nothing about China’s dark side?

“The silence coming from the Paris-based International Bureau of Exhibitions (BIE) is deafening,” Reporters Without Borders said. “Why doesn’t its president, who used to be France’s ambassador to China, intervene publicly to get the Chinese authorities to display some tolerance during this Expo?”

Reporters Without Borders wrote to BIE president Jean-Pierre Lafon urging him to press the Chinese authorities to stop censoring the Internet and release dissidents for the Shanghai Expo. There was no reply. Similarly, journalists have received no response from the BIE to requests for interviews about the forced evictions that took place in Shanghai while the exhibition was being prepared.

Two Reporters Without Borders representatives, including the organisation’s secretary-general, Jean-François Julliard, have just been denied visas to visit Shanghai. “The authorities in Beijing have just instructed us to refuse you visas,” an official at China’s consulate in Paris said. “The reason? You know why.”

Reporters Without Borders

Posted in China, Event, Exhibit, News, Politics, Social, Trade, World | 1 Comment »

Australia Companies Rio, BHP, Fortescue Hit by China Computer Hackers, ABC Reports

Posted by Author on April 19, 2010

By Jesse Riseborough, The Bloomberg, Apr.19, 2010-

April 19 (Bloomberg) — Rio Tinto Group faced cyber attacks from China at about the time of the arrest of four executives in the country, while BHP Billiton Ltd. and Fortescue Metals Group Ltd. have also been hit, Australian Broadcasting Corp. reported.

Hackers attacked Rio’s computer network last year, ABC said on its ‘Four Corners’ program, citing former employees and an Australian government official it didn’t identify. Rio took its Singapore office offline for almost three days to boost security while its Perth office was also affected, the program said.

Rio Tinto spokeswoman Christina Mills declined to comment.

BHP was targeted by hackers during a takeover bid for Rio, ABC reported, citing an unidentified former BHP executive. Ruban Yogarajah, a spokesman for BHP in London, wouldn’t comment.

Fortescue upgraded security after hackers sought to access its systems in Perth and the Pilbara in Australia, ABC said, citing mining executives it didn’t name. The company doesn’t comment on security, spokesman Cameron Morse said.

Posted in Australia, Business, China, Company, cyber attack, Hacker, Internet, Law, News, People, Politics, Technology, Trade, World | Comments Off on Australia Companies Rio, BHP, Fortescue Hit by China Computer Hackers, ABC Reports

China sells petrol to Iran while talking at UN about sanctions

Posted by Author on April 14, 2010

Julian Borger, diplomatic editor,, Wednesday 14 April 2010 –

China argues the issue of Iran’s uranium enrichment is not as urgent as Washington claims, and that there is still time for diplomacy

China has deepened economic ties with Iran, boosting direct sales of petrol to the Islamic republic as the Chinese government negotiates new sanctions at the UN security council, it has emerged.

Iran announced today at the UN discussions in New York that it has produced five kilograms of 20% enriched uranium, defying security council demands to stop enrichment. Iran says it needs the enriched uranium to make medically useful isotopes, but western governments fear the achievement will enable Tehran to develop the capacity to make weapons-grade fuel.

General James Cartwright, the vice chairman of the US joint chiefs of staff, said yesterday that Iran could build a bomb in a year, although it would probably take three to five years.

China has argued that the issue is not as urgent as Washington claims, and that there is still time for diplomacy.

A Chinese state oil company has sent two recent shipments of petrol to Iran, according to Reuters news agency. The sale by Chinaoil was the first by a Chinese company since January 2009 of refined oil products to Iran directly, rather than through intermediaries. Another Chinese company, Sinopec, is about to sell petrol to Iran for the first time in six years, filling a gap left by European and Russian firms that left the Iranian market amid fears of punitive action by Washington……. ( The Guardian)

Posted in Asia, Business, China, Economy, News, Politics, Trade, USA, World | 1 Comment »

China Web filter rules risky for providers: U.S. Trade Representative

Posted by Author on March 31, 2010

(Reuters) – China’s comprehensive Internet filtering regime for political, social or religious content is complex and opaque — creating precarious conditions for providers, the U.S. Trade Representative’s official said in its annual report to the U.S. Congress on Wednesday.

