Meltdown and challenging times and profiting from market downturn


starbiz@thestar.com.my

https://youtu.be/Ue6N787O4SI

 

IT is trying times for everyone as the global financial world melts down but the order of the day is really to stop the spread of coronavirus (Covid-19) so that some normality could return.

Ironically, two things seem to be rising amid the turmoil – the demand for toilet paper caused serious fights in supermarkets across the globe and this has gone viral across various networks.

The other is the US dollar. Its rise has many reasons.

Everything else, including stock markets, oil, bonds, commodities, currencies and bitcoin are plunging to new lows with no clear signs of immediate reversal. Just in a month the FBM KLCI is down by 20% while the Dow Jones Industrial average 31%.

The rise in demand for toilet paper cannot be comprehended but the rise of the US dollar in a mayhem is understandable. Corporations across the global are rushing to draw down credit lines and seek the US dollar for their funding needs.

In fact, people are scrambling for the US dollar and as a report said “world markets are still very, very nervous …people are scrambling for cash any way they can.’’

Ringgit against the US dollar has reached the RM4.41 range.

Bonds are also seeing the biggest wave of withdrawals since 2017 and gold has fallen as there are concerns of a global economic recession.

The timing of the Saudi Arabia-russia oil price war was shocking and a report said it is a “risky move likely to further destabilise a world economy that is already wobbly with the pandemic.’’

Oil has plummeted to about US$30 a barrel and experts believe it could plunge to US$20 a barrel though the Us-trump Administration may intervene as US producers are suffering from the historic crash in prices.

Amid all these fears, governments across the globe are coming out with stimulus packages to help its citizens and businesses. It is a much needed aid as many countries have enforced total lockdown and people on daily jobs need money for survival. The US alone is forking out US$1 trillion in aid. Other countries have set aside billions of dollars including Malaysia Rm20bil.

StarBiz compiled by B.K. SIDHU & EUGENE MAHALINGAM

Profiting from market downturn

Investment strategy: The benefit of dollar-cost averaging is that you don’t have to monitor the price movement and you don’t have to make a decision every time you want to invest. In fact, dollar-cost averaging is quite a no-brainer strategy.

MOST people tend to be very bearish about the stock market after a crash. In fact, most investors would feel that it would be best to avoid the stock market for now.

Some may even want to cut their current investment losses and get out of their investments in equities, even though seasoned investors would tell you that the best opportunity to enter the market would be after a market crash

Following the recent global stock market downturn, market sentiments, the desire and motivation to invest is at an all-time low. Understandably so, after all, once bitten twice shy.

However, the legendary “Oracle of Omaha” and one of the most successful investor of all time, Warren Buffett, once said that as an investor, it is wise to be “fearful when others are greedy, and greedy when others are fearful.”

It’s hard, if not impossible, to convince oneself to invest when the whole world is panicking.

On one hand, you think the market crash is so sharp that you are fearful it may drop even further. On the other hand, you can clearly see that premium stocks are now trading at a great discount, and hence now would be a great opportunity to snap them up. What should you do?

If this is your dilemma, there’s an investment strategy that can help you to take advantage of the market downturn and allay your fear: the method is called dollar-cost averaging.

How dollar-cost averaging operates

Dollar-cost averaging is a strategy to invest a specific amount of money in the market at routine intervals (monthly, quarterly, half-yearly or yearly). Done right, you can protect yourself against fluctuations and downside risk in the market.

For example, instead of investing a lump sum of, say, RM120,000, you invest RM10,000 a month over one year. By doing this, you average out the cost of investments over an extended period of time. This is to make sure you don’t invest all your money at the peak of the market.

On the other hand, this strategy works especially well in an extended market downturn (like what you expect now) as you will keep buying at lower and lower prices until the market recovers.

For example, you invest RM1,000 in an equity unit trust fund at RM1 per unit. So, you end up with 1,000 units. The following month, you invest another RM1,000 in the same fund but because the unit price has dropped to 50 sen, you end up with 2,000 units.

So, what is the average cost of all your units? If your answer is 75 sen, you’re wrong. That’s because you have used the arithmetic mean (RM1+50sen/2>75 sen). You should use the harmonic mean.

This is how to calculate the average cost of all your units correctly: Your total investment is RM2,000 and you have 3,000 units of the fund. Divide RM2,000 by 3,000 units and the average cost is 67 sen. This means by using harmonic mean calculation, dollar-cost averaging gives a lower average cost.

How it helps you to profit from current market

Now, let’s see how we can apply dollar-cost averaging strategy to the current market scenario. You’re bearish about the market and think it will go down for another six months.

Dollar-cost averaging works well if you believe the market will continue to go down.

With reference to Table 1, if you invest RM1,000 a month for the next 12 months, you would have invested RM12,000 and accumulated 25,648 units at the end of the period. At 80 sen (which is lower than the original price), your investment value at the end of the period is RM20,518 (80 sen x 25,648 units).

It means that you would have gained RM8,518 (RM20,518 – RM12,000). That’s a 71% gain over 12 months, despite the fund price being beaten down by as much as 78% (90 sen – RM0.20 = 70 sen, then divided by 90 sen = 78%).

Why it can help you

Dollar-cost averaging is a discipline that can help investors overcome their emotion, dilemma and other human feeling when it comes to investing, be it fear or greed. We’re always tempted to invest when the market is high and so we end up buying high instead of buying low. With dollar-cost averaging, we’re automatically programmed to buy less units at higher prices and more units at lower prices instead.

Thus when the market crashes and prices are low like now, we would be empowered to invest, not react out of fear.

For this strategy to work, you would need to invest a specific amount of money at specific intervals, say RM10,000 a month over one year, no matter what the market condition is in. If you think that the market may crash and rebound in a shorter period, you may want to implement the strategy within one month. For example, RM30,000 a week over a one-month period. It does not matter which interval, what’s important is that it’s done consistently.

Your current investment strategy to buy only when the price has dropped to a certain “attractive” level is commendable. However, to execute this strategy well, you must be disciplined enough to monitor the market movement closely and spend time and energy to decide when would be the right time to buy the investment.

The benefit of dollar-cost averaging is that you don’t have to monitor the price movement and you don’t have to make a decision every time you want to invest. In fact, if you’d ask me, dollar-cost averaging is quite a no-brainer strategy.

How to make dollar-cost averaging work better

Dollar-cost averaging offers the most benefit when you invest in investments whose prices are highly volatile (move up or down in a big quantum).

An investment that is highly volatile is often perceived as a risky investment. However, this risk plays to your advantage when dollar-cost averaging is applied. How so? The strategy helps to perform an efficient accumulation of investment units. When a particular investment drops significantly in price, you get to accumulate more units. The bigger the drop, the more units you accumulate, thus your accumulation is more efficient (you get to buy the units at a cheaper price).

In comparison, if you invest in an investment that has low volatility, the drop in price would be too small and you can only accumulate a few units, thus rendering your accumulation to be less efficient.

Therefore, when you apply dollar-cost averaging strategy on your unit trust portfolio, go for equity funds. Avoid money market funds or bond funds.

Warning: Don’t apply dollar-cost averaging strategy on a single share. There’s usually an underlying reason why the price of a particular share is in a continuous downward trend. In such circumstances, there’s no assurance that the price will ever go up when the whole market rebound. Worst, the share may not even survive the tough economic crisis and ends up getting delisted.

Do remember that for dollar-cost averaging to work, your chosen investment must be resilient enough to rebound when stock market recovers.

Dollar-cost averaging is best suited if you have a portfolio of equity unit trust funds that is diversified into various regions, so that risks is spread across the share of many companies.

Act on it

To truly benefit from dollar-cost averaging, you have to apply it to your investments. During the implementation process, your resolve would be tested.

There will be times where you will be tempted to abandon the strategy especially when the price of your investment has dropped even further.

Do not waver! Be discipline in executing your strategy and enjoy the gains when the market recovers. Onwards and upwards.

– Yap Ming Hui (ymh@whitman.com.my) is thrilled that his mission to empower every Malaysian with a roadmap to financial freedom has finally come to fruition with the release of a free DIY roadmap to financial freedom tool on the iWealth mobile app. The views expressed here are the writer’s own.

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Malaysia’s PM, a one-man show as Cabinet list jigsaw puzzle


PUTRAJAYA: Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin will be in charge of all ministries and government departments until the appointment of Cabinet ministers, says the latest Federal Government gazette.

