China’s Renewable Energy Revolution

China’s Continuing Renewable Energy Revolution: Global Implications  邁進する再生可能エネルギー革命 世界的意味合い

John Mathews and Hao Tan, Japan Focus

Summary: China’s renewable energy revolution is powering ahead, with the year 2013 marking an important inflection point where the scales tipped more towards electric power generated from water, wind and solar than from fossil fuels and nuclear. This means that its energy security is being enhanced, while carbon emissions from the power sector can be expected to soon start to fall, we argue.

China’s energy revolution, which underpins its transformation into the world’s largest manufacturing system (the new “workshop of the world”), continues to astonish all observers and to terrify some. China is known widely as the world’s largest user and producer of coal, and the world’s largest emitter of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. This is true. Less noticed has been the fact that China is also building the world’s largest renewable energy system – which by 2013 stood at just over 1 trillion kilowatt hours – already nearly as large as the combined total of electrical energy produced by the power systems of France and Germany.1

Fig. 1 Chinese thermal power generation and rising coal consumption up to 2013

Source of primary data: the data of the total coal consumption (up to 2012) and thermal electricity generation (up to 2011) is available from the US EIA. The data of coal consumption for thermal power is available from the National Bureau of Statistics of China. The data of the total coal consumption for 2013 is available from the China Coal Industry Association. The data for the thermal electricity generation in 2012 and 2013 is available from the China Electricity Council.

The energy landscape continues to give the clearest indication of the trends in industrial dynamics and prospects for the future. China is powering ahead with renewables while at the same time it expands its reliance on fossil fuels; the US by contrast is further locking in its dependence on fossil fuels. The distinction is critical.

Data for the full-year 2013 are now available, from both the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in the US and the China Electricity Council (CEC) as well as the National Energy Administration (NEA) in China.2 This allows us to examine the total electric power systems in each country, and to assess the direction of change by studying the increments in power generation capacity added in 2013, as well as additional electrical energy generated and the allocation of new investments across the three main energy sources – fossil fuels (mainly coal); renewables, and nuclear.

Both the US and China now have electric power systems rated at just north of 1 trillion watts each – with China edging ahead at 1.25 TW compared with the US at 1.16 TW – a significant milestone in itself, as China emerges as the most electrically powered nation on the planet (while per capita power consumption remains four times higher for the US).

We need to sketch in the background to China’s energy revolution, so that the enormity of its commitment to renewables may be appreciated. We can see firstly how China continues to expand its ‘black’ energy system based on fossil fuels, and particularly coal, for its electric power generation. We show the situation updated to 2013 in Figure 1, where the relentless rise in the size of the fossil-fuelled power generation system is clearly shown, and the rising dependence on coal. While coal for thermal power continues to rise, the overall consumption of coal appears to be ‘capped’ at 3,500 million tonnes – a desperate measure taken no doubt in response to the blackening skies and poisoning of water and air. READ MORE….

Investing in China

China's Economy

China’s Economy

Have you  noticed that the mainstream media has been completely wrong about the Chinese economy (and most things!) for 60 years – yet they still insist that it’s about to crash and burn? The Economist magazine has predicted this Armageddon 56 times in the past 35 years! Michael Pettis has built his reputation on predicting the implosion of the Chinese economy for years – yet he’s till hailed as an ‘expert’!

I’ve found only one analyst who’s actually looked at the Chinese economy disinterestedly, James White, of Colonial First State Global Asset Management. I recommend you read and re-read his latest report…

How investment transformed China

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  • James White releases his latest research paper today. The paper provides his view of China’s economy and seeks to challenge the obsession with China’s weaknesses rather than strengths.
  • James highlights the strengths of China’s economic model, details what investment in people, infrastructure and technology can do for an economy and why he feels the developed world should harness China’s engine of productivity, not work against it.Executive summary
    This paper is a comprehensive review of my understanding of China’s economy. It’s primary source of data comes from my travels in China and meeting its people from firms to officials across over 20 cities in the last seven years.

    I have written this review for one specific reason. Too often our understanding of China is focused on its supposed fragilities. It’s not, however, China’s fragilities that should concern the developed world and financial markets but its strengths. These strengths challenge the developed world and its industrial and institutional infrastructure. China is wreaking havoc, just as the United States destroyed the economy of the Old World in the late 19th century. This process will continue until such time as the Chinese engine is harnessed.

    China aims to raise the real wages of its people through increasing labour productivity and lowering the cost of living. This is achieved by investment and an organisation of resources that makes the whole greater than the sum of its parts.

    Infrastructure is at the core. Beginning on the east coast, China’s infrastructure has made it the pre-eminent manufacturing economy in the world. Increasingly, infrastructure serves to lower living costs through urbanisation and distribution. In this way, it drives both increased consumption but also, importantly, increased levels of equality. And by the power of networks, the more infrastructure China produces, the greater the benefit.

    The challenge, of course, is delivering the right outcomes. Here China understands, or seems to, that profit maximising at the firm level cannot lead to an optimal economy-wide outcome. In some instances, this means using natural monopolies for social rather than financial gain. In others, it means cross-subsidisation. While in others, it means producing some of the most competitive markets in the world, where excess returns are non-existent.

    Failure is, in many ways, a feature rather than a bug. It represents both innovation and rejuvenation: evident in high speed rail, ultra-high voltage and, for failure, the ghost cities. It will allow industries to rise and, in turn, fall: the SOEs in the late nineties, textiles and coal. Tomorrow it may be trust products.

    Yes, there are challenges: property and debt. But these fragilities are over-stated. They do not threaten the model.