In a report compiled before Google Corp. moved its Chinese search portal to Hong Kong from China this month in a censorship dispute, the USTR said: “changes to Internet filtering can occur without warning or public explanation.”

“Chinese government authorities may issue lists of banned search terms or banned sites weekly, with little justification or means of appeal, putting Internet-enabled services in a precarious position, caught between complying with the law and implementing apparently arbitrary restrictions,” it said.


Posted in Business, China, Company, Economy, News, Politics, Trade, USA | Comments Off on China Web filter rules risky for providers: U.S. Trade Representative

Rudd criticises China over Hu case

Posted by Author on March 30, 2010

AAP via Sydney Morning Herald, Australia, Mar. 30, 2010-

By holding part of an Australian businessman’s criminal trial in secret, China has missed an opportunity to prove itself on the world stage, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd says.

A Shanghai court yesterday sentenced Rio Tinto mining executive Stern Hu to 10 years behind bars for taking bribes and stealing trade secrets.

Hu admitted to the bribery charges but the commercial secrets elements of the trial were heard in secret.

Mr Rudd said that left “serious unanswered questions” about his conviction.

“In holding this part of the trial in secret, China I believe has missed an opportunity to demonstrate to the world at large transparency that would be consistent with its emerging global role,” he told reporters in Melbourne today.

“Australia … has reservations about the manner in which the second charge contained within this particular court case has been handled.”

Mr Rudd said the federal government made strong, frequent and high-level representations to Chinese officials on behalf of Hu and would continue to do so.

He expects the bilateral relationship between China and Australia to sustain the pressure of Hu’s trial and sentencing.

“We’ve had disagreements with our friends in Beijing before, I’m sure we’ll have disagreements again,” Mr Rudd said.

Opposition foreign affairs spokeswoman Julie Bishop questioned the strength of a consular agreement between the two nations, which should have allowed local officials to attend Hu’s trial in its entirety.

“If China is able to ignore the agreement in these circumstances, are there other circumstances where the consular agreement will not be adhered to?” she asked on ABC Radio.

“This would be an issue of great concern to many companies from Australia and also around the world.”

Ms Bishop accused Mr Rudd of engaging in “megaphone” diplomacy, instead of telephoning Chinese officials to discuss the issue.

Australian Greens leader Bob Brown said the government was scared to push China on the matter because it did not want to damage trade relations between Australia and China.

“Beijing sends a certain fear into the hearts of politicians in Canberra,” he said.

“There’s no doubt the pressure for trade overcomes the pressure for democracy, human rights and the proper processes under the law.”

Three of Hu’s Chinese colleagues were also jailed for terms ranging from seven to 14 years. (via Sydney Morning Herald)

Posted in Australia, Business, Businessman, China, Company, East China, Law, News, People, Politics, shanghai, Social, Trade, World | Comments Off on Rudd criticises China over Hu case

Australian company head Sentenced to 10 years, China business and political environment unpredictable

Posted by Author on March 29, 2010

JOHN GARNAUT AND SANGHEE LIU, Sydney Morning Herald, Australia, March 29, 2010 –

Stern Hu has been sentenced to 10 years’ jail by a Chinese court for stealing commercial secrets and receiving bribes.

His three Rio Tinto colleagues will face between seven and 14 years for the same charges.

The sentences were at the higher end of expectations and will add to fears that China’s business and political environment is becoming increasingly unpredictable.

The case against Hu has strained relations between Australia and China, with the three-day hearing taking place last week in a closed court and Australian consular officials barred from hearing some evidence.

Australian officials were allowed into the court for today’s verdict, while journalists were able to watch on a video screen in an adjoining room.

Hu, the head of the Anglo-Australian miner’s Shanghai office, and the three Chinese men – Wang Yong, Liu Caikui and Ge Minqiang – had pleaded guilty to taking $US13 million ($A14.33 million), and one admitted to commercial espionage.

The men have been in custody for more than eight months.

The four Rio employees were arrested last July during contentious iron-ore contract talks between top mining companies and the steel industry in China, the world’s largest consumer of the raw material. The talks collapsed.

