Martine Bulard

Rédactrice en chef adjointe au « Monde diplomatique »

  • Misogyny Persists in South Korea, Despite Progress on Women’s Rights

    Last month, two South Korean police officers assigned to protect high school students in Busan, the country’s second-largest city, were found to have had sex with several of them. But neither was punished. Instead, they both resigned and were set up to receive full retirement benefits. The former police chief who broke the scandal on Facebook commented, “This is what happens when you dispatch young, good-looking police officers to schools filled with teenage girls.”

    News of this story broke as South Korea was in an uproar after a young woman was stabbed to death in a bathroom near Seoul’s central Gangnam Station. Her murderer had been standing in an empty stairwell, evidently waiting for a victim. The girl had been spending time in a bar below with her boyfriend. The man who killed her later said he felt “ignored” by women, and that sometimes they walked in front of him on the street and deliberately slowed their pace in order to make him late for work.

    Questions arose about the state of the man’s mental health, but his crime was also very quickly labeled an act of misogyny. Within days, one of the Gangnam Station exits was carpeted with thousands of post-it notes expressing grief over the woman’s murder and anger concerning violence against South Korean women. The case became symbolic of the widespread misogyny in South Korea. Unintentionally driving the point home was a far-right group known as Ilbe, which sent a faux-funeral wreath to be placed at the station that included the photographs of sailors who died in the sinking of a South Korean warship in 2010. A note with the flowers read, “Let’s remember that soldiers died in the sinking of the Cheonan warship because they were men.”

    #Corée_du_Sud #machisme #inégalités_hommes/femmes

  • Changing masculinities in East Asian pop culture | East Asia Forum

    Changing masculinities in East Asian pop culture

    26 July 2016
    Author: Geng Song, UHK

    Descendants of the Sun, a South Korean TV drama featuring a romance between a soldier and a surgeon in a fictional war-torn nation, is reigniting K-drama fever across Asia. In China alone, where the program is simultaneously broadcast online, it has drawn more than 2.4 billion views on video-streaming website iQIYI since it began airing in late February.

    Its fandom is mostly composed of young women who are fixated with the handsome male protagonist played by Song Joong-ki. It is reported that a jealous husband in China one night drunkenly stormed into a photography studio and demanded that the shop owner take pictures to ‘make him look like Song’.

    The cult of male beauty associated with Descendants of the Sun is reminiscent of a recent trend that has been termed ‘Pan-East Asian soft masculinity’—male images that are exceptionally feminine to Western eyes. These types of images are mainly produced and circulated by the ‘Korean Wave’ and Japanese anime, comics and games (ACG) culture. It is well received by youth across most of East Asia and presents a significant response to the globally hegemonic masculine ideal based on the image of the transnational businessman.

    Some claim that the success of South Korean and Japanese pop culture lies in attempts to make it mugukjeok or ‘culturally odourless’ by downplaying their national specificity. But for many others its popularity can be largely explained by its representations of Pan-East Asian soft masculinity.

    Pan-East Asian soft masculinity has its roots in the Confucian tradition of scholar masculinity shared by many East Asian cultures, such as the wen (literary attainment) masculinity in China or seonbi (scholar-officials) masculinity in Korean history. The talented scholar is physically weak, delicate and handsome, with androgynous beauty. He is desirable to women by dint of his knowledge and literary gifts.

    At the same time, the current popularity of these images of masculine beauty also reflects the influence of the metrosexual trend from the West. This indicates that masculinity has become increasingly pluralistic and hybridised in a rapidly globalising East Asia.

    One conspicuous example of the transnational flow of male images in East Asia is the spread of otaku culture. With the international spread of anime and manga, the term otaku has entered other cultures and generated new expressions. In Chinese, the vogue word zhainan (the Chinese pronunciation of the Japanese kanji for otaku) refers to a socially awkward young man who secludes himself in his home all day, indulging in computer games, anime and geek culture.

    Despite the Japanese term’s association with antisocial behaviour, more and more young men in Chinese cities identify themselves as zhainan and the term has come to indicate a desirable form of masculinity. There are Web essays on how to woo a zhainan and love stories featuring high school students and their zhainan teacher. The zhai lifestyle has even become a trend among urban youth. The popularity of zhainan in China may be explained by the discourse in premodern Chinese literature on the ‘purity’ of men who have obsessions.

    Compared with zhainan, the word meng bears an even more direct link with Japanese pop culture, being the Chinese pronunciation of the Japanese character moe. Moe, which originally meant ‘budding’ or ‘burning’, now refers to a particular kind of ‘adorable’ or ‘cute’ preadolescent girl in ACG culture. Like otaku, the word has undergone transformations in meaning and usage during its migration to China.

    In the Chinese context, meng, which can be used as a noun, adjective or even a verb, has become a trendy word among young people, particularly in cyberspace. It can be used to describe a wide of range of things: from children’s expressions to President Xi Jinping’s new hairstyle. Notably, it is increasingly used to describe loveliness in men. When a man is referred to as meng, there is a (positive) implication of femininity. The popularity of zhainan and meng in China, on the whole, represents a growing cultural convergence among East Asian countries.

    The ‘softness’ of Pan-East Asian soft masculinity also lies in its more sensitive and caring attitude toward women. The ‘Herbivore Man’ (sōshoku danshi) in Japan and South Korea, and ‘Warm Man’ (nuan nan) in China are all in line with this type of sensitive new guy.

    The term Herbivore Man and its counterpart, ‘Carnivorous Woman,’ were first coined by the Japanese author Maki Fukasawa and became known through Megumi Ushikubo’s popular book The Herbivorous Ladylike Men: A Change in Japan. This new type of man is arguably a rebellion against the ideal salaryman masculinity of postwar Japan. They are less ambitious and are ‘harmless’ for women because they always display an understanding of women and their feelings. (...)
    In these dramas, patriotic Chinese masculinity is portrayed against its Other, the ‘Japanese devils’. The characterisation of Japanese officers and soldiers reflects stereotypes that are deeply rooted in the collective memory and imagination of generations of Chinese, gained from popular media if not from actual experience. For instance, the cold-blooded Japanese commander predictably commits hara-kiri when ultimately faced with defeat. The Japanese officer regularly slaps his subordinates in fits of anger, with baka (Japanese for ‘fool’ or ‘idiot’) always on his lips. He also regularly mistreats women, while his submissive wife bows deeply to welcome him home every evening.

    It is against these images of Japanese men that an idealised Chinese manhood is portrayed and eulogized.
    #Asie #modes #Masculinité

  • How likely is constitutional change in Japan? | East Asia Forum

    Although the new numbers in the Diet make constitutional change now possible, there are a number of reasons why it should not be regarded as imminent or inevitable. First of all, any amendments would still have to be approved by a national referendum. A move to strike out Article 9, the clause renouncing war, for instance, would certainly meet stiff resistance since it is an integral part of Japan’s postwar identity as a ‘nation of peace’. Less controversial changes, on the other hand, might be sold to the public.

    The current constitution was drafted in 1946 by the US-led occupation authority as it went about disarming and democratising the former enemy. In the 70 years since, the constitution has never been amended, although its pacifist stance has been ‘reinterpreted’ to justify the existence of Japan’s Self-Defense Forces (backed today by the world’s 8th biggest defence budget). When the Abe government moved last September to expand the scope of self-defence to include limited forms of ‘collective self-defence’ — allowing the military to go to the aid of an ally if Japan were also threatened — large-scale public protests erupted against what many saw as constitutional revision without due process.

    Campaigning on behalf of candidates for the upper house, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe generally avoided the constitutional issue and stuck to economic themes. The combined opposition parties, in contrast, put the constitution front and centre, asking voters to stop the ruling bloc from gaining the crucial two-thirds majority. Abe’s victory could mean the electorate has either grown tired of the constitutional controversy or is more concerned about having a steady hand on the tiller. Both, of course, could be true.

    Some commentators believe the Abe government will be fully occupied trying to revive a sluggish economy and won’t want to venture into the minefield of constitutional law. Some senior LDP executives and business leaders are also advising caution. Abe remains committed to revision but concedes the need for deeper discussion on what might be changed and how.

    The LDP’s coalition partner, Komeito, would also have to be convinced first, given its long-standing commitment to the status quo.

    The LDP’s draft new constitution contains so many problematic changes — including enhancing the status of the Emperor, reducing the importance of the individual versus the state, increasing the power of the executive branch of government and ending the strict separation of church and state — it is highly unlikely the public would swallow it whole. A smarter approach, and one already gaining some momentum, would narrow the focus and include less controversial proposals (for instance, adding a ‘right to privacy’ to the constitution). Retaining most of Article 9 — removing only the reference to disarmament — would also have a greater chance of being accepted.

    An exit poll conducted by the Asahi Shimbun in conjunction with the upper house election found more voters favoured (unspecified) constitutional change than opposed it, albeit by a narrow margin. An exit poll by the Jiji news agency obtained the opposite result, although one-third of its respondents were ‘unsure’. These surveys sampled the 55 per cent of the electorate who actually turned out to vote — the politically active component of the population the LDP would need in a referendum.

    If there has been a shift in the public mood, it could be because a lot has happened since last September: more Japanese have died in terrorist atrocities abroad, China has stepped up its belligerent approach to territorial disputes, North Korea has test-fired ballistic missiles, and US presidential candidate Donald Trump has put Japan on notice to provide for its own defence. The US–Japan alliance was further frayed by the murder of a young woman by a US base employee in Okinawa. At a time of great unease, public approval for the Abe cabinet has rebounded 11 percentage points (to 48 per cent) from its low point of a year ago.

    Abe has the remaining two years of his term as party president to fulfil his deeply held ambition to replace Japan’s US-imposed constitution with one reflecting traditional, indigenous values. The prospects for revision may come down to a choice between pragmatism and ideology: whether the revisionists are prepared to revert to a minimalist approach — essentially to establish a precedent for change — or risk everything trying for root-and-branch reform. The ruling bloc may be a step closer to the glittering prize, but this new opportunity brings with it a greater risk of hubris.

    Walter Hamilton was the ABC’s Tokyo correspondent for 11 years. He is currently based in Sydney.

    #Japon #Constitution

  • Indian Kashmir protests flare, three killed as army opens fire | Reuters

    Indian soldiers fired on a stone-throwing crowd defying a curfew in the Kashmir region, killing three people, police said on Tuesday, as unrest sparked by the death of a separatist militant flared.

    Authorities have imposed a curfew in Muslim-majority Kashmir for 11 days, blocked mobile phones and briefly ordered curbs on newspapers to stop people from gathering and to control the worst outbreak of violence there in six years.

    Late on Monday, protesters blocked a road and threw stones at an army convoy.

    “Some miscreants then tried to snatch weapons from the army and tried to set vehicles on fire,” a police spokesman said on Tuesday.

    The army opened fire after the protesters refused to heed warnings and two women were killed, the spokesman said.

    A third person died in hospital on Tuesday, taking the death toll to 42 since protests erupted on July 9 over the killing of Burhan Wani, 22, a commander of the Hizbul Mujahideen militant group, the previous day.

    About 3,500 people have been hurt, many with eye injuries caused by pellets Indian forces have been firing from a non-lethal weapon. The injuries have fueled anger.

    Kashmir is India’s only Muslim-majority state and has been contentious since India and Muslim Pakistan were carved out of British-ruled India and declared independent in 1947.

    Both sides rule the Himalayan region in part but claim it in full and India has long accused Pakistan of arming separatists battling Indian forces in its part of Kashmir. Pakistan denies that.

