Friday 14 August 2015

Links 14/8/15 China and the future


On China: Brookings with a detailed explanation of why China is rebalancing: 
In recent decades, China’s rapidly growing middle class lacked sophisticated investment options through which to channel their savings, given the underdevelopment of China’s financial markets. With such a lack of choice, real estate generally provided the best investment option. This lack of financial sophistication resulted in a number of problems: the accumulation of local debt, a sizeable shadow banking sector and overcapacity in certain sectors, notably property. The current leadership clearly understands the need for multi-faceted and complex reforms, but financial and banking reform will be very important. 
Brookings: The big picture: Debating China’s rebalancing, September 2015
China has devalued its currency for the third time in just one week (to make its exports cheaper - "The devaluation risks inflaming a seemingly dormant political issue in the United States: whether China manipulates its currency to gain a trade advantage."), the Chinese stock market is different from the West's, and what about foreign policy goals?
There are several different viewpoints about China’s grand strategy represented by different factions. First, some scholars believe that China either has no grand strategy and is still in search of one, or is merely acting pragmatically. Second, there is an argument that China does have a grand strategy but it is a contradictory one. Third, some observers have argued that it is not in China’s culture to have one coherent grand strategy but rather to seek a middle way. And fourth, China may be shifting from “Peaceful Development” to another grand strategy. 
China Policy Institute Blog: The Debate on China’s Grand Strategy, May 4, 2015 
There is no single explanation for why asserting its authority over the South China Sea now matters so much to China. Controlling the many tiny islands is in part a matter of controlling of the wealth assumed to lay beneath the sea in the form of unexploited minerals and oil and gas, not to mention the immense fisheries that exist in these waters. It is in part a matter of increasing the country’s sense of security, by dominating the maritime approaches to its long coast, and securing sea lanes to the open Pacific. It is in part a matter of overcoming historical grievances. And finally, it is about becoming a power at least on par with the US: a goal that Chinese leaders are themselves somewhat coy about, but which is now increasingly entering the public discourse. 
The Guardian: What’s behind Beijing’s drive to control the South China Sea?, July 28, 2015
Oil-producing countries are playing a game of chicken with oil prices to defy the future threat of the American shale oil industry - and Saudi Arabia is facing huge budget deficits. 

In spite of being expanded, both the Suez and the Panama canal will not fit the world's biggest ships - and one of the results is that many trade routes now bypass American ports. 

Google changed its corporate structure, with its traditional services still operating under the name Google but its forays into other things (like drones) now as part of Alphabet. 
These non-Google activities are eclectic, but not incoherent. They dovetail with, and may be driven by, the behavioral and demographic insights gained from the Google business—insights both international and intimate. Through Google, there are some ways in which Alphabet will know more about you than your partner, your lover, your bank manager, your doctor, your psychiatrist, your priest, your government, or all of these combined. Even if you withhold personal information from Google, your privacy will be as short-lived and effective as a paper umbrella in the rain: the sheer volume of data available to Google from everyone else will allow it to predict or infer about you quite accurately.
Would Google have this kind of penetration and ubiquity if it were associated with military excursions, pharmaceuticals, and domestic surveillance? Probably not. Protecting Google from political contamination from Alphabet’s wider activities is not just necessary for Google—it’s necessary for Alphabet. Google search is mostly safe, mostly helpful, and free: by associating it with grace and favor, as Machiavelli advises, Alphabet can contain possible affairs of reproach elsewhere in its portfolio. This is shrewd statecraft. 
The Paris Review: Don't Be Evil. Google, Alphabet, and Machiavelli, August 12, 2015
This is a very interesting choice, considering Mr. Robot, which is excellent, is just about to wrap up its first season. 

Pop Culture: 

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