    The proof is in the numbers. Not just headline growth, but stable and low inflation, strong wage growth and rising tax revenue. The St Louis Federal Reserve estimate that the multiplier on Chinese government spending is two. The economy is creating surplus capital to replace that which is destroyed. Finally, there’s exports. Exports validate internal data: China is taking global market share. and prices are falling even as wages and currency rise. What’s happening externally is surely happening internally.

    Like the United States before it, the entry of China into the international economy has raised, in aggregate, living standards globally. The productivity improvement has made available to even more the benefits of manufactured technologies. But rather than being a Golden Goose, China is a deflationary force. A great destroyer of capital. The challenge for the developed world is to harness this engine of productivity, not to work against it. It’s the same for financial markets.

    Simply, the largest population on earth, pursuing a radical investment in public goods with near perfectly competitive goods markets was always going to change the world. It’s just a matter of how.

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Religion in China: Lloyd Lofthouse

Organized Religions in China
by Lloyd Lofthouse
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Conner once said, “Those who would renegotiate the boundaries between church and state must therefore answer difficult questions: why would we trade a system that has served us so well for one that has served others so poorly?” Source: Theocracy Watch

The answer to Justice O’Conner’s question may be the reason why China’s government keeps such a close watch on religions and decides which ones may practice there. In fact, there’s plenty of historical evidence that China’s restrictions on religions may be justified.

For instance, Roman Catholic Popes influenced the kings of Europe leading to the Crusades (1095 – 1291) with 1 to 3 million dead; the persecution and eradication of the Cathars, and the Medieval, Spanish, Portuguese and Roman inquisitions.

Then there were the Protestant-Catholic Wars: the Thirty Year’s War (1618 – 1648) with 3 to 11.5 million dead and the French Wars of Religion (1562 – 1598) with 2 to 4 million dead.

Next there are the major modern Islamic-Christian wars: The Nigerian Civil War (1967 – 1970) with 1 to 3 million dead; Second Sudanese Civil War (1983 – 2005) with 1 to 2 million dead, and the Lebanese Civil War (1975 – 1990) with 120 – 250 thousand dead.

Last there’s China’s Taiping Rebellion (1850 – 1864) led by converted Chinese Christians against the Qing Dynasty with 30 to 100 million dead.

You may have noticed from the few examples that religions with too much political influence and power do not have a good track record.

Then consider how many major religions there are. Why does it have to be so complicated? After all, there’s only one God—I think.

As it is, “China is a country with a great diversity of religious beliefs. The main religions are Buddhism, Taoism, Islam, Catholicism and Protestantism… According to incomplete statistics, there are over 100 million followers of various religious faiths, more than 85,000 sites for religious activities, some 300,000 clergy and over 3,000 religious organizations throughout China. In addition, there are 74 religious schools and colleges run by religious organizations for training clerical personnel.” Source: Chinese Culture

If you visited the previous link, you discovered that China does allow people to worship God and join a few approved closely watched religions.

Reuters.com reports: “About half of China’s estimated 100 million religious followers are Christians or Muslims, with the rest Buddhists or Taoists, the government says, though it thinks the real number of believers is probably much higher. — http://ilookchina.net/author/thesoulfulveteran/

China, North Korea, and Free Speech

The Cultural Revolution and Free Speech

February 6th, 2014

PBS’s Frontline recently aired a documentary of behind the North Korea scene.  Among all of the images of the expected misery, poverty, hunger, want, there was 1 segment which I thought was greatly overlooked.  A quick exchange between a few North Koreans behind closed doors.

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/foreign-affairs-defense/secret-state-of-north-korea/transcript-55/

NARRATOR: Behind closed doors, even members of the North Korean elite have voiced unhappiness with the regime, like this businesswoman filmed at a private lunch.

[subtitles]

1st MAN: All we’re saying is give us some basic rights, right? We don’t have any.

WOMAN: It’s not like that in China. In China, they’ve got freedom of speech, you know. They went through the Cultural Revolution.

2nd WOMAN: We North Koreans are wise and very loyal. An uprising is still something we don’t understand.

1st MAN: But even that’s only to a certain point.

WOMAN: There can’t be a rebellion. They’ll kill everyone ruthlessly. Yes, ruthlessly. The problem here is that one in three people will secretly report you. That’s the problem. That’s how they do it.

2ndMAN: Let’s just drink up. There’s no use talking about it.

The Western Net users picked up on the line, and laughed at the irony of what they could only attribute to as ignorance of a North Korean.  But the real irony is, the North Koreans may have the better understanding of “Free speech” and “cultural revolution”, as do the Chinese who experienced it.

“Freedom of Speech” through “Cultural Revolution”.  It couldn’t happen in North Korea, because the regime would “kill everyone ruthlessly”.  Need to digest that a bit more.

“We North Koreans are wise and very loyal. An uprising is still something we don’t understand”.

“Free speech” necessarily equate to “uprising”?

To most part of the world, yes.  If the aim of “free speech” is to drastically change a society, then it does equal to a call to “uprising”.  You can proclaim “peaceful” all you want, but you know you are headed toward chaos of change that you can’t predict.  As Rumsfeld once said, “Democracy is messy.”

I mean, face the reality of change.  To most part of the world, we are not talking about sitting down and having civilized little chat about the color to be painted on a new national monument, or even how to split up the tax money to different interest groups.  No, “free speech” is an “uprising” usually against an entrenched ruling class.

And it’s not just having one’s say, it’s IN-YOUR-FACE kind of “free speech”, where the weak gets to denounced the strong in public once and for all, and reverse the power structure.  Uprising 101.

And this is what happened partly in the Cultural Revolution.  No-holds-barred Freedom of Speech.

Western historians would attribute the Cultural Revolution all to Mao, as a “purge”.  Well, Mao didn’t have that kind of control.  Mao was actually mostly out of power at the time.  He didn’t control the CCP, and he didn’t have control of the military either.  Mao couldn’t even protect some of his own friends.  That was actually the whole point of his calling on the Red Guards.  He hoped that they would somehow put him back to power.

