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  1. The world's big digs http://www.cbc.ca/world/story/2008/06/19/f-big-digs.html Last Updated: Monday, June 23, 2008 | 10:26 AM ET CBC News Construction on Montreal's Honoré Mercier Bridge, billed as Canada's largest bridge repair, has a price tag of $66 million for its first phase. Work is expected to last until 2011. It's a big endeavour, to be sure. But it still pales in comparison to the scope of massive projects planned or underway around the world. Consider China's $63-billion — yes, billion — water diversion project, or Canada's own ambitious plans for the 2010 Winter Olympics. Many of these projects break new ground, figuratively as well as literally, in striving to set new world standards. They want to be tallest, widest, first or most expensive works of their kind. Here are some of the world's biggest digs, either underway or planned: -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- China: north-south water diversion Estimated cost: $63 billion With this massive hydro-engineering plan, China seeks to deliver water from the water-rich Yangtze River area in the south to parched regions in the country's north and west. In essence, the Chinese want to build a series of new, artificial rivers. Adopted in 2002, the ambitious plan calls for three water routes to eventually be built. Planners hope that the 1,250-km central and 1,150-km eastern routes will divert 13 billion cubic metres of water to Beijing and other northern cities by 2010. Due for completion in 2050, the western route cuts through the mountains of Tibet to reach China's arid northwestern provinces. If completed as planned, all three routes would carry a torrent of water as powerful as the flow of the Yellow River, China's second-longest waterway. The key word is "planned": Parts of the project have been delayed by technological and financial difficulties and concerns over water pollution, state media has reported. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Vancouver: 2010 Olympic infrastructure Estimated cost: $2.6 billion Two major projects are transforming transportation in British Columbia's Lower Mainland in the lead-up to the 2010 Winter Olympics. The 80-kilometre Sea to Sky highway, from Vancouver to the resort town of Whistler, is being improved at an estimated cost of $600 million. New passing lanes are being added and some sections straightened to improve safety. The new Canada Line, meanwhile, will provide a 19.5-km rail link between Vancouver and the city's international airport in Richmond. Completion of the 16-stop line is expected in 2009 in advance of the beginning of the Games. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Panama: Panama Canal expansion Estimated cost: $5.25 billion Workers use heavy machinery at the site of the Panama Canal expansion project in Panama City on April 28, 2008. (Arnulfo Franco/Associated Press) Approved in a 2006 national referendum, this project will be the largest improvement in the historic waterway's history. The canal's locks will be widened by 17 metres to 50 metres to accommodate modern ocean-faring vessels. By the time of its expected wrap-up in 2014, officials expect the canal's shipping capacity will be doubled. That will be good news for the ships who make the 14,000 annual trips through the 82-km-long canal. The smaller waterway has forced costly queues in recent years. If finished as planned in 2014, the expansion will open at the same time as the Panama Canal's 100th anniversary. It was originally built by the Americans and French and transferred to full Panamanian control in 1999. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- United Arab Emirates: Burj Dubai Estimated cost: $4 billion With their ultra-tall Burj Dubai, Emaar Properties want to do more than part the clouds with their building. The developers want to make a statement. A big statement. Even while still under construction, the Burj Dubai is already the world's tallest free-standing structure, eclipsing Toronto's 553-metre-tall CN Tower in September 2007. When completed in late 2009, the building will exceed 800 metres and house offices, a glitzy hotel and residential space. By then, the skyscraper will have consumed 330,000 metric tonnes of concrete, 39,000 metric tonnes of steel rebar and 142,000 square metres of glass, and 22 million worker hours of labour. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Algeria: east-west highway Estimated cost: $13 billion Flush with a windfall of oil and gas revenues, the Algerian government has embarked on a $144-billion project to upgrade the country's public works. Schools, hospitals and a subway for the capital, Algiers, are all being built. A cornerstone will be the east-west highway that will span more than 1,200 km across the country, connecting the Tunisian border in the east with Morocco in the west. Expected to be completed in 2010 and financed completely by the government, the roadway will also connect Algiers and other major cities in the country's north. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- China: Three Gorges Dam Estimated cost: $25 billion Spanning the Yangtze River, Three Gorges is 210 metres high and more than two kilometres long. Critics call it an environmental nightmare, but China's leaders believe it will control flooding along the Yangtze, harnessing an estimated 18,000 megawatts of power by its eventual completion in 2009. However, the dam has displaced more than one million people and it's estimated rising waters will submerge 1,200 towns and villages. Work began in 1993 on the project which, when complete, will produce three times the capacity of Canada's Churchill Falls generating station in Newfoundland and Labrador. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Moscow: Crystal Island Estimated cost: $4 billion Once completed, this sprawling residential and commercial complex near the heart of Moscow is expected to be one of the world's largest and most expensive buildings. British architect Norman Foster has drafted plans for a tent-like structure with 2.5 million square metres of ground space set around a 450-metre peak. As planned, Crystal Island would include an observatory deck near the top, as well as apartments, entertainment facilities and sports complexes. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- San Francisco: Bay Bridge Estimated cost:$6.3 billion Upon its completion in 1936, the Bay Bridge was hailed as an engineering triumph, spanning the 13 kilometres between San Francisco and Oakland, Calif. But a major 1989 earthquake, which caused extensive damage to the bridge, drove home the need for repairs to guard against future temblors. So this massive repair project was drawn up. The eastern span will be entirely rebuilt and its western portions greatly overhauled. Work on the bridge, which carries an estimated 280,000 cars per day, is expected to wrap up in 2013. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Australia: Brisbane bypass tunnel Estimated cost: $3 billion This big dig will eventually deliver Australia's largest tunnel, built under the streets of the city of Brisbane. Named the Clem Jones Tunnel after a popular former mayor, it will provide another north-south traffic artery through the city. The goal for completion is the end of 2009. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Italy: Strait of Messina Bridge Estimated cost: $9 billion Since Roman times, Italian leaders have dreamed of a fixed link between the mainland and the island of Sicily. Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi tried to bring such a plan to life after his election in 2001, only to have it scuppered after a change of government in 2006. The April 2008 election restored Berlusconi to power and gave the idea a second life. The new plan calls for a 3.3-kilometre suspension bridge — it would be the world's longest, besting the current world record holder by almost 1.5 kilometres. Construction could begin in 2010 and wrap up by 2016, a government official says. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Las Vegas: CityCenter Estimated cost: $9 billion Dubbed a "city within a city" on the famous Las Vegas Strip, this monster complex will combine a resort casino called Aria, along with several other hotels and residential buildings. CityCenter will cover 76 acres after its expected completion in 2009. A little more than 46,000 square metres of space will be dedicated to The Crystals, a complex featuring restaurants, retail and other entertainment. The project will employ about 7,000 construction workers, according to the developers.
  2. China's nine-day traffic jam stretches 100km (AFP) – 16 hours ago BEIJING — Thousands of vehicles were bogged down Monday in a more than 100-kilometre (62-mile) traffic jam leading to Beijing that has lasted nine days and highlights China's growing road congestion woes. The Beijing-Tibet expressway slowed to a crawl on August 14 due to a spike in traffic by cargo-bearing heavy trucks heading to the capital, and compounded by road maintenance work that began five days later, the Global Times said. The state-run newspaper said the jam between Beijing and Jining city had given birth to a mini-economy with local merchants capitalising on the stranded drivers' predicament by selling them water and food at inflated prices. That stretch of highway linking Beijing with the northern province of Hebei and the Inner Mongolia region has become increasingly prone to massive jams as the capital of more than 20 million people sucks in huge shipments of goods. Traffic slowed to a snail's pace in June and July for nearly a month, according to earlier press reports. The latest clog has been worsened by the road improvement project, made necessary by highway damage caused by a steady increase in cargo traffic, the Global Times said. China has embarked in recent years on a huge expansion of its national road system but soaring traffic periodically overwhelms the grid. The congestion was expected to last into mid-September as the road project will not be finished until then, the newspaper said. The roadway is a major artery for the supply of produce, coal and other goods to Beijing. Video: http://news.sky.com/skynews/Home/World-News/A-100km-Long-Traffic-Jam-In-Beijing-Enters-Its-Ninth-Day-And-Could-Continue-For-A-Month/Article/201008415702670?lpos=World_News_First_Home_Article_Teaser_Region_4&lid=ARTICLE_15702670_A_100km-Long_Traffic_Jam_In_Beijing_Enters_Its_Ninth_Day_And_Could_Continue_For_A_Month
