Free trade in rhetoric, not in practice by Western countries


WESTERN countries commonly proclaim the great benefits of free trade and the evils of protectionism.

In reality, many developed countries practise double standards, insisting on free trade in areas where they are strong, whilst using protectionist measures in sectors where they are weak.

In the worst case, within the same sector they have designed rules that impose liberalisation on developing countries but allow themselves to maintain high protectionism.

An outstanding example is in agriculture, in which the rich counties are not competitive.

If “free trade” were to be practised, a large part of global agricultural trade would be dominated by the more efficient developing countries.

But until today, agricultural trade is dominated instead by the major developed countries.

For many decades they got an exemption for agriculture from trade liberalisation rules.

This exemption ended when the World Trade Organisation (WTO) was crea­ted in 1995 and the rich countries were expected to open their agriculture to global competition.

But in reality, WTO’s agriculture agreement allowed them to have both high tariffs and high subsidies.

The subsidies have enabled far­mers to sell their products at low prices, often below production cost, yet allowed them to get adequate revenues (which include the subsidies) that keep them in business.

This has four negative effects on developing countries.

Firstly, those countries that are agri­­culturally competitive cannot pe­­netrate the rich countries’ markets.

Secondly, the developing countries are deprived of other markets because the United States and Europe can export the same farm products at artificially cheap prices. This is a complaint of African cotton-producing countries.

Thirdly, by exporting a product cheaply, the developed country reduces the demand for a competitor substitute product. If the US did not subsidise its soybean, enabling soybean oil to be cheaper, Malaysian or Indonesian palm oil would have a bigger market.

Fourthly, these cheap products (such as chicken from US and Europe) have entered many deve­loping countries, damaging the livelihoods of their local farmers.

In 2001, the WTO launched a Doha development agenda whose chief goal was to liberalise the agriculture of developed countries.

Much energy was spent over many years to devise methods and formulae to liberalise agricultural trade, and a high degree of consensus was reached.

However, the US, backed by Europe, has now made it clear they do not intend to conclude the Doha Round.

Future WTO negotiations have to be on a new basis, and not based on existing texts.

An article by Chris Horseman in the bulletin Agra Europe (May 12) analysed why the US now cannot accept the existing text.

A reduction in the maximum limit of one type of allowed subsidies (called de minimis) would have pushed the US to increase by 58% another type of disallowed subsidies (known as AMS).

This partly explains “why the US is keen to move away from the formulae on the table and to negotiate a fresh approach,” said the article.

Due to its powerful farm lobbies, the US will not change its domestic policies (embodied in its 2014 Farm Bill) to meet the Doha agenda’s new limits on the allowed amounts of domestic subsidies.

The same article also shows how the European Union has meanwhile changed the types of subsidies it provides, in order to better comply with WTO rules. This also allowed the EU countries to maintain their total domestic subsidies at around €80bil (RM356bil) annually from 2004 to 2013.

Two decades after the WTO was set up, the rich countries have continued the high level of their agricultural protection.

There is little prospect that they will agree to changes in the trading system that will effectively eliminate or reduce the massive subsidies that keep their farming systems afloat.

The poorer countries simply do not have the money to match the subsidies of the rich.

If they want to defend their far­mers and their food security, they can only put up tariffs to levels that keep out the cheap subsidised pro­ducts.

But those developing countries that sign free trade agreements with the US and the EU have to cut their agriculture tariffs to zero or very low levels.

At the same time, at the insistence of developed countries, agricultural subsidies are kept off the FTA agenda. Thus, the rich countries can keep their subsidies and swamp developing countries with their farm products.

The US and EU are also taking protectionist measures in other areas against developing countries.

For example, the US successfully filed a case against India at the WTO, that the latter’s National Solar Mission favours local firms through its domestic content requirements for solar cells and modules.

This kind of objection makes it extra difficult for India or other developing countries to take action against climate change.

The European Parliament recently voted to refuse giving China the status of a market economy in the WTO, although WTO members are obliged to recognise China as a market economy by December 2016, 15 years after it joined the WTO in 2001.

By denying China this status, it is easier for other countries to suc­­­­­­c­e­ed when taking anti-dumping cases against China, and thus to place extra tariffs on Chinese exports.

China and India are fighting back.

India last week announced it will file 16 cases against the US for violating WTO rules when providing subsidies under its renewable energy programmes.

China won a case against the US in the WTO for wrongly imposing countervailing duties against 15 Chinese products including solar panels, steel sinks and thermal paper.

However, the US has not complied with the panel decision to withdraw the duties, and China is now starting action at the WTO to get the US to comply.

It seems impossible to prevent or reduce the rich countries’ high protection of their agriculture. And it also seems they will continue using protectionist measures against products or policies of developing countries.

