I haven’t blogged in a long time, but since Google+ doesn’t seem to have too wide an audience, maybe I’ll write more stuff here.

I went to Taiwan a few weeks ago and was surprised, once again, how un-Chinese it is in so many ways.  I’ve been reading some more stuff about Asia and politics in general (recommend “The Dictator’s Handbook”, if you have a chance) and started thinking more about the crazy and often times illogical approach the US has taken towards China, and specifically the Republic of China (ROC).  I wanted to lay out the history as I see it.  I’ll do it in 3 posts, 1 about the mainland days of the ROC, 1 for Taiwan days of the ROC, and 1 for recommendations on how both the US and Taiwan can improve their relations.  Yes, I’m a complete nerd.

Read the rest of this entry »

Advertisements

This is from a few months ago, but still interesting.  A Chinese developer, Tianjin Union Development Group, has purchased a huge swath of Cambodian rainforest “half the size of Singapore” and is tearing it all down to build a massive casino and resort.  The development also has its own golf courses, cruise terminal and international airport, with direct flights to China.  At a cost of $3.8 billion, this amounts to 1/3 of the yearly GDP of Cambodia.

Read the rest of this entry »

China and the Philippines are currently engaged in a wrasslin’ match over who gets to control a piece of land in the South China Sea known as Scarborough Shoal (Huangyan Island in Chinese).  To look at the seriousness of the the case, let’s look at the shoal itself:

Read the rest of this entry »

I was discussing Chinese infrastructure with someone new to China a few days ago.  They lamented how in the US, our highways are often tattered and torn, our rail system (Amtrak) is practically nonexistent, and our urban mass transit is only passable in a handful of very large cities.  Compared to China, where you only need to wait 5 minutes for a bus, and something like a dozen cities have subway systems, he was right that the US looks to be falling behind quite dramatically.

Read the rest of this entry »

Update: Added some great quotes from The New Yorker at the end of the post.

With all the doom and gloom about raising the debt limit of the US government (currently at $14.2 trillion dollars), it’s hard to remember that this is the original issue which started all this hysteria about government spending and whether or not to raise taxes.  I strongly believe that the debt limit itself is useless and does little to control spending.  There are far more useful market incentives to controlling the debt, and it is frustrating to watch this become such a political football when real people are the ones who suffer if the US defaults.

Read the rest of this entry »

Who coined the term “widget” anyway?  Ah, but we are talking about China now, so perhaps they were one of the four (five) great inventions that benefited mankind.  The others, of course, being soccer, pizza, Koreans, and unsanitary conditions.

But anyway, today we talking about the dilemma of a widget maker in China, or the value of increasing your own value, in the value-added chain.  This is an especially sensitive time for China in this regard, and if they continue their present course, China is likely to become too expensive before it becomes rich.  Let me explain:

Read the rest of this entry »

Major news outlets have been covering the looming Chinese debt crisis more vigorously as of late.  The New York Times has a “Room for Debate” section last week that was pretty good, and had a number of experts weigh in on what’s going on with Chinese debt.  There’s a lot of talk in theoreticals, so I thought it might be interesting to portray this in an anecdotal fashion instead.  I would clearly prefer using a cartoon to describe this, but my artistic skills have not graduated beyond the stick-figure level.  Anyway, here’s our imaginary scenario on how infrastructure over-investment could precipitate an economic crisis.

Read the rest of this entry »

China’s economy is undoubtedly growing at an awesome rate.  I read today that over the past 31 years, yearly GDP has grown by 9.9%, on average.  Compared to the US’s 2-3%, that’s incredible.  But Chinese people still aren’t rich.  Even when you look at GDP per capita, according to the CIA Factbook Chinese people make about 16% of what Americans make.  But according to consumer spending studies, they only have 6% the purchasing power of Americans.  Another alarming statistic is productivity versus wages: Chinese are on average 1/3 as productive as an American worker, but receive 1/10 the wages.  Why are they not cashing in on the China boom?  Where are the consumers?

Read the rest of this entry »

I’ve written before about civil society in China, and how it’s lacking, and how it’s scary to those in power (see some of my earlier ideas on Four Chinas theory for some examples).  To recap, most democratic societies have a strong concept of “civil society”.  I’ll go into explaining what that means in a bit, but it’s something very obviously missing from China, and this is a categorically negative thing.

Read the rest of this entry »

Predicting Chinese economic performance is useless.  It’s really impossible to guess, since there are just countless variables.  Given the nature of the Chinese state, most of these variables are confidential, further adding to the hilarity/difficulty of trying to make an accurate prediction about the Chinese economy. Nonetheless, many academics, bankers, and policy wonks have made it their professional hobby to give their two cents.

Read the rest of this entry »