2010-12-29

reading list Nov 2010

C觀點 - 施永青
誰最不想韓國統一

(2010年12月24日)

近年南韓的經濟發展得非常迅速,一些電子產品已行銷全球,攻佔了原先屬日本產品主導的市場。相反,北韓的經濟卻長期停滯不前,且經常發生饑荒,人民不斷外逃。因此,即使北韓有核武器,但若以綜合國力計,南韓絕對比北韓強。

這種發展,已令朝鮮半島的勢力失去平衡。上次朝鮮戰爭,之所以會在三八線停火,是因為勢均力敵。但現在蘇聯已不復存在,而中國與北朝鮮的關係又不如毛澤東與金日成時代友好。這本是南韓統一朝鮮半島的大好機會,但南韓在天安艦與延坪島事件上都沒有乘機發難,原因是南韓受制於美韓安全條約,韓國軍隊已交由美國統一指揮;美國如果不想打,南韓單獨是打不起來的。

上次韓戰停火後,中國的志願軍已撤出北韓;但美軍卻一直留在南韓。不難設想,如果南北韓統一,美軍再沒有藉口留在韓國。以韓國人的民族情緒,他們是不會在沒有需要的情況下,繼續讓外國軍隊長期駐在自己的國土上的。這種發展,並不符合美國在全球的戰略部署。為了維護美國在全球的一哥地位,美國是不會輕易放棄在外國的軍事基地的。

然而,韓國的民情與台灣的民情有別。台灣有相當一部分人想獨立苟安,但韓國人卻一面倒的傾向統一。「維基解密」說,有中國官員私下向南韓透露,中國樂於看到,統一後的韓國由南韓執政。這極有可能是真的,因為中國極需要向南韓表示,中國不會是韓國統一的阻力。這將刺激韓國人好好地想一想,誰才是韓國統一的真正阻力。

其實,國與國之間的外交關係,無可避免以本國的利益為主導。當年中國派志願軍去北韓參戰,亦是認定了美國會乘機顛覆中國。現時,中國極需要多三十年和平發展的機會,因此不可能會鼓勵北韓向南韓挑釁,製造紛爭。把朝鮮半島的形勢弄得這麼緊張,只會讓美軍有藉口留在亞洲圍堵中國。

很明顯,北韓絕不是中國可靠的盟友。過去,中蘇有爭拗的時候,北韓倒向蘇聯,而不是中國。現在,北韓表面上與中國友好,但目的主要是拿中國的經濟援助。有人認為,中國想借北韓來牽制美國。但北韓根本不會聽中國的話,他只會為中國製造麻煩,而不會配合中國的國策。

自從中國與南韓建立邦交之後,不難發覺,南韓可以替中國帶來很多互利的雙邊關係;而北韓卻只會拿中國的好處,並不斷為中國帶來麻煩。因此,中國樂於看到統一後的朝鮮由南韓來管治是很正常的。

北韓雖然說信奉社會主義,但金日成家族的政權,父傳子,子又傳孫,已與封建王朝無異。這種與人類歷史背道而馳的發展,根本為天理所不容。相反,南韓若能統一朝鮮半島,不但可以減少亞洲的紛爭,而且可使北韓的剩餘勞力找到出路,令南韓的經濟發展有更多的空間,對兩邊的人民都有利。統一後的韓國,不但會與中國有更多的經濟交往,而且會減少對美國的依賴,其外交政策將更加獨立。獨立後的韓國,不一定肯做美國圍堵中國的棋子。

Revisit: China vs USA, total GDP growth

I wrote in 2005:
total GDP of China (in PPP) could be comparable to that of US in 15-20 years, in an optimistic scenario.


Now the Economist projected it to be around 2019, one year ahead of my optimistic scenario. I still think the Economist is a bit to optimistic.

2010-12-09

Chart manipulation: how to make 99 appears 6 time larger than 663

The Economist is very good in manipulating charts. In the past, it would make 120 appears twice as large as 110 by plotting the y-intercept at 100.

Here is another innovation to mislead our readers.

2010-11-28

寻畔滋事量刑表

北京地区法院量刑图

2010-11-20

Map: rare earth ores in the USA

The US has 13 million tonnes of rare earth elements but it would take years to extract them, suggests the first detailed report on the country's supply.

Source: USGS
Via: NewScientist

Full PDF report here

A new report finds significant deposits of rare earth elements in 14 states, with the largest known deposits at Mountain Pass, California; Bokan Mountain, Alaska; and the Bear Lodge Mountains, Wyoming. "Placer" deposits are sandy sediments that sometimes contain rare earths. Phosphorite deposits, which mostly occur in the southeastern US, sometimes contain the rare earth elements yttrium and lanthanum (Image: USGS)

2010-11-14

ZT: 二逼中的战斗机, 央视记者义廉耻

Source: 傻逼排行榜  (highly recommend this blog, all everything ridiculous in China)

二逼中的战斗机,我说的肯定不是奥巴马



He could have said, "I would like to take up this opportunity if it is okay for our Korean friends, since mine is also from Asia."

2010-11-08

What was Zhan Qixiong plan when he was intercepted by Yonakuni?

This is the video taken by Yonakuni on the collision when it tried to intecept Minjinyu 5179.


First, let's note a few facts (see previous post for background and screenshots)
  1. Yonakuni has taken a long circle to come in front of Minjinyu, starting from about 8 O'clock direction (of Minjinyu 5179) to reach 2 O'clock in the begining of the video, and was at around 11:30 O'clock when its end collided with Minjinyu 5179
  2. At around 8'30", you can see another JCG ship, probably Hateruma (Let call it H), behind Yonakuni and to the right of Minjinyu 5179. Since we did not see it before earlier while Yonakuni was circling in front of Minjinyu 5179, we can conclude that  H was probably either at 7-8 O'clock direction for Minjinyu 5179, or some distance from the 3 O'clock direction
  3. The track thickened a lot right behind Yonakuni at the moment of the collision, most likely indicating it has slowed down and parked (confirmed by the relative motion of Yonakuni with the sea wave track in the video)
  4. You can see an island right behind Minjinyu 5179 (wiki said it is Huangwei Yu, also called Kubashima by Japan), indicating that Minjinyu was trying to sail away from the island and halted when being cut in front by Yonakuni
The situation is illustrated in this diagram below (click to enlarge)


What would you do if you wre captain Zhan at this moment?
  • Your boat is much slower than Yonakuni (10 knots vs 30-40 knots), so it is useless to go anywhere in front of it. 12-9 O'clock directions are ruled out. It takes some time for Yonakuni to make a u-turn so your best chance is go behind it.
  • You cannot go backward. You probably arrived at this position and were planning to move forward. But you had to stop your engine because Yonakuni is cutting in front of you. Going backward will bring you closer to Huangwei Yu and bring you more trouble. You want to be as far away from Huangwei Yu as you can now.
  • You should also see JCG H coming from behind and trying to round you up on the other side, so you should try to get as far away from Huangwei Yu as possible. You hope if you can get out of the 24 nm radius you would be free and avoid being caught and result in financial losses
  • You options are anywhere from 3-12 O'Oclock. 12 O'clock (proceeding directly ahead) offer you the best chance to escape, because JCG H is behind you and may intercept you from behind on your right hand side Another reason to avoid your right hand side is that H probably is already at your 3 O'clock now.
  • You see Yonakuni is moving, there are some 100-200m between you and Yonakuni, so by the time you reached its current position (Y0), it should have moved to Y1 already.
So you took the short path, charging directly ahead to break the trap. M0 to M1.