There is indeed a big gap between the rhetoric and practice of free trade.

By Martin Khor Global trends

Martin Khor (director@ southcentre.org) is executive director of the South Centre. The views expressed here are entirely his own.

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The arbitration decision on South China Sea could ‘change the world’


Chinese J-11 fighter jets intercepted the U.S. EP-3 spy aircraft

THE ruling on an international arbitration case, brought by the Philippines against China on rival claims to the South China Sea, is expected soon.

With the decision widely predicted to favour the Philippines, China – which has refused to participate in the proceedings – has revved up its efforts to influence public opinion at home and abroad.

State-owned media outlets, such as China Radio International’s WeChat account “Watch Asean”, began posting materials provided by the Chinese Foreign Ministry in late April to prove that China lays historical claim to the territory.

Turning to age-old manuscripts like the Book of Han and Record of Foreign Matters written during the Eastern Han Dynasty (25 AD – 220 AD), China said its people were the first to discover, name and administer va­­rious South China Sea islands and therefore enjoy priority rights to own and use the features.

“History has irrefutably proved that China is the sole owner of the South China Sea islands,” it said.

China also cited foreign publications, such as The China Sea Directory by United Kingdom’s Hydrographic Office in 1868 and a 1933 French magazine Le Monde Colonial Illustré, as evidence that Chinese fishermen did live on the islands.

As for other South-East Asian nations that border the South China Sea, China claimed they did not challenge its sovereignty until rich deposits of oil and natural gas were discovered there in the 20th century.

“Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, etc, then ‘occupied’ parts of Nansha (Spratly Islands) and hence the territorial spat ensued,” said Li Guoqing, research fellow of the Institute of Chinese Borderland Studies of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences told local and international journalists in Beijing.

The conflicts brewed for decades and heightened over the past two years with China’s massive expansion and construction activities in the area, adding airfields, ports and lighthouses to seven islands and reefs.

Its explanation that these facilities were intended for civilian use was not too convin­cing, especially for the United States, which criticised China for “militarising” the disputed waters.

On the international front, China appeared as an aggressive claimant who insists that historical evidence can substantiate its assertion over the territory.

It uses the “nine-dash line” to demarcate its boundary on maps, covering most of the South China Sea and overlapping the exclusive economic zones (EEZ) of Malaysia, Bru­nei, Vietnam, the Philippines and Indo­nesia.

If China is so confident of its sovereignty over the South China Sea, why is it reluctant to appear before the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague?

China said territorial sovereignty is beyond the purview of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

It added that both countries have agreed in the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) to settle disputes through bilateral channels, which means the Philippines’ arbitration has thus breached its obligation under international law.

But the Philippines has emphasised to the five-person tribunal that it is not asking for a ruling on territorial sovereignty, but to clarify its maritime entitlements in the South China Sea.

The tribunal decided in October last year that it has the authority to consider the Philippines’ submissions, adding that the DOC was only a political agreement, which is not legally binding.

The tribunal will rule on whether China’s “nine-dash line” violates UNCLOS, whether the maritime features claimed by both parties should be characterised as “islands, rocks, low-tide elevations or submerged banks” (to determine the maritime zones they are entitled to), and whether “certain Chinese activities” in the South China Sea have violated UNCLOS.

China is adamant that it would not entertain the decision.

“No matter what verdict the arbitration case will be, it is unlawful and invalid. China will neither accept nor recognise it,” Ouyang Yujing, director-general of the Department of Boundary and Ocean Affairs of the Chinese Foreign Ministry, said in a press conference in early May.

Li said it is foreseeable that the disputes over the South China Sea would continue to exist for a long time after the verdict is delivered.

He downplayed the significance of the arbitration, saying that it has been hyped up to appear as if it could “change the world”.

“While China is the most experienced country in the world in solving boundary disputes (through bilateral negotiations), it is also the least experienced when it comes to dealing with territorial claims through international arbitration, so I think China has made the right decision to stay away from the arbitration,” he said.

As China slammed countries outside of the region, such as the US and Japan, for meddling in the maritime row, it is actively lobbying for international support on its stance.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, during his three-nation visit to South-East Asia in April, said that Brunei, Cambodia and Laos reached a consensus with China to, among others, agree that countries can choose their own ways to solve disputes and oppose unilateral attempts to impose an agenda on others.

National news agency Xinhua reported that Fiji supported China’s position in a meeting between their foreign ministers in Beijing last month (although the Fijian government quickly clarified that it did not, according to the Fiji Broadcasting Corporation).

Last week, a Doha Declaration was signed by China and 21 countries of the Arab League to support peaceful settlement of disputes through negotiation.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang said that Gabon, Mauritania and Venezuela have also voiced their support for China.

