Open sesame: Alibaba’s push into Europe a mixed blessing for Liège
Apart from the pollution, there are concerns the Chinese firm’s new airport hub may not revive the fortunes of the Belgian region. But Michel Kempeneers, of the Wallonia Export Investment Agency, said the pandemic had since triggered an “enormous leap in the awareness of [Belgium] shopkeepers” about the opportunity to sell goods to the Chinese market through Alibaba. “A leap of five years in five weeks, some experts say,” headded. Kempeneers concedes there is no certainty that Alibaba’s push into Europe will be a success. He points to the 9,000 jobs at the airport and the deployment of local companies to move the goods onwards. But it is yet to be seen whether Europeans want to buy Chinese brands in sufficient numbers. According to the lobby group Ecommerce Europe, AliExpress has just 2% to 5% of the e-commerce traffic in Europe. “The project in Liège will depend, as with any logistics activity, on market developments and of course on the consumers,” Kempeneers said. Climbing down from her stepladder, Brants, who lost her job during the pandemic, says she backs anything that will bring work to the area. But there is a word of warning about the challenge. “I buy stuff on Alibaba from time to time – it could be quicker,” she said. Liège’s future perhaps depends on it.
Belgium’s exports fell by 8% in 2020
In 2020, Belgium’s exports and imports fell by 8 and 9.5% respectively compared to 2019, according to a provisional estimate by the National Bank of Belgium (NBB) published on Monday. Belgium had not seen such a fall in its foreign trade since the recession of 2009, following the financial crisis. However, the decline in 2020 is less than that of 2009. That year, exports had fallen by 16.7% and imports by 19.6%.Although, since March 2020, due to the Covid-19 crisis, growth figures have been negative compared to the corresponding months of 2019, the year ended on a positive note. Export figures have in fact returned to positive territory this month for the first time since the start of the health crisis, with growth of 2.5%. Imports continued to decline in December, but very slightly (-0.1%) and this is a positive development compared to the previous months of 2020. Belgium’s foreign trade did not contract everywhere in 2020. Growth in trade with China remained robust.
China topples US as EU’s top trade partner over 2020
The new data come as Brussels is trying to intensify its economic ties with Beijing by concluding an EU-China investment pact.
pdf December 2020 Euro area international trade in goods surplus €29.2 bn
The first estimate for euro area exports of goods to the rest of the world in December 2020 was €190.7 billion, an increase of 2.3% compared with December 2019 (€186.4 bn). This is the first increase since February 2020. Imports from the rest of the world stood at €161.5 bn, a fall of 1.3% compared with December 2019 (€163.7 bn). As a result, the euro area recorded a €29.2 bn surplus in trade in goods with the rest of the world in December 2020, compared with +€22.6 bn in December 2019. Intra-euro area trade rose to €148.7 bn in December 2020, up by 0.9% compared with December 2019. ihttps://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/documents/2995521/12434148/6-15022021-BP-EN.pdf/
China hits back after US expresses ‘deep concerns’ over WHO Covid-19 report
China has fired back at the US over allegations from the White House that Beijing withheld some information about the coronavirus outbreak from World Health Organization investigators. The White House on Saturday called on China to make data from the earliest days of the Covid-19 outbreak available, saying it had “deep concerns” about the way the findings of the WHO’s Covid-19 report were communicated.
China played leading role in spreading Covid-19 conspiracies, investigation finds
Beijing was one of the biggest spreaders of misinformation, including claims about bioweapons, an analysis of social media posts finds Investigation also finds that media and officials in Russia, Iran and US – including Donald Trump – also ramped up politically charged claims
China tilts to Covid-19 vaccine diplomacy as domestic jab programme lags
Figures show more Chinese-made vaccines have gone overseas than into people’s arms as Lunar New Year target missed The country’s inoculation rate lags behind the US and Britain, with vaccine hesitancy believed to be a factor
Will China Be a Global Vaccine Leader?