Yonakuni knew that and saw that. It braked/backpedaled and stayed at Y2 instead. You tried to avoid it but you still got to its tail.

Should you have taken 1 O'clock or 2 O'clock instead to be safe (even if H is at 3 O'clcok coming to you)? You probably should, and you probably had done all those earlier that morning. This is one of the many interceptions since early morning and the ordeal would take at least another 2-6 hours that day. Maybe they have videos for you trying hard to avoid collision as well. They are not going to show the public if all the other videos. If not for that over-zealous and over-confident sengoku38 san, no one in the public will be able to even see this video.

Maybe you should have made your own recording. But you cannot afford such gadgets, and were not prepared to bring a video-camera to this trip, After all, you are a poor fisherman trying to make some bugs. You are not coming here for eco-tour.

2010-11-07

Which ship has made a change in direction before the collision of Mizuki and Minjinyu 5179 (UPDATED)

Update (Nov 17): upon a few more viewing, I have come to the conclusion that Minjinyu also made a turn of about 20-30 degree and at some point was not exactly facing left. I have updated my graph accordingly. Note also that I am not trying to prove that Minjinyu bears no responsibility at the collision. I believe both sides need to share the responsibility, since Mizuki also made a significant turn of some 240-270 degrees, and made its direction very unpredictable -- might have caused the seemingly erratic turn of Minjinyu. (But we really do not have solid evidence to say either way)

But before you go on I want you to first judge this picture, that if the boat has turned


Then you can find out the answer in this picture below (where the picture above is cropped from), taken from the end credit of the movie Suspect X (a great movie btw). I do not claim the situations are the same, but this just shows us how a partial picture is far from being a conclusive evidence. That is why I hope Japan would release all the 10 hours of videos it has taken.



===

In my previous post an anomymous commentator suggested that Minjinyu 5179 made a change of direction and hence ram into Mizuki. What he saw was the video taken from on board Mizuki, all it shows is the relative velocity. Fortunately, we are able to see another video taken by Hateruma during the exact same moment from a different angle. Here it is.


This is a screenshot taken by Japanprobe, from the video taken by Hateruma, observing the collision between Mizuki and 5178. You can see the trace behind Mizuki, when it just completed a 300 degree turn right in front of 5179. It is quite clear that it is Mizuki which had made a large angle turn just before the collision, towards the area blocking the path of 5179

A path with time scale based on the video, and the speed indicated by the intervals between the 10 second gaps is shown approximately here. Looking at the time scale you can also see that Mizuki has more or less parked (stationary speed) for the 30 seconds before the collision, while Minjinyu had actually slowed down a bit. You can view the video again to verify my chart.

1A) Mizuki speeding towards 5179 (0:47)
1B) Mizuki turned 90 degrees (1:10). Note that Minjinyu 5179 has already made its turn of 20-30 degree by then. So Minjinyu's turn was made most likely while Mizuki formed a T in front of it. Perhaps it was expecting Mizuki to continue sailing towards its right, so that turning left would avoid the much faster Mizuki.
 1C) Mizuki completed the turn (1:08)
Since Mizuki is almost stationary while making the turn, we can estimate the speed of Minjinyu during the moments to be around its own length during 10 seconds. which is approximately 40m/10s or 4m/s=15km/hr.

If you compare the location of Mizuki between 0:26 and 0:29,  in less than 3 seconds it traveled the length of its own of 46 meters (type びざん型巡視船 (2代))(marked by the white wave). So its speed is about 50m/3s = 60km/hr, 4 times the speed of fishing boat 5170. So even adjusting for it slower speed right after the turn, it must be able to avoid the crash it wanted to.

If this is still not conclusive, in the Mizuki video we can see two other JCG staff were taking videos, they should release those videos as well as additional data points.

---
 Now back to the video taken from Mizuki.

A second JCG ship can be seen on the right of 5170, trying to encircle it from left behind
 In 15 seconds, the 2nd JCG ship has moved to the left side of 5179, leaving a long white trace behind it, this shows the significant difference in relative speed of JCG boats and Minjinyu 5179

The encircling tactic is not uncommon from JCG. This is an aerial photo from another act by JCG, probably taken in 1998 in the same area. This may be the plan of the JCG ships.

See also a different view in this NBR thread, there are some problem with the poster's observation though, e.g. he claimed there were 2 JCG ships, in fact there were at least 3, the Yonakuni, the Mizuki, and the Kateruma.

Accidental map of Honshu

A chart of US interest rate plotted against velocity of Monetary Base/GDP looks strikingly similar to that of the map of Hanshu island, Japan.


Not the Noto Peninsular in central north area of the island (north of Ishikawa), Shikoku/Seto Inland Sea area, Wakayam Peninsular are all well recognizable in the chart.

2010-11-05

The Diaoyu Collision Videos

Update 3:
More analysis of the collisions
1) Which ship has made a change in direction before the collision of Mizuki and Minjinyu 5179
2) What was Zhan Qixiong plan when he was intercepted by Yonakuni?

Update 2:
Some discussion in the comment. I would recap here.

How the collision happened, and the routing of the JCG ships and the Chinese boat are pretty clear after viewing these videos.

This is actually quite similar to the case of the Hainan flight collision between a Chinese fighter and American spy plane in April 2001.

Now the issues (and comparison) really are:
1) From Japan's perspective, the JCG is 'enforcing' its law in its water. The question is comparable to whether a police boat should block the course of a civilian when it disobeyed order. And whether the enforcement should be as aggressive in certain disputed area with a foreign boat.

2) From Chinese perspective, Japan simply has no right to enforce its law in this area.

3) From a third party's view. The issues are
a) shall enforcement be this aggressive, assuming even if this area belong to Japan (as many Japanese would say, the Russian were much more aggressive, and opened fire in South Kuriles)?
b) shall the fishing boat change course (or is it possible for it to do so technically, given it is much slowed to control the speed and direction of a boat than a car)?
c) has the captain been avoiding such collision for the whole 4-5 hours of hide and chase game, and eventually lose either concentration or patience and gave up on steering control?
d) the area seems to be within 12 nm of the island (as you can see the islands in the background in Yonakuni video). so this is not the high sea. but again, it is disputed area and enforcement should be more scrupulous.

