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China's chopstick crisis

WSJ: Political openness would help Vietnam tackle China's aggression. NYT: Raising taxes could cause a double-dip recession. WashPost: Will Russia's wildfires burn its leaders?

China and the US should protect their military exchanges

Contributor H.D.S. Greenway writes in the International Herald Tribune that military exchanges between the United States and China are the first thing to get curtailed when the two countries have a disagreement. He argues that these exchanges are valuable and should be treated with more care.

QUOTE: China and the United States should realize the intrinsic value in military exchanges that will only grow more important in years to come. These exchanges should not be the first to go every time the two countries want to show displeasure.

Political openness would help Vietnam tackle Chinese aggression

Nguyen Dan Que, a recipient of the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award, and Al Santoli, president of the Asia America Initiative, write in the Wall Street Journal that Vietnam would make a stronger and more stable ally with the United States in Southeast Asia if it implemented democratic reforms. Vietnam would then be a better partner against an increasingly aggressive China.

LINK: Vietnamese nationalism can be useful in maintaining stability in a strategically critical part of the world. Vietnamese nationalism, however, has always been strongest and most reliable when the Vietnamese government was on the side of the people.

European, American economies as tightly bound as ever

An opinion piece in the Economist argues that it is too soon to rejoice over Europe’s improved economy or despair over America’s possibly renewed recession. It argues that the economies of Europe and the United States are highly dependent on each other.

QUOTE: For all the talk of competition, politicians in Brussels and Frankfurt should be praying for growth in America—just as their peers in Washington, DC, should be pleased to hear about China’s nouveaux riches ordering German cars and French claret.

Raising taxes could cause a double-dip recession

Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody’s Analytics, writes in the New York Times that President Obama should support making the Bush tax cuts permanent. He argues that raising taxes on the wealthy will hurt the economy because the higher income bracket accounts for much needed consumer spending and is currently sensitive to slight changes in the economy.

QUOTE: The high rate of joblessness has cast a shadow on the collective psyche that will only worsen with higher taxes, raising the already uncomfortably high odds that the economy will suffer a double-dip recession.

European institutions rise to the challenge of the crisis

Jürgen Stark, a member of the executive board of the European Central Bank, writes in the Financial Times that the illusion of a “Euro-paralysis” as a result of the global financial crisis is false. He argues that European institutions did not hesitate to act when necessary. 

QUOTE: We will see an enhancement of fiscal surveillance, a more stringent implementation of multilateral surveillance to correct excessive deficits and debt, and better instruments for the prevention and resolution of crises.

China’s overlooked environmental disaster

Daniel K. Gardner, a professor of history and the director of the program in East Asian studies at Smith College, writes in the Los Angeles Times that disposable chopsticks pose a serious threat to China’s environment. He states that 100 acres of trees must be chopped down every 24 hours to keep up with demand, contributing to China’s deforestation crisis.

QUOTE: Deforestation is one of China's gravest environmental problems, leading to soil erosion, famine, flooding, carbon dioxide release, desertification and species extinction.

Will Russia’s wildfires burn its leaders?

Lilia Shevtsova, a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment's Moscow Center, and David J. Kramer, a senior transatlantic fellow at the German Marshall Fund of the United States, write in the Washington Post that this summer’s wildfires in Russia should make the public aware of the incompetence of Russia’s leaders. However, it is unclear what political impact the fires will cause as the nation’s leaders have strong survival skills and voters usually have little choice.

QUOTE: Russia's government is not a government of the people, but of the well-connected. Its citizens haven't expected much of their leaders, even before the fires.

Iran tests US-China relations

Michael Richardson, a visiting senior research fellow at the Institute of South East Asian Studies in Singapore, writes in the Japan Times that Iran’s nuclear program will test US-China relations. As the United States attempts to apply more pressure on Iran, China’s trade relationship with the nation receives greater attention.

QUOTE: Extended sanctions are drawing the US deeper into murky waters. If China feels it is singled out for unfair treatment, Washington's hopes for a firmer partnership with Beijing to prevent Iran from further developing its nuclear and ballistic missile programs are unlikely to be realized.

Britain leads the way with spending cuts

An opinion piece in the Economist argues that David Cameron and Nick Clegg have led a radical coalition that has stirred up change in their country. The biggest change has been to the budget as they drastically cut public spending and raised taxes.

QUOTE: Throughout the rich world, government has simply got too big and Mr Cameron’s crew currently have the most promising approach to trimming it. Others—and not just the tottering likes of Greece and Spain—will surely follow.

Economic development is crucial to keeping the peace in Aceh

Ben Hillman, an advisor to the United Nations on post-conflict governance programs in Aceh, writes in the Wall Street Journal that Indonesia must focus on stimulating the economy and providing jobs in Aceh in order to maintain peace and stability in the region.

QUOTE: While many of these problems are not necessarily unique to Aceh, addressing them is increasingly urgent because of the risk that Aceh could become a haven for Islamists or terrorists.