Sunday, March 31, 2013

Why call US tech giant rotten Apple?

Play Video
 
Apple products have gained huge popularity in China over recent years. Iphones and ipads are the "must-have" accessory, particularly in urban areas while the company’s stores are often overflowing with customers trying out the latest gadgets.

But there’s now a scandal brewing over Apple’s warranty and repair policy, and concern that Chinese consumers are being given a rough ride.

In a recent interview, Apple CEO Tim Cook said China will soon become Apple’s biggest market.

For Apple, business must stay business

Apple Inc has been having a hard time in China since China Central Television (CCTV) revealed on March 15 that the technology giant allegedly applies a different service policy to Chinese consumers than in other countries and regions. A wave of onslaught has surged in Chinese State media in the past few days, with Chinese authorities ordering the company to change its policies or face punishment according to Chinese regulations.

However, many Chinese fans have shown their loyalty toward Apple, allying with some foreign media outlets in saying that this is a "well-coordinated" campaign led by the Chinese government to pinch the US company. It is also said that Apple is merely the victim of China's vengeance against the US government's treatment of Chinese telecom giants. China's Huawei and ZTE have long been restricted in the US markets under security and other accusations.

The drama began as a typical business incident, as CCTV did not only point its finger at Apple in its March 15 exposé. It is no good for either side that the issue is gradually turning political.

Generally speaking, CCTV's annual showcase program on World Consumer Rights Day has played a positive role in digging out business scandals. It is also the reason why the program has remained influential among Chinese viewers for a long time.

Had Apple been more sincere in its response to the criticism, the result could have been different. The statement Apple made right after the CCTV exposé was very different with that of other multinational companies who were also reported to have consumer rights issues. With the sheer weight of the company behind it, Apple's detached tone could easily be seen as proof of arrogance.

Apple has won respect from Chinese consumers with its perseverance in developing leading technologies and styles. But the company is not impeccable. Like its continuing stride in exploring for technological breakthroughs, the company also needs to keep working hard to raise its service quality.

Apple should not follow the media speculation and consider itself the target of political persecution. As for its fans in China, if they do love this brand, they should let the truth emerge instead of joining the speculations.

If the issue developed into a head-on confrontation between Apple and the Chinese authorities, the US company will never be a winner, nor will China necessarily do well. Of course, Apple will suffer the most, as its products are already facing increasing competition in China.

It will be wise for Apple not to entangle itself into political debates. For Apple, it is still a matter of business. -
Global Times

Why call US tech giant rotten Apple?

State broadcaster Central China Television (CCTV) took the first bite. The People's Daily followed, and now others like Guangming Daily and The Global Times have joined the fray.

China's state media has been piling the pressure on Apple since the American tech giant was criticised during CCTV's annual show on March 15 to mark World Consumer Day.

This week alone, the People's Daily has run articles four days in a row to lash out at Apple for allegedly discriminating against its customers in China.

"Why is it that Apple is so incredibly brazen and arrogant in China when it doesn't dare to be so in the United States and other countries?" asked a commentator in the People's Daily, the mouthpiece of the Communist Party. It also likened Apple to a wolf pretending to be innocent.

Many observers are wondering about the real reasons behind the coordinated media attacks.

Could China be retaliating against the difficulties faced by its tech behemoth Huawei in the US? Or is it Apple's lack of advertisements in the state media?

"I wish I knew," Bill Bishop, a Beijing-based analyst and founder of The Sinocism China Newsletter, told The Straits Times.

There are some who say there is nothing more to it than Apple behaving badly.

"When it comes to China, a market with great potential, Apple has taken advantage of its fans' crazy enthusiasm by using incredulous sales tactics," wrote blogger Shu Shusi, a frequent commentator on consumer issues.

Not only are iPhones released later and sold at a higher price in China than elsewhere, their after- sales service is bad too, he added.

Apple might also have violated Chinese regulations, noted others. CCTV on Wednesday said consumers had complained that Apple offered only a one-year warranty for its MacBook Air in China, when the country's rules mandate a two-year warranty for the main laptop parts.

Then there is the sense that Apple needed to be taught a lesson for not being contrite enough.

"Errant companies" featured on CCTV's 315 Evening Gala, like Chinese net firm Netease, had been quick to apologise and make peace. But Apple insisted that its China customers enjoy the highest service standards.

Some wonder whether the attacks are just a case of tit-for-tat.

A US Congressional report last October accused Huawei of being a security threat.

"Just as the US attacked Huawei, China is taking it out on Apple in revenge," claimed "Blank Neo" on his Sina Weibo microblog.

Another possible explanation could be Beijing's unease with the wide usage of iPhones in China.

"There is a serious official desire for an indigenous mobile operating system," noted Bishop.

Also, the iPhone's operating system may be seen as a foreign security threat as it is a closed one and not easily monitored. The Android operating system, in contrast, is open and thus less of a threat, say observers.

The attacks could be a way of attracting eyeballs, suggested a consumer rights advocate.

"Apple has a huge customer base in China. Its news value is high," Wang Hai said.

What can Apple do to stop the rash of attacks?

Said Bishop: "I expect Apple to have to change its policies, express public contrition, and then this particular storm will blow over.

"They may also need to buy some ads on CCTV, as (search engine) Baidu and many other Chinese firms who have been on the receiving end did."

BRICS change the world: doing development differently

A prospective new financial architecture promises to reform and improve development finance for the world.


FIVE countries came together during the week to grab international headlines over how they might, as a group, change the world: Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (Brics).

And they would do so in the most tried-and-tested way imaginable: financially, as a single economic entity. As a bloc Brics may effect change on a global scale, but the grouping would still do so in the traditional way of flexing economic muscle.

The annual Brics summit held during the week in Durban, South Africa, focused on what that muscle can do – challenge the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund in the way development finance is conducted, as well as the Western dominance that has prevailed in both Bretton Woods institutions.

Those institutions were never meant to be that way, of course, as a reading of their founding texts would show. But any initial magnanimity soon gave way to self-interest: US and European dominance of the World Bank and the IMF respectively was to be a Western “consensus” imposed on the world like a global neo-colonial regime.

Interestingly, the original Bric as both a term and a grouping originated not in any of the initial four countries or the developing world, but in the US itself.

None other than Goldman Sachs’ Asset Management Chairman Jim O’Neill coined the term in 2001 for those countries he believed would outpace the US in total GDP by 2020.

At the turn of the century Brazil, Russia, India and China were merely regarded by some as emerging economies developing under their own steam.

After O’Neill’s coinage they held their first summit in 2009 and invited South Africa to join them a year later, and Brics was born.

Since then, Brics as both concept and entity has had vigorous growth and a vibrant youth. It compares favourably with the IMF and the World Bank, both pushing 70 years and weighed down by limiting conditionalities and outmoded economic ideology.

Both institutions typically adopt a cold, mechanistic approach to development that prioritises market interests over human needs. Their Western bias is also a throwback in a 21st-century world of shared global interests and aspirations, and a world in which Western economies themselves are in trouble.

In contrast, Brics as a bloc of emerging economies serves as a bridge between the developing Third World and the developed First World. It seeks to narrow that yawning chasm by focusing on reviving global growth and ensuring macroeconomic stability.