The gazette signed on Tuesday by the Chief Secretary to the Government Datuk Seri Mohd Zuki Ali, also stated that the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, pursuant to Article 43 of the Federal Constitution, has appointed Muhyiddin as Prime Minister.

“This Order is deemed to have come into operation on March 1,2020, ” said the notice that was uploaded on the Attorney General’s Chambers website.

“It is notified that the Prime Minister, (Tan Sri) Muhyiddin (Yassin) shall be charged with the responsibility in respect of all departments of the Federal Government and the subjects for which the departments are responsible until the appointment of other ministers in the Cabinet.”

Muhyiddin, who was sworn in as Prime Minister on March 1, met chief secretaries from the Education and Foreign Ministries yesterday.

The newly minted Prime Minister posted pictures on Facebook of him meeting the duo in his office that featured empty shelves and empty tables, a sign of someone who has just moved in.

In the Facebook post, Muhyiddin said Education Ministry secretary-general Datuk Dr Mohd Gazali Abas briefed him on developments and suggestions to upgrade the education sector.

Foreign Ministry chief secretary Datuk Seri Muhammad Shahrul Ikram Yaakob was also seen explaining Malaysia’s current diplomatic relationships and pending international conferences.

“Mohd Gazali gave explanations on developments in the education sector as well as statistics of achievements, and gave suggestions on how to build up the education sector.

“Shahrul of the Foreign Affairs Ministry briefed the prime minister on the current relationship between Malaysia and other countries, as well as collaborations and important conferences which will take place this year, ” said the post.

It is believed that one of the main subjects discussed was the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) inter-governmental forum that will be held in November in Kuala Lumpur.

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The Cabinet list jigsaw puzzle


Muhyiddin Yassin

GPS, having played the kingmaker in the political saga, expects to be well rewarded. Thus, drawing up the Cabinet list will be a more complicated task this time around, as there are just so many variables that need to be considered.


AS Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin thinks about the composition of his Cabinet list, he will certainly need to take heed as to how Sarawak should be rewarded.

There is no doubt that the 18 Members of Parliament from Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) were the ones who made the critical difference in the numbers game last week.

The GPS consists of Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB), Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP), Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) and Progressive Democratic Party (PDP).

It was game over when these lawmakers chose Muhyiddin instead of Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad to be prime minister.

Sarawak Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Openg put it aptly when he told the media that “now you know the value of GPS votes.”

He said the ruling state coalition initially supported Dr Mahathir to continue leading the country.

“After that, he resigned. Then he resigned from Bersatu. After that, he was back again. So left, right, left, right, what else to expect?

“That’s why we supported Muhyiddin. At the same time, our Sarawak interest is uppermost, ” he added.

And the rest, as they say, is history.

Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim had hoped that GPS would remain neutral at least but the political reality was that GPS had to make a stand.

If there was one big factor that had made up the final decision of the GPS, it has to be the DAP.

Outspoken Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri James Masing has consistently said that GPS would not support a coalition that included DAP in the ongoing political crisis.

He blamed DAP’s “administrative arrogance” for this, adding that the party did whatever it pleased without listening to others, citing Lim Guan Eng as an example.

He pointed out that the former Finance Minister had announced that Sarawak would go bankrupt within three years when the DAP leader came to the state last year.

The reality is actually the opposite.

In 2019, S&P Global Ratings has affirmed its ‘A-’ rating on Sarawak with stable earnings outlook and said the state’s exceptional budgetary performance and liquidity will likely mitigate its elevated debt, supporting its creditworthiness.

The state’s healthy financial standing and its stable socio-political environment have earned Sarawak commendable investment-grade credit ratings of A-, A3 and AAA by reputable international and domestic rating houses.

A Google search of the financial standing of the country’s largest state is sufficient to show that.

Lim’s hurtful remark, and other past disputes with the DAP, seem to have left a deep-rooted resentment of the party among GPS members, and last week, was payback time.

While it has been said that there are no permanent friends or foes in politics, this doesn’t seem to apply in the case of the GPS in this regard.

At one point, Masing even said the GPS was “more comfortable working with PAS than DAP.”

As the situation turned desperate, Sarawak DAP chief Chong Chieng Jen said the party was willing to make concessions with GPS to keep the Pakatan Harapan government intact, appealing to GPS “to put aside all past political differences and work together with Pakatan to save our country.”

Many interpreted the offer to mean the DAP’s readiness in not contesting in the upcoming Sarawak state elections.

But it came too late as the GPS had already made up its mind after having huddled together for two days at the Ritz Carlton hotel in Kuala Lumpur.

It remains to be seen what the GPS had asked for and what Muyhiddin has to offer.

It will be Sarawak’s gain over neighbouring Sabah as Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal opted to stay with Pakatan.

A statement from the Sarawak Chief Minister’s Office on Feb 29 said GPS supported Muhyiddin to restore political stability in the country without sacrificing Sarawak’s interest.

It also said that GPS would be friendly to the new Federal Government but was not a member of the Perikatan Nasional coalition.

Some senior leaders of the GPS said privately that they wanted to see what would be on the table but expected to be rewarded accordingly.

Others said that they were prepared to wait till the state elections were over – as these veteran politicians were aware that Pakatan would most certainly use the alliance with Perikatan Nasional as a rallying call against the GPS in the state polls.

Unlike Peninsular Malaysia, Sarawakian leaders are more interested in protecting and keeping their state positions rather than federal posts.

“The interest of Sarawak is more important than the interest of lawmakers, ” Masing told this writer.

But the immediate priority would be to demand a higher oil royalty from the current 5% and if this was a sticky point under Pakatan, it will likely remain so for the new Perikatan Nasional government.

The other is the Malaysia Agreement 1963, or more popularly known as MA63.

The agreement – an 18-point pact for Sarawak and 20-point for Sabah – was signed on July 9,1963, before the formation of Malaysia.

It is an important document safeguarding the rights and autonomy of the two states.

The 18-point and 20-point agreement covers religion, language, constitution, immigration, the position of the indigenous people, finance, tariffs and citizenship.

Sabahans and Sarawakians are understandably annoyed when they hear “orang Malaya” remark that these two states “joined Malaysia”, pointing out that they had, in fact, helped to form Malaysia.

In the peninsula, the governing state leaders are known as state executive councillors but over in Sabah and Sarawak, they are known as state ministers.

That also explains why Malaysians from the peninsula side need their identity card or passport when entering these two states, and state immigration have the right to deny anyone entry.

“Orang Semenanjung” who want to work in these two states have to apply for a work permit.

The same goes for lawyers who wish to appear in the courts of either state – they have to get approval beforehand.

Most Malaysians may not understand fully what MA63 is all about, even if they have become contentious political issues.

But most believe that the Federal Government has not given due recognition to the MA63 or that these safeguards have not been honoured or taken away.

Sarawakians want a greater degree of financial and political autonomy as compared to other states in the peninsula and not end up being merely one of the 13 states in Malaysia.

It remains to be seen how or what posts would be given to the GPS MPs, and whether this state coalition wishes to wait till the state polls are over before moving in but what is certain is that the new Prime Minister certainly cannot ignore the Land of the Hornbill.

Abang Jo’s words (now you know the value of the GPS) would surely ring continuously in the ears of the Prime Minister.

And now, this explains why a tiny country like Malaysia, with a population of over 32 million people, has a big Cabinet – it is simply because the Prime Minister has to accommodate so many geographical and ethnic interests.

It is also very possible that the Prime Minister may announce the appointments in batches, starting with the crucial ones. This will allow him time to tinker.

Drawing up the Cabinet list will be a more complicated task this time, unlike previously, as there are just so many variables that need to be considered.

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 Quality leaders, please 

 
Exchanging views: Muhyiddin (from right) with Mufti Datuk Seri Dr Zulkifli Mohamad Al-Bakri and Chief Secretary to the government Datuk Seri Mohd Zuki Ali at Bangunan Perdana Putra. — Bernama
PETALING JAYA: With all eyes on who will make it into Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin’s Cabinet, the business sector and moderation advocates are urging for quality over political loyalty.

Malay Businessmen and Industrialists Association of Malaysia (Perdasama) vice-president Datuk Sohaimi Shahadan said the new Cabinet line-up must include those with enough experience and expertise in their respective ministries.

“They should not be appointed based on political appointment or connection, networking, or to pay back any form of political assistance.

“The individual must be highly educated, experienced, and understands his job scope to strengthen the current government,” he said.

