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    by Published on 09-24-2013 11:22 PM  Number of Views: 33086 
    1. Categories:
    2. Entertainment
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    By Christina Larson
    September 23, 2013

    U.S. actor Leonardo DiCaprio attends the official launch of Qingdao Oriental Movie Metropolis on Sept. 22 in Qingdao, Shandong province, China. Photograph by TPG/Getty Images

    Leonardo DiCaprio, Nicole Kidman, Ewan McGregor, John Travolta, and other Hollywood A-listers mingled with foreign and Chinese film industry executives Sunday at the groundbreaking ceremony of a new $8 billion film and entertainment industry park in the eastern Chinese city of Qingdao. ...
    by Published on 09-24-2013 11:15 PM  Number of Views: 19665 
    1. Categories:
    2. Society and Environment

    By Melissa Hogenboom, BBC News
    September 24, 2013

    Yang Guang was one of a pair of pandas loaned from China to Edinburgh in 2011

    For more than half a century, China has used its pandas to help foster relationships with other countries. These diplomatic loans are now entering a new phase, according to researchers.

    The cuddly creatures attract a lot of attention. They're conservation icons and boost a zoo's brand.

    In fact, Edinburgh's loaned giant panda Tian Tian has even become a bit of a celebrity as the world watches with interest to see if she might give birth soon.

    Ever since the founder of China's communist party, Mao Zedong, used pandas as a way of entering into political discussions with other countries, the animal has been a national treasure.

    Just this week, China showed off 14 giant panda cubs that had been artificially bred at a research centre in Sichuan province.

    Edinburgh's panda deal was criticised at the time by environmental groups, which said it was more about commerce than conservation.

    Now a team from oxford has quantified the new wave of panda diplomacy in a research article published in Environmental Practice. The team says panda diplomacy is only set to grow.

    The researchers looked at all the panda loans that had occurred in the last half century and at the trade taking place since 2008. This was when the Sichuan earthquake devastated the main panda conservation centre which meant many pandas needed re-homing.

    The team found that, after 2008, panda loans coincided with trade deals for valuable resources and technology.

    This new stage is based on "guanxi" loans, a Chinese term used to describe personalised networks of influence, trust, reciprocity and loyalty.

    Shared bond

    Lead author Kathleen Buckingham at Oxford University, UK, says that sharing the care of such a precious animal strengthens the bonds that China has with its "inner circle" of countries.

    "In many ways China is testing the global technological capacity through panda loans. The USA has proved its capability and technological prowess to China with the birth of its panda cub. Can Edinburgh do the same?"

    Edinburgh Zoo received its pandas in 2011. An agreed annual sum, paid to the Chinese government, is earmarked for giant panda conservation projects in the wild.

    But shortly after the panda exchange occurred, claim the researchers, trade deals were signed for salmon, renewable energy technology and Land Rover vehicles - contracts worth an estimated £2.6bn ($4bn).

    A Scottish government spokesman told BBC News: "Strengthening our relationship will bring substantial benefits to both countries. We are committed to working hard to deepen existing ties and establish new areas of cooperation - an approach that is clearly paying dividends."

    They add that Scottish exports to China have almost doubled in the past five years to £500m ($800m).

    Uranium deals

    At the same time that Scotland sealed its salmon agreement, Norway - which had, up to that point, provided most of China's salmon for two decades - lost its deal. The authors state this was was likely because Norway had awarded the Nobel Peace Prize to jailed Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo. Relations between the two countries subsequently became strained.

    The researchers also say that panda loans in Canada, France and Australia coincided with trade deals for uranium, which China needs to enable it to increase its nuclear capacity by 2050. Japan also received two pandas from China in 2011 and both countries stated that they hoped the loan would improve relations soured by a sovereignty dispute over islands.

    The pandas are not simply exchanged in a straightforward quid pro quo for the supply of natural resources to China - the reality is much more subtle, says Dr Buckingham.

    "The panda can be used to seal the deal and signify a bid for a long and prosperous relationship. If a panda is given to the country, it does not signify the closing of a deal - they have entrusted an endangered, precious animal to the country, it signifies in some ways a new start to the relationship."

    She argues that China is interested in having "soft power influence through a global visual seal of approval" gained from loaning pandas.

    "Since 2008, China has needed to re-house pandas. Whether the housing issue is still pertinent or not, this wave has made it evident that China has a lot to gain through panda loans," Dr Buckingham told BBC News.

    Tian Tian - who may or may not be pregnant - attracts many new visitors

    Roderic Wye of the Asia programme at Chatham house, an independent think tank focusing on international affairs, says China is now confident enough not to explicitly need panda loans to secure agreements on trade.

    "Of course there's an element of politicking associated with pandas but it's difficult to draw a direct correlation. The loans earn China soft-power brownie points at no real cost to themselves," he told BBC News.

    Dean Cheng from the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think-tank in Washington DC, comments: "It is not surprising that China would take advantage of this resource. If this leads to panda conservation that is a good thing. At the same time, the Chinese can assume the mantle of responsible environmentalism, which given other Chinese behaviour, is probably not a bad thing to lay claim to," he adds.

