Friday, February 14, 2014

cool down to ramp up in china

“Already the world’s biggest exporter, China may overtake the United States to be the world’s largest importer this year, HSBC Bank has predicted.”

China is changing. Quickly.

The Chinese economy may have slowed in the past year, or over the past several years, but China is still doing well. Though economies worldwide slowed during the recession, the Chinese slowdown was not nearly as bad as expected nor was it crippling. Exports to America and Europe slumped, but anemic consumption in the western world did not take a huge chunk out of Chinese growth. As the New York Times reported last month, “China said… that its economy grew 7.7 percent last year after adjusting for inflation, while the United States is expected to announce on Jan. 30 that its economy grew about 2 percent last year.” 7% reflects a healthy, expanding economy. 2% indicates struggle, contraction, and the United States is lucky to see a growth rate even that high.

Part of this continued energy stems from increased internal consumption. For some time the Chinese government has sought to develop a greater consumer economy in the country. The Chinese economy may not yet be a consumer driven economy like the United States, and the transformation may develop in fits and starts as other developments in China do, but all signs indicate that this is the general trend for China.

The growth of consumption and the middle class in China has resulted from several factors: the expansion of manufacturing and unstoppable demand from Western countries for Chinese exports during the previous decades, migration to urban centers throughout China, increased wages, and greater access to education. Now, despite a slump in exports, spending increased over 13% this past year and urban workers have 7% more disposable income.

At the same time, China luckily saw a small increase in demand for exports from Western nations this year, and the country’s trade surplus increased. This year China is seeing the best of both worlds, contributing to its robust growth rate. But increased consumerism could rapidly change the Chinese economy. As its middle class grows and demands higher wages, more manufacturing and exports will move to other countries, as they already have: to Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar, and the Philippines. China may sooner rather later be looking at some of the same labor and trade imbalances that trouble the U.S. economy.

Monday, February 3, 2014

delicate shards of something in palestine

“We will be demilitarized,” he added. “Do you think we have any illusion that we can have any security if the Israelis do not feel they have security?”

Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, has definitely committed to compromise. In the past week, Abbas has said the Palestinians would agree to 3 years of Israeli security forces present in the West Bank. Now Abbas agrees to 5 years of Israeli security and an American-led NATO force patrolling the area indefinitely.

Violence has seeped out of the West Bank. Abbas understands this. He understands the Israelis need to feel secure in their home. He understands this proposal could be a way forward, aiding further negotiation. The world should see now that the Palestinians are ready for negotiation. Palestine is ready for peace.

In addition to the Israeli and NATO patrols, Abbas has held off joining U. N. agencies and the International Criminal Court, as their participation in these organizations are vehemently opposed by Israel and the U.S. However if Palestine is a country, if the world recognizes it as such, as it does, then Palestine needs to participate in these important international organizations. These organizations exist to promote peace. And Abbas’s patience with Israel and the U.S. will wear thin.

Benyamin Netanyahu has also made some brave statements recently. He recently suggested that some Israeli settlers may remain in a Palestinian state after withdrawal, causing outcries from conservative voices in Israel. Hopefully he is making it clear to Israeli settlers that should they continue with their expansion into disputed territory, they may have to live with the consequences, namely living outside the Jewish state. And the possibility of a future peace plan lays at the heart of this suggestion. It’s something more than nothing.

Abbas’s proposal is only a beginning, a tiny opening, and though his efforts for accommodation should be applauded, he is also not completely open to all idea. As noted in the New York Times article, Abbas says recognition of Israel as a Jewish state is out of the question. He cites historical examples of other countries such as Egypt which were not required to recognize Israel as such. However, if Abbas is truly open to negotiation and truly committed to the foundation of the Palestinian nation, committed to peace, then Abbas should accept that Israel is a Jewish state and concentrate on larger problems, such as Jerusalem and negotiating a return to the ‘67 boundaries.