Asia Society Launches New Center For China Analysis As ‘A Think And Do Tank’

The Asia Society, one of the oldest U.S.-based organizations focused on bridging ties between the U.S. and Asia, formally launched a new Center for China Analysis in New York on Monday.

Founded with the support of John D. Rockefeller in 1956, the organization’s mission remains “to add light rather than heat to the discourse in order to find pathways through the seemingly intractable challenges of our age,” Asia Society CEO Kevin Rudd said at an inaugural conference on Monday called “China’s Future: What It Means for Asia and the World.”

“We see ourselves as a think tank and a do tank. We’re not into the business of just thinking alone. Thinking is the sound of one hand clapping; thinking and doing is the sound of two hands clapping,” said Rudd, a former Australia prime minister and foreign minister. The Mandarin speaker began his career as a China scholar, serving as an Australian diplomat in Beijing before entering Australian politics.

“We have always seen our work as the one which translates theory into practice, rather than producing a report in the vain hope that somewhere there will be someone in the world who will read it at some stage,” he said. The new Center for China Analysis will operate under the Asia Society Policy Institute.

“You might ask,” Rudd queried, “Why do we need another China center here in the United States?”

“One,” he continued, “is that it’s important to bring together the full spectrum of China’s specialization under one roof in order to bring together the best integrated analysis of contemporary China that is possible.”

“There is no lack of analysis on different aspects of China’s rise. What I find… is a lack of synthesis in drawing the threads of disparate analysis together into an integrated whole that can make sense to policymakers,” Rudd said.

“That is why the Center for China Analysis will bring together expertise on Chinese domestic politics, China’s domestic economy, new developments in Chinese society and culture, rapid advances in Chinese technology, as well as the most recent developments in Chinese foreign security policy, and of course, China’s impact on climate,” Rudd said.

“In the minds of the Chinese leadership, all these things relate to each other. Therefore, I think it’s useful for other international leaders to have available to them integrated analysis of Chinese politics and policy in a way that also relates the part to the whole,” he said.

Second, Rudd continued, the new center will attach a priority to Chinese-language sources. “Many of the debates on China’s foreign and domestic policy are well ventilated by China’s own domestic discourse, often freely available in its own public literature, assuming of course you know where to find it (and) assuming you’ll put in the effort to read the Chinese original sources. We therefore intend to make maximum use of Chinese domestic journals, publications, newspapers, and online information as the Chinese system itself seeks to communicate across the Chinese Communist Party and the Chinese people new directions in politics, the economy and foreign policy.”

“That’s not to say we’ll believe everything that we read, but it’s important to understand how the Chinese system speaks to itself. It’s what we describe in the CCA as our ‘inside-outside’ angle of looking at China,” he said.

Another feature of the Center for China Analysis is “vigorously objective analysis of where China is going that “will be critical of Chinese policy whenever necessary, but also means to bring a critical approach to bear on U.S. policy, where we also judge that to be necessary.”

Event speakers and panelists included former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, as well as Wu Guoguang, senior research scholar at the Stanford Center on China’s Economy and Institutions; Chris Johnson, president of political risk consultancy China Strategies Group; Ma Guonan, a senior fellow on the Chinese economy at the Asia Society Policy Institute; Evan Medeiros, former top Asia advisor to President Barack Obama and current Asia studies scholar at Georgetown University; and Rorry Daniels, managing director of the Asia Society Policy Institute.

Other panelists included Dr. Selwyn Vickers, CEO of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSK); Dr. Bob Li, MSK Physician Ambassador to China and Asia-Pacific; and Kate Logan, associate director of climate the Asia Society Policy Institute. Guest attendees included business leaders Joe Tsai and Ray Dalio.

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In China’s auto market, electric isn’t the future. It’s the present.