    The young militant Wani represented a new generation of fighters in a region where alienation runs deep even though attacks have fallen dramatically since the revolt broke out in 1989.

    India’s interior minister, Rajnath Singh, said he had ordered security forces to exercise restraint. He told parliament he would visit Kashmir soon and hold talks with people “whose pain is being felt by every Indian”.

    The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, which has advocated a tough stand on Kashmir, shares power with a regional party in Kashmir and has been criticized for failing to address grievances.

    The publisher of Kashmir’s largest-circulation newspaper said authorities had asked him to resume publication after police seized newspapers over the weekend and shut down cable television, saying it was necessary to stop people from fomenting trouble.

    But Abdul Rashid Mukhdoomi, printer and publisher of Greater Kashmir, said he was meeting other publishers to decide whether to resume publication under the curfew.

    Militants claiming to be “brothers close” to Al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent had called on social media for people in Kashmir to attack Indian forces, U.S. intelligence group SITE said on Monday.

    (Writing by Sanjeev Miglani; Editing by Robert Birsel)

    #Inde #Cachemire

  • Preparing for the worst: disaster education in Japan | East Asia Forum

    roadly speaking, disaster education fits within two categories: publicly funded and voluntarily organised education. Currently, voluntarily organised disaster education is rapidly outpacing its publicly funded counterpart.

    It is the responsibility of the government and its agencies — at the municipal, prefecture and national level — to provide public disaster education. The framework of this education program is set out in the Basic Disaster Management Plan, which is in turn broken down into regional, prefectural and municipal plans. This means that disaster education can be discussed while taking specific risks and local needs into consideration.

    As many as 24 government organisations and 56 public corporations are also obliged to have Disaster Management Operation Plans. These plans not only set out protocols, arrangements and areas of responsibilities in emergency situations, but also define disaster education for the organisation.

    The Meteorological Agency, for instance, offers a workshop called ‘what to do if you experience torrential rain’ to communities which are likely to be hit by heavy rain and typhoons. Another example is the Stranded Commuters Measures Ordinance, which was introduced following the 2011 triple disaster when a large number of commuters were stuck in Tokyo.

    In memory of the 1923 Kanto Earthquake, which killed more than 100,000 people in Tokyo, the Japanese government has also established 1 September as ‘Disaster Prevention Day’ (bosai no hi) and the week commencing 30 August as ‘Disaster Prevention Week’ (bosai shukan). During these events, governments at the national, prefectural and municipal levels offer awareness-raising events and practical training drills. A range of information regarding disaster-related laws and policies, educational materials and event information are also made available to the public via government websites.

    In schools, disaster education is regulated under the School Health and Safety Act, within a multi-hazard policy framework called ‘School Safety’. The act requires every school, with guidance from the Ministry of Education, to develop and implement a School Safety Plan. Requirements for school preparedness in the face of various hazards are also defined within the national curriculum, with individual schools being obliged to implement suitable safety initiatives. Disaster education is also a necessity for school staff, through which they gain scientific knowledge on disasters as well as first aid and counselling skills.

    Historically, volunteer organised disaster response in Japan has taken on a different role than the publicly funded form. One critical aspect is mutual cooperation between local neighbourhoods. Most of the wards in cities and towns have a volunteer disaster prevention organisation (jishu bosai soshiki) along with a neighbourhood association (chonaikai), which are usually led by retired firemen and community leaders. Working together with the municipal government, volunteer organisations arrange awareness-raising events as well as disaster drills for the community.

    On top of such traditional forms of volunteer organisations, there has also been a recent surge in interest for civic participation and community support. The 1995 Hanshin/Awaji Earthquake originally triggered this interest and, as a consequence, 1995 is referred to as ‘the start year of volunteering’ in Japan. Given the increasing numbers of volunteers, a not-for-profit and independent organisation called the Council of Social Welfare (shakai fukushi kyogikai) was established to organise training, develop guidelines to clarify the roles of volunteers and promote a culture of volunteering.

    What is interesting about voluntarily organised disaster education is its two-dimensional nature. Volunteers are educated about disasters both through formal and informal training and through the process of volunteering itself.

    Overall, Japan’s disaster relief and disaster education looks to have a promising future, though it has not yet reached its goal of reducing the damage of natural disasters by 50 per cent. For instance, collaborative work among different stakeholders, including voluntary sectors, is continuing to increase. This trend has partly stemmed from cuts in public funding for disaster education. While such austerity measures are of concern, this does provide an opportunity for Japan to consolidate the development of its civil society — a central actor in disaster relief.

    Another positive trend has been the emergence of the notion of ‘everyday preparedness’ (seikatsu bosai). Originally advocated by Kyoto University’s Professor Katsuya Yamori, its aim is to embed vigilant thinking and behaviour in everyday life, rather than treating disaster education as an additional activity. Everyday preparedness is promoted as being developed by citizens, for citizens. Such trends in disaster relief improve Japan’s ability to live with disasters, rather than be a victim of them.

    Kaori Kitagawa is a researcher at the Cass School of Education and Communities, University of East London.

    #Japon #Education

  • Migrant domestic workers left out of policy in Asia | East Asia Forum

    Migrant domestic workers left out of policy in Asia
    25 June 2016
    Author: M. Rezaul Islam, University of Dhaka and University of Malaya

    Asia’s migrant domestic workers face exploitation and discrimination, but are largely left out of countries’ labour policies and legislation. Though estimates of the number of domestic workers vary between 52 and 67.1 million, there is consensus that a significant proportion of them, perhaps as many as 11.5 million, are migrants. About 40 per cent of the world’s domestic workers are in the Asia Pacific and around 80 per cent of migrant domestic workers are women.

    Many migrant domestic workers face legal and social discrimination in their countries of work. According to a recent report by Farsight, 71 per cent of migrant domestic workers in East Asia experienced exploitation during the recruitment process, 49 per cent suffered limited freedom of movement, 32 per cent had identity and travel documents confiscated, and 63 per cent faced exploitive practices while working abroad.

    Migrant domestic workers in the Asia Pacific principally migrate from Indonesia, the Philippines, Pakistan, India, Nepal, Vietnam and Sri Lanka, leaving behind their homes and families to work abroad in destinations like Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia and Taiwan. Globalisation, demographic shifts, conflict, income inequalities and climate change will encourage even more workers and their families to cross borders in search of employment and security.

    Despite a large number of international laws and conventions stipulating their rights, most Asian countries have no specific policy on the protection of migrant domestic workers within their borders. The Philippines is the only Asia-Pacific country that has ratified the International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) 2011 Domestic Workers Convention. Most Asian countries employing migrant domestic workers have instead adopted specific policies differentiating how these workers are treated by national labour or other related laws compared to local employees.

    Due to the lack of proper laws and policies, exclusions from and partial coverage under the law means that migrant domestic workers are relatively unprotected in a number of important areas including key labour regulations. Workers encounter changes to contracts without their agreement, wage discrimination, falsified wage receipts, discrimination based on country of origin, being locked inside the employer’s home, abandonment, problems accessing healthcare, bans on union membership, invasions of privacy, excessive trial periods, language barriers and more. They face human rights violations not only in the workplace, but also at various stages of the work cycle, such as during recruitment, placement and upon their return to their home town.

    In Asian countries there remain large disparities between domestic workers and other employees. Working time is one of the areas where the principle of equal treatment described in the Domestic Workers Convention is not yet a universal reality. More than half of all domestic workers have no limitation on their weekly regular hours under national laws, and approximately 45 per cent have no entitlement to weekly rest periods or paid annual leave. Destination countries often rely heavily on migrant labour, yet have insufficient policies to ensure transparent and fair recruitment practices, or equal access to the law once migrants begin working.

    The aforementioned Farsight report characterises the situation of many migrant domestic workers as ‘modern slavery’. This is more than just a human rights issue. It is a transnational, economic and social issue that has implications for the development of emerging economies and their human capital. Resolving these problems will benefit societies as a whole.

    But addressing these issues has its challenges.

    The first step to address these policy challenges should be preparing a full profile of migrant domestic workers in Asia in conjunction with the ILO. Countries throughout the Asia Pacific should also pursue regional, multilateral and bilateral agreements that will facilitate the establishment of minimum standards for recruitment and working conditions.

    Comprehensive legal protection and enforcement as well as an internationally recognised model for a ‘standard working contract’ could provide important safeguards for the migrant domestic workers in Asia. It will be crucial that these policies take into account the particular concerns facing female migrant domestic workers. Together these policies could be a major step forwarding in improving the rights and welfare of migrant domestic workers in societies across the region.

    Dr M. Rezaul Islam is a Professor at the Institute of Social Welfare & Research, University of Dhaka and a Visiting Senior Lecturer at the Department of Social Administration and Justice, University of Malaya.

  • India’s Anti-Satellite Weapons | The Diplomat

    The utility of space as a medium for war has grown exponentially since the days of the Cold War Space Race. The military potential of satellites is manifold: communications, navigation, early-warning systems, reconnaissance, and signal intelligence. Any state that manages to get the upper hand in this frontier can be expected to dominate the outcome of any war. A state with command over space-based assets can jam enemy satellites or destroy them, and stop the enemy from communicating with troops or accessing vital information about troop movements or incoming missiles. It is in this context that the events in India’s neighborhood have caused anxiety and have led to calls for a new space policy aimed at countering the growing might of China’s space military program.

    Threats From China’s Anti-Satellite (ASAT) Program

    According to some reports, Beijing conducted its latest anti-satellite missile test in 2013, when it launched its new ASAT (anti-satellite) missile, the Dong Neng-2 or DN-2. A U.S. defense official familiar with military intelligence, speaking on the condition of anonymity, described the DN-2 as a “ground-based, high earth-orbit attack missile.” Further, a report by the Secure World Foundation stated that “while there is no conclusive proof, the available evidence strongly suggests that China’s May 2013 launch was the test of the rocket component of a new direct ascent ASAT weapons system derived from a road-mobile ballistic missile.”

    This was not the first time Beijing tested its ASAT program. A more prominent test occurred in January 2007, when the Chinese military launched a KT-1 rocket that successfully destroyed a redundant Chinese Feng Yun 1-C weather satellite in Low Earth Orbit (LEO), approximately 800 kilometers above the Earth. The test left behind approximately 2,500 to 3,000 pieces of dangerous debris in LEO, where reconnaissance and weather satellites and manned space missions are vulnerable to space debris. In May 2013, a Russian satellite was struck and destroyed, reportedly by one such piece of debris.

    Hazardous space debris aside, the test also confirmed China’s capability to attack and destroy enemy satellites in the event of war, sabotaging the enemy’s military operations.

    Such developments have not gone unnoticed in New Delhi’s defense establishment. Security experts and scholars have called for a rethink of India’s space policy, augmenting India’s ASAT weapons capability. Following China’s 2007 ASAT weapons test, the then-chief of army staff of the Indian Army, General Deepak Kapoor, was quoted in a Times of India report saying that China’s space program was expanding at an “exponentially rapid” pace in both offensive and defensive capabilities, and that space was becoming the “ultimate military high ground” to dominate in the wars of the future. Then-Integrated Defense Staff Chief Lt. General H S Lidder was also quoted as saying, “with time, we will get sucked into the military race to protect space assets and inevitably there will be a military contest in space. In a life-and-death scenario, space will provide the advantage.”