Related links
1) ESWN: Hong Kong Media Reaction To Diaoyuatai Collision Video
2)  日艦故意讓「閩晉漁」撞上 操弄錄影片段枉費心機
3) 釣島撞船片外洩 中日矛盾惡化
4) 故意不播周旋過程
5)  專家:日艦違慣例強攔漁船

---


Update 1:
1) 282 DVDs discovered in JR Station, with leaflet of "This shows the truth about DPJ. Please help yourself for free"
2) Asahi's speculation of the rationale for the leak.

---

The two collision videos are finally viewable -- just as I suspected before, Kan government clearly has every reason to keep the videos to themselves, But LDP will not let go of this opportunity to discredit its political rival. I suspect the leak is from DPJ's political enemies. (The leak's youtube ID is Sengoku38. While Sankei tried to explain the connotation of 38 as gossip women in Chinese. 38 are also good fortune number is South China. So it might as well be Chinese hacker who leaked the video)

1) This is taken by crew on Yonakuni. You can see Yonakuni started from the right flank of Minjinyu 5179, cut in front of it (and obviously doing this very slowly or even 'parked' in order to intercept the fishing boat). Minjinyu's direction did not change much throughout the video and its velocity was not fast and didn't change much. When the boats collide you can see the white wave track left behind by Yonakuni, showing that it had just crossed in front of Minjinyu. From the track you can see Yonakuni's speed was much faster than Minjinyu. It makes one wonders why it slowed down (instead of sped up) while parked in front of Minjinyu.


See the white track behind Minjinyu. Yonakuni had came from behind Minjinyu and circled it from its left aft, right aft, right flank, then cross in front of it. See all that Minjinyu left no visible track, showing that its speed was much much slower than Yonakuni. The fact that Minjinyu did not crossed the white track behind also indicated that the amount of time Yonakuni has to circle Minjinyu was less than the amount of time Minjinyu has taken to go across the circle (for a perfect circle, the speed ratio will be at least pi/2=1.57 times)

1A) White track behind Minjinyu

 1B)White track to the right of Minjinyu
1C) Right before collision, white track behind Yonakuni. Yonakuni has just made an almost 90 degree turn in front of Minjinyu.
 1D) After collision, no more white track as Minjinyu broke out of the "white circle".

Compare this with earlier CGI released by Japan you will understand why CGI is preferred over the real thing for Japan.

2) This one was taken by another JCG ship, Hateruma. In the first second of the video, it shows that Mizuki has just sped past Minjinyu and turned around in front of Minjinyu (see the semi-circle white wave track). Mizuki then sailed toward the Chinese fishing boat, then did a quick turn around right in front of Minjinyu, slowed down and parked and got hit by the Chinese boat which apparently could not brake nor turn (or reluctant/slow to turn).(for English subtitle version see here)



2A) Mizuki Turn around in front of Minjinyu to intercept
 2B) Mizuki speed toward Minjinyu after first turn
2C) Mizuki, reach in front of Minjinyu, turned again to block Minjinyu from its front, the next video starts here, filming the left side of Minjinyu. You can see that Minjinyu did not change direction, while Mizuki turned into its way. It is not clear whether Minjinyu would have enough time to change course, or if it did, Mizuki would not move again to block it.



This is taken on Mizuki. It very clearly shows the JCG ship Mizuki sped up to intercept the Chinese Fishing Boat. In the beginning of the video, the two boats almost sailed side by side. Note also that a lot of black smoke came out from Mizuki a few seconds BEFORE the collision, similar to what you see when one pushes the pedal suddenly on a truck uphill.



This is taken a second before the collision, Note the thick black smoke from Mizuki.

The JCG boats seem determined to intercept the Chinese fishing boat. The Chinese fishing boat (Minjinyu 5179) seems determined to get out of the encirclement. The JCG boats are 3 times in length (translates into 27 times in size/volume/tonnage - Yonakuni is 89 meter long, 1300 ton displacement, vs Minjinyu 5179's 30 meter length and about 40 tons in displacement) and much faster than the fishing boat. As I had earlier speculated, it is extremely unlikely that any sane skipper will want to run into ships 27 times its size with much stronger steel body, nor that a much slower fishing boat would be fast enough to chase up the JCG ship. This looks like a replay of the 2008 Lien Ho Incident.

Relative size of A JCG ship and Minjinyu
  • Hateruma: 89m, 1300 ton (speed about 60km/hr or 30-40 knots)
  • Yonakuni: 89m, 1300 ton (speed about 60km/hr or 30-40 knots)
  • Mizuki: 46m, 197 ton (speed about 45-45 knots)
  • Minjinyu5179: 30m, 40 ton (speed about 15km/hr or 10-15knots)

In short, these videos do not help with JCG's case against skipper Zhan. It explain why Japan had to release the captain.

The Chinese MoFA spokesman Cui Tian Kai is now very adamant, "[Regarding what actually happened], The facts are very clear..."

2010-10-27

謎語:猜香港新聞人物三

“我不仁 。。。”

打香港新聞人物三人。(粵語諧音格)

提示:“他禮義廉”

提示二:請小心取名。

2010-10-24

So what did Ma Ying-Jeou say?

Background see e.g., "Despite his clarification and similar statements by other officials, some commentators insisted that the AP report showed Ma's intention to start political negotiations with Beijing if he wins re-election." - Focus Taiwan