Zhang Youping, a Chinese retiree, purchased an all-electric small SUV from BYD — China’s largest electric vehicle maker — at an auto show for around $20,000 last month. Her family has bought three gas-powered cars in the last decade, but she recently grew concerned about gas prices and decided to go electric “to save money.” A few months earlier, her son had also bought an EV. It was a $10,000 hatchback from Leapmotor, another Chinese manufacturer.

This year, one-quarter of all new cars bought in China will be all-electric or plug-in hybrid vehicles. There are, by some estimates, more than 300 Chinese companies making EVs, ranging from discount offerings below $5,000 to high-end models that rival Tesla and German automakers. And there are roughly 4 million charging units in the country — double the number from a year ago — with more coming.

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XPeng Chairman Buys Nearly $30 Mln Of Shares As China EV Maker Slides To Record Low

He Xiaopeng, the billionaire founder and chairman of China electric vehicle maker XPeng, bought nearly $30 million of shares in the company on Friday as a fall in the Alibaba-backed company continued anew.

XPeng slid 0.2% on Friday in New York trading to $13.71, a record closing low. The once high-flying, Guangzhou-headquartered manufacturer’s shares have lost 61% of their value in New York from a recent high of $35.29 in June. The company went public in the U.S. at $15 per American Depositary Share, or ADS, in 2020. Its stock also now trades at the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.

After buying 2,200,000 ADSs on Friday at an average price of $13.58, He owns approximately 20.5%, XPeng said in a statement on Sunday.

Shares around the world have tanked of late as central banks have raised interest rates to combat inflation running at its highest level in decades. The global EV industry has further been affected by supply chain problems amid the Covid pandemic. XPeng said earlier this month it delivered 9,578 in August, a 33% increase year-over-year. Yet that was a slower pace than its year-to-date gains. For the first eight months of 2022, XPeng delivered 90,085 EVs, almost double last year’s Jan.-Aug. total.

He founded browser UCWeb before Xpeng; UCWeb was acquired by Alibaba Group in 2014. Alibaba today owns approximately 11% of XPeng.

He is worth $2.4 billion on the Forbes Real-Time Billionaires List today.

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Hong Kong Billionaire’s K. Wah Wins Shanghai Real Estate Bid, Sees “Excellent” Opportunity

Hong Kong billionaire Lui Che-woo has been making successful investments in Shanghai real estate since the 1980s, such as K. Wah Center set along the city’s swank Huai Hai Road. A new project coming amid the country’s economically painful zero-Covid policies took a big step forward on Friday when his flagship K. Wah International Holdings said it had won a joint tender bid for HK$4.18 billion, or $532 million, to develop land on the city’s western side.

K. Wah, though a subsidiary, will hold 60% of a joint venture in partnership with two state-owned companies to develop residential and commercial property in an area planned for artificial intelligence and healthcare-related businesses, the announcement said.

K. Wah said the project “represents an excellent investment opportunity for the group to be engaged in a transit-oriented development to expand its presence in the Shanghai property market, replenish the group’s land bank and is in line with the group’s business development strategy and planning.”

The announcement comes after China’s overall GDP growth fell to 0.4% in the second quarter from a year earlier. In Shanghai, where millions experienced lockdowns of varying duration in the April-June period, GDP shrank by 5.7%. China’s relations with the United States and Europe have been strained by Beijing’s close ties with Russia and recent military exercises near Taiwan.

Mainland-born Lui, worth $12.1 billion on the Forbes Real-Time Billionaires list today, moved to Hong Kong at age four. Possessing only an elementary school education, he helped his grandmother run a retail outfit that sold food staples in Hong Kong as a teenager. In the late 1940s he re-exported army surplus, and by 1950 was buying construction equipment from Japan and selling it to Southeast Asia. In 1964 his was the first private company to obtain quarrying rights in Hong Kong, thanks to a record bid.

