Thousands Flock to
Thousands of people lined the streets of Mexico City on Saturday to enjoy a colorful parade in celebration of Day of the Dead, one of the country's most important holidays. As part of the festivities, dozens of dancers dressed as skeletons or wearing traditional costumes made their way down Paseo de la Reforma, one of the capital city's most prominent streets.
Day of the Dead has become an internationally recognized symbol of Mexican culture. From November 1-2, people across the country normally decorate their homes, streets and relatives' graves with candles, colorful skulls and flowers — especially marigolds. Food offerings are also made.
The festival, which in 2003 was added to the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage list, centers around the belief that the living and the dead can commune during the brief period.
The holiday is rooted in the indigenous Mexica culture, mixed with Christian superstition brought by Spanish colonizers. The Mexica were the dominant indigenous population in pre-Hispanic Mexico.
Mexican cartoonist and lithographer Jose Guadelupe Posada created “La Calavera Catrina” — a famous skeletal representation of death — more than a century ago. Day of the Dead gained new worldwide recognition when it was depicted in the Oscar-winning 2017 Disney film “Coco.”
Look Who’s Building a Border Wall Now
It’s taken them a while, but perhaps Democratic leaders are beginning to understand that Trump deplorables aren’t the only voters who care about illegal immigration.
It wasn't long ago that President Biden was dismissing the massive surge of unlawful border crossings as a seasonal phenomenon, and New York Mayor Eric Adams was grinning ear-to-ear for the television cameras while welcoming migrants in person as they arrived at the Port Authority Bus Terminal in Manhattan. But that was then. Last week Mr. Adams scurried down to Latin America to dissuade potential migrants from heading north, while Mr. Biden announced plans to erect 20 miles of new barriers along the U.S.-Mexico border.
This is tacit acknowledgment from Democrats that we're dealing mainly with economic migrants in search of a better life and not refugees fleeing persecution back home, which is how liberals and the media have been framing the crisis. Mr. Biden has spent much of his presidency contrasting himself with his immediate predecessor, especially when it comes to immigration policy. How it must have pained him to go back on his pledge in 2020 that “there will not be another foot of wall constructed in my administration."
Understandably, the president is less concerned about eating crow and more concerned that chaos on the border has become a political liability. Last month the veteran political strategist Rick Swartz sent a memo to fellow immigration activists with some pointed questions: “Is it humanitarian to tell migrants they have a right to claim asylum when on the merits, perhaps 80%+ will be denied even if they have a lawyer?" “Is there a duty to make every effort to educate migrants on the harsh realities they face, legally and humanly, before they embark for the US border?" “Will the border and immigration be a major cause if Biden/Dems lose in 2024?"
The Department of Homeland Security reports that some two million people entered the U.S. illegally in fiscal 2023, which ended Sept. 30. That's slightly lower than the 2.2 million who came in fiscal 2022. Mr. Adams is one of several big-city mayors—Brandon Johnson of Chicago is also planning a trip to the border—who have been riding the White House about the extraordinary costs of housing and feeding hundreds of thousands of destitute new arrivals. Leaders of sanctuary cities and states all over the country have spent years suggesting that only bigots care about illegal immigration. Now they are begging the federal government to do its job.
Mr. Biden is fully aware that building another 20 miles of border wall will do practically nothing to address the problem, just as Mr. Adams knows that his message to Latin Americans will be ignored. Immigrants don't respond to suggestions as well as they respond to incentives. Wall or no wall, so long as the administration allows people to enter the U.S. illegally and stay, we can expect them to keep coming illegally. The president may not care about border integrity, but he does care about being re-elected. That means he must at least make a show of doing something about a problem that has worsened demonstrably on his watch and could jeopardize his shot at a second term.
