Tag Archives: United States

Daily Update, June 21, 2012

This is an experiment. In my new position, I need to keep close track of news developments. Perhaps a good way to do this is to build a daily briefing, in the tradition of Bill Bishop’s update at Sinocism or Politico’s morning e-mail, or indeed of this blog’s former practice of posting Del.icio.us links. Only time will tell just how daily this actually is, and here goes a first shot. Of course, this is far from comprehensive.

South China Sea

  • China has raised the status of three island groups from county- to prefecture-level. This raises the level of the Hainan Province administrative body with purported jurisdiction over the Paracels and the Spratlys.
  • “Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Zhijun summoned Vietnamese Ambassador to China Nguyen Van Tho on Thursday to lodge a solemn representation to the Vietnamese side on passing a national law of the sea.” The law reportedly asserted sovereignty over the islands.
  • A South China Morning Post article considers the potential for the Philippines to bring China to international arbitration or tribunal unilaterally, despite the convention that both parties need to agree to such a resolution.
  • The Philippines will conduct a flyover of the Scarborough Shoal, and its ships will return if foreign vessels are present in the region, President Aquino said.
  • Both the Philippines and China had previously reportedly pulled out their vessels from the area surrounding the Scarborough shoal, a land feature in the South China Sea claimed in various ways by each country. The reason? Supposedly, bad weather.
  • Chinese Defense Minister Liang Guanglie and Singaporean counterpart Ng Eng Hen met on June 18and discussed the South China Sea, among other issues.

Air-Sea Battle Concept

  • U.S. Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert spoke on the Air-Sea Battle “concept”/”doctrine” at Brookings May 16. No mention of China, but the opening of the Arctic is noted, as is electronic warfare.

Scientific Collaboration With China

  • A U.S. Congressional committee chairman may or may not have called China “the enemy.” While a colleague questioned White House advisor John Holdren—previously a key figure in the Harvard environmental politics world—House Science Committee Chairman Ralph Hall (R-Tex.) had something to add. “I don’t think you’re gonna get the answer that you expected to get, Mr. Rohrabacher,” Hall said, referring to his colleage. “I too have seen our president bow and scrape to the enemy on many occasions.” The line of questioning was on scientific collaborations with China.

China–U.S. and China–World Investment

  • A Missouri man has been stuck in China over a business dispute for several months, the Associated Press reported. I think Dan Harris of China Law Blog would offer a  forehead-slapping motion over the following: “Because of the unpaid debt to Chinese suppliers, and citing Fleischli’s status as NorthPole’s legal representative in China, a court in Xiamen ordered Fleischli detained. … Fleischli hadn’t even realized he was NorthPole’s legal representative, a role that makes Fleischli the point of contact for the company.” Why you pay attention to business laws.
  • In my first contribution to Fortune Magazine, I explore what’s behind some sizable investments apparently by Chinese individuals in Toledo, Ohio. The article will run in super-short form in the magazine, but this version is more complete.
  • Foreign investment in China may get a bit simpler, reports the Wall Street Journal: “the China Securities Regulatory Commission said it would lower entry requirements and simplify the approval process for applicants under the Qualified Foreign Institutional Investors program, the primary program for foreign investors to enter China’s capital markets. It also will allow qualified foreign investors to hold more shares in domestically listed companies and enter the country’s interbank bond market.”

Daily Translation (another experiment)

  • Beijing has a new bike sharing system, but a long-time Beijing resident with an out-of-town ID has sued the company for discrimination. So far, only Beijing residents with new Beijing IDs can use the system. I translated part of a Caixin story for fun. If you read Chinese, just go read it.

The private sector battle over SOPA (me in Al Jazeera)

Following yesterday’s demonstrations against U.S. Congressional legislation that could severely constrict free speech and online innovation, I argue in Al Jazeera English that private interests in internet policy are here to stay.

It would have been the most expensive political ad buy in the history of the world. Google’s search engine, the most visited website in the world, displays a black block over its logo. Wikipedia, the sixth most visited site globally, has disabled its English-language service. This unprecedented action to oppose legislation under consideration in the US Congress signals the importance of the private sector in Internet policy – and it won’t stop here.

Private companies are almost entirely responsible for your ability to read this article. The text travelled through a purchased operating system, over an enterprise office network, through privately-owned wires and fibre optic cables, and finally reached the privately-run “cloud” service in which it was composed. If you’re overseas from Al Jazeera’s servers, the message also travelled through privately-owned undersea cables-the bedrock of international communication and finance.

Many experts, including Jonathan Zittrain of Harvard and the leaders of the MIT Media Lab, have described in detail the threat to free speech, innovation, and the technology business posed by the legislation: the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the House and the PROTECT IP Act (PIPA) in the Senate. Most people, however, learned of the controversy through today’s online demonstrations, in which the online goliaths of our day have filled the picket lines.

Read the rest at Al Jazeera English.

 

China, Japan, and Transpacific Academic Exchange: New Data

China is the hot new place to study abroad. That’s the headline The New York Times culls from the Institute of International Education’s new report on educational exchanges between the United States and a battery of other countries. But China is still only the fifth most common destination for U.S. students, and is still second to India in sending students to the United States.

Some people like to make arguments about what one country thinks of another by how many students go there. Certainly, there are likely to be consequences if large numbers of students from one country study in a particular other country, but it’s hard to know the causes. This passage from the country fact sheet on China from IIE suggests that politics are relevant, at least in some cases.

