ข่าวต่างประเทศน่าจับตามอง

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Re: ข่าวต่างประเทศน่าจับตามอง

ตั้งหัวข้อ  sunny on Thu Jul 15, 2010 7:49 pm

Germany, Russia sign multibillion-dollar deals in Russia, discuss visa-free travel

By: Nataliya Vasilyeva, The Associated Press

15/07/2010 5:18 AM

YEKATERINBURG, Russia - The leaders of Russia and Germany met Thursday for talks and oversaw the signing of nearly a dozen of deals between companies from the two countries worth billions of dollars.

In one of them, German engineering company Siemens AG contracted with Russian Railways for €2.2 billion ($2.8 billion) for more than 200 new regional trains for Russia.

Siemens also announced a joint venture with two Russian partners to produce wind turbines for Russia as the country pushes to diversify its energy sector away from oil and gas.

The company also agreed to take part in the Skolkovo complex, a state project to try to build a Russian analog of Silicon Valley in a Moscow suburb.

Siemens earlier sold eight trains to Russian Railways that are now running between Moscow and St. Petersburg in Russia's first high-speed train route. The German company will also supply 54 commuter trains for the Winter Games in the Black Sea resort of Sochi.

Germany is Russia's major trading partner with trade between the two countries topping $15 billion in the first quarter of the year.

Addressing an annual German-Russian forum, President Dmitry Medvedev invited German firms to invest in Russian companies that last month were taken off the list of strategic enterprises and now have no caps on foreign investments and shareholding. They include airports and factories ranging from paper mills to train car makers.

Medvedev also called on Germany, an EU member, to push the European Union to scrap visas for Russia if Moscow lifts restrictions for EU nationals.

Germany could streamline the procedures on the bilateral level, Chancellor Angela Merkel said and voiced the commitment on eventually eliminating visas.

"The urgency of this issue has been demonstrated at today's forum," she said. "Some bilateral projects cannot be implemented with the current visa regime."

Merkel pressed Medvedev on the issue of human rights in Russia at the forum. Thursday marks the first anniversary of the murder of prominent Chechen human rights activist Nataliya Estemirova.

"It is important that Russia continues to investigate that murder," she said. "In order to feel security in the legal system it's important that such high-profile and public cases be successfully solved."

Medvedev reacted in an uncharacteristically brash manner to a German reporter's question about an impending law which is expected to further expand the powers of the Federal Security Service, or FSB, a successor to the KGB.

"The law on the FSB is our domestic bill. Every country has the right to improve its legislation," he retorted.

Observers earlier said that the law is likely to be pushed by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, a former intelligence officer, rather than by Medvedev. But Medvedev insisted the law was drafted following his personal instructions.


แก้ไขล่าสุดโดย sunny เมื่อ Fri Jul 16, 2010 5:58 pm, ทั้งหมด 1 ครั้ง

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Re: ข่าวต่างประเทศน่าจับตามอง

ตั้งหัวข้อ  sunny on Thu Jul 15, 2010 8:10 pm

Russia Plan to Help Iran Challenges Sanctions

By ANDREW E. KRAMER
Published: July 14, 2010

MOSCOW — Russia’s energy minister announced a broad program of cooperation with Iran in the oil, natural gas and petrochemical industries on Wednesday that appeared to invite Russian companies to contravene sanctions the Obama administration adopted just two weeks ago.

The sanctions were meant to be an additional means of punishing Iran for refusing to unwind its secretive nuclear program after the United States was able to persuade Russia and China to agree to only limited new trade restrictions in a fourth United Nations Security Council resolution against Iran, passed in June. Australia, Canada and Europe also decided to put additional measures against Iran in place.

While clearly intended to discourage the type of investment the Russian minister discussed, the United States sanctions law provides a presidential waiver for companies in countries otherwise seen as cooperating in discouraging Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.

Iran, though a major exporter of crude oil, imports tens of thousands of gallons of gasoline daily to make up for its faltering refining capacity, limited by years of international isolation.

The American sanctions impose penalties on foreign entities that sell refined petroleum to Iran or assist Iran with its domestic refining capacity, a focus intended to exact a harsh financial toll on the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, the hard-line group that oversees the country’s nuclear and missile programs and controls much of its oil industry.

Russia’s president, Dmitri A. Medvedev, voiced opposition to adding any sanctions beyond those imposed by the United Nations, and the Foreign Ministry warned the United States against trying to punish Russian companies under the new unilateral sanctions.

On Wednesday, Russia’s minister of fuel and energy took the most overt stance against the American sanctions so far, announcing the plans for closer cooperation between Russian and Iranian petroleum interests.

The minister, Sergei I. Shmatko, met in Moscow with his Iranian counterpart, Massoud Mir-Kazemi, and issued a joint statement praising “active cooperation between Russian and Iranian companies in the oil, gas and petrochemical sectors, which are developing and widening in their joint work.”

But it was unclear how immediately action would be taken. The Russian statement suggested that a working group be formed to identify areas of deeper cooperation in the oil and petrochemical industries, proposing a study for a Russian-Iranian joint venture oil company and a binational bank to finance such projects. The statement suggested Iran market its crude oil on Russian commodity exchanges.

The oil dealings between the countries would force the United States to make difficult choices only if Russian companies followed through on the broad plans with specific agreements, Cliff Kupchan, a research director at the Eurasia Group, said in a telephone interview.

And this seemed unlikely, at least at the moment, he said, given the recent warming in bilateral relations with the United States, Russian backing for the United Nations sanctions against Iran and the successful spy swap this month.

Sergei A. Karaganov, a dean of the faculty of international relations at the Higher School of Economics in Moscow, said Russia would resist sanctions that could harm the economic well-being of a wide portion of Iran’s population and add to political turmoil.

The gasoline embargo imposed by the United States could do both, Mr. Karaganov said.


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Re: ข่าวต่างประเทศน่าจับตามอง

ตั้งหัวข้อ  satan_baby on Thu Jul 15, 2010 11:05 pm


Russian President Dmitry Medvedev speaks
during an annual Russia German forum
in the Ural Mountains city of Yekaterinburg, 15 Jul 2010

Russia Urges Iran to Explain Nuclear Program

Russian President Dmitri Medvedev is calling on Iran to explain its nuclear program and to fully cooperate with the international community.

Mr. Medvedev said Thursday that though the two countries have an active trade partnership, Russia is not indifferent to the way Iran is developing its nuclear program.

Russia is traditionally a diplomatic and economic ally of Iran, and is helping Tehran build a nuclear power plant at Bushehr. But Moscow has hardened its position against Iran's other nuclear activities in recent weeks.

On Monday, Mr. Medvedev said Iran is getting closer to having the potential to build a nuclear weapon. Russia last month joined other world powers in approving a fourth set of U.N. sanctions on Iran for its refusal to suspend its uranium enrichment operations.

Western powers accuse Iran of seeking to build nuclear weapons under the cover of its civilian nuclear program -- a charge repeatedly denied by Iranian authorities.

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Re: ข่าวต่างประเทศน่าจับตามอง

ตั้งหัวข้อ  satan_baby on Thu Jul 15, 2010 11:14 pm

US Military Sees Surge in Asian-American Recruits

Education opportunities, increased visibility lure new generation

The all-volunteer U.S. army - like the United States itself - is an ethnic mix. But Asian-Americans have typically volunteered less than other ethnic groups. Recently, though, they have been enlisting at a remarkable rate.

Asian-Americans make up just 10 percent of New York City's population, but they comprise 14 percent of army recruits. The numbers are even more striking in California cities. In the San Francisco Bay area, 42 percent of recruits so far this year have been Asian-American - way over their local population.

New reasons for signing up

At the Bay Area's Richmond Hilltop Mall recruiting station, army officers teach incoming soldiers to march. The 15 recruits, still in high school, will start basic training after they graduate. Seven of them are Asian: Chinese, Vietnamese, Pacific-Islander and Filipino.

Recruits Albert and Barry Huang are 18-year-old twins who speak Cantonese at home, and English outside the home. They tend to finish each other's sentences.

"My parents always pushed the idea of 'go to college, go to college,'" says Albert. "And so this is a start of how we're going to..."

Barry jumps in with "…do what our parents want us to do. We're just going to go to college and get an education."

This is the twins' route to college. "Now that the economy has gone down and the tuition's gone up - the army, they can pay for my college, so might as well do it," says Barry.

Asian-American parents' traditional emphasis on education has run into the stumbling U.S. economy and skyrocketing college costs. So the military's education benefits have become particularly appealing. That's one reason Asian-Americans are increasingly joining the army.

But that's not the whole story.

In the San Francisco Bay area, 42 percent of military recruits so far this year have been Asian-American.

Facing new enemies

"In the present war, they're not fighting against Asians like in World War II or Vietnam," says Ken Mochizuki, co-author of a book about Asians in the military. He points out that U.S. soldiers, before this generation, were fighting Asians - Japanese in World War II, then Koreans and Vietnamese.

Today's young soldiers, he says, were born after those wars, and are less apprehensive about the military.

And, he adds, today's generation of American Southeast Asians, born to parents who spent time in refugee camps before emigrating, "want to prove their loyalty to this country and that they're as American as anybody else."

Support roles

Yet increased recruitment of Asian-Americans doesn't mean that more are on the front lines.
According to Dr. Betty Maxfield, the army's chief of personnel data, Asian-Americans are more commonly found in non-combat jobs then as front-line fighters.

"The majority are in combat service support, technical support, computer support, medical," says Maxfield, adding that soldiers who focus on the military's education benefits train in jobs that translate to civilian life - such as technology or medicine rather than rifles or sharp shooting.

The Huang twins say that, for them, finding non-combat roles is also a cultural and religious choice. Their mother is Buddhist.

"It affected me," Barry says. "When I decided to join the military, I was like, 'I'm not going to kill anybody, I do not want to kill anybody. I do not want to have a person's death on my conscience.'"

The rising visibility of Asian-Americans already in the service may make a military career more acceptable to Asian-Americans.

Retired four-star general Eric Shinseki, a Japanese-American, now heads the Department of Veterans Affairs. Antonio Taguba, a Filipino-American major general, led the Abu Ghraib investigation.