    A breakthrough emerged in 2012 when V.K. Saraswat, then the chief of the Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO), India’s premier defense R&D organization, announced that India has all the building blocks in place to integrate an anti-satellite weapon to neutralize hostile satellites in low earth and polar orbits. In an interview, Saraswat suggested that India’s anti-ballistic missile (ABM) defense program could be utilized as an ASAT weapon, along with its Agni series of missiles. This was corroborated by DRDO, which said that the Indian Ballistic Missile Defense Program can incorporate anti-satellite weapon development.

    It should also be remembered that with the recent successes of its Mars mission and the geosynchronous satellite launch vehicle (GSLV-D5), the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) now has the capability to launch satellites weighing in excess of two tons, an important prerequisite for the deployment of any weapons system. And while existing space treaties prohibit placing weapons of mass destruction in space, they do not explicitly prohibit the placing of other types of weapons. For DRDO then, the next goal would likely be to develop orbital weapons, which could remain in space for as long as required while orbiting Earth or the Moon.

    Does India Really Have an ASAT Weapons Capability?

    While the statements by V.K. Saraswat created ripples all over, at home his statements were dismissed by certain scholars as an exaggeration. Questioning India’s “purported” capabilities, scholars like Michael Listner and Victoria Samson have pointed out that without conducting a test and demonstrating its ASAT capability explicitly, India will only be seen as a “paper tiger” by the arms control and intelligence community. Listner pointed out that the acknowledgement by Saraswat about India developing and bringing together the basic technologies to create a system that could be used against enemy satellites, and the decision to adapt India’s ABM technology for an ASAT role was “doubtless encouraged by the ancillary capability demonstrated by the United States when it adapted its ABM system to deorbit USA 193 in 2008.” But should such ancillary capability be taken as a evidence of full ASAT capability?

    Expressing perplexity over contradictory statements from Indian officials, and their refusal to clear the air about India’s ASAT program, Listner states that public statements about India’s purported ASAT capability seem to “fit neither an active program to develop an ASAT or an ancillary capability to ballistic missile defense.”

    However, in 2011, Bharath Gopalaswamy, who was then a researcher in the Arms Control and Non-Proliferation Program at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, claimed that India’s scientific community is open to an ASAT test, if it was done with caution. Rajeswari Rajagopalan, senior fellow at the Observer Research Foundation, a New Delhi based think tank, said that “India might do an ASAT test in the next five to 10 years.” While these statements are illuminating as to the going-ons in India’s academic and scientific circles, actually testing India’s purported ASAT capacity is easier said than done. As pointed out by Arvind Kumar, professor of Geopolitics and International Relations at Manipal University, ASAT capabilities require a number of technologies related to space-based sensors, synthetic aperture radars, electronics, a sound navigation system, guidance and control, and global positioning systems. A number of different types of sensors, including infrared sensors, optical sensors, electronic-optical sensors, and magnetic sensors are vital to monitor, detect, and help in sensing the events. Whether India has the ability to acquire or build these technologies is doubtful.

    The Case for ASAT Weapons Demonstration

    The questions raised over India’s ASAT weapons capacity are doubtless important. Even if New Delhi does have an anti-satellite weapons capability, it will only be acknowledged if it comes out in the open with a successful test. But such a demonstration will come with its own costs. What would be the consequences if New Delhi decided to demonstrate its purported ASAT capability?

    It should be remembered that along with causing grave insecurity, and possibly a space-weaponization race in the region, such a test will also lead to the creation of hazardous space debris, which could doubtless elicit international opprobrium, and possibly even sanctions. Burgeoning relations with the United States — which even led to the signing of the 2005 India-US Civil Nuclear Agreement and made India the first country with nuclear weapons which is not a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), but still allowed to carry out nuclear commerce with a nuclear weapons state — could end in jeopardy if India unilaterally tests ASAT weapons.

    Further, at a time when India is looking at the indigenization of its defense industry to cut the costs of importing weapons (India is the world’s largest arms importer) and hoping to garner international investments in its defense and manufacturing industry, such a move could stall such developments as investors would see the tests as a sign of aggression and defiance of international norms. Additionally, for India to establish its defense-industrial base, it needs the transfer of technology from technologically advanced nations. If New Delhi decides to go ahead with ASAT tests, it will possibly be looking at sanctions, not tech transfers.

    #Inde #Espace #course_aux_armements_en_Asie

  • BRIC : la fin d’un acronyme ? | IRIS

    Depuis l’invention de l’acronyme BRIC, en 2001, par l’économiste Jim O’Neill, pour désigner cet ensemble de pays émergents à fort potentiel de croissance, que de chemin parcouru pour le Brésil, la Russie, l’Inde et la Chine… Ces pays pesaient environ 21,5 % du PIB mondial en 2014 (PIB courant en dollars), contre moins de 8 % en 2000. Durant les années 2000, leur dynamique a permis de soutenir la croissance mondiale et d’instaurer une recomposition de la division internationale des échanges. Les BRIC ont progressivement remplacé les anciennes locomotives économiques (Etats-Unis, Japon, Europe) en s’offrant même, de prime abord, un « certain » partage sectoriel international : au Brésil et à la Russie un pouvoir de marché sur les matières premières énergétiques, minérales et alimentaires, à la Chine une spécialisation marquée dans le secteur manufacturier et industriel et, enfin, à l’Inde une affirmation de son poids dans le secteur des services.

    La gestion de la crise des subprimes a renforcé cette croyance puisqu’excepté la Russie en 2009, les BRIC ont conservé de forts taux de croissance dans un environnement économique pourtant déprimé. Ensemble, ils ont ainsi contribué à environ 1/3 de la croissance mondiale entre 2000 et 2010 (en dollars constants [1]) et ont largement porté la dynamique économique internationale sur la période 2010-2013. Pourtant, à la lumière de récents événements (décélération marquée en Chine, récession au Brésil et en Russie), une double interrogation s’impose : le processus de développement économique des BRIC n’est-il pas en train de connaitre un point de rupture ? Les BRIC peuvent-ils survivre au ralentissement économique observé en Chine ?

    Quelle unicité des BRIC ?

    Concentrant près de 40 % de la population mondiale, les BRIC sont tous, sans exception, de grands pays qui se sont appuyés sur un Etat bâtisseur et un secteur public proéminent pour impulser leur développement. Aucun (excepté la Russie au début des années 2000) n’a d’ailleurs particulièrement suivi les recommandations économiques des institutions financières internationales (Fonds monétaire international, Banque mondiale) en matière de croissance économique et de développement… Tous ont bénéficié d’une politique marquée d’investissements directs étrangers (IDE) : leur part dans les flux mondiaux d’IDE est ainsi passée de 6 % en 2000 à 12 % en 2005, pour atteindre plus de 20 % des flux totaux en 2014. Ils sont également tous membres de l’Organisation mondiale du commerce (le Brésil et l’Inde depuis 1995, la Chine en 2001 et la Russie en 2012) et ont ainsi profité de la libéralisation des échanges internationaux pour s’insérer dans le village mondial. Certains - on pense notamment à la Chine - se sont aidés de politiques commerciales agressives et ambitieuses, notamment en matière de politique de change et de politiques fiscales pour stimuler les IDE sur leur territoire. D’un point de vue démographique, deux membres des BRIC (la Chine et le Brésil) ont bénéficié d’une fenêtre d’opportunité [3] sur la dernière décennie et l’Inde devrait commencer à toucher son dividende démographique dans les années qui viennent. L’âge médian de la population du Brésil, de la Chine et de l’Inde était ainsi respectivement de 29 ans, 35 ans et 26 ans en 2010, contre 44 ans pour l’Allemagne et 45 ans pour le Japon.

    La situation démographique montre pourtant, à elle seule, combien les BRIC restent hétérogènes et ne peuvent être analysés comme une seule et même entité. En effet, si la Chine est appelée à rejoindre prochainement la Russie dans le groupe des pays en futur déclin démographique, le Brésil fermera, lui, sa fenêtre d’opportunité d’ici 2025, tandis que l’Inde bénéficiera encore plusieurs décennies d’une population jeune, favorable à son développement économique [3]. D’un point de vue purement économique, l’hétérogénéité des BRIC n’est plus à démontrer tant le développement économique est en partie fonction des histoires propres à chacun : part de l’investissement dans le PIB, taux d’épargne, dotations factorielles, positionnement sectoriel, stock d’IDE, dette des acteurs économiques… Reste une certitude : derrière des taux de croissance supérieurs à la moyenne mondiale durant les années 2000, ces pays ont clairement affiché une volonté commune (et concurrente) de devenir des puissances globales !

    Contraintes communes versus dynamiques différenciées

    Aujourd’hui, les BRICS peuvent-ils être toujours considérés comme les relais de croissance des pays développés ? Un à un, ils « déçoivent » : la Chine a enregistré une croissance annuelle de 6,9 % pour l’année 2015, la plus faible depuis près de 25 ans ! Ce ralentissement s’est conjugué à une volatilité accrue de ses marchés financiers (effondrement boursier durant l’été 2015 et l’hiver 2016). De leur côté, le Brésil (-3,8 %) et la Russie (-3,7 %) s’enfoncent dans la récession et les récents développements observés sur les marchés pétroliers tout comme les évènements institutionnels et politiques n’invitent pas à l’optimisme à court et moyen terme. Seule l’Inde (7,3 %) affiche un dynamisme supérieur à l’ensemble de ses partenaires d’acronyme. Les BRIC sont ainsi soumis à deux types de transition : le premier, lié à un environnement international marqué par l’effondrement des prix du pétrole et, plus généralement, des matières premières, dans un contexte de ralentissement mondial et chinois ; le second, interne, lié aux dynamiques nationales.


  • Modi en visite en Iran,1338,1338

    Le président chinois Xi Jinping et le premier ministre pakistanais Nawaz Sharif avaient chacun choisi d’enchaîner les étapes de Riyad et Téhéran lors de leur tournée respective du Proche-Orient en janvier dernier. Narendra Modi qui, contrairement à Barack Obama a reçu un traitement royal lors de sa visite en Arabie saoudite en avril 2016 a choisi de visiter les États du Proche-Orient séparément, comme pour bien marquer qu’il n’y a pas de lien entre ces visites. On peut y voir des raisons de calendrier, mais plus vraisemblablement, il s’agit là de bien marquer que les relations que New Delhi entretient avec l’un des pays de la région ne sauraient avoir de conséquences sur celles qu’elle a avec un autre — surtout lorsque, comme c’est le cas ici, les deux pays en question nourrissent mutuellement une hostilité notoire.


    Indépendamment de la configuration régionale, les sujets bilatéraux ne manquent pas entre New Delhi et Téhéran. Si l’Inde importe massivement ses hydrocarbures des États arabes de la péninsule Arabique, il est essentiel de diversifier ses approvisionnements pour d’évidentes raisons de sécurité des approvisionnements, mais aussi parce que la croissance indienne est extrêmement vorace en énergie. Selon l’Agence internationale de l’énergie (AIE), en 2040, la dépendance de l’Inde au pétrole importé atteindra 90 % de sa consommation totale1. Or, l’Iran est non seulement un producteur de pétrole, mais ses réserves en gaz naturel sont les deuxièmes au monde après la Russie. C’est avant tout ce besoin vital de sécuriser ses approvisionnements qui explique que l’Inde ait constamment résisté aux pressions américaines visant à prendre ses distances avec la République islamique d’Iran. C’est dire combien la signature de l’accord nucléaire conclu à Vienne le 14 juillet de l’année dernière a été bien accueillie à New Delhi, suscitant l’espoir d’une levée progressive des sanctions.

