Saturday, 30 April 2016

China: A new emerging football power?

   A few months ago while waiting to be received by Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China; I asked a senior official of the President's office as to what were the President's hobbies? He replied that the President liked to watch Football games on TV in his very rare spare time and wished to see a Chinese team play in the World Cup finals.The officials reply stayed in my mind till recently when a Guardian newspaper report on 'football in China' caught my eye. What did the report say about the efforts of the Chinese to become a leading football power-house?
   *China already has built the world's largest football academy, which will be followed by 20,000 specialist football academies.
   * By 2020 China will have 70,000 football pitches with 30m students playing regularly.
   * Presently, the Chinese National Team is ranked 81st by FIFA out of 204 playing nations.
   * Chinese State Owned Enterprises [SOEs] and Real Estate firms are bank-rolling Chinese Clubs to enroll foreign players by spending up to US$373million annually.
    * 31 top Brazilian football stars have moved to China in 2014-15.
    * Top Brazilian coaches such as Scolari, Luxemburgo and Menezes have moved to coach in China.
    * Reports suggest that Chinese businessmen are buying into top foreign football clubs. Jack Ma has reportedly offered US$450m for a 70% share in AC Milan. Club owner Silvio Berlusconi, a former Italian PM, is considering the offer. A similar offer has reportedly been made for a 13% stake in Manchester City.
    * So far China has only qualified only once for World Cup finals in 2002. BBC reports that all is not well in Chinese football, with the National Football League hit by scandal with 33 players banned for 'match-fixing' last year.
   * So are we going to see the rise of another football super-power? Let us see. Keep watching this space !!        

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

The Koh-i-Noor

     When the British annexed the Punjab in 1849 a treaty was concluded on 29th March 1849 which essentially set out the terms granted to the Maharaja following the annexation. Apart from the annexation clauses there is a specific clause--Article III-- that spells out the position regarding the Koh-i-Noor.
     Article III reads as follows:
       "The gem called the Koh-i-Noor which was taken from Shah Sooja-ool-moolk by Maharaja Ranjit Singh SHALL BE SURRENDERED by the Maharaja of Lahore to the Queen of England" 
   The reader may draw his/her own conclusions whether the official position is correct as reported by several newspapers.

Saturday, 16 April 2016

ChinaQ&A:Should Chinese FDI be encouraged into India?

    According to Ministry of Commerce figures, Sino-Indian trade volume stood at US$72b in 2014-15. Of this Chinese exports to India were US$60.3b and imports from India a dismal US$12b; leaving a huge trade deficit of US$60b in favor of China. One of the most promising ways to reduce the deficit would be to encourage Chinese investment flows into India.
* China has overtaken Germany to become the world's largest net exporter of capital in 2015 reaching a figure of US$293b as opposed to Germany's US$280b.
*The amount of non-financial investment from China to India from May2014, the time the present government assumed power, to January 2016 is estimated at US$589m [ET/16April 2016]. Total FDI inflows from China to India were US$1.24b between 2000-2015. Clearly therefore there is much scope for improvement.
* India badly needs infrastructure development. World Economic Forum's 2014-15 Global Competitiveness Report puts India's infrastructure ranking at 87th position out of 144. The Planning Commission's 12th Five year Plan [2012-17] estimates India's infrastructure requirements at US$1trillion. For example; all 12 Indian ports classifies as 'major' together carry less traffic than Singapore. Colombo handles more container traffic than all Indian ports put together.
*China's overseas investment profile has shifted from resource seeking FDI to new sectors such as manufacturing, real estate and infrastructure. Therefore China would be open to investment in power, ports, railways, roads and telecom sectors. India must not miss out on the huge level of funds flowing out of China.
*China is a major international player in the global value chain[GVC] in diverse sectors. China is a global leader in the supply of machinery products and therefore association with China would mean entry into the global manufacturing production network. This is what 'Make in India' is all about.
*The new government has designated a specific China Desk in the Department of Industrial Policy and promotion[DIPP] to monitor specific Chinese proposals.
* PM Modi has eased visa restrictions on Chinese businessmen by instituting e-visa regime.
*There are growing signs that 2016 will see significantly higher Chinese investment into India.
*There is no doubt that once the Sino-Indian trade, investment and economic co-operation profile moves sharply northwards; the strategic concerns, including the trust deficit, would sharply diminish. A significant Chinese investment in India means a significant Chinese strategic interest in a prospering India.     

Thursday, 14 April 2016

China's Water Diplomacy:Co-operation or Conflict?

   Tibet is known as the water tank of Asia. The Mekong, known as Lancang in China, flows from Tibetan plateau through Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam before reaching the Sea. It sustains a population of 326m in peninsular South East Asia. It is Asia's 7th largest river.
  *China has already built 6 out of planned 15 dams on Mekong on its territory. It can thus 'control' the water flow.
  *The five Mekong delta states are suffering from unprecedented drought. China has agreed to release emergency water supplies starting from 10April 2016. Water release will give immediate relief to drought stricken region.
  * China held first Lancang-Mekong leaders meeting on Hainan island and offered UD$1.54b in preferential loans and credit line of US$10b to support infrastructure and capacity building in the five states.
  * China's agenda is to promote connectivity, border trade, water resource management and agricultural co-operation.
  * There is no doubt that China wishes to set the agenda, establish its own rules and institutions so that it can dominate the economies of the region. It seeks to bye-pass international conventions on upper and lower riparian rights.
  *With the building of the dams on its own territory on the Mekong, all five South-East Asian states would be obliged to China in any future requirements.
  * China is the biggest trading partner of Cambodia, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam. Bilateral trade with the five states amounted to US$193.9b. China is also the largest investor.
  * Even if the five states wished for external security assistance, it is difficult; for the US is a maritime military power and cannot compete with China on peninsular South-East Asia.

Sunday, 10 April 2016

What is PLA Chief of Staff doing in Kabul?

PLA Chief of General Staff Gen. Fang Fenghui on visit to Kabul proposed 4 power anti-terrorism alliance of China,Pak,Afg n Tajikstan•After 9/11 US led war had achieved some results but terrorists NOT wiped out•Chinese press(GT) says parts of Pak fallen into terrorist hands•AF-Pak region hotbed for terrorists that threatens regional security•SCO intended to tackle terrorism but due to expansion difficult for co-ordination n consensus.• thus new quad powers initiated by China will co-ordinate terrorism work• quad not alliance or regional organisation• stability in South n Central Asia will benefit China’s western strategy•quad will push OBOR project• involvement of Chinese shows it is responsible power in international n regional affairs.

What are Chinese universities like?

When People’s Republic was founded in 1949 there were only 117,000 university students in China• By 2015 number is 37m, the largest no. in world• It means 1 in every 5 students in world is Chinese• No. of universities/institutions in China are 2900, second only to US• In 2014 India had 677 universities• Recent survey shows 4 Chinese universities are in top 100 of world• These are Tsinghua, Peking U, Fudan n Shanghai Jiao Tong• In comparison there r no Indian U in top 100• Development of higher education main reason for China’s dramatic transformation of society, innovation n research• Chinese u concentrating on skill development.
Thus priorities for us are clear.