  3. China's fastest-changing cities Hong Kong Skyline MATT WOOLSEY Forbes.com November 5, 2008 at 2:09 PM EST Ten years ago, the Minnan Hotel dominated the skyline in Xiamen, a special economic zone on the Taiwan Strait. At 168 metres tall – about the size of the skyscrapers that abut New York's Central Park – it was a conspicuous outlier in a developing city. Now, it's beginning to look like a tree in a forest, as buildings just as tall have popped up across the waterfront and in the city centre. But development in Xiamen hasn't been nearly as rapid as in Shenzhen or Guangzhou, two cities on the Pearl River Delta. With dynamic economies based on industry, service, shipping and logistics, they are China's fastest-changing cities by our measures. Hong Kong, Shanghai and Beijing round out the top five. They're followed by Dalian and Nanjing, two cities that have emerged as factory-based growth centres, but are also turning into vibrant markets for consumer goods. Behind the numbers These rankings are based on three measures of China's 20 most populous cities. To gauge recent change, we looked at economic growth using indexed data from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), a state research agency. Smaller industrial boomtowns like Hefei and Suzhou scored particularly well by this measure. We also examined the growth of each city as a market, which symbolizes the changing of cities from industrial centres to service-driven economies. For this measure, we looked at data from CASS as an indicator of where growth and change would continue. With global growth slowing, Chinese cities are going to become more reliant on domestic spending. “In the global slowdown, China's domestic market is the key linchpin,” says Yuwa Hedrick-Wong, economic adviser for MasterCard Worldwide. “There's a lot of government spending right now on social welfare programs to try and unlock households' savings.” Finally, we looked at the most obvious and aesthetic indicator of change in China: the cities' skylines. The government that didn't officially use the word “urbanization” until the late ‘90s and that was founded on Mao Zedong's agrarian principles now rules a country more than 50 per cent urban in its population distribution. Skyscrapers and cranes may be the best marker of globalization's effect on China. Using data from Emporis, a global builder based in Germany, we ranked each city by the aggregate height of its skyline. What the future holds If industrialized expansion was the tale of the last 10 years, consolidation will be the story of the next decade. Shenzhen, once a fishing village, has been competing for logistics, financial and technology services with Hong Kong ever since the 1997 changeover. Shenzhen, which borders Hong Kong to its north, has grown at an annual clip of 18 per cent since the 1997 changeover, according to the Asia Development Bank. Shenzhen was the mainland Chinese rival to Hong Kong before that city became part of China, but has only recently decided to move toward economic co-operation, instead of competition, with the special administrative region. That means ceding financial services to Hong Kong and enhancing logistical and shipping services in Shenzhen, says Yan Xiopei, vice-mayor of Shenzhen. “We want to connect Shenzhen and Hong Kong,” says Xiaopei. “We will make endeavours for building Shenzhen and Hong Kong into a world-class metropolis.” Not far from Shenzhen, a massive railway and port expansion development across the Pearl River Delta, slated for completion in 2010, will connect the east- and west-bank factory facilities, which manufacture everything from Apple electronics to Wal-Mart products, to the deep-water shipping ports on the east bank. “Factories on the western bank have always been at a disadvantage, because they don't have access to the deep-water ports on the east bank,” says Andrew Ness, executive director of C.B. Richard Ellis, an international commercial real estate firm. “The railway will change that.” Even more obvious in the next decade will be the economic integration of small villages and cities into major metropolises in parts of the Yangtze River Delta outside of Shanghai and in the periphery of the Beijing-Tianjin corridor in the north. Of course, keep in mind that China's idea of a small village can have a population close to one million. “Five-hundred thousand to 800,000 [resident] towns aren't even considered cities, but small townships,” says Fan Gong, director of the National Economic Research Institute in China. “We will see several regions grab together on the river areas and form large metropolitan areas.” According to Mr. Gong, the government is abandoning past policies like the urban registration system, which kept farmers in the country, and is instead encouraging urbanization. Mr. Gong estimates that by 2050, 75 per cent of China's population will live in cities. The rapidly changing nation may no longer be recognizable to Mao, though reformer Deng Xiaoping might enjoy the 92 cities with one-million-plus people.