Instead, the Red Guard unleashed “free speech” on pretty much everyone, including the CCP leaders, the Chinese military, their own families, and themselves.  In doing so, the Red Guards didn’t really put Mao back in control, because the whole country was in relative chaos, Mao didn’t have much control of any thing. READ MORE AT HIDDEN HARMONIES

China’s Great Famine? Not!

Revisiting Alleged 30 Million Famine Deaths during China’s Great Leap
by Utsa Patnaik

Thirty years ago, a highly successful vilification campaign was launched against Mao Zedong, saying that a massive famine in which 27 to 30 million people died in China took place during the Great Leap period, 1958 to 1961, which marked the formation of the people’s communes under his leadership.  The main basis of this assertion was, first, the population deficit in China during 1958 to 1961 and, second, the work of two North American demographers, A J Coale (Rapid Population Change in China 1952-1982, 1982) and Judith Banister (China’s Changing Population, 1987).  No one bothered to look at the highly dubious method through which these demographers had arrived at their apocalyptic figures.

The ‘estimate’ was later widely publicised by Amartya K Sen, who built an entire theory saying that democratic freedom, especially press freedom, in India meant that famine was avoided while its absence in China explains why the world did not know that such a massive famine had taken place until as much as a quarter century later when the North American demographers painstakingly uncovered it.

The capitalist press was happy to reciprocate the compliment by repeatedly writing of “30 million famine deaths,” to the extent that a fiction was established as historical fact in readers’ minds.  The London Economist had a special issue on China some years ago, which repeated the allegation of 30 million deaths in three separate articles and refused to publish the Letter to the Editor this author sent contradicting the claim.  More recently, in his Introduction to the book Mao Zedong on Practice and Contradiction, which he edited and published in 2006, Slavoj Zizek also mentioned the figure of 30 millions as though it were a given fact.  Well-known intellectuals have to be taken seriously and the claim examined.

There are two routes through which very large ‘famine deaths’ have been claimed — firstly, population deficit and, secondly, imputing births and deaths which did not actually take place.  Looking at China’s official population data from its 1953 and 1964 censuses, we see that if the rate of population increase up to 1958 had been maintained, the population should have been 27 million higher over the period of 1959-1961 than it actually was.  This population deficit is also discussed by the demographers Pravin Visaria and Leela Visaria.  The population deficit was widely equated with ‘famine deaths.’  But 18 million of the people alleged to have died in a famine were not born in the first place.  The decline in the birth rate from 29 in 1958 to 18 in 1961 is being counted as famine deaths.  The Chinese are a highly talented people, but they have not learnt the art of dying without being born.

There is a basic responsibility that everyone, and more particularly academics, has to be clear and precise about.  To say or write that “27 million people died in the famine in China” conveys to the reader that people who were actually present and alive starved to death.  But this did not actually happen and the statement that it did is false.

China had lowered it death rate sharply from 20 to 12 per thousand between 1953 and 1958.  (India did not reach the latter level until over a quarter century later.)  After the radical land reforms and the formation of rural cooperatives, there were mass campaigns to clean up the environment and do away with disease bearing pests while a basic rural health care system was put in place.  That a dramatic reduction in the rural death rate was achieved is not disputed by anyone.  During the early commune formation from 1958, there was a massive mobilisation of peasants for a stupendous construction effort, which completely altered for a few years the normal patterns of peasant family life.  Women were drawn into the workforce, communal kitchens were established and children looked after in crèches as most of the able-bodied population moved to irrigation and other work sites during the slack season.  We find a graphic description of this period of mass mobilisation in Wiliam Hinton’sShenfan.  When this author spent three weeks in China in 1983, visiting several communes — which still existed at that time — she was told every time that “we built our water conservation system during the Great Leap.”  The birth rate fall from 1959 had to do with labour mobilisation, and not low nutrition since the 1958 foodgrain output was exceptionally good at 200 million tons (mt).

There was excess mortality compared to the 1958 level over the next three years, of a much smaller order.  Let us be clear on the basic facts about what did happen: there was a run of three years of bad harvests in China — drought in some parts, floods in others, and pest attacks.  Foodgrain output fell from the 1958 good harvest of 200 mt to 170 mt in 1959 and further to 143.5 mt in 1960, with 1961 registering a small recovery to 147 million tons.  This was a one-third decline, larger than the one-quarter decline India saw during its mid-1960s drought and food crisis.  Grain output drop coincided in time with the formation of the communes, and this lent itself to a fallacious causal link being argued by the academics who were inclined to do so, and they blamed the commune formation for the output decline.  One can much more plausibly argue precisely the opposite — that without the egalitarian distribution that the communes practised, the impact on people of the output decline, which arose for independent reasons and would have taken place anyway, would have been far worse.  Further, without the 46,000 reservoirs built with collective labour on the communes up to 1980, the effects of later droughts would have been very severe.  Recovery to the 200 million ton level took place only by 1965.  Throughout, however, the per capita foodgrain output in China even during the worst year, 1960, remained substantially above that in India.

As output declined from 1959, there was a rise in the officially measured death rate from 12 in 1958 to 14.6 in 1959, followed by a sharp rise in 1960 to 25.4 per thousand, falling the next year to 14.2 and further to 10 in 1962.  While, clearly, 1960 was an abnormal year with about 8 million deaths in excess of the 1958 level, note that this peak official ‘famine’ death rate of 25.4 per thousand in China was little different from India’s 24.8 death rate in the same year which was considered quite normal and attracted no criticism.  If we take the remarkably low death rate of 12 per thousand that China had achieved by 1958 as the benchmark, and calculate the deaths in excess of this over the period 1959 to 1961, it totals 11.5 million.  This is the maximal estimate of possible ‘famine deaths.’  Even this order of excess deaths is puzzling given the egalitarian distribution in China, since its average grain output per head was considerably above India’s level even in the worst year, and India saw no generalised famine in the mid-1960s.