China sent no students to the US from the 1950s until 1974/75. In the 1980s, numbers of Chinese students grew dramatically, and in 1988/89, China displaced Taiwan as the leading sender. China was the leading place of origin from 1988/89 until it was displaced by Japan in 1994/95. In 1998/99, China overtook Japan as the leading sender, and remained in the number one position until being overtaken by India in 2001/02, and has remained in second place since.

It’s my bailiwick to compare Chinese and Japanese relations with the United States, so I’ll add some more. While the number of Chinese students in the United States increased 19.8 percent over last year’s report, Japan sent 3.7 percent fewer and was the place of origin of only 5.4 percent of foreign students in the United States. (I’m pretty sure data on China–Japan exchanges is released by the two governments, so hopefully I can find that later.)

If we compare U.S. students’ destinations, both China and Japan appear to be gaining popularity. China comes in fifth (after the U.K., Italy, Spain, and France), and Japan 11th. Both countries gained over the previous year—China by 25.6 percent and Japan by 13.6 percent, beating the overall increase of 8.6 percent. The Olympics should not be a factor here because the most recent data in the IIE fact sheet is 2006/07. This perhaps lopsided but concurrent increase in interest is bourne out in language enrollments, at least at Harvard University, where a professor mentioned in a speech some weeks ago that both languages had grown enrollments significantly.

What, if anything, does this tell us? On its own, not a lot. But I’ll give you a little more. More students from the United States are going to Japan and China, but among the top 20 destinations, several other countries also beat the 8.6 baseline increase: Spain, France, Argentina, South Africa, Czech Republic, Chile, Ecuador, and India. Only Asian countries and Saudi Arabia beat the 7 percent overall increase in number of students studying in the United States.

Is Venezuela selling oil to China instead of to the U.S.?

The United States is importing less oil from Venezuela, and China is buying more. Is Venezuela putting its resources where Hugo Chávez’s mouth is and using the country’s major export as a geopolitical lever? Or are U.S. imports just catching up with a 10-year decline in Venezuelan production?

The U.S. Energy Information Administration released April data on Monday, revealing that imports of crude and petroleum from Venezuela in the first four months of 2008 fell 10.7 percent from the same period last year—from about 1.3 million barrels/day to about 1.16 million b/d.

If we take a longer-term view of U.S. imports of Venezuelan crude and petroleum, the drop is even more significant: Venezuela sold about 1.6 million b/d to the United States in January–April of 2005, as it had since the mid-1990s (except in the oil strike years of 2000 and 2003). This means that Venezuelan sales to the United States have declined 30 percent over the past three years. Why?

AP’s Rachel Jones reports that the drop is likely due to three factors: (1) falling demand in the United States, (2) falling production in Venezuela, and (3) Venezuela’s decision to sell more oil to China. Does this make sense? Let’s take a closer look at the numbers:

  1. Total U.S. oil imports in January–April 2008 dropped 2.5 percent compared with the same period last year (you can download the raw data here, or check out the Transpacifica digest below (after the jump). This, then, might explain one-fourth of the decline in imports from Venezuela.
  2. There are no reliable numbers on Venezuelan oil production, but those that exist (for example, the monthly OPEC report) indicate at most a 2 percent drop in production from last year—which, like the change in U.S. demand, would explain only part of the 10.7 percent drop in sales. Over the past 10 years, however, Venezuelan production has declined about 25 percent—about the same as the change in U.S. imports over the past three years (according to EIA data here).
  3. The AP report states that Venezuela now sends 250,000 b/d to China, up from next to nothing a few years ago. The story does not source this figure, and PDVSA, Venezuela’s state oil company, recently stated that China buys 398,000 b/d, as a result of increased CNPC operations. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has said that the country plans to sell China 1 million b/d by 2012.

Is China buying 250,000 b/d or more of Venezuelan oil? If so, does that purchase explain declining sales to the United States? Or would sales have declined anyway, as a result of falling production in Venezuela? What is the role of Chávez’s oil donations to countries throughout the region? Perhaps there are other explanations. If the United States wants control over how much oil it buys from Venezuela, the answer is critical. Continue reading

How the U.S. Invented Illegal Immigration to Keep Out Chinese

Undocumented immigration today, though mostly debated with Latin Americans and the southern border of the United States in mind, cuts across racial boundaries. At American Heritage, Claire Lui has a useful reminder of where illegal immigration began: the Chinese Exclusion Act. Here’s a start:

On May 6, 1882, a century and a quarter ago today, President Chester A. Arthur signed a law banning almost all immigration from China to the United States. It affected only a small percentage of immigrants, but it marked the birth of illegal immigration. The Chinese Exclusion Act and its subsequent extensions altered the legal definition of American citizenship far more than its original drafters could have foreseen. It wasn’t repealed until 1943, 61 years later, and it continues to reverberate in immigration policy today.

Before 1882, immigration to the United States was barely regulated at all. [full story]

The reason for the exclusion was remarkably similar to much of the anti-immigrant rhetoric we hear today. In the immortal words of the entire TV town of South Park, “They took our joooobs!!” (The South Park invaders may have been illegal aliens, but then again they were [[Ed. WAS: actual aliens; CORRECTED: alien-looking humans from the future]].) Chinese were working for less, and undercut the labor market. Lui writes: “When Irish factory workers in San Francisco went on strike in 1870, demanding an increase in pay from three to four dollars a day, they were quickly replaced by Chinese who accepted only a dollar a day.”

A very interesting chance of history gave some Chinese citizenship rights. The 14th Amendment holds that “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.” Apparently the big earthquake in 1906 destroyed lots of San Francisco’s records so that no one had real proof of where they were born. And a 1898 Supreme Court case had already held that Chinese could not be denied citizenship rights based on race.

This article’s definitely worth a read.