A region evolves with rising China


South-East Asia’s complex big power relations demand careful and considered understanding, where frequent complications and familiar gut reactions do not help.

WHEN countries have difficulty relating to a rising China, part of the problem lies in not understanding where China is heading and not knowing what it will become.

The sheer scale of China’s development and the weight of its trajectory mean that the impact of its rise on the rest of Asia and the world is bound to be considerable and profound.

As a frame of reference, the future of today’s China is often seen in the context of its past: a “Middle Kingdom” entity, the heart of an Asian tributary system, a regional superpower with global pretensions whose once closed-door policy is opening to the world.

Yet none of these references fits because modern China’s pace of change is as rapid as it is vast. Not only is it a post-Deng China, it is now into the fourth- and fifth-generation leadership of post-Dengist society.

A sense of a likely future China may then be deduced through elimination, by discarding what it is unlikely to be.

These include a communist superpower, a nation shaped by a distinct ideology, and one led by a powerful charismatic individual. But what of those things, admittedly few, that it will still be?

One of these is rule by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), particularly since single party rule continues to be a central bastion of the status quo. Yet even this requires qualification, if not some revision, and is already subject to much speculation.

The CCP has had to undergo some redefinition as circumstances evolve. The state socialism it championed underwent a social(ist) market phase to emerge as state capitalism.

Ideology continues to be diluted as dogma fritters away. Conservatives and reformists both within and outside China agree the trend is irreversible if not also inevitable.

Just about the only thing that a future China is still certain to be is a unitary state. But even this has to be qualified again.

What is now regarded as Greater China – the People’s Republic of China on the mainland, Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan – are unlikely to be fused into one singularly cohesive whole anytime soon.

Yet they are moving together towards a unitary economy, the basis of the modern nation state. Such a trend is beyond the protestations of democrats and the comprehension of many strategists.

At the same time, provinces are slowly moving towards greater autonomy in economic matters, including in dealings with neighbouring countries. A country as large as China cannot endure too long under strict centralised rule.

And China has endured longer than all others, with the country now into its fifth millennium of continued statehood. These trends and movements take time and may seem imperceptible for other countries, but they are par for the course with China’s enormous timelines.

For decades now, Chinese authorities have also introduced elections at local levels with invited inputs from the Carter Center. Voting has been practised in village and provincial levels, and despite occasional fits and starts the trend is towards a controlled political opening with assured stability.

All of this contributes to the near-incomprehension of today’s China on the part of external observers. A survey of their attitudes, assumptions and responses in any given week attests to this reality.

Questions of whether China (meaning Beijing) can ever govern Taiwan, or even understand Hong Kong, are typical. The real risk of observers not seeing the wood for the trees is ever-present.

A debate of sorts has emerged over China’s likely reaction to a possible win by Taiwan’s Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in next January’s election. Pessimists who fret over their own cynical pronouncements fail to realise that China is playing for bigger stakes than petty party feuding.

China’s interest in Taipei is Taiwan, not necessarily a Kuomintang (KMT) Taiwan. A lately declining KMT under President Ma Ying-jou has sufficiently energised pragmatists in Beijing to be diplomatic towards the DPP.

Another perennial issue is the presumed rivalry between the US and China. Although competition exists between them, they have more in common than at variance for now and the foreseeable future.

Their shared interests include international security and a single global economy in which both hold the largest stakes. Rivalry in these core areas compromises the interests of both without enlarging opportunities for either.

An understanding of that basic reality is shared between US and Chinese leaders, but apparently not by Japanese ones. The Abe administration is still stuck between old wartime anxieties and proudly snubbing Beijing.

However, China should also not expect anything but Abe’s cancellation of a visit on Sept 3. The occasion, with Western leaders absent, is being presented by some in China as celebrating its victory over Japan.

China: Military parade not aimed at any country

China says its upcoming September 3rd military parade is part of commemorations for the 70th anniversary of its victory in the war of resistance against Japanese aggression, and is not specifically aimed at any country.http://t.cn/RyzoMBy

Nonetheless, the Abe government remains an activist one in provoking competition with China over military issues. Its White Paper released last month inflates China’s maritime military capabilities and even conflicts with US calculations.