The most potent reason that Asian-Americans are increasingly joining the army may just be because they now see top-level officers who look like them.

http://www1.voanews.com/english/news/usa/US-Military-Sees-Surge-in-Asian-American-Recruits-98416119.html

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Re: ข่าวต่างประเทศน่าจับตามอง

ตั้งหัวข้อ  satan_baby on Thu Jul 15, 2010 11:21 pm


Russian Energy Minister Sergei Shmatko

Russia, Iran Sign Energy Agreement Despite UN Sanctions

Russia's energy minister says United Nations sanctions will not get in the way of the country's plans to develop Iran's oil and gas sectors.

Russian Energy Minister Sergei Shmatko met with his Iranian counterpart, Masud Mir-Kazemi, in Moscow Wednesday to sign a "road map" document outlining energy cooperation.

Shmatko said Russian companies are prepared to deliver oil products to Iran, despite sanctions.

Russian state energy company Gazprom has agreed to help Iran further develop its oil and natural gas fields, but most projects are currently on hold because of sanctions.

Western governments have urged their companies to cut ties with Iran because of its controversial nuclear program. Western nations accuse Iran of seeking to develop nuclear weapons under cover of a civilian energy program, a charge Tehran denies.

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Re: ข่าวต่างประเทศน่าจับตามอง

ตั้งหัวข้อ  sunny on Fri Jul 16, 2010 5:57 pm

Germany, China sign deals worth billions of dollars, say trade strong despite financial crisis

By: Cara Anna, The Associated Press
16/07/2010 5:34 AM

BEIJING, China - Chinese and German companies signed deals worth billions of dollars to make trucks and power equipment Friday as the prime ministers declared their countries' economies had recovered from last year's global recession.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel brought the heads of major German corporations with her on a four-day visit to China, underscoring the robust business ties between the two export powerhouses.
Merkel and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao have met frequently in recent years and agreed to work together to guide a recovery from the global economic crisis.

"China and Germany have passed a testing period of crisis and turbulence," Wen announced after he and Merkel reviewed an honour guard at a welcome ceremony at the Great Hall of the People.

Among the contracts signed after their talks was a $3.5 billion deal between Siemens AG and the Shanghai Electric Power Generation Equipment Co. to develop steam and gas turbines, and a new 6.35 billion yuan ($936 million) venture between Daimler AG and Beiqi Foton Motor Co. to make heavy and light trucks, reported state-run Xinhua News Agency.

The good business news continues a turnaround for Merkel, who three years ago angered China's authoritarian leadership when she welcomed a nemesis, the Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama. German business leaders complained for months afterward that they were meeting with obstacles in completing deals with Chinese companies.

Despite that, the two countries' trade runs more than $100 billion a year. German companies have invested billions more in China, making multinationals like Siemens and BMW AG prominent brand names.

Wen expressed optimism Friday that the European Union, China's largest trade partner, will overcome its current difficulties.

"We will continue to watch Europe's economic development," Wen said at a brief news conference.
Merkel said EU member countries in September will discuss the issue of recognizing China's market status. China has said the move would help it avoid punishing anti-dumping measures.

"From the point of view of the German government, China has to meet requirements in two fields," she said. "The first is the (intellectual property rights) issue, and we have discussed this with the Chinese government for a long time. The second is the issue of free market access. We hope German companies can get equal access to the Chinese market with other companies."

Merkel later met with Chinese President Hu Jintao and visited the normally secretive Central Party School where China's Communist elite are trained.

One new opportunity China and Germany are exploring is clean-energy technologies, where Germany is a leader. Xinhua reported the two countries agreed to set up a 124 million euro ($159 million) fund to encourage companies to save energy and cut emissions that harm the environment.

World Breaking News

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Re: ข่าวต่างประเทศน่าจับตามอง

ตั้งหัวข้อ  sunny on Fri Jul 16, 2010 6:01 pm

Russia's Duma approves bill granting more power to security service

By: The Associated Press

16/07/2010 4:38 AM

MOSCOW - Russia's lower house of parliament has approved a bill that would widen the powers of the Federal Security Service, the KGB's main successor agency.

The bill would allow the agency to issue warnings to people suspected of preparing to commit crimes. Critics say this power could be used to intimidate government opponents and stifle protests.

The draft law has raised strong alarm among democracy activists and human rights groups. A coalition of activists has sent an appeal to the upper house of parliament not to approve the bill.

The bill was approved in the State Duma on Friday by a vote of 354-96. Members of the Communist and A Just Russia parties voted against it.

President Dmitry Medvedev defended the bill Thursday, saying it was introduced at his initiative.

World Breaking News

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Re: ข่าวต่างประเทศน่าจับตามอง

ตั้งหัวข้อ  sunny on Fri Jul 16, 2010 6:09 pm

ASEAN going for nuclear power

July 16th, 2010
Author: Ernest Bower, CSIS

Anyone near the corner of 18th & K Streets last week would immediately align themselves with remarks attributed to Singaporean leader Lee Kuan Yew regarding air conditioning’s role as the breakthrough technology that helped transform Southeast Asia’s post-colonial commodity-dominated economies into some of the world’s fastest-growing financial and industrial markets.



In addition to enabling ASEAN leaders’ economic plans to be realized, nuclear power can play a significant role providing electricity for running those air conditioners. Adopting safe new-generation nuclear power plants should be a major area for U.S.-ASEAN cooperation. It is an effort that supports our mutual economic and national security interests.

There is no operational nuclear power plant in ASEAN today. However, of the 10-member nations comprising ASEAN, all except Brunei and Laos have active plans for adding nuclear power into the electricity generating mix. In terms of scale, Vietnam has the most aggressive nuclear power ambitions. It recently announced plans to build eight plants by 2030, producing 15,000 to 16,000 megawatts (MW) of electricity. Indonesia plans to have four nuclear plants producing 6,000 MW by 2025. Thailand has plans to develop two nuclear plants to generate 2,000 MW by 2022. Singapore, which generates the majority of its power from increasingly scarce gas, has a feasibility plan for nuclear power under way. Other countries are developing similar plans.

Nuclear power is an important option for ASEAN, whose electricity demand is estimated by the International Energy Association (IEA) to increase 76 percent between 2007 and 2030 at an average annual rate of 3.3 percent growth, compared to an estimated 2.5 percent annual growth in demand in the rest of the world over the same period. Meeting the ASEAN countries’ electricity demand will require investing more than $1.1 trillion in the next 25 years.

Contemplation of nuclear energy for ASEAN countries is not new, but today, with growing demand for imported fossil fuels and concerns over the environment, it is much more serious. ASEAN nations are bound by the Treaty on the Southeast Asia Nuclear Weapon-Free Zone signed in Bangkok, opened for signature on December 15, 1995, and entered into force on March 28, 1997. The treaty states that there will be no prejudice toward the peaceful use of nuclear energy (Article 4). It also states that prior to embarking on nuclear programs, political buy-in is needed from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and from other ASEAN nations.

Nuclear nonproliferation concerns and safeguards will be very important as ASEAN proceeds in developing its nuclear power capabilities. Only one ASEAN country, Burma/Myanmar, is alleged to be developing any plans for nuclear weapons. Those allegations are being investigated by the IAEA and are denied by Burma’s military leaders.

Under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), the IAEA established safeguard standards suitable for application to both simple nuclear activities and to complex nuclear fuel cycles, i.e., a system applicable to reactors and to conversion, enrichment, fabrication, and reprocessing plants that produce and process reactor fuel. Under IAEA guidelines, when a safeguards agreement enters into force, a state has an obligation to declare to the IAEA all nuclear material and facilities subject to safeguards under the agreement. The state must update this information and declare all new nuclear materials and facilities that subsequently become subject to the terms of the agreement. (Source: Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons entered into force on March 5, 1970, as amended and date signed).

The IAEA has clear accountancy and monitoring rules for tracking declared nuclear material. To be effective, this system requires a high level of confidence, trust, and transparency. These are guidelines ASEAN governments would have every interest in following, but strong engagement from the international community would be helpful. In fact, there is already a strong alliance between the United States and Japan in the new nuclear power plant designs.

ASEAN nations must also negotiate bilateral civil nuclear cooperation agreements with the nuclear supplier countries (including the United States, Japan, France, Russia, Canada, and Australia, among others) before they can receive nuclear reactors, fuel, equipment, services, and technology. Some ASEAN countries already have such agreements in place. As part of this process, ASEAN countries will need to demonstrate their commitment to maintaining international standards of nuclear safety, security, and nonproliferation.

Given the Obama administration’s interest in building international partnerships and consensus on nuclear nonproliferation and climate change, and the president’s commitment to engage ASEAN at new and substantive levels, the nuclear energy field seems a logical area for immediate and expanded cooperation. This engagement is also consistent with the Obama administration’s goal of doubling U.S. exports in the next five years. American companies are among the world’s leaders in various aspects of nuclear power from design/build to energy-related services, but face stiff competition from France, Russia, and Japan. Further, the president has capable leaders to lead this effort. Dr. Stephen Chu, the U.S. secretary of energy, has a strong technical background and mandate to work on related issues. President Obama could initiate this process in the broader context of U.S.-ASEAN energy cooperation, which could include a wide range of issues from renewable energy to energy conservation. One format for such cooperation could be a U.S.-ASEAN Energy Bilateral that would be a step toward the U.S. energy secretary participating in the annual ASEAN Ministers for Energy Meeting (AMEM).

As the mercury rises inside the beltway, U.S. policymakers would be wise to take the opportunity to stay indoors, hydrate aggressively, and open a new chapter of U.S.-ASEAN cooperation on nuclear power. The initiative would serve both ASEAN’s and America’s economic and national security requirements.

This article first appeared here at CSIS.

Ernest Z. Bower is Senior Adviser and Director of the Southeast Asia Program, Center for Strategic and International Studies, Washington.