    Transparency call

    The loan to Edinburgh was the first of its kind in 17 years. The day of the pandas' arrival on a specially-chartered flight was even covered by rolling live news.

    This positive atmosphere creates the perfect setting for subsequent trade negotiations, says Henry Nicholls, author of The Way of the Panda: The Curious History of China's Political Animal.

    But he says that the conservation value of such loans is "dubious" as there is a "total lack of transparency" over where the money goes.

    "We know roughly where the money goes, but does the zoo have any say in how it is broken down and whether the money is working the hardest it possibly can? We have absolutely no idea about that."

    He adds that China's influence on other countries will "continue to strengthen" as it brings panda diplomacy to a whole new level.

    "China's expansion across the globe - and its use of pandas - has become more obvious and the motivation for the loans has become muddied. They are no longer just about conservation, but become increasingly bound up with political and economic ambitions."

    by Published on 09-15-2013 09:40 PM  Number of Views: 34061 
    1. Categories:
    2. Economy and Business
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    By Bloomberg News
    September 16, 2013

    A pedestrian checks her watch as she walks past an advertisement for a real estate company near the Dalian International Conference Center in Dalian, China. Photographer: Tomohiro Ohsumi/Bloomberg

    Matthew Zhou and his wife spent 1.6 million yuan ($261,000) to buy a two-bedroom apartment last month in eastern Shanghai after seeing no potential for long-term returns in China’s financial markets. ...
    by Published on 09-07-2013 11:36 PM  Number of Views: 30085 
    1. Categories:
    2. Politics
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    By Joel Wuthnow
    September 8, 2013

    A North Korean Flags. source: mega-flags

    As the crisis in Syria unfolds, a less noticed problem has been the widening gap between China and the United States about how to handle another “rogue regime”—North Korea. After signs of growing cooperation with the U.S. earlier this year, China has reverted to a heavy emphasis on dialogue as a solution to the DPRK nuclear issue. ...
    by Published on 08-28-2013 12:42 AM  Number of Views: 1807 
    1. Categories:
    2. Politics,
    3. Society and Environment
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    By Ai Weiwei
    August 27, 2013

    Source: Alison Klayman/Sundance Selects via Bloomberg

    The just-concluded trial of Bo Xilai will be remembered as one of the most critical political milestones in contemporary Chinese Communist history. For many years after Chairman Mao’s death in 1976, show trials were straightforward affairs. For their role in the devastating Cultural Revolution, the Gang of Four were simply charged with “anti-party activities” and convicted. Today, a political trial needs to take into consideration many more factors. ...
    by Published on 08-14-2013 12:28 AM  Number of Views: 2004 
    1. Categories:
    2. Culture
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    By Mike Ives
    August 13, 2013

    Brian Linden and his wife, Jeanee, converted a courtyard residential complex in Yunnan Province, built before the Communist revolution, into the Linden Centre hotel. Zhou Xiansheng/Linden Centre

    XIZHOU, China — Brian Linden welcomed the guests to his boutique hotel in one of its courtyards at the end of a cobblestone alley here, surrounded by old stone walls and polished wood balconies. ...
    by Published on 08-14-2013 12:15 AM  Number of Views: 943 
    1. Categories:
    2. Politics
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    By Pin Ho, Weng-guang Huang
    August 13, 2013

    Bo Xilai and son Bo guagua. Picture from Reuters.

    Two thousand years ago, in the kingdom of Jin, there was a courtier named Zhao Shuo whose grandfather and father both served as prime ministers. When a new ruler came to power, he felt threatened by the Zhao clan's influence and arrogance. With the help of a powerful general, he executed the entire family except for Zhao's pregnant wife, who escaped. ...
    by Published on 08-03-2013 12:39 AM  Number of Views: 971 
    1. Categories:
    2. Politics,
    3. Science
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    By John Hickman
    August 2, 2013

    Lintao Zhang/Getty Images

    On June 11, in the flat and featureless Gobi Desert, China took a giant leap for mankind -- or at least a symbolic step toward space dominance -- when it sent three astronauts into space for 15 days. With the past as a guide, both that launch and the 2010 launch of the Chang'e 2 unmanned lunar orbiter are technologically unimpressive. ...
    by Published on 08-03-2013 12:35 AM  Number of Views: 979 
    1. Categories:
    2. Military
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    By David Gompert, Terrence Kelly
    August 2, 2013

    DALE de la REY/AFP/GettyImages

    As the threat to forward-deployed U.S. forces grows, particularly in East Asia, the Pentagon has been pursuing a strategy known as Air-Sea Battle. As Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Greenert and Chief of Staff of the Air Force General Welsh have outlined here in FP, the goal is to neutralize the ability of enemies to keep U.S. forces at bay with so-called anti-access and area-denial defenses. ...
    by Published on 07-29-2013 11:36 PM  Number of Views: 855 
    1. Categories:
    2. Military
    Article Preview

    By John Reed
    July 29, 2013

    U.S. Air Force. Source foreignpolic killerapps.

    The United States Air Force will dramatically expand its military presence across the Pacific this year, sending jets to Thailand, India, Singapore, and Australia, according to the service's top general in the region. ...

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