  4. I am no economist, so can someone explain to me why China would keep their currency down and now have it slowly rise against the USD? Not sure if what I am thinking is a negative thing or positive thing. If things start getting more expensive to be manufactured in China, wouldn't that mean more jobs coming back here? When I am mean here back to North America.
  5. China's Olympic Nightmare What the Games Mean for Beijing's Future Elizabeth C. Economy and Adam Segal From Foreign Affairs, July/August 2008 ELIZABETH C. ECONOMY is C. V. Starr Senior Fellow and Director for Asia Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. ADAM SEGAL is Maurice R. Greenberg Senior Fellow for China Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. Of Related Interest On the night of July 13, 2001, tens of thousands of people poured into Tiananmen Square to celebrate the International Olympic Committee's decision to award the 2008 Olympic Games to Beijing. Firecrackers exploded, flags flew high, and cars honked wildly. It was a moment to be savored. Chinese President Jiang Zemin and other leaders exhorted the crowds to work together to prepare for the Olympics. "Winning the host rights means winning the respect, trust, and favor of the international community," Wang Wei, a senior Beijing Olympic official, proclaimed. The official Xinhua News Agency reveled in the moment, calling the decision "another milestone in China's rising international status and a historical event in the great renaissance of the Chinese nation." Hosting the Olympics was supposed to be a chance for China's leaders to showcase the country's rapid economic growth and modernization to the rest of the world. Domestically, it provided an opportunity for the Chinese government to demonstrate the Communist Party's competence and affirm the country's status as a major power on equal footing with the West. And wrapping itself in the values of the Olympic movement gave China the chance to portray itself not only as a rising power but also as a "peace-loving" country. For much of the lead-up to the Olympics, Beijing succeeded in promoting just such a message. The process of preparing for the Games is tailor-made to display China's greatest political and economic strengths: the top-down mobilization of resources, the development and execution of grand-scale campaigns to reform public behavior, and the ability to attract foreign interest and investment to one of the world's brightest new centers of culture and business. Mobilizing massive resources for large infrastructure projects comes easily to China. Throughout history, China's leaders have drawn on the ingenuity of China's massive population to realize some of the world's most spectacular construction projects, the Great Wall, the Grand Canal, and the Three Gorges Dam among them. The Olympic construction spree has been no different. Beijing has built 19 new venues for the events, doubled the capacity of the subway, and added a new terminal to the airport. Neighborhoods throughout the city have been either spruced up to prepare for Olympic visitors or simply cleared out to make room for new Olympic sites. Official government spending for the construction bonanza is nearing $40 billion. In anticipation of the Olympics, the government has also embarked on a series of efforts to transform individual behavior and modernize the capital city. It has launched etiquette campaigns forbidding spitting, smoking, littering, and cutting in lines and introduced programs to teach English to cab drivers, police officers, hotel workers, and waiters. City officials have used Olympic projects as a means to refurbish decaying buildings and reduce air pollution, water shortages, and traffic jams. Yet even as Beijing has worked tirelessly to ensure the most impressive of Olympic spectacles, it is clear that the Games have come to highlight not only the awesome achievements of the country but also the grave shortcomings of the current regime. Few in the central leadership seem to have anticipated the extent to which the Olympic Games would stoke the persistent political challenges to the legitimacy of the Communist Party and the stability of the country. Demands for political liberalization, greater autonomy for Tibet, increased pressure on Sudan, better environmental protection, and an improved product-safety record now threaten to put a damper on the country's coming-out party. As the Olympic torch circled the globe with legions of protesters in tow, Beijing's Olympic dream quickly turned into a public-relations nightmare. Although the Chinese government excels when it comes to infrastructure projects, its record is poor when it comes to transparency, official accountability, and the rule of law. It has responded clumsily to internal and external political challenges -- by initially ignoring the international community's desire for China to play a more active role in resolving the human rights crisis in Darfur, arresting prominent Chinese political activists, and cracking down violently on demonstrators. Although there is no organized opposition unified around this set of demands, the cacophony of voices pressuring