He proposed that the Cabinet should be a mix of old and new leaders from various backgrounds, as well as professionals who could be appointed as senators to become a Cabinet minister.

“We have experienced ministers from the previous government who did not carry any weight, could not perform their duties well and incapable of executing government objectives.

“A minister must be able to connect with those on the ground. For instance, we have many young business people who are doing everything online creatively. We want someone who is capable of connecting with them,” he said.

He urged the government to conduct a holistic review on the composition of the ministries as some could be merged or separated.

“Some ministries have too many agencies and departments under them while others have so few. The government should properly study and come up with a better structure,” he said.

Malaysian Associated Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (MAICCI) president Datuk N. Gobalakrishnan said ministerial positions should be given to those who are most qualified even if it means choosing an ordinary party member rather than a president or chairman.

“We would rather the posts be given not based on loyalty or who has the higher post in a party, instead to those who are most qualified even if they are just ordinary members,” he said.

The new government must also look into creating a more business-friendly environment for domestic direct investment (DDI), which has been sidelined in the previous administration’s focus to spur foreign direct investment (FDI), said Gobalakrishnan.

“There is a one-stop centre to give perks such as tax exemption and customs clearance under one roof to foreign investors, but there is no such facility for DDI.

“The government must focus on levelling the playing field for DDI so that the country stops losing local investments that are flowing outside as FDI to countries like Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia,” he said.

Gobalakrishnan also expressed hope for a special allocation of RM500mil yearly to aid Indian businesses in moving forward.

He said they were put in the same basket as non-bumiputra businesses which caused stiff competition and Indian businesses to be sidelined from securing funds.

“When we are placed in a non-bumiputra basket, fundamentally, or predominantly, other people tend to get the funds rather than Indian businesses,” he said.

Meanwhile, moderation advocates said the main focus for the Cabinet ministers, when appointed, should be to get the economy back on track and to promote unity among a divided nation.

Anas Zubedy said boosting a dampened economy and bolstering unity among Malaysians would be the two “key concern areas” for the new Cabinet.

“The ministers must be individuals who not only can reconcile people between the races but also who can bring the Malays back together,” he said.

He said the Cabinet should be a mix of experienced veterans and young blood, depending on their past records.

“The Umno ministers who did a good job in the past should be brought back. It is about getting things done,” he said, adding that it must not be someone who currently has a court case.

“We must take the best talent from everywhere and I believe this was the best option for our country when the idea of the unity government was proposed,” he said.

Mohamed Tawfik Ismail, the son of former deputy prime minister Tun Dr Ismail Abdul Rahman, said education reforms and national unity would be some of the priority areas the new Cabinet must look at.

He said any potential minister must be financially independent and preferably be from a profession.

“This is so that this person will not only be less attracted to bribes but can resign on principle and go back to his or her profession,” he said.

He added that ministers must also be transparent in their family’s involvement in business. – The Star front page

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It takes all kinds to dominate in a world obsessed with economic might and political power.

AS a young boy growing up in the 1960s, I watched many Western movies and TV shows about cowboys and Red Indians, and as expected of a naïve and ignorant kid, I cheered for the “good” guys – the cowboys.

And because they were portrayed as such, the Red Indians were the “bad” guys to me. They were the savage lot, while the Caucasian men were the civilised group trying to help them. And routinely, the Red Indians would be defeated.

As I reached my teenage years and read more about the West, I realised that my supposed heroes were the ones who robbed these natives of their land, violated treaties and consigned the Red Indians to living on reservations.

The most famous Red Indian, Geronimo, the head of the Chiricahua Apaches, and his men were arrested and despatched to Florida as prisoners of war. Some of them were even discarded at crocodile-infested swamps.

Fast forward to contemporary Hollywood movies – the modern-day bad guys are always the Russians, Albanians and Arabs.

They are usually portrayed as one of brutal spies, criminals, human traffickers, drug dealers and terrorists, and in more lurid plots, all the above.

In The Equalizer, Denzel Washington, who plays a former intelligence agency man latterly driving a cab, goes after sadistic Russian gangsters and predictably, decides to kill all of them – in equally brutal ways.

In the John Wick movie series, Keanu Reeves also goes ballistic going after some Russians.

For some reason, all these ex-operatives are reclusive, divorced or widowed, still connected to their agencies, and as always, their loved ones get harmed (mostly killed) by the Russians, which invariably leads them to needing to settle the score.

Albanians hit the big time after the 2008 movie, Taken, which starred Liam Neeson, who plays Bryan Mills, another retired CIA operative whose teenage daughter and friend get kidnapped by human traffickers (Albanians) while holidaying in France.

In Taken 2, the 2012 sequel, the film follows the family to Istanbul, only to be kidnapped yet again, along with his former wife, by the father of one of the men he killed while saving his daughter two years previously.

It wasn’t just the Albanians who suffered from bad press as until today, my wife still refuses to go to Istanbul – as a result of the movie.

Fortunately for me, I have been to Albania. It’s a beautiful country with good people, and nothing like what the movies depict.

In the case of Arabs, we are accustomed to seeing them portrayed in poor light. They were womanising oil sheikhs at one time and are now mostly barbaric terrorists. Scenes with them are stereotypically sound tracked to the call of the Azan.

Mexicans, typically, are drug dealers. Likewise, Colombians, Cubans and Venezuelans. Well, in the movies, at least.

The hip hop loving African Americans in the United States, with their bling and bad attitude, are a dangerous lot. And thanks to their racist slurs, smaller Asians like us avoid antagonising them.

The latest bad guys are the Chinese. However, Hollywood isn’t quite ready to cast them as the standard stereotype because they are explicitly aware of mainlanders having plenty of clout.

Experts predict that by 2020, China will be the world’s largest cinema market, with box office revenue expected to leap from US$9.9 billion (RM41bil) in 2018 to US$15.5 billion (RM65bil) by 2023, according to a report by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). In the first quarter of 2018, China surpassed the US in box office revenue for the first time.

It has been reported that China is presently Hollywood’s biggest foreign market, and according to projections by PwC, this year, the Chinese box office will likely rake in US$11.05 billion (RM46bil) compared to ticket sales in the US, which is expected to amount to US$2.11 billion (RM8.8bil).

So, unlike with other nationalities, Hollywood won’t mess around with the Chinese anytime soon.

Failed Hollywood movies, like The Terminator: Dark Fate, which starred Arnold Schwarzenegger, were rescued by the box offices in China.

Hollywood understands the power of money well. In fact, Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight wasn’t even submitted for Chinese approval because of a dubious Chinese businessman character in the 2008 Batman movie. But in the Western media, whether in the US, Europe or Australia, China is being painted negatively, in a blatantly concerted way.

Everything from Huawei, to face recognition and to Xinjiang, and now Coronavirus, China has been the bogeyman.

The elephant-in-the-room theory is that the US wants a “freed Tibet” because it’s angling to build an air base that can send jets into China within minutes.

Adding to the spin doctoring, rioters and vandals in Hong Kong are relentlessly referred to as pro-democracy protestors to burn in the minds of the audience that they are the good guys.

HK policemen are painted as brutal when, ironically, tougher tactics are applied elsewhere, including by the American police.

The US is disturbed by the South China Sea, although it’s thousands of miles away and isn’t even a claimant. It’s strange when you think it has military bases in the Philippines and the vicinity.

The disdain for China even turned comical at some point. When a group of Vietnamese were found dead in a UK truck last year, newsfeeds initially revealed they were Chinese.

As the media scrambled for answers, one reporter, who was pressed for an answer, told his live audience that they could possibly be Chinese who fled to the UK because of their protests over the Xinjiang issue.

The underlining reason is simple – the Western media no longer wants to report about China in a balanced way, resenting its growth to become an economic power in just 30 years as it sits behind the US as the second largest economy in the world.

The narrative is the same: China should be feared and doubted, while Chinese scholars in the US ought to be treated as spies. And advanced technology better than that in American products be branded spying devices.

Hostility towards China has intensified and with the outbreak of Covid-19, there is no silver lining, what with spins of resenting Chinese president Xi Jinping, concealing figures of casualties, cover up, poor food preparation and filthy eating habits. And there’s also the racist perception that Chinese people are to be avoided and cooked up stories of uprising against Xi Jinping.

Of course, there’s also the twisted religious angle – that the Chinese are being punished, either for their eating habits, or again, the treatment of Muslims in Xinjiang.