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Re: ข่าวต่างประเทศน่าจับตามอง

ตั้งหัวข้อ  sunny on Fri Jul 16, 2010 6:43 pm

Russia honors Vietnam's Party leader


Communist Party General Secretary Nong
Duc Manh is received by the Speaker of
the Russian parliament, Boris Gryzlov, on Friday

Communist Party General Secretary Nong Duc Manh on Friday received Russia’s prestigious Pushkin Medal for his contribution to consolidating bilateral relations.

The medal was awarded by Russian Presiden Dmitri Medvedev at a meeting with Manh, who is on an official five-day visit (July 8-12) to Russia.

The two leaders discussed measures to speed up signing of the Vietnam – Russia free trade agreement and to improve the investment environment in both countries.

During the visit, made at the invitation of Medvedev on the occasion of 60th anniversary of diplomatic ties between the two countries, Manh also met with other Russian high-ranking officials like Boris Gryzlov, speaker of Russia's State Duma (the lower house of parliament), and Sergei Mironov, speaker of the Federation Council.


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ตั้งหัวข้อ  sunny on Fri Jul 16, 2010 7:02 pm

Chinese vice president meets with Lao party leader
08:14, June 17, 2010

Visiting Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping met with Choummaly Saygnasone, general secretary of the Lao People's Revolutionary Party Central Committee and president of the Lao People's Democratic Republic in Vientiane, Laos on Wednesday.





Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping (R) meets with Choummaly Saygnasone, secretary general of the Lao People's Revolutionary Party Central Committee and president of the Lao People's Democratic Republic, in Vientiane, Laos, June 16, 2010. (Xinhua/Rao Aimin)

During the meeting, Xi said China is pleased to see the great social and economic development achieved by Laos in the innovation and open-up cause in the past nearly two decades. China will continue to support Laos in promoting economic development and safeguarding national stability.

Xi said bilateral relations have developed in the guidelines of lasting stability, good-neighborliness and friendship, mutual trust and cooperation in an all-round manner.

Xi said China and Laos have maintained close contacts, strengthened political mutual trust, deepened economic and trade cooperation and increased exchanges in all areas over the past years.





Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping (L) meets with Choummaly Saygnasone, secretary general of the Lao People's Revolutionary Party Central Committee and president of the Lao People's Democratic Republic, in Vientiane, Laos, June 16, 2010. (Xinhua/Rao Aimin)

Xi said China and Laos decided to establish comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership last year, which pushed bilateral relations to the highest level in history.

Xi said China cherishes the traditional friendship with Laos, and China is ready to join hands with Laos to enrich comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership and enhance the bilateral cooperation.

For his part, Choummaly spoke highly of Xi's visit to Laos, saying it is a great encouragement to the Lao party, government and people.

Choummaly said the decision to lift bilateral relations to comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership last year during his visit to China is of significant importance to bilateral relations.





Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping poses for photos with Choummaly Saygnasone, secretary general of the Lao People's Revolutionary Party Central Committee and president of the Lao People's Democratic Republic, after their meeting in Vientiane, Laos, June 16, 2010. (Xinhua/Rao Aimin)

Choummaly said Laos attaches great importance to relations with China, and Lao is ready to push forward bilateral relations and consolidate traditional friendship with China.

Source: Xinhua


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Re: ข่าวต่างประเทศน่าจับตามอง

ตั้งหัวข้อ  sunny on Fri Jul 16, 2010 7:31 pm

China, France pledge to upgrade local-level cooperation
07:54, July 14, 2010

Chinese top legislator Wu Bangguo met with Marseilles Mayor Jean-Claude Gaudin on Tuesday, vowing to further cooperation at the local level between China and France.



Wu Bangguo (2nd L), chairman of the Standing Committee of China's National People's Congress, the country's top legislature, meets with Jean-Claude Gaudin, vice president of the French Senate and mayor of Marseilles, in Marseilles, France, July 13, 2010. (Xinhua/Zhang Duo)

"I am visiting Marseille to push forward the cooperation at the regional level to a new stage," said Wu, chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress( NPC).

Wu hoped Marseille would take the chance of the Shanghai Expo to strengthen cooperation with Shanghai on new energy and materials, public transportation and port construction to contribute to Sino-French relations.

Gaudin said he was expected to cement cooperation with China in the scientific, educational, cultural and tourism areas.

Also on Tuesday, Wu visited Eurocopter and the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor(ITER). Wu arrived here Monday afternoon after he concluded visit to Bordeaux, southwest port city in France. He will fly to Serbia on Wednesday morning to continue his three-nation Europe tour.

Source: Xinhua


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ตั้งหัวข้อ  sunny on Fri Jul 16, 2010 8:08 pm

Is Russia's backing of Iran sanctions starting to fray?



For a couple of weeks in June, it seemed like Russia's stance on Iran was finally coming into line with that of the U.S. President Barack Obama, in one of the biggest achievements so far of his foreign policy, had convinced Russia to support a new round of U.N. sanctions, approved on June 9, meant to stop Iran building a nuclear bomb. There was a lot of back-patting at the U.N. Security Council, and on June 24, Obama's political honeymoon with his Russian counterpart, Dmitri Medvedev, reached a high point when the two chowed down at Ray's Hell Burger outside Washington, D.C., looking friendlier than ever. But this week, with the two Presidents back in their respective capitals, Russia is changing its tone on Iran. The Kremlin appears once again to be playing both sides.

On Wednesday, Energy Minister Sergei Shmatko held a meeting in Moscow with Iranian Oil Minister Masoud Mir Kazemi, and afterward Shmatko announced that Russia was ready to deliver fuel and oil products to Iran. "The sanctions cannot stop us," he declared. And it is true: the latest round of U.N. sanctions does not forbid fuel sales to Iran, but the unilateral sanctions imposed by the U.S. and Europe do. Russia's decision therefore still has a touch of defiance and seems aimed at demonstrating its independence from the West on the Iran dilemma. At the press conference, Kazemi made it clear that this effort was working. "Independent countries are truly cooperating with Iran," he said.

The following day, Russia took this initiative further by suggesting it might still sell S-300 missile systems to Iran under an existing contract. For years, Iran has been desperate to buy these rockets, which would make its nuclear installations practically invulnerable to attacks from the air. But the U.S. and Israel, who still consider air strikes a last resort in dealing with Iran's nuclear program, have pressured Russia not to complete the sale. On June 18, about a week after the U.N. sanctions were adopted, Russia appeared to concede. "Moscow believes that the sanctions resolution clearly forbids the sale of the S-300 system to Iran," Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Denisov told Russia's state news agency RIA Novosti that day. Later in June, experts from Russia's Federal Service for Military and Technical Cooperation also concluded that these weapons could not be sold to Iran under the new U.N. sanctions. The Israelis and the U.S. breathed a sigh of relief.

But on Thursday, Sergei Chemezov, the head of Russia's state weapons exporter and a longtime friend of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, said the sale had not been frozen. "The final decision on signing or dropping the contract must be made by the President," Chemezov said at a summit on Russian-German relations in the Russian city of Yekaterinburg.

This puts Medvedev in a very tough spot. Since the summer of 2008, when Obama announced his drive to move beyond Cold War rivalries and reset U.S.-Russian relations, he and his Russian counterpart have developed a personal rapport. Sitting in their shirtsleeves in Ray's Hell Burger, they seemed the picture of camaraderie, and a few days earlier, Medvedev could hardly contain his glee as he toured Silicon Valley, the symbol of American ingenuity that he has staked his presidency on emulating at home.

But this relationship has always come with demands on Medvedev, with a strong stance against Iran near the top of the list. On this issue in particular, Medvedev has delivered on several occasions. Indeed, at the same summit on Thursday in which Chemezov made his surprise comments about selling Iran the S-300s, Medvedev said at a separate press conference that Russia "was not indifferent" to the military components of Iran's nuclear program. "Iran must find the courage to start full-fledged cooperation with the international community, even if it does not like some of the questions that are posed," he said, sitting alongside German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who had flown in for the summit.

At the same time, Medvedev realizes that sidelining Iran would come at a serious price, not least of all for Russia's budget. The S-300 contract is worth around $800 million, and if Russia fails to honor it, Iran has said it would impose a penalty that experts estimate at another $400 million. The Islamic Republic could also refuse to buy any more military products from Russia in the future, leading to an estimated loss of up to $500 million per year, according to an investigative report published on June 30 by the daily newspaper Nezavisimaya Gazeta. The report also noted that China, Russia's emerging rival in the arms trade, would be happy to take its place.

On the security front, Moscow also has a lot to lose. Insurgents and advisers from Arab states are regularly caught in the mountains of the North Caucasus, the hub of the Muslim insurgency fighting to turn part of Russia into an Islamic caliphate. No evidence has ever surfaced of Iran financing these insurgents. But if it begins to count Russia as one of its enemies — as it had threatened to do in the lead-up to the June U.N. sanctions vote — experts say that Iran could throw its weight behind jihadis in Russia, just as it does in Israel for terrorist groups like Hizballah and Hamas. Likewise, in Central Asia, a patchwork of predominantly Muslim states, Iran could position itself against Russia as a rival for influence, particularly in Tajikistan, which shares strong cultural and linguistic ties with Iran.

"So if it wants, Iran has many ways of inflicting damage on Russia, of shifting the security landscape in Central Asia and the Caucasus in a way that could destabilize the region," says Fyodor Lukyanov, political analyst and editor of the journal Russia in Global Affairs. "It has not yet done that, but if there is a radical change in relations with Russia, it can." Lukyanov says that Russia has already gone as far as it can in alienating Iran to please the U.S, and Obama will need to offer Russia some major rewards if he wants an even tougher stand on the nuclear issue. But with Russia now appearing to backpedal on its support for sanctions, such rewards might be necessary just to get the Kremlin to keep the promises it has already made.

TIME

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ตั้งหัวข้อ  sunny on Mon Jul 19, 2010 12:02 pm

China scores a double A, says Beijing’s credit rating agency

July 18th, 2010
Author: Justin Li, ICE

On 11 of July, China’s new professional rating agency, Dagong International Credit Rating Company, released its first ever report on the government debt risks of 50 countries. The report surveyed the 50 largest economies across the world including countries such as the US, China and Australia. In the words of Dagong, this is a historic occasion when a credit rating agency from a non-Western country published its report on government debt risks globally.