    À l’heure où dans toute l’Asie, le maître mot est la « connectivité », l’Inde place également de grands espoirs dans le port iranien de Chabahar, sur la mer d’Arabie dans la province du Sistan Baloutchistan, comme point d’entrée d’une route lui permettant d’accéder à l’Afghanistan et à l’Asie centrale sans avoir à traverser le Pakistan. En janvier, le gouvernement indien a accordé un prêt de 150 millions de dollars au projet de développement du port. Aux termes d’un accord conclu en mai 2015, l’Inde doit équiper et avoir la responsabilité opérationnelle de deux quais de Chabahar pendant une période de dix ans au terme de laquelle la responsabilité sera rétrocédée aux Iraniens.

    Enfin, l’Inde et l’Iran partagent en grande partie une même préoccupation face au terrorisme des groupes djihadistes sunnites (organisation de l’État islamique, Al-Qaida et les groupes qui évoluent dans leur mouvance). Le fait que ces groupes aient souvent des liens, pour ne pas dire davantage, avec les services secrets pakistanais rapproche encore davantage New Delhi et Téhéran. Lors de ses déplacements à Abou Dhabi en août 2015 et à Riyad en avril dernier], Modi avait obtenu le soutien des autorités de ces pays dans la lutte contre le terrorisme. S’il se confirme que les relations indo-iraniennes comprennent bien un volet antiterrorisme, ce ne sera pas un mince succès pour le chef du gouvernement indien, jusqu’alors connu pour son nationalisme hindou et peu apprécié des musulmans indiens, d’avoir gagné à sa cause les dirigeants de trois pays musulmans d’importance et qui, dans le cas de l’Iran et de l’Arabie, s’accusent mutuellement de soutenir le terrorisme !


    Narendra Modi devrait ensuite effectuer son voyage tant attendu (et retardé) en Israël et en Palestine. Compte tenu de son admiration pour Israël et pour Benyamin Nétanyahou, ses faits et gestes seront scrutés avec attention lors de ce voyage. Lorsqu’elle s’est rendue sur place pour préparer le terrain, la ministre des affaires étrangères Sushma Swaraj a pris soin de réitérer le soutien de l’Inde à la cause palestinienne. Mais pour les Palestiniens, qui ne se font plus guère d’illusions, ce ne sont que de bonnes paroles sans effet pratique.

    La discrétion avec laquelle l’Inde et Israël collaborent de très longue date dans le domaine de la défense et de la sécurité ne trompe pas davantage. L’ancrage est profond et remonte aux années 1960, lorsque le pays était fermement dirigé par le parti du Congrès. Longtemps, Israël a été pour l’Inde comme une maîtresse que l’on fréquente sans la montrer en public. Il s’agissait alors principalement de ne pas heurter les pays arabes. Cette façon de faire a perduré pratiquement jusqu’à ce jour. Pourtant, non seulement les secrets entourant cette relation n’en sont plus, mais de surcroît, il n’y a plus aucun risque de fâcher les États arabes en se rapprochant ouvertement d’Israël avec lequel certains d’entre eux — notamment les monarchies du Golfe — affichent sans complexe une convergence stratégique face à l’Iran.

    #Inde #Proche-Orient

  • Baisse des emplois en Inde et inquiétude des couches moyennes
    Indian jobseekers still waiting for Modi’s ‘good days’ | East Asia Forum

    The Bureau’s data show that employment generation in eight labour intensive sectors — textiles, garments, leather, jewellery, business outsourcing, handlooms, metals and automobiles — amounted to a mere 135,000 jobs during 2015, compared to 490,000 the previous year and a much larger 1.25 million in 2009. Worse still, employment in these eight sectors actually declined in the last quarter of 2015.

    This must surely be worrying news for those observers who never tire of celebrating India’s demographic dividend. More than any other feature of the economy, employment generation will be the key to Modi’s electoral prospects — and indeed to social peace and stability in India. Senior Indian National Congress politician Tarun Gogoi, himself in the midst of a tough electoral battle, was quick to jump on the Labour Bureau’s dismal statistics and chastised the government for the lowest job generation in seven years.

    The recent caste-based protests in Gujarat and Haryana states are symptomatic of rising unrest among the ‘neo-middle class’, who are undoubtedly disappointed with current employment trends. News from management and engineering colleges about flagging levels of student offtake by industry is also disconcerting.

  • Incident entre Taïwan et le Japon, ses conséquences
    Japan’s important sideshow to arbitration decision in the South China Sea | East Asia Forum

    n 24 April Japan’s Coast Guard arrested a Taiwanese fishing vessel and its crew for fishing in waters that Japan claims are part of its 200-nautical mile ‘exclusive economic zone’ (EEZ) under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). Japan’s EEZ claim is based on its control over two tiny rocks surrounded by a coral reef more than 1000 miles south of Tokyo. Although Japanese military patrols began chasing Taiwanese fishing boats away from the area two years ago, this was reportedly the first actual detention since 2012.

    The Taiwanese government lodged a strong protest against the recent Japanese action. To obtain the release of the ship and crew the Taiwanese ship-owner posted a security bond, in effect a fine, with the Japanese government. The incident infuriated public opinion in Taiwan.

    The detention of the ship occurred some 150 nautical miles from the Okinotori islands in an area where as many as 200 Taiwanese fishing boats operated safely in the past. The influential Taiwan fishing community demanded the return of the security deposit, reimbursement for business losses incurred and an apology to the ship’s captain, who was allegedly subjected to a strip search.

    Increasingly influential Taiwanese nationalists called for a strong reaction to Japan’s interference with Taiwanese perceived fishing rights in an area Taiwan deems to be part of the ‘high seas’ rather than Japan’s EEZ. President Ma Ying-jeou, himself an expert on the law of the sea, promptly dispatched several armed patrol boats to protect Taiwanese fishermen in the area, some 860 nautical miles away. Taiwan’s Coast Guard announced that it would follow a policy of ‘no evasion, no confrontation and no provocation’ and hoped for a peaceful, rational solution. But it added that it would ‘take responsive measures’ against any unfriendly Japanese actions.

  • Difficile tournant économique de la Chine.
    President Xi’s stance on China’s economy laid bare as he distances hallmark policy from Western-style supply-side economics | South China Morning Post

    An explanation of President Xi Jinping’s hallmark economic policy, in his own words, was ­published in People’s Daily yesterday – one day after it printed an interview with an unidentified “authoritative” source repudiating China’s debt-fuelled growth policies.
    Xi’s explanation – a 20,000-character transcript of a speech that occupied two pages in the newspaper – was the most comprehensive elaboration of the president’s thinking on the Chinese economy’s past, present and future and its role in the global economy since he became the country’s leader more than three years ago.
    Xi made the speech in January to principal ministerial and provincial officials.
    “I need to be clear, the supply-side structural reform we are talking about is not the same as the supply-side economics school in the West,” Xi said.
    “[We] must prevent some people from using their interpretations [of supply-side reform] to promote ‘neo-liberalism’,” he continued, drawing a line ­between his policy and those of Ronald Reagan of the United States or Margaret Thatcher of Britain in the 1980s.
    China’s supply-side reform was more than “an issue of tax or tax rate” – it was a slew of structural measures to seek innovation, prosperity and well-being.
    Xi said some Chinese officials did not understand the point of supply-side reform.
    “I highlighted the issue of supply-side structural reform at last year’s central economic work conference, and it triggered heated debate, with fairly good endorsement from the international community and various sides at home,” Xi said.
    “But some comrades told me that they didn’t fully understand supply-side reform ... I need to talk about this issue again.”

    Xi said the concept could be implemented by “cutting capacity, reducing inventory, cutting ­leverage, lowering costs, and strengthening the weak links”.
    “Our supply-side reform, to say it in a complete way, is supply-side structural reform, and that’s my original wording used at the central economic work conference,” Xi said
    “The word ‘structural’ is very important, you can shorten it as ‘supply-side reform’, but please don’t forget the word ‘structural’,” Xi said.
    As China’s economy splinters along provincial lines, nuanced policy becomes key

    The key problem for the Chinese economy was “on the supply side”, though China could not ­afford to completely neglect managing demand.
    China could not rely on “stimulating domestic demand to address structural problems such as overcapacity”, he said.
    “The problem in China is not about insufficient demand or lack of demand, in fact, demands in China have changed, but supplies haven’t changed accordingly,” Xi said.
    He gave the example of Chinese consumers shopping overseas for daily products such as electric rice cookers, toilet covers, milk powder and even baby bottles to show that domestic supply did not match domestic demand.
    Xi’s emphasis on supply-side change was part of a global trend, said Li Yang, a former vice-president at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, a government think tank.
    “The economic problems cannot be solved by demand-side policies. Macro economies around the world, including China’s, are changing toward supply-side policies, paying attention to the real economy, structural factors, and eyeing innovation as the major driver,” Li said yesterday.

    #Chine #Xi_Jinping

  • Meet Rodrigo Duterte : The Filipino Trump, Turned Up to 11 | Foreign Policy

    But Duterte’s rise is not surprising. It’s symptomatic of a traumatized citizenry — an irrational response to a rational rage.
    Just look at the news that featured prominently in April, according to Pulse Asia, a Filipino polling company. A rice shortage in the south of the country led to the deaths of three farmers, in clashes between protesters and police. Bail was granted to notorious businesswoman Janet Napoles, imprisoned on plunder charges for bribing senators in a billion-peso pork barrel scam. Police chief and presidential crony Alan Purisima may have violated the Anti-Graft and Corruption Practices Act, a 1960s law prominent in post-Marcos scandals of government malfeasance. And U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter announced joint patrols with the Philippine military, after which China landed a military aircraft on a disputed reef — a further sign of the country’s terminally weak military defenses.

    Since Filipinos drove Marcos out of office in 1986, citizens have witnessed land reform fail, corruption scandals erupt (two presidents, Joseph Estrada and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, have gone to jail), infrastructure decay, and responses to natural disasters bungled. Citizens have seen journalists massacred, peace treaties upended, and state harassment or outright murders of farmers, student activists, and labor leaders. They have weathered violent military action in indigenous, resource-rich lands. It is as if Marcos never left.

    Meanwhile, the hold of the very rich over the poor remains criminal: In 2012, Forbes Asia reported that the collective wealth of the 40 richest Filipino families grew $13 billion in 2010-2011, equivalent to 76.5 percent of the country’s overall increase in GDP during that period. And while annual per capita income has steadily risen since 2006, it is still under $3,000 — on par with the West Bank and Gaza. No wonder Filipinos continue to seek jobs overseas in droves — 2.32 million workers left the country in 2015.

    Duterte paints himself a populist, an outsider who will fix all ills. Indeed, the other candidates all come from Manila or the historical elite. They are Grace Poe, the adopted child of an action star; Mar Roxas, the favored candidate of embattled President Benigno Aquino III; Miriam Santiago, a tough-talking senator fighting lung cancer; and Jejomar Binay, the current vice president, who is under investigation for corruption.

    Instead, the public has turned to Duterte, a strongman with a joker’s smile. But although Duterte affects humble roots, he is actually one of the many nephews of the Duranos of Danao City in the province of Cebu, a Marcos-era warlord family whose rise to power using the three G’s of Philippine politics — guns, goons, and gold — was notorious. Duterte’s father governed the province of Davao, south of Cebu, from 1959 to 1965, raising Duterte in an atmosphere of privilege.