The war against China is being waged in various fronts because it is deemed to have threatened the international order dominated by the US and its allies.

It doesn’t matter if the US is led by Donald Trump or a Democrat president, which could be worse, because the end game against China will simply be the same.

The Coronavirus epidemic has damaged the image of the Chinese. Their invincibility and ascent have taken a knock, so Xi Jinping must prove that China can beat this killer virus soon.

It’s a bad time for China nationals still travelling, but then again, even ethnic Chinese elsewhere are affected.

The average American believes everything they watch on CNN or Fox TV. No one should be surprised since only 45% of Americans – or 41.8 million – have been overseas. That’s an improvement, being 9% more than in 2018.

There is a far bigger picture here, one rooted in the concept of master and servant.

Not too long ago, China was a far-away mysterious country where cheap toys, low grade garments and fireworks came from. In the last couple of decades, the most populous country learnt technology well from the west, like how Japan did in the 1980s.

Today, the republic is on the cusp of achieving world domination. And that’s not a point lost on any superior or inferior nation.

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US travel alert an overreaction, shows unilateralism: experts 

 A staff member, wearing a facemask, waits for customers near the Forbidden City in Beijing on Friday. The Chinese people have just experienced an unforgettable Spring Festival as the whole country has been forced to endure the spread of the novel coronavirus.Photo: AFP

 

‘There is no reason to panic’  

 

 Drones equipped with speakers assist during coronavirus outbreak:

Drones creatively used in rural areas in battle against coronavirus

 Using Drones to warn it’s people to go home & wear masks….China is putting every effort to fight the Coronavirus

万万没想到!武汉告急!最先对中国动手的竟是这7国!3大无耻行为暴露真实面目!这笔帐中国人永不忘记!

The World Health Organization (WHO) declared on Thursday (local time) in Geneva the novel coronavirus outbreak a global public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC), putting pressure on China amid the deadly virus battle, as more countries are likely to issue travel advisories and impose trade restrictions.

 

Chinese analysts said although there is no need to exaggerate the impact of the declaration, the country needs to focus on containing the spread of the pneumonia as its top priority, as countries would adjust travel and trade policies based on the changing situation, and a complete recovery also depends on progress made during China’s nationwide fight against the virus.

The WHO emphasized that the declaration was not a vote of no confidence on China. Over the past few weeks, the WHO has witnessed the emergence of a previously unknown pathogen, which has escalated into an unprecedented outbreak, and which has been met by an unprecedented response, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a press conference on Thursday.

After considering multiple factors, WHO designated the coronavirus as a PHEIC. However, WHO continues to have confidence in China’s ability to control the outbreak.

Following the PHEIC declaration, the US State Department warned Americans not to go to China, becoming the first country of issuing travel alert to its citizens, despite the WHO emphasized on Thursday that it did not suggest other countries impose travel and trade restrictions on China.

A US State Department notice said travelers should be prepared for travel restrictions with little or no advance notice. Commercial carriers have reduced or suspended flights to and from China.

Those currently in China should consider leaving using commercial means, it said, noting that the department has requested all non-essential US government personnel to defer travel to China because of the novel coronavirus. The travel warning is the highest Level 4 – Do Not Travel – in the US.

At least 98 novel coronavirus cases have been reported in 18 countries outside of China, including eight human-to-human transmissions in Germany, Japan, Vietnam and the US. The majority of the cases outside of China involved people who had traveled to Wuhan, or were in contact with someone who had visited the city, according to the WHO.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the WHO. Photo: VCG

Damage to both sides

The US travel warning may cause other nations to follow, considering its geopolitical influence, some Chinese analysts forecast, reminding other countries to heed the WHO advise.

The US is overreacting and the warning would greatly hurt global tourism and hinder people-to-people exchanges, Ni Feng, deputy director of the Institute of American Studies of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times.

Ni predicted that other Western countries may follow the US in issuing travel restrictions to China.

Zeng Guang, chief epidemiologist of the China Center for Disease Control and Prevention, noted that the US government’s move shows its unilateralism, which is unsurprising.

The WHO clarified that they did not suggest other countries impose travel and trade restrictions on China. The advise was made based on multidimensional considerations and global public health interests, which the US ignored, Zeng told the Global Times.

The US government had ordered the departure of all non-urgent US personnel and their family members from Wuhan, Central China’s Hubei Province, the coronavirus’ epicenter, on January 23.

Some foreign airlines have suspended flights to China including Air Canada, United Airlines, British Airlines and IndiGo.

Imposing restrictions on personal exchanges between the US and China would significantly weigh on US interests in China, considering the huge presence of American companies in China, said Li Haidong, a professor at the Institute of International Relations of the China Foreign Affairs University.

“It may also trigger a humanitarian crisis, as American citizens have married Chinese people, and if they are forced to leave, many families would be separated,” Li said.

Many US companies are becoming increasingly entrenched in China, including major US-listed firms such as Tesla, Starbucks, Apple and Boeing, therefore restricting personnel exchanges between China and the US would also have an impact on the US stock market, according to analysts.

The US government had also issued travel alerts on previous public health incidents declared by the WHO, including the H1N1 virus that caused an influenza pandemic in 2009, Ebola outbreak in West Africa and polio in 2014, media reported. During the Ebola outbreak, the State Department alerted US citizens to follow screening procedures and travel restrictions, and reduce air travel to countries including Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Mali.

People make protective suits at a medical company in Hefei, east China’s Anhui Province, Thursday. To help fight the outbreak of pneumonia caused by the novel coronavirus, workers of some medical material companies rushed to work ahead of schedule to make protective equipment. Photo: Xinhua


Top priority

According to the International Health Regulations (IHR), if the WHO declares a PHEIC, the director-general shall issue temporary recommendations, including health measures regarding people, baggage, cargo, containers, conveyances, goods and parcels to prevent or reduce the spread of the disease and avoid unnecessary interference to international traffic.

However, temporary recommendations are non-binding advisories issued by the WHO and are on a time-limited, risk-specific basis, according to IHR.

When WHO declared the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo as a PHEIC, the organization emphasized it was essential to avoid the punitive economic consequences of travel and trade restrictions on affected communities, in a statement published on its website in July 2019.

Under the IHR, countries implementing additional health measures going beyond what WHO recommends will be required to provide a public health rationale and justification within 48 hours of implementation for WHO to review, WHO spokesman Tarik Jasarevic told the Global Times on Thursday.

The WHO is obliged to share information about measures and the justification received with other countries involved, Jasarevic said, noting that countries are asked to provide public health justification for any travel or trade measures that are not scientifically based, such as refusal of entry based on suspected cases or unaffected persons to affected areas.

Chinese analysts said it was not necessary to overreact or interpret the news as a hostile attitude toward China from the global community. The shared priority is to prevent the deadly virus from spreading across the globe.

“Indeed, it may place extra pressure to China, with both economic and political implications,” said Shen Yi, director at the Research Center for Cyberspace Governance of Fudan University.

“But it depends on how China continues fighting the epidemic in order to help its economy recover,” Shen said, noting that the WHO decision has little influence on how other countries handle economic ties with China amid the pneumonia outbreak.

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New strategies needed for Malaysian tourism


Cautious visitors: Tourists seen wearing face masks as they enter Malaysia through the Johor Baru Custom, Immigration and Quarantine Complex recently.

IT’S an unfortunate start to Visit Malaysia Year 2020 with the outbreak of the coronavirus putting a tumble to travelling, and it’s a tad more ominous that mainland China tourists have been our key market.

The Chinese government has already placed its faith in Malaysia by launching the Malaysia-China Year of Culture and Tourism 2020 to boost bilateral ties and friendship between the Asian nations.

However, the World Health Organisation’s declaration of a global health emergency has further dented the promotional efforts of Tourism Malaysia. To suggest minimal impact on Malaysia is a fallacy, to put it mildly.

Tourism revenue has always been regarded low hanging fruit, and with the improved performances of 2019, this year was supposed to kick off with more tourist arrivals.

Malaysia reported its half-year tourism results, until Aug 2019, declaring that tourist arrivals reached 13.35 million, up 4.9%, while tourist receipts improved 6.8% over the same period in 2018.

Tourism Malaysia’s data summary indicates the travel industry had contributed RM41.69bil in revenue to the country’s economy from January to June in 2019.