After that, Lui started building undistinguished residential housing there. Lui was also an early investor in China, buying into a quarry in Shenzhen in 1980 and later acquiring a land bank in Guangzhou. K. Wah Center opened in Shanghai in April 2005; beside real estate, part of his fortune also comes from the Macau casino operator Galaxy Entertainment Group.

Another long-term Hong Kong success story in Shanghai property development, Shui On Land, led by billionaire Vincent Lo, noted in a filing last month China’s short-term business outlook faces uncertainties. “The Chinese economy faces considerable headwinds amid a highly uncertain geopolitical environment, tense U.S.-China relations, and tightening monetary policy in the advanced economies,” it said. “The property sector debt issue will take time to resolve. Still, the government has the policy means and experience to handle the developers’ debt restructuring process and address the suspended project issue.”

And yet Shui On, whose Shanghai projects include city’s iconic Xintiandi nightlife and shopping area, was nevertheless upbeat about the longer-term investment prospects there. “Although the immediate outlook is less than favorable, the impending market correction should enable us to acquire assets in prime locations at attractive prices during what could be a golden era for new investment,” it said.

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Focus on vaccination, return to normalcy: China’s CDC scientists

While China has double-vaccinated most of its population, the booster campaign has only covered around two-thirds of them, and the country is still following a ‘zero-COVID’ strategy with mass testing and lockdowns

While China has double-vaccinated most of its population, the booster campaign has only covered around two-thirds of them, and the country is still following a ‘zero-COVID’ strategy with mass testing and lockdowns

 Scientists and researchers at China’s Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have made a rare call urging Beijing to focus on a booster vaccination campaign and consider an exit strategy out of President Xi Jinping’s “zero-COVID” approach.

The briefing paper published last week by four scientists said, “The pathway forward is clear. Vaccinate with confidence and finish strong.”

While China has double-vaccinated most of its population, the booster campaign has only covered around two-thirds of the population. Many health experts say vaccinations have lagged with healthcare personnel and resources currently devoted to enforcing the rigid zero-COVID approach, which calls for regular mass testing, lockdowns and quarantines.

There are as yet no signs of a change in approach from zero-COVID to a new vaccination campaign, particularly with an upcoming once-in-five-year Party Congress, where Mr. Xi will begin a third term, likely to trumpet the success of “zero-COVID”.

As of early September, more than 65 million people in 33 cities were in some form of lockdown in China, media outlet Caixin reported, with signs of people’s patience for the approach, three years into the pandemic, beginning to wane as more transmissible variants bring harsher lockdowns and challenge what was a successful strategy in 2020. Beijing has also lagged behind the rest of the world in opening up.

The CDC paper acknowledged those concerns. “Everyone wants to return to normal life,” the four scientists, Dan Wu, Zundong Yin, Zijiang Feng, and Lance Rodewald, affiliated with the CDC’s National Immunization Program and the Chinese Preventive Medicine Association, wrote. “Vaccination is the key, and time will run out for the vaccination campaign.”

“Sustaining optimised protection for a safe, long-term exit of the pandemic will almost certainly require well-timed second booster doses,” the paper said. “The last 10% in any vaccination campaign is the most difficult to reach, and in our case, the last 10% is also a critically important group to protect because the last 10% has an enrichment of people with comorbidities, many of whom are elderly and will suffer the most from COVID-19 if infected.”

Visitors walk past a display showing mock-ups of COVID-19 and omicron variant vaccines from Chinese drugmaker Sinopharm at the China International Fair for Trade in Services (CIFTIS) in Beijing, on September 2, 2022.
| Photo Credit: AP

It added that “real-world evidence” from outbreaks in Jilin, Shanghai and Hong Kong had shown Chinese vaccines had shown clear “effectiveness where it is needed the most — prevention of serious, critical, and fatal COVID-19 among people of all ages and regardless of co-morbidities.”

It said zero-COVID had brought China “a rare commodity – tranquil time” and helped avoid mass deaths, but suggested it was time to consider an exit, which would require a second booster.