The full excerpt is now published (or here). This is what Ma actually said,
  • AP: So, do I understand you correctly that, if economic issues are
    resolved during your second term, during that term, you might move on
    to political questions?
    [00:32:17]
    President Ma: As I said, it depends on how fast we move, whether these
    issues are satisfactorily resolved, and of course all the policies regarding
    the mainland are very sensitive, and we certainly will also make decisions
    on generally whether the decision receives popular support. So usually
    when we lay out our general policy, we will say that: first of all, it has to
    be something needed by the country; secondly, it has to be supported by
    the people; and thirdly, that it will be supervised by the national
    parliament to make sure that this is a policy basically meeting the needs
    of the people
    .
This is what AP reported
  • In between the poles of union and separation, Ma said his government is prepared to discuss political agreements, including security issues, as soon as the priority economic issues are dealt with. He suggested that those political talks could start as early as a second four-year term if he wins re-election in 2012.
  • "We are not intentionally delaying the talks on political issues. Certainly the economic ones are more important to people here. People also support the idea (of) economy first, politics later," said Ma. Asked if he would move to political talks in a second term once economic issues are dealt with, Ma said "it depends on how fast we move." Political issues, he said, "will come after all the major economic issues are resolved."
Regarding the territorial dispute in the South China Sea, The AP reporter Hutzler has such a loaded question
  • [45:20]
    AP: Now, since you touched on the natural resources, the U.S. has voiced
    some concerns that, you know, there’s the Diaoyutai and then there’s the
    larger issue of the free passage of shipping through the South and East
    China seas and access to natural gas deposits or whatever might be down
    there on the ocean floor. And the U.S. has voiced concerns that the
    mainland is really trying to cut off access to foreign trade in that area,
    which would have, obviously, a poor effect on Taiwan, which really owes
    its existence to free access to those shipping lanes
    . So, do you share the
    concerns of the United States?
    [45:53]
    President Ma: Certainly. I think most of the waters in the South China
    Sea should be open waters, the so-called high seas according to the Law
    of the Sea.
    And they’re open to international traffic for sure. Actually, as I
    said, countries started to occupy and garrison those islands a long time
    ago. So this is not a very new issue. We sent our troops, our Marine Corps,
    to station on those islands as early as 1956. Just 10 years ago, we changed
    that with Coast Guard instead of the Marines. I served in our Navy more
    than 30 years ago, and my unit had the responsibility to supply all these
    islands. So I understand this issue well.
    AP: So is China trying to interfere with the open water policy?
    [46:52]
    President Ma: No. So far no. And I don’t think mainland China would do
    that.
    You know, when they are becoming a power in the region, they also
    become more careful about those issues. Certainly, it wants to maintain
    its sphere of influence but I don’t believe that will reach the level of
    interfering with international traffic
    .
    16
    [47:15]
    AP: They often raise objections to the passage of U.S. military ships
    through the South China Sea and they have, at times, taken measures to
    block those ships from passing through
    . The argument that some people
    in the mainland make is that free passage does not extend to military
    vessels
    , that that can be considered to be preparing the battlefield for the
    future. Does your government believe that these types of military
    surveillance activities are normal and should be allowed?
    President Ma: Well, certainly all the activities on the oceans, particularly
    in international waters, are regulated by the United Nations Convention
    on the Law of the Sea of 1982, which came into effect in 1994. It’s very
    important to note that there are rules of conduct. For instance, a warship
    is not supposed to sail through the territorial waters of other countries, but
    if the waters are too narrow in an international strait, then they certainly
    have to do certain things to make sure that it’s an innocent passage. There
    are rules. I think that each country should follow the rules.
No, Mr Hutzler , China did not object to free passage of international ships in the seas in question, not even US gunboats. China objects to US spy ships snooping some 20 miles by its mainland and main islands only, so far. This is what China's MoFA said regarding the "spy ship harassment" incident
  • "China has lodged a solemn representation to the United States as the USNS Impeccable conducted activities in China's special economic zone in the South China Sea without China's permission," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu told a regular news briefing. 
  • "We demand that the United States put an immediate stop to related activities and take effective measures to prevent similar acts from happening," Ma said.
Passage is not, and has never been, China's complaint. Especially, if it is passing in the open sea far away from its naval bases.China complained about the "activities", not the "passage".

Mr Hutzler, you need to do your homework before an interview, and you need to go back to school to study how to write a report.

2010-10-17

My twitter

Trying to tweet, link here. The link will also be posted on the right hand column, top of the "recommended reading" section.

2010-10-16

香港的集體失焦: 刻舟求劍 (之二) 發水樓陰招 房價繼續漲

Update: See also: C觀點 - 施永青 限制「發水」沒對症下藥

要簡化一個複雜的問題,需要找出一些容易量度的變量。

在香港房價的問題上,無論怎麼分析,供求還是最基本(fundamental)的變量。就是要看,整個市場裡一共有多少錢在追逐多少房子

政府最新公佈的政策,基本上還是與地產商狼狽為奸。而所謂的“發水樓”措施,只會使得樓價=漲得越快。因為
  1. 新土地供應根本沒有增加。甚至長期空置的啟德機場還是空置,只拿出2000個單位來做樓換樓,而且還是最快2017年後才能完成的事。這等於是向地產商和炒家保證,其餘的地將繼續空置!土地供應不會增加!
  2. 置屋計劃(資助置業也是,要2014年開始供應也就算,一共也就5000個單位,每年可能1000個(還不一定)。這些土地也不一定是增加供應,因為可能是從原來要拍賣的地轉換而來,沒人知道。
  3. 置屋計劃,或任何政府資助/貸款的購房方案,都是增加投入市場的現金,令到市面有更多的金錢去追逐同樣數量的房子。總的結果,就是進一步推高樓價。
  4. 要打擊欺騙消費者的發水建築面積,莫過於規定必須公佈實用面積。即使不能立即立法,也可由於消委會制定規則,而且因為目前的實用面積定義包括外牆,外牆數字需要列出。。可是政府根本無有確定的時間表,也沒有要求二手樓必須提供類似的數字作為比較,使得買樓花的消費者根本不知道買的房子其實有多大。市場資訊的不對稱,使得買家永遠處於劣勢。
  5. 不過,最奸狡的一招,莫過於發水樓的限制。所謂的限制窗台大小和把大堂面積計入樓積比率,結果是總的可使用面積的供應減少了。也就是同樣數量的金錢,去追逐更少的面積。根本就是暗推樓價的招數(分析見下)。假如政府真的有誠意,應該是不要去限制如何建房子,而是去要求這些地方不能作為樓面去賣。
要解決樓市泡沫的方法只須兩招
  1. 增加供應,並明確列出今後幾年的土地供應量。可以有一定(如10%)的調整空間,也可以逐步增加以降低衝擊。
  2. 規定所有成交必須列出實用面積,地產經紀也必須透露二手樓的實用面積(包括不實用的外牆所佔面積),使其成為市場標準。建築面積可以並列以資比較,不過應該把不同種類的建築面積(比如窗台、會所、樓梯、牆壁、其他公用空間等)列出。只要不許把不該算的地方算入“面積”定義,所謂發水樓的微觀管理(micromanagement)根本莫須有。
明明是在壓縮市民居住的空間,居然有臉說要提供優質生活 。這一刻,真懷念老懵懂。他做的唯一一件好事就是八萬五,卻因此得罪了香港的既得利益者。

大家放心炒樓吧,曾蔭權和李+X罩住你。 不過假如世界經濟戳破泡沫,則請別像1998-2003年間般抱怨。

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附:發水樓假限制陰招分析。

這是昨天政府官員林鄭出示的發水樓實用與建築面積比較


現在“實用”面積還是785平方呎(應該已包括了室內的間隔牆),建築呎價賣8000元,該單位賣824萬。平均“實用”呎價高達10497元。若不算外牆,則是8240000/(785-132=653)=12618元,若出去窗台工作平台等,則“真正”實用呎價=8240000/(653-38=615)=13398元。
比較合理的算法,可以把 22+16+34=72平方呎三台的一半36平方呎算,估計實用呎價=824000/651=12657元