Relative to China’s population, this figure of plausible excess mortality is low and it did not satisfy the academics in northern universities who have been always strongly opposed to socialised production.  Coale’s and Banister’s estimates gave them the ammunition they were looking for to attack the communes.  How exactly do Coale and Banister reach a figure of ‘famine deaths’ which is three times higher than the maximal plausible estimate?  Examining carefully how they arrived at 30 million ‘famine deaths’ estimate, we find that the figure was manufactured by using indefensible assumptions and has had no scholarly basis.

In the 1982 census, there was a survey on fertility covering one million persons or a mere 0.1 per cent sample of the population, who were asked about births and deaths from the early 1950s onwards.  The very high total fertility rate obtained from this 1982 survey is used by them to say that millions more were actually born between the two census years, 1953 and 1964, than were officially recorded.  They ignore the birth rate of 37 per thousand derived from a very much larger 1953 sample which had covered five per cent of all households and was specially designed to collect the information on births and deaths used in the official estimates.  Instead, they impute birth rates of 43 to 44 per thousand to the 1950s, using the 1982 survey.  There is no justification for such an arbitrary procedure of using a much later reported high fertility rate for a long distant past.  We know that a distant recall period makes responses inaccurate.  These imputed extra births between 1953 and 1964 total a massive 50 million but according to them did not increase by an iota the 1964 population total, 694.6 million, the official figure which they assume as correct.  Thus, although all official birth and death rates are rejected by them, the official population totals are accepted.  This opportunistic assumption is clearly necessary for their purpose because it allows them to assert that the same number of extra people died between 1953 and 1964, as the extra people they claim were born.

But the demographers are still not satisfied with the 50 million extra births and deaths that they have conjured up.  Fitting a linear time trend to the falling death rate of the early fifties is done to say that deaths should have continued to decline steeply after 1958 and, since it did not, the difference from the trend meant additional ‘famine deaths.’  Such straight-line trend fitting is a senseless procedure since the death rate necessarily shows non-linear behaviour.  It cannot continue falling at the same steep rate; it has to flatten out and cannot reach zero in any population — not even the inimitable Chinese people could hope to become immortal.  The final estimate of extra deaths in both authors is raised thereby to a massive 60 million, a heroic 65 per cent higher than the official total of deaths over the inter-censal period.

Having created these 60 million extra deaths at their own sweet will out of nothing, the authors then proceed to allocate them over the years 1953 to 1964, arbitrarily attributing a higher portion to the great leap years in particular.  The arbitrariness is clear from the variation in their own manipulations of the figures.  Coale’s allocation raises his peak death rate in 1960 to 38.8 per thousand while Banister is bolder and raises it to 44.6 compared to the official 25.4 for that year, and 30 million ‘famine deaths’ are claimed over the Great Leap years after all this smart legerdemain.  Having violated every tenet of reason, these ‘academics’ may as well have allocated all their imaginary deaths to the Great Leap years and claimed that 60 million died — why hang themselves only for a lamb rather than for a sheep!  Seldom have we seen basic norms of academic probity and honesty being more blatantly violated, than in this travesty of statistical ‘estimates.’  And seldom have noted intellectuals, who might have been expected to show more common sense, shown instead more credulous naïveté and irresponsibility, by accepting without investigation and propagating such nonsensical ‘estimates,’ giving them the status of historical fact.  In the process, they have libelled and continue to libel Mao Zedong, a great patriot and revolutionary.  They have unwittingly confirmed the principle attributed to Goebbels — that a lie has to be a really big lie and be endlessly repeated; then it is bound to be believed.

Thirty million or three crores is not a small figure.  When one million people died in Britain’s colony, Ireland, in 1846-47, the world knew about it.  When three million people died in the 1943-44 Bengal famine, the fact that a famine occurred was known.  Yet 30 million people are supposed to have died in China without anyone knowing at that time that a famine took place.  The reason no one knew about it is simple, for a massive famine did not take place at all.  The intellectuals who quote the massive famine deaths figure of 30 million today are no doubt outstandingly clever in the small, im kleinen, but are proving themselves to be rather foolish im grossen, in the large.  A person has to be very foolhardy indeed to say that 30 million people died in a famine without anyone including the foreign diplomats in China and the China-watchers abroad having the slightest inkling of it.  And those who credulously believe this claim and uncritically repeat it show an even greater folly than the originators of the claim.

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Human Rights Watch in China

Feb 5 2014
Keane Bhatt

 NACLA. org

Over more than a decade, the rise of the left in Latin American governance has led to remarkable advances in poverty alleviation, regional integration, and a reassertion of sovereignty and independence. The United States has been antagonistic toward the new left governments, and has concurrently pursued a bellicose foreign policy, in many cases blithely dismissive of international law.