Besides the US, Taiwan and Japan, the other barometer of China’s rise as seen through its foreign relations is Asean.

China regards Asean wariness of its territorial assertiveness as limited and negotiable, since not all member countries have rival claims to offshore territory. But Beijing may seriously be underestimating Asean’s sense of solidarity, given not just Asean’s community-building agenda but also its common resolve to develop community cohesiveness.

The established links between China and Asean’s newer CLMV members (Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam) are both limited and fraying in places. Beijing needs to rebuild trust and good faith within Asean as much as in North-East Asia.

China has thus emphasised multi-level, multi-sectoral joint ventures both bilaterally and collectively. Its proposals for a Maritime Silk Road and a One Belt, One Road link to Europe are backed by the China-Asean Maritime Cooperation Fund, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, the New Development (Brics) Bank and China’s own solvency.

On the ground however, Asean collectively seeks enlarged trade volumes with China. However, China’s currency devaluations and the subsequent jolts to regional currencies compromise these goals.

With Indonesia, China is extending cooperation in fighting drug trafficking as Jakarta favours using the yuan for bilateral trade. With Malaysia, China is building linkages in education and industrial development.

Thailand’s post-coup government is seen as leaning towards China, thanks in part to a US snub. Now Thai-Chinese ties are growing over purchases of stockpiled Thai rice and even the prospect of a Kra Isthmus canal.

China’s relations with Vietnam and more so the Philippines will require more time and work. Ironically, Unctad trade data identifies the Philippine economy as the biggest regional beneficiary of China’s rise.

Beijing’s ties with the other Asean countries may be less complicated but still require attention and constant tending. Its record of fully understanding Asean is not impressive.

Overall, Beijing’s relations with Asean and its member nations are economic, diplomatic and socio-cultural, without political interference in their domestic matters. This contrasts with Washington’s largely military posturing and its political pressures on issues of democracy and human rights.

China’s impact on this region is likely to remain non-political and non-military – differing from US interaction. This asymmetry makes up much of South-East Asia’s strategic status quo.

Whether and how it will endure, and whether it deserves to remain, still have to be seen.

By Bunn Nagara Behind the Headlines

Bunn Nagara is a Senior Fellow at the Institute of Strategic and International Studies (ISIS) Malaysia.

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Can Malaysia’s household debt at 87.9% in 2014 be reduced to 54% ?


BEING a teenager, my granddaughter started to pick up interest on how the economy works, what are the real assets and liabilities in one’s financial planning. As the topic itself can be slightly “dry”, I made an attempt to discuss it in a way that was easier for her to digest.

“Our national household debt to GDP ratio edged up to 87.9% last year. Is the number alarming?” she asked one day.

“It depends. We have good debts and bad debts in life. For example, 10 years later, our new cars may have depreciated more than 80% and our new clothes would have been worn out. Those are liabilities. On the other hand, houses are assets as they will appreciate in the long run. Debts which are backed by appreciating assets are considered good debts,” I said.

As she nodded in agreement with my simple explanation of good debts and bad debts, her question has piqued my curiosity to look into the details of our household debt.

Overall, is our nation having more good debts or bad debts?

Bank Negara report shows that our household debt was at RM940.4bil or 87.9% of GDP as at end of 2014. Residential housing loans accounted for 45.7% (RM429.7bil) of total debts, hire purchase at 16.6%, personal financing stood at 15.7%, non-residential loans were 7.7%, securities at 6.5%, followed by credit cards and other items at 3.9% respectively.

At first glance, our residential housing loans were the highest among all types of household debts. However, a recent McKinsey Global Institute Report highlighted that in advanced countries, mortgages or housing loans comprise 74% of total household debt on average. As a country that aspires to be a developed nation by 2020, our housing loans that stand at 45.7% is considered low. In other words, we are spending too much on other depreciating items instead of appreciating assets like houses.

If advanced economies, which are usually consumer nations, have only 26% debts on non-housing loans, we shouldn’t have as high as 54% loans on items such as hire-purchase (which are mostly cars), personal loans, credit cards and others.