Those virtues that had once been the preserve of the West have become its elusive goals. The “developed” and the “emerging” (mostly, once “developing”) economies have traded places.

The new global bank that Brics wants to establish is expected to emphasise infrastructure development and trade. The first represents solid investment in development for the future, and the second works as an economic multiplier for further growth.

On paper, Brics countries account for almost half the world’s population and just over a quarter of world trade. But more important than these bare figures is how Brics economies have been driving global growth for years, as acknowledged by the World Bank itself.

The idea for a new global bank arose only last year. So how the measured progress at the Durban summit is perceived depends at least as much on the observer: is the glass half-full or half-empty?

Some of the most difficult decisions, such as financing modes, remain unresolved. Its primary purposes like the operation of funds in project financing and a contingency fund as crisis buffer will take more time to work out.

Pessimists may cite how the absence of agreement on even the quantum of fund contribution from each country bodes ill for Brics. Basing the contribution on economic capacity makes sense, but concerns were expressed over how that would inevitably make a hulking China dominant.

A standard sum of US$10bil (RM31bil) from each country as seed capital was then considered, following a Russian proposal, but the final decision was left until later.

Optimists would say that far from weak indecision, this showed an openness about not wanting any country to dominate, with agreement on equality with a fair and manageable quantum for all.

However, realists may say that in such financial matters China would still eventually dominate. To that, it can be said that dominance by a single country was never a problem before, given the prominent US role and influence in the World Bank and the IMF.

At this point some may say it was precisely because of single-power dominance that had compromised the work of the Bretton Woods institutions. It might then be observed that a new global bank dominated by China would only balance the World Bank (and the IMF), which it would complement rather than replace.

Some observers may see crippling incompatibility in the different political systems within BRICS.

But such diversity need not be an obstacle, particularly when all countries now work within a global capitalist system.

President Vladimir Putin, often cited in Western circles as a modern incarnation of the Soviet bear, even insisted that a new global bank “must work on market principles only.” And “communist” China is not only a major and enthusiastic player in global markets, but – to former British foreign minister David Miliband – has even acted as a saviour of Western capitalism.

What worries fans of the IMF and World Bank is not how a new global bank as competitor will “steal their business,” but how it may force both to be more democratic and more sympathetic to the developing world. Who else but those currently dominating them in Washington and Brussels would object?

Japan as an emerging economy itself decades ago had its chance to forge a new alternative in international finance with the Asian Development Bank, but blew it.

The former coloniser in Asia seeking to make good in its post-war period, with US partnership, soon settled into establishment mode alongside its Bretton Woods equivalents. A new global bank established by BRICS will be a welcome addition to the existing financial institutions.

Its continental and political diversity would also make a slide into betraying its noble purpose more difficult.

Late last year, Brazil suggested that the proposed bank should be modelled on Asean’s Chiang Mai initiative.

This is a time for a sharing of experiences when each can learn from the rest, not of jealous exclusion and unfounded fears of rivalry.

In time, perhaps even the World Bank and the IMF can find it in themselves to accommodate and welcome new financial institutions operating on their “turf”.

At least that would help them return to their initial noble calling.

Behind the Headlines
By BUNN NAGARA

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Financial crises a result of governance failures

ROMAN emperor Julius Caesar was famously warned by a seer about the Ides of March, traditionally March 15.

On March 15 this year, banks in Cyprus were closed to allow politicians time to decide how to raise 5.8 billion euros so that the country could qualify for 10 billion euros in bailout funds from the rest of eurozone and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The solution suggested was to levy a tax on depositors, sparking a realisation that finally, the Europeans had decided to “bail-in” investors and depositors, rather than using public funds to “bail-out” everyone else.

The Cyprus crisis caused a stir in global financial markets, because it punctured expectations that the worst was over. Instead, it demonstrated another episode of muddling through.

Banks in Cyprus re-opened on Thursday with new capital controls on the amount depositors can take out. Larger depositors with over 100,000 euros would stand to lose up to 40% of their deposits. Of course, a significant portion of the deposits in Cyprus banks belong to Russians, who may suffer losses of 4 billion to 6 billion euros. For certain investors, this is the price of putting money in higher risk offshore financial centres. The price to Cyprus of operating as an offshore financial centre is likely to be a drop of GDP of more than 20% in the next couple of years.

The Cyprus outcome is not unexpected. If European governments are to be loaded with heavy debt burdens as a result of the crisis, they will be bound to start “taxing” offshore financial centres, where rich Europeans had been avoiding tax for years. If the eurozone banking union is to have any credibility, they will have to start controlling banking centres which operate largely on tax and regulatory arbitrage. Moreover, having banking assets seven to eight times GDP is no longer considered viable, whether for Cyprus or Iceland.

At the heart of such troubles lies the issue of governance. Financial crises are more governance failures than anything else.

Last week, The End of History philosopher and political scientist Francis Fukuyama published an important blog commentary on “What is governance?” This is the much-awaited part of his promised series on political governance, beginning with his 2011 book The Origins of Political Order. In that book, he looked at the three components of a modern political order a strong and capable state, the rule of law and accountability of the state to its citizens. Since the 2011 book stopped at the French Revolution, most readers would be curious to see how he handled the rise of China, which has a different political system from the West.

Fukuyama's new definition of governance is “a government's ability to make and enforce rules, and to deliver services, regardless of whether that government is democratic or not.” Notice that he has decided to remove any suggestion that democracy is automatically associated with good governance, appreciating that “an authoritarian regime can be well governed, just as a democracy can be mal-administered.”

Accordingly, he uses four approaches to evaluating the quality of governance: procedural measures, input measures, output measures and measures of bureaucratic autonomy. To put it into simple language governance should be measured according to how you govern (the processes); the efficiency of governance (how much tax or resources you need); the effectiveness (outcomes rather than objectives) and whether the bureaucracy is independent of politics or not (the autonomy question).

In dissecting governance into its different dimensions, Fukuyama has helped to clarify the methodology in thinking about the tradeoffs between the ability to have high discretion versus being bogged down by excessive rules, and high capacity to execute, versus low capacity to execute. Critics of that approach would argue that strong states with excessive discretion may not be sustainable. On the other hand, weak states with too many rules and no discretion may not be sustainable either.

Fukuyama is right to point out that the bureaucracy's interests may not be identical to those of the people. The bureaucracy is supposed to be agent of the people (the principal), but many bureaucracies serve their own interests, rather than the public to the extent that civil servants may be neither civil nor servants.

Indeed, the simplistic view that the state is deterministic versus the view of free market self-order misses the fundamental point that large bureaucracies also have self-order. Anyone familiar with working in large complex bureaucracies in China, India or the United States, with many layers of government, would recognise that it is not easy to implement policies from the centre. State or provincial governments have a mind of their own, with very different priorities from that of the centre.

Indeed, in the 21st century, many cities have become more effective instruments of state, and it is not surprising that effective mayors have become national leaders because they show a capacity to deliver close to the people.

The more interesting question about governance is: why are collective action traps so pervasive? In other words, it is understandable why ineffective and weak bureaucracies or political systems are unable to overcome gridlock in their systems, but it is common to see highly effective and capable bureaucracies also caught in gridlock.