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Jose M. Vivanco at Senate hearing in 2004. Photo by Jeremy Bigwood.So why has Human Rights Watch (HRW)—despite proclaiming itself “one of the world’s leading independent organizations” on human rights—so consistently paralleled U.S. positions and policies? This affinity for the U.S. government agenda is not limited to Latin America. In the summer of 2013, for example, when the prospect of a unilateral U.S. missile strike on Syria—a clear violation of the UN Charter—loomed large, HRW’s executive director Kenneth Roth speculated as to whether a simply “symbolic” bombing would be sufficient. “If Obama decides to strike Syria, will he settle for symbolism or do something that will help protect civilians?” he asked on Twitter. Executive director of MIT’s Center for International Studies John Tirman swiftly denounced the tweet as “possibly the most ignorant and irresponsible statement ever by a major human-rights advocate.”1

HRW’s accommodation to U.S. policy has also extended to renditions—the illegal practice of kidnapping and transporting suspects around the planet to be interrogated and often tortured in allied countries. In early 2009, when it was reported that the newly elected Obama administration was leaving this program intact, HRW’s then Washington advocacy director Tom Malinowski argued that “under limited circumstances, there is a legitimate place” for renditions, and encouraged patience: “they want to design a system that doesn’t result in people being sent to foreign dungeons to be tortured,” he said, “but designing that system is going to take some time.”2

Similar consideration was not extended to de-facto U.S. enemy Venezuela, when, in 2012, HRW’s Americas director José Miguel Vivanco and global advocacy director Peggy Hicks wrote a letter to President Hugo Chávez arguing that his country was unfit to serve on the UN’s Human Rights Council. Councilmembers must uphold the highest standards in the promotion and protection of human rights, they maintained, but unfortunately, “Venezuela currently falls far short of acceptable standards.”Given HRW’s silence regarding U.S. membership in the same council, one wonders precisely what HRW’s acceptable standards are.

One underlying factor for HRW’s general conformity with U.S. policy was clarified on July 8, 2013, when Roth took to Twitter to congratulate his colleague Malinowski on his nomination to be Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor (DRL). Malinowski was poised to further human rights as a senior-level foreign-policy official for an administration that convenes weekly “Terror Tuesday” meetings. In these meetings, Obama and his staffers deliberate the meting out of extrajudicial drone assassinations around the planet, reportedly working from a secret “kill list” that has included several U.S. citizens and a 17-year-old girl.4

Read more….

Press Freedom USA Vs China

There are more than 1,400 daily newspapers in the United States.

Can you name a single paper, or a single TV network, that was unequivocally opposed to the American wars carried out against Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yugoslavia, Panama, Grenada, and Vietnam? Or even opposed to any two of these wars? How about one? In 1968, six years into the Vietnam war, the Boston Globe  surveyed the editorial positions of 39 leading US papers concerning the war and found that “none advocated a pull-out”.

Now, can you name an American daily newspaper or TV network that more or less gives any support to any US government ODE (Officially Designated Enemy)? Like Hugo Chávez of Venezuela or his successor, Nicolás Maduro; Fidel or Raúl Castro of Cuba; Bashar al-Assad of Syria; Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran; Rafael Correa of Ecuador; or Evo Morales of Bolivia? I mean that presents the ODE’s point of view in a reasonably fair manner most of the time? Or any ODE of the recent past like Slobodan Milosevic of Serbia, Moammar Gaddafi of Libya, Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, or Jean-Bertrand Aristide of Haiti?

Who in the mainstream media supports Hamas of Gaza? Or Hezbollah of Lebanon? Who in the mainstream media is outspokenly critical of Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians? And keeps his or her job?

Who in the mainstream media treats Julian Assange or Chelsea Manning as the heroes they are?

And this same mainstream media tell us that Cuba, Venezuela, Ecuador, et al. do not have a real opposition media.

The ideology of the American mainstream media is the belief that they don’t have any ideology; that they are instead what they call “objective”. I submit that there is something more important in journalism than objectivity. It is capturing the essence, or the truth, if you will, with the proper context and history. This can, as well, serve as “enlightenment”.

It’s been said that the political spectrum concerning US foreign policy in the America mainstream media “runs the gamut from A to B”.

Sincerely,

William Blum, Washington, DC, Anti-Empire Report.

Read this excellent blog!

China’s Health Care System

One of the most significant changes is that China has achieved very basic universal health insurance coverage in a relatively short period of time.

Throughout the Mao period (1949–1978) there was a health care system linked to the centrally planned economy, which provided a basic level of coverage via government providers with a lot of regional variation. When economic reform came in 1980, large parts of the system—particularly financing for insurance—collapsed. The majority of China’s citizens were uninsured during the past few decades of very rapid social and economic development.

China’s overall population is changing quite dramatically, which means it has different health care needs, such as treating chronic disease and caring for an increasingly elderly population. The central government is trying to establish a system of accessible primary care—a concept that China’s barefoot doctors helped to pioneer but that fell into disarray—and health services that fit these new needs.

How does China’s basic health care system work? Are there segments of the population still not receiving adequate coverage and care?

China has had a system where people can select their own doctors. Patients usually want to go to clinics attached to the highest-reputation hospitals, but of course, when you are not insured you almost always by default go to where you can afford the care. “It is difficult to see the doctor, and it is expensive” has been the lament of patients in China, so an explicit goal of the health care reforms has been to address this.

The term “universal coverage” has different definitions. China initially put in place a form of insurance that only covers 20 or 30 percent of medical costs for the previously uninsured population, especially in rural areas. Benefits have expanded, but remain limited. As with the previous system, disparities in coverage still exist across the population. China not only has a huge population with huge economic differences, but within that there is a large migrant worker population. It is a challenge to figure out how to cover these citizens and how to provide them with access to better care. The government is quite aware there are segments of the population not receiving equal coverage, and it continues to strive to resolve the issue.  Read more…

China’s Great Famine? Really?

China’s Great Famine? Did it Really Happen?

China's Great Famine?

China’s Great Famine?

