January 30, 2009


President Obama's Press Secretary Robert Gibbs confirmed to reporters that Obama called Chinese President Hu Jintao Friday (our sources say the call occurred last Friday) although details of the conversation remain sketchy. It was revealed that Obama and Hu will have their first face to face meeting at the G20 summit in London on April 2...

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EU-China Summit Back On - Agreements Signed

European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso met with Chinese PM Wen Jiabao today in Brussels and said an EU-China meeting on trade would happen in April. Other sources say the EU-China summit cancelled by Beijing in December could be back on in May. China and the EU signed nine agreements today ranging from illegal logging, intellectual piracy to civil aviation. No details on those agreements at this time...

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January 29, 2009

China Starts World's Largest Oil Production Floating Platform

Ten years in the making the CNOOC and Conoco-Philips controlled offshore oil field PL 19-3 in the Bohai Bay (Yellow Sea) off Tianjin has begun operating. The elaborate engineering by USA giant Fluor includes the "world's largest" floating production, storage, and offloading vessel and five additional fixed production platforms tied to a central fixed riser and utility platform...

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Airbus Avicopter JV Deal for A350 Plant in China

The parent company of Europe's Airbus (EADS) will sign a deal with Chinese aerospace firm Avicopter for a factory in Harbin to produce a special carbon-fiber composite, lighter than aluminum, for the delayed A350 plane when Chinese PM Wen Jiabao leaves Davos for Madrid. The A350 is Airbus's response to the Boeing Dreamliner. This is another blow to Boeing's market share in China...

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January 28, 2009

Win-Lose-Lose for USA in China IP Dispute at WTO

The WTO this week issued a report on its panel resolving the USA's dispute with China over intellectual property rights. The WTO agreed with the USA that China must cover protection to all works but lost on two other very important points including upholding Chinese IP enforcement procedures. An interesting analysis is presented by Canadian law professor Michael Geist...

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WEF: Yuan Talk Misguided

At the World Economic Forum summit in Davos, Switzerland, money men big wigs including Stephen Roach, Morgan Stanley's man in Asia, World Bank Chief Economist Justin Lin, and former USA Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin, agree that demanding Beijing to appreciate the Yuan would be 'economic suicide' (in the words of Roach).
Meanwhile Chinese PM Wen Jiabao spoke today emphasizing the challenges ahead for Beijing to keep th economy growing.
An excellent opinion on wrongheading thinking about the Dollar-Yuan relationship by Bret Swanson of the Center for Global Innovation was in Monday's Wall Street Journal...

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January 27, 2009

Commodities Up on Chinese Demand

Is the commodities bust ending? The Baltic Dry Index (measures activity in commodities shipping) moved to 1,000 ending a 3 month snap and may signal a reverse of its cliff dive since last October. The shares of iron-ore heavyweight Vale do Rio Doce traded up in Brazil while USA steelmakers USX and Nucor are up on NYSE on profitability. Vale credits increased Chinese demand and a belief that China will continue to grow...


January 26, 2009


Xin Nien Kuai Le! Gong Hai Fat Choi! Happy Chinese New Year everyone! Many blessings to you and your family.

Year 2009 is a Chinese Brown Earth (Soil) Cow Year. Read more at the link...


January 23, 2009

Volvo's Chinese Future

Bloomberg reporting today that Ford is planning to sell Volvo and the likely buyer could be a Chinese automaker. Shanghai Automotive, Chery, Dongfeng, Chang'An (where Ford already has a joint venture), and aspirant Guangzhou Motors are believed to be interested. Gasgoo, however, is not reporting any Volvo China connection at this time...


Does China Manipulate its Currency?

President Obama thinks so as I pointed out in my election eve assessment of Obama's China Policy. Now incoming Treasury Secretary Geithner confirms this view.

But what can the USA do about it? Unlike Japan, the USA cannot tell Beijing what to do. So there will be no "Plaza Accord" with Beijing to force a major appreciaiton of the Yuan. Beijing is not afraid of the USA. That was amply demonstrated on January 11, 2007, when the Chinese shot down one of their weather satellites to demonstrate they can take out any rival's communications ability.

This week's Economist mag recognizes the currency conundrum: the choices for Obama are between the proverbial rock and a hard place: veto any Congressional measure to impose countervailing duties on Chinese imports or put them in place only to see them reversed by the WTO before massive price inflation occurs.