These gridlocks are apparent in the resolution of the euro crisis, the stalemate in the Doha World Trade Organisation negotiations and the Durban climate change debates. In the first week of April, the Institute for New Economic Thinking, the Centre for International Governance Innovation and the Fung Global Institute will be hosting a major conference in Hong Kong on how creative and innovative thinking can open up new avenues of thinking on the solutions to global governance. As a respected member of the global economic community, Hong Kong should make its voice heard.

You can watch most of the podcasts on www.ineteconomics.org or www.fginstitute.org.

THINK ASIAN By ANDREW SHENG
Tan Sri Andrew Sheng is president of the Fung Global Institute. 

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US fiscal deficit position is cheating American Children

So, about that fiscal crisis — the one that would, any day now, turn US into Greece. Greece, I tell you: Never mind.

Over the past few weeks, there has been a remarkable change of position among the deficit scolds who have dominated economic policy debate for more than three years. It’s as if someone sent out a memo saying that the Chicken Little act, with its repeated warnings of a U.S. debt crisis that keeps not happening, has outlived its usefulness. Suddenly, the argument has changed: It’s not about the crisis next month; it’s about the long run, about not cheating our children. The deficit, we’re told, is really a moral issue.

There’s just one problem: The new argument is as bad as the old one. Yes, we are cheating our children, but the deficit has nothing to do with it.

Before I get there, a few words about the sudden switch in arguments.

There has, of course, been no explicit announcement of a change in position. But the signs are everywhere. Pundits who spent years trying to foster a sense of panic over the deficit have begun writing pieces lamenting the likelihood that there won’t be a crisis, after all.

Maybe it wasn’t that significant when President Barack Obama declared that we don’t face any “immediate” debt crisis, but it did represent a change in tone from his previous deficit-hawk rhetoric. And it was startling, indeed, when John Boehner, the speaker of the House, said exactly the same thing a few days later.

What happened? Basically, the numbers refuse to cooperate: Interest rates remain stubbornly low, deficits are declining and even 10-year budget projections basically show a stable fiscal outlook rather than exploding debt.

So talk of a fiscal crisis has subsided. Yet the deficit scolds haven’t given up on their determination to bully the nation into slashing Social Security and Medicare. So they have a new line: We must bring down the deficit right away because it’s “generational warfare,” imposing a crippling burden on the next generation.

What’s wrong with this argument? For one thing, it involves a fundamental misunderstanding of what debt does to the economy.

Contrary to almost everything you read in the papers or see on TV, debt doesn’t directly make our nation poorer; it’s essentially money we owe to ourselves. Deficits would indirectly be making us poorer if they were either leading to big trade deficits, increasing our overseas borrowing, or crowding out investment, reducing future productive capacity. But they aren’t: Trade deficits are down, not up, while business investment has actually recovered fairly strongly from the slump.

And the main reason businesses aren’t investing more is inadequate demand. They’re sitting on lots of cash, despite soaring profits, because there’s no reason to expand capacity when you aren’t selling enough to use the capacity you have. In fact, you can think of deficits mainly as a way to put some of that idle cash to use.

Yet there is, as I said, a lot of truth to the charge that we’re cheating our children. How? By neglecting public investment and failing to provide jobs.

You don’t have to be a civil engineer to realize that America needs more and better infrastructure, but the latest “report card” from the American Society of Civil Engineers — with its tally of deficient dams, bridges, and more, and its overall grade of D+ — still makes startling and depressing reading. And right now, with vast numbers of unemployed construction workers and vast amounts of cash sitting idle, would be a great time to rebuild our infrastructure.

Yet public investment has actually plunged since the slump began.

Or what about investing in our young? We’re cutting back there, too, having laid off hundreds of thousands of schoolteachers and slashed the aid that used to make college affordable for children of less-affluent families.

Last but not least, think of the waste of human potential caused by high unemployment among younger Americans — for example, among recent college graduates who can’t start their careers and will probably never make up the lost ground.

And why are we shortchanging the future so dramatically and inexcusably?

Blame the deficit scolds, who weep crocodile tears over the supposed burden of debt on the next generation, but whose constant inveighing against the risks of government borrowing, by undercutting political support for public investment and job creation, has done far more to cheat our children than deficits ever did.

Fiscal policy is, indeed, a moral issue, and we should be ashamed of what we’re doing to the next generation’s economic prospects. But our sin involves investing too little, not borrowing too much — and the deficit scolds, for all their claims to have our children’s interests at heart, are actually the bad guys in this story.


By Paul Krugman

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Saturday, March 30, 2013

China's First Lady Peng Liyuan leading by example

China’s First Lady Peng Liyuan made a fashion statement during a recent visit to Russia and Africa. 




AS Xi Jinping continues his first official visit to African countries as the Chinese President, his wife Peng Liyuan is as much of a star attraction back in China.

The close attention on Peng is not so much due to her new role as China’s First Lady but rather the fashion statement she made during the trip.

Peng arrived in Moscow, Russia, on March 22 with her husband in a double-sided buttoned navy blue coat with a black handbag.

Her clothes matched perfectly with that of her husband’s.

She wore a jacket decorated with motifs of blue flowers and birds over a black dress and carried a black purse when attending an event at the MGIMO University in the Russian capital.

In Tanzania on Monday, she appeared in an all-white jacket and skirt.

The navy blue coat and black handbag she wore and carried in Russia started the “Liyuan-Style” mania.

Soon, word spread on the Internet that the coat and handbag were not from luxurious foreign brands but were made by Exception de Mixmind, a Chinese brand established in Guangzhou in 1996.

After confirmation of this by the Guangzhou City Administration of Quality and Technology Supervision on its microblog, many Chinese praised Peng for supporting local brands and for carrying the pride of China during her visit.

Some Netizens said Peng looked “elegant” and “nicely-matched” with her clothes, while many others started creating forum threads on what clothes the First Lady would wear next.

Beijing Institute of Fashion Technology art and design department head Xie Ping was quoted by Beijing News as saying that the coat was designed based on a classical Western army uniform.

Qingdao Municipal Textile and Fashion Association secretary-general Zheng Mingmei said that the coat and handbag that Peng used in Russia fitted her personality and character well.

“What the First Lady did by wearing a local brand has no doubt increased the reputation of China-made brands internationally and boosted the confidence of our fashion brands in Qingdao,” she told Qingdao Morning News.

According to reports in China, major search engines and online shopping websites have seen a significant increase in the number of search words such as “Liwai (Exception in Mandarin)” and “Wuyong (Useless which is the sister brand of Exception)”.

The Exception de Mixmind outlets in Chengdu and Qingdao have received more customers than before, with many asking about the navy blue coat and black handbag worn by the First Lady.

The staff at the outlets told customers that they did not sell models of the coat and handbag.

Despite that, many customers still walked away with handbags resembling that of Peng’s.

Prices of its spring collection cardigans and long cotton shirts ranged between 1,000 yuan and 2,000 yuan (RM490 and RM980) while new handbags were priced between 2,000 yuan (RM980) and 3,000 yuan (RM1,470).

Qingdao Morning News reported that Peng’s coat should belong to last year’s winter collection series and cost around a few thousand yuan while the handbag similar to that of Peng’s was estimated to have cost 5,000 yuan (RM2,450).

