China looks unlikely to give in after US tariff hike
By JOE McDONALD
AP Business Writer
Wednesday, September 19
BEIJING (AP) — China unveiled a slew of changes under mounting pressure from U.S. President Donald Trump over technology.
Beijing promised to cut tariffs, open its auto industry and buy American exports. But none of that was what Trump wanted: An end to development policies Washington says are based on theft of know-how and might erode U.S. industrial leadership.
Exporters scrambled to replace lost orders after Trump pulled the trigger in July with his first round of tariff hikes on $50 billion of Chinese imports. Waves of job losses loom over factory towns. So far, however, Chinese leaders express confidence in their $12 trillion-a-year economy and are refusing to budge on tactics they see as a path to prosperity and global influence.
The communist leadership appears no more likely to back down after Trump escalated their dispute Monday by approving penalties on an additional $200 billion of Chinese goods, according to economists, political analysts and business groups.
“Contrary to views in Washington, China can — and will — dig its heels in,” said the chairman of the American Chamber of Commerce in China, William Zarit, in a statement. “We are not optimistic about the prospect for a resolution in the short term.”
Trump’s complaints strike at the heart of the Communist Party’s view of itself as economic development leader — a venture capital investor on a national scale, boldly creating new industries.
That role has gained prominence since President Xi Jinping took power in 2012, despite the party’s 2013 pledge to give market forces a “decisive role” in the state-dominated economy.
Reform advocates complain state-owned companies that dominate banking, energy and other industries are getting bigger. They say that ignores the lessons of three decades of market-style changes that propelled China’s economic boom.
Beijing is still figuring out what Washington wants, said Citigroup economist Li-Gang Liu.
“The bottom line from the U.S. side is not clear,” Liu said in an email. “Without clarity as to what President Trump wants from the Chinese exactly, it is difficult to see any progress ahead.”
The ruling party sees initiatives including “Made in China 2025,” which calls for state-led creation of global champions in robotics, electric cars and other fields, as essential for raising incomes for China’s poor majority and restoring the country to its historic status as a technology and cultural leader.
Washington, Europe and other trading partners complain that explicitly nationalistic goals of creating Chinese global brands and promise subsidies to local competitors violate Beijing’s promises to treat companies equally. American officials also say Beijing steals or pressures foreign companies to hand over technology.
While rebuffing U.S. pressure, Beijing has unveiled other changes long sought by its trading partners.
The government announced in April it would allow full ownership of electric car manufacturers beginning this year and lift all ownership caps in the industry by 2020. Beijing agreed to join the European Union in proposing reforms of the World Trade Organization, which Washington complains is antiquated and unable to cope with Chinese-style challenges.
Chinese leaders appear to be wrestling with how to present their plans in a way that causes less foreign opposition, said Paul Haenle, director of the Carnegie-Tsinghua Center for Global Policy. He said there was “considerable debate” about how to handle Washington at the leaders’ annual summer retreat at the seaside resort of Beidaihe.
“I do think there is some internal debate about, Did we handle this right? Is there some way we can acknowledge to the U.S. side and others that we recognize there are changes we need to make?” said Haenle. But doing that without looking like Chinese leaders are “caving in to the United States will be a difficult endeavor to pull off.”
Chinese leaders might have hoped cooperating on North Korea would win over Trump. But he went ahead with tariff hikes even after Beijing joined the “maximum pressure” campaign on North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to give up nuclear weapons and Xi skipped the regime’s 70th anniversary festivities this month.
“I don’t think they have any great hopes that Trump is going to be any easier on them,” said Haenle.
Beijing’s conviction that it needs to accelerate technology development was reinforced by this year’s near-death of ZTE Corp., one of China’s biggest tech companies, said Citigroup’s Liu.
ZTE announced it might shut down after Washington imposed a seven-year ban on sales of U.S. components and technology to the state-owned manufacturer of telecoms equipment, citing its exports to North Korea and Iran. To regain access, ZTE agreed to pay a $1 billion fine, replace its executive team and embed a U.S.-chosen compliance team in the company.