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January 22, 2009

China Q4 2008 End Year Macro Data

Released today... Retail sales for the year reached $1.59 trillion (US dollars) showing Chinese have a long way to go to supplant the American consumer. State investment topped $2.5 trillion value and will likely increase with Beijing stimulus plans...


Beijing Passes Universal Health Care

The Beijing government's all-powerful State Council passed a plan to bring basic medical coverage to all Chinese citizens as a national goal. The plan will spend 850 billion Yuan (just under $125 billion US dollars) by 2011 to provide basic medical insurance to at least 90% of the population, cover all approved prescription drugs, reform public hospitals (a reference to cracking down on the rampant corruption and bribery in Chinese medicine?), and other measures detailed in the link above.
China is a major market for exports of US made medical equipment so new opportunities should increase...

January 21, 2009

Geithner Confirmation: China Currency "Significant Issue"

At the confirmation hearings today for incoming Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, sponsors of anti-free trade China currency manipulation legislation expected lip service to their belief that Beijing is "manipulating" Yuan exchange rates. Geithner obliged but his reponses were guarded. He said,

"I believe that it is in the interests of the global economy, not just our interests, that our major trading partners move over time to a more flexible exchange rate system."

Geithner pointed out that other major trading partners of USA (read: Japan) also need watching.

Is this a sign that the Democratic controlled Congress and President Obama will slap countervailing duties on China? And will the resultant price inflation of nearly every good bought and sold in the USA lead to wage inflation or just further erosion in standards of living?

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Chinese Airlines Further Consolidation?

The WSJ reports that China Eastern will get 10 billion Yuan from Shanghai Pudong Bank and rumours are China's airline industry regulator wants to see further consolidation as many small private airlines cannot survive in the global downturn. China Eastern stock (CEA) on the New York Stock Exchange is up on the news...


January 20, 2009

China-Hong Kong Currency Swap as Yuan Weakens

The Chinese central bank and the Hong Kong monetary authority have set a currency swap to provide up to $200 billion Yuan (just under $30 billion US dollars) in short term liquidity for Hong Kong based banks operating on the mainland and mainland banks in Hong Kong.
Meanwhile in other currency news, the Yuan has slipped 2% against the dollar since the start of the year. The Yuan gained 6.6% in 2008. The Yuan had steadily appreciated (in response to USA government pressure) since the defacto dollar peg ended in 2005...

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January 16, 2009

Sino-US Scientists Achieve Invisiblity Cloak

In a positive display of USA-China cooperation in high tech, Duke University researchers say they are close to creating a type of "invisibility cloak". The research is financed by the USA Air Force and the Chinese National Science Foundation. The new technology has potential in many fields from wireless telecom to defense...

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January 15, 2009


The EU approved an increased duty of 25% on imports of Chinese steel wire rods while disupting a US move to increase sanctions on hormone-treated beef. Nationalist urges are hitting trade just as the impact of global economic slowdown is making its worst impact....


Boeing Hit by China Eastern Slowdown

Troubled Chinese airliner China Eastern will defer orders for 15 planes from Airbus and Boeing. The airline already has 20 planes grounded and is divesting itself of subsidiaries in its attempt to stay solvent... Just one year ago, China Eastern agreed to buy 30 Boeing 737s for delivery beginning 2011. How far into the future the deliveries will be defered is unknown. The impact on Boeing jobs will be immediate. Outright cancellation of the planes is possible, particulary if China Eastern liquidates.

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January 14, 2009

World Bank Reports on China Water Scarcity

Making news stories this week is a report conducted by World Bank programs on "Addressing China's Water Scarcity..." From the abstract:

This report reviews China's water scarcity situation, assesses the policy and institutional requirements for addressing it, and recommends key areas for strengthening and reform. It is a synthesis of the main findings and recommendations from analytical work and case studies prepared under the World Bank Analytical and Advisory Assistance (AAA) program entitled 'addressing China's water scarcity: from analysis to action.'

Download the report...


China to Develop Big Iran Oil Field

China National Petroleum Corp. signed a deal to develop the south Azadegan oil field in southwestern Iran. In return for the investment, CNPC will get access to 75,000 barrels/day for approximately 4 years with a second stage development deal thereafter. The area is near the giant Azaegan oil field Iran's largest undeveloped reserve. Japanese investors were forced out of development by US pressure in 2006. Now China seems well placed to exploit the 6 billion or so barrels believed underground...