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said the world would be watching the trial, which has been widely seen as a test of the rule of law in China and has sparked concerns about doing business in the world’s third-largest economy.

Three decades after China opened up to the world, US and European businesses are now complaining of increasingly onerous rules, preferential treatment for local firms and growing nationalism.

A prosecutor had recommended that Hu be given a lenient sentence after he apologised to the court and to Rio, saying he took more than $US900,000 ($A994,475) to help childhood friends in need, his lawyer Jin Chunqing said.

At the three-day trial of the Rio employees, the court heard evidence that millions of yuan in bribes had been stuffed into bags and boxes for the accused, according to state media.

Hu took money from small private steel companies, which before the global financial crisis were locked out of buying iron ore from Rio because the mining giant prioritised large state-run steel companies, Jin said.

When the global economic crisis hit in September 2008, demand for iron ore plummeted and the smaller players paid bribes “to squeeze into the club and join the buyers,” he said.

Wang strongly objected to the bribery allegations, saying he simply borrowed the money from one of China’s richest men, Du Shuanghua, the National Business Daily said.

Du, the former head of Shandong-based Rizhao Iron & Steel group, has contradicted Wang’s account, saying he paid the Rio employee $US9 million ($A9.94 million) for preferential treatment, the newspaper said.

Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith chastised China last week for locking the country’s diplomats out of the courtroom during the hearings on the commercial espionage allegations.

China appeared to have broken its own laws by excluding Australia’s consular staff from the hearings, according to New York University professor Jerome Cohen, a leading US expert on Chinese legal issues.

The decision “to exclude the Australian consuls violated existing Chinese law, which since 1995 has explicitly instructed China’s courts to permit foreign consular representation even at non-public trials,” Cohen wrote in an article co-authored with Yu-Jie Chen, a fellow at the US Asia Law Institute.

Hu’s lawyer Jin Chunqing told The Associated Press by telephone that an appeal had not yet been decided.

“We haven’t decided yet if we would appeal to the higher court or what we should do for the next step, as we need to meet and discuss with Stern face to face, and as soon as possible,” Jin said.

Sydney Morning Herald

Posted in Australia, Business, Businessman, China, Company, corruption, East China, Law, News, People, Politics, shanghai, Social, Trade, World | Comments Off on Australian company head Sentenced to 10 years, China business and political environment unpredictable

Doing business in China getting tougher for U.S. companies

Posted by Author on March 27, 2010

By John Boudreau and Brandon Bailey, The Mercury News, 03/27/2010 –

Just a few years ago, the mantra in Silicon Valley went like this: What’s your China strategy? A 2010 update could be: What’s your China headache?

China’s allure is stronger than ever. It remains a cheap place to manufacture goods, and its rapidly growing domestic market includes 400 million Internet users and 700 million mobile-phone subscribers, numbers unmatched anywhere else in the world. But a country already known for obstacles is becoming less welcoming to foreign businesses.

Google’s frayed relations with the Chinese government over intellectual property theft and censorship spotlight the growing discontent many Western companies are experiencing in the country. And American companies are certain to face even tougher conditions there if U.S.-China tensions continue to rise over issues such as China’s currency controls, which experts say boost China’s exports while limiting imports from the United States.

“It was inevitable after a certain time they would no longer roll out the red carpet for foreign companies and give them special treatment,” said Susan Shirk, a former deputy assistant secretary of state in the Clinton administration responsible for U.S. relations with China. “But now we don’t have a level playing field. We have nontariff barriers (in China) designed to protect local companies.”

Much like Google, other companies are reviewing their commitments to China, longtime Silicon Valley forecaster Paul Saffo said. “I think we will see more companies opt to quietly back away or at least limit their exposure in the Chinese market,” he said.

American corporations for decades have been China’s biggest boosters. Companies from Hewlett-Packard to General Electric have collectively spent billions of dollars to set up world-class research and development centers there.

But as China’s business sectors mature, the government is shifting its emphasis to nurturing its own corporate champions to become global competitors. It has been emboldened in its demands on foreign companies, experts say, by the nation’s rising economic stature. China emerged quickly from the global recession while other countries, including the United States, are still mired in the slowdown.

