Monday, June 15, 2009

China could have sweep at least 4 titles convincingly at the Singapore Badminton Open

By China Watcher

At the close of the annual badminton tournament, the press announced that China had dominated by winning 3 out of 5 titles at stake. The Chinese failed to win the men’s doubles and the women singles event.

Nathan Robertson and Anthony Clark were playing at their best level and it is not at all surprise that they were able to win the title this time around in Singapore. Congratulations! The English duo was so happy with the win they thought they had won the Olympic or the world’s title. It is just a Super Series title – that’s all. The news media (mostly from writers who have a fixed Western mindset) praised the players incessantly. But can they repeat the feat in the Indonesian Open or the World Championship in Hyderabad, India? If you asked me, I would say no. It is just that the Asian doubles players are not playing at their best. The top Korean doubles have not been able to settle down since the other half joined serious training after the military conscription late last year. The top Chinese double pair was also absent. The veteran Danish pairs were on the declined and the younger pair was inconsistent. The top Indonesian double pair of Kido and Setiawan has not been able to show the known zeal to win. The Indonesian Open may change things. Doubles play has evolved into accurate and matching reflex oriented moves that the pair which makes less unforced errors will win the match. As such, my reply would still be an affirmative no.

In the women singles event, Zhou Mi beat Xie Xingfang and the press would, once again, extolled the determination of the Hong Kong player and emphasized that Zhou played in a relax mode which actually was the winning factor implying that the Chinese players were brought up like “robots” and could not have gone very far. Just plain jealously, I see it. Let me stressed that Zhou Mi was previously a Chinese player until she was asked to make way for the younger batch of players like Lu Lan, Jiang Yanjiao, Wang Yihan and Wang Lin. She had quit actually but revived her career with the Hong Kong Badminton Association.

In the Singapore badminton draw and probably, in other tournaments as well, there will be many Chinese versus Chinese meetings at the early stages – thus ending a very good player path to the semi or final. A few notable examples were the women doubles of Cheng Su and Zhao Yunlei and women singles player, Wang Yihan and the elimination of Chen Jin in the semis by their colleagues. If these players were to face non-Chinese players in the earlier rounds, do you think that non Chinese player can advance to the semis or finals or we may see more Chinese versus Chinese final like in the mixed doubles? This is the current acceptable draw format based on World Badminton Federation's (WBF) seeding. I do not even relied on the seeding which is clearly not reflective of the rankings. Lin Dan has beaten Peter Gade and Chong Wei more times in the men singles event and yet, he is ranked only as no. 3 after the two non-Chinese players. To be ranked higher and probably get good match up, just play in as many tournaments as possible and score points. Is this a very fair system to use in the future?

At the Open, I also noticed that Singapore is represented by former Chinese based players who have benefited from the “robotic” training programs in China. Why is Singapore so proud – they are not even home grown players? These are imported players like in their table tennis, swimming and diving teams.

In the men singles, Bao Chunlai deservingly beat Ponsana, who as the bias media reported earlier that the Thai should be able to win the title given his strong run in the tournament. What a bunch of crap from these writers? A win is a win and there is no two ways about it.

Final results

MS : Bao Chunlai (THA) beat Boonsak Ponsana (CHN) : 19/21 – 21/16 – 21/15

WS : Zhou Mi (HKG) beat Xie Xingfang (CHN) : 21/19 – 18/21 – 21/10

MD : Clark/Robertson (ENG) beat Kido/Setiawan (INA) : 21/12 – 21/11

WD : Zhang/Zhao (CHN) beat Maheswari/Polii (INA) : 21/14 – 21/13

MX: Zheng/Ma (CHN) beat Xie/Zhang (CHN) : 19/21 – 21/19 – 21/11

Friday, June 5, 2009

The rejection of Chinalco bid for a stake in Rio Tinto is a move to keep China away as a major shareholder

By China Watcher

The dramatic development of the mining conglomerate, Rio Tinto (Rio), to switch bidding partner at the last minute is perceived strongly within the Chinese community as a concerted scheme by Western financial investors to keep China state-owned companies from controlling strategic assets in Western companies.