If China’s international vaccine rollout proves successful in safely immunizing the public in the longer-term, China will no doubt be better placed to position itself as a reliable leader in global health. Given the vague parameters of the HSR, China may see the benefit of retroactively folding into it its pandemic response efforts, including its provision of protective gear to many parts of the world earlier in the outbreak. The 2017 “Beijing Communiqué of the Belt and Road Health Cooperation & Health Silk Road” provides a wide enough cooperative ambit to do so. Looking ahead, as China’s economy recovers faster than most, the pandemic may also provide an impetus for Beijing to shore up health infrastructure assistance in developing Belt and Road-participating countries sorely in need of it. This, in turn, should nudge competing or complementary efforts by the developed world to meet international public health demands and potentially better manage the effects of the next pandemic.
Coronavirus: in China, a year after the pandemic began, Wuhan has become a city of forgetting
The colour and cheer of Lunar New Year celebrations hide a dark seam of grief, anger and unease Whistle-blowers, human rights lawyers and activists are still paying the price for speaking out about the government’s handling of the Covid-19 crisis
China’s GDP ‘paradox’: why young Chinese despair about future prospects despite rapid economic growth
Young Chinese are using social media platforms like Bilibili to voice despair over rising house prices, widening inequality and the price of everyday goods The growing frustration about social mobility highlights a ‘serious divergence’ between China’s fast-growing economy and the life satisfaction of citizens China’s Gini coefficient – a measure of inequality from 0 to 1, with 1 being perfect inequality – has been hovering between 0.46 and 0.49 over the past two decades. A level of 0.4 is usually regarded as a red line for inequality. Even then, experts have long questioned whether China’s Gini coefficient has been underestimated. Last year, Premier Li Keqiang said the nation had 600 million people living on a monthly income of 1,000 yuan, which is barely enough to cover monthly rent in a mid-sized Chinese city Research published by Hao Qi at the School of Economics at Renmin University in November last year showed that the labour share of China’s national income – the amount of GDP paid out in wages, salaries, and benefits – declined from 51.4 per cent in 1995 to 43.7 per cent in 2008. It has remained around 40 per cent over the past few years. The figures highlight that investment returns are being concentrated in the hands of a few, and most workers are getting a lower share of GDP growth than those in developed countries, Xi said. “This brings us back to an old question in economics and political science: what is the ultimate purpose of our economic development?” said Xi “Is it for better looking GDP figures, or is it for people’s sense of access and satisfaction?”
Talks on future science partnership with China ‘not an easy exercise’
EU wants better access terms for its researchers in China, but increased scrutiny of the relationship with Beijing makes the outcome uncertain As things stand, formal collaboration between Brussels and Beijing on science is limited. Both sides pledged to co-invest up to €630 million in joint research between 2016 and 2020, but €500 million of this was from the EU.The discrepancy led to calls to rebalance the relationship. Jean-Eric Paquet the EU’s director-general for research and innovation, last year complained publicly about barriers into Chinese science. “The relationship is perceived – and I think rightly – on the European side as unbalanced,” Paquet told an audience last September. “There is really, essentially, full access to Europe but very cumbersome and formally limited access to resources on the Chinese side.”
China sees leverage as Portugal takes presidency of European Council
Beijing is keen to get its investment pact with Brussels ratified and has urged Lisbon to help speed up the process Analyst says Portugal’s clout in Europe might be limited but the country is seen as China-friendly
Why inflation risks are the last thing investors should worry about right now
While fears of runaway prices should be taken seriously, the priority for economies battered by Covid-19 is still to get the pandemic under control With the mass roll-out of vaccines proving more challenging than expected, markets should be closely watching how this will affect company profits Several factors are stoking inflation, including pandemic-related supply disruptions – shipping costs have soared – and a sharp China-driven recovery in commodity prices. However, the one that is receiving the most attention among policymakers and investors is the unprecedented level of monetary and fiscal support, set to be turbocharged by US President Joe Biden’s mammoth stimulus plan.