Chinese leaders realized “they don’t have core technology,” said Liu. “Made in China 2025” has “become more important than before and will be accelerated.”
Some Chinese reform advocates see a possible way out: Restructure “Made in China 2025” and other initiatives to make them more market-oriented and strip out subsidies that irk Washington and other governments. They say that would pay dividends for China by encouraging creativity and efficiency through competition.
“That would be nothing more than promising further opening and reform. Government interference in business would be corrected,” said Hu Xingdou, an economist in Beijing. “These are all good for the Chinese people.”
Beijing might hope Trump will “move to a more conciliatory position,” especially if his Republican Party suffers setbacks in November elections, said Haenle. But he said they doubt they know enough about American politics to try to influence the outcome by offering concessions.
The impact on China has been smaller than some American leaders hoped.
Monday’s latest tariff hike might trim China’s economic growth by 0.3 to 0.5 percentage points over the next year, Lillian Li of Moody’s rating agency said in a report. But government stimulus spending and easier credit should offset that, leaving China’s growth forecast unchanged at 6.6 percent this year and 6.4 percent in 2019, she said.
Citigroup estimates the first U.S. tariffs on $50 billion of Chinese goods will wipe out about 881,000 industrial jobs. That could rise to 3.5 million additional lost jobs over three to five years if the tariffs on $200 billion of imports increase to 25 percent, it said.
The dispute has a silver lining for some Chinese companies as some local governments act on longstanding complaints by cutting taxes and fees and simplifying bureaucracy.
Guangdong province, an export center adjacent to Hong Kong, announced changes on Sept. 10 that it said would cut costs for businesses there by 200 billion yuan ($31 billion) in 2018-20.
“We believe Chinese industries will come out of the trade war stronger than before,” said Citigroup’s Liu.
AP researcher Yu Bing contributed.
The US has become a nation of suburbs
Dean and Professor of Sustainability, Arizona State University
Disclosure statement: Christopher Boone receives funding from the National Science Foundation and the United States Agency for International Development.
Partners: Arizona State University provides funding as a member of The Conversation US.
Since 1970, more Americans have lived in the suburbs than central cities. In 2010, suburbanites outnumbered city and rural dwellers combined for the first time. We Americans live in a suburban nation.
Despite several concerted efforts by city governments to lure residents, suburbanization continues largely unabated. Census figures from earlier this year show that suburbs of warm climate “Sun Belt” cities in the South and West continue to grow, while cities in the cold climate “Snow Belt” of the Midwest and Northeast decline.
Smaller metropolitan areas with fewer than 500,000 people have also grown, related to an improving economy and job creation in smaller urban centers. This ongoing shift towards the suburbs has significant environmental repercussions.
Since cities and suburbs are home for 8 of every 10 Americans, views of the country are often distorted. Most travel occurs within or between cities. Although rural areas have more than three times the miles of roadways as urban areas, more than two-thirds of the 3 trillion miles that vehicles travel each year in the U.S. are in urban and suburban areas.
Jobs, too, are overwhelmingly centered around cities. Less than 2 percent of the American labor force is employed in agriculture.
Many of my students are surprised that the land area occupied by cities is only 3 percent of the nation’s territory. However, they are correct in that cities have an out-sized impact on the economy. In 2016, metropolitan areas contributed US $16.8 trillion dollars to the nation’s gross domestic product, more than 90 percent of the country’s economy.
With this economic activity comes a high use of natural resources and concentrated pollution production. Although density can be more efficient when it comes to energy use, the sheer number of urban dwellers means that cities, despite a small physical footprint, have a big energy and pollution footprint.
Rising suburbanization undermines some of the energy efficiency gained by high density living in urban cores. Manhattan has lower per capita greenhouse gas emissions than the suburbs of New York, thanks to factors like apartment living, high costs of car ownership and extensive public transit. Of course, not everyone can afford to live in Manhattan even if they want to. Low-density suburbs are an affordable alternative.