Apparently, the performance also saw growth in terms of per capita expenditure, rising by 1.9% to RM3,121.6, while the average length of stay climbed by 0.4 nights to 6.2 nights.

The top 10 source markets for arrivals were Singapore (5,381,566), Indonesia (1,857,864), China (1,558,782), Thailand (990,565), Brunei (627,112), India (354,486), South Korea (323,952), the Philippines (210,974), Vietnam (200,314) and Japan (196,561).

There are plenty of day trippers from Singapore and Indonesia, given our close proximity.

So, the numbers from China are significant. It’s glaring that East Asian and Asean arrivals continued to dominate the share of tourist arrivals to Malaysia with a 70% contribution.

The medium-haul market and long-haul market represented 20.8% and 9.2% share, respectively.

Tourism Malaysia reported that the top five countries with highest receipts were Singapore (RM11.56bil), China (RM7.09bil), Indonesia (RM5.71bil), Thailand (RM1.70bil) and Brunei (RM1.52bil).

The five countries with the highest average length of stay were those from Saudi Arabia (10.5 nights), France (8.7 nights), Germany (8.3 nights), Netherlands (8.1 nights) and Canada (7.7 nights).

In 2018, Malaysia registered 25.8 million tourist arrivals and RM84.1bil in tourist receipts. For 2019, tourist arrivals reached 28.1 million with tourist receipts of RM92.2bil.

While Malaysia, like most countries, has understandably become concerned with China’s continuing struggle with the virus, it’s crucial we maintain our renowned hospitality when interacting with Chinese tourists.

Chinese travellers have heeded caution by staying home, and for those travelling, the last thing they’d want is to feel unwelcome, or even discriminated.

News reports have already filtered in that Chinese tourists – and in some cases, even Singaporeans – have been asked to leave restaurants and tourist spots in some countries.

Our Prime Minister has made the right move by announcing that the decision to close mosques and tourist attractions to travellers, given the novel coronavirus outbreak, is not government policy.

Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad went so far as to describe such moves as irresponsible, saying the government never declared that mosques or museums were closed to tourists because they could be infected by the coronavirus.

“This is not a government policy and it is an irresponsible act, ” he told a press conference after chairing the weekly Cabinet meeting last week.

Among the mosques that have closed temporarily to tourists are the Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin mosque and the Putra Mosque in Putrajaya, as well as the Federal Territory mosque in Kuala Lumpur. They have since been opened.

Dr Mahathir also warned the public against spreading fake news meant to stir ill feelings between races.

Closing mosques to non-Muslims also doesn’t make sense when there are many Chinese citizens who are Muslims. The fact is there are more Muslims in China than Malaysia. However, unlike people, this virus doesn’t discriminate and will make victims of any race or religion.

Thermal detectors

So, it will be more effective and sensible to install thermal detectors at these popular mosques, and place medical personnel there to monitor the situation.

Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Mohamaddin Ketapi has rightly said that tourists, particularly Chinese nationals, should not be discriminated and said tourists coming into the country would have been screened at the entry points, including airports.

Recently, West Sumatra Governor Irwan Prayitno drew flak from netizens after amateur video recordings of him welcoming Chinese visitors in a well-attended parade at the Minangkabau International Airport in Padang went viral on Twitter, amid concerns over a domestic coronavirus outbreak.

A video uploaded on Sunday by Twitter user @dedetsaugia, in which Irwan could be seen addressing the tourists, has been viewed over 2.1 million times and retweeted over 6,000 times at the time of writing. As reported by kompas.com, Irwan welcomed the foreign visitors after they were declared healthy in a medical examination conducted with thermal scanners installed at the airport.

“The arrival of these tourists is expected to increase the number of foreign tourists visiting West Sumatra in the future, ” Irwan was quoted by Antara news agency.

“We cannot reject foreign arrivals when they have prepared all the required documentation. We have taken anticipatory measures by conducting a detailed check-up.”

The reaction of these netizens is in bad taste, and reeks of xenophobia. Credit to the West Sumatra authorities for showing much greater grace.

Asean and East Asian tourists will continue to dominate our tourist arrivals.

Like SARS, or severe acute respiratory syndrome, which hit Hong Kong and southern parts of China in 2003, the coronavirus appears to be a winter phenomenon. Over 700 people died then. China is now still in a cold season, although it’s already spring.

But this time, unlike 2003, it has happened during the Lunar New Year festival when millions travel home, across China, to be with their families. The CNY season is also a time for many Chinese to holiday abroad.

According to Wuhan officials, there are still over 4,000 Wuhan tourists overseas as of Jan 27, and certainly, this can’t be comforting for many.

China has adopted a more transparent approach this time, unlike in 2003, when it didn’t reveal the health threat until five months after the SARS outbreak.

This time around, it has done things differently by updating the world on developments with the epidemic.

Last week, the Chinese Embassy here even started a Whatsapp group – with a long list of media people – where everyone is kept informed, and the channel is used to share information, verify reports and keep the local media in the loop.

While China is fighting against time to battle the virus, it isn’t likely that this will drag on until the summer season.

Although this is very much a Wuhan problem, many travellers have postponed plans to fly and even going as far as avoiding crowds.

Malaysia is a country with a hot climate and open spaces, but that hasn’t stopped many of us from wearing masks as a precaution. Never mind that our streets and MRT aren’t congested unlike how it is in Japan, China or Hong Kong.

My relatives from Singapore called to say they were no longer coming to Kuala Lumpur for a CNY reunion! Talk about over-reaction!

For sure our tourist numbers will be hit, but Malaysia can’t afford to wait.

It must work on the right markets for us to meet the numbers and ensure the success of Visit Malaysia Year.

Mohamaddin has downplayed the fear that tourism numbers will decline, saying the loss in tourism revenue from the ban will be minimal, and added that the ministry will not revise its campaign target of getting 30 million visitors this year.

“The travel ban will only cause a small impact as it is only for those from Wuhan. But people from other countries such as Australia and England are still able to visit Malaysia. So, the target remains as it is, ” he said.

Of course, Malaysia will be affected. Australians, Britons and Americans may stay longer when they visit Malaysia, but their numbers are negligible, and they are certainly not the biggest spenders.

In fact, for 2017, the East Asia market showed a 6.3% growth, while other markets saw a decline, i.e., Asean markets dropped by -3.9%, Europe (-1.7%), Americas (-4.3%), Oceania (-5.4%) Central Asia (-6.4%), Africa (-7%), West Asia (-12.3%) and South Asia (-13.3%).

Asean, or the short-haul market, dominated with a 75.1% share of total tourist arrivals and brought a total of 19,478,575 tourists to Malaysia. The medium-haul market share was 19.1%, with 4,948,123 tourists, while the long-haul market share was 5.9%, with a total of 1,520,389 tourists.

For 2017, the top 10 tourist source markets for Malaysia were Singapore with 12,441,713 tourist arrivals, Indonesia (2,796,570), China (2,281,666), Thailand (1,836,522), Brunei (1,660,506), India (552,739), South Korea (484,528), Japan (392,777), the Philippines (370,559), and Britain (358,818).

For China, the market surpassed the target for this region with an increase of 7.45% to 2.28 million arrivals, while an increase of flight frequency by AIRASIA X made Kuala Lumpur and Kota Kinabalu choice destinations for Koreans.

Arrivals from Indonesia and China, which made up Malaysia’s second and third largest respectively, have been increasing. In 2018, the number of Chinese tourists visiting Malaysia climbed by 29% year-on-year, while the number of tourists from Indonesia increased by 17%.

This is a good time to re-design our strategies and engage with stakeholders – including tour operators, food and beverage outlet owners, hoteliers, mall operators and media – to see how we can support Visit Malaysia Year 2020.

We should also seek the support of famous Malaysians like Tan Sri Michelle Yeoh, Datuk Lee Chong Wei, Datuk Jimmy Choo, Henry Golding and others to be our Tourism Ambassadors since they have millions of fans worldwide.

We are all rooting for a resounding success.

The views expressed here are the writer’s own.

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Countdown to the Chinese New Year around the world for the year of the mouse


A live countdown to the Lunar New Year (also known as Chinese New Year) for Hong Kong, Hanoi, Vietnam, and New York on January 25, 2020.

