BRICS - China Shies Away From Confrontation With Europe Over EV Probe

Biden tells UN General Assembly that US is regaining global leadership role

South China Morning Post

23-09-19 16:30

US President Joe Biden has called for the US and China to work together where possible, while also criticising China over intellectual property theft and human rights abuses in Xinjiang. Speaking at the UN General Assembly, Biden stated that the US does not seek to decouple the two economies but rather to “de-risk” their relationship. Biden’s messaging has been made easier by Chinese President Xi Jinping’s decision not to attend the UN opening. The US president also defended US-led global institutions, while supporting the need for change.
Dollar Rally Is Crushing One of the Most Popular Trades of 2023


23-09-19 23:00

The US dollar has unexpectedly rebounded against virtually every major currency over the past two months, causing investors to unwind trades and officials in China and Japan to protect their currencies. The greenback's resurgence is a result of the US economy's surprising resilience and persistent inflation. The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index has experienced an eight-week rally since mid-July, pushing it back near this year's highs. The rise in the dollar has caused US companies to brace for a hit to their earnings, and has evoked painful memories of 2022 when the dollar pushed up commodity prices and increased the burden of foreign debts. The dynamics behind the dollar's recent rise are expected to continue, causing analysts to abandon bearish calls on the currency. However, a US downturn could restrain the dollar. Overall, emerging-market nations are expected to bear the brunt of the dollar's rise as it makes imports more expensive, exaggerates inflation pressures, and encourages central banks to hold interest rates high.
China LGFV Bond Sales Boom Again as Beijing Steps Up Support


23-09-19 23:00

China's local government financing vehicles (LGFVs) are seeing a surge in yuan bond sales as the government intensifies efforts to address risks from the highly indebted group of borrowers. Domestic bond issuance by LGFVs reached nearly CNY620bn ($85bn) in August, a 50% increase from July and the third-highest monthly figure on record. Financially weaker provinces such as Heilongjiang saw a significant increase in LGFV bond sales, indicating that investors believe the central government will intervene to prevent defaults. However, most of the bonds sold have short-term maturities, reflecting concerns about the borrowers' long-term health.
The Economics Story China Doesn’t Own


23-09-19 22:00

China's economic slowdown is not resulting in interest-rate cuts in neighboring countries in Asia. Despite China's efforts to push down domestic rates and free up cash for lenders, the Federal Reserve's actions still dominate financial conditions in the region. Central banks in South Korea, Indonesia, the Philippines, Australia, and Japan are all hesitant to cut rates due to concerns about inflation and a desire to align with the Fed's policies. China's economic performance is a secondary consideration for these central banks.
Biden acknowledges the old world order needs a refresh


23-09-19 21:55

President Joe Biden addressed the United Nations Tuesday and urged the world to stand by Ukraine. At times, it felt like he was also imploring the countries to stick with the United Nations. "If we abandon the core principles of the UN charter to appease an aggressor, can any member state in this body feel confident that they are protected?" Biden asked. Read the UN charter here. It was agreed to in a very different world -- in San Francisco in 1945 -- with different global powers, different threats and different economies. Ukraine, at the time a member of the Soviet Union, was also a founding member of the UN. On Tuesday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky made his first in-person address to the UN General Assembly since Russia invaded his country. He wanted to drive home that negotiating with Russia would equal failure. "The aggressor is weaponizing many other things, and those things are used not only against our country, but against all of yours as well, fellow leaders," Zelensky said. Multiple top world leaders skipped the meeting this year, including President Vladimir Putin of Russia, which is a villain for invading Ukraine, but also a permanent member of the UN Security Council with veto power over any resolutions it opposes. Of the five permanent Security Council members - the US, Russia, China, France and the United Kingdom - Biden is the only leader to attend.
EU’s Von Der Leyen Says Massive China Subsidies for EVs Requires a Probe


23-09-19 21:36

The European Union (EU) has called for an investigation into Chinese support for electric vehicles (EVs) due to the substantial subsidies provided to the industry. The EU's executive arm, the European Commission, announced an anti-subsidy probe last week, which could result in tariffs on EV imports from China. This move has been criticised by Beijing, which has called it an act of protectionism. If tariffs are imposed, China is expected to restrict access to its market. The investigation is part of a broader EU effort to manage its relationship with China and address perceived supply chain and national security risks.
BYD Launches Dolphin Hatch to Crack Japan’s Tricky EV Market


23-09-20 01:00

Chinese automaker BYD has introduced its Dolphin electric car to the Japanese market in an effort to boost sales. The compact hatchback will be priced from JPY3.63m ($24,560) and will come in two models with different battery sizes and ranges. BYD, China's largest carmaker, has struggled to make headway in the Japanese market due to a preference for domestic brands and a focus on hybrid vehicles rather than pure electric cars. BYD plans to open 100 dealerships and showrooms in Japan by 2025 and hopes that the Dolphin will be successful in the country due to the improving quality of its vehicles and changing attitudes towards Chinese products.
India suspends visa processing for Canadians

