Bombay mix-ups: the politics of placename changes

A few days ago, before hitting the headlines with the news that his newspaper would stop printing next month and become an online-only publication, the London Independent‘s editor Amol Rajan announced that henceforth the paper would stop calling India’s most populous city, Mumbai, and revert to using its previous name of Bombay. Explaining the move to Dan Damon on the BBC World Service, Rajan said that he wanted to use the name Bombay as a symbol of the city having … Read more

Cartoon – Don’t mention the…

Whitehall has a clear policy on China. It knows there are human rights abuses, you just don’t talk about them. With the sophistication of technology and leven of government surveillance it’s hard to say that the report into paramilitary groups revealed anything new, it just said what people knew.   Brian SpencerBrian is a writer, artist, political cartoonist and legal blogger. Actively tweeting from @brianjohnspencr. More information here:

Hong Kong: the spirit of freedom

As far as the eye can see, young pro-democracy protestors have taken to the streets of central Hong Kong to demand the right to elect freely the next chief executive of the territory. The students’ speeches, songs and placards celebrate the freedoms they want to enjoy. Beijing has announced restrictions for the 2017 election – which effectively rule out any prospect of a democrat standing. The youth of Hong Kong are not happy with how their non-democratic future is shaping up. … Read more

OFMdFM: “as open and transparent as possible”

After much foot-dragging, the Northern Ireland First and deputy First Ministers have released the cost [to date – Ed] of their 12-day March junket trip to Brazil and the USA to “Develop and promote political, investment, trade, university and tourism links” – an eye-watering £155,509.  As Mark Devenport tweeted So were FM and DFM’s recent investment trips value for money? Costs breakdown published here — Mark Devenport (@markdevenport) May 16, 2013 It’s difficult to answer the ‘value-for-money’ question in the … Read more

Beijing accounts for just 1% of FDI in Europe so Ireland will have to wait…

Nice observation from Simon Carswell in his Bottom Line column today in the Irish Times, regarding the recent high level visit of the putative leader of the Peoples Republic of China. …these visits really only suggest the potential that exists. China accounts for just 3 per cent of exports and most of that is dairy products, notably infant milk formula. UCD economist Colm McCarthy pointed out that Ireland exported the same amount of merchandise to China last year as it … Read more

Northern Ireland – China relations and human rights

China’s persecution of ‘barefoot lawyer’ activist Chen Gaungcheng continues to cast a long, dark shadow across the two-day visit of US Scretary of State Hillary Clinton. The BBC reports a senior US diplomat: The United States believes that no state can legitimately deny the universal rights that belong to every human being – or punish those who exercise them. A China that protects the rights of all its citizens will be a stronger, more prosperous partner for the United States. I … Read more

OFMDFM: “We welcome our friendship with the Peoples Republic of China…”

In the Irish Times, David Adams takes issue with the Northern Ireland First and deputy First Ministers’ “kowtowing last week to a visiting delegation from China”.  On Slugger, Patrick focused on some of the propaganda aspects of the visit, and the OFMDFM press releases during the visit should probably be noted at that point.  From the Irish Times article Yet one either believes in the inalienability and universality of fundamental rights, or one does not. It really is that simple. If the former is … Read more

University of Ulster: “part of China’s overseas propaganda set-up”

It’s a big day for the University of Ulster as it welcomes senior Chinese Communist Party Politburo member Liu Yandong to officially launch its Confucius Institute. While promoted as independent educational and cultural bodies, the Confucius Institutes have perhaps been more accurately described as “an important part of China’s overseas propaganda set-up.” Who said that? Some external critic of China, no doubt? No, none other than Li Changchun, the propaganda chief of the Chinese Communist Party and the 5th ranked member … Read more

“Obama has as President created a new climate in international politics…” – Redux

US President Barack Obama is on a 9 day trip to the Pacific region, beginning in Australia where, as the Guardian reports The president is expected to announce the US is expanding its military presence in Australia – putting more equipment in place, increasing its access to bases and conducting more joint exercises and training. This is in response to an increasingly aggressive China, which claims dominion over vast areas of the Pacific that the US considers international waters, and … Read more

“We do not want foreigners in here” – Redux

And on a somewhat related note, Miriam Lord spots a report of comments by Fianna Fáil TD, Ned O’Keeffe, who, as they say, has form on the topic…  From Miriam Lord’s Week Our thanks to reporter Brian Moore of the Avondhu newspaper in Mitchelstown for bringing us this update from Ned, who is doing the nation some service by keeping a beady eye on troop movements in the Far East. In the course of a wide-ranging interview on Cork local … Read more

Eastern promises

It would appear that our Asian friends have confidence (and an interest) in the survival of the European project. Japan and China will help fund the European Financial Stability Fund that will be used to bailout European banks,  sorry,  I mean Ireland. With Japan pledging to buy 20% or more of the bonds that will be sold later this month. From Bloomberg – There is a plan for the euro zone to jointly issue a large amount of bonds late … Read more

“the euro crisis had a Christmas break, but it’s back”

With Portugal heading back to an increasingly reluctant bond market, the BBC’s Europe editor, Gavin Hewitt, notes that “White knuckles have re-emerged in Brussels and other vulnerable European capitals.” Sometimes in Brussels I detect that the fight is less to save Portugal but more to ring-fence Spain. It’s the fourth-largest economy in the eurozone. If it needed rescuing the funds currently are probably not there. And then awkward questions would have to be asked – including whether Germans, in those … Read more

Dave speaks out on human rights in China after all

Only 24 hours ago, correspondents in David Cameron’s baggage train were confidently reporting how circumspect he would be this time in raising human rights in China. Well, it seems the Downing St briefers were holding back on the impact of his speech to Beijing students this morning. The quote isn’t great but the context of the whole thing is clear enough. I understand too that being in government is a huge challenge. I’m finding that running a country of 60 … Read more

Il sorpasso

Due to below par second qaurter Japanese GDP growth, China has overtaken Japan to become the worlds second largest economy. Bloomberg report China surpassed Japan as the world’s second-largest economy last quarter, capping the nation’s three- decade rise from Communist isolation to emerging superpower. Japan’s nominal gross domestic product for the second quarter totaled $1.288 trillion, less than China’s $1.337 trillion, the Japanese Cabinet Office said today. Japan remained bigger in the first half of 2010, the government agency said. … Read more

US Ratings Agencies : Um.. please don’t use our ratings

So, just as Ireland get’s downgraded by Moody’s, the Financial Reform Bill in the USA throws a spanner in the works, potentially making the agencies liable for inaccurate ratings. Their response – ‘stop using them please’. From the Wall Street Journal (via Naked Capitalism) The nation’s three dominant credit-ratings providers have made an urgent new request of their clients: Please don’t use our credit ratings. The odd plea is emerging as the first consequence of the financial overhaul that is … Read more

Let ten thousand jobs bloom?

Brian Cowen confirmed this morning the government are aggressively pursuing a Chinese investment project that could bring up to 10,000 jobs to the midlands. Very early stage process by the sounds of things, and I’m sure we’ll face stiff competition, but here’s hoping. From RTE – Taoiseach Brian Cowen has confirmed today that he has held talks with potential investors and promoters behind a multi-million euro international project aimed at attracting major Chinese investment to the midlands. The project Mr … Read more