Though reluctant to complain publicly for fear of retribution from China, many U.S. companies are frustrated by official policies they say prop up homegrown companies at the expense of foreign competitors. The American Chamber of Commerce in Beijing released a survey last week that reported 37 percent of tech companies complained of lost sales because the Chinese government favors products from local companies over those from foreign corporations. And they fear future preferential policies will skew the competition further.

Silicon Valley giants HP, Intel and Applied Materials, all of which have extensive operations in China, declined to comment for this report, and several other valley companies with China operations did not respond to requests for interviews.

But the Information Technology Industry Council, which represents many U.S. companies, said one example of the new hurdles its members face in China is government procurement policies requiring that products contain intellectual property developed and owned in China.

That’s a big chunk of business to miss out on. In 2008, the Chinese government spent an estimated $90 billion on tech and nontech products.

Tech companies also chafe against rules that require their products adopt China’s local technology standards. That means they often must create two versions of a product: one for China and one for the global market. China Mobile, for example, is reportedly close to an agreement with Apple to use the iPhone on its 3G network — if Apple reconfigures the device to run on China’s standard, which is used only in that country.

Foreign companies are “caught between a rock and a hard place,” said Daniel Slane, an Ohio businessman who chairs a panel created by Congress called the US-China Economic Security Review Commission. “They’ve invested a lot of money and they’re making a lot of money, but they’re starting to see the pendulum move. I think some of them are starting to get nervous.”…… (more details from The Mercury News)

Posted in Business, China, Company, News, Politics, Social, Technology, Trade, USA, World | Comments Off on Doing business in China getting tougher for U.S. companies

Google’s noble withdrawal from China

Posted by Author on March 26, 2010

By Will Inboden, The Foreign Policy, Friday, March 26, 2010 –

One year ago, who could have imagined that the most significant international gesture of the year on behalf of freedom in China would come not from the United Nations, the United States, or another government, but from an internet search company? Such was Google’s principled decision this week to follow through on its earlier threat and withdraw from China rather than acquiesce in continued Chinese government control. Beijing reacted with predictable bluster, but I suspect the Politburo leaders were stunned when Google called their bluff and chose to lose access to the most potentially lucrative emerging market in the world rather than keep censoring itself. Google’s concern was not just China’s restrictions on its search results but, more ominously as my FP colleague Blake Hounshell highlighted, the co-opting of Google technology to use in surveillance and entrapment of political dissidents (not to mention from a commercial standpoint the potential theft of sensitive intellectual property). No longer was Google just complicit in restricted information flow; it was now potentially a new tool for the persecution of Chinese activists.

This recalls another recent landmark moment in the turbulent encounter between Chinese state capitalism and Western technology companies, but with a less happy outcome. The Chinese Government’s overconfident posture towards Google likely drew inspiration from Yahoo’s shameful capitulation to the Public Security Bureau in 2004 by turning over Chinese dissident Shi Tao, whose only “crime” was using his Yahoo email account to communicate with overseas Chinese democracy activists.  Shi Tao is currently serving a 10-year prison sentence.

Yahoo publicly admitted its role in late 2005. I was working at the National Security Council at the time, and shortly after Shi Tao’s arrest, some NSC colleagues and I met with a senior Yahoo executive to get their side of the story. It was a thoroughly disillusioning meeting. The Yahoo exec maintained a defiant, defensive posture, clinging to the talking points that Yahoo was just following the local laws in the country it was working in, couldn’t get involved in a “political case” like this, and besides didn’t U.S. Government policy encourage economic engagement with China? To which we reminded him that U.S. policy also encouraged human rights and free speech in China, which Yahoo’s actions directly undermined. Perhaps even more distressing was that the Yahoo exec made clear that his company felt no obligation, even in private, to remonstrate with the Chinese authorities over the arrest or to do anything to assist Shi Tao or his family. It was not an auspicious moment for the argument that Western technology companies will inevitably bring freedom to China. Following months of bad publicity and Congressional pressure, Yahoo eventually reversed course and expressed remorse. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Business, censorship, China, Commentary, Company, Google, Human Rights, News, Opinion, Politics, Social, Speech, Technology, Trade, USA, World, Yahoo | Comments Off on Google’s noble withdrawal from China

Second Hi-tech Company Leaves China- GoDaddy

Posted by Author on March 24, 2010

By Ellen Nakashima and Cecilia Kang, Washington Post Staff Writers, Wednesday, March 24, 2010- Inc., the world’s largest domain name registration company, told lawmakers Wednesday that it will cease registering Web sites in China in response to intrusive new government rules that require applicants to provide extensive personal data, including photographs of themselves.