“We highly commend these countries and regional organisations for their calling for justice,” he said in a daily press briefing.

Judging from China’s behaviour, it is very likely that it will follow up with another publicity blitz to denounce the tribunal’s verdict, if the latter does indeed rule in favour of the Philippines.

The disputes, meanwhile, will be far from over.

By Tho Xin Yi

Check-in China

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BEIJING, May 13 — China’s position of neither participating in nor accepting the results of the for [Read it]

US military snooping is more than impolite

[2016-05-20 07:02]

To peep into other’s courtyard uninvited is at best impolite; to criticize the host for objecting to such behavior compounds the injury.

 

Pentagon raises risk of midair collision over South China Sea

Once the tensions are lit up, both sides will have to raise the stakes and the situation could spiral out of control at anytime.

Source: Global Times | 2016-5-19 20:40:13

 

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What the market is trying to tell investors?


IN stock market language, when the charts point to a “dead cross” formation, it means that there is confirmation of a long-term bear market. This is as opposed to a “golden cross” that points to a bull market.

Based on weekly indicators emitting from Bursa Malaysia, a dead cross is coming to formation. The last time this pattern emerged was in the first quarter of 1997 and a year later, the “dead cross” chart was fully formed. By that time, the entire capital market was in flames.

The ringgit fell against the US dollar, banks were in trouble and the stock market hit a nadir of 261 points on Sept 4, 1998.

Technical indicators are no sure sign of market failure. It could change with sentiments. However, time and again it has been proven that the stock market runs six months ahead of what is to be expected in the real economy.

As for the nation’s economy, there is no denying that growth is slowing down. There are governance issues with regards to the handling of public funds.

However, the fact remains that for all the noise the foreign investors make, the Government did not have to pay a premium when it raised US$1.5bil debts a few weeks ago. This indicates that foreign investors have largely discounted local issues.

Nevertheless, the external headwinds are overwhelming and weigh heavy on the Malaysian economy.

It is already showing with the slew of corporate results streaming in. Companies are not doing well, as indicated by Tan Chong Motor Holdings Bhd chalking up its first loss in 18 years. Property developers that have made a pile from a great run in the last eight years are seeing miserable sales.

Malaysia is expected to see a growth of 4% this year, which is low for a small nation. Nonetheless, we are better off than some of our neighbours.

Everybody is cautious, but nobody is able to point a finger to the catalyst that could cause a severe correction to the stock market. Inevitably, it will stem from the economy – whether domestic or global.

There are several signs that have emerged which need some monitoring.

At the top of the list would be the price of oil that has a close correlation to the ringgit and the economy.

Ironically, when crude oil plunged below US$30 per barrel, the ringgit weakened significantly on the view that Malaysia was an exporter of energy and it impacted the country’s revenue.

However, in recent months, oil prices have recovered to about US$45 per barrel levels but the ringgit is continuing to see volatility. One reason is that the market is not convinced that crude oil will stabilise at current levels.

Conventional economic theory reasons that when oil prices fall, it should strengthen economic activity because the cost of doing business comes down. The International Monetary Fund estimates that for every US$20 drop in price per barrel of crude, the global economy should grow by 0.5%.

However, this is not happening because the major economic superpowers of the world are going through their own problems.

This points to China’s economic health, the second major concern that could spark off a crisis for Bursa and the world.

Nobody can authoritatively put a finger on the state of the debt levels of China, especially those held outside the financial sector. The latest figure being bandied about is that the non-financial sector debt is 279% of gross domestic product, according to data from the Bank of International Settlement.

However, the optimists contend that China’s strong growth supports borrowing. Also, the country is seeing high inflation, which in the longer term will cause debt to erode. In the process of growing the economy, China has adopted an approach to weakening the yuan to export its way out. Every time the yuan weakens, the ringgit falls.

The third indicator is the highly likely scenario of the US raising interest rates in the second half of the year from the current band of between 0.25% and 0.5%. It is a measure which, if materialises, will exert pressure on the ringgit.

The headline numbers show that the US economy is still in the stage of recovery. The unemployment rate in the world’s biggest economy has ticked up slightly to 5% from 4.9% previously based on April numbers, but wage rates are still steady, meaning people are still getting paid well.

People’s earnings are growing at an estimated 2.5% based on latest numbers, which means that inflation will kick in.

At the moment the possibility of the US Federal Reserve raising interest rates will not likely happen in the next month or so but there is a strong possibility may happen by the year-end as inflation starts to tick up. This would cause an outflow of funds from emerging economies such as Malaysia and the ringgit would come under pressure.