According to a Reuters/Ipsos poll released Tuesday, the economy remains the top concern of voters, with 19% citing it as the No. 1 problem in the country. But immigration wasn't far behind at 14%, and that was up from 8% a month ago. A Marquette Law School poll in September showed Donald Trump with a 24-point advantage over Mr. Biden—52% to 28%—on handling immigration and border security.
Even in reliably blue states, the issue is hurting the president. According to a Siena College survey released in August, only 46% of voters in New York had a favorable view of Mr. Biden, while 50% had an unfavorable view. Moreover, the pollsters found that “New Yorkers—including huge majorities of Democrats, Republicans, independents, upstaters and downstaters—overwhelmingly say that the recent influx of migrants to New York is a serious problem for the state."
Sadly, Mr. Biden's inability to say no to his party's left wing and give the border the attention it deserves has allowed an avoidable humanitarian crisis to not only continue but fester. It's also allowed Mr. Trump to pound away with credibility on his signature issue. You'd think the last thing Joe Biden and the political left want is for the 2024 election to be about illegal immigration, yet here we are. Mr. Trump's rhetoric, however noxious, proved to be an effective vote-getter once already. How foolish of Democrats to play to his strength.
Source: Live Mint
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China’s factory floor is moving—but not to India or Mexico
SINGAPORE—In the contest to knock China off its perch as the world’s factory floor, countries such as Mexico, India and Vietnam face a formidable rival: China’s vast interior.
Low-cost manufacturing is expanding away from China's bustling coast as companies hunt for cheaper land and labor in central and western provinces. The migration has accelerated in recent years as U.S. tariffs push up costs for factories, and China's coastal megacities focus on high-tech electronics, electric vehicles and other advanced industries.
The result has been an export boom for China's inland provinces that dwarfs the acceleration in overseas sales enjoyed by would-be rivals to China's manufacturing crown.
As inland China develops further, it is helping China deepen its dominance in swaths of global manufacturing, even as Western nations grow wary of China as a supplier for critical industries such as semiconductors and renewable energy.
China still faces major challenges in holding on to its top-dog status. Worsening demographics mean its manufacturing workforce is shrinking, and foreign investment in China is drying up.
The U.S. and its allies are dangling subsidies and other incentives to persuade businesses to embrace alternatives to China, though a sizable shift in companies' sourcing is likely years away, economists say.
“China is going to be a major player in global manufacturing for the foreseeable future," said Gordon Hanson, an economist and professor of urban policy at Harvard University's Kennedy School, who explored the possibility of more manufacturing moving to inland China in a 2020 paper.
“China just has too much capacity for the world not to need to rely on it for a good while."
Since the start of 2018, exports from 15 of China's central and western provinces have rocketed 94% as factory production expanded beyond the Pearl and Yangtze River deltas that are the engine rooms of China's industrial economy.
In the 12 months through August, those provinces exported a combined $630 billion—more than India's $425 billion, Mexico's $590 billion, and Vietnam's $346 billion over the same period, according to official figures compiled by data provider CEIC.
Exports from China's interior have been growing faster than those countries' exports, too, despite the surge in interest in alternative locations for manufacturing other than China.
Since the beginning of 2018, exports from India have risen 41%, exports from Mexico have risen 43%, and exports from Vietnam have increased 56%. All three countries have benefited from the reshuffling of global supply chains in the wake of the U.S.-China trade war and the Covid-19 pandemic. In 2018, Mexico was exporting more than China's interior but was overtaken in 2020.
China's coastal provinces, which encompass manufacturing hubs such as Guangzhou and Shenzhen in the south, Ningbo and Shanghai in the east and Qingdao and Tianjin in the northeast, remain the powerhouse of global manufacturing. Together, those regions exported $2.7 trillion of goods in the 12 months through August, around half the total exports of the U.S., European Union and Japan combined.
A hunt for lower costs
Behind the shift inland is a search for labor. In the 1990s and 2000s, millions of Chinese left the countryside to work in the factories sprouting in the coastal cities.