Deutsche Welle

23-09-21 11:06

India has halted visa processing for Canadians "until further notice" amid a diplomatic dispute over the killing of a Sikh separatist in Canada. The move comes after Canada accused India of being involved in the murder of Hardeep Singh Nijjar near Vancouver in June, a claim that India has called "absurd." Indian visa services company BLS International displayed a notice on its website stating that visa services had been suspended due to "operational reasons." The notice was later confirmed by India's Foreign Ministry, which cited the "security situation" as the reason for the suspension. Canada's High Commission in India said it would reduce the number of diplomatic staff due to threats made on social media.
Flux in China’s top ranks could be a moment of acute geopolitical risk


23-09-21 09:00

China is experiencing unusual political and economic volatility, which is challenging President Xi Jinping's plans to re-frame the global system, according to an op-ed in The Telegraph by Raffaello Pantucci, a Senior Associate Fellow at the Royal United Services Institute. Political signs of flux include the sudden disappearance from public view of President Xi's hand-picked foreign minister Qin Gang, and the replacement of the commander and political commissar of the elite People's Liberation Army "Rocket Force". In addition, defence minister Li Fangshu has disappeared, while Xi's anti-corruption campaign, which has investigated and incarcerated many party members, shows no sign of ending. The Chinese economy has faltered badly over the past year, with Beijing's economic travails beginning over a decade ago, Pantucci said. China's economy is systematically flawed and faces years of awkward adjustment, with some analysts diagnosing the country with "Japanification". China's international relations have not been one-way traffic, with resistance encountered in its Belt and Road projects and among several international debtor nations for its opaque lending practices.
A UN Expert on the Institution’s Successes, Failures, and Continued Relevance


23-09-21 16:14

Minh-Thu Pham recently joined the Carnegie Endowment as a nonresident scholar.

What was it like to work at the UN, based on your years in the Secretariat?

It was both inspiring and humbling—inspiring because you get to help the community of 193 nations try to uphold the values they agreed to, and humbling because you (or at least your boss, the Secretary-General) have no power and very little influence. Everything you do is shaped by dynamics among member states, and the success of your efforts ultimately depends on whether they agree with one another or not. But when member states see it’s in their interest to cooperate, it can be pretty cool. Minh-Thu Pham Minh-Thu Pham is a nonresident scholar in the Global Order and Institutions Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. More > @M2Pham

Still, my experience was somewhat unique. I arrived at the Executive Office of the Secretary-General in January 2005, during a period of deep crisis. Under questioning from the press, then secretary-general Kofi Annan said the Iraq war was not in accordance with the UN Charter and therefore illegal. Typically tensions arise at the UN as a result of disagreement among states, but here it was between the UN’s most powerful member state (the United States) and its top official who works at the behest of its members.

That led to several U.S. congressional investigations into the UN, threats to withhold UN funding, and an independent inquiry, among other things. I was charged with staffing the UN’s response. That included several reforms, and in the end, we got agreement on the principle of Responsibility to Protect, important institutional changes on human rights and peace-building, and measures to improve management and operations.

How relevant is the UN today, nearly eight decades after it was created?

The UN’s relevance has been a question almost since its founding, but major powers ultimately decide that it’s to their benefit to try to work with it. Coordinating policy through an institution with global reach can be more efficient than working bilaterally.

That said, right now trust between governments seems to be reaching a breaking point, and the legitimacy of states such as the United States that helped establish the world order is being seriously questioned. This is happening at just the moment when global cooperation is needed the most.

Alternative clubs and pop-up alliances, while useful for certain purposes, also reflect the power transition we’re in. The expansion of the BRICS can bring those countries greater leverage at the UN, which is the only forum where the rest of the developing world is represented alongside the most powerful. At least in the medium term, I think governments will still go to the UN. If BRICS+ and others want to lead or influence the so-called Global South, they need to go where those countries are, and that’s the UN.

What explains the UN’s failures? Is it capable of reform, at least at the margins?

The UN has contributed to dramatic failures—often as a result of indecision, either when member states can’t agree, as in the war in Syria; when their agreement falls far short of what’s needed, as in Bosnia or Rwanda; or when they selectively apply, or don’t apply, international norms to suit their interests, as in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Reform can mean different things—from ongoing debate about Security Council expansion to significant but less glamorous institutional changes to help the UN better deliver. Getting countries to agree on major changes depends on trust between member states and on whether there’s a broad coalition of committed states, backed by a solid political strategy and pressure from outside.

Ultimately, reform is about changing how the UN works in order to improve it.

What’s one aspect of the UN that’s flown under the radar that you wish more people knew about?