The fourth catalyst is also tied to the US. This time, it is the fear of Donald Trump becoming the next president. Trump prefers a strong dollar and has hinted of a haircut for those holding US dollar debt papers.

Although Trump has come out to state that he was misquoted on the US dollar debt paper issue, it has spooked investors holding US$14 trillion of US debt papers.

The markets will also watch with anxiety on how Trump deals with policies of other countries such as China, Japan and the European Union (EU) in weakening their currencies to boost the economy.

As the run-up to the presidential elections takes place in November this year, if it becomes increasingly apparent that Trump will triumph over Hillary Clinton, then emerging markets will be spooked.

And finally, the last possible catalyst to cause a global shock is the possibility of Britain leaving the EU or better known as Brexit. Increasingly, the chances of it happening are remote. Nevertheless, nobody can tell for sure until the referendum on June 23.

All the five economic events will have a bearing on the ringgit. Everything points to the US dollar appreciating in the future, leaving the ringgit in defensive mode.

This is already being reflected in the negative mood of the stock market. If there is less noise in the domestic economy on such matters relating to the handling of public funds to governance, it would help the case for the ringgit.

The market is generally correct in predicting the future. But sometimes, the unexpected can happen – such as China handling its debt problems better than expected or Trump not being a candidate for the Republicans.

Such unexpected incidences can quickly reverse the sentiments of the market and the ringgit.

By M. Shanmugam The alternative view The Star

Go to Market Watch

http://www.thestar.com.my/business/marketwatch/

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Where does the money go?


RECENTLY I was offered an easy loan with just 5.8% interest rate after activation of my credit card.

There was no pre-qualified questions asked when the sales personnel approached me through the phone. As I had no intention to get funding, I did not take up the offer.

It is understood that the “attractive” rate was offered to attract potential customers. If there is a delay in repayment eventually, the rate would jump up according to the interest incurred on the credit card outstanding balance, which ranges from 15% to 18% per annum.

When I asked around, I found most of my family members had on at least one if not more occasions being offered an easy loan, credit card balance transfer, personal loan, or other credit facilities via phone calls every month.

This contrasts with what I had heard from friends and peers from the property industry regarding housing loan. There have been complaints about stringent requirements for housing loan application and low approval rate. They have this question in mind – where does the money go?

Their concerns are understandable when I see the home loan approval rates was only hovering around 50% for the past few years. In 2013, the approval rate was at 49.2%, it improved slightly to 52.9% in 2014 but went down to 50.2% in 2015.

According to the group president of the Real Estate and Housing Developers Association (Rehda), Datuk Seri FD Iskandar, rejection rate for affordable housing loan applications was more than 50%, and the strict housing/mortgage lending conditions were denying aspiring owners their first homes.

Based on Rehda’s survey in the second half of 2015, loan rejection was the number one reason for unsold units, and affordable homes top the list.

For example, an individual or family with a combined household income of between RM2,500 and RM10,000 are eligible to apply for PR1MA homes that cost between RM100,000 and RM400,000. However, with loan eligibility based on net income, many with their existing commitments such as car loan or credit card outstanding payment, are not able to secure a loan for an affordable home. This dampens the effort of helping qualified households in owning their first homes.

Looking at the situation, I am puzzled with different treatments given to loan application. At one end, there is an easy access for personal loan and credit card financing. On the other, stringent requirements are imposed on housing loan. It seems like the priority has been given to spending on liability instead of asset.

If we look at it from the business perspective, credit card, personal loan and easy loan offer higher profit margin to the banks with interest rates ranging from 12% to 18%, compared to housing loan interest which is about 4.5% to 5%. This may explain the shift of focus among the banks.

Central bank concerned

Reports show that our household debt stood at an alarming 87.9% of GDP as at end of 2014 – one of the highest in the region. It is comprehensible that Bank Negara is concerned with the situation, and would like to impose responsible lending with housing loan.

However, when we look at the details, residential housing loans accounted for 45.7% of total debt, hire purchase at 16.6%, personal financing stood at 15.7%, non-residential loan was 7.7%, securities at 6.5%, followed by credit cards and other items at 3.9% respectively.

A recent McKinsey Global Institute Report highlighted that in advanced countries, housing loans comprise 74% of total household debt on average. As a country that aspires to be a developed nation by 2020, our 45.7% housing loan component is considered low.

Looking at the above, it is ironic that our authorities and banks are strict on funding a house which is a basic necessity and asset for people, but lenient on car loan, personal loan, credit card and other easy financing with higher interest rate, that tend to encourage the rakyat to overspend on depreciating items.