“Compared with other coats and handbags around the same range, design and craftsmanship, the coat and handbag used by her were not too pricey,” said a staff.

Even before the First Lady fashion mania, Exception de Mixmind had already been quite an established brand.

Chinese tennis star Li Na wore a stand-up collar white shirt with black motifs during her photo call after her triumph in the French Open in 2011, and that shirt was from Exception’s 2007 “Tea Energy” series.

At that time, Exception founder and chairman Mao Jihong quashed rumours that the company sponsored Li Na’s fashion wear, saying that she was never their brand ambassador but they were delighted to see her wearing their label.

Of course, this time, it’s a bit different.

With Peng’s stature as the First Lady and a celebrity (Peng is one of China’s top female sopranos who sings a repertoire of ethnic and patriotic songs), this gives the brand more recognition.

In its editorial, Beijing Morning Post said there were three reasons why Peng received so much attention from the people and media.

One was that she was using made-in-China goods, second the clothes and handbags were not from luxury brands and third being her poise in leading by example.

“Nowadays, luxury consumption has be­c­ome a trend to show off one’s wealth.

Peng’s handbag is in a way a wake-up call for many Chinese who pursue luxury goods.

“After the Chinese Communist Party’s national congress (last November), the government outlined eight guidelines on improving its working style.

“Peng showed an important detail which was advocating austerity and a frugal lifestyle,” it said.

MADE IN CHINA BY CHOW HOW BAN

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彭丽媛 1999年访谈 China's First Lady Peng Liyuan (1999)

Friday, March 29, 2013

Chinese Navy defends South China Sea



Play Video A unit of the Chinese Navy has conducted a routine drill in the South China Sea to improve its combat capabilities.

An official with the fleet said missile-equipped vessels tested their capabilities, including emergency docking and undocking, over-the-horizon missile attack, joint air defense, and combined assault against enemy warships. On Tuesday, the fleet held an oath-taking ceremony at Zengmu Reef (James Shoal), the Southernmost part of China’s territory. They vowed to safeguard China’s sovereignty.

The Chinese navy has a right to patrol the South China Sea, a Foreign Ministry spokesman said at a daily press briefing on Thursday.

Hong Lei's remark came after a four-ship Chinese Navy fleet that has conducted patrol and training missions on the South China Sea over the past few days reached Zing Reef, the southernmost part of China's territory, on Tuesday.

The country's stance on the South China Sea is consistent and clear, Hong said, noting that China has played a vital role in keeping the region peaceful and stable.

  Zengmu Reef (James Shoal)

James Shoal underlined in red.
.
“The visit to James Shoal, known as Zengmu Reef to China, was unusual for the firepower brought to bear on a territory also claimed by Malaysia and Taiwan (a province of China).”

Depending on who you are speaking to at any given particular moment, these “islands” called:
“Zengmu Ansha [Chinese], James Shoal [English], Beting Serupai [Malaysian]“.
.
“James Shoal is a small bank in the South China Sea, with a depth of 22 metres (72 ft) is claimed by Malaysia, the People’s Republic of China, and the Republic of China (Taiwan).”
.
Claimed by three parties, China, Taiwan and Malaysia. These “islands” about fifty miles from the coast of what used to be called Sarawak, the James Shoal at the southern most point of the Nine Dash Line.

China will not be passive in sea disputes

Chinese naval fleets recently conducted patrols on the South China Sea, reaching as far as Zengmu Reef, the southernmost part of Chinese territory. In an oath-taking ceremony on board Tuesday, the troops and officials vowed to safeguard China's sovereignty.

Earlier this month, a Chinese vessel fired two warning signal shells into the sky to prevent illegal fishing operations by Vietnamese fishermen. Both showed China's firm determination to insist upon its stance amid the South China Sea disputes.

Washington expressed its concerns in both cases, reinforcing its attitude that the US can interfere in the South China Sea issue any time.

Despite the fact that John Kerry, the new US secretary of state, has stepped into office and some side effects brought by his predecessor's aggressive approach are in decline, the US stance on the South China Sea will not fundamentally change. Behind China's frictions with the Philippines and Vietnam is actually the rivalry between Beijing and Washington over the South China Sea.

After Hillary Clinton's four-year intervention into the South China Sea issue with her "smart power" diplomacy, and Manila and Hanoi's frictions with Beijing, all kinds of risks within the South China Sea issue have become evident. All parties involved now have a clearer understanding of each other's national strength and determination.

China, through powerful countermeasures against Manila and Hanoi's provocations, has changed its passive status. Beijing had been worried that frictions on the South China Sea would cause deterioration in its surrounding environment and thus undermine its period of strategic opportunities. Now most of its concerns have been dispelled.

Crises like the Huangyan Island standoff have made one thing explicit - those were, after all, conflicts between countries whose strength were unequally matched. Manila and Hanoi would not have any chance of victory if the South China Sea issue escalated into a confrontation of national strength.

China has no plan to wage a war and recover all the islands illegally occupied by the Philippines and Vietnam. However, China has become more resolute in terms of strikes against the two's provocations.

China's growing leverage over the South China Sea issue stems from stable domestic development. Meanwhile, Manila and Hanoi are witnessing a reduced ability to provoke Beijing over those disputes. Washington is also seeing an increasing number of restraints in its South China Sea policy. The Philippines and Vietnam would face more troubles if they choose to seek fierce confrontation with China.

China should focus on peaceful development. But meanwhile, it is not afraid of adopting resolute measures to protect core national interests. China should avoid external misjudgments toward it, which is pivotal to the nation's long-term strategic environment.

Sources: CCTV, Peace and Freedom, Global Times

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Malaysian race/religion based politics is dangerous!

Generation Election 13: ‘Victory’ at any cost?

 
Pilihanraya Umum 13 PRU 13 General Election 13  

The DAP strategy of targeting MCA candidates could make the Chinese community the unwitting victim.

THE 2008 general election was significant as a “political tsunami” – the Opposition achieved its best ever gains, with the promise of an emerging two-coalition system.

That election would have been even more historic had it also achieved what many thought it would: end communal politics for good.

But it failed miserably, with no political party blameless. Perhaps it was too much to expect qualitative change in addition to quantitative change (seat numbers in state assemblies and Parliament).

Communal politics has been a bane of this country for as long as there have been elections.

That remains a fundamental reality into the foreseeable future.

For Barisan Nasional (and its predecessor the Alliance) as well as the Op­­p­o­sition, race-based politics is practised if not always acknowledged. It takes far more to turn that around than many have imagined.
Whether party membership is defined by ethnicity or not, one race or another dominates and characterises each party.

Parties that are multiracial in theory are just less transparent in their ethnic politics.

However, what turns an unfortunate situation tragic is when those parties most vehement about having “turned the corner” of communal politics are also doing the most to perpetuate it.

PAS as the Islamist party has set new standards in trying to ram Islamist-style restrictions down the throats of all Malaysians – Muslim and non-Muslim. It now does so with more gusto and less hesitation.

PKR as another Muslim and Malay-majority party chooses indifference and complacency in the face of the PAS onslaught.