The rules, the company believes, are an effort by China to increase monitoring and surveillance of Web site content and could put individuals who register their sites with the firm at risk. The company also believes the rules will have a “chilling effect” on new domain name registrations.

GoDaddy’s move follows Google’s announcement Monday that it will no longer censor search results on its site in China. Analysts and human rights advocates have warned that China’s insistence on censorship and control over information is becoming a serious barrier to trade.

“GoDaddy is the first company to publicly follow Google’s example in responding to the Chinese government’s censorship of the Internet by partially retreating from the Chinese market,” Rep. Christopher H. Smith (R-N.J.) said in a statement. “Google fired a shot heard ’round the world, and now a second American company has answered the call to defend the rights of the Chinese people.”

Smith has sponsored a bill that would make it a crime for U.S. companies to share personal user information with “Internet-restricting” countries.

In December, China began to enforce a new policy that required any registrant of a new .cn domain name to provide a color head shot and other business identification, including a Chinese business registration number and physical signed registration forms. That data was to be forwarded to the China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC), a quasi-governmental agency. Most domain name registries require only name, address, telephone number and e-mail address.

“We were immediately concerned about the motives behind the increased level of registrant verification being required,” Christine N. Jones, general counsel of the Go Daddy Group Inc., told the Congressional-Executive Commission on China on Wednesday. “The intent of the procedures appeared, to us, to be based on a desire by the Chinese authorities to exercise increased control over the subject matter of domain name registrations by Chinese nationals.”

GoDaddy has been registering domain names since 2000 and has more than 40 million domain names under management. Jones said China was the first government to retroactively seek additional verification and documentation of registrants. …… (more details from The Washington Post)

Posted in Business, censorship, China, Company, Google, Internet, News, Politics, search engine, Social, Technology, Trade, USA, website, World | Comments Off on Second Hi-tech Company Leaves China- GoDaddy

U.S. Congress slams China and Microsoft, praises Google

Posted by Author on March 24, 2010

By David Goldman, CNN, Mar. 24, 2010-

NEW YORK ( — Two days after Google stopped censoring search results in China, a congressional panel praised the company’s actions while excoriating the Beijing government for its record on Internet censorship and human rights.

At a hearing held by the Congressional-Executive Commission on China on Wednesday, lawmakers called on China to allow a free flow of ideas on the Internet and sharply criticized Microsoft for continuing to act complicity with China’s censorship laws.

“China wants to participate in the marketplace of goods but keep the marketplace of ideas outside their country,” said Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., “Only when China respects human rights and allows the free flow of ideas … only then will they be treated as a full member of the international community.”

While lawmakers scolded China, they roundly applauded Google for shutting down its search operations in China.

Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., called Google’s decision “a remarkable, historic and welcomed action.” He also praised Internet domain host site for leaving China.

At the same time, he lit a fire under Google’s search rival Microsoft (MSFT, Fortune 500) for continuing to censor results in China and not following Google’s (GOOG, Fortune 500) lead.

“They [Microsoft] need to get on the right side of human rights rather than enabling tyranny, which they’re doing right now,” Smith said.

Microsoft could not immediately be reached for a response.

Smith said he supported the Global Online Freedom Act, which would require tech companies doing business in China to disclose what they’re censoring. He called on China to do “more than passing lip service” to Google and pass the act.

Google agreed that the United States needed to take action as well. At the hearing, Google’s director of public policy, Alan Davidson said governments should do more to protect Internet freedom around the world.

“Internet censorship is a growing global problem,” Davidson said. “It not only raises important human rights concerns, but also creates significant barriers for U.S. companies doing business abroad.”