In the Year of the Ox, understanding what makes the Chinese world view so exceptional may be crucial
The Chinese world view is organic, systemic and indeterminate, recognising chance, contradictions and paradoxes, and different time cycles Within the next few decades, the Chinese, Indian and Islamic world view will all inevitably challenge US exceptionalism If you really want to understand how Chinese within and outside the country think, read T. L. Tsim’s new novel Between Two Shores, the best political whodunnit by a Chinese writer in English that I have read for years.
China’s resilient economy
China’s economic rise enhances its political leverage across the global landscape with states Needless to say China’s economic rise enhances its political leverage across the global landscape with states and international political and financial institutions. Great powers and major economies of the world have greater responsibilities in transforming the world and shaping mankind’s future. The pandemic’s negative impact on population, businesses and livelihood was enormous. An important lesson drawn from the pandemic is that global economic and health structures were vulnerable and global response mechanism looked substantially weak. It is, therefore, incumbent upon major powers and economies to carryout in-depth appraisal of shortcomings and vulnerabilities and come up with a workable global action plan. President Xi too called upon major economies to take collective action to restore confidence for global economic recovery. Meanwhile, there is something to learn from China’s resilient economic model
Understanding China’s Political & Commercial Logic
The CCP’s fixation with perceived success and welfare by virtue of its administration outweighs its commitment to actualize the same. In this mania, the headlines that highlight accomplishment outside of the government’s control, are perceived to point to government weakness—a matter that perpetually occupies an enormous bandwidth of government concern. Unsurprisingly, governance that prioritizes genuine public welfare would yield more concrete outcomes for the CCP’s already deplorable global perception. However, that would render the Communist Party’s existence futile.
China’s overseas investment is falling just when the global economy needs it most
Chinese investment, in physical infrastructure especially, has been a key driver of global growth alongside its GDP contribution. Its decrease over the past few years is bad news for a global economy struggling to recover from Covid-19
How Biden will shape the US–China relationship
The downward spiral in US–China relations during the Trump administration prompted many to assert that the United States and China were entering a ‘new Cold War’. This framing was partly the result of the Trump administration’s confrontational stance on China, and the tendency of senior officials such as Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to cast the relationship as a fundamental competition between the forces of democracy and authoritarianism. Consumed by domestic polarisation and the economic downturn, the Biden administration will find it exceedingly difficult to adopt the kinds of international trade, development and foreign policies that would be needed to forge new US leadership beyond a narrow club of Western democracies. Biden is unlikely to be able to marshal the political support at home to join major multilateral agreements such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), and ‘will lack the deep pockets to marshal a coalition and mount a sustained challenge to Beijing’s grandiose Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in Asia and Africa,’ Gupta argues. At this moment in US history, domestic political and economic factors will ultimately determine whether the Biden administration can recast the US–China relationship and restore United States’ global standing.
Can America Restore Its Credibility in Asia?
A Dire Situation Demands an Ambitious New Strategy In economic competition, Washington is on its back foot. The United States can no longer rely on the size and gravitational pull of its economy or the vibrancy of its private sector to persuade countries to work within the international rules and systems it has championed. China is rapidly replacing the United States as the top source of investment and final demand for Asian exports, thus becoming the economic reference point for Asian governments. (That is even true for China: as of 2020, Southeast Asia, rather than the United States or Europe, is its larger trading partner.) In recent years, the region has concluded two sweeping trade agreements—the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP)—neither of which includes the United States. To demonstrate its seriousness, the United States needs to make big moves in Asia—moves that will shape the regional environment around China and loudly signal the return of U.S. capability, activism, and creativity. Past administrations have tried to begin their Asia policies by building “positive, cooperative, and constructive” relationships with China. The time for such an approach has passed. Instead, the United States must focus on building up a new position of strength and advantage in the surrounding region—taking bold moves now and turning to Shultz’s gardening to sustain them over the long term
Will Biden’s America change course on China and trade?