Just as it is an article of faith in the Western media that there was a ‘massacre’ (of the cherished sons and daughters of China’s government!) in Tiananmen Square, it is also orthodox wisdom that Mao presided over and even caused a famine that killed 30 million of his own people. Frank Dikotter, who  made no secret of his hatred of China’s government prior to his writing this book, raises the ante to 45 million,  but provides no convincing evidence to back his claim. Here’s a review of the book, ripped from Amazon’s excellent review section that raises some of the big-picture doubts about Dr. Dikotter’s claims:

This review is from: Mao’s Great Famine: The History of China’s Most Devastating Catastrophe, 1958-62 (Paperback)

Dikotter’s book is little more than a collection of anectdotes of atrocities – which one would no doubt find if one went to the archives of any public security bureau of any country in the world. There is absolutely no evidence the atrocities Dikotter mentions (if true), were ordered from the top. In fact quite the opposite – they were often uncovered, even by Dikotter’s own admission, by investigatory teams sent out by the central authorities. The tone of the book is perhaps set by the picture on this edition of the book – the starving boy is from a famine in 1946 – 12 years before the GLF, and 3 years before Mao came to power.

But lets look at Dikotter’s most ludicrous claim: 45 million ‘murdered’ by Mao – a ‘fact’ trumpeted on Dikotter’s website as a ‘key finding’.

But how does Dikotter reach this figure? The calculation is very simple.

‘Excess’ deaths are calculated by counting all the deaths that happen in one year, and subtracting them from a mortality the researcher assumes would have been the case had the GLF not happened.

Dikotter adopts a ‘normal’ crude mortality of 10/1000 per year or 1%. Deaths above this are counted as excess deaths.

From the archives Dikotter obtains reported mortality, increases these by 50% to allow for under-reporting in order to get an averaged annual mortality of around 27.3/1000 during the GLF.

Thus to arrive at his final grand total of people ‘murdered’ by Mao: ((27.3 – 10) / 1000) x 650 million x 4 years = 45 million ‘excess’ deaths.

Two huge problems with this.

Firstly a crude mortality of 27.3/1000 in the late 50s & early 60s was in fact quite typical for developing countries. India’s and Indonesia’s was 23 and 24/1000 respectively. And China’s mortality in in 1949, just 8 years the GLF, was 38/1000 (refer Judith Banister), in Hong Kong in the 1930s 32/1000, Russia before the revolution 31/1000, and India just before independence around 28/1000.

Thus the crude mortality rate during the GLF, according to Dikotter, was significantly better than the 38/1000 in 1949, and practically the same as that of India in the final year of British rule.

Thus to say, based on Dikotter’s very own figures, that the GLF was China’s, or even the world’s, ‘greatest ever catastrophe’ is completely ludicrous.

Here is the other problem.

Dikotter’s adoption of a very low ‘normal’ mortality of 10/1000 is simply implausible. Of course Dikotter assumes this figure in order to maximise his ‘excess’ deaths calculation.

But note that 10/1000 was the mortality rate of the US, Great Britain, and France at the time.

Even discounting for the difference in age structure between China’s population and that of the West, 10/1000 is simply unbelievable. After all the crude mortality of India and Indonesia at the time was around 23 or 24/1000 – well over twice what Dikotter claims for China!

So if Dikotter accepts a 10/1000 mortality rate for 1957, then he will have to accept that the communists reduced mortality from 38/1000 to 10/1000 during first eight years of rule, thereby saving tens of millions of lives. If this was truly the case, it would have been the most dramatic, incredible reduction in mortality in human history.

So the catch-22 is this. If one assumes a very low death rate to max out GLF excess deaths, then Mao must also get credit for having achieved, for most of the time he was in charge, very low levels of mortality. Go the other way and GLF excess deaths are minimised and perhaps almost eliminated.

To wrap up: Dikotter gets his 45 million by (a) inflating actual death rates, over reported figures in the archives, by 50%, and (b) assuming a ridiculously low ‘normal’ death rate (the same as the West) – even though China throughout the 1950s was one of the most wretchedly poor countries on earth. – By W Y Lu (Hong Kong)

Mao’s Great Famine: The History of China’s Most Devastating Catastrophe, 1958-62 (Paperback)

Taiwan and China Are Reuniting. Now!

MAKING ROOM FOR TAIWAN

U.S. imperialists invaded China’s territory of Taiwan and has occupied it for the past nine years. A

Taiwan and China Shake Hands

short while ago it sent its armed forces to invade and occupy Lebanon. The United States has set up hundreds of military bases in many countries all over the world. China’s territory of Taiwan, Lebanon and all military bases of the United States on foreign soil are so many nooses round the neck of U.S. imperialism. The nooses have been fashioned by the Americans themselves and by nobody else, and it is they themselves who have put these nooses round their own necks, handing the ends of the ropes to the Chinese people, the peoples of the Arab countries and all the peoples of the world who love peace and oppose aggression. The longer the U.S. aggressors remain in those places, the tighter the nooses round their necks will become – Mao Tse Tung, September 8, 1958, at the Supreme State Conference.

Reunification with Taiwan has been China’s core strategic goal for 60 years. Now the vagrant province is on the glide-path to reunification during President Xi’s tenure. Happily, China has been reabsorbing wayward provinces since Jesus walked the earth and it’s a familiar ritual whose celebrants know their roles.

For all but the terminally deluded like Taiwan’s ex-President Chen Shui-ban, currently languishing in jail for his naivety, reunification was always a foregone conclusion. The Jovian pull of China’s gravitational field is irresistible.

It’s so strong that, during my annual visits to Australia the country’s leading businesspeople – on the front pages of the national press and on their mainstream TV – loudly advocate replacing Australia’s US alliance with a Chinese one. Australia’s continued alliance with the US is a ‘hindrance’ they say, and a ‘danger’.

The same tractor-beam that attracts big, distant Australia draws tiny, close Taiwan closer each day. Heads of both of Taiwan’s major political parties – urged on by their leading industrialists – have already pilgrimaged to The Forbidden City and pledged allegiance to the Emperor.

