Regional Roundup for week of 6.21.2013


Ben Bernanke and China: have the markets over-reacted? The Guardian – Stock markets worldwide plummeted on Thursday after the Federal Reserve chairman signalled an end to quantitative easing and fears grew of problems in China’s banking sector

China worsens credit squeeze as manufacturing output declines The Guardian – Credit default swaps (CDS) on five-year bonds rose by 33 basis points to 133bps, according to financial data firm Markit. The cost of insuring against a default on Chinese sovereign debt soared on Thursday as China’s central bank worsened a credit squeeze by refusing to inject cash into the financial system. Credit default swaps (CDS) on five-year bonds rose by 33 basis points to 133bps, according to financial data firm Markit, as Chinese officials signalled a determination to rein in risky lending practices.

Caution Can Avert Downward Spiral in Sino-EU Trade Ties Carnegie Endowment for International Peace – China’s strategic turn to moving upmarket and pursuing sustainability has presented a significant challenge to Europe’s renewable energy market dominance.

Chinese industry: Ambitions in excess – For global manufacturers, the China effect over the past decade has been fearsome. It has destroyed jobs and capacity all over the world, shuttering factories in competitor nations. But in almost every sector where China’s low-cost goods have come to dominate, something strange has happened. Once the bulk of global manufacturing in a given industry has moved to China, overcapacity quickly follows and these sectors begin to cannibalise themselves.

Violent sell-off in world markets after Federal Reserve signals end to QE The Guardian – Ben Bernanke’s comments spark a global fall in stock markets and commodities, and strong rise in government bond yields. Stock markets worldwide plummeted on Thursday, after the Federal Reserve chairman, Ben Bernanke, rattled investors by signalling an end to America’s drastic recession-busting policy of quantitative easing.

Myanmar’s old friend China is left wondering where it went wrong – As President Thein Sein gave the opening address to the forum, the word in the halls of the Chinese-built convention centre was that he personally despises Beijing’s influence over its smaller, poorer neighbour. And on the second day of the forum news broke that state telecom giant China Mobile had dropped a joint bid with Vodafone to expand the country’s mobile phone network – apparently after being told the Chinese company had no hope of winning. In Beijing and Naypyidaw there is recognition that China handled the bilateral relationship badly thanks to a toxic mix of arrogance, neglect and meddling by elements of China’s People’s Liberation Army.

How Chinese Strategists Think The Diplomat – Toshi Yoshihara joins me (or I join him) over at Investor’s Business Daily to refocus attention on the human dimension of the U.S.-China strategic competition. Followers of these pages pixels know that Toshi and I are true believers in the idea that competition is a human enterprise. As Colonel John Boyd liked to say, people, ideas, and hardware — in that order — are the determinants of competitive endeavors like power politics.

Soft Power: A U.S.-China Battleground? The Diplomat – In a recent opinion piece for the Global Times, Professor Liu Aming of the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences’ Institute of International Relations writes that soft power “is a kind of power which can also make enemies.” At first glance, Liu’s comment is a curious one: how can a power that aims to attract rather than coerce also be a power that makes enemies?

China’s Arctic Strategy The Diplomat – China has certainly been busy since it won observer status at the May Arctic Council summit in Kiruna, Sweden. First, Yu Zhengasheng, Chairman of China’s Political Consultative Conference, visited Finland, Sweden and Denmark with an eye to boosting general trade and cooperation, particularly in the Arctic.

Abe confidante secretly visited China to reboot ties | The Japan Times A special adviser to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe secretly visited Beijing earlier this week in an apparent effort to improve strained relations with China, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga admitted Thursday at a news conference. Earlier in the day, TV Asahi reported that Shotaro Yachi, former vice foreign minister and a long-time ally of Abe, made an unofficial visit to Beijing to see high-ranking Chinese officials there. Suga confirmed the report at the press conference but declined further comment.

China, Russia vow to expand practical cooperation – Xinhua | Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli and Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed on Thursday that their countries would build on the previous consensus and expand practical cooperation. “China would like to work together with Russia to maximize the potential for bilateral economic cooperation and translate the best ever political relationship into results of practical cooperation,” Zhang, who arrived here Wednesday to attend the Saint Petersburg International Economic Forum, said at a meeting with Putin.