This will likely mean several months of a sustained campaign before China can open. But so far, there has been no suggestion of a focused booster campaign with the focus still very much on zero-COVID testing and lockdowns, indicating that a return to normalcy for China could be at least a year away, at a minimum.

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World Will Have Nearly 40% More Millionaires By 2026: Credit Suisse

The world will have nearly 40% more millionaires in 2026 compared with the end of last year, according to a report by the Credit Suisse Research Institute released on Tuesday.

The five-year outlook “is for wealth to continue growing,” said Nannette Hechler-Fayd’herbe, Chief Investment Officer for the EMEA region and Global Head of Economics & Research at Credit Suisse.

Higher inflation “yields higher forecast values for global wealth when expressed in current U.S. dollars rather than real U.S. dollars. Our forecast is that, by 2024, global wealth per adult should pass the $100,000 threshold and that the number of millionaires will exceed 87 million individuals over the next five years,” Hechler-Fayd’herbe said in a statement.

Buoyed by rising stock prices and low interest rates, global wealth increased global wealth last year totaled $463.6 trillion, a gain of 9.8% at prevailing exchange raises, Credit Suisse said in its annual “Global Wealth Report 2022.” Wealth per adult rose 8.4% to $87,489, it said.

All regions contributed to the rise in global wealth, but North America and China dominated, with North America accounting for more than half of the global total and China adding another quarter, the report said. In percentage terms, North America and China recorded the highest growth rates — around 15% each, it said.

The United States continued to rank highest in the number of the world’s richest with more than 140,000 ultra-high-net-worth individuals with wealth above $50 million, followed by China with 32,710 individuals, the report said. Worldwide, Credit Suisse estimates that there were 62.5 million millionaires at the end of 2021, 5.2 million more than the year before.

By contrast, this year looks tough. “Some reversal of the exceptional wealth gains of 2021 is likely in 2022/2023 as several countries face slower growth or even recession,” the report said.

Rises in interest rates in 2022 have already had an adverse impact on bond and share prices and are also likely to hurt investment in non-financial assets, the Global Wealth Report noted.

Longer term, growth will recover, Credit Suisse predicted. “Global wealth in nominal U.S. dollars is expected to increase by $169 trillion by 2026, a rise of 36%,” from last year, it said.

The beneficiaries will be more spread out globally, the report predicted. “Low and middle-income countries currently account for 24% of wealth, but will be responsible for 42% of wealth growth over the next five years. Middle-income countries will be the primary driver of global trends,” Credit Suisse said.

Click here for the full report.

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WH clarifies that Biden’s statement on ’60 Minutes’ does NOT reflect the OFFICIAL position of the US gov’t (and SO much more)

Not long ago we said that a clip that “60 Minutes” promoted for Scott Pelley’s interview with President Biden suggested the entire interview might consist of softball questions. The interview aired on CBS Sunday and while it wasn’t a super challenging time for Biden, there were some telling moments.

For starters, even “60 Minutes” had to note that Biden’s answer about the U.S. defending Taiwan in the event of a Chinese attack was not the official position of the country of which he’s the president:

It’s always SO entertaining when the White House has to come out and say the comments from the US president do not represent the official position of the US government.

Biden also tackled the issue of inflation in the “60 Minutes” interview. How’s this for a giant pile of BS?

YIKES! At least Biden admitted inflation ticked up “an inch” instead of insisting it was “zero” just a few weeks ago.

Biden also defended his son Hunter, the smartest man he knows:

Well, what was Joe supposed to say? You’ll also notice that Pelley framed the whole question from a “Republicans pounce” angle instead of just going after the facts.

Here’s a good one: In the interview, Biden slammed Trump for making politics about “personal attacks”:

Quite a claim coming from the guy who says millions of Americans are “threats to democracy” because of who they vote for.

And Biden knows the interviewer wouldn’t call him out.

The entire interview was an exercise in projection, hypocrisy and denial.