規管後的建築面積呢,可能不再是1030平方呎了,而是900或950(除外牆之外發水面積為233平方呎,估計減去100平方呎)。

仔細一點所,按文匯報報導
  • 為免「發水」項目令單位越見「縮水」,發展局決定收緊現行政策,包括降低停車場、露台、工作平台和會所的寬免比率,以及收緊窗台的可建面積,令窗台的「發 水」上限由以往平均15%降至10%;非結構預製外牆的寬免從300毫米減至150毫米、延伸窗台的深度從目前建築規格的500毫米減至100毫米。除了 強制性設施可獲得樓面寬免,當局決定撤銷郵件室、小型後勤服務室、尊貴式大堂的寬免。
窗台見1/3就是從34變成22。工作台則減80%就是剩下3平方呎!外牆及公共分攤相應減少,假設減30%好了。假設如下


絕對實用 露台 工作台 外牆 “實用面積” 窗台 公共 “建築面積”


















目前                   615            22            16          132                   785            34          211               1,030








76%









將來                   615            15              3            92                   725            23          148                   896








81%


由於追逐房子的金錢總額基本沒變(甚至由於置業計劃而增加了),買家間競爭(這就是這些年樓價一直漲的原因)的結果,你還是用824萬買這個單位(應該不會低於800萬,吧?),實用面積(按政府定義現在降到732平方呎,如工作台台等“半實用”地方不見了。分母基本不變,分子小了,平均“可用呎價”其實不降反升。

實用率是高了,81%。不過這是因為政府的所謂實用面積定義裡還有外牆所佔面積在內,實際遠低於此。呎價如何呢?假設房子賣800萬(讀者可以自己再做其他假設)


絕對實用 估計實用 “實用面積” “建築面積”
        8,240,000



平方呎                        615                        651                        785                     1,030
 呎價/元                   13,398                  12,657                  10,497                     8,000
        8,150,000



平方呎                        615                        635                        725                        896
 呎價/元                   13,252                  12,828                  11,235                     9,098

可見建築面積呎價肯定飆升,是不是有10%不得而知,不過這應該距離不遠。而“估計實用”面積呎價還是大同小異,幾乎沒變。 假如樓價是815萬的話,則‘估計實用’呎價已比之前增加,為12828元。這裡還有額外增加建築成本等因素

政府要是真的有誠意,就應該在禁止發水建築設計的同時,增加同樣比例的土地(樓面)供應,或在賣地時,增加樓積比率,增加總樓面供應量。否則,這一招其實就是在暗托樓價。

2010-10-14

Parag Khanna maps the future of countries (描绘各国的未来)

Parag Khanna maps the future of countries -- Ted.com

This is a great lecture on geopolitics, border of countries and trends and how to avoid border conflicts in future. You can also choose the subtitle in 12 different languages (a drop button in lower left corner), and view the subtitles as well (click interactive transcript). Enjoy!

描绘各国的未来
         
许多人认为地图上的边界线已经无关紧要,但是 却持不同观点。借助于过去和现在的地图,他对世界范围内边界冲突的根源进行了剖析,也向各方提出了简单但是充满智慧的解决方法。
                                  