It is common nowadays to see young adults paying half of their salary for car loan, and people go on extravagant holidays or purchase luxury items which rack up their credit card balance. As such it is not surprising that the number of counselling cases took on by Credit Counselling and Debt Management Agency has also shown a worrying upward trend, with the number of cases leaping by 20,000 from 2013 to 2014. There was an average of about 35,000 counselling cases annually from 2008 to 2014, but that figure rose to approximately 60,000 in 2014.

It is important for the authorities and banks to encourage prudent lending and spending, re-look into high housing loan rejection rate, and consider to tighten lending conditions of other loans, such as personal loan and credit card. These will encourage the rakyat to channel their money into assets instead of liabilities, and improve the financial position of the people and the nation in the future.

By Alan Tong

Datuk Alan Tong has over 50 years of experience in property development. He is the group chairman of Bukit Kiara Properties. For feedback, please email feedback@fiabci-asiapacific.com.

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British media ‘barbarians’ need lessons


‘Barbarians’ in UK media should learn manners from 5,000 years of Chinese history

 

While the rest of the world is discussing unguarded comments made by Queen Elizabeth II saying that Chinese officials were “very rude” during Xi Jinping’s state visit last year, Chinese state media has only seen fit to author a single editorial on the subject.

Chinese-language editorial (see below) published earlier today,  the Global Times said that “barbarians” in the British media had blown the incident out of proportion and they could stand to learn some manners from 5,000 years of Chinese culture, via SCMP:

“The West in modern times has risen to the top and created a brilliant civilization, but their media is full of reckless ‘gossip fiends’ who bare their fangs and brandish their claws and are very narcissistic, retaining the bad manners of ‘barbarians’,” it said in an editorial.

“As they experience constant exposure to the 5,000 years of continuous Eastern civilisation, we believe they will make progress” when it comes to manners, it added in the Chinese-language piece, which was not published in English.

For its part, the Global Times simply shrugged off the Queen’s comments: “It is not surprising that there are off the record complaints. Chinese diplomats must have mocked British officials privately.”

The Queen mocked Chinese officials in private comments that were made public during a garden party in Buckingham Palace. The 90-year-old monarch spoke candidly with the officer in charge of security during last year’s state visit — which was said to have kicked off the “Golden Era in UK-China relations” — while a camera rolled nearby, picking up their conversation.

The video and the Queen’s remarks have made headlines across the world. However, the official reaction in China has been very muted. When asked by reporters at a regular Q&A session yesterday if that “Golden Era” still continues today, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang opted to neither confirm nor deny.

Felicia Sonmez from The Wall Street Journal also asked if China thinks that the video was released on purpose. “I think you should refer your question to those who put the footage on the website,” Lu replied, though that question was later deleted from the official transcript of the briefing.

Meanwhile, a report on the Queen’s comments carried by BBC World News was blanked out in China.

Last October, both sides declared that the state visit was “very successful.” The Queen herself said that it was “a milestone in the unprecedented year of co-operation and friendship between the United Kingdom and China.” Prime Minister David Cameron said that the trip had managed to drum up $58 billion in Chinese investment.

With those economic ties in mind, the Global Times sees the Queen’s comments as very minor. “The Sino-UK relationship will not be influenced by this. The Golden Era is based on profound interests,” the editorial said.

Of course, the Queen wasn’t the only one to make an epic political gaffe this week. While talking to Her Royal Majesty and the Archbishop of Canterbury at Buckingham Palace, David Cameron boasted about the quality of attendees he has arriving at an anti-corruption summit in London later in the week, seemingly unaware of the cameras that recorded him saying:

“We have got the Nigerians – actually we have got some leaders of some fantastically corrupt countries coming to Britain.”

He went on: “Nigeria and Afghanistan – possibly two of the most corrupt countries in the world.”

The Global Times editorial took a jab at these twin blunders, writing: “But among the Western countries, Britain is one of those that gets caught with its pants down and exposes itself most often.” It’s hard to argue with that assessment, following Cameron’s remarks, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari urged the UK to return assets stolen by corrupt officials. “I am not going to demand any apology from anybody. What I am demanding is the return of the assets,” Buhari said at the anti-graft event.

Many have argued that while Cameron’s comments may have just been foolish, the Queen’s comments were publicized in order to cause chaos in improving UK-China relations, as an indirect attack against Cameron and Chancellor George Osborne. The Global Times was quick to reject this claim, saying that “if they had deliberately done so, that would have been truly crude and rude.”

Meanwhile, others have pointed to Queen Elizabeth’s umbrella as the true mastermind behind this whole fiasco, The Daily Telegraph reports:

Sources told The Daily Telegraph that the reason the Queen’s comments were audible on the TV footage was because her clear plastic umbrella, which she uses to allow people to see her while sheltering from the rain, had acted like the cone in a loudspeaker, amplifying her voice towards the microphone.