An eye-catching feature of the report is its assessment that the debt risk of the United States is higher than that of China. This judgment turns on its head the near universal consensus among the Big Three — Fitch, Moody’s, Standard and Poor’s — that the US government debt is by far the safest among the government debts.

Australia is rated AAA at the top, alongside countries like Norway.

The key difference between Dagong’s sovereign credit risk rating and those of its western counterparts is that it gives greater score to politically stable and economically strong emerging economies such as China, Russia, Brazil and India. Conversely, Dagong’s assessment incorporates a much dimmer view of the debt-burdened and economically stagnant developed economies such as the US, Britain, France and Spain.

According to the Chairman and Chief Executive, Guan Jianzhong, the essential elements of Dagong’s rating principles are ‘country’s governing ability, economic strength, fiscal position, foreign currency reserve and financial strength’. He believes that the difference between credit risk assessment of his organization and its western counterparts is due to the ideologically biased methodology used by Western credit agencies.

According to Dr Yu Yongding, senior research fellow at the Institute of World Economics and Politics of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, the controversial result that China has a higher sovereign credit risk rating than the US is understandable if one looks at it from a perspective of a country’s ability to service and repay its debt.

However, he cautions about an approach which relies heavily on benchmarks that are potentially favourable to the rating of China. This potentially compromises the objectivity and impartiality of a credit rating agency.

Yu further points out that, at the very heart of sovereign credit risk rating is the appraisal of a country’s ability to repay its debt and the most crucial indicator used in that appraisal is the ratio of debt to GDP. Currently, the debt to GDP ratio for Japan is 200 per cent, 100 per cent for the US by 2015, and by comparison, China’s debt is a mere 20 per cent of the GDP.

In addition to debt to GDP ratio, a country’s saving rate and savings structure are also important factors in influencing ability to repay debt. Using Japan as an example, despite its having a much higher debt to GDP ratio than that of the US, its high domestic saving rate greatly reduces its exposure to the volatility of the international debt market and the government is able to tap into the vast reserves of domestic credit at a relatively low cost.

Dagong’s new rating has been greeted with a degree of skepticism. The key problem relates to its methodologies. Though there are sound and rational reasons behind its new approach, it is far from being accepted as the appropriate norm by the international investment community. In addition, Dagong’s official connections through partial government ownership via such bodies as the Development Research Center of the State Council and the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences also raise an issue of objectivity and independence.

Right now is certainly a good time for Dagong to make a debut on the international credit rating market. Big Western agencies such as Moody’s and Standard and Poor’s suffered significant reputational damage through the harsh assessment of the credit rating of sub-prime mortgage assets before the global financial crisis. But for Dagong to establish a foothold in this competitive market, it has to demonstrate professionalism and impartiality.

Yu Yongding suggests that a regionally based credit rating agency in Asia can address the issue of the lack of Asian voice on the important issue of sovereign credit risk rating. Such initiative has also been touted by the former Governor of the Reserve Bank of India.

More strategically, Dagong’s initiative is yet another example of China’s increased presence and activism on international stage. Given China’s increasing economic and political strength, it is unlikely to remain content to be a regime taker. Beijing is increasingly demanding and pushing for an greater voice on international stage. In this context, the birth of Dagong is another small harbinger of China’s gradual transition from being a regime taker to the role of a regime maker.

Justin Li is principal of the Institute of Chinese Economics and a regular contributor to EAF.

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Re: ข่าวต่างประเทศน่าจับตามอง

ตั้งหัวข้อ  sunny on Mon Jul 19, 2010 12:17 pm

Preparing for the rise and rise of Asia – Weekly editorial

July 19th, 2010
Author: Peter Drysdale

This is a time in human history that is one of momentous change.





Much of the change in the decades ahead will relate, of course, to the rise of China and, in China’s wake, the rise of India. They add to Asia’s already substantial share in the world economy and, within little more than a decade or so, that will make Asia the largest centre of world output and trade of any region in the worldbigger than North America, and bigger than all of Europe.

Although in current prices, America’s GP is US$14 trillion, Europe’s US$16 trillion and China’s US$4 trillion, in real terms, China is already more than half the size of the US with a GDP of US$8 trillion. Close to 30 per cent of the output of all the major Japanese manufacturing firms is actually produced in China, not in Japan. China is already Australia’s largest single trading partner; it is also Japan’s, Korea’s and Taiwan’s and our projections suggest that by 2020 China will be the largest economic partner of every single country in our region. Although it is on average a poor country in per capita income terms and will remain so for some years yet, the scale of what is going on in China and the pace of its growth mean that it will also certainly be as big an economy as that of North America in little more than a decade.

So in not much more than a decade, there will be a huge transformation in the structure of regional and world power, not only economic weight but also the political power that inevitably follows economic power in some form or other.

These are hugely positive developments that have already lifted close to three quarters of a billion people out of poverty and hold the promise of doing the same for two billion more in China and in India. But they are developments which also bring with them big, unprecedented challenges.
Deng Xiaoping urged his successors in China to pursue low posture politics and to concentrate all their political energies on modernising the Chinese economy. That has been a very successful strategy and Chinese leaders continue to heed Deng’s advice. But it is a strategy that is no longer viable, since, while modernisation is still a work in progress, China is already a great power in terms of its impact on other economies and polities around the world. China now affects all our lives and our consciousness (as we discovered in Australia suddenly last year) not only through commercial and investment dealings but also through the way in which its different legal, political and institutional systems intersect with ours.

In many ways there is much that is familiar in the rise of China from earlier experience with the rise of Japan after the Second World War. But the scale is another thing; and so too is the fact that, unlike Japan following defeat in war, China is not a budding democracy embedded in the American alliance structure.

Much of the challenge in this circumstance is the pace and scale of change — the dynamics of vast economic, social and political change in China. Its continuing rise, moreover, is fraught with real internal risks, what I sometimes call the three Es — the equity problem (the huge disparities in incomes that have emerged across provinces and within society); the externalities problem, as economists call it (including the impact of China’s growth on the environment); and the risks associated with the evolution of its political system (the need to confront the problems of political reform, crucial to internal stability as well as to dealing with the great industrial democracies).
The good news is that the Chinese leadership is sharply focused on managing these risks and, despite the degree of difficulty, on past record their chances of success would have to be rated greater than fifty-fifty.

China’s success has already transformed the global economic and strategic outlook, and in the next decade — not the next twenty or fifty years — it will further profoundly change the world with which we have to deal.

There are the beginnings of a change in global governance: putting in place the G20 in which Australia played an important part and of which China and India are members. But there are many questions about how the new structure of world power will be managed.

How will China and the new powers assume their global responsibilities, lagging in experience and capacity? Will China accept the established order — be a regime-taker — rather than want to be a regime-maker? How can we manage the transition of power, from the established power of North America and Europe to the emerging power of China and Asia?

Our lead piece from Justin Li lightly suggests that there is evidence that China is feeling its way towards being a regime-maker.

Leaders around the region are searching for a strategic framework, a regional and global architecture, in which to manage this change. We shall have to work these questions through carefully and patiently with all our partners in Asia — including China. It will be a process that needs must reach deep into the fabric of our economy, our polity, our laws and social institutions.

While we are fortunate in the legacy of capacities with which we’ve been endowed to take up these challenges, the endowments, I’m afraid, are sadly inadequate to the task at hand. The elevation of capacities and efforts is an urgent national and global priority, and among the most important challenges we face today.

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Re: ข่าวต่างประเทศน่าจับตามอง

ตั้งหัวข้อ  sunny on Mon Jul 19, 2010 2:09 pm

China cuts US T-bond holdings by 3.6%, remains largest holder
08:24, July 19, 2010

China offloaded 32.5 billion U.S. dollars worth of U.S. Treasury bonds (T-bonds) holdings in May but remains the largest holder of U.S. debt, the U.S. Treasury Department reported last Friday.

After the cut, China holds 867.7 U.S. dollars of U.S. government debt.

Analysts believe that the sale was a wise choice as the U.S. Dollar Index soared in May.

In the same month, China's foreign exchange reserves fell by around 51 billion U.S. dollars despite a 19.5 billion U.S. dollars trade surplus and 8.1 billion U.S. dollars in foreign direct investment inflows.

Japan, the second largest holder of U.S. T-bonds, reduced its debt holdings by 8.8 billion U.S. dollars, to 795.5 billion U.S. dollars.

China's State Administration of Foreign Exchange has reiterated that China is a responsible long-term investor and rejected concerns that it would use China's foreign exchange investments as an "atomic weapon" against investment targets.

Earlier this month, Japanese media reported that Beijing has drastically revved up its purchase of Japan's government bonds in2010, making net purchases of 540 billion Japanese yen (6.2 billion U.S. dollars) from January to April.

At the same time, China's purchase of euro-denominated bonds has declined because of the eruption of European debt crisis.

By People's Daily Online

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ตั้งหัวข้อ  sunny on Tue Jul 20, 2010 1:08 am

Asia-US bond remains strong

July 19th, 2010
Author: Tommy Koh, NUS

Professor Simon Tay has written an important new book on the future of America’s relations with Asia – Asia Alone: The Dangerous Post-Crisis Divide From America.




He makes the following points:

- The United States is a declining power;

- Asia is a rising power;

- America’s will to engage with Asia is waning;

- America’s influence in Asia is declining;

- Asian regionalism is getting stronger;

- Asia can and will be more ready to take its own path.

First, is the US a declining power? I can understand why Professor Tay believes so. He wrote his book last year, while he was the Bernard Schwartz Fellow at the Asia Society in New York. He witnessed the collapse on Wall Street and the fall of American corporate icons. He left an America in recession, with a double-digit unemployment rate and astronomical fiscal deficits. He was concerned about the rising tide of economic nationalism in America.

It is, however, a mistake to count the Americans out. I am optimistic about America’s future. If its history provides any guide, it will bounce back from this adversity as it had from all its previous adversities.

My optimism about America’s prospects is based on a number of its strengths: Its ability to attract and retain talent; the excellence of its top universities and research institutions; its culture of innovation and creativity; and its mix of cultural diversity and intellectual freedom. I therefore do not regard the US as a declining power.

