Back in Scrap

Technically, I was offline for the last six weeks, finishing a book. In reality, I was mostly offline, mostly in the USA, occasionally posting, and the book isn’t yet finished. So, come late November, I’m going to be offline again for a few weeks. But until then, I’m back to traveling, and blogging, and we’ll just see where this all leads.

Alleged Ningbo Kidnapper Responds!

[I've posted Goldarrow's legal complaint, here.]

It’s becoming harder and harder to pretend that I’m not blogging again until November 1. But my sincere desire to be fair and balanced requires that I make one more post related to the notorious Ningbo scrap kidnapping.

For those who haven’t been following the issue, the international scrap trade is being roiled by allegations that a British metal trader was recently kidnapped and held for a US$350,000.00 ransom by a provincial-level, state-owned scrap firm. All of the details – including source docs – are available at the post just below this one.

In any event, James Xu, the Ningbo scrap trader alleged to have orchestrated the kidnapping has retained legal counsel (specifically, Flower & May, a Ningbo firm that self-describes itself as comprised of “five high-flying lawyers“). Apparently, with their help, he has drafted and released this personal statement addressed to … well, click on the image for enlarged details:

After the jump, a “Lawyer’s Letter” on Flower & May letterhead: Continue reading

Scrap Trader Kidnapped, Held for Ransom in Ningbo.

[FINAL UPDATE: Three weeks later and this post is still generating significant traffic. Since then, I've written several follow-ups, supplemented with important source documents on this case. Of these, the most crucial are Goldarrow's legal filing against Ningbo Yibao, the British Foreign Office's response to the alleged kidnapping, and Ningbo Yibao's legal response. Finally, as a courtesy, I'd very much appreciate if the journalists who cite these documents mention that they read them at Shanghai Scrap. They cannot be found elsewhere.]

[UPDATE 10/29: Alleged kidnapper responds ... here.]

[10/27 UPDATE: Chinese government response disputes the term "kidnapping"; see end of post for details]

[10/26 UPDATE: US trade group issues Asia travel advisory; see send of post for details]

Shanghai Scrap is on book leave until November 1. And after I complete this post, I’m going to hold to that promise.

First, a brief backgrounder and then I’ll get right to the source material.

For a decade, the top US and European export to China, by volume, has been the scrap metal and paper used as a leading raw material in China’s world-beating industrial production. Exact figures don’t exist, but one can safely assume that roughly 30% of the aluminum and copper used in Chinese industrial production is recycled, and that percentage has been growing, continually, fueling ever higher prices for scrap commodities on the world markets. European and American owners of scrap inventories could travel to China and literally audition dozens of potential buyers for their material, each offering better prices and terms. If you were a “foreign supplier” with scrap, the Chinese would buy it, sight unseen, on the assumption relatively safe assumption that the material would increase in value between the port of origin and China. Continue reading

Offline Until November 1.

Blogging takes time. Time to write. Time to read. And, in the case of this blog, it requires travel and conversations with people who know interesting things. At the moment, however, I’m tied down while I complete a book project that requires my undivided attention. So, reluctantly, I’m putting this space on hold for the next six weeks, until November 1.

Just to be clear: the ‘Scrap will be back. And when it comes back, I promise, it will rely less upon Haibao and/or things that I receive in the mail, and more on reported posts that reflect my travels and interactions in Asia.

Thanks to all of you who subscribe to the feed and/or stop by regularly. If you’re looking for quality China blogging, the blogroll over to the right lists the ones that I read regularly. For a more comprehensive directory, the mighty Danwei recently published its annual list of Model Workers among the China blogs.

Finally – I may not be blogging, but that doesn’t mean I’ve fallen into a black hole. Emails sent via the Contact Form will be returned promptly! Now, back to work.

My “Best American” Moment.

Houghton Mifflin is starting to publish this year’s editions of its Best American series (Best American Essays, Best American Sports Writing, etc), and I’m proud to say that my essay, “Keeping Faith,” originally published in the July/August 2007 issue of The Atlantic, is included in this year’s edition of the Best American Spiritual Writing. I received a copy of the collection today, and skimmed some of it this afternoon. Never mind my essay, this year’s edition includes great stuff from Pico Iyer, John Updike, Richard John Neuhaus, and Heather King, among others. Recommended on their behalf!

Giant UFO Over Shanghai – UPDATED

[UPDATE: I can't believe that I have to do this, but after a half dozen emails questioning my sanity (folks: read the whole post, not just the title!), it seems that I do. So, let me set the record straight: the UFO "video" referenced in this post is an amusing hoax, and the purpose of this post is to point out that - because of it - a certain expanding corner of the internet is now in the throes of Shanghai-related UFO fever (some suggesting that it's real, others claiming that it's the sign of the rapture, etc etc). A perfectly appropriate subject for a China blog, no? Read more below.] Continue reading

Indexed to Qingdao … too late.

[for iron ore and steel geeks only!]

Since I’m taking a brief book writing break to post about UFOs, I’ll also take the liberty of posting a little something about iron ore markets, too. Specifically, an important piece of China business news that seems to have eluded the region’s reporters. Namely: Metal Bulletin has launched the world’s first iron ore pricing index – and it is indexed for delivery to Qingdao. Continue reading