I thought the relatively open process of creating the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) was itself a reform of UN decisionmaking and a story worth understanding. (That may be self-serving, since I was deeply involved.)

But what happened wasn’t a rule change but rather a practice change. In the process of deciding on the goals, member states took into account ideas and evidence from governments (including local and regional bodies), UN agencies and programs, non-UN organizations, and new stakeholders that all helped to popularize the goals and whose expertise we need to implement them. It was “networked multilateralism” in practice, and I don’t think UN decisionmaking can go back to being closed to the people most affected.

Yes, we’re off-track for achieving the goals—which were always ambitious—and the coronavirus pandemic set us further back. We’ll need the solidarity demonstrated in 2015—in the SDGs, the Paris climate agreement, and the financing for development agenda—and more to get us closer.

What do you make of the often ambivalent relationship between the UN and the United States?

It’s a tension built into the UN’s fabric. The United States helped create the UN and the existing world order, including the norms and principles that shape state behavior and the institutions that support them. Washington abides by those norms, at least most of the time, because it’s in its interest for others to see that it does and others should as well. Ultimately, the United States goes to the UN if doing so will accomplish its objectives. However, it should keep in mind that when it doesn’t go to the UN, there’s a trade-off. If the United States doesn’t go when it should, or doesn’t uphold its end of the bargain, it erodes its legitimacy as the underwriter of the global order. That’s one reason for the crisis we’re in.

What will be your focus at Carnegie?

I’m interested in how international organizations like the UN can better deliver, especially in response to profound change and compounding crises. How should these institutions adapt? The people and countries most impacted by the crisis have had very little say in what happens to them, but they will find ways to be heard. How will that play out, especially as authoritarianism is taking hold in many parts of the world, and people don’t trust their own governments to represent them or deliver for them?

Read more of Carnegie’s UNGA coverage: The Massive Challenge Facing Leaders at the SDG Summit Five Signs of Life for Global Cooperation Neither Biden nor Netanyahu Could Afford a Bad Meeting Unpacking Biden’s Remarks (video)

Armenia in political crisis after Nagorno-Karabakh defeat

Deutsche Welle

23-09-21 15:52

The recent ceasefire in Nagorno-Karabakh has sparked a political crisis in Armenia. The opposition has called for protests in the capital, Yerevan, accusing Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan of "treason" and demanding his immediate resignation. Pashinyan's supporters have rejected these accusations, claiming that the protests are "inspired by foreign interests" and have threatened to launch countermeasures. The domestic political situation in Armenia could become destabilized, and there are concerns that Azerbaijan may launch military operations against Armenia if Pashinyan does not step down. However, as long as Armenians are not forced to leave Nagorno-Karabakh, Pashinyan has good prospects for remaining in power.
UAE mulls export controls on items sanctioned by US, EU – Russia could suffer

South China Morning Post

23-09-21 15:16

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is considering introducing export licenses for items including chips and other components that are sanctioned by the US and European Union (EU) and used by Russia’s military in Ukraine. The UAE has yet to make a final decision on the matter, but if implemented, it could potentially hurt Russia’s ability to feed its war machine. Western officials have been urging the UAE to stop acting as a gateway for Russia to get around trade restrictions imposed on it by the US, UK, and EU.
Fired TikTok Workers Allege Racist Insult by Bosses in Civil Rights Complaint


23-09-21 15:00

Former Black employees of TikTok's parent company, ByteDance, have accused the company of racism and retaliation. The employees filed a complaint with the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, alleging that they were terminated for speaking up against discrimination. The complaint comes as technology companies face criticism over their treatment of women and underrepresented minorities. TikTok has faced concerns about its treatment of Black creators, but the employees say that the company's public commitments did not reflect the reality of their experiences. ByteDance has not responded to the complaint.
Can India benefit from simultaneous elections?

Deutsche Welle

23-09-21 14:38

The Indian government has set up a committee to explore the feasibility of holding simultaneous elections for the lower house of parliament and state assemblies, municipalities and village councils. The proposal has been criticised by opposition parties and political commentators, who argue that it would undermine the federal structure of the country and the autonomy of state governments. Supporters of the move argue that it would reduce the cost of elections and allow governments to focus on governance rather than campaigning. The committee is expected to assess the logistical requirements for holding simultaneous elections.
EU Trade Chief Heads to China With Anti-Subsidy EV Probe Looming Over Relationship


23-09-21 20:00

The European Union's (EU) trade chief, Valdis Dombrovskis, is due to visit China this week to discuss the need for concrete agreements to reset their relationship. The EU is seeking to reduce its dependency on China whilst maintaining access to its market and fears that a new probe into Chinese electric vehicles could result in tariffs or other trade curbs targeted at industries beyond just cars. Dombrovskis will reportedly explain to his Chinese counterparts that the investigation will strictly follow procedural steps, including consultations with the authorities and companies, before any action is taken. China's tone towards Europe has hardened following the probe, which it has called "a naked act of protectionism." The EU will use the visit to try to cool down some of the fallout from the investigation. The visit comes as China and Russia forge a strategic partnership and deepen their trade ties, however, the EU is focusing on cracking down on Russia's ability to circumvent its sanctions by prioritising a list of 45 categories of "high-priority battlefield items" to target.
Oil Set for Weekly Loss as Hawkish Fed Overshadows Tight Market


