China

Prosperity for the few, stagnation for the many Matthew Wed, 06/14/2017 - 11:18

Right-wingers are trumpeting the claimed prosperity of the US economy since Trump’s election, and of the British economy after Brexit. A closer look shows the prosperity as very partial.

Stock market prices in the USA have risen strongly since November 2016, though no more than their general rising trend since they hit bottom in March 2009. The slice of corporate profits in total US income is as high as it was at its pre-2008 peak, which in turn was the highest since 1965.

Any future for the steel industry?

Submitted by Matthew on 8 February, 2017 - 10:57 Author: John Cunningham

I was born in a steel town – Stocksbridge, about 9 miles west of Sheffield. The steelworks were huge and employed at its peak 6,500 workers. The sirens which marked the start and end of shifts, the roar of furnaces, the clanging of shunting trains and machinery, were constant background noise to my early years.

Ports and workers’ power

Submitted by AWL on 14 September, 2016 - 12:27 Author: Martin Thomas

"The RWG [container] terminal [in Rotterdam, 2.35m teu capacity], with its fully automated cranes, is operated by a team of no more than 10 to 15 people on a day-to-day basis. Most of its 180 employees aren’t longshoremen, but IT specialists” (Journal of Commerce, 4 Feburary 2016).

The managing director says: “We are in fact, an IT company that handles containers”.

Compare: in 1900 the Port of London was the busiest port in the world. It had 50,000 workers shifting cargo mostly by hand, as they had done for thousands of years. It handled 7 million tons of cargo.

The good credit class

Submitted by Matthew on 4 February, 2016 - 10:50

Beijing International Airport offers faster security screening if you have good credit rating. On the same criterion, Luxembourg and Singapore offer a fast-track visa service, Chinese animal shelters give preference for adopting a pet, and a Chinese dating website gives you better placement. (Financial Times, 20 January).

Strikes on the rise in China

Submitted by Matthew on 11 November, 2015 - 12:32 Author: Gemma Short

Strikes and other forms of industrial action are on the increase in China, as an economic slowdown leads to lay-offs, withheld wages, and factory closures.

China Labour Bulletin (CLB), an independent labour rights organisation based in Hong Kong, reports 593 strike incidents in the third quarter of 2015. There were 372 in the same period of 2014, and 185 in 2013 Q3. 37% of these were in manufacturing and 31% in construction. CLB notes that many of the disputes in the past months were due to large scale lay-offs.

China: the crash and the workers

Submitted by Matthew on 2 September, 2015 - 11:00 Author: Colin Foster

The bill for the Chinese government’s gaudy response to the global crash of 2008 is now falling due.

Then, the government promoted the biggest surge of investment in roads, bridges, railways, and buildings ever seen in world history. China has built a high-speed rail network bigger than all the rest of the world’s high-speed rail put together in just the few years since 2007.

New centres of capital Matthew Fri, 07/03/2015 - 15:30

As of 2014, “developing Asia” — China, Singapore, South Korea, Malaysia, Taiwan, and other countries — became a bigger exporter of foreign direct investment than North America (the US and Canada) or the whole of Europe.

The United Nations agency which monitors such things, UNCTAD, reports that “developing economies” produced 36% of all foreign direct investment in 2014, up from less than 10% as recently as 2003 (UNCTAD World Investment Report 2015).

The urban dystopia

Submitted by AWL on 28 April, 2015 - 5:51 Author: Camila Bassi

“The Yankees have invented a stone-breaking machine. The English do not make use of it, because the ‘wretch’ who does this work gets paid for such a small portion of his labour, that machinery would increase the cost of production to the capitalist.” (Marx, Capital: Volume One)

My recent visit to Shanghai was the last of nine in which I have glimpsed urban development “the China way”. My photo story captures themes present in each of my visits that have haunted me.

How Chinese economic wobbles hit workers

Submitted by AWL on 2 December, 2014 - 6:00

At the end of November, two Chinese government researchers published an estimate that over the past five years US$6,800 billion of investment in China has been wasted on bridges to nowhere and homes and offices with no one in them.

The estimate is disputed, but few doubt that huge excess capacity has been built. The Chinese government is trying to slow down the investment surge gently, and producer prices in China have been deflating since mid-2011.

Backlash against Hong Kong democracy protests

Submitted by Matthew on 25 October, 2014 - 1:58 Author: Charlotte Zalens

Talks between protestors and the government in Hong Kong reopened on Thursday 16 October.

Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying will not be attending as protesters have refused to talk to him!

On Tuesday 21 Leung said that while Beijing would not back down on vetting candidates (for 2017 elections for the Chief Executive), the selection committee could become more democratic. This has been described by the government as an “olive branch”. It is a long way from the core demands of the protesters for full democracy.