Tag Archives: China

You Ought to Know The Trans-Pacific Partnership

    Taking a quick poll of current trending news, using that word loosely, you will notice that the TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership) is largely missing from the media. Why?One reason is due to the U.S government stalemate over the fiscal ceiling that, if left unresolved, could lead to ramifications we could sum up as cray banger.

    The Trade-Pacific Partnership, Initially under the acronym TPSEP, planned to liberalize trade in the Asia-Pacific region among  Brunei, Chile, Singapore, and New Zealand. After several negotiations with original members new candidate countries are being considered into the agreement; some of which include Mexico, the United States, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Japan. The United states began courting the TPP in early 2008 under the Bush administration’s leadership and now under Obama’s administration is being completed.  The TPP’s main priority is to “free” trade among partners to dilute barriers that stifles economic growth, i.e, tariffs and corporate restrictions.

    Japan voiced its interest in the TPP in early March 2013 to improve its trade in Asia especially after China advanced its position as the second largest economy–one Japan once held. The agreement would give Japanese corporations larger access to different markets; an overall positive outcome to minimize China’s growth within Asia as the  largest exporter. Concerns have grown among anti-globalization, environmental, and consumer-labor groups that the trade pact would stiffen nation business growth; in other words,Japan would become dependent on foreign companies similar to Mexico during its NAFTA treaty with the U.S and Canada.

    The Citizens Trade Campaign, a social and environmental trade policy group, pointed out that the TPP special provisions for corporations are “a wishlist of the 1%…[that] of the 26 chapters under negotiations, only a few have to do directly with trade….new rights and privileges [are enshrined] for major corporations while weakening the power of the nation states to oppose them.”  More concerning is that a larger majority of  information on the TPP meetings stem from Wikileaks and the Citizens’ Trade Campaign leaks. For instance, Intellectual Property Watch reported that $25,000 dollars were raised for Wikileaks to collect and publish drafted text from current TPP agreements because most has been redacted from the public domain and shared chiefly with industries. The shrewd secrecy in these negotiations concern Japanese as the chief majority of proposals  involve fields in government procurement, competition policy, labor standards, intellectual property, financial service, investment, telecommunications and environmental standards.

    One goal of the TPP is to eliminate tariffs and some of those involve what are labeled “sacred precincts.” Japanese tariffs cover about 9,018 specific items, of which the “sacred” categories of rice, wheat, beef and pork, dairy products and sugar account for 586. If current tariffs on all those items were maintained, according to The Mainichi, Japan would still eliminate tariffs on 93.5 percent of trade goods in the TPP zone. It is widely believed, however, that TPP negotiations are shooting for tariff elimination on more than 95 percent of items.Farmers in Japan have been protesting the TPP agenda for a while now. The Liberal Democratic Party, however, has vowed that it would seek to maintain tariffs on vital “national trade goods” including rice, wheat and barley. It was a clear move meant to reduce worries among voters that food safety would be jeopardized for trading consensus. Even if, the Mainichi notes, tariff protections are maintained for certain agricultural products and dropped for processed items, there is still a real possibility that domestic industries would take a hit under the TPP.

    Japan has fared well under Shinzo Abe’s leadership since 2012 winning its bid for the 2020 summer Olympics, raising exports, and taking a modest step out of recession. Consumer spending rose 0.9% and public sector infrastructure spending, part of Japan’s stimulus package, rose 0.8%, which is all good news for the country. Japan, however, faces  a wave of declining prices; a good thing for the average Joes who can now buy more with the same amount of money. For companies, however, if deflation persists for too long then their profits decline; thus, setting into motion a slew of policies that are meant to offset this scenario that involve cutting labor, closing manufacturing facilities, and reducing employee wages. For Shinzo Abe, TPP’s allure is the possibility that it could open new markets for the country in locations where it does not have strong footing. Nonetheless, he risks letting outsiders dominate Japan if he acquiesces to any compromises drafted by other nations such as the U.S; as to how Abe will handle the ramifications of the agreements is unknown. One thing is certain, Japan has much to determine before it can safely procure its citizens that Japanese  businesses, foods, and jobs will not be negatively affected. In the meantime, GDP (Gross Domestic Product) and PMI (Purchasing Managers Index) indicates the Japanese economy may see some advances against deflation fairly soon–continuing a string of welcomed reports.

Abenomics and Abe Shinzo: the new relationship

Abe Shinzo (安倍晋三) is the man saving Japan. The Bank of Japan recently stated that Japan’s economy was ‘recovering,’ a better outlook than its previous, ‘the economy has been picking up.’ Abe’s policies, dubbed Abenomics, rely on strong approaches to the Japanese economy than his former predecessors took on by easing  the Yen’s price, which is currently trading at $1 to 100円, to encourage foreign investment and greater exports from Japan.