    Trained as a lawyer, Duterte was elected mayor of Davao City in 1988. He quickly became known for his anti-crime policies. During his seven four-year terms as mayor, he allegedly turned a city mired in crime into what he brags is the world’s ninth-safest city. Indeed, his most salient political platform today is that he will be tough on crime. In 2009, while serving as the peace and order advisor of then-president Arroyo, Duterte explained to her how Davao City fights crime. “The best practices in the city, ma’am, are the killings [of criminals],” he said. It’s an idea he’s repeated in various forms throughout the election campaign: To reduce crime, kill the criminals.

    No one doubts he will follow through on his threats. The international NGO Human Rights Watch (HRW) has chronicled the rise of “death squads” in Davao City: groups of men on the government payroll who kill petty criminals, street children, and drug dealers. For Duterte, HRW writes, “The brutal death squads that have claimed the lives of more than 1,000 people during his tenure as mayor of Davao City … are not a problem. They’re a political platform.” (How does Duterte respond to HRW’s claims? “All the bleeding hearts of U.S.-based crime watch: You want a taste of justice, my style?” he asked. “Come to Davao City, Philippines, and do drugs in my city. I will execute you in public.”)

    Duterte advocates federalism — breaking the Philippines into autonomous regions to focus on regional economic development. But ask him about concrete plans for governance that don’t involve fighting crime, and he falls back on his bluster. “If you say Roxas’s proposals are good, then I will copy them. Give me his speech, also Poe’s, I’ll consolidate them and copy them,” he said, referring to two of the other candidates.

    But scant policies combined with bravado seem enough for Filipino voters. The latest Pulse Asia survey reports that Duterte leads the other four candidates among every socioeconomic class, with an especially strong showing among the country’s middle class.

    To his fans, his air of a corner drunk — brazen, vulgar, and happily shameless — makes him a truth-teller, not a disaster. In some ways, the people see him as their protection — from meddlesome foreign governments, from overweening institutions, and of course from criminals.In some ways, the people see him as their protection — from meddlesome foreign governments, from overweening institutions, and of course from criminals. He told the U.S. and Australian ambassadors to “shut your mouth” after they criticized his joke about gang rape. He called the pope “the son of a whore” — seemingly for worsening Manila’s traffic during his official visit. And he told criminals to “watch out”: If I become president, he said, “The fish in Manila Bay will get fat. That is where I will dump you!”

    In short, his rise is a people’s revenge. His cursing mouth is the proxy spokesman for the people’s own cursed lives. He will establish law and order. He will destroy the elite. He will kill the bad guys. Rodrigo Duterte is a screen and a projection. He is a symptom, rather than the disease, of governance that never stanched the cancer of strongman rule. And on May 9, the joke will be on the country, when citizens wake up to find themselves in the nightmare they have chosen — the same nightmare they have been living all along.


  • China’s global economic impact is no longer state-owned | East Asia Forum
    China’s global economic impact is no longer state-owned
    4 May 2016
    Author: Paul Hubbard, ANU

    State-owned enterprises (SOEs) are often thought to dominate the Chinese market, with profound implications for the global economy. The US–China Economic and Security Review Commission stated that ‘Soviet-style, top-down planning remains a hallmark of China’s economic and political system’.
    A Commission hearing in Washington in February 2016 looked for evidence of ‘state capitalism in the global context’. But while some of China’s state-owned enterprises (SOEs) are very large and powerful companies at home, China’s private sector has a bigger impact on the global economy.

    China’s share of world manufacturing exports was 5 per cent when it joined the WTO in 2001. This share grew to 18 per cent by 2014. China’s export boom lowered prices for consumers around the world and contributed to Asian growth through integration with regional supply chains.

    Most things with a ‘made in China’ tag are not made by SOEs. This is largely a private sector success story, catalysed by foreign investment that brought capital and technology to China’s coastal provinces. When China joined the WTO, SOEs were responsible for just 18 per cent of the value of Chinese industrial exports. This declined to 8 per cent by 2014. A comprehensive survey of 430,000 Chinese industrial enterprises in 2009 confirms that Chinese industry is dominated by the private sector. 69 per cent of revenue for resources, manufacturing and utilities go to sectors in which non-SOEs control the majority of assets. These are mostly highly competitive.

    Only 16 per cent of industrial revenue goes to markets that are both concentrated and largely owned by SOEs — most significantly oil, electricity and tobacco. These are true state monopolies but they are not unique to China. In many countries oil, electricity and tobacco have been, or in some cases still are, state owned. Other industrial sectors dominated by SOEs, including steel and coal, are competitive.

    But while industry in China is predominately private and highly competitive, China’s largest companies are SOEs. Given China’s state monopolies in oil and electricity, it is not surprising that the country’s three largest companies are two giant oil conglomerates and the national electricity grid. The combined revenue of these three giants in 2013 was US$1.3 trillion, which is the same figure as the GDP of Mexico.

    These are the largest of China’s ‘central SOEs’, so called because they are supervised by the central government’s State Assets Supervision and Administration Commission (SASAC). The top leaders of central SOEs — the Party secretary, general manager and chair of the board of directors, if one exists — are treated as equivalent to high-ranking government officials, appointed and dismissed by the centre.

    Central SOEs also dominate telecommunications and transport. Outside the SASAC structure, the central government also owns China’s main banking and finance companies, the tobacco industry, major media and the post office. Altogether these central SOEs, often large business conglomerates with hundreds of subsidiaries, took in half of the US$9.2 trillion in revenue earned by China’s top 500 companies in 2013. Beneath the central government, provinces own more than 100,000 SOEs, many of which have joint ventures with private capital.

    Turning to investment in China and abroad, the SOE share of fixed asset investment in China also fell over the last decade, from 58 to 32 per cent. The major sectors where SOEs still dominate investment relate to infrastructure and public utilities. This investment supports Chinese urbanisation and can be conducive to further private sector growth. Investment in manufacturing, which accounts for one-third of fixed asset investment, is 88 per cent private.

    The combination of a highly competitive, private manufacturing sector with a foreign exchange policy that used to benefit Chinese exporters, has contributed to China’s large trade surpluses. This was one enabler of China’s ‘going out’ policy for overseas direct investment. Chinese overseas investment initially focused on securing the supply of raw materials.

    According to the China Global Investment Tracker, 58 per cent of large-scale Chinese investment abroad since 2005 was in energy and metals. Of this investment, 80 per cent has come from central SOEs that also dominate these sectors in China’s domestic industry. According to the former head of SASAC, central SOEs account for 70 per cent of Chinese non-financial investment abroad.

    But resource investment is slowing, opening the way for more non-state players. According to a KPMG–University of Sydney database, in 2014 a surge of private investment into commercial real estate saw Chinese non-SOE investment exceed SOE investment in Australia for the first time. Chinese private sector investors made up 48 per cent of total value and 78 per cent of total details according to a recent update.

    The prominence of SOEs in multi-million, and even billion dollar, investment deals overseas, raises concerns about the global spread of Chinese ‘state capitalism’, even as SOEs’ share of the Chinese economy is declining. Foreign investment into China helped align China’s growing private sector with the rules of the global trading system. Likewise, Chinese state investment overseas can be a channel to take back to China international standards for transparency, corporate governance and market behaviour.

    Advanced economies, including the United States and Australia, have a deep national interest in engaging with SOEs, not just to access capital. Foreign engagement with SOEs provides an opportunity for Chinese state business to experience and be subject to the discipline of competitive markets, without special privileges, in well-regulated economies.

    Foreign investment into China helped align China’s nascent private sector with the rules of the global trading system. Likewise, Chinese state investment overseas can be a channel to take back to China international standards for transparency, corporate governance and market behaviour.

    Paul Hubbard is a Sir Roland Wilson PhD Scholar at the Crawford School of Public Policy, The Australian National University. This is adapted from his testimony before the US–China Economic and Security Review Commission in Washington DC on 24 February 2016. He is currently on leave from the Australian Treasury. The views expressed here are his own and do not reflect those of the Treasury.

  • Shadow Days, un film de Zhao Dayong - A voir
    Entretien avec le réalisateur :: FilmDeCulte

    Qu’est-ce qui vous a donné envie de raconter l’histoire de Shadow Days ?

    L’idée du film m’est venue il y a quelques années, alors que je réalisais un documentaire intitulé Ghost Town, dans un village isolé similaire à celui de Shadow Days. Dans ce village, la plupart des bâtiments ont été construits pendant la révolution culturelle, mais ce n’était pas les seuls vestiges du passé. Dans la mentalité des habitants, on retrouvait beaucoup de reliques idéologiques. C’est de là qu’est venue cette idée de village fantôme.

    Ce terme de fantôme peut-il également s’appliquer à la morale des personnages ou des situations décrites dans Shadow Days, où l’on cherche tellement à appliquer la tradition qu’on en devient inhumain ?

    Oui, mais cela ne s’applique pas uniquement à ce qui se passe dans ce village, c’est un terme qui s’applique à la Chine entière. Ce poids du passé et ses répercutions morales, c’est comme une ombre qui plane sur nous, aujourd’hui encore.

    C’est cela, l’ombre dont parle le titre du film ?

    Exactement. En Chine et en occident, nous avons des valeurs différentes et certaines valeurs collectives, mais ce qui nous réunit le plus, c’est l’influence de notre passé, l’influence d’une culture qui appartient au passé.

    Certaines scènes de Shadow Days peuvent paraître déroutantes aux yeux occidentaux, comme celles où le maire du village prie sans distinction les dieux, les ancêtres, les fantômes et même Mao. Que signifie cet amalgame de différents rituels ?

    Je pense effectivement que ces scènes ne surprennent pas le public chinois, qui est habitué à ce genre de choses. En Chine nous avons beaucoup de rituels et de superstitions, mais ces croyances traduisent rarement une vraie foi. Ces croyances ne sont que des réflexes vides de sens, dans le sens où on fait appel à tel dieu quand on en a besoin mais on l’oublie aussitôt après. Ce ne sont que des traditions complètement idiotes.

    Il y a d’ailleurs dans certaines scènes de surprenantes piques d’humour absurde. Comment avez-vous envisagé ces brèves variations de registre ?

    J’y tenais, parce que j’estime qu’il y a quelque chose de profondément ridicule dans certaines de ces situations. Dans les régions les plus isolées de la Chine, de nombreuses personnes croient encore en Mao et le vénèrent comme un dieu. Personnellement, je trouve ça tout à fait drôle et absurde.

    Comment vous est venue l’idée de la séquence d’ouverture, où la voiture des protagonistes est suivie en plongée depuis la montagne, ce qui lance immédiatement la piste d’une menace venue d’on ne sait où ?

    Je voulais que les spectateurs soient d’emblée plongés dans l’atmosphère du film, et dans la situation oppressante des personnages. Je voulais qu’on comprenne tout de suite qu’on était très loin de la civilisation contemporaine, qu’on ait l’impression d’entrer dans un monde différent. Mais, plus concrètement, c’est surtout la disposition géographique du village et des montagnes environnantes qui a imposé un certain découpage.

    Tout en restant réaliste, Shadow Days semble parfois emprunter aux codes du film d’horreur. Pourtant vous dites que ce qui arrive aux personnages du film est en-deçà de l’horreur de la réalité, c’est bien cela ?