If we were to follow the household debt ratio of advanced economies, our housing loans of RM429.7bil should be at 74% of total household debts, and other loans should be reduced from 54% to 26%, i.e. from RM510.7bil to RM150.9bil. With such reduction, total household debt would be slashed significantly from RM940.4bil to RM580.6bil (existing housing loans plus reduced non-housing loans), the amount would be at 54.2% of GDP instead of 87.9%.

I am wondering why we can’t have a household debt to GDP ratio of 54.2% as illustrated above. Are we spending too much on depreciating items?

Non-housing loans comprise mainly borrowings for cars, personal loans and credit cards. Car value depreciates about 10% to 20% per year based on insurance calculation and accounting practice. Borrowings for personal loans and credit card are also likely to depreciate over time which can be dubbed as “bad debt”.

Perhaps it is time for the Government to introduce massive cooling off measures for non-housing loans in order to curb bad debt in our household debt.

According to our Deputy Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government Minister, our homeownership rate currently stands at 50% and the Government strives to increase the number with more affordable homes. As a comparison, almost 85% of Singaporeans are homeowners.

We can expedite the above vision if more stringent measures are imposed on non-housing loans, it will free up more resources for household financial planning. The rakyat should be encouraged to secure a roof over their heads with effective execution of affordable housing policy by the Government.

It is time to re-look our debt categories and reallocate our resources appropriately. If we are willing to cut back on cars, clothes, shoes and other depreciating items, reducing a household debt to GDP ratio of 54.2% is not only an aspiration, but an achievable reality.

By ALAN TONG Food for Thought

And the more beneficial effect is, more rakyat will have the financial resources to own a house, which is both a shelter and an appreciating asset.

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

 

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The global centre of gravity shifting to Asia


Asia_danny-quah-east-shift1“Danny Quah of the London School of Economics has calculated the world’s economic centre of gravity and reckons that, thanks to Asia’s rise, over the 70 years from 1980 to 2050 it will move eastwards from the mid-Atlantic all the way to somewhere between India and China. By 2015, the halfway point on this great journey, it will have reached the city of Bandar-e Mahshahr, in Iran, on the north-eastern tip of the Persian Gulf .”

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Many see the rush to join the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank as the beginning of a new international financial order and the decline of US dollar hegemony.

BRITAIN’S recent decision to join the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) as a founder member has led to a kind of stampede by other allies of the United States in Europe such as Germany, France and Italy to follow suit.

So did two other important Asia-Pacific allies, Australia and South Korea. The only other major US ally in Asia which did not was Japan.

What is striking is that these allies went against the express wishes of the US which apparently saw the AIIB as a potential challenge to the domination of the international financial architecture by the US-controlled World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

Particularly stunning is the British decision. According to senior fellow at the Department of Politics and International Studies at Britain’s Cambridge University Martin Jacques, in this year’s Boao Forum, this is the first time since Breton Woods in the 1940s, except for one occasion when Britain refused a US request to send troops to Vietnam, that Britain had ever said no to the US so publicly!

Jacques exaggerates somewhat as he should have begun with 1956 as the year when Britain abandoned an independent foreign policy, as a result of its misbegotten adventure in Suez, and became a faithful junior partner to the US.

Still, it is no less remarkable, even beginning with 1956, for it took about six decades before a clear British nay to the US came about.

Many saw the rush to join the AIIB as signifying the beginning of a new international financial order and the decline of US dollar hegemony, with China deemed to be the new or most influential nation.

Some, however, saw Chinese weakness rather than strength in this spectacle.

London’s Financial Times argued that resorting to a multi-lateral institution to exercise influence suggests weakness as China will be less able to get its own way, not to mention possible badgering from non-governmental organisations in future deliberations of the AIIB, than if it could do so by bilateral means.

It remains to be seen if a new financial order will eventuate. I will however make a few points about this development.

One is that it has shown in a dramatic way the global reach of Chinese economic strength, especially in the financial arena.

While it is true that China is already an economic force in other parts of the globe such as in the continents of Africa and South America, not to mention Asia and Australia, this is probably the first time that a major European nation has made an economic decision with obvious political implications favourable to the Chinese.

Someone defined a superpower as a nation or state that can project dominating power and influence in the globe, sometimes in one region or more, and that has the potential to attain global hegemony.