China to change its policies has taken much of the luster off of the Beijing Games. Moreover, although the Communist Party has gained domestic support from the nationalist backlash that has arisen in response to the Tibetan protesters and their supporters in the West, it also worries that this public anger will spin out of control, further damaging the country's international reputation. Already, China's coveted image as a responsible rising power has been tarnished. For many in the international community, it has now become impossible to separate the competing narratives of China's awe-inspiring development and its poor record on human rights and the environment. It is no longer possible to discuss China's future without taking its internal fault lines seriously. For the Chinese government, the stakes are huge. China's credibility as a global leader, its potential as a model for the developing world, and its position as an emerging center of global business and culture are all at risk if these political challenges cannot be peacefully and successfully addressed. TIANANMEN'S GHOSTS Nothing has threatened to ruin China's Olympic moment as much as criticism of the country's repressive political system. China lost its bid for the 2000 Summer Olympics to Sydney, Australia, at least in part because of the memory of the violent Tiananmen Square crackdown of June 1989. When China made its bid for the 2008 Games, Liu Jingmin, vice president of the Beijing Olympic Bid Committee, argued, "By allowing Beijing to host the Games, you will help the development of human rights." François Carrard, director general of the International Olympic Committee, warily supported such a sentiment: acknowledging the seriousness of China's human rights violations, he nonetheless explained, "We are taking the bet that seven years from now ... we shall see many changes." Few would place such a bet today. For months, human rights activists, democracy advocates, and ethnic minorities in China have been pressuring the government to demonstrate its commitment to greater political freedom. For many of them, the Olympics highlight the yawning gap between the very attractive face that Beijing presents to the world and the much uglier political reality at home. Exactly one year before the Olympics, a group of 40 prominent Chinese democracy supporters posted an open letter online denouncing the Olympic glitz and glamour. "We know too well how these glories are built on the ruins of the lives of ordinary people, on the forced removal of urban migrants, and on the sufferings of victims of brutal land grabbing, forced eviction, exploitation of labor, and arbitrary detention," they wrote. "All this violates the Olympic spirit." Even Ai Weiwei, an artistic consultant for Beijing's signature "Bird's Nest" stadium, has been critical of the Chinese government. He declared in an interview with the German magazine Der Spiegel, "The government wants to use these games to celebrate itself and its policy of opening up China .... By now, it has become clear to me that this hope of liberalization cannot be fulfilled .... The system won't allow it." Protests have arisen around virtually every Olympic Games in recent history, but Beijing, with its authoritarian political system, is uniquely threatened by dissenting voices, and it has responded with a traditional mix of intimidation, imprisonment, and violent repression. Teng Biao, a lawyer and human rights activist, was seized in March 2008, held by plainclothes police for two days, and warned to stop writing critically about the Olympics. Yang Chunlin, a land-rights activist, was arrested for inciting subversion because he had gathered more than 10,000 signatures from farmers whose property had been expropriated by officials for development projects. After a 20-minute trial, he was sentenced to five years in prison. In April, the HIV/AIDS activist Hu Jia, who was also one of the authors of the open letter, was sentenced to three and a half years in jail for subversion, after being held under house arrest for several months along with his wife and baby daughter. Although the vast majority of Chinese are probably unaware of these protests and arrests, Beijing's overreaction demonstrates how fearful the Chinese government is that any dissent or protests could garner broader political support and threaten the party's authority. CRASHING THE PARTY The international community has also raised its own human rights concerns. For more than a year, China has endured heightened scrutiny of its close economic and political ties to Sudan. A coalition of U.S. celebrities and international human rights activists has ratcheted up the pressure on Beijing to do more to help bring an end to the atrocities in Darfur, labeling the 2008 Olympics "the genocide Olympics." The very public attention they have brought to China's relations with the Sudanese government prompted the movie director Steven Spielberg to withdraw as the artistic adviser for the opening and closing ceremonies for the Games. It also seems to have had some effect on Beijing, which now strives to appear as if it is placing more pressure on Khartoum. The Chinese government's questionable