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January 12, 2009

Chinese Electric Cars in US by 2011

The BYD company, part owned by Warren Buffet's Berkshire Hathaway, plans to export its electric and hybrid cars to the USA by 2011 according to company sources reporting from the Detroit Auto Show...

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WSJ: China Opens Bond Market to Foreign Traders

Wall Street Journal reporting: " The China Banking Regulatory Commission said Friday that it will allow foreign banks to trade and underwrite corporate bonds in the country's interbank market, widening their reach in Asia's largest fixed-income market outside Japan. "

Source Article...

Tibet Water Tapped for 31GW Hydropower Plant

The Jinsha River - which forms part of the eastern Tibet-Sichuan border has been successfully dammed as part of the giant Xiangjiaba hydropower plant under construction in Sichuan. The power plant will have a generating capacity of 31 Gigawatts when complete in 2015. The power will travel all the way to Shanghai on ultra-high voltage transmission lines currently underdevelopement by the Swedish engineering firm ABB and China's State Grid Corp.

Whether the Xiangjiaba dam figures into the huge 'south-to-north' water diversion project is unknown to this writer.

January 09, 2009

Chinese Plug-In EV at Detroit Auto Show

Chinese battery and auto maker BYD will show its plug-in electric car at the Detroit Auto Show, Motor Trend mag reports. BYD hopes to sell the car in Europe by 2010. Meanwhile, GM has pushed the arrival of the Chevy Volt to late 2010...

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Pearl River Delta 2020

In contrast to Obama's banal American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan, Beijing's powerful National Reform and Development Commission revealed this week its 2008-2020 national plan on the development of the Pearl River Delta region (the triangle region punctuated by Guangzhou (Canton), Hong Kong, and Macau). The aim is for complete economic integration of the area by 2020.
The Pearl River Delta has roughly as many people as and an economy equal in size to a big West European country and some of the highest income levels in China. The goal is increase per capital income to 1st world standards within 12 years and urbanization to 80% or more. The region will be connected by mass transit systems already under construction or planned including the new Hong Kong-Macu-Zhuhai bridge discussed earlier on the Sinomania! blog.

The development plan is to turn the region from light manufacturing of toys, electronics, and textiles, to an 'innovation hub' focused on automobiles, petrochemicals, high tech, and services. Some clues as to where investment will be centered: the plan calls for the creation of 2-3 big auto makers in the region, the creation of 10 Chinese global multinational brands, and equipment manufacturing around nuclear power, ocean equipment, wind power, power plants, high-tech machine tools, along with financial, retail, and personnel services.

The programs will be accomplished under the aegis of the Mainland and Hong Kong Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (CEPA) first enacted in 2003.

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January 08, 2009

OBAMA: USA Must "Compete With Kids in Beijing"

In his big economic recovery policy speech today, USA President-elect Barack Obama said the US must create a 21st Century economy and gave somewhat specific clues at to where the up to $1 trillion for "New Deal II" will go:


Power generation by alternative energy will double;
75% of all federal buildings and 2 million homes will be renovated for energy efficiency;
stimulus for jobs that "can't be outsourced ... building solar panels and wind turbines;"

NOTE: Given that the technology leaders in solar and wind are mostly European companies and the greatest production centers are or soon will be Chinese manufacturers - How can solar and wind manufacturing jobs be created in America without preventing imports? Will the stimulus include "buy America" provisions or prohibitive tariffs on imports or other restrictions such as slanted certification processes? Is this a potential protectionist land mine or just political hot air?


All medical records will be computerized in 5 years.


New equipment for classrooms, labs, libraries;
New PCs for schools.


Building programs for roads, bridges, schools;
Creation of smart grid;
Increased broadband access.

And all these programs will be accomplished along with tax cuts! The big winners seem to be the construction and IT sectors of the US economy.

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GM Pins Hope On Chinese Buicks

GM will showcase the Chinese designed Buick LaCrosse sedan at the all-important Detroit Auto Show next week. As the troubled car giant pushes the arrival of the Chevy Volt further out (now expected at the end of 2010 and still with a pricey $40K price tag), GM hopes it can develop brand love for Buick in America with its successful Chinese models. It is questionable if such a strategy will work, further does it even make sense?

