The extraordinary events in the Philippines of the last few days lead the news agenda this morning. BBC R4Today covered the story in depth with an unfortunate slip by UK Minister Justine Greening, describing the British Governments approach to supporting Indonesia, which of course is not the affected area.
That said it is good to see support being organised and for a government minister to be prepared to address the subject and quickly. The sad thing is relatively affordable, higher quality building and engineering would significantly reduce the loss of life from such natural disasters.
Elsewhere in Asia political and business watchers are tracking the gathering of the Chinese Communist party four day Reform Summit.
The party will focus on the challenges ahead and will address the need for reform following the slowdown in investment led growth and the need for structural adjustment toward more consumer led growth, as it seeks to meet the aspirations of more than a billion citizens.
Al Jazeera reports:
“The Development Research Centre, a think-tank for China's cabinet, set out last month eight key areas for reform at the plenum, including finance, taxation, land, state assets, social welfare, innovation, foreign investment and governance.
"These are just recommendations. There is still strong opposition" to the proposed reforms, a source with ties to the leadership told Reuters news agency, requesting anonymity.
Powerful interest groups, including leftists or conservatives, local governments, state-owned enterprises and state banks, oppose some of the reforms such as freeing up interest rates, allowing private banks and turning Shanghai into a free trade zone, several sources also said.
However, the party will put on a unified face once Xinhua issues its communique at the end of the plenum on Tuesday, pledging reform without providing too many details.”
This will be the first big test of President Jinping’s commitment to reform and whether the party will move from a slow cautious incrementalism to a faster paced approach.
As Kerry Brown, Executive Director of the China Studies Centre and a Professor of Chinese Politics at the University of Sydney has observed, China’s social challenges are significant with Vice Premier Li Keqiang identifying four issues constraining the objective of `fast sustainable growth’ – low domestic consumption, a small service sector, relatively low urbanisation, and high capital investment.
“In all of these areas, China is out of kilter not only with developed economies, but also with developing ones. Li has referred to creating `new spaces for growth’ as the key government challenge.”
Given that China, currently the second largest economy in the world, is growing much more rapidly than the US or Europe, and is an active overseas investor, the growth engine of Asia is important to us all. More on the outputs from the summit as they emerge later this week.