US President Joe Biden’s administration must figure out how to pick up the pieces of former president Donald Trump’s controversial trade policy, especially as it relates to China. Some hope (or perhaps fear) that Biden will return US policy to a reformed version of the pre-Trump days of liberal internationalism, embracing free trade and global economic leadership. Yet an integrated approach between liberal internationalism and populism is more likely.
Germany wants to work closely with Biden on trade, China and climate
Europe and the United States should strengthen transatlantic ties with a trade deal to abolish tariffs and a WTO reform to increase pressure on China to play by international rules, Germany’s transatlantic coordinator Peter Beyer told Reuters. “After the difficult years under Donald Trump, Germany and Europe now have a historic chance to breathe new life into the transatlantic partnership and improve relations with the U.S.,” Beyer said in an interview published on Monday.
China’s top 5 infrastructure projects set to cost US$131 billion, but overall investment set to drop amid debt fears
Last year, China turned to its old playbook to drum up growth amid the coronavirus outbreak by boosting investment spending on infrastructure projects But growing pressure on local government finances are among the reasons that the growth of infrastructure investment could slow
China coal: why is it so important to the economy?
China is the world’s largest producer and consumer of coal, used for heating, cooking, electricity generation and steel making China is also the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases, but it has pledged to transition away from fossil fuels over the next four decades
How Asia can help Joe Biden in the fight against climate change, starting with financial markets
Establishing a global standard for companies to describe how their business is affected by climate change would allow investors to allocate their capital more efficiently. Asian regulators have already taken steps towards this
ByteDance walks away from TikTok deal with Oracle after Donald Trump’s White House exit
The app’s Chinese owner had agreed in principle to sell a stake in its US operations after the former president threatened to ban it A source says Trump’s departure has destroyed its ‘raison d’être’
Why Huawei’s founder is sticking with premium smartphones even as sales decline due to US sanctions
Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei said that Huawei is willing to transfer 5G technology but it will never give up its terminal devices business Analysts say that terminals, or connected devices, play an important role in Huawei’s long term strategy
Webinar: ‘China’s Food & Drink Market in 2021’ 24 february
The EU SME Centre is organising an online workshop on ‘China’s Food and Drink Market in 2021- regulatory headlines, and key consumer trends.’ This workshop will present a regulatory roadmap for food and drink exporters to China in 2021. Furthermore, it will provide an overview of the F&B imports, as well as the main regulations, technical requirements and national (GB) standards unveiled in 2020.
Why Your Luxury Brand Will Fail Without Gen-Z Customers
Many brands believe that Gen Zers aren’t luxury customers. Yet, they will be the world’s luxury buying leaders by 2030, so understanding them is crucial Around ten percent of luxury purchases worldwide are made by Generation Z, but that share is significantly higher in China at roughly 15 percent. And the best brands already get up to 20 percent of Gen-Z customers today. Brands find many Gen-Z traits challenging: They are extremely smart, question everything, and, most importantly, are looking for extreme value in luxury. Many brands will continue to do what they have always done while gradually adding more digital capabilities. But that is playing by the rules of the old game, which is a recipe for failure.
Bitcoin’s epic bull run is winning more attention from Wall Street bankers, even as regulators and policymakers remain sceptical
The digital asset has kept making inroads into traditional finance, with the latest being news that an investment unit of Morgan Stanley is considering whether to bet on bitcoin On Thursday, BNY Mellon said it’s formed a new team that’s developing a custody and administration platform for traditional and https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2021/02/15/business/tech/bitcoin-wall-street/
China’s Pandemic-Disrupted Holiday Has Couriers Working Overtime
With many Chinese spending the Lunar New Year at home this year, the number of holiday deliveries has shot up by over 200%.
View: Can growing anti-China sentiments favour Indian overseas direct investment?
The COVID pandemic has upsurged anti-China sentiments worldwide. Despite China’s robust foothold in Factory-Asia’s manufacturing supply chain, many countries are now thinking of developing an alternative supply chain base outside of China.