While most of the world celebrates the New Year on January 1, many people also celebrate the traditional new year based on the lunar calendar. Celebrate as the clock strikes midnight and the new year arrives. Happy New Year from the Youtube Battles community! 🙂

At the beginning of this year we did a live countdown to 2020 with coverage for all 35 time zones in the world so that everyone could celebrate the moment as the clock struck midnight in their time zone on New Years Eve and the new year began. As the day progressed, the countdown was updated to show the next time zones to hit the year 2020.

Chinese New Year 2020 falls on January 25 | Human World …

春晚合家欢系列之同一种乡愁 | 订阅CCTV春晚

北京时间1月24日20:00,2020年中央广播电视总台春节联欢晚会将如约而至!锁定CCTV春晚频道,春晚直播等你来看,我们不见不散!
2020年中央广播电视总台春节联欢晚会直播地址:https://bit.ly/2R6DIOK

Celebrating Spring Festival with KOLs at the CGTN office 四位外国网红齐聚央视大楼喜迎春节

 

 

Moderate gains for year of the rat – StarProperty



Chinese people around the world prepare for the year of the mouse

People in Qingdao, East China’s Shandong Province pick hangings with Chinese character “Fu (fortune)” at a market on Monday. Photo: cnsphoto

The Chinese Lunar New Year will arrive on Saturday. Chinese people across the country and around the world are preparing to welcome the year of mouse with various traditions.

Chinese people value celebrating the New Year with families.

As of Monday, the national railway has served 12.24 million trips within 11 days since the peak travel season started, a 19.8 percent year-on-year increase. A total of 1,370 temporary trains have been added, China National Radio reported Tuesday.

Traditional conventions in Spring Festival vary across China.

In Chaozhou, South China’s Guangdong Province, people march with god sculptures from temples. “The gong and drum band would follow the firecrackers in the march,” Chen Aijing, a Chaozhou resident, told the Global Times.

“Each village would have different dates to celebrate. There would be performance for Chaozhou operas and traditional puppet play,” she said.

Several days before the New Year day, people in Guangzhou, Guangdong’s capital city go shopping in “Flower Street” where one can buy almost anything. On December 28 of the Lunar Calendar, families clean their houses. On the New Year Day, they make rice cakes, according to Zhao Shi, a local resident.

In Wuhan, Central China’s Hubei Province, there used to be dragon and lion dances, but the convention has been replaced by a lighting show. “Dried fish, meat and sausages are a must for Spring Festival,” a local university student Wu Han said.

Wu interns in Chongli, North China’s Hebei Province. Due to the spread of pneumonia in his home city, Wu hesitated whether he would return home.

In the northeastern provinces, people usually stay indoors during the festival due to cold temperatures.

“Watching the Spring Festival gala is a must for us,” Lun Yu, a resident from Da-

qing, Northeast China’s Heilongjiang Province, told the Global Times on Tuesday. Her big family gathers together on the New Year eve and makes dumplings with fillings of sauerkraut and pork. The dumplings are served on the table right at midnight.

For Chinese living overseas, it is often difficult for them to go home at Spring Festival. Tina Ma, who lives in Melbourne, Australia, decided to visit a friend in Brisbane. “We plan to have a big meal and watch the gala on the internet,” she told the Global Times.

Police officers perform traditional dance at a Spring Festival gala in Du’an Yao autonomous county, South China’s Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region on Sunday. Photo: cnsphoto

Colored lanterns featuring the Red Army displayed in Zunyi, Southwest China’s Guizhou Province. Photo: cnsphoto

A child is attracted by holiday decorations at a Spring Festival market in San Francisco. Photo: cnsphoto

A child tries the head decoration of Chakhar clan in Hohhot, North China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region at an event to celebrate Spring Festival. Photo: cnsphoto

A man is writing couplets at the National Library of China in Beijing on Tuesday. An Exhibition on folk arts and intangible cultural heritage about Spring Festival kicks off here. Photo: Li Hao/GT

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Spring Festival dinner tables underscore digital advantage

From Norwegian salmon, Bostonian lobsters to Chilean cherries, the dinner tables of Chinese people have never been more globalized in the run-up to the Lunar New Year, the most important reunion time for Chinese families.

What’s behind the most important feast for Chinese points to the key to China’s economic appeal – the government’s opening-up efforts, growing consumer demand for diversified choices and better quality, and a digital economy that helps accelerate the country’s consumption upgrading.

As China is shifting toward a consumption-based economy, its rising household consumption and enhanced opening-up to the outside world indicate the great potential of the Chinese market, which attracts attention from foreign companies and exporters.

According to the National Bureau of Statistics, China’s retail sales rose 8 percent year-on-year to some 41.16 trillion yuan ($6 trillion) in 2019, with the contribution of consumption to GDP expansion reaching 57.8 percent and remaining the top growth engine for the economy. Moreover, the country’s per capita GDP exceeded the $10,000-mark last year. By any measure, there is still plenty of room for China’s consumption to grow.

But most importantly, a large-scale digital market has taken shape in China, offering a significant boost to consumption, which may be the biggest difference between China’s consumer market and those in other countries. With the upgrading of internet services, the popularization of e-commerce and the change of consumption habits, China’s internet generation of consumers have become accustomed to buying all their daily necessities online. Such efficiency and simplicity have greatly encouraged consumption innovations, providing more and better goods and services options for consumers.

In the process of promoting its consumption upgrading, China’s digital economy has not just boosted its foreign trade but also offered a lift to the rural economy. According to information from Tmall, it sold 190 million kilograms of agricultural commodities during a shopping campaign in early January this year, with income for each participating farmer increasing by 1,037 yuan.

With the rise of the digital economy, Chinese farmers are also using the tool to expand marketing channels for their output so as to improve the living standards. That’s a big difference between China and India. While rural Chinese are embracing the internet and making use of it, Indians in rural regions are resisting the shifts e-commerce will bring, which somehow explains the great vitality in the Chinese economy.

In short, China’s economic prowess lies largely in its digital economy, which sees all parts of society connect with one another to generate continuous momentum for the country to maintain strong growth.

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Chinese people to celebrate festival despite disease impact

The specter of the Wuhan novel coronavirus hovers over China with at least 544 confirmed cases across the country, and most provinces have reportedly had suspected cases, but due to the approach of the most important festival in Chinese tradition – Chinese New Year – many people across the nation maintained optimistic and will go ahead to celebrate the festival.

 

Celebration for Chinese Lunar New Year held in Chinatown of Yangon
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S.Korea’s real GDP growth hits 10-year low in 2019

South Korea’s real gross domestic product (GDP), adjusted for inflation, posted the lowest growth in 10 years last year, central bank data showed Wednesday.

S.Korea posts lowest growth in a decade

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Washington’s unsustainable deficit hangs over global economy


With the widening US budget gap, it is no longer a secret that such a high level of federal spending is unsustainable and the resulting debt burden has become a worry for the global economy.

According to data from the US Treasury Department, the federal budget deficit went on the rise in 2019, hitting $1.02 trillion and marking the first calendar year the deficit has exceeded $1 trillion since 2012. Given the country’s tax revenues, government spending is obviously on an unsustainable path. While total government receipts grew 5 percent in 2019, federal spending increased at a faster pace of 7.5 percent.

More worryingly, as the economy slows amid headwinds, it is basically impossible for the US government to make ends meet by raising tax revenues. So based on the current trend, it will probably become a norm for the annual federal deficit to top $1 trillion in the future.

Undoubtedly, massive fiscal deficits will prompt a steady rise in public debt. According to data released by the Treasury Department on November 1, the US national debt surpassed $23 trillion for the first time in history. The figure is equivalent to about 110 percent of the country’s GDP.

Of course, it should be acknowledged that US Treasury bonds are still considered safe-haven assets in the current uncertain global markets as they are seen as secure due to their strong ratings. Treasury securities held by foreign holders amounted to $6.78 trillion as of the end of October 2019, up $580 billion compared with a year earlier, according to Treasury data issued on December 16, 2019.

In the meantime, however, the share of US debt held by foreign holders has fallen from a peak of 34.1 percent in July 2012 to about 29 percent today. The decline also reflects the accelerated expansion of US debt issuance.

So far there is no sign of any sort of sustained plan for narrowing the US deficit to at least rein in its debt expansion. Nor does the government show any sign of urgency on this issue. Maybe the only response from the Trump administration is to pressure the Federal Reserve to cut rates, a move that could help lower its interest payments on debt and devalue its currency to ease the debt burden.

Such surge in irresponsibility could be attributed to two factors – its high creditworthiness and the financial supremacy of the US dollar. Since a collapse of the US economy may cause an economic disaster around the world, the US government could be better off counting on the world to pay the bill.

