Monday, January 16, 2017

No reason for S'pore to stop military training in Taiwan

Chen Wen Ping
16 Jan 2017

Straits Times

A letter bearing the headline "Exercise Starlight should be terminated" and published in Malaysian Chinese-language daily Nanyang Siang Pau on Jan 7 made some points related to Singapore's military training in Taiwan.

[Interesting that a Malaysian Chinese (presumably) would be writing about China-Singapore-Taiwan issues, and to be concerned about SG's military assets being detained in HK. And would presume to tell SG how to conduct itself in international relations. The mouthpieces of the CCP are everywhere, apparently.]

The first point was that with the issue of the seizure of Singapore's nine armoured vehicles in Hong Kong still hanging in the balance, there has again been noise over Starlight troops' use of training grounds in Taiwan.

The second point was a criticism of the Singapore Government's handling of the armoured vehicles issue as being grounded in "groupthink".

According to the forum letter writer, since Australia is providing more land for Singapore troops to train on, it is time to terminate Exercise Starlight as a good way to thaw chilly relations with China.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Democrats can’t win until they recognize how bad Obama’s financial policies were

He had opportunities to help the working class, and he passed them up.

By Matt Stoller
January 12 2017

Matt Stoller is fellow at the Open Markets Program of New America.

During his final news conference of 2016, in mid-December, President Obama criticized Democratic efforts during the election. “Where Democrats are characterized as coastal, liberal, latte-sipping, you know, politically correct, out-of-touch folks,” Obama said, “we have to be in those communities.” In fact, he went on, being in those communities — “going to fish-fries and sitting in VFW halls and talking to farmers” — is how, by his account, he became president. It’s true that Obama is skilled at projecting a populist image; he beat Hillary Clinton in Iowa in 2008, for instance, partly by attacking agriculture monopolies .

But Obama can’t place the blame for Clinton’s poor performance purely on her campaign. On the contrary, the past eight years of policymaking have damaged Democrats at all levels. Recovering Democratic strength will require the party’s leaders to come to terms with what it has become — and the role Obama played in bringing it to this point.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Corporate guff scales new heights

JANUARY 11, 2017

Every January for the past decade, I have handed out awards for the horrible use of language in business. Usually, the task amuses me. This year, I have found the sheer weight of euphemism, grammatical infelicity, disingenuity and downright ugliness so lowering, I have decided to start the 2016 Golden Flannel Awards with something more uplifting: A prize for clarity.

I am calling this the Wan Long prize, after the Chinese meat magnate who once uttered the clearest sentence ever spoken by a CEO: “What I do is kill pigs and sell meat.”

Mr Wan will surely approve of my winner, a BNSF railway executive who told a conference: “We move stuff from one place to another.”

This elegant, informative and borderline beautiful sentence is a reminder that despite the horrific nature of the following entries, clarity remains attainable.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Malacca port expansion will have ‘minimal impact’ on Singapore's status as regional transhipment hub


JANUARY 10, 2017

SINGAPORE — The expansion of Malacca’s Kuala Linggi International Port (Klip) will likely have a minimal impact on Singapore’s status as a regional transhipment hub, Senior Minister of State (Transport) Josephine Teo said in Parliament yesterday, although she warned against complacency and said the Republic would take the necessary measures to retain its competitive edge.

“The expansion of Malacca’s Klip will reportedly add oil storage and bunkering facilities. The expansion is expected to be completed only within the next decade, so it is still too early to determine the exact impact on Singapore’s economy. Our preliminary assessment, however, is that Klip’s planned oil storage capacity of 1.5 million cubic metres is not big relative to Singapore’s current capacity of 20.5 million cubic metres,” she said.

“In addition, our position as a regional bunkering and oil storage hub is anchored by a strong ecosystem of oil refineries and oil traders, and by the high volume of ships calling at Singapore for various services.

Friday, January 6, 2017

China invests billions in renewable energy in fight against air pollution

Jeremy Koh, Channel NewsAsia

06 Jan 2017

BEIJING: iPhone manufacturer Apple is building a 20-megawatt solar power station in Qiongxi town in China’s Sichuan province. It is the first solar project the company has built outside the United States, and it will be co-owned by Sichuan Shengtian New Energy Development Company and Apple.

At an investment value of US$39 million, the project is located at about 3,500m above sea level - and one of the reasons it is sited there is because the place receives abundant sunshine annually.

Chabuduo! Close enough ...

"To understand how to make things, you have to use them. Ford’s workers in the US drove their own cars, and Western builders dwelt, or hoped to dwell, in homes like the ones they made. But the migrants lining factory belts in Guangdong make knick-knacks for US households thousands of miles away. The men and women who build China’s houses will never live in them."

James Palmer
is a British writer and editor. He is the author of The Death of Mao: The Tangshan Earthquake and the Birth of the New China (2012) and The Bloody White Baron: The Extraordinary Story of the Russian Nobleman Who Became the Last Khan of Mongolia (2008). He lives in Beijing.

Your balcony fell off? Chabuduo. Vaccines are overheated? Chabuduo. How China became the land of disastrous corner-cutting

Thursday, January 5, 2017

A bull named Trump in a shop called China


JANUARY 5, 2017

Some of United States President-elect Donald Trump’s nastiest attacks have been directed at China. He has accused it of “raping” the US with its trade policies, and of creating global warming as a “hoax” to undermine US competitiveness. Why, then, are many Chinese policy advisers and commentators sanguine about future US-China relations?

The reasoning seems to be that Mr Trump is a businessman, and, to paraphrase former US President Calvin Coolidge, the business of China is business. China, the thinking goes, can work with a swashbuckling deal-maker like Mr Trump better than with a supposedly “ideological” Mrs Hillary Clinton.

Many people would be surprised to see Mrs Clinton categorised as an ideologue. And there is scant evidence to support the claim that businesspeople somehow embody pragmatism, given that so many powerful US business leaders are committed ideologues.

The Koch brothers, for example, stubbornly cling to impractical and thoroughly debunked libertarian ideas, and numerous Fortune 500 CEOs instinctively side with Republicans, even though the US economy consistently performs better under Democratic administrations. And one should not forget Andrew William Mellon’s infamous and reckless advice to former US President Herbert Hoover on the eve of the Great Depression: “Liquidate labour, liquidate stocks, liquidate farmers, liquidate real estate.”

The revelation that Mr Trump and President Tsai Ing-wen of Taiwan spoke by telephone has probably now shattered any residual hope that the incoming US administration will be anything but a bull in a China shop. That phone call violated a protocol — avoidance of direct contact between the US and Taiwan at the presidential level — that American presidents from both parties have carefully observed for four decades.