human rights record has received even more scrutiny since its violent suppression of Tibetan demonstrators in the spring. In March, Tibetan Buddhist monks marched to commemorate the 49th anniversary of Tibet's failed independence uprising and to call for greater autonomy for Tibet and the return of their exiled religious leader, the Dalai Lama. The demonstrations soon escalated into violent protests. Chinese police forcefully cracked down on the protesters in the Tibetan capital of Lhasa and throughout other Tibetan areas of western China, leaving more than a hundred dead and injuring hundreds more. Ignoring international calls for restraint, Beijing closed off much of the affected region, detained or expelled foreign journalists from the area, and created a "most wanted" list of Tibetan protesters. All independent sources of news, including broadcasts by foreign television stations and YouTube videos, were blacked out in China, and text messages in and out of Tibet were filtered. Vitriolic government propaganda condemned the Dalai Lama as a "wolf in monk's robes" and a "devil with a human face but the heart of a beast." Chinese officials accused the "evil Dalai clique" of attempting to restore "feudalist serfdom" in the region and called for a "people's war" against it. The international community immediately condemned the crackdown and called for Beijing to resume negotiations with representatives of the Dalai Lama. Meanwhile, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Czech President Václav Klaus, and Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk have since announced that they will not be attending the Olympics' opening ceremonies. As the Olympic torch made its way across the globe, the number of protesters along its path ballooned, from a few in Athens to thousands in London, Paris, San Francisco, and Seoul. These large-scale disruptions of Olympic pageantry humiliated the Chinese government and angered Chinese citizens, producing a wave of nationalist counterdemonstrations by Chinese living abroad and millions of virulent anti-Western posts on Chinese Web sites. A bit more than a month after Beijing's initial crackdown, senior Chinese leaders indicated a willingness to meet with the Dalai Lama's envoys. But this does not represent a fundamental shift in policy; it is merely a stopgap measure designed to quell the international outrage. WAITING TO INHALE Although some foreign athletes have joined the chorus of China's critics, the more immediate concern for many Olympians will be whether Beijing can ensure clean air and safe food for the duration of the Games. The city has reportedly spent as much as $16 billion to deliver a "green Olympics"; many of the Olympic sites showcase a number of clean-energy and water-conservation technologies, and for the past seven years the city has been shutting down many of the biggest polluters and steadily weaning the city's energy infrastructure off coal, replacing it with natural gas. On February 26, senior Chinese officials formally announced a more sweeping effort, including restrictions on heavy industry in five neighboring provinces surrounding Beijing, a ban on construction in the months immediately preceding the Olympics, and plans to compensate car owners for staying off the road during the Games. But pollution levels in Beijing are still far above average. On a typical day, the city's air pollution is three times as bad as the standard deemed safe by the World Health Organization. Last August, an air-quality test revealed that pollution levels in the city had barely improved despite one-third of the cars having been removed from the city's roads. Even some senior Chinese officials have reservations about the prospects for a green Olympics. The mayor of Beijing, Guo Jinlong, admitted in early 2008 that bringing traffic and environmental pollution under control by the time the Games begin would be an "arduous" task. After all, there are few economic incentives for businesses to reduce pollution; the central government routinely calls on local officials and businesses to clean up their act to no effect. Many factory managers have agreed to slow production during the Olympics but not to shut down. In the brutally competitive Chinese economy, closing factories for several weeks could well spell the end of those enterprises unless the government provides significant financial compensation. Meanwhile, corruption flourishes, and local officials openly flout environmental laws and regulations. In January 2008, it was revealed by a Western environmental consultant, Steven Andrews, that officials in Beijing's Environmental Protection Bureau had for several years been skewing the city's air-quality data by eliminating readings from some monitoring stations in heavily congested areas. Faced with the prospect of dangerously high levels of air pollution during the Games, International Olympic Committee officials have warned that competition in endurance sports, such as the marathon and long-distance cycling, might be postponed or even canceled. The world's fastest marathon runner, Haile Gebrselassie, has already withdrawn from the Olympic race for fear that air pollution