    Ce que je montre dans le film est effectivement beaucoup moins cruel que ce qui se passe actuellement en Chine. Souvent les femmes sont kidnappées, retenues de force, on leur arrache leur enfant et on le jette dans les toilettes sous leurs yeux. Dans mon film, le docteur qui a pratiqué l’avortement offre à une jeune femme deux boites de médicament, c’est un bienfait qui n’arrive jamais dans la vraie vie ! Dans ce sens, je n’ai pas le sentiment d’avoir fait un film radical, ou même d’avoir un point de vue radical : en réalité, c’est pire.

    Quelles questions vous êtes vous posées en terme de représentation de la violence ? Comment avez-vous trié ce que vous désiriez montrer ou au contraire cacher ?

    A titre personnel, c’est à dire en tant que Chinois, je peux témoigner de la réalité de ces avortements forcés, et de leur violence. Mais en tant que réalisateur, je ne peux pas me résoudre à recréer cette violence. C’est quelque chose qui m’est impossible.

    Quels choix esthétiques avez-vous faits pour traduire cette histoire en images ?

    J’ai travaillé sur Shadow Days de la même manière que sur mes films précédents : je ne prévois jamais en avance l’aspect esthétique de l’ensemble ou la composition des plans. C’est le choix du lieu de tournage qui a présidé à toute la dimension esthétique du film. C’est une région tellement belle que ça ne peut donner que de belles images ! Mais en général j’essaie d’éviter ce qui est beau. J’ai peur des images trop belles qui s’imposent et prennent toute la place. Je filme presque toujours en caméra à l’épaule, et la plupart du temps en plan large, car c’est à mes yeux la meilleure traduction d’un regard objectif. C’est pour moi le meilleur moyen de donner le sentiment de réel, et je veux que les spectateurs sortent du film et ayant le sentiment d’avoir vu la réalité. Je veux qu’ils en sortent sans espoir, car c’est un film très pessimiste.

    Entre le moment où le film a été fait et sa sortie en France, la loi chinoise sur l’enfant unique a justement été modifiée. Cela vous rend-il optimiste ?

    Ce qui me rend optimiste c’est que j’ai le sentiment que sur ce point, nous allons dans la bonne direction. Le nombre d’avortements obligatoires va réduire et c’est évidemment une bonne chose. Seul un type de politique déshumanisée peut engendrer des lois comme celle de l’enfant unique. Or c’est toujours bien que le pouvoir s’humanise un peu en retour. Par contre je ne suis pas persuadé que passer d’un seul enfant à deux maximum soit la meilleure solution. Le droit d’enfanter est un droit humain qui ne devrait en aucun cas être géré par les pouvoirs publics. Donc non, je ne suis pas sûr d’être devenu beaucoup plus optimiste (rires) !

    Shadow Days a-t-il été vu en Chine ? Comment le public chinois réagit-il face à un tel film sur ce sujet délicat ?

    Il y a eu quelques projections ponctuelles. D’après les retours que j’ai pu avoir, les spectateurs chinois sont souvent très surpris d’apprendre que de telles pratiques ont encore lieu dans leur propre pays. Le film a été qualifié de très provocant, pourtant ce genre de situation n’est un secret pour personne. Le problème c’est que les Chinois sont très indifférents, moi le premier. Je voulais que ce film soit comme un couteau planté dans le cœur des spectateurs, pour les rappeler à la réalité.

    Ce couteau planté dans le cœur, c’est une expression qui peut s’appliquer à votre manière d’envisager le cinéma en général ?

    On peut dire ça !

    En tant que cinéaste, faites-vous une distinction entre réaliser une fiction ou un documentaire ?

    Pour moi c’est la même chose. Ma façon de filmer reste la même, il n’y a que quelques points techniques qui demandent que je m’adapte.

    Avez-vous de nouveaux projets ?

    Je viens de finir la post-production d’un film sur les évictions immobilières. Ce ne sera pas très optimiste, comme la plupart de mes films...

    Entretien réalisé le 22 mars 2016. Un grand merci à Bich-Quân Tran et Li Yuwen.

    par Gregory Coutaut

  • South Korean President Park to make state visit to Iran in May | Reuters

    South Korean President Park Geun-hye will make a state visit to Iran from May 1 to 3 to meet President Hassan Rouhani and initiate discussions with Iran on a wide range of areas including energy and engineering, her office said on Monday.

    Park’s visit will be the first by a South Korean leader since the two countries established diplomatic relations in 1962 and her office said it hoped the visit would help deepen ties after sanctions on Iran were lifted.

    South Korea, the world’s fifth-largest crude importer, is one of the largest buyers of Iranian oil. Its import of Iranian crude surged 81 percent in March from the same month a year earlier, after sanctions were lifted.

    #Corée_du_Sud #Iran

  • The limits to Chinese political power | East Asia Forum

    The limits to Chinese political power
    25 April 2016
    Author: Editors, East Asia Forum

    As China has become a larger player in the world economy and its influence in world political affairs has grown, the need to understand the Chinese political system and how political power is exercised within it has grown commensurately. Policymakers and markets around the world are now affected everyday by the decisions of Chinese political leaders in some way or other.

    Many in the rest of the world are now in routine contact with their business partners, professional colleagues, family and friends in China on a scale unprecedented in human history. It is inevitable that they are increasingly sensitive to how the Chinese people view their political leaders and the process whereby they govern this massive polity. In these days of interconnected technologies, not even state security in China can long deny these exchanges if China continues to want the prosperity that derives from openness to the world economy.

    China matters economically and politically and the way in which it is run matters more and more to the success of the stated aspirations of its people through its leadership and its extensive dealings within the international community. No wonder then that the importance of informed and careful analysis of developments in the Chinese political system is at a premium around the world today.

    There are analysts, of course, and there are analysts, and not all deserve equal weight or attention. There are those who have made long professions of predicting political implosion and collapse in China, as the political system, through economic reform, has opened China to the rest of the world, and that industry has naturally expanded as China faces the challenges of the next phase of its economic reform and the response to its political presence externally.

    In this week’s lead, when Carl Minzner an eminent scholar of Chinese governance suggests that ‘China is clearly moving to a darker era’, we need to listen and ask why.

    Minzner characterises this ‘darker era’ in two ways: a crackdown on lawyers, journalists and civil society activists; and a ‘steady breakdown of the authoritarian political rules of the game that have held sway since the beginning of the modern era’.

    It is the second of these that worries him most. He thinks that Xi Jinping is trying to personalise institutional reforms, and argues that this personalisation of institutional power will lead to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP)’s ‘cannabalis[ing] itself’. Nathan Attrill has similar concerns, noting that Xi’s personalised leadership is attended by great risks.

    What does this mean?

    According to Minzner, the mechanisms by which the central state exerts power are steadily sliding towards de-institutionalised channels. These channels include: ‘cultivation of a budding cult of personality around Xi and a steady ideological pivot away from the Communist Party’s revolutionary socialist origins in favour of the “China Dream”, a revival of an ethno-nationalist ideology rooted in imperial history, tradition and Confucianism, and a revival of Maoist-era tactics of “rule by fear” including televised confessions and unannounced disappearances of state officials and civil society activists alike. Fear, tradition and personal charisma do not amount to institutional governance…The Party-state’s reform-era efforts to build more institutionalised systems of governance are being steadily eroded’.

    Xi Jinping is undoubtedly a stronger and more high-profile leader than his predecessor Hu Jintao. He came to the leadership with the Party in some disarray over major scandals such as the Bo Xilai affair and facing a tide of concern about flagrant corruption across all levels of government. Xi’s anti-corruption campaign has been more thorough and far-reaching than the one Hu launched when he came to power. Xi has broken previous norms — specifically, don’t target Politburo Standing Committee members and don’t snatch people from overseas (or if you do, definitely don’t smirk about it). The committees that coordinate China’s diverse interests and make policy are now often reporting directly to Xi rather than to the nominal head of that policy area.

    Minzner’s case is plausible. Xi’s centralisation of power may have advantages in dealing with big issues but it also increases the risks of failure — and the risk of Xi’s being held personally responsible if things go wrong.

    Minzner’s claim that the CCP is ‘cannibalising itself’ is more provocative.

    For starters, while leadership is essential to any state — more so in what is analytically unhelpfully characterised as an authoritarian state — there are limits to what Xi himself can do.

    The centres of power and influence and the constraints on central power in China are real. Personalisation of institutional reform has its boundaries. Xi is General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party, the head of the world’s largest political organisation and, while constitutional constraints may be weak, the selectorate wields structured power on many levels. While Xi can disturb and change the incentives of Party members through his anti-corruption drive, his control over cadre behaviour has its limits.

    In consolidating a number of policy areas underneath him (including national security), Xi has undoubtedly increased the coherence in Chinese policymaking. He also invites himself to be held directly accountable should there be policy failure. At the popular level, this accountability is assuredly weak; there are no inclusive democratic elections. But within the Party, there is a more robust, if also still weak, system of accountability. And as we move into the first phase of leadership succession in 2017, it will matter, as it would matter in a democracy, how people beyond the Party think about how successfully the leadership has been traveling. Policy developments must be framed and assessed in the context of a more pluralist political system than is instinctively assumed of a one-party state.

    Minzner speaks powerfully for many in both China and the West who see this as a ‘dark period’ of Chinese governance, where hoped-for progress towards a more representative system of government is very difficult at present to discern. But there are many shades in darkness that shroud easy judgment about the evolution of the Chinese political system.

    China must be dealt with as it is — case by case, rule by rule, situation by situation. Seeing China clearly as it is, beyond whatever hopes and dreams we may have for its future, requires understanding and accepting the limits on anyone’s power to change it inside or outside the system, and working with the China we have, not the China that even President Xi encourages to dream of 50 or a 100 years hence.

    The EAF Editorial Group is comprised of Peter Drysdale, Shiro Armstrong, Ben Ascione, Ryan Manuel and Jillian Mowbray-Tsutsumi and is located in the Crawford School of Public Policy in the ANU College of Asia and the Pacific.