Sadly, there is no way out under the current circumstances, and the only hope now is that Americans will take some concrete measures to reverse the trend before a debt crisis truly breaks out.

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Let’s come together in 2020


AS 2019 comes to a close let us reflect on how we have progressed as a nation in the past year. It’s time to take stock of our achievements and successes, weaknesses and shortcomings.2019 can be as Charles Dickens wrote in his book, A Tale of Two Cities “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…

The Government has succeeded in enhancing governance and reducing corruption and has unveiled a new shared prosperity vision. Nevertheless, the nation still remains divided with the state of race relations somewhat fragile and fraying.

Economically, whilst Malaysia has improved its international image and reputation and attracted new foreign investments, there are still concerns over the economy, particularly the cost of living and investor confidence.

I hope 2020 will be a better year for all Malaysians, a year of hope and reconciliation so necessary for us to be more united and harmonious.

I would like to propose that for the new year we look at the 4Cs.

Cultural divide: Let us close this divide to enhance our unity and social harmony by celebrating our cultural diversity instead of deliberating on what divides us.

Corruption: We need to instil a culture of ethics and integrity to enable us to fight corruption both in the public and private sectors. The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission’s Act’s corporate liability clause which comes into force in June 2020 can be a game changer to eradicate corruption. We must wipe out this scourge of corruption.

Class competition: The growing inequalities and divide between the rich and poor is unsustainable. More must be done to improve the earnings of the lower middle class so that they can improve their livelihood. At the same time more must be done for the bottom 20 or B20. We have talked a lot about the B40 but the B20 needs a lot more attention.

Common values and common purpose: We need to promote and enhance common values that all Malaysians can uphold and celebrate like tolerance, harmony, trust and mutual understanding. We must also have a common purpose that transcends our political divide and brings us together as a nation.

I would also like to urge the 4As of unity – acceptance, awareness, accommodation and acknowledgement. We need to maintain an equilibrium of the legitimate interests of the various communities.

Finally, I hope all Malaysians will come together to focus on the 3Es which must also be prioritised by the Government.

Economic growth: To ensure we continue to enjoy sustainable economic growth of 4%-5%.

Employment: We need to have enough jobs for our younger generation and create jobs of the future.

Environmental sustainability: We need a joint coordinated effort between government, business and civil society organisations to promote and achieve environmental sustainability so essential for future generations.

These are our common challenges going into 2020. Let us strengthen collaboration to move forward so that we can together work towards upholding the 4Ps – people, planet, peace, prosperity and partnerships for a better nation and better world.

May 2020 be a better and happier year for all of us and a year of the new 3Rs – reconciliation, renewal and racial harmony.

In 2020 we need to also keep focusing on the 3Ds – democracy, divide and digitalisation. The need to continue to strengthen democratic reforms, closing our racial and religious divides and accelerating digitalisation should move the nation forward.

Let 2020 also be the year we accelerate efforts to get rid of the 4Is – inequalities, injustices, indifference and impunity.

Let us begin a new year with new hopes. Happy New Year to all Malaysians.

Together let us unite and move forward to make 2020 the best year ever for Malaysia and Malaysians.

Tan Sri Michael Yeoh, President Kingsley Strategic Institute for Asia Pacific

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Macao-rise with China while Hongkong in decline, why?


Chinese President Xi Jinping (front C) and his wife Peng Liyuan (behind Xi) walk on the red carpet in front of outgoing Macao Chief Executive Fernando Chui (C) and incoming chief executive Ho Iat Seng (blue tie)
after Xi and his wife’s arrival at the Macau International Airport in Macao on Wednesday, ahead of celebrations for the 20th anniversary of the handover from Portugal to China. Photo: AFP :
Xi hails Macao’s prosperity

The inauguration of the fifth-term government will be held Friday morning followed by Xi’s meeting with newly inaugurated judicial and administrative officials.

Macao’s landmark Ruins of St. Paul. Photo: VCG


China’s ambassador to UK says Macao can show Hong Kong way forward

 The success of Macao’s “One Country, Two Systems” will “light up the path forward for Hong Kong,” said Liu Xiaoming, China’s top envoy to the UK, during a banquet at the Chinese embassy in London to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Macao’s return to China. #HK

Macao in Transition: Witness to History / Macao in Transition: Rising Stars

HK, Macao share more differences than similarities

Hong Kong and Macao, China’s two Special Administrative Regions (SARs) practicing the “one country, two systems” principle, share more differences than similarities, while Hong Kong’s social turbulence offers Macao a lesson, observers and analysts said.

From the former Portuguese colony to the world’s gaming hub, Macao is poised to become the richest place, overtaking Qatar with the highest per capita gross domestic product on a purchasing power parity basis by 2020. The small city, with a land area of 32.9 square kilometers, has seen its economic growth skyrocket by over 700 percent over the past two decades and become a city with high social welfare.

While Macao is embracing the 20th anniversary celebration of its return to China, it has been praised again for setting a good example of implementing the “one country, two systems” principle, especially as Hong Kong, which returned to the motherland two years before Macao, has been engulfed in months of anti-government protests.

During President Xi Jinping’s visit to Macao from Wednesday to Friday to attend events marking the 20th anniversary of Macao’s return, he is expected to announce a series of favorable policies aimed at diversifying the city’s gaming-dependent economy into a financial center, according to media reports. And such a move is considered as a reward to Hong Kong’s neighboring city for avoiding anti-government protests, according to observers, and some suggested that promoting Macao as a new financial center could be an alternative to Hong Kong.

However, former officials and experts claimed that though the two SARs shared common ground such as a high-degree of autonomy, judicial independence and freedom of the press, they have differences in the way they handle relations with the central government and interpret the “one country, two systems” principle. Instead of simply labeling Macao a “good student” or “golden child” as the city is immune to anti-government protests spiraling next door, it should take a look at the fundamental reasons why the two cities are different from historical, cultural and social perspectives, local observers suggested.

Two SARs’ differences

As Hong Kong protesters identify themselves as Hongkongers instead of Chinese, Macao people believe that rejecting their Chinese nationality unacceptable, Wu Zhiliang, president of the Macau Foundation, told the Global Times on Tuesday.

“Macao people have a deep understanding of the word ‘return’,” Wu said, noting that it is not about changing the national flag, or shifting from the governor of Macao to chief executive of Macao SAR government, it is about integrating into the country’s whole governance and strategic development plans.

Opposition groups in Hong Kong consider any move of the central government as intervention that erodes its high degree of autonomy, as the central government could not take any gesture, which is a misunderstanding of the “one country, two systems” principle, and is not accepted by people in Macao.

“When Macao comes up with new policies, it always takes the country’s development plans into consideration,” Wu said.

For instance, when the central government launched an anti-corruption campaign years ago, Macao imposed restrictions on cross-border financing involving Chinese funds, although it had heavily weighed on its pillar gaming industry, local representatives said.

“Compared to Hong Kong, there is no such mentality of worshiping Western political systems and social values here in Macao, though it has always been under the mixed influence of Eastern and Western cultures, and people treat those two equally,” Wu said.

Unlike Hong Kong, which has been heavily influenced by the West, Macao has a stronger attachment to Chinese culture and values due to its “historical genes.”

In the colonial period of Macao, Portuguese control had seen its influence over local communities declining, drawing a contrast with the relatively sophisticated way British authorities took in ruling Hong Kong before handing it over to China.

“There has been no strong cultural penetration of the West in Macao society, which had not been affected by Western social value either,” Susana Chou, former president of the Legislative Assembly of Macao, told the Global Times on Tuesday. “For example, when the Hotel of Lisboa was inaugurated years ago, many people in Macao did not know where ‘Lisboa’ is. Could you image Hong Kong people not knowing where London is? ” she asked.

While Hong Kong opposition lawmakers turned debates for rolling out policies into political battles, lawmakers in Macao are not against the Constitution, nor the Basic Law and the Communist Party of China, the former president said, noting that they would come up with different ideas to help roll out better policies.

“It’s also inaccurate to say the Legislative Assembly of Macao is the SAR government’s affiliate, as we also criticize our government officials a lot. And the assembly often rejects the proposals made by the government,” Chou said, noting that the opposition is based on concrete arguments rather than disapproving everything because of its political stance.

