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It's Tokyo's Time

NYT: Democracy may not be perfect but it’s worth fighting for. FT: China must learn to save less. WashPost: Pope’s visit becomes a symbol of religious freedom.

Beijing’s aggression gives Tokyo an opportunity to reassert itself

Dan Twining writes in Foreign Policy that the recent aggression by China shows its desire to replace Japan as Asia’s most dominant power. Japan must now do more to resist China’s control and reassert itself militarily and diplomatically.

QUOTE: Tokyo could re-emerge to play the leading role in regional diplomacy it did in the 1990s, when it was instrumental in founding Asian regional institutions designed to engage, enmesh, and constrain China so as to encourage it to be a constructive regional player. 

US trade laws exploited at the expense of Vietnamese exporters

An editorial in the Wall Street Journal argues that as Washington tries to improve relations with Hanoi to balance China’s power in the region, it is simultaneously threatening Vietnam’s fish exporters as a result of a powerful American catfish lobby.

QUOTE: If they succeed, the pangasius will become the latest example of how a relatively small domestic lobby can exploit a technical provision of US trade law to goad Commerce into making a decision that will hurt a significant industry of a country with which America has bigger fish to fry.

Democracy may not be perfect but it’s worth fighting for

Columnist Roger Cohen writes in the New York Times that democracy has lost its luster as it has stopped delivering promises of growth and stability. However, Cohen argues that despite the success of authoritarian regimes like China in expanding their economies, democratic ideals of open societies are still worth fighting for.

QUOTE: It’s important to stanch the anti-democratic tide. Thugs and oppression ride on it.

China must learn to save less

George Magnus, a senior economic adviser at UBS Investment Bank, writes in the Financial Times that China must reform its system to encourage local production and consumption. Only this type of rebalancing of the economy will help the US-China trade dispute.

QUOTE: What is needed is global leadership. Unfortunately, both Washington and Beijing have been distracted by domestic constituencies.

Pope’s visit becomes a symbol of religious freedom

Columnist Anne Applebaum writes in the Washington Post that the British made particularly vicious verbal attacks against the pope leading up to and during his visit. She argues that this made his trip into “an advertisement for religious freedom.”

QUOTE: … the freedom to abhor religion and the freedom to practice it. Much to everyone's surprise, including the Vatican's, raucous discussion of Catholicism turned out to be good for Catholicism and interesting for atheists, too. The true aging theocrats -- in Saudi Arabia, in Iran -- should take note.

China will determine the world’s energy future

Michael T. Klare writes in the Asia Times that because China has recently become the number one energy consumer, the decisions it makes regarding energy consumption have a big impact on everything from fuel prices to political struggles over oil to climate change.

QUOTE: As the leading player in the global energy market, China will significantly determine not only the prices we will be paying for critical fuels but also the type of energy systems we will come to rely on.

Where do jobs come from?

Columnist Caroline Baum writes in Bloomberg News that it is unrealistic for Americans to demand of President Obama that he create jobs because that is not his role. For jobs to be created, the economy needs skilled labor and employers who need that labor.

QUOTE: Today, many businesses can satisfy increased demand with little or no increased supply. Improved productivity allows companies to produce more (goods) with less (labor). Shifting production overseas to low-wage countries provides consumers with cheaper goods, a net plus even though in the short run it displaces domestic workers.

Wealthy nations lack follow-through

Jeffrey Sachs, head of the Columbia University Earth Institute, writes in London’s Independent that wealthy nations have the capacity to effect major change in poor and undeveloped countries. It is a question of priorities and follow-through.

QUOTE: When you get on the ground in poor places you see that aid is necessary and life changing. The issue isn't to abandon the goals, the problem is the follow through.

The US must curb its oil appetite to ensure economic recovery

Economist Jeffrey Rubin writes in the Huffington Post that more government spending or tax cuts will not dramatically improve the US economy. He argues that there is no substitute for cheap oil to grow the economy, but that is no longer possible.

QUOTE: The age of cheap oil is over, and that means recalibrating the speed limit for the world's largest oil-consuming economy. In a world of $75-per-barrel to triple-digit oil prices, the US economy is not likely to grow more than by 1 to 2 per cent per year until it can curb its oil appetite significantly.