Kevin Kwok (@discoballs) rounds up the week’s most eye-catching news from the Middle Kingdom.
- This past Monday was a big day for China and Taiwan. It marked the 1911 revolution that disposed of the Qing Dynasty and birthed modern China. The leaders of both sides used the occasion to address the other: Hu Jintao urged Taiwan to prioritize its reunification with China, while the KMT’s Ma Ying-jeou reminded China to respect the island’s democratic system and values. [Yahoo!] [Washington Post]
- Vladimir Putin, the once and future President of both Russia and shirtless photos, was in China this week for a 2-day visit. Much camaraderie abounded: Putin announced how relations between the two countries are “at an all-time high”, Hu Jintao called Putin “an old friend of China”, and the two sides got closer than ever before in agreeing on a price for the gas Russia will be supplying to China. [BusinessWeek]
- The Senate has passed a bill taking aim at China’s undervaluing of the yuan; its current progress in the House is being stalled by Speaker John Boehner. [Christian Science Monitor] Bloomberg asserts that while the yuan gives China a manufacturing advantage, much of the money invested by firms producing “Made in China” goods actually flows back towards the original country. The Wall Street Journal also warns against the presumption that pressuring China into raising the yuan’s value will be a magic bullet for everything wrong with the US economy.
- Besides, the Chinese economy itself has also not been making its usual superlative progress. Consumer brands such as Li Ning are in trouble due to a lack of brand loyalty shown towards Chinese brands [Financial Times], and middle-class households are struggling to keep up with the country’s raging inflation even as the country’s central bank slashes interest rates and pressures them to spend. [NYTimes]
- For the first time ever, two independent candidates have won seats on a district people’s congress in China. However, it is unclear how much change these individuals can foster as they are merely part of local-level congresses, which within China’s labyrinth political system wield virtually no power. [SCMP]
- Finally, the New York Times catches up with Liu Yan, a superstar in China feted for her modern and lively interpretations of classical Chinese dance. She was due to perform as part of the Beijing Olympics’ opening ceremony before an accident left her paralyzed below the waist.