Masthead graphic based on a painting by Gudrun Thriemer.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Lionel Barber, Geoff Dyer, James Kynge and Lifen Zhang, "Interview: Message from Wen," Financial Times, February 1, 2009.

[There is a lot of wisdom in this article and at least one piece of amusing drivel in the video. Some western economists blame the Chinese for the present economic crisis. FT's Lionel Barber actually uses the phrase "Chinese savings glut." At last it's coming clear. Now we can see that the good, free capitalist is encumbered not only by bad government regulation and taxes but also by the twin evils of the "Chinese savings glut" and "vicious cycle of thrift" lurking in the wings. Better hurry up and buy some crap. Anything at all, anything will do. A truckload of dioxin, as much nuclear waste as you can afford will help with the nuclear renaissance that is going to rescue us all. Razors with 5 blades are always good for spending if you can't manage a big-ticket item like an F-16. But don't delay. Otherwise, you'll be at fault too. -jlt]

Wen Jiabao is on the fifth leg of what he calls his “Journey of Confidence” in Europe and he has been up since before dawn jogging in London’s Hyde Park. But the 67-year-old Chinese premier looks sprightly and dapper as he raises his index finger, looks his interviewers in the eye and says: “I am ready to be open and sincere.”

His European trip might come as a welcome relief from political pressures at home. Mr Wen is under fire because of the slump in the Chinese economy – which, he acknowledges, slowed sharply in the period after the August Olympics in Beijing.

  Chinese exports have started to shrink and tens of thousands of manufacturers have gone bankrupt, sending 12m redundant migrant factory workers tramping home to their villages.

But in London he is the man of the moment. Tony Blair, former UK prime minister, and David Cameron, leader of the opposition Conservative party, are both waiting in the wings at the Mandarin Oriental hotel for an audience, while at Davos, Switzerland, last week the delegates hung on his every word.

In a rare interview, Mr Wen outlined in forceful terms Beijing’s approach to dealing with the global financial crisis – frenetic activity at home, cautious engagement abroad. International expectations of China are intense – almost on the same scale as those facing US president Barack Obama. But Mr Wen does not see China’s role as saving capitalism from itself.

Read the rest with links and a video here =>
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