might permanently damage his health. Many athletes are planning to take precautions, such as arriving in Beijing as late as possible, coming well equipped with medication for possible asthma attacks, and wearing masks once there. Beijing's capacity to provide safe food and clean water for the athletes is also in question. In the past year, China has endured a rash of scandals involving food tainted with steroids and insecticides, and as much as half of the bottled water in Beijing does not meet potable-water standards. Some teams, such as the United States' and Australia's, have announced that they will be bringing some or all of their own food and that their bottled water will be supplied by Coca-Cola. Olympic officials have put in place a massive food-security apparatus that will track the athletes' food from the producers and distributors to the Olympic Village. Having promised a safe and green Olympics, Beijing must now deliver. Otherwise, it risks irrevocably damaging the historic legacy of the 2008 Games. BEIJING'S BLIND SPOT Beijing's failure to respond creatively to its critics and effectively manage its environmental and product-safety issues reveals a certain political myopia. China's leaders have long been aware that opponents of the regime would try to disrupt the Olympics. They prepared extensively for disturbances by developing a citywide network of surveillance cameras and training, outfitting, and deploying riot squads and other special police. They also made some attempts to defuse international hostility, such as offering to renew the human rights dialogue with Washington that was suspended in 2004 and publicly pressuring Khartoum to accept a joint African Union-United Nations peacekeeping force. But Beijing has been unable to counter the images emanating from Darfur and Tibet. Chinese leaders simply saw no relationship between the pageantry of the Olympics and Tibet, Sudan, or broader human rights concerns, and they never figured out how to engage and disarm those who did. They continue to fail in this regard. As a result, tensions will run high until the end of the Games. There are also real worries that with the spotlight focused on Beijing during the Games, some of the opposition to the regime could take an extreme form. For example, Chinese security forces have expressed concern that activists from the religious movement Falun Gong might attempt to immolate themselves in Tiananmen Square. Because of such concerns, the 30,000 journalists covering the Games may find themselves straitjacketed when reporting on controversial stories. And despite recent assurances that a live feed from Beijing will be allowed and that the Internet will be uncensored in China, the government has yet to fulfill its promise to allow foreign journalists unfettered access throughout the country. The Chinese public is already angry about what it sees as a pervasive bias toward Tibet and disrespect of China in the Western media. Chinese citizens are likely to view any disturbances of the Games as an effort to embarrass the country and undermine China's rise. Foreign media, corporations, and governments might all bear the brunt of the sort of nationalist backlash that the French retailer Carrefour endured -- in the form of a consumer boycott -- in the wake of the disrupted torch ceremony in Paris. The combination of demonstrators desperate for the world's attention and the heightened nationalism of Chinese citizens makes for an extremely combustible situation. The official Beijing Olympic motto of "One World, One Dream" suggests an easy cosmopolitanism, but Chinese nationalist sentiment will be running high during the Games, stoked by the heat of competition. In the past, sporting events in China, in particular soccer matches against Japanese teams, have led to ugly riots, and the same could happen during the Olympics. If the Games do not go well, there will be infighting and blame shifting within the party's central leadership, and it will likely adopt a bunker mentality. Vice President Xi Jinping, the government's point man on the Olympics and President Hu Jintao's heir apparent, would likely face challenges to his presumed leadership. A poor outcome for the Games could engender another round of nationalist outbursts and Chinese citizens decrying what they see as racism, anti-Chinese bias, and a misguided sense of Western superiority. This inflamed form of Chinese nationalism could be the most enduring and dangerous outcome of the protests surrounding the Olympics. If the international community does not welcome China's rise, the Chinese people may ask themselves why China should be bound by its rules. As a result, Beijing may find the room it has for foreign policy maneuvering more restricted by public opinion. This form of heightened nationalism has occasionally hurt the Chinese government, as happened after a U.S. spy plane was shot down over China in 2001. When the crew was eventually released, an outraged Chinese public accused the government of weakness and kowtowing to the West. More recently, despite a decade of increasingly close economic, political, and cultural ties between Beijing and Seoul, South Koreans were outraged