“If she had been holding an umbrella made of fabric, it wouldn’t have happened,” an insider said.

“But because it’s plastic, it reflects the sound like a satellite dish.” – SCMP

 

社评:英媒爆炒女王私话,八卦术折服全球

英国女王伊丽莎白二世10日在白金汉宫花园举办下午茶会,与伦敦警察署女警官德奥丝有一段私聊。女王的摄影师把它拍了下来,后来不知怎么着漏了出去,英国媒体一顿爆炒。

德奥丝是去年中国领导人对英国国事访问时安保工作的“警方首席指挥官”,视频中她向女王抱怨中方与她打交道的官员“粗鲁”,做得“不合外交礼仪”。女王应和了她。英国媒体对这段视频如获至宝,不仅有些当“头条”报,还分别向英中外交部以及英王室问询态度和反应。

英国王室和外交部的回应都是:中国领导人对英国的国事访问获得圆满成功,各方通力密切合作,确保了国事访问的顺利进行。中国外交部也做了类似表态,强调访问的成功,以及双方对两国工作团队的努力给予了高度认同。

西方媒体最喜欢报花边消息,而英国王室和英国政府似乎中招的时候最多,经常被媒体揪住小辫。就在同一天,卡梅伦首相同女王和大主教等的私聊也被拍了视频,卡梅伦当时聊得很嗨,称尼日利亚和阿富汗“可能是世界上最腐败的两个国家”,而尼阿两国领导人12日、也就是今天将参加伦敦举行的国际反腐败会议。

国家关系越亲密,官员们打交道越多,彼此“有看不顺眼的时候”应当说很正-常,“自己人”私下抱怨几句也没啥大不了的。中国外交官私下里想必也奚落过英国的官僚们。中国互联网上的评论是公开的,去年女王曾被中国网民比喻成“西太后”,卡梅伦被比喻成“李中堂”,当时编排他们的段子红遍中国网络社区。

然而中国外交官们做事严谨,很多西方大国也搞得跟“外交无小事”似的,媒体很难逮住官员们议论他国的“私话”。在这方面英国即使在西方国家中也是最经常“露内裤”和“走光”的之一,跟它有一拼的是美国,白宫最近几届的主人似乎都有“忘记关麦克风”的时候。

不可想象英国官方故意把这些视频漏出去,因为相信他们知道一旦故意那样做,才是真正的粗鲁和无礼。那是很不文明的市侩做法,自尊的英王室大概更会重视那样的底线。

然而“整个英国”还是有些嬉皮士,英媒对八卦的迷恋似乎到了要让一切都“腥”起来的程度。看在这个国家对人类近代史贡献颇丰的份上,让我们主动为它做个解释吧:人都会有毛病,伟大的国家也是一样。

相信中英关系不会受到此次事件的影响,两国间“黄金时代”是由深厚利益打造的,而在这两个历史悠久的国度里,理性都有着不可撼动的地位。

中国已经站在拥有了全球影响因而树大招风的位置上,世界上的秘闻奇事层出不穷,但那些能跟中国沾上边的,就更容易被发现出来,炒成“一件事”。中国人终将会见怪不怪,耳根子也会越磨越硬。

西方自近代以来走到了前面,创造了辉煌文明。但那里媒体不管不顾的“八卦狂”们既张牙舞爪,又很自恋,似乎留了些“蛮夷”的不文雅。然而我们同样相信,在与东方五千年文明的不断接触中,他们会进步的。

国际新闻_环球网

 

 

Experts share insights on property market in Malaysia


Speakers Chris Tan (left) and Dr Choong Kwai Fatt sharing their thoughts to attendees of StarProperty Prime Investment Forum at Nexus, Bangsar South. – RAYMOND OOI/ The Star

PETALING JAYA: Malaysians should start thinking about home ownership before it becomes out of reach, said a property consultant.

Chur Associates founding managing director Chris Tan said property buyers were living in an era of the best home owner protection where incentives and attractive financing plans were provided to genuine home buyers.

“Firstly, one must understand one’s risk profile, metaphorically by setting your investment style either as a hare or tortoise’s pace, as well as any other method that falls in between,” he added.

Tan shared his insights on Malaysia’s agenda of “Housing the Nation” during the StarProperty. my’s Prime Investment Forum 2016 held on Sunday.

Over 400 registrants attended the forum, sponsored by Mah Sing Group Bhd, at Oak Room, Nexus, Bangsar South.

Tan pointed out that “property investment is low-risk and is one of the most important portfolios, even for richer and successful nation groups, as property investment is tangible and is constitutionally guaranteed.”

For first time home buyers, Tan advised that it would be best for each individual to own their very own home, only if they can afford it.

Tan added that property investment was one of the methods to overcome inflation due to property valuation.

Dr Choong: ‘In order to purchase a property, one should first select a developer that has a good track record.’ Advocate and solicitor, tax and GST consultant Dr Choong Kwai Fatt said: “In order to purchase a property, one should first select a developer that has a good track record.

“This is the first assurance of a successful property investment.”

He added that now is the best time to buy a property.

“If the currency drops in value in future, it will be harder to purchase properties.

“Therefore, while the Malaysian currency still holds good value, it is best to invest right away.”

Meanwhile, Mah Sing Group sales and marketing director James A. Bruyns said the company has a range of properties in the northern region and scattered areas in Kuala Lumpur.

In fact, the forum has brought together all Mah Sing’s astounding offerings to property investors, he added.

Among the leading developments presented at the Prime Investment Forum include Ferringhi Residence and SouthBay City in Penang as well as the central region developments, Cerrado residential suites from Southville City in Bangi and Lakeville Residences in Taman Wahyu, Kuala Lumpur.

Bruyns concluded that there wasn’t a good or bad time to invest and if one has the means to invest, they should go ahead and invest.

He said: “Investing in property is a good way to build up the market sentiment especially when people are still investing, where there are good take-up rates as well as good property products.”

By Viknesh Ashley Clarence The Star

Related posts:

Malaysia’s Q3 Property Market Update Check your risk appetite and start investing as this is as good a time as any to invest in…

 

Philippine presidential election a chance to settle South China Sea issues


The Philippine presidential election on May 9, arguably the most contentious in decades, will see a new leader assume power because incumbent President Benigno Aquino III is barred from seeking re-election. Since Aquino is responsible for the souring of Beijing-Manila relations by endorsing Washington’s “rebalancing to Asia-Pacific” policy over the past six years, the world is waiting to see what the new Philippine government’s China policy will be.

Backed by the United States, the Aquino government has constantly sought to challenge China over the South China Sea issue, which, however, has proved to be a fool’s errand.

To begin with, Manila’s attempt to confront Beijing over its Huangyan Island has failed.

To maintain relations with the Philippines, however, China has exercised exemplary restraint in the island dispute. And the Philippines was expected to reciprocate the gesture for the sake of bilateral ties, which Aquino has long refused.

Encouraged by Washington, Manila sent military vessels to harass Chinese fishing boats and fishermen operating in waters off Huangyan Island in 2012, triggering a two-month confrontation with China’s surveillance ships. This prompted Beijing to strengthen its presence on the island, leaving no scope for Manila to encroach upon the Chinese territory.

Thanks to the Aquino administration’s accommodative policy, US troops, which the Philippine people fought strenuously to get rid of, are back in the country and will be stationed at five military bases.

Seeking Washington’s protection might not be a good move for Manila-it could even be counter-productive-because Philippine soldiers, despite being equipped and trained according to US standards, have not been able to defeat the poorly-equipped anti-government forces.

By selling its Hamilton-class cutters and other advanced weapons to the Philippines, Washington is strengthening its military alliance with Manila.

But the Philippines should realize that it is just a piece on the US chessboard. The US may make use of the Philippines to meddle in the waters of the South China Sea, but it will never get involved if it leads to open confrontation between China and the Philippines. Should a serious conflict break out between Beijing and Manila over the South China Sea issue, which is about China’s maritime sovereignty, Washington might prefer to watch from the sidelines because it does not concern the US’ core interests.

Manila’s provocations such as those around the Huangyan Island and the filing of an arbitration case in its dispute with China in the South China Sea, have a lot to do with the deteriorating bilateral relations, which have dealt a heavy blow to their trade and commercial cooperation.

As such, the incoming Philippine government should recalibrate its China policy.

But the prospects for that do not look encouraging, because the US is likely to take steps to ensure the new Philippine administration keeps serving its “rebalancing to Asia-Pacific” policy.

On the one hand, Washington is expected to ramp up its military aid to Manila in the next five years. On the other, in an attempt to hype up China’s legal construction on its South China Sea islands, the US flew six of its military planes through the international airspace near Huangyan Island last month, injecting more uncertainties into China-Philippines ties.

The Aquino government has been trying to justify its hawkish stance on the South China Sea issue and urging the incoming leadership to follow the same policy. Worse, its anti-China propaganda has seriously affected domestic opinion, as more Philippine citizens now seem to distrust China.

Given these facts, the new Philippine administration should take appropriate measures to improve Beijing-Manila ties and seek peaceful solution to bilateral disputes without becoming an expendable part of Washington’s Asia-Pacific maneuver.