Lesson to learn

Considering Macao’s historical ties with the mainland, there has been no room for separatism, Wu noted. “But what has happened in Hong Kong would lead us to reflect on deep-rooted questions in Macao, particularly issues concerning Macao youth,” he said.

Behind Hong Kong’s chaos lie deep-seated social problems, as the majority of arrested radical protesters who trashed the rule of law were youngsters. Although Macao is not facing the same issue, the problems with Hong Kong youth could be seen as a warning sign for the city, observers said.

“We lack a fairer and transparent mechanism for Macao young people to climb toward upper society, and also the numbers of skilled positions are limited,” Wu said, noting that the local talent policy is still protective.

“If Macao further opens up its market, could local youth become as competitive as talent from outside? And will talent inflow accelerate social conflicts and anxiety of local youth?” he asked.

While Hong Kong and Macao both share freedom of speech and an open internet, information has been circulating freely on social media and many Macao young people have been well informed about Hong Kong’s social unrest for months. When the students were asked about questions on Hong Kong police brutality, many rationally discuss the matter with teachers instead of arguing with their peers and making one-sided judgments, Wu noted.

“Young people could easily influence each other, which is inevitable. It’s up to how teachers and parents guide them,” he said.

Macao has gained a higher degree of autonomy thanks to the confidence and trust of the central government, which, observers said, creates a positive cycle.

On the contrary, if Hong Kong’s opposition groups continue to touch the redline of the central government, it might lead to reevaluation of political risks in Hong Kong by the central government and the expected political reforms could hardly make any progress in the city, observers said.

The virtuous cycle established between the central government and Macao as well as between Macao and the mainland could to some extent serve as a reference for Hong Kong, they noted.

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The Black Hand – ETIM and Terrorism in Xinjiang, American human rights, freedom and democracy condemned


China’s Most Direct Security Threat
 
Chaos was rampant in China’s westernmost region. Explosions and other violence struck terror in the hearts of residents in the country’s Xinjiang region. The victims and  survivors should be remembered in China’s current fight against terrorism.

https://youtu.be/8a0SCmf8iI0

The East Turkistan Islamic Movement, or ETIM, is designated as a terrorist organization by the UN. For decades, the group which has close links with international terrorist organizations perpetrated countless terrorist attacks aiming to separate the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region from China.
The movement has attempted to recruit people on a massive scale, spreading a radical ideology that continues to cause chaos in many countries around the world.
In this exclusive CGTN exposé, we show you never-before-seen footage including interviews with perpetrators and recruitment videos used by this black hand.

https://youtu.be/HbhdU5TSipY

The Long-Term Fight

Terrorist acts in modern China are just using religious extremism as a banner to separate Xinjiang from the country. ETIM, one of the most wanted terrorist organizations in the country, has been creating strife to divide ethnic groups and religions in the region for decades. Many of its members were trained outside the country in extremist thought, returning to the country to apply their radical ideologies.

The human cost
An SUV slammed through the barricades in Beijing’s iconic Tian’anmen Square in 2013, killing two and wounding 40. The three attackers had sworn the so-called jihad on the hills of Urumqi, a bustling city in China’s Xinjiang region.
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Director of the Office of Foreign Affairs Commission of the CPC Central Committee, Yang Jiechi, has spoken on the phone with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Yang said that the recent U.S. passage of legislation on Hong Kong and Xinjiang was interference in China’s domestic affairs.

He said that it violated international law and the basic principles of international affairs. Yang also said that Beijing will resolutely protect its territorial sovereignty and urged the U.S. to stop interfering in China’s internal affairs.

https://youtu.be/WKZgtlzz604
Senior Chinese official condemns US interference in China’s internal affairs 

 

BEIJING: Yang Jiechi (pic), member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and director of the Office of the Foreign Affairs Commission of the CPC Central Committee, held a phone conversation with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Sunday (Dec 8).

Noting that the United States had allowed the so-called “Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act of 2019” to become law and the House of Representatives of the US Congress to pass the so-called “Uygur Human Rights Policy Act of 2019,” Yang said US officials have repeatedly made statements that distort and attack China’s political system and internal and external policies.

Those are gross interference in China’s internal affairs and a serious violation of the international law, the basic norms of international relations and the will of the Chinese and US people as well as the international community, Yang said.

“China firmly opposes and strongly condemns these acts,” he said.

Over the past 70 years since the founding of the People’s Republic of China, great achievements which have attracted worldwide attention have been made, Yang said, adding that it is under the leadership of the CPC that the Chinese people have found a path of development suited to China’s national conditions.

The Chinese people have a high degree of confidence in their own development path, theory, system and culture and will unswervingly follow their own development path, and no force can stop the Chinese people from marching forward, Yang said.

China’s determination to defend national sovereignty, security and development interests is unwavering and no one should expect China to swallow anything that undermines its own interests, Yang said.

Yang said that China urges the US side to come to a clear assessment of the situation, correct its mistakes and immediately stop slandering China and interfering in China’s internal affairs. – Xinhua/Asian News Network (ANN)

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Documentary reveals facts: Brutal scenes of attacks show sacrifice of police, justify Xinjiang policies  

China’s first documentary on its overall counter-terrorism efforts in Xinjiang aired Thursday night prompted wide discussions among the audience with never-before-seen scenes of terrorism, which highlighted the hefty price China has paid and the country’s resolve to eradicate terrorism.

Video and audio clips in the English-language documentary were shown for the first time as evidence of the horrible crimes wrought by terrorists in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. It also showed interactions between terrorists and overseas masterminds.

The nearly one hour-long documentary, “Fighting Terrorism in Xinjiang,” which was streamed on CGTN, China’s state broadcaster, has four parts. It begins with the evolution of extremism in Xinjiang, followed by the fight against terrorism. It also illustrated the interactions of terrorists and overseas forces accompanied by audio and video evidence. The documentary ends by highlighting international cooperation on counter-terrorism.

Zheng Liang, a research fellow at Guangdong-based Jinan University, who studied Xinjiang for more than 10 years, told the Global Times that he felt “shocked” after viewing the documentary.

Zheng said that previous videos on Xinjiang’s counter-terrorism were not as specific and well-edited as the Thursday one. “This newly released documentary uses quite different visual language adopted by mainstream media.”

“The authorities did not publish the video and details of terrorist attacks in Xinjiang before out of concern they may cause panic. This proves China had paid a high price in fighting terrorism, and the international community should have a clear understanding of this,” Li Wei, a counter-terrorism expert at the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations in Beijing, told the Global Times.

Li noted that the video and audio footage justify China’s Xinjiang policies in countering terrorism, including launching the vocational education and training centers, which have been highly effective in de-radicalizing and fighting extremist forces.

The beginning of the documentary features the landscape of Xinjiang, its culture and the different ethnic groups in China, including the prosperous markets and people’s peaceful and happy lives. Then the scene shifts to depicting the threat of terrorism that wrought havoc in the region.

Global threat

Xinjiang has long been the main battlefield of countering terrorism. According to incomplete data, from 1990 to 2016, Xinjiang endured thousands of terrorist attacks that killed large numbers of innocent people and hundreds of police officers.

The documentary features video footage of terrorist attacks in Xinjiang, including one in Yining, Ili Kazak Autonomous Prefecture in 1997, which left seven dead and 198 injured; the Urumqi riots on July 5, 2009, which caused 197 deaths and over 1,700 injuries; and the 2013 Seriqbuya attack in Kashi, which left 15 dead and two wounded.

Terrorists also orchestrated attacks in other cities of China: ramming a car into a crowd in Tiananmen Square in 2013, and another attack that struck the Kunming railway station on March 1, 2014, that left 31 dead and 141 wounded.

Police officers in Xinjiang work on the frontline of the fight against terrorism. According to data from China Central Television, from 2013 to 2016, a total of 127 police officers in Xinjiang sacrificed their lives in the line of duty.

Experts believe terrorism is a global threat, and no country can win the war against terrorism on its own. In the face of the threat of terrorism and extremism, Xinjiang has taken a series of measures, including establishing laws and regulations, and launching effective counter-terrorism operations.

According to media reports found by the Global Times, the Xinjiang region launched a special counter-terrorism campaign in May 2014.

Authorities have cracked down on 1,588 terrorist groups, and 12,995 terrorists and 2,052 explosive materials had been seized in Xinjiang since 2014, read a white paper on regional work on counter-terrorism, de-extremism and human rights protection in March.

By Liu Xin and Fan Lingzhi

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