Why Is China Talking to the Taliban? – By Andrew Small | Foreign Policy Over the last year, China has been expanding its direct contacts with the Taliban and sounding them out on security issues that range from separatist groups in the Chinese region of Xinjiang to the protection of Chinese resource investments, according to interviews with officials and experts in Beijing, Washington, Kabul, Islamabad, and Peshawar. While Beijing would like to see the reconciliation talks succeed in preventing Afghanistan from falling back into civil war, it is not counting on their success, and thus is preparing to deal with whatever constellation of political forces emerges in Afghanistan after the United States withdraws.

Beijing’s 31 ways to win over Taiwan hearts and minds | South China Morning Post The director of the mainland’s Taiwan Affairs Office, Zhang Zhijun, said yesterday at the opening of a week-long high-level forum on cross-strait exchanges in Xiamen, Fujian province that the mainland would announce 31 measures this week to cultivate cross-strait interactions.

Chinese hospital ship makes port call, joins drill in Brunei – Xinhua | The Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy hospital ship “Peace Ark” arrived here Sunday afternoon to make a port call and participate in the ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting Plus (ADMM-Plus) Humanitarian Assistance & Disaster Relief (HADR) and Military Medicine (MM) Exercise. The “Peace Ark” will provide free medical checkups for members of the public on Monday morning.

Humiliating defeat leads to more agonizing on China’s national football team | Danwei Today is a baneful, humorless day for some of the newspapers that ran front page headlines on another humiliating defeat of 5-1 at home on Saturday for China’s football team against an under-strength team of youngsters from tiny Thailand. There’s hopeless despair, frantic questioning and anger at this latest flub, China’s third loss in a row. Although Chinese fans are quite used to China losing at football, the way the team capitulated against Thailand was (as the Oriental Guardian from Nanjing puts it today) “like a dagger deep into the heart of every Chinese football fan” (像一把尖刀深深地刺痛每一个球迷的心)

China may soon peddle discount drones to the developing world – Quartz China could become a drones “proliferator” to developing countries, according to a report (PDF) released on June 13 by the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission.”Chinese companies appear to be positioning themselves to become key suppliers of UAVs in the global market…Chinese UAVs are likely to be attractive to developing countries in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East, particularly given their price points,” the report concludes.

The Chinese scramble into Greenland is overhyped | Jonas Parello-Plesner – China Dialogue Talk of thousands of Chinese workers on the ground in Greenland masks the reality of a country still coming to terms with its potential mining wealth.

Manned sub Jiaolong completes deep-sea dive – Xinhua  The Jiaolong manned deep-sea submersible on Monday completed a deep-sea dive in the South China Sea as part of an ongoing mission. The Jiaolong was unloaded from the Xiangyanghong 09 oceanographic vessel and began its dive around 10 a.m., returning to the vessel around 4:30 p.m. The submersible and its crew of three dove to a depth of about 1,400 meters during the dive.

More Russian oil flows to China in strategic shift from Europe | Reuters Russia is steeply ramping up oil deliveries to China, with Asia now importing almost a fifth of oil exports from the world’s largest crude producer in a strategic shift meant by the Kremlin to end reliance on weak and saturated European markets. Russia will increase oil supplies to China by 13 percent in July-September from the previous three months, a shipping schedule obtained by Reuters showed on Tuesday.

Vietnam, China to enhance ties |china daily  Vietnam and China “have huge potentials for further speeding up cooperation in the future,” Vietnamese President Truong Tan Sang, who will start his three-day state visit to China from Wednesday at the invitation of Chinese President Xi Jinping, said in an interview with Xinhua and other Chinese media on Tuesday. “Vietnam and China are close neighboring countries. The two peoples have shared a long-standing traditional friendship,” the Vietnamese president said. //American media did not get an interview with President Xi before his summit with President Obama

CNPC’s Dreams of Pipelines from Myanmar All Blocked Up – Caixin CNPC did not answer questions regarding why domestic work on pipelines is so far behind schedule. However, a source inside CNPC said the oil pipeline was supposed to start operating at the same time as refineries and chemical plants in Yunnan, but work on those projects has been halted due to public protests.

