Media Watch 13/4/15

By Rowan Williams

Former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has formally announced her bid for the 2016 presidency. Following the release of a video announcing her bid online, Clinton began her campaign with a tour of key US states. Clinton will first meet with groups of voters in Iowa, where she will hope to build grassroots support. In both her announcement video and subsequent social media posts, Clinton has placed an emphasis on appealing to what she has called the “Everyday American”. The announcement ends years of speculation over whether Clinton would launch a second attempt for the presidency – Clinton previously ran for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008, but lost to Barack Obama. Having already served as Senator, First Lady, and Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton’s long career in American politics makes her a polarising figure. Clinton will now have to set out her vision for the future to voters while being the primary target of Republican attacks as the only prominent Democratic presidential candidate.

In the UK, the Labour Party has pledged ‘no extra borrowing’ in its handling of the economy. The party seeks to rebrand itself as a party of fiscal responsibility as it launches it election manifesto on Monday. Labour will guarantee the funding of its policies without extra borrowing, a move that also hopes to sow concerns over a perceived lack of detail in Conservative spending plans. Party Leader Ed Miliband hopes the move for a ‘lock’ on budget responsibility will combat criticism that Labour will not cut the deficit. It is understood this commitment will feature first in the party’s election manifesto. Other commitments in the manifesto include £2.5 billion in increased spending for the NHS, a ban on zero-hours contracts, and stopping any rise in gas and electricity bills.

China’s export sales fell by almost 15 percent in March, a shock fall that raises new concerns about the country’s economic growth. Export sales had been expected to rise. Exports had grown in February, leading to a record high monthly trade surplus of US$60.6 billion.  After the fall, the figure stands at just US$2.92 billion. Imports also fell at their sharpest rates since 2009, though a fall in imports had been expected. Coal imports were down 42 percent in the first quarter of 2015, as a result of tougher rules on pollution and the wider slowing of the economy. Falling exports have been attributed to an appreciating yuan, while the volatility of the figures has been attributed to the lunar new year period.

The Papers

Election pledges make the headlines for a second day day, though this time of a more ideological bent. The Guardian leads with news of the Labour Party’s “big promise” – mainly that of “no extra borrowing”. The Party’s manifesto will focus on ‘budget responsibility’, the paper writes, as Labour “moves to counter Tory claims of recklessness”. The Independent leads with the same story, adding that the party has attacked the Conservatives for “failing to explain how £8bn NHS pledge will be funded”. Party Leader Ed Miliband’s pledge of no extra borrowing will “will risk disappointing his party’s left wing”, the paper notes. The Daily Telegraph paints Miliband’s pledge as a “plea to voters” in its headline, noting that Labour also plans to “cut spending every year”. Conservative ideology makes the front page of The Times, meanwhile, as the paper reports that a “Passionate” David Cameron is to outline “his Tory dream”. The Conservative shift to a more upbeat election strategy comes “amid polling fears”, the paper notes. The Financial Times leads with news that in the US, payouts to shareholders are this year “set to top $1tn as US groups rein in” capital expenditure. The move away from investing dividends is “driven by fears for global recovery”, the paper writes.

British Media on China

On mainland visas to Hong Kong: the BBC and the Guardian both reported that Hong Kong will no longer issue unlimited-entry visas to Shenzhen residents. According to the BBC, the move from Beijing hopes to ease “growing anger in Hong Kong over shopping trips by mainlanders who take advantage of lower taxes”. The Guardian’s agency piece writes that the move highlights the “growing awareness” of Beijing of discontent in Hong Kong. Mainland visitors to Hong Kong “have been blamed for pushing up shop rents and property prices, and stripping shops of daily necessities such as baby formula and cosmetics”, the paper writes.

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