By CHEN QINGHONG (China Daily)

The author is a researcher in Southeast Asian studies at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations.


China has sound reasons to reject South China Sea arbitration

An aerial photo taken on Sept. 25, 2015 from a seaplane of Hainan Maritime Safety Administration shows the Yacheng 13-1 drilling rig during a patrol in South China Sea.(Xinhua file photo/Zhao Yingquan)

 

Interview: No ‘ruling’ can destroy China’s sovereignty over S. China Sea

CCTV have talked to Victor Gao, the Director of the China National Association of International Studies. He says whatever the ruling is, the end result may be the opposite of what the Philippine government wants …

Videos:

http://t.cn/RqEfUgE

https://player.cntv.cn/standard/cntvOutSidePlayer.swf http://english.cctv.com/2016/05/06/VIDEiXOWX2qORs4PH2OlXKHk160506.shtml

The Philippines’ unilateral attempt at arbitration over South China Sea disputes is not a real attempt to find a solution, but pursuit of selfish gains in the name of “rule of law.”

The core of the Beijing-Manila South China Sea dispute is territorial issue, caused by the illegal occupation of some of China’s islands and reefs since the 1970s by the Philippines, and the issue of maritime delimitation.

The arbitration violates the basic principles of international law and undermines the integrity and authority of the UN Convention on the Law of Sea (UNCLOS).

The court has no right to adjudicate on the case as in 2006, China exercised its right under Article 298 of the UNCLOS and made a declaration excluding compulsory arbitration on disputes concerning maritime delimitation.

The UN Charter and international law advocate peaceful settlement of disputes through dialogue and negotiation. The UNCLOS respects the dispute settlement procedure chosen by the parties themselves.

Meanwhile, the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC), signed by China and ASEAN countries, stipulates that disputes be resolved through consultation and negotiation by those directly concerned.

Therefore, China has sound reasons to reject compulsory arbitration. Whatever the result of the arbitration, it will not be binding on China.

The Philippines has distorted and abused the international arbitration mechanism, and reneged on its promise to solve disputes through negotiation.

It is also an outright lie to say that “all bilateral tools have been exhausted.”

China and the Philippines have conducted several rounds of consultations on building trust, managing disputes and promoting maritime cooperation and, during these occasions, the Philippines has never talked with China about any of the appeals it mentioned in the arbitration case.

As Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi pointed out, attempts to pressure China over an arbitration of maritime disputes is “either political arrogance or legal prejudice.”

It doesn’t hold water to say that filing for an arbitration is upholding international law, while not accepting arbitration violates international law. This is not viable in international practice .- Xinhua

Related:

China rebukes U.S. official’s criticism on South China Sea arbitration

BEIJING, April 29 (Xinhua) — A Chinese spokesperson on Friday rebuked U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s remarks on the impending “arbitration” of the South China Sea issue, saying the United States is in no position to criticize China.

On Thursday, Blinken told a House of Representatives hearing in Washington that China “can’t have it both ways,” by being a party to the convention but rejecting its provisions, including “the binding nature of any arbitration decision.” Full story

Backgrounder: “Geng Lu Book,” encyclopedia on South China Sea

BEIJING, May 1 (Xinhua) — The “Geng Lu Book,” a historic book written between China’s Ming Dynasty (AD 1368-1644) and Qing Dynasty (AD 1644-1911), begins with a few sentences outlining an accurate maritime navigation route of ancient Chinese fishermen sailing from the Tan Men port of China’s Hainan Province to the South China Sea.

The origin of the “Geng Lu Book” could date back to the early Ming Dynasty. The book records names of more than 100 locations in and important maritime information about the South China Sea, including sailing directions, time, distance, islands and submerged reefs, as well as sea current speeds and weather changes. Full story

Backgrounder: China has indisputable sovereignty over South China Sea islands

BEIJING, April 29 (Xinhua) — The Philippines, distorting and partially applying the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), attempts to challenge China’s sovereignty over the Nansha Islands.

In its unilaterally-initiated arbitration, the Philippines argues that low-tide elevations and submerged reefs are part of the exclusive
economic zone and continental shelf, a claim that totally runs contrary to historical fact, reality and international law. Full story

Historical documents record China’s sovereignty in South China Sea

 

Taiwan Republic of China (ROC) President Ma visits Taiping Island

President Ma convenes international press conference after visits

http://english.president.gov.tw/Default.aspx?tabid=491&itemid=36718&rmid=2355

Office of the President, ROC (Taiwan) … See us on. youtube. flickr … After arriving at Taiping Island, President Ma first heard a briefing at the Nansha Command and … a speech explaining the purpose of his visit and his hope for peace in the South China Sea. … Office of the President, Republic of China (Taiwan)

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