Commercial Outlook for China-Myanmar Pipeline Bleak-Caijing Domestic enterprises should now wake up to the need to cut back on the “high-level approach” that relies too much on Myanmar government officials and instead stress a “grassroots-level approach.

China’s Xi tells Vietnam wants peace in South China Sea | Reuters Xi took a more conciliatory line during his meeting with President Truong Tan Sang in Beijing’s central Great Hall of the People, where Sang was given full military honors at his welcome ceremony. “China and Vietnam must both act in a spirit of responsibility towards history and their people, put the broader picture of Sino-Vietnam friendship and bilateral development first, make up their minds to … push for a political resolution to the South China Sea issue and prevent it from affecting ties,” Xi said, according to China’s Foreign Ministry.

U.S. Human-Trafficking Report Criticizes China, Russia – Bloomberg The Obama administration has downgraded the ratings of China, Russia and Uzbekistan in an annual report on global efforts to combat modern slavery. The three-tier ranking puts Russia and China on a list of the world’s worst offenders, such as North Korea and Saudi Arabia, and below second-tier countries such as Rwanda, described in the report as a destination for “women and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking.”

CNPC and Total affirm major Tajikistan potential–Interfax   China National Petroleum Corp. (CNPC) and France’s Total have sealed an agreement to farm in to acreage in Tajikistan owned by London-listed independent Tethys Petroleum, giving both majors a stake in oil and gas resources that may prove on par with recent world-class offshore discoveries in East Africa.



Leaving the Land: China’s Great Uprooting: Moving 250 Million Into Cities NYT – A 12-year plan to move hundreds of millions of rural residents into cities is intended to spur economic growth, but could have unintended consequences, skeptics warn.

A Chinese Push for Urbanization NYT – China is contemplating a drastic plan to move 250 million rural residents into towns and cities over the next dozen years.

If China is to realise its urban dream, it should drop the Los Angeles model | Isabel Hilton The Guardian – China’s urbanisation is the biggest and fastest social movement in human history – but it involves unsustainably sprawling cities. Chairman Mao would have hated it: he believed in keeping peasants in the countryside, toiling to produce food and to finance industrial development. Now, after nearly two decades of rapid urbanisation, China’s official and unofficial city dwellers outnumber its farmers and more will have to move. By 2025 the government wants 70% of its people to live in towns. To achieve this, 250 million people will have to move in the next 12 years.

Making Rural China Urban | The China Story Chinese urban planners and policy makers approach chengzhenhua by considering towns and villages as potential sites of transformation. To understand the process by which a rural entity becomes an urban one, we need to consider the institutional reforms that have facilitated this process of transformation. In the discussion below, the Chinese term chengzhenhua will be used to refer to the new policy as the English translation ‘urbanisation’ is misleading for two reasons. First, ‘urbanisation’ is already being used to translate dushihua 都市化, from which the new policy is intended to mark a departure. Secondly, ‘urbanisation’ evokes the image of an expansion of existing urban cores. As such, it forecloses possibilities of imagining the rural as a potentially urban site.

China’s next chapter: The infrastructure and environmental challenge | McKinsey & Company McKinsey’s Jonathan Woetzel explores China’s huge infrastructure program and the country’s plans to build sustainable urban clusters for hundreds of millions of its people.

China launches new measures to tackle air pollution | Jennifer Duggan The Guardian – Targets including 30% reduction in emissions from heavily polluting industries are to be introduced. China’s cabinet has outlined measures aimed at improving the country’s air pollution problems, which have plagued many of its larger cities over recent years.

Punishable by Death: China to Execute Polluters  The Diplomat – China’s Supreme Court and procuratorate issued a joint judicial explanation on Wednesday saying that pollution in the country will be prosecuted more efficiently and, in some cases, polluters will now face the death penalty.

China issues new judicial explanation targeting polluters – Xinhua | China’s supreme court and procuratorate jointly issued a new judicial explanation Tuesday that imposes harsher punishments on polluters. The new legal document confronts difficulties in investigating cases of environmental pollution and in convicting polluters, according to a statement issued by the two judicial departments. With more precise criteria for convictions and sentencing, the document is expected to facilitate the work of judges and tighten punishments for polluters, it said.