But Google did not completely avoid criticism from lawmakers. When asked specifically what Google was censoring in China, Davidson said he could not reveal that information, because it is a Chinese state secret.

“I admire the decision … but aren’t you able to talk about it outside of China?” asked Dorgan.

Davidson declined, to Dorgan’s displeasure. Davidson said the legality of the issue represented one of the reasons why the company shut down its search service in the company because it puts Google “in a terribly difficult position.”…… (more details from CNN)

Posted in Business, censorship, China, Company, Freedom of Information, Google, Human Rights, Internet, Microsoft, News, Politics, search engine, Social, Technology, Trade, USA, website, World | 1 Comment »

Trial of American puts spotlight on the business of ‘state secrets’ in China

Posted by Author on March 9, 2010

BEIJING — Officially, the trial of American geologist Xue Feng is about state secrets. He’s accused of exporting sensitive information abroad for helping his Colorado-based employer buy a database about China’s oil industry.

But Xue’s attorneys say Chinese authorities pursuing the case have another motivation: commercial competition.

When Xue bought the surveys and maps for use in his company’s research reports, the information was openly available. It was only after the fact that Chinese authorities classified it a “state secret.”

In the past, many foreign businesses said, they might have considered a case like Xue’s an isolated incident, perhaps brought forth by a single overzealous government official. But some, viewing it alongside a spate of new regulations and trade policies, believe it represents a fundamental shift in China’s attitude toward foreign businesses.

Company executives, trade groups and diplomats said Xue’s case, which is now in its seventh month, and two similar ones involving an American auto engineer and an Australian mining executive appear to be part of a broader effort by China over the past few years to use everything at its disposal — the courts, the regulatory system, trade law and even hacking — to promote its own “national champions.”

The boldness of the new policies, foreign companies said, speaks to a self-confidence that has emerged as a result of China’s strong and speedy recovery from a global economic crisis that developed countries are still struggling with.

“When the Chinese government’s economic growth objectives depended on money, jobs, best practices and technology transfers from foreign direct investment, they welcomed us,” said Robert Ness, a Beijing-based lobbyist representing U.S. technology firms.

But now that some of China’s domestic industries are mature, Ness said, “we are all waking up to the fact that in China the concept of ‘open markets’ is not a value like it is in the West. It is a means to an end.” …… (more details from The Washington Post)

Posted in Business, Businessman, China, Company, Economy, Law, News, People, Politics, Technology, Trade, USA, World | Comments Off on Trial of American puts spotlight on the business of ‘state secrets’ in China

Statements by China military officials raises threat concerns

Posted by Author on March 5, 2010

By Bill Gertz, The Washington Times, Mar. 5, 2010-

Recent statements by Chinese military officials are raising concerns among U.S. analysts that the communist government in Beijing is shifting its oft-stated “peaceful rise” policy toward an aggressive, anti-U.S. posture.

The most recent sign appeared with the publication of a government-approved book by Senior Col. Liu Mingfu that urges China to “sprint” toward becoming the world’s most powerful state.

“Although this book is one of many by a senior colonel, it certainly challenges the thesis of many U.S. China-watchers that the People’s Liberation Army’s rapid military growth is not designed to challenge the United States as a global power or the U.S. military,” said Larry M. Wortzel, a China affairs specialist who until recently was co-chairman of the congressional U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission.

A Reuters report on Col. Liu’s book, “The China Dream,” appeared Tuesday in the Communist Party newspaper People’s Daily. It quoted the book as stating China and the United States are in “competition to be the leading country, a conflict over who rises and falls to dominate the world.”

Mr. Wortzel said the statements in the book contradict those of former President Jiang Zemin and other Chinese leaders who said China’s rise to prominence in the 21st century would be peaceful. They also carry political weight because the book was published by the Chinese military.

The book was released after calls by other Chinese military officials to punish the United States for policies toward Taiwan, U.S. criticism of China’s lack of Internet freedom and U.S. support for the exiled Tibetan leader Dalai Lama.

One official, Maj. Gen. Luo Yuan, called for using economic warfare against the U.S. over arms sales to Taiwan and urged selling off some of China’s $750 billion in holdings of U.S. debt securities.