23-09-22 00:02

Oil is on track for its first weekly loss in four due to concerns over a further rise in US interest rates. The Federal Reserve's announcement has dampened appetite for risk assets and overshadowed the physical tightness in the crude market. Although there are signs of tightness in the physical market, such as Russia imposing a temporary ban on diesel and gasoline exports, and US crude stockpiles declining, the overall sentiment has been negative. Crude has rallied this quarter due to Saudi Arabia and Russia extending their production cuts, and an improved outlook for demand. However, the recent announcement by the Federal Reserve has dimmed the allure of commodities.
Poland no longer sending arms to Ukraine: A reason to worry?

Deutsche Welle

23-09-21 23:48

Poland's Prime Minister, Mateusz Morawiecki, has announced that his country will no longer be transferring weapons to Ukraine, but will instead focus on rebuilding its own weapon stocks. This has raised questions about the strained ties between the two nations. Poland has been one of Ukraine's staunchest allies since Russia invaded the country in February 2022. Poland has delivered military, financial, and humanitarian aid worth around €4.27 billion ($4.54 billion) to Ukraine. It has also played a pivotal role in lobbying other EU and NATO members to send more weapons to Ukraine. However, relations between the two allies have soured recently after Poland imposed a ban on Ukrainian grain imports. This has led to tensions between the two countries. Despite these differences, Ukraine and Poland are working towards an agreement that takes both countries' interests into account. Polish officials have defended Morawiecki's comments, stating that Poland will continue to deliver weapons to Ukraine in line with its current commitments. The dispute between the two countries is seen as political theater that is only helping Moscow, according to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
Open House: Seized HK Mansion Listed for $112 Million Traces Fall of Evergrande Tycoon


23-09-21 23:00

A mansion in Hong Kong that was seized from China Evergrande Group's chairman, Hui Ka Yan, is now up for sale. The 5,000-square-foot property, located in a wealthy Hong Kong neighborhood, was one of three houses that Hui bought in 2009 and formed his main residence when he was in Hong Kong. Hui's personal fortune swelled to $42 billion at its peak in 2017, but the collapse of Evergrande and President Xi Jinping's crackdown on excessive leverage in the real estate industry has caused his wealth to plummet. The house is on sale for HK$880 million ($112 million).
China’s Ultra-Rich Gen Zs Flock Home as Global Tensions Rise


23-09-21 23:00

Chinese youth from wealthy backgrounds are increasingly returning to China and eschewing overseas opportunities due to rising geopolitical tensions and the perception of increasing hostility towards Chinese nationals abroad. The number of overseas Chinese graduates who repatriated rose 8.6% in 2022, while the ratio of returnees to those enrolling at overseas universities increased from 23% at the turn of the century to 82% in 2019. This shift is driven by a combination of factors, including the lure of China's potential, the alienation felt by Chinese youth abroad, and the difficulties facing Chinese students in obtaining visas and finding employment in Western countries.

Despite the economic fallout and risks associated with living in China, many young Chinese from privileged backgrounds are choosing to stay in the country due to the opportunities available to them. They are willing to navigate the challenges of reverse culture shock and potential crackdowns on the wealthy in order to take advantage of the talent deficit in sectors such as semiconductors and pharmaceuticals. These young people, known as fuerdai or second-generation rich, have the social capital and resources to thrive in Chinese society, even as the country tightens its grip on wealth and inequalities widen.

The repatriation of these wealthy young Chinese individuals has consequences for both China and the West. The US and its allies lose intimate knowledge of the inner workings of the Chinese economy, while the reduction in cross-cultural exchange poses a national security risk. The decrease in Chinese students studying in the US also undermines China’s goal of exerting more global influence. It is unfortunate for both countries that fewer Chinese students are studying in the US as it represents the kind of engagement that the two nations should be protecting.

Pakistan’s Interim Government and China Seek Economic Cooperation


23-09-21 22:24

Pakistan is in talks with China to expand cooperation beyond debt issues as Islamabad struggles to roll out growth-oriented policies. Pakistan secured a $3bn loan programme with the International Monetary Fund in July after months of delays that brought it close to default. China has financed billions of dollars in power plants in Pakistan as part of the Belt and Road Initiative and extended loans to the country while International Monetary Fund negotiations were ongoing. Pakistan is also working to attract investments from Gulf nations into the mining, agriculture and tech sectors.