Today, that trend is all but played out, and wages in coastal areas have risen sharply as companies jostle for staff.
Average annual private-sector wages in Guangdong more than doubled in the 10 years through 2021, according to China's National Bureau of Statistics. Better-educated younger workers in coastal cities are skipping tough factory work for jobs in services.
Ray Zhou, head of supply chains at Commerse, a fashion brand based in New York and China, said his company began shifting production to inland China from the coast in the second half of 2022.
Now, about half of the machine sewing work is done by factories based in China's interior, including Guangxi and Hunan provinces. While producing garments inland means longer shipping times to the U.S., overall labor costs are about 30% cheaper than in Guangzhou, he said.
Most workers hired by the factories that supply Commerse are in their 30s and 40s. “Young people would rather deliver takeout than be sewing clothes at factories," Zhou said.
Other forces pushing companies into the interior include a search for cheaper factory space and tighter rules in coastal cities to reduce pollution or rezone industrial areas for residential development.
Niche industries sometimes cluster in one place. A town in Anhui specializes in brushes, while one in Henan makes measuring tapes. In Guizhou, a mountainous province that also exports Kweichow Moutai, a fiery spirit, dozens of firms make high-quality guitars.
Inland China?s upsides
In many ways, the shift in China mirrors the migration of industrial activity in the U.S. after World War II, when new highways and the advent of the shipping container enabled factories to move out of big cities in search of lower taxes and cheaper workers.
Development of China's interior has been on Chinese leaders' minds since the 1960s, when Mao Zedong grew fearful of invasion by the Soviet Union from the north and the U.S. from south, where it was fighting in Vietnam. Authorities pushed to move basic industries such as power generation and steel and arms manufacturing into China's interior to protect them in the event of war.
Beijing concluded in the 1980s that the effort was mostly a waste of resources. But Covell Meyskens, a historian of China and associate professor at the Naval Postgraduate School in California, said it laid foundations that nurtured industry later, such as the building of roads, schools and electricity grids.
China's central planners have for decades emphasized the importance of creating an integrated national economy, said Meyskens. The interior “isn't just treated as a rust belt you can completely abandon."
Even today, the industries flourishing inland tend to be labor or resource-intensive or relatively low-value-added manufacturing, leaving China's coastal regions to concentrate on more advanced manufacturing.
In Hubei, a central province with around 58 million residents, exports of heavy industry products such as chemicals, metals and vehicles more than doubled between 2018 and 2022, while exports from labor-intensive sectors such as clothes, furniture and toys rose 90%, according to Chinese customs data.
The landlocked province, which includes the city of Wuhan and the Three Gorges Dam, has many attractions for companies seeking a new base: Access to the coast and world beyond via roads, rail and rivers; universities focused on technology, science and business; and average private-sector wages that are 77% of the level in Guangdong.
Garrett Motion, a maker of turbochargers, said in June it expanded production capacity at a plant in Wuhan by 50%. German auto parts maker Webasto has said it plans to establish a global research center in the city.
Why China?s grip is firm
The U.S. and other Western countries have grown uneasy about their dependency on China for manufactured goods, especially now that China isn't just providing cheap furniture and toys but is competing with Western manufacturers in sales of smartphones, machinery and, increasingly, autos.
Washington and other capitals are offering subsidies to lure more manufacturing back home. They are also restricting China's access to Western technologies, such as semiconductors, that could have military applications.
Many companies scarred by the pandemic and spooked by tensions between Beijing and the U.S.-led West arere fashioning supply chains to make them less reliant on China.
But economists say loosening China's grip on global manufacturing will be tough.
China's share of global goods exports was 14% in 2022, down slightly from 2021, and compared with 8.3% for the U.S. in second place and 6.6% for Germany, in third. A recent report by Rhodium Group, a New York-based research outfit, said moving factories out of China to other countries may have little impact on China's manufacturing clout, since those factories will remain dependent on Chinese suppliers for materials and components.