Even so, suburban life can look less desirable. As the U.S. population ages, elderly people may end up “stranded in the suburbs,” far from adequate public transit and unable or unwilling to drive. At my urban university, a mixed use retirement facility was sold out before ground was broken. In the U.S., there are more than 100 university-based retirement communities and the number is growing.
The trend toward suburban life could soon come to an end. Millennials – the generation born between 1981 and 1997 – appear to prefer urban life. They are happier in cities, especially large metropolitan areas, than older generations. The millennial population is growing fastest in metro areas in the Sun Belt and western states, and slowest in the Snow Belt. Topping the list of the fastest-growing metropolitan areas for millennials are Colorado Springs, San Antonio, Denver and Orlando.
Will millennials follow older generations to the suburbs as they marry, have children, recover from the shocks of the Great Recession and find affordable housing? The jury is still out.
Whatever happens, it’s unlikely that people will start to move out of cities and suburbs and back into rural areas. Even though increased connectivity and the internet of things will make remote work more possible than before, businesses will continue to concentrate in urban cores, because they profit from being close to one another. (Futurists once thought the telephone would make crowded cities unnecessary.)
I believe that it’s likely the U.S. will remain a nation of suburbs for some time to come. That will pose a continuing environmental challenge. But it will also bring a new set of opportunities for millennials, who are predicted to overtake baby boomers by next year as the largest generation in the country. How will that generation remake the suburbs to suit their needs and desires without exacerbating current environmental challenges? The answer has profound implications for the nature of cities and urban life in the U.S.
How an ancient Islamic holiday became uniquely Caribbean
Ph.D. Candidate, Religion in the Americas, Global Islam, University of Florida
Ken Chitwood does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.
University of Florida provides funding as a founding partner of The Conversation US.
A throng of Trinidadians line up along the streets of St. James and Cedros to admire the vibrant floats with beautifully bedecked models of mausoleums. Their destination is the waters of the Caribbean, where the crowds will push them out to float.
This is part of the Hosay commemorations, a religious ritual performed by Trinidadian Muslims, that I have observed as part of the research for my forthcoming book on Islam in Latin America and the Caribbean.
What fascinates me is how a practice from India has been transformed into something uniquely Caribbean.
During the 10 days of the Islamic month of Muharram, Shiite Muslims around the world remember the martyrdom of Hussein, Prophet Muhammad’s grandson, who was killed in a battle in Karbala, today’s Iraq, some 1,338 years ago. For Shiite Muslims Hussein is the rightful successor to Prophet Muhammad.
Ashura, the 10th day of Muharram, is marked by public mourning and a re-enactment of the tragedy. Shiite Muslims put on passion plays that include inflicting suffering, as a way to remember Hussein. In Iraq, Shiite are known to beat themselves with swords. In India, mourners whip themselves with sharp blades. Some Shiite also visit Hussein’s shrine in Iraq.
The commemoration has also become a symbol for the broader Shiite struggle for justice as a minority in the global Muslim community.
In Trinidad, the 100,000 Muslims who make up 5 percent of the island’s total population, celebrate the day of Ashura, as Hosay – the name derived from “Hussein.”
The first Hosay festival was held in 1854, just over a decade after the first Indian Muslims began to arrive from India to work on the island’s sugar plantations.
But Trinidad at the time was under British colonial rule and large public gatherings were not permitted. In 1884, the British authorities issued a prohibition against Hosay commemorations. Approximately 30,000 people took to the streets, in Mon Repos, in the south, to protest against the ordinance. Shots fired to disperse the crowd killed 22 and injured over 100. The ordinance was later overturned.
The “Hosay Massacre” or “Muharram Massacre,” however, lives in people’s memories.
Colorful floats of Trinidad
These days, Hosay celebrations in St. James and Cedros not only recall Hussein, but also those killed during the 1884 Hosay riots. Rather than recreate the events through self-flagellation or other forms of suffering, however, people in Trinidad create bright and beautiful floats, called “tadjahs,” that parade through the streets to the sea.