Like repentant schismatics over the centuries they were sent back to their island-province laden with gold, fine silks, and even finer promises. Promises to upgrade the wealth and status of the Taiwanese elite, to grant privileged access for every Taiwanese industry, and promises to continuing to stream millions of wealthy mainland tourists to keep the island’s hotels and stores filled to capacity. More than 3 million of them will arrive this year, and the program is just getting started.

Taiwan’s banks and insurance companies, savvier marketers than their mainland rivals, get access to China’s conservative, under-insured, increasingly wealthy consumers. Doors closed to foreigners will be opened for Taiwan.

New legislation already promise such obscure benefits as access to China’s inland waterways, the cheapest freight access to the heartland. Soon Taiwanese vessels will sail thousands of kilometres up the Yangtze and the Yalu to deliver Taiwanese cargoes. No outside country – Japan or South Korea – can dream of such access. There’s an exhaustive list of concessions and every item on it has an assigned ‘minder’, a mainland bureaucrat responsible for ensuring that good things happen for Taiwan.

In addition to the gravitational pull two recent developments have accelerated the convergence.

President-elect Xi’s campaign to clean up mainland corruption (currently no worse than Taiwan’s, according to Taiwanese investors) adds significantly to the attraction of reunification. Xi is an uncommonly moral man (“a Chinese Mandela” according to Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew). If he can do for China what he did for Shanghai – which has been exemplary in its honesty and efficiency since Xi’s cleanup – it will be a powerful attractant to island Chinese who share mainlanders’ longing for moral leadership.

Japan has hastened reunification by playing its familiar role as aggressor. On a clear day Taiwanese can see the Diaoyu Islands. Taiwanese regard them as ‘theirs’ just as passionately as mainlanders do. They know that only China can enforce their sovereignty in the face of Japan’s grab. The threat to the Diaoyus has done more to weaken the Taiwan independence movement than any event since 1947.

It also helps that Xi has family in Taiwan. Given his genial image a ‘family’ visit to Taiwan is easy to imagine around, say 2020.

Reunification is all over bar the shouting.

The already muted shouting will be reduced to grumbling until Taiwanese public sentiment catches up. Then it’s a matter of implementing the already-agreed negotiation terms. Taiwan is getting a deal so good – Keep your own system while we make you richer – that nearby Okinawans will eye it enviously (see this, for example: http://stratrisks.com/geostrat/10609).

In addition to privileged access to continental China, Taiwan will enjoy a ‘peace dividend’. Most of the island’s $20 billion annual defence budget will be plowed back into shiny new infrastructure. Taiwanese pilots will get new Chinese fighters, their generals promotions and decorations. That’s why Taiwan isn’t pushing for F-16s any more.

The Taiwan schism is the last wound still suppurating after our attacks on China began 200 years ago. Its healing will allow China to accelerate its social reform program and greatly relax its posture in the region and in the world. The celebration will make the Beijing Olympics look like a sideshow.

Signs include:

2013/02/21 22:13:31
The two sides of the Taiwan Strait will soon begin a new stage of interaction in the wake of power transition in the Communist Party of China (CPC), according to local media reports.
Taiwan’s ruling Kuomintang has confirmed that its honorary chairman, Lien Chan, will depart for Beijing Feb. 24 for a four-day visit at the head of a delegation of KMT officials and business executives.
Media reports said Lien, a former vice president of the Rwan), is visiting Beijing at the invitation of the CPC’s upper echelons and that he wil

And This:

Taiwanese media? More like TSAIwanese media

Taiwan’s answer to monolithic media dictator Rupert Murdoch, Tsai Eng-Meng has set his sights on procuring a 32 percent majority share in his biggest rival company, Next Media Group, which will make him helmsman of just under half of Taiwan’s newspapers.
Critics argue that Tsai’s distinctly pro-PRC position threatens the independence of Taiwanese media and is at odds with Taiwan’s efforts to distance their own political interests from those of Beijing.
In an interview with Washington Post in January 2012, Tsai expressed his belief that Taiwan’s merger with China “is going to happen sooner or later.” Though doubtless he is pushing for the former.
An internal company newsletter in 2008 quoted Tsai proclaiming that the very reason he acquired the China Times Group was to “use the power of the press to advance relations between China and Taiwan”.

And this:

Taiwan slipping off US agenda: panel – Taipei Times
Defense policy adviser Eric Sayers, a member of Virginia Republican Representative Randy Forbes’ staff, said that Taiwan was not mentioned often on Capitol Hill because Taipei had established such a close relationship with Beijing. “That is not necessarily a good thing because there are some shortfalls going on in terms of arms sales,” he said. Addressing a Heritage Foundation symposium on the view of Asia this year from Washington, Sayers said that arms sales to Taiwan were winning less attention than in the past

And this:

Ma less trustworthy than Xi Jinping: poll

By Chen Hui-ping and Stacy Hsu  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer/ Taipei Times

SHAKY SUPPORT:More than half of the respondents said they do not trust President Ma, compared with 34.4 percent who said they are skeptical of the new Chinese leader

And this:

 

Taiwan allows Chinese banks to buy bigger stakes in local lenders | TODAYonline-
Taiwan will ease rules to allow Chinese banks to buy bigger stakes in local banks and permit more Chinese firms to invest in its financial industry, the island’s financial regulator said on Monday, marking a major advance in cross-strait ties.