我们生活在一个无国界的世界吗?      在您回答这个问题前,请看一下这张地图。      当代政治地图显示      世界上现有超过个国家。      这或许是多个世纪以来国家数目最多的时期。      或许很多人会表示反对。      那么这可能是一张更能说服你的地图。      你可以把它称作之图。      在之图上,没有任何国界,      只存在相互连接的区域和毫不相连的区域。      大部分在座的或许都生活在荧幕中图示的个点中的某个点上,      这些只是许多个点中的一部分,      而却代表了世界经济的。      而我们要知道, 世界人口中的      永远都不会离开自己的出生地。      对他们来说,民族、国家、分界线和国界仍然关系重大,      甚至是至关重要。      而在,我们试图解开科学中      和宇宙中一些伟大的谜团。      而在这里我们有一个根本问题有待解决:      我们基本的政治地理学。      我们在地球上是如何分布的?      这个问题很重要,因为边界冲突      让世界上如此之多的军工联合体的存在合理化。      边界冲突能让我们期盼的许多进展      偏离轨道。      因此,我认为我们需要更加深刻的思考,      人口、财富、权力、      宗教、文化、科技      是如何相互作用,从而改变世界地图的面貌的。      我们也可以试着预测这些改变,      将他们导引至一个更加具有建设性的方向。      我们来看一下一些过去的和现在的地图,      还有一些你们从未见过的地图,      来初步感受一下世界的走向。      我们首先来看一下年的地图。      年的时候,世界上正好有个国家。      二次世界大战后,欧洲元气大伤,      但是仍然占有大量的海外殖民地:      法属西非、英属东非和南亚,等等。      接着年代末期,      年代、年代、年代和年代,      脱离殖民运动开始风气云涌。      诞生了多个新的国家。      你可以看到非洲被打碎了。      印度、巴基斯坦、孟加拉、东南亚国家建立了起来。      之后冷战结束。      冷战结束和苏联的解体。      我们又见证了东欧一些新的国家的成立,      前南斯拉夫共和国和巴尔干半岛诸国,      以及中亚的一些斯坦国。      今天世界上有多个国家。      整个地球都被      自治区、独立国家洲等所覆盖。      这是不是说一些人的得必然是另外一些人的 失呢?      让我们将焦点对准世界上最具战略意义的地区,      欧亚大陆东部。      从地图上可以看到,      俄罗斯仍然是世界上最大的国家。      大家也知道,中国是人口最多的国家。      这两个国家中间有一条漫长的陆地疆界。      而大家从这张地图上看不见的是      俄罗斯亿人口中的大部分      都集中在西部      靠近欧洲的省份和地区。      仅有万人口居住在东部地区。      事实上,世界银行预测      俄罗斯的人口正在减少      逐渐减少至亿。      此外还有一件事大家也无法从地图上得知。      斯大林、克鲁晓夫和其他苏联的领导人      曾经强迫俄罗斯人移居远东地区      的古拉格、劳动集中营、      核试验基地,等等。      但随着油价的上升,      俄罗斯政府投资建设了基础设施      以联结东部和西部。      但是很难再像以前那样强蛮地      影响俄罗斯的人口分布了。      因为东部地区的那些居民一直都不愿意呆在那里,      他们登上火车和汽车      返回了西部地区。      结果呢,现在的俄罗斯远东地区,      虽然面积是印度的两倍,      却只剩下了万人口。      那么让我们来了解一下这个地区现在正在发生什么。      我们先看一下蒙古国,也有人称呼它为矿之国。      为什么这么称呼它呢?      因为在矿之国,中国公司开采      和拥有那里的大部分矿藏  铜矿、锌矿、金矿       他们将这些资源用卡车运回中国大陆的南部和东部。      中国并没有在征服蒙古。      而是在购买蒙古。      过去殖民地是征服得来的,而今天国家是购买得到的。      同样的法则也适用于西伯利亚。      许多人可能都会认为西伯利亚      是个寒冷、荒芜和不适合居住的地方。      但事实上,随着全球暖化和温度上升,      忽然之间,那里出现了大片的麦田      农业贸易和谷物。      那么这些农产品是给谁消费的呢?      就在漠河的另外一边,      就是中国的黑龙江等省      那里居住着超过亿的人口。      这比整个俄罗斯的人口都要多。      每年,至少在过去多年里都是如此,      都有万人口用他们的脚投票,      穿越边界,移民北方,居住在这些荒凉的地带。      他们建立起了他们自己的百货市场和医疗诊所。      他们还接手了伐木业,      将木材往东运回中国。      和在蒙古发生的一样,      中国并不是在征服俄罗斯。只是在租赁而已。      这就是我所称的中国式全球化。      也许这就是这个区域的地图      在至年后的样子。      但有意思的是,这张地图已经岁了。      这正是中国元代的地图,      由忽必烈汗统治的朝代,成吉思汗的孙子。      历史并不一定会重复,      但却会重演。      这只是让大家稍微了解了一下这个地区正在发生什么。      同样,中国式的全球化。      因为全球化为我们带来了多种多样的可能性      来变革我们思考政治地理的方式。      因此,事实上在东亚的历史中,      人们并没有太过关注国家和疆界。      而更在意帝权和统治,      通常是中国人和日本人。      现在又轮到中国了。      让我们看一下中国是如何再次建立起      它在远东地区的统治地位的。      它首先从全球性的区域中心开始。      记得刚刚那张夜间地图中的多个亮点吗?      这些亮点标示出了全球经济的聚集区。      当今东亚地区拥有全世界最多的经济聚集区      比世界上任何其他地区都多。      东京、首尔、北京、上海、      香港、新加坡和悉尼。      这些区域是全球资金的过滤网和漏斗。      每年有 数以 兆计 的资金流入这个区域。      其中很多都投向了中国。      还有贸易。      这些指向线和箭头代表      中国与区域内各国的贸易关系      史无前例地紧密。      尤其是它对日本、      韩国和澳大利亚的贸易,      这些国家都是美国的密切盟友。      例如澳大利亚,非常依赖      向中国出口铁矿石和天然气。      而在与贫穷国家交易时,中国降低关税      因而老挝和柬埔寨可以以更便宜的价格销售他们的商品      随之也对向中国的出口产生依赖。      许多人都在新闻中看到      大家都很期待中国      引领复苏,经济复苏,不仅仅是对亚洲,而可能是对全世界。      亚洲自由贸易区,几乎已经是自由贸易区了,正逐步显现。      贸易额超过了跨太平洋的贸易额。      因此中国正成为该地区经济的靠山。      这一策略的另外一个支柱是外交。      中国与该地区内的许多国家都签署了军事协议。      它已成为一些国际关系组织的中心      例如东亚共同体。      有些组织甚至      将美国排除在外。      这些国家间达成了一个互不干涉条约,      因而如果中国与美国之间发生冲突,      大部分国家都会宣誓中立,      包括韩国和澳大利亚等美国盟友。      该策略的另外一个支柱,      例如针对俄罗斯,是人口。      中国向外输出商人、保姆、学生、      和老师,在整个区域内教授中文,      彼此通婚,以及在各个经济体中占据      史无前例的主导性地位。      已经可以看到中国人      在马来西亚、泰国和印尼等国家中      成为了当地经济不容忽视的      关键因素和推动力。      中国人的自豪感在这个区域也      再次复苏。      例如新加坡,曾经一度禁止利用中文教学。      而现在却大力提倡。      让我们综合来看,大家会得出什么结论?      如果你还记得二战前      日本曾有一个梦想      建立日本大东亚共荣圈。      而今一个我们可以称之为      大中国共荣圈的形态正逐步显现。      因此不管地图上的分界线是如何区隔      出国家和划出疆界的,      在远东地区正在呈现的      国家文化,      却是在一个流动的帝国区域里互通的。      这些都是在不发一颗子弹的情况下发生的。      而在中东地区却大相径庭,      这里的国家仍然对欧洲殖民者留下的疆界      感到非常不满。      那么我们怎样能够换一种方式来看待这个区域的疆界问题呢?      我们应该关注地图上的哪些线呢?      我要向大家展示的是一个我称之为      渐进式国家建立的概念。      让我们从伊拉克谈起。      美国入侵伊拉克年后,      地图上的这个国家仍然是比现实中的完整很多。      石油原本是将伊拉克各派势力团结在一起的因素。      而现在石油却是导致国家分裂的根源。      原因是库尔德人。      库尔德人年来      一直进行着追求独立的斗争。      现在是他们可以最终获取独立的机会。      这些是输油管道,源头从库尔德开始,      这是一个石油资源富饶的地区。      