France & Belgium: Football's Cases for Migration?

♠ Posted by Emmanuel in ,, at 7/15/2018 06:37:00 PM
Why can't the non-footballing talents of Belgium and France be spotted and nurtured too? That is the question.
Apologies for the light posting over the past few days. Like most of you probably, I've been following the World Cup rather too closely to have time to post. However, with the tournament over as I write--France has won and Belgium finished third--there is actually an IPE angle here. (Even fourth-place UK deserves mention here.)  Bloomberg op-ed writer Leonid Bershidsky penned an interesting commentary from a few days back asking whether immigration's case is bolstered by multicultural French and Belgian teams. Indeed, these teams are more diverse than the general populations of these nations:
France’s starting lineup in Tuesday’s semifinal against Belgium contained five players born overseas or to immigrant parents: Cameroonian-born Samuel Umtiti; N’Golo Kante, whose parents came from Mali; son of Guinean parents Paul Pogba; Kylian Mbappe, whose father is Cameroonian and mother Algerian; and Blaise Matuidi, son of an Angolan father and a Congolese mother. That’s 45 percent of the starting 11. Non-European Union immigrants and their children make up only 13.5 percent of France’s population, according to Eurostat.

Belgium’s starting 11 also had five players of immigrant background: Nacer Chadli, who started out playing for the Moroccan national team before he switched to Belgium; Marouane Fellaini, whose parents are also Moroccan; Vincent Kompany and Romelu Lukaku, whose fathers are Congolese; and Mousa Dembele, whose father is from Mali. Belgium’s population of first- and second-generation non-EU immigrants is 12 percent.
There is a meritocratic nature to footballing that you don't necessarily find in other walks of life in these nations:
In soccer, the son of a banker and a lawyer (that’s the background of French goalkeeper Hugo Lloris) is on an equal footing with someone like Lukaku, whose family couldn’t pay its electricity bills for weeks at a time and whose mother had to water down his milk to make it last longer. Or like Sterling, whose mother cleaned hotel rooms to put herself through school.
Therein lies the rub: Unlike their footballing counterparts, migrants haven't done as spectacularly well as these footballing stars without as established infrastructure for spotting and developing talent:
The odds are stacked against kids with the same background as the world-class soccer players in a number of important ways. Statistics show a higher percentage of second-generation immigrants than native-born people go to college in France and the U.K. (though not in Belgium) — but, according to a 2017 report from the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development, an overwhelming majority of young people with low educational attainment in all three countries are second-generation, non-EU immigrants.
Then again, why is it not the case that similar mechanisms for spotting and developing talent are not available in other endeavors?
There’s a lesson in this for the rest of society. Soccer’s support networks for talented kids can and should be replicated in other areas of endeavor. Some of the boys and girls growing up in no-hope areas today could be the Mbappes and Lukakus of tech, finance or the arts. The national teams, multicolored as they are, exist to remind governments, businesses and educational institutions that they just need to look harder.

So football does provide an example in how migrants can achieve outstanding success. However, the real challenge from a societal perspective is to make similar means for advancement available for other migrants and their offspring who are not as blessed with sporting skills. That would seal the case for migration.
Let's be timely here: Although the Ugly American Donald Trump did his best to insult the Europeans for welcoming migrants, I would venture these nations would much rather have their first- or second-generation footballing talents for company instead of the US-based racist-in-chief. Why not make migrants' contributions as evident in other areas to shut up people like him for good? If it can be done in football...

Does Trade War Slow PRC Global Ambitions?

♠ Posted by Emmanuel in ,, at 7/05/2018 08:39:00 PM
How much should Indonesia and others the Chinese are providing infrastructure to fear its ambitions in this trade war era?
Here's a thoughtful rejoinder to a previous post in which it was opined that the Chinese are lending to various infrastructure projects worldwide--with less regard to their borrowers' financial conditions or the viability of these projects--for as long as the PRC can ultimately benefit. So what if the borrowers can't repay? They might be able to obtain prime infrastructure on favorable terms in strategic locations when the fools default.

Or, is that cynical viewpoint not really how the Chinese go about things? Certainly they'd want to rebut such characterizations. Apropos for the times we find ourselves in, the eve of global trade war--US tariffs kick in on $34B worth of Chinese goods on Friday, July 6--may mean the Chinese need to scale back grand ambitions. Delusions of grandeur forestalled and all that...
The value of the deals that Chinese companies are striking under the country’s big global plan — called the Belt and Road Initiative — is smaller than a year ago, according to new data. Chinese officials themselves are sounding a cautious note, voicing worries that Chinese institutions need to be careful how much they lend under the program — and make sure their international borrowers can pay it back.

“Current international conditions are very uncertain, with lots of economic risks and large fluctuations for interest rates in newly emerged markets,” said Hu Xiaolian, the chairwoman of the Export-Import Bank of China, a state-controlled lender that plays a big role in financing the projects, at a forum this month in Shanghai. “Our enterprises and Belt and Road Initiative countries will face financing difficulties.”

China has begun a broad, interagency review of how many deals have already been done, on what financial terms and with which countries, say people close to Chinese economic policymaking, who asked to speak on the condition of anonymity because the effort has not been made public.
The gist of the argument here contains the following: (a) foreign expansionism may be curbed by difficulties at home brought on by Trump's global trade war; and (b) foreign partners do not have infinite patience with being exploited for China's gain:
Under the initiative, Chinese government-controlled lenders offer big chunks of money — usually through loans or financial guarantees — to other countries to build big infrastructure projects like highways, rail lines and power plants. That money often comes with the requirement that Chinese companies be heavily involved in the planning and construction, throwing them a lot of business.

But even with its financial firepower, China has its limits. Its economy is showing signs of slowing, and it is in the middle of a trade war with the United States. Beijing is struggling to tame domestic debt problems — problems an international lending spree certainly hasn’t helped. Too much overseas activity risks creating wasteful white elephants that can drag down Chinese companies and local partners alike.
Which version of events is correct, of the PRC as the new imperialists or that of co-suffering developing countries on the eve of trade war? As with most things, reality probably lies somewhere in between. However, I veer more toward the version described above in that the PRC needs to maintain the trust of other countries as it seeks to build up its international relations, and failed projects cannot always be redeemed by the Chinese if their foreign partners fold.