It has even supported the idea of turning Kelantan into an Islamic state.

The DAP prefers silence and inaction amid PAS’ swagger. Elsewhere it would wield its non-Muslim credentials, sometimes to the point of playing the Christian card.

None of this helps to tone down Malaysia’s sweltering communal politics. And since this reinforces the problem in Pakatan itself, it could prompt more of the same in Barisan as well.

The DAP’s latest move sees party adviser Lim Kit Siang contesting the Gelang Patah seat in Johor. It would be the latest “stop” in a long and roving parliamentary career.

MCA, which has half (seven out of 15) of its parliamentary seats in the state, sees Johor as its stronghold.

MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek condemned this as DAP’s strategy of “Chinese killing off the Chinese”.

Both Chinese-based parties are natural rivals whose mutual rivalry has now reached a new high.

DAP leaders may dismiss this alarm as predictable melodrama, but it contains a hard kernel of truth.

The DAP’s drive for power is not above pitting Chinese candidates against other Chinese candidates, which is likely to reduce further the number of ethnic minority MPs.

Johor is also Umno’s home state. There is virtually no prospect of the DAP snatching the state from Barisan.

However, DAP efforts to unseat MCA parliamentarians in Johor could produce a strong Malay-based Umno in the state government contending with a Chinese-based DAP in the Opposition.

That would be bad and dangerous for politics, race relations and the Chinese community’s representation in governance. It would be a regression, precariously setting an unhealthy precedent.

In recent years Malaysian political discourse became more multiracial as both Government and Opposition coalitions became more racially mixed.

With both Barisan and Pakatan led by Malay-majority parties, political differences were distanced from racial differences.

In the absence of thoroughly multiracial politics, that seems the next best option. The prospect of political fault lines coinciding with ethnic fault lines, raising the possibility of an ethnic conflagration as in 1969, has thus become more remote.

But the risk of returning to such political volatility remains. Respon­sible leaders of every party need to be cognizant of these realities.

Besides, the cause of shedding the racial element in party politics cannot be furthered by recourse to more racial politics.

Under a veneer of multiracial rhetoric, the DAP has been known to practise communal politics in its seat choices and allocations.

Lim’s foray into Gelang Patah to battle the MCA incumbent there is the latest example of this approach. Instead of creating a more multiracial two-coalition system, this communal cannibalism could promote an unhealthy and perilous two-race system.

Apparently, the DAP’s objective is simply to unseat MCA candidates, seen as soft targets since 2008, regardless of the cost to the people. That can only come at the expense of deepening racial politics in electoral outcomes.

Perhaps the DAP’s Chinese candidates are thought to have better chances in challenging MCA’s Chinese candidates than Umno’s Malay candidates. But that is still a tricky calculation depending on the circumstances at the time.

Thoughtful and responsible leaders may not consider that a risk worth taking, much less a cost worth paying.
 
BEHIND THE HEADLINES  By BUNN NAGARA

Related posts:

Malaysian Chinese at a Political Crossroads forum; Chua-Lim Debate, all hype but no climax 
Is the Two-Party-Sytem becoming a Two-Race-System? Online spars started ahead of tomorrow Chua-Lim debate!  
Malaysian Chinese Forum kicks off with a bang; Chua-Lim showdown!  
Malaysian Politics: Chua-Lim Debate Sets New Standard 

Monday, March 25, 2013

No easy path to 'Chinese dream'

China’s new President last week reaffirmed his aim to achieve the ‘Chinese dream’, but the country faces many challenges on the road to fulfilling this dream.

LAST week saw the completion of China’s leadership transition, with Xi Jinping as the new president and Li Keqiang the new premier.

President Xi set the world speculating when he spoke of “striving to achieve the Chinese dream of great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation”.

One Western newspaper commented it was a collective national dream, contrasting it, unfavourably, to the “American dream” of giving individuals equal opportunities.

But to the Chinese, the promised renaissance of the nation is a reminder of the collective humiliation during the colonial era and the “dream” to win back its previous place as a world leader in science, technology, economy and culture.

High growth in recent decades has boosted China’s economy and confidence. Nevertheless, China’s new leaders face many serious challenges ahead which need to be tackled if the “Chinese dream” is to be realised.

First is the need to fight widespread corruption. Making this his main priority, Xi warned that corruption could lead to “the collapse of the Party and the downfall of the state.”

New leaders usually vow to get rid of corruption, but few have succeeded. If Xi wins this battle, it would be a great achievement.

Second are administrative procedures and abuse of official power that cause inefficiency and injustices right down to the local level.

At his first press conference, premier Li promised to shake up the system, acknowledging the difficulties of “stirring vested interests.” He promised that a third of 1,700 items that require the approval of government departments would be cut.

Frugality is to be the new hallmark. Spending will be reduced in government offices, buildings, travel and hospitality and the savings will be redirected to social development.

Third are the complexities of running China’s large and complicated economy. China aims to grow continuously by 7-8% a year. The rest of the global economy is, however, in a bad shape.

The country has thus to shift from export-led to domestic-demand led growth, and from investment-led to consumption-led domestic growth. Implementation of this new growth strategy, which the government has accepted, is not easy.

There are also the challenges of managing the currency, the huge foreign reserves and the regulation of capital flows, with the aim of having finance serve the real economy while not becoming a source of new instability.

In foreign trade, China has been very successful in building up a powerful export machine. But growth of exports to the West is slowing due to the near-recession, and new forms of protection (such as tariff hikes using anti-dumping and anti-subsidy measures) are increasingly used on Chinese imports.

At the same time, other developing countries are becoming wary of their increasing imports of cheap Chinese goods. How can China be sensitive to their concerns and strive for more balance and mutuality of benefits?

Fourth are China’s social problems. Poverty is still significant in many areas. Social disparities have worsened, with wide gaps in rich-poor and urban-rural incomes that are politically destabilising.

Redistributing income towards the lower income groups can meet two goals: reducing social inequalities and providing the demand base for consumption-led growth. The policies can include wage increases, provision of social services and income transfers to the poor.

Fifth is the need to tackle China’s environmental crises, which include emerging water scarcity, increased flooding, climate change and urban air pollution. Recent studies show the health dangers of the worsening air pollution, including links to the 2.6 million who die from cancers annually.

Many of the protests in China in recent years have been over environmental problems, including polluting industries located near communities. How can China integrate ecological concerns into its development strategy?

Sixth is China’s foreign relations. Xi last week reaffirmed China’s principle of “peaceful development” and that the country would never seek hegemony.

There is need to settle the different claims by China and other East Asian countries on the South China Sea in a proper and peaceful way and build confidence of its neighbours on this principle.

China, which is still very much a developing country in terms of per capita income and other characteristics, also need to stand with the rest of the developing world in international negotiations and relations.

At the same time, it is expected to provide preferences and special assistance to poorer countries and its investors abroad are expected to be socially and environmentally responsible.

Most difficult for China is the ability to manage foreign relations with developed countries, especially the United States. China is a rising or risen power, and viewed with some envy as a rival by those who fear losing their previous dominance.

Maintaining political stability with these powers is important; but of course this does not depend on China alone.

The above are only some of the hurdles facing China on its road to realise its dream of rejuvenation. As with any dream, it is not impossible to achieve but the road is long and difficult.