“It would not be surprising to see China's overall share of global exports, manufacturing and supply chains continue to rise, even as diversification away from China accelerates," the authors said.
One advantage for China is its scale. As Japan, South Korea and other countries in East Asia industrialized during the 20th century, they quit manufacturing products such as textiles or furniture to concentrate limited factory capacity on higher-end products, such as cars and consumer electronics.
China, by contrast, has maintained a stranglehold in manufacturing all sorts of goods, a testament to its factories' ability to keep down overall costs even as average wages of Chinese workers have risen.
“It's not really going anywhere. It is producing everything from semiconductors to your shoes and your garments," said Louise Loo, lead economist for China at Oxford Economics.
Chinese factories also benefit from cheap loans from domestic banks and a deep bench of suppliers of almost every conceivable component and raw material. Logistics costs in China are a fraction of the cost in India, for example, which can't match Chinese port and road infrastructure.
All that means up-and-coming manufacturing nations such as Vietnam, India and Bangladesh face sizable challenges in competing with China, economists say.
“My concern is very much about the newcomers," said Stefan Angrick, senior economist at Moody's Analytics in Tokyo. “How do you compete with that?"
Stella Yifan Xie in Hong Kong contributed to this article.
Write to Jason Douglas at email@example.com
Source: Live Mint
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Joe Biden Extends Wall with Mexico to Stop Immigrants
US President Joe Biden on Thursday defended plans to extend the border wall with Mexico, saying he didn't think such barriers worked but that he was bound by laws introduced under Donald Trump.
Democrat Biden pledged during his White House race with Trump in 2020 that he would abandon the Republican's signature policy and would not build any more of the wall.
But his own Department of Homeland Security on Thursday announced the building of a new section in southern Texas to tackle an “acute and immediate need,” as migrant crossings surge.
Biden, who is polling neck-and-neck with rival Trump ahead of a likely 2024 election rematch, insisted his predecessor had tied his hands on the wall-building.
“They have to use the money for what it was appropriated for. I can't stop that,” he told reporters in the Oval Office.
He said the cash was earmarked for the border wall by the US Congress under Trump in 2019, and that lawmakers had since rejected his appeals to reassign the funds.
Asked if he thought the border wall was effective, Biden replied simply: “No.”
The new section of wall will be built in the “high illegal entry” Rio Grande Valley sector of the US-Mexico border, where there have been more than 245,000 attempted illegal entries this fiscal year.
But Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas later said the announcement had been “taken out of context.”
“The action that we took — we had no choice,” Mayorkas said during a news conference in Mexico with Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
“There is no new administration policy with respect to the border wall.”
Illegal immigration has become a major political headache for Biden, with opposition Republicans accusing him of lax border policies.
The border issue has even added to uncertainty over US aid for Ukraine, with some Republicans refusing to approve funds until Biden acts on migrants.
Meanwhile some Democrats including progressive lawmaker Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez criticized the wall decision. So did conservationists after it emerged that two dozen federal environmental laws would be waived to build the extension.
The White House said it was “absolutely false” that there had been a reversal by the president.
“We have to comply by law and that's what we're doing,” Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters.
Trump, the frontrunner for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, said the Biden administration move showed “I was right when I built 560 miles… of brand new, beautiful border wall.”
“Will Joe Biden appolgize (sic) to me and America for taking so long to get moving, and allowing our country to be flooded with 15 million illegals (sic) immigrants, from places unknown,” Trump said on his Truth Social platform.
Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador criticized the US plan, calling it a “setback” ahead of talks with Blinken.
Their talks came after a spike in the number of people — mostly from Central America and Venezuela — seeking to cross from Mexico into the United States.
The Biden administration announced later Thursday that it would resume direct deportation flights to Venezuela, which is still under US sanctions for rights abuses.
“This comes following a decision from the authorities of Venezuela to accept back their nationals,” said a senior administration official.
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