Also, “the proof of the pudding is in the eating” made a resurgence after a question about Biden’s mental acuity and energy level:

Finally, will Biden run again in 2024?

Biden’s “intention” might conflict with those of the Democrats actually making the calls, which do NOT include Joe Biden.



60 Minutes’ clip of Biden interview doesn’t suggest there’s going to be much hard-hitting journalism on display

WATCH: Karine Jean-Pierre *really* doesn’t want to answer Jacqui Heinrich’s straightforward questions about Joe Biden’s border crisis


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Xi has concerns over Ukraine, Putin says

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday said he understood that Xi Jinping had questions and concerns about the situation in Ukraine but praised China’s leader for what he said was a “balanced” position on the conflict.

Russia’s war in Ukraine has killed tens of thousands of people and pushed the global economy into uncharted waters with soaring prices for food and energy amid the biggest confrontation between Moscow and the West since the Cold War.

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Queen Elizabeth II’s passing, focus on India-Bangladesh ties and more

The passing of Queen Elizabeth II, the United Kingdom’s longest-serving monarch who reigned for over seven decades since the early post-War years, marked the end of an era for the British monarchy. Our London correspondent Sriram Lakshman tracked the development that came just days after Queen Elizabeth appointed former U.K. Foreign Secretary Liz Truss as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.

“As epochal was her rule, so too could the impact of her passing be on the mission and prospects of the Commonwealth,” said The Hindu, in its editorial reflecting on her life, death, and questions about the state of the monarchy vis-à-vis the Commonwealth realms.

India announced a day of National Mourning on September 11 to mark her passing.

India-Bangladesh in focus

Bangladesh PM Sheikh Hasina’s visit to New Delhi last week assumed significance for many reasons, including the differences over sharing of rivers. Here, Kallol Bhattacherjee explains the importance of the Kushiyara river treaty, the first river-sharing agreement in nearly three decades, between India and Bangladesh.

How does Bangladesh view the visit and the outcome of her visit? Bangladesh Minister of State for Foreign Affairs speaks to Suhasini Haidar. The state visit of PM Hasina to India amply showcased the high stakes of both polities in their bilateral ties, imbued with regional significance, wrote former diplomat Rajiv Bhatia. India and Bangladesh must focus on future cooperation based on past partnership, The Hindu editorial said.

Modi, Xi to head to Uzbekistan

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will travel to Samarkand this week to attend the first in-person summit of the SCO (Shanghai Cooperation Organisation) countries since the COVID-19 pandemic, in Samarkand. At the summit, he will come face to face with Chinese President Xi Jinping for the first time since the stand-off at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) began in April 2020. President Xi, for whom this will be the first visit abroad in nearly three years, is expected to hold talks with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, Ananth Krishnan reports from Beijing.

In the neighbourhood and beyond

As Sri Lanka continues grappling with a harrowing economic crisis, President Ranil Wickremesinghe expanded his Cabinet with 37 new junior ministers, including a Rajapaksa.

Meanwhile, Colombo also prepares to face a resolution in the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, after the Human Rights High Commissioner’s recent report noted that “impunity” for human rights abuses, economic crimes, and corruption was the “underlying” reason for the country’s collapse.

The Top Five

  1. Promises to keep, an emotional vacuum to fill – Narayan Lakshman profiles the newly-elected British Prime Minister and weighs in on the many crucial tasks that await her.
  2. What powers will Britain’s new monarch, King Charles III, hold? Diksha Munjal writes.
  3. What is the G7 planning on Russian oil? Suhasini Haidar explains.
  4. This was Chile’s ‘disaster in the making’ – scholar and former Chilean diplomat Jorge Heine writes on the overwhelming rejection of a new constitutional draft by the country’s electorate. Also read The Hindu’s Editorial here.
  5. Arun Maira writes on Gorbachev, macro-economics, and Gandhi.

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