  • Pollution en Chine... Where in China can you find the worst air pollution? You might be surprised ... | South China Morning Post

    Xinjiang and Henan were China’s top two polluted provinces in the first quarter of the year, a survey by Greenpeace has found.
    Experts say the finding may reflect a trend in polluting factories moving west to avoid more stringent green policies being introduced in the east. It may also reflect a greater use of heating during last year’s harsh winter.
    Both were more polluted than Hebei province, which is known for its steel factories and has topped the list in the past.
    The average level of PM2.5 – the tiny particulates that can lodge deep in people’s lungs – in Xinjiang and Henan surpassed 100 micrograms per cubic metre. That is 10 times the safe level recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
    Watershed crisis: China’s cities tap into sea of polluted water

    Six of China’s 10 most polluted cities were in Xinjiang, while Henan and Shandong accounted for the rest, according to the air quality ranking of 362 cities.
    In the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei area, once the worst polluted region, PM2.5 levels dropped 23 per cent compared to the same period last year. The improvement comes on the back of a slowdown in the coal and steel sectors.
    The results show the measures to curb air pollution in Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei, Yangtze and Pearl River Deltas are workingDONG LIANSAI, GREENPEACE EAST ASIA

    #Chine,#Pollution, #Xinjiang

  • Asia’s Troubled Water
    by Brahma Chellaney -
    Project Syndicate
    Asia’s Troubled Water


    NEW DELHI – Asia’s water woes are worsening. Already the world’s driest continent in per capita terms, Asia now faces a severe drought that has parched a vast region extending from southern Vietnam to central India. This has exacerbated political tensions, because it has highlighted the impact of China’s dam-building policy on the environment and on water flows to the dozen countries located downstream.
    Today’s drought in parts of Southeast and South Asia is the worst in decades. Among the hardest-hit areas are Vietnam’s Mekong Delta (a rice bowl of Asia) and central highlands; 27 of Thailand’s 76 provinces; parts of Cambodia; Myanmar’s largest cities, Yangon and Mandalay; and areas of India that are home to over a quarter of the country’s massive population.
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    Droughts may not knock down buildings, but they carry high social and economic costs. Millions of Asians now confront severe water shortages, and some have been forced to relocate. Myanmar, Thailand, and Cambodia have had to scale back traditional water festivals marking their New Year. The High Court of Bombay moved the world’s biggest and wealthiest cricket tournament, the Indian Premier League, out of the state of Maharashtra. In one Maharashtra county, the local authorities, fearing violence, temporarily banned gatherings of more than five people around water storage and supply facilities.
    Meanwhile, the mounting drought-related losses in some of the world’s top rice-producing countries – Thailand, Vietnam, and India – threaten to roil the world’s already tight rice market. Barely 7% of global rice output is traded internationally, because much of it is consumed where it is produced – in Asia.
    Rice losses have been particularly significant in Thailand and Vietnam, which account for half of all rice exports and almost three-quarters of this decade’s projected export growth. Some 230,000 hectares of paddy rice cultivation has been destroyed just in Vietnam’s Mekong Delta, where depleted river flows have led to saltwater intrusion from the South China Sea, rendering nearly 10% of the rice farms potentially infertile.
    This drought may be unprecedented, but it is not an anomaly. On the contrary, environmental challenges in Asia, such as ecosystem degradation, groundwater depletion, the contamination of water resources, the El Niño tropical weather pattern, and the effects of global warming are causing droughts to become increasingly frequent – and increasingly severe.
    Even without droughts, Asia would be facing formidable water constraints. The annual amount of available fresh water per capita in the region (2,816 cubic meters) already is less than half the global average (6,079 cubic meters). As the region pursues rapid economic development, characterized by massive increases in resource consumption and serious environmental damage, its water constraints are tightening further. The challenge is compounded by Asians’ changing dietary preferences, particularly higher consumption of meat, the production of which is notoriously water-intensive.
    While Asia’s resource-hungry economies can secure fossil fuels and mineral ores from distant lands, they cannot import water, which is prohibitively expensive to transport. So they have been overexploiting local resources instead – a practice that has spurred an environmental crisis, advancing regional climate change and intensifying natural disasters like droughts.
    As a result, Asia, which accounts for 72% of the world’s total irrigated acreage, now faces a dilemma: It must grow enough food to meet rising demand, while reducing the amount of water that goes toward irrigation. Unless Asia resolves it, economic development will be imperiled, with major consequences for the entire global economy.
    Yet the continent’s water crisis is only worsening. According to a recent MIT study, there is a “high risk” that Asia’s water stress could worsen to water scarcity by 2050. Water-sharing disputes between countries or provinces already are increasingly frequent, owing to the proliferation of dam projects that can adversely affect downstream flows – an approach that represents a continuing preference for supply-side approaches over smart water management.
    The main culprit in this regard is China, which has heavily dammed the Mekong, Southeast Asia’s lifeline. In the current lean season, which will last until the monsoon rains arrive in June, the lower Mekong is, according to a recent United Nations report, running at “its lowest level since records began nearly 100 years ago.”
    China is now trying to play savior, by releasing an unspecified quantity of water from one of its six upstream mega-dams to “accommodate the concerns” of drought-stricken countries. China’s rulers have touted the move as underscoring the effectiveness of upstream “water facilities” in addressing droughts and containing floods.
    Of course, in reality, all of this simply highlights the newfound reliance of downriver countries on Chinese goodwill – a dependence that is set to deepen as China builds 14 more dams on the Mekong. The environmental impact of these projects is sure to exacerbate further the ecological challenges, including drought, already facing Asia.
    This competitive approach is putting Asia on a dangerous path, which can lead only to more environmental degradation, slower economic development, and even water wars. It is time to change course and embark on the path of rules-based cooperation, based on water-sharing accords, the free flow of hydrological data, and dispute-settlement mechanisms.

    Asian countries must work together to ensure greater efficiency in water consumption, increase the use of recycled and desalinated water, and promote innovative solutions that advance conservation and adaptation efforts. To this end, governments must phase out state subsidies that have encouraged profligate water use, such as in agriculture, and focus on building new market mechanisms and effective public-private partnerships.
    None of this will be possible without China’s cooperation. Indeed, if China does not abandon its current approach – from its “water grab” in the Mekong and other international rivers to its “territorial grab” in the South China Sea – the prospects for a rules-based order in Asia could perish forever.

  • Why the Philippines Is Critical to the US Rebalance to Asia | The Diplomat

    Later this month, U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter will travel to the Philippines as part of a broader Asia trip. His upcoming visit highlights how the Southeast Asian state – long belittled as one of Asia’s weakest militaries and Washington’s laggard alliance – has in fact grown to become a critical part of America’s ongoing rebalance to the region.

    Although the first pillar of the Obama administration’s rebalance to the Asia-Pacific is often cited as being strengthening ties with traditional allies as well as new partners, these newer partnerships – such as the one with Vietnam – have been grabbing the headlines more so than Washington’s two Southeast Asian alliances with Thailand and the Philippines. To a certain extent, this is to be expected: historic firsts are much more likely with new partnerships than they are with old alliances, and the U.S.-Thai and U.S.-Philippine alliances have both been underperforming of late due to a variety of reasons including domestic politics (See: “Exclusive: Managing the Strained U.S.-Thailand Alliance”).

    Nonetheless, it is clear that through a series of steps over the last few years, the Philippines has emerged as what Carter in January termed “a central part” of the Obama administration’s rebalance, particularly in the security realm. In no small part due to China’s growing assertiveness in the South China Sea, Manila has cemented itself as a key location for America’s military presence; an exemplar of partnering both with Washington as well as its regional allies like Japan and Australia; and an upholder of international principles in the maritime security domain. While it is unclear whether the Philippines’ role in these three dimensions – presence, partnering and principles – will endure, its efforts under President Benigno Aquino II still deserve to be acknowledged and appreciated.

    First, the Philippines has cemented itself as a key location for America’s military presence in the region. To be sure, despite the oft-cited American withdrawal from bases in 1992 following a razor-thin Senate vote, close observers of U.S.-Philippine defense ties know that the United States had still enjoyed significant access to Philippine facilities, including port calls to Subic Bay, a former naval base. But the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA), inked in April 2014 and upheld by the Supreme Court in January, is undoubtedly a significant boost for Washington on that score.


  • Can Asia break free of great-power dynamics? | East Asia Forum

    Can Asia break free of great-power dynamics?
    27 March 2016
    Author: Hugh White, ANU

    Asia’s recent decades of economic growth have depended, among other things, on a remarkable period of regional peace and stability. The region will only keep growing if that can be sustained. We cannot take this for granted. The peace we have known has resulted from an unusual situation that emerged in the early 1970s, when China decided to follow Japan in accepting the United States as the primary strategic power in Asia. That has meant that US primacy has been uncontested by any major regional power in Asia, eliminating major-power rivalry as a source of tension and conflict.

    But US primacy in Asia is now contested again. China no longer accepts American leadership as the foundation of the regional strategic order and instead seeks a ‘new model of great power relations’. This probably means it wants to take America’s place as Asia’s primary power, and its new strategic weight means we have to take this seriously. Few, if any, in Asia want China to get what it wants. US leadership has served the region well and no one wants to live under China’s shadow.

    But wishes are no substitute for good policy. We delude ourselves if we imagine that Asia could be transformed economically by the biggest shift in the distribution of wealth in history without also being transformed politically and strategically. It would have been truly remarkable if China had not sought a bigger regional role as its power has grown, as every rising power in history has done before it.

    So rather than just wishing that the old order might last for ever, Asia’s leaders have to start thinking about how the inevitable transformation of the regional order can be managed peacefully. Throughout the transformation, regional leaders should strive to preserve as many of the positive features of the old order as possible.

    So far they have failed to do that. The problem starts in Washington, where US policymakers and analysts have remained in denial about the seriousness of China’s challenge. They underestimate China’s power and resolve, which leads them to think that low-cost low-risk gestures, like those promoted under President Obama’s ‘pivot’, can persuade Beijing to back off. Policymakers still assume that China would not risk the economic costs or military risks of a confrontation with the United States, despite mounting evidence to the contrary. Recent events in the South China Sea, for example, suggest that Washington is more risk-averse than Beijing.

    And this year’s strange presidential primaries suggest that America’s resolve is unlikely to stiffen after November. Donald Trump’s mindless braggadocio is as sure a sign of the American electorate’s dwindling commitment to sustain the costs of global leadership as Bernie Sanders’ refusal even to discuss foreign policy.

    All this is compounded by what seems like excessive confidence on the other side of the Pacific. For Beijing it has become too easy to reach an assumption opposite to Washington’s — that it will be the US that backs off in the face of modest Chinese pressure and not the other way round. China’s actions over maritime disputes in the Spratly Islands and elsewhere seem plainly intended to do just this. They are creating situations that test America’s willingness to risk a military confrontation with China on behalf of its allies. Beijing hopes and expects that the US will fail — and so far they have been proved mostly right.

    This creates a very dangerous situation. Of course, neither side wants confrontation, let alone war. But each side expects to be able to achieve its aims without confrontation because it assumes the other will back down. And we should be under no illusion about the weight of the stakes for both countries. The maritime issues in dispute are not the cause of US–China rivalry any more than the status of Serbs in the Austro–Hungarian Empire was the cause of the First World War.

    Their contest is driven by mutually incompatible visions of the future Asian order and their roles in it. For both of them, this goes to central questions of national identity and destiny. These are just the kinds of issues that great powers do go to war over, and the mutual underestimation of each other’s resolve is how such wars start when neither wants nor expects them to.

    The risks may well grow in future if Beijing becomes impatient with Taiwan’s new government. Tensions across the Strait, which eased under President Ma, would then start to rise again, adding another, even more emotive focus for US–China rivalry.

    None of this is to say that confrontation or conflict is inevitable. But it is to say that the risks are very real and the trends are negative. Turning those trends around by finding a way to deescalate the rivalry is essential for setting the conditions for peace, stability and growth in Asia over coming decades.

    None of us can afford to leave this to Washington and Beijing, because we simply cannot assume they will get it right. Others with an interest in Asia’s future — and that means not just Asians but everyone else as well — ought to ask what influence can be brought to bear to help manage the transition now underway in Asia much better than it has been so far.

    That means recognising and acknowledging the existence and scale of the risks of escalating rivalry — to break through the complacency that envelopes both Washington and Beijing. It requires us to accept that the old order in Asia is no longer sustainable: we will have a new regional order whether we like it or not. We must therefore think more creatively about what that order might look like. It is too easy to assume that the only alternative to US primacy in Asia is Chinese primacy, and both Washington and Beijing have reasons of their own to encourage that assumption.

    But of course there are many other possible foundations for a new Asian order, which would serve the interests of all of us, including the United States and China, much better than either a protracted struggle for regional primacy between the world’s two strongest states or a passive acceptance of Chinese hegemony. Our challenge is to explore these alternatives and how they might best be brought about. It is an extraordinarily difficult task, but the stakes could not be higher.

    Hugh White is Professor of Strategic Studies at the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre at The Australian National University.