今天,如果你去库尔德,      你会看到库尔德“自由斗士”      正对伊拉克逊尼派军队进行自卫攻击。      他们所要守护的是什么呢?      仅仅是地图上的一条疆界吗      当然不是。是输油管道。      如果库尔德人掌控了他们的输油管道,他们就可以起草      建立他们自己的国家。      那么我们应该为之感到难过吗?因为伊拉克可能会被分裂。      我认为不然。      伊拉克仍然会是世界上第二大产油国,      仅次于沙特阿拉伯。      而且我们有机会解决一个存在年的纷争。      不要忘记库尔德是一个被陆地包围的地区。      它必须循规蹈矩。      要从它的石油中获取利益,      它必须取道土耳其或者叙利亚输出石油,      以及别的国家,包括伊拉克。      因而它必须要和他们保持友好关系。      现在我们看一下这个地区另外一个连年不断的冲突。      显而易见,这就是巴勒斯坦。      巴勒斯坦从地图上看是一个畸形儿,      因为它由两部分巴勒斯坦和一部分以色列组成。      年的玫瑰花园外交      并没有给这里的区域冲突中带来和平。      那有其他办法吗?我认为要这个      问题可以通过基础工程建设来解决。      今天,捐助者正花费数十亿美金在此项目上。      这两个箭头连成一条弧线,      一条由客运火车线和其它基础设施连成的弧线      连接西岸和加沙地带。      如果加沙有一个运营的港口      跟西岸连通起来,那么就可以切实可行地成立一个巴勒斯坦国,      以及巴勒斯坦经济体。      我相信这一举措可以给这个区域带来和平。      库尔德和巴勒斯坦的教训是      独立本身,如果没有基础建设的支持,      是没有意义的。      那么试想整个这个区域会呈现怎样一个面貌呢?      如果我们也去关注地图上除了边界线之外的其他界线的话。      那时候不稳定因素会大幅减少吗。      上一次和平时期已经是      一个世纪以前的事了,在奥斯曼帝国时期。      这是铁路线。      铁路线从斯坦布尔出发,途经大马士革,抵达麦地那。      它甚至有一条支线可以抵达海法,      位于今天的以色列,紧靠地中海。      但是今天的铁路线破败不堪。      如果我们可以将地图上这些曲线重新建造起来的话,      这些基础建设,穿越这些直线  疆界,      我相信中东会成为一个远比现在和平的地区。      让我们将目光转到地球上的另外一个区域,      位于中亚地区的前苏联地区,这些斯坦国。      这些国家的边界线来自于斯大林颁布的法令。      他故意将这些国家分割得七零八落。      他想让不同种族混居      这样他就可以进行分裂和统治。      而对这些国家来说幸运的是,他们大部分的油气资源      是在苏联垮台之后发现的。      我知道你们中的一些人肯定在想,“石油,石油,又是石油,      为什么他老在说石油呢?”      请注意,以前我们讨论石油的方式和      现在我们所讨论的方式是大不相同的。      以前,我们会讨论我们如何控制他们的石油。      而现在是,他们怎样利用自己的石油。      我敢保证,现在对他们来说任何一滴石油都十分重要,      和曾经对于殖民统治者和帝国主义者那样同样重要。      这里是一些计划中的输油管道      和一些可能的情况      以及线路,也许会在未来的几十年内得以实现。      非常之多。      对这个区域的一些国家来说,      拥有输油管到就等同于拿到了加入全球经济体中的门票      这对他们很有意义,      加之边界对他们来存在变数。      让我们举一下阿塞拜疆的例子。      阿塞拜疆是高加索地区被遗忘一个的角落。      但是随着输油管道通往土耳其,      它已重新将自己标榜为西方的前哨。      还有土库曼斯坦,在许多人的印象里      它就是一个天寒地冻的毫无希望之地。      但是现在它正穿越里海将天然气      输往欧洲,      甚至有可能建造土库曼      阿富汗巴基斯坦印度输油管道。      还有哈萨克斯坦,之前甚至没有一个正式的名字。      在苏联时期它更多地被称作南西部利亚。      而现在大部分人都认为哈萨克斯坦      是一个新兴的地缘政治角色。为什么呢?      因为它机智地设计了穿越里海的输油管道,      往北进入俄罗斯的管道,甚至向西进入中国的管道。      管道越多意味着“丝绸之路”也越多,而不再是大博弈。      大博弈意味着一个国家对另外一个国家的主导。      而丝绸之路意味着独立和互信。      输油管道越多,那么丝绸之路也会越多,      世纪的主导权争夺战      也会越来越少。      让我们来看一下这个世界上唯一真正放弃了边界的地区,      以及这一举动如何让它自身变得更加强大。      当然,这就是欧洲。      欧盟仅起源于个煤炭和钢铁联盟的国家。      他们的主要目的实际上是为了帮助德国      通过和平的方式得以复苏。      但是却逐渐扩大到个国家。      这些国家就是欧盟旗帜上的颗星。      欧盟也成为了一个货币联盟,      它是世界上现今最强大的贸易联盟。      欧盟以平均每年吸纳一个新成员的速度扩张      自从冷战以来。      事实上,许多新成员都是同一天加入的。      年,个新成员国家加入了欧盟。      现在,一个由      个国家和亿人口组成的公认的和平区域      呈现在我们面前。      那么下一步是什么?欧盟的未来会是怎样?      这个浅蓝色区域,你可以看到至少      的地方依赖于      与欧盟国家的      贸易和投资。      这又能说明什么呢?贸易和投资告诉我们      欧洲并不是在纸上谈兵,而是付出了实际的行动。      即使这些区域不是欧盟成员国,      他们正逐渐加入欧盟影响圈。      例如巴尔干半岛国家、克罗地亚、塞尔维亚、      波斯尼亚,它们还不是欧盟成员国。      但是你如果登上一辆德国火车      几乎可以到达阿尔巴尼亚。      在波斯尼亚,你可以使用欧元,      也许这将是他们从此以后使用的唯一货币。      让我们看一下欧洲的外围,例如北非。      平均每年或者每两年,      会有一条新的石油或者天然气运输管道穿越地中海,      将北非与欧洲连接到一起。      这不仅仅帮助欧洲减少了      对俄罗斯在能源上的依赖,      而且如果你今天去北非旅游,你会听到越来越多的人说      他们并不属于中东地区。      也就是说,我非常认同法国总统萨克齐      关于地中海联盟的观点。      再来看一下土耳其,和高加索国家。      我之前提到过阿塞拜疆。      土耳其和高加索地区的那条走廊      已经成为欧洲能源供应的      通道。      土耳其难道非得要成为欧盟成员国吗?      我认为不然。我认为它已经是      欧洲土耳其这个结构中的一个超级力量了。      那么接下来呢?我们会在哪些地方看到边界线的改变      以及新国家的诞生?      南亚中心地区,西南亚地区      是一个很有可能的地方。      在美国入侵阿富汗年之后      这个地区仍然充满了巨大的不稳定因素。      巴基斯坦和阿富汗仍然如此脆弱      以至于他们都没有实质性地处理      普什图人的民族主义问题。      这是存在于万普什图人      心目中的国旗,      他们住在阿富汗和巴基斯坦边界线的两边。      不要忘了在南部还有叛乱。      俾路支。两周前,      俾路支叛军对巴基斯坦的一个军事守备部队进行了攻击      这就是他们在攻击时举起的旗帜。      后殖民时期国家解体      在全球发生并在加速。      我预期地图上如此的改变会      随着这些国家的分解而越来越多。      当然我们不能忘了非洲。      个国家,拥有世界地图上最多的充满      疑问的直线型疆界的地方。      如果我们全盘地看一下非洲,      我们可以毫无异议地看到比其他地方多得多的      诸如部落纷争之类的冲突。      我就举苏丹的例子,非洲第二大国家。      它有三场连绵不断的内战,      达尔福尔的种族灭绝战,这大家都知道,      这个国家东部的内战,      还有苏丹南部地区的内战。      南部苏丹将在年举行公投      很可能这次投票的结果将是独立。      往北,到北极圈附近      这里正上演着一场对北极海床底下能源的      争夺战。      谁会胜利?加拿大?俄罗斯?还是美国?      事实上格陵兰岛将是赢家。      数周前,格陵兰岛的万居民      投票表决,取得了从丹麦独立的      自治权。      因而丹麦将会缩小很多。      这里得出的教训是什么呢?      地缘政治是一个非常冷酷的学科。      它不断地改变世界      好似气候变化。      正如我们与生态系统的关系一样,      我们总在寻找一种平衡      我们如何在这个星球上分布。      我们害怕地图上的这些改变。      我们害怕战争、死亡,      以及熟悉新诞生的国家的名字等。      但我认为, 我们今天边界线要是一直存在下去的话      更糟糕,会带来更多的暴力。      问题是我们该如何改变这些边界线,      那些线条是我们要关注的?      我认为我们应该关注那些跨越边界的线,      那些基础设施建设的线条,      我们就能打造一个我们所畅想的世界,一个无国界的世界。      谢谢!      (掌声)