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January 05, 2009


A theme is emerging among US journalists prone to project America's problems elsewhere that the big story of 2009 will be massive "social unrest" or "instability" in China that will lead to a Tiananmen Square type crackdown.

The meme ranges from trite to thoughtful and will most likely be a common refrain in the first part of the year. But Sinomania! can predict confidently that China will not fall and there will be no cataclysmic showdown between Beijing and the Chinese allegedly (so the MSM tells us each day) "yearning" for American style democracy.

Yes, China's economic slowdown is scary. But consider the contrast from conditions in 1989:

Inflation is the big bugaboo in Chinese politics as in any political system. Remember it was rampant hyperinflation that ended the Chiang Kai-Shek regime on the mainland. In 1989 the inflation rate was running at double digits (21% at the end of 1988) and rationing of some consumer staples had just ended in big Chinese cities. The 2009 CPI forecast is -0.8%. That's right, DEflation is the issue although most analysts believe that it is deflation due to supply shock not a collapse of the monetary system. And deflation is expected to persist perhaps all the way to 2010.

But what about GDP growth slowing all the way (!) to below the magic number of 8% - surely once that happens all hell will break loose since Beijing has no experience dealing with a major recession? Actually, the impression is wrong. It is not true that Beijing has never dealt with a major recession. On the contrary, the recession of 1960-61 was marked by a drop in GDP of -27.3% equivalent to the worst years (1931-32) of the Great Depression in the USA and recession occurred again in 1962 (-5.7%), during the Cultural Revolution (1967-68 -4.1%) and the year Mao died (1976 -1.6%). In 1989 GDP growth was just over 4% and fell to 3.8% in 1990. And during the so-called Asian flu in the late 90's China GDP growth fell below 8% (7.8% in 1997, 7.1% in '99).

Consider the differences in Beijing's financial position today:

Chinese banks have $6.85 trillion in deposits including around $2 trillion in foreign exchange reserves held chiefly in US dollar bills. By contrast in 1989 Chinese households had only 515 billion yuan deposited at the bank (approximately $138 billion US at the time) and a mere $5.5 billion in forex reserves.

Every economic indicator fell dramatically in 1989 including capital investment which is set to rise significantly in 2009 when Beijing's giant infrastucture stimulus programs are underway.

And signs are that China's economy may already be rounding the bend.

The pace of decline in industrial output slowed in December - that is output and new orders improved last month. The WSJ is reporting that China’s bond market is recovering and up to $235 billion in Chinese bonds are expected this year even though 1 year yields may dip below 1%.

The economy will be a big story all over the world this year but journalists and publishers hoping to focus instead on sexier and easier lines about an [insert color here] revolution in China will be disappointed.

(c) 2009 Ben Calmes, Sinomania!

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Kissinger: US and China Must "Agree" to Rebuild "International Economic System"

In an interview with Xinhua at his Manhattan offices, former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger said incoming President Obama should go to China at a "relatively early point" but
"We should not judge the relationship by how quickly our president travels, but should judge it by whether at an early stage significant conversations take place between leading Chinese and leading Americans and whether real progress is made on outstanding issues."
Kissinger celebrated the 30th anniversary of official USA-China relations (in the post WW2 era) by ringing the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange a symbol Chairman Mao would perhaps have found inconceivable...

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Curtains Up on Beijing Broadway Complex

The successful Broadway theater producer and promoter Nederlander Organization is partnered with Shibo Investment of Beijing to build a multi-theater "Broadway" in the Hai Dian district of western Beijing. This is an example of how increased USA-China relations benefits respective businesses in both countries versus the tired MSM narrative of substandard Chinese manufactures 'forced' upon unwary American consumers...


China 3G License Selection

According to leaks, the new 3G licenses for Chinese mobile phone operators will be WCDMA for China Unicom, CDMA2000 for China Telecom, and China's native TD-SCDMA standard to China Mobile. Speculation is China Mobile could see slower growth given the unproven technology.

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January 02, 2009

Chinese Labor Props Up Italian Fashion

So claims an interesting article in Chicago Tribune on the Italian town of Prato, a circumstance first reported in 2006 by Der Spiegel and also covered by the BBC in 2007. Fact is, EU rules embrace open borders. Italy has a population smaller -- and older -- than a Chinese province. Chinese have the skills and the drive to seize on opportunities abroad. The impact of Chinese immigration to countries such as Italy is a new trend worth watching.


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