In this respect we can consider China an economic superpower.

Of relevance to our understanding of Chinese strength is the reason behind the British decision.

Britain in the past year or two has evinced a more positive attitude towards China.

According to an analysis in the Internet magazine, Counterpunch, the recent British economic recovery has been mainly based on financial flows to property and infrastructural projects in London and the south of England, and the prosperity of the City of London.

And the city of London is what keeps Britain from becoming a third-tier economy.

This is so important that David Cameron and the Conservatives could conceive of Britain leaving the European Union if the EU were to mess with the running of the City by imposing regulations.

A lot of the money recently has come from China and Britain is very keen to be involved in the offshore trading of the Chinese renminbi. Thus, there is every prospect of Britain getting more action from a China, with foreign reserves of around US$4tril (RM14.68tril), looking for more ways to use the renminbi.

Joining the AIIB in such a fashion, not only brings with it the prospect of possibly getting a leg up in future AIIB projects, but also gains Chinese goodwill. But it is important not to exaggerate Chinese strength. It is a superpower only in the economic arena, and not in other spheres such as the military and political.

Militarily, the US far exceeds China in the amount of money spent and in technological sophistication. Politically, what China can at present offer cannot match the global impact of values associated with the US such as democracy and human rights.

Even in the economic sphere, the Chinese Gross Domestic Product is only equal in size to the US in purchasing power terms, and not in dollar terms where the US GDP is more than one and the half times that of China.

In per capita terms, US GDP is at least four times more. And the US is still far more advanced in the sophistication of its financial market and industrial structures.

The significance of this AIIB development is not a demonstration of raw Chinese economic power.

It is unlikely to do away with the WB or the IMF.

It is really another symptom, this time in Europe and in the financial arena, of the global centre of gravity shifting to Asia.

By Dr. Lee Poh Ping
> Dr Lee Poh Ping is a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of China Studies in the University of Malaya. The views expressed here are entirely the writer’s own.

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Are they terrorists or militants?


Terrorists or militaants

LATELY, the use of the words militants and terrorists has become very common and people are sometimes confused as to whether an act of violence has been committed by terrorists or militants.

In Malaysia, the two words are often used interchangeably whereas in strict media practice and proper nomenclature, there is a difference between the two.

It was reported that one foreign media had warned their employees to be extra careful on the terms extremist, militant and terrorist in their news coverage to avoid characterising people.

It is good for our local media to follow these footsteps and avoid using wrong words which can be very sensitive and inappropriate.

In this regard, naturally those who are familiar with the subject of “Organised Crime and Terrorism” would able be to differentiate between the two terms.

Militants and terrorists both have their own agendas and mostly, these agendas have political, religious or ideological goals. The difference lies in the means with which they seek to achieve their desired goals.

Either way it is clear that usually both the terrorists and militants are extremists (in the sense of holding a view at the extreme end of a spectrum on a particular subject matter) who indulge in unlawful activities and therefore become a threat to the nation.

Some of the differences between militants and terrorists are:

  • All terrorists are militants, but not all militants are terrorists;
  • Terrorism is carried out by non-governmental groups that do not wear uniforms. However, members of militants usually wear uniforms, identifying insignia or militia – coloured clothes;
  • Terrorists resort to physical violence. They utilise terror as a means of coercion and use violence as a necessary means of attaining their political, religious or ideological goals, thereby causing harm and death to innocent people and maximum damage to property. Militants may or may not actively engage in physical violence, but they are certainly very aggressive verbally or use verbal violence to achieve their desired goals, as undoubtedly, they feel themselves in “war mode”;
  • Terrorists have no regard for humankind and, usually target civilians, instil fear and psychological effect on them in order to gain the attention of the authorities. As terrorist organisations, they will commit violent acts by murdering civilians, scholars, religious leaders and sanctioning of extortion and demanding ransom.

On the contrary, militants usually do not resort to harming civilians to champion their cause but instead use confrontational or violent methods against the establishment in support of a political or social cause. For example militants may choose to rebel and use armed aggression for a country’s liberation; and

  • Where both terms converge is when militants find they have no recourse to achieve their goals and then they resort to terrorism if their needs are not met, thereby transforming themselves into a terrorist group.