 GLOBAL TRENDS By MARTIN KHOR

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China Dream a nightmare for others?
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Sunday, March 24, 2013

President Xi: Russia ties ensure peace; foreign debut illuminates China's 'world dream'

Chinese President Xi Jinping and his wife Peng Liyuan arrive in Moscow



Freshly elected President Xi Jinping chose the Russian capital as the first foreign city he will visit as China's head of state, as Moscow and Beijing move toward a full-fledged partnership for the next decade.

On the global arena, both Russia and China have a similar approach, and Jinping's visit has been interpreted as a sign that the new Chinese administration is keen to re-inforce ties with Russia.

In the past, the two countries had a difficult and politically ambiguous relationship and were once Cold War rivals but their international interests are becoming more aligned.

The two countries have often jointly used their veto powers at the United Nationa Security Council, most recently with issues related to the Middle East, where they have blocked Western-backed measures regarding the Syrian conflict.

China and Russia also share a sizeable border and have tried to bolster their regional clout as a counterweight to a United States that is 'pivoting' towards Asia.

And as well as being permanent members of the Security Council, the two countries have worked shoulder-to-shoulder on the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and the so-called G20.

President Xi Jinping will also be talking trade on his visit in Moscow. The two countries have burgeoning business interests.

Bilateral trade has more than doubled in the last five years and reached $83bn in 2012 but the volume of trade is still low compared to their other trade partners. It is five times smaller than Russia's trade with the European Union, and also far smaller than China's trade with the United States; but the trade in energy is seen as a growth market for the two countries.

Russia is of course the world's largest energy producer and China the biggest consumer. The two countries are in discussion about a gas pipeline that could eventually deliver 38bn cubic metres of Russian gas a year to China

So, how significant is this visit? Will it shape a new relationship between Moscow and Beijing?

To discuss this Inside Story, with presenter Hazem Sika, is joined by guests: Victor Gao, the director of China National Association of International Studies, who was also a former China policy advisor; Dimitry Babich, a political analyst at Russia Profile magazine; and Roderic Wye, a China analyst at Chatham House and senior fellow with the China Policy Institute at Nottingham University.

"Obviously there is a lot of substance [in the meeting] about the energy relationship, there are big issues to talk about on the international stage - not least, North Korea and the problems there - but also it is an important symbol to show for both Russia and China that they have independent foreign policies ... and that they are not beholden to the United States in any particular way."

Source:Al Jazeera - Roderic Wye, China analyst at Chatham House

 Xi's foreign debut illuminates China's "world dream"
 
On Friday, Chinese President Xi Jinping embarked on his first overseas trip since taking office last week, and experts here believe the trip will clarify Xi's recent references to China's "world dream."

Shi Yinhong, a professor of international relations at Renmin University of China, said, "The trip will reveal some important features of Xi's concept of world order."

"From the destinations of Xi's first foreign trip, we can tell that China is committed to promoting democratization in international relations as well as a more just and reasonable international order and system," he said.

In a joint interview on Tuesday with reporters from BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa), Xi said China hopes that countries and cultures around the world will carry out exchanges on equal footing, learn from each other and achieve common progress.

He also voiced his hope that all countries will make joint efforts to build a harmonious world featuring enduring peace and common prosperity.

"This is Xi's version of China's 'world dream,'" Shi said.

"It is in line with the common aspirations of people from different countries and closely related to the 'Chinese dream' put forward by Xi," he said.

Pursuing the "Chinese dream" of the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation is conducive to realizing the "world dream," and if the "world dream" comes true, it could offer a sound external environment for the country to achieve the "Chinese dream," Shi said.

NEW TYPE OF INTER-POWER TIES

Based on Xi's first foreign trip and his interactions with other foreign leaders in the past week, analysts believe China is committed to developing a new type of "inter-power relations" in an all-around and open way, with hopes of breaking the zero-sum theory by promoting win-win cooperation.

Unlike past inter-power ties that have mainly targeted certain world powers, China now advocates a new type of cooperative relationship among all major powers, including leading powers among developing countries, said Ruan Zongze, deputy head of the China Institute of International Studies.

"We should adopt a new and open attitude toward all powers," he said, adding that the word "new" here means regarding the development and growth of other countries as an opportunity for one's own country.
"Only by doing this can state-to-state relations develop in a sound and sustainable way," he said.

In the joint interview Tuesday, Xi said his visit to Russia shows the "high level and special nature" of the comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership between the two countries.

Ruan said China's relations with Russia, the first leg of Xi's trip, have already reached a stage featuring a "high level of mutual trust," with both countries seeing each other's development as an opportunity.

"The zero-sum mentality, namely believing one party's success means the other's failure, has been one of the major factors hampering mutual trust and creating conflicts between major powers," he said.

Ruan pointed out that although Sino-Russian relations have seen marked progress in the past decade, this does not mean there are no problems in the bilateral relations.

"Both sides, however, agree not to let these differences restrain the development of bilateral relations," Ruan said.

MAIDEN TRIP NOT TARGETING A THIRD PARTY

Analysts here also point out that Xi's maiden overseas voyage as China's head of state is not of an exclusive nature and does not target a third party.

Zhang Yuanyuan, former Chinese ambassador to Belgium, said China's foreign policy is inclusive.

During his nine-day tour, Xi is scheduled to pay state visits to Russia, Tanzania, South Africa and the Republic of Congo. He is also expected to attend the fifth leaders' summit of BRICS countries in Durban, South Africa.

Zhang said the visits involve multiple factors, including a world power and a neighboring country, developing countries and multilateral cooperation, all of which have been among China's foreign policy priorities.

During the week since Xi was elected president, other Chinese leaders have received important guests and maintained contact with leaders from other countries.

In a phone conversation on March 14, Xi and U.S. President Barack Obama both promised to make efforts to achieve the goal of building a new type of inter-power relationship.

While meeting with U.S. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew here on March 19, Xi urged the two nations to objectively view each other's development stages, respect each other's interests for further development and regard the other party's opportunities and challenges as its own.

Zhang pointed out that building a new type of inter-power relationship and exploring ways for the two major powers to get along with each other could straighten out Sino-U.S. relations and break the historical curse in which "conflicts between major powers are inevitable."

Meanwhile, Ruan Zongze dismissed concerns about Xi's itinerary, saying such concerns are "totally unnecessary."

"The reason for China to pursue the building of a new type of inter-power relationship is that it will not embark on the path of alliance," he said.

"The age of old-school alliances or jointly targeting a third party has long passed," Ruan said.- Xinhua

Mandarin mania in America

With China’s fast expanding role as a global player, schools in the United States are initiating Chinese “immersion” programmes for its students.
Eager hands: Students raise their hands during a Chinese language lesson. — AFP
 
SHE arrived in California from Taiwan as a 16-year-old but wasn’t able to speak in English. Now, at 49, Susan Wang heads a school offering children in the United States a similar experience, plunging them into a “Chinese world”.

And her establishment is part of a rapid expansion of Chinese language “immersion” programmes in the United States, helped notably by Beijing, which is providing low-cost native-speaker teachers to cash-strapped US schools.