  • Xi Jinping’s visit to Czech Republic raises hopes for European grand canal project | South China Morning Post

    President Xi Jinping’s state visit to the Czech Republic next week is raising hopes Chinese involvement can help realise a European grand canal project.
    On his first tour to a central and eastern European country, Xi hopes to elevate the China-Czech Republic relationship into a strategic partnership, and bring about 20 agreements, covering the fields of trade, infrastructure, finance, health, aviation, technology and culture.
    This will be the first time a Chinese head of state has visited the Czech Republic in an official capacity, and the fifth meeting between Xi and his Czech counterpart Milos Zeman since 2013.
    Zeman was the only leader from an EU member state to attend Beijing’s grand military parade in September to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the end of the second world war – a sign that, unlike his post-communist era predecessors, Zeman was moving closer to China.
    “Their discussion will likely focus on the One Belt, One Road plans,” said Feng Zhongping, head of European studies at China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations.

    #Chine , #Republique_tchèque, #Route_de_la_soie

  • China’s Rural Youngsters Drop Out of School at Alarming Rate, Researchers Find

    (Beijing) – Like many other teenagers in his village in the mountains of the northwestern province of Shaanxi, Chen Youliang decided to quit school early so he could follow in the footsteps of his migrant worker parents and find a job in a big city.
    Chen, who left school at 17 and is now 20, works as a cook in a small restaurant in Xi’an, the provincial capital. He says he wants to learn a skill so he can have a different career, but acknowledges that will be difficult. “Very few who leave (school) for a job can resume their studies,” he said.
    Chen is among the millions of students in rural areas who quit school each year without completing high school. Although there are no official statistics, studies by various research institutions say one in three students in villages – some 3 million teenagers on average – quit school every year before earning a high school diploma.
    Boys and girls in rural areas start leaving school at a much younger age than their peers in more developed regions. From 2007 to 2013, almost half the students in poor areas in the central and western parts of the country had left school by grade nine, a study published in December by the Rural Education Action Project (REAP), which involves the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Stanford University and several Chinese universities, found. The researchers, who studied 50,000 students, found something even more alarming: by grade 12, nearly two-thirds dropped out.
    The 2010 census showed that 78 percent of the country’s school-aged students lived in the countryside, and the research report said that “if dropout rates continue as they are today, increasing unemployment and widening inequality could hinder economic growth and stability on a national scale.”
    Surprisingly, poverty is not the major reason students leave school, said Yi Hongmei, a rural policy researcher at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, who pointed out that only 8 percent of students said they left school for financial reasons.
    Schools were not necessarily short of funding either, Yi said, because village schools get subsidies from the government to fund their operations. In 2007, the government eliminated tuition fees for students and started providing free textbooks for the first nine years of education. Students from poor families also get a small living allowance.
    Yet youngsters in rural areas keep quitting school. A government survey in 2013 said that that dropout rates in the seventh to ninth years of school in some regions climbed to 10 percent, up from a national average of 3 percent in 2000.
    Nearly half of the dropouts REAP surveyed said they quit to find work so they could “broaden their horizons and enjoy new experiences.” Another 30 per cent said they chose to leave because “everyone else is doing it.”
    Chen said that like many of his classmates he was bored in the classroom and did not see how his studies were helping his future.
    “Some dropouts are pushed hard by teachers but they can’t pass exams,” said Hu Yongqiang, who left a school in rural Shaanxi when he was in grade nine. “So they run away.”
    Rising wages for low-level jobs have made the lure of city life irresistible to many young villagers. In 2015, the annual income of a rural resident of the poorest parts of Shaanxi was 7,600 yuan, official data show. Meanwhile, a migrant worker can earn around 36,000 a year.
    That seems to be enough to convince a large number of young people from China’s countryside to head to the big city. The country had more than 40 million young migrant workers aged between 16 and 19 in 2014, one expert said.
    Middle School Woes
    Experts say rural junior middle schools – which cover the seventh to ninth years of school – are one of the biggest problems in the country’s education system. Stark inequalities in the distribution of resources have led to this failure, said Wei Jiayu from the New Citizen Program, a non-profit group focusing on rural education.
    The government spent an average of 900 yuan more each year on a student in an urban middle school than on a rural student, government data from 2013 show. A few rural junior middle schools with better teachers and facilities, like science labs and libraries, have higher university admission rates, but many others “are just a waste of time,” Wei said.
    A lack of qualified teachers in rural schools is one of the main turnoffs for students, an education official in the Qinba Mountains area of Shaanxi said. The REAP study found that teachers’ qualifications were linked to their students’ dropout rate. In schools where less than 30 percent of the teachers had a university degree, students dropped out at twice the rate compared to schools with more qualified staff.
    Most dropouts are students labeled by teachers as poor performers, said Liu Chengbin, a professor of sociology at Huazhong University of Science and Technology in the central city of Wuhan. Many teachers tend to pay more attention to students with strong academic records the others, said Liu, because the amount of funding a school receives from the government is linked to exam scores.
    “(Students’ scores) are related to teachers’ performance assessments and salaries as well,” said a teacher from the Qinba Mountains area.
    Some teachers even tried to persuade students who did poorly on tests to quit so average test scores would stay high, said Shi Yaojiang, a professor of education at Shaanxi Normal University in Xi’an.
    And the problems continue into high school. Beijing spent more than 28,000 yuan per high school student in 2013, compared to nearly 6,900 yuan per student in the southwestern province of Guizhou and nearly 5,500 yuan in the poor central province of Henan, research by the education information portal in 2015 found.
    Left Out
    Tens of millions of rural workers have moved to urban areas in recent decades, but the country’s system of household registration, or hukou, makes it difficult for them to send their children to good schools in cities.
    Migrants often have no choice but to leave their children in rural areas to be educated. A lack of parental supervision compounds many students’ difficulties in rural schools, experts said.
    Some 60 million children are left in China’s villages to be raised by grandparents or relatives, official data show, and educators say this is contributing to problems keeping children in school. “(The high number of) dropouts is the result of long-term problems,” said a high school teacher in the Qinba Mountains.
    The REAP study also found that nearly three-quarters of rural children showed some signs of psychological trouble. The figure was just under 6 percent for students in cities.
    Over 13 percent of children left in villages by parents quit school by their eighth year of school, researchers found, but only 8.6 percent of those who were raised by their parents in rural villages chose to drop out.
    Researchers are concerned about the career prospects of those who have not completed their schooling. Scott Rozelle, a Stanford University professor who co-directed the study, said that as the country looks to shift from low-end manufacturing to services and value-added industries, the growing number of less-educated workers will be a burden on the economy.
    (Rewritten by Han Wei)

    #Chine #migrants #Enfants

  • Le Japon sera présent aux exercices militaires Malabar USA-Inde

    Débuté en 1992, cet exercice annuel était à l’origine bilatéral, entre les marines américaines et indiennes, avec la participation occasionnelle d’invités, comme par exemple Singapour ou l’Australie. Le Japon a été invité en 2007, 2009 et 2014, mais c’est en 2015, sous l’insistance de Washington, qu’il est devenu un membre permanent de ces manœuvres navales, renforçant ainsi la coopération toujours plus importante entre New Delhi et Tokyo.

    L’Amiral Harry Harris, chef de l’US Pacific Command et d’origine japonaise, a déclaré que la présence du Japon allait augmenter la complexité de l’exercice, et permettre à l’Inde et aux Etats- Unis de travailler en profondeur avec les forces maritimes de l’archipel. En effet, ces exercices sont un moyens d’évaluer les capacités de chacune des marines et d’améliorer leur interopérabilité.

    Maintenir l’équilibre entre les forces régionales

    En revanche Pékin, qui fait valoir ses revendications dans la région en construisant des pistes d’atterrissage et des ports sur plusieurs îles, voit dans ces exercices une démonstration de force à son égard. En 2007 déjà, la Chine avait vivement réagi à la participation de Singapour, de l’Australie et surtout du Japon. En décembre dernier, le gouvernement chinois a déclaré, par la voix de Hong Lei, porte-parole du ministère des affaires étrangères, que « les pays concernés ne devraient pas provoquer la confrontation et créer des tensions dans la région », ajoutons qu’il espérait que cette coopération « contribuera à la paix, la sécurité et la stabilité de la région, et qu’aucun mal ne doit être fait pour les intérêts des pays tiers ».

    Que ce soit le Japon, la Chine, l’Inde ou les États-Unis, ces pays ont un intérêt direct à faire en sorte que la région reste stable et prospère. En effet, 5 300 milliards de dollars d’échanges transitent à travers la mer de Chine méridionale chaque année.

    Valentin Maricourt – sources : The Wall Street Journal, Council on Foreign Relations

  • Smog-Fighters Target Rural China’s Coal Stoves

    (Beijing) – Chinese leaders looking for a new way to breathe easier plan to prohibit the use of high-sulfur coal for home heating among farmers and poor families in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei Province region.
    Local officials in these neighboring jurisdictions, which together form a chronically smoggy region about the size of the U.S. state of Minnesota, plan to bar small-scale use of high-sulfur coal by December 31, 2017, according to local officials. The prohibition is likely to affect some 600,000 households in the capital alone.
    Beijing plans to eliminate all coal burning in most of the city by 2017, and help affected households install electric heaters or other forms of low- or no-emissions heating by 2020. Meanwhile, the Hebei government said it wants 90 percent of the province’s household heating to rely on high-quality, low-emissions coal by 2017. Tianjin has also mapped out plans gradually phase out low-quality coal.
    Officials have been working on restrictions in step with orders from Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli. Speaking at a central government meeting January 4, Zhang told local governments nationwide to cut wintertime emissions from heaters and stoves that burn coal with high sulfur content.
    Zhang’s directive laid the groundwork for goals set in a “government work report” delivered by Premier Li Keqiang to the National People’s Congress in March. Li said the country plans to guarantee “good or excellent” air quality “for 80 percent of the year” in 335 cities across the country within five years.
    Beijing’s air quality was rated “good” for only half of 2015, according to the capital’s environmental protection bureau. And the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region was especially smoggy through the winter of 2015-16 – a phenomenon that some environmental experts blamed on coal heaters in older “ping fang,” or one-story, homes common in the region’s rural villages and poor urban neighborhoods.
    A recent analysis of Beijing’s air pollution by Peng Yingdeng, a researcher at the Urban Environmental Pollution Control Technology Research Center, a government-affiliated agency in Beijing, found that emissions from the burning of cheap, low-quality coal contributed to 15 percent of the tiny PM2.5 particulate matter choking the city, as well as 10 percent of the nitrogen oxide and 33 percent of the sulfur dioxide in the air.
    Peng’s study also pointed fingers at emissions from cars, industries and power plants – well-known sources of air pollution that the government has been working to better control for years with limited success.
    Homes and small businesses that burn coal in Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei contribute up to half of the air pollution in the region every winter, said Zhao Yingmin, chief engineer at the Ministry of Environmental Protection. Output from these millions of coal stoves and heaters combine to reach those peaks while consuming about 10 percent, or some 36 million tons, of all coal burned in the region annually, he said. Beijing’s consumption alone accounts for some 4 million tons.
    Zhao’s conclusions are supported by a study by the Chinese Research Academy of Environmental Sciences, a government think tank, released in August that focused on the Hebei city of Baoding, southwest of Beijing. The study said the amount of airborne ash and sulfur dioxide emitted by the coal burners that heat households exceeded similar emissions from the area’s industries during the winter of 2013.

    #Chine, #pollution #migrants