I have five wishes for 2012: the rumors that wars and the end of the world are approaching are only false alarms; Europe can smoothly get through its debt crisis; Sino-US relations will be further improved; Chinese leaders would spend more time at the grass roots; and A-share will rebound.
Recently, rumors have been spread that wars will start soon, and Dec. 21, 2012 (consequently the end of the Mayan calendar) will be the end of the world. Although scientists pointed out that these are groundless rumors, people still feel uneasy. It's important to see this year not as the end but rather as a new beginning.
The shadow of war still lurks in the Middle East. Although Syria intends to defuse its internal tensions, it seems that the US has decided to overthrow Bashar al-Assad. At the same time, the US has also accelerated its interaction with Syrian opposition, similar to the situation before the breakout of Libyan war. It is possible that the Obama's government will take action on Syria, in a bid to establish an image of his success in diplomacy in the coming presidential election.
Because the US and European countries didn't meet too much resistance in the war with Libya, they are confident that they can copy the model of establishing an opposition party while using air attacks in Syria. If successful in Syria, the US may repeat this strategy again, making Iran the next target. These events could have disastrous consequences, let alone send oil prices skyrocketing.
My second wish is that Europe can smoothly get through its debt crisis. The toughest issue in 2012 will be the economic crises in the US and Europe, particularly the European debt crisis. The situation in Greece is not optimistic, and the whole Euro zone faces the peak period of repaying debts. Statistics show that the governments of Euro zone will have to pay back over 1.1 trillion Euro in long-term and short-term debt in 2012. For the first half of 2012 the debts in Italy, France and Germany coming due will total 519 billion Euros. Will Italy, Spain, Portugal and Ireland fall into the chasm which buried Greece? If the crisis is allowed to widely expand to other Euro zone countries, the consequences to the global economy will be much graver.
My third wish is that Sino-US relations will be further improved. The latest national defense strategy of the US focuses on China and Iran as their key targets, casting a shadow on Sino-US relations. In this US presidential election year, it is no surprise that the so-called "China issue" is mentioned now and then. US economic stagnation will also intensify tensions with China. It is very possible that President Obama will pick up the "China issue" again as to curry support from the labor vote as Election Day nears.
My forth wish is that the Chinese leaders will spend more time at the grassroots level to solve more actual problems of the people. For instance, the leaders of the traffic management bureau should use more public transportation themselves; those in charge of commerce administration and quality inspection should pay frequent visits to supermarkets and food markets. They may get more on-the-spot and accurate information through visits as ordinary citizens than going there with pre-announcements.
My fifth wish is that the A-share will rebound. Industry insiders have forecasted that the A-share may underperform in 2012, some suggesting that it may drop to 1,700 points. External factors, especially possible wars and Europe's debt crisis, may negatively influence the Chinese stock market. It is estimated that IPOs will increase alarmingly this year as the international board is preparing itself to launch. Increased investment in these engines may affect the performance of the A-share this year. Also, it is very possible that the growth of Chinese economy will slow down, which could deflate the confidence of investors to the stock market.
Fortunately, the new leaders of China Securities Regulatory Commission are determined to crack down on inside transactions and improve awareness of corporate bonuses. Investors are eager to see that China's stock markets will continue to be reformed to provide long term benefits and stability.
In the past ten years, stock prices in Russia have increased ninefold, and those of Brazil and India have increased fivefold and fourfold respectively. However, the Chinese stock market recently fell to levels ten years ago, although China's GDP has been increasing remarkably. Allowing Chinese investors to share the benefits of economic development should be part of the advantage of being a Chinese citizen. But how should people feel if consumer prices are increasing crazily, but not the stock prices and wages?
This author is a columnist with China.org.cn. For more information please visit http://www.china.org.cn/opinion/zhangguoqing.htm
Opinion articles reflect the views of the authors and not necessarily those of china.org.cn.
This is article was first published in Chinese and was translated into English by Xu Lin.