Reforming China’s State-Owned Enterprises The Diplomat – China’s huge apparatus of state-owned enterprises (SOEs) is a popular punching bag: economists decry its inefficiencies; foreign politicians complain about unfair competition; and many Chinese citizens criticize public displays of waste, like elaborate banquets. The Chinese government would counter that they provide a foundation for the economy as a whole.

ADB Loan Revitalizes Old Silk Road Outpost in PRC’s Poor Northwest  ADB- ADB is providing a $100 million loan to revitalize Jiuquan City, a former outpost along the Silk Road located in the under-developed northwestern region in the People’s Republic of China.

China’s Xi harks back to Mao in party ‘cleanup’ – AP “This campaign is necessary because the (Communist Party) as a ruling party has been struggling to deal with popular distrust — popular cynical, critical, even confrontational reaction to everything the party says or does,” said Ding Xueliang, a Chinese politics expert at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. He added, however, that the campaign is likely to achieve little in the long term as long as it remains a top-down effort in which the party is expected to police itself. “If they are re-using Mao Zedong-era slogans to deal with today’s problems, no matter how much resources are put into the campaign, the outcome will be very tiny,” he said.

The Education Revolution: Faltering Economy in China Dims Job Pospects for Graduates NYT – Graduating seniors say that few are finding jobs, and that some offers extended over the winter are being rescinded, as the Chinese economy falters.



The Diplomat: An Asian Power Web Emerges CFR – “To capitalize on the twin desires of Asian countries for closer ties with each other and for greater American presence, the United States must double down on its commitment to rebalance attention and resources to Asia.”

As the G8 Meets, Free Trade is in Chaos CFR – At the start of his second term in January, President Barack Obama announced a massive platform of new policy proposals. Since then, many of his ideas – on gun control, a solution to America’s debt crisis, and other issues – have been abandoned, leaving the president’s supporters on the left almost apoplectic. Yet even as he has backed off from fights on other issues, President Obama and his administration have continued to push for many new trade deals, such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), that encompasses much of Asia, the fastest-growing region in the world. The White House also has proposed the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TATIP), a free trade deal with Europe.

Indonesia and Singapore engulfed by forest fire smoke – video The Guardian – Parts of Indonesia are engulfed in haze on Wednesday as smoke from forest fires decreases visibility and causes breathing concerns

Singapore pollution from Indonesian forest fires hits record levels The Guardian – Prime minister Lee Hsien Loong advises Singaporeans to stay indoors as much as possible while the smog persists. Singaporeans have been urged to stay indoors as smoky haze from forest fires in neighbouring Indonesia has worsened dramatically, causing unprecedented levels of air pollution.

Rohingya refugees exodus to Bangladesh and south-east Asia – in pictures The Guardian – Many Rohingya Muslim people are being forced out of Burma because of sectarian and religious violence

Climate science debate has cost precious time, expert warns The Guardian – Commission report says evidence of rapidly changed climate has strengthened. Floods, bushfires and this year’s scorching summer heatwave have raised awareness of the dangers of climate change, but an “infantile” debate over the validity of the science has cost Australia precious time, according to a key Climate Commission expert.

Thailand May Help Myanmar Improve Data Transmission WSJ – Thailand is mulling providing Myanmar with cables that enable international transmission of data as an alternative to its current sole route via China, Thailand’s Minister of Information and Communication Technology said.

The U.S.-India Strategic Dialogue: Forging the Next Phase of Cooperation Carnegie Endowment for International Peace – Upcoming strategic talks offer an opportunity to cultivate personal ties and shape the future of U.S.-India relations.

Is the U.S.-EU Trade Pact a Way to Balance China? Carnegie Endowment for International Peace – It is high time for China, the EU, and the United States to promote deeper and broader economic integration without constructing trade subagreements.

Championing green change – an evening with the private sector  GMS Environment Operations Center – Private sector delegates at this week’s GMS Green Growth Public-Private Dialogue in Bangkok attended a dinner event on Tuesday to learn about the GMS Core Environment Program and to discuss collaborative opportunities. Twenty delegates from General Electric, Nokia, Stora Enso, the Thai Carbon Fund and Thailand International Chamber of Commerce, as well as PRC’s Pakxong Organics and Yunnan New Energy met with EOC, ADB, GMS Working Group on Environment and Swedish Embassy representatives. Potential areas for collaboration identified were decentralized energy, ecotourism, low carbon or ‘green’ freight initiatives, and community livelihoods development. Public-private partnerships are an identified priority under the Core Environment Program’s new 2012-2016 phase.