The acceptance of the bid from BHP Billiton (BHP) on the grounds that the deal would maximize shareholder value and improve the group's capital structure were merely excuses to deny the Chinese company from taking up a sizeable stake in the mining entity.

Under the deal, BHP would pay Rio $5.8bn to take its equity stake in the joint venture to 50pc. Rio plans to raise $15.2billion through a 21-for-40 rights offer, one of the largest rights issues ever. The new shares will be offered at £14 each, which is 49pc below Thursday's closing price in London.

The Chinalco’s deal involves a cash injection of US19.5 billion as part of Rio’s debt restructuring scheme in return for an increase eventually in the shareholdings for Chinalco at 18 percent.

The Rio-BHP deal would allow Australian miners to control 70% of the world’s iron-ore supplies thus providing them with a stronger position to influence price-setting in both good and bad markets. Though the joint-venture must be cleared by competition regulators at home and abroad, I have no doubt that the Australian authorities would be endorsed as soon as the written proposal is submitted as the joint-venture essentially is a Western based deal (without any Asian company involvement). I hate to sound racist here but that is a fact.

Top institutional shareholders, mainly Western based, have indicated their undivided support of the rights issue if the China’s deal is scrapped. The initial objection to the Chinalco deal was very obvious and smeared with racist remarks highlighted by the “yellow threat” which were actively discussed in the Australian media. I am sure those critics or “racists” were relief and happy over the outcome of the latest development. Even the Australian government and the Foreign Review Investment Board have been weighing the option of how to keep the Chinese at bay over the acquisition issue.

Asian steelmakers from China, Japan and South Korea are crying foul over the deal and the likelihood that there would need to pay higher prices in the future. The outlook does not look good since 60 percent of the iron-ore are purchased from Australia due to the geographical closeness.

For comparison purpose, Rio and BHP joint venture would eventually supply 270 million tons of iron ore a year whereas the top producer from Brazil (Vale) supplies only about 240 million tons annually. The monopolistic power of the tied-up would definitely have a longer term bearing on the price of iron-ore.

The Western based companies with its “colonial mentality” may find it hard to dismantle its “yellow threat” philosophy and we would see more Asian companies be sidelined if it takes similar route to acquire a majority stake in Western based companies.

China would now have to work harder to acquire smaller resources based companies and also, to pursue a longer term objective of dealing directly with African and Latin American countries to build conglomerates free from any Western controlling influence. It may take time but at least it is steady and it is an assured ways of winning genuine and trusted partners.

Forget about Rio and BHP, as there may not be around in the next 10 years. Whether Rio and BHP combined entity would generate an expected more than $10 billion in synergies as announced is just an estimated figure and it may not materialize at all.

Being the largest consumer of resources does have its advantages. Work on it.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

A Chinese Perspective: The Tiananmen Incident is still a taboo subject

By China Watcher

Every year around this time, June 4, the world (outside China) seemed to be more interested in the Tiananmen Incident than the Chinese themselves. Why? There are always foreign hands involvements when it concerns China. The Western human rights activists (some of them with a hidden agenda) and the handful of Chinese dissidents continued to highlight the Chinese government brutal use of force as though it is the “killing machine of the last Century”.

There was this article written by a Caucasian human rights supporter which appeared in the Western world and circulated to the many online newspapers in Asia criticizing every aspect of activities of the present Chinese government and what sadden me was he choose to conveniently ignored the many economic and wealth advancement success attained by Chinese societies, at large, under the same Chinese government over the past 20 years.

The Western media had put a spin on the many write-ups of the historical day on Tiananmen Square as a “massacre” in which hundreds and probably thousands had died. Yet to this day, the numbers who died remain unclear and post-event records revealed merely from word-of-mouth by eye-witnesses and information gathered from people who lived around the Square during that time.