Second, is Asia a rising power? Asia is a huge and heterogeneous continent. Some countries and regions of Asia, such as China, India, South Korea and ASEAN, are rising rapidly. Japan is stagnating at a high plateau. However, we should never forget that Asia is also home to the largest number of poor people in the world. And even in the case of the two rising giants, China and India, their social divisions are great and getting worse.

Asia may be getting richer, but we should be humble and acknowledge our many shortcomings. For example, nearly 500 million Asians do not have access to safe drinking water and 1,900 million Asians do not have access to basic sanitation. It will be a long time before we can match the West in terms of economic, military, intellectual, cultural, diplomatic and moral power.

Third, is America’s influence in the world and in Asia declining? Professor Tay agrees with Newsweek editor Fareed Zakaria’s thesis that we already live in a post-American world. I do not agree.

The US may no longer be a hegemon, but it is the indisputable leader of the world. There is no country or combination of countries that can match its power. The convening power of the US was on full display in April when President Barack Obama invited 48 of the world’s leaders to a nuclear summit – and 47 of them attended.

The only country that can help to bring peace to the Middle East is the US. The Doha Round of trade negotiations cannot be successfully concluded until the US is ready to make a deal with its negotiating partners. In the Asia-Pacific, the US plays an indispensable role in maintaining the region’s peace and security. Contrary to Mr Zakaria’s view, I would argue that we still live in an American world.

Fourth, is America’s will to engage with Asia on the wane? I do not think so. I would give President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton a distinction for getting the administration’s Asia policy right.

Soon after taking office, Mrs Clinton said that America was back in Asia. Her first foreign trip as Secretary of State was to Asia – and, significantly, included a visit to Indonesia and the ASEAN Secretariat. During his first year in office, Mr Obama visited four Asian countries: Japan, Singapore, South Korea and China. Declaring himself America’s first ‘Pacific President,’ he attended the APEC Summit in Singapore and held a historic first summit with all 10 ASEAN leaders.

The US has signed the ASEAN Treaty of Amity and Cooperation. It hosted the second negotiating meeting of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which consists of eight APEC economies – namely, Australia, Brunei, Chile, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, Vietnam and the US. Mr Obama recently urged the US Congress to ratify the US-South Korea Free Trade Agreement.

My conclusion is that the Obama administration’s No. 1 foreign policy priority is Asia.

Fifth, is Asian regionalism getting stronger? Will Asia exclude the US from its regional architecture, and take its own path? I agree that Asian regionalism is getting stronger. ASEAN, ASEAN+3 and the East Asia Summit are growing from strength to strength. For obvious reasons, the US cannot join ASEAN or ASEAN+3. However, the important question of whether ASEAN would invite the US (and Russia) to join an expanded East Asia Summit – or a new configuration, dubbed ASEAN+8 – will be discussed at the ASEAN Summit in Hanoi this month.

My conclusion is that all the countries in Asia, including China, view the US as a stakeholder in Asia’s peace and prosperity. No one in Asia is seeking to exclude the US from the region.

Professor Tay is right when he says that there is now a strong sense of Asian regionalism. We see this in ASEAN’s new ambitions to be governed by a charter and to transform itself from an association into a community. At the same time, Asia is aware that it has more convergent than divergent interests with the US.

This is why I am confident that Asian leaders will be wise enough to nurture both Asian regionalism and Asia’s trans-Pacific ties with the US. I am, therefore, confident that the US and Asia will be together and not apart in this century.

Tommy Koh is chairman of the Centre for International Law, NUS.

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ตั้งหัวข้อ  sunny on Tue Jul 20, 2010 3:17 am

Russian lawmakers OK expanded powers for KGB successor; critics fear new repression
By: The Associated Press
19/07/2010 9:42 AM

MOSCOW - The upper house of Russia's parliament on Monday passed a bill granting expanded powers to the country's main security agency, a move that critics say echoes the era of the Soviet KGB.

The bill, which now goes to President Dmitry Medvedev to be signed into law, would allow the Federal Security Service to issue warnings to people suspected of preparing to commit crimes against Russia's security.

Human rights and democracy activists say this power could be used to intimidate government opponents and stifle protests.

"This law is targeted against the opposition ... It's a draconian law which is unprecedented in the world and is reminiscent of our repressive past," Boris Nemtsov, a leader of the opposition Solidarity movement, was quoted as saying by the news agency Interfax.

The security service is the main successor agency to the KGB.

The bill was approved by the upper house by a vote of 121-1. The sole vote against was cast by the house's speaker, Sergei Mironov, who said he had was apprehensive about the measure.

Opposition groups frequently are denied permission to hold rallies or are allowed to hold them only in out-of-the-way neighbourhoods. Riot police often break up unsanctioned rally attempts swiftly and brutally.

The bill has raised doubts about President Dmitry Medvedev's commitment to promoting full-fledged democracy and freedom of expression. Medvedev often has spoken of instituting judicial and police reforms, and has taken a less hard line on many issues than his predecessor Vladimir Putin, a former KGB agent and later head of the FSB.

Putin is now prime minister and many see his intolerance of dissent as influencing the Kremlin.
But Medvedev, when asked at a news conference last week about the proposed law, testily responded that the country has "the right to improve its own legislation."

The measure was introduced a few weeks after the March double suicide bombings on the Moscow subway system that killed 40 people. One of the bombers hit the Lubyanka subway station, beneath the headquarters of the security service

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Re: ข่าวต่างประเทศน่าจับตามอง

ตั้งหัวข้อ  sunny on Tue Jul 20, 2010 4:02 am

North Korea, Myanmar to dominate Southeast Asian security meetings in Vietnam

19/07/2010 9:14 AM

HANOI, Vietnam - Tensions over North Korea are expected to overshadow Asia's largest security forum this week in Vietnam — four months after 46 South Korean sailors were killed in the sinking of a warship that was blamed on Pyongyang.

The reclusive North, which has denied attacking the 1,200-ton Cheonan, is expected to send its top diplomat to the annual security meeting organized by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and her South Korean counterpart will also attend, marking the first time the three have met since the deadly sinking.

Foreign ministers from the 10-member countries started arriving in the tightly guarded Vietnamese capital of Hanoi on Monday, a day before the official opening ceremony, to hold talks on how to improve the enforcement of a treaty banning nuclear weapons from the region. The Korean ship incident was also discussed.

"They certainly expressed their concerns about whether such an issue will lead to further instability and insecurity and potential flare-ups, which will not be good for the region," ASEAN Secretary-General Surin Pitsuwan said on the sidelines after the talks.

The foreign ministers will be joined later in the week by officials from the Asia-Pacific, Europe and the United States for the ASEAN Regional Forum.

The ministers' agenda is heavy with issues surrounding the bloc's goal of establishing a European-style economic community by 2015, and the lingering hardship created by the global financial crisis.

But North Korea and military-ruled Myanmar are expected to dominate discussions.

An international team of investigators concluded in May that a North Korean submarine fired a torpedo ttgkjuhat sank the Cheonan in the tense waters near the two Koreas' maritime border on March 26. Pyongyang denies any responsibility, and has warned any punishment would trigger war.

ASEAN and ARF ministers strongly condemned the sinking, but avoided laying blame.

"We expressed deep concern over the sinking of the ship Cheonan and the rising tension on the Korean peninsula," separate draft statements obtained by The Associated Press said. "We urge all parties concerned to exercise utmost restraint, enhance confidence and trust, settle disputes by peaceful means."

Participants also will seek the resumption of stalled six-way talks aimed at ending the North's nuclear weapons program. The last nuclear disarmament talks involving the two Koreas, China, Japan, Russia and the United States were held in Beijing in December 2008.

Pitsuwan said the ASEAN member states are encouraging formal or informal meetings among the parties to take place this week.

The two Koreas technically remain in a state of war because their three-year conflict ended in a truce, not a peace treaty, in 1953. North and South are divided by a heavily fortified border, and the U.S. keeps 28,500 troops in South Korea to protect the longtime ally.

Pyongyang, which has tested two nuclear weapons in recent years, routinely cites the U.S. presence as a key reason behind its drive to build nuclear weapons.

The ASEAN ministers also will press Myanmar, which plans to call general elections this year, to hold its polls in a "free, fair and inclusive manner with the participation of all political parties," according to the draft statement.

The reclusive junta has yet to set a date for the elections, Myanmar's first in two decades. Critics have dismissed the election as a sham designed to cement nearly 50 years of military rule in Myanmar, also known as Burma.

Detained pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy party will boycott the vote, citing unfair elections laws. Her party has since been disbanded.
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Additionally, Myanmar has been suspected of embarking on a nuclear program with the aim of developing a bomb — with backing from North Korea. Myanmar denied those allegations on Monday when the issue was raised at Monday's nuclear meeting, said Thai Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya.

"We welcome the Myanmar government's pronouncement that their nuclear research has nothing to do with military activities," he said on the meeting's sidelines.

He added that some ministers expressed a desire to build nuclear power plants, but that there was agreement that the process should be transparent because any accident could affect neighbouring countries.

The ASEAN ministers will also work on the agenda of a summit in October between their heads of state and President Barack Obama.

ASEAN, founded in 1967, groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. It admitted Myanmar in 1997, despite strong opposition from Western nations.
___
Associated Press writer Jean Lee contributed to this report from Seoul, South Korea.

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Re: ข่าวต่างประเทศน่าจับตามอง

ตั้งหัวข้อ  sunny on Tue Jul 20, 2010 4:15 am

ASEAN Regional Forum Draft Said to Echo UN on Korean Ship Sinking
VOA News

A draft statement prepared for Asia's largest security forum expresses "deep concern" over the sinking of a South Korean warship but stops short of blaming North Korea.

The statement, which was drafted by Vietnam, will be submitted for approval when ministers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Regional Forum meet in Hanoi on Friday. Top diplomats from the United States, North Korea and South Korea are expected to attend the meeting, which Vietnam will chair.

The draft statement was leaked to news agencies. It echoes an earlier statement by the U.N. Security Council, which condemned the sinking in March of the Cheonan but did not directly accuse North Korea of carrying it out. South Korea has been lobbying for a stronger statement.