Pupils as young as five at her Broadway Elementary School in Venice, west of Los Angeles, take classes entirely in Chinese, in a project so successful that it will be moving into new premises soon.

“The single most exciting thing has to be watching the kids learn Mandarin, and how they learn, and how fast they pick up another language, it’s just amazing,” she said taking a break from her busy day at the local school.

“I didn’t speak English when I came to the US, so when it comes to dual language and language learning ... it’s something close to my heart,” she added.

Chinese immersion programmes are not new in American schools. But China’s rapidly expanding world role has fuelled growing demand for Mandarin language skills, mirroring Washington’s diplomatic pivot across the Pacific.

Mandarin teaching has expanded nationwide over the last decade, in contrast to other foreign languages which have steadily decreased, according to data compiled by the Centre for Applied Linguistics (CAL).
“Mandarin is really taking off ... Chinese is one of the few languages that is becoming increasingly popular, while most other language offerings have not “grown” as much including French, German, and Japanese,” said Nancy Rhodes of the Washington DC-based CAL.

Beijing’s Education Ministry is also helping by sending native speaker teachers effectively for free to work in US schools.

“Schools are of course experiencing huge budget cuts, so the offer of free or low-cost native-speaker teachers from China to teach language classes really looks good,” said Rhodes.

California has been in the forefront, both geographically and historically, ever since huge numbers of Chinese workers helped build the US railroad system. San Francisco and Los Angeles have the biggest Chinese communities after New York.

Traditionally, families with one or both parents from Chinese backgrounds have put children into Mandarin-language schools to bolster their cultural “heritage,” or ability to communicate with grandparents back home.

But increasingly, parents cite economic and career-prospect reasons for making sure that their offspring are able to speak in Chinese.

“I wanted them to have the opportunity to be able to leave the United States if they wished to go and seek employment somewhere else,” said Julie Wang, an Australian who came to the United States when she was 25.

“I did that myself ... I came out here. I think it’s a great opportunity for them to experience different cultures, different ways of life, not just the one that they grew up in,” she added.

In the classroom, the linguistic immersion is total. The walls are plastered with pictures and signs entirely in Chinese and so are the text books, and the teacher will not accept a word of English.

And while some children have a Chinese parent or grandparents, the eager faces around the room are from all backgrounds, from African American and white Caucasian to Latino youngsters.

Many don’t speak a word of Mandarin when they arrive. “At the beginning, it is difficult,” said kindergarten teacher Carol Chan, adding that at first, she had to use a lot of gestures, visual aids and games.

“I use a lot of pictures and ... a lot of music. It is difficult because they don’t understand a word I’m saying. But through physical language and gestures, they really catch on. And they’re having fun with me too!”

First-grader Grace Ehlers says it was tough at first, but now she is equally confident in both languages.

“It’s the same, or maybe a little bit easier in Chinese because my dad speaks many languages and sometimes he teaches me a little bit of it,” she said, when asked to compare classes in English and Mandarin.

The school’s principal says the availability of free Chinese teachers was crucial to Broadway Elementary’s decision to offer the Mandarin language immersion programme.

“I am Chinese, born and raised in Taiwan. But that has nothing to do with why I’m here doing this programme

“The Chinese volunteer teachers were what we were able to get. Had we been able to get free French teachers, or free Spanish teachers, we’d be teaching those,” she added.

According to the centre, there were 74 Mandarin language immersion programmes in the United States in 2008, the last time the data was updated. “I do know that there are more programmes not yet listed,” said Rhodes.

Overall, Spanish has the most immersion programmes, with 45% of the total, followed by French (22%), Mandarin (13%) and Hawaiian, Japanese and German.

“In the past, Chinese has traditionally been taught more on the West Coast and in major cities but we’re seeing more Chinese programmes cropping up all over the country now,” she said.

“Even smaller districts that we work with ... that are starting up elementary school language programmes are considering switching between Spanish and Chinese,” she said, adding that the expansion will likely continue.
“I don’t see the trend slowing anytime soon,” said Rhodes.

By MICHAEL THURSTON - AFP

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Upgrade the standard of education to defrag high cost!



A LARGE section of teenagers will now decide what to do with their lives after receiving their SPM and STPM results.

Decision-time beckons for them as they will ponder whether to pursue a tertiary education, enrol in a skills programme or enter the workforce.

The higher number of those scoring straight As will please them and their parents to no end but the results also show that overall, students did perform poorer than last year.

It's interesting to note that nearly 20% of candidates who sat for the history paper failed and I wonder what will happen to the overall passing rate for SPM students once that subject becomes a compulsory paper for future students. They will need to pass the subject if they were to get their SPM certificate.

While receiving education through government schools is still the most popular route for students in Malaysia, there is a growing number of parents who have chosen that their children study in international schools.

Such schools teach and prepare their students based on the curriculum of other countries, namely the UK, America, Australia and even Singapore.

The rationale for sending their children to those schools would certainly be to enable their children to receive what they perceive is better education.

Sure. Children who make their journey through such schools will be exposed to a different learning system, a different curriculum and the broad-based approach to learning employed by those schools certainly will equip their students to think critically and maybe be more engaging during the learning process.

But the thing is that the allure of giving such an education certainly masks the cost of providing such learning to their children and many who enrolled their children in international or private schools will feel the pinch as they progress through the years.

One friend says that the school where he is sending his two kids to will raise its fees by 40% for the intake of students from September this year.

He is lucky because he doesn't have to feel the brunt of such a steep increase in fees but the annual cost of sending his kids to that school certainly keeps rising faster than the rate of inflation in Malaysia. Plus when they cross a certain year, there is a big bump in the fees he pays.

The thing is that when he first took the plunge to send his kids through the school, it was estimated it will cost him the price of a Mercedes E class. Today, he thinks it's close to RM1mil.

That's basically the cost of sending a student to study medicine overseas, and it's no secret that the cost of education from international schools is far more than what it will be to receive a university degree from a local institution of higher learning.

But that's a business and parents have to fork out huge sums of money if they want their children to go through such an education system. Some may feel it's worth it but parents should really examine what will be the hidden costs of sending their children to international schools.

The top international schools do have a long waiting list and with restrictions to open up such schools lifted, more of such schools will be built and hopefully competitive pressure will mean that fees will be a little more reasonable.

The one drawback of receiving an education from international schools, even though there is a growing number of Malaysians enrolled, is that pupils do not really receive the education that integrates them into the fabric of Malaysian culture.

There are no students from impoverished backgrounds and I don't think you will find them from the broad layers of society. One CEO I met refused to send his two children to a private school. It's not that he cannot afford the fees but it's because he didn't want them to miss out on society's education.

But the higher fees and the clamour for more middle and upper class Malaysians to choose international and private schools should translate to an urgency to raise the quality of education in government schools.

There is a national education blueprint and hopefully the final report on what needs to be done gets implemented fast. Otherwise, there will be a lot of middle class Malaysians who will feel the pinch as they choose to give what they think is a better education for their children.

MAKING A POINTBy JAGDEV SINGH SIDHU
jagdev@thestar.com.my
Acting business features editor Jagdev Singh Sidhu wishes the quality of education in government schools was better than what it was like when he was a student.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Measuring your Heart Rate for fitness


Why do you need to know your heart rate? What heart rate zone will give you the absolute BEST results for fat burning from your cardio?