I do agree that the present government under the Chinese Communist Party has put in all efforts to wipe out the tainted incident from its historical annals but it has also implemented practical economic measures to bring greater prosperity to the Chinese residents after 1989. The Western world has a different agenda - it would play up the incident every year with the hope to bring down the Chinese Communist Party which is presently governing China. Would it be possible? Not likely.

I would not label “June 4 Tiananmen” as a “Massacre” which was readily accepted without any debate by the Western media (with a hidden human rights agenda) as the numbers were small and there are already new developments and witnesses in which perhaps, a few hundreds could have died more due to the military police actions arising from the many incidences of pillaging and riots which followed the protest outside Tiananmen and not from the tanks that rolled into the Square. Until and unless, there are circumstantial proof that there are thousands which died in the Square, the event will still be remembered as an “Incident”.

What I am baffled is why does a white man need to keep reminding himself of the Incident every year and keep repeating the supposedly atrocity committed by Chinese government during that time? Is he a stakeholder on the matter? The Chinese people are intelligent enough to judge the event and it would come a time in the near future whereby the “taboo’ stigma can be removed for good which would then allow the truth of the incident to surface, not to the Western world, but to the Chinese public.

June 4, 1989 is definitely a historical event in Chinese history and the Chinese government would have to bring out the truth someday at the demands of the Chinese people and not from the pressure from the Western world and its media. The Chinese would have more political rights in the future as I believe the transformation is gradual given the sizeable population and the high percentage of people who have yet to satisfy their security or social needs. Democracy will come to China but it will not be the model promoted by the Western world – it would be a managed democracy.

The few questions posed here is that would China be able to progress economically to its present status if the protest resulted in the fall of the Communist Party? Would the political climate be more stable than it is now? Would the political climate be stable for the business communities to conduct economic activities? But I am very sure that the stand on Tibet (not to allow full autonomy) shall remain regardless of whether China is democratic or autocratic.

The level of corruption and injustice which happened during the time as compared to the present have to a certain extent improved but there is certainly more room for improvement.

On the positive note, the fallout of the Tiananmen Incident has also strengthened the pro-liberal camp of the Communist Party to push forward its capitalist economic policies which was opposed strongly by the conservative camp within the party during that time. The implementation of the pro-liberal economic policy is highly successful and the rest is history.
Compared to the “poor China” in the 70s, I believe that every Chinese resident including the rural peasants have benefited greatly from the China’s open economic policies. There is no guarantee that with an elected government it would have been better with lower level of corruption, accountability and exploitation of workers. Even some of the world past critics and the World Bank has praised China for the elevation of nearly 400 million Chinese from poverty (based on the benchmark of US$1 of expenditure per person per day) since the late 70s.

To better understand China, you will need to learn its 3000 years of rich history under various dynasties and emperors. China has been governed by autocratic emperors in its past and warlords during the Kuomintang and at present, I noticed that China has improved by leaps and bounds under the Collective Politburo of the Chinese Communist Party. Though the mandate from heaven no longer exists, the rule from the people is there, theoretically, from the 60 million members of the party. With economic improvements, ordinary Chinese would demand more political right and I am of the opinion that it will indirectly put pressure on the present single party government to bring changes to the political environment. It may take 30, 40 or even 100 years and I am sure every member of the present ruling party is conscious of the inevitable, but by then China would be highly influential and a strong world power. China would not be weak and take orders from Western powers or Japan again.

The Cultural Revolution, the Great Leap Forward and the Tiananmen Incident are three past human related events or failed economic programs which can be placed in the closet at this period of time until the time is ripe for a re-visit. The younger generations of Chinese leaders in the near future may be bold enough to re-look at those events and put it in the proper historical perspective. If it is a lesson well learned from such events, whether it is good or bad, it should be made known to the Chinese public (not the Western people as it is a Chinese issue) and I am sure the Chinese people would readily accept it since there is no such thing as a perfect Chinese world.

I have always held on to my belief that only by facing the truth from history, we can then really put those dark episodes behind probably forever.