The draft also calls for Burmese elections expected this year to be free, fair and inclusive.

While failing to blame any country by name, the Security Council statement did express concern over the findings of an international investigation of the Cheonan sinking, which killed 46 seamen. That investigation concluded that the ship was almost certainly sunk by a North Korean torpedo.

Nevertheless, North Korea's U.N. ambassador (Sin Son Ho) hailed the statement as a "great diplomatic victory." Pyongyang had previously threatened to take military action if it faced any punitive action by the international community.

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Re: ข่าวต่างประเทศน่าจับตามอง

ตั้งหัวข้อ  sunny on Tue Jul 20, 2010 8:51 am

China, France to further expand cooperation



Wu Bangguo, chairman of the Standing Committee of China's National People's
Congress (NPC), meets with Bernard Accoyer, speaker of French
National Assembly in Geneva, Switzerland, July 19, 2010. (Xinhua/Yu Yang)

Top legislators of China and France met on Monday and reiterated their willingness to further expand cooperation in various areas and strengthen coordination in international affairs.

Wu Bangguo, chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC) of China, said his latest official goodwill visit to France was successful thanks to joint efforts by both China and France. It is in the interest of both countries and peoples to strengthen the bilateral ties and deepen cooperation in international and regional affairs, Wu said at the meeting with Accoyer.

Bernard Accoyer, speaker of the French National Assembly, said Wu's visit to France is remarkable in Sino-French ties and is fruitful, which will play a constructive role in deepening substantial cooperation and boosting the friendship between the two peoples. France looks forward to take chance of Wu's visit to conduct closer coordination in international affairs and accelerate the development of Sino-French ties, he said.

Wu paid an visit to France from July 7 to July 14 as a part of his three-nation Europe tour. He is here to attend the third World Conference of Speakers of Parliament.

On the sideline of the conference, Wu also met with Klaus Schwab, executive chairman of the World Economic Forum, on Monday and discussed the upcoming Summer Davos Forum in China


Wu Bangguo (R Front), chairman of the Standing Committee of China's National
People's Congress (NPC), shakes hands with Bernard Accoyer, speaker of French
National Assembly in Geneva, Switzerland, July 19, 2010. (Xinhua/Zhang Duo)



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Re: ข่าวต่างประเทศน่าจับตามอง

ตั้งหัวข้อ  sunny on Tue Jul 20, 2010 11:27 am

Analysis: IMF challenges Asia to change its economic habits

(Reuters) - That warm glow and soft purring emanating from South Korea was the International Monetary Fund trying, yet again, to put the Asian financial crisis behind it.

The IMF needs Asia on its side. As the fastest-growing part of the world economy, the region will wield more clout at global institutions like the IMF and provide more of their funding.

The problem, to put it bluntly, is that Asia does not need the IMF or like the IMF, whose invasive policy prescriptions are blamed in the region for having exacerbated the 1997/98 meltdown.

Hence the charm offensive by the fund's managing director, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, at a big conference in the central South Korean city of Daejon last week.

"Let me be candid: we have made some mistakes," he said. "We have learned the importance of focusing on essential policies, and of protecting the most vulnerable, when tackling a crisis."

Declaring that he wanted Asian countries to see the IMF as a second home, Strauss-Kahn added: "Asia's time has come in the global economy, and so it must be at the IMF."

But there was an implicit quid pro quo. In return for a bigger role, Asia had to take more responsibility for reducing global imbalances. Governments had to nurture a "second engine of growth" -- domestic demand -- instead of relying so much on exports now that Europe and America face years of belt-tightening.

In a nutshell, Strauss-Kahn seemed to be saying, the IMF is ready to change. Is Asia? "The decisions made now will impact Asia's performance for decades to come," the IMF chief said.

Against that background, it's reasonable to ask whether Asia will be able to rise to his challenge.
Shares in Indonesia are near record highs, reflecting confidence in economic reforms. India and Malaysia have both cut domestic fuel price subsidies to reduce their budget deficits.

Yet some contributors to a recent VoxEU.org publication, "Rebalancing the Global Economy: A Primer for Policymaking," wonder whether Asia really can change its spots.

POOR INVESTMENT CLIMATE

The most striking imbalance in Asia is that it saves too much, and a major reason for that thriftiness is beyond the control of governments: the bulk of Asians are in their prime working years when people salt away money for their old age.

But policymakers could do much more to promote more balanced growth, for example by building social safety nets to lessen the need to save for a rainy day, allowing currency appreciation and reducing corporate savings.

Jong-Wha Lee, chief economist at the Asian Development Bank, said governments should give priority to enhancing the investment climate; Asia's current account surpluses reflect in part a paucity of domestic investment, especially in long-term infrastructure, he argued.

"The business environment across the region lags behind the world's competitive economies because of serious shortcomings in regional institutions and skill shortages. Remedying these weaknesses will help translate domestic savings effectively into domestic investment," Lee wrote.

His case is buttressed by a new World Bank report, "Investing Across Borders, 2010," which examines the openness of 87 economies to foreign direct investment.

East Asia and the Pacific score poorly, with more curbs than any other region in the world on foreign equity ownership, starting a local business and accessing industrial land.

Underdeveloped financial sectors are also holding up Asia's economic transformation.

The old model of a bank-dominated financial system that paid depositors a pittance and funneled cheap loans to exporters and manufacturers is past its sell-by date. People would need to save less if they got higher returns on the money they do save.

"The process of creating diverse financial institutions has happened too slowly relative to the needs of the rising middle class and aging demographics," Andrew Sheng, an adjunct professor at the University of Malaya and Tsinghua University in Beijing, wrote in the latest East Asian Bureau of Economic Research newsletter.

"POLITICALLY INTRACTABLE"

Deeper foreign exchange and capital markets would also help countries to absorb capital inflows instead of imposing administrative controls on them, as Indonesia and South Korea have done recently.

Linda Lim, a professor of business strategy at the University of Michigan, said financial sector liberalization had helped Asian rebalancing but was incomplete because of nationalist objections and resistance to increased competition.

One example was the continued dominance of China's state-owned banks, Lim wrote in the VoxEU.org e-book.

"But it is the corporate restructuring necessary to reduce high corporate savings rates that is likely to prove most politically intractable, requiring authoritarian and semi-authoritarian governments to relinquish state control of economic resources and activity on which their political power is partly based," Lim added.

Lim singled out Singapore, Malaysia and China as countries where there was little political pressure on state-owned and government-linked firms to distribute their income to boost domestic consumption.

Yung Chul Park, a professor at Seoul National University, also put economic rebalancing squarely in a political context.

Despite vanishing overseas markets, policymakers would be wary unless they were sure that domestic demand will be as powerful as exports in driving growth.

Rebalancing was a tall political order because it entailed removing tax and other incentives that favor exporters, while pursuing deregulation and market opening steps to boost the inferior productivity of non-export sectors.

"East Asia may have difficulties in finding such measures," Park concluded drily.

Strauss-Kahn knows all this, of course. But the Daejon meeting was an opportunity to accentuate the positive and not to dwell -- too much at least -- on the past.

"Rapid growth has turned the region into a global economic powerhouse -- and Asia's economic weight in the world is on track to grow even larger," he said.

(Editing by Mathew Veedon)

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ตั้งหัวข้อ  sunny on Tue Jul 20, 2010 2:58 pm

Incredible India? Complicated India
July 20th, 2010

Author: Evan A. Feigenbaum, CFR

India’s tourist promotion slogan is ‘Incredible India!‘ And there’s a lot about that country that’s pretty incredible.



But three stories over the past week caught my attention. They show three (very) different sides of India’s incredible, but very complicated, growth story.

Here’s the first story that caught my attention:

The International Monetary Fund’s July update to its April 2010 World Economic Outlook projects 9.4 per cent growth for India in 2010, slackening to a still-impressive 8.4 per cent for 2011. (India’s bearish finance minister, Pranab Mukherjee, has played it cooler, sticking to a projection of 8.5 for 2010). So, it’s now clear that growth is back on track.

What a difference a year makes: As the global crisis unfolded in 2008, many in India argued that the economy was safely ‘decoupled’ from global trends because India didn’t depend heavily on foreign demand for exports—and because its relatively closed financial sector had little exposure to toxic assets. And yet India was hurt by the crisis: Exports collapsed, capital left the country, and corporate India lost access to many sources of overseas financing. The government adopted a fiscal stimulus in December 2008 that included heavy capital and infrastructure spending. Still, Indian growth slowed from 9 per cent in 2007-08 to 6.7 in 2008-09.

The government’s top priority, then, has been to return India to a path of rapid and sustained growth of 9 per cent. And in that sense, the recent news has cheered many in New Delhi—even Mukherjee.
This means debate will increasingly shift to the challenges to growth, not least inflation, rather than India’s growth rate per se. And no wonder: Inflation isn’t just an economic issue in India; it’s politically explosive because it touches consumer prices, particularly the prices of foodstuffs, oils, and cooking fuels, in a country with a large population of poor voters. And inflation is a growing challenge; inflation figures are now over 10 per cent and food inflation is higher still.

Here’s the second story that caught my eye:

Last week, India adopted a new symbol for its currency, the rupee—akin to symbols for the dollar ($), euro (€), pound (£), and yen (¥). This is the work of a country with ambitions to translate its economic success into greater global clout, including by deploying the symbols of global clout. In fact, the value of the rupee has lagged.

The return to rapid growth almost certainly will reinvigorate debates about India’s global aspirations. India has become more of a player in global markets. Indian companies have listed in London, for instance. And there are some stable sources of capital flows, whatever is happening in the global economy, including remittances from workers overseas and capital inflows from non-resident Indians abroad. And then there was the curious case of India’s gold buy from the IMF in 2009. It boosted gold prices by as much as 2.2 per cent but, ultimately, just didn’t signal very much because other Asian central banks did not follow suit.

The fact is, India can get quite a lot of growth simply by removing bottlenecks in its economy; it can still grow without undertaking the kind of deep reforms that many have hoped for. That compounds the political disincentives that have held back many reforms. And there are challenges aplenty alongside inflation, including India’s large fiscal deficit, which the government now seeks to address through share sales in state-owned enterprises, telecom spectrum auctions, and other revenue raisers.