by the Chinese counterprotests during the Olympic torch ceremony; in response, the South Korean government imposed tight restrictions on the number of Chinese students permitted to study in the country. Sensing the potentially damaging consequences of a prolonged nationalist backlash, the official Chinese media began signaling in May that it was time for people to move on, focus on economic development, and steer clear of staging counterprotests and boycotting Western companies. The barrage of criticism China has endured prior to the Olympics may have brought a short-term gain in forcing the Chinese leadership to agree to meet with the Dalai Lama's envoys, but real reform of China's Tibet policy or a broader willingness to embrace domestic reforms is unlikely to follow in the near term. Nevertheless, the current controversy could yield positive results in the long run. Beijing's Olympic trials and tribulations could provoke soul searching among China's leaders and demonstrate to them that their hold on domestic stability and the country's continued rise depend on greater transparency and accountability and a broader commitment to human rights. Already, some Chinese bloggers, intellectuals, and journalists, such as Wang Lixiong and Chang Ping, have seized the moment to call for less nationalist rhetoric and more thoughtful engagement of outside criticism. The nationalist outburst has provided them with an opening to ask publicly how Chinese citizens can legitimately attack Western media organizations if their own government does not allow them to watch media outlets such as CNN and the BBC. Similarly, they have used the Olympics as a springboard to discuss the significance of Taiwan's thriving democracy for the mainland's own political future, the need for rethinking China's approach to Tibet, and the desirability of an open press. Whatever the longer-term implications of the 2008 Olympics, what has transpired thus far bears little resemblance to Beijing's dreams of Olympic glory. Rather than basking in the admiration of the world, China is beset by internal protests and international condemnation. The world is increasingly doubtful that Beijing will reform politically and become a responsible global actor. The Olympics were supposed to put these questions to bed, not raise them all anew. http://www.foreignaffairs.org/20080701faessay87403-p0/elizabeth-c-economy-adam-segal/china-s-olympic-nightmare.html
  6. It is among the cities most heavily indebted and at risk of defaulting on its loans, according to Nomura Holdings Inc By Enda Curran - Jun 10, 2015, 20:21:07 Under a plan approved by China's State Council yesterday, Wenzhou will develop more types of bonds and allow trading of unlisted equities, technology and cultural products, according to a statement on the government’s website. Wenzhou is among the Chinese cities most heavily indebted and at risk of defaulting on its loans, according to Nomura Holdings Inc. In a new analysis described as one of the first of its kind, Nomura has dug into China's lending trail to see which cities and provinces are creaking under debt. They examined credit risks covering 30 provincial authorities and 265 cities. The report comes as bad loans and defaults in China tick higher and local governments struggle to meet repayments after years of binge borrowing to build roads and bridges and keep the economy growing. Mizuho Securities Asia estimates China's regional liabilities have now reached 25 trillion yuan ($4 trillion), bigger than Germany’s economy. Here's what Nomura's research found: the highest default risk is concentrated in the coastal and western provinces. Central China fares better. The danger provinces include Qinghai, Zhejiang, Liaoning, Hainan, Jiangsu, Fujian, Guizhou, Gansu, Chongqing and Heilongjiang. "Assessing the geographic distribution of risks is becoming increasingly important, particularly as China’s bond market is on the verge of explosive growth," Nomura analysts led by Yang Zhao wrote in the report. Among the cities, about 60 so-called third and fourth-tier cities carry the highest risk. These include: Datong in Shanxi province, followed by Sanya in Hainan, Wulanchabu in Inner Mongolia, Ganzhou and Shangrao in Jiangxi, Lishui in Zhejiang, Wenzhou in Zhejiang and Bazhong in Sichuan. First-tier cities like Beijing and Shanghai fared better in the analysis, helped by stronger economic fundamentals. Nomura used 13 indicators that cover four risk areas: property market, fiscal, financial and economic fundamentals. China isn't the only country with heavily indebted cities or state governments. In the U.S., Detroit and Stockton, California both emerged from bankruptcy in the past year. It's the pace of Chinese borrowing and a lack of transparency around how much debt there is that has investors worried. Nomura estimates that China's local government bond market may balloon from around 1.2 trillion yuan to 12 trillion yuan by 2020. A string of defaults would gum up the lending system, bring economic growth to a halt and runs the risk of social unrest. So the idea is to keep the credit flowing. http://bloom.bg/1cMoOph Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk