This month, the International Monetary Fund published a report projecting that China’s economy is heading toward a “soft landing.” Although growth is expected to remain around 8% at least this year, the report created a stir. Today’s post summarizes recent Chinese and American commentary on China’s economic prospects.
The main message in the officially-sanctioned press is that China’s economic slowdown is a normal result of ongoing efforts to restructure the Chinese economy and stimulate domestic demand.
- There is “no need to panic about slowdown in China,” ran the headline of a People’s Dailyeditorial, while the more Hard Nationalist Global Times prescribed the following: “China’s economy must create more jobs, boost consumption by increasing individual incomes, and improve social harmony my reducing income disparity.”
- Additional coverage and commentary on China’s economic restructuring cited positive projections by an International Trade Centre director, a Malaysian economist, and an American academic. A report on recently released job figures also emphasized “China’s improving ability to create jobs even in times of economic slowdown.”
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Ongoing tensions over territorial disputes in Asia were brought to the foreground last week by several events. ASEAN foreign ministers for the first time failed to agree on a final communiqué at their annual meeting, due to divisions amongst members over how to handle disputes in the South China Sea. Meanwhile, tensions between Japan and China flared up over the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands. On the sidelines of the forum, South Korea, Japan, and the US met to discuss strengthening mechanisms for national security cooperation amidst stalled progress on the Korean peninsula. Our latest post highlights commentary in China, India, Japan, Russia, and South Korea on these developments.
Official Chinese rhetoric at the ASEAN meeting expressed support for formulating a Code of Conduct to address disputes in the South China Sea, while commentary in the state and party-owned newspapers were less accommodating, blaming Vietnam, the Philippines, and more broadly the United States, for the region’s tensions:
- “Public opinion in China is already on the brink of boiling over,” said a Global Times editorial. “Further provocation from Vietnam and the Philippines would mean direct confrontation with China’s angry public.”
- The People’s Daily opined that “US interference in Asia-Pacific may be self defeating,” and that enabling Southeast Asian countries to “side with the US against China” will only entangle the US in South China Sea disputes.
On Sino-Japanese relations, the People’s Daily called the Japanese government’s recent proposal to purchase islands a “farce,” saying that “if it develops unchecked, it will surely result in the issue of the Diaoyu Islands spiraling out of control.”
It was widely reported in the Indian press that Vietnam’s decision to extend an oil exploration contract to an Indian company was a sign that Vietnam wants a continued Indian presence in the South China Sea. General commentary on the ASEAN meeting, however, was relatively sparse. (more…)