In short, these two stories—rapid growth, and global aspirations—say a lot about today’s India.

But so, too, does a third story that caught my eye. It touches the other India:

A new ‘multidimensional poverty index,’ developed at Oxford and soon-to-be-used by the UN’s Human Development Report, put 410 million Indians in poverty. This means there are more poor people in eight Indian states than in all of sub-Saharan Africa—26 countries combined. As one news story in the Guardian put it, the index ‘reinforce[s] claims that distribution of the wealth generated by India’s rapid economic growth … is deeply unequal.’

This will surely reinforce the Indian government in its emphasis on ‘inclusive’ growth. But stressing the distributive aspects of growth also meshes with an important electoral calculation: Indian voters have punished both major political parties for enacting reforms that were viewed by some as benefiting elites disproportionately.

Returned to power in 2004, after eight years in the wilderness, the Indian National Congress expanded welfare programs, especially in rural India, alongside its efforts to increase growth. And many credited the government’s debt waivers for farmers during its first term in office—and especially a national rural employment guarantee—as the principal reasons for its larger-than-expected margin of victory in 2009. The government’s first postelection budget extended the rural debt waiver, boosted spending on the rural employment guarantee by 144 per cent, and hiked India’s rural infrastructure program by 45 per cent.

So, here are a few questions raised by these three (very) different aspects of India’s economic story: Will India’s choices facilitate an economically open, globally integrated India? Will they shrink its wealth divide, expand its middle class, and strengthen its physical infrastructure? And at the end of the day, can India’s economy provide a foundation for strategic clout?

More than a decade of rapid growth has made India a major world economy, on track, according to Goldman Sachs and others, to be a top-five global economy by 2030. But it is really the next round of economic choices that will involve the most consequential factors shaping India’s rise.

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Re: ข่าวต่างประเทศน่าจับตามอง

ตั้งหัวข้อ  sunny on Tue Jul 20, 2010 3:08 pm

Iran uses small bank in Germany to beat sanctions


Iranian 500,000-rial notes are seen in Tehran
As the international sanctions noose tightens around Iran's nuclear program, Tehran is increasingly relying on a small, Iranian-owned bank in Germany to conduct business on behalf of the regime's blacklisted companies, Western officials say.

The European-Iranian Trade Bank AG—known as EIH Bank for its German initials—has done over a billion dollars of business for Iranian companies associated with Iran's conventional military and ballistic missile procurement programs, including companies blacklisted by the U.S., the United Nations and the European Union, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Among those companies are units of Iran's Defense Industries Organization, the Aerospace Industries Organization and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps. Western governments allege those companies are involved in the development of Iran's nuclear and missile programs.

In 2009, Western officials say, EIH appears to have been involved in a broad sanctions-evasion scheme, conducting euro-denominated transactions on behalf of Iran's Bank Sepah, a bank under broad U.N., European and U.S. sanctions for facilitating Iran's weapons trade and proliferation activities.

Details of the transactions allegedly facilitated by EIH, including the kinds of goods traded and the identities of the sellers, couldn't be learned.

A spokesman for EIH, which is based in the German city of Hamburg, declined to comment. Bank Sepah didn't return calls seeking comment.

EIH "is not mentioned in the U.N. Security Council resolutions," and therefore may operate freely under German banking law, the BaFin spokesman said.

That could change in coming weeks. "Consultations are under way at the European level to decide whether other institutions should be designated with sanctions," said Tobias Pierlings, a spokesman for Germany's Economics Ministry. "The prerequisite for any designation is concrete evidence of participation by the person or entity in proliferation activities."

EU foreign ministers are set to meet July 26 to discuss new EU sanctions targeting Iranian trade. Those talks follow a European commitment last month to increase restrictions on Iran's financial transactions. The U.S. is pushing the EU to add EIH and others to its blacklist.

Critics of the global sanctions regime say the lack of harmonization among U.N., EU and U.S. sanctions allows Tehran to exploit the differences and continue to finance its nuclear ambitions. U.S. sanctions are by far the most far-reaching: Washington bans business with all of Iran's major state-owned banks. In the U.N., Russia and China have supported softer penalties.

Of the four Iranian banks registered in Germany, only EIH is free of any sanctions or controls, according to German officials. That's because EIH hasn't been sanctioned by the U.N., and Germany and other EU governments take their cue on sanctions from the U.N., not from the U.S.

EIH was founded by a group of Iranian merchants in Hamburg in 1971. It operates openly under the supervision of German bank regulators. Officials say it has become an important locus in Europe for facilitating Iranian trade in euros.

A pressure campaign led by the U.S. Treasury has caused many major European banks and businesses to restrict or abandon dealings with Iran. As some of those banks have pulled back, EIH has become more important in helping Iranian firms finance trade, Western officials say.

EIH's Iran business grew in the wake of Deutsche Bank AG's acquisition last year of Sal. Oppenheim Group, one official said. As part of that deal, Deutsche Bank acquired BHF Bank AG.

BHF was particularly active in banking for Iranian companies, according to people familiar with the matter. But Deutsche Bank—which does substantial business in the U.S.—has sought to unwind that business. EIH has stepped into the resulting void to aid Iranian transactions, Western officials say.

"Deutsche Bank has been a very good citizen on this," one official said.

A Deutsche Bank spokesman said BHF's board has ruled out any new business with Iranian counterparties and will exit existing business arrangements with Iranian companies to the extent legally possible. He added that the bank is considering "all its options for BHF Bank including the option of selling BHF."

Still, Germany remains the Islamic republic's largest trading partner in Europe, a fact that is earning Berlin unwelcome scrutiny in the wake of efforts to deepen sanctions against Tehran. Though major firms such as Siemens AG have committed to wind down business ties to Iran, German trade between the countries totaled about $1.8 billion in the first four months of this year, up nearly 20% over the like period in 2009.

A recent report by Avi Jorisch, a former U.S. Treasury analyst, found that five German banks still maintain accounts with Iranian entities under sanction by the U.N. It isn't clear, however, how active those accounts are.

Though EIH remains free of broad international sanctions, it is closely affiliated with companies blacklisted by the U.N.

The U.N. last month sanctioned Malaysia-based First East Export Bank PLC. That bank is controlled by EIH's parent, Bank Mellat—an Iranian bank that the U.N. last month said in a resolution has "facilitated hundreds of millions of dollars in transactions for Iranian nuclear, missile and defense entities."

In November, the U.S. Treasury unilaterally imposed sanctions on Bank Mellat and its CEO and chairman, Ali Divandari. Mr. Divandari is a member of EIH's supervisory board. He couldn't be reached for comment.

Mellat has rejected the accusations. After the U.S. blacklisted Mellat's Malaysia unit in November, Iranian deputy economic minister Asghar Abolhasani told state news agency IRNA: "America has not provided specific and justifiable reasons for sanctioning Bank Mellat in Malaysia."

EIH's business has ticked steadily upwards. Since the end of 2007, the Iranian state has doubled its investment in EIH. In 2005, the bank reported having processed transactions valued at about €1.5 billion. In 2008, the last year complete results are available, the bank's 92 employees handled transactions valued at about €3.3 billion, according to its annual report. At the end of 2008, the bank reported nearly €2.8 billion in assets.

The Wall Street Journal

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Re: ข่าวต่างประเทศน่าจับตามอง

ตั้งหัวข้อ  sunny on Wed Jul 21, 2010 8:58 am

India’s exchange rate policy needs a re-look

July 20th, 2010
Authors: N R Bhanumurthy, NIPFP, and Chandan Sharma, FORE

Following the appreciation of the rupee/dollar exchange rate in early May and the expectation of interest rate hikes, there was some apprehension that the rate hike could result in further appreciation of the rupee and could hurt exports. In particular, it would hurt the low value-added exports from small and medium enterprises.



Since the recent recovery in exports happens to be the biggest factor for a sharp rise in industrial output growth, this imminent rate hike was opposed. There were calls for the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to intervenein the forex market to contain the strengthening of the rupee largely to support the export-sector recovery. There were even suggestions to continue the export incentives that were part of the overall stimulus packages of 2009.

These suggestions are based on the assumption that in India, a weak rupee would encourage exports, and thus, help the overall growth recovery. Many economists have argued for intervention in the forex market, and some Asian economies, notably China, maintain artificially under-valued exchange rates to maintain international competitiveness.

The important question is: Do we have any clear-cut proof that suggests whether exchange rate appreciation (or depreciation) has any significant impact on exports in the post-reform (post-2002/03) period in India? At least based on the recent literature, the answer is no. But the issue is important for policy makers, who may be constraining growth by manipulating the rupee’s value in foreign exchange markets. It is a separate issue whether an export-led growth strategy is relevant or not. Of more interest, should exchange rate policy solely aim at export promotion in isolation, disregarding the growth effects of imports?

In a recent research paper we failed to establish the theoretical positive impact of the exchange rate on exports. But we find that changes in the exchange rate strongly affect imports. Additionally, we find a strong uni-directional causation running from imports to exports, and not vice versa.

This is particularly pertinent for Indian policy makers. The impact of the exchange rate on exports appears to pass through imports. Hence, one can argue that exchange rate appreciation indeed could have a positive impact on exports through reduced input costs (and price) and improvements in competitiveness (through cheaper technology imbedded in imports).

Furthermore, evidence suggests that exports and imports of firms are highly correlated, and exports are largely driven by imports, with other control variables such as innovation playing a minimal role. This suggests that Indian firms’ competitiveness depends, in part, on low cost inputs imported from abroad. One may remember the most significant trade policy reforms in India resulted in a sharp rise in total trade because of the substantial reduction in import tariffs.

Overall, these results suggest that India’s exchange rate policy, which is generally aimed at supporting exports, will need to be re-evaluated.

Exchange rate policy should not aim at export promotion in isolation, instead it should balance both exports and imports growth. This will, in turn, help Indian firms to export more and, more importantly, facilitate firms to achieve a higher level of productivity and efficiency.