By DATUK AKHBAR SATAR Director, Institute of Crime & Criminology HELP University

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Global bank profits hit US$920bil, China accounted for 1/3 total; Globalized RMB to stabilize world economy


LONDON: China’s top banks accounted for almost one-third of a record US$920 billion of profits made by the world’s top 1000 banks last year, showing their rise in power since the financial crisis, a survey showed on Monday.

China’s banks made $292 billion in aggregate pretax profit last year, or 32 percent of the industry’s global earnings, according to The Banker magazine’s annual rankings of the profits and capital strength of the world’s biggest 1,000 banks.

ICBCLast year’s global profits were up 23 percent from the previous year to their highest ever level, led by profits of $55 billion at Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC). China Construction Bank, Agriculture Bank of China and Bank of China filled the top four positions.

Banks in the United States made aggregate profits of $183 billion, or 20 percent of the global tally, led by Wells Fargo’s earnings of $32 billion.

Banks in the eurozone contributed just 3 percent to the global profit pool, down from 25 percent before the 2008 financial crisis, the study showed. Italian banks lost $35 billion in aggregate last year, the worst performance by any country.

Banks in Japan made $64 billion of profit last year, or 7 percent of the global total, followed by banks in Canada, France and Australia ($39 billion in each country), Brazil ($26 billion) and Britain ($22 billion),The Banker said.

The magazine said ICBC kept its position as the world’s strongest bank, based on how much capital they hold – which reflects their ability to lend on a large scale and endure shocks.
china_construction_bank
China Construction Bank jumped to second from fifth in the rankings of strength and was followed by JPMorgan , Bank of America and HSBC .

ICBC, which took the top position last year for the first time, was one of four Chinese banks in the latest top 10.

Wells Fargo has this year jumped to become the world’s biggest bank by market value, after a surge in its share price on the back of sustained earnings growth. Its market value is $275 billion, about $75 billion more than ICBC.

The Banker said African banks made the highest returns on capital last year of 24 percent – double the average in the rest of the world and six times the average return of 4 percent at European lenders.- Reuters

Globalized RMB to stabilize world economy

RMBBEIJING, June 27 (Xinhua) — The globalization of the yuan, or renminbi (RMB), will not only benefit the Chinese economy, but generate global economic stability, a senior banker has said.

The yuan did not depreciate during the 1997 Asian financial crisis or the 2008 global financial crisis, helping stabilize the global economy, Tian Guoli, chairman of the Bank of China, said at a forum in London last week, according to the Friday edition of the People’s Daily.

China’s economy ranks second in the world and its trade ranks first, so it is thought that use of the RMB in cross-border trade will be a mutually beneficial move for China and its trade partners.

The yuan has acquired basic conditions to become an international currency as China’s gross domestic product took 12.4 percent of the world’s total and its foreign trade 11.4 percent of the world’s total in 2013, Tian said.

According to the central bank, RMB flow from China hit 340 billion yuan (55.74 billion U.S. dollars) in the first quarter of 2014, replenishing offshore RMB fluidity. The balance of offshore RMB deposits hit 2.4 trillion yuan at the end of March, 1.51 percent of all global offshore deposits. Offshore trade between the yuan and foreign currencies doubled in the first quarter from the fourth quarter of last year.

Analysts widely forecast five steps in RMB internationalization: RMB used and circulated overseas, RMB as a currency of account in trade, RMB used in trade settlement, RMB as a currency for fundraising and investment, and RMB as a global reserve currency.

Already, some neighboring countries and certain regions in developed countries are circulating RMB, indicating the first step has been basically achieved.

Data provider SWIFT’s RMB tracker showed that in May, 1.47 percent of global payments were in RMB, a tiny amount compared to the global total but up from 1.43 percent in April. This indicated progress in the second and third steps.

Some countries in southeast Asia, Latin America and Africa have or are ready to take RMB as an official reserve currency. It indicated the fourth and the fifth steps are burgeoning.

Investors are also optimistic about RMB globalization. Bank of China’s global customer survey shows that over half of the respondents expect RMB cross-border transactions to rise by 20 to 30 percent in five years. And 61 percent of overseas customers say they plan to use or increase use of RMB as a settlement currency.