Investors are more or less weary about Japan’s current bond repurchases and interest payments, but has not raised alarms unlike the market’s reaction to China’s regulation of money lending between its banks to discourage “bad” or robust loans. The country’s current hurdle, among others, is its declining rapid birth rates. As the older population reaches retirement the pool of new workers is shrinking, which is a disadvantage considering the workforce China can dip into.

In his latest interview with Foreign Affairs Magazine, Abe revealed that his 3 main concepts for Japan are openness,challenge, and innovation. Abe’s strategies, luckily, are rewarding both his party the Liberal Democratic Party and Japan. Recent election results show that the new seats will give the Liberal Democrats control of the Upper and Lower house in parliament, creating a monopoly Abe can use to pass policies quicker without much interference from other parties. This election demonstrates the mounting public support for Abe’s plans that has set Japan on a tentative recovery after receding into the background for two decades. However, Abe faces obstacles, most notably his public remarks on comfort women for Japanese soldiers during its South Korea and China invasion. He has played down his critic’s accusations of wanting to rewrite history to portray Japan in a better light during its invasion. Abe argued that each country depicts its history differently. The United States, for instance, sees its Manifest Destiny history a progressive necessity, but American-Indians still view it an unjustified forced takeover of their lands and homes.

In part to the new policies, Japan has been aggressively pushing its influence alongside other Asian countries in to former Myanmmar (Burma) after the United States lifted trade embargos on the country. Abe met with president Thein Sein in June to unveil a charitable financial and investment package to demonstrate to the newly democratic country that Japan wants a consolidated economic relationship between the two countries. Japan has pledged to Burma $51 billion Yen ($498.5 billion dollars) along with $176 billion in debt forgiveness that doesn’t include the $300 million yen write off from April. Japan will also build a cheap labor industrial force in Thilawa, a port city on the Indian Ocean, to facilitate both Burma and Japanese exports, adopting China’s direction.

China is also entering Burma, or has been for some years, because Burma offers up untapped precious natural resources, an outlet for the country’s exports and a growing middle class tourist industry. China has criticized Tokyo for its expansion into the region, which it feels is a joint plan with the United States to hinder Beijing’s economic growth. Abe has boosted monetary policies, heavy government spending in forms of stimulus packages, and pro-growth movements. Now it remains if they will yield economic development for Japan or falter. Whatever the outcome Abe Shinzo is on a roll.

Japan feeling left out accusing China of gas drilling in East China Sea

Japan has accused China of unilaterally exploring gas deposits in the East China Sea, in violation of an agreement to jointly develop disputed areas.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura told reporters Wednesday that Japan protested to China after a flare was seen Tuesday at a Chinese structure at an undersea gas deposit. Japan has made similar complaints several times in the past.

“We have detected a flare, a sign that it is highly likely that there is a gas development going on,” Fujimura said. “Any unilateral exploration is unacceptable.”

Read the rest of the story: Japan protests to China after accusing it of undersea gas drilling in East China Sea.

11 Chinese warships pass through Okinawa and Miyako islands

Eleven Chinese warships passed through the high seas between Okinawa and Miyako islands into the East China Sea from Wednesday to early Thursday, the Japanese Defense Ministry said.

The warships, which had crossed the same waters into the Pacific Ocean from the East China Sea on June 8 and 9, apparently headed back to China after completing naval exercises in the western Pacific, the ministry said Thursday.

Read the rest of the story: 11 Chinese warships cross high seas off Okinawa+.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xhueiiFiSyM

China Tracks Down Foreign Journalists and Detains

Western journalists have lately been tolerated in China, if grudgingly, but the spread of revolution in the Middle East has prompted the authorities here to adopt a more familiar tack: suddenly, foreign reporters are being tracked and detained in the same manner — though hardly as roughly — as political dissidents.

On Sunday, about a dozen European and Japanese journalists in Shanghai were herded into an underground bunker-like room and kept for two hours after they sought to monitor the response to calls on an anonymous Internet site for Chinese citizens to conduct a “strolling” protest against the government outside the Peace Cinema, near Peace Square in Shanghai.

In Beijing, several plainclothes officers planted themselves on Saturday night outside the home of a Bloomberg News correspondent who was severely beaten by security officers the previous week as he sought to cover a similar Internet-inspired protest there. In a telephone interview, the correspondent said that seven officers in two separate cars had trailed him to a basketball game on Sunday, recording his trip on video the entire time.

Read the rest of the story: China Tracks Foreign Journalists, Unnerved by Mideast Tumult.

China Surpasses Japan as America’s Most Important Asian Partner

This poll comes from Newsweek

For the first time since 1985, China has overtaken Japan as America’s most important Asian partner, according to a new survey from the Japanese Foreign Ministry and Gallup that polled 200 U.S. opinion leaders. The results reflect China’s meteoric rise in economic and diplomatic power and influence:

54% – Opinion leaders who chose Japan as the U.S.’s most important Asian ally in 2008

38% – Chose China in 2008

36% – Chose Japan in 2010

56% – Chose China in 2010