And this:

BEIJING, June 9 (Xinhua) — Xi Jinping, general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, will meet with Wu Po-hsiung, honorary chairman of the Kuomintang (KMT) later this month, a mainland spokeswoman announced on Sunday.
Wu will lead a KMT delegation from Taiwan on a visit to the mainland from June 12 to 14, according to Fan Liqing, of the State Council Taiwan Affairs Office.
Xi will exchange views with him on issues such as relations between the CPC and KMT as well as mainland-Taiwan ties, Fan said.
The spokeswoman said the meeting will be “an important activity” in the high-level exchanges between the two parties under new circumstances.
A press release posted on the KMT official website on Sunday also praised the upcoming meeting as a “new beginning” and said both sides are attaching great importance to it.
KMT Chairman Ma Ying-jeou will meet with some of the delegation members before they leave for the mainland, the release said.
It described the meeting as a “constructive dialogue” that indicates the two parties’ emphasis on the KMT-CPC platform and their commitment to maintaining and advancing the peaceful development of cross-Strait ties.

And this:

Director of cross-strait offices uses high-level forum to unveil initiatives to deepen economic, cultural and social exchanges
  • e7b561c09d934e673d4322183adcb6fb.jpg
Yu Zhengsheng (centre) joins other delegates at the fifth Straits Forum, where the initiatives were announced yesterday. Photo: Xinhua
Beijing has unveiled a basket of initiatives to deepen economic, cultural and social exchanges across the Taiwan Strait, following a high-profile meeting last week between President Xi Jinping and Wu Poh-hsiung, the honorary chairman of Taiwan’s ruling Kuomintang.
Wu, who is believed to act as a proxy for Taiwan’s President Ma Ying-jeou, also expressed Taiwan’s desire to join Asia’s Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership and to participate in other global activities.
The director of the mainland’s Taiwan Affairs Office, Zhang Zhijun, said yesterday at the opening of a week-long high-level forum on cross-strait exchanges in Xiamen, Fujian province that the mainland would announce 31 measures this week to cultivate cross-strait interactions.
Among the six measures that he disclosed was the access that Taiwanese would be given to 10 categories of accreditation tests on the mainland, as well as the establishment of 10 cross-strait cultural exchange centres on the mainland.
Further, the mainland’s Supreme People’s Court will grant legal status to civil arbitration agreements formulated by arbitration committees in Taiwan.
and this:
THE Chinese mainland has promised to guarantee social welfare for former Kuomintang soldiers who fought Japanese aggressors about seven decades ago.The move is considered part of the mainland’s recognition of the contribution by those soldiers in defending the country’s territory and protecting its people in the War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression during World War II.KMT soldiers injured or disabled in the war, as well as those who joined the People’s Liberation Army, should enjoy the same treatment as other former service people, the Ministry of Civil Affairs said in a statement.

The government is also providing social assistance to those who were released from the military after the War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression and did not join the PLA, it said.

Taiwan and China hit a major milestone in bilateral ties on Sunday when their respective heads of cross-strait affairs met for the first time and addressed each other by their formal titles, according to Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council and local scholars.

Chang Wu-ueh, a noted expert on China, said the demeanor of Wang Yu-chi, minister of the Mainland Affairs Council, and China’s Taiwan Affairs Office director Zhang Zhijun during their meeting in Indonesia has set a precedent for more officials to use their formal titles in future bilateral meetings.

The meeting means a future visit by Wang to China or one by Zhang to Taiwan is no longer inconceivable, said Chang, who heads the Graduate Institute of China Studies at Tamkang University in New Taipei. Read more here….

Mainland-Taiwan submarine cable to start operations

TAIPEI – Taiwan’s communication administrative authority has approved the first submarine communication cable directly linking both sides of the Taiwan Straits, enabling the cable to come into commercial service.

Communication operators in Taiwan told Xinhua on Monday that once put into use, the cable will be capable of carrying cross-Strait communications with a bandwidth of 6.4Tb/s. Operators in Taiwan previously had to use international cables in Japan or the Republic of Korea to connect with the mainland, and the new direct link will improve the quality and speed of cross-Straits communications.

The cable will also facilitate the cross-Straits market for e-business, mobile communications and cloud services.

Yen-Sung Lee, chairman of Taiwan communication operator Chunghwa Telecom, said the cable is expected to enhance the communications market as well as exchanges between people on the two sides.

Taiwan Mobile said in a statement that data collected by the company revealed that the cross-Straits broadband communications market has been growing at an annual rate of 20 to 30 percent in recent years.

The statement said the company is planning to cooperate with mainland partners to explore cloud computing business on the mainland.

A senior executive with Far Eastone, another Taiwan communications company, believes the market demand for telecommunication integration solutions may double next year.

Construction of the cable finished in January with investment from communication operators on both sides. With a length of 270 km, the cable connects the city of Fuzhou in Fujian province on the mainland and Tamsui in Taiwan.

 Xi Seeks Political Solutions on Taiwan After Closer Trade Ties – Bloomberg

China and Taiwan should resolve their long-standing political disagreements, Chinese President Xi Jinping said yesterday, as he seeks to address a six-decade division after forging closer economic ties. China is willing to hold talks with Taiwan on an equal basis under the “One China” principle, Xi said in a meeting with Taiwanese envoy Vincent Siew while the two were attending the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Bali, Indonesia, according to the official Xinhua News Agency. “We cannot hand those problems down from generation to generation,” Xi said, according to Xinhua.

Taiwan announces landmark China visit
Officials set date for talks next month, paving the way for first high-level meetings in six decades. A leading politician in Taiwan has plans to visit mainland China next month for the first official contact between the rival states in six decades.Taiwan’s chief policymaker on China announced his impending visit on Tuesday in a press briefing.

Wang Yu-chi, chairman of the Mainland Affairs Council, is scheduled to fly to the mainland on February 11 to meet his Chinese counterpart, Zhang Zhijun, leader of China’s Taiwan Affairs Office.

“The trip has crucial implications for further institutionalisation of the ties between the two sides of the Straits,” Wang told a press briefing.
– Al Jazeera, Jan 28, 2014