Li Daokui, head of the Center for China in the World Economy under Tsinghua University, said RMB internationalization is a long-term process and should be made gradually based on China’s financial reforms, including freeing interests and reforms on foreign exchange rates.

Dai Xianglong, former central bank governor of China, forecast that it will take about 10 to 15 years to achieve a high standard of RMB internationalization.

Among the latest moves toward RMB internationalization is the naming of two clearing banks to handle RMB business overseas.

The central bank announced last Wednesday that it has authorized China Construction Bank to be the clearing bank for RMB business in London, and the next day named the Bank of China as clearing bank for RMB business in Frankfurt.- Xindua

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China surpasses US as world’s top corporate borrower; Will the IMF headquarters move to Beijing?


Corporate debts_Eurozone_US_China

 

The Chinese mainland has surpassed the US as the world’s top corporate borrower, and higher debt risk in the world’s second-largest economy may mean greater risk for the world, a report said on Monday.

However, Chinese economists noted that the debt risk in China’s corporate sector is still well under control.

Nonfinancial corporate debt in the Chinese market was estimated at around $14.2 trillion by the end of 2013, overtaking the $13.1 trillion debt owed by the US corporations, a progress happening sooner than expected, said a report from the Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services on Monday.

The report expects that by the end of 2018 debt needs of mainland companies will reach $23.9 trillion – around one-third of the almost $60 trillion of global refinancing and new debt needs.

“It [the mainland surpassing the US as the largest corporate borrower] is not surprising at all, as the [size of] mainland non-service sector has already surpassed that of the US,” Tian Yun, an economist with the China Society of Macroeconomics under the National Development and Reform Commission, told the Global Times on Monday.

Cash flow and leverage at mainland corporations has worsened after 2009, and debt risks in the property and steel sectors remain a particular concern, the report said.

Private companies are facing more challenging financing conditions – highlighted by China’s first corporate bond default case of Shanghai Chaori Solar Energy Science and Technology Co in March and another case of default of leading private steel maker Shanxi Haixin Iron and Steel Group.

“The capital market has been sluggish during the past few years, leading to the fast growth in corporate debts,” Xu Hongcai, director of the Department of Information under the China Center for International Economic Exchanges, told the Global Times Monday.

Experts noted that the rapid growth in debt reflected some problems of the  Chinese economy, but the size of the debt is still in a safe range and will not cause major risks as the economy remains stable.

“The problems of the Chinese economy are institutional and structural,” Tian said, “By addressing these issues, debt risks can be managed.”

Tian further noted that most corporate debts in China are internal debts, thus debt problems in the country will have limited impact on the rest of the world.

The report also said a possible contraction in “shadowing banking” will be detrimental to businesses as general.

But Xu noted that China’s tighter supervision of the “shadow banking” sector will make it more transparent and better-regulated, which will reduce the potential risks in the sector.

Local governments face massive debt repayment pressure

China’s local governments are facing huge debt repayment pressure this year with 2.4 trillion yuan ($390 billion) of debts due in 2014, China Business News reported Monday.

From 2009 to 2013, China issued 94 local government bonds raising 850 billion yuan, the report said.

With another 400 billion yuan worth of bonds to be issued this year, the total financing since 2009 will reach 1.25 trillion yuan, according to the report.

However, the total local government debt is much higher than the amount raised through the bonds, the report said, noting that major debt came from bank loans.

Although the central government has stated several times that the overall debt risk is under control, the statistics from China’s National Audit Office show that some local governments have a debt-asset ratio of more that 100 percent and are facing huge repayment pressure, the report said.

Market analysts hold the view that local governments may borrow new debts to pay for the old ones.

The central government allowed local authorities to raise funds since 2009 in the wake of the global financial crisis, while the central government also issued bonds and repaid debts on behalf of the local governments, a practice criticized by some as not conforming to market economy principles.

As the bond issuing backed by the central government is limited and could not fully meet the local needs, the local governments also turned to opaque financing channels including shadow banking activities, the report said.

Despite the big debt pileup, no local government default has so far taken place.

– By Liang Fei Source:Global Times Published: 2014-6-16 23:43:09

 

Will the IMF headquarters move to Beijing?