Each tadjah is constructed of wood, paper, bamboo and tinsel. Ranging from a height of 10 to 30 feet, the floats are accompanied by people parading along and others playing drums, just as is the practice in India’s northern city of Lucknow. Meant to reflect the resting place of Shiite martyrs, the tadjahs resemble mausoleums in India. To many, their domes might be a reminder of the Taj Mahal.
Walking ahead of the tadjahs are two men bearing crescent moon shapes, one in red and the other in green. These symbolize the deaths of Hussein and his brother Hassan – the red being Hussein’s blood and the green symbolizing the supposed poisoning of Hassan.
The elaborateness of the tadjahs continues to increase each year and has become somewhat of a status symbol among the families that sponsor them.
A bit carnival, a bit Ashura
While the festival is certainly a somber one in terms of its tribute, it is also a joyous occasion where families celebrate with loud music and don festive attire. This has led some to compare Hosay to Trinidad’s world-famous carnival with its accompanying “joie de vivre.”
But there are also those who believe that the occasion should be a more somber remembrance of the martydom of Hussein. More conservative Muslims in Trinidad have made attempts to “reform” such celebrations. These Muslims believe local customs should be more in line with global commemorations like those in Iraq or India.
What I saw in the festival was an assertion of both the Indian and Trinidadian identity. For Shiite Muslims, who have dealt with oppression and ostracism – both in the past and in the present – it is a means of claiming their space as a minority in Trinidadian culture and resisting being pushed to the margins. At the same time, with its carnival-like feel, the festival could not be more Trinidadian.
Indeed, the celebrations each year illustrate how Indian and Trinidadian rituals and material culture merged to create a unique festival.
AAA Recommends Caregivers Keep Children Rear-Facing Longer
COLUMBUS, Ohio (September 19, 2018) – Car crashes remain a leading cause of death for children. Proper use of child safety seats can reduce a child’s risk of death by up to 71 percent, but at least three quarters of seats are used incorrectly. One of the biggest mistakes caregivers make is turning car seats forward-facing too soon.
In conjunction with Child Passenger Safety Week (September 23-29, 2018) AAA is urging caregivers to keep their children rear-facing as long as possible.
New rear-facing guidelines:
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) previously recommended children remain rear-facing until age two. On Aug. 30, 2018, the AAP announced new recommendations to keep children rear-facing as long as possible, until they reach their seat’s upper height and weight limits.
Rear-facing seats support a child’s head, neck and spine, which are the most vulnerable parts of the body. Toddlers’ heads are disproportionately large and heavy. When they sit in a forward-facing seat, the harness straps restrain their bodies, but their heads are thrown forward in a crash, increasing the likelihood of spine and head injuries.
“Parents are often concerned their children’s legs will be broken if they remain rear-facing too long, when research and crash data actually prove otherwise,” said Kellie O’Riordan, traffic safety program manager for AAA Ohio Auto Club. “In fact, children are more likely to suffer broken legs in the forward-facing position. This is one area where parents have complete control in protecting their children. It should be non-negotiable.”
Data shows rear-facing seats significantly reduce infant and toddler fatalities and injuries in frontal and side-impact crashes. A recent study from The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center found that rear-facing seats are also effective at protecting children in rear-impact crashes, which account for more than 25 percent of all crashes.
Car seat best practices:
Always read the car seat manufacturer’s instructions and vehicle owner’s manual.
Keep children in rear-facing seats as long as possible – until they reach the upper weight or height limit of their rear-facing convertible seat.
Once they outgrow their rear-facing seats, children should use a forward-facing child safety seat until they reach the maximum weight or height for the harness.
A booster seat is recommended until a child is 4’9” tall.
Move children to adult/lap shoulder belts when they are at least 4’9” tall (which usually happens between ages 8 and 12) and vehicle safety belts fit properly.
The back seat is the safest place for all children under 13 years old.
In an effort to keep all children safe while riding in the car, AAA Ohio Auto Club offers free car and booster seat checks by appointment for all parents and caregivers at participating stores. For more information and to find a location, visit AAA.com/CarSeat.
As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 58 million members with travel-, insurance-, financial- and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited online at AAA.com.