I was recently inspired to write this article on heart rates in relation to fitness due to the numerous questions I have received lately about it, and the importance of knowing what it is, and why. Even though the heart rate is a huge element to achieving an optimal workout, and its been around forever, many individuals do not know what theirs is, or how to measure it, or even to care about it. So I am going to clarify this simple yet important component to fitness. 

Resting, Exercise and Maximum
Heart Rates
 
There are three HR to consider when training to get fit, or as it relates to cardiovascular fitness, as well as your Target Zone. 

The first is the Resting HR. This is your HR when you are not engaging in any physical activity that elevates it, or when you are in a resting state such as sleep. As you become more fit, this number will decrease because your heart and lungs have become stronger. The heart is then able to pump more blood, which is called stroke volume, throughout the body with less effort. The lungs are able to pull in more oxygen, which is called maximum oxygen uptake, with less effort, which means more blood and oxygen to the working muscles makes up the endurance portion of being fit. Having enough oxygen going into the blood keeps the lactic acid out-thus you can sustain a prolonged aerobic workout. 


A normal Resting HR can vary as low as 40 BPM to as high as 100 BPM. 70 BPM is usually the average for a man, and 75 BPM is average for a woman. The Resting HR should be used as an index to improve your cardiovascular fitness level, with a focus on decreasing it. The best time to measure your Resting HR is when you first arise from sleep in the morning. The palpation (beats) of the Radial Pulse is accurately measured in your wrist in line with the base of your thumb. Place the tips of your index and middle fingers over the Radial Artery and apply a light pressure to it. DO NOT USE YOUR THUMB. It has a pulse of it's own. You may count the beats for one full minute to get the HR, or for 30 seconds and multiply by 2 for the number of BPM. 


The Second is the Exercise HR. This is the rate at which your body is in motion from a sustained exercise, and the rate increases. Of course you measure it during exercise. The goal here is to stay within your Target HR Range or Zone, which is normally between 75% to 85% of your Maximum HR which is the third. Maximum HR is the rate at which your heart beats at 100% Max. during a sustained aerobic activity. You never want to work at 100% of your Max. HR unless a professional has you on a specific program designed for that, and your fitness level can sustain it. 100% of Max. will cause you to cross over into an Anaerobic Threshold. These numbers can vary depending on your age and fitness level. 


The Exercise Pulse is most accurately palpated at the larger Carotid Artery on the side of the neck. It is usually located beside the larynx. Place your index and middle fingers alongside the base of your ear lobe and slide it down to the side of your throat and apply a light pressure. DO NOT apply a heavy pressure to the Carotid Artery when measuring your Exercise HR. These arteries contain Baroreceptors that sense increases in pressure and will respond by slowing down your HR. You will feel this pulse easily during a workout, so heavy pressure is not needed to locate it. The Exercise HR should be taken for 10 seconds, always counting the first beat as "0," then multiply by 6. This number is your Exercise HR. Which brings me to the point of all of this information.
 




For Determining Your Max Heart Rate
 
To determine your Maximum HR, use the calculators below. The simple formula: Take 220 and minus your age which is accurate to approximately +15 BPM. You then take that number and multiply it by .75 - .85, which will give you your percentages of 75% -- 85% of your Max. HR. This is the Target Range or Zone that you want to stay in when doing any type of cardiovascular (aerobic) activity. When in this range your body is getting an optimum workout with maximum benefit, and it stays in a Fat Burning mode. 

There are two different ways to calculate your maximum heart rate and your target heart rates. The method I just explained is the simple method. 

Simple Target Heart Rate Calculator
Using the 220 - Age formula.


HEART RATE CALCULATOR
Enter Your Age
Results
Max Heart Rate
75-85% Max Heart Rate
THR 15 sec count
 
The Karvonnen formula is more advanced since it also takes into account your resting heart rate. This is your heart rate at complete rest. To determine this, take your pulse for 60 seconds just before you get out of bed... or take it for 30 seconds and multiply by 2

Advanced Target Heart Rate Calculator
Using the Karvonen Formula.

  • For your age, use a whole year. (Between 0 and 100)
  • Put your Resting Heart Rate in the next box. (Between 30 and 100)
  • In the % box, use a number between 50 and 85. Do not include the %.
  • Click on the Calculate button, and it will calculate your target heart rate or that percentage.


Your Age in Years

Resting Heart Rate

% of Maximum Effort

Your Target Heart Rate
%

When you start to work over these percentages, not unless you are in great shape and can push yourself into a higher range, then you have gone into an Anaerobic Threshold. Which means that you are pushing yourself way too hard, and no healthy benefits are being obtained. You are defeating your purpose. If you push yourself into an Anaerobic Threshold your body can no longer meet its demand for oxygen. You will start to feel exhausted, your HR increases above the Max. (which is 100%), you will stop the fat burning process, and you will start to hyperventilate due to the excessive amounts of lactic acid in your body. In other words, you are not pulling in enough clean oxygen through the lungs to clean it out of the blood. Your heart can no longer pump enough blood to your working muscles to sustain your activity, and you are overloading yourself. You prevent this from happening by staying in your Target HR Range. As you become more fit, you can push yourself into a higher range without going over into the Anaerobic Threshold. The purpose of this article is to give you insight to perceive that, and always know where you are in your range or zone when working out.

AN FYI
 
Remember that Aerobic means "with oxygen," and Anaerobic means "without oxygen." Aerobic exercise is training at a certain level of intensity for a sustained period of time, usually 20 minutes to 1 hour as on a stair-climber, treadmill, or in an aerobics class. You need oxygen rich blood to maintain this. 

Anaerobic exercise is training at a level of intensity that does not require a sustained period of time, usually 30 seconds to 1 minute. Such as weight training, strength circuit, circuit and interval training sessions when sets/reps are involved. Because the time period is shorter and faster in cases of intervals and circuits, you use all of the oxygen rich blood more quickly to complete your sets/reps before lactic acid causes you to stop the exercise. That's what "The Burn" means. Then you take a break so the blood can be cleaned of lactic acid and you catch your breath before your next set. 

One more element to consider is the Rating of Perceived Exertion Scale. This scale provides a standard means for evaluating your perception of your exercise intensity. You can use this scale on a 1 - 10 basis with 1 being "very very easy," and 10 being "very very hard." If you're like me, I don't like to stop during my aerobic exercise sessions to measure my HR, so I use this scale to measure where I am in my Target Range. I know how I feel at 75% -- 95% of my Maximum HR, so I can either increase or decrease my intensity before I cross over into an Anaerobic Threshold, and maintain my work out and Fat Burning process. If you are going to use this scale, make sure that you too know how you feel at 75% -- 85% of your Max. HR so that your perception is accurate on this scale.


Working out in the Target Zone helps me get lean!
(Editor's Note: This pic gets MY heart going.)

Knowing this simple information will help you greatly in evaluating your progress when training to get fit, or when training to compete. You can develop your training sessions and know what you need to change or add in your program by being in tune to your Heart Rate. Always be aware that you are in THE ZONE!

Train for Success!!!

Source:


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Rightways for Heart Health

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