 

The International Monetary Fund’s headquarters may one day move from Washington to Beijing, aligning with China’s growing influence in the world economy, the fund’s managing director Christine Lagarde said early this month.

Attaching importance to China

Christine Lagarde made the statement at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), saying that the IMF rules require that the institution should be headquartered in the country that is the biggest shareholder. This has always been the U.S. since the fund was formed.

“But the way things are going, I wouldn’t be surprised if one of these days, the IMF was headquartered in Beijing,” she said.

Lagarde remarked that the IMF had a good relationship with China, the world’s second largest economy, and she praised the Chinese government’s commitment to fighting corruption.

Lagarde added that she did not think the IMF should be controlled by Europeans in its first place. Since its establishment in 1945, the IMF headquarters has been headed by Europeans and located in Washington, while the World Bank has been headed by the Americans.

Not satisfied with the U.S.

Lagarde also pointed out that the U.S. government is an “outlier” among the G20 in refusing to approve IMF reform, and the IMF was trying to give emerging economies like China and Brazil a bigger voice through reform.

According to Lagarde, on the part of countries like China, Brazil, and India, there is frustration with the lack of progress in reforming the IMF by refusing to adopt the quota reform that would give emerging economies a bigger voice, a bigger vote, and a bigger share in the institution. “I share that frustration immensely,” she said.

She also claimed that the credibility and the importance of the IMF are closely related to proper representation among the membership. “We cannot have proper representation of the membership if China has a tiny share of quota and the voice, when it has grown to where it has grown,” she said.

The IMF agreed to reform its management structure in 2010 so that emerging economies could play a bigger role, and made China the third largest member. The U.S. is the only member with control weight in the voting; meaning that any major reform must be approved by the United States.

Hello headquarters

Lagarde has no specific schedule for the headquarters’ shift. However, this once again reminds China that there are few international organizations headquartered in its country, which is disproportionate to China’s status as the world’s second largest economy.

This article is edited and translated from 《IMF总部要搬北京?》,source:Beijing Youth Daily, author: Bu Xiaoming. (People’s Daily Online)

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China Inc borrows $14 trillion, overtakes US as top corporate bond: S&P

US mind-boggling politicians: stop rocking the boat, China Daily said


US gov shutdown1Furloughed federal employees, along with their family members, protest the government shutdown outside the US Capitol in Washington DC, USA, 08 October 2013. The federal shutdown in the US is in its second week – EPA Photo.

The prospect of dimmer global growth predicted by the International Monetary Fund should make it a matter of urgency for US politicians to stop manufacturing crises.

Five years after the start of the global financial meltdown triggered by the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers, it is pitiful that the US is now putting the fragile global recovery under renewed threat with its mind-boggling political infighting.

The IMF on Tuesday cut its global growth forecast to 2.9 percent this year and 3.6 percent for next year. This year’s growth forecast is 0.3 percentage points lower, and next year’s 0.2 percentage points down, than the July projection.

Indeed, the growth slowdown in major emerging economies, as the Washington-based global lender identified, will contribute to a global growth fall in the coming years. Both cyclical and structural problems in these economies are demanding immediate and bold reforms to make growth more sustainable.

However, when financial ministers and central bankers gather in Washington later this week to discuss global growth issues, they will be lucky if their attention is not too distracted by the US government shutdown.

The inconvenience caused by the shutdown may be the least of their worries. The elephant in the room, the once inconceivable notion of the US defaulting on its debt and ensuing dollar upheavals will have to be acknowledged.

As the world’s largest economy and the home of the global reserve currency, the US surely has the wherewithal to fund its government and avoid a catastrophic default by raising its self-imposed debt ceiling.

Yet the astonishing failure of the US Congress to put national needs before their partisan interests has sparked fears among investors and governments around the world that maybe it is time to think about the unthinkable.

That may explain why the biggest US creditors, China and Japan, have expressed concern over developments in Washington which could affect their several-trillion-dollar investments in US Treasury bonds.

US politicians can discuss, bicker and argue over government spending and economic growth. Kicking cans is one thing, but throwing caution to the wind is not a course of action worthy of the world’s leading economy.

–  China Daily

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