The Logic of the Informal Economy Project Syndicate – In developing countries, an unusually large number of small, unproductive firms coexist with a small number of large, productive firms, which, according to economic theory, is inefficient. So, why do the inefficient firms survive, trapping resources in low-productivity activities?

Only the Poor Die Young Project Syndicate – The lives of people who are lower on the socioeconomic ladder are shorter and less healthy, on average, than those of people on higher rungs. What is needed are more targeted welfare policies that account for the effects of selective upward social mobility and different rates of diffusion of behavioral change.

Fade to grey Southeast Asia Globe – Growing old before it grows rich, Southeast Asia must act now to avoid becoming disabled by a rapidly ageing population. Our blue planet is greying at an unprecedented rate. Over the past decade, the global sexagenarian (60-69 year olds) club gained 180 million more members – more than the total population of Canada and the UK combined. The current cohort of seniors in the world – 810 million – is projected to exceed two billion in 2050, with a much faster growth rate than the population of children and young adults. For the first time in history, older persons will outnumber the population of children, and there will be more than 400 million octogenarians (80-89 year olds) in the world. Clearly, grey is the colour of tomorrow.

Asian Airlines Have Best Flight Attendants The Diplomat – After Singapore’s Changi Airport was named the world’s best transport hub in April, perhaps it should not come as a surprise that the Lion City’s homegrown Singapore Airlines has been rated Asia’s best airline, and the world’s third-best for the second consecutive year. Dubai-based Emirates airline claimed the top prize, jumping from no. 8 last year, followed by last year’s top-ranked Qatar Airways, which slipped a spot to second place.



Cambodia Trains Social Workers to Curb Reliance on Foreign Aid NYT – A second university program has begun as the country tries to move away from charity.

Time for change Southeast Asia Globe – Can Cambodia’s opposition gain strength in the upcoming election while Sam Rainsy remains its figurehead? Are you saying that Cambodia currently has democratic freedoms? I would question that,” said Laura Thornton, senior director for the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs, Cambodia (NDI). “The new Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) can still participate in the elections and if they win the majority of seats in the National Assembly will be able to form a government and set its leadership path… but the leader of the opposition [Sam Rainsy] is in exile. He cannot stand in the election. His name has been removed from the voters list.”



Laos Returns North Korean Refugees to the North CFR – On Saturday, the Washington Post ran a front-page article on the story of North Korean refugees, or defectors, in Laos. It has been well-known for years that many North Koreans who try to get to South Korea transit through either Laos, Thailand, or Cambodia after leaving China. But until recently the government of
Laos, though hard-line authoritarian, mostly seemed to ignore the fleeing North Koreans, as long as they had the money to pay off the right people and then get to the South Korean embassy in Vientiane, the capital of Laos, or to the border with Thailand. Yet in May, Laos’ government suddenly sent nine fleeing North Koreans, nearly all of whom are orphans, back to the North. The group had been detained by Laos’ security forces, but in the past North Koreans who had been detained often were let go, in exchange for cash, and then continued on to Thailand or to the South Korean embassy. This time,Laos’ government did not release the detainees, instead handing them over to Pyongyang.



Suu Kyi slams proposed inter-faith marriage law AFP – Opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi has criticised a proposal by nationalist monks to restrict marriages between Buddhist women and men of other faiths, describing it as a violation of human rights, a report said Friday. “This is one-sided. Why only women? You cannot treat the women unfairly,” Radio Free Asia quoted the Nobel Peace Laureate as saying in an interview.

Naypyidaw cracks down on ‘corrupt’ police in northern Burma DVP – Burmese authorities carried out a surprise raid in a northern town on Saturday, after allegations surfaced of a wide-scale police corruption ring authorising the use of hundreds of unlicenced vehicles. A source close to Kale township police station in Sagaing division told DVB that a troupe of Naypyidaw police officers descended on the town by air and land over the weekend and immediately began cracking down on unlicenced vehicles.