The central bank’s intervention to control any rupee appreciation may be risky for India’s overall long-term recovery process. During the very recent appreciation period, the RBI has done a wise job in not falling into the trap of keeping the rupee weak to help exports. It had rightly focused on controlling inflation by hiking interest rates rather than focusing on exchange rates and exports.

If the RBI intervention is warranted to ward off appreciation following speculative capital inflows, then going for capital controls could be a sensible option. But the ‘real’ appreciation needs to be allowed to improve economy-wide productivity and competitiveness in the international markets.

N R Bhanumurthy and Chandan Sharma are with National Institute of Public Finance and Policy and the FORE School of Management, respectively.

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ตั้งหัวข้อ  sunny on Wed Jul 21, 2010 5:23 pm

China Surpasses US as World's Top Energy Consumer
By JENNY BARCHFIELD / AP WRITER

PARIS — China is now king of the world in energy consumption, surpassing the U.S. years ahead of forecasts in a milestone that left the Asian giant immediately rejecting its new crown.

Sensitive to its status as the world's biggest polluter, China has long pointed fingers at developed nations in climate change talks and resists any label that could increase international pressure for it to take a larger role in curbing greenhouse gas emissions.

When the Paris-based International Energy Agency released its data on Tuesday, China branded it "unreliable."

http://irrawaddy.org/articlefiles/22825-beijing400.jpg
A cyclist passes under electricity pylons in a village
on the outskirts of Beijing. (Photo: Getty Images)

The United States still consumes more energy and oil per capita than China. But China's faster-than-expected shift has global consequences for markets and the environment, reflecting its transformation from a nation of subsistence farmers to one of workers increasingly trading their popular bicycles for cars and buying air conditioners and other energy-hungry home electronics.

China was not expected to overtake the US in energy consumption until at least 2015, the US Energy Information Administration forecast in April.

The consumption level, reached despite the global economic downturn, left China in an awkward spot: It is eager to be seen as an economic juggernaut and a major player on the international stage, but also insists it's a developing nation that deserves to industrialize.

Some environmentalists are cautiously optimistic about what China's new status could mean for the planet, pointing out that it has spearheaded research and development into renewable energy. The IEA's chief economist, Fatih Birol, said China is the world's leader in wind and solar power.

China's total 2009 consumption, including energy sources ranging from oil and coal to wind and solar power, was equal to 2.265 billion tons of oil, compared with 2.169 billion tons used by the US, the IEA said.

China's energy consumption has more than doubled in less than a decade, from 1.107 billion tons in 2000—driven by its burgeoning population and economic growth that hit 11.9 percent in the first quarter of 2010. Per capita, the US still consumes five times more energy than China, Birol said.

The surge in energy consumption has turned China into the biggest source of climate-changing greenhouse gases. The government has pledged to curb the growth in its emissions, but has refused to adopt binding curbs. It has maintained that pollution is an unavoidable consequence of industrialization.

Chinese officials said the country's energy consumption last year was equal to 2.132 billion tons of oil—or roughly 5 percent less than the IEA figure, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.

"IEA's data on China's energy use is unreliable," said official Zhou Xian, adding that the agency did not understand China's efforts to cut energy use and emissions, specifically its new-energy development.

Birol told the AP that the IEA used the same sources and methodology it always has in compiling the 2009 statistics, which he said were in line with the trend for the past decade.

"The trend is undeniable that the Chinese energy consumption is growing very strongly" while use in the US, Europe and Japan was stagnating, he said.

Birol emphasized that China's appetite for energy is consistent with the rise in its 1.3 billion-strong population and the growth of its manufacturing-based economy, which churns out half the world's supply of steel and is also a top producer of aluminum—another fuel-hungry industry.

China, however, is trying to cut its rising reliance on imported oil and gas, which it considers a national security risk, by investing heavily in hydroelectric dams, wind turbines and nuclear power plants. Still, coal, oil and natural gas are expected to account for most of China's energy supplies for decades to come.

According to IEA statistics, more than half of China's total energy in 2009 came from coal, a heavy polluter that accounts for less than a quarter of US consumption. China's coal reserves are among the world's largest but much of that is high-sulfur "brown coal" that produces sulfur dioxide, a component in acid rain, when burned.

Oil—the No. 1 energy source in the US, accounting for nearly half the total—made up less than a fifth of the Chinese energy total, the IEA said.

But that could change as more Chinese trade their bicycles—historically the country's dominant form of transportation—for cars.

Last year, China passed the US as the biggest auto market by number of vehicles sold and supplanted Germany as the biggest exporter. Passenger vehicle sales in China jumped from 326,000 in 1995 to 8.7 million in 2009, according to JD Power and Associates. That number is expected to soar to 13.5 million vehicles in 2015.

China is going across the world on the hunt for oil. State-owned Chinese energy companies have forged multibillion-dollar deals in Central Asia, Africa and Latin America to secure access to oil and gas supplies. Chinese companies are major players in the postwar reconstruction of Iraq's oil industry.

As it pursues energy sources, the communist government is also in the midst of a five-year campaign to cut the amount of energy consumed for each unit of economic output by 20 percent from 2005 levels. The government said this month it has reached the 16 percent mark after shutting down outmoded power plants, steel mills and other facilities.

http://irrawaddy.org/articlefiles/22825-china400.jpg
Chart compares energy consumption in the U.S.
and China for the past ten years. (Graphic: AP)

It is China's green efforts, such as nationwide renewable energy targets, that has some environmentalists hopeful.

"We have substantive hopes in China, to be honest, that China will take the lead ... to make the low-carbon economy, the high energy efficiency economy a reality in the coming years," said Stephan Singer, the head of energy policy for the WWF environmental group.

"That's not the case in the US, unfortunately," he said. "We would need to see similar or even stronger targets there" in the US.

Associated Press writer Joe McDonald in Beijing and Chris Kahn in New York contributed to this report.
====================================================
China disputes IEA's report on energy-use rank

China is challenging the credibility of an International Energy Agency (IEA) report that branded the country the world's top energy consumer, surpassing the United States, claiming that the estimation is inaccurate.

"The IEA's data on China's energy use is unreliable," Zhou Xian, an official with the nation's National Energy Administration (NEA), said at a press conference Tuesday. But Zhou conceded that the data could be used as a "reference."

China consumed the equivalent of 2.25 billion tons of oil last year from sources such as coal, oil, natural gas, nuclear power and hydropower, about 4 percent more than the US' 2.17 billion tons, a report released Monday by the IEA said, according to the Financial Times.

The newspaper quoted IEA's chief economist, Fatih Birol, as saying, "In the year 2000, the US consumed twice as much energy as China; now, China consumes more than the US."

The calculation ran contradictory to one seen in a report by China's National Bureau of Statistics in February, which said China's energy consumption in 2009 stood at 3.1 billion tons of standard coal, which is equivalent to about 2.13 billion tons of oil.

Hu Xiulian, a researcher at the Energy Research Institute with the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), told the Global Times that "The IEA data on China's energy use is somehow not very accurate because the agency's criteria for calculating the volume of energy use is different from that used by China."

Zhou, of the NEA, said China has outpaced the US in new energy expansion, as the nation boasts the world's largest hydropower capacity, solar power use for water heating, and nuclear power capacity under construction. It also has the world's fastest growth of wind power generation, he said.

In a statement e-mailed to the Global Times Tuesday, the IEA said "China's demand today would be even higher still if the government had not made such progress in reducing the energy intensity of the economy."

A high energy intensity in terms of the economy indicates a high cost of converting energy into GDP.

The IEA went on to say that China's unprecedented pace of economic development will require ever more energy, but it will transform living standards for its billion-plus citizens.

"There can be no moral grounds for expecting China to curb its economic growth simply because world energy demand is rising unacceptably," the I EA statement added. "These are global problems to be tackled on a global basis."

While sharing the belief that China is undoubtedly on track to eventually become the top energy consumer, Chinese analysts underscored that it would be detrimental to national development if China follows the same track that developed Western countries once did in trying to speed up their industrialization.

Ding Yifan, a researcher at the Development Research Center of the State Council, told the Global Times that China will sooner or later become the biggest energy user in the world.

Source:Global Times

"But there is no need for China to feel bad about it. Nor is it necessary for the world to be surprised. The energy growth is compliant with the economic expansion," he said.

Lin Boqiang, director of the China Center for Energy Economics Research at Xiamen University, told the Global Times that the world's No. 1 title isn't that significant, since the country's population is four times that of the US. "What matters is the per capita energy use," he said.

The IEA report said energy consumption in China is around one-fifth of that in the US on a per capita basis.

However, Lin warned that the title would make the country vulnerable to international energy pricing and increasing dependence on energy imports will put China's energy security at great political and financial risk.

China seemed to have been in a disadvantageous position in negotiating over prices of key energy such as iron ore, oil and copper.

The issue was highlighted recently after mining giants Vale, BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto threatened in April to cut supplies to China unless steel makers accepted their price demands.

The China Iron and Steel Association finally compromised and allowed steel makers to reach temporary private deals with iron ore producers.

Lack of efficiency cited

The IEA report said the US had improved its energy efficiency by 2.5 percent annually over the past decade while China had only recorded a 1.7 percent annual improvement.

Hu, the NDRC researcher, acknowledged that the country's lower energy efficiency is one rea-son that contributes to the its whopping energy use, but she also argued that "China's energy effi-ciency is higher than that of the US if we compare it within the same stage of development."

However, Zou Ji, with the School of Environment and Nature Resources at Renmin University, warned that huge energy consumption is likely to further dampen the country's already fragile ecological system.

China has vowed to increase the use of renewable and new energy resources, including solar power and hydroelectric power, to reverse negative impacts brought by energy consumption on the environment, Zou said.

"But the dependence on coal and oil will not be changed within the next two decades," Zou said, adding that "The IEA data could be seen as an impellor for China to improve its energy efficiency and structure through technological progress and raise the public awareness on energy efficiency."

Guo Qiang, Duan Congcong and agencies contributed to this story


แก้ไขล่าสุดโดย sunny เมื่อ Wed Jul 21, 2010 10:37 pm, ทั้งหมด 2 ครั้ง

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