Japan’s economy shrinks 4.8% in 2020 due to Covid
Japan’s economy surged in the fourth quarter of 2020, but it was not enough to keep the country from negative growth for the year.
EU presses China to end BBC ban
The European Union on Saturday called on China to reverse its ban on the BBC World News television channel imposed in apparent retaliation for Britain’s pulling of the license of state-owned Chinese broadcaster CGTN.
Can the US enlist the Philippines to help contain China in the Indo-Pacific?
Chinese coastguard law may give pro-US faction in Manila upper hand after President Rodrigo Duterte’s hostility to Washington Observers say the Philippines is key to US plans for a strong regional counterbalance against Beijing’s influence
In a polarised Asia Pacific, democracy should be a goal, not a club
Nor is dictatorship China’s fixed destiny. We need not lose hope that, after Xi departs, the Chinese Communist Party might resolve its governance challenges and rejuvenate itself through strategic democratic reforms. This is what authoritarian parties in Taiwan and South Korea did in the 1980s.
Yet whenever world politics is portrayed as a grand moral struggle of a US-led democratic camp against a China-led bloc of dictators, it makes democracy more repellent to China’s people. Democracy is most appealing when expressed as a universalistic value and practice, not as a status marker to join an exclusive club. The United States is rightly recommitting to its Asian alliances after four years of recoiling from them. But there are costs to casting these alliances as one club striving to defeat a rival club. It exacerbates polarisation in the short run and makes democratisation across Asia a goal even harder to achieve — including in China — in the long run.
South China Sea: Wise To Provoke China?
In the post-Cold War era, the formation and the creation of regional groups like ASEAN and the European Union (EU) bears the promise of promoting not only regional bargaining economic power but as alternative mechanisms and structures in facilitating and consolidating regional peace, security, and stability within the territorial boundaries of these regional groupings and beyond. Regional blocs like ASEAN were established in an attempt to facilitate and promote regional collective peace, security, and stability through idealised norms and practices of meaningful and peaceful cooperation among their member states.
Gauging the fate of Hong Kong civil society
The latest round of arrests of pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong signals the death knell for democracy for Hong Kong’s pro-democracy factions and groups. The national security law — which formed the basis of the arrests — was perceived by Beijing as necessary to restore political stability. Beijing’s next steps are likely to be less radical, coming in the form of pragmatic suasion in the near term, economic integration in the medium term and soft power in the long term.
This is how Xi Jinping gang sidelined CCP deep factions
Xi Jinping ended the Chinese Communist Party’s internal democracy that Deng Xiaoping had established.
Why China’s Spring Festival Gala is a major promotions vehicle for Big Tech firms
The annual CCTV show’s vast audience – more than 1.2 billion last year – makes it an ideal platform for Big Tech companies to attract new users ByteDance-owned short video app operator Douyin gave away US$186 million worth of digital red packets during this year’s show
This Valentine’s Is for (Fake) Lovers
What’s behind the rise of shipping culture in China? It’s complicated. Whatever the cause, more and more young Chinese people are choosing to stay single and live alone. Yet, if the popularity of CP is any indication, many still recognize the value of intimacy. On its own, there nothing wrong with deriving a vicarious sense of comfort and fulfillment from other people’s love and interactions, but as CP fans demand more beautiful, sugary love from their favorite couplings, there’s a chance it’ll become harder for them to form and maintain intimate relationships in real life, driving them further into their digital cocoons. Back in the day, danmei writers turned to fan fiction to describe an ideal of love that was otherwise invisible or inaccessible in a largely patriarchal society: one predicated on equality, intense passion, and mutual sexual fulfillment. CP fans today are likewise expressing their deepest yearnings through their fandom. Only instead of great, mutually fulfilling sex, many just want to experience the sweet, simple affection of a relationship — albeit one abstracted from all the turmoil that generally occurs between that first fluttering feeling of love and a walk down the aisle.
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