2010-10-02

Clarifying Western Media Accounts of “China Rare Earth Metal Ban” - Lisa Reisman, Metalminer

(Update) One note: many local papers falsely claimed that "China mines all 17 types of rare earths", or even "China is the only country that mines all 17 types". This is WRONG. To start with, there are only 16 elements to be mined, the Promethium is radioactive and decays quickly (the most stable isotope of Promethium lose half of its atoms every 17.7 years). So, nobody, including China, mines Promethium.



Watch Lisa Reisman on the alleged RRE "ban".

In fact, even from the mother of all rumours, this NYT report, this was not really a ban,
  • Industry officials said that mainland China’s customs agency had notified companies that they were not allowed to ship to Japan any rare earth oxides, rare earth salts or pure rare earth metals, although the shipments are still allowed to go to Hong Kong, Singapore and other destinations. But no ban has been imposed on the export to Japan of semi-processed alloys that combine rare earths with other materials, the officials said. China has been trying to expand its alloy industry to create higher-paying jobs in mining areas, instead of exporting raw materials for initial processing.
So if anything, China was just trying to extract more value-added. Since semi-processed alloys were exported with no disruption even from the NYT source. The alleged "ban" was merely second-handed distortion of the original report. And Reisman was correct that it may well be a general slow down in anything send to Japan (till the end of September).

Having reviewed this, it makes one wonders, if not for the rare earths, what made Japan released the captain in such an abrupt change of stance? IMO, as I wrote in Chinese a couple days earlier, there are two plausible explanations. (1) that the local prosecutor did reached this decision on his own, based on the circumstantial evidence; (2) that what Kan perceived was the determination of the PRC government in even risking a lose-lose fight in this issue, as it directly challenged its legitimacy domestically.

登月之旅的目标

via Danwei

(参阅:大国崛起

2010-10-01

失之交臂



我要收回之前一篇博文的结论,在此谨向我的读者致歉。

关于中海油二零零五年收购加州联合石油公司的商业决定和对价问题,我错了。

我当时不知道加州联合石油公司已在一九七七年八月全资收购了美国钼业公司。美国钼业拥有中国之外最大的稀土矿场之一,加州的山口矿。山口矿场的权益后来在2008年9月卖给了(私募基金投资的)钼企公司, 钼企公司的股价2010年7月IPO时是$14(上市筹了38000万美元,当时市值11亿),九月初$20,稀土禁运谣言传出以后,今天已达$28(公司市值超过23亿美元)。虽然,这谣言和对日出口控制,不排除是业界的炒作,特别是一间香港上市公司的主动“爆料”事情发生之后。

成功并购了加州联合石油的雪佛龙公司应该没有脱到鹿角,因为钼企公司的资产负债表上,列明购买矿产资产是花了2300万美元,总资产包括设备、土地和工厂(不知是否包括在内)共7000万,这应该是雪佛龙出售对价的上限(因为钼企公司后来也添置了1000多万的设备)。

假如当时中海油成功收购了加州联合石油,中国今天将控制了全世界百分之五十左右(中国36%,美国13%)的已知稀土存量。当时的估价可能没有人想到这一点。中海油当时是否有此考虑,美国保护主义者是否歪打正着,我们都不得而知。不过,中国对外投资的策略和方法,特别是如何绕过保护主义的壁垒,的确有重新考虑和调整的必要。

相关连接:
The rare earth element big squeeze - Salon
"Rare Earth Elements: The Global Supply Chain,"
"Rare Earth Materials in the Defense Supply Chain,"
China's Rare Earth Elements Industry: What Can the West Learn?"
Challenging China in Rare Earth Mining - NYT

Rare Earth Elements - what do they look like

Rare Earth Elements are essentially group IIIB elements in the periodic table. Being in the same group means having similar electronic configuration (in Neils Bohr's orbit paradigm) and hence similar chemical properties.

The official definition of Rare Earth include only the lighter elements, i.e. the periods (rows) 4-6 of group IIIB, although the 3rd set (period 6) actually contain 15 siblings, the lanthanides. The heaviest IIIB group, the actinides (period 7), which are mostly radioactive elements, are not referred to as "rare earth", though one would expect similar chemical and physical properties, they are unstable.

Since the chemical properties are very similar (and physical properties such as weight as well for the lanthanides), they are also very hard to be isolated by chemical (and physical) methods. The closeness in electronic configuration also means there are fine tuning in terms of their properties -- which made it easy for scientist to test hypothesis on the material properties, e.g. if one element is found to demonstrate certain property, with some undesirable defect, chances are that the neighboring element may demonstrate the similar property, and with luck, with that defect improved.
-- one technical detail, the lanthanides all have similar chemical properties despite the fact that the "exterior shell" electron number ranges from 0 to 15, is because this supposedly "exterior shell" got attracted into somewhere deeper, making the 2nd outermost shell the outermost shell.

The now mostly well known Mountain Pass mine (shut down but will be re-opened) in California is located midway between Los Angeles and Las Vegas on Interstate 15, about 15 miles before the State border at Primm. If you have drove passed that route, you may remember a sharp elevation passing a mountain on the Mojave Desert, that mountain pass is called the "Mountain Pass". Molycorp is located east of the highest elevation (at around 4600 feet) point -- the pass.

Below shows what they look like (3rd column from left, and 2nd row from below)



The chart above shows only 16 of the rare earth elements. The one with perhaps the most romantic (or Hellenic indeed) name, Promethium, is missing. Because this is the only element that is radioactive, hence unstable (actually very unstable - 17.7 year half life), and hence had decayed over the years and cannot be found in nature any more.

The chart below shows some rare earth elements plus some accompanying elements typically also found together in rare earth mines.


..and a very informative article by National Geographic.

Here is the chart of world reserve and production in REE, from fas.org .