China’s military also recently cut off military exchanges with the Pentagon after the announcement of a $6.4 billion sale of helicopters and missiles to Taiwan.

Asked about Col. Liu’s book, State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said it would be wrong for China to view itself as a U.S. competitor. For the 21st century, U.S.-China relations are the most important ties in the world and “it is a mistake to see the relationship in zero-sum terms,” Mr. Crowley said.

The Washington Times

Posted in China, Economy, military, News, Official, People, Politics, Trade, USA, World | 1 Comment »

Tainted China drywall linked to deaths?

Posted by Author on March 4, 2010

Reported by: WPTV staff, Mar. 3, 2010-

WASHINGTON, DC —  Chinese drywall has surfaced again. Now there are several deaths being reported that may be linked to the toxic wallboard. Senator Bill Nelson wants answers and is demanding the feds investigate a possible connection.

There are nine deaths associated with homes that have toxic chinese drywall. The big question, did the tainted wallboard contribute to those deaths? Nelson is demanding an investigation into each case immediately.

“Common sense will tell you if silver is turning black, if AC coils are corroding and if brass is completely disintegrating, if that’s what’s is happening to the home what is it gonna do to your respiratory system>

According to Scripps Howard News Service, five deaths are linked to tainted drywall homes in Louisiana and four here in Florida. The deaths were primarily among elderly and young people with long-standing medical problems.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission maintains there is no scientific link between tainted Chinese drywall and death but it will continue to look into each case to see if drywall played a role.

Louisiana Senator David Vitter is joining the fight for his state along with Nelson putting pressure on the CPSC……. (more details from WPTV)

Posted in Business, China, Economy, Health, Law, Made in China, News, products, Tainted Products, Trade, USA, World | Comments Off on Tainted China drywall linked to deaths?

U.S. Could Challenge China on Google’s Behalf at WTO

Posted by Author on March 3, 2010

By David Coursey, PCWorld, Mar. 3, 2010-

Google made news in Washington on Tuesday as the Obama Administration is reportedly considering using the World Trade Organization to help Google in its censorship battle with China. Meanwhile, a leading U.S. Senator said he plans to introduce legislation punishing companies that cave in to censorship demands.

Illinois Senator Richard Durbin said he plans to introduce a bill that would penalize Internet companies that violate customers’ human rights at the demand of foreign governments. The Democrat made the announcement Tuesday, but offered few specifics, beyond saying that civil or even criminal penalties might be involved.

This is a wonderful thing as U.S. tech companies have a pretty sad record of protecting their overseas business at the expense of their customers’ human rights. The bill appears to target search engine and social networking companies particularly.

“I recognize that the technology industry faces difficult challenges when they deal with repressive governments,” Durbin said. “But we have a responsibility in the United States, and Congress shares in that responsibility, to ensure that American companies are not complicit in violating freedom of expression.”

Durbin spoke at a meeting of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Human Rights and the Law. Several companies were invited to present during the hearing, including Twitter, Facebook, McAfee–as well as Apple, which was recently hit by a scandal involving reports that underage workers have been used to build the company’s products.

Of those invited, only Google agreed to appear. (If you want more details on the hearing, Grant Gross has written an excellent report.)

On the WTO front, the Obama Administration is reportedly considering whether to fight China in front of the World Trade Organization, where it would have to defend its actions publicly. The U.S. would charge that China’s censorship is a barrier to free trade.

If used, this novel approach would be similar to the way law enforcement sometimes battles criminal rackets using charges not directly related to the primary crime (think Al Capone or the RICO statute).

Taken together, these actions–both at the discussion stage right now–show that at least some in the U.S. government want Internet companies to do a better job of representing American values in their overseas businesses……. (PC World)

Posted in Business, censorship, China, Company, Economy, Freedom of Information, Google, Human Rights, News, Politics, Technology, Trade, USA, World | 1 Comment »

Google says China’s web censorship is a ‘trade issue’

Posted by Author on March 3, 2010

BBC news, Mar. 3, 2010-

Google says state censorship in countries like China should be put on the United States’ trade agenda.

Nicole Wong from Google told the Senate Judiciary Committee that web censorship could favour local companies.