Extremism Rises Among Myanmar Buddhists NYT- Amid hate-filled speeches and violence, a nationwide fundamentalist movement has grown with an agenda that now includes boycotts of Muslim-made goods.

A Myanmar in Transition Says Little of Past Abuses  NYT – Men who were at the helm of a repressive government have moved on easily in a democracy, in part, because there have been few calls for trials or war crimes tribunals.

Myanmar rejects loan of white elephant to Thailand The Nation – Yangon – Myanmar on Wednesday turned down a request from Thailand for a loan of one of its “auspicious” white elephants to mark the countries’ 65 years of diplomatic ties next year.

Radical Buddhism Ascendant in Myanmar NYT – What began last year on the fringes of Burmese society has grown into a nationwide fundamentalist movement.



Philippines: a booming economy struggles to make growth inclusive | Mark Tran The Guardian – Finance minister Cesar Purisima says the government’s pledge to root out corruption and spend more on education and health aims to ensure a more egalitarian spread of benefits. Cesar Purisima, the Philippine finance minister, has a good story to tell about his country’s economy, which grew 6.6% last year.

Philippines destroys five tonnes of elephant tusks The Guardian – Philippine government workers crushed and burned more than five tonnes of smuggled elephant tusks worth an estimated $10m (£6m) in the biggest known destruction of trafficked ivory outside Africa.



Commoners in search of a commons Banyan, The Economist – “WHO wants a park?” This is meant as a rhetorical question, one that has been put to Jatuporn Tansirimas, a 39-year-old project manager in web design, and his friends quite a lot lately. He gets this response, he thinks, because he has been campaigning for something that would typically be left to Thailand’s kings to grant, rather than for any of its businessmen, politicians or ordinary citizens to bring about themselves. Or could it be that Thai people just don’t care about parks? Mr Tansirimas and his friends, anyway, believe that Bangkok, which has just been recognised as the world’s most-visited city, ought to have a new park. And not just any park: they want their country’s capital to find its own equivalent to New York’s Central Park.

Thailand cracks down on monks living it up with luxuries The Guardian – YouTube video of Buddhist monk sporting stylish aviator sunglasses and wireless headphones on a private jet prompts complaints. Thailand’s national Buddhism body has announced it is monitoring monks for any inappropriate behavior following complaints prompted by a video showing Buddhist monks flying on a private jet.

Thailand’s Credibility Risks Beating Over Rice Dispute WSJ – It’s not yet clear whether Thailand’s credit-rating is at risk from its multi-billion dollar rice subsidy program, but its credibility is already taking a beating.

Democrats move to impeach govt over water project The Nation – The Opposition Democrat Party will file a petition to remove the Yingluck Cabinet on suspicion that the government colluded with four large companies in the bidding of the Bt350-billion water-management scheme.

Red shirts attack, injure white-mask people in Chiang Mai The Nation –Chiang Mai – About 200 red-shirt people assaulted and beat up a small group of white-mask people in this northern city Friday evening.



Rights group urges Vietnam to release bloggers The Nation – Hanoi – The Vietnamese government should release three bloggers arrested over the last few weeks and stop physical attacks on critics, Human Rights Watch said Thursday.

Vietnam Government Critic Arrested AP – Pham Viet Dao, one of the country’s best known bloggers, has been arrested for posting criticism of the government. So far this year, 38 bloggers or activists have been arrested.

Vietnam Arrests More Bloggers After Confidence Vote  WSJ – Vietnam’s latest arrest of a Vietnamese blogger for criticizing the country’s Communist rulers could risk undermining its attempts to provide more accountability through other, more official channels, such as the National Assembly.

Trading toadstools  Southeast Asia Globe  Victims of unexploded ordnance find new hope in funghi-farming – Nguyen Ngoc Thu’s prosthetic limb is so worn down it cuts off at the ankle. This scarred piece of plastic has taken the place of his right leg since he was weeding his cassava plants in 1995. “My hoe hit a mortar,” the 48-year-old said. “There was a huge explosion and I blacked out. My neighbours called the ambulance and I woke up in hospital.”

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