The US is considering to raise China’s censorship with the World Trade Organization, according to Bloomberg.

Google is reviewing its operations in China following hacking attacks that targeted the Google accounts of political activists.

At the start of this year Google said it was no longer willing to censor the Chinese language version of its search engine.

When Google launched in 2006, it agreed to censor some search results – such as the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests, Tibetan independence or religious group Falun Gong – as required by the Chinese government……. (more from BBC News)

Posted in Business, censorship, China, Company, Economy, Google, Internet, Investment, News, Politics, Technology, Trade, USA, World | 1 Comment »

China to put billions of dollars to North Korea to keep Influence

Posted by Author on February 25, 2010

Radio Free Asia, Feb. 25, 2010-

SEOUL— China’s reported plans to invest billions of dollars in North Korea reflect Beijing’s bid to prop up the regime and keep a dominant role in the region rather than to lure Pyongyang back to multilateral talks, analysts say.

A number of state-owned Chinese banks and other companies are close to a deal to invest nearly U.S. $10 billion in North Korean infrastructure, after talks with the official Pyongyang-based Taepung International Investment Group, Seoul’s Yonhap news agency has reported.

The report couldn’t be immediately confirmed.

The investment earmarks funds to build railroads, harbors, and homes in North Korea, the report said, adding that more than 60 percent of the investment would be put up by Chinese banks.

The deal, with North Korea’s State Development Bank, is expected to be signed next month, Yonhap said.

Winston Yang, a China analyst and professor emeritus from Seton Hall University, gave three reasons for the injection of Chinese funds into North Korea.

“The first is that it will increase [Beijing’s] control over North Korea and its influence there. The second is that Beijing fears that Kim Jong Il will fall from power,” Yang said, adding that North Korea’s current economic woes have left millions hungry.

“The third reason is, I believe, that there is a sense in which it goes against the wishes of the United States,” he said.

Yang cited strains in U.S.-China ties stemming from U.S. arms sales to Beijing’s arch-rival Taiwan, a threat from Google to withdraw from China, and a meeting between U.S. President Barack Obama and Tibet’s exiled leader, the Dalai Lama……. (Radio Free Asia)

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Without human rights China’s boom will turn to bust

Posted by Author on February 15, 2010

The Guardian,UK, Sunday 14 February 2010-

As a new Chinese year dawns, Beijing is feeling empowered on many fronts. Its seat is assured at the top table of every global summit, whether on financial matters, security or climate change.

At one level, the global balance of economic power has shifted decisively eastward. Most of the west spent the money it earned, borrowed more and spent that too. It is broke, while China’s pockets are bulging.

The Chinese economy expanded by around 8% in 2009. The country has unrivalled status as exporter-in-chief to the rich world’s consumers. Its own vast population is eyed thirstily by the industrialised world as a potential market, but the Communist Party has control over the terms of access.

That changing relationship has been accompanied by more Chinese assertiveness, both in foreign policy and domestic affairs. Dissent is being stifled with more vigour and less heed to outside criticism.

But it would be a mistake to see in that trend only Chinese strength. States also become more coercive when they feel insecure.

China’s phenomenal economic expansion has many characteristics of a bubble. Most enterprises run on state loans, awarded on political, not commercial criteria. Debts accumulated in this way amount to nearly three times China’s GDP – trillions of dollars. The exact amount is impossible to know because truly independent auditing would be tantamount to political sedition.

But as China integrates more with the global economy it will struggle to sustain the pretence that its domestic economy is based on real transactions, when so much of it is paper fiction. There will have to be an adjustment. It could be just painful; it could be calamitous.

That need for economic reform is inseparable from the need for greater democracy. The transition to a more functional domestic economy requires clear legal standards of property and consumer rights. That amounts to the same kind of reforms that democracy activists demand. Long-term economic stability and human rights both rely on trusted, independent legal institutions.

China urgently needs to discern its good businesses from its rotten ones. It will struggle to do that unless it has consumer organisations, sound commercial banks, free trade unions, independent accountants.

It must, in other words, let civil society flourish. That means more political freedom. Beijing is clearly not interested in taking lessons on